Transition, Obama and Congress

In Washington this week there is a multitude of things happening worth noting.  Some of these include the start to the 115th Congress, a continuation of the Administration transition and the behavior of the Democrats as they pass from power.


The Transition Continues

Mr. Trump gets ready to take power and install a new team while Mr. Obama does what he can to stop this wholesale rejection of his agenda and that of the Democratic Party.  Someone should remind Mr. Obama of his own words, “elections have consequences.”  

Mr. Trump just can’t wait to get in harness and start to work.  It will be great to have a President whose efforts are not punctuated by a vacation or a basketball game or a golf game but one who is actually interested in quick action and wholesale change.  Exciting times ahead!  

Mr. Trump has promised foreshortened Inauguration Day festivities so he can get right to work.  Maybe all of those Hollywood types should rethink their childish boycott.  Maybe they could have forestalled the inevitable for a day or two anyway if they had played along.  

Personally, I’d rather celebrate the Inauguration with President Trump sh**canning a raft of Executive Orders anyway!  I hope it is televised.  Wouldn’t it be great to live-broadcast it to the National Mall where hundreds of thousands of well-wishers will be anyway?  Orders signed in the dark of night and in the shadows of the White House over the past eight years will be struck out in the broad light of day – all on Day One!

Obama will Apparently Not Go with any Dignity or Grace

There are disturbing reports that Obama will remain engaged in politics with a “shadow government” issuing decrees and opinions and maybe even instructions to allies entrenched in the bureaucracy about emerging policies and policy changes.  Other reports are that the levels in which he will be engaged are much less so.  Time will tell but if his actions this week are any indicator, we should beware.  

W gave Mr. Obama every opportunity to succeed on his own without being involved in “protecting” his legacy or trying to remain relevant with a “third term” among his supporters.  I hope Mr. Obama affords Mr. Trump the same courtesy.
President Obama will travel to Capitol Hill Wednesday to plot the defense of the Affordable Care Act with House and Senate Democrats.  There is little that this President can provide the Members in the way of “working the rules” or other arcane strategies.  He has been largely disengaged his entire legislative career (focused on his next election instead) and is no expert at all on the workings of any legislative body – much less Congress.  

So why is he going up there?  Good question.  It is either: 1) in the hope that the Members have a plan to tell him (typical and most likely); 2) to offer moral support and feckless leadership (I hope so); or, 3) to talk about his level of engagement after swearing-in (probably not, being that he holds Members of Congress in too much contempt to confide in them).  We’ll see.  

On the 10th of this month, President Obama will give a valedictory address at the McCormick Place in Chicago.  I wonder if he’ll talk about the Chicago murder rate generally and the rate among African Americans specifically?  Will he discuss the insane liberal consent decree with the ACLU binding the hands of the police?  Maybe he will discuss the non-leadership of City Hall to address this national shame?  I am guessing not.

Congress in Action

On Tuesday, the 115th Congress will have its Opening Day and will be sworn-in.  There will be changes in the rules of both Houses of Congress.  Sadly, the filibuster rules in the Senate will not be further pruned as many of us had been hoping for.  

However, the Reid Rule of not being allowed to filibuster appointments by the President except for Supreme Court appointments will remain in the new Senate Rules.  McConnell will not be reinstituting filibuster where Reid had abolished it.  This is a good thing to say the least.  

However, McConnell had promised to really deal the filibuster a death blow to punish the Democrats when Reid was taking this “nuclear option.”  None of that is in evidence but we’ll take what we get.  

This is something worth noting.  This constraint of the filibuster will allow the Cabinet and all non-Supreme Court federal court appointments to be approved with 51 (rather than 60) votes.  In fact, there are more than 100 lower court positions open right now and President Trump should have a big hand in halting the leftward lurch of the federal courts right away!  

All eyes on the #NeverTrump-ers as they are the only ones that can stop the confirmation of a Trump appointee.  We’ll see how much trouble Lindsay Graham and John Sidney McCain plan to be.  

Even though they cannot stop any nomination if the Republicans can muster the votes, the Democrats could significantly delay any confirmation.  Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Minority Leader, is a dedicated uber-liberal but he is also an institutionalist and one interested in getting on with the business of government.  Unlike Reid, he will make the deal if a deal can be had.  

If the Democrats wanted delay for delay’s sake – that is, useless debate – they would have taken the more senior and further-left-leaning Dick Durbin of Illinois as their Leader.  I think that Sen. Schumer is a hopeful pick for the business of government and Mr. Trump should approach Sen. Schumer this way.  At least until he proves himself to be otherwise.
Sen. Schumer has stated what information he wants the Administration to provide about the appointees in order to be able to help out in some of these confirmations.  It is possible that Chuck is offering a way to work together as opposed to setting-up a roadblock.  I would advise the Trump Team to negotiate with Sen. Schumer at the outset – it may to be all of our benefit.  

Obamacare is firmly in the sights of the New Congress and it will be HR 1 in the House – the first legislative action offered and the first taken-up.  The Senate must wait for the House being that it is an exclusive prerogative of the House to take up taxing measures.  As you remember, Justice Roberts called Obamacare a tax (to everyone’s surprise and my disgust).  

Regulatory matters will follow like an avalanche.  That is the way to do it.  Quickly and painfully so that the left-leaning press will not have time to fully focus their ample assistance to the Democrats.  

When you do not have the votes – talk; but when you do have the votes – vote!  This should be the watchword of the 115th Congress.  Vote!  Vote!  Vote!  Dance to the music!

Happy New Year!

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