What President Obama could do with a functioning Congress

President Obama receives an update on Affordable Care Act in the Oval Office, April 1, 2014. With the President, from left, are: Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor; Tara McGuinness, Senior Communications Advisor; Marlon Marshall, Principal Deputy Director of Public Engagement; Jeanne Lambrew, Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy; Kristie Canegallo, Advisor to Chief of Staff; and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (Photo by Pete Souza)


Cross-posted at The People’s View

It’s more or less a truism that some on the Left expected Barack Obama to be a liberal George W. Bush: someone not overly concerned with the niceties of democratic governance in order to push an agenda to the left of most Americans. You know, the whole “ends and means” debate: our ends are noble, so the means don’t matter.

Of course, he didn’t turn out to be that Leftist wish. Nowhere was this more evident than in the healthcare debate, where, unlike the previous Democratic president, he left it up to the Congress to actually do its job and legislate, within broad parameters he laid out. He knew something which seemed to escape the Clintons: Congress members don’t like being told what to do, and don’t like being presented a plan with minimal input from them. By bringing in at least the Democratic caucus as stakeholders, Obama ensured that something would be passed; his effort was in that the legislation which took shape would conform to his key standards.

So, yes, the public option, which would have helped precious few people, was jettisoned in the interest of getting to 218 in the House and 60 in the Senate. And the howls from certain sectors of the Left were more deafening than the screeches from the Right. When both Left and Right were wailing to “kill the bill”, and working in concert to do just that, you know you’ve entered an alternate reality.

Now that Obamacare is shaping up to be a roaring success, some of those who screamed the loudest on “our” side have conveniently forgotten their roles in 2009. And they’ve certainly forgotten the discontent they stoked, leading to the GOP landslide in 2010.

Yes, that. Because Obama and the Democrats were actually governing, rather than handing out ponies and rainbows, many on the Left decided to wage a campaign in 2010—not against Republicans, but a season of long knives against Democrats. And we’ve lived with the results for the past 3 years.

If voters had accepted that politics is the art of the possible, instead of punishing Barack Obama for things he never promised, what could he have done in these 3 years?

For one, our credit rating would never have been in jeopardy. Budgets would have passed, the debt ceiling would not have been held hostage, and government would have proceeded in its usually tortuous but functioning way. Instead, for the first time in US history, a p0litical party put the full faith and credit of the country on the chopping block, all in an effort to extract… well, they were never clear on what they wanted from Obama, but he had to give in on something. Fortunately, the President is made of sterner stuff than the fairweather voters of 2010, and after much struggle has ended hostage taking as a practice of governance. But just imagine if…

With a Democratic Congress, we would have expanded on the Recovery Act—which worked—with a jobs package. And this jobs package wasn’t merely make-work. It was geared to fix our crumbling infrastructure, an infrastructure greatly needed to keep pace in the 21st century economy. That the economy is doing reasonably well is a testament to Obama’s tireless work; but without an entire house of Congress in the grips of Obama Derangement Syndrome, we could be so much further ahead, helping both here at home and the broader world economy. But I’m sure Democrats learned a lesson in 2010.

Comprehensive immigration reform would be a done deal without the petulance of 2010. Businesses want it. Social justice groups want it. Majorities of Democrats and independents want it. But GOP leadership knows that those 11 million potential citizens are not likely to vote for them. So best to keep them at bay for as long as they can until… Well, again, they’re not clear. The undocumented are not going anywhere. The GOP’s hold on the House won’t last forever. It will happen. And when it does, the GOP’s future is far from rosy. But a message had to be sent in 2010, so there you go.

With a functioning Congress, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act would have arguably gone more smoothly. The GOP House stripped most funding for its promotion. The 2010 elections also decimated Democrats on the state level; without that massacre, more states would have set up their own exchanges. Again, the fact that Obamacare has been as much of a success as it is turning out to be is due to the Administration’s tireless efforts. But that was energy which could have been spent in other ways if it didn’t have to fight a two front war, both on the Left and Right.

I could go on for another 5,000 words, but I think the drift is clear. You get the government you vote for. But more clearly, you also get a government if you don’t vote, usually one which you don’t like. Pundits and pollsters are saying that there’s another “enthusiasm gap” for the 2014 elections. Which, with the history of the past 3 years is rather mindboggling. Obama was elected by a huge margin in 2012; where are those voters now?

There are times when I just feel like we get what we deserve. But that is what the opposition and their handmaidens want us to feel. They thrive in despair and dejection. And nothing upsets them more than the sunlight of hope.

So no f-bombs today. No angry words. Just a resolve to perform my duty as a citizen and have my voice heard at the ballot box. And to bring as many people as I can with me. That’s all any of us can do.

94 Responses to “What President Obama could do with a functioning Congress”

  1. 12 MightyPamela
    April 1, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    He can set us all free.

  2. 13 MightyPamela
    April 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    LL ❤ Could not log off with your brilliance left unread. Needed something just like this to keep the boogeyman away today. Thank you, very much.

  3. April 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

  4. 16 Cindy
    April 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm



    Peeping in for a minute while it’s quiet.


    Thank you Chipsticks, Nerdy Wonka, Liberal Librarian, Lovelyplains, Mr. Bobfr, Amk4obama, Dudette, and “EVERYONE” who played a role in posting, tweeting, giving us awesome music, educating us and keeping us inspired for this day.


  5. 17 donna dem 4 obama
    April 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    “So no f-bombs today. No angry words. Just a resolve to perform my duty as a citizen and have my voice heard at the ballot box. And to bring as many people as I can with me. That’s all any of us can do.” THIS!!!! right here is what it’s all about and if each of the Presidents ardent supporters took this attitude and made it their personal responsibility to do just as you say then we will be successful in giving PBO the Congress he deserves.

    Nice piece LL. Thanks for your words of wisdom!

  6. 23 donna dem 4 obama
    April 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Listening to the audio of the countdown last night by the website technicians when we reached the 7M threshold sent chills through me. Those tech people deserve a badge of honor for the work they did to keep that system running yesterday. My heroes!!

  7. 25 amk for obama
    April 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Nato foreign ministers suspend all practical civilian and military co-operation with Russia over the latter’s annexation of Crimea.


    drip, drip.

  8. April 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    “An American political scientist Mitchel A. Orenstein claims this in his article “Putin’s Western Allies“ in the influential media source Foreign Affairs. The author is an associate of the Center for European Studies and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.

    “Given that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated reasons for invading Crimea was to prevent ‘Nazis’ from coming to power in Ukraine,” states Orenstein, “it is perhaps surprising that his regime is growing closer by the month to extreme right-wing parties across Europe.”

    According to the political scientist, Putin’s motives are not ideological. In Ukraine, he wants to seize the territory, which belongs to him by justice. As for the European Union, Putin hopes that the support of marginal parties will destabilize his foes and will bring politics which will focus their attention on ruining the EU rather than its expansion to Brussels.

    Among these marginal parties, we could single out a Hungarian party, ‘Jobbik’, which has been taken under Putin’s wing: ‘Now ‘Jobbik’ is the third biggest party in the country and some of its supporters wear a Nazi-type uniform, use anti-Semitic rhetoric and express their concern about Israeli “colonization” of Hungary.”

    More at the link in this tweet:

  9. 27 hopefruit2
    April 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I know that some of us have had some misgivings about DWS as DNC Chair, but, upon further reflection, I actually think that she is doing a terrific job – she’s spending more time on the ground than making TV appearances – because the TV news media is not friendly territory for the DEMS, and unlike PBO & FLOTUS who are both charismatic and make for good “TV viewing” most Dems do not get publicity from TV appearances unless they are over-dramatizing, acting the fool, or criticizing PBO (think of Wyden, Sanders, Feinstein, CBC, Alan Grayson, etc). I generally always look at DWS’ Twitter TL to get a sense of what she’s doing or where she is at any given time, and she is always busy disseminating information about PBO’s policies and agenda (unlike RNC Chair who uses his GOP media to attack PBO and Dems with zero push-back, while providing no info about GOP solutions or plans).

    If you notice, since she took the position as DNC chair in 2011, the Dems have had more successful elections than the GOP (2012 AND 2013) – Presidential, Congressional and Gubernatorial (and even some local e.g., city, court, etc). The DNC convention in 2012 was well-organized, informative, inspiring, and went without a glitch – all under her leadership. So I would not write her off just yet. I am quite optimistic about November 2014 for the Dems.

    • 28 symmetry11
      April 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      I agree, HF!

    • 29 donna dem 4 obama
      April 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      It was me 🙂

      I don’t have an issue with DWS per se I just feel that we need a full-time DNC Chair. Someone who eats, sleeps and breathes this 2014 election. She simply doesn’t have the time for that. In 2012 we had PBO leading the crusade to victory. He could and did do all the heavy lifting. In 2013 we won in Virginia because the R’s overreached and there was so much scandal surrounding the Repubs that even an awful selection such as Terry McCaullif could win. Also, we kept our OFA operations in tact in VA for that election.

      It’s not personal nor is it a negative on what she has been able to accomplish but I just don’t feel that Democrats take this stuff as seriously as Republicans do.

      I get the distinct impression that they think that PBO should carry us to victory again this year and honestly in an off year election that is going to be a difficult task. We need ALL hands on deck or PBO will just be sitting there vetoing one bill after the next for his last two years in office…

      • 30 sabreen60
        April 1, 2014 at 1:57 pm

        I agree donna. IMO, we see far too little of DWS. We need a strong Chair who will put forth all that the Dems have accomplished and push back hard against the Repub lies.

        • 31 hopefruit2
          April 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm

          I agree with donna that PBO has done a lot of the heavy lifting because he has introduced a unique model that incorporates elements of community organizing (OFA), with traditional structural support (DNC fundraising, etc); Many Dem politicians were not familiar with the community organizing part but were used to the traditional DNC. Because times are changing, demographics are changing, ways in which info is disseminated are changing, the OFA is becoming more of an essential part of politics, as more Dems are realizing. So yes, I do see some growing pains, and currently, there is an over-reliance on our President and his team to bring in the votes. But I see this as more a developmental issue that will change over time and has already to some degree made some progress.

  10. April 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Sanctions Score

    “Since sanctions were announced, the pace of negative financial news has increased. Stock prices have fallen. The Russian ruble has weakened. That has dealt a blow to Russian companies with foreign-currency-denominated borrowings and has increased the cost of imports. In turn, inflation is set to rise even higher than the seven percent level that Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development expected for March. Meanwhile, Russian government and corporate borrowing costs have escalated after the central bank announced a temporary increase in its key interest rate, due, it said, to “the risks for inflation and financial stability arising from the recent increase in financial market volatility.” Domestic government bond sales have been cancelled due to unfavorable conditions, and international investor demand for Russian stocks is drying up, which makes the country’s planned $7 billion of international bond borrowing for 2014 look doubtful. Visa and MasterCard have suspended certain services in Russia, and the rating agencies Fitch and S&P have lowered their outlooks for Russian debt.

    Perhaps feeling the heat, Putin called U.S. President Barack Obama last Friday to arrange another round of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Over the weekend, the two discussed political solutions to the standoff over Ukraine. And all this has come after sanctions on only a handful of individuals and one bank, Bank Rossiya.

    So how have such “toothless” sanctions had such a big payoff? The reason is that Russia’s economic growth, although often attributed to its energy exports and the rise in oil prices in the last decade, was not dependent on expensive energy alone. It also came from investor confidence, stable bank lending, bond market borrowing, and stock market placements. Russia, unlike other recent targets of economic sanctions, such as Iran and North Korea, is fully plumbed into the global financial marketplace. And if that global financial marketplace loses confidence in Russia, all that will be wiped out. The creeping sanctions regime has already given the financial community doubts. And those will likely only get worse. As Russian deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov observed, the greatest damage may come not from the announced sanctions but from covert financial actions coupled with fear of what might come next.


    Ultimately, perhaps as demonstrated by this weekend’s flurry of diplomatic activity from Moscow, what we may be witnessing is the coming of a new era of financial warfare.”


    • 33 jackiegrumbacher
      April 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      And idiots like McCain and his feckless cohorts continue to call the president naive and weak. He orchestrated the whole mega load of financial headaches to fall in a systematic and deadly way on the Russian economy. This is strategic, global thinking in a complex and financially intertwined world. His detractors don’t even know what league PBO is playing in, let alone understand the game plan.

  11. April 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Howdy all you O’s!!! Another great getting up day on the TOD stoop!!!

    Well, well, well, ACA hit the 7M mark, eh??? My wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many of those last minute sign-upees were rwnjs who took the plunge against every impulse to stay off of ObamaCare? They may be ignorant, but they ain’t stupid when it comes to getting affordable healthcare, medicare, SNAP, and any other gubmint handout. Of course, they’d rather lose a pinkie than admit or acknowledge that they benefit from it. There were just as many rwnj parents screaming at their young adult kids to get enrolled yesterday.

    So cheers to PBO who makes good once again, on what he said he would do. He does it with decorum, graciousness, and his ever lovin’ swag. VP Joe said it best, he has a ‘steel fist in a velvet glove’. That folks still doubt him, amazes me.

  12. 36 sabreen60
    April 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    LL, if only we had Dems who would scream what you have written from the rooftops!!!

  13. 38 No Child Left Behind
    April 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Good Afternoon TODVille.

    Quickly check Huffy Post. There is a great headline.

  14. 39 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm

  15. 41 Cindy
    April 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Teacher: “If you had one dollar and you asked your father for another, how many dollars would you have?”

    Vincent: “One dollar.”

    Teacher: “You don’t know your arithmetic.”

    Vincent: “You don’t know my father.”

    I will boldly say; the repukes don’t know us-KEEP YOUR GRUBBY HANDS OFF OF OUR HEALTHCARE!

    Back to teaching……Have a BLESSED DAY TOD!

    cool-smile : )

  16. 43 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm

  17. 44 GGail
    April 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    LL, that is my f-resolve too! 🙂

    I do so love to read your writing. You take one on a journey 😉

    While I’m here…I would like to say what a wonderful job NW & Chips performed over the last few days keeping us appraised and entertained.

    I’m so “happy” to be a TODer! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  18. April 1, 2014 at 2:04 pm

  19. 52 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:09 pm

  20. April 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

  21. 55 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

  22. 56 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    OMG!!!! YES! YES! YES!

    Carney confirmed it.

    • 57 jackiegrumbacher
      April 1, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Can’t wait to see the state exchange sign-ups, but that’s probably going to take most of April, especially as the late stragglers are counted. It’s still sad to see the poor showing of those states who cared more about sticking it to Obama than caring for the health of their fellow citizens. Republican governors elected in 2010 have wreaked great damage on their states. They have been a scourge on the American landscape. Ashamed to say I live in one of those benighted states.

  23. 58 hopefruit2
    April 1, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I see that #7MillionAndCounting is trending on Twitter. 🙂

  24. 59 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

  25. 60 Linda
    April 1, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    A former corrections officer who beat a prisoner in his jail can invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground law to argue that he is immune from criminal charges, a Florida appeals court ruled Friday.

    The ruling potentially extends claims of total immunity for all civil and criminal charges under the state’s notorious Stand Your Ground law to corrections officers acting in the course of their jobs. Defendant Brad Heilman was a prison guard at Lake Correctional Institute in Clermont, Fla. who allegedly caused multiple facial fractures to Duane Royster during a severe beating. Heilman was fired over the incident, and charged with aggravated battery.


    Maybe Jeb Bush can run on his SYG law…… ( I doubt he could win Florida )

    • 61 Linda
      April 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      While attempts to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law have failed, bills advancing in the Florida legislature would expand Stand Your Ground to warning shots, make records about Stand Your Ground cases secret, and make the legal process even easier for defendants.

  26. 62 hopefruit2
    April 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

  27. April 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    • 66 57andfemale
      April 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      And the gall of Boehner: He and McTurtle are out there calling for repeal again today because blah-blah-blah ‘small business’ and blah-blah-blah ‘cancelled policies! Losing your doctor!’

      Because every American insured by an employer doesn’t have to wonder EVERY YEAR if they’re going to be able to keep their doctor?

  28. 67 Linda
    April 1, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Blanche Lincoln is working for Sheldon Adelson to stop online gambling.

  29. 70 hopefruit2
    April 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm

  30. 73 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Bahahahahahahaha. The thrill of victory. The agony of the media’s defeat.

  31. 74 Nerdy Wonka
    April 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm

  32. 76 Linda
    April 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Sam Stein has an article up at HP about the 7+ million…..

    He quoted Jay saying :

    “Today we can say definitively that at midnight last night, I think it’s fair to say we passed everyone’s expectations,” Carney said during the briefing.

    oops …Sam left out the “at least everyone in this room” part ……

    Sam….. We see you. !

  33. 77 Linda
    April 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    The Senate is doing another marathon voting for nominees.

  34. April 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

  35. 79 japa21
    April 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    LL, as usual, insightful and to the point.

    “There are times when I just feel like we get what we deserve. But that is what the opposition and their handmaidens want us to feel. They thrive in despair and dejection. And nothing upsets them more than the sunlight of hope.”

    This is key. The forces of oppression and darkness need depression and hopelessness to set in for them to maintain power, and they will do anything to cause it to happen. I include in this making sure that some voices ostensibly on the opposite side work against their own good.

    There is no doubt in my mind that at least at the beginning, much of the outrage we heard coming from what could be called the left was actually from RWers who had inifltrated various websites (DK and FDL as examples) and fomented unrest. Others carried it on, not knowing they were being duped and becoming a means to an end, the end being Dem loss of power.

    And it would have been even worse in 2010 if some of the GOP Senate candidates hadn’t been such weirdos.

    The whiole message of the right boils down to “Despair of anything ever getting better” hoping people will just curl up and accept it. It is my hope that this year, they have overplayed their hand.

  36. 80 JER
    April 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm

  37. 81 HZ
    April 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Nomination Confirmed for the Assistant Attorney General Nomination: Yes: 98: No:1. HZ

  38. 84 hopefruit2
    April 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Like the typical emoprog that he is, Markos loves to jump on a bandwagon only after it has succeeded WITHOUT his help…

    • April 1, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Just brilliant by @sherifffruitfly. That creature has shilled against the ACA from day one, what a worthless toad that he’s trying to jump in on the joy now. **** him.

      • 86 Mela in TX (@bluetexasmoon)
        April 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

        Oh they’re all jumping on it over there. It’s disgusting. And hilarious.

  39. 87 Linda
    April 1, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    This past weekend, the Republican Jewish Coalition held its spring leadership meeting at Adelson’s Venetian hotel, where several possible 2016 contenders, including ex-Gov. Jeb Bush and current Govs. Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and John Kasich, showed up to kiss the ring of the casino magnate, who’s looking to bankroll a viable Republican presidential candidate.

    Though the heavy-on-Israel speeches of the White House wannabes were open to the press, the keynote address delivered by Cheney on Saturday night was off-limits to reporters and the public.

    But Mother Jones has obtained a recording of Cheney’s talk, during which he once again derided President Barack Obama on foreign policy, blasted the isolationists within his own party, assailed critics of the National Security Agency, and seemingly endorsed the idea of an Israeli strike against Iran


  40. 90 japa21
    April 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm

  41. 91 Bill R.
    April 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Excellent essay, LL! Thanks!

  42. 92 0388jojothecat
    April 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    As usual LL your posts are spot on giving truth to power. I was listening to Ed Shultz this morning and he had a empog on who gave Ed a long list of DEM failures and that the ACA will now lead to privatized medicare vouchers etc., the guy was about to bust a vein while Ed tried to talk to him Ed let out a F bomb on the air.

  43. 93 Nena20409
    April 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Au for Cindy. Congrats.

    LL, I raise a glass of the best Bubbles to you, sir 🍸

    Thanks for this post.

  44. 94 nathkatun7
    April 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Great Essay, LL! It’s filled with wisdom.

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