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Bush and the Democrat majority

By jardinier ·
As I only pop in here from time to time (it is much more fun upsetting the fundamentalist Christians at meetchristians.com) I apologise if I am starting a topic which has already been discussed.

Because I know almost nothing about the American political system, I would like any opinions as to how much the Democrat controlled parliament can influence the decisions and policies of the Republican administration.

Naturally plans for withdrawal from Iraq are the hottests issue, but no doubt there are many domestic issues on which the Democrat parliament will oppose the Bush Administration.

How much influence do they have?

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A good bit, actually

by NickNielsen In reply to Bush and the Democrat maj ...

A Congress can do the following to block a President's proposals:

1. Authorize the proposal, but refuse to authorize funding.
2. Pass a bill with the same name as the proposal, but with the initial proposal amended out of existence.
3. Refuse to even address the proposal by leaving a bill languish somewhere in the system.

A President can do the following to block a Congress' proposals:

1. Veto the bill and hope there are not enough votes to override the veto.

As the old saying goes, the President proposes, Congress disposes.

Initial indications were that both parties were willing to work together, but those signs are fast disappearing. The new Democratic leadership appear to have forgotten why they are in Washington and seem to be more intent on gaining revenge for the way the Republicans treated them over the past decade-and-a-half.

Plus ?a change...

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gaining revenge for the way the Republicans treated them?

by maxwell edison In reply to A good bit, actually

Gaining revenge for the way the Republicans treated them over the past decade-and-a-half?

Could you be specific?

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Several different points of view on that

by NickNielsen In reply to gaining revenge for the w ...

This is the Democrats' point of view: http://democraticwhip.house.gov/docuploads/toptenabusesofpowerupdated.pdf (one page)

This is the Rolling Stone's point of view: http://tinyurl.com/yezcor

I've also seen commentary in the Washington Post and even the National Review that questioned whether Democrats would be able to restrain themselves. Unfortunately, those links don't come immediately to mouse.

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Long story short?

by jmgarvin In reply to Bush and the Democrat maj ...

It' going to be grid lock for at least the next 2 years. Nothing is going to happen one way or the other, and that's probably a good thing right about now. See, the biggest problem with the whole mess in Washington was the total lack of any checks and balances. Now, with the Dems in, nothing will happen, but at the same time that means the budget will slowly come under control and small steps will be made towards getting things done.

The big question is what will happen in 08. If the Dems run Hillary, they'll lose. If they pick a more moderate and less slimy person (Wesley Clark is a good choice IMHO), they have a chance at winning. The Reps need to also pick someone more middle of the road. Most of America is sick to death of the Christian Right.

We'll have to wait and see though.

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My Opinion

by maxwell edison In reply to Bush and the Democrat maj ...

On Iraq:

The President has the authority the wage the "war on terror" however he sees fit. Such authority was approved by Congress in 2001. I'm not sure if there is a provision for a future Congress to rescind that authority, but I highly doubt it, especially considering I've not heard of any such provision. (Not to mention the possible disastrous logistical implications.)

Congress does, however, control the purse-strings. They could, through budgetary measures, deny funding for anything they want. If they did that, they would, in essence, be denying funding to the very same effort they previously approved. This would especially hold true for those (of both parties, by the way) who voted in favor of the authority in 2001, but then voted to deny funding in 2007. Such a move certainly wouldn't bode well for their stated position of "supporting the troops, but opposing the action". (Which is, in my opinion, both a contradiction and an insult.)

If I were to guess, I'd say that they'll continue to score talking-points on the issue, but in the end, the president will get his way and his funding. Another opinion I hold is that America's Democrat Party doesn't have the stomach for defining and pursuing victory, and they will continue to play politics with the war; they are also apparently on the same side as our radical Islamic enemies, at least based on the similarities in their public comments.

On increasing the scope of America's social programs:

The Democrat Congress will get what they want, and the president will kiss their butts and sign whatever legislation they put before him.

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Get a front row seat while you can

by jdclyde In reply to Bush and the Democrat maj ...

the circus is about to start.

The congress, mislead by Pelosi is going to have to do major compromise to get anything done. If they were to try to get the impeachment the rabid left wants in revenge for what happened to William Jefferson Clinton, nothing will get done and the Dems will have nothing to show after two years.

I fully expect them to fall in line so they CAN accomplish a few high profile things that they will be able to beat their chests about so they can try to get more of the same in the 08 election. Everything done NOW will just be lead up to that.

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Dems will be barely influential

by DelbertPGH In reply to Bush and the Democrat maj ...

Democrats and Republicans, in this particular year, are constrained in many ways that have little to do with legislative majorities. They are all too much concerned with how they will look to the voting public, both as individuals and as parties, to be free to do as they actually might wish.

Iraq especially is an example. Dems voted to authorize actions against Iraq, because they have spent 30 years in the public imagination as being the social welfare party that was too soft to fight a war. Now that the Bush policy is a train wreck and a majority of Americans want out, half the Dem politicians want to run out as fast as possible, damn the consequences, and the other half want to get out slowly and carefully, in the hope that some satisfactory resolution can be found along the way. They don't want to spend another generation being known as the bunch who's afraid to defend America. Between them and the Republicans (who show much better party discipline than any Congress of the last 100 years), Iraq policy will be transitional, not abrupt.

A number of Senators and governors in both parties are planning to run for President in 2008. The quadrennial Presidential election years are the only times most Americans really pay attention to politics, and the runup has already started. Half of the political positions that get stated will be for the sake of theater only, with no hope of actually passing any new law; and any important new legislation will be frustrated by the opposing party, so that neither party will be allowed to go into the election with what seems to be a record of recent accomplishment.

If the Democrats do manage to pass strong law (difficult, since the same law has to pass both in the House and Senate, and Senate rules and Senatorial privilege make it possible for any Senator to hold up any bill), the President can veto it. Then, it would require Congress pass the law again by a 60% majority to override the veto. Bush is, so far as I know, the only President to have governed so long without vetoing a single piece of legislation. Every other President has vetoed many bills, sometimes dozens. Letting the Republican Congress have its unobstructed way, in exchange for them supporting Presidential initiatives without question, and for voting as a well disciplined bloc, has apparently been the governmental bargain for the last six years. There's no reason to expect the Democrats won't get a slapdown now and then.

Also, under the American system of executive power, the President can get away with a lot, if he's really determined. He can shift money between accounts and spend it in ways not intended by Congress, but not explicitly illegal, either. (Nixon managed to fund the whole Cambodian bombing campaign in defiance of Congress, for example.) And, should he go too far, he can send lawyers to court to stall the enforcement of Congressional will, for years if necessary. (Recall Mr. Bush has only two years left to serve.) And if his principles drive him to contravene even the courts, the only recourse is impeachment, which 75% of the people would not want. Politicians would not want it, either, because it would look like an election year stunt.

So, if the Democrats had gotten their Congressional majorities two or six years ago, this question of influence over the President would be much more interesting. As it stands, though, gravity and friction will prevent any meaningful Democratic independent action from happening. All we will have will be 24 months of increasingly irrelevant theater, by dull men trying to become interesting and memorable.

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