The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003:
And the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009:
Over the past week, the fealty of GOP lawmakers to hate radio host Rush Limbaugh has become increasingly clear. They have been reluctant to criticize his comment that he hopes Obama fails, and those who have spoken out have been forced to retract their statements and beg forgiveness from the hate radio host.
Today on Fox and Friends, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) further circled the wagons, saying that Obama shouldn’t have made critical remarks about Limbaugh (which were made in a private meeting with Republicans and then leaked to the press)...
A source present at today's White House signing ceremony for the Lilly Ledbetter bill tells me that President Obama gave assurances that the family planning aid would be done soon -- perhaps as soon as next week, when the House is set to take up a spending bill that would keep the government funded until October.
But equal pay is by no means just a women’s issue – it’s a family issue. It’s about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition or child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where, when one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves, that’s the difference between affording the mortgage – or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor’s bills – or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month’s paycheck to simple discrimination.
So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook – it’s about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.
Ultimately, though, equal pay isn’t just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it’s a question of who we are – and whether we’re truly living up to our fundamental ideals. Whether we’ll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put to paper more than 200 years ago really mean something – to breathe new life into them with the more enlightened understandings of our time.
Firstly, congratulations on a hugely successful and smooth transition process. I know that you had already given a lot of thought to how the inherent instability of a Presidential Transition can be overcome, and that careful study really showed in the systematic approach you guys took.
My question is this: did you exclusively approach the process by looking at the list of jobs and searching for candidates, or did you also look at the structure of cabinet level positions to maximalise efficiencies? For example, I know that a decision was taken to elevate the UN Ambassador position back up to Cabinent level, but did you ever consider scrapping or massively reorganising Cabinent level positions? Specifically, did you consider eliminating the Department of Commerce and subsuming its responsibilities under other departments? What about breaking the Department of Homeland Security back into its constituent parts? What about combining the Energy and Environment portfolios?
Were you thinking along these lines at? Why or why not?
Disappointing, but what does it all mean? There are two ways of looking at both Obama's actions and at those of the Republicans in the House.
Already, I've heard from a bunch of folks who are frustrated - even angry - that Obama made compromises trying to win Republican votes that were not, in fact, forthcoming. I get that frustration. One way of looking at Obama's Approach is to say he tried and failed to win Republicans to the stimulus, and gave things up in the hope of achieving this. Effectively, this view sees the outcome as a net loss for Obama and a net gain for Republicans.
I don't see it this way.
Obama has passed a good Stimulus package - admittedly he took out a few items I liked (not only the contraception, but also for instance some much needed funding to restore the National mall). But there are still lots of really good things in there - stuff that is going to make a big difference to folks who are struggling to stay afloat, and that will calm some of the panics and help get people spending again.
Meanwhile, Obama made it as clear as possible that he is serious about working with anyone who is serious about working with him - he's willing to listen, and adapt where it is reasonable to do so although he will stick by his guiding economic philosophy. A case in point of this is he refusal to strip out tax rebates from those whose incomes are so low that they never paid income tax. Obama believes that a stimulus should distribute money to those who are most likely to spend it. Lower income people are more likely to spend that money quickly, so apart from humanitarian reasons, they are pragmatically the best people to quickly stimulate the economy. Win win.
Nothing that Obama did in his effort to reach out to Republicans in any way harmed the bill's fundamental effectiveness - even his decision to offer significant tax cuts as part of the bill wasn't really something he surrendered to Republicans, but is in line with his belief that the money should be spent as quickly as possible, and more money in people's pay checks is a quick and efficient way of doing this. Capital Gains tax cuts, however, which Republicans wanted and Obama refused, are NOT a good way of doing this. So he made a sincere effort to work with these people, but stuck by his core philosophy. Mature leadership, and I think it came off that way to most people who were following it.
The Republican Approach
On the other hand, Congressional Republicans have achieved... what exactly? Well, they didn't stop the bill; it passed the hourse easily and will pass the Senate, apparently with bipartisan support. They managed to block a couple provisions from appearing IN THIS BILL, although most of them - including the contraceptive waivers they were so offended by - will almost certainly be included in another bill sometime soon.
They didn't get the permanent tax cuts for the wealthy that they were looking for. And, by the way, those Republicans who are waxing indignant about how shocked, SHOCKED they are that the stimulus spending will increase the deficit are being transparently hypocritical - their tax cut would have increased the deficit just as much (raising spending and cutting income both hurt the budget) but would have benefited different folks.
Which brings me to the crux of the matter. The only thing Republicans really acheived here is making thier actual point of view crystal clear to the voters - the Republicans don't want deficit spending to stimulate the economy. They don't want it so much that they were even willing to disagree with President Bush and harm John McCain's campaign last summer to try and stop it from happening. After an open trough pork buffet during most of the Bush administration, precisely at the moment when the economic cycle has turned around, to the point where almost all economists agree the deficit spending is our best chance for a recovery, they just plain don't want it. Tax cuts yes, spending no. Principled stupidity?
Or, perhaps the explanation is more cynical than that. Perhaps the plan is to distance themselves from the recovery plans as much as possible in the sincere and desperate hope that it will fail. The calculation, 100% political, may be that the Republicans' best chance for a comeback is the hope for an ongoing economic crisis that they can blame entirely on Democrats. Malevolent scheming?
Inspired by Obama's policy of presuming good faith from the other side, I'm going to hold fast to the assumption that the Republicans in Congress are acting from misguided principle rather than the unpatriotic hope that the country will fail.
Either way, it seems to me that they have won nothing in this battle.
I stumbled across one of the rallies (the one on Millenium Bridge) and i'm a massive fan of Obama so I took a bunch of photos. Then I heard about your last rally in Parliament Square through some friends, so I went along to take some more pictures and I never thought much more about it.
Well anyway I recently put together a slideshow of the pictures to show to a few friends and when I came across your blog I thought you might be interested in seeing it as well. It's available here.