The Weiner Component #164 – President Hillary Clinton & the Republican House of Representatives

English: President Barack Obama and sec. of St...

The Weiner Component #164 – President Hillary Clinton & the Republican House of Representatives

 

If Hillary Clinton is elected President on November 8, 2016, and the probability is that she will be, then the question arises of: How will she avoid political gridlock with the Senate having a Democratic majority but the right to filibuster and the House of Representatives having a Republican majority?  Is it possible that she will be able to take the country beyond the point which had limited President Barack Obama, that of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives?

 

President Obama during his first term in office (2009 – 2012) kept trying to get Republican cooperation.  He did not succeed in doing this during either of his two terms in office.  President Clinton would be starting out with this knowledge.  She would not put herself in a position to be rejected by the Republicans.  In this case the responsibility would be clearly theirs to cooperate with her.  How could she achieve this?

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from 1933 on used, what he called, The Fireside Chat to talk the people of the United States through The Great Depression.  These were weekly radio broadcasts to the people throughout the country. 

 

At that time the center of family entertainment and news was the family radio.  Television did not exist.  Presidential announcements were made through it.  So were sports, music, and drama presentations.  Mothers listened to drama serials as they prepared dinner.  Children listened to adventure stories during dinner and afterwards.  The family listened to news, concerts, or drama presentations in the evening.  President Roosevelt used this device to communicate with the people of America, by giving weekly reports to the nation on what was happening and what was being done by the government.  It served as an emotional crutch for the people of the United States.

 

Earlier, at the turn of the 20th Century, Theodore Roosevelt had used, what he called The Bully Pulpit to transmit his messages to the people.  He made his speeches and announcements before crowds and the press.  They were carried in newspapers throughout the country.  This, when necessary, brought pressure on members of Congress to pass many of the laws he desired for the benefit of the public.

 

The President of the United States does not make laws.  That is the job of Congress.  He/She is the chief administrator of the country.  But that individual is supposed to lead the nation through his/her party in Congress, by proposing many necessary laws in order to carry out his/her agenda which is supposed to exist for the benefit of the public.

 

What President Barack Obama proposed after 2011 to a Republican dominated House of Representatives was generally turned down.  The Republicans even tried to force him to carry out their agenda by adding riders to many laws which would carry out their agenda which he, in turn, would veto.  This was carried to the point of shutting down the government by attaching riders to necessary finance bills. 

 

Currently, during President Obama’s last four months in office, the Republican dominated House of Representatives is refusing to really deal with the Zika epidemic and also refusing to pass anything but a temporary budget to fund the U.S. Government over the next few months instead of for the full fiscal year.

 

In addition to this the current Republican dominated Senate has been refusing for the last seven months to allow the President to appoint a ninth Justice to the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia who died on February 13, 2016.  They want the next President, if he is a Republican, to choose the ninth member of the Supreme Court.

 

However some Republicans feel that if Hillary Clinton is elected then they should hold a lame duck session and approve President Barack Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland.  The argument being that he is more conservative than anyone Hillary Clinton might choose.

 

My feeling is that the best choice Hillary Clinton could make would be a Constitutional lawyer by the name of Barack Obama; if he would take the job.  That would be the second time the Republicans have gotten what they deserve for refusing to properly do their job.

 

The first instance was Elizabeth Warren, who helped create and was supposed to be the head of the Consumer Protection Agency.  They would not allow her to be confirmed so she ended up becoming the second Senator from Massachusetts.  This would be the second instance where Republican plans backfired.  And there is precedent for this move by Clinton, President Warren Harding appointed former President William Howard Taft to the Supreme Court.

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How would Hillary Clinton keep in constant contact with her public?  Generally most people in the United States have very little free time.  They are mostly busy with work, raising children, and the rest of their lives.  It takes a lot of time and effort to closely follow what goes on in Washington, D.C.

 

Radio has not been an important means of communication since the end of World War II (1945) when black and white television made its first appearance.  Today colorized television has become the major means of communication across the country.

 

In order to have a live, functional agenda the President today needs to have constant contact with the people of the United States.  He/She needs to keep in constant contact with her constituency. 

 

He/She still has the bully pulpit.  She is the directly hired representative of all the people.  And the people, as a whole, can make themselves heard by Congress.  And if Congress does not carry out their will then they can fire the entire House of Representatives and 1/3d of the Senate at the next election in 2018.

 

The President, as the representative of the entire nation, can keep up a weekly communication by weekly reports.  These reports can also function two ways with the constituency also being able to communicate with the President through the internet.

 

This would mean at least weekly reports of what is and is not going on.  Up to this point the Republicans in the House of Representatives, all 247 of them are fairly visible; their votes and the issues upon which they vote are recorded but not advertised.  It takes a lot of time to dig up that information.  It would certainly pay for the chief executive to set up a staff to keep a record of these happenings.  They could also script or outline the President’s report and keep the records of public’s communications to the President. 

 

In addition this group could also have easy access on the internet to specific information, like the addresses of all the members of Congress.  From this bank of specific information that could be accessed at any time by the public on demand, intense pressure could be brought on any or all members of Congress. Those citizens who so desire could also share their thoughts with the President.  It would make the individual Congress members responsible for their actions.

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If President Hillary Clinton and/or her husband were to do a weekly television broadcast together or separately each week and specifically state their objectives and then go over what was done or not done by the specific members of Congress and the political party they represent for the prior week that would affect the general electorate.  This would be especially true if they had the means to easily respond to these members of Congress.  The President could also keep the public aware of their advance plans and what help they could expect from Congress by passing specific laws.

 

This weekly broadcast would have to be on prime time over one of more major TV stations.  I would suspect that CBS, NBC, or ABC might each be willing to carry the program.  The major cable networks: CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News would probably also vie for the broadcasts.  This would be particularly true if they could sell commercial time just before or after the broadcasts.

 

What the White House would be doing here would be keeping constant contact with the voting public whose prosperity would be tied to the White House agenda.  It would also demonstrate to the voters exactly what they were getting from all their elected officials.  And it would do this with no additional effort by the public except watching a government report each week. 

 

As an additional benefit from an arrangement like this there would be a feeling by the public of contributing to the running of the government.  This could allay the feeling of frustration and helplessness many Americans feel about their government.

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While there are different governmental philosophies between the two major political parties this type of move could bring about an end to gridlock in Washington, D. C.  It’s a little ridiculous to wait four months or more to have Congress sit on the Zika epidemic and mainly argue political points during a national medical emergency.  It’s equally ridiculous to have the House of Representatives refuse to fund the government, using it as a means of blackmail to get their way on other issues, because they don’t have the votes to pass those other issues.

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The Weiner Component #163 – Part 2: The 2017 Presidency

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Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

The Presidential Campaign will continue until Tuesday, November 8th of 2016, with both sides continually verbally attacking the other.  Trump has reorganized his staff three times, hiring among others someone who has made a career of attacking and trying to discredit the Clintons. He is supposed to excel in dirty tricks.  Hillary Clinton will continue with her basic premise that Trump is unfit to be President and move on from there.  In fact on Wednesday, September 7, at a back to back veteran’s Town Hall with Clinton, Trump defined the secret briefing as being anti Obama in the body language of the men who gave it, something which the intelligence community said never happened.  In terms of money raised for campaigning Clinton seems to be able to raise well over ten times the amount Trump does.

 

(In fact, Trumps entire Washington Bureau Organization quit when Trump refused to send them the promised checks for their work. This seems to be a pattern of Trump’s, stiffing his employees by not paying them.}

 

There are to be four debates scheduled, three will be between the Presidential candidates and one between the Vice-Presidential choices.  Of these one will be moderated by a NBC moderator, one by a Fox News employee, one by ABC News and CNN with joint a moderator from each network, and the Vice Presidential one by CBS News.  They will begin on September 26th and end on October 19th.  They should be interesting or at least colorful.

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When all this is done and the votes finally counted at the end of November 8th the next President of the United States will be officially elected to that office and will take the helm in January of 2017 of guiding the country for the next four years.

 

If we ask, which candidate will it be?  There is a high probability that it will be Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is also probably that the Senate will return to a Democratic majority after the election but that the House of Representatives will remain in the hands of the Republicans.  This is the exact situation that President Obama faced from his third year in office until his sixth year there.  In 2014, a non-Presidential Election year, the Republicans also achieved a slight majority in the Senate.

 

From 2011 on there was a Democratic President, a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and until 2014, a Democratic majority in the Senate.  The result, since 2011, has been total gridlock with the House most of the time unsuccessfully trying to force its will upon the President and the Senate; and in many cases adding something that they wanted like defunding Planned Parenthood to a necessary bill which was then vetoed.

 

For the duration of his first term in office the Congressional Republicans in both Houses of Congress were determined to make Barack Obama a one term President.  They opposed everything he supported.  The Affordable Health Care Bill, which was modeled upon one developed by the Republican Think Tank, Citizen’s United, for Mitt Romney when he was governor OF Massachusetts and applied to that state.  It espouses Republican values by allowing private enterprise to control the plan.  Yet it was passed in Congress on a strict Party basis.  Democrats voted for it and all Republicans all opposed it.  The House, after the Republican majority was reached there spent over fifty days bringing its demise up and voting to end it even though these numerous identical Bills were never brought up in the Senate.  The vote has always been strictly upon Party lines.

 

For his first four years in office President Barack Obama seemed to feel that he could get some cooperation from the Republicans in Congress.  It never happened.  For his second term he knew better but he nor the rest of the Democratic Party ever really took them on.  While neither the President nor the Democrats in Congress never really exposed the Republican actions or non-actions the Republican’s never stopped blaming the President and the Democrats for what they, the Republicans, did not do.

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The odds are that Hillary Clinton on November 8th will be elected 45th President of the United States, and the Senate will regain its Democratic majority.  But there is a high probability that the Republicans in the House of Representatives, while losing some of their majority members, will still have control of that body.

 

There are 435 voting members in the House.  Currently 247 are Republicans and 188 are Democrats.  The Democrats would have to win 30 seats in the House to just gain control of that body.  They will probably gain some seats but not the 30 needed.  Consequently the probable state of affairs during the Clinton Presidency could very well be continued gridlock.

 

With this situation there is the question of how will Hillary Clinton be able to bring part or all of her agenda about.

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One of the major group of incidents that have frustrated President Obama during his presidency has been the random terrorist massacres that have occurred throughout the United States.  Generally Congress will observe a moment of silence but essentially the Republicans will pass no laws to control the purchase of firearms.  The National Rifle Association, which contributes heavily to Congressional elections and supports gun owners throughout the U.S. and is controlled by the gun, magazine, and ammunition producing companies, holds the position that any step in weapon control is the first step in taking guns away from American citizens. Essentially what the reformers want is to have thorough background checks upon everyone buying a firearm and to stop the sale to people with mental problems or to those who have criminal records.

 

The random gun shootings in the United States are at least 22 times higher than in any other industrial nation.  The last terrorist attack was on the night of June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen, an American born, not too well mentally balanced 29 year old Moslem, who worked as a security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  After a three hour siege he was shot and killed by the Orlando Police Department swat team.  Mateen had purchased the semi-automatic firearms legally the prior week.

 

This issue was dealt with at least twice at the Democratic Convention: once by adults who had lost a parent or child to random shooting and once by people whose parent or child had been specifically or otherwise targeted.

 

The Senate had blocked four gun measures the following Monday, two from each party.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader said that Democrats were taking advantage of the Orlando Massacre, using it as a political talking point.  He called the Republican proposals, “real solutions.”  Harry Reid, the minority leader, called the Republican measures, “political stunts.”  Hillary Clinton had one word for the Senate after the gun vote, “Enough.”  She later tweeted, “It’s time to demand more than thoughts and prayers from our elected officials.”

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At the Democratic Convention, the Platform writing committee consisted of fifteen members: Clinton appointed six of them, Sanders five, and Wasserman Schultz four.  The Platform was described by NBC News as the most progressive in party history.

 

They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to inflation.  They also desire to include 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.  On health care, the Democrats want a public option for the Affordable Care Act and legislation to allow Americans aged 55 and over to buy into Medicare.  They also want Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and to double their support for community health centers that provide primary health-care services, particularly in rural areas.

 

The Democrats express support for Wall Street reform.  They want a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to keep banks from gambling with depositor’s money and a breakup of “too big to fail” financial institutions.  Also there should be an expansion of Social Security and the abolition of the death penalty.  There is support for criminal justice reform, and an end to private prisons; and reforms to boost police accountability to communities.

 

On taxation the platform pledges “tax relief for middle class families” and improvement on K-12 education.  On workers’ rights the platform endorses expanding and defending the right of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively.  The platform maintains the long standing support of Israel.  On abortion it states, “We believe, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured.”  It also defends Planned Parenthood.  It urges the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  “After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution.”

 

There are other considerations in the Democratic Platform but these are ones that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander strongly support.

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The next question that arises is: How will President Hillary Clinton bring many or most of these positions to fruition?  Will she end up like President Barack Obama, having to fight the House of Representatives, in many cases unsuccessfully, for every change the country needed?  President Obama was mostly successful working through the Federal Reserve and by using executive orders.  He got very little from Congress except having the House close down the government.

 

The Republicans in the House of Representatives seem to have no understanding of fiscal policy and many of them seem to want to limit the powers of the Federal Reserve, particularly in terms of monetary policy.  One gets the impression that many Republicans in the House do not really understand the principles of economics as they apply to the Central Government.  Basic ignorance does not bring about solutions to problems.  In fact they worsen those situations.  Witness the Great Recession of 2008.  A Republican President in 2009 would have turned it into a Greater Depression than that of 1929.

 

The actions taken by the Republican dominated House of Representatives from 2011 tended to worsen economic conditions by cutting government spending and increasing unemployment.  It was President Obama and the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, using creative monetary policy that largely solved the problem of unemployment, which should have been solved completely by Congress using fiscal policy.

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In 2017 President Clinton will have her hands full.  Will she be able to work with Republicans to bring about full employment and an era of increased prosperity for the majority of the American people?