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Friday, March 1, 2013

Congress…and the President now…are losing the American public’s trust


With two-thirds of the public disapproving of the way Congress is handling the federal spending issue and only 26% on their side, you might think the blame lies squarely on the backs of the congressional leaders whose overall ratings are even worse.  Not so.  52% disapprove of the way President Obama has managed the issue but with 43% that do approve.  The latter is a lot better than Congress but David Gergen says right now this country is “leaderless.”  That is frightening when you consider the major issues facing the United States today.

Other than the lately infamous term, “Sequester,” also on the table is gun control legislation, immigration reform and taking the leadership on improving the environment.  This country cannot remain as a world leader without tackling and solving all four of these problems.  The typical Washington charade recently that is supposed to be governing is considered farcical by many throughout the free world.  In another poll, “…Americans are divided over whether Obama is emphasizing unifying the country or taking a partisan approach.”  That’s not good.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland commented, "It looks like this could turn into a "lose-lose" scenario for both sides, although the Republicans appear to have more to lose than Obama."  But the President’s advantage has been diminishing over the last two months, according to CNN’s Political Editor, Paul Steinhauser.  DavidGergen on CNN was much blunter: “In times past, a president has usually risen to the demands of leadership when a Congress has stubbornly resisted tough choices…”  Gergen added:

“That's what Lyndon Johnson did in persuading key Republicans to help pass the civil rights bills of 1964 and 1965. And that's what Bill Clinton did in working with a Republican House led by Newt Gingrich. People forget how hostile House Republicans were to Clinton -- hell, they impeached him -- but he nonetheless worked with them to pass four straight balanced budgets and an overhaul of welfare.”

Excellent definition of sequester by The Young Turks:
 
It seems to me that it all boils down to the art of negotiation, which I emphasized in a recent post.  Sam Rayburn was a master, as was Lyndon Johnson, both from Texas.  Bill Clinton had this knack and even Barack Obama has exhibited moments of proclivity in bringing the two sides together as he did in passing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Negotiation is defined simply as a “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.”   It means that both sides must give a little and take a little.  Is that so hard?

Well, apparently it is, because David Gergen says that both Congress and the White House are neglecting their responsibilities of bringing this country together.  And if there is no real leadership on either side, the USS America is basically sailing without a rudder.  Gergen continues, “One of the foremost duties of Congress is to pass a budget: It has failed for four straight years. Republicans, especially in the House, have continually refused to meet the White House halfway.”  My question is whether House Speaker John Boehner is still in control.

Americans have now become apathetic about the sequester with only 18% of the U.S. who say they understand “very well” what happens when it goes into effect.  I am frankly not sure whether or not enough of those in Congress and the White House honestly know the outcome following today’s deadline.  The fact of the matter is that some feel the President should have more power on deciding where the cuts should be made and Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, and Jim Inhofe, R-OK, are working on a bill right now to address that issue.

Whatever happens today, this Congress, and partially Barack Obama, will have to shoulder the blame for the fact that the greatest nation in the free world could not bring together its two main political factions in an agreement to keep its democratic government functioning normally.  Just the idea of the bickering that has been going on for the last 12 years is enough to turn your stomach.  But the idea of putting ideology before your country is unforgivable.  Enough is enough.

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