Comeback Kid 2.0?

Comeback Kid 2.0?


After the self-described “shellacking” Obama and the Dems got in November, the turnaround in this lame duck session has been nothing short of extraordinary. 5 major pieces of legislation were passed during a time when nothing usually gets done. And all of it was bipartisan in one form or another.

Let’s run down what they were able to accomplish in this lame duck session.

  • Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The moderate Clinton wanted to repeal, without doing the studies, so he had to make this compromise. This was one of Obama’s key campaign promises and he delivered a huge civil rights victory. At the same time he made John McCain look like a liar for saying he would support it if the studies showed a repeal would do very little harm to our military. They did, and he still didn’t back it. Oh well.
  • Extension of Tax Cuts. Plus Obama got a new payroll tax holiday and new write-off rules for businesses that could generate a ton of new investment in every sector of the economy. A lot of Dems didn’t like that tax cuts were being extended for the rich (income and estate), but they were able to get unemployment insurance extended in a time when we need to make sure that money doesn’t dry up. Not only that, polls showed that a large majority didn’t favor extending the tax cuts for the wealthy, so the national/independent mood was right in line with where Obama was at. Trust that this will be used against Repubs in the coming years as they try to slash federal programs…while still trying to maintain those tax cuts. If they were smart, they’d let them expire in 2012.
  • Ratification of the START Treaty. No small feat since Repubs had the votes to strike this one down, but ultimately their hand was forced when some Republicans started jumping ship and siding with Dems. Why? Because the treaty is solid and the reasons Repubs were going to vote against were very thin.
  • Passing the 9/11 health bill. The administration owes Jon Stewart a big thanks for dedicating an entire program to this topic and putting it back on the media’s radar. Why Republicans voted against it in the first place is beyond me. Well, I know the reasons they cited…like saying it was a slush fund for special interests groups. Sure, if it were a massive health care bill for ALL first responders, that would have been understandable, but Repubs really overreached and made a huge strategic error.
  • New Food Safety Bill. In much the same way the financial regulation legislation passed earlier this year was the most substantive since The Great Depression, so too was this. And it helped local farmers at the same time. Basically, big Agra needs to be more accountable and the FDA can demand recalls. Right now they have to rely on producers to do it. Local farmers are not subject to these new regulations and that’s sure to drive more competition for the increasingly local/sustainable markets.

All of this begs a couple questions. 1) Did the election really diminish Obama? 2) Or has it helped him quickly move back towards the center to capture the spirit of his presidential campaign as we head a season where he’s sure to get attacked by GOP hopefuls?

What do you think?

  • kranky kritter

    My recollection from the Stewart show on the 9/11 health bill is that democrats had intentionally packaged the no-brainer, everybody on board 9/11 healthcare bill with a controversial tax change that they knew republicans didn’t want.

    If all they wanted to do was to pass the 9/11 healthcare, why package it with something else? Grandstanding. Both parties engage in that sort of nonsense, and its always pathetic.

    I never followed up on that story. Did it end up passing with or without that objectionable provision? That will tell us whether Republicans miscalculated or instead the democrats were just going for a day or two of cheap publicity.

  • Tillyosu

    Since when are Lame Duck Sessions a time when “nothing usually gets done”?

  • Trescml

    The optics on the 9/11 responders bill was terrible for Republicans and they really had no choice but to cave in. START was also something that Republicans really had little backing to continue blocking it. DADT was really the only pure progressive item that was passed, but I won’t deny that was a major accomplishment. Although it was a solid session and does make Obama look good, I think that come January the gloves will be off on the battle on the budget and seeing what the House and Senate can agree on.

    KK- They ended up paying for the bill via for with a fee on some foreign firms that get U.S. government procurement contracts. Also it extends fees on some firms that rely on H-1B and L-1 visas. They decreased the time frame for paying the responders from 10 to 5 years.

  • kranky kritter

    So then the bill passed easily as soon as democrats relented on the objectionable provision. There’s no doubt in my mind then that the form that Stewart objected to was a cheap publicity stunt.