President Barack Obama today praised the narrow passage of major energy and climate legislation late Friday by the House, where it was pushed through by LA Congressman Henry Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and urged the Senate to act.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama today touted new light bulb requirements that he says will save billions in great energy efficiency. … Obama told gay and lesbian leaders in the White House that he is ending don’t ask/don’t tell in the military and lifting the ban on travel to the US by HIV-positive individuals. … Fireworks were seen in Baghdad and other major cities of Iraq as US forces formally turned over security arrangements to Iraqi commanders as part of their withdrawal from the cities. … In California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis, Democratic legislative leaders defied today’s statements by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and their own recent history on the issue, by passing a budget that contains tax hikes-as-fees in an attempt to get around the state’s constitutional requirement for a two-thirds vote on such things.
** SCHWARZENEGGER SAYS NO TO DEMOCRATIC TAX HIKE BY MAJORITY VOTE. With their earlier plans having failed, as expected, Democratic legislative leaders now seem to be moving forward with the pass taxes-as-fees (thus removing the constitutional requirement for a two-thirds vote), as I discussed this morning.
Not surprisingly, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said this morning that he will veto any such legislation. Its constitutionality, in any event, is in very serious question, as you might expect.
None of this can be a surprise for Democrats.
In fact, nothing that has happened for the past several weeks in California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis has had any result that is other than the expected.
President Barack Obama spends much of this 4th of July week prepping for the big summit next week in Moscow.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
An abbreviated week this week, with the 4th of July holiday looming on Saturday.
President Barack Obama spends much of the week prepping for his big summit next week in Moscow. He also does many other things.
California politics, and the state government’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis, sees a looming deadline this week.
Obama this week will work the Senate for the energy and climate change bill which narrowly passed the House of Representatives late Friday.
He will continue adjusting the universal health care package.
He will determine how things are going with the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq’s cities.
And he will monitor crises in Iran, where the protest movement has been predictably stifled, and North Korea, which threatens to test fire a long-range missile in the direction of his home state Hawaii on the 4th of July.
Things are less stimulating from an intellectual standpoint in California politics, where the state government is up against this week’s deadline by state Controller John Chiang on the issuance of IOUs in lieu of many payments.
Little apparent progress has been in the past several weeks, as legislative players have largely reverted – for the umpteenth time – to their default positions. Or, at least in the case of the Dems, new default positions, which do acknowledge the obvious need for cuts. But keep pushing for another round of tax hikes.
Republicans, of course, remain entrenched on fiscal matters, which is to say squarely in the pocket of the anti-government faction which dominates the caucus in the Legislature. So entrenched, in fact, that they turned down Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to enact a fee on property owners in high-risk fire areas. Notwithstanding the fact that fire services in those areas are already severely underfunded, as we’ve seen with the firestorms of the past few years.
As for the Democrats, they have acceded to the obvious need to cut programs in the wake of the massive loss of revenue caused by the global economic downturn and the state’s inadequate revenue structure. But, pressed by the ultra-government faction that dominates Democratic legislative politics in the Capitol, they keep pushing for more time (hoping to avoid further cutus) and more taxes.
I had this conversation with top Democratic legislators seven years ago, during Gray Davis’s governorship. Spending commitments (and tax cuts) taken on during the dot-com boom were resulting in a structural deficit. Their solution? Raise taxes. I asked how, given the Republican anti-tax stance and the state’s constitution, requiring at least some Republican votes.
Well, Republicans will just have to go along with tax hikes, I was told. Why? They’ll just have to, insisted then Assembly Budget Committee chair Jenny Oropeza.
That was in 2002.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings and is meeting with senior advisors, all in the Oval Office.
At 10:15 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on energy in the Grand Foyer of the White House.
He will address the narrow passage, late on Friday, in the House of Representatives of major energy and climate legislation. Pushed through by LA Congressman Henry Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the legislation would establish a cap and trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions and require that 20% of the nation’s electric power come from renewable sources. The bill faces major hurdles in gaining Senate passage and will be taken up later this year.
At 11:15 AM Pacific, Obama meets one-on-one with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia in the Oval Office.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama holds an expanded meeting with Uribe in the Oval Office.
At 1:25 PM Pacific, Obama and Michelle Obama host a reception for LGBT Pride Month in the East Room. The Obamas have invited some 250 promiment members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Obama is still trying to find the right balance on gay rights, with significant criticism for his lack of support for same-sex marriage, an issue which is still extraordinarily controversial, and for ending the don’t ask/don’t tell policy for the military, which is far less controversial.
At 4:15 PM Pacific, Obama attends a reception with Democratic National Finance Committee members at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington.
With the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraqi cities, Obama and his advisors are monitoring the security situation there.
And Obama is of course monitoring the situation in Iran, where once large protests have, as expected here, fizzled in the face of a massive security presence ordered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The time in Tehran is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of California.
Yet another day has passed in Iran with demonstrations effectively tamped down.
Obama is also closely monitoring several other crises: In North Korea, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Michael Jackson mania continues. Sister Janet Jackson discussed the late pop superstar last night at the Black Entertainment Television awards.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger engages in private meetings and discussions, mostly focusing on California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
He has no scheduled public events.
Various moves by Democratic legislative leaders on the budget have failed, as predicted.
Late yesterday, the state Assembly revived the taxes-as-fees gambit, passing a budget with 44 votes out of 80. The bill recasts the oil severance and tobacco tax hikes as fee increases, zeros them out by cutting the gasoline tax, then institutes a gasoline fee. All as an attempt to get around the constitutional two-thirds vote requirement for tax hikes.
We’ve been down this road.
Incidentally, even if Schwarzenegger were to go along with the gambit, a budget enacted in this manner would not go into effect for 90 days, doing nothing to deal with the need for a balanced budget in place to avert IOUs.
The talks continue. It’s very exciting …
** STAR TREK FIRSTS … 43 YEARS ON. Some 43 years after it began, and seven years after the movie franchise seemed completely played out, Star Trek is making firsts again. And so far, it’s the most popular movie of the year in America. …
** OBAMA AND THE AYATOLLAH. Two weeks after his landmark address in Cairo, where he honored traditional Islam and extolled engagement with modern Islam, President Barack Obama finds himself in a conundrum. Determining what to do about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who just told the people of Iran, in an unusual nationally-televised sermon at the end of Friday prayers, to stop acting like they live in a democracy.
It’s a particularly tricky question for Obama, because he has an unusual dual role to play: Inspirational global icon and president of the United States.
As the president of the United States, it’s Obama’s job to figure out the needs of America and go about meeting them. As a global icon, he is expected to inspire. … From my June 19th column.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: NORTH KOREA, AGAIN. President Barack Obama changed the old kabuki in dealing with his second North Korean crisis. The first time around, back in April, dealing with a long-range missile test that failed to place a satellite in orbit, Obama treated the effort as more of the same rather baffling attention-seeking by the Hermit Kingdom. This time, after a string of provocations including an underwhelming underground nuclear detonation, a series of missile launches, and the imprisonment of two California-based journalists, Obama went in another, tougher, direction that may lead to a naval confrontation. … From my June 12th column.
** REMEMBERING AMERICA: OBAMA’S D-DAY SPEECH AND TWO DAYS IN JUNE. There’s no question that timing is, as it were, of the essence in politics. Consider the timing of President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, coming as it did just two days before the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Most focus simply on the Cairo speech. But that speech exists in a larger context, alongside the speech over the weekend in Normandy which bookended it on Obama’s second big international tour.
On Thursday in Cairo, Obama gave his rhetorical best to reposition a mostly peaceful America in the future of the Muslim world. On Saturday in Normandy, he reminded of America’s glittering, and far more martial, past. … From my June 8th column.
** REPOSITIONING AMERICA: OBAMA’S CAIRO SPEECH AS THE ULTIMATE IN EVENT MARKETING. … From my June 4th column.
** TERMINATING THE DARKNESS: HOPE FLOATS, BUT ANXIETY ABIDES. … From my May 31st column.
** THE AVOIDABLE TRAGEDY OF CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8. … From my May 26th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW CALIFORNIA-BASED CLIMATE POLICY: SIX KEY THINGS TO KNOW. … From my May 20th column.
** 24 AND THE TORTUOUS POLITICS OF TORTURE. … From my May 18th column.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record last July 11th, crude oil is trading around $71 per barrel.
This is up about $37 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, due in part to some positive economic signs and in part to geopolitical jitters over North Korea and Iran, though the latter have lessened substantially over the past week.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.