President Bush has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:
What the Congress Can Do for America, by George W. Bush, Commentary, WSJ [Open link]: Tomorrow, members of the 110th Congress will take their oaths of office here in Washington. I will have the privilege of working with them for the next two years ..., plenty of time to accomplish important things for the American people.
Together, we have a chance to serve the American people... To do that, however, we can't play politics as usual. Democrats will control the House and Senate, and therefore we share the responsibility for what we achieve. ...
[S]ince the November elections, I have been encouraged by the productive meetings I've had with many of the new leaders in Congress from both parties. I am hopeful we can find common ground without compromising our principles. ...
My principles are no secret. ... I believe that when America is willing to use her influence abroad, the American people are safer and the world is more secure. I believe that wealth does not come from government. It comes from the hard work of America's workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. I believe government closest to the people is more responsive and accountable. I believe government plays an important role in helping those who can't help themselves. Yet we must always remember that when people are hurting, they need a caring person, not a government bureaucracy.
These are all common-sense principles, and they provide the basis for how I will approach governing with the new Congress. We've proved it can be done: When our nation was attacked, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Patriot Act and reform our intelligence agencies. When our economy was struggling, we worked together to pass tax relief that has helped our economy grow, create jobs, and raise the standard of living for the American people. When we saw that our public schools were failing our children, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act...
The outcome of the elections has changed the balance of power in Congress, yet the priorities for keeping our country safe and prosperous go beyond party labels.
Our priorities begin with defeating the terrorists who killed thousands of innocent Americans on September 11, 2001 -- and who are working hard to attack us again. These terrorists are part of a broader extremist movement that is now doing everything it can to defeat us in Iraq.
In the days ahead, I will be addressing our nation about a new strategy to help the Iraqi people gain control of the security situation and hasten the day when the Iraqi government gains full control over its affairs. Ultimately, Iraqis must resolve the most pressing issues facing them. We can't do it for them.
But we can help Iraq defeat the extremists inside and outside of Iraq... If democracy fails and the extremists prevail in Iraq, America's enemies will be stronger, more lethal, and emboldened by our defeat. Leaders in both parties understand the stakes... We now have the opportunity to build a bipartisan consensus to fight and win the war.
America's priorities also include keeping our economy strong. The elections have not reversed the laws of economics. It is a fact that economies do best when you reward hard work by allowing people to keep more of what they have earned. And we have seen that businesses can expand and hire more workers when they have more money to invest -- and since August 2003, America's employers have added more than seven million new jobs.
It is also a fact that our tax cuts have fueled robust economic growth and record revenues. Because revenues have grown and we've done a better job of holding the line on domestic spending, we met our goal of cutting the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule. By continuing these policies, we can balance the federal budget by 2012 while funding our priorities and making the tax cuts permanent. In early February, I will submit a budget that does exactly that. The bottom line is tax relief and spending restraint are good for the American worker, good for the American taxpayer, and good for the federal budget. Now is not the time to raise taxes on the American people.
By balancing the budget through pro-growth economic policies and spending restraint, we are better positioned to tackle the longer term fiscal challenge facing our country: reforming entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- so future generations can benefit from these vital programs without bankrupting our country.
One important message I took away from the election is that people want to end the secretive process by which Washington insiders are able to slip into legislation billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects... I'm glad Senator Robert Byrd and Congressman Dave Obey -- the Democrats who will lead the appropriations process in the new Congress -- heard that message, too, and have indicated they will refrain from including additional earmarks in the continuing resolution for this fiscal year.
But we can and should do more. It's time Congress give the president a line-item veto. ...
The strength of our economy also requires us to address some of the biggest issues facing the American people -- greater energy security, comprehensive immigration reform, and affordable health care. While progress has been made in each of these areas, we must do more. ...
Our Founders believed in the wisdom of the American people to choose their leaders and provided for the concept of divided and effective government. ...
That gives us a clear challenge and an opportunity. If the Congress chooses to pass bills that are simply political statements, they will have chosen stalemate. If a different approach is taken, the next two years can be fruitful ones for our nation. We can show the American people that Republicans and Democrats can come together to find ways to help make America a more secure, prosperous and hopeful society. ...
To the new members of the 110th Congress, I offer my welcome -- and my congratulations. The American people have entrusted us with public office at a momentous time for our nation. Let them say of these next two years: We used our time well.
He seems to demand more graciousness in defeat than he was willing to give when Republicans were in power.
There's not much new here in terms of economic policy, in fact, he's even clinging to the notion despite all evidence to the contrary that "tax cuts have fueled record revenues. ... By continuing these policies, we can balance the federal budget by 2012 ... The bottom line is tax relief ...[is] good for the federal budget." Working effectively with congress starts by arguing from a reality-based perspective, not from ideological hopes. It will be difficult to find common ground if policy is based upon what he wants to be true rather than what the evidence actually shows. And that's true for Iraq as well.
Update: Robert Reich says:
The President says he wants to work constructively with Democrats. We'll see. One of the first items of business when the new Congress convenes will be to increase the minimum wage... The President says he’ll sign the bill -- but only if it contains new tax breaks for small businesses that will offset the increased cost resulting from a minimum-wage hike.
His response: Congress Should say No to New Tax Cuts Tied to Minimum Wage Increase.
Update: Bush's statement "Now is not the time to raise taxes on the American people," is being played in the media as a tough statement on tax increases, but unlike a "read my lips" proclamation, it leaves a lot of wiggle room. Here's more on the tax issue:
Paulson Tax Hike?, The Post-Journal: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has quietly entered discreet conversations with members of Congress about a tax increase for upper-income Americans as part of bipartisan Social Security reform.
Since the 2006 Republican election defeats, the White House has not ruled out raising the cap on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. With or without such a tax increase, Democrats will reject President Bush’s proposal to carve private retirement accounts out of Social Security...
Posted by Mark Thoma on January 3, 2007 at 12:33 AM in Economics, Policy, Politics | Permalink
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I don't think the Dems are going to want to play ball with George anyway, not if they want to win an election in two years.
Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Jan 2, 2007 7:55:06 PM
Strange, it doesn't sound like Bush at all.
Posted by: ken melvin | Jan 2, 2007 8:02:42 PM
Wonder who ghosted it for him?
Bastard can't even talk, much less write.
Posted by: donna | Jan 2, 2007 8:15:33 PM
"...since August 2003"- why that date?-" America's employers"- guess who?-" have added more than 7 million new jobs"- er, ~4%? Why should we try to read his lips, when he's just flapping his jaws?
Posted by: john c. halasz | Jan 2, 2007 8:25:45 PM
Doesn't sound like Gerson to me. Clearly a WSJ title that invokes JFK (or his speech writer) and delivered to all those working Americans...that subscribe to the WSJ.
[btw, ken what/who does Bush sound like? See, donna has a discernible pissed-off voice that may have other notes and I bet I (and my staff) could tell it was some genuine angry soul out there. I agree that this one is composed, edited, revised and re-examined by those who couldn't give a hoot about some personal genuine voice. ]
So what can the WSJ do for America by those American workers who have enough time to voice an opinion here?
Posted by: calmo | Jan 2, 2007 8:32:30 PM
john, the reason for the date on jobs is that the sales pitch for the bush tax cuts of 2003 was that they would create 5.5M new jobs between july 1, 2003 and december 31, 2004. job growth began in august, not july, so they use that to start counting.
somewhere in late 2005 or 2006, we finally got to the 5.5M, which certainly proves...something!
as for the op-ed in general, the man is delusional, his speechwriters are delusional, and his oped writers are delusional. it's an amazing administration....
Posted by: howard | Jan 2, 2007 8:59:15 PM
The Voodoo Economics / Fiscal Irresponsibility / Borrow and Spend Faction:
Bush Calls on Democrats to Work With Him
Bush said he would submit a budget in February that would make tax cuts permanent and lead to a balanced budget by 2012 (LOL, How dumb is too dumb?), which he contended would put the country in a better position to tackle the challenge of changing the Social Security (DOA), Medicare (most recent Bush SNAFU) and Medicaid programs. He also said he would offer his own plan for dealing with pork-barrel spending by Congress and ask for a line-item veto (No pony for Bush).
"We now have the opportunity to build a bipartisan consensus to fight and win the war," he wrote (Bush already lost that opportunity and the war to boot).
In recent weeks, Bush has signaled a willingness to go along with a Democratic priority for raising the minimum wage, if it is accompanied by tax and regulatory relief for small businesses (Just steamroll him on Min Wage. The increase is popular and Bush does not dare veto).
Posted by: bakho | Jan 2, 2007 9:22:06 PM
"One important message I took away from the election is that people want to end the secretive process by which Washington insiders are able to slip into legislation billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects . . ."
Pity he did not simply end that sentence with "secretive process". There's been a lot of secretive processes in this White House, and most of them have been very bad policy.
George, the important take-away is that the nation no longer trusts you to look after their interests. Please view the newly elected congress as your babysitter: you have the choice to act responsibly or to throw a tantrum, but you are no longer being give free reign to sully the kitchen, tear up the back yard or to joyride in the family car.
Posted by: Richard | Jan 2, 2007 10:00:39 PM
3,000 Americans: Let Us Remember
To the Editor:
The new year offers little hope that our brave soldiers and marines will face anything but more death, maiming and grief for their loving families.
I'm saddened, baffled and very angry as to why the American people are not demonstrating their frustration and outrage with President Bush's continued failed policies and incompetence.
Demonstrating — now there's something we haven't seen in a long while. Involved citizens across the land marching in peaceful protest demanding that this administration put an end to this folly, and not waiting for another grand plan to "achieve victory in Iraq."
Blogging is great, and calling one's representative (which I do) is important, but I implore those with national networking and organizational skills to rally us in towns and cities so that our voices will finally be heard.
Bridgewater, N.J., Jan. 1, 2007
To the Editor:
The announcement that our 3,000th service member had made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq came while Americans were popping Champagne corks and reveling in Times Square and elsewhere throughout our country. How surreal!
The grim milestone occurred almost 20 days after our president announced that he was "not going to be rushed" into a new strategy for Iraq and some 70 American fatalities later. How tragic!
At this rate and with this administration's mind-set, Americans will be mourning another 1,000 deaths, and parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters will be shedding countless more tears in another 12 months.
How pathetic and, yes, how preventable!
Dorian de Wind
Austin, Tex., Jan. 1, 2007
Posted by: anne | Jan 2, 2007 11:00:12 PM
Here's why this editorial was put together:
"If the Congress chooses to pass bills that are simply political statements, they will have chosen stalemate."
Hmmm, lessee if we can pin my upcoming vetoes on the Democrats. Their fault, not mine!
Posted by: STS | Jan 2, 2007 11:08:23 PM
Frankly, I do not care a fig about getting along with the President. What I care about is stopping any more destructive Republican legislation and appointments, and pressuring the President to leave Iraq immediately with each and every day.
Posted by: anne | Jan 2, 2007 11:14:38 PM
"...we can't play politics as usual."
In other words, "don't interfere or put up any barriers to keep me from doing all the stupid things I still want to do. My mess is still only half complete."
Posted by: maria | Jan 3, 2007 1:32:32 AM
Bush: "Together, we have a chance to serve the American people... "
A novel idea, will we be medium, well done or charred after he is through.
Serving the American people a novel idea.
Must stop watching the Twilight Zone re-runs.
Posted by: ilsm | Jan 3, 2007 3:55:34 AM
Well the Democrats would be crazy to make a grand bargain with Paulson by throwing away Social Security and getting only higher taxes on the rich in return. Higher taxes on the rich doesn't need to and shouldn't be traded against anything. The taxes came down, now they have to go back up. What's so difficult to understand about that?
Posted by: a | Jan 3, 2007 4:04:28 AM
Remember, as well, the President is asking not only for $170 billion this year for the tragic continuing occupation of Iraq, but for an expansion of the armed services. Immediately this will constrain the Congressional Democrat's budget-making possibilities.
Posted by: anne | Jan 3, 2007 4:13:00 AM
"Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has quietly entered discreet conversations with members of Congress about a tax increase for upper-income Americans as part of bipartisan Social Security reform."
This means discreet conversations with Republicans and Joe Lieberman, and Democrats must simply laugh and stay away from still another attempt to cut Social Security that would be unnecessary and destructive and wrong.
Posted by: anne | Jan 3, 2007 4:24:25 AM
Touching SS at all is a bad idea. Raising the SS cap at this time would only increase an already regressive tax (affects the upper middle class but not the wealthy rent collectors). Increasing the SS tax would mean more borrowing against the SSTF. The SSTF continues to be used to disguise the size of the deficit, so it would make for a greater problem than it is now. Congress should instead enact PAYGO and balance a fix in the AMT with higher rates on the top income.
Balancing the AMT against a SS cap increase is a BAD idea.
Posted by: bakho | Jan 3, 2007 4:57:38 AM
BTW- This is what Pelosi ACTUALLY REQUESTED for a minority bill of rights as opposed to what the GOP and the media try to make us believe she asked:
The full text of the Minority Bill of Rights follows:
Here, the People Rule
A Minority Bill of Rights for the House of Representatives
June 23, 2004
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle: that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801.
The Constitution begins with the simple but revolutionary phrase "We the people," which announced to the world that here, the people rule. To speak for the people, the Constitution gives the greatest responsibility to the House of Representatives: Members are to be elected every two years, and no Member may be appointed to office.
Today in the House of Representatives, however, the voices of nearly half of the people have been silenced, and the marketplace of ideas has been effectively closed. Too often, incivility and the heavy hand of the majority have substituted for thoughtful debate.
Respectful of both the wishes of the Founders, and the expectations of the American people, we offer the following principles for restoring democracy in the "People’s House," guaranteeing that the voices of the people are heard.
I. Bipartisan Administration of the House
There should be regular consultations among the elected leaders of both parties to discuss scheduling, administration and operations of the House.
- The House should have a predictable, professional, family-friendly schedule that allows the legislative process to proceed in a manner that ensures timely and deliberate dispensation of the work of the Congress.
- Similar, regular meetings between Chairs and Ranking Members of committees, and staffs should be held.
- The minority should control at least one-third of committee budgets and office space.
II. Regular Order for Legislation
The legislative process in the House should return to a more regular democratic order at every level.
- Bills should be developed following full hearings, open subcommittee and committee markups, with appropriate referrals to other committees. Members should have at least 24 hours to examine a bill prior to consideration at the subcommittee level.
- Bills should generally come to the floor under a procedure that allows open, full, and fair debate consisting of a full amendment process that grants the minority the right to offer its alternatives, including a substitute.
- Members should have at least 24 hours to examine bill and conference report text prior to floor consideration. Rules governing floor debate must be reported before 10 p.m. for a bill to be considered the following day.
- Floor votes should be completed within 15 minutes, with the customary 2-minute extension to accommodate Members’ ability to get to the House Chamber to cast their vote. No vote shall be held open in order to manipulate the outcome.
- House-Senate conference committees should hold regular meetings (at least weekly) of all conference committee Members. All duly-appointed conferees shall be informed of the schedule of conference committee activities in a timely manner, and given ample opportunity for input and debate as decisions are made toward final bill language.
- The Suspension Calendar should be restricted to non-controversial legislation, with minority-authored legislation scheduled in relation to the party ratio in the House.
Note this does NOT mean unlimited amendments and GOP submitting legislation intended to stall at will as some pundits suggest.
Posted by: bakho | Jan 3, 2007 5:15:32 AM
Meanwhile in the NYT editorial page we have the chairman of CATO asking the democratic congress to save business from the burden of additional regulation of Sarbanes-Oxley imposed on them by the republican congress.
Posted by: spencer | Jan 3, 2007 5:45:04 AM
Pelosi (from northern California) is already on the amend SarbOx bandwagon. Her biggest supporter are techies and VC guys who want more freedom from regulation.
Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Jan 3, 2007 5:52:31 AM
spencer: CATO Institute? Isn't that the outfit that employs Alan Reynolds? LOL.
Posted by: maria | Jan 3, 2007 6:05:09 AM
Cactus has a chart from 2000 that Bush used to forecast how fast his policies would pay down the debt held by the public. It's a joy to behold. But why do we let this fellow get away with talking about the decline in the unified deficit. The general fund deficit has not declined - it's just an increase in the trust fund surplus.
Posted by: pgl | Jan 3, 2007 6:10:53 AM
If he wrote this himself, I'm a monkey's uncle--too many big words in there for his pea-brain. See why Al Gore will be the Dem's choice in 2008 and NOT Hillary at www.minor-ripper.blogspot.com
Posted by: MinorRipper | Jan 3, 2007 6:34:28 AM
Lots of great comments here--that's why I frequent it!
I've embedded a few comments of my own:
I believe that wealth does not come from government. It comes from the hard work of America's workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
We know where it comes from, but where does the wealth go?
I believe government plays an important role in helping those who can't help themselves. Yet we must always remember that when people are hurting, they need a caring person, not a government bureaucracy.
See New Orleans for proof of his convictions.
These terrorists are part of a broader extremist movement that is now doing everything it can to defeat us in Iraq.
A BBC documentary made a compelling argument that the US and Britain are shadow boxing an imaginary enemy.
The Power of Nightmares
By continuing these policies, we can balance the federal budget by 2012 while funding our priorities and making the tax cuts permanent.
Whose priorities does he mean with his imperial "our priorities"? Hopefully the new Congress will present him with a set of priorities that reflect working stiffs better than Wall-street ones.
One important message I took away from the election is that people want to end the secretive process by which Washington insiders are able to slip into legislation billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects
Earth to Bush....Houston, we've regained contact with the "W" module.
It's time Congress give the president a line-item veto.....greater energy security, comprehensive immigration reform, and affordable health care. While progress has been made in each of these areas...
Houston, we've lost contact with that module again...nothing but giberish, spacey talk. This is ground control to Major Bush...
Posted by: Elvis | Jan 3, 2007 6:42:38 AM
"It's time Congress give the president a line-item veto...."
Nothing would be more dangerous than to give this president a line-item veto, any president for that matter, but this one especially so. President Bush has only vetoed 1 bill in 6 years, which is astounding. The vetoed bill was for stem cell research and was for show. Congress gave the president all that was possible to give, and the president repeatedly used signing statements unlike any other president in history to define Congressional legislation. We may have an example of the most powerful presidency in American history over the last 6 years, and the last thing needed is a line-item veto to make the president more powerful and to make a Democratic Congressional check meaningless.
Posted by: | Jan 3, 2007 6:50:05 AM
Darn, my computer refused to tell you that was me on the dread line-item veto. Never, ever, do we need a line-item veot after George Bush's example.
Posted by: anne | Jan 3, 2007 6:52:03 AM
I wonder why the Republicans didn't give it to him when they had the chance? Thank God for major miracles.
The Dems should force Bush to fund the war with a tax on the wealthy.
History 102: (mysterious-concocted)terrorist attack, war, occupation of a distant country.---the Spanish-American War. We still have its war tax.
Posted by: Elvis | Jan 3, 2007 7:09:47 AM
Why are you folks laughing at Cato? The new Democratic congress IS going to give business SOX relief. Barney Frank has already promised it. The joke's on you.
Posted by: Peter Schaeffer | Jan 3, 2007 7:26:38 AM
Gigot? Brooks? Safire? .... since August 2003? See Chart 1 at http://www.bls.gov/web/ces_cps_trends.pdf ...
Pulled a gap of at least 5 million, probably 7 million and maybe 10 million that he never made up. Just disappeared them.
Posted by: ken melvin | Jan 3, 2007 7:37:06 AM
elvis- I agree on the funding. Raise the top rate back to 39% and attach it to the Iraq Supplemental. Make Bush eat part of his tax cuts or let him veto it and label him fiscally irresponsible.
Posted by: bakho | Jan 3, 2007 8:42:38 AM
Are you ready to be served?
Served at last, served at last, thank god a mighty, we are served at last ... with kava beans and a good bottle of ciante.
But where are those nice wedges of issues?
Posted by: callahan | Jan 3, 2007 9:15:29 AM
"Are You Being Served?"
Posted by: ken melvin | Jan 3, 2007 9:33:55 AM
We in Michigan have been "served" to the cheap overseas labor market. Here is hoping that your state will not end up like mine.
Posted by: callahan | Jan 3, 2007 9:45:15 AM
I agree that Hillary is hopeless. She voted for the war, and only changed her mind when the nation turned overwhelmingly against it. She has no principles other than her aggrandizement. She started out as a Goldwater conservative, veered to the extreme left at Wellesley since that was fashionable, and has always run to where she smelled votes since. Why she has any reputation (good) left at all is beyond me. Gore has the big advantage of having been out of the fray for the last eight years. Not having a recent record is a plus.
Posted by: maria | Jan 3, 2007 9:48:21 AM
To be "served" will require taxpayer funded campaigns.
This can be done rather inexpensively by drastically shortening the campaign period, eliminating costly televised campaign ads, forcing candidates to use the internet, publicly funded tv, and townhall meetings for campaigning.
Posted by: callahan | Jan 3, 2007 9:52:42 AM
Sure, George. That makes lots of sense. Bushysense.
Cut spending here in the USA so I can pour the money down the rathole I have created in Iraq.
Posted by: maria | Jan 3, 2007 10:32:06 AM
The first obligation of the Congress may be to stop the madman from doing more crazy things. Nothing would surprise me from him.
Posted by: maria | Jan 3, 2007 10:38:45 AM
Whenever Bush opens his mouth, I am reminded of the story of the Scorpion and the Turtle:
See, the Scorpion is waiting near the edge of a river as the Turtle approaches. "Hey," the Scorpion says, "are you going to cross the river?"
"I am," says the Turtle.
"Will you carry me across?" asked the Scorpion.
"No," says the Turtle, "for you are a scorpion and you will sting me to death."
"No, I won't," says the Scorpion. "I just want to get across the river. Besides, if I stung you in the middle of the river, I would drown, too. It's a perfect chance for you to do something nice for a scorpion, since I don't want to drown myself."
Negotiations completed, the Turtle let the Scorpion climb on its back and was soon swimming strongly toward the other bank.
As soon as the other bank came into view, however, the Scorpion cocked his tail and stung the poor Turtle right in the neck.
As they were both struggling to stay afloat, and as the Turtle was dying, he asked, "Why did you sting me? Especially when you agreed you wouldn't?"
And the Scorpion shrugged and said, "I'm a scorpion."
In other words, folks, we already know Bush cannot be trusted. Let's make sure our Congress acts accordingly.
Posted by: fiskhusjim | Jan 3, 2007 11:38:07 AM
It's not our congress, it's big business's congress, as they finance their campaigns, and supply the perks. We are just consumers, and only half of us bother to vote.
Most polls show congress's approval rating around 29%. Don't seem to bother em much does it?
Posted by: callahan | Jan 3, 2007 11:43:36 AM
Here's what Congress can do for America: Impeach Bush.
Posted by: Emmanuel | Jan 3, 2007 12:07:39 PM
Impeach bush? That leaves cheney. No thanks.
Posted by: callahan | Jan 3, 2007 12:17:45 PM
One thing congress should, but won't do ... get tough on border security.
Posted by: callahan | Jan 3, 2007 12:29:08 PM
Bush is essentially making demands, and there is an implied threat in the "playing politics as usual" phrase. Referring to checks and balances as a "divided government" is actually sinister. I read the article as a shot across the bows of the incoming Congress, which might translate into a more direct: "You guys and I all basically work for the same vested interests. Don't get carried away with the election results, or bad things might start to happen to you."
Posted by: gordon | Jan 3, 2007 3:12:09 PM