Don't believe all the Washington talk that President Obama had a great lame duck session and goes into the new year and the new 112th congress with the whip hand. Utter nonsense.
Let's review the lame duck session as it happened -- not as it has been instantly revised by the ever-obliging Washington press corps.
In the first week or so, the president capitulated to Ronald Reagan's supply side theory that tax cuts expand the economy, and tax increases contract it. The central policy was to not let expire the Bush tax cuts, not only because it would be tough on middle-class taxpayers, but also, the White House argued,because keeping tax rates down would be good for the economy.
Even the great triangulator, Bill Clinton, never conceded this point. In 1993, he raised taxes by about $400 billion to manage the deficit. And, while the economy slowed down briefly to a mere 1.9 percent GDP growth, the new dot-com technology business brought us the great economic expansion of the later 1990s -- so Clinton never conceded to supply side theory.
And don't think Obama merely took a week of embarrassment for that concession in December. We economic conservatives are still cheerfully reminding the public half a century later that President John Kennedy endorsed supply side marginal tax cuts. You can bet that Republicans will be reminding the public decades from now that "even Barack Obama" agreed to supply side tax-cut theory "way back in 2010."
This is a historical intellectual capitulation of the first order by the Democratic Party president.
After that political defeat, the president had to endure another weak week when his party leaders in the Senate tried to jam through a trillion-dollar spending bill with more than 6,000 earmarks. Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell held firm, tea partiers across the country began to roar and the president's allies quickly capitulated, with the White House agreeing to a short-term extension of spending -- importantly leaving most of the 2011 spending in the hands of the incoming 112th Congress, not the infamous spendthrift 111th.
This was a second defeat for the president and his party -- which, please remember, continued to hold its huge majorities in both the House and the Senate.
The final week of the lame duck is the thin reed on which the president's alleged lame duck success is constructed. He lost on his goal of passing the Dream Act -- which was designed to appeal to Hispanic votes. He passed -- on a bipartisan basis -- "don't ask, don't tell" and the confirmation of the Start Treaty.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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