First, he went 0-for-2 on budgets, and now, this: Senate Democrats blatantly don't care about President Obama's "To Do List," and what's more, they don't even know what's on it!
For background, this "To Do List" was a demagogue-tastic rhetorical device Obama threw around in a few speeches, starting with this year's State of the Union. In early May, he introduced the list itself, five "tasks" he charged Congress with completing, that he argued could conveniently fit on a Post-It note.
Among the proposals are tax credits for businesses who hire workers or increase wages, credits for businesses that bring jobs from overseas back to the United States, and a plan for mortgage relief that would allow homeowners who are current on their loans to refinance at lower rates, according to a White House official. Obama also wants Congress to extend and expand tax credits for clean energy production and create a veterans job corps.
As usual, he entreated voters to bug their Representatives and Senators about it -- the old, "Call them, tweet them, write them letters" mantra -- but it seems the American people didn't follow directions. As partisan as the Senate is, it seems there's agreement between both the Democrats and the Republicans: no one cares about the president's list. Really, when you see what some of these Democratic lawmakers had to say about Obama's agenda, you almost feel bad for him.
"Didn’t we do some things he wanted us to do?” asked Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). “[Export-Import] Bank, that doesn’t count? That wasn’t on the to-do list?”
No. The president wanted that, too, but it’s not on the list.
“Do you have a copy of the to-do list?” Landrieu asked.
After a reporter told her what was on the list, she quipped, “We’re adding to that list by doing some great things.”
“I don’t have a copy of it; I’m sure my staff does,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), when asked when the Senate might get to it.
“We’ve got June, July. We’ve got some time. What time frame did he put on that to-do list?”
When told the president said the to-do list could be done “now,” Casey joked, “Now is a very expansive term. It’s not even the summer yet.“
“Didn’t we just try to move on student loans. Wasn’t that on his list?” asked Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
No, that’s a separate priority.
“You’d have to ask Harry Reid” why the list hasn’t moved, Levin said.
As funny as this is, it's pretty revealing: Obama has lost his clout with the Congressional higher-ups in his own party. His disgraceful, debt-laden attempts at producing a budget failed so miserably that it seems they just won't take him too seriously when he suggests legislation.
Of course, this little rift between Congressional Democrats and the White House is hardly hostile -- quite the contrary! The lawmakers quoted in this Roll Call story kept insisting they were doing Obama's bidding, with student loans, the Export-Import Bank, etc. They're happy to advance the party's agenda; they're just not listening to what Obama's proposing anymore. Even Harry Reid won't play along with the "To Do List:"
When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) outlined his agenda for the June work period this week, only one item from Obama’s to-do list made the cut — a business tax cut package. That’s the item most likely to win GOP support, given that Democrats at this point plan to follow the lead of House Republicans and simply borrow the money to pay for it.
The president has become legislatively impotent; no one in his party will follow his directions, and of course, the Republicans are hardly going to take up his agenda. According to Sen. Cornyn, the Democrats, along with the Republicans, seem to think that the president is in all-out campaign mode, and no longer a participant in helping to set the agenda.
“The fact of life is none of us work for the president,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “What you see is the Senate’s legislative agenda being driven by the Senate, not by the White House. The president’s pretty much irrelevant, because he’s basically given up on governing and is campaigning.”
Obama's the Ugarte to the Senate's Rick: they might despise him, if they gave him any thought. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is bipartisanship.