Post from January, 2009

Obama & the Stimulus Plan – Can he get a bipartisan bill?

Monday, 26. January 2009 23:54

We’re already beginning to see some interesting developments when it comes to the (currently) $800 billion dollar stimulus plan.  I think it was an open question whether Republicans would end up on board with some kind of compromise legislation comming in to this year.  They had signed on to the bailout plan, Obama and the Democrats gave them whatfor in the election, and there’s a certain incentive to appear bipartisan immediately following a presidential election.  Furthermore, if it works, then Republicans in opposition would appear to be economically foolish.

 However, with the current ‘stimulus’ shaping up to be a grab-bag of long-favored liberal spending (e.g. the $150 million on contraceptives), the Republicans are begining to solidify in opposition.  A big bellweather indication of this is the fact John McCain opposes the stimulus plan. McCain has already made bipartisan overtures to Obama and is eager to resume his “Maverick” status. His opposition indicates few Republicans will be on board given the current state of the package.

That makes this the Democrat’s bill and sets the two parties in direct opposition on the eonomy.  Should it improve, the Democrats will recieve the credit.  Should it fail to improve, you have your big campaign issue for 2010.  Obama may try to head-off this game by working to include enough to entice Republicans, but the overwhelming Democratic majorities provide a significant temptation to simply do what they want to do.  And hence I have to conclude we are unlikely to see a bipartisan stimulus package.  Rather, we are most likely to see a package passed soley by the Democratic majorities.

UPDATE:  It seems they very savy President Obama is cognizant of the problem and seeking to avoid it, as he has asked the House Democrats to take the contraception pork out of the stimulus bill.

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Inauguration Faux Pas

Thursday, 22. January 2009 3:45

As we’ve discussed in class, Barak Obama flubbed the oath of office during the inauguration, following the incorrect reading that Chief Justice Roberts gave (though corrected).  This raised a constitutional question of whether Barak Obama had fulfullied the constitutional requirements of becoming president and taking on the powers and responsibilities of the office of the president. 

As  this article illustrates, this question is ambigious as a matter of constitutional interpretation.  On the one hand, the Constitution explicitly states that Obama, as the winner of the Electoral College contest, assumes the presidency at 12:00 noon on Inauguration Day see here. As can be seen in the following text from the Twentieth Amendment, the constitution specifically states that the new president’s term begins when the old president’s term ends:

The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

However, the Oath of Office is set out explicitly in  Article II:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Which tends to suggest that unless President Elect Obama repeated the above exactly, he could not “enter on the execution of his office.” His faulty execution of the oath may have barred Obama from entering on the aforementioned “execution” of the office of the president, and thus may have rendered any official Obama acts following null and void from a constitutional perspective, given a judicial challenge.

UPDATE:  Good news.  President Obama has retaken the oath of office.  Constitutional Crisis averted!!!  :) 

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New Semester!

Monday, 12. January 2009 9:54

Welcome back, Tech students!  Spring semester is upon us!  Be sure to check back here regularly for commentary and observations on the political landscape.  We are just a few days away from the inauguration of a new president and the return to unified government, this time under the Democratic party.  Should prove to be very interesting!  D.GOOCH

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