December 17, 2013
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Recently, there has been a lot of news coverage of the Obamacare debacle, Nelson Mandela and the budget agreement.  Because of all the noise and confusion, it has been underreported that even as this year quickly draws to a close, neither party has an agenda for 2014.  Of course, both sides have talking points, but that’s not the same as having a serious plan to accomplish anything during the next year. Next spring, there will be another fight centered around raising the debt ceiling, but beyond that – and despite the growing problems facing America – no one seems to have a realistic policy agenda.

The House Republicans face limits since they can pass bills, but those bills die in the Senate.  And instead of negotiating with GOP House leaders, I suspect that in 2014 we’ll see the Democratic leadership in the Senate try to deflect public blame for not doing anything by throwing up a smoke screen of faux anger and blaming Republicans for gridlock, etc. And all of this probably suits the president. If Obama was a strategist who knew how to work Washington and pass legislation, it would be happening.

But instead, this president is the lamest of the lame ducks.  You would think we were in the last 11 months of his presidency, not the last 11 months before the midterm elections. President Obama has failed as a policy developer and a dealmaker.  And John Podesta, a master of the executive order, has been brought in, meaning that policy development from the White House in the new year will primarily consist of enacting even more executive orders, not working with Congress.

Again, given what the president and his allies in Congress really want to do, this is as good a plan as any. On Sunday in the Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin disclosed that Democrats have methodically worked to keep many of their politically indefensible actions hidden from the public eye.  Thanks to The Post, we now know that they actively suppressed news and delayed regulations until after the 2012 elections.  And we have no reason to think that the deceit and subterfuge that was effective during the 2012 general election campaign will be jettisoned for the 2014 midterm elections.

It is frightening to think that even if Republicans gain a slim margin in the House and Senate following the midterm elections, we will still face a lack of leadership from the White House. There will also likely be even fewer Democrats willing to cross the aisle and work with Republicans.

We could be in for a long period of nothing getting done in Washington.  That’s better than bad things happening, but our problems will only get worse and harder to address in the future if nothing changes. An incremental shift for one party or the other in the elections this November won’t sufficiently empower either party to take control of Washington and stop its drift.

 

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