Thanksgiving is over and now many Americans turn to figuring out what to get for Christmas presents. Will President Barack Obama give the Republicans one today?
Today is the day of what the media calls “Slurpee Summit” because as CNN notes during mid-terms “Obama described Democrats working to ‘dig the car out of the ditch’ while Republicans sit back sipping on a Slurpee.” It’s not expected to be a big meeting but the questions at the end will be whether the United States is going to see a political car crash as big as the one that seems to be coming our way — and which side comes prevails in the post-meeting news cycle of what happened.
So far one of the strands of the Obama administration is how a President and a political team that seemed so sure-footed for much of the primary and 2008 election campaign could be so flat-footed and seemingly unprepared to do more than to react to how it’s being defined by pundits, conservatives, Fox News and talk show hosts of the left and right. At times the Obama Administration has come to resemble one big Political Department of Defense.
CNN lays gives this context:
resident Obama will hold a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday, less than a month after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives during midterm elections.
The meeting, which is expected to last about an hour, is expected to address numerous topics, including whether Bush-era tax cuts should be extended beyond the end of this year as well as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Obama has called for Congress to extend lower tax rates for most Americans before the end of the year, when tax cuts enacted in the Bush administration are set to expire.
The president’s proposal would extend the lower rates for people earning up to $200,000 a year or families earning up to $250,000, while Republicans want the lower tax rates extended for all Americans regardless of income level.
START would resume mutual inspections of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, while limiting both nations to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers each.
Obama has called ratification of the treaty an immediate priority, saying it’s critical to national security and a cornerstone of U.S.-Russia relations.
However, 10 GOP senators — led by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl — have urged a delay until the next Congress over concerns about the current Senate workload and the need to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Few on the left, right or center buy that: that is political spin. In fact, most analysts acccept the fact that the START treaty, supported by many Republicans including some who served in the Bush administration, is being delayed to deprive Obama of what can be seen as a victory and will likely die or be watered down to near meaninglessness in 2011 if it doesn’t pass now.
MSNBC’s First Read team (which includes the superb Chuck Todd) offers these insights on the summit:
For the White House, the danger is that the let’s-hold-hands-together-and-get-to-work routine won’t work when the other side is packing brass knuckles in their pockets. After all, this didn’t exactly produce sterling results for Democrats in 2009-2010. Also, as soon as Obama yesterday announced a concession by proposing a federal pay freeze, Republicans were taking credit for the idea. For congressional Republicans, the danger is too harsh of a tone (see their cancellation of the meeting Obama originally scheduled) and interpreting the midterm election results as a broad mandate (when even they acknowledge that the American public has them on a short leash). On “TODAY” this morning, soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor struck a conciliatory tone. Americans, he said, “want to see Washington producing results.”
*** What to expect? Not much: The White House, however, expects nothing concrete to come out of today’s meeting. This is all about the two sides feeling each other out — and seeing where there is a line in the sand and where there isn’t. And the meeting won’t just be about the Bush tax cuts. Indeed, the first thing Obama mentioned yesterday when teeing up the meeting was NOT anything to do with taxes or the economy — but rather ratifying the new START treaty….
*** Kyl START-ing up for 2012? Speaking of the START treaty and Kyl, we’ll re-ask the question we raised yesterday: Would Kyl be willing to drop his opposition to START if Senate Democrats dropped the Dream Act in the lame duck? Remember: Kyl is up for re-lection in 2012 — and in a state with a large Latino population.
And, of course, there REALLY won’t be Slurpees but perhaps some coffee, beverages and snacks.