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Zero chance congress rejects TPP post fast track approval – structural factors

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Zero chance congress rejects TPP post fast track approval – structural factors

Stoltzfoos, 6/23 -- Rachel, Reporter @ Daily Caller, Daily Caller, 6/23/15,

TPA would give Congress more power to shape the trade agreement by defining specific objectives the president must work toward in a deal, and by setting new transparency rules. But once the president submits a deal to Congress, TPA greatly restricts the Senate’s ability to block or complicate the deal. Any deal the president submits to Congress in the next six years is almost guaranteed to pass, because the Senate must promptly approve or reject the deal with no chance to amend it and little time for debate. And just 51 votes would be required for passage — a far cry from the 61 votes required for major legislation. (RELATED: Why Are Senate Republicans So Eager To Cede Their Trade Authority To Obama?)What do you think? Obama says he needs TPA to conclude a massive trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he is currently negotiating with 11 other countries. And the Republicans who fought for the deal say TPA is key to future free trade agreements that will benefit the U.S. economy.What do you think? Critics contend its a dangerous concession of Senate power to a president that can’t be trusted.

Sequestration plus ISIS jack asia pivot.

Whyte and Weitz 1-29. [Leon, MA candidate @ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy @ Tufts, Richard, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, non-resident Adjunct Senior Fellow @ Center for a New American Securitiy, "Enough to go around? Money matters complicate US strategic rebalance to Asia-Pacific" Fletcher Security Review Vol 2 No 1 --]

However, U.S. economic weaknesses and the Budget Control Act of 2011 – which mandates∂ cuts in U.S. government spending (known as “sequestration”) – have constrained the U.S.government’s ability to resource the Rebalance adequately and meet its regional securitycommitments.7 The sequestration process was deliberately devised to present the Congress∂ with an unacceptable outcome if the members failed to balance the budget through a combination∂ of tax hikes and targeted spending cuts. But the congressional compromise has failed∂ to occur, and now sequestration is threatening to wreck havoc throughout the governmentwith arbitrary percentage-driven spending cuts. Complicating matters further in the defensedomain are the Taliban’s resilience in Afghanistan and the stunning emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. During the initial planning and unveiling of the Rebalance, theUnited States assumed it would be possible to shift more resources to Asia as it curtailedits commitments in the Middle East and South Asia,8 yet U.S. engagement in these areas issteadying or growing. New challenges have also emerged in Europe due to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Not intrinsic – logical policy maker could do both

Asia pivot and US influence resilient – TPP not key

Gill, 14 -- Bates Gill, chief executive of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and Tom Switzer, a research associate at the US Studies Centre, The Interpreter, 3/27,

Fullilove says 'the economic element of the rebalance is in trouble.' He assumes the 'pivot' is doomed without the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But the 'pivot' does not equate simply to the TPP. US trade and investment with the region is deepening: US foreign direct investment in Asia has increased by more than 170% since 2001, and Asian investment in the US has jumped by more than 130% in the same period. Meanwhile, Washington has signed several bilateral regional trade deals in the past decade and is in negotiation for a bilateral investment treaty with Beijing. Besides, even if the President fails to get Trade Promotion Authority from congressional Democrats in a mid-term election year, there is always next year: a new congress, with more pro-trade Republicans, is more than likely to pass fast-track authority, which would still give Obama leverage to sign and ratify the TPP. Historians since Thucydides have observed that the rise of a new power is often accompanied by regional uncertainty and sometimes conflict. China's rise will remain a central question for the region and for US foreign policy. But it is not inevitable that a China with 'plenty of puff', as Fullilove suggests, will become a hegemonic force that will impose its will across the region. In the event of a severe economic downturn, something China has not experienced in its 30-year bull run, it is at least as likely, if not more so, that Beijing's leaders would remain largely consumed with dealing with economic challenges at home rather than slaying dragons abroad. This, moreover, at a time when China is surrounded by more than a dozen neighbours, few of which are truly friendly toward Beijing. It is also widely believed China will grow old before it grows rich. But even if Beijing can sort out its long-term demographic problems, other big challenges, namely political and environmental, loom. Meanwhile, notwithstanding its own problems at home, the US will continue as the predominant power, not just in education and innovation but also energy self-sufficiency. Demographic trends, including moderately high immigration and fertility levels, also work to America's advantage. All of this is good reason to believe that, far from pivoting away, the US is intensifying its engagement in the region.

No link – plan goes to the bottom of the docket – passes after TPP – that’s normal means

Zero risk of Asian war or miscalc

Bisley 14(Nick, executive director of LaTrobe Asia at LaTrobe University, It’s not 1914 all over again: Asia is preparing to avoid war, March 10,

One hundred years ago, Europe stumbled into an unexpected and utterly devastating war. It was unexpected for two reasons: the diplomatic mechanisms set up after Napoleon’s defeat had kept the continent free from great power war in the 19th century, and that Europe’s economies had become profoundly intertwined. War became possible because a rising power could not find satisfaction in the existing international order. Chauvinistic nationalism, a complacent mindset about warfare and non-existent diplomatic efforts to reduce the risks of conflict dragged Europe to war. For some, history seems on the cusp of a tragic repetition. China appears to have all the trappings of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany. It is a great power that is increasingly dissatisfied with the dominant order and is now able to deliver on its potential and ambition. The US is cast as an overstretched Britain: not quite aware of its limits and overconfident of its ability to see off challengers. A confident and nationalistic Japan is one possible catalyst for conflict. Its alliance with the US is reminiscent of the complex arrangements that caused an assassination in Sarajevo to lead to World War One. The rumbling from North Korea, itself an ally of China, is touted as another spark that might ignite conflict. Asia is cast as a region as complacent about the risks of war as Europe was in its belle époque. Analogies are an understandable way of trying to make sense of unfamiliar circumstances. In this case, however, the historical parallel is deeply misleading. Asia is experiencing a period of uncertainty and strategic risk unseen since the US and China reconciled their differences in the mid-1970s. Tensions among key powers are at very high levels: Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe recently invoked the 1914 analogy. But there are very good reasons, notwithstanding these issues, why Asia is not about to tumble into a great power war. China is America’s second most important trading partner. Conversely, the US is by far the most important country with which China trades. Trade and investment’s “golden straitjacket” is a basic reason to be optimistic. Why should this be seen as being more effective than the high levels of interdependence between Britain and Germany before World War One? Because Beijing and Washington are not content to rely on markets alone to keep the peace. They are acutely aware of how much they have at stake. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has likened China-US tensions to relations between Britain and Germany leading up to World War One. CSIS: Centre for Strategic & International Studies, CC BY-NC-SA Diplomatic infrastructure for peace The two powers have established a wide range of institutional links to manage their relations. These are designed to improve the level and quality of their communication, to lower the risks of misunderstanding spiralling out of control and to manage the trajectory of their relationship. Every year, around 1000 officials from all ministries led by the top political figures in each country meet under the auspices of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The dialogue has demonstrably improved US-China relations across the policy spectrum, leading to collaboration in a wide range of areas. These range from disaster relief to humanitarian aid exercises, from joint training of Afghan diplomats to marine conservation efforts, in which Chinese law enforcement officials are hosted on US Coast Guard vessels to enforce maritime legal regimes. Unlike the near total absence of diplomatic engagement by Germany and Britain in the lead-up to 1914, today’s two would-be combatants have a deep level of interaction and practical co-operation. Just as the extensive array of common interests has led Beijing and Washington to do a lot of bilateral work, Asian states have been busy the past 15 years. These nations have created a broad range of multilateral institutions and mechanisms intended to improve trust, generate a sense of common cause and promote regional prosperity. Some organisations, like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), have a high profile with its annual leaders’ meeting involving, as it often does, the common embarrassment of heads of government dressing up in national garb. Others like the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus Process are less in the public eye. But there are more than 15 separate multilateral bodies that have a focus on regional security concerns. All these organisations are trying to build what might be described as an infrastructure for peace in the region. While these mechanisms are not flawless, and many have rightly been criticised for being long on dialogue and short on action, they have been crucial in managing specific crises and allowing countries to clearly state their commitments and priorities. Again, this is in stark contrast to the secret diplomatic dealings in the lead-up to 1914. Higher risks, greater caution States in Asia today are far more cautious about the way they use force than Europeans were in 1914. A century ago, war was seen as not only a legitimate policy choice but was championed by many for its ability to demonstrate national virtue, honour and prowess. The experiences of war in the 20th century, the legal prohibitions that states have since created and the professionalisation of armed forces have meant that there is not the same taste for war that existed 100 years ago. Asia is not about to succumb to a great power war because of the existence of nuclear weapons. The destructive power of these armaments focuses the mind of decision-makers on the consequences of using force in any significant way. Their existence acts as a crucial moderating influence on the policies of Asia’s great and aspirant great powers. This is not a counsel borne out of complacency – the region has very real problems, which require careful and active management. Tensions in the East and South China Seas over tiny islands do have very significant risks of friction and conflict escalation. A nuclear breakout in northeast Asia remains an unlikely but nonetheless real possibility, while the old flash-points of Taiwan and Kashmir remain. The region will require a great deal of vigilance to keep the peace. But it is an awareness of this effort that marks perhaps the final point of contrast with pre-war Europe. Asia’s statesmen and women are well aware of the challenge that confronts them. So far we must pay them the credit of being up to that challenge and being capable of taking the necessary steps to ensure devastating war does not return. We live in difficult times, but Asia is not about to sleepwalk into conflict.

Plan’s popular – there’s overwhelming, bipartisan public support for reducing surveillance – it directly affects Obama’s approval rating

Jaycox, 14 (MARK JAYCOX, Legislative Analyst for EFF, 22-2014, "Update: Polls Continue to Show Majority of Americans Against NSA Spying", Electronic Frontier Foundation,, DA: 5-30-2015)

Update, January 2014: Polls continue to confirm the trend. In a poll conducted in December 2013 by the Washington Post, 66% of Americans were concerned "about the collection and use of [their] personal information by the National Security Agency." Americans aren't only concerned about the collection. A recent Pew poll found—yet again—that a majority of Americans oppose the government's collection of phone and Internet data as a part of anti-terrorism efforts. Since Americans are both concerned with, and opposed to, the spying, it's no surprise that they also want reform. In a November 2013 poll by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research,1 59% of respondents noted that they wanted surveillance reform and 63% said they wanted more oversight of the spying programs. While these polls focused on the larger population of Americans, a Harvard University Insitute of Politics poll focusing on younger Americans (aged 18-29 years old) reaffirmed younger Americans are both wary of the NSA's activities and that a majority do not want the government to collect personal information about them. Shortly after the June leaks, numerous polls asked the American people if they approved or disapproved of the NSA spying, which includes collecting telephone records using Section 215 of the Patriot Act and collecting phone calls and emails using Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The answer then was a resounding no, and new polls released in August and September clearly show Americans' increasing concern about privacy has continued. Since July, many of the polls not only confirm the American people think the NSA's actions violates their privacy, but think the surveillance should be stopped. For instance in an AP poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans said they oppose the NSA collecting data about their telephone and Internet usage. In another national poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, 74 percent of respondents said the NSA's spying intrudes on their privacy rights. This majority should come as no surprise, as we've seen a sea change in opinion polls on privacy since the Edward Snowden revelations started in June. What's also important is that it crosses political party lines. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found 70 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans believe the NSA’s spying programs intrude on their privacy rights. This change is significant, showing that privacy is a bipartisan issue. In 2006, a similar question found only 50 percent of Republicans thought the government intruded on their privacy rights. Americans also continue their skepticism of the federal government and its inability to conduct proper oversight. In a recent poll, Rasmusson—though sometimes known for push polling—revealed that there's been a 30 percent increase in people who believe it is now more likely that the government will monitor their phone calls. Maybe even more significant is that this skepticism carries over into whether or not Americans believe the government's claim that it "robustly oversees" the NSA's programs. In a Huffpost/You Gov poll, 53 percent of respondents said they think "the federal courts and rules put in place by Congress" do not provide "adequate oversight." Only 18 percent of people agreed with the statement. Americans seem to be waking up from its surveillance state slumber as the leaks around the illegal and unconstitutional NSA spying continue. The anger Americans—especially younger Americans—have around the NSA spying is starting to show. President Obama has seen a 14-point swing in his approval and disapproval rating among voters aged 18-29 after the NSA spying. These recent round of polls confirm that Americans are not only concerned with the fact that the spying infringes their privacy, but also that they want the spying to stop. And this is even more so for younger Americans. Now is the time for Congress to act: join the StopWatching.Us coalition.

That shields the link and builds political capital

Page, 09 – cites H.W. Brands, professor at UTA, and presidential historian who has met privately with Obama (Susan Page, USA Today reporter, 7-20-2009, "Polls can affect president's hold on party", USA Today,, DA: 5-30-2015)

WASHINGTON — A president's standing after his first six months in office doesn't forecast whether he'll have a successful four-year term, but it does signal how much political juice he'll have for his second six months in office. That's the lesson of history. Barack Obama, who completed six months in office Monday, has a 55% approval rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, putting him 10th among the dozen presidents who have served since World War II at this point in their tenures. That's not as bad for Obama as it may sound: The six-month mark hasn't proved to be a particularly good indicator of how a president ultimately will fare. Two-thirds of Americans approved of the jobs Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were doing at six months, but both would lose their bids for re-election. And though the younger Bush and Bill Clinton had significantly lower ratings at 180 days — Clinton had sunk to 41% approval — both won second terms. Even so, a president's standing at the moment is more than a matter of vanity. It affects his ability to hold the members of his own party and persuade those on the other side to support him, at least on the occasional issue. "Approval ratings are absolutely critical for a president achieving his agenda," says Republican pollster Whit Ayres. For Obama, the timing of his slide in ratings is particularly unhelpful: He's intensified his push to pass health care bills in the House and Senate before Congress leaves on its August recess. He'll press his case at a news conference at 8 p.m. Wednesday. His overall approval rating has dropped 9 percentage points since his inauguration in January, and his disapproval rate has jumped 16 points, to 41%. Trouble at home More people disapprove than approve of Obama on four domestic issues: the economy, taxes, health care and the federal budget deficit. He scores majority approval on handling Iraq, Afghanistan and foreign affairs. The biggest drop has been on his handling of the economy, down 12 points since February; his disapproval is up 19 points. The most erosion has come not from Republicans or independents but among his own Democrats. Support from conservative and moderate Democrats is down by 18 points. Another group in the party's political base — those earning $20,000 to $50,000 a year — had a drop of 15 percentage points, to 47%. That could reflect one reason why moderate Democratic senators and the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the House are demanding more cost controls in the health care plan before they'll sign on. "It's important if a president is trying to accomplish some big stuff legislatively," H.W. Brands, a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, says of the approval rating. He was one of several presidential historians who sat down with Obama at a private White House dinner this month. "Members of Congress are somewhat reluctant to tangle with a president who seems to have the backing of the American people." At 55% overall, Obama's approval rating is a tick below that of George W. Bush at six months. It is well above Clinton and Gerald Ford, who was hammered for his pardon of Richard Nixon. At the top of the list is Harry Truman at 82% — buoyed by the end of World War II — followed by Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower. The fact that presidents from the 1950s and 1960s scored better than more recent ones could mean the public's assessments are getting tougher. "Mid-20th-century presidents had higher political capital and more stable political capital than presidents of the last 20 years," says Steven Schier, a political scientist who is studying presidential job approval since modern polling began in the 1930s. He wrote Panorama of a Presidency: How George W. Bush Acquired and Spent His Political Capital. Schier theorizes that the difference in ratings is due to the accelerating speed with which information is disseminated, the declining number of Americans firmly tied to a political party and a growing desire to see quick results. "There's less patience with presidents than there used to be," he says. What's popularity for? Savvy presidents understand that pursuing big policies will cost them popularity, Brands says. "Presidents have to decide what their popularity is for," he says. "Lyndon Johnson probably understood best that political popularity is a wasting asset. You had to use it when you had it." Johnson was inaugurated after Kennedy's assassination in 1963 and then crushed Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential race. LBJ used his high approval ratings — they didn't fall below 60% for more than two years after his inauguration — and big majorities in the House and Senate to enact his Great Society programs. Amid growing opposition to the Vietnam War, Johnson's standing fell so low that he decided not to seek another term. Ronald Reagan may provide a closer parallel to Obama. Both took office as the nation's economy was in perilous times. Reagan was at 60% at six months, but his standing slipped below 50% by the end of his first year in office as the jobless rate swelled. It would take two years and economic recovery before a majority of Americans would approve of his presidency again.

Fiat solves the link – it’s a magic wand – plan passes without debate – doesn’t expend PC

There’s bipartisan momentum for curtailing surveillance

Weisman, 13 (Jonathan Weisman, political writer for NYT, 7-28-2013, "Momentum Builds against N.S.A. Surveillance", New York Times,, DA: 5-30-2015)

WASHINGTON — The movement to crack down on government surveillance started with an odd couple from Michigan, Representatives Justin Amash, a young libertarian Republican known even to his friends as “chief wing nut,” and John Conyers Jr., an elder of the liberal left in his 25th House term. But what began on the political fringes only a week ago has built a momentum that even critics say may be unstoppable, drawing support from Republican and Democratic leaders, attracting moderates in both parties and pulling in some of the most respected voices on national security in the House. The rapidly shifting politics were reflected clearly in the House on Wednesday, when a plan to defund the National Security Agency’s telephone data collection program fell just seven votes short of passage. Now, after initially signaling that they were comfortable with the scope of the N.S.A.’s collection of Americans’ phone and Internet activities, but not their content, revealed last month by Edward J. Snowden, lawmakers are showing an increasing willingness to use legislation to curb those actions. Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, have begun work on legislation in the House Judiciary Committee to significantly rein in N.S.A. telephone surveillance. Mr. Sensenbrenner said on Friday that he would have a bill ready when Congress returned from its August recess that would restrict phone surveillance to only those named as targets of a federal terrorism investigation, make significant changes to the secret court that oversees such programs and give businesses like Microsoft and Google permission to reveal their dealings before that court. “There is a growing sense that things have really gone a-kilter here,” Ms. Lofgren said. The sudden reconsideration of post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism policy has taken much of Washington by surprise. As the revelations by Mr. Snowden, a former N.S.A. contractor, were gaining attention in the news media, the White House and leaders in both parties stood united behind the programs he had unmasked. They were focused mostly on bringing the leaker to justice. Backers of sweeping surveillance powers now say they recognize that changes are likely, and they are taking steps to make sure they maintain control over the extent of any revisions. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee met on Wednesday as the House deliberated to try to find accommodations to growing public misgivings about the programs, said the committee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat and longtime critic of the N.S.A. surveillance programs, said he had taken part in serious meetings to discuss changes. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the panel, said, “We’re talking through it right now.” He added, “There are a lot of ideas on the table, and it’s pretty obvious that we’ve got some uneasy folks.” Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has assured House colleagues that an intelligence policy bill he plans to draft in mid-September will include new privacy safeguards. Aides familiar with his efforts said the House Intelligence Committee was focusing on more transparency for the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees data gathering, including possibly declassifying that court’s orders, and changes to the way the surveillance data is stored. The legislation may order such data to be held by the telecommunications companies that produce them or by an independent entity, not the government. Lawmakers say their votes to restrain the N.S.A. reflect a gut-level concern among voters about personal privacy. “I represent a very reasonable district in suburban Philadelphia, and my constituents are expressing a growing concern on the sweeping amounts of data that the government is compiling,” said Representative Michael G. Fitzpatrick, a moderate Republican who represents one of the few true swing districts left in the House and who voted on Wednesday to limit N.S.A. surveillance. Votes from the likes of Mr. Fitzpatrick were not initially anticipated when Republican leaders chided reporters for their interest in legislation that they said would go nowhere. As the House slowly worked its way on Wednesday toward an evening vote to curb government surveillance, even proponents of the legislation jokingly predicted that only the “wing nuts” — the libertarians of the right, the most ardent liberals on the left — would support the measure. Then Mr. Sensenbrenner, a Republican veteran and one of the primary authors of the post-Sept. 11 Patriot Act, stepped to a microphone on the House floor. Never, he said, did he intend to allow the wholesale vacuuming up of domestic phone records, nor did his legislation envision that data dragnets would go beyond specific targets of terrorism investigations. “The time has come to stop it, and the way we stop it is to approve this amendment,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said. He had not intended to speak, and when he did, he did not say much, just seven brief sentences. “I was able to say what needed to be said in a minute,” he said Friday. Lawmakers from both parties said the brief speech was a pivotal moment. When the tally was final, the effort to end the N.S.A.’s programs had fallen short, 205 to 217. Supporters included Republican leaders like Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Democratic leaders like Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. Republican moderates like Mr. Fitzpatrick and Blue Dog Democrats like Representative Kurt Schrader of Oregon joined with respected voices on national security matters like Mr. Sensenbrenner and Ms. Lofgren. Besides Ms. McMorris Rodgers, Representative Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, another member of the Republican leadership, voted yes. On the Democratic side, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Representative Xavier Becerra of California, and his vice chairman, Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, broke with the top two Democrats, Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California and Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who pressed hard for no votes. On Friday, Ms. Pelosi, the House minority leader and a veteran of the Intelligence Committee, and Mr. Hoyer dashed off a letter to the president warning that even those Democrats who had stayed with him on the issue on Wednesday would be seeking changes. That letter included the signature of Mr. Conyers, who is rallying an increasingly unified Democratic caucus to his side, as well as 61 House Democrats who voted no on Wednesday but are now publicly signaling their discontent. “Although some of us voted for and others against the amendment, we all agree that there are lingering questions and concerns about the current” data collection program, the letter stated. Representative Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, a Republican who voted for the curbs and predicted that changes to the N.S.A. surveillance programs were now unstoppable, said: “This was in many respects a vote intended to send a message. The vote was just too strong.” Ms. Lofgren said the White House and Democratic and Republican leaders had not come to grips with what she called “a grave sense of betrayal” that greeted Mr. Snowden’s revelations. Since the Bush administration, lawmakers had been repeatedly assured that such indiscriminate collection of data did not exist, and that when targeting was unspecific, it was aimed at people abroad. The movement against the N.S.A. began with the fringes of each party. Mr. Amash of Michigan began pressing for an amendment on the annual military spending bill aimed at the N.S.A. Leaders of the Intelligence Committee argued strenuously that such an amendment was not relevant to military spending and should be ruled out of order. But Mr. Amash, an acolyte of Ron Paul, a libertarian former congressman, persisted and rallied support. Mr. Sensenbrenner and Ms. Lofgren said they were willing to work with the House and Senate intelligence panels to overhaul the surveillance programs, but indicated that they did not believe those panels were ready to go far enough. “I would just hope the Intelligence Committees will not stick their heads in the sand on this,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said.

Forcing controversial fights key to Obama’s agenda- try or die for the link turn

Dickerson 1/18 (John, Slate, Go for the Throat!,

On Monday, President Obama will preside over the grand reopening of his administration. It would be altogether fitting if he stepped to the microphone, looked down the mall, and let out a sigh: so many people expecting so much from a government that appears capable of so little. A second inaugural suggests new beginnings, but this one is being bookended by dead-end debates. Gridlock over the fiscal cliff preceded it and gridlock over the debt limit, sequester, and budget will follow. After the election, the same people are in power in all the branches of government and they don't get along. There's no indication that the president's clashes with House Republicans will end soon. Inaugural speeches are supposed to be huge and stirring. Presidents haul our heroes onstage, from George Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. George W. Bush brought the Liberty Bell. They use history to make greatness and achievements seem like something you can just take down from the shelf. Americans are not stuck in the rut of the day. But this might be too much for Obama’s second inaugural address: After the last four years, how do you call the nation and its elected representatives to common action while standing on the steps of a building where collective action goes to die? That bipartisan bag of tricks has been tried and it didn’t work. People don’t believe it. Congress' approval rating is 14 percent, the lowest in history. In a December Gallup poll, 77 percent of those asked said the way Washington works is doing “serious harm” to the country. The challenge for President Obama’s speech is the challenge of his second term: how to be great when the environment stinks. Enhancing the president’s legacy requires something more than simply the clever application of predictable stratagems. Washington’s partisan rancor, the size of the problems facing government, and the limited amount of time before Obama is a lame duck all point to a single conclusion: The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat. President Obama could, of course, resign himself to tending to the achievements of his first term. He'd make sure health care reform is implemented, nurse the economy back to health, and put the military on a new footing after two wars. But he's more ambitious than that. He ran for president as a one-term senator with no executive experience. In his first term, he pushed for the biggest overhaul of health care possible because, as he told his aides, he wanted to make history. He may already have made it. There's no question that he is already a president of consequence. But there's no sign he's content to ride out the second half of the game in the Barcalounger. He is approaching gun control, climate change, and immigration with wide and excited eyes. He's not going for caretaker. How should the president proceed then, if he wants to be bold? The Barack Obama of the first administration might have approached the task by finding some Republicans to deal with and then start agreeing to some of their demands in hope that he would win some of their votes. It's the traditional approach. Perhaps he could add a good deal more schmoozing with lawmakers, too. That's the old way. He has abandoned that. He doesn't think it will work and he doesn't have the time. As Obama explained in his last press conference, he thinks the Republicans are dead set on opposing him. They cannot be unchained by schmoozing. Even if Obama were wrong about Republican intransigence, other constraints will limit the chance for cooperation. Republican lawmakers worried about primary challenges in 2014 are not going to be willing partners. He probably has at most 18 months before people start dropping the lame-duck label in close proximity to his name. Obama’s only remaining option is to pulverize. Whether he succeeds in passing legislation or not, given his ambitions, his goal should be to delegitimize his opponents. Through a series of clarifying fights over controversial issues, he can force Republicans to either side with their coalition's most extreme elements or cause a rift in the party that will leave it, at least temporarily, in disarray.

History and empirics prove Obama PC irrelevant

Norman Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He is a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic and is an election eve analyst for BBC News. He served as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and participates in AEI's Election Watch series. 5-8-2013

The theme of presidential leadership is a venerated one in America, the subject of many biographies and an enduring mythology about great figures rising to the occasion. The term “mythology” doesn’t mean that the stories are inaccurate; Lincoln, the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie, conveyed a real sense of that president’s remarkable character and drive, as well as his ability to shape important events. Every president is compared to the Lincoln leadership standard and to those set by other presidents, and the first 100 days of every term becomes a measure of how a president is doing.¶ I have been struck by this phenomenon a lot recently, because at nearly every speech I give, someone asks about President Obama’s failure to lead. Of course, that question has been driven largely by the media, perhaps most by Bob Woodward. When Woodward speaks, Washington listens, and he has pushed the idea that Obama has failed in his fundamental leadership task—not building relationships with key congressional leaders the way Bill Clinton did, and not “working his will” the way LBJ or Ronald Reagan did.¶ Now, after the failure to get the background-check bill through the Senate, other reporters and columnists have picked up on the same theme, and I have grown increasingly frustrated with how the mythology of leadership has been spread in recent weeks. I have yelled at the television set, “Didn’t any of you ever read Richard Neustadt’s classic Presidential Leadership? Haven’t any of you taken Politics 101 and read about the limits of presidential power in a separation-of-powers system?”¶ But the issue goes beyond that, to a willful ignorance of history. No one schmoozed more or better with legislators in both parties than Clinton. How many Republican votes did it get him on his signature initial priority, an economic plan? Zero in both houses. And it took eight months to get enough Democrats to limp over the finish line. How did things work out on his health care plan? How about his impeachment in the House?¶ No one knew Congress, or the buttons to push with every key lawmaker, better than LBJ. It worked like a charm in his famous 89th, Great Society Congress, largely because he had overwhelming majorities of his own party in both houses. But after the awful midterms in 1966, when those swollen majorities receded, LBJ’s mastery of Congress didn’t mean squat.No one defined the agenda or negotiated more brilliantly than Reagan. Did he “work his will”? On almost every major issue, he had to make major compromises with Democrats, including five straight years with significant tax increases. But he was able to do it—as he was able to achieve a breakthrough on tax reform—because he had key Democrats willing to work with him and find those compromises.¶ For Obama, we knew from the get-go that he had no Republicans willing to work with him. As Robert Draper pointed out in his book Do Not Ask What Good We Do, key GOP leaders such as Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan determined on inauguration eve in January 2009 that they would work to keep Obama and his congressional Democratic allies from getting any Republican votes for any of his priorities or initiatives. Schmoozing was not going to change thatNor would arm-twisting. On the gun-control vote in the Senate, the press has focused on the four apostate Democrats who voted against the Manchin-Toomey plan, and the unwillingness of the White House to play hardball with Democrat Mark Begich of Alaska. But even if Obama had bludgeoned Begich and his three colleagues to vote for the plan, the Democrats would still have fallen short of the 60 votes that are now the routine hurdle in the Senate—because 41 of 45 Republicans voted no. And as Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has said, several did so just to deny Obama a victory.¶ Indeed, the theme of presidential arm-twisting again ignores history. Clinton once taught Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama a lesson, cutting out jobs in Huntsville, Ala. That worked well enough that Shelby switched parties, joined the Republicans, and became a reliable vote against Clinton. George W. Bush and Karl Rove decided to teach Sen. Jim Jeffords a lesson, punishing dairy interests in Vermont. That worked even better—he switched to independent status and cost the Republicans their Senate majority. Myths are so much easier than reality.

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