Seeking compromise on Obama's budget
In an age of hyperpartisanship, it’s no longer noteworthy when Congress pronounces a president’s budget “dead on arrival.” But last week’s breezy dismissal of President Obama’s budget doesn’t — or shouldn’t — make the document irrelevant. Sprinkled throughout its 2,000 pages are opportunities for compromise that Republican majorities should seize if they want to prove that they’re as good at governing as they are at complaining. As for Democrats, Obama’s budget offers a structure from which they can seek to frame the terms of debate for the 2016 presidential season.
Let’s take the Democrats first. After the licking they suffered in the midterms — losing the Senate and dropping another 13 seats in the House — the party needs a rock to grab onto. Obama’s budget correctly defines the nation’s central problem, one that could play well for them in 2016: the lack of opportunity and mobility for middle- and lower-income Americans who find it harder and harder to keep up with the economy’s top earners.
Loyalty to Obama not enough to save Hagel
WASHINGTON — Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sat next to Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey as the general testified to a House panel that he was considering ground troops in Iraq.
Dempsey had been pushing the envelope on the war for months. But when Hagel was questioned by lawmakers, he repeated the Obama administration refrain, saying, “U.S. military personnel will not be engaged in a ground combat mission.”
Up until his resignation announcement Monday, Hagel was a loyal backer of the administration and its military foreign policy, even when it conflicted with the views of top brass. Still, toeing the line was not enough to overcome what some saw as a lackluster tenure at the Pentagon and growing post-election pressure on the White House to shake up staff and refresh its war effort.
“I never had the sense that anybody in the department felt the buck stopped with Hagel,” said Gordon Adams, a professor of foreign policy at American University in Washington.