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In 2012, Obama to press ahead without Congress

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 10:02 a.m. HST, Dec 31, 2011


Leaving behind a year of bruising legislative battles, President Barack Obama enters his fourth year in office having calculated that he no longer needs Congress to promote his agenda and may even benefit in his re-election campaign if lawmakers accomplish little in 2012.

Absent any major policy pushes, much of the year will focus on winning a second term. The president will keep up a robust domestic travel schedule and aggressive campaign fundraising and use executive action to try to boost the economy.

Partisan, down-to-the-wire fights over allowing the nation to take on more debt and sharply reducing government spending defined 2011. In the new year, there are almost no must-do pieces of legislation facing the president and Congress.

The one exception is the looming debate on a full-year extension of a cut in the Social Security payroll tax rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. Democrats and Republicans are divided over how to put in place that extension.

The White House believes GOP lawmakers boxed themselves in during the pre-Christmas debate on the tax break and will be hard-pressed to back off their own assertions that it should continue through the end of 2012.

Once that debate is over, the White House says, Obama's political fate will no longer be tied to Washington.

"Now that he's sort of free from having to put out these fires, the president will have a larger playing field. If that includes Congress, all the better," said Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary. But, he added, "that's no longer a requirement."

Aides say the president will not turn his back on Congress completely in the new year. He is expected to once again push lawmakers to pass elements of his jobs bill that were blocked by Republicans last fall.

If those efforts fail, the White House says, Obama's re-election year will focus almost exclusively on executive action.

Earnest said Obama will come out with at least two or three directives per week, continuing the "We Can't Wait" campaign the administration began this fall, and try to define Republicans in Congress as gridlocked and dysfunctional.

Obama's election year retreat from legislative fights means this term will end without significant progress on two of his 2008 campaign promises, an immigration overhaul and closing the military prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Presidential directives probably won't make a big dent in the nation's 8.6 percent unemployment rate or lead to significant improvements in the economy. That's the chief concern for many voters and the issue on which Republican candidates are most likely to criticize Obama.

In focusing on executive actions rather than ambitious legislation, the president risks appearing to be putting election-year strategy ahead of economic action at a time when millions of Americans are still out of work.

"Americans expect their elected leaders to work together to boost job creation, even in an election year," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Still, Obama and his advisers are beginning 2012 with a renewed sense of confidence, buoyed by a series of polls that show the president's approval rating climbing as Congress becomes increasingly unpopular.

They believe his victory over Republicans in the payroll tax debate has boosted his credentials as a fighter for the middle class, a theme he will look to seize on in his Jan. 24 State of the Union address.

Obama's campaign-driven, domestic-travel schedule starts in Cleveland on Wednesday, the day after GOP presidential hopefuls square off in the Iowa caucuses. He will also keep up an aggressive re-election fundraising schedule, with events already lined up in Chicago on Jan. 11.

Campaign officials say Obama will fully engage in the re-election campaign once the Republicans pick their nominee. He will focus almost exclusively on campaigning after the late summer Democratic National Convention, barring unexpected developments at home or abroad.

Among the issues that could disrupt Obama's re-election plans: further economic turmoil in Europe, instability in North Korea following its leadership transition and threats from Iran.

The president's signature legislative accomplishment will also come under greater scrutiny in the new year, when a critical part of his health care overhaul is debated before the Supreme Court.

Obama's foreign travel next year will be limited mainly to the summits and international gatherings every U.S. president traditionally attends. He's expected to travel to South Korea in March for a nuclear security summit and to Colombia in April for the Summit of the Americas. He's also likely to visit Mexico in June for the G-20 economic summit.

Two other major international gatherings — the NATO summit and the G-8 economic meeting — will be held in Chicago, on home turf.







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realist3463 wrote:
Having had no real experience in either the public or private sectors he lacks basic leadership qualities. He came from nowhere much like the Manchurian Candidate, with no record and no background.
on December 31,2011 | 10:15AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
But now young Barry has experience. As the head of his economic team said, as reported in the book Confidence Men their was "no adult supervision" in the Oval Office. He had super majorities in both Houses of Congress for 2/3rds of the time he has been in office. During that time he passed the Stimulus Bill, no evidence of it's positive impact to date, and the Health Care Bill, a short term failure. Then when the results of his first two years resulted in a huge Republican swing in the House and a diminished majority in the Senate the expected gridlock set in. Now, the final 1/4 of his term will be devoted to campaigning, which assures no further problems in addressing the needs of our nation. So, the issue is...........does Barry deserve to be reelected based on his record? Clearly, NO, but wait, is the alternative even worse? That is the question to be answered on election day. Remember, he does not actually run against Congress, although it might be a nice way to get rid of dinosaurs there, but one single Republican who does not have Presidential baggage. It will be a close call. If he wins, he will not have been a successful Forster term President, and will face a Republican Congress so a second term may not accomplish much. A sad tale for young Barry.
on December 31,2011 | 11:46AM
Classic_59Chevy wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 31,2011 | 10:38AM
ballen0607 wrote:
and ...... the fact that you have just immaturely compared criminal and extremist muslim behavior to an elected official of the U.S. makes me suspect that this comment is a huge representation of the mis-information that manipulates the people of this country. Well done sir....:-P
on December 31,2011 | 11:07AM
nigelUV001 wrote:
The more I read, the more that I think that the Average American needs both parties . We need the republicans who support our bosses eg tax cuts for the wealthy, limiting social spending, so business can improve. And we need the democratic party to support the poor who would starve if the republicans had their way, by cutting social spending to nothing. It is an interesting battle, but the most interesting phenomena is the poor republican. Are they just ingnorant and being fooled by the rich?
on December 31,2011 | 10:59AM
ballen0607 wrote:
The answer to your question comes in the form of a comment by my friend "Chevy" up above. Even if he isn't a poor republican....I think ignorance definitely comes into play...;-)
on December 31,2011 | 11:12AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Because if the government doesn't pay the poor to stay poor they won't be taken care of? The fallacy that Republicans don't care about the poor is just ignorance on the left. Just because Republicans don't believe that your idea of help is the right way, doesn't mean that they don't care. The left's idea of help is to steal from one group and give it to another based solely on their needs. The rights idea of help is to give from the heart to help your fellow man. It's sad how the left wrap themselves up in this self righteous cause of helping others with money pilfered from others. In the process of the pilfering a lot gets wasted and stolen. Only about 20% of welfare dollars actually get to the poor. The rest gets clogged up in the bureaucracy.
on December 31,2011 | 02:16PM
Big C wrote:
I don't blame President Obama. Congress behaves like a bunch of AMA CRABS. Only looking out for themselves and constantly fighting each other to get ahead. All of this fighting eventually leads to their disappearance. The only other problems, Congress will also cause the disappearance of the average American. Yes both parties are needed, but they need to be two parties that are willing to work together and compromise when needed.
on December 31,2011 | 11:03AM
Kawipoo wrote:
King Obama knows the best for everybody. It's the Punahou education that enables him to understand the world. Hail Obama the smartest man in the world.
on December 31,2011 | 12:26PM
HD36 wrote:
Yes, the King has declared war without congressional approval as required by the US Constitution. When asked about it, the King said," You need a lawyer to understand that stuff" The King has passed a law that any American Citizen can be detained indefinelty without due process if suspected of being a terrorist. The king, would like to pass regulations on the internet so that government can track your every word. The King has created a civilian militia to control those who oppose him. Welcome to the New World Order!
on December 31,2011 | 12:48PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Imagine it was December 31st 2007 and this headline read "Bush to press ahead with his agenda while ignoring congress."

This place would be up in fla mes.

Imagine if this was part of the peace. If those efforts fail, the White House says, Bush's final year will focus almost exclusively on executive action.

Earnest said Bush will come out with at least two or three directives per week, continuing the "We Can't Wait" campaign the administration began this fall, and try to define Democrats in Congress as gridlocked and dysfunctional.


on December 31,2011 | 02:22PM
HD36 wrote:
Wether Democrat or Republican, they all have the same agenda, except for one--Ron Paul 2012
on December 31,2011 | 03:36PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Maybe but Ron Paul's foreign policy would be a disaster. Domestically he is awesome, but the president has to be good in both areas.
on December 31,2011 | 04:17PM
HD36 wrote:
Why? Because he believes the US should not be the policeman of the world? Because we should not give billions more to Israel in foreign aid? Isarael has 300 nuclear missles. Iran doesn't have 1. I think they can take care of themselve's. The number of billionaires in Israel has doubled over the last year. The main stream media would like people to think of him as an isolationist. The fact is he believes that we should not intervent in other countires affair., ie Libya.
on December 31,2011 | 11:30PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Given the probability of a Republican majority in both houses of congress, Mr. Obama's suggestion that he will go it alone means that he might as well just stay in Kailua and play golf for the rest of his term (and the next one if he wins) because, the last time I checked, we have three co-equal branches of government. He may want to go pirate on us, but the Constitution will not let him. He needs to get his butt back in the game work with Congress, whether he likes it or not, and make the necessary compromises to do the nation's business.
on December 31,2011 | 02:44PM
ufried wrote:
Im still waiting for a poor person to give me job... lol
on December 31,2011 | 03:24PM
nitestalker3 wrote:
executive action is already responsible for the probable closing of 68 coal fired power plants with nothing to replace them, thus going to increase energy rates. executive action resulted in the closing of the case against the black panthers that threatened violence with weapons at the polling place. executive action resulted in the war in libya and the refusal to abide by the war powers act. executive action resulted in the federal gov't not defending the marriage act. executive action is threatening the oil pipeline and the loss of about 70000 jobs. executive action is still holding up drilling in the gulf. executive action is the epa pushing obama's agenda after he couldn't get the legislation passed by congress. that action is closing coal mines and putting a lot of miners out of work. i wonder what you call his holding off on calling for another increase in the debt limit by $1.5 TRILLION. how are we going to pay this off. what happened to that $2.5 trillion that was approved just several short months ago. gnp and debt are now almost equal meaning we are in the same boat as greece.
on December 31,2011 | 03:45PM
HD36 wrote:
Why's that?
on December 31,2011 | 11:31PM
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