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Jon-Christopher Bua

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Obama vs GOP Congress - Game On

Posted: 07/01/2013 12:49

This week both President Obama and the newly elected 113th Congress return to Washington to try once again to do the people's business.

We start with a strengthened Obama administration and a rather weakened Republican Party and possibly an even more weakened house speaker John Boehner.

Boehner was re-elected speaker of the House of Representatives on 3 January but it was a much too close for comfort vote and much closer than Boehner was expecting.

The Fiscal Cliff Deal

In order to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, Congress cut a deal which came closer to delivering the changes the Democratic base wanted while at the same time seriously disappointing the Republican conservative base by failing to deliver any meaningful cuts to entitlements.

The deal that was accomplished kicked the can down the road on sequestration cuts, entitlement cuts, raising the debt ceiling and the other big budget battles of the day.

The other thing the Fiscal Cliff deal proved is that Obama and his team have no interest in ending their hard fought, well played 2012 Campaign tactics.

Now the President and his White House - DNC team of advisors and spokespeople will continue this effort by going directly to the American People to build public support for their agenda.

So far this tactic has proven to be successful by getting the Republican opposition to cave in and go along with the Obama agenda.

This clever and somewhat effective strategy will become the new normal for Obama's legislative confrontations.

This will also mean a never ending cycle of raising money for ads etc. to win the support of the American people.

This campaign and money machine will paint the Republican opposition as the obstacle toward progress.

From day one of his new Administration through the Mid-Terms in 2014 - this effort will continue until Obama gets a more cooperative Congress one way or another.

In the meantime, Vice-President Joe Biden proved invaluable in using his legislative prowess to help Obama cut the Fiscal Cliff deal. This has raised his stature and may signal a new role for him "Legislator-in-Chief".

Biden's new persona could also fuel the speculation fire as to whether he might want to make a run for it in 2016.

The Debt Ceiling

The next economic fight will be over raising the debt ceiling.

The US government may run out of money to pay its outstanding debt obligations as early as next month.

If Congress does not vote to raise the Debt Ceiling this could mean a total or partial shutdown of the Federal Government.

Despite its identity crisis, it is clear that the Republican Party still believes that the only message they have that still resonates with the American people is 'spending cuts'.

The question here is whether after two bruising defeats is there enough Republican cohesion left to use the debt ceiling battle as a game of Russian roulette with the US and world economies and risk another recession.

Obama's New Administration

As President Obama returns from his abbreviated Hawaiian vacation, he will undoubtedly be naming the new members of his cabinet.

Secretary of Defense

On Monday or Tuesday of this week President Obama is expected to nominate former Republican Nebraska Senator, Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient, Chuck Hagel to take Leon Panetta's place.

During his time as Senator, Hagel was an outspoken member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (the Committee which has been chaired by Senator John Kerry for several years).

Chuck Hagel will not be an easy confirmation. There are issues with his previously stated views on Israeli Security, Iran Sanctions, Gays in the Military, etc.

The Hagel nomination will be a fight with the Republicans who are not generally in line with many of his views. There are many Democrats who will have issues with him as well including the fact that Hagel is a Republican.

President Obama has a personal relationship with Hagel since they both worked on nuclear non-proliferation when they were in the Senate together.

It seems clear here that President Obama is trying to assemble a National Security Team that can work together and has already done so effectively.

Director of CIA

Also, President Obama is likely to announce Monday or Tuesday of this week that his replacement for retired General David Petraeus will be Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan or acting CIA Director Michael Morell.

Secretary of Treasury

Since there is so much important financial work to do it is not clear how eager President Obama will be to name Secretary Tim Geithner's replacement and work to approve his nominee in the middle of the Debt Ceiling crisis.

However, Geithner has already signalled he expects to go before a Debt Ceiling deal is actually reached.

All indications are that the President will nominate Jacob "Jack" Lew his current White House Chief of Staff - maybe even as soon as this week.

This post also appears on Sky News.

 
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