Does Obama Favor Congressional Dominance?

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THE PLANK JUNE 30, 2009

Does Obama Favor Congressional Dominance?

David Brooks makes some decent points about the hash Congress has made of Presdient Obama's agenda, but then leaps to this odd conclusion:

The great paradox of the age is that Barack Obama, the most riveting of recent presidents, is leading us into an era of Congressional dominance. And Congressional governance is a haven for special interest pleading and venal logrolling.

Has Obama ushered this in, or was it always the case? The fact is that Congress--and, especially, the Senate, with its newly routine 60-vote supermajority requirment for most legislation--is the legislative veto point. Obama can't change that unless Congress wants to change, and it doesn't.

Now, it's true that, when Congress was controlled by the GOP, it generally followed the lead of the Bush administration. But, as I've argued, Democrats do things differently. To say that this is Obama's choice is to miss the power dynamic. If Democrats in Congress decided their role was to advance the agenda Obamwas elected on,then we wouldn't have an era of Congressional dominance. Instead large numbers of Democrats in Congress have decided to protect their own priveleges and those of their affiliated interest groups. If Obama had somemethod to persuade his fellow Democrats to instead act in the general interest of the country or their party, he would have done it.

--Jonathan Chait

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