Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wasted year in Washington

A deal for now, but this year’s been a legislative dud for Obama

By John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent

October 17, 2013 — Updated 0145 GMT (0945 HKT)


  • With high hopes after reelection, President Obama sounded call to action

  • But 2013 has been hardly great for the President’s legislative agenda

  • Safe to say Obama losing even if he may “win” short-term political blame game on budget

  • Washington’s dysfunction appears to be only deepening

(CNN) — It began with high hopes and lofty rhetoric, as a newly reelected President Barack Obama ended his State of the Union wish list with a call to action: “It remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.”

But 2013 will hardly be remembered as a great chapter. Instead, even with Wednesday’s debt ceiling and government funding deal, this is a wasted year in Washington, one of more band-aid budgeting, polarized partisanship and Republican chaos.

Yes, public opinion polls suggest the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis is more damaging to Republicans than to the President and his fellow Democrats.

And Obama gives up little in the deal struck Wednesday to fund the government through January and raise the debt ceiling through early February.

But with precious time in his second term ticking by, it is safe to say the President is losing even as he may “win” the short-term political blame game.

Consider the priorities laid out in his February State of the Union Address:

*A new jobs plan

*Infrastructure investments targeting roads and the 70,000 American bridges he noted are deemed structurally unsound

*An increase, to $9 an hour, in the federal minimum wage

*A guarantee of quality pre-school education for every child in America

*New background checks for gun purchases and, the President asked, for an up or down vote on new gun restrictions, including a ban on certain assault style weapons

*Plus sweeping immigration reform, including, in his words, “a reasonable pathway to earned citizenship.”

Also in his address: a plea to end the budgeting by brinksmanship and crisis and a hopeful call for bipartisan negotiations on tax reform and Medicare and other entitlement spending.

Eight months later — as the end of that critical first year of the presidential term comes into focus — none of those priorities has been realized. Not one.

And Washington’s dysfunction appears to be only deepening, as differences between Democrats and Republicans are often overshadowed by the internal civil war within the GOP.

Don’t count on that environment improving once Washington stumbles its way past this latest crisis.

The deal provides a temporary fix – essentially kicking the can down the road to January and February to give Congress and the White House time to negotiate.

A welcome respite, perhaps, but the issues won’t get any easier over the course of those three or four months, and the politics – believe it or not – could get even more difficult because those new deadlines are early in the midterm election year.


Part of complete coverage on

Jake Tapper has the latest, CNN Live, 11 p.m. ET.

October 16, 2013 — Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)

Five things you may have missed about the Supreme Court while the partial government shutdown and the debt ceiling deadline grabs the headlines.

October 16, 2013 — Updated 2333 GMT (0733 HKT)

Congressional approval ratings hovered at historic lows. Republican and Democrats hurled insults at each other and among themselves. The political circus in Washington even made its way to “Saturday Night Live: — in a sketch featuring Miley Cyrus, at that.

What is the status of federal agencies during the government shutdown?

Why ‘prioritization’ won’t work and why Oct. 17 is not ‘default day.’

October 16, 2013 — Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)

It just about broke Elise Kanim’s heart to have to tell her 6-year-old daughter, Piper, that she couldn’t buy her a Halloween costume this year.

It’s time to start thinking about the unthinkable, if you haven’t already. Here’s what many believe is at risk if lawmakers do decide to test the waters of default.

While more than 800,000 federal workers are being furloughed, members of Congress are still getting paid.

October 8, 2013 — Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)

What now?

Around the world, politicians and commentators have been weighing in with their take on how the U.S. got here, what happens next, and whether their own countries should be worried.

October 8, 2013 — Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)

With a lot of facts and figures thrown around the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline, here are the ones you need to know.

October 4, 2013 — Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)

As the country goes into the weekend with the government shut down and neither side talking, there seems to be little hope for breaking the impasse any time soon.

October 5, 2013 — Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)

Journalists and experts have been sorting through the claims of Republicans and Democrats. Here’s a sampling of pieces published by CNN Opinion:

October 4, 2013 — Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)

The happiest day in Justin Smith’s life — next to the day his daughter was born — was March 5, 2013.

October 14, 2013 — Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)

See images of national parks, museums and other casualties of the partial government shutdown.

October 4, 2013 — Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)

Meg Urry says loss to science is greater as critical astronomical work could be affected.

October 2, 2013 — Updated 1528 GMT (2328 HKT)

We’re only two days into this government shutdown, but it already seems like we’ve been here before.

October 2, 2013 — Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)

How is it possible that both parties have failed so badly in the relatively simple task of keeping the federal government open for business?

October 1, 2013 — Updated 0426 GMT (1226 HKT)

Ticktock. If Democrats and Republicans don’t stop bickering and agree on how to end the shutdown, many will feel the impact.

October 1, 2013 — Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)

The basics and the complex answers about the government shutdown

More people say congressional Republicans rather than President Barack Obama would be responsible, according to a new national survey.

The risk of a shutdown is now a distinct possibility. And federal agencies have been instructed to make plans for one just in case.

October 1, 2013 — Updated 2322 GMT (0722 HKT)

One of the most prominent developers of the plan that could shut the government down is a little-known freshman congressman.

October 9, 2013 — Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)

As the government marches toward a possible shutdown next week, who’s calling the shots as this D.C. drama unfolds?

September 23, 2013 — Updated 2102 GMT (0502 HKT)

Many government services and agencies were closed at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 as President Bill Clinton battled a GOP-led Congress over spending levels.


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Wasted year in Washington

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