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December 12, 2010

Next Week in Politics

Last week was an extraordinary week in politics. Fairly ordinary business led to high-school levels of angst and drama, including the Democratic civil war, a presidential abdication, and an honest-to-Buddha filibuster. One of my coworkers sagely observed to me as I was racing out of the building on Friday to watch President Clinton take over for former President Obama: "You're in heaven right now, aren't you?" Yes, yes I was.

Next week's scheduled activities will likely promote more of the same. Here's what's on the drama-inducing schedule:

On Monday, RNC Chair Michael Steele is expected to announce that he will not seek to keep his job. Challengers have already lined up around the block. Given his poor performance and the RNC's money woes, there isn't much point to him trying for reelection anyway. I supported him when he sought the position, but there is no denying that his failures have been substantial and there is no reason to expect him to do better in the future. The RNC can most definitely do better.

Also on Monday, the Senate will hold a test vote on the tax cut deal. Unusually, the legislation is going to be easier to pass in the Senate than the House (the reverse is typically true for contentious legislation). However, just this morning, Democratic House members were conceding that Soon-To-Be-Ex-Speaker Pelosi will allow a vote on the bill and that it will pass.

I was in favor of the deal when it was announced for reasons partially explained here and here. (In short, it's more win for us than loss and the President was made to look like a fool.) I'm less happy now that it has been larded up with ethanol subsidies, but don't think we're going to see a better deal. Make no mistake: the clock is ticking and this needs to get done sooner rather than later. Waiting until after the new Congress is seated will be an economy killer.

Also on the schedule this week, the Senate will vote on the new START treaty, which for reasons not clear to anyone has been an Obama priority. The treaty doesn't hold nearly the urgency of other pressing business, like the imminent tax hikes and a federal budget. Speaking of...

The Senate will also have to consider federal funding before the end of the week because the current continuing resolution expires on Friday. The House passed a $1.1 trillion CR last week, which would fund the government at last year's levels through September. The purpose of such an extended CR is to keep the budget out of GOP hands until the next fiscal year, even if it means less money than Sometimes-President Obama requested. A friend in government told me that management in his agency has warned employees to "be prepared for the F-word".*

Also on the Senate menu is Senators Collins' and Liebermans' stand-alone Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal bill. Most observers, including me, say it's chances are slim. To pass the Senate, it would have to take place after the tax deal and the budget/CR votes, then find time on the House's schedule.

In international news, everybody tighten those sphincters. South Korea has announced a series of coastal live-fire drills to take place from December 13 through December 19. I include it in this political list because if something goes wrong, you're damn right it's going to get political real fast.

That's all I got. If there's something else doin', you be sure and let me know in comments.

* "Furloughs."

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:54 PM

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