Monday, March 29, 2010

The Weekly Strike-3/29-4/4

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. For those of you Jewish readers, Happy Pesach! For those who aren't Jewish, nobody's perfect.

NORMALCY: The amazing thing about the upcoming week in politics is how devoid it will be of drama. Health care has passed. The reconciliation package of fixes have passed. Student loan reform has passed. Congress has skipped town. There are no tea-partiers in the streets of Washington. There is a welcome sense of quiet around here. But nevertheless, there is enough going on to merit an entry.

AFGHANISTAN: After last week's historic victories, President Obama jetted off on a secret trip to Afghanistan over the weekend. He met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and put pressure on him to bring stability to his government in his second term. The success of the President's mission in Afghanistan depends largely on whether Karzai can make his government more appealing to the Afghan people than the Taliban alternative. The President also met with U.S. troops, where he thanked them for their dedication and sacrifice.

With all of the domestic battles brewing in the past couple of months, there has been very little focus on Afghanistan. Part of the reason is that the military has made significant gains. However, if there isn't adequate civilian progress, this could still be a perilous endeavor for the President.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President has returned from his trip, and faces a very busy week ahead of him. Today, the President participates in a credentialing ceremony for foreign ambassadors. He then hosts a Passover Seder at the White House. The Strike wishes very much that he was invited.

Tomorrow, the President will sign the Reconciliation Act of 2010 at the White House. Because health care already got some pomp and circumstance last week, I expect the President this week to be more geared towards the student loan reform measure that got included in the reconciliation package. The President will also go on the road this week to tout his accomplishments. He will make stops in Maine and North Carolina.

CONGRESS: Congress, after its most productive session in a long, long time, has a well-deserved two week recess. Over the weekend, the President used the occasion to make 15 recess appointments, including one to liberal hero Craig Becker at the National Labor Relations Board. The President's nominees have been held up consistently over the past year due to unprecedented GOP obstructionism. I'm glad the President took advantage of this opportunity.

Congress did skip town without passing an extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits. Republicans did not allow a vote on these extensions, because they were not paid for. As a result of this politicking, millions of Americans will lose benefits next Monday, the 5th. Democrats plan to pass another extension when Congress comes back on April 12th, and they will make the extension retroactive, so people will still get benefits they would have accrued over the week of April 5th.

That's it for now, we'll see you tonight!

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