Swoop: Washington’s World: March 1st – March 7th, 2010

Swoop: Washington’s World: March 1st – March 7th, 2010
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Not for the first time, the Obama Administration finds itself poised on the edge of another dilemma with far-reaching implications for his political authority.

In this case, the issue is how to turn his proposals for healthcare reform into actual legislation – and whether doing so will severely damage Democratic prospects in November’s mid-term elections.

Our conversations with senior officials indicate that Obama has decided that he has come too far down the road to abandon the reform initiative. This means that he will seek to pass legislation with Democratic votes alone.

He faces two major problems:

1) are there enough Democratic votes in the House of Representatives to pass legislation there? and,

2) can he draft secure passage in the Senate using the ‘budget reconciliation’ procedure?

Neither question has an easy answer, but our assessment is that Obama and his senior advisers believe that they may just be able to succeed.

For this to happen, Obama will have to devote his full attention to building the necessary consensus inside the Democratic Party.

He will have less time for foreign affairs. The implication is that, without strong presidential involvement, foreign policy will lack momentum. It will be reactive rather than creative.

Over Afghanistan, there is now some optimism at senior Pentagon levels that the offensive in Helmand province is achieving its immediate objectives. Whether this will translate into the sort of wider political success that will permit a drawdown of US troops in 2011 is hotly debated in the analytic community. Many analysts at the National Security Council and in the Intelligence Community are less optimistic.

On Iran, Obama’s less active involvement will, we judge, lead to a slackening of pace in devising a new sanctions regime.  Very little progress will be made on the Middle East peace process. Iraq is receiving little high level attention despite the rising uncertainty about the March 7th elections.

Source: http://theswoop.net/sys/index.php?PHPSESSID=9f5378f1ea2fe34571c7d12c5021cc44