80th Congress

The Dire Need For A Change In The Presidential Succession Act Of 1947

In 1947, the new Republican controlled 80th Congress, the first Congress to have both houses being Republican controlled since 1928, acted in revenge against the memory of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt by changing the Presidential Succession Act of 1886.

That law in 1886 made the succession to the Presidency to be the cabinet officers after the Vice President, including in order, the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Interior. The original law in 1792 made the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House next in line before the cabinet members, and after the Vice President.

This was changed to the present situation in 1947, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and then the President Pro Tempore of the Senate would succeed after the Vice President and before the cabinet officers.

This has  led to people in the line of succession who, much of the time, have been the opposition party to the President, as in 1947-1949 under President Harry Truman; 1955-1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower; 1969-1974 under President Richard Nixon; 1974-1977 under President Gerald Ford; 1981-1987 in the House under President Ronald Reagan; 1987-1989 under President Ronald Reagan; 1989-1993 under President George H. W. Bush; 1995-2001 under President Bill Clinton; 2001-2003 in the Senate under President George W. Bush; 2007-2009 under President George W. Bush; and 2011-2017 under President Barack Obama.

This is not proper, to have the opposition party have the potential to take over the Presidency through having a Speaker of the House and/or a President Pro Tempore of the Senate of their party, rather than having the continuity of the administration though the cabinet members chosen by the President.

So 44 years between 1947 and 2017, out of a total number of 70 years, or just about two thirds of the time, the opposition party has been two heartbeats away from the Presidency, undermining continuity of government.

Also, just because someone is Speaker of the House (elected by one Congressional district) or President Pro Tempore of the Senate ( an often very old person in that position, elected from one state, who has longevity of service) does not make such a person qualified to be President, as much as a Secretary of State, Treasury, etc does!

So while it is unlikely to happen anytime soon, there really is a need to change the Presidential Succession Act back to the one passed and in effect from 1886-1947!

Third Term Presidents: The Truth And The Historical “Might Have Beens”!

Anyone who studies American history knows that the 22nd Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1951, prevents any future President from serving more than two complete terms by election or a total of ten years by succession in the last two years of the Presidential term.

Only Franklin D. Roosevelt served more than eight years in the Presidency, a total of 12 years and 39 days, having been elected four times (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944), and this fact causing the opposition Republicans, when they controlled the 80th Congress in 1947-48, to pass the 22nd Amendment in 1947, and send it on to the state legislatures for ratification.

However, Ulysses S. Grant in 1876; Theodore Roosevelt in reality in 1912 as a third party (Progressive Bull Moose) candidate; Woodrow Wilson in 1920; and Harry Truman in 1952 considered a third term.

Additionally, it is clear that Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960, Ronald Reagan in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 2000 would have won a third term if it had been allowed and they had agreed to seek it , with George H. W. Bush being the beneficiary of Reagan in 1988, and Al Gore being the beneficiary of Clinton in 2000, winning a larger margin of popular vote victory than any of the four cases of popular vote victory but Electoral College loss!

Also, if one considers popular vote victories of Andrew Jackson in 1824 and Grover Cleveland in 1888, but in each case losing the Electoral College, that could have meant three terms for Jackson (1824, 1828, 1832) and for Cleveland (1884, 1888, 1892)!

So if things had been different, instead of only FDR having a third and fourth term, we could have had Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton having third terms in the Presidency!

The Do Nothing 113th Congress Worse Than 112th Congress, And Far Worse Than Truman’s 80th Congress In 1947-1948!

History tells us that President Harry Truman ran against the Republican controlled 80th Congress in his election campaign of 1948, calling it a “Do Nothing” Congress.

What he meant was that they were passing laws that he considered counterproductive, including the anti labor Taft Hartley Act, which he vetoed, but passed over his veto by a two thirds vote in both houses of Congress.

But in actuality, that 80th Congress passed over 900 laws, and cooperated with Truman on funding for the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, and also agreed to creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council and the Defense Department.

By comparison, the 112th Congress of 2011-2012 became the least productive Congress in history, passing fewer than 300 laws, but now the 113th Congress has passed fewer than 150 laws, making them half as accomplished as the previous Congress.

There is a total refusal of Republicans to cooperate at all with Barack Obama, and they have had the shortest work calendar of any Congress, including the previous one!

Now they are taking a five week break, despite so many crucial issues to deal with, and their public opinion rating is the lowest it has ever been!

But will the American people, with the reality of gerrymandering ruling the House of Representatives, be able to unite and give the Democrats back control of the House? Not likely, and the US Senate is also dangerously in play!

So two more years of stalemate and gridlock are likely!

112th Congress Least Productive Since World War II!

The 112th Congress is setting records for being the most ineffective, least productive, Congress since World War II!

The last time this situation existed was the Republican 80th Congress of 1947-48, but even they accomplished more than this present, pitiful Congress!

Only 91 bills have passed in 2012, added to 60 for 2011, so a low total of 151 is truly an embarrassment!

Comparing this to the 111th Congress of 2009-2010, we find that Congress passed 125 laws in 2009, and 258 in 2010, for a grand total of 383.

So two and a half times as many bills were passed in 2009-2010, as compared to 2011-2012.

Usually, 6-10 percent of bills introduced pass into law, but this Congress it is a mere 2 percent!

This is partly due to the impact of the Tea Party Movement, which has caused the complete loss of reputation of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives.

No wonder the public opinion rating of Congress is ten percent in the last polling!

Is Ezra Klein Correct That We Are Witnessing The Worst Congress Ever? YES, By A Landslide!

The 111th Congress (2009-2010) has been seen by many observers as the most productive Congress since the 89th Congress (1965-1966).

But now, the 112th Congress (2011-2012) has been declared by Ezra Klein, the brilliant commentator of the Washington Post and MSNBC, as the WORST Congress EVER!

Is Ezra Klein correct in his assessment? ABSOLUTELY!

The 112th Congress, as Klein says, has failed to deal with the problems facing the country, and has had as its major agenda the defeat of President Obama for a second term, and in the process, holding Americans hostage in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression!

Klein points out the following:

No Congress, with records back to the 80th Congress of 1947-1948, has produced such little passage of legislation, with the smallest being the 104th Congress (1995-1996), with 333 laws passed, and Democrat Bill Clinton being relected President in 1996 as a result.

Congress has only a ten percent approval rating, an all time low, with the Internal Revenue Service being at a popularity rate of 40 percent; Lawyers at 29 percent; President Richard Nixon during Watergate at 24 percent; Banks at 23 percent; the British Petroleum Oil Spill at 16 percent; and Paris Hilton at 15 percent, as examples!

The 112th Congress is the most polarized Congress since the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s, and we all know what came after–the GILDED AGE period of corporate dominance, not well looked upon by historians, and reminding us that we are now, in so many respects, in a new GILDED AGE, personified not only by the GOP control in the House of Representatives and in many state governments, but by the wealthiest Presidential nominee in American history, Mitt Romney, worth twice the assets of the last eight Presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush combined!

The Republican majority in the House and Republican opposition in the Senate set back economic recovery in 2011 and right up to this moment in 2012, by any measure! And this Congress caused the loss of America’s credit rating, and seem ready to do it again!

Voting unsuccessfully to repeal the Affordable Care Act THIRTY THREE times is an exercise in futility, and the House of Representatives has wasted approximately EIGHTY hours in doing nothing, two work weeks when they could have been working on job creation legislation!

This Congress has NOT passed any appropriations bills by the deadline of October 1 in 2011, and will not by October 1, 2012, as things stand!

The failure to provide for the future of our infrastructure–roads, bridges, subway systems, and airports– is a major problem for the long term.

Two Congressional experts, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, have written a book condemning the paralysis of the 112th Congress, saying it is the worst performance they have witnessed in 40 years of covering Congress!

In sum, the 112th Congress is an embarrassment, and there is no sign of any improvement in the future, particularly if the split Congress continues into the future!

Barack Obama FINALLY Acting As Harry Truman In 1948, And Elements Of TR And FDR Too!

After three years being “nice” and trying to work with the Republican opposition, and being constantly rejected and repudiated, President Barack Obama is set to run a campaign reminding us of Harry Truman in 1948, when the odds were heavily against him, and yet he defeated not only Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey, but also regained both houses of Congress for his Democratic Party!

Truman gave the Republican 80th Congress “hell”, campaigning against their negativism, and looking back, that 80th Congress accomplished more than the 112th Congress has done!

Even if one argues that the Senate is Democratic controlled, the reality is that the Republicans, utilizing the filibuster or the threat of it, and have effectively controlled the Senate as well as having actual control of the House of Representatives.

Obama’s change in strategy seemed to have started in Osawatomie, Kansas, when he invoked Teddy Roosevelt, who used the Presidency as a “bully pulpit”!

Obama will now combine TR’s “bully pulpit” with Truman’s “give them hell” and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s welcoming of the opposition of conservatives and the wealthy in his 1936 campaign. And Obama can also invoke FDR complaining about the Republicans attacking his dog Fala in 1944, as now they have attacked the fact that Obama spent an hour shopping for his dog Bo!

So, President Obama, use the campaigns of TR in 1904, FDR in 1936 and 1944, and Truman in 1948, and the GOP will not recover from such an assault!

The Long List Of Republican Presidential Dropouts: Why If 2012 Is Such A Great Year For The GOP?

Common belief is that 2012 will see the defeat of President Barack Obama, and recent polls seem to indicate such, except, of course, for the fact that polls in the summer and fall of the year BEFORE the national elections are notoriously misleading!

But with such predictions and prognostications, why is it that a long list of Republicans, some of them very attractive possibilities, have decided NOT to seek the Presidency?

First the list of candidates in no special order:

Jeb Bush
Haley Barbour
John Bolton
Mitch Daniels
Jim DeMint
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
Mike Pence
David Petraeus
Paul Ryan
John Thune
Donald Trump
Rudy Guiliani
Sarah Palin
Chris Christie

That is a list of FIFTEEN people, some of them very appealing in different ways, who have decided NOT to run!

But why?

1. It is an arduous chore, costly, dominating, stressful to run for President, and becomes all encompassing to the candidate and his or her family.
2. It requires tremendous financial and organizational support to make a serious run for President, not easily achieved.
3. It requires a “thick skin” with the strong criticisms and investigations of one’s record, of everything ever said or done, that is automatic when one runs for President.
4. It requires a candidate to be knowledgeable, informed, and to have good debate skills against potential opponents.
5. It is required that a candidate have the “fire in the belly” that he or she is meant to run, and willingness to sacrifice his or her life for a year or more.

With all of the above, one other point should be made in conclusion: The candidate has to believe that Barack Obama can be defeated in 2012, or else it is better to wait to 2016!

The author would contend that many on this list, maybe all of them, see the chore of dislodging Barack Obama from the Presidency to be a very difficult job, no matter what is uttered publicly!

The President will have a billion dollar campaign fund; a record of major accomplishments rivaling the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson domestically, certainly the most since the first term of Richard Nixon, the most in FORTY YEARS, that he can be proud of; PLUS exceptional achievements in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and general respect around the world! His record on defense and foreign policy is outstanding, with his ONLY major failure being the economy, one that he inherited and has been unable to overcome due to the total intransigence of the opposition party, which now controls the House of Representatives, and is doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to create jobs, build infrastructure, promote education and innovation, and will go down as the worst Congress in decades!

Barack Obama will be able to call them the “do nothing” Congress as Harry Truman did when he ran for election in 1948. The difference is that even the GOP Congress of 1947-1948, the 80th Congress, DID support the President on foreign policy initiatives, while the Republicans today ignore or dismiss accomplishments of the President in that area! So this is actually a far worse Congress, the 112th Congress, than the 80th Congress was!

So the ultimate conclusion is that the Republicans who decided not to run assume that Obama will win, and are holding their future to 2016, when it is likely MANY of the above will be running for President in a year they project as a year when the incumbent President will NOT be able to run, an open year which maximizes their opportunities for the White House!

Finally, the reception that those candidates for President who are running are receiving is NOT a good sign for any of them, that they will somehow unite the Republican Party and defeat Barack Obama in 2012! There is great discontent over the choices, and that is the reason why there has been a clamor, unsuccessful, to get others in the race. And of course, the Tea Party Movement is also destroying any chance for GOP unity, so if the Republicans want a future, they must divorce the Tea Party Movement after what will be a likely debacle in 2012, if they wish to succeed Barack Obama in the White House in the Presidential Election Of 2016!

The Mid Third Year First Term Presidential Slump: Perfectly Normal!

When one looks at the history of the Presidency, in the third year of the first term of a President, it is very normal that he suffers a loss in public opinion support, and is usually the low point of his first term, but often has had no effect on future electoral success.

Witness the following examples:

1, Franklin D. Roosevelt in his third year (1935) was denounced as a socialist, a communist, a fascist, and every other dirty name by opponents, including the American LIberty League, Huey Long, Dr. Francis Townsend, Father Charles Coughlin, and others. He went on to a smashing reelection victory, winning all but two states in 1936.

2. Harry Truman in 1947 was very unpopular and predicted to have no chance at reelection, particularly with the opposition party in control of Congress, and some members of his party suggesting he resign, because of the vote of no confidence represented by the Republican 80th Congress. He proceeded to win a miracle upset victory for reelection!

3. John F. Kennedy in 1963 was in deep trouble in the South because of his stand on civil rights, and he was on a campaign swing in the South, trying to mend fences, when he was assassinated.

4. Richard Nixon was at a low point in 1971 over the Vietnam War, with the Pentagon Papers being revealed and attempts of Congress to end the war by cutting funds. It was fear that his Democratic opponent might be strong that convinced Nixon operatives to become involved in the Watergate scandal, but Nixon won all states but one in 1972.

5. Ronald Reagan in 1983 had the highest unemployment rate since FDR, and low public opinion ratings similar to those of Barack Obama now (low 40s), but went on to win all but one state in 1984.

6. Bill Clinton had low public opinion ratings in 1995, particularly after the Republicans took over both houses of Congress, but won reelection in 1996.

7. George W. Bush had a lot of opposition and criticism about the war in Iraq in 2003, but went on to win reelection in 2004.

So it is not a danger sign that Barack Obama is suffering a low point in the summer of 2011, as despite many problems, he still has strong popular support personally, and the opposition Republicans are being blamed by many for the Debt Ceiling Crisis and its aftermath!

So don’t count the President out by any means, as the odds still strongly favor his reelection in 2012!

The “Do Nothing” 112th Congress: Worst In Generations!

The 112th Congress, the first at least since 1900 to have a Republican House and Democratic Senate rather than the opposite when there is a divided Congress, has managed in six months to create a disgraceful record of NOT dealing with the economic crisis facing the nation!

With Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and others in the Republican Party focused on making the economy worse as a reason to have the voters turn out President Obama for a second Presidential term, we have seen no action on creating jobs, passing bills, approving Presidential appointments to various judicial and executive posts, or doing anything constructive in any form!

This irresponsible Congress comes right after one of the most constructive Congresses in American history, the 111th Congress under Speaker Nancy Pelosi!

This could be the most negative, unaccomplished Congress since Harry Truman ran against what he called the “do nothing” 80th Congress of 1947-1948, leading to his surprise victory and the Democrats regaining the majority in both houses in the 1948 election!

Instead of offering a real alternative for 14 million plus unemployed people, all the Republicans can do is promote economic instability and threaten the safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which one would think were well established and would not come under sustained attack!

It all comes down to the old reality that Democrats care about people, and Republicans care about property and possessions–or material things in another descriptive manner–rather than the welfare of the masses of citizens!

The Five Most Accomplished Congresses Of The Past Hundred Years!

As the 111th Congress officially comes to an end today, it is time to reflect on the accomplishments of the five best Congresses of the past hundred years.

The five most accomplished Congresses in chronological order would be as follows:

The 63rd Congress under President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1914).

The 73rd Congress under President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1934).

The 80th Congress under President Harry S Truman (1947-1948).

The 89th Congress under President Lyndon B. Johnson (1965-1966).

The 111th Congress under President Barack Obama (2009-2010).

Notice all of the Congresses were under Democratic Presidents, but the 80th Congress was controlled by the opposition Republicans!

What makes these Congresses stand out?

The 63rd Congress–The Underwood Simmons Tariff, The Federal Reserve Act, The Federal Trade Commission Act, The Clayton Anti Trust Act, Internal Revenue Tax Act, La Follette Seamen’s Act.

The 73rd Congress–The Agricultural Adjustment Act, The National Industrial Recovery Act, The Tennessee Valley Authority, The Civilian Conservation Corps, The Public Works Administration, The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, The Securities And Exchange Commission, Home Owners Loan Corporation, Federal Emergency Relief Administration, The 20th Amendment, The 21st Amendment.

The 80th Congress–The Defense Department, The Central Intelligence Agency, The National Security Council, The Council Of Economic Advisers,The 22nd Amendment, The Presidential Succession Act, The Taft-Hartley Act, The Truman Doctrine, The Marshall Plan.

The 89th Congress–The Elementary And Secondary Education Act, Higher Education Act, Department of Housing And Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Voting Rights Act, Immigration And Nationality Act, National Traffic And Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Medicare and Medicaid Act, National Foundation On The Arts And The Humanities Act, Federal Cigarette Labeling And Advertising Act, Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Freedom Of Information Act, Highway Beautification Act.

111th Congress–Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, American Recovery And Reinvestment Act, Credit Card Act, Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, Student Aid And Fiscal Responsibility Act, Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act, Tax Relief And Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization And Job Creation Act, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act, 9/11 Health And Compensation Act, Food Safety And Modernization Act, START Treaty With Russia.

Much of the progress that this nation has seen in the past century is due to the activism of these five Congresses, and the Presidents in office at the time.

As we look to a likely very negative, regressive 112th Congress over the next two years, with a Republican House of Representatives and a Democratic Senate, let us realize that we have seen great accomplishments in the past which should not be reversed by a reactionary Republican Party out to destroy all of the reforms that have made America a better place.

The fight to prevent regression and negativism begins tomorrow, and will be fought “tooth and nail” during 2011-2012. All progressives must unite in this battle and never give in to despair and cynicism. The battle for the future depends on it!