Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


George Wenschhof
President Obama, facing a new Republican led congress, showed no sign of intimidation, as he delivered a strong state of the union address, laying out what may well be the agenda for the 2016 election.
He began by pointing out the strength of the U.S. economy, touting growth that is the highest in 14 years, unemployment down to 5.6%, a booming stock market and gasoline prices dropping to $2 a gallon.
A slight mention of the Canadian Keystone XL Pipeline while highlighting advances in U.S. clean energy was likely a signal Obama will veto congressional approval of the pipeline.
The president appealed for bipartisan action on tax reform to close loopholes, increase taxes on the very wealthy, tax credits for middle class working families and a national public works program to repair and enhance the country’s infrastructure.
Increasing the national minimum wage was given a push with the president inviting members of congress that oppose this action to try living on $15,000 a year.
Two issues that may well become part of the Democratic Party platform in the 2016 election were proposals to provide free tuition for 2 year community colleges, providing day care for working families and guaranteeing the right to American workers to earn 7 days of sick leave per year.
These are populist issues that make sense.  The devil is always in the details, few of which were provided by Obama.
The president said he will take his message on the road.  Interestingly and displaying his belief in his populist message, his first stops will be in Idaho and Kansas, two red states.
While he appealed for bipartisan cooperation in congress, the president made it clear he would veto legislation that would dismantle healthcare; highlighting 10 million more Americans were covered with health care insurance and health insurance premiums had dropped to the lowest rate in years.
The opening of relations with Cuba and the return of imprisoned Alan Gross via executive action received mention by the president who added it made no sense to continue a policy that has not worked for 50 years.  He called on congress to end the embargo.
The ending of American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was highlighted along with the statement America reserves the right to take unilateral action to protect itself.
The president asked for authorization of force from congress in regard to the new battle with ISIS, adding he believed it was important for America to act smartly in this effort and not rush into heightened military action.
Another veto threat was given in regard to added sanctions by congress on Iran, saying the diplomatic talks with Iran to dismantle their nuclear weapons program should be allowed to continued.
However Obama said the U.S. would not take any option off the table to ensure Iran did not implement a viable nuclear weapons program.
In addition to touting the executive action he took on climate control with China, he asked congress to approve an Asian trade accord.
The president even threw support to NASA with a pledge to put a man on Mars, echoing President Kennedy’s call in 1961 to put a man on the Moon.
All in all an excellent speech that showed Obama has no fear of working with a Republican led congress.
Contrary, Obama put the onus on Republicans to deliver over the next two years.
With the 2016 president election just beginning to heat up Obama, who is not eligible to run for another term, has instead thrown out proposals to set the agenda.
A forlorn looking Speaker of the House John Boehner was captured throughout Obama’s speech because protocol seating placed him directly behind the president.
Following the speech, illustrating the dysfunctional Republican Party, it took five of them to deliver the Republican response to the state of the union delivered by President Obama.
It promises to be an interesting two years ahead.
Let’s hope the pleas made by President Obama at the end of his speech for Americans to come together to move our country forward are heeded.
Obama is right, we are not a collection of red and blue states; we are the United States.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


George Wenschhof
Obviously, the Republican Party was a big winner nationally as they picked up seats in the House, reaching a level not held by a political party since 1928 and won 9 seats to reach a majority in the U.S. Senate.
In spite of the Republicans holding a majority, don’t look for any major changes as President Obama holds the veto pen and will use it on issues with major differences in policy.
The challenge for Republicans in Congress, with extreme right wing factions battling moderates within their Party, will be showing they can be productive and effectively lead over the next two years.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the front runner for the Democratic Party nomination for president and former Governor of Florida Geb Bush is the frontrunner for the Republicans.
Look for Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to excite progressives, but neither will be able to dislodge Clinton from winning the nomination should she decide to run.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley(D) is one the losers from the 2014 midterm elections when his Lt. Governor Anthony Brown(D) lost to Larry Hogan(R) is a state where Democrats hold a 2-1 voter registration advantage.
His hopes for running for president or earning a vice president running slot with Clinton dashed with Hogan’s victory, in part, being attributed to the O’Malley administration record.
O’Malley now has to hope that 78 year old Maryland U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski decides to retire and her seat becomes open in the 2016 election.  Don’t be surprised if this happens.
Although O’Malley may have some negatives, he would be a very strong candidate for Senate.  His secret weapon is his attorney brother Peter, who is arguably one of the best political operatives in Maryland.
Serving in the senate would provide O’Malley with the platform to further his desire to become president.
Looking at possible candidates to run with Clinton, should she be the Democratic Party nominee, I would first zero in on Joaquin Castro, a representative from Texas.
I met him at the 2013 Maryland Democratic Gala where he gave an electrifying speech.  Perhaps a ticket with a woman and a Hispanic would be too bold in 2016, but it would be powerful.
Republicans will have a multitude of candidates for president with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Ron Paul(Minn.), Senator Marco Rubio(Fla.), Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Governor Chris Christie(N.J.) among those receiving support.
But the heavyweight elephant in the room remains former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  His family political machine will dominate over the other candidates.
However, do not be surprised if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney enters the fray.  His announcement could come late after sizing up the field and seeing the support split among the other candidates.
Romney really does desire to be president and multiple recent polls show him leading Bush by 8-11 points.
A Clinton-Bush or Clinton-Romney race promises to be close and would be fun to follow.
The unknowns that often occur during the nearly two years of presidential campaigning are foreign policy incidents of magnitude, natural disasters, or domestic issues that catch the voter’s attention.  How the candidates respond to these issues will impact the vote.
What is disheartening is presidential campaigns are now a $1 Billion proposition, which clearly illustrates the need for campaign finance reform.
In addition, the income disparity that has widened in the U.S. must be addressed.  The dismantling of the too large to fail banks and other monopolies that have been allowed to grow and flourish must also be a focus of a presidential campaign.
Finally, establishing nonpartisan redistricting in every state is a priority and should be done, even if a constitutional amendment is needed. The present gerrymandering undertaken by the political party in power in each state, where politicians choose their voters instead of the voters choosing their politicians has lead to the dysfunctional government that exists today in Washington.
Restoring faith in democracy should be the focus in the 2016 presidential campaign. A good start will be establishing nonpartisan nationwide redistricting, enacting effective campaign finance reform, and breaking up the monopolies that have been allowed to openly operate across the country.
Providing realistic opportunities for the many less fortunate instead of protecting the assets of the few wealthiest is a direction that would be welcomed in America and is needed to protect the basic tenants of democracy.
Stay tuned.