Obama’s disastrous EPA rules could mean that he’s already conceded that Democrats will lose the Senate

Politico published a long piece on Sunday that shed some light on President Barack Obama’s state of mind now that he’s realized that his time in the White House is running out. The story is full of interesting insights from people close to or with knowledge of how the White House functions and reacts to the headaches that have arisen over the last year.

One of the more telling parts of the story was a comment President Obama made in November during a meeting with vulnerable Senate Democrats amid the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov (emphasis added):

According to several participants, [Alaska Sen. Mark] Begich and his colleagues demanded to know how committed Obama was to fighting for the Senate majority. Obama was known as a fierce competitor when his name was on the ballot, not so much when it was not.

“I don’t really care to be president without the Senate,’’ Obama said, according to attendees, signaling that he knew the health care debacle created resentment among Democrats and that he wanted to make amends.

Some eight months later, President Obama appears to have given up keeping control of the Senate. The new climate rules rolled out yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency could help Republican take control of the chamber this fall as vulnerable Democrats, especially those from states that rely on coal for a significant part of their power, try to distance themselves from the White House.

Lawmakers, especially those who are worried about their reelection, in both chambers are already scrambling to block the implementation of the anti-coal regulations, which will cost the economy $51 billion and 224,000 jobs each year.

The tool that lawmakers have to stop the EPA regulations is a disapproval resolution, which requires a simple majority from both chambers. Republicans control the House, so the 218 votes won’t be hard to get. Though Democrats control the Senate, it’s likely that enough of them will crossover to pass the resolution, which, by the way, isn’t subject to a filibuster.

Like any piece of legislation, a disapproval resolution requires a president’s signature, which Obama isn’t likely to provide. Congress could, of course, override the veto, but that would take a super-majority in both chambers — 290 votes in the House and 67 in the Senate — and that’s probably not going to happen.

President Obama may think that vulnerable Senate Democrats can take shots at the rules on the campaign trail and escape the ire of voters, but that’s not going to be enough. At the end of the day, they’re connected to an unpopular White House, much like Republicans were when they had their clocks cleaned in 2006, and the economy is still moving at a tepid pace.

But, after reading the Politico article, the EPA rules could mean that President Obama has already succumb to the idea that Republicans will have complete control of Congress in the final two years in the White House and, therefore, he’s going to do what he wants, regardless of the political or economic implications.


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