Understatement o/t Week: Chris Van Hollen

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Sept. 11, 2011 at 2:41 AM
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The compelling stories of the week are clear. They have to do with weather, the remembrance of a tragedy and a bruised economy with little relief in sight.

One hurricane -- Irene -- marched up the Eastern seaboard, but did less damage than expected. This was followed up by Tropical Storm Lee, which dumped massive amounts of rain in New York and Pennsylvania, leaving thousands of homes flooded along the Susquehanna River that meanders from New York to Chesapeake Bay.

The second huge story of the week is the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks. Try as they might, national leaders from President Barack Obama to former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani attempted to encapsulate the moment, but the best words available seem to fall short of the wide range of emotions that come with the memory.

When it comes down to it, pride and sorrow are somewhat clumsy bedfellows. "We must never forget what we witnessed on that day, both the incomprehensible face of pure evil and the depth of love and compassion," Giuliani said in a national address.

In the meantime, Obama this past week proposed a $447 billion American Jobs Act that combined items from both Democratic and Republican wish lists -- tax cuts and stimulus spending. It was met initially with mixed reviews in Congress, but was soundly skunked by investors, as stocks tumbled hard around the globe the day after the proposal was announced.

So soon after a prolonged, poisonous, puerile battle to raise the national debt ceiling, it is likely that the first visible spot of blood will trigger a merciless Republican pecking party, but some had hopes the bill might do better than that.

At a speech in Detroit on Labor Day, Obama said, "We're going to see if we've got some straight-shooters in Congress. We're going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said Obama had the "right combination," which some believe involves capitulating to a Republican agenda.

However, "It would have been a mistake to try and narrow the bore of the speech to the point that it might get out of the Republican-controlled Congress," Van Hollen said.

Then he added ... wait for it ...

"That might be a very short speech."

Topics: Barack Obama
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