SCENARIOS-Obama headed for few more wins in Congress in 2010

* Obama on brink of landmark crackdown on Wall Street

* Senate likely to confirm second Obama high-court pick

* Immigration reform, climate change may be out of reach

* Election year makes it tough to find common ground

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, May 17 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama seems
to be on the brink of winning passage of a landmark crackdown
on Wall Street, and confirmation of a second U.S. Supreme Court
nominee.

But Obama is unlikely to score many other major victories
on Capitol Hill before the November election determines if his
fellow Democrats will retain control of Congress.

With lawmakers jockeying for position, it’s tough to find
common ground on such hot-button issues as immigration reform,
climate change, deficit reduction and gays in the military.

Here’s a look at what Congress faces before Election Day
— and what it may do:

FINANCIAL REFORM

Few, if any, politicians want to be seen as defending Wall
Street, which has been rocked by scandal and greed.

And that’s a big reason why the Senate seems ready to cap
weeks of fierce debate and pass a comprehensive bill to tighten
regulation of the U.S. financial industry.

The measure would then have to be merged with a similar
bill passed by the House of Representatives before the
president could sign it into law. Democrats and Republicans say
they are confident that they will get there.

“The race was on last week for both parties to show how
anti-bank they could be,” said Jaret Seiberg of Concept
Capital, a private firm that tracks Washington for investors.

SUPREME COURT

Obama disappointed many in his largely liberal base by
nominating U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a moderate, to
the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the president also seemed to silence talk by
Republicans of trying to block her from winning Senate
confirmation.

As Manuel Miranda of the conservative Third Branch
Conference put it: “The president must be commended for
shunning left-wing activists who demanded that he select a
Supreme Court nominee who could promise results for the clients
that fund their advocacy. He selected a perfectly reasonable
nominee for a Democratic president.”

Regardless, given the political climate, the former Harvard
Law School dean is certain to face a fight.

In fact, she may win Senate confirmation with a margin no
better than Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia
Sotomayor: 68-31.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Democratic Senator John Kerry and Senator Joseph Lieberman,
an independent, unveiled their long-delayed compromise climate
change/energy bill last week.

But they did so without Republican Senator Lindsey Graham,
who pulled out of talks, and some outside experts predict there
is little if any chance Congress will approve it.

Kerry rejects such talk. He says lawmakers must act. He
argues that the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
underscores what’s at stake in the drive for clean alternative
energy, which the climate bill aims to foster.

Noting that he helped chair the first congressional
hearings on climate change “22 wasted years ago,” Kerry said,
“We’re not waiting any longer, we can do it now.”

Writing in The Washington Post on Sunday, Kerry said,
“Conventional wisdom says that Congress ducks tough issues in
election years, predicting at best a watered-down energy bill.
The same doubters said health reform was dead until we passed
it.”

IMMIGRATION

Arizona’s tough new immigration law has stirred plenty of
debate nationwide, but it has failed to get members of either
political party in Washington to try to cut any deals.

More than two weeks after unveiling a sweeping plan to
overhaul the U.S. immigration system, Senate Democrats are
still looking for a Republican colleague to back it or even
negotiate with them.

Republicans say U.S. borders must first be secured before
there can be any talk of revamping the U.S. immigration
system.

“Not going to happen this year,” said a veteran Capitol
Hill lobbyist. “Perhaps they are teeing it up for next year.”

JOBS

Well aware their own jobs are on the line, Democrats intend
to keep pushing legislation to reduce the near double-digit
U.S. unemployment rate.

Democrats have won bipartisan passage of a number of
incremental job-creation bills. But they do not have the
support for major legislation, which critics would denounce as
more “big government” spending that would add to the record
federal deficit.

DEFICIT REDUCTION

The bipartisan presidential commission on deficit reduction
held its first meeting last month. All agreed that unless the
United States changes its habits, it is headed toward financial
ruin.

The panel has yet to produce recommendations on reducing
the deficit, but Democrats and Republicans aren’t likely to
embrace the anticipated tough choices this election year:
cutting spending, increasing taxes or a combination of both. In
any case, it does not have to issue its report until Dec. 1, a
month after the elections.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Democrats introduced legislation to blunt the impact of a
recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations,
unions and other groups to spend unlimited funds on political
campaigns. But with scant Republican support, the measure isn’t
expected to get very far, at least not this year.

“No need to get ready for a bill-signing ceremony,” a
Democratic aide said.

TAX BREAK EXTENDERS

Democrats and Republicans are expected to show some rare
bipartisanship and retroactively extend politically popular tax
breaks for individuals and businesses that expired last year.

The biggest business tax break is the 20 percent research
and development credit. The package of “tax extenders” may
include a provision to boost tax rates on private equity and
real estate fund investors as a way to pay for it.

ARMS TREATY

Obama negotiated an arms-reduction treaty with Russia. Now
all he has to do is convince two-thirds of the Senate to ratify
it. He’s expected to do so, but it may take a few months.

The president sent the pact to Capitol Hill for
consideration last week and some Republicans promptly voiced
concerns that it could backfire and create a less safe world.

The treaty would slash strategic nuclear arsenals deployed
by the former Cold War foes by 30 percent within seven years.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry says
the pact deserves bipartisan support and has invited former
Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, to testify before
his panel on Wednesday.

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

Obama told hecklers in California last month that he
remains in favor of ending a ban against gays serving openly in
the U.S. military. “So I don’t know why you are hollering,” the
president said to gay-rights supporters.

Here’s why: with the Pentagon raising what appears to be a
caution flag, Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress don’t seem
ready, willing or able to end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
policy implemented in 1993 by then President Bill Clinton.

Investment

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Andy Sullivan, Kim
Dixon; Editing by David Alexander and Eric Walsh)

SCENARIOS-Obama headed for few more wins in Congress in 2010