Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Daily Strike-3/17/09-O'Bama

Happy St. Patrick's Day and welcome to the Daily Strike. Be sure you are up to date on our last few entries. Let's go over what happened this Tuesday in politics.

OBAMA: The President had yet another busy day, mostly focused on the economy. Luckily, he didn't have to face any direct questions from the press, unlike his poor press secretary Robert Gibbs, who had to take heat for an hour on the AIG bonus fiasco.

The President started the day by meeting with the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). Both of these chairman, especially Senator Conrad, have criticized various parts of the budget. Obama's message to them was clear: don't let your petty grievances get in the way of getting the budget passed. He made a speech with Conrad and Spratt behind him in which he implored his critics to offer solutions instead of partisan rhetoric. As the Big Picture said today, it's been a couple of weeks since the President really went tooth and nail against his critics to push his agenda. Today's scenario was perfect, because while he was on the surface criticizing his Republican critics, he was also telling these reticent, power-hungry chairmen to get with the program. These chairman want to assert their power, and won't defer even to a President of their own party. We all need to remind these men that Obama was elected with 65 million votes, when each of them got 300,000 max.

The President also made sure to commemorate the holiday (don't want to lose the Irish Catholics!). He announced the nomination of Pittsburgh Steelers' owner Dan Rooney as ambassador to Ireland. Rooney was a huge Obama supporter during the campaign in Pennsylvania. What's wrong with a little political playback once in awhile? The President also attended a St. Patrick's Day event at Speaker Pelosi's office at the Capitol. Tonight, he's hosting 400 people at the White House for a party. I guarantee you some Republicans will try to make this into an issue.

The today also:

-Sat down for interviews with CBS' 60 Minutes and ESPN's SportsCenter
-Filled out his NCAA Tournament Bracket
-Announced that he'll hold a joint event with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week.
-Announced his first nominee for the Federal Appeals Court. The President appointed David Hamilton, a moderate district court judge from Indiana. He sought and received approval from Indiana Senators Evan Bayh (Democrat) and Richard Lugar (Republican). Amazingly, an administration admitted that even though this guy was moderate, this doesn't mean Obama will shy away from appointing liberal judges in the future. Already, the conservative group Judicial Watch attacked this judge as an "ultra-liberal." I guess, considering that they're attacking someone supported by Dick Lugar, they're not too good at picking their battles.

CONGRESS: Most of the action on Capitol Hill was off the floors of the House and Senate today. Senate Democrats, trying to quell outrage at the AIG bonuses, announced that they're trying to craft a bill to tax as much of the bonus as possible. The idea is that they'd tax the bonuses at 65%, and with the normal 35% income tax rate, almost all of the money would be returned to the Government. I'm not sure if the proposal will come to the floor this week, but if it does, it will be tough for Senators to vote against. Charles Rangel, the chairman of the House tax writing committee, balked at the idea, so who knows if it can make it to the House floor. The White House is still trying to figure out a legal recourse to nullify these bonuses.

Also, Senate Republicans held a new conference blasting various elements of President Obama's budget. The press conference is in advance of the upcoming debate on a Democratic non-binding budget resolution, which should come to the floor in a couple of weeks. House Republicans will hold their own "anti-Obama-budget" rally tomorrow, featuring Mr. "Drown Government in the Bathtub" himself, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

No votes in the Senate today as it continues consideration of the "Tomnibus" bill (See previous entries for an explanation of the bill). Senator Coburn (R-OK), the man who has held up almost all provisions of the bill through parliamentary tactics, has proposed six amendments. All of the amendments strike various provisions in the bill. Votes on the amendments are expected tomorrow, with final passage could come late Wednesday or Thursday. The final vote, per an agreement reached between the two leaders, will require 60 votes for passage.

The House voted on a few non-controversial bills under suspension of the rules today. The House returns to legislative business tomorrow to consider the bill to expand public service programs. The Rules Committee is allowing the House to vote on ten amendments to the bill, so consideration could take several hours. More details on these amendments tomorrow.

POLITICS CENTRAL: A couple quick updates on political races.

-NY20: The race to replace newly appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in upstate New York continues to get more interesting by the day. Republican candidate Jim Tedisco announced that he would have voted against the stimulus. For weeks, Tedisco has refused to say how he would have voted on the bill. It now seems like race between Tedisco and Democratic nominee Scott Murphy could turn out to be a proxy referendum on the stimulus bill. At least that's the way the winning party will try to spin it.

-Connecitcut Senate: Christopher Dodd, the longtime Senator and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee could be in a lot of trouble in his bid for reelection last year. Dodd is losing popularity fast in his home state after it was revealed that he took special home refinancing deals from Countrywide Insurance. He has also been criticized for blocking attempts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (that's what the Republicans argue, at least). It doesn't help that Dodd is also the biggest recipient of AIG donations in the United States Senate. It's no coincidence that he was one of the Senators pushing to tax the bonuses today. To make matters worse, former Connecticut Rep. Rob Simmons has announced his candidacy for the seat. Simmons lost his reelection race by 48 votes in 2006 to Rep. Joe Courtney, falling victim to the Democratic wave. But he still remains popular in his district, and has high name recognition in the state. I would predict that Dodd might be one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up for reelection next year. We'll be doing a comprehensive analysis of next year's Senate races in the next couple of weeks.

That's it for today! See you tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment