Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Daily Strike-9/15/09-Reprimanded

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. A day when Obama speaks to the AFL-CIO will always beat a day when he speaks on Wall Street. Let's get to the day in politics.

THE HOUSE: We start today in the House, where members voted to officially reprimand Congressman Joe Wilson from yelling "you lie!" at President Obama during last week's joint address to Congress. I'm not defending Wilson, of course, but I think this vote was a pretty futile exercise. Wilson is simply going to be used as a martyr by the tea-partying wing of the Republican party. In fact, he already has won a whole host of new followers. It also gave the Republicans some free time on the House floor to talk about how Democrats were playing politics, how illegal immigrants will be covered in the bill, etc. However, I think a lot of the impetus for bringing up this resolution was that African Americans members see racism (as I do) in the harsh town hall-type rhetoric being hurled at the President. If they did not act, they would be implicitly sanctioning this sort of anger. Plus, Wilson could have ended the dispute if he had just apologized on the House floor (which he refused to do).

The vote was 240-179 in favor of reprimanding Wilson. 12 Democrats opposed the resolution. I was expecting this list to be made up of Blue Dogs, but actually, it was mostly liberal free-speech types. 7 Republicans voted yes. 5 members voted present. The lists are as follows:

Democrats voting no: Arcuri (NY), Delahunt (MA), Giffords (AZ), Hinchey (NY), Hodes (NH), Kucinich (OH), Maffei (NY), Massa (NY), McDermott (WA), Moore (WI), Taylor (MS), and Teague (NM).

Republicans voting yes: Cao (LA), Emerson (MO), Flake (AZ), Inglis (SC), Jones (NC), Petri (WI), and Rohrabacher (CA).

Voting present (all Democrats): Engel (NY), Foster (IL), Frank (MA), Shea-Porter (NH) and Skelton (MO).

10 members did not vote. The House also voted on several suspension bills today. They will move on to a vehicle research and development bill tomorrow.

THE SENATE: The Senate is slogging toward completion of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill, the 5th of 12 bills it needs to pass before September 30th (not gonna happen, as we've said). Today, the Senate voted to kill an amendment offered by Senator McCain (R-AZ) that would have eliminated all earmarks and directed the money to NextGen, a flight safety program. The program is important, but apparently it already had sufficient funding in the bill. Furthermore, I'm one to believe that letting lawmakers decide where to spend some government money isn't necessarily that much worse than letting the administration decide. The amendment was killed by a vote of 68-26, with 5 senators not voting. Republicans voting to kill included Alexander (TN), Bond (MO), Brownback (KS), Cochran (MS), Collins (ME), Gregg (NH), Inhofe (OK), Lugar (IN), McConnell (KY), Murkowski (AK), Roberts (KS), Sessions (AL), Shelby (AL), Voinovich (OH), and Wicker (MS). Democrats voting no were your anti-earmark All-Stars Bayh (IN), Feingold (WI) and McCaskill (MO). The Senate didn't take any votes after 3pm, because Majority Leader Reid wanted to let Senator Specter race him for a fundraiser with President Obama. I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed if that fact was used in an ad next year against Reid or Specter. The Senate is expected to finish the bill tomorrow.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The President today had a working class kind of day. He spoke at an AFL-CIO convention in the afternoon, where he reiterated his support for the Employee Free Choice Act and the Public Option. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between supporting something and being willing to go out and fight for it. The President also toured a GM plant and held the aforementioned fundraiser for Senator Specter. I'm not sure what he's up to tomorrow, but Thursday he will hold a health care rally at the University of Maryland. So tempting for The Strike to miss work!!

HEALTH CARE: The saga known as the Senate Finance Committee health care effort continues. Tomorrow, Senator Max Baucus will unveil his full proposal. After months of work with the bipartisan Gang of Six, and after numerous sellouts and concessions, doesn't appear to have any Republican support. Even Senator Snowe (R-ME), the only realistic possible vote, has expressed skepticism. The effort to win Republican support has made many Democrats, like Senator Rockefeller (WV) wary of the bill, at best. Rockefeller said today that he won't be able to support the bill without significant changes. My major beef with the bill is not that it doesn't contain a public option (though I'm not happy about that). The problem is that Baucus tried to arbitrarily bring the price tag of the bill down to $880 billion to attract Republican support. In doing so, he scaled back subsidies to help people afford health insurance. The bill would require individuals to obtain health insurance. Under the Baucus proposal, therefore, an estimated $4 million uninsured people would be forced to buy insurance without any help from the government. Talk about turning off the middle class for a generation! Let's hope they make some major changes in next week's committee markup.

That's it for today! Leave comments! See you tomorrow!

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