Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/30/09-Three Big Tests

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Over the next month, the President faces three primary tests: health care, jobs and Afghanistan. That will be the focus (mostly) of our December entries. We start tonight on the last day of November.

HEALTH CARE: Today, the Senate began what's expected to be a long drawn out debate on health care reform. There were no votes today, though Senators were able to offer amendments. The first amendment on the Democratic side looks like it will be offered by Senator Mikulski (MD), and it would increase funding for preventative care for women. This obviously seems good, although Mikulski spent much of her debate time talking about mammograms in the wake of the recent recommendation against women under 50 getting mammograms. It's just more evidence how hard it is to make tough choices when it comes to cutting costs in health care.

The first Republican amendment is a complete and total insult. It's a joke. The Republicans will offer an amendment restoring the $500 billion in cuts that the bill makes to Medicare. I didn't realize Republicans were such staunch defenders of single-payer health care!! The party that has tried to cut Medicare since its inception is now trying to force a political vote against one of the main funding mechanisms in the bill. As a reminder, the AARP says that the bill will not cut services to beneficiaries under Medicare. I expect that we'll get votes on those amendments some time tomorrow afternoon.

Also today, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the effect of the Senate bill on health care premiums. The report reaches a somewhat complicated conclusion, but the basic findings are that those who get health care through their employers will see very small cuts in premiums, while those buying insurance through the individual market will see significant changes. While premiums in the individual market will be 10% higher than they would be under current law, they would pay for 30% more services. For you wonks out there, that's called improved actuarial value. (Father Strike pointed this out). Furthermore, 57% of those who enter the individual market will get subsidies that, on average, will more than make up for the average premiums. As expected, the mainstream media turned this study into headlines such as "CBO says premiums will rise." It's just pure dishonesty, but it will help fuel Republican attack lines.

AFGHANISTAN: The President is set to announce his new Afghanistan policy tomorrow night in a prime time address. Today, he gave orders to his military commanders relating to his new strategy. This will set in motion the process to send an additional 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan. We'll talk more about this tomorrow night, but this is a sad day for many progressives, who voted for Obama thinking that he had a more complete understanding of the costs of war. I think this Michael Moore letter captures the feeling of a lot of us as as we await tomorrow's announcement.

JOBS: I have nothing to say on jobs today, but The Big Picture chips in with some very good thoughts in response to this Ezra Klein post. See if you can understand this, as he stipulates, without much context. We'll see you tomorrow night.

Great points, and makes a very strong case for why we shouldn't have given in on a bunch of things, especially the size of the bill. Ya gotta play some hardball, just like with the too-small stimulus. How about Paul Krugman and Robert Reich and Joe Stiglitz take charge of things for a while? So typical that it would be just inconceivable for any of them to have Geithner's or Summers' positions.

The more I think about it the more the "professional, Presidential" appointments Obama made, which earned such great praise from the David Broders of the world, were such a big mistake, such a bad course to take. Rahm I have mixed feelings, but overall, would you say that we - and more importantly all those activists in the documentary, the ones who worked their hearts out for Obama to beat Hillary, for "change we can BELIEVE in" - were looking for an administration where policy would be made by Geithner, Summers, Rahm Emanuel, Jim Messina, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates - none of whom fit the profile of liberal, outside-the-beltway, not-corrupted-by-the-past, in-touch-with-real-people that was what Change clearly mean. Nobody who's considered serious at setting policy fits that profile. And that has hurt him with the Left, but because the policies are poor, geared toward the elite, and not very effective, and that all those folks are poor politicians, not in touch, so clearly part of the Washington/Wall Street Elite, they've also undermined support from the center, rather than comforting it, now people see government and Obama's Administration as of, by, and for the Washington/Wall Street Elite. Liberal advisers would have pleased the base AND given people the impression that Obama was up against the Washington/Wall Street Elite AND, most importantly, would have made more effective policy to address the crucial issues of unemployment and foreclosures and financial regulation.

The Weekly Strike-11/30-12/6

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving vacations, and you didn't have too many withdrawal symptom's during this blog's absence. We're gearing up for a December to remember in politics. The President and Congress will be faced with a barrage of issues before year's end, and we'll be here to cover every minute of it. Now to preview a very busy week in politics...

AFGHANISTAN: The big news story this week will be the President's decision on Afghanistan. Tomorrow evening, the President will announce his long-awaited strategy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. As an aside, I deeply disagree (as does the despondent Big Picture) with having this event at a military academy. It strikes me as very Bush-like to look for a political photo-op to announce such a difficult decision.

Nevertheless, the President is expected to announce that he will send an additional 34,000 troops to Afghanistan, short of the recommendation of General Stanley McCrystal, but a huge increase nonetheless. He also will supposedly announce some sort of new comprehensive strategy to end the conflict, which should include diplomatic efforts and economic development. I'll be watching very closely to see how detailed the President is about the aspects of the plan beyond the troop increase. The only way an increase of this magnitude in unwinnable territory (see: Soviet Union, 1979) will not be catastrophic is if it is coupled with an equally strong political strategy.

I will also be interested in the reactions of members of Congress. I don't think there will be many members praising this decision. Republicans will attack Obama for not adding even more troops. Liberal Democrats will undoubtedly (and justifiably) express significant concern and skepticism. We'll see if they turn that skepticism into legislative action (perhaps a resolution disapproving of the troop increase, or maybe even a war tax.)

We'll have full coverage of the address in Wednesday's Daily Strike.

JOBS: The White House will also attempt to address the main issue on most voter's minds right now: joblessness. On Thursday, the White House will bring together 130 stakeholders, as well as members of Congress to brainstorm about how to address spiraling unemployment. I'm pretty skeptical that a summit will produce much of any value. The name of the game is pushing a jobs package through Congress as quickly as possible. This event strikes me as even more political posturing by the White House. The event is also undermined by a New York Times article this morning (h/t The Big Picture) which indicated that the White House is not too involved in pushing a jobs bill through Congress, but instead is more focused on deficit reduction. This is like nails on a chalkboard for me. First of all, you cannot lower the deficit unless the economy improves and tax revenues increase. You can't achieve that with 10% unemployment. Second of all, the administration can't bow to poll numbers that show people more concerned about the deficit than job creation. The deficit is a very nebulous concern that usually represents general unease with the economy. Most people don't really know what the deficit is if you dig deeper; they know things are bad out there and they want to see something done to address it. Third, addressing the deficit would undermine a key long-term goal of the administration: making the American people less weary of government. By focusing on reducing the deficit, you're tacitly admitting that government actions to prop up the economy have not worked and that we need to cut our losses. At least that's how it might appear to some voters.

I think Obama's success will correlate closely with jobless numbers, and he needs to do a much better job of making employment a top priority.

HEALTH CARE: Can you believe we've gotten this far in the entry and haven't talked about health care? Starting at 3pm today, the Senate will begin debate on health care legislation. The debate is expected to last most of December. On the floor, Senators will be debating amendments from members of both parties. Some of these amendments will be important policy questions, and others will be politically-motivated "gotcha" votes. We will do our best to keep track of all of them.

Debate on amendments though is ultimately useless until Democrats can muster the 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster. The bill in its current form, unfortunately, would not garner those 60 votes. Majority Leader Reid will have to strike a compromise on the public option. Centrist Democrats have decided that the politically safe thing to do is pick the one thing liberals prize the most, and oppose it. That's an unfortunate reality we have to deal with. It seems that a potential path would be Senator Snowe's (R-ME) idea to have the public option only come into effect if private companies don't meet certain criteria (the trigger approach). Liberal Democrats will not be happy about such a compromise, but they would be very wise to read this report from the Urban Institute, which suggests that a strong trigger (emphasis on STRONG!) is probably better than the watered down public options in the House and Senate bills right now.

We will, of course, keep track of the health care debate as it progresses.

THE HOUSE: While the Senate works on health care, the House twittles its thumbs, basically. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will vote on various bills under suspension of the rules. On Thursday, the House takes up a bill to permanently address the Estate Tax problem. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 gradually eliminated the tax on estates (or as Republicans call it, the "death tax.") These taxes only apply to estates worth over $1 million, so it only applies to the super rich. The problem is that the Bush tax cuts expire after next year, meaning that the estate tax would return to their 2001 levels. (oh the horror!) The tax also speaks to the uniquely American value that every American should have to earn their way in life. Republicans, the people right now carping about deficits, want to permanently eliminate the estate tax. Democrats have proposed a compromise plan that will maintain the estate tax for estates worth over $3.5 million, and would freeze estate tax rates at 45% marginally. The top rate was 55% in 2001 before the Bush tax cuts took effect, and anything less than that is unacceptable. At a time when we're supposedly focusing on reducing the deficit, how can we not ask the proprietors of multi-million dollar rates to pay their fair share?

That's it for now. Leave us some comments!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/24/09-Afghanistan

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I just arrived home in San Francisco, and I'm a bit jet lagged, so tonight's entry will be a short one. It will also be the last entry until next Monday, unless there's a major news story. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

AFGHANISTAN: Word has leaked out that President Obama plans to send an additional 34,000 troops to Afghanistan as part of a comprehensive new strategy that he will be announcing early next week. The strategy will also include increased efforts to stabilize the Afghan government, economic development initiatives, and other new diplomatic programs. This decision makes me very worried. I was pleased that the President spent so much time carefully thinking this decision through. I trust that he has given it full deliberation. I also appreciate the fact that there are no good options in Afghanistan. Failing to secure the country could put the Taliban back in power and give Al Qaeda a safe haven.

On the other hand, it just doesn't seem right to me to risk 34,000 more troops on a mission that still doesn't have a clear endgame. No country or empire has ever won a war in Afghanistan. How much more blood are we willing to shed to be the first? Such a commitment also will be a drain on our Federal treasury. House Democrats, led by Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI, have proposed a "war tax" on the wealthy to pay for the ongoing conflict. ) This is a superb idea, because it would make the war effort a shared sacrifice. But it will unfortunately never see the light of day in Congress, especially in the United States Senate.

I will be firmly against this plan unless the President gives a very good idea in his speech next week as to how this fits into a broader strategy of ending the war as soon as possible.

That's it for a short entry tonight. See you next Monday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/23/09-Sizing Up the Health Care Scene

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I hope you all had a good weekend. Make sure to catch the Weekly Strike, which is the entry that precedes this one.

HEALTH CARE: On Saturday, as you know, the Senate voted 60-39 to begin the debate on health care legislation. Despite the victory of getting the bill to the floor, Democrats are now faced with the fact that they're going to have to compromise, yet again, in order to get the 60 votes needed on the bill itself. At least 2 Democratic Senators have threatened to filibuster the bill as it is currently written. The most likely victim of these compromises is the public option. After all of the concessions we've already made, the public option is no longer among the most important policy changes in this bill. Since payment rates will not be based on Medicare, the public option will not put great downward pressure on the prices charged by private insurance companies. Additionally, it will only be available to about 10 million people, those who would qualify for the health exchange. Since the public option won't discriminate against customers the way private companies do, it is likely to attract some of the most high-risk customers. This, in turn, will raise the public option's premiums above the levels of private companies. The public option, though, would still do a lot of good and is definitely worth fighting for.

It's extraordinarily frustrating for all of us progressives that even after the public option has been stripped down to what it is now, we STILL can't get centrist Democrats to support the bill. There's really nothing we could have done to prevent this. These Democratic holdouts have no legitimate policy objections to the public option. They simply found the liberal's most prized provision, and chose to oppose it for political purposes. It would be so satisfying to overcome these bogus objections and pass a bill with a strong public option. And I don't think we should give up. But we should start preparing ourselves to be disappointed by even more compromises. Even without a public option, the bill does enormous good, and the lack of the public option does not justify scuttling the whole effort. History teaches us that sometimes policy changes are incremental. It does us far more good to make progress now, so we establish something to build on with future legislation. Doing nothing would just embolden the status quo. Here's The Big Picture's take. We'll have much more on this later in the week. In the mean time, make sure you catch this great entry from Nate Silver, who gives an interested perspective on how red-state Democrats should conduct themselves in the health care debate.

It was obviously a necessary step for the Senate to get 60. And (and I know this is the 378th time I've changed my mind on this) after reading about all those great delivery-system reforms, plus considering that we're covering the uninsured, ending discrimination, recissions, lifetime caps, and we're paying for it all, and we're paying for it by taxing the rich and bending the cost curve ... when you compare all of that to what the public option has been reduced to already, I wouldn't feel it was a defeat if we gave up the public option to pass the bill. Although I am more worried about it symbolically, as a measure of who has the power, liberals (and popular will) or the swing-vote centrists in the ridiculously designed Senate (and their corporate powers). In that sense it would be a big defeat. But substantively, compared to all the good that's in this bill, and the crucial importance of getting something done (as Ezra says, the only way to get better health care reform down the road is to notch a victory, get momentum now), then not having the public option isn't horrible.
THE WHITE HOUSE: The President had a busy day today. This morning, the President held an event to announce a new $260 million public-private investment to improve math and science education. That is all well and good, but I would hope that this isn't the extent of our investment in math and science education. This is a pretty paltry amount of money for such an important effort.

This afternoon, the President held a meeting with his full cabinet to discuss the economy and Afghanistan. The President gave his aides thanks for getting through a "difficult year." No reports on exactly what was discussed during the meeting.

That's it for now, I will see you tomorrow night. I'm flying to San Francisco tomorrow evening, so the entry may be posted later than usual.

The Weekly Strike-11/23-11/29

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. Washington will take a well-deserved (?) breather this week, as lawmakers go home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. That means they'll be much less for us to talk about, so we'll be cutting down the entries this week. But fear not: the month of December will be so exciting that it will make up for this week's dullness.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President has returned from his week long trip to Asia, with about as full of a plate facing him as is humanly possible. Besides needing to insert himself into final health care negotiations, the President must:

-make a decision on Afghanistan, announce the decision, and defend it against inevitable criticism.

- help House and Senate Democrats come up with a robust jobs bill to address the issue that threatens to derail the President's agenda: unemployment

-break through impasses on climate change and financial regulation legislation.

This week he'll most likely address none of these issues. With Congress out of town, there's no use in doing much business during the holiday week. Today, the President will hold an event where he will talk about science, technology and mathematics education. This afternoon, he holds his second official meeting with his full cabinet. It's anyone's guess what they'll be talking about, but I could see Obama giving his team a rundown of his Afghanistan strategy, and maybe he'll facilitate some ideas about a jobs bill. This evening, the President delivers remarks and presents the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

Tomorrow, the President will host Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House. After that, it looks like the President will start his Thanksgiving vacation. He's expected to stay in the area, and hold Thanksgiving dinner at the White House.

CONGRESS: As we mentioned, Congress is out of session this week. They will both return to work next Monday. No word yet about what the House will take up, but in the Senate it will be all health care all the time.

One quick note: Today, moderate Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore from Kansas announced that he is retiring from a right-leaning district in the sunflower state. By itself, this really isn't news, but if more moderates like Moore jump ship instead of trying to run for reelection Republicans will have a much better chance of retaking the House. That's how they did it in 1994; they gained a ton of seats vacated by retiring Democrats. Memo to the House Democratic leadership: Do whatever is necessary to prevent more retirements in swing districts.

That's it for now, see you tonight! Leave comments!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/21/09-Proceed

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Just moments ago, the Senate voted 60-39 to bring the health care bill to the floor. All Democrats voted yes, and every Republican voted no, save for Senator Voinovich (R-OH) who was absent.

Although this procedural vote only marks the beginning of a long process on the Senate floor, it is significant for a number of reasons. First, it shows that Democrats are indeed capable of sticking together for procedural votes. The 60 vote coalition would probably not hold today if they voted to cut off debate on the bill itself, but at least we know it's possible. Second, it shows that all Democrats, while maybe unhappy with parts of the bill, at least want to see the process move forward. This shows that at the very least, there are at least 60 Senators who don't want to see this effort fail. Finally, it means that the Senate can begin debate on the bill next Monday, the 30th, which means that they'll probably have enough time to debate it and pass it by Christmas. With conference negotiations, this would put a bill on Obama's desk by the State of the Union, if all goes well.

There are a lot of hurdles coming up that will be painful and frustrating. A few Democrats said today that they would filibuster a bill with a public option. The way the bill is currently structured, states would be able to opt-out of a federal public option. The alternative out there, attributed to Republican Olympia Snowe (R-ME) would be that a public option would be available in states only if private companies failed to offer adequate coverage. Most liberals have scoffed at this idea, including me. Don't we already know that private companies, unchecked, are not providing proper coverage? I think though, given the choice between an opt-out and a
"trigger," the choice for progressives is actually not so clear cut. In fact, I think there is a good case to be made for a trigger, which I'll get into later. At least with the trigger, the choice of whether to have a public option would not fall into the hands of ideological governors/legislators in conservative states. The public option would be mandatory if certain conditions are not met. The trigger idea completely depends on how stringent those conditions are. Unfortunately, this is gonna be one of those bills that will be negotiated by a small "gang" of conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. I hope liberals will join those negotiations to make them more fruitful. If the trigger wins us the support of Senator Snowe (R-ME), which in turn gives cover to wavering Democrats, then it would not be the end of the world.

Thanks for tuning in, and check out our Twitter page from before to see our earlier updates.

Live Twittering the Senate Health Test Vote

Enjoy it!

Link is in the title.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/20/09-Countdown to the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Counting down to tomorrow's vote doesn't seem right. They're voting on whether to cut off debate...on a motion to debate. Ladies and Gentleman, the United States Senate. But we'll do a countdown anyway, what the hell!

HEALTH CARE: Tomorrow at 8pm, the Senate will vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to debate on the health care bill. Of course, the vote must meet the 60 Senator threshold. So far, 58 Democrats have committed to voting yes on starting debate. The two outstanding votes are those of Senators Landrieu (LA) and Lincoln (AR). Landrieu will almost certainly vote the right way. She praised the bill earlier in the week, and she's not up for reelection until 2014, so she doesn't face any immediate political pressure. Senator Lincoln is a different story. She has been silent so far on both the bill and tomorrow's vote. Lincoln is up for reelection next year in a very conservative state. Every vote on advancing health care reform will probably hurt her politically, at least in the short term. But I can't imagine her being the one Democrat that won't allow the bill to come up for debate. I'd put the odds at 75/25 that Democrats will succeed tomorrow.

Stay tuned with us throughout the day, as we'll be providing a live Twitter feed (though it may be sporadic before 8pm).

GALLUP: Neither chamber of Congress held votes today, nor did President Obama hold any events, so it was a bit of a slow news day. Unfortunately, the slow news day coincided with news that President Obama sunk below 50% approval in the Gallup Daily Tracking poll for the first time. This seemed to be big news on all of the major political websites. I'm not terribly concerned about it, because he's been teetering around 50% for a few months now. His "fall" also is not very precipitous compared with recent Presidents. Bill Clinton went under 50 in 4 months. Ronald Reagan did around the same point in his Presidency. Both of these men recovered and won strong reelection. George W. Bush was headed below the 50% mark as well before 9/11 boosted his approval ratings into stratospheric territory.

If anything, it's yet another reminder that as long as the job situation remains bleak, the more President Obama will be blamed. All the more reason to pass robust jobs legislation as soon as possible!

That's it for today, we'll be back tomorrow with coverage of the Senate's test vote. See you then!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/19/09-Can't We Just Debate?

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Looks like we're going to have another Saturday health care debate in Congress, so stay with us. We'll be doing a scaled down live twitter feed. Also, catch some important thoughts from The Big Picture below. And as always, I ask you to leave some comments.

HEALTH CARE: Finally, we're ready to start debate on the Senate's health care legislation. On Saturday evening, at 8pm, Senators will vote on the cloture motion on the motion to proceed. In plain English, that's a 60 vote threshold to see whether the bill can come to the floor. In order to even begin debating the bill, in other words, Democrats need all 60 of their members to vote yes (Republicans are expected to vote no in unison). So far, almost all Democrats (even persona non-grata Lieberman) have at least agreed to support this procedural vote. The two remaining holdouts are Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln. Landrieu praised the Reid bill yesterday, and I expect that she'll fall in line for this vote. Lincoln's situation is a bit more complicated. She is up for reelection next year in a state in which President Obama and his policies are very unpopular. Unlike Joe Lieberman, she might face political consequences if she votes yes on any procedural vote for health care. If I had to guess, I would bet that Senator Reid (D-NV) wouldn't have called the vote if he didn't have some sort of understanding with all 60 Senators. If they can't get passed this procedural hurdle, it would be a major setback. They'd have to make enough changes to the bill to satisfy moderate Democrats.

This vote will set the stage for a post-Thanksgiving debate on the legislation. I expect the Senate to debate amendments through much of December, hopefully during weekends as well. Today, Senator Ben Nelson (NE) announced that he would support a GOP filibuster of the bill if the abortion language isn't changed to match the stricter language that passed the House. He joins Senator Lieberman as Democrats who are threatening to torpedo health reform. Democrats may try to allay these Senators concerns during the amendment process. But in both of their cases, it's not exactly clear what policy changes these Senators want. I think they're more interested in attention and the thrill of power.

The whole situation is so delicate, which makes it incredibly frustrating. Every Democratic Senator knows he/she has the power to kill health care reform. And a lot of them are selfish/nihilistic enough to hold the bill hostage. It's really shows a major weakness in our democracy.

The good news? Republican Senator Tom Coburn has withdrawn his threat to have the entire bill read on the Senate floor. One obstruction hurdle overcome, a million to go.

THE SENATE: The Senate wrapped up work today on a couple of other outstanding matters. The Senate voted 59-39 to confirm Judge David Hamilton to be in the Court of Appeals. All Democrats who were present voted yes, as did Republican Richard Lugar (R-IN) from Hamilton's home state of Indiana. The rest of the Republican caucus voted no on a nominee that was considered a "moderate" choice when it was first announced. This is the 6th judge confirmed during the Obama Presidency, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The Senate also passed a bill to extend veterans health benefits today. The omnibus benefits package passed by a vote of 98-0. Prior to a vote on final passage, the Senate rejected a Coburn (R-OK) amendment that would have funded the bill by removing money from the State Department and the United Nations. The amendment was a clever political trap, but not a very good idea. I don't think we want to be de-funding our important diplomatic operations. The amendment failed 32-66, with yes votes coming from 31 Republicans and Senator Bayh (IN).

Before the end of the year, the Senate still has to pass the health care bill, pass various extenders on expiring government programs (including some from the stimulus), finish up two remaining appropriations bills, and act on the oh...200 or so good bills that the House has thrown its way. That's why they'll be taking the week off after Saturday's vote.

THE HOUSE: The House today voted to stop scheduled payment cuts to doctors under Medicare. Under the House bill, the Medicare payment formula would be permanently fixed. The cost of the bill is expected to be about $200 billion over ten years. Republicans, as expected, complained that the bill will add to the deficit. Unlike what they said during the health care debate, their argument was valid. But I certainly didn't hear these same complaints about a defense spending bill this year that costs $634 billion over ONE year. The bill passed by a vote of 243-183. Republican Burgess (TX) joined 242 Democrats in support of the bill. Democrats Baird (WA), Boren (OK), Cooper (TN), Edwards (TX), Herseth Sandlin (SD), Kosmas (FL), Lipinski (IL), McMahon (NY), Peterson (MN), Smith (WA) and Taylor (MS) joined 172 Republicans in voting yes.

Prior to a vote on final passage, the House rejected a Republican motion to recommit that would have fixed the doctor payment cuts on a temporary basis with already appropriated public money. That would mean the money would be coming from somewhere. I would like to reiterate that cutting government spending during a recession, despite the conventional wisdom of Republicans and conservative Democrats, is NOT a good idea.

The House today also approved a bill to designate land near the Mollala river in Oregon as part of the National Scenic River and Waters system. The bill passed 292-133 with all no votes coming from Republicans.

The House stands in recess until November 30th, after the Thanksgiving holiday.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President spent the day on Air Force One en route back to the United States. I'm sure he'll spend some time Friday and Saturday convincing wavering Senators to come on board for Saturday's procedural vote.

That's it for tonight. See you tomorrow!

The Big Picture: 5 Thoughts

1. Big Picture: New York Times Headline: Wall Street on Track for Record Profits

Strike: UGGGGH. I just…can’t handle that. How about the media realizing THAT as the source of so much anger in this country. Did you see Stewart’s interview with Biden last night? He asked him some excellent questions, including why instead of capitalizing banks did we not just give government loans to people to in their homes/businesses. I think things would have been very different. Time for the Wall Street --> Main Street bill NOW!

Big Picture: It's just so despicable. The inequality is so massive. In the paper yesterday was an article about how the number of people who sometimes go hungry and have to worry about where their next meal is coming from jumped a huge amount last year, and thus surely jumped even further this year. Redistribute the wealth!!!

One positive thing: there's a very inspiring article in the Times business section about how 10 years of activism by anti-sweatship advocates on college campuses, which led to a number of colleges to no longer have their uniforms and sweatshirts and stuff made by Russell Athletic after Russell shut down a factory in Honduras when the workers organized a union (and Russell has been virulently anti-union, refusing to let unions organize at any of their factories), yesterday Russell decided to relent, re-opening the factory as a unionized factory, and pledging to not stand in the way of all the other factories organizing unions! So a huge victory, both substantively for people's lives, and symbolically. You love to see it.

2. Big Picture: I am so furious at the way Republicans are attacking the terror trials in New York. Such McCarthyite demagoguery, so disgusting, just pure fear, nothing to do with anything. So despicable. Reaching a new low with John Shadegg yesterday with his DESPICABLE threats toward Bloomberg's daughter. Good to see even Peter King strongly objecting. Beyond their policy views, the Republican Party's conduct is just so dishonorable. They keep reaching new lows.

The Strike: Yeah it’s such blind demagoguery. They tried Moussaoui, who would have been an actual hijacker, in U.S. courts and all the Republicans didn’t say a word. It’s ridiculous fearmongering and political posturing. Also absurd to see the party that’s always talking about “showing weakness” cowering in the face of trying terrorists.

Big Picture: It's all a result of positive polarization, of the Republican Party being reduced to the rump of extremists, everyone trying to out-extremist everyone else to get the support of the extremists, no more adults left in the party. They will realize though that this is absolutely not the way to get the country back on your side. In fact positive polarization may save us from a Republican resurgence because Democrats are vulnerable given their inability to get much done. If Republicans combined a kind of low-key but nevertheless solid wall of obstruction, with the help of conservaDems, and had their public speaking done in the kind of measured tone of Bob McDonnell, Christie, Charlie Crist, talking about solutions, saying we're defending the middle class that is getting squeezed, and proposing as solutions more tax cuts and spending cuts to the "bureaucracy" and deregulation and anti-union policies - then they could still be sticking to their conservative principles just as much, but would look serious and responsible and like a good alternative. So maybe Fox News and Palin and Boehner and Beck are really doing us a favor.

3. On Harry Reid's bill and the compromises of health care reform: a "better" score is worse policy-wise but at this point we gotta get something, and then hopefully they can fix some stuff in conference. If we get this done there will be assuredly be Monday-morning quarterbacking about how we gave up way too much, thinking we had to, when we didn't, such as Obama putting in that $900 billion target. The unanswerable question is "what if he had made it a higher target, how would that have changed things?" Which is the same question with the stimulus. Tactically I think Obama and Reid are probably right to work for that lower score because if it had been over a trillion it would have given such an obvious reason for conservaDems to oppose it. BUT, strategically, this is ridiculous because actually the American people don't care at all about this overall cost, and this just stems from the massive problems of the conventional wisdom that all spending is the same, whether it's deficit-neutral or not, whether it's investing in people and in cost-savings or just being thrown down the drain, and because it's being sold as the total cost rather than the per-year which it should be. The bigger strategy has GOT to be to change the entire spectrum of debate about spending and the deficit, so we don't get caught making these concessions that not only weaken the bill from a liberal standpoint but also from a "delivering for people" standpoint, this ridiculous position where political calculations force you to do things that make the bill less popular politically.

4. Ezra Klein says, "At $900 billion over 10 years, health-care reform seems pretty expensive. In part, that's because people have a hard time breaking it down. If recent trends hold steady, the federal government will be spending about $4 trillion a
year come 2019. Health-care reform, at $108 billion in 2019, will represent 2.7 percent of that. Compared with what the government spends, it's quite small. But compared with the sums individuals are used to thinking about, it's quite large -- and that dissonance can get confusing. ... the CBO says $650 billion over 10 years is "small" compared with the expected federal budget deficit -- not even the federal budget -- which implies that $900 billion is not the incredible expenditure some make it out to be.

That perspective is SO crucial, and that is such a huge example of what John Ziegler would term "Media Malpractice". The absolute function of the media is to put things in perspective, to temper that knee-jerk first-glance reaction with a measured explanation because the federal budget really demands that kind of explanation to be understood, and it's pretty damn crucial that people have a good understanding of the federal budget, the size of it, how it's paid for, where more and less money is spent. Yet another example of sports being so much more satisfying than politics because the numbers are always in perspective. Imagine if the Royals were like "We won 70 games!!! That's a lot of games!" or the media was discussing player contracts and were like "Tim Lincecum makes $2 million!! That's 1000 times more than the average 25-year-old. We could be paying him $75,000!!! We're just throwing away money!!!" or the Oakland A's were like, "We had over 1.5 million people pay to watch us play!!! That's 4 times the size of Oakland!! How could you possibly say we have an attendance problem!!"

It really is the media's role above all to stop the Ben Nelson Theory and Chris Hayes Corollary from taking root. But they have just been so incredibly bad on that, going back to their absolutely insane approach to the stimulus.

5. Although we do have major issues with a lot of the particulars, in the big picture this is a pretty spectacular development if it passes: it's really a liberal dream to have a bill that gives health care security to those who don't have it, paid for by increased taxes on the rich and cutbacks to big industries and cutting waste, along with investing in preventive care and wellness, starting to bend the cost curve and actually reduce the deficit so that this will be sustainable. That would be by far the biggest liberal achievement in decades. Can't lose sight of that. This is where I definitely see Rahm Emanuel's perspective.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/18/09-The Senate Score Is In

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike on yet another "CBO score" day. Let's get right to it.

HEALTH CARE: Democratic Senators have received an estimate of their merged health care bill tonight, and the news is seemingly quite good. The bill would extend coverage to 94% of Americans, would reduce the deficit by $117 billion over the first 10 years, and remarkably by over $650 billion over the next ten years. As you know, the bill contains a public option, but gives states the opportunity to opt out. On first blush this looks like a very good cost estimate. The primary, and mostly unsubstantiated concerns of centrist Democrats is that the bill will cost too much and will increase the deficit. Now they'll have to find another argument.

But as many others have noted, we can't start celebrating yet. We haven't seen the official CBO report yet, so we don't know how Majority Leader Reid has managed to keep the cost of the bill so low. If he has decreased subsidy levels, that means the bill has been significantly weakened. If they lowered costs by expanding Medicaid (which is cheaper than subsidies), then the bill will have been slightly weakened. As always the devil is in the details, which will become available over the next 24 hours.

The cost estimate seems to appeal to some of the key swing votes. Senator Nelson (NE) seemed to indicate that he will vote to bring the bill to the floor, the first key procedural hurdle. Senator Landrieu (LA) expressed cautious optimism about the bill in a statement she released tonight. The one major plus of having a deficit busting bill, is that it provides some political cover to centrist Democrats who have campaigned on fiscal conservatism. The bill may be getting worse, but if that's the only way we can get this whole thing done, then so be it.

It's possible that Democrats will hold the vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed later this week. This will require 60 votes, meaning every Democratic Senator has to be on board. For this first procedural test, that's looking more and more likely. There is no room for error, however. Today, we found out that Senator Max Baucus had to return to Montana to attend to a family emergency. He may be back in time to vote by Friday or Saturday, but it is a reminder how fragile our coalition is even on procedural matters.

We'll follow the Senate's debate closely as the week continues.

THE HOUSE: On to the more mundane work that actually took place in Congress today...The House passed a bill that reauthorizes grants for fire prevention. The bill passed by a vote of 391-35. That's right, 35 members voted against big government fire fighting. They were all Republicans. The House voted on a couple of amendments before voting on final passage. They also voted on a few more suspension bills.

Tomorrow, the House will vote on the so-called "doctor fix" bill tomorrow. The bill will stop scheduled payment cuts to doctors through Medicare. We'll have more on that bill tomorrow.

THE SENATE: The Senate's work today was mostly off the floor on the health care bill. The Senate is waiting for the 30 hours to expire after invoking cloture on the nomination of David Hamilton to be an Appeals Court judge. It's possible that they'll vote on his nomination as late as 11pm tonight. After that, they will turn to a veterans health care bill that had been heretofore blocked by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

That's it for now. We'll see you tomorrow night! Leave comments

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/17/09-Job Focused

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. A special shout-out to one of our blog's most loyal readers, E-Delaware (that's what we'll call him for now). It's his 23rd birthday. Now on to the day in politics...

JOBS: I've been very encouraged by talk I've been hearing lately about a new jobs bill that might be considered by the end of the year. Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have both indicated that a jobs measure will be on the agenda shortly. With unemployment at 10.2%, it would be both bad policy and politically perilous not to do anything to stimulate job growth. The best sort of jobs bill, according to what I've read, would be a combination of massive (and prompt) spending on transportation and infrastructure, as well as new tax incentives for employers to hire new workers. Both the House and Senate need to pass a new transportation bill by the end of the year (the previous authorizing bill is expiring), so they would even have a legislative vehicle to attach new spending to (cuts down the workload a little bit).

The main obstacle to a new jobs bill is going to be undue obsession with the deficit among Republicans and centrist Democrats, especially in the Senate. The best way to combat this would be to make the bill deficit neutral with a progressive revenue source. Some House members have suggested taxing expensive financial transaction. This would be a literal transfer of wealth from Wall Street to Main Street. In my book, you can't do a better bill than that. As The Big Picture wisely points out, this proposal will surely die in the Senate, where not only are there seemingly impossible institutional obstacles, but at least 10-15 DEMOCRATIC Senators who are owned by Wall Street. Despite these potential obstacles, this is the kind of bill that true progressives should really be fighting for.

THE SENATE: It was one of those rare productive days in the Senate. Late this afternoon, Senators voted to end a Republcian filibuster of David Hamilton, President Obama's nominee to be a Circuit Court Judge. The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions (AL), tried to argue that Hamilton was a liberal activist. His argument was undermined by the fact that Hamilton had the support of Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar. The vote to cut off debate on the nomination was 70-29. 10 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting yes. This wasn't even your usual cast of Republican moderates. The list: Alexander (TN), Chambliss (GA), Collins (ME), Cornyn (TX), Gregg (NH), Hatch (UT), Lugar (IN), Murkowski (AK), Snowe (ME), and Thune (SD). A vote on the nomination itself will come tomorrow at 11pm, if Republicans choose to use all of the allotted time after the cloture vote (3o hours).

The Senate also passed the Military and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill today by a unanimous 100-0 vote. This is the 10th of 12 appropriations bills that the Senate has passed. The two remaining bills are Financial Services and Labor/HHS. Prior to a vote on final passage, the Senate voted on two amendments. The first amendment, proposed by Democrat Tim Johnson (D-SD) would transfer money to veterans homeless programs. It passed 98-1, with the lone no vote coming from serial obstructionist Tom Coburn (R-OK). The 2nd amendment, offered by Senator Inhofe (R-OK), would prohibit Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to U.S. prisons. Democratic Senators (most of them at least) were not willing to abandon President Obama's plan to close the detention facility. The amendment was tabled by a vote of 57-43. All Republicans voted yes, as did Democrats Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR) and Pryor (AR).

Along with the Hamilton nomination, the Senate will consider a veterans housing bill that's been the subject of a hold by Senator Coburn. The Senate will most likely vote to end Coburn's hold and pass the bill tomorrow.

THE HOUSE: It was another day of just suspensions in the House. They'll move on to real legislative business tomorrow.

THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama continued his Asian swing with stops today in Beijing visiting the U.S. embassy and the forbidden city. He will visit the Great Wall of China tomorrow before traveling to South Korea. The President hasn't made much news in the past day, although he did express hope that next month's Copenhagen summit on climate change spurs some momentum for the bill currently pending in the United States Senate. The messiah himself couldn't spur momentum for legislation in the United States Senate.

HEALTH CARE: Finally tonight, we STILL don't have a Congressional Budget Office estimate of the cost of the Senate health care bill. Apparently, Senator Reid will be presenting the bill to his caucus tomorrow evening. This will most likely put the first test vote, a procedural vote on the motion to proceed, on the weekend at the earliest.

Join us tomorrow night, and leave some comments!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/16/09-Lobbing Rocks

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Make sure you catch up on the week in politics by reading our previous entry. Tonight's post will be a short one.

GOP INSULTS: The Republicans party, I grudgingly admit, has a political opportunity next year. Voters are clearly still reeling from the recession, and generally have an anti-incumbent sentiment, two factors that will hurt Democrats at the polls in 2010. But they are not going to get where they want to electorally by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Barack Obama and hoping it sticks. Is it just me, or are their attacks getting more and more ridiculous? Over the weekend, Fox News obsessed about the fact that Barack Obama bowed to the emperor of Japan. They're talking about it like it's a federal offense. Who cares what Obama does to greet the Japanese emperor? Karl Rove said this morning that it was a sign of subservience. This from the guy whose former boss held hands and kissed the Saudi prince.

Of course, we're also hearing a chorus of complaints about the administration's decision to try Guantanamo detainees in the United States. Mike Huckabee today said that the trials will also be a "trial for the administration" and that an acquittal could lead to the end of the Democratic party. Republican House Leader John Boehner (OH) talked about how terrorists may end up in our communities. Seriously, this is the best you've got? They are also attacking the Obama administration for not jumping the gun and calling the Fort Hood murders terrorism.

Next year might be tough for Democrats, but Republicans could ruin it for themselves if they continue to lob useless attacks on the President and cater to the most extreme elements of the right-wing.

THE SENATE: The Senate today continued work on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. Senators voted on two amendments from Senator Coburn (R-OK). The first would require public reporting of department reports. It was approved unanimously by a vote of 93-0. The next amendment would have committed the bill back to committee to enact spending cuts. The amendment failed badly by a vote of 24-69. 22 Republicans and Democrats Bayh (IN) and McCaskill (MO) voted yes. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on David Hamilton's nomination to be a Appeals court judge.

THE HOUSE: Not much going on in the House today; just a few suspension votes. They'll get to real business by Wednesday.

That's it for now, see you tomorrow!

The Weekly Strike-11/16-11/22

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. Thank you for bearing with our absence over the weekend, I hope you survived. I hope President Obama is able to read this blog despite those restrictions in China.

HEALTH CARE: All eyes this week will be on two institutions that should not be depended on: the Congressional Budget Office and the United States Senate. The CBO should be releasing their estimate of health care legislation either today or tomorrow. They were going to release their cost analysis last week, but apparently Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) realized that the bill did not come under the arbitrary $900 billion price tag, so he sent some revisions to the CBO in order to get a bill he can bring to the Senate floor. After the cost estimate is released, Reid will have to focus on his next hurdle, which is rounding up 60 votes just to get the bill to the Senate floor. Senate aides say that despite equivocations from moderates, no Democratic Senator will vote to block the bill from coming to the floor. If that proves to be the case, debate on the bill itself can begin. Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are ready to apply every delay tactic in the book, including the possibility of forcing the clerk to read the entire 2,000 page bill. Right now, our goal is simply to START debate by the time Thanksgiving rolls around next week.

Meanwhile, the anti-reform crowd has found some new ammunition. The CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) came out with a study estimating that the House-passed health care bill will actually increase the growth of health spending over the next ten years. White House Health Reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle refuted the analysis, but Republicans harped on it big time. Also, it was reported today that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is looking to hire economists for $50,000 to do a pre-ordained negative study on the effects of the House legislation. Yet another reminder of the power of the forces of the status quo. We'll keep you up to date on health care related development as the week rolls on.

THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama today continues his Asian tour in Beijing today, where he will hold bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The President made some news this morning by criticizing China for putting up a firewall around social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I think because Obama commands so much respect around the world, he is one of the few world leaders with the prestige to call out other countries on their own turf. The President returns from his trip tomorrow, and then will turn his attention to Afghanistan. It is very possible that the President announces his Af-Pak strategy by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Last week, President Obama reportedly told his national security team that none of the 4 options presented to him were sufficient, and that his new strategy needed some sort of indication that our commitment there is not open-ended.

President Obama will also be forced to explain his administration's decision to try some top Guantanamo terrorist detainees in the United States. Republicans have blasted the move, saying a trial in New York could jeopardize our national security. They worry that some of these terrorists might be released into "our communities" if they are acquitted on some sort of technicality. I see that scenario as highly unlikely. I think trying terrorists in New York, the site of the worst terrorist attack in our country's history, shows the resiliency of our democracy and our legal system. How great would it be to see Khalid Sheik Muhammed, the supposed 9/11 mastermind, brought to justice in front of the families of 9/11 victims. I think Republicans (and Joe Lieberman) are just using this decision to do some good old fashioned fear mongering.

THE SENATE: Even while the health care legislation hangs in the balance, the Senate has some other work to do. Today, the Senate will continue consideration of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, one of three appropriations bills that the Senate has yet to pass. This evening, the Senate will vote on a couple of amendments offered by serial obstructionist Tom Coburn (R-OK). A vote on final passage will probably come Wednesday or Thursday. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on the nomination of David Hamilton to be a Circuit Judge on the 7th District court. Conservatives have tried to paint Hamilton as some sort of liberal activist, but so far this criticism has yet to take hold. I expect Hamilton to be confirmed relatively easily.

THE HOUSE: The House is back in session after having spent the week hearing from constituents on the recently-passed health care bill. The House will vote on several bills under suspension of the rules today and tomorrow. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will vote on a bill to "
amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the Molalla River in Oregon, as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System." I don't know why they can't do that under suspension of the rules, but I guess it didn't have the necessary 2/3rds support of the House. Next up will be a bill authorizing grants for fire safety programs. Finally, the House will take up the so-called "Doc Fix" bill, which will protect doctors against scheduled pay cuts from Medicare. The bill is particularly controversial because it is not paid for. Republicans have complained that Democrats did not include this fix in their health care legislation. If they had, the legislation would not have been deficit neutral. I don't expect many Republicans will want to alienate doctors at this point, so I foresee this legislation passing pretty easily.

That's it for now, see you this evening and PLEASE leave some comments.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/12/09-Deliberate

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Congress will be out of session until Monday morning, and so will we. Please leave us some comments while we're gone, and watch out for some updates on our Twitter feed, which you can find if you scroll down on the right of your screen.

AFGHANISTAN: The Big Picture pointed out something very encouraging yesterday. President Obama has apparently rejected each of the plans given to him by his national security team. Obama wants to alter the plans to make sure there is a clear exit strategy, and a firm plan to hand over power to Afghan security forces. Obama's decision came after a very disturbing report from Ambassador Elkenberry, who said that the Karzai government is still too corrupt to be a good faith partner. As The Big Picture pointed out, this sort of deliberation from Obama is exactly why many of us supported him over Hillary Clinton. He's not giving in to the demands of the conventional wisdom in the media, and he is not blindly heeding the advice of his national security apparatus. Chances are, he is still going to send upward of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, possibly more. But at least he would be doing so with a clear idea of the mission, and an eye on how to get out of there, at least I hope. Another thing The Big Picture pointed out: Obama made his decision after visiting Arlington National Cemetery, and thus reminding himself of the true cost of war.

JOBS: Before President Obama left on a week long trip to Asia, he announced that he will be holding a summit in December on job creation. The summit will feature leaders from government, business, labor and other stakeholders. He held similar summits earlier this year on health care and fiscal responsibility. Sure, these summits are largely for show. I don't expect any policies to be made during a 3 hour session at the White House. But it does show that the President is adapting to the reality that high unemployment is foremost on the American people's mind right now. Hopefully the summit will lead to a strong jobs bill in early 2010 that contains money for infrastructure spending and tax breaks for businesses that create jobs.

HEALTH CARE: It's possible that we'll get a CBO estimate tomorrow on the Senate's version of health reform. For most Senators, this estimate won't make a difference because their minds are already made up one way or another. But it could help people like Joe Lieberman, who mistakenly think, for example, that the public option will be deficit-busting, when it would actually reduce the deficit. We're still on track to see the bill come to the floor next Monday, which would mean it would be voted on sometime hopefully by the end of the decade.

ODDS AND ENDS: A couple of quick tidbits:

-Irony of the day: The Republican National Committee health plan covers abortion. I won't say anything else, but it is quite the example of hypocrisy.

-A scary moment for Democrats today: Apparently sworn-in Congressman Bill Owens didn't win by as much as we thought he did. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman was cheated out of some 2,000 votes in last week's election. This put him behind by only 3,000 votes with 10,000 absentee votes outstanding. For a few minutes there, it looked like Hoffman could throw things into chaos and win the race. We later found out that only 5,400 people turned in their absentee ballots, meaning Hoffman would have to win about 80% to overcome the deficit. Luckily, not gonna happen.

That's it for now. See you Monday morning!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/11/09-Veteran's Day

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I hope you enjoyed your Veteran's Day, and if you had the day off, I hope you had a nice 3 hour nap like me

VETERAN'S DAY: After yesterday's well-received speech in Fort Hood, the President spoke today at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Veteran's Day. His speech today echoed yesterday; he talked about how we often fail to adequately appreciate what veterans have done for us. He specifically mentioned how Vietnam veterans were often treated with scorn when they returned in the 1960's and 1970's. I love when President Obama calls out the mistakes of the cultural left.

The President will leave tomorrow morning for Asia. Tonight, he's holding one of his last strategy meetings on Afghanistan. According to reports, the President's key advisers including Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, are leaning towards a plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. This would be a significant escalation, but would fall short of the request from General Stanley McChrystal. He better couple this increase with with a new comprehensive end-game strategy. The President will most likely make an announcement after he returns from Asia but before Thanksgiving.

GALLUP: Since it's Veteran's Day and there isn't much else to talk about, I'll mention a very disturbing Gallup Poll I saw today. The poll showed Republicans leading the 2010 Generic Congressional ballot by 4 points, after having trailed for pretty much the past 5 years. Democrats have a natural disadvantage when it comes to the Congressional ballot. Even small Democratic leads can mean heavy losses because Democrats control so many seats in Republican territory. Even more disturbing, independents favor Republican candidates by a 22 point margin. This might be somewhat misleading, because many basically Republican voters call themselves independents these days, but still. The best way to cut into these numbers would be to seriously address voters number 1 concern: jobs. Majority Leader Reid talked today about bringing a jobs bill to the floor of the Senate in January. It would have increased spending on infrastructure and tax breaks for businesses that create jobs. I hope Democrats follow through with a strong jobs bill.

No Congress in session today, so we'll call it an entry. Please leave us some comments.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/10/09-Being Presidential

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It was getaway day for many here in Washington. The United States Senate will not hold votes for the rest of the week, because they could not reach an agreement on amendments to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. Thus, a continuation of our daily reminders that the United States Senate is the biggest obstacle to progress in this country.

FORT HOOD: The President today gave a powerful and sobering speech in Fort Hood, Texas to commemorate those who lost their lives in last week's shootings. Many seasoned political observers, like Chuck Todd and Mark Ambinder, called this one of President Obama's best speeches. One of the key roles of the President, a role that is often forgotten in the midst of legislative wrangling and policy disputes, is to be the consoler-in-chief. In other words, the President is required to adequately express the sorrow that the rest of us our feeling. He did so today in a very moving, sincere way. The President gave brief descriptions of each of the victims, described their life stories and the work they were dedicated to, and mentioned the family members they were leaving behind.

He also used this speech, as he often does, to teach a larger moral lesson. He spoke with clarity by saying that no religion, and no God would tolerate this sort of violence, and that justice will confront the perpetrator in this life and the next. It may not be my style of rhetoric, but it struck the right tone at such a solemn ceremony. He also used the speech to express a more general appreciate for the troops and their sacrifice. He extolled their values of selflessness and dedication to the country.

Overall, it was a very moving tribute, and it allowed President Obama to play a role that we often don't get to see: the role of a true moral leader.

THE SENATE: On the other side of the moral spectrum is the United States Senate. Today, former President Clinton visited the Democratic caucus, and urged them to seize the moment when it comes to health reform. Majority Leader Reid announced that the Senate will begin consideration of health care legislation next Monday, assuming the CBO finishes its cost estimate of the bill by Friday. Of course, Senators would first have to vote to proceed to the bill. This would require a 60 vote threshold. A few Democratic moderates have not yet committed to even voting to bring the bill to the floor. If Reid is not able to get those commitments, we might see a series of painful negotiations before debate even begins on the bill.

Inexplicably, the Senate will stand in recess during Thanksgiving week. And with health care expected to take the full month of December, I don't expect that we'll see the Senate take up other important House-passed bills this year, like food safety and student loan reform.

Alright, that's enough Senate bashing for one day. See you tomorrow and Happy Veterans Day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Big Picture: Joe Lieberman is Exhibit A for The Need to End the Tyranny of the Filibuster

I'm pretty concerned about health care despite the victory because of the goddamn Senate. And there was a lot of attention given to the 39 Democrats voting no. A huge thing is that the completely erroneous line that "this is too much spending given the deficit" has been allowed to continue. That has got to be disproven. Although, would that even matter? Lieberman and Nelson and the other idiots would make up some new reason. Is there any more despicable quote you've ever heard in your life than "The big problem is the deficit. If the bill includes a public option, then as a matter of conscience, I will not let the bill come up for a vote." Every single thing about that sentence is deeply wrong. The ultimate "FIRST of all". Let's break it down:

1) The deficit: a) the bill will reduce the deficit. b) NOT passing reform is the surest way to increase the deficit to unsustainable levels. c) You, Joseph Lieberman, were perfectly happy to spend TRILLIONS of dollars on reckless tax cuts to the wealthiest estates and on military occupations that have cost more than 5000 American lives and made us far less safe. c) the deficit right now is necessary and actually a good thing as the government makes up for the loss of private demand with sound investments in health care and education and putting people to work. d) even if the deficit was a problem and this bill increased it, both of which are the OPPOSITE of true, it would still be a moral imperative to cover the uninsured and make health care affordable because it is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT!

2) The public option: a) it's a weak public option, with opt-out provisions, that is only open to a tiny percentage of the population, not possible for people to get on the public rolls easily, so it's ludicrous to make that your focus. b) the inclusion of the public option brings down health care spending and the deficit, and the more people it's open to and the more robust it is, the more it brings down health care spending and the deficit, which SUPPOSEDLY are your biggest concerns. c) You, Joe Lieberman, specifically said that you were in favor of a strong public option when you were running for re-election. So in other words you flat-out lied to your constituents.

3) Matter of Conscience: Clearly stating that you are morally superior to these other legislators. What gives you that moral superiority, Joe? Your treachery to your party, your background, your religion and your constituents? Or is it your stupidity in advocating the Iraq War? What about your McCarthyite smears against real patriots by accusing them of supporting terrorism when they oppose wars and torture regimes that increase terrorism?

4) I will not let the bill come up for a vote: Think about how ridiculous that sounds on its face, even if you didn't know what he was talking about: "as a matter of conscience, I will not let a bill COME UP FOR A VOTE". You can vote against a bill as a matter of conscience, but how is it a matter of conscience to prevent a vote from even occurring, to deny majority role, to deny democracy? Although here what we're objecting to is much bigger than Joe Lieberman, it's the outrageously undemocratic filibuster that lets a minority prevent anything from even being voted upon. The Strike and I have seen how our home state of California has sunk from the pinnacle to the muddy ditch thanks to Prop 13 forcing 2/3 majorities to pass budgets and raise taxes, and in recent years the filibuster has served the same purpose for the federal government. The Democratic Party of Obama, Biden and Pelosi WON the election, and we won it with sweeping majorities, and there are massive problems to confront, and we have plans to help solve those problems. What a terrible system to directly deny the will of the voters and prevent government from solving pressing problems, all so the despicable likes of Joe Lieberman can feel really important and morally superior.

Good point by you about how Obama has handled Fort Hood far better than McCain would. Get an indication of how McCain would have handled it as the great Joe Lieberman said, "We don't have all the facts yet" (so why don't you just shut up then???) "but it seems clear that this was motivated by Islamic extremism, so this was a terrorist attack." UGGGH. Unsubstantiated, leaping-to-conclusions fear-mongering Muslim-bashing by Joe Lieberman? That's worked out well so far! God I hate him.

It seems clear to me that in order to pass health care, we're going to have to bust the filubuster. Which we have to do at some point anyway. I think Obama has to take it on, head-on. It is a completely ridiculous practice, totally unbased in the sacred Constitution that Dick Armey and Co. talk endlessly about, and we just can't have it. I'm not sure how you would go about doing this but when you control the freakin' Presidency and I think a majority of Senators would be on your side, you've got to play some serious hardball. I think a number of moderate Dems who are in that 44-53 category, more loyal than the traitors but still not assured, would actually be OK with this because it would actually seriously increase their power and leverage. Now they're taken for granted, every bill needs those last 5 Democrats. But if we just had to get to 50, then all the leverage would go to those who could put it over that threshold.

THE STRIKE: I think it is long past time to take on the filibuster. If Obama wages a hard campaign against the filibuster, and Senator Reid makes Republicans actually filibuster bills (have them stand there for 25 hours before they collapse), then the Obama agenda has a far greater chance of succeeding, our country has a far greater chance of improving, and the Democratic party has a far better chance at electoral success. The question for some Senate Democrats (the 44-53 crowd The Big Picture referred to) is whether it’s worth it to do away with the filibuster now knowing that we some day may have a right-wing President and a right-wing Senate. The answer is yes, it is worth it. Democrats will NEVER have lasting electoral success without significant legislative accomplishments, and won’t have legislative accomplishments unless they do away with the filibuster.

Especially because, while we can push for a total end to the filibuster, in the end we'll be happy to settle for some sort of compromise that is in keeping with the Senate's tradition of more deliberate debate, can't just jam things through.

But we gotta start the drumbeat for the end of the filibuster. We should e-mail Ezra - who obviously is on our side and has been saying this repeatedly - to really start pushing it. If we get the "End the Filibuster" movement to catch on like the public option did, get the netroots fired up, MSNBC pushing it hard. I think we should also set up a Facebook group. The biggest obstacle to all this - and the very reason that the filibuster is allowed to work - is that nobody knows it exists. How many people who aren't political junkies know that you need a 3/5 majority to pass anything in the Senate? But in that is also an advantage - the public has no sense of connection to the filibuster.

Of course the typical people will whine and raise a hue and cry about abandoning American tradition and being too partisan and on and on, but the point is, THEY'RE GOING TO SAY THAT NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. This is what Rachel Maddow said yesterday on Meet the Press, a great point, that no matter what we do, Democrats will be accused of being big taxers and spenders, so we can either face that accusation AND have double-digit unemployment, or we can say, well we're going to be accused of it anyway, so let's at least put millions of people back to work! Same thing with the filibuster. Nothing will do more for Democrats' approval ratings than ending the filibuster so we can actually accomplish our agenda, and not look weak and ineffectual. And Obama has got to do it, because otherwise his agenda and his Presidency will be failures.

The Daily Strike-11/9/09-Briefly

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The Big Picture will be doing the heavy lifting tonight with his own entry. I will simply be providing a quick update. Make sure you leave comments on both entries.

THE SENATE: The Senate was in session today to consider the nomination of Andre Davis of Maryland to be a Circuit Court judge. The Senate confirmed Davis, an African American District Judge, by a vote of 72-16, with 12 Senators not voting. Davis had been originally nominated for the post by Bill Clinton in 2000, but his nomination was killed by the then-Republican Congress. All no votes came from Republicans. The Senate also confirmed Charlene Edwards Honeywell to be a District Court Judge in Florida by a vote of 88-0.

The Senate is now moving on to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. The Senate will consider several amendments tomorrow, and will vote on final passage hopefully by the end of the day.

As for health care, the Senate is still waiting on a price estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. In the meantime, we keep hearing declarations from moderate Democrats that the House bill is dead on arrival. Senate Democrats will apparently get a pep talk tomorrow from former President Clinton. I hope President Clinton stares down Joe Lieberman with an evil eye. Not only is Lieberman holding up health care legislation for dubious reasons, but he also was the first Democrat to publicly criticize Bill on the Monica scandal!

After the House passed its legislation this weekend, it's become increasingly clear that the abortion fight will be much worse than I expected. The House-passed Stupak amendment, which increases abortion prohibitions beyond the established Hyde-amendment language will most likely be included in the Senate bill to win over Moderates. It also helps pro-lifers that Majority Leader Reid is anti-choice. However, a group of 40 liberals in the House are now threatening to vote against the final health care bill if it includes the Stupak language. It's possible that this threat, like many previous threats from the progressive bloc, will be abandoned when push comes to shove. But the way it stands right now, liberals won't vote for a bill with the Stupak language, and conservatives won't vote for a bill without it. We're gonna need to come up with some sort of compromise language, most likely. I really wish that social issues did not make it into the fight over this important legislation. For his part, President Obama today expressed opposition to the Stupak amendment. Would he veto a bill over that amendment? Probably not.

That's it for today. Make sure you catch The Big Picture's entry and leave some comments!

The Weekly Strike-11/9-11/15

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. It was an exciting weekend in politics, as the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care legislation. Make sure you read our recap of the vote. Also, scroll down on the right side of the page to see a widget of our live Twitter feed. I'll try not to get too into it, hopefully you all will keep me measured.

HEALTH CARE: After Saturday's huge victory on health reform, we are forced to sober up and realize that the fight now turns to the United States Senate, where all good legislation goes to die. Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) is expected to get a CBO estimate of his bill by the end of the week, which would ideally move the start of the debate to early next week. Republicans though will try every legislative maneuver available to slow down the process, so we could be looking at 3-4 weeks of debate. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), the guru of legislative delays, has even threatened to have the entire 2,000 bill read on the Senate floor.

Then there's the question of whether we can get 60 votes to BEGIN the debate (likely) and 60 votes to end the debate (less likely). Senator Joe Lieberman (?-CT), the biggest current obstacle to providing health care to millions of Americans reiterated this weekend that he still plans to filibuster health care reform if it has a public option. We'll have more on his hypocrisy and selfishness in tonight's entry.

Even after the bill passes the Senate, there will be some contentious battles in conference. First, conferees must determine how to pay for the bill. I prefer the House version, which adds a surtax on millionaires. The Senate version includes an excise tax on high cost insurance plans. Second, there will have to be some sort of resolution on the abortion issue. An amendment passed by the House prohibits any beneficiaries of federal subsidies from having insurance that covers abortion. Liberals swallowed this language so that they could move the bill forward, but I expect them to fight hard for its removal in conference.

The bottom line is that we have a long way to go, and the road ahead will be difficult and frustrating. We shouldn't lose track of how significant Saturday's vote was. We did something that didn't happen under Truman, Nixon or Clinton. We passed health reform out of one chamber of Congress. Hopefully Saturday's vote will inspire Obama's progressive base to get more involved as the fight moves to the Senate.

THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama doesn't have much time to celebrate Saturday's vote. He will spend this week dealing with a whole host of other problems. Today, the President will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss ongoing Middle East peace discussions. He will also issue an executive order related to veterans employment.

Tomorrow, Obama travels to Fort Hood, Texas to commemorate the victims of last week's shooting. More disturbing details are emerging about the alleged perpetrator. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently tried to have contact with Al Qaeda before going on his deadly rampage last week. Obama will have to thread the needle carefully here. He has to properly express his anger at what happened, but he can't make sweeping statements before we know all the facts of the case. This, I think, is what separate Barack Obama from John McCain. Had this event happened on McCain's watch, we would have bombed some country already.

Thursday, the President embarks on a one week trip to Asia to do some diplomatic stuff I guess.

THE SENATE: Before the Senate gets to health care, it will try to take care of some other business. This evening, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Andre Davis to be a Circuit Court Judge in the 4th Circuit. I expect his nomination will be approved pretty easily. The Senate then moves on to its 10th of 12 appropriations bills, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bills. This is usually among the least controversial of the appropriations measures. If Republicans don't use any delay tactics, this bill could be finished by Wednesday, when the Senate will take the day off for Veteran's Day. After that, we could either see another Appropriations bill, or the start of the health care debate.

So far, President Obama has signed 5 of the 12 appropriations bills into law. It is entirely possible that Congress will have to combine the other appropriations measures into an omnibus package before the end of the year.

The House is out of session until next Monday.

That's it for now, see you this evening!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/7/09-The House Makes History

At 11:14pm on November 7th, 2009, by a vote the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care legislation for the first time in history. We've been waiting for this moment a long time. Yes, we now have to face the weasels in the United States Senate, but for at least the next 12 hours we can celebrate something that's never happened.

All we know right now is that 39 Democrats voted no, and 1 Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana. Cao won the seat of indicted (and now convicted) Rep. Bill Jefferson in a heavily Democratic district in Louisiana. A huge cheer erupted when Democrats reached the 218 vote threshold.

Here is a list of Democratic defectors:

1. Adler (NJ) He won a close race last year in New Jersey
2. Altmire (PA) He was undecided yesterday, apparently a call from Obama didn't help.
3. Baird (WA) Hugely disappointing effort from Baird, who hopefully will be primaried next year.
4. Barrow (GA) Blue Dog from rough district.
5. Boccieri (OH) Disappointing vote, he fears the next election.
6. Boren (OK) A firm no from the start.
7. Boucher (VA) He was on the fence, but swung to the no side.
8. Boyd (FL) A firm no from the beginning, a "fiscal conservative" I guess, even though the bill reduced the deficit!
9. Bright (AL) One of the most conservative Democrats in the House.
10. Chandler (KY) Comes from very conservative state of Kentucky.
11. Childers (MS) From heavily GOP district.
12. Davis (AL) He's running for governor of Alabama.
13: Davis (TN) Another consummate Blue Dog.
14. Edwards (TX) Represents George W. Bush's district in Texas.
15. Gordon (TN) Chairman of Science committee is facing GOP challenge next year.
16. Griffith (AL) Barely a Democrat.
17. Herseth Sandlin (SD) Announced opposition yesterday.
18. Holden (PA) Comes from conservative PA district.
19. Kissell (NC) Freshman Dem won with help from the Netroots, who are very angry at him right now.
20. Kosmas (FL) Freshman announced no vote yesterday.
21. Kratovil (MD) Comes from very conservative district on Maryland shore.
22. Kucinich (OH) One of two members who voted no because the bill didn't go far ENOUGH. I disapprove.
23. Markey (CO) Freshman decided to be a no at the last second.
24. Marshall (GA) A reliable conservative vote.
25. Massa (NY) Amazingly, he is a single-payer advocate, the other member who voted no because the bill didn't go far enough.
26. Matheson (UT) Utah's not exactly bleeding blue these days.
27. McIntyre (NC) He was a last second no, a major disappointment. Maybe he wants to run for higher office...
28. McMahon (NY) Disgusting vote from the man who now represents Staten Island. There's no reason he should be voting no on health care.
29. Melancon (LA) Running for Senate in Louisiana as a Democrat, I guess.
30. Minnick (ID) Never votes with his party.
31. Murphy (NY) Freshman won upstate NY seat earlier this year in The Strike's college's district. He was a last second no. Hopefully Skidmore will give him a hard time about it.
32. Nye (VA) Freshman.
33. Peterson (MN) Chairman of Agriculture committee announced opposition this week.
34. Ross (AR) Got freaked out by town hall meetings over the summer.
35. Shuler (NV) Former NFL Quarterback comes from a tough district.
36. Skelton (MO) Chairman of Armed Services committee faces well-funded opposition next year.
37. Tanner (TN) Blue Dog.
38. Taylor (MS) Not even really a Democrat.
39. Teague (NM) Freshman facing former GOP Representative for reelection.

We'll have much more on the vote tomorrow, including the full results of all the amendments, but for now, look at my live Twittering, which I shamefully did much of the day today.

Political wonks, let's get celebrate!

Trying Something New

I hate that I'm doing this, but it is an effective way to provide quick updates on the health care debate today. Please follow my Twitter feed. The link is in the title.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/6/09-Down to the Wire

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. We're in an absolutely critical period for health reform, as the House is set to vote on its version tomorrow evening. If you're not doing anything tonight, give a call to your member of Congress and make sure they are on board.

HEALTH CARE: I have absolutely no idea what's gonna happen on the House floor tomorrow, but things at this hour are looking pretty shaky. A slew of moderate Democrats came out against the bill today, which is leaving House leaders scrambling to find the 218 necessary votes. According to a whip count I've compiled (based on stated positions, past votes, nature of district, gut feeling etc.) shows the bill passing 219-216. Among my yes votes are several members who said they are still undecided. We pretty much have zero margin for error at this point.

Several contentious issues are complicating negotiations. Bart Stupak (D-MI) is still fuming about abortion (even though no public funding in the bill will go to abortion!). A compromise floated by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) to solve the abortion question was shot down by a group of Catholic bishops. Stupak is still hoping he can get 40 Democratic votes to kill the rule for considering the bill, which would stop the underlying bill in its tracks. Ellsworth's language is expected to be included in the Rules committee report accompanying the bill. We can't know for sure though, because the Rules committee is still meeting as we speak. The immigration issue has also not been settled, although it appears that it won't tip the truly undecided members against the bill.

Some members are opposing the bill because they are terrified of a politically difficult vote. You can tell these members by the content of their statements on the bill. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) says that he is worried about the deficit. Even though the bill brings DOWN the deficit! Jason Altmire (D-PA) said he's still undecided on the bill because " it just doesn't work for my district." Altmire is being heavily lobbied. Today, he apparently received calls from President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Majority Leader Hoyer and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The bottom line is that anything can happen tomorrow. I want to be optimistic that Democrats won't let their signature domestic issue die on the House floor. If the bill goes down tomorrow, or if Democrats have to take it off the floor because it doesn't have the votes, health care reform will be in deep, deep trouble. Senate Democrats will become more wary of ambitious reform, and House members will be forced to water down the bill to something that barely constitutes progress. We'll bring you full coverage tomorrow on what happens. In the morning, President Obama will speak to House Democrats to rally the faithful. The vote is scheduled for 6pm, but it could come later if there are procedural delays.

THE HOUSE: While negotiations were taking place behind the scenes, there was actually serious business happening on the House floor. The House today passed a bill that will put chemical plants and water stations under the protection of the Department of Homeland Security. This is designed to protect plants from terrorism. The final vote on the bill was 230-193, with all Republicans and 21 Democrats voting no. I don't know exactly why so many members opposed this bill, but I did hear Republicans say that it would somehow be a job-killing bill. The Republican motion to recommit sought to clarify that the bill could not reduce productivity or employment at chemical plants. The motion failed 189-236. The House also voted on several amendments before final passage.

Prior to this bill, the House considered more suspension bills, including one congratulating the World Champion New York Yankees. Can't we count that as the health care vote?

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President held a press event this morning to discuss the unemployment rate, which rose to 10.2% last month. Obama said that the number was sobering, and that his administration will look at extra steps to promote job creation. The absolute best way to improve the Democrats' electoral chances next year would be to enact ambitious job creation measures, but given what we've seen from Congress recently, I wouldn't bet on it.

Republicans love days when unemployment figures are released, because they can celebrate the political benefits of having millions of Americans out of work. Almost every Republican lawmaker came out with a statement today laming high unemployment on the stimulus package.

CASUAL FRIDAY: As we close out the week, here's a conversation I had with the Big Picture today, which reflected our general frustration with the way things are going right now. Thanks for tuning in, and stay with us tomorrow for the House's historic consideration of the health care bill.

The Big Picture: 1:41 PM Gotta watch this Stewart bit if you haven't seen it already
1:42 PM me: i saw it live last night
how he gets the tone down so perfectly
and the wild conspiracy theories, with that board
The Big Picture: yeah haha ha, all the pauses are just right, the pacing
me: also, i watched some of the cavs/bulls game in hd last night
1:43 PM it looks like you can just pull them from the screen
big difference
the players that is
The Big Picture: Yeah truly dominant
It would be nice to just forget about politics and just sit in front of the HDTV and watch sports and movies
me: yeah i really would rather do that this weekend
The Big Picture: Which is of course the choice most Americans have made
1:44 PM me: that's where i get most depressed about obama's presidency
where are all of those people who suddenly cared deeply about politics?
The Big Picture: yeah I totally agree
1:45 PM me: how do you even get them involved again?
The Big Picture: You could put that a little on Obama, a lot on the horrible political system, but mostly on the culture and just how people are, how easy it is to just get lulled by easy pleasures
me: yeah it's so frustrating to see
1:46 PM The Big Picture: And of course most people, especially the people who most need to be involved, are very busy, stressed, last thing they want is to spend their one free hour getting involved in an extremely frustrating task
Maybe it would be a little different if Obama had handled it differently from the time he won
in the transition, the Inauguration, and since, he's really been about appearing Presidential, above the fray, dignified, genial, non-threatening
1:47 PM That has pluses and minuses
me: yeah it does
we could use more inspiring speeches now and then
1:48 PM The Big Picture: Yeah and just a lot more challenging rhetoric, which is actually what worked for him in beating Hillary, the sense that he was really on our side against the Powers That Be, he was coming in there to really clean house
1:49 PM And that really fits the mood of the country - possibly. Although people even now say he's moving too fast, too much change, imagine if he was a lot more passionate and urgent and demanding that could really freak people out
me: it's just really hard to read what people want
1:50 PM there's just so much anger and anxiety
but i don't know exactly who its most targeted towards
and waht to do abou tit
The Big Picture: And after all his approval ratings are still +15 when every other person, party, institution is despised
So that's a big accomplishment
1:51 PM me: yeah he's still personally liked a lot
The Big Picture: BUT, it also matters how energized your supporters are, and if you can expand the ranks of people involved
1:52 PM I think he may end up being driven toward a more confrontational and liberal and anti-Establishment posture anyway, as has happened to past Presidents
me: yeah i hope so
the good news is that we still have a full year to turn things around
The Big Picture: namely FDR from 33 to 36
me: make some changes
according to dick morris, that's when he turned very conservative
1:53 PM The Big Picture: Hahahah
Best case scenario: Obama correctly reads the public mood
1:54 PM That he was doing his best to do it within the normal system but that system just sucked, and now he's got to steadily attack its very foundation
And the average guy is like "Obama, he's right to get tougher on them, he gave them a chance and they just kept doing their same old do-nothing corrupt crap"
1:55 PM Obama needs to do a lot more to establish that he's not "of Washington", that he's against it, is trying to sweep it out
This all makes for some good Friday Big Picture Ramblings by the way
me: yeah i might tack that all on
1:56 PM The Big Picture: And encourage people to watch the great Jon Stewart work
me: in many ways this is very simillar to '81-'82
very high unemployment
"radical" president, the most conservative/liberal of his generation
1:57 PM starts with sky high approval ratings
The Big Picture: Good news is that unemployment peaked in late '82, we're probably 9 months ahead of that pace
me: passes a radical economic measure that cuts into the popularity when the jobs situation doesn't improve
but then it becomes morning in america!
following that precedent, we would lose about 15 house seats and a few Senate seats next year. w
which would really not be that bad
1:58 PM The Big Picture: The bizarre thing is that Reagan did that despite not even having a majority in the House and not a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate
But we have those things but can't stick together!
All comes back to the Goddamn U.S. Senate
1:59 PM me: ugggh yes