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!!

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