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

No comments:

Post a Comment