Friday, December 18, 2009

The Daily Strike-12/18/09-Snowed In (No we're not talking about Olympia)

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Lady Strike and I are preparing ourselves for up to 2 feet of snow tomorrow, and I'll have you know that we are all stocked up on milk and bread. I still have time to give a rundown of the day in politics. Two big news stories today: health care and the Copenhagen conference. Let's get to it.

HEALTH CARE: It's getting increasingly painful, but there might, just might, be some light at the end of the tunnel. It appears as if despite the compromises given to appease Joe Lieberman, no liberal members will vote to filibuster the bill. That makes the lone Democratic holdout Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and he controls the whole process right now. Nelson wants changes in language in the bill relating to abortion. But now he is also demanding a crackpot provision to allow states to "opt-out" of the bill's Medicaid, which as this article explains, makes no sense whatsoever for Nelson's state. Democratic leaders seem confident that they can get Nelson on board before tomorrow morning, when they will have to start the procedural wheels in motion on a compromise proposal.

The reason I'm still fearful is that Ben Nelson is a pea-brain. He knows absolutely nothing about policy. He has no idea what he actually wants in the bill, he just wants to be as much of a thorn in the side of Democrats as is humanly possible. Someone this stupid holding this much power is extremely disturbing. It might be time for Rahm Emanuel to make some harsh threats against Nelson.

While the debate on health care rages on, the Senate had to pass a must-pass Defense funding bill. Democrats scheduled a cloture for last night at 1am after a series of Republican delay tactics. Republicans thought that if they could filibuster the defense bill, they could further delay a vote on health reform. Funding for the Pentagon expires at midnight tonight if the Senate doesn't act. Therefore, Republicans were willing to kill funding for the troops to cause problems for Democrats on health care. Luckily, the Republicans' scheme didn't work. Democrats were scrambling last night to find 60 votes to cut off debate. The only member of their 60 vote caucus who wasn't in line was Russ Feingold (WI), who has consistently refused to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Feingold was convinced that Republicans were filibustering the bill to kill health care reform, so Feingold relented. After Feingold announced his yes vote, three other Republicans (Snowe and Collins of Maine, and Hutchison of Texas) came aboard. A vote on final passage will occur tomorrow morning at 7:30, just as DC will get blanketed with snow. Democrats may have to find 60 votes to beat back a Republican point of order, but it looks likely that they'll be able to do so.

We'll keep you posted on the key health care developments this weekend.

COPENHAGEN: The President jetted off to Copenhagen yesterday to help facilitate a compromise agreement with the nations of the world to reduce greenhouse gases. Late today, the President announced that he had reached a deal. Obama said that the deal, agreed upon by 193 developing and industrial countries, does not commit any nation to robust reductions in greenhouse gases, but rather contains measures helping developing nations cope with climate problems, and requires China to disclose its actions addressing the climate crisis. In other words, this deal does very little. It's being called a sham by environmental groups, but it really only codifies existing agreements.

At the very least, we're doing SOMETHING. More than can be said about the previous administration. I guess that's something to cheer about.

We'll see you tomorrow.

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