Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Daily Strike-1/6/10-Dodd and Negotiations

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It turns out we wrote our entry a bit too early last night.

DODD: We reported last night on the somber news that Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan is not seeking reelection. After press time, news came out that another Democratic Senator, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, was also retiring. This time, the news was jubilant for Democrats. Dodd's popularity had plummeted over the last couple of years for a number of reasons, mostly because of alleged sweetheart deals with Countrywide and AIG. Even before the political environment turned against the Democrats, Dodd was losing badly to potential Republican challengers. In fact, most analysts considered the seat a lost cause.

Now that Dodd has retired, Democrats should be heavily favored to hold on to this seat. Popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has already said he will run for the seat, and a new poll out today shows him crushing Republican opposition. Lazy media outlets, of course, lumped the Dorgan and Dodd retirements together in an effort to push the "Dems heading for the exits" storyline, but I'd say Dodd's retirement makes yesterday pretty much a wash.

Amazingly, Colorado's Democratic Governor Bill Ritter also decided not to seek reelection. I don't remember ever hearing about three big retirements in one day. I guess that's why inside-the-beltway types are referring to yesterday as "Black Tuesday."

HEALTH CARE: Before Chris Dodd hides away in Connecticut, he will be helping Democrats reconcile the House and Senate versions of health reform. A group of House leaders met with President Obama today and outlined their priorities on what they want included in the final legislation. House leaders are strongly objecting to the Senate provision that taxes high-cost insurance plans. The House version of the bill is funded by an surtax on the wealthy. I sympathize with House leaders on this issue, because it's possible that middle class families will be impacted by the excise tax in the Senate bill. President Obama, despite his pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making below $250,000, is said to be strongly supportive of the Senate's financing mechanisms. Analysts have concluded that the so-called "Cadillac Tax" on high insurance plans will help bend the proverbial cost curve. House leaders are right to make an issue out of this, but being the pragmatist that I am, I think it will be very hard for the House to alter the delicate Senate compromise.

That's it for today, though I should mention that the White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget apparently has a love child. Good night!

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