Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Daily Strike-2/23/10-Crashing the Summit

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Health care is heating up again as the key political issue. Lucky, us.

HEALTH CARE: We are two days away from the White House health care summit. This event will feature members of Congress from both parties, though it is mostly a chance for President Obama to flex his muscles toward fellow Democrats. Republicans have said that they will go to the summit with the intention of "crashing the President's taxpayer-funded PR blitz." Obviously, they couldn't possibly come to the forum with any ideas of their own besides "scrap the bill." It's just so glaringly obvious that they are nihilists. After months of making a huge deal about how long the bill is, Republican House Leader John Boehner now says that the President's proposal is "shorter than a comic book." I'm not sure whether the President thinks it's good politics to have the Republicans at this meeting, but it's like inviting four-year old children to a corporate board meeting.

I'm glad the President released a serious proposal on Monday that will help bring this process to a successful conclusion. But his performance on this issue remains deeply disappointing.

Over the past several weeks, Democrats have realized that as long as they are passing fixes to the Senate health bill through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process, they might as well try to get the public option. Senate Democrats, led by Freshman Michael Bennet (CO), have circulated a letter calling on Senator Reid to include the public option in the bill. Today, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the President would not push for the public option because he didn't believe they had the votes. This makes absolutely no sense. If they don't have the votes, why don't they at least TRY to get the votes for the most popular element of an unpopular bill? Why don't they use this opportunity to motivate their dispirited base? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office says that they will not submit a price estimate until next week. Once the estimate is in, we'll have a better idea whether the President's plan will fly with House and Senate Democrats. Even if they use the reconciliation process, Democrats will be facing some nail biting votes.

JOBS BILL: It looks like the Senate will be able to pass the $15 billion jobs bill tomorrow. The Senate will vote on whether to do away with pay-as-you-go budgeting rules (subject to 60 votes), and then they will vote on final passage. If Monday night's test vote is any indication, Majority Leader Reid (NV) will have successfully gotten a bill passed for once.

House Majority Leader Hoyer hasn't yet decided whether the House will simply vote to approve the Senate jobs bill. In my opinion, they should. This bill won't do much, but it's time that Democrats have some legislative accomplishments to go home and brag about.

THE HOUSE: The House dealt with some suspension bills during the day today. Right now, they are considering a bill to
provide a process for the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian governing entity. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (HI), who will be resigning his seat in the House shortly to run for Governor. I expect the bill to pass late tonight or tomorrow. The House is considering a number of amendments this evening.

That's it for tonight. See you tomorrow!

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