Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Daily Strike-2/3/10-Friendly Congressional Showdown

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It looks like we are headed for another snow-pocolypse this weekend. Is this God's punishment for Congress' inaction on health reform? Maybe.

SENATE DEM/OBAMA CONFRONTATION: The President, fresh off his stellar performance during a Friday question/answer session with the House GOP, held a similar public meeting today with members of the Senate Democratic caucus. The President was slightly more polite to members of his own party, but he came with some harsh words of advice. The President told Democratic Senators that the message from the Massachusetts election was NOT to sit back and do nothing. He said that if Democrats don't follow through on their promises and pass health reform, people will soon not be able to differentiate between the two parties. Finally, he implored Democratic Senators to get out of the world of inside-the-beltway cable chatter and blogs and to get back in touch with their constituents.

It's becoming increasingly clear that Democrats won't heed this good advice. In fact, you could tell by the questions asked at the meeting. First of all, Obama took questions primarily from vulnerable members who wanted some free air time. Embattled Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln said that Obama has to disassociate from the "extreme left" and return to the center. Of course! It's such a radical, extreme idea to expand the private health care system! It's absolutely COMMUNIST to want to create jobs and regulate Wall Street. I can understand when political pundits complain about Obama being too "leftist," but Democratic Senators should know that his agenda is centrist.

Another vulnerable Senator, Evan Bayh of Indiana, said that the President must make "hard choices" to decrease the deficit. This is the same Senator Bayh who voted to drastically cut taxes on the heirs of millionaire estates. B(a)y(h) the way, the Senator's predecessor, Republican Dan Coats, has decided to take another shot at the seat this November. This could be a very close race.

Today's display, combined with the Democrats inability to come up with a coherent plan to finish health reform, lead me to believe that Democratic Senators are more interested in running for the hills than doing anything productive. Matthew Yglesias suggested that Senate Democrats might want to be in the minority so they won't have to have the responsibility of governing. I think, unfortunately, he may be right.

SCOTT BROWN: Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown (MA ) made a big fuss before he was elected about being sworn-in right away. Then, he decided he needed "time" for a transition. Basically he decided that he didn't want to be sworn in before February 11th, because the Senate was taking tough votes on raising the debt ceiling. Every Republican knew the bill had to pass, but none of them wanted to vote for it. If Brown had been sworn in, at least one Republican would have to support the bill. Well now Brown has changed his mind and wants to be sworn in tomorrow so that he can vote on a possible jobs bill next week. So starting tomorrow evening, the Democrats will officially lose their 60 seat supermajority.

Speaking of a jobs bill, it looks like the Senate will be taking up various jobs measures piece by piece. They'll probably start with the more popular ideas, like tax breaks for small businesses who hire new workers. I wish they would do something more comprehensive, but some action is better than no action.

Before Brown is sworn in, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Patricia Smith to be a Solicitor at the Department of Labor. The Senate will then vote to cut off debate on Martha Johnson to be Administrator for the GSA. Republicans are adamantly opposed to her nomination for some reason (I have no idea). So Democrats will use their last hours with a supermajority to push through her nomination.

HOUSE: The House today today began consideration of a bill that enacts new cyber-security provisions. The bill appears to have bipartisan support. The House has already voted on a few amendments, and will vote on final passage tomorrow. They will also vote on whether to adopt the Senate-passed measure to raise the debt ceiling and institute statutory pay-as-you-go budgeting rules. We'll have full coverage in tomorrow night's entry.

That's it for now. We'll see you tomorrow night!

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