Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Daily Strike-3/16/10-Can't Even Watch

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I got my Census form in the mail today, so I'm in an extra democratic mood.

HEALTH CARE: Watching the health care debate is getting rather painful. We are STILL waiting for the Democratic leadership and the Congressional Budget Office to release the text and cost estimate of the reconciliation package of fixes to the Senate-passed bill. Apparently, earlier estimates of the bill did not meet deficit reduction targets. Democrats must reduce the deficit by $1 billion to fulfill last year's reconciliation instructions. Most of the changes to the bill consist of new spending and delayed revenue collection. That's why the Democrats included the student loan overhaul, which is expected to save over $60 billion over ten years. Democrats do not want to release a bill until they get a favorable cost estimate. Democrats will need to release the bill tomorrow if they want to vote on the bill by Saturday while still fulfilling their promise to give the public 72 hours to read the bill online (I'm sure the average Joe out there will really be taken in by legislative mumbo jumbo!).

On top of my frustrations about the delay in getting the bill released, the Republican party, helped by their allies in the media, peddled misleading information all day about a procedure Democrats are planning to use that would "deem" the Senate bill enacted upon passage of the reconciliation measure. Republicans decried the maneuver, even though they did it 300 times when they were in charge. The brain dead media absorbed these Republican talking points and peddled articles with headlines like, "Dems might try to pass Senate bill without vote." Both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post talked about this normal procedure like it was an affront to democracy. The Hill, a Congressional newspaper that has been conducting vote counts all week, included an article with the headline " Dems set to proceed without actually voting on bill." I'm just so tired of these Republican-promoted lies that become mainstream in a matter of hours. The House will be voting twice on health care. They will vote for a rule that says that the Senate bill is passed if the reconciliation bill is agreed to. Then, they will vote on the reconciliation bill. It's not that complicated.

Even more amazingly, House Republicans had the chutzpah to call for "an up or down vote." Maybe they should tell that to their filibuster-happy comrades in the Senate.

I want this debate to end for a number of reasons, mostly because I want people to have health care. But I also can't wait until the lies and misinformation lose out to the forces of change.

Along with the expected release of the reconciliation bill tomorrow, we'll be closely watching a press conference from Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich has been ardent in opposition to the bill because it is not liberal enough. But he was invited on an Air Force One flight with the President the other day, and has called a press conference to announce his vote. I don't think he would be calling this conference if he was still a no. This could be a crucial vote for Democrats inching toward the magic 216.

President Obama is not resting in his active campaign for reform. Friday, the President will hold a health care rally in Fairfax, VA. It is very important for Obama to get the Democratic base enthused about this bill. Undecided Democrats in Congress need to be reminded that there are consequences for opposing the bill.

THE HOUSE: The House only did work on suspension bills today. Obviously, the real action is off the floor. It will be more of the same tomorrow.

THE SENATE: The Senate today resumed consideration of a bill to authorize FAA programs. They are currently in the middle of a series of amendment votes. So far, the Senate rejected a DeMint (R-SC) proposal to put a one year moratorium on earmarks by a vote of 68-29. The Senate did approve by a vote of 87-11 a Feingold (D-WI) amendment to rescind unused funds that were previously appropriated to the FAA. No word yet on the vote breakdown, but you can get all the information you need right here.

The Senate will vote tomorrow on final passage of the jobs bill, and they will continue to work on the FAA measure.

That's it for now, stay tuned as this crucial week continues.

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