Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Daily Strike-5/27/10-Letting Down the Struggling American Family

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It was a very busy day in politics, so let's get right to it.

PRESS CONFERENCE: The President held his first open press conference in about 10 months today at the White House. President Obama wanted to show the media and the American people that he is on top of the response to the oil spill in the gulf. The President was adamant that he takes full responsibility for some of the government's missteps, including initially giving too much trust and authority to BP in the aftermath of the disaster. He even tried to insert some emotion into the press conference by saying that he is angered by the spill, and has even talked to his daughter about it. The President also addressed questions on Afghanistan (from Helen Thomas), on the supposed scandal about offering Joe Sestak a job if he would leave the Pennsylvania Senate race, and a variety of other topics.

I still think the President needs to be more forceful in turning this oil spill to force a change in our energy policy. The enemy here isn't necessarily just BP, but rather our addiction to foreign oil. Obama is not drawing the connection, and he should be. Having said that, those who are suggesting that this is "Obama's Katrina," as are many in the mainstream media, are absolutely full of themselves. The difference between this spill and Katrina is that during Katrina, people were starving and dying by the thousands in a major American city while the federal government offered virtually no help. The oil spill is an environmental disaster that shouldn't be minimized, but it is not a Katrina.

DYING JOBS BILL: Democrats in Congress are not doing the people's work, and I believe they will get punished for it. House leaders were unable to corral the votes for even a scaled-down version of a jobs bill that extends expiring tax breaks, as well as unemployment and COBRA insurance. The usual suspects are at play here. The Blue Dog Coalition won't agree to the bill because they're concerned about how much it will add to the deficit. I wrote about this extensively yesterday; I just find that reasoning so shameful.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) had said that he would wait for the House to act before the Senate goes on recess. It looks like Reid is abandoning that plan. Senate Democrats instead might try to pass a temporary extension of benefits for the next couple of weeks until Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess. I'll note again that President Obama has made absolutely no push for this measure, which is inexcusable given its policy importance and political importance. He could have drawn a great contrast between those who want to help people hurt by the recession, and those who want to adhere to a strict ideology, but he completely missed that opportunity.

THE SENATE: Despite deficit concerns, the Senate of course was still able to pass an $80 billion war funding measure. Cloture was invoked on the bill today by a vote of 69-29, with "no" votes coming from Republicans and anti-war Democrat Russ Feingold (WI). Prior to a vote on final passage, Democrats were able to beat back three separate Republican amendments to add more National Guard troops to the Arizona border. Democrats also united to defeat a Coburn (OK) amendment that would have required the money to be offset using unused stimulus funds. The vote on that amendment was 45-53, with Democrats Bayh (IN), Kohl (WI), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO) and Nelson (NE) voting yes.

The Senate soundly defeated an amendment that would call for a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan. The amendment, offered by Feingold, only got 18 votes. It seems like Congress by and large is patient with the President's strategy in Afghanistan.

THE HOUSE: The House has spent the day working on the Defense Authorization Bill, which sets policy guidelines for the Pentagon. The big amendment will be the DADT amendment, offered by Rep. Murphy (D-PA). Speaker Pelosi has expressed confidence that the amendment will pass. I expect the vote to occur some time late this evening. Because Republicans are so adamantly opposed to the amendment, I expect them to vote against the bill en masse.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 today to rescind the ban on gays in the military, so it looks like this actually has a chance of happening this year. Every Democrat on the committee voted yes, except for Senator Webb (VA), and every Republican voted no, except for Senator Collins (ME).

That's it for tonight. Call your Congressman and tell them to pass a jobs bill!

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