Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Daily Strike-6/15/10-The Oval Office Address

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. We're coming to you just before the President makes a nationally televised speech to the nation on the oil spill along the Gulf Coast. According to early reports, the President will talk about the administration's response to the spill, ongoing federal efforts to rebuild suffering industries what he plans to ask from BP executives at a meeting tomorrow. He's also likely to use the opportunity to call for comprehensive energy legislation before this year's midterm elections. The naysayers are rightly pointing out how much of an heavy lift this will be, but he might as well use this opportunity to go for bold change. To hear my thoughts on the speech in real time, follow my Twitter account. Here's the rest of the day in politics:

THE SENATE: The Senate continued work on the extenders bill (the bill that extends expiring tax breaks and unemployment insurance). Yesterday, Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the bill, though he withdrew the motion today, most likely realizing that he doesn't have 60 votes to give basic safety net protection to millions of Americans during a recession. He will have to give in to the unreasonable demands of moderate Democrats and Republicans, and not surprisingly, he'll be dealing with the usual suspects, like Senators Nelson (D-NE), Snowe (R-ME) and Collins (R-ME). Until Reid can reach some sort of deal, the debate will continue indefinitely. While it continues, Senators will vote on amendments like they did today.

The first couple of amendments dealt with the oil spill issue. Senator Sanders (I-VT) wisely proposed removing millions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies. You'd think with all the deficit hawks in Congress, this would be a no-brainer. But you're forgetting that these self-proclaimed deficit hawks only care about spending when it goes to the poor or middle class! The amendment failed by a vote of 35-61. Every Republican voted against the amendment, as did the following corporate Democrats who have a lot of explaining to do: Akaka (HI), Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Begich (AK), Bennet (CO), Bingaman (NM), Conrad (ND), Dodd (CT), Dorgan (ND), Hagan (NC), Inouye (HI), Kerry (MA), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Tester (MT), Udall (CO), Udall (NM), Warner (VA) and Webb (VA).

Next was an amendment from Senator Vitter (R-LA) that would have sought to ensure that any revenues from the oil trust fund would be used to pay off the deficit and not go into any new spending. The amendment failed by a vote of 48-49, with Vitter getting the support of 9 Democrats.

The final amendment, from Senator Franken (D-MN) establishes a Office of the Homeowner Advocate for the purposes of informing people of their options under the Home Affordable Modification Program. The amendment passed 63-33, with the support of every Democrat besides Conrad (ND) and Nelson (NE). Republicans Brown (MA), Burr (NC), Collins (ME), Graham (SC), Grassley (IA), Murkowski (AK), Snowe (ME) and Vitter (LA).

The Senate also approved three District Court nominees today, which leaves about 30 seats vacant! Don't you just love the Senate?

THE HOUSE: The House today passed an important bill to spur small business lending by a vote of 247-170. 5 Republicans crossed over to support the bill, while 8 Democrats voted no, out of concern that the bill would add to the deficit. This is a pretty unambitious proposal to accelerate lending to business so that they can invest in capital. I'm surprised (sort of) that it faced such opposition.

More interesting, though, was the Republican motion to recommit that preceded the vote on final passage. Republicans used the motion to bring up a vote on whether to overturn the individual mandate in the new health care law. Republicans have been harping about the provision being unconstitutional and evil. Of course, by eliminating the individual mandate, the entire law would be undermined. Insurance prices would go up, because while companies would be required to cover people with preexisting conditions, healthy people would not be getting into the insurance pool. Republicans, though, were mostly interested in scoring a political point. And they did a pretty good job, on first glance. 21 Democrats crossed over to support repeal, all of whom voted against health care in the first place. Rep. Cao (R-LA) was the lone Republican voting no. Let's just hope that the 21 Democrats who voted yes today are the first to be defeated in this November's election. Here's the list in case you're interested: Altmire (PA), Boren (OK), Boucher (VA), Bright (AL), Chandler (KY), Childers (MS), Critz (PA), Davis (TN), Edwards (TX), Holden (PA), Marshall (GA), McIntyre (NC), Minnick (ID), Nye (VA), Peterson (MN), Ross (AR), Shuler (NC), Skelton (MO), Tanner (TN), Taylor (MS) and Teague (NM).

That's it for tonight. Head over to my Twitter account for my reaction to the speech.

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