Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Daily Strike-6/9/10-Election Redux

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Primary election season is about half-way done, and it's been an interesting one. Let's get to it.

ELECTION: Last night, primary elections were held across the country, and there were more than a few notable races. The biggest disappointment of the night came in Arkansas, where incumbent Centrist Democrat Blanche Lincoln held off a challenge from the labor-backed Lt. Governor Bill Halter. I was rooting for Halter mostly because I think we should hold Democrats accountable who do the bidding of corporations. Lincoln has been a major thorn in the side of Democrats on almost every issue since President Obama took office (with the exception of her recent work on financial regulation). Truth be told, the election last night doesn't matter very much, because both candidates would lose big to Republican nominee Rep. John Boozman. I would be shocked of Boozman is not the next Senator from Arkansas.

In Nevada, Democrats have seemingly caught a pretty nice break. Republicans have nominated tea-party candidate Sharron Angle, who has all kinds of interesting views (she's against putting fluoride in our water supply) to run against Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV). Reid is very unpopular, and would lose to a decent Republican this year, but he may be saved by Angle's nuttiness. I have upgraded Reid's chances in our Senate Rankings to "Toss Up."

In California, two female former executives won big. Carly Fiorina, who left Hewlett Packard in disgrace and recently said that concerns about global warming are akin to "concerns about the weather" will face Senator Barbara Boxer. I think Boxer is a favorite against Fiorina, even though she's not rating very highly in the polls these days. Meg Whitman, formerly of EBAY, will run against Democratic Attorney General, and former Governor, Jerry Brown in the race for the statehouse. I believe Brown to be a slight favorite due to his name recognition, but Whitman is certainly capable of pouring millions of her own money into the race.

Out in South Carolina, there will be a runoff in the Republican race for Governor between Congressman Gresham Barrett (who voted for Tarp! Gasp!) and tea-party favorite Nikki Haley, who seems to have withstood a potential sex scandal. Haley was close to winning the race outright last night, and I would suspect that she'll route Barrett in the runoff.

In the night's only general election race, Republican Tom Graves won a House seat in Georgia, replacing Nathan Deal, who quit Congress to run for Governor. Graves was up against another Republican, as no Democrats were able to qualify for the runoff. Graves will take his seat this week, which will give Republicans 178 House seats (vs. 255 for the Democrats, with 2 vacancies).

I changed some election rankings on the right side of the screen after last night's results. Let me know what you think!

THE SENATE: The Senate, shockingly, is making progress on the long forestalled jobs bill that we've covered extensively on this blog. The bill would extend expiring tax breaks and unemployment benefits. The Senate version includes a reduction in a proposed tax on financial transactions, supplemented by a tax increase on oil companies. Today, the Senate voted on a several amendments to the bill.

The first amendment, offered by Senator Cardin (D-MD) would have allowed the children of those who work for the federal government to get access to their parents' health care until they are 26 (similar to the provision in the health care law). Apparently, Senators are wealthy enough that this benefit doesn't matter to them as much as it would say, to a janitor in some federal building. The amendment got 57 votes, three short of what it would have needed to overcome budget restrictions. All Republicans, as well as Senator Feingold (WI), voted no.

Senators killed two Republican amendments, one from Senator Roberts (KS) that would have exempted pediatric medical devices from the new tax on medical equipment, and another from Senator Cornyn that would have required more transparency into the holders of U.S. debt.

The most crucial amendment was offered by Senators Sessions (R-AL) and McCaskill (D-MO). It would freeze non-defense discretionary spending for three years, which goes beyond the proposed freeze offered by President Obama. The amendment failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance. The final tally was 57-41, with all Republicans and Democrats Bayh (IN), Begich (AK), Bennet (CO), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Casey (PA), Klobuchar (MN), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO), Nelson (NE), Nelson (FL), Shaheen (NH), Udall (CO), Warner (VA) and Webb (VA) voted yes.

The Senate will take an unfortunate break from this bill tomorrow while they consider an ill-advised resolution stripping the EPA from the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. We'll have more on that tomorrow. I hope President Obama takes a more active role in seeing this jobs bill through to its conclusion as soon as possible.

THE HOUSE: The House took a couple of procedural votes today relating to the upcoming House-Senate conference on the Wall Street reform legislation. Republicans offered a non-binding motion to instruct conferees that recommends the removal of a few Senate provisions, and asks that the bill be made available online 72 hours prior to a vote. The motion was rejected 198-217.

The House moves tomorrow to a bill reforming the Federal Housing Administration.

That's it for tonight. See you tomorrow!

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