Monday, June 7, 2010

The Weekly Strike-6/7-6/13

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. We apologize for the delay in getting this posted, but there seems to have been a problem with Blogger this morning. Now, on to the week in politics.

THE WHITE HOUSE: Congress is back in session this week, but the political world’s collective minds will be focused on two things: how the President continues dealing with the oil spill and other crises, and some very important primary elections tomorrow night. Let’s start with the former. The President continues to put himself out there on the oil spill. Today, he holds a high profile meeting with his cabinet and Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen to discuss the latest efforts to mitigate the spill. I’ve tried to ignore the media obsession about whether President Obama is sufficiently angry about the spill, but I’m glad to see that he’s become more directly involved in the last week or so in coordinating cleanup efforts. It looks like the latest effort to cap the well has been partially successful, though stopping the spill completely probably won’t take place until August.

The President goes to Michigan this afternoon to speak a high school graduation ceremony at a school that won a “Race to the Top” grant for innovative, accountable education. Also on his schedule this week is a stop at a senior center in Wheaton, MD to talk about health reform. I’m sure he’ll address the story about how a startup insurance company in Virginia is closing because of the “uncertainty” caused by health insurance reform. Or maybe it’s that their company sucks and they’re looking for someone to blame.

The President will also be closely involved this week in trying to speed up conference negotiations on the Wall Street reform bill. The House is expected to name negotiators this week, and the conference is slated to start next week. President Obama wants to finish the bill before the G20 summit in Toronto at the end of the month, so that he can help promote U.S. initiatives to the global community. According to the New York Times, the top issues in conference will be the derivatives language authored by Senator Lincoln (AR), the so-called Volcker rule, and the interchange fees that retailers pay issuers of credit and debit cards.

ELECTIONS: Tomorrow night is election night, and there are some very interesting races happening all over the country. The most important, perhaps, is an Arkansas, where incumbent Senator Lincoln is locked in a tight primary runoff with Lt. Governor Bill Halter. Halter, buoyed by support from liberal groups and organized labor, has taken a small lead in the polls, and I expect him to win due to his more enthusiastic base. Lincoln would be the third incumbent Senator this year to lose a primary race for reelection.

In California, Republican voters will choose the nominees for Senator (to run against Barbara Boxer) and Governor. Odds are that the nods will go to Carly Fiorina, eccentric former head of Hewlett-Packard, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of EBAY. I think Boxer is hoping for the gaffe-prone Fiorina to win. It would be sweet for Boxer to beat someone this fall who dismisses global warming as “concerns about the weather.”

Over in Nevada, voters will choose the nominee to face Majority Leader Harry Reid in this November’s Senate elections. Reid has looked dead in the water for a long time, but he has seen a recent surge in the polls, which has been matched by the demise of his most well-funded challenger, Sue Lowden. Lowden has never recovered from her bizarre statement that people should barter with their doctors, and is now expected to lose to tea party favorite, and political novice Sharron Angle. I think Reid would be even money to beat an untested Angle in the fall, despite his unpopularity.

THE HOUSE: The House will deal with suspension bills starting tomorrow, with substantive legislation to come up later in the week. The House will vote on a bill to reform the Federal Housing Administration. That bill would increase the maximum premium to be paid by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to support troubled mortgages. The House also might take up a bill that would authorize new loans to small businesses. I expect both bills to face unanimous Republican opposition. The House still must consider a Senate-passed war funding bill in the next couple of weeks, but it is not yet on the floor schedule.

THE SENATE: The Senate will vote today on a few District Court nominees. Starting tomorrow, they will consider a Republican-sponsored resolution that would strip the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases. The Supreme Court has mandated that the EPA must establish rules to regulate these gases, but they have been hesitant to do so while Congress considers a comprehensive energy bill. The bill is being brought to the floor under the “Congressional Review Act,” meaning it can not be filibustered. Republicans, though, should not have enough votes to pass this misguided measure. I wish they would focus instead on passing a comprehensive energy bill, instead of actively trying to make things worse.

That’s it for today, we’ll see you for a brief entry tonight!

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