Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is The Public Option Coming?

Steve Benen argues that the Party Of No may actually be helping Democrats unite to pass a real reform bill.

Most notable is the new-found optimism on the left about the prospects for a more ambitious reform bill. It's largely a foregone conclusion that the Senate Finance Committee will wrap up this upcoming week, approving a bill that generates no (or almost no) GOP support, but fails to meet liberals' expectations. But as the legislation moves to the floor, progressive lawmakers and their allies "expect to be able to shape the final product more than they had hoped just weeks ago."

What's changed? Having the caucus return to 60 members doesn't hurt, but the NYT's Jackie Calmes point to two other angles.

One is the failure of Senator Max Baucus of Montana, a more conservative Democrat who heads the Finance Committee, to get any Republicans to support his draft legislation, after months of trying. That doomed President Obama's goal of bipartisan backing for a health care overhaul, and now leaves party liberals arguing for a distinctly Democratic health plan.

"One of the strongest arguments against a public option has been that the Republicans will never go for it," [Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)] said. "Well, the Baucus bill doesn't have a public option, and they're still not for it in any way, with the possible exception of Olympia Snowe," a moderate Republican senator from Maine, who has not ruled out supporting the overhaul that Mr. Obama is seeking.

The second development that has encouraged liberals is recent polling, including some done for The New York Times and CBS News in the last week, that gives Democrats a clear edge over Republicans as the party favored to deal with health care issues. The same polls show significant support for a public option despite months of criticism from Republicans, who describe it as a government takeover of health insurance.

Congressional Democrats of all stripes have become more upbeat since returning to work after the August recess.... The sense that something will become law has only strengthened the resolve of liberals, inside the Congress and out, to fight with intensity as Democrats write the legislation this fall.

Like Greg Sargent, I found that Schumer quote of particular interest. Max Baucus bent over backwards to offer Republicans an insurance-industry-friendly bill, filled with concessions and ideas that Republicans had already embraced. Every single GOP senator balked anyway. I'd hoped it was obvious beforehand, but this apparently sent quite a signal to the Democratic caucus -- there's no point in watering down the bill to get bipartisan support if the minority is going to slap their hand away anyway.

Which is what I've been saying for months now: damn the GOP, pass a real health care reform package. Even the Sensible Village Centrists have finally had enough of the Republicans refusing to support any health care reform legislation, and polls are proving that the American voters are just as fed up with the Party of No and are counting on the Democrats to pass real reform.

It's looking more and more like the Republicans overplayed their hand, just as predicted.

Not So Wild About Harry

BooMan notes that while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is having problems in his home state, the WSJ's "fix" for Reid's problems is far worse.
You don't need me to tell you that the Wall Street Journal editorial page is dishonest. But I will point it out anyway. In his piece about Harry Reid's poor polling numbers, Jim Carlton provides this explanation:

According to an independent Mason-Dixon poll Aug. 23, Mr. Reid lagged behind Mr. Tarkanian by 49% to 38% and 45% to 40% against Ms. Lowden. Meanwhile, a Sept. 2 poll by liberal Web site Daily Kos found 52% of likely voters holding an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Reid.

Driving up Mr. Reid's unpopularity at home is the liberal agenda that he has been championing for Democrats nationwide -- including the health-care overhaul and $787 billion stimulus package -- which is alienating some residents in his mostly moderate state.

First of all, it's misleading to cite the Research 2000 poll as a 'liberal Web site Daily Kos' poll. Markos paid for the poll, but he didn't conduct it. Research 2000 is a respected polling outfit and their polling should be cited as reliable. Secondly, here's what the poll found:

Yet if anything is hurting [Reid], it's anemic support among Democrats in those head-to-head matchups -- barely breaking 70 percent against both challengers. It could be argued that Reid will bring those Democrats home by election day, and he likely will score dominant numbers among Democrats once the votes are cast. The problem isn't in the percentages, but in the intensity of that support. If Democrats remain unexcited about Reid and his stewardship of the Senate, they could very well stay home on election day. If that happens, we could have the second Democratic Senate leader in six years ousted by home state voters.

Now, I am not arguing that there is no price to be paid for being the Majority Leader when you represent a swing-state. We learned this when Tom Daschle was ousted from office in 2004. It's much safer for a Democratic senator from a red or purple state to hang back, keep a low profile, and occasionally separate themselves from the liberal wing of the party. But the polling out of Nevada shows that Reid is doing poorly in large part because thirty percent of registered Democrats are refusing to voice support for his reelection. He only has a 59% approval rating from Democrats.

Democrats are frustrated that it is so difficult to get anything done in the Senate and they place a lot of blame for that on Harry Reid. Most of that criticism is unwarranted in the sense that no alternative leader could do anything differently to change things for the better. But Reid will benefit everytime something on Obama's agenda actually get passed through the upper chamber.

If Harry Reid can shepherd through real health care reform and stop being such a mealy-mouthed Village suck-up, he'll win re-election easily.

If 2010 rolls around and nothing has passed, Reid will not be the only Democrat out of a job come January 2011.

Don't Hold Your Breath, As You Say

An excellent point from John Amato about our "liberal" Village media:
The Democratic leaders do have terrible polling numbers, Nancy Pelosi has a 34% approval rating in DKOS's new poll and Harry Reid has a 31% approval rating, but let's take a look at the Republican leadership, shall we?

Dkos poll_64bf2.jpg

Mitch McConnell is polling at an 18% approval rating. That's eighteen percent. John Boehner is polling at 12% approval rating. Just think about that one. And it doesn't take much to make him cry. Mitch and Boehner are viewed less favorably than Dick Cheney was during the dark days of the Bush administration. Why don't we hear about that on teevee?

True. Post-Dubya Republicans have amazingly bad numbers, in many cases approval and favorability ratings less than half of their Democratic Party counterparts.

America has a problem with the Dems. But they have an even larger problem with the Republicans, and the Village is sandbagging that for all it's worth. It's almost like the Village is trying to help the GOP out with a Democratic President.

I wonder why that is.

The Blood On Bachmanniac's Hands

The more I read about the murder of Census-taker Bill Sparkman here in Kentucky, the more I'm convinced of the irresponsibility of GOP demagogues like Michele Bachmann, who said stuff like this about Census workers:

The piquant irony of a government employee like Shelly here railing against a legitimate government function is one thing, but now a Census worker is dead. Yes, the investigation is still open. But the evidence still looks like a bloody murder. Whose hands are covered in that blood? I'm not the only one who seems to think the purveyors of this anti-government rhetoric might share some of the blame.

Officials said Sparkman's body was found with his Census Bureau identification card taped to his head. An AP report added that he was "naked, gagged and had his hands and feet bound with duct tape."

As was the case earlier in the week, it's still worth emphasizing that this is an open investigation and additional information is needed before reaching any conclusions. Some of the earlier details have proven false -- Sparkman was not, for example, found hanging from a tree, as some initial reports suggested -- and our understanding of what actually happened may yet change again.

That said, what we've learned thus far is gruesome, and continues to raise the prospect of what may have been a politically-motivated slaying. Faiz Shakir added, "Regardless of what the motive for the killing may have been, why would a murderer(s) take such pains to so blatantly convey anger, fear, and vitriol towards a Census employee? Perhaps because some on the right have created an impression that Census employees are terrifying."

The record on that front is clear -- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Glenn Beck, and Neal Boortz have invested considerable energy in trying to convince confused, right-wing activists that the Census and those who work for the Census Bureau are not to be trusted, and may even be dangerous.

Here's hoping that their reckless and irresponsible rhetoric did not have deadly consequences.

It's worth thinking about. Just how far does this have to go now? This anti-Obama, anti-government derangement has already claimed lives.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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