Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Last Call

BooMan basically says the Dems have blown it on Obamacare.
Far smarter would have been to let the Senate debate a bill without a public option, defeat the amendment for installing it, and then push for the a watered down House version in the Conference Committee. If the Senate still refused to vote for it then, it would be a whole lot easier to make the case for a public option in budget reconciliation. That was the original plan. If Obama seriously let himself be convinced of Harry Reid's whip count, he screwed this up.

If the problem is limited to Lieberman (and I don't think it is) then the solution is simple. He should lose his committee chairs in the next Congress. But that won't solve anything if the problem isn't limited to Lieberman.

The only upside I can see is that budget reconciliation just became more likely than a lousy bill in regular order. But, that hardly matters because a lousy bill in budget reconciliation just became infinitely more likely than it would have been had Reid not tried and failed to put the public option in the base bill at Stage Two.

And for the life of me, I don't see the way out of this. Harry Reid didn't have the votes, and he never did, apparently. Now the ConservaDems will dismantle the bill to the point where it will most likely fail, vulnerable Dems will lose their seats anyway in 2010 because voters like me are going to say "You chose to try to save your job rather than do the right thing, so screw you!" and vote them out of office, and Obama will be convinced to start playing the Clinton game.

Everything that went wrong with Clinton's presidency, from the Contract With America right up through impeachment, was a result of Clinton losing his health care battle first.

Will Obama follow the same dark path?

At this point, I don't honestly know.

Mr. Green In The Conservatory With The Candlestick

I didn't think there was any Senate Democrat stupid enough to come out and kill Obamacare. But then, Joe F'ckin Lieberman isn't a Dem, technically. He's just an asshole.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now."

Lieberman added that he’d vote against a public option plan “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line."

His comments confirmed that Reid is short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill out of the Senate, even after Reid included the opt-out provision. Several other moderate Democrats expressed skepticism at the proposal as well, but most of the wavering Democratic senators did not go as far as Lieberman Tuesday, saying they were waiting to see the details.

Lieberman did say he's "strongly inclined" to vote to proceed to the debate, but that he’ll ultimately vote to block a floor vote on the bill if it isn’t changed first.

Your move, Messrs. Reid and Obama. What now?

[UPDATE 3:10 PM] As BTD says, fine then...let's muscle the robust public option through in reconciliation.

[UPDATE 3:52 PM] Marc Ambinder thinks Joementum is bluffing. Steve Benen does not. I'm with Steve. Joementum has screwed America over, and there's frankly not a damn thing Obama will do about it.

[UPDATE 4:47 PM] As expected, Lieberman's move has freed up the Snowe Queen and the other ConservaDems to hold the Reid bill hostage collectively.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

It is the mark of the Villagers like WaPo's Dana Milbank that:

A) The only possible explanation for what Harry Reid did on the public option is purely cynical political calculation that the Democrats caved and gave into the demands of those mean and scary Dirty F'ckin MoveOn.org Hippies. The fact that Americans actually want a public option doesn't matter, that's called "hyper-partisan politics." Only DFH's want it.

B) When Republicans actually do cave and give into the demands of their base and do the opposite of what a majority of Americans want, it's called "listening to Real Americans."

Here endeth the lesson.

Because We Must Honor The Sacrifices That Hundreds Of Thousands Of Invisible Teabaggers May Have Made

House Republicans want to remember the glory...
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and 75 other House Republicans have introduced a resolution "expressing gratitude and appreciation to the individuals and families who participated in the Taxpayer March on Washington on September 12, 2009" -- and claiming that the Tea Party march drew many, many times more protesters than it actually did.

The resolution -- which has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform -- declares that "the fundamental American principles of limited government and personal liberty are under direct assault" and that "when the current trends of government expansion and freedom retrenchment are reversed, it will be due in large part to the efforts of the hundreds of thousands who marched on Washington, DC, on September 12, 2009."

The 9/12 march's headcount has been a matter of some debate, though the resolution's contention that there were "hundreds of thousands" who attended is many, many times higher than the estimates of mainstream media organizations.

Hundreds of thousands of American patriots, who refuse to sit idly by as the Federal Government advances skyrocketing deficits, taxpayer-funded bailouts, pork-barrel projects, burdensome taxes, unaccountable policy czars, command-and-control energy policy, and a government takeover of health care, came to Washington, DC, to show their disapproval.

The resolution also says crowd estimates "range as high as 1,700,000 marchers" -- an inflated number that Glenn Beck has advanced but that is 200,000 higher than the 1.5-million figure that march organizer FreedomWorks first claimed -- and then later had to cut by half.

Are Republicans really, really incapable of telling the truth? Ever? About anything?

I mean, it's not like this is one of those subjective "Brooks Robinson was the greatest third baseman of the modern era" arguments, this is a complete distortion of actual numerical fact and the House Republicans are wanting to pass a House resolution enshrining this lie into the record of the the country's business as official.

Then again...they're House Republicans. They lie. It's what they do.

Raising The Specter Of Equality

Sen. Arlen Specter takes to HuffPo today to call for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
The repeal of DOMA is one step among several designed to fully integrate and protect the rights of gays and lesbians in American society. Recently enacted hate crimes legislation is another. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S 909), which I sponsored with the late Senator Kennedy, makes it a federal crime to target victims on the basis of disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. President Obama has said he will sign the measure.

Nothing in the Act impedes the lawful expression of one's political or religious beliefs. All Americans are entitled to hold and express their own beliefs, no matter how provocative. At the same time, no person has the right to engage in violent acts of hate or incite to violence. Protecting Americans against such hate crimes does not inhibit free speech but rather serves us all by halting and penalizing those who carry out those acts of cruelty.

Measures to combat discrimination against gays and transgendered people in the workplace are another needed measure. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, of which I am an original cosponsor, was introduced on August 5, 2009 and is currently before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Finally, the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is outdated, and should be rescinded entirely. A person's sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to serve their country in the armed services. Countless studies and the experiences of gays who have served in the military have borne out these findings.

If only the rest of the Senate believed this, it would have been repealed by now. Too many of them are waiting for somebody else to make the call. the fact that in the Senate it takes Arlen Specter to do it means the rest of the Dems have a long way to go.

Newt Gingrich: Possibly Not As Dumb As Previously Thought

Newtie there seems to understand what the Great GOP Purgepocalpyse means for the Republican Party, at least.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is it that they have identified as why they think the independent candidate...

GINGRICH: Well, there's no question, on social policy, she's a liberal Republican.

VAN SUSTEREN: On such as abortion?

GINGRICH: On such as abortion, gay marriage, which means that she's about where Rudy Giuliani was when he became mayor. And yet Rudy Giuliani was a great mayor. And so this idea that we're suddenly going to establish litmus tests, and all across the country, we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent -- that guarantees Obama's reelection. That guarantees Pelosi is Speaker for life. I mean, I think that is a very destructive model for the Republican Party.
Of course he's right.

And of course, the Wingers believe that this is the only way they can regain power, by rolling back America socially to 1950 and economically to 1920. It's what they want, a Christian dominionist country run by and for Christian dominionists, with women, minorities, gays, non-Christians and everyone else afforded second-class status and then only if they behave themselves.

It's too bad that Newt's plan is to try to convince women, minorities, gays and non-Christians that this is good for them and that they should accept serfdom. but at least he realizes the current Winger approach isn't working either.

Village Green

I've credited Digby for the term "Village" before (and use it all the time, hell I have an entire category of posts dedicated to the damn thing) but here she explains the story behind the sobriquet which is actually something I wasn't 100% aware of.
I have been getting a huge number of hits today from Greg Sargent's old blog post about the genesis of the term "the Village" which I eventually traced to this post today by John Aravosis, who hadn't heard the term and didn't know where it came from.

I have explained this before but I think it's worth repeating once in a while since the term is actually fairly common in the blogosphere. Greg is right that it stems from the notorious Sally Quinn article about the Clintons. But it's more than that. It's shorthand for the permanent DC ruling class who have managed to convince themselves that they are simple, puritanical, bourgeois burghers and farmers, even though they are actually celebrity millionaires influencing the most powerful government on earth.

It's about their phoniness, their pretense of speaking for "average Americans" when it's clear they haven't the vaguest clue even about the average Americans who work in their local Starbucks or their drive their cabs. (Think Tim Russert, good old boy from Buffalo, lately of Nantucket.)It's about their intolerable sanctimony and hypocritical provincialism, pretending to be shocked about what they all do, creating social rules for others which they ignore themselves.
That Sally Quinn article is here, by the way, and it's a doozy.
"This is a community in all kinds of ways," says ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts, whose parents both served in Congress. She is concerned that people outside Washington have a distorted view of those who live here. "The notion that we are some rarefied beings who breathe toxic air is ridiculous. . . . When something happens everybody gathers around. . . . It's a community of good people involved in a worthwhile pursuit. We think being a worthwhile public servant or journalist matters."

"This is our town," says Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the first Democrat to forcefully condemn the president's behavior. "We spend our lives involved in talking about, dealing with, working in government. It has reminded everybody what matters to them. You are embarrassed about what Bill Clinton's behavior says about the White House, the presidency, the government in general."

And many are offended that the principles that brought them to Washington in the first place are now seen to be unfashionable or illegitimate.

Muffie Cabot, who as Muffie Brandon served as social secretary to President and Nancy Reagan, regards the scene with despair. "This is a demoralized little village," she says. "People have come from all over the country to serve a higher calling and look what happened. They're so disillusioned. The emperor has no clothes. Watergate was pretty scary, but it wasn't quite as sordid as this."

Cokie Roberts and Joe F'ckin Lieberman...man this is like the All-Madden Team of Village Suck. Reading through that monstrosity you see the same players now that were there 15 years ago: Lieberman, Cokie, Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, George Stephanopolis, Rahmbo, David Gergen, and of course Dean Wormser himself, David Broder. They treated the Clintons like the Deltas from Animal House. It explains everything and the little insular New England community that the Village pretends to be doesn't like outsiders.

And it sure as hell doesn't like America...or the Obamas. If the Clintons were the Deltas from Animal House, then the Village seems to think the Obamas are the Tri-Lambs from Revenge of the Nerds.

Only in the end, the nerds won...

Chuck's Game

Chuck Schumer is taking more than a bit of credit for Harry Reid's change of heart on the public option, according to TPMDC's Brian Beutler.
This evening I spoke with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was in that infamous Thursday night meeting with President Obama and other Senate leaders--and who has been one of the most persistent advocates of a public option on Capitol Hill. As Schumer explains it, the disagreement between the White House and Senate wasn't substantive so much as it was tactical: The White House had its doubts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could really get 60 votes for a public option with an opt out for states.

"The President listened very carefully," Schumer said in an interview moments ago. "He wanted to make sure that the strategy upon which we were embarking had the ability to carry through."

Schumer has been at the center of the fight over the public option from the earliest days of the health care debate--always there to pull it back from the brink when it at times seemed on the verge of collapse. This situation was no different. After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe's preferred compromise--a triggered public option--might be an easier path to 60 votes. In the end, though, Schumer and the rest of leadership seem to have prevailed upon President Obama that they've picked the right strategy.

"I think substantively the White House probably preferred a stronger public option than a trigger," Schumer said. "We talked about this for a while in leadership and the White House wanted to hear our thoughts--and when they heard them they thought that this was the right strategy to get our caucus together."

I still think the math was bad for not having it, i.e. gaining Snowe Queen and losing several Dems is even a deal Rahmbo won't go for. But Schumer is right on the question of holding fast on the public option: you do have to give credit where credit is due and it's nice to see some spine instead of folding.

Rahmbo seemed to think the Snowe Queen route was the way to go. Senate Dems said no way...but maybe that was the point. 11-dimensional chess or not, the course now has been charted. Harry Reid is acting like a majority leader, the Snowe Queen is out on her ass, and the Dems are ready to forge ahead.

We'll see where it takes us.

(h/t Paul W. in the comments. I do read those, you know.)

Snowe Job, Prologue

The Snowe Queen has been dethroned, and she is not amused. But as Steve Benen points out, nobody on the Democratic side of the aisle really gives a damn.

In other words, I suspect the key question is no longer, "How do we keep Olympia Snowe happy?" Rather, it's, "How do we convince Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Mary Landrieu to let the Senate vote on health care reform?"

As for Snowe's argument that the trigger "could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus," I think there's ample evidence to the contrary. For one thing, several leading Democrats -- Pelosi, Rockefeller, et al -- really hate the idea. For another, leading Republicans hate the idea, too. Snowe may have missed it, but just a few weeks ago, Susan Collins, Snowe's moderate Maine colleague, was asked whether she could support a trigger as a compromise. "No," Collins said. "The problem with triggers is that is just delays the public option," and she rejects public-private competition.

Around the same time, the office Republican weekly address told the public, "These so-called healthcare reform bills have different names: a public option, a co-op, a trigger. Make no mistake, these are all gateways to government-run healthcare."

The trigger measure was never the course to "broader bipartisan consensus" -- it was way to possibly get one GOP vote.

And doing the math, gaining one GOP vote while losing several is not the way to get anything passed. Even Harry Reid figured that one out. As I said all along, it's far past time to jettison the Party of No from the proceedings and move on without them. They never were going to vote for any health care reform bill that the Dems and Obama would have been able to take credit for even if the bill included everything the Republicans said they wanted.

They know it's political suicide with the Wingers from a strictly cynical power standpoint, and that's solely how Republicans operate. They abandoned any pretense of going along with it, the Wingers will crucify any Republican in either chamber who does vote for it (ask Dede Scozzafava what the Winger base does to moderates who don't tow the party line on hating minorities, gays, Muslims and environmental science!) and it was never going to happen.

Finally, finally, the Democrats understand that this Republican Party is against anything and everything the Democrats try to do.

So, see ya Snowe Queen.

Change Of Seasons

The Senate is starting to take a serious look at climate change this week with three days of hearings scheduled by the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Obama and Democrats in Congress are pursuing legislation that would create a "cap and trade" system requiring utilities and industries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming over the next 40 years. Companies would have to obtain dwindling numbers of pollution permits from the government and hundreds of dollars worth of permits could be traded on a new financial market exchange.

Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer hopes to finish reviewing the legislation and vote on it in coming weeks.

If so, that could be the last major action by the Senate on climate change legislation this year, before countries from around the world meet in Copenhagen in December to try to chart new, tougher goals for reducing carbon emissions to head off worsening droughts, floods and melting polar ice.

U.S. leadership is considered essential to the global talks, since the United States is the leading carbon polluter among developing countries.

At the United Nations on Monday, a senior official lowered expectations of a deal in Copenhagen. Janos Pasztor, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's climate advisor, said the UN head was planning for "post-Copenhagen" talks.

Most Senate Republicans oppose the cap and trade bill, saying it would force U.S. companies to move more manufacturing abroad while also raising consumers' energy prices.

High-ranking Senator Lamar Alexander, one of the few Republicans to declare that "climate change is real," said that during this week's hearings, he and his fellow Republicans on the committee will offer an alternative to cap and trade.

"Before we embark upon a scheme that would send jobs overseas and charge Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year in new taxes ... we might look for another solution," Alexander told reporters.

No doubt that alternative is tax cuts on big oil and coal companies, right? And for the record, we've already moved most of our manufacturing abroad, you jagoffs.

Still, it's a definite start. Hopefully a bill can be put together in Congress in the next few months.

[UPDATE 9:55 AM] A new CNN poll shows overwhelming support for cap-and-trade legislation, 60%-37%.

The survey indicates a generational divide, with 68 percent of Americans under age 50 supporting "cap and trade" but those 50 and older split on the issue.

"This is one more example of the growing generation gap that is shaping politics and policy in this country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Younger Americans voted for Obama and tend to welcome change. Older Americans were less enamored of change in the 2008 election and senior citizens were the only age group that voted for John McCain."

The poll also suggests a partisan divide, with three in four Democrats backing the proposal and nearly six in 10 independents on board as well, but only four in 10 Republicans supporting "cap and trade."

Four in 10, gosh. I wonder when they're going to be kicked out of the Republican Party for that heresy...


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