Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last Call

New rule:  As health care actually gets closer to passage and becoming political reality, and as the Republicans get more and more frightened by it, El Rushbo gets closer and closer to actually calling Obama a n*gger on the air.

We're up to "primitive, indigenous guy" at this point.  Should this pass, Rush will lose it and blow his stack, using that word.


Quote Of The Week

John Cole:
Now what people need to do is figure out why, if they are so sure the public option will pass, only 20 some Senators have signed on to it, and even some of them privately want it to go away. Here is a hint- a lot of Senators ARE LYING TO YOU.
Before I privately believed this, but was willing to hope.  After today?  Cole's right.  In the end, the Dems are just worse at being manipulative than the Republicans are, but they still lie to you.

They always will.

Glad We Cleared That Up

And as bad as the White house keeps stumbling around hoping the public option will go away, the GOP won't cooperate because they just keep refusing to not look like a bunch of petty assholes.
This morning on the White House blog, Pfeiffer challenged GOP leaders to say whether they’d be bringing a bill to the summit. “The Senate Republicans have yet to post any kind of plan,” Pfeiffer wrote, adding that “we continue to await word from them.”

Asked for comment, a senior Senate GOP aide emailed:
We fundamentally disagree with a comprehensive proposal to reform health care. We think a step by step approach on areas where we agree is the best path forward. We will not be posting a comprehensive alternative to commence a staring contest.
Meanwhile, on the House GOP side, Eric Cantor confirmed this morning on ABC News that their bill remains the one House Republicans posted online last summer.

So, now that the Senate leadership says it sees no need bring anything, that proposal is the GOP baseline heading into the big summit.
Well then.  Seems to me like they've already called the score 15 minutes before the game starts, so there's no need to play.

The Wheels On The White House Bus

Go round and round, right over the public option.  At the wheel is Press Sec himself, Robert Gibbs:
Gibbs said flatly that the White House doesn’t believe there’s enough support in Congress to get it passed.

Asked directly whether the President’s failure to include the public option in his proposal means he views the public option as dead, Gibbs didn’t exactly dispute this interpretation.

“There are some that are supportive of this,” Gibbs said. But he added: “There isn’t enough political support in the majority to get this through.”

“The President took the Senate bill as the base and looks forward to discussing consensus ideas on Thursday,” Gibbs added, presumably meaning that the public option is not a consensus idea.

It’s unclear why Gibbs is deciding in advance that there isn’t enough support to pass this idea. Momentum has been gathering for days. It’s also very likely that it would continue to gain steam if Obama racks up a victory at the summit and Dems press forward with plans to pass reform themselves via reconciliation.

But Gibbs’s statement seems likely, willfully or not, to slow that momentum in advance.

As I noted below, the failure to put the public option in Obama’s proposal doesn’t preclude a reconciliation vote on it later. But Gibbs is flatly declaring it a non-starter right now, before the idea has a chance to gain steam after a successful summit — a declaration that risks being taken by some in Congress as a virtual death sentence.
It's the excuse Dems in the Senate need to bail...and bail they will now.  Anyone else still think Rahmbo's losing his grip on his job?

Not me.  White House just killed the public option for good.  That'll get out the vote in November for sure.

For the Republicans.

Breaking The Mold

Yellow Dog reminds us that Scott Brown and his "bipartisan" buddies voted for advancing the jobs bill for the sole reason of depriving Dems of the obstructionist argument to kill health care reform.
After a year of solid-block, no-defections obstruction by republicans in the Senate, and just when dem criticisms of the repugs as the party of no are starting to get traction in the media and across the country, now, all of a sudden, on a teeny-tiny worthless "jobs bill," five repug senators break ranks and vote with the dems?

Because they think it's the right thing to do?

If you believe that, I have an oil well in my back yard you can invest in.

Trust me: Mitch McConnell is closeted this morning with George, Olympia, Susan, Kit and Scott, pouring the bourbon and toasting their successful destruction of the dems best weapon against the repugs.

After Thursday's health care reform "summit," when the dems try to paint repugs as reflexive obstructionists who will never support any administration initiative, and that therefore Congress should move forward on Democratic-votes-only legislation, the Villagers and their Blue Dog allies will scream "not true!  Look at the jobs bill!  Five republican votes!  See, repugs will vote for dem bills if they're repug enough!  Dems just have to be more bipartisan!"

And once again health care reform will die in screaming agony on the altar of bipartisanship. 
And I really can't argue with YD.  He's right.  The Village does love them some bipartisanship and they love them some Scott Brown even more.  If he gets held up as the new face of GOP cooperation against that mean old arrogant uppity Obama who dares to want things his way with a majority in the House and Senate, well the Village is going to crucify the Dems this November.

Absolutely praising Scott Brown for this is the wrong move to make.  Now, praising him for allowing an up-or-down vote on the jobs bill, yes.

And follow that up by saying you expect him to allow a simple up or down vote on health care.

See what I'm getting at, here?

Hey Ezra...Can't Have It Both Ways, Man

I have to throw the flag on Ezra Klein.  Last week you said in Newsweek:
The spin on Thursday's White House health-care summit is that it marks a return to politics as it should be practiced: the president leading the legislative process, the two parties talking things out, bipartisanship flowering, order restored.

The reality is rather different. The summit is the product of, not the solution to, the problems afflicting our political process. And for all the bipartisan rhetoric, it's probably going to make the partisanship worse.

For months, members of Congress and the punditocracy have complained that the president needs to step up and take a more active role in the health-care-reform process. They, and we, expect it of him. But the president of the United States is not the president of the United States Congress. He can sign or veto a bill, but that's about it. The president's powers within the legislative process are unofficial and informal. He can give a speech or invite congressional leaders over to the White House for a chat, but he has no firm power over the proceedings. Legislating is the legislature's job.
So Obama needs to back off Congress and let them decide.  Fine.  But apparently that was last week.   Today you're doing a 180 in your blog:
One other point on the public option: This has been a complete and utter failure of White House leadership. They need to give this effort their support, or they need to kill it by publicly stating their opposition. But they can't simply wait for someone else to make the decision for them, which has been their strategy until now.
Say what?
This is, however, the worst of all worlds. In refusing to disappoint the left early, they're assuring the sense of betrayal will be much more acute because the feeling of momentum will have far longer to build. And in refusing to embrace this strategy cleanly, they're making it harder to lay the groundwork for an effective communications strategy around a bill that's tougher on insurers. The problem isn't just that the White House is following, but that they're making it harder to eventually lead.
But you just told him not to lead on health care like five days ago, and now you're bitching about him not leading on health care?

And you wonder why we don't have a health care bill yet?  Damn, man.  Make up your mind first.  Then worry about Obama.  Gotta hang the Village Stupidity tag on this one.  15 yards, loss of down, and you have to wear Tom Friedman's mustache for a week.

PS:  Your post today is the one I agree with.  Your Newsweek article...what were you thinking?  

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

The GOP reserves the right to complain about the lack of concessions given by Democrats on bills the GOP has zero intention of voting for.

This is called "bipartisanship."

Attacking Straw (Poll) Men At CPAC

Dave Weigel takes a look at the big story of CPAC:  Ron Paul's straw poll win, and the scramble by the mainstream conservative movement to completely discredit it.  However, it's progressives who should be paying the closest attention:
The importance of minimizing Paul’s win united conservative activists like almost nothing else that came from the three-day conference. Even Brad Dayspring — who, as a spokesman for GOP whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), counts on Paul for “no” votes — fired off two tweets dismissing the result. But the 2,395 ballots cast were a CPAC record, up from the 1,757 cast in 2009, when Mitt Romney scored his third conservative win. And moments after the Paul results were booed, the crowd gave a roaring ovation to radio and Fox News host Glenn Beck, who rewarded it with a 56-minute lecture on “progressivism’s” war on American values with historical lessons — the evil of the Federal Reserve, the destructiveness of Woodrow Wilson, the folly of “spreading democracy” — that had featured prominently in Paul’s speech, too.

For as little attention as it got — for the first time in anyone’s memory, the news cycle-driving Drudge Report did not even run with the news until the next day — Paul’s victory in an unscientific straw poll revealed plenty about the state of conservatism. Narrowly, it revealed that Paul’s quixotic 2008 bid for president created a significant and growing movement of libertarian-minded teens and twentysomethings whose role in the conservative coalition will become more clear outside of CPAC. More broadly, it provided a look at the ideological hardening going on within the conservative movement as it girds for the 2010 elections. According to some polls, the Republican Party is on track to recover control of Congress and have a voice again in how America is governed. At CPAC, there was far less attention on how the party would govern America than on the need to disavow its past, popular embraces of “big government” — and on the need to embrace a hardcore libertarian philosophy that views environmentalism and the progressive movement as fatal threats to freedom.

Paul’s youthful crusade of hopeful libertarians — its size and its enthusiasm — was one of the real surprises of the conference. Paul-inspired or affiliated groups occupied five booths in the event’s exhibit hall; the Campaign for Liberty (the organization he launched after folding his 2008 presidential bid), Young Americans for Liberty (the student group launched at the same time), Students for Liberty, the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, and the Future of Freedom Foundation. Libertarian CPAC attendees packed room after room for lectures by the likes of Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano and likely 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. They passed out a documentary about the Paul campaign, “For Liberty,” and copies of “Young American Revolution,” a magazine for college students with contributions ranging from an essay on economics by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to a Wake Forest University student’s tipsheet on how she organized a blockbuster speech by Paul on her campus.
Even more than the Tea Party crowd, the Paulites are the real wild card going into 2010.  They have an intense distrust of government no matter who is in charge of it, Democrat or Republican, and more than anyone else, they believe that conservatives lost because they wasted too much time on social conservatism and not nearly enough on the fiscal stuff.

The reality is the Paulites are even more dangerous.  These guys are quite serious about dismantling the safety net in order to save themselves.

Never Miss An Opportunity For Obama Derangement Syndrome

The long-time motto of the WSJ editorial board.
A mere three days before President Obama's supposedly bipartisan health-care summit, the White House yesterday released a new blueprint that Democrats say they will ram through Congress with or without Republican support. So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don't want anyway.
Ah, the glory of "progressive" governance and democratic consent.

"The President's Proposal," as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone.

The bill's one new inspiration is a powerful federal board that would regulate premiums in the individual insurance market. In all 50 states, insurers are already required to justify premium increases to insurance commissioners, who generally have the power to give a regulatory go-ahead, or not. But their primary concern is actuarial soundness and capital standards, making sure that companies have enough cash to pay claims.

The White House wants to create another layer of review that will be able to reject any rate increase that is "unreasonable or unjustified." Any insurer deemed guilty of such an infraction by this new bureaucracy "must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable." In other words, de facto price controls.

Insurance premiums are rising too fast; therefore, premium increases should be illegal. Q.E.D. The result of this rate-setting board will be less competition in the individual market, as insurers flee expensive states or regions, or even a cascade of bankruptcies if premiums are frozen and the cost of the care they are expected to cover continues to rise. For all the Dickensian outrage about profiteering by WellPoint and other companies, insurance is a low-margin business even for health care, and at least 85 cents of the average premium dollar, usually more, is devoted to actual health services. 
Who among us will stand and defend the rights of America's precious health insurance companies to arbitrarily raise rates on Americans in a recessionary hell?  I'm sure millions of Americans are very concerned about insurance company profits right now and would really like to see the government make the people pay more in order to protect those profit margins.

I'm positive that this is a winning message for Republicans in 2010, as is "Obama isn't doing what we are telling him to do."

Is He Rahm-Boned?

Cenk Uygur argues that last weekend's Dana Milbank "Leave Rahm alooooone!" special was Rahm's "Screw you!" on the way out the door.
Since Rahm is obviously feeding this to Milbank, that is very revealing. You don't throw these kinds of bombs unless you've already lost. This is an act of desperation. It's bound to make mortal enemies of these people inside Obama's inner circle. You can't really work with these people anymore. That means you're already finished there.

This is basically Rahm saying on his way out, I was right all along and these guys were wrong. Maybe it's a last minute attempt at a Hail Mary to swing the decision in his favor if he can start a conversation in DC about how he had offered better advice than the other three to Obama (by the way, everything he claims to have been right about inside the article was disastrous advice that led Obama further and further away from his voters). But either way, that means he thinks he is very close to being on his way out the door.

For my part, I don't think it will work at all. It seems desperate, vindictive, political and obvious. If Obama was still considering which direction he was going to go, I think this will certainly cinch it. He hates these kinds of leaks and this kind of internal dissension. Rahm is done. Thank God.
I'm not entirely convinced still.  I think it's Rahmbo trying to look like the bad guy here in order to take the heat off Obama among the Dems so that his boss can get health care reform done.  I'm also entirely sure Rahmbo likes being the heavy.

There's also the theory that this is Rahm serving very public notice to the rest of the West Wing that he's not leaving, but that he's pulling an Alexander Haig and stating "I'm in charge here."  He clearly has the ability to play Dana Milbank in the attack position at will.  He may be looking to see if anyone's got the stones to check his raise, especially after the recent article earlier this month on Obama's inner circle leading him astray.  This could be Rahmbo setting a firebreak by taking out part of the forest himself.   The message could be "Anybody else want to leak?"

Still Uygur does have a damn good point:  if this is Rahmbo being subtle, he's doing it wrong to the point where it looks like he's setting his own house on fire.  It's unusually ham-handed and nasty even for Rahm, and it smacks of desperation.

Either way, it's taking attention off Obama right now and is giving him some breathing room from the left.  He's going to need it with this public option thing.

The Count Of Charlie Crist, Oh! Part 11

Watching Charlie Crist's self-immolation has been very instructive, and it seems every month Marco Rubio increases his lead.  It's starting to take a toll as Crist staffers are now bailing a good eight months before the election.
Political director Pablo Diaz, one of the first two staff members hired for the Senate campaign, is departing at the end of the month for "a new opportunity." Sean Doughtie, a well-regarded new media consultant who had worked with Crist for years, stopped working for the campaign at the end of January.

"The campaign was going in a different direction," said Doughtie.

Meanwhile, a poll released Monday pointed to Crist's dire position six months before the Republican primary: Rubio was leading Crist by 18 percentage points — 54 percent to 36 percent — among likely Republican primary voters, according to a Feb. 18 Rasmussen Reports poll with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

"Rubio now carries male GOP voters by a two-to-one margin but breaks even with Crist among women," the pollster wrote in a memo. "The governor also breaks even among moderate Republicans, but conservatives in the party favor his challenger now by more than 40 points."
At this point it's been a massive turnaround from this time last year.  Florida's Republican party is bound and determined to go Teabagger, even as Rubio and Crist take turns bragging about how much of Florida's financial safety net each has pledged to destroy in the middle of a recession.

That keeps leaving openings for Kendrick Meek.  Right now, he's more than happy to see these two tear each other up.

The King Of Insanity

GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, that is.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a crowd at CPAC on Saturday that he could "empathize" with the suicide bomber who last week attacked an IRS office in Austin, and encouraged his listeners to "implode" other IRS offices, according to a witness.

King's comments weren't recorded, but a staffer for Media Matters, who heard the comments, provided TPMmuckraker with an account.

The staffer, who requested anonymity because she's not a communications specialist, said that King, an extreme right-winger with a reputation for eyebrow-raising rhetoric, appeared as a surprise guest speaker on an immigration panel at the conservative conference. During his closing remarks, King veered into a complaint about high taxes, and said he could "empathize" with the man who flew a plane into an IRS building last week.

During the question and answer session, the Media Matters staffer asked King to clarify his comment, reminding him of his sworn duty to protect the American people from all sworn enemies, foreign and domestic. In response, said the staffer, King gave a long and convoluted answer about having been personally audited by the IRS, and ended by saying he intended to hold a fundraiser to help people "implode" their local IRS office.
Oh nice.  Here's part of that conversation from Think Progress:

To recap, Steve King, a Congressman, can totally understand why Americans would want to launch terrorist attacks against the IRS.  A sitting Congressman.  And apparently nobody really seems to care, because we're too busy with the horrible, tyrannical fascism of expanding health care coverage.


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