Saturday, March 20, 2010

Last Call

The Dems are still confident tonight, and House number two Dem Steny Hoyer says they have the votes.
Democrats in the House of Representatives said on Saturday they had secured enough support to pass a sweeping healthcare overhaul and would dump a controversial plan to avoid a direct vote on the Senate bill.

An upbeat House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer predicted victory in Sunday's vote on the biggest revamp of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system in four decades, although even the most optimistic Democrats expected a razor-thin margin.

"Clearly, we believe we have the votes," Hoyer told reporters. "We expect we have the votes to pass the Senate bill."
Sunday's historic session starts at 2 PM.  There's still a lot that happen between now and then, including the debate tomorrow afternoon, followed by voting around 5 PM.   The Stupak bloc is cracking.

We'll see what happens.  My gut tells me this is going to pass, but only, literally, by a handful of votes.

It's Up To Stupak's Bloc Now

FDL's whip count has 207 confirmed no votes, and then the ten remaining members of the Stupak bloc leaning no.  Jim Matheson and Zack Space have come down on the no side from undecided when Pelosi literally didn't have anyone else she could lose.  That gives to no votes 217.

That is enough to kill the bill unless Pelosi can break the bloc.

This one may be dead after all.  It's in Bart Stupak's hands now...but wait.

On the other hand, Greg Sargent is reporting that Space and Matheson folding now means that the GOP is conceding that the Stupak bloc has been broken.
Two key House Dems, Jim Matheson of Utah and Zack Space of Ohio, just announced that they’re voting No. Matheson, a former No who Dems had hoped to flip to Yes, said that he was “saddened” that the legislation “contains too many special deals” and “does not contain health care costs.”

But in a sign of which way this is headed, the news of their vote — which had been hotly anticipated only 24 hours ago — caused barely a ripple. And even Republicans say they’re interpreting these No votes as a sign that the Dem leadership has the votes and is now in the process of releasing some Dems and allowing them to vote No.

The fact that Space and Matheson are peeling is a good sign they have the votes or are close to getting them,” one GOP aide emails.
If Space and Matheson really were the final nails in this bill's coffin, the GOP would be crowing right now.

They are not.

Things are moving quickly now here in the end game.  And the GOP is finally, fatally desperate.
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) claimed Saturday that healthcare protesters at the Capitol directed racial epithets at him Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as they walked outside.

Carson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus along with Lewis, told The Hill that protesters called the lawmakers the N-word.

Tea Party protesters held a rally outside the Capitol on Saturday, which included speeches by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and actor Jon Voight, and then proceeded into the halls to lobby members at the 11th hour.

Lewis was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King. Jr.

Asked if racial epithets were yelled at him, Lewis responded, "Yes, but it's OK. I've heard this before in the '60s. A lot of this is just downright hate."
Hate.  It's all they have left.  They've lost and they know it.  And they are furious.  Expect a lot more of this as the finish line approaches...

Counting Allies And Foes

D-Day puts the current count at this hour at 202 yes, 205 no, with 14 undecided, and 10 remaining members of the Stupak bloc.  If all the Stupak people vote no, that means Pelosi could pass the bill without any of them...if she can wrangle all 14 undecided.

That's a tall order.

Still, the Slaughter Rule appears to also be dead.
Rep. Mel Watt just told our Brian Beutler that the whole "self-executing" rule (aka what the GOP was calling the "Slaughter Rule") thing is off. They'll vote on the rule, then the reconciliation bill and then the original Senate bill.

Emerging from a whip meeting amidst a swarm of Tea Partiers yelling "Kill the Bill", Watt told TPMDC: "There's gonna be three votes as I understand it: the rule, the reconciliation, and the Senate bill."
And there's talk of a possible Presidential executive order reaffirming the existing abortion language rather than the Stupak language.  That could get a number of additional people on board who are not now.

But that still means Pelosi has to get 14 of 24 at this point.  This may end up going deep into the night tonight and long into tomorrow before the final vote.

[UPDATE 4:45 PM]  President Obama made his final pitch to House Dems this afternoon in a powerful and inspiring speech:
The president says that after a year of debate, Congress is on the threshold of passing health care reform legislation.

"This piece of historic legislation is built on the private insurance system that we have now and runs straight down the center of American political thought," he told lawmakers Saturday.

"We are making sure that the system of private insurance works for ordinary families," he said, calling the legislation a "patient's bill of rights on steroids" and "the toughest insurance reform in history."

"If you agree that the system is not working for ordinary families, if you've heard the same stories that I've heard everywhere, all across the country, then help us fix the system," Obama said in urging lawmakers to pass the bill.

"Don't do it for me. Don't do it for Nancy Pelosi or for Harry Reid," he said. "Do it for all those people who are struggling."
Amen to that.

The Winger Response

The irresponsible faux outrage on the "Slaughter Rule" perpetrated by the Wingers has already led to violence. The Buffalo News:
The "Slaughter Solution" on health care isn't the only thing that has come under attack in U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter's world this week. Sometime early this morning, someone threw a brick through the front window of her Pine Avenue office.

The damage was discovered about 12:30 a.m., city police said.

The brick put a hole in the outer-most window at the office at 1910 Pine Ave., but did not damage a second interior window, police reported. A piece of broken brick believed to have caused the damage was found at the scene.

Damage was estimated at $350.
This is a primary example of how the media is used by conservatives in this country to fuel irrational and inchoate anger, to create a climate that cannot be governed.  They are willing to light these fires and unleash them on everyone in order to so damage the party in power that they are willing to bet the safety of this country on their scheme to regain political control.

If they cannot run the country, then they will create fear, paranoia, anger, and eventually violence to the point where those in power flee and they can take over the remains.  And they are willing to immolate our country in order to "win".

Better to reign in hell...

[UPDATE 4:40 PM] The sign reads "Warning: If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can."

Tea Party gun sign

Stay classy, Wingers.

This Week's Busted Banks

The FDIC has closed seven more banks this week, bringing the total through the first eleven weeks of 2010 to a whopping 37.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over First Lowndes Bank, in Fort Deposit, Ala.; Appalachian Community Bank in Ellijay, Ga.; Bank of Hiawassee, in Hiawassee, Ga.; and Century Security Bank in Duluth, Ga.

The agency also closed down State Bank of Aurora, in Aurora, Minn.; Advanta Bank Corp., based in Draper, Utah; and American National Bank of Parma, Ohio.

The FDIC was unable to find a buyer for Advanta Bank, which had $1.6 billion in assets and $1.5 billion in deposits. The regulatory agency approved the payout of the bank's insured deposits and it said checks to depositors for their insured funds will be mailed on Monday.

The failure of Advanta Bank is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $635.6 million.
Absolutely we're on pace to break last year's 140 busted banks in 2010.  We're well ahead of schedule and the pace will only pick up as the CRE collapse accelerates.  The most depressing part of this:
The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.
That means the FDIC is expecting hundreds of busted banks over the next few years, all at taxpayer expense.  But the Republicans (and especially the Paulite Wingers) would have you believe the problem was that these banks were regulated too closely.  A great many of the banks that will fail will be local savings and loans that don't have Washington lobbyist connections, and that means local lenders, the keys to small business creation and continuing credit, are going to vanish.  The megabanks aren't going to bother giving loans to these small businesses when they can invest their money in larger enterprises with larger returns, or can manipulate Congress to let them gamble on securitized products.

They don't have to resort to lending to car washes and PC repair shops and diners.  They can lend to big box chains, other banks, or simply invest and spin the big wheel of fortune.  As I've said time and time again, these busted banks will hurt the bottom line of where you live.  Less competition, fewer employers, fewer jobs.

The forced consolidation of the banking industry into nothing but the megabanks continues apace.

The Blue Dogs Make Their Move

Jane Hamsher gleefully reports the "end of the health care bill" as she claims that at a press conference this morning that Bart Stupak will announce he will get a separate vote on tying his amendment to the Senate bill, making the Stupak language will be the law of the land if it passes a simple majority in the House and Senate.  Republicans will be eager to ensure this happens, forcing the Dems to codify the effective end of abortion coverage in all but the most expensive "Cadillac" insurance plans.

Hamsher is betting that this deal and the Republican eagerness to pass the Stupak language means that pro-choice Dems now have to scuttle the entire bill.

There's a catch, depends when the vote is held, before or after the main health care bill vote.  If it's after, it's vulnerable to a filibuster and could unravel the entire deal.  If it's before, however, pro-choice House Dems may indeed kill the measure.
Leaders of the Pro-Choice Caucus, some 30 minutes after storming into Pelosi’s office, renewed that threat.

“This concurrent resolution which Congressman Stupak and several others have filed, from the position of the people who signed my letter back in November, is a non-starter,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a Pro-Choice Caucus co-chairwoman. “We compromised to the concept 'no federal funding for abortion,' which is current law -- we don't like that. And so if Mr. Stupak and a few members, along with the Republicans, decide to use this to take healthcare down, then that loss on healthcare coverage is going to be on their hands.”

DeGette said a move allowing the enrollment resolution to go forward would put “somewhere between 40 and 55” pro-abortion rights votes at stake.
This would lead to a massive and embarassing defeat, which is exactly what the Republicans want.  That "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" thing that the Dems have all but perfected may be back in play again.

Stupak plans a press conference at 11 AM this morning eastern time.  If this is all true, things just got very, very bad for this bill, Obama, and for the Dems in November.

If the Blue Dogs kill this bill, I'm not sure what will happen to this party anymore.  And I may not care.

[UPDATE 12:05 PM] Stupak has canceled his presser without an explanation why.  It appears his deal may have fallen through...certainly, the parameters have changed.  It has not been rescheduled.  Things just got very curious.

[UPDATE 12:30 PM] Nancy Pelosi just confirmed that there will be no separate vote on abortion language.  The deal that Hamsher was talking about is dead.  What will Stupak's reaction be?

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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