Archive for January 23rd, 2010

Can Someone Give The President A Nudge Or Something?

So let me get this straight – after his brilliant float-above-the-fray strategy resulted in a hideously compromised Senate healthcare reform bill which Americans hate so much that it cost the Democrats a Senate seat in Massachusetts, Obama’s Cunning Plan to fix the healthcare reform mess is… to float above the fray some more?

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is engaged with House progressives, trying to tease out a solution to the health care reform impasse–but he says that at the highest levels of the Senate and the White House, there’s still no plan, and he doubts whether President Obama will insert himself forcefully into the process.

Brown, who traveled with Obama today in Ohio, tells me “I’ve talked to Reid, I’ve talked to Obama. Unclear yet what the strategy is, but clear interest, strong interest in getting as strong a bill as we can get.”

(…)

[H]e doesn’t imagine the President will lay out a way forward in his State of the Union address next week, and he won’t push any buttons in the Senate.

“I doubt if he does, I don’t think he’ll do a procedural thing. I don’t think he will engage in process,” Brown said of State of the Union.

Traveling with Obama today, he and House members from Ohio aired suggestions and opinions about how to get the Senate back into the game–but Obama’s not on the same page. “Everybody had opinions about what the President should do [vis-a-vis the Senate and particular senators],” Brown told me. “But he ain’t bitin’.”

I guess Obama will come out with a forceful statement about how he’s totally rooting for Congress to fix the healthcare bill somehow, and then just sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

Seriously, someone Obama actually listens to needs to get in his ear and tell him that he needs to do everything he can, both publicly and privately, to push the Senate Democrats to pass a strong “sidecar” fix (must restore public option and eliminate excise tax) through budget reconciliation, and push the House Blue Dogs to vote for both the current Senate bill and the sidecar bill.

True, it might still get done without Obama’s help, but does he really want to bet his presidency on it?

January 23rd, 2010 at 07:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Obama,Politics

The Next Big Thing

Dave Johnson on the implications of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision:

The marketplace is now irrelevant – only company size matters. It is just more efficient to beat your competitors by buying legislation than it is by competing in the marketplace. When you can purchase $1 billion in tax breaks, subsidies, mandates, contracts, whatever by spending a few million on candidates/influence, etc. it just makes more sense to do so. The return on investment is just so much higher than building factories, spending on research, paying employees, and other tedious, time-consuming, capital-intensive work.

For some time companies have recognized that the rewards from lobbying outperform the rewards from competing in the marketplace, and this ruling just amplifies that. This 2006 New York Times article, Google Joins the Lobbying Herd, discussed how Google felt it had “no choice but to get into the arena” to start “spreading its lobbying dollars” around to politicians and quotes Lauren Maddox, a lobbyist for Google, saying the “policy process is an extension of the market battlefield.” This supreme court ruling just clinches this shift away from markets.

First American companies made money selling natural resources.  Then they made money by selling manufactured goods.  Now they make money selling intangible financial products.  The next logical step in their evolution is to make money by paying the government to give it to them.

January 23rd, 2010 at 07:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics

Harry Reid And I Have Something In Common!

Apparently we both want him out of the Senate:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said late on Friday that he supports Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.

(…)

“While I will vote for his confirmation, my support is not unconditional,” Reid said in a statement. “I know Chairman Bernanke is committed to transparency and accountability, and that is why I will hold him to the highest standards of both.”

So…  Harry is going to support the Bush-appointed Fed chairman who ignored all warnings about the housing bubble which crashed our economy, and who believes that preventing as-yet-nonexistent inflation is more important than his responsibility to lower our 10% unemployment rate? While running for re-election in the state with the second-highest unemployment rate in the country?

Yeah, good luck with that.  His opponent’s campaign ads will practically write themselves.

January 23rd, 2010 at 03:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Elections,Politics

Great Moments In Spin

Newt Gingrich explains that the Citizens United ruling is a huge win for ordinary citizens because rich people and corporations will give you millions of dollars of campaign support to oppose them. Fascinating.

BLOCK: You’re saying that this ruling affects the average citizen expressing his or her voice, as opposed to corporations being allowed to spend freely.

Mr. GINGRICH: Im saying that it allows you to have a middle-class candidate go out and find allies and supporters who are able to help them match the rich. And able to help them match the incumbent. Remember, incumbents run with millions of dollars in congressional staff, congressional franking, congressional travel. And they have all the advantages of being able to issue statements from their incumbent office. And the challenger – the person out there who’s the citizen who’s rebelling, who wants to change things – is at an enormous disadvantage in taking on incumbents.

This will, in fact, level the playing field and allow middle-class candidates to begin to have an opportunity to raise the resources to take on the powerful and the rich.

Is there a Hall Of Fame for spin?

January 23rd, 2010 at 01:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Republicans,Wankers


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