Archive for January, 2010

Game on? Obama to recommit to health-insurance reform tonight

from the New York Times:

In a conference call today with Congressional staff, the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, said that President Obama would reiterate his commitment to a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s health care system in his State of the Union address on Wednesday night.

Mr. Pfeiffer said that the president will share “additional details” but that the thrust of his message would be that he remains as resolute and committed to revamping the health care system as he was when he gave a speech to a joint session of Congress in early September.

Mr. Obama’s speech could not come at a more critical time for the health care legislation, which is effectively stalled in Congress as the White House and legislative leaders try to figure out a way forward.

I’ll post a new thread around 7:30 tonight for those who want to comment live as the speech proceeds.

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A lot of posturing, little action on deficit challenge

In his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama is expected to announce an executive order creating a bipartisan commission to recommend solutions to the deficit. As part of that speech, he will probably point out in that in a vote yesterday, the Senate killed a proposal to create such a commission through congressional action.

The vote on that measure was 53-46, which in most sane systems would be a passing vote. Under the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule, it was seven votes short. Only 16 of those 53 positive votes came from Republicans, even though the bill was a bipartisan effort cosponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. (Both of Georgia’s senators were among those 16 Republican supporters.)

What’s interesting, though, is that six Republicans who a month ago were listed as cosponsors of the bill turned around and voted against it when the time came. A seventh GOP senator, Lisa Murkowski, was also listed as a cosponsor but missed the vote.as Politico …

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Tebow anti-abortion ad in the Super Bowl just free speech

I admire Florida football star Tim Tebow, both for what he does on the field and for who he is off the field. By all accounts he tries to live his Christian faith, and I’ve never been bothered by his efforts to proselytize. Even in the Biblical citations he wears in his eyeblack, he shows the good manners to proclaim his faith quietly without questioning or condemning that of others. OK by me.

Tebow is now the focus of a bit of controversy involving an anti-abortion ad in which he stars with his mother. The ad, sponsored by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, will air during the Super Bowl, and some pro-choice groups are protesting the ad’s acceptance by CBS. They do have a point.

As the Washington Post reports, the Women’s Media Center and other groups “questioned how and why the network, which used to forbid ‘advocacy’ advertising, agreed to air Focus on the Family’s spot, which is valued at $2.5 million to $3 million.”

“The media center also noted that as recently as 2004, …

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Endorsement of McCain alienates Palin supporters

Sen. John McCain, the man who brought Sarah Palin to national prominence, is being challenged for re-election in the GOP primary by former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Palin recently announced that she plans to travel to Arizona to campaign on McCain’s behalf, but posters on her Facebook page are not at all happy with their Sarah:

“Sarah, it was fun, but now you are done.”

“Sarah, your support of McCain shows bad judgment and brings into question the validity of your words. You can forget any political ambition if you support Amnesty – which John McCain does. Conservatives don’t forget.”

“You do know Senator McCain is a PROGRESSIVE? It is very disappointing that you are campaigning for him instead of J.D. Hayworth. McCain needs to go!”

“Sorry to hear that you are supporting McCain. Up to now, I thought you were part of the solution, but you’ve shown yourself to be part of the problem.”

“McCain!? Are you kidding me? Time to pick a side, Sarah– Are you with the people, or against …

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Supreme Court turns us all into citizens of Whoville

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United overturned more than a century of precedent and handed corporations the same free-speech rights as people, including the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect or defeat candidates for office.

Among most Republican politicians, that news was greeted with glee. However, the GOP grassroots and the Tea Party movement ought to look at that ruling with a great deal more skepticism, because its impact on the issues that matter most to them could be significant.

Take, for example, earmarks.

In the wake of Citizens United, imagine yourself as a congressman confronted by a fly-by-night company back home trying to get a $200 million earmark for some product the Pentagon refuses to buy. Is that congressman going to be more willing or less willing to say no, knowing that the company can now spend freely in an attempt to unseat him? The power of special interests to armtwist Congress for earmarks can’t help but grow …

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Obama takes a step — a small step — toward deficit cuts

President Obama is set to announce a three-year freeze in discretionary non-defense spending. The problem is, that’s not where the problem is. Those programs total $447 billion; the deficit this year is $1.4 trillion. In other words, you could eliminate those programs three times over and still face a deficit.

But it’s a start, a gesture. A lot of the current-year deficit is not caused by increased spending, but by collapsed federal revenues. Total federal revenue last year was just 15.1 percent of gross domestic product, a sharp drop from its average level of above 18 percent. In dollar terms, revenue isn’t projected to return to 2007 levels until at least 2011, and in the meantime the government is incurring additional expenses such as extended unemployment and aid to state budgets. Folks at the state Capitol are already in a panic over how to balance their own budget; ask them how many teachers and prison guards they would have to lay off without the federal stimulus money …

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Also, ‘Sun rises in the East’ and ‘GOP opposes Obama’

You want to know the top headline right now at Politico?

“Senate Democrats struggle to unite”

No kidding. The things that pass for news these days.

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McCain draws primary opposition

from the Arizona Daily Star:

Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth says he is planning to run against John McCain for his U.S. Senate seat.

Hayworth, a Republican, told The Associated Press late Friday he stepped down as host of his radio program on KFYI-AM, a conservative radio talk show in Phoenix. Legally, he would not have been able to remain host of the program and be an active candidate.

“We will formally announce at a later time, but we’re moving forward to challenge John McCain,” he said. “I think we all respect John. I think his place in history is secure. But after close to a quarter-century in Washington, it’s time for him to come home.”

He said he wasn’t serious about running against McCain until a recent “outpouring of support” from Arizonans asking him to run changed his mind.

You don’t often see this, a primary challenge to a party’s most recent presidential nominee. I doubt it will come to much, but Hayworth is clearly hoping to ride the coattails of the Tea …

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Obama seeks to prove ‘we have the guts to govern.’

The election in Massachusetts changed both the political landscape and math in the Senate. President Obama is rejiggering his political organization and that of the Democratic National Committee, including hiring ‘08 campaign manager David Plouffe as a consultant. Congress is back into session, and a new political season begins with President Obama’s State of the Union speech Wednesday night.

The rhetoric coming out of the White House is pretty tough; we’ll see how that translates into action.

From The Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—Coming off one of the most difficult weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has beefed up his political staff and is expected to deliver an uncompromising State of the Union address. Aides said Sunday that the White House wasn’t making any abrupt policy shifts, even as the message was retooled to focus more sharply on job creation….

“People are working harder,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” referring …

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The Andre Bauer solution: Starve the poor, they’ll stop breeding

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

– Andre Bauer, lieutenant governor of South Carolina
and candidate for S.C. governor.

It’s hard to know where to start with a statement like that. Apparently, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer believes that we should try to starve the poor out of existence. Deprive them of food and they will cease breeding: Problem solved, neat as that. (An audio version of Bauer’s remarks with additional context is available here. Hearing the vehemence with which Bauer makes the above statement only compounds its ugliness.)

For the moment, though, let’s set aside the pure …

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