The proposed bank regulations, all driven by President Obama’s war on Wall Street, would limit big bank’s trading and size. Obama claims that the nation will never again be held hostage by institutions deemed “too big to fail”.
Well, here’s a clue – the only ones who claimed they were too big to fail and threw all that money at them are the same ones now trying to regulate them into noncompetitiveness. You’d almost think this was part of a plan if you didn’t believe they weren’t smart enough or quick enough to do such a thing. But, as they’ve claimed, they won’t let a crisis go to waste.
In fact, this is another battle in the long class war against the rich. Nothing symbolizes the “rich” like Wall Street. And nothing serves Democrats in trouble better than a populist cause (or at least one they deem to be populist). So while voters continue to send messages to the Democrats via VA, NJ and MA, health care reform implodes and the President’s job approval rating tanks, he’s warring on the institutions which are critical to the economic recovery of the nation.
How freakin’ tone deaf can one be?
Mayor Bloomberg has some immediate local issues that concern him – possible layoffs and the erosion of the tax base. But he also recognizes that handicapping US banks when no such handicaps exist for foreign banks, hurts their long term competitiveness and will therefore have negative long term consequences.
Obama’s proposals would prevent banks or financial institutions that own banks from investing in, owning or sponsoring a hedge fund or private equity fund.
He called for a new cap on the size of banks in relation to the overall financial sector that would take into account not only bank deposits, which are already capped, but also liabilities and other non-deposit funding sources.
The proposed rules also would bar institutions from proprietary trading operations that are for their own profit and unrelated to serving customers
According to sources, Geithner says the proposed regulations “do not necessarily get at the root of the problems and excesses that fueled the recent financial meltdown.”
He’s not alone in that criticism:
Lawrence White, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a former regulator, said Obama’s proposals were “a solution to the wrong problem.”
“They have this rhetoric that it was proprietary trading that was the problem,” White said. “That’s wrong.”
Of course the Obama war on Wall Street is certainly having an effect – bank shares have declined as has the dollar against other currencies.
If you don’t get the idea that this is mostly an ideologically driven “war” trying to cash in on populist anger at a time when nothing is going well for the administration, you’re not paying attention. It also points to an “war of choice” based in a very poor understanding of economics and the fact that we’re engaged in a global economy where competitiveness is critical. If these regulations pass and when the recovery falters because banks are hobbled and noncompetitive, I’m sure that somehow the White House will again play the “greed” card out in a effort to hide the effects of their own short-sighted and ideologically driven economic malpractice.
That’s what the Democrats think about the voters of Massachusett(e)s who voted for Scott Brown and against HCR. And that’s why, per their brain trust, they’re going the reconciliation route. Screw-the-proles politics at its finest (via HotAir):
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, tells National Review Online that House Democrats are planning to use of the budget-reconciliation process in order to pass Obamacare. “They’re meeting with each other this weekend to pursue it,” says Ryan. “I’ve spoken with many Democrats and the message is this: They’re not ready to give up. They’ve waited their entire adult lives for this moment and they aren’t ready to let 100,000 pesky votes in Massachusetts get in the way of fulfilling their destiny. They’ll look at every option and spend the next four or five days figuring it out.”
If the Democrats pass a health-care bill through reconciliation, it means they would need only 51 votes in the Senate for final passage. To start the process, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) would need to bring a new health-care bill to the House budget committee with reconciliation instructions, with the Senate doing the same. “They’d have to go back to the beginning of the process,” says Ryan. “They’d need to affix reconciliation instructions to a new bill.” Doing so, he says, wouldn’t be too hard. “There’s nothing we can do to stop this from a technical standpoint, since all they need is a simple majority vote and our ratio on the committee is terrible. What we can do in the budget committee is pass resolutions for the Rules committee to insist on certain changes in the bill and create a ‘vote-a-rama’ atmosphere.”
Got that? Your votes don’t matter. Your voice has not been heard. You are merely an impediment to Democrats bound for history, who have no interest in what you want. Say it with me: they only care about what they want you to want.
Just remember: this ain’t over, it’s just the beginning.[ad#Banner]
As noted in other posts, the Democrats have mostly given up on some kind of cram-it-down-the-throat option for healthcare legislation. They’re going to seat Scott Brown, and various Democrats such as Barney Frank have noticed that trying to outmanuveur the Republicans with tricks smacks of desperation, not to mention setting themselves up to get slaughtered in the fall.
So what is their strategy at this point? I’m not sure it’s well thought out, but from what I can tell, it’s simply this: wait for the furor to die down, and get back to business as usual. At least among the leaders, there’s no indication that they’ve given up.
For example, Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate version in the House. Nevertheless, her bottom line is still “We have to get a bill passed….” And then she follows that up with “We’re in no rush.” She must therefore feel that slowing down at this point has better chances than to keep pressing the urgency button.
As another example, here’s Obama in the New York Times (found via The Corner):
“Well, if you’ve got insurance companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars scaring the daylights out of people into thinking that somehow this is a government takeover of health care, that it’s unpaid for, that it means huge new taxes on them, that it’s going to mean higher premiums — if that’s the information you’re getting, shoot, I’d be against it, too,” the president told me. “Once this thing is passed and signed, then suddenly The New York Times and other newspapers are going to have a big article saying what does this mean for you, and people will take a look at it and say, ‘You know what, this is a lot better deal than I thought.’ And I think that will serve Harry very well.”
This is either delusional or outright lying. It is a large expansion of government control of healthcare, it could very well lead to a takeover (and various Democrats have admitted that), it isn’t paid for, it probably does mean higher premiums for many, especially those with so-called Cadillac plans, and it does mean a new tax because the penalty for not satisfying the mandate has been classified as a tax.
If Obama really believes what he says above, then he’s trying to play a longer term game of letting the dust settle and hoping against hope that the natural attraction of many people for something-for-nothing will kick in. I don’t see how that works; if his umptyump speeches so far have not gotten his message across, what hope does he have of doing it now, when opinions have mostly solidified?
The waiting game also carries huge risk for Democrats. The longer the healthcare game plays out, the closer we are to the elections and the more anger they are likely to engender in the electorate. With Brown’s election plus miscellaneous sudden retirements, it’s already apparent that incumbent Democrats are in big trouble. Do the Democratic leaders think it just can’t get much worse? I think it can.
Perhaps the go-slow game has become their default strategy because Obama and company have no good options at this point. Obama first squandered much political capital by passing a leftist and highly political response to economic problems in the form of the stimulus widely referred to as Porkulus. Then he squandered the attention span of the electorate by over-exposing himself with lackluster speeches about his desired laws, chiefly healthcare. Then he shattered the image of some kind of magical touch by gambling and losing twice in Copenhagen and once in Massachusetts.
One year ago Obama was almost a blank slate. He could have defined himself just about any way he wanted, riffing off his generic hope/change mantra.
He chose to define himself as a vigorous proponent of policies far left to those of the typical American. He inadvertantly defined himself as someone prone to wild gambles because he has no better ideas on how to get what he wants.
Anyone who works in marketing will tell you that it’s ten times as hard to change an existing perception of a product or service as it is to establish a new reputation for something previously unknown. That dynamic works in politics too. Obama is now defined in the public’s eye. Changing his own image in any signficant way is very, very hard, and perhaps impossible for someone as out of touch as he appears to be. Therefore his ability to bend the healthcare debate in his direction looks to me to be just about nil.
I conclude that:
1. The Democrats have indeed decided to go slower on healthcare, simply because they’ve had their face rubbed in the fact that the level of anger and pushback right now is too high to overcome.
2. They have not given up; they truly believe it’s the key to their long-term dominance of the electorate.
3. They don’t have a clue what to do with the current level of anger, and they were caught flat-footed by Brown’s victory.
4. The best they can think of is just to wait, hoping for the anger to die down and some tactic to become apparent that will allow them to move foreward.
5. That strategy is almost certain to fail, and carries grave risk for them.
We’re seeing Democrats like Evan Bayh start feeling out the options for walking back on healthcare, and by extension on other leftist causes such as cap-and-trade. It will only take a few such high-profile defections to begin a rush to the exits. At that point, Obama and Pelosi can be as delusional as they like, but they’ll just end up sitting around making up strategies they don’t have the ability to carry out.
** Update 2:04 PM CST **
Asked today if health care was on the back burner, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “The president believes it is the exact right thing to do by giving this some time, by letting the dust settle, if you will, and looking for the best path forward.”
Barack Obama was quite fond of quoting Buffet during the campaign. My guess is he’ll not be as willing to quote Buffet about his opposition to the President’s proposed bank tax:
“I don’t see any reason why they should be paying a special tax,” said Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in an interview on Bloomberg Television today. Supporters of the plan to tax the banks “are trying to punish people,” he said. “I don’t see the rationale for it.”
What he’s talking about, of course, is the tax Obama has proposed ostensibly to recover the losses incurred in the TARP program. Obama has targeted about 50 banks to make this repayment.
The levy would apply to firms with more than $50 billion in assets, including Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, two companies that Berkshire has investments in. It would exclude Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage lenders taken over by the U.S.
“Look at the damage Fannie and Freddie caused, and they were run by the Congress,” said Buffett. “Should they have a special tax on congressmen because they let this thing happen to Freddie and Fannie? I don’t think so.”
Of course Buffet throws out a point, which I’ve put it bold, that the administration, Democrats in general and the media have studiously avoided. That’s the role that the two quasi-governmental organizations, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, played in the financial meltdown (and how much of the TARP money they sucked down). In fact, the tax is as much about recovering the money they required as anything. But pointing that out would be detrimental to the narrative the administration has been building about the “greed of Wall Street” and their unilateral culpability. According to Bloomberg data, Freddie and Fanny owe about $110 billion. Buffet, of course, is not so easily fooled:
The levy would apply to firms with more than $50 billion in assets, including Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, two companies that Berkshire has investments in. It would exclude Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage lenders taken over by the U.S.
“Most of the banks didn’t need to be saved,” Buffett said. “Including Wells Fargo.”
The bank tax would raise $90 billion over 10 years and, of course, be paid for by the banks customers. Also note that the sum of $90 billion is very close to the amount owed by Freddie and Fanny.
Obama is correct – “we want out money back”. But we want it back from the institutions which wasted it. Of course that’s impossible since taxing Freddie and Fanny is taxing ourselves. Of course, so is taxing banks. However, it is much more useful to demonize them, play the greed card and pretend the government is blameless than to tell the truth, isn’t it?
I mean, if they told the truth, they’d have to implicate Congressional Democrats like Barney Frank, wouldn’t they – and that would never do.
There’s a war going on within the Democratic party. And it is between the Krugman/Hamsher/Ed Schultz/Olberman wing of the extreme left and the more moderate (and politically aware) wing of the party. It’s focus is on health care. And the war was started Tuesday when Republican Scott Brown buried Democrat Martha Coakely and Teddy Kennedy’s legacy with a convincing defeat in the Massachusetts Senate special election. As I called it then, it was a game changer. The most immediate “game” it has changed is how to pass this health care monstrosity pending in Congress.
First the dawning awareness of what happened Tuesday to change the game from Lanny J. Davis (former counsel to Bill Clinton for two years):
Liberal Democrats might attempt to spin the shocking victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts by claiming that the loss was a result of a poor campaign by Martha Coakley. Would that it were so. This was a defeat not of the messenger, but of the message—and the sooner progressive Democrats face up to that fact, the better.
It’s the substance, stupid!
According to polls, fears about the Democrats’ health-care proposal played a prominent role in Mr. Brown’s victory yesterday. In the last several months, the minority congressional Republicans have dominated the message on health care—and stamped on the Democratic Party the perception that we stand for big government, higher taxes, and health insecurity when it comes to Medicare.
Perception? It’s 2000 pages of big government, higher taxes and “health insecurity” brought to you exclusively (since no Republicans have been allowed to participate) by Democrats. How is that just a perception, Mr. Davis?
But Davis is, at least, seeming to gain some insight as to what is going on. However, after saying “it’s the substance, stupid”, he claims that the reason for the public’s poor perception of the health care proposal is spin, not substance:
The Democrats have a simple message on health care that has still not really gotten through: If our bill passes, you never have to worry about getting, or losing, health insurance for the rest of your life. How is it that so few people have heard that message?
Very simply, it’s not gotten through because it’s not true. That certainly may be what Democrats hoped to accomplish, but that’s not at all what they’re crafted in this bill. So while Davis exhibits some inkling of what is going on, he’s still blinded to the reality of the true Democratic message. It is a big government, higher taxes and “health insecurity” monstrosity that the public rejects overwhelmingly.
Some Democratic Congressional types, however, are seeing the light. Here, for instance, is Senator Dianne Feinstein:
California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, for one, said the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts shows the fundamental political landscape has shifted and Democrats across the country have to take note, focusing on how to create jobs and keep people in their homes instead of trying to explain the need for sweeping social programs.
“I can tell you the situation has changed dramatically. And I think it’s a sweep across the country and I think that the (White House Economic Adviser) Larry Summers’s of the world have to see it, the administration has to see it and we have to see it. And Therefore everything is jobs and the economy and education. People are worried about education,” she said.
“You see anger. People are worried. And when they’re worried they don’t want to take on a broad new responsibility,” like health care reform, she said.
That is a politician in full survival mode sniffing the wind and determining how it is blowing. And she’d dead on right. She nails it. She’s figured it out. And that doesn’t bode well for HCR. It isn’t that the message hasn’t been presented properly like Davis claims. It is that the message has been rejected. The answer is “no”. The priorities have drastically shifted and it has taken a year for the out-of-touch Democrats to figure it out. But, as witnessed by DiFi (and Evan Bayh), some are beginning to do so.
That’s worrisome to the likes of Paul Krugman, as illustrated below, and to Joan Walsh of Salon.com:
Maybe House Democrats can pull this out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.
Wow. If you recall, it was Ms. Walsh who claimed Republican criticism of Mr. Obama was “traitorous” and “un-American”. I’m sure since Walsh is doing it, this falls under “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” instead. Walsh comes from the “damn the public’s wishes, full speed ahead” wing of the extreme left part of the Democratic party. She, like Krugman below (and I’d bet the words she used are really his, not hers – they’re very similar), want this travesty pushed through no matter what – precedent and rules be damned, pass the bill.
Her attitude reflects much of the netroots and a growing disillusionment with the Democrats in general, not just Obama. And it is possible that disillusionment may begin to effect the rank-and-file Dems as well. One of the things that was obvious in MA on Tuesday was the huge enthusiasm gap in the state. Congressional Democrats are well on their way to increasing that gap by their actions, or, more properly, lack of action:
So why even vote for Democrats now? Really – the Senate Democrats just made us ask ourselves that. Have a super majority is a very uncommon thing in the Senate, with the last time being in 1965. Now the Democrats are saying “well we can’t do anything unless we have a super majority again”, or in other words, “go ahead and stay home Democrats”.
This really shows that Democrats excel at one thing – being losers. We need a tidal wave of new blood in the party to push out the old farts, who are driving the Democratic party into the grave with them.
Final point – Republicans should take heart (the public’s reaction fits their ideology much better than it does the Democrat’s), but need to figure out quickly that this dissatisfaction and disillusionment doesn’t mean they are automatically validated as being the party of choice because of it. They’ve been the party of the only resort for the most part.
This is a rebellion of the independents which includes dissatisfied and disillusioned former Democrats and Republicans. Probably not the Democrats I cite above – as the writer indicates, they’ll stay home – but certainly those who would be characterized as “conservative” Dems. The movement is loosely called the “Teaparty” movement. Tuesday it elected its first major candidate. Unless the GOP realizes this and realizes it soon, they stand as good a chance as the Democrats to see incumbents go down in November. This movement is just as likely to back an independent candidate (NY 23) or an insurgent candidate (Rubio) as a party candidate. That will become evident in the primaries. This is no longer about party politics. This is about forcing an issue – smaller and less intrusive government, fewer taxes, more freedom.
Figure it out or join the unemployment line, Dems and GOP.
Paul Krugman has made a vital discovery, captured in the title of one of his recent blog posts. Speaking of President Obama, he says:
He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For
You’re kidding, right Mr. Krugman? It took a year for this discovery? Heck, some of us have been saying this for 3 years. But enough “I told you so”. Why is Krugman so sure Obama’s not not man? Well not for the reasons you might think. If you’ve been reading Krugman, you know he’s of the opinion that the money Obama and Congress have thrown at the economy wasn’t enough and wasn’t well targeted. So Krugman wants more spending.
Now, with health care, he is finally disappointed enough to toss Obama under the bus. Like much of the extreme left, he demands the will of the people, demonstrated most recently Tuesday night in Massachusetts, be ignored. He illustrates that by quoting Obama and then reacting:
I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don’t, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill. Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like.
In short, “Run away, run away”!
His advice, as it has been all year, is to double down, ignore the growing unrest, and “do it anyway”. Pass health care as it stands. Don’t give in to the will of the people because – and this is the hidden message among all of this – they’re too stupid to know what is good for them. Like Bill Clinton claims – they’ll love it after it’s passed. And, as every elitist knows, the job of elites is to rule, even if the masses don’t like it.
Krugman presents the perfect example of the transition we’ve seen of government from service to servitude. We’re here to do the will of government now, since it knows best, and not the other way around. Krugman and the extreme left embody the notion of government rule and want to expand it. What they’re discovering is that Obama is simply not the tool they thought he was for the accomplishment of that goal. And they’re understandably disappointed.
But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.
This was a laugh out loud moment for me. Per Krugman he had doubts about Obama? Time to reread the gushing propaganda that flowed from the Krugman pen during the campaign season. If there were any doubts about Obama, he kept them under tight control and didn’t share.
Of course, what Krugman and the far left are finally discovering is the difference between a politician and a leader. Barack Obama is not a leader. He’s never been in a position to lead. He has no idea what it takes to lead. And he’s unlikely to figure it out while in the White House. Barack Obama presented himself as a blank slate and let people like Paul Krugman and the rest of those who chose too, write whatever they wanted on that slate. He duped them. He was whatever they wanted him to be, while really being nothing more than a very run of the mill politician who had the political sense to see an opportunity unfold, recognize he was in a unique position to seize it (unpopular president, attractive candidate, historical timing, great orator) and turn it into a win.
That’s been the high point of his presidency. It has been downhill since his inauguration. And a rage driven by his administration’s actions (not those of his predecessor as he loves claim) has built quickly in this country. Because of that anger and the politician’s expected reaction to it, Krugman, et al, see the opportunities they built into this presidency slipping away. Their advice, of course, is to move faster, do whatever is necessary, and, frankly, cheat if they have too – but get this done. But politicians, being what they are, are beginning to waffled and hedge and equivocate.
Of course Krugman doesn’t have to stand for election or answer for the results of his advice and my guess is he would find some way to blame others if it failed, just as he’s now trying to do by disowning Obama. But it is clear he and the extreme left are seeing their vested hopes going by the boards and they’re beginning, finally, to point fingers.
And he’s right – Obama is not the one “we’ve been waiting for”. Politicians rarely are. For those of us who didn’t choose to fit ourselves with blinders and took the time to objectively look at the man’s qualifications, we recognized him for what he is – an empty suit. Certainly a very attractive one, but empty nonetheless. The editor of the Harvard Law Review who never contributed anything to the Review. A failed community organizer. A state and US Senator who never initiated anything of substance and was content to follow the lead of others. Someone who, as we warned, had never “done anything or run anything.”
A reminder is necessary for the of Paul Krugmans of this world: This guy is your creation. You and all those who fell for the oratory and the promise and promoted it without checking out the substance of the man are to blame. So if you’re going to point fingers, find a mirror.
To quote Mr. Obama’s pastor of 20 years, “the chickens are coming home to roost”.
That didn’t take long. After essentially ignoring Senate Republicans for a year (well except when they thought they could pick one or two off to help them make something appear “bi-partisan”), Democrats are now ready to lecture Republicans about their new “responsibility”. In a talking points memo issued to Democratic Senators today, they lay out their argument. The memo is entitled:
MASSACHUSETTS ELECTION MEANS THAT SENATE REPUBLICANS HAVE MORE RESPONSIBILITY TO GOVERN, NOT OBSTRUCT
We can literally spend the entire post on just the title. Contained in that sentence is the premise they hope they can sell to the Republicans and thereby lessen the impact of losing their supermajority.
But let’s be real – the election of Brown imposes no such obligation or responsibility on minority Republicans in the Senate anymore than it did on the Democrats when they were in the minority there. What the election of Brown does is make it hard for the Democrats to “govern” in the manner they’d prefer (unilaterally), so they’d like to lay this “responsibility” premise on the Republicans while they’re a bit euphoric over the win last night and might readily agree to that role.
Instead it is the role and responsibility of the GOP to do whatever they think is necessary to block bad legislation that unnecessarily increases the size, scope and cost of government. That’s what Brown promised to do and that’s why he’s going to the Senate. If the Democrats prefer to characterize that as “obstruction” then so be it. Time to grow a thick skin for once in your lives. And a spine wouldn’t hurt either.
During this last year, the Republicans haven’t had the power to “obstruct” anything and the Democrats know it. Now Republicans do. The fact that the Democrats are left sitting in the legislative ruins of their own making is no skin off the GOP’s nose. They had their chance and they blew it. If the GOP isn’t completely deaf, what they heard last night with the election of Brown was the people don’t want what the Democrats are selling.
So what should happen? The GOP should reject that premise outright and upfront and they should adopt one that is the polar opposite of that which Democrats are trying to push in their talking point memo.
Specifically: The GOP has the responsibility to obstruct/block/say “no” to the Democratic agenda as they have determined that agenda unnecessarily increases the size, scope and cost of government.
So who are you going to listen too, Republicans? The people or the Democrats?
Yup – That’s test question number one and it’s not multiple choice.
Few will disagree that Scott Brown’s solid victory last night was meant to send an important message to Washington. Sure, there will be some whistling past the graveyard, but for the most part the political punditry and policy-makers will understand that something needs to change, and fast. Like dog whistles and Irish brogues, however, not everyone will hear the same thing.
It will not escape those who are truly paying attention that the Senate health care bill currently residing in the House was a huge catalyst behind Brown’s come-from-nowhere win. Brown’s potential cloture-busting vote looms large in a debate where Washington elites have tuned out those whom they mean to rule. It looms so large, and its power to lure slightly more than half the registered voters to the polls on a snowy day for a special election with nothing else on the ballot sends such a strong statement, that even Barney Frank seemed to get the message:
I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process.
Virginia Senator Jim Webb said much the same thing last night:
In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.
Yet, somehow, even while recognizing that Democrats playing a legislative game of keepaway with the bill before the House (that was drafted behind closed doors, it should be noted) will only serve to undermine public confidence in the law (and Congress), progressives like Jane Hamsher still think that’s what’s called for now:
In the wake of Martha Coakley’s defeat, both Representative Barney Frank and Senator Jim Webb have said that jamming a health care bill through before Scott Brown can be seated is not the right thing to do.
They’re right. Health care legislation would be viewed — with some justification — as illegitimate.
But many on the Hill tonight are saying that the Massachusetts defeat also means that health care reform is dead, fearful that what happened to Martha Coakley will happen to them, too, in 2010.
That’s about as feasible as Wile E. Coyote trying to turn around and run back across the bridge that is crumbling behind him. There’s only one way to go.
The non-budgetary “fixes” like banning the exclusion of those with pre-existing conditions have already passed the Senate. A public option — or an expansion of Medicare — can be added through reconciliation, which takes 51 votes. The Republicans certainly had no fear of using reconciliation when George Bush was in office. And the Democrats are going to need to do so in order to make good on their promise to fix the excise tax to benefit of the middle class, which will cost roughly $60 billion. But their options for doing that are limited by the process itself: they can pay for it by the savings from a government program like a public option or an expansion of Medicare. Or, they can piss everyone off and raise taxes.
That looks to be where Gerald Nadler and Anthony Weiner are headed tonight. They indicate that “the only way they could sign on to the Senate bill is if it was accompanied immediately, or even preceded by, a separate bill, making a number of major preemptive changes to what they regard as an inferior package,” per Brian Beutler.
It’s called sidecar reconciliation. And the 65 members of the House who have pledged to vote against any bill that does not have a public option should be looking into it seriously tonight.
Got that? Passing a bill that circumvents Brown’s vote will be viewed “with some justification” as illegitimate, so let’s go ahead and do just that! Do these people even listen to themselves? Using the reconciliation process (“sidecar” or otherwise) to shove health care legislation down Americans’ throats simply eschews the very legislative process that Barney Frank and Jim Webb cited as the reason to forgo further action on health care until Brown is seated. Yet, Hamsher and her cohorts advocate for legislative legerdemain anyway. Cognitive dissonance in action.
The reason, of course, is that passing health care legislation is such a fundamental issue for progressives that they have thrown all sense (such as was possessed) to the wind. It has nothing to do with what people want, but instead with what progressives want people to want. Apparently it doesn’t even matter that the rosy economic projections upon which these health care bills are based have little to no basis in reality. I guess, since the ultimate goal is a utopian fantasy, employing imaginary thinking is the only way to get there.
If nothing else, the reaction of progressives to the Massachusetts race reveals how dangerous they are when wielding power. Inconvenient facts are dismissed, and constituents are ignored, because what the progressive lacks in having any grasp of reality is more than made up for by resounding confidence and self-righteousness. Fortunately for us, the electorate does not appear to be willing to indulge their fantasies anymore.[ad#Banner]
As Democrats survey the aftermath of a devastating defeat in yesterday’s Senate race in of all places, Democrat friendly Massachusetts, they have to be wondering how safe their own seats are. Even Barbara Boxer, whose polls have shown weakness, has to be a little concerned. If you can’t hold on to a Senate seat in a state where you outnumber the opposition 3.5 to 1, what seat is safe? Couple that with the fact that their super-majority in the Senate is gone and their legislative agenda in jeopardy, and they have a fine mess on their hands.
So that brings us to the broader implication of the Scott Brown victory yesterday. Does it mean Democrats will back off, heed the message and either kill or drastically reduce the health care bill? Or does it mean they plan on doubling down, pushing that monstrosity through as quickly as possible and hope to have the time to repair the damage before the midterms? Because that’s the choice they’re going to have to make and make soon.
If you listened to Nancy Pelosi yesterday, indications are they plan on doubling down. She’s quoted as saying that no matter what happens with Scott Brown, she plans on seeing health care passed. And, of course, Harry Reid – trailing badly in the polls in his home state – is of a similar mind.
The question is, how? There are several means of accomplishing the task. One is to pass the Senate version unchanged. That would only require a majority in the House and the bill can be sent to the President for signature. However, the Progressive caucus along the the Democratic pro-life wing aren’t at all keen on the idea and they carry enough votes to kill it.
That brings us to another method which seems to at least be the preferred method of the Olbermans, Matthews and Maddows of the world – reconciliation. It requires only simple majorities to pass legislation. But because it is aimed at budgetary legislation, it will mean a pared down health care bill that Democrats can ram through and at least have something to show for it. The question is would that be enough and, will it save them in November. The answer to both questions are probably “no”. However they may be left with little choice but to resort to this method.
And that’s because that last method is a compromise bill (what they’ve been working behind closed doors to craft) which will most likely please no one on the Democratic side (Republicans have lined up solidly against it already since they were shut out of the process) and they’re now facing a fight in the Senate they’re likely to lose (word is Joe Lieberman is again iffy on the bill).
Fun times in DC. But at least it’s a game again with the minority should be armed enough to stop the most outrageous of the liberal agenda. I’m not quit sure how the health care fiasco will play out – hopefully if not dead, it is at least a drastically reduced bill that can be repealed in the future prior to going to going into effect – but I’d say cap-and-trade is in serious trouble if not dead, and immigration reform is going to require Democrats to at least approach Republicans to pass anything meaningful.
Or to put it succinctly – the Brown win brought the blessing of divided government again. It’s by a very slim margin, but it is there again. And that is the model we should always strive to have at a federal level.
Republicans stand to pick up significant gains in November of this year. You can only hope that they’ve learned a valuable lesson from this election as well. The people want smaller and less intrusive government. They’ve once again begun turning to the Republicans to see that wish enabled. The question is will the message be heeded or will Republicans again ignore it as they did previously when in power and end up again handing it back to the Democrats?
We shall see, won’t we?
AP has just called the Massachusetts Senate race for Republican Scott Brown (9:25 pm) who looks like he’ll end up with anywhere from a 5 to 7 point win.
Probably the most interesting thing I saw during the coverage was feedback during a Frank Lunz group on Fox (I watched MSNBC most of the night which was, well frankly, highly entertaining). The group were predominantly Democrats who voted for Obama. And a good majority of them claim to have voted for Brown. When asked why they said they were against health care reform, wanted Congress to back off and they were sending a message.
What will be interesting is how all the political “experts” choose to interpret this loss and what adjustments they’ll recommend be made. But I can tell you right now, there are a whole crap load of Democrats in marginal seats thinking “if we can’t hold Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, what chance have I unless I do something completely different?”
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wake up to a whole new world tomorrow.