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Liberal Outrage

They never fail to disappoint

The White House and conservative Democrats want to set up a special commission that can gut "entitlement" programs in order to reduce the deficit.

I know another program that is a much better candidate for cuts.

By fnord12 | November 30, 2009, 2:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Except, you know, for 9/11, the Anthrax attacks, and... do you count the DC Sniper?

Dana Perino:

We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during president Bush's term. I hope they're not looking at this politically. I do think that we owe it to the American people to call it [the Ford Hood shooting] what it is.

I wouldn't count the DC Sniper. But she's making the case that the Fort Hood shooting should be considered a terrorist attack. So by her logic, the DC Sniper would count as well. Except it doesn't. Because there were no terrorist attacks during Bush's presidency.

Just as a reminder, Obama just hired this liar to be on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Good idea!

By fnord12 | November 25, 2009, 9:04 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Why do we get all the Big Heads?

Lou Dobbs considering running for Robert Menendez's Senate seat:

Dobbs isn't just considering running for political office. He's considering a run for the White House in 2012. Thing is, though, that's a ways off. And he can't just sit around chilling for two and a half years. So ... well, let's hear how a spokesman for Lou puts it. "I think Lou is realistically saying, that's a long way off, but if he did run for office there'd have to be an intermediary step, such as the Menendez seat," Dobbs's spokesman Robert L. Dilenschneider told The New York Times.

So, yes, Dobbs may run for the presidency. But as a warm up, as it were, he might run for senate against Menendez.

Admittedly, Dobbs v. Menendez would have some iconic oomph in the Dobbs Universe, with the whole white guy taking a job back from a Hispanic angle. But there is the problem of Menendez being up for reelection in 2012 rather than 2010. So I'm not sure how that's an intermediate step for running against Obama in 2012. Or maybe I just don't understand the math.

By fnord12 | November 25, 2009, 8:59 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Might be worth a try...

(and before the Secret Service shows up, let me be clear: i mean the kamikaze primary challenge)

Ezra Klein, quoting Steve Benen:

[I]magine there's a big meeting with every member of the Democratic caucus in both chambers. You stand at the front of the room and make a presentation: "If health care reform falls apart after having come this far, tens of millions of Americans will suffer; costs will continue to soar; the public will perceive Democrats as too weak and incompetent to act on their own agenda; the party will lose a lot of seats in the midterms and possibly forfeit its majority; and President Obama will have suffered a devastating defeat that will severely limit his presidency going forward. No one will even try to fix the dysfunctional system again for decades, and the existing problems will only get worse."

For progressive Democrats, the response would be, "That's an unacceptable outcome, which we have to avoid."

For conservative Democrats, the response would be, "We can live with failure."

This necessarily affects negotiations. One contingent wants to avoid failure; the other contingent considers failure a satisfactory outcome. Both sides know what the other side is thinking.

That's Steve Benen, describing the dynamic in the Senate. As I've said before, I think a lot of folks imagine this as a negotiation, in which both sides want to get to yes, and so everyone is involved in a complex game to signal their comfort with failure in order to strengthen their ultimate bargaining position. But that's not an accurate depiction of the process.

If this is comparable to any form of negotiation, it's a hostage negotiation. The hostage-takers might not prefer to kill the kid, but there's definitely some upside to killing the kid, as it strengthens them in future negotiations. Conversely, the people on the other side of the phone don't want the kid to die, but also don't want a situation in which hostage-taking is encouraged. Generally, you try and resolve that by killing or capturing the hostage-takers, but that's not really an option here, with the closest analogue being a kamikaze primary challenge against Blanche Lincoln, which would come too late to affect health-care reform anyway.

By fnord12 | November 23, 2009, 7:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

On the filibuster

And the increasing use of it, to the point where it is now assumed to always be on.

By fnord12 | November 23, 2009, 5:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Robert Reich explains it away


First there was Medicare for all 300 million of us. But that was a non-starter because private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it was too much like what they have up in Canada -- which, by the way, cost Canadians only 10 percent of their GDP and covers every Canadian. (Our current system of private for-profit insurers costs 16 percent of GDP and leaves out 45 million people.)

So the compromise was to give all Americans the option of buying into a "Medicare-like plan" that competed with private insurers. Who could be against freedom of choice? Fully 70 percent of Americans polled supported the idea. Open to all Americans, such a plan would have the scale and authority to negotiate low prices with drug companies and other providers, and force private insurers to provide better service at lower costs. But private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it would end up too much like what they have up in Canada.

So the compromise was to give the public option only to Americans who wouldn't be covered either by their employers or by Medicaid. And give them coverage pegged to Medicare rates. But private insurers and ... you know the rest.

So the compromise that ended up in the House bill is to have a mere public option, open only to the 6 million Americans not otherwise covered. The Congressional Budget Office warns this shrunken public option will have no real bargaining leverage and would attract mainly people who need lots of medical care to begin with. So it will actually cost more than it saves.

But even the House's shrunken and costly little public option is too much for private insurers, Big Pharma, Republicans, and "centrists" in the Senate. So Harry Reid has proposed an even tinier public option, which states can decide not to offer their citizens. According to the CBO, it would attract no more than 4 million Americans.

It's a token public option, an ersatz public option, a fleeting gesture toward the idea of a public option, so small and desiccated as to be barely worth mentioning except for the fact that it still (gasp) contains the word "public."

And yet Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson mumble darkly that they may not even vote to allow debate on the floor of the Senate about the bill if it contains this paltry public option. And Republicans predict a "holy war."

By fnord12 | November 23, 2009, 9:13 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Fire up some attack ads

In order to get health care reform passed in the Senate, three steps must occur:

#1 - the Senate must agree to debate the bill. This requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

#2 - the Senate must vote to end the debate on the bill. This also requires 60 votes if it is being filibustered. This is the phase in which amendments to the bill may be voted on, each of which individually requires these same three steps.

#3 - the actual vote on the bill. This requires 51 votes.

The Senate accomplished step #1 on Saturday night. It was done with a straight party line vote, 60-39, with both independents (Sanders and Lieberman) voting with the Dems, and one Republican not present. Not a single Republican voted to simply allow debate on the bill.

How is this not being spun as "Republicans don't want to solve our health care problems"? The vote to start the debate should have been 100-0. Republicans would have a legitimate leg to stand on if they voted for the bill and then offered a bunch of amendments that tried to modify the bill to include more of the solutions they are in favor of, and/or to remove the elements they don't like. But by not even voting to allow the debate to begin, it's clear they have no interest in passing anything.

Republicans do have some vaguely serious proposals for reforming health care. I don't think they'd be very effective (and could be quite harmful), and almost all experts, including the CBO, seem to agree. Their biggest solutions are tort reform and allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines. Despite their limited value, both are included in the bill in some form. So there's a groundwork for Republicans to expand upon during the amendment phase. But they clearly have no interest in doing so. It's pure obstructionism. Why aren't the Dems loudly proclaiming it so?

It's also worth noting that some conservative Democrats had to be bribed into voting to allow debate. Mary Landrieu demanded additional Medicaid funding in her state for Katrina victims. I'm fine with that in its own right. It's a bit odd for Landrieu to claim to be against a public option while at the same time wanting more money for public health programs. But whatever. And Ben Nelson demanded that an insurance monopoly-busting measure be removed. Which is completely outrageous. It's very clear that Nelson isn't 'conservative' so much as beholden to his campaign donors. It's not conservative to allow monopolies. But the larger question is, why do we have to bribe Democrats to vote to just allow the debate to begin?

By fnord12 | November 22, 2009, 4:32 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Victory in auditing the Fed

Something quite amazing happened yesterday in Congress: the House Finance Committee -- in a truly bipartisan and even trans-ideological vote -- defied the banking industry, the Federal Reserve, the Democratic leadership, and mainstream Beltway opinion in order to pass an amendment, sponsored by GOP Rep. Ron Paul and Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, mandating a genuine and probing audit of the Fed.

More from Glenn Greenwald. Note this has only passed committee at this point.

More Democrats need to get behind these populist type issues or they'll be rightly held accountable for the economy in the 2010 elections and beyond.

By fnord12 | November 20, 2009, 1:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Taking "Team of Rivals" beyond too far


President Barack Obama has tapped a former top aide of his predecessor George W. Bush to a key post on a board overseeing government-sponsored international broadcasting.

Dana Perino, the first Republican woman to serve as White House press secretary, was appointed late Wednesday to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

By fnord12 | November 19, 2009, 3:59 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Idiot or liar?

Mary Landrieu (Dem - LA):

Though she's not ready to support the public option in the Senate bill, Landrieu says that, thanks to moderates, it's much improved.

"The public option, because of the moderates, and because of what I've been helping to do and other moderates, has been shaped, in our view, 100 percent better than when it started out," she said, adding,"it's already shaped to be a public option that is supported by premiums," before being whisked away into a vote.

The Public Option has always - always! - been designed to be supported by Premiums. Does she really not know this? Or is this just some weird kabuki dance she needs to perform in order to change her position? It amazes me that she can get away with such a statement. I guess our media is no smarter than her.

I'm happy to have her come around on the issue. But i'm not happy that she's pushing some 'moderates made it better' agenda when that's clearly not true.

By fnord12 | November 5, 2009, 12:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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