Commentary Magazine


Topic: Louise Slaughter

Showboating Against Wall Street Greed

The marathon Goldman-bashathon yesterday suggests that Congress knows even less about financial reform than it does about health care. There was profanity from Sen. Carl Levin and histrionics from practically everyone else. The New York Times explains what really was going on:

For hour after hour on Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans interrogated Goldman’s mortgage men, including the chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and Fabrice Tourre, the employee named in the S.E.C. complaint, putting them on the spot over Wall Street’s questionable conduct at a legislatively propitious moment.

None of the Goldman executives have been found to have done anything wrong, but some Democrats were ready to place them in the same role played in past financial crises by high-fliers like Charles Keating, Michael Milken and Ken Lay, all of whom came to personify the excesses of the moment.

The hearings were the culmination of a Democratic strategy to take full advantage of the opportunity created by the S.E.C. civil case.

Frankly, it’s not even clear that the senators fully understood the transaction or were aware that there’s nothing illegal or unusual about investments between sophisticated players who are taking opposing bets in the marketplace. I was reminded of Rep. Louise Slaughter, who invoked the tale of an uninsured woman reduced to using her dead sister’s dentures. That had about as much to do with the merits of health-care reform — and revealed the paucity of lawmakers’ understanding of the subject – as a flaky fraud charge against Goldman Sachs does with financial reform. The hunger for anecdotal evidence of Wall Street greed — with little understanding of the anecdote — makes for good TV and poor reform.

There are real issues to be examined (e.g., the independence of rating agencies, the conflicts in investment-banking transactions), but it’s far from clear that the pending legislation is going to address those. But — like the frenzy to nix AIG bonuses — lawmakers aren’t as interested in legal niceties or creating a coherent, predictable financial system as they are in stoking populist anger against Wall Street. It is a convenient way of redirecting public anger away from them, of course. It might work, but we’re likely to wind up with financial “reform” that reforms very little.

The marathon Goldman-bashathon yesterday suggests that Congress knows even less about financial reform than it does about health care. There was profanity from Sen. Carl Levin and histrionics from practically everyone else. The New York Times explains what really was going on:

For hour after hour on Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans interrogated Goldman’s mortgage men, including the chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and Fabrice Tourre, the employee named in the S.E.C. complaint, putting them on the spot over Wall Street’s questionable conduct at a legislatively propitious moment.

None of the Goldman executives have been found to have done anything wrong, but some Democrats were ready to place them in the same role played in past financial crises by high-fliers like Charles Keating, Michael Milken and Ken Lay, all of whom came to personify the excesses of the moment.

The hearings were the culmination of a Democratic strategy to take full advantage of the opportunity created by the S.E.C. civil case.

Frankly, it’s not even clear that the senators fully understood the transaction or were aware that there’s nothing illegal or unusual about investments between sophisticated players who are taking opposing bets in the marketplace. I was reminded of Rep. Louise Slaughter, who invoked the tale of an uninsured woman reduced to using her dead sister’s dentures. That had about as much to do with the merits of health-care reform — and revealed the paucity of lawmakers’ understanding of the subject – as a flaky fraud charge against Goldman Sachs does with financial reform. The hunger for anecdotal evidence of Wall Street greed — with little understanding of the anecdote — makes for good TV and poor reform.

There are real issues to be examined (e.g., the independence of rating agencies, the conflicts in investment-banking transactions), but it’s far from clear that the pending legislation is going to address those. But — like the frenzy to nix AIG bonuses — lawmakers aren’t as interested in legal niceties or creating a coherent, predictable financial system as they are in stoking populist anger against Wall Street. It is a convenient way of redirecting public anger away from them, of course. It might work, but we’re likely to wind up with financial “reform” that reforms very little.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

No affront, no insult taken when Hillary Clinton is dissed by Putin and told that Russia is going ahead with its plans to help the mullahs build a nuclear reactor. Condemnation to follow? “Another full affrontal from the forces of tyranny against visiting American diplos. Since the slap came to Hillary this time, who makes the sassy 43-minute phone call to Putin? Is it Joe? Barack Obama himself? Maybe Bill should step in for his gal?” Now, Bill Clinton — there’s an idea.

How’s the Russian “reset” working out? “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia will help Iran launch its first nuclear power plant this summer, delivering a diplomatic slap to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a blow to U.S.-led efforts to increase financial pressure on Tehran. … Mr. Putin’s comments come as the Obama administration has endured other slights on the global stage in recent weeks. Israel’s government announced new construction in disputed East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week. Chinese officials have rebuffed U.S. calls for a revaluing of the yuan and greater Internet freedoms.”

Tony Rezko’s banker’s worst clients aren’t the mobsters. They’re the mullahs.

Eric Cantor blasts Obama’s double standard on Israel.

The ObamaCare effect: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. … Each time the President leads a big push for his health care plan, his job approval ratings suffer.”

On a possible Obama meeting with Bibi, Ben Smith deadpans: “It seems reasonable at some point to ask what purpose the high-level American expressions of outrage last week wound up serving.”

What does Tom Campbell think of the Obama fight with Israel? At approximately 5:20 on the video, he seems not to have any problem with Joe Biden or the administration’s approach. His GOP opponents both excoriated the Obami.

They keep making it worse, explains Bill Kristol: “Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter have come up with a parliamentary maneuver — ‘deem and pass’ — reeking of evasiveness and trickery that Democratic members are going to have to embrace. But it gets better! The point of ‘deem and pass’ is to allow representatives to vote directly only on the reconciliation ‘fixes’ rather than on the Senate health care bill (which will be deemed to be passed if reconciliation passes). But the reconciliation ‘fixes’ make the Senate bill even more politically unattractive.” Honest! More taxes and more Medicare cuts.

It didn’t sound like there was a deal to be had: “Even the leading proponent of a deal to close the Guantanamo Bay prison is throwing cold water on talk that such a compromise is imminent. A spokesman for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissed a report in the Wall Street Journal Friday that the White House and a bipartisan group of senators were nearing agreement to close Guantanamo and settle a series of related thorny issues, including sending alleged September 11 plotters to military commissions.”

No affront, no insult taken when Hillary Clinton is dissed by Putin and told that Russia is going ahead with its plans to help the mullahs build a nuclear reactor. Condemnation to follow? “Another full affrontal from the forces of tyranny against visiting American diplos. Since the slap came to Hillary this time, who makes the sassy 43-minute phone call to Putin? Is it Joe? Barack Obama himself? Maybe Bill should step in for his gal?” Now, Bill Clinton — there’s an idea.

How’s the Russian “reset” working out? “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia will help Iran launch its first nuclear power plant this summer, delivering a diplomatic slap to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a blow to U.S.-led efforts to increase financial pressure on Tehran. … Mr. Putin’s comments come as the Obama administration has endured other slights on the global stage in recent weeks. Israel’s government announced new construction in disputed East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week. Chinese officials have rebuffed U.S. calls for a revaluing of the yuan and greater Internet freedoms.”

Tony Rezko’s banker’s worst clients aren’t the mobsters. They’re the mullahs.

Eric Cantor blasts Obama’s double standard on Israel.

The ObamaCare effect: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. … Each time the President leads a big push for his health care plan, his job approval ratings suffer.”

On a possible Obama meeting with Bibi, Ben Smith deadpans: “It seems reasonable at some point to ask what purpose the high-level American expressions of outrage last week wound up serving.”

What does Tom Campbell think of the Obama fight with Israel? At approximately 5:20 on the video, he seems not to have any problem with Joe Biden or the administration’s approach. His GOP opponents both excoriated the Obami.

They keep making it worse, explains Bill Kristol: “Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter have come up with a parliamentary maneuver — ‘deem and pass’ — reeking of evasiveness and trickery that Democratic members are going to have to embrace. But it gets better! The point of ‘deem and pass’ is to allow representatives to vote directly only on the reconciliation ‘fixes’ rather than on the Senate health care bill (which will be deemed to be passed if reconciliation passes). But the reconciliation ‘fixes’ make the Senate bill even more politically unattractive.” Honest! More taxes and more Medicare cuts.

It didn’t sound like there was a deal to be had: “Even the leading proponent of a deal to close the Guantanamo Bay prison is throwing cold water on talk that such a compromise is imminent. A spokesman for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissed a report in the Wall Street Journal Friday that the White House and a bipartisan group of senators were nearing agreement to close Guantanamo and settle a series of related thorny issues, including sending alleged September 11 plotters to military commissions.”

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Self-Slaughter

Sometimes in politics the ugliness of the process can become almost as harmful as the damaging substance of the policies themselves. That is what is occurring now, with Speaker Pelosi indicating a preference for a parliamentary tactic that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate’s health care bill without voting directly on the bill itself (as you’ve no doubt seen mentioned in previous posts, this tactic is variously known as the “self-executing rule,” “deem and pass,” and “the Slaughter Solution,” named after Louise Slaughter, chairman of the House Rules Committee).

If you want a sense of how much this whole process is damaging the Obama administration — the apostles of “hope and change,” you’ll recall — take a look at Robert Gibbs trying to answer whether the “Slaughter Solution” constitutes the kind of up-or-down vote the president promised. It’s almost painful to watch. The unmasking of the Obama presidency continues, one day at a time.

Sometimes in politics the ugliness of the process can become almost as harmful as the damaging substance of the policies themselves. That is what is occurring now, with Speaker Pelosi indicating a preference for a parliamentary tactic that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate’s health care bill without voting directly on the bill itself (as you’ve no doubt seen mentioned in previous posts, this tactic is variously known as the “self-executing rule,” “deem and pass,” and “the Slaughter Solution,” named after Louise Slaughter, chairman of the House Rules Committee).

If you want a sense of how much this whole process is damaging the Obama administration — the apostles of “hope and change,” you’ll recall — take a look at Robert Gibbs trying to answer whether the “Slaughter Solution” constitutes the kind of up-or-down vote the president promised. It’s almost painful to watch. The unmasking of the Obama presidency continues, one day at a time.

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How a Bill Becomes Law in Three Minutes—and How a Party Becomes Toast in Six Months

Americans, it is said, don’t care about political procedure — how the House and Senate do things. That’s true. But they’re about to. If, indeed, Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter and the Democrats actually attempt to declare the health-care bill law without its having been voted on, there is going to be a massive populist revolt. That’s not because Republicans will gin one up. It’s because there’s a cultural provenance here.

Everyone between the ages of 35 and 50 in this country probably saw, as a kid, this – I’m Just a Bill — a three-minute-long Saturday-morning cartoon that ran on ABC intermittently for several years. And everybody over the age of 50 probably has an atavistic memory of some “How a Bill Becomes Law” moment in a civics class (they don’t teach such irrelevant matters any longer, I gather). The single thing nonpolitical people may know about legislation is that Congress has to vote on it before the president signs it. The fundamental breach that is under discussion right now, even if it’s been done in minor ways before, is exactly the sort of political action that can explode outward in a million ways, and I suspect that even Nancy Pelosi is aware of the kind of damage she is going to inflict on herself and her own party if she attempts it. Which is why she is going to spend the rest of the week strong-arming Democratic House members any way she can, as Yuval Levin explores here. That, too, presents its own kind of peril, because there is no way the deals she has struck will remain hidden from view, and every one of them will be used as a weapon against her, the Democrat who was bribed, and the party as a whole.

There will be a lull right after President Obama signs it, as the media drop consideration of the controversy to discuss just how historic the historic nature of the historic legislation is, historically speaking, in historic terms … and then Congress will return home for the Easter recess on March 26, and all hell will break loose.

Americans, it is said, don’t care about political procedure — how the House and Senate do things. That’s true. But they’re about to. If, indeed, Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter and the Democrats actually attempt to declare the health-care bill law without its having been voted on, there is going to be a massive populist revolt. That’s not because Republicans will gin one up. It’s because there’s a cultural provenance here.

Everyone between the ages of 35 and 50 in this country probably saw, as a kid, this – I’m Just a Bill — a three-minute-long Saturday-morning cartoon that ran on ABC intermittently for several years. And everybody over the age of 50 probably has an atavistic memory of some “How a Bill Becomes Law” moment in a civics class (they don’t teach such irrelevant matters any longer, I gather). The single thing nonpolitical people may know about legislation is that Congress has to vote on it before the president signs it. The fundamental breach that is under discussion right now, even if it’s been done in minor ways before, is exactly the sort of political action that can explode outward in a million ways, and I suspect that even Nancy Pelosi is aware of the kind of damage she is going to inflict on herself and her own party if she attempts it. Which is why she is going to spend the rest of the week strong-arming Democratic House members any way she can, as Yuval Levin explores here. That, too, presents its own kind of peril, because there is no way the deals she has struck will remain hidden from view, and every one of them will be used as a weapon against her, the Democrat who was bribed, and the party as a whole.

There will be a lull right after President Obama signs it, as the media drop consideration of the controversy to discuss just how historic the historic nature of the historic legislation is, historically speaking, in historic terms … and then Congress will return home for the Easter recess on March 26, and all hell will break loose.

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Doubling Down on the Tricks

We started with the notion that health care was going to save money, be budget neutral, and be passed through a transparent process. Not one of these things is true about the current incarnation or the process. Indeed, “pass” is now a matter of great controversy. As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain:

New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what’s known as a “self-executing rule,” also known as a “hereby rule.” Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.

But don’t they have to vote on the bill? Oh, pish-posh, let’s not get hung up on constitutional niceties. There’s historic legislation to be passed … er … “hereby ruled” through the House. Yes, it sure is a sign that the bill is so noxious that lawmakers have to pretend they aren’t voting for it in order to, well, vote for it. (“We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn’t want to vote for it.”)

Even Nancy Pelosi is trying to keep things vague, suggesting it may not come to this. But it is coming to this, because a desperate president and the equally desperate Democratic leadership fear losing, so they resort to tricks, backroom deals, and parliamentary sleights of hand. That’s in large part how the bill got to be so unpopular. Nevertheless, the Democrats seem intent on doubling down, so why not load up on the procedural gimmicks? At some point — now would be as good a time as any — saner Democratic heads may prevail and wonder why their leaders must shred the Constitution in order to pass a bill that’s supposedly such an electoral winner for their side.

We started with the notion that health care was going to save money, be budget neutral, and be passed through a transparent process. Not one of these things is true about the current incarnation or the process. Indeed, “pass” is now a matter of great controversy. As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain:

New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what’s known as a “self-executing rule,” also known as a “hereby rule.” Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.

But don’t they have to vote on the bill? Oh, pish-posh, let’s not get hung up on constitutional niceties. There’s historic legislation to be passed … er … “hereby ruled” through the House. Yes, it sure is a sign that the bill is so noxious that lawmakers have to pretend they aren’t voting for it in order to, well, vote for it. (“We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn’t want to vote for it.”)

Even Nancy Pelosi is trying to keep things vague, suggesting it may not come to this. But it is coming to this, because a desperate president and the equally desperate Democratic leadership fear losing, so they resort to tricks, backroom deals, and parliamentary sleights of hand. That’s in large part how the bill got to be so unpopular. Nevertheless, the Democrats seem intent on doubling down, so why not load up on the procedural gimmicks? At some point — now would be as good a time as any — saner Democratic heads may prevail and wonder why their leaders must shred the Constitution in order to pass a bill that’s supposedly such an electoral winner for their side.

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Forget Bipartisanship — What About His Own Party?

As Pete has commented, Obama spinners wield the ”bipartisanship” sword when convenient and tuck it away when not, or as Nancy Pelosi bizarrely suggested, they redefine bipartisanship as not requiring bipartsian support for the bill. (Sort of like fiscal discipline without the discipline part.) But Obama has a bigger problem — his summit performance seems to have not rallied his own side, but rather to have alienated many Democrats. Bloomberg reports:

Obama plans to announce a way forward this week on the biggest overhaul of the U.S. health system in 45 years in a bid to break an impasse on the bill. Some House Democrats are uneasy over the likely use of a procedure called reconciliation that would sidestep Republican opposition by requiring only a simple majority vote in the Senate. “It looks like we’re trying to cram something through,” said Representative Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who voted for the original House bill.

Hill said he might not back a measure if it goes through reconciliation, which is intended for budget matters. A “sizeable number” of the 54 fiscally conservative Democrats who call themselves Blue Dogs are also concerned, said South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Even the lawmaker who related the sob story of wearing the dead sister’s dentures has her concerns. (“There is some consternation,” said New York Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who runs the House Rules Committee.) As Representative Alcee Hastings put it, “I see a risk of some people who are vulnerable being made more vulnerable.” And he’s in favor of ObamaCare.

The president could well have made things worse by his performance at the health-care summit — allowing the Republicans to demonstrate their bona fides and revealing a paucity of legitimate responses to their very probing critiques. He certainly didn’t endear himself to the GOP, but — even worse — he provided little comfort to his own side. In the end, the summit may well prove to be decisive, but not in the way the White House had hoped.

As Pete has commented, Obama spinners wield the ”bipartisanship” sword when convenient and tuck it away when not, or as Nancy Pelosi bizarrely suggested, they redefine bipartisanship as not requiring bipartsian support for the bill. (Sort of like fiscal discipline without the discipline part.) But Obama has a bigger problem — his summit performance seems to have not rallied his own side, but rather to have alienated many Democrats. Bloomberg reports:

Obama plans to announce a way forward this week on the biggest overhaul of the U.S. health system in 45 years in a bid to break an impasse on the bill. Some House Democrats are uneasy over the likely use of a procedure called reconciliation that would sidestep Republican opposition by requiring only a simple majority vote in the Senate. “It looks like we’re trying to cram something through,” said Representative Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who voted for the original House bill.

Hill said he might not back a measure if it goes through reconciliation, which is intended for budget matters. A “sizeable number” of the 54 fiscally conservative Democrats who call themselves Blue Dogs are also concerned, said South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Even the lawmaker who related the sob story of wearing the dead sister’s dentures has her concerns. (“There is some consternation,” said New York Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who runs the House Rules Committee.) As Representative Alcee Hastings put it, “I see a risk of some people who are vulnerable being made more vulnerable.” And he’s in favor of ObamaCare.

The president could well have made things worse by his performance at the health-care summit — allowing the Republicans to demonstrate their bona fides and revealing a paucity of legitimate responses to their very probing critiques. He certainly didn’t endear himself to the GOP, but — even worse — he provided little comfort to his own side. In the end, the summit may well prove to be decisive, but not in the way the White House had hoped.

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LIVE BLOG: Chait Needs to Re-engage with Reality

John, I’d add (for now) a few points to your response to Jonathan Chait. Isn’t it interesting that Americans are siding, in overwhelming numbers, with “people who reply either on debunked claims at best and talk-radio-level slogans at worst”? And if Mr. Chait is proud to claim such articulate advocates as Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Dingell, Louise Slaughter, and all the rest, he is free to do so.

This was a dispiriting day for the president, for the Democrats, and for their health-care plans. I think ObamaCare will die; and it will die because liberals are badly losing the arguments on the merits. The sooner liberals like Chait accept that unpleasant truth — the sooner they re-engage with reality — the better off they will be.

John, I’d add (for now) a few points to your response to Jonathan Chait. Isn’t it interesting that Americans are siding, in overwhelming numbers, with “people who reply either on debunked claims at best and talk-radio-level slogans at worst”? And if Mr. Chait is proud to claim such articulate advocates as Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Dingell, Louise Slaughter, and all the rest, he is free to do so.

This was a dispiriting day for the president, for the Democrats, and for their health-care plans. I think ObamaCare will die; and it will die because liberals are badly losing the arguments on the merits. The sooner liberals like Chait accept that unpleasant truth — the sooner they re-engage with reality — the better off they will be.

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LIVE BLOG: Louise Slaughter

Thank God for the performance of Louise Slaughter, the Democratic representative, for injecting a note of reality into these proceedings — the reality being that members of Congress often grab the microphone to tell ridiculous stories about their constituents. In her case it was something about someone in her district who was wearing her sister’s dentures.

Thank God for the performance of Louise Slaughter, the Democratic representative, for injecting a note of reality into these proceedings — the reality being that members of Congress often grab the microphone to tell ridiculous stories about their constituents. In her case it was something about someone in her district who was wearing her sister’s dentures.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Wow: “Republicans are stepping up their efforts to persuade more House Democrats to switch parties and are zeroing in on a second-term Pennsylvanian who is not ruling out such a move.” And this is when the Democrats have a 258-seat . . . er. . . make that 257-seat  majority.

RealClearPolitics average on ObamaCare: 38.4 percent approve and 51 disapprove. So, are Democrats going to run on this in 2010 as their signature achievement? Might explain why there are potential defections.

Voters would rather their representatives be doing something else: “Voters, as they have all year, rate cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as President Obama’s number one budget priority. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% put deficit cutting in first place, followed by 22% who say health care reform is most important.”

Do we think she means it? “The Senate’s healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate’s bill is so flawed that it’s unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.”

Well, liberal journalists seem nervous: “Yet for all the justifiable celebrations of this achievement, it’s fast becoming clear—as it should have always been—that Democrats are still a long way from home free when it comes to the final enactment of health-care reform into law. That ironing out of the differences between the House and Senate incarnations of the bill is going to be no easy thing.” And the key stumbling block may well be abortion. Can Nancy Pelosi find votes to make up for Re. Bart Stupak and pro-life Democrats unwilling to roll over as Sen. Ben Nelson did? We’ll find out.

The bill is so bad it renders Sen. Chuck Schumer mute: “Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson both slammed the Senate bill Monday, charging it would cost the city more than $500 million and rip a $1 billion-a-year hole in the state budget. Schumer, a veteran streetfighter for federal cash, has been suddenly recast as a defender of Washington—and a deal he helped cut that shafts New York. ’He’s being uncharacteristically quiet in part because the numbers don’t look that good,’ said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. . . [Schumer] bristled at criticism that he stood by as other states won sweetheart deals.” Well, how come Nebraska got more than New York then?

Seems like there might be some legal challenges to the Cash for Cloture deals.

Not making this up: Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are demanding an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Freddie Mac. See, Obama is bringing people together.

Wow: “Republicans are stepping up their efforts to persuade more House Democrats to switch parties and are zeroing in on a second-term Pennsylvanian who is not ruling out such a move.” And this is when the Democrats have a 258-seat . . . er. . . make that 257-seat  majority.

RealClearPolitics average on ObamaCare: 38.4 percent approve and 51 disapprove. So, are Democrats going to run on this in 2010 as their signature achievement? Might explain why there are potential defections.

Voters would rather their representatives be doing something else: “Voters, as they have all year, rate cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as President Obama’s number one budget priority. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% put deficit cutting in first place, followed by 22% who say health care reform is most important.”

Do we think she means it? “The Senate’s healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate’s bill is so flawed that it’s unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.”

Well, liberal journalists seem nervous: “Yet for all the justifiable celebrations of this achievement, it’s fast becoming clear—as it should have always been—that Democrats are still a long way from home free when it comes to the final enactment of health-care reform into law. That ironing out of the differences between the House and Senate incarnations of the bill is going to be no easy thing.” And the key stumbling block may well be abortion. Can Nancy Pelosi find votes to make up for Re. Bart Stupak and pro-life Democrats unwilling to roll over as Sen. Ben Nelson did? We’ll find out.

The bill is so bad it renders Sen. Chuck Schumer mute: “Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson both slammed the Senate bill Monday, charging it would cost the city more than $500 million and rip a $1 billion-a-year hole in the state budget. Schumer, a veteran streetfighter for federal cash, has been suddenly recast as a defender of Washington—and a deal he helped cut that shafts New York. ’He’s being uncharacteristically quiet in part because the numbers don’t look that good,’ said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. . . [Schumer] bristled at criticism that he stood by as other states won sweetheart deals.” Well, how come Nebraska got more than New York then?

Seems like there might be some legal challenges to the Cash for Cloture deals.

Not making this up: Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are demanding an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Freddie Mac. See, Obama is bringing people together.

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The Unpersuaded

In a helpful compilation from the Washington Post of statements from members of Congress, we see the range of opinion — from cautious praise among Republicans concerned about the exit ramps, to Democrats who like those exit ramps, to those opposed to any surge. The prize for the most unintelligible goes to Sen. Barbara Boxer, who contributes this gem:

I support the President’s mission and exit strategy for Afghanistan, but I do not support adding more troops because there are now 200,000 American, NATO and Afghan forces fighting roughly 20,000 Taliban and less than 100 al Qaeda.

Even for Boxer, that’s a doozy. Whatever you think of Obama’s speech, it’s clear his mission is to increase troops, and it’s equally clear that the numbers of troops we currently have is insufficient. No one other than Joe Biden’s political flunkies could make a case to the president otherwise.

But Boxer provides a useful reminder that it’s a fool’s errand to try to please or persuade foolish people. The president isn’t ever going to win over Boxer, but what does it matter? He’s probably not going to convince Rep. Louise Slaughter (“I see no good reason for us to send another 30,000 or more troops to Afghanistan when we have so many pressing issues — like our economy — to deal with in this country. The U.S. government is already spending $3.6 billion a month on the war in Afghanistan”). And Sen. Russ Feingold isn’t impressed with anything short of a deadline for retreat (“I do not support the president’s decision to send additional troops to fight a war in Afghanistan that is no longer in our national security interest. … While I appreciate that the president made clear we won’t be in Afghanistan forever, I am disappointed by his decision not to offer a timetable for ending our military presence there”).

It may be that the president doesn’t really think he’ll win these people over, yet he can’t give up the the lure of a finite war, neatly defined, which allows him to return to the “real” crises — global warming and health care. Don’t laugh — this is what he believes. And that’s what he wants to spend his time and our money on. Obama may sound less dopey than Boxer and less defiant than Feingold, but these are his ideological soul mates, and he’s not about to make a complete break with them or his own guiding philosophy.

In a helpful compilation from the Washington Post of statements from members of Congress, we see the range of opinion — from cautious praise among Republicans concerned about the exit ramps, to Democrats who like those exit ramps, to those opposed to any surge. The prize for the most unintelligible goes to Sen. Barbara Boxer, who contributes this gem:

I support the President’s mission and exit strategy for Afghanistan, but I do not support adding more troops because there are now 200,000 American, NATO and Afghan forces fighting roughly 20,000 Taliban and less than 100 al Qaeda.

Even for Boxer, that’s a doozy. Whatever you think of Obama’s speech, it’s clear his mission is to increase troops, and it’s equally clear that the numbers of troops we currently have is insufficient. No one other than Joe Biden’s political flunkies could make a case to the president otherwise.

But Boxer provides a useful reminder that it’s a fool’s errand to try to please or persuade foolish people. The president isn’t ever going to win over Boxer, but what does it matter? He’s probably not going to convince Rep. Louise Slaughter (“I see no good reason for us to send another 30,000 or more troops to Afghanistan when we have so many pressing issues — like our economy — to deal with in this country. The U.S. government is already spending $3.6 billion a month on the war in Afghanistan”). And Sen. Russ Feingold isn’t impressed with anything short of a deadline for retreat (“I do not support the president’s decision to send additional troops to fight a war in Afghanistan that is no longer in our national security interest. … While I appreciate that the president made clear we won’t be in Afghanistan forever, I am disappointed by his decision not to offer a timetable for ending our military presence there”).

It may be that the president doesn’t really think he’ll win these people over, yet he can’t give up the the lure of a finite war, neatly defined, which allows him to return to the “real” crises — global warming and health care. Don’t laugh — this is what he believes. And that’s what he wants to spend his time and our money on. Obama may sound less dopey than Boxer and less defiant than Feingold, but these are his ideological soul mates, and he’s not about to make a complete break with them or his own guiding philosophy.

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