Commentary Magazine


Topic: Mary Landrieu

Reid Headed for Defeat?

Sen. Harry Reid is in some trouble with his hometown voters. As this report notes, Republicans Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian lead Reid in recent polling. “And what surely scares the Reid war room the most is the part of the poll that shows Lowden leading Reid in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County, 47 percent to 44 percent. It’s within the poll’s 4 percentage-point margin of error, but that’s still a killer number for a Democrat in Nevada.”

But the source of much of his troubles may be ObamaCare:

Reid’s been carrying the water for President Obama on the health care debate in the Senate. He’s walked so far out on the plank in support of the parts of the health care “reform” bill Nevadans hate the most that imagining a reconciliation and a retreat to the home ship seems nearly impossible. Consider this poll question: “Do you approve of or disapprove of Senator Harry Reid’s efforts to get a health care reform bill through the U.S. Senate?” Answer: 50 percent of registered Nevada voters disapprove, 39 percent approve and 11 percent are not sure.

Unlike Red State Democrats like Mary Landrieu or Blanche Lincoln, Reid can’t very well run from the Democrats’ agenda. He’s in charge of getting it passed, after all. Reid is tied now to an increasingly unpopular agenda and to a president whose own popularity is sagging.  If Reid goes down to defeat, it will be a powerful sign that Obama’s Left-leaning agenda is toxic for Democrats who chose partisanship over the wishes of their constituents.

Thanks to the White House’s determination to pursue big-government power grabs, Reid is in quite a bind. His only chance of survival may be the defeat of the ultra-Left agenda that irks Nevada voters. That certainly won’t reflect well on his legislative leadership skills, however, or endear him to the Democratic base. A year is forever in politics, but it’s looking more probable that Reid could be the second Senate majority leader in 50 years (Tom Daschle was the other) to lose his seat.

Sen. Harry Reid is in some trouble with his hometown voters. As this report notes, Republicans Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian lead Reid in recent polling. “And what surely scares the Reid war room the most is the part of the poll that shows Lowden leading Reid in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County, 47 percent to 44 percent. It’s within the poll’s 4 percentage-point margin of error, but that’s still a killer number for a Democrat in Nevada.”

But the source of much of his troubles may be ObamaCare:

Reid’s been carrying the water for President Obama on the health care debate in the Senate. He’s walked so far out on the plank in support of the parts of the health care “reform” bill Nevadans hate the most that imagining a reconciliation and a retreat to the home ship seems nearly impossible. Consider this poll question: “Do you approve of or disapprove of Senator Harry Reid’s efforts to get a health care reform bill through the U.S. Senate?” Answer: 50 percent of registered Nevada voters disapprove, 39 percent approve and 11 percent are not sure.

Unlike Red State Democrats like Mary Landrieu or Blanche Lincoln, Reid can’t very well run from the Democrats’ agenda. He’s in charge of getting it passed, after all. Reid is tied now to an increasingly unpopular agenda and to a president whose own popularity is sagging.  If Reid goes down to defeat, it will be a powerful sign that Obama’s Left-leaning agenda is toxic for Democrats who chose partisanship over the wishes of their constituents.

Thanks to the White House’s determination to pursue big-government power grabs, Reid is in quite a bind. His only chance of survival may be the defeat of the ultra-Left agenda that irks Nevada voters. That certainly won’t reflect well on his legislative leadership skills, however, or endear him to the Democratic base. A year is forever in politics, but it’s looking more probable that Reid could be the second Senate majority leader in 50 years (Tom Daschle was the other) to lose his seat.

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Sixty, Again and Again

Health-care debate in the Senate gets underway this week, as this report explains:

The debate is expected to last at least several weeks. Democrats would like to pass a bill by Christmas, but have yet to find a formula that can win 60 votes, the number required to conclude debate. Complicating the situation, lawmakers from both parties are planning to introduce dozens of amendments, addressing issues from a government-run health-care plan to medical malpractice lawsuits to abortion and taxes. The aim isn’t just to shape the bill but also to make political points.

One “point” would be that Harry Reid wants to slash hundreds of billions out of Medicare. Another is that Mary Landrieu wants to raise hundreds of billions in new taxes. Still another is that Blanche Lincoln is opposed to tort reform. Well, lots of Democrats will be taking these very toxic positions, but those three are up for re-election in less than a year, as are Michael Bennett of Colorado, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — all of whom will face well-funded and serious opposition by candidates who will run on these votes. And if each of these controversial votes takes 60 to pass, then all will walk the plank to keep Reid’s bill intact. And then there are senators like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman whose terms aren’t up in 2012 but who have voiced principled opposition to the idea of a government takeover of health care.

We saw it wasn’t easy for Reid to get 60 votes, only to start the vote when lawmakers had the excuse that they simply wanted the “process to go forward.” Now we get to the merits, and we’ll see if there are 60 votes — again and again — to pass the components of an increasingly unpopular bill. And all by the end of the year? I’m thinking probably not.

Health-care debate in the Senate gets underway this week, as this report explains:

The debate is expected to last at least several weeks. Democrats would like to pass a bill by Christmas, but have yet to find a formula that can win 60 votes, the number required to conclude debate. Complicating the situation, lawmakers from both parties are planning to introduce dozens of amendments, addressing issues from a government-run health-care plan to medical malpractice lawsuits to abortion and taxes. The aim isn’t just to shape the bill but also to make political points.

One “point” would be that Harry Reid wants to slash hundreds of billions out of Medicare. Another is that Mary Landrieu wants to raise hundreds of billions in new taxes. Still another is that Blanche Lincoln is opposed to tort reform. Well, lots of Democrats will be taking these very toxic positions, but those three are up for re-election in less than a year, as are Michael Bennett of Colorado, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — all of whom will face well-funded and serious opposition by candidates who will run on these votes. And if each of these controversial votes takes 60 to pass, then all will walk the plank to keep Reid’s bill intact. And then there are senators like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman whose terms aren’t up in 2012 but who have voiced principled opposition to the idea of a government takeover of health care.

We saw it wasn’t easy for Reid to get 60 votes, only to start the vote when lawmakers had the excuse that they simply wanted the “process to go forward.” Now we get to the merits, and we’ll see if there are 60 votes — again and again — to pass the components of an increasingly unpopular bill. And all by the end of the year? I’m thinking probably not.

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Bribe-a-thon

As some have observed, the worse ObamaCare gets, the bigger the bribes needed to induce lawmakers to vote for it:

The process has degenerated into taxpayer-financed payoffs for moderate Democrats who don’t want to be held accountable for wrecking the private insurance that 200 million Americans are happy to have. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s wad of cash, for instance, has been fattened to $300 million.

The Hill details the “side deals” that are piling up to gain the votes of wary lawmakers. In addition to Landrieu, we have:

Before Rep. Joseph Cao (La.) cast the lone Republican vote for the healthcare bill in the House, he secured assurances from President Barack Obama to work on Medicaid funding, loan forgiveness and issues related to two of his local hospitals. …

Besides the promises secured by Cao, the best-known deal involved Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa, two Blue Dog Democrats from the Golden State who secured funding for a medical school for California’s Central Valley.

Other lawmakers won carve-outs for their state healthcare systems.

And on and on it goes. Perhaps one effective amendment in the Senate process would be to strip all that out — no state-specific deals, no carve-outs, nothing other than the “merits” of the monstrous bill. How many lawmakers would sign on then? If health-care “reform” promises the nirvana that the Obama/Reid sales team says it will usher in, then its supporters should have no trouble rounding up votes, without the bribe-a-thon, to pass hundreds of billions in new taxes, huge Medicare cuts, a public takeover of health care, and abortion subsidies, right? Well, you see the problem. And that should be a sure-fire sign of just how awful the underlying bill really is.

As some have observed, the worse ObamaCare gets, the bigger the bribes needed to induce lawmakers to vote for it:

The process has degenerated into taxpayer-financed payoffs for moderate Democrats who don’t want to be held accountable for wrecking the private insurance that 200 million Americans are happy to have. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s wad of cash, for instance, has been fattened to $300 million.

The Hill details the “side deals” that are piling up to gain the votes of wary lawmakers. In addition to Landrieu, we have:

Before Rep. Joseph Cao (La.) cast the lone Republican vote for the healthcare bill in the House, he secured assurances from President Barack Obama to work on Medicaid funding, loan forgiveness and issues related to two of his local hospitals. …

Besides the promises secured by Cao, the best-known deal involved Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa, two Blue Dog Democrats from the Golden State who secured funding for a medical school for California’s Central Valley.

Other lawmakers won carve-outs for their state healthcare systems.

And on and on it goes. Perhaps one effective amendment in the Senate process would be to strip all that out — no state-specific deals, no carve-outs, nothing other than the “merits” of the monstrous bill. How many lawmakers would sign on then? If health-care “reform” promises the nirvana that the Obama/Reid sales team says it will usher in, then its supporters should have no trouble rounding up votes, without the bribe-a-thon, to pass hundreds of billions in new taxes, huge Medicare cuts, a public takeover of health care, and abortion subsidies, right? Well, you see the problem. And that should be a sure-fire sign of just how awful the underlying bill really is.

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Wilkins Micawber for Treasury Secretary?

If you would like a graphic example of the fiscal disconnect  characterizing the liberal establishment currently running the country, the front page of today’s New York Times provides it.

The lead story has a two-column head, “Federal Government Faces Balloon in Debt Payments.” The subhead alludes to the very real possibility that interest on the debt in ten years might exceed $700 billion, up from $202 billion this year. The article, well worth reading, makes no bones about the size of the problem we face.

The potential for rapidly escalating interest payouts is just one of the wrenching challenges facing the United States after decades of living beyond its means.

Right beneath the article, however, is a “reefer,” pointing readers to an article elsewhere in the paper, headlined, “Democrats Courting Health Care Votes.” Votes are courted on Capitol Hill by increased spending. Senator Mary Landrieu voted to take up the health-care bill for debate only after Harry Reid inserted an extra $100 million in Medicaid payments for her state, an action promptly dubbed “the Louisiana Purchase.”

Although carefully crafted accounting mendacity allows Obamacare to be characterized “budget neutral,” I doubt there’s a single person on Capitol Hill — or in the Times newsroom — who actually believes that the label fits. It would, after all, be the first new federal entitlement in history not to cost more than predicted (except for the drug benefit enacted a few years ago, which utilizes the power of the free market to bring down prices — not exactly a characteristic of Obamacare).

This is like a couple worrying about their ever-rising credit-card and mortgage payments while heading downtown to a showroom to buy a new car — on credit.

Perhaps if Timothy Geithner leaves as Treasury Secretary, Obama can persuade Wilkins Micawber to come on board. He was never daunted by such contradictions, at least judging by the words that Charles Dickens put in his mouth: “Welcome poverty! . . . Welcome misery, welcome houselessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest, and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!”

If you would like a graphic example of the fiscal disconnect  characterizing the liberal establishment currently running the country, the front page of today’s New York Times provides it.

The lead story has a two-column head, “Federal Government Faces Balloon in Debt Payments.” The subhead alludes to the very real possibility that interest on the debt in ten years might exceed $700 billion, up from $202 billion this year. The article, well worth reading, makes no bones about the size of the problem we face.

The potential for rapidly escalating interest payouts is just one of the wrenching challenges facing the United States after decades of living beyond its means.

Right beneath the article, however, is a “reefer,” pointing readers to an article elsewhere in the paper, headlined, “Democrats Courting Health Care Votes.” Votes are courted on Capitol Hill by increased spending. Senator Mary Landrieu voted to take up the health-care bill for debate only after Harry Reid inserted an extra $100 million in Medicaid payments for her state, an action promptly dubbed “the Louisiana Purchase.”

Although carefully crafted accounting mendacity allows Obamacare to be characterized “budget neutral,” I doubt there’s a single person on Capitol Hill — or in the Times newsroom — who actually believes that the label fits. It would, after all, be the first new federal entitlement in history not to cost more than predicted (except for the drug benefit enacted a few years ago, which utilizes the power of the free market to bring down prices — not exactly a characteristic of Obamacare).

This is like a couple worrying about their ever-rising credit-card and mortgage payments while heading downtown to a showroom to buy a new car — on credit.

Perhaps if Timothy Geithner leaves as Treasury Secretary, Obama can persuade Wilkins Micawber to come on board. He was never daunted by such contradictions, at least judging by the words that Charles Dickens put in his mouth: “Welcome poverty! . . . Welcome misery, welcome houselessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest, and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!”

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