POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/15

McCain Holds Big Lead Over Hayworth

According to a new Tarrance Group poll, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) leads possible challenger J.D. Hayworth (R) by a margin of 56% to 36%.

A poll released last month found the race a dead heat.

McCain has recently raised his partisan profile, vigorously opposing President Obama and sharply attacking the health care bill. Perhaps his angrier approach is helping him among Republican primary voters.

Dean Urges Senate to Kill Health Care Bill

In an interview on Vermont Public Radio, former DNC Chairman Howard Dean urged the Senate to reject the health care reform bill now that it has no Medicare buy-in provision.

Said Dean: “This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.”

DeLauro Wants Lieberman Recalled

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “should be recalled from office over his opposition to the Senate health care bill,” Politico reports.

Said DeLauro: “No individual should hold health care hostage, including Joe Lieberman, and I’ll say it flat out, I think he ought to be recalled.”

Of course, the U.S. Constitution does not authorize states to recall members of Congress.

Schwarzenegger Blasts Palin

In an interview with the Financial Times, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) questioned Sarah Palin’s motivation criticizing cap-and-trade legislation and doubting the link between man-made activities and global warming.

Said Schwarzenegger: “You have to ask: what was she trying to accomplish? Is she really interested in this subject or is she interested in her career and in winning the [Republican] nomination [for president]? You have to take all these things with a grain of salt.”

Herseth Sandlin in for Tough Fight

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) “looking at her toughest fight for reelection since 2004 next year despite the fact that she herself is pretty popular.”

Herseth Sandlin leads Secretary of State Chris Nelson (R), 46% to 39%, “but that’s a close margin given that Nelson is an unknown to 59% of voters in the state.”

Analysis: “Herseth Sandlin’s standing is a good microcosm of the difficulties Democrats face this year in Republican areas. Even though she is personally popular and did vote against the health care bill, she still only has a single digit lead against a relatively unknown opponent.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“You know, again, we are entitled to our own opinions. We’re not entitled to our own facts.”

— Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), quoted by Politico, criticizing Sen. John Thune (R-SD) for his failure to say when benefits to the proposed health care bill would become effective.

United GOP Says “No”

The Hill reports that GOP opposition has solidified against the administration’s agenda, noting that House Republicans voted unanimously against all three major Democratic bills in December.

While the House has passed an omnibus spending bill, estate tax cut extender and financial regulatory reform measures since the beginning of the month, “not one Republican backed any of the measures.”

Why Liberals Should Back the Health Care Bill

Ezra Klein: “On its own terms, the bill is the largest social policy achievement since the Great Society. It will save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of suffering. But moving forward, it also makes future improvements and expansions easier. A lot of the hard work of health-care reform — in particular, the money for subsidies — will finish this year. If reformers want to come back for the public option or more subsidies in a future year, they won’t be doing it atop a $900 billion price tag that’s being battered by tea parties and industry and everyone else. This bill doesn’t have all the good stuff it should have, but reformers can stop fighting for what good stuff it does have and concentrate more intently on what good stuff is left to achieve.”

Nate Silver: “For any ‘progressive’ who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement. The more compelling critique, rather, is that the bill would fail to significantly ‘bend the cost curve’. I don’t dismiss that criticism at all, and certainly the insertion of a public option would have helped at the margins. But fundamentally, that is a critique that would traditionally be associated with the conservative side of the debate, as it ultimately goes to mounting deficits in the wake of expanded government entitlements.”

Jonathan Cohn: “Disappointed progressives may be wondering whether their efforts were a waste. They most decidedly were not. The campaign for the public option pushed the entire debate to the left — and, to use a military metaphor, it diverted enemy fire away from the rest of the bill. If Lieberman and his allies didn’t have the public option to attack, they would have tried to gut the subsidies, the exchanges, or some other key element. They would have hacked away at the bill, until it left more people uninsured and more people under-insured. The public option is the reason that didn’t happen.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“If people want to use that politically, they will and if it’s not that, it’ll be something else. Politics is a brutal game and if you go into it, you clearly understand that everything is out there.”

— Mike Huckabee, quoted by the Seattle Times, on “the backlash he’s received from commuting the sentence of a man who later gunned down four police officers.”

Time For Obama to Get Angry?

First Read: “If there is one thing that both yesterday’s meeting with the bankers and today’s meeting with Senate Democrats have in common, it’s that they’re situations where some might argue that it’s time for the cool, calm, collected Obama to, well, lose his cool a bit. Of course, it’s only worth getting angry if you can follow it up with a tangible punishment. What’s the tangible punishment, for instance, with Lieberman? The Democrats and the White House have no margin of error on health care; they just don’t have the handful of Republicans they need to simply ignore Lieberman or Nebraska’s Ben Nelson. It certainly appears that Lieberman is getting everything he wants, which is causing a HUGE revolt of sorts on the left.”

As Markos Moulitsas tweeted last night: “Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate… They’re still trying to stick us with the mandate, right? Another government bailout of a broken industry.”

Senate Democrats are scheduled to meet with Obama this afternoon and the message, according to Politico, is reportedly, “It’s now or never to pass health reform.”

Biden Predicts Lieberman Will Back Health Care Bill

Vice President Joe Biden said that he’s “confident” that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will vote for health care reform, The Hill reports.

Explained Biden: “There’s an awful lot of gamesmanship going on right now. This is the norm rather than the exception.”

Thompson Could Beat Gillibrand in Primary

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York finds that if New York City Comptroller William Thompson (D) challenged Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in a primary, he would beat her 41% to 28%.

Said pollster Maurice Carroll: “If New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson can raise some money and get in the race, he has a double-digit lead over rookie U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. But Giuliani, who is pondering a Senate race, tops both of them.”

Edwards Visit to Campaign Donor Raises Questions

With John Edwards under investigation by a federal grand jury, “two former prosecutors say a trip he made to the home of a wealthy supporter — and possible witness — could raise legal questions,” according to the Charlotte Observer.

On Friday, WRAL-TV showed Edwards “walking off a plane belonging to Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon, a wealthy heiress who supported the former Democrat’s presidential candidate’s campaign. Flight records showed the plane flew… to the private airstrip at Mellon’s northern Virginia home.”

A grand jury is investigating whether Edwards used campaign money to cover up an affair with mistress Rielle Hunter. A former aide claims Mellon paid some of Hunter’s bills and the Edwards trip raises questions of possible witness tampering.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Business Journal looks into a National Enquirer report that Edwards purchased a home for his former mistress in North Carolina.

Quote of the Day

“My wife said to me, ‘Why do you always end up being the point person here?'”

— Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), “flashing a broad grin” in an interview with the New York Times, on being the deciding vote on health care reform.

Paterson Climbs Back Up

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York mirrors the finding in yesterday’s Siena poll thatfound Gov. David Paterson (D) slowly improving his standing with voters. Paterson’s approval rate is now 40%, up from 30% in October.

However, Andrew Cuomo (D) still leads Paterson, 60% to 23%, in a possible Democratic primary race for governor.

Senate Democrats Cave to Lieberman Demands

Senate Democrats “emerged from a special caucus meeting Monday night determined to pass a health-care bill by Christmas — but without the Medicare buy-in plan that liberals had sought as an alternative to a government insurance option,” the Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg notes Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman on the Senate health committee, said he would be willing to drop a “public option” government insurance program to win passage of a health-care overhaul.

Said Harkin: “This bill, without public option, without Medicare buy-in, is a giant step forward toward transforming American health care. That’s reality, there is enough good stuff in that bill that we should move ahead with it.”

Missing Bush White House Emails Found

The AP reports computer technicians “have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush, according to two groups that are settling lawsuits they filed over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.”

Democrats Regain Edge in Congressional Ballot

The latest Gallup generic congressional ballot finds Democrats have regained the slim edge they enjoyed earlier this year over Republicans for the 2010 House elections, 48% to 45%.

In the November poll, Republicans were ahead by four points. The major cause of the movement between the two polls is the changing preferences of independents.

PPP poll released earlier today found Democrats barely holding their lead.

What a Difference Three Months Makes

Greg Sargent found a Connecticut Post video of a September interview with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in which he endorsed a more robust Medicare buy-in proposal than the one in the Senate bill he’s now threatened to filibuster.

Read more…

Leave Your Blackberry

White House video notes President Obama’s restriction on using a Blackberry during meetings with the president. Instead, they must be left in a basket by the door.

Interesting to note: A CNN frame capture from the video shows that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice carries three of them.

Read more…

Harkin Wants to End Filibuster

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is considering reintroducing legislation to do away with the filibuster, according to the Hawk Eye.

Said Harkin: “I think, if anything, this health care debate is showing the dangers of unlimited filibuster.”

When Harkin first introduced the legislation in 1995, it was cosponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman — who is now threatening to filibuster health care reform.

RNC Doubles Down on Obstruction

The Republican National Committee “will launch a round of national radio ads touting the party’s efforts to stand in the way of health care reform,” reports The Hotline.

The 6-figure ad buy, hitting the airwaves Wednesday, features RNC Chairman Michael Steele “arguing the GOP is blocking new entitlement programs that will hike costs.”

Last week, Steele released a memo urging Republicans to “spend every bit of capital and energy you have to stop this health care reform.”

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