POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/22


Special Election Set in Georgia

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) set April 27 for the special election to replace Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), who officially resigned his seat representing Georgia’s 9th Congressional District following Sunday’s health care reform legislation vote, theAtlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Majority Opposed Doesn’t Tell Full Story

A new CNN poll finds that Americans oppose the current health care reform plan passed by Congesss, 59 to 39%.

However, parsing the numbers shows that many of those against the plan actually oppose it because “it is not liberal enough.” In fact, 52% of Americans either support the current legislation or think it should be more liberal, while only 43% oppose the plan saying it is “too liberal.”

Texas Congressman Shouted “Baby Killer”

Newsweek reports it was Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) who shouted “baby killer” at Rep. Bart Stupak on the House floor last night.

“The moment came close to 11 p.m. while Stupak denounced a GOP motion to weaken the health-care-reform package after it already passed. Under mounting pressure for someone to come forward, Neugebauer made an apology a few minutes ago, and offered a clarification. He says he called the bill a baby killer, not Stupak himself, even though that’s how it sounded. In the apology, Neugebauer said he was ‘heart broken’ by the passage of the bill, and deeply resentful that his comments were misconstrued.”

Chamber of Commerce Won’t Back Repeal

“Republicans in Congress shouldn’t look to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to support a repeal of the health-care overhaul,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Chamber President Thomas Donahue: “If people want to try and repeal, let them. We’re not going to spend any capital on that.”

What Determined Democrats’ Votes?

Nate Silver takes a look at the factors that may have decided how Democrats voted on the health care reform bill last night. He finds that ideology (and the related subject of abortion) and Obama’s vote share in each district were the two most significant factors.

Surprisingly, variables like the percentage of uninsured in a member’s district and the campaign contributions from insurance lobbying groups were insignificant.

The lesson: “In retrospect, the vote might not have come at such a high price for Democrats if Obama had invested more political capital in the bill earlier in the process and made more explicit moral appeals for it — as these were the things that seem to have been most persuasive to Democrats at the end.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends.”

— Mitt Romney, writing for the National Review.

Hildebrand Declines to Challenge Herseth Sandlin

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) “will avoid a primary fight for her South Dakota seat, sidestepping a potentially divisive Democratic battle with a top campaign official to President Obama,” CNN reports.

Steve Hildebrand said he “was seriously considering challenging Herseth Sandlin if she voted against health care reform or if the vote was close.”

But Hildebrand said today that “the margin of victory was wide enough, and that Democratic leaders could have called in more Democratic votes but chose to allow some lawmakers to oppose the measure because of ‘their own politics.'”

Close Republican Race in Michigan

A new Marketing Resource Group poll in Michigan finds a very tight Republican race for governor, with Pete Hoekstra (R) and Mike Cox (D) tied at 21%, Rick Snyder (R) at 20% and Michael Bouchard (R) at 10%.

On the Democratic side, Andy Dillon (D) leads with 21%, followed by Virg Bernero (D) at 9% and Alma Wheeler Smith at 6%.

General election match ups show Republicans with decisive leads.

Flashback of the Day

“The health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection.”

— Fred Barnes, writing in the Weekly Standard in January.

Cuomo Continues to Dominate

A new Siena Poll in New York finds Andrew Cuomo (D) maintains a nearly 40-point lead over Rick Lazio (R), 59% to 21%, and an even larger lead over Steve Levy (R), 63% to 16%.

Said pollster Steven Greenberg: “New York politics changes faster than the weather in Albany in March. Just two months ago, it looked like the Democrats were headed to a potentially divisive primary and that Republicans were rallying around presumptive nominee Lazio. Today it looks like Democrats are planning a coronation at their convention.”

NRCC Outraises DCCC

A small victory for House Republicans: the NRCC’s fundraising totals exceeded their Democratic counterparts last month, CQ Politics reports.

“The National Republican Congressional Committee reported raising $5.1 million last month compared to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $4.4 million haul. However, House Republicans still have a fraction of the Democrats’ cash on hand, with $6.1 million in the bank compared to the DCCC’s almost $20 million war chest.”

Just Like 2008

First Read points out the striking comparisons between the long health-care debate and the long Democratic nomination fight of 2008.

“Both were extended due to the opposition’s political victories (Scott Brown’s win vs. Hillary’s wins in OH and PA). Both resulted in tough news cycles for Obama (the narrative about his disappointing first year in office vs. the Wright/’bitter’/’why has he been unable to seal the deal?’ stories). Both saw a lot of overheated rhetoric (the Tea Party protests vs. the PUMA ones). And on both, Obama was ultimately victorious due to the math (the Dems’ congressional majorities vs. the delegate count) and due to his perseverance to simply outlast his opponents. Ultimately, the long Democratic nomination made Obama a stronger general election candidate because it forced him to focus more on the economy, it gave him additional opportunities for one-on-one debates, and it ended up putting IN and NC in play. And that long fight also gave him the confidence that eventually he can wear down his opposition.”

Hollow Reconciliation Threats?

The budget reconciliation package passed by the House last night — which contains fixes to the health care reform package — heads to the U.S. Senate for debate this week. That will set in motion what’s expected to be a parliamentary floor battle that could last a week or more.

Senate Republicans tell ABC News “they can get the whole package of reconciliation fixes — the fix-its that make the Senate plan palatable to House Democrats — thrown out with a trump card procedural motion.”

However, Ezra Klein notes “my sense is that there’s some confusion about what happens if the parliamentarian rules against the Democrats on this or that provision. So let me be clear on this: Reconciliation isn’t all or nothing. The parliamentarian isn’t ruling whether you can do a reconciliation rider. He’s ruling over what you can do with it. An adverse ruling is more annoying for the Democrats than it is disastrous.”

What Happens if the World Doesn’t End?

Along with the insurance industry and wealthy taxpayers, Newsweek picks the Republican party as the big loser in yesterday’s passage of health care reform.

“They’ll gain seats in the midterms for sure, but not necessarily as many as they are assuming. For one, the world is not going to end if and when the bill becomes law. In fact, nothing much at all will happen. That will be a relief to many, and no grist for the GOP. The Dems will have something to run on. and the Democrats president will look like a winner.”

Quote of the Day

“We’ll challenge it every place we can… We’ll fight everywhere.”

— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview on ABC News, on the landmark health care bill enacted last night

Reactions to the Health Care Vote

Matthew Yglesias: “Now that it’s done, Barack Obama will go down in history as one of America’s finest presidents. It’s always possible of course that, like LBJ, he’ll get involved in some unrelated fiasco that mars his reputation. But fundamentally, he’s reshaped the policy landscape in a way that no progressive politician has done in decades.”

Marc Ambinder: “Republicans had bet that throwing everything into killing the bill would result in the bill’s defeat. The entire strategy was predicated on killing the bill. Now that the bill has passed, it means that the health care system has been fundamentally changed, and there’s no way — and there will not be the votes — to repeal it. No one will tell seniors that the donut hole will be opened up, or people promised new insurance that they’ll have to look elsewhere, or that rescission will once again be legal. Democrats will work for to force Republicans to talk about repeal as often as possible.”

Matthew Continetti: “Do not believe anyone who tells you they understand the path American politics will take after this vote. It is truly unique.”

Jonathan Chait: “Let me offer a ludicrously premature opinion: Barack Obama has sealed his reputation as a president of great historical import. We don’t know what will follow in his presidency, and it’s quite possible that some future event–a war, a scandal–will define his presidency. But we do know that he has put his imprint on the structure of American government in a way that no Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has.”

David Frum: “No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the ‘doughnut hole’ and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?”

Josh Marshall: “Again, I don’t want to paint any rosy pictures. And, as I said, I don’t want to hazard any predictions. But I think this conventional wisdom is quite mistaken. Hard fought victories don’t deplete political capital; they build it. And political wins themselves often have a catalyzing effect that shapes political opinion far more than we realize.”

Story of the Day

New York Times: “House Democrats approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system on Sunday, voting over unanimous Republican opposition to provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans after an epic political battle that could define the differences between the parties for years.”

Washington Post: “House Democrats scored a historic victory in the century-long battle to reform the nation’s health-care system late Sunday night, winning final approval of legislation that expands coverage to 32 million people and attempts to contain spiraling costs.”

Wall Street Journal: “The biggest transformation of the U.S. health system in decades won approval on Capitol Hill late Sunday, the culmination of efforts by generations of Democrats to achieve near-universal health coverage.”

USA Today: “Congress completed action Sunday night on the major portion of President Obama’s top priority, a historic restructuring of the nation’s health care system that has eluded his predecessors for more than a century.”

Los Angeles Times: “Ending the Democrats’ decades-long quest to create a healthcare safety net to match Social Security, the House of Representatives on Sunday night approved sweeping legislation to guarantee Americans access to medical care for the first time, delivering President Obama the biggest victory of his young presidency.”

Waterloo for Republicans

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum says Republicans bet that the health care reform bill would be President Obama’s Waterloo — “just as health care was Clinton’s in 1994.”

“Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.”

“This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none… We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.”

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