In the perverse scorekeeping of Washington, the fact that 41 Republicans will vote to block the Dodd bank bill from advancing today actually means that there is more likelihood of a bipartisan deal.
If there were a real ideological chasm here, a filibuster would mean a no go, as it did on Obamacare in the Senate.
But in this case, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knows that while he wants the bill to pass, it’s better to record as many Republican “no” votes as possible.
The GOP wants to beef up the anti-bailout provisions of the bill and a few fine points – measures for which there is broad bipartisan support. But Reid is doing his Dirty Harry routine and trying to provoke a fight. Remember, Reid is sunk in polls in his home state and has adopted the idea of being a “fighter” for his reelection campaign.
But that’s all sound and fury. What about the bill itself?
(My column on the treat for public employee unions in the bill is here.)
Wallison, a former Treasury bigwig who now makes his nest at the American Enterprise Institute, has found his moment in the discussion of financial regulation. I see him quoted or interviewed daily on the subject. He’s got the knowledge to understand the issue but the ability to explain what’s going on without hiding behind a mountain of jargon or occluding analogies.
Wallison looks at the economic costs of the bill, starting with the $50 billion Dodd bailout fund.
“But in a footnote the CBO reported that "such assessments would become an additional business expense for the companies required to pay them." This means the assessments will be tax deductible, and place additional costs on other U.S. taxpayers to make up the difference in government revenue. Thus, even on the face of it, taxpayers will not completely escape the tax costs that are associated with this fund.
That is merely the beginning. The footnote goes on to say, somewhat elliptically, that "those additional expenses would result in decreases in taxable income somewhere in the economy, which would produce a loss of government revenue from income and payroll taxes." The meaning? A loss of government revenue from income and payroll taxes means a loss of the things that produce income and payroll taxes—that is, jobs.”
Who knew that Lindsey Graham was still capable of being shocked?
The South Carolina Republican was positioning himself as the reasonable Republican. He was working with the administration on terrorism policy, immigration, and, most of all, global warming.
On Friday, Graham got word that his plan for a cap and trade compromise bill with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman was getting shelved by Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid will instead move forward a half-baked, partisan immigration plan.
The reason? Reid is trying to play to Hispanic voters in Nevada. Cap and trade gets Reid nothing but heartache at home, but trying, even if failure follows, to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants will at least fire up the Democratic base.
Writer Stephen Power shares the painful frustrations of Graham, who found himself out cynicized.
“‘Moving forward on immigration—in this hurried, panicked manner—is nothing more than a cynical political ploy,’ Mr. Graham said Saturday in his statement, citing the ‘hundreds of hours over many months’ that he spent trying to pass immigration legislation in 2007.
In a written reply Saturday, Mr. Reid said overhauling the country's immigration and energy systems are equally important and noted that Mr. Graham has been under pressure from fellow Republicans ‘not to work with us on either measure.’”
In an election year that promises to be a swing to the Right state lawmakers of both parties are looking for ways to prove their anti-abortion bona fides with an electorate that is increasingly uneasy about the practice. The result is a spate of new abortion laws across the country – perhaps the largest batch ever.
Watching Democrat Bart Stupak hounded out of his reelection bid after going from hero to hated among anti-abortion activists may have convinced some Democrats to go along with bills that put new limits on elective abortions. Certainly the abortion subsidy loophole in the president’s national health plan and the lengthy debate on the subject provided a new impetus.
“The most significant legislation, both sides say, is a Nebraska law signed by the governor this month that would ban most abortions at the 20th week of pregnancy based on a new rationale that the fetus feels pain. Legal challenges are likely. Previously, abortion bans were based on when a fetus could survive outside the womb, generally beginning around 22 weeks, according to medical studies.
At least 22 states have bills to increase counseling or waiting periods; 18 states have bills to expand the use of ultrasound.”
West Virginians are grateful that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took time on Sunday to eulogize the victims of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.
I wonder, though, whether they will show the same kindness to the families of the 11 men likely burnt alive on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last week, the 93 people killed in the timber industry last year or some of the more than 5,000 people killed each year due to trucking accidents.
Writer Peter Baker was in Beckley for the services:
“‘How can we fail them?’ President Obama asked in his eulogy. ‘How can a nation that relies on its miners not do everything in its power to protect them? How can we let anyone in this country put their lives at risk by simply showing up to work? By simply pursuing the American dream?
‘We cannot bring back the 29 men we lost,’ he added. ‘They are with the Lord now. Our task, here on Earth, is to save lives from being lost in another such tragedy. To do what we must do, individually and collectively, to assure safe conditions underground. To treat our miners like they treat each other — like a family. Because we are all family and we are all Americans and we have to lean on one another.’”
Writer Philip Rucker brings his optimistic reading of the Democrats’ electoral situation this year to a piece of news: That the president is going to try to turn on the great Hope machine of 2008 to help save members of his party in close races.
The Democratic National Committee’s $50 million national campaign to bail out sinking Dems begins today with a Web video (!) from President Obama urging young people and minorities to go to the polls as they did in 2008 to elect Democrats and keep his agenda alive.
We’ve seen efforts by Obama and campaign guru David Plouffe to use the millions of email addresses gathered during the 2008 campaign. They have not yet worked in any demonstrable way.
Independent voters and young voters have soured on Obama after 15 months of continuing overseas warfare and unaffordable spending at home.
But for DNC boss Tim Kaine and Plouffe’s team it’s always September of 2008 and more Obama is the answer to every question.
What does not seem to have occurred to anyone is that voters may like the idea of a divided government and might not want to see Obama promising two years like the first two if they support Rep. Frank N. Stein against his Republican opponent.
This may not be the best year to blanket the nation with Obama and re-deploy the armies of sanctimony on his behalf.
The lesson they are instead taking is that they need a more intense dose of hopium to get people to go vote.
“Many of Obama's supporters were drawn to him personally, however, and do not have the same connections to their members of Congress or governors. It was not enough, for instance, for Obama to tell his supporters to vote for R. Creigh Deeds, Jon S. Corzine or Martha Coakley. The three Democrats lost recent statewide races in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
‘This simply doesn't work when the president goes out and says, 'Turn out for Candidate X,'’ Pfeiffer said. ‘There's a special relationship between Obama and his supporters. It was always a two-way relationship, bottom-up and not top-down, which is pretty rare in Democratic politics. We fully understand that it's not automatically transferable to other candidates. It's going to take a lot of work, and that's what we're doing.’”
--To get Morning Must Reads in your inbox every weekday click here.