Morning Must Reads -- Democrats caught in their own snare 

Washington Post -- House Democrats' tactic for health-care bill is debated

The White House thought it had a winner in talking about budget reconciliation by focusing on Republican obstructionism and the limitations of a supermajority-rules Senate. It not only provided a distraction from the contents of the president’s plan (like the addition of a brand-new 3-percent tax on investment income), but it also seemed clear cut: majority rules.

But the House has followed suit with its own procedural hijinks, further eroding public confidence in the process and the product. Passing a bill without voting on it sounds like cheating and the speaker’s rationale – liberals, anti-abortion purists, and moderates all hate the Senate bill and want to avoid guilt by association – is the rankest example of political butt covering since Arlen Specter went back to the Democratic Party.

Talking about process instead of policy was one thing when Democrats were arguing for an “up or down vote” in the Senate. But it’s quite another thing to be avoiding an “up or down vote” in the House.

For now, with no bill yet from the White House despite lots of late-night cramming with drug lobbyists and other special-interest groups, every hour that goes by talking about the process hurts Democratic chances of final passage.

Writer Amy Goldstein explains that while a health plan produced in such an ungainly fashion might survive a legal challenge, political survival for the swing-district Democrats who support it is less likely.

“On the other hand, Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan political analyst, said the current stage of the debate is a rare instance in which the public is focused on the process of legislating. ‘Voters are aware it's been pulling teeth,’ he said, adding that some Americans think Congress's Democratic leaders had ‘to give away the store to get even Democrats to pass it’ and, more recently, resorted to a ‘reconciliation’ procedure that requires fewer Senate votes to pass.

‘From there, we've leapt to a totally different planet with this deeming,’ Rothenberg said. ‘I feel like I've fallen through the rabbit hole: 'Oh, they are going to not pass the bill and just pretend they passed the bill.'’”


Wall Street Journal -- Overhaul Splits Party Faithful

The new poll from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News confirms that Democrats have suffered tremendous damage in their health care gambit.

They’ve allowed Republicans to climb back on top for core GOP issues – deficits, taxes, and national security – and moved from a 19-point advantage to a tie with Republicans on handling the economy.

It brings to mind the company that focuses all its resources on a new product launch only to find that no one is buying. I’m looking at you Apple Lisa.

President Obama’s job approval rating (48 percent) and support for his health care plan (36 percent) are nearly the same as they were in July at the start of the nine-month voyage through the legislative Horse Latitudes. What’s different is the rise in opposition to the plan (from 42 to 48) and disapproval of how the president is handling the issue (from 46 percent to 57 percent).

Obama wrecked his brand on health care and the shoddy means and frequent failures in the process will make his political rehabilitation more challenging whatever happens in Congress.

Democrats are now playing to a narrow base in the false hope that fired up liberals can beat back fed up independents and fired up Republicans.

“At the same time, Democratic voters strongly favor the legislation being pushed by President Barack Obama, particularly constituencies such as blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals. Those groups mobilized in 2008 to help elect Mr. Obama, but are far less enthusiastic than core Republicans about voting in this year's midterm elections.

The survey found a 21-point enthusiasm gap between the parties, with 67% of Republicans saying they are very interested in the November elections, compared with 46% of Democrats. "If the Democrats are going to close that gap, they've got to get their people excited. And I don't see how you get those people if you vote no" on the party's health-care legislation, said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McInturff.”


New York Times -- Obama to Appear on Fox News

How bad is it for Democrats? So bad that the White House gave Fox News’ Brett Baier one of the hour-long interviews it usually reserves as a reward for the likes of Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams.

This is big for Baier, who has established his brand nicely since the quasi-retirement of Brit Hume. This is his chance to establish himself as the straight-news star of the dominant cable news network.

For Obama, it’s a chance to talk to someone other than his base supporters. And while he risks tougher questions that Sawyer or Williams would ask, it’s good for the president to make this tacit admission that he and his administration’s war on the network was a mistake. And remember, Obama’s best interview of 2008 was his September session with Bill O’Reilly.

Writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg is our TV guide:

“The interview with Bret Baier will be broadcast at 6 p.m., at the height of a week in which Democrats, including Mr. Obama, are pressing allies and lawmakers to push ahead to get the health care bill passed in the House despite solid Republican opposition and the lessening of public support for the legislation.”


Washington Post -- U.S. Chamber of Commerce sets sights on Democrats ahead of midterm elections

The Chamber is getting ready to drop $50 million on vulnerable congressional Democrats.

It’s not as much as the AFL-CIO is rolling out to preserve a Democratic majority, but business leaders are running with the wind this year.

After spending big bucks to get a seat at Obama’s big table and accommodating Democrats, the Chamber has decided that if you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em.

Aside from a favorable atmosphere, the Chamber will be helped by the ability to run ads right up until Election Day thanks to the recent Supreme Court campaign finance ruling. The Chamber is good at advertising and can now hold back money until the races sort themselves out and then hammer the weakest Democrats on health care and cap and trade.

Writer Dan Eggen passes along the preposterous response from Democrats that it is good news because it shows Republicans are in the pocket of big business. No one may have told the DNC, but big government isn’t exactly trouncing big business in public opinion these days.

“‘One of our biggest points going into this election will be how difficult it is to change Washington because of the moneyed interests like the Chamber,’ [DNC spokesman Brad] Woodhouse said. ‘We'll use the Chamber of Commerce and health insurance companies as Exhibit 1.’”


New York Times -- Budget Cut for Fence on U.S.-Mexico Border

Examiner colleague Julie Mason explains today that the muted White House response dire security situation in northern Mexico, even after the murder of American diplomats, has outraged Texans.

The move by the Obama administration to further scale back efforts to seal the U.S.-Mexico border has further inflamed attitudes in border states.

Writer Randal Archibold explains that because of problems with the “virtual fence” idea from the Bush Administration, the Obama team is stepping away from any concept of any fence at all.

“The virtual fence is part of a multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort known as the Secure Border Initiative that was announced with fanfare by the Bush administration in November 2005. Besides increasing the number of guards and expanding a border wall, it promised a sophisticated system of cameras, sensors and radar that would zero in on people crossing the border with new speed and clarity and quickly guide agents to them.”


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