Morning Must Reads -- Maybe Rahm and Jim Bunning could just have a duel to settle health care 

New York Times -- Obama to Highlight Cost in New Health Bill Push

Last week it was universal coverage, this week it is costs. Next week it may be coverage again.

President Obama is so enamored of all of his arguments for his health care plan, that he can’t seem to surrender any of them.

But with Obama boosters like Warren Buffett grousing about inadequate cost controls and Blue Dogs running off their tethers, Obama is tacking back toward his original argument that spending $100 billion a year on universal coverage will save money.

The president will roll out his bill – glossed in the 11-page memo produced for last week’s health-care summit – which administration officials will be a cost-conscious compromise plan. Adding $200 billion to the cost of the Senate plan may have been like the merchant who marks up inventory 30 percent right before the 25 percent off sale.

It’s a sign that moderates are balking in the House, but also a sign that liberals will swallow whatever they have to in order to impose new controls on the national system. They can always loosen up the purse strings later.

Now that another retirement gets the House number to 216, you have to give Pelosi a decent shot at making the nut. 40-60, I'd say.

Writers Jackie Calmes and David Herszenhorn give us a preview.

“As for the legislative strategy, the Democrats are not trying to pass an entirely new bill under the reconciliation process.

Instead, a reconciliation measure would include only provisions to change the Senate-passed bill in ways reflecting compromises with the House and the White House. Then, in a legislative two-step, the House would adopt the original Senate bill, the House and the Senate would approve the package of changes, and Mr. Obama would sign both into law.”

 

Washington Post -- Hotheaded Emanuel may be White House voice of reason

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel continues to separate the sheep from the goats on the Left.

Those who are for Hope and Change see Emanuel as a Clintonite sell-out and a perpetuator of the Washington Way who has led Obama astray in fields of ideological compromise. Others think Emanuel is a pragmatist who has been marginalized by the Chicago mob that surrounds Obama – the folks who believe the president’s pregnant pauses and pursed lips will again ignite a fever in the American electorate.

Writer Jason Horowitz is in the pragmatic category, particularly when it comes to Emanuel being overridden in his effort to prevent political blunders on closing Gitmo and trying terrorists. Horowitz’s lengthy profile reveals another journo enthralled by Emanuel’s tough-guy persona and affection for hacks – especially those who do beat sweeteners about what a tough guy he is.

But the piece is revealing about Emanuel, not just Horowitz.

As the president gets ready to roll out his health bill, liberal ideologues will hold Emanuel responsible if the plan moves right. Pragmatic defenders of the majority will blame Emanuel for not being forceful enough if the plan remains a 2,100-page, $1 trillion bunker buster aimed at the heart of the Democratic majority.

“Every morning, Emanuel leads a 7:30 meeting with about 10 senior administration aides, pushing through the president's priorities, all listed on index cards embossed with the title "Chief of Staff." Throughout the day, one senior administration official said, Emanuel might call six times to determine whether he can cross off an item. If not, it is on the list the next day.”

 

Dana Milbank -- Wild pitches from Sen. Bunning

There’s almost nothing better in politics than when your opponent does something ideologically consistent that is toxic to public relations.

Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, a gnarly old hillbilly who hates the GOP almost as much as he hates Democrats, is using his personal privilege to object to the extension of unemployment benefits, the stalling of Medicare spending cuts, and other, smaller expenditures because there is no money budgeted for them.

The rest of the Republican caucus is going along rather than be seen as keeping benefits from the unemployed, even if it means just a bit more deficit spending. The provisions were in the earlier jobs bill that Harry Reid spiked in a fit of partisan pique.

Just as the GOP revels in the ethical coma brought on in House Democrats by Charlie Rangel’s infractions, Democrats are loving it as Bunning, leaving office at the end of this year, holds a one-man blockade on a sliver of the federal dole.

And as long as Democrats are soaking up positive press, they will be disinclined to resolve the issue, even at the cost of benefits for the little man.

“The leadoff hitter Bunning faced on Monday was ABC News producer Z. Byron Wolf. Wolf, intercepting Bunning as he left his office, asked the senator to stay and talk to the cameras. Bunning, according to Wolf, flashed him the middle finger.”

 

Wall Street Journal -- Fed Vacancies Clear Path for Obama

A third vacancy on the Federal Reserve board will give President Obama a greater stamp on monetary and central banking policy than any of his recent predecessors.

Writers David Wessel and Jon Hilsenrath provide a splendid look at how retiring Vice Chairman Donald Kohn helped shape the institution in his 40 years there and how the board will change when five of its seven members are Obama appointees.

“Insiders say the combination of a cut in pay for some potential nominees and the intense vetting and Senate confirmation process has discouraged some possible candidates. Mr. Kohn's departure will leave just one economist, Mr. Bernanke, on the Fed board. Among potential economist candidates are Christina Romer, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA); Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; and Austan Goolsbee, a current CEA member.”

 

New York Times -- Iraqis Awash in Gifts From Candidates

The best sign that Iraqis are getting hip to republican democracy? Candidates are trying to buy votes.

The American tradition of treating, holding punch-sodden levees and ox roasts for supporters, dates back to colonial times. The Jacksonian revolution came with a whisky barrel and the Whig resurgence rolled in on a cider keg. JFK won the 1960 West Virginia primary of Hubert Humphrey on plenty of pints of Old Crow.

In advance of Sunday’s elections, the candidates for Iraq’s big parliamentary elections are handing out sporting goods, blankets for the poor and even chickens for every pot. Candidates are trying to outdo each other at big parties with lots to eat.

Writer Marc Santora seems disapproving of the trend. But treating of this kind means candidates recognize the power of voters and seek to curry favor. It recognizes an appropriate relationship. Most Americans would rather get a new soccer ball or a nice plate of shawarma instead of hours of television commercials paid for by special interest donors.

It’s bad when people sell votes, but it’s not necessarily so bad that candidates feel the need to try to buy them.

But the course of impressing voters does not always run smooth.

“At the end of the rally, doves were released as a symbol of peace. Unfortunately, they were set free just as fireworks burst in the sky, catching many birds in the cross-fire.”

 

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt

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Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and ExaminerPolitics.com in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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