Morning Must Reads -- More punching-bag bipartisanship 

New York Times -- Obama to Offer Health Bill to Ease Impasse as Bipartisan Meeting Approaches

I suppose the farmer’s hatchet helps ease the impasse with the hen over what to have for dinner.

President Obama is looking to similarly ease the impasse with Republicans and moderate Democrats over his health care legislation by producing his own, final version of the Democratic plans and rallying 51 Democrats in the Senate to pass the measure as a rider on a budget bill.

After the past year of big talk and small results, no one believes him.

The White House has had its health geek squad working on a merged piece of legislation that it will present to Democrats in Congress on Monday. But it’s an open question as to whether the administration can get 51 Senators to go along with the plan. Democrats Bayh, Nelson, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Wyden, Carper, Warner, Webb, Baucus, Begich, Conrad, McCaskill, Pryor, and Tester are all potential nays even if the legislation tracks the original bill passed by the Senate just because of the worry of cramming through something so detested by the electorate. If it is more liberal, other moderates might drop out. If it is more conservative, liberals like RoBu and Bernie Sanders might join the ranks of the disaffected.

And while the White House is wangling for Senate votes, no one seems to be talking to the House. I seriously doubt if any large plan could get 219 votes in the House today. They are under too steady an electoral barrage to mount any offensives.

Writers David Herszenhorn and Robert Pear explain how the president means to force some degree of Republican acquiescence even as his own party is bolting from his tether.

“In recent days, White House officials have consulted with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid, but have not reviewed Mr. Obama’s plan with other Democratic lawmakers.

‘There has not been a collaborative process,’ said a Congressional Democrat with decades of health care experience. ‘We have not been consulted. This is very much a White House proposal.’”

 

New York Times -- Fed Rate Move Rattles Stocks and Sends Dollar Higher

The Fed promised that the fight against inflation would begin soon, but still managed to catch many investors by surprise with the after-hours move to raise it’s interest rate by a quarter point. It’s a warning shot more than the actual start of the effort to soak up the trillions of funny money the Fed floated to keep the economy from seizing up, but it’s evidence that the bank is willing to start the clean up after the party – always a good sign to lingering guests.

Writers Sewell Chan and Bettina Wassener look at what else the Fed did other than the rate nudge:

“As part of the changes disclosed Thursday, the Fed announced that the typical maximum maturity for primary credit loans, in which banks borrow from the discount window, would be shortened to overnight, from 28 days, starting March 18.

The Fed also raised the minimum bid rate for its term auction facility — a temporary program started in December 2007 to ease short-term lending — to 0.50 percent from 0.25 percent.”

 

Washington Post -- Administration to provide more aid to homeowners

Good news if you have defaulted on your mortgage and you live in a state where Democrats are facing a smackdown – free money is on the way.

Looking to show Nevadans that Harry Reid is worth the aggravation, the president will announce today that they and residents of California, Arizona, Michigan and Florida will be eligible for a taste of an extra $1.5 billion the president plans to get by tapping the TARP, again.

It won’t make much difference to the economy, especially since it will be administered by state and local agencies, but if you have the willingness to wade through the bureaucracy, you could end up getting some of the cash that was once going to buy up troubled assets but is now just a slush fund for politically motivated deficit spending from the executive branch. The president’s political rainy day fund.

Renae Merle and Michael Shear explain:

“Under the new initiative, state housing finance agencies would be asked to create locally tailored solutions to the housing crisis, a senior official said. The solutions could range from mortgage relief that would keep distressed borrowers out of foreclosure to more general efforts to strengthen the housing market, including home-buying programs, the official said.

‘We want to encourage things that have not happened yet,’ the official said. ‘I don't think anything is being excluded.’”

 

Wall Street Journal -- Troops Face Pockets of Resistance in Marjah

The occupation of Marjah is proving deadlier than the assault as snipers and hidden bombs brings the allied death toll to 11.

The problem seems to be that the Taliban didn’t flee so much as melt into the local population.

Writers Alan Cullison and Habib Zahori explain:

“Six coalition soldiers were killed in shootouts or in explosions in the past day, bringing the total to 11 casualties since the beginning of the Marjah operation nearly a week ago.

NATO declined to give details on the latest casualties, saying only that three were killed by small arms and three by improvised explosive devices, or IEDS. All were killed in the southern part of Afghanistan, NATO said.”

 

Charles Krauthammer -- It's nonsense to say the U.S. is ungovernable

Thank God for Krauthammer.

As liberals sulk over the defeat of their effort to set up Scandinavia in a Box following the 2008 election, it has become fashionable to say that the country has become ungovernable -- John Podesta and tell us that it is the system that “sucks.” Unimaginative moderates wonder why we can’t all just agree to be mushy – Evan Bayh blames the Senate itself for his own ennui.

Krauthammer, though, pours a big bucket of cold water on the idea that our system is simply too far gone.

“[Obama’s health plan] failed because the utter implausibility of its central promise -- expanded coverage at lower cost -- led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes and more debt. More broadly, the Democrats failed because, thinking the economic emergency would give them the political mandate and legislative window, they tried to impose a left-wing agenda on a center-right country… That's not a structural defect. That's a textbook demonstration of popular will expressing itself -- despite the special interests -- through the existing structures. In other words, the system worked.”

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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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