Morning Must Reads -- Obama wants a nuclear option for health care but not for warfare 

Washington Post -- Democrats will have votes for health bill, Obama aide says

There’s whistling past the graveyard and then there’s what the Obama administration and Speaker Nancy Pelosi did on health care on the Sunday shows this week. It was like setting up an oom-pah band in the morgue.

White House health care czar Nancy-Anne De Parle, aside from making President Obama wish that Tom Daschle could have kept his nose clean on lobbyist limo rides, was particularly preposterous in her breezy certainty that the president could launch his final partisan strike on health care whenever he wanted.

But if they had the votes, the bill would have been law sometime in the last year and we wouldn’t have endured that dreadful fake summit. Having already passed health measures on party-line votes and now embracing the idea of using parliamentary tricks to lower the vote threshold in the Senate only Democrats are keeping the president from snatching the Golden Fleece.

The votes aren’t there in the House to pass the Senate bill and the Senate won’t undertake the budget reconciliation gambit until after the House swallows that bitter pill.

The White House promises a new strategy out this week, but unless the new strategy has some new policy proposals in it, the hopes for the package remain gloomy.

Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio highlights the direness of the situation of the House with the speaker’s own admission that the legislation will cost Democrats many seats this fall but that those who lose will be martyrs for a worthy cause.

Writer Anne Kornblut shares some, but probably not enough, of Susan’s skepticism about Obama’s reconciliation saber rattling.

“DeParle suggested Obama could endorse that option in the next few days. ‘Health-care reform has already passed both the House and the Senate with not only a majority in the Senate but a supermajority. And we're not talking about changing any rules here,’ DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said on NBC's ‘Meet the Press.’ She added: ‘All the president is talking about is: Do we need to address this problem, and does it make sense to have a simple up-or-down vote on whether or not we want to fix these problems?’


New York Times -- White House Is Rethinking Nuclear Policy

You may not have known it, but the nuclear disarmament people are still out there like it was 1986.

In a world of terrorism and rogue states, it might seem odd to be telling people that we won’t use our nuclear weapons unless someone can pull off a nuclear strike on the U.S.

Mutually assured destruction is pretty much what a suicide bomber with a suitcase nuke is going for, right? And if the nutter came from France or Saudi are we really going to barbeque an entire nation of innocents as punishment? (Texans and West Virginians, please don’t answer.)

But President Obama is preparing a new policy for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. He’s going to make it smaller and he’s going to eliminate development of new devices in the pipeline (like the burrowing bunker-buster tactical nuke GW Bush sought), and he’s going to set up a new policy that outlines when the U.S. is allowed to use atomic weapons.

It’s going to be the most restrictive force doctrine ever, though the president is feeling heavy pressure from his political allies to make it an absolute ban on anything but a retaliatory in-kind strike. David Sanger and Thom Shanker explain how the administration will try to gussie up a policy that seems like a revival of the nuclear freeze movement – folks like John Kerry and Joe Biden who sought to live in harmony with the Soviets right up until the end.

The idea is that we could keep some ICBMs as non-nuclear tools – big bombs for targeted strikes But we enjoy total air superiority. The ICBM is for when you can’t fly it in or don’t want to be around when the bombs start going off.

“The idea, officials say, would be to give the president a non-nuclear option for, say, a large strike on the leadership of Al Qaeda in the mountains of Pakistan, or a pre-emptive attack on an impending missile launch from North Korea. But under Mr. Obama’s strategy, the missiles would be based at new sites around the United States that might even be open to inspection, so that Russia and China would know that a missile launched from those sites was not nuclear — to avoid having them place their own nuclear forces on high alert.”


In Senate, a Renewed Effort to Reach a Consensus on Financial Regulation

How will retiring Sen. Chris Dodd behave now that he doesn’t have to worry what voters think? Exactly like he did most of his career.

The past year of electoral worries was the aberration for Dodd, who, financed by banks and other financial companies, never had many electoral worries since he followed his father to the Senate in 1981.

Now that he’s on his way out the door, Dodd seems determined to do one big favor for all of his old friends with new financial regulations.

Writer Sewell Chan looks at the trouble Dodd is having. Since conservatives believe that the remedy for imprudent borrowing or lending is economic loss and liberals want to see punitive restrictions on bankers and lots of new rules for borrowers, Dodd’s effort to expand the current hybrid system that offers banks the profiteering of capitalism and the protections of socialism has been a bit of a hard sell.

But this the moment that Chris Dodd has been waiting for – the Superbowl of sellouts. The bill may be on the move this week.

“Rather than a stand-alone agency, Mr. Dodd proposed creating a Bureau of Financial Protection within the Treasury Department. The bureau would have an independent director, appointed by the president, and a budget financed by fees from large banks and other lenders… the Dodd proposal would require the bureau to consult with other regulators before issuing rules, and to make public any objections raised by those regulators, along with an explanation of how the bureau addressed the concerns or why it went ahead anyway.”


Gun case presents quandary for Supreme Court justices

Writer Robert Barnes looks at the conundrum of the soon-to-be decided Supreme Court case on Chicago’s restrictive gun laws.

To rule in favor of the ban, liberal justices have to embrace states’ rights in a way heretofore unpalatable to them. To strike down the ban, conservatives might have to rule that the Bill of Rights, via the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment, applies to states, a position generally rejected by scholars on the Right.

A good read.

“Scalia has been equally lethal on the subject of the due-process clause, which the court has invoked to protect substantive liberties, such as abortion rights and private relations between homosexuals. He protested as recently as last spring, when the court ruled that large campaign contributions to a judge could violate the due process rights of someone who had a case before that court. ‘Divinely inspired text may contain the answers to all earthly questions,’ Scalia wrote in dissent, ‘but the due process clause most assuredly does not.’”


Wall Street Journal -- Business Bashes Federal Plan for Wage-Linked Contracts

The stakes of the Obama administration’s contemplated move of giving union contractors preferred status in bidding on federal work become clearer as the combatants present themselves on the field of political battle.

Since federal rates and standards often end up becoming default industry standards, unions are hoping that the move would limit some of the competitive disadvantage unionized companies experience from higher costs and lower productivity.

Capitalists complain of the social engineering and favoritism.

Writer Melanie Trottman looks at one possible avenue for the administration.

“In awarding government contracts, federal agencies have long been permitted to make ‘trade-offs’ in which they pay more for contracts they think will provide higher quality or better value. It's not clear how the Obama administration could strengthen that to ensure pay and benefit factors are more readily considered in awarding the more than $500 billion in government contracts a year.”

--To read my column on the need to avoid getting Euro trashed click here.

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


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

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