Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Ben Nelson

Official 2010 Prediction Thread

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As usually is the case with these things I’m taking a much more optimistic tack than is properly reasonable, but here goes:

* Democrats take at least 5/7 of PA, CO, IL, WA, WV, AK, and NV. This is basically running the table of what’s left to them, but I think they can do it due to GOTV advantage, cell phone effect, under-the-radar surges, etc. (Deep down I really think they take all 7, but I want to hedge the optimism at least a little.)

* Republicans take WI, KY, and of course my beloved NC (sigh).

If I’m reading the FiveThirtyEight average right that puts the Dems at -6 in the Senate, 53 Senators, safely outside the Lieberman/Nelson betrayal threshold.

I think the House is probably lost, but not by as much as the worst polls suggest: call it Republicans +40. Bring on the shutdown, bring on impeachment, bring on the end of all good things.

Just Ridiculous

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Robert Gibbs has already inartfully walked back his Kinsley gaffe that left critics of the Obama administration “ought to be drug-tested,” but he ought to be drug-tested should probably resign / be fired anyway. He’s the press secretary; his whole freaking job is to stay on-message. Screwing up like this is not okay.

More importantly, this White House needs to remember who its friends are. By my count the Left has fallen into line every time it has been asked, often against its better judgment. It’s the Joe Liebermans and Ben Nelsons of the party who have repeatedly and gleefully betrayed the White House when it mattered, not the dirty hippies…

* Nate Silver: “I don’t know whether Gibbs was going “off-message” out of frustration, or whether the White House has become so jaded that they actually think this was a good strategy. Either way, it speaks to the need for some fresh blood and some fresh ideas in the White House. The famously unflappable Obama is losing his cool.”

* Glenn Greenwald: “The Democrats have been concerned about a lack of enthusiasm on the part of their base headed into the midterm elections. These sorts of rabid, caricatured, Fox-News-copying attacks on the Left will undoubtedly help generate more enthusiasm — more loud clapping — for the Democrats. I know I’m eager to go canvass and clap for Democrats after reading Gibbs’ noble, inspiring vision. If it were Gibbs’ goal to be as petulant and self-pitying as possible, what could he have done differently?”

* Chris Bowers: “Secondly, and more sadly, reaching out to the left by hating on it has a long, established tradition in Democratic politics. Many Democratic elected officials feel that reaching out to moderates and conservatives means bending over backward to show those voters that they share their views. However, many of those same elected officials consider left-wing outreach to be telling progressives to shut the fuck up and get in line. With outreach like that, it is probably no wonder that President Obama’s main problem with his approval rating right now is among self-identified liberals.”

* David Frum: “More proof of my longtime thesis, Repub pols fear the GOP base; Dem pols hate the Dem base.”

* John Cole: “Way to help the GOTV efforts, Gibbs. Asshole.”

Playing Catchup

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Tuesday Miscellany

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* Lots of talk today about Arizona and its new “papers, please” immigration law, which James Doty, Andrew Napolitano, Erwin Chemerinsky and Karl Manheim all agree is almost certainly unconstitutional. Even Tom Tancredo and Joe Scarborough thinks this goes too far—though douchebag of liberty Bill Kristol thinks it’s fine. The city of San Francisco will join a national boycott. Perhaps Major League Baseball will too. There’s more commentary on this from Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, Seth Meyer, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.

* Colbert’s segment on Sue Lowden’s chickens-for-medical-care scheme was pretty great too.

* Alas, poor Durham: not one of America’s highest cities.

* Britain and China have your videos of the day.

* You can stop laughing, lawyers—now your degree is worthless too.

The Louisiana oil spill, as seen from space.

* And some breaking news: Ben Nelson is still really terrible.

Wednesday Night Pre-SotU Links

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* The State of the Union address Obama would give in a more honest world. Honestly not looking forward to the speech tonight; the policies have mostly all already been announced, so I imagine the new stuff will just be pointless rhetorical digs at progressives and the Left. Even the good stuff isn’t much; State of the Union promises are often just that. Bonus points at least to Bob McDonnell for finally realizing the opposition response needs an audience.

* This is a link to a typical incendiary blog post. Via @drbluman.

* Barbara Herrnstein Smith vs. Stanley Fish in the New York Times.

* Pessimism watch: Cap and trade is not looking good. Lieberman and Nelson positively gleeful about upcoming opportunities to stab the Democratic caucus in the back. Republicans once again reject their own ideas in their efforts to screw over Obama. But this time Lucy won’t kick the football. iPad questionable at best. And Howard Zinn has died. He’s memorialized at The Nation.

Deal Made

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With Nelson placated and on board, it looks as if the Democrats in the Senate will be able to pass health care reform by Christmas after all. Talking points:

The manager’s amendment builds upon the strong bill we already have.

Protects our good coverage, cost, and affordability number

* Reduces Deficits — estimated to save over $130 billion first ten and roughly $650 billion second ten

* Expands Coverage — over 94 percent of Americans under 65 years of age, including over 31 million uninsured

* Reduces Costs — most Americans will see their health care costs reduced relative to projected levels

Makes health care more affordable for Americans by expanding small business tax credits

* $12 billion increase

* Begins in 2010

* Expands wage thresholds for tax credits

Demands greater accountability from insurance companies/ creates more choice and competition

* Medical Loss Ratio 85/80 percent — Insurance companies will be forced to spend more money on care and less money padding their bottom line.

* Starting immediately children cannot be denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions

* Insurance companies who jack up their rates will be barred from competing in the exchange.

* Give patients the right to appeal to an independent board if an insurance company denies a coverage claim

* Health insurers will offer national plans to Americans under the supervision of the Office of Personnel Management, the same entity that oversees health plans for Members of Congress.

* Provides significant resources for Community Health Centers

Written by gerrycanavan

December 19, 2009 at 10:52 am

Senator of the Day

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Oregon’s Jeff Merkley.

Merkley: There’s no question that the Senate has become dysfunctional, and it’s not good for democracy. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. First, not a lot of folks know each other. We’re here three days a week and then back in our districts. Sometimes you need personal bonds to overcome that partisanship. I got to know people at the state legislature level just by sitting next to them in committees. And we could work together on issues and move things forward. There’s a lot of isolation in the Senate. I think there are a lot of reinforcing factors to the partisanship as well.

But there’s no question that the procedure itself is dysfunctional. I’m working with a colleague to come up with some ideas to improve that. It’s going to be a long-term project, because to change the rules around here takes 67 votes. But we’ve come up with some ideas.

John McCain, naturally, is your worst senator of the day. Second place: Ben “Ugh” Nelson, who knows the true meaning of Christmas is no health care for anyone.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 18, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Thursday News Roundup

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* Spider-Man 4 apparently on hold after the shocking discovery that its villains suck.

* The CBO has scored the climate bill:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office today released an analysis finding that the major climate and energy bill the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved in November would reduce the budget deficit by $21 billion over the next decade.

* Now Ben Nelson wants a pony too. Fantastic.

* Somebody tell Ezra Klein to keep his mouth shut about this.

And aside from all that, if you think we can get these pieces in reconciliation, why not pass the bill and then go back and get these pieces in reconciliation? If reconciliation is a good strategy, it’s a good “and” strategy, not a good “or” strategy.

More on the merits of passing an imperfect bill now and improving it later here.

* The Matt Yglesias theory of politics:

Just like I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming that campaign tactics don’t determine who wins presidential elections. But even though neither of those propositions is especially controversial among political scientists, both are hugely unpopular with political junkies. So people are bound to be mad about how casually the White House accepted the view that its job was to (a) discern what Nelson/Lieberman would vote for and then (b) sell everyone to the left of Nelson/Lieberman on voting for it.

Of course he’s right, this is how it works.

* Howard Dean: progressive hero or necessary sacrificial lamb?

* To put it bluntly, we had won the campaign, but were lied to by a small number of Senators. In particular, we were lied to by Joe Lieberman. If you have a post-mortem that could have prevented the lying, I’d love to hear it. For, were it not for the lying, the public option campaign would have been won. But this is why exactly reconciliation should always have been Plan B.

* And over there: Insurgents hack U.S. drones with $26 software.

Just A Few More

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* John Hope Franklin’s FBI file. Via Triangulator.

* Scott Lemieux says it’s time to punish Lieberman. Vigorously seconded.

* Lieberman’s bad behavior is still rubbing off on his friends.

* TNR considers how to save Detroit. Via Matt Yglesias.

* Spin‘s best 40 albums of 2009 (with full streaming). iTunes has ruined me for albums; I hardly listen to the ones I have all the way though, much less purchase new ones. Via Lisa.

* “Product”: a web comic. You may have to click the image to maximize it after it loads.

* New research suggest high-fructose corn syrup could damage your digestive system. Via MetaFilter.

Joe Lieberman Is Your President Now

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Image shamelessly stolen from Ezra Klein, who writes:

To put this in context, Lieberman was originally invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill’s failure that much more. And it’s hard to imagine there’s a policy rationale here, as he decided against even bothering to wait for the CBO’s analysis before moving against this idea. At this point, Lieberman is just torturing liberals. That is to say, he’s willing to directly cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.

More on the inscrutable whims of President Lieberman here and here.

The single biggest failure of leadership we’ve seen this year has been the needless decision of Democratic hierarchy to insist on 60 votes in the Senate at any cost. That things could reach this point was 100% predictable months ago; where is Reid’s contingency plan?

Going forward, things are not looking good:

The leverage that Lieberman and other “centrists” have obtained on this issue (and on climate change) stems from a demonstrated willingness to embrace sociopathic indifference to the human cost of their actions.

Lieberman is a lost cause, and likely Nelson too. The cost of Snowe or Collins is too high. It’s time to start talking about reconciliation again—that is to say, it’s time to write the 50-vote version, introduce it to the chamber, and see if that weakens Lieberman’s dickish resolve. We missed the Christmas deadline anyway, and I’m tired of one-sided negotiations.

At least Harkin is still talking about that bill to end the filibuster. Good.

Saturday Night

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* Breaking news: Houston, Texas, has elected an openly gay woman as mayor. That’s… unexpected.

* Is Ben Nelson a lost cause on health care? Related: Tom Harkin may introduce bill to eliminate the filibuster. Yes, please.

* We are living through the Californiafication of America—a country in which the combination of a determined minority and a procedural supermajority legislative requirement makes it impossible to rationally address public policy challenges. And thus the Democratic president and his allies in Congress are evaluated on the basis of extreme compromise measures—supplicating to dispassionate Wise Men like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, buying Olympia Snowe a vacation home, working bills through 76 committees and countless “procedural” votes–rather than the substantive, policy achievements of bills that would merely require a simple majority to pass. (via Benen)

* Nice OpenLeft diary on malicious bullshitting as the key to climate change denialism.

* Jersey shore nickname generator. From now on please address me only as “The Condition.”

* Will Prince Charles never become King?

* Will 2010 be like 1994?

* And from the Atlanticthe evolution of reading.

Wednesday Night!

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* All about Facebook’s new privacy policy.

* Another headline that speaks for itself: “Flynt vs. Flynt: Larry sues nephews for producing ‘inferior’ porn with too much ‘boob element.'”

* Impeach Obama! Who knows why.

* Updates on tomorrow’s scheduled marriage equality vote from Blue Jersey and Pam’s House Blend. Sounds as though the Senate vote may be tabled rather than be allowed to fail. (UPDATE: The New York Times confirms this is what’s happening.)

* Glenn Beck has singlehandedly solved the health care crisis: just abolish Medicare. Why can’t the plan to win in Afghanistan be this simple?

* Bad Democrat Ben Nelson, at least, has “no serious objections” to the latest health care compromise.But progressive groups (and progressive House members) are pretty angry. Here’s more.

* Democrats are finally clueing into the fact that health care reform that doesn’t kick in until 2013 may cause them some political problems in 2010 and 2012. How fast could this Medicare buy-in be activated?

* I think every single political blog I read linked to Rachel Maddow’s interview with Coming Out Straight author Richard Cohen last night. Glenn Greenwald has the most detailed take, focusing on why Maddow is so much better than every other cable host.

* Bruce won’t play Christie’s inauguration; better call the B Street Band.

* Lots of interest today in the climate change denialism industry, with commentary from Al Gore, Kevin Drum, Chris Mooney, Jeff Masters, Think Progress, and George Monbiot, among others.

* Great clip from Jon Stewart on how Fox News calculatedly talks down to its viewers.

* Mysterious Light Spiral Appears Over Norway. Leave it to Bad Astronomy to ruin all the fun.

Good News / Bad News (UPDATED)

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I’m glad to see the Stupak Amendment language tabled in the Senate health care bill, but all this talk of a “broad agreement” to cut the public option fills me with dread. I imagine the final bill will combine the worst possible compromise alongside an untabled Stupak amendment—at which time Lieberman and Nelson will filibuster anyway. From the AP:

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters he didn’t like the agreement but would support it to the hilt in an attempt to pass health care legislation.

Sounds fantastic.

It’s the unnecessary insistence on beating a filibuster that keeps leading us to this bad result. Reid voluntarily handcuffed himself when he decided not to pursue reconciliation at any price; now look where we are.

UPDATE: On the other hand, if this is true I owe Reid a Coke:

Tonight, though, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that might not be the case. “All the things you’ve read in the newspapers…’the public option is gone,’–it’s not true,” Reid said at an impromptu press conference after tonight’s meeting broke.

Reid wouldn’t elaborate further–and it’s worth noting that in recent days, aides and members have tried to characterize some of the ideas on the table as a form of “public option” when in fact none of them are.

UPDATE 2: Kos has links to some additional details.

But Democratic aides said that the group had tentatively agreed on a proposal that would replace a government-run health care plan with a menu of new national, privately-run insurance plans modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers more than eight million federal workers, including members of Congress, and their dependents.

A government-run plan would be retained as a fall-back option, the aides said, and would be triggered only if the new proposal failed to meet targets for providing affordable insurance coverage to a specified number of people.

The agreement would also allow Americans between age 55 and 64 to buy coverage through Medicare, beginning in 2011.

UPDATE 3: Just a little bit more from TPM. Ezra Klein says the deal is surprisingly good.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Thursday Night Health Care

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Let’s start with health care. With the Senate bill out, most of the lefty politics blogs are trying to figure out the details of what’s next. A few highlights:

* The Senate bill by the numbers.
* What takes effect before 2014? Ezra Klein elaborates with a longer list.
* States will probably be able to opt out immediately, though I doubt many will.
* Reid, obviously concerned that I don’t totally hate him lately, explicitly rules out reconciliation.
* At least the self-proclaimed “centrists” remain consistently terrible. Bayh and Nelson have confirmed they’ll bring the bill to the floor, so I guess there’s that.

Health Care

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It’s being reported today that Reid’s bill is ready and is being sent to the CBO for budget impact. Here’s the Wall Street Journal on its likely contours:

Details of the legislation could change, but its broad outlines are becoming clear. Employers with more than 50 workers wouldn’t be required to provide health insurance, but they would face fines of up to $750 per employee if even part of their work force received a government subsidy to buy health insurance, this person said. A bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee had a lower fine of up to $400 per employee.

The bill to be brought to the Senate floor would create a new public health-insurance plan, but would give states the choice of opting out of participating in it, a proposal that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada backed last week.

Of course, in the kabuki dance that is the American legislative process, neither this bill nor the House bill will actually become law, but rather the House/Senate conference bill, which will be some sort of amalgamation between the two.

For more on this subject, Steve Benen has another post this morning concerning cloture, suggesting Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln are the holdouts. As far as I know Evan Bayh is still uncommitted as well. Stay tuned.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm