The Summit That Wasn't

Some early reflections on Obama's health care summit happening now at Blair House

The Next Jobs Bill

The next bill will include unemployment insurance, Medicaid funding, COBRA, and physician payment updates

Health Care Summit: Narratives At Blair House

May 9 2010, 9:07PM

The Night Beat: Waiting For Kagan; RNC Set To Choose Tampa

Let's clear this up. It's not a "leak."  When it's an officially-sanctioned tip, it's not a leak. Let's just get that terminology out of the way first. Expect a few reporters to get a heads up from White House adviser Stephanie Cutter, communications director Dan Pfeiffer, outside adviser Anita Dunn, or spokesperson Ben LaBolt around 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, thus allowing us to stop using the verb "expected" before "to nominate" Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Profile machines have been loaded with Kagan pictures. Anchor scripts have been read. Bio pieces have already been produced. 

Thanks, Gallup, for telling us that 42% of Americans, roughly the same number who identify as conservative, want a conservative jurist. 

There will be an event at the White House, of course, which means that the groups will be notified; these are the acronymed collection of Democrats who need to be cared for and fed by the liaison operation at the White House. What happens next is going to be fairly predictable, given how long the White House and Republicans have been preparing for a Kagan nomination.  (Obama signaled he wanted Kagan in the seat as early as a few DAYS after his transition in a meeting with close advisers. At said meeting, he also suggested he would select Sonia Sotomayor first.)  

If the announcement is made tomorrow, Senate courtesy calls will begin Wednesday, maybe Thursday.

More later.

Big decision for Senate Dems: how and when to wrap up the financial regulatory reform bill. Some Democrats aren't going to get to offer their amendments, and that could be painful.
The RNC meets this week, Watch for: WEDNESDAY's announcement that Tampa will be chosen as the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention. I'm 90 percent sure of that. Other finalists are Salt Lake City and Phoenix. 

Within the RNC, there are rumors that Michael Steele plans more staff shake-upping, but the truth is that there aren't a lot of staff left to shake.  

The Temporary Delegate Selection Committee presents its suggestion about the 2012 nominating process. There will be a formal vote in the first week of August in Detroit.

The last e-mail I got in my inbox before publishing: " Am. Assn. of Orthodontists Supports Small Business Safe Harbor Amendment in Senate Financial Bill."  Got that?

Sprint is testing its 4G network in Washington, D.C. You're not supposed to notice, but they are. Full 4G coverage available very soon. (This is a tip, not an advertisement.)

Please remember this about Utah: it chooses candidates by CONVENTION. Sen. Bennett was well-liked by most Republican primary voters in his states. But conventions draw the most conservative, most active voters in the party. There's a reason why party conservatives like conventions or caucuses and party moderates like regular primaries.

Here's a dangerous idea: British schools by the hundreds are going to boycott today's national standards tests. Teachers don't like teaching to the test. Also: a couple of British leaders are boycotting their responsibility to form a government. With every passing moment, the LibDems' signature reform goal, PR -- proportional voting (reform) comes closer to a negotiated reality. 

Speaking of school standards: the administration says that schools in Delaware and Tennesee are Racing to the Top of the heap. But a Harvard University study disagrees, giving Tennessee schools an "F" and Delaware schools a "C-."

There is a lot of anxiety in the defense community about Sec. Gates's speech on the defense budget, but be sure to notice this sentence too: " do think that as we look to the future, particularly for the next couple of years or so while we're in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think the Congress and the president would look long and hard at another military operation that would cost us $100 billion a year."  The U.S. won't be going to war with Iran anytime soon.

You probably also missed his statement that no legislation is required to cut overhead and the number of general officer slots. Even if this is true, it will be incredibly difficult to pull off. For one thing, a lot of politicians have a lot of capital invested in certain general officers and candidates. The iron triangle depends on the conversion rate of 2 Stars to 3 Stars. (How is that periodic call to reduce the number of Senate-confirmed positions going?) 

On Kagan:

The more intense fire will come from the activist left, representatives of which have already voiced objections to Kagan's record of jurisprudence, her Catabrigian clubbiness, her record on diversity, and the way in which she seems to have constructed her career to leave as little a paper trail as possible. Remember: all judicial battles are fought on the right's terrain. So Democratic judges alway have to pledge fidelity to a legal formalism they don't really believe in. So long as the Democrats have the votes, Republicans will have to grudgingly accept this. 

Does the White House know that a blog post from Glenn Greenwald means more to bookers on MSNBC than a press release from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights? (The same way that, in gay rights circles, on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it matters whether the Service Members Legal Defense Fund gets invited to top-level meetings, no matter what the Human Rights Campaign does or says.) 

Feb 26 2010, 5:46PM

A British Tea Party: History Inverts Itself

How's this for historical irony: there's a tea party movement starting in Britain.

Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European Parliament (the parliamentary body of the EU) appeared on Fox News Friday afternoon to explain to Neil Cavuto that he's organizing a tea party protest in the U.K. this weekend, and that he's spoken with some tea party leaders in the U.S. (from the purportedly 15-million-strong group Tea Party Patriots, a major player in the conservative grassroots tea party movement in America) over the phone.

"The argument is the same, Neil. It's the same in Britain, it's the same in America," Hannan said. "...How we are going to get out of this debt crisis...it's not by taxing more, it's by spending less."

Hannan says the British tea partiers will be drinking tea, rather than throwing it into a harbor.

During the portion of the interview I caught, Hannan was not asked, nor did he offer, any thoughts on the Stamp Act.

The levels of historical reflection here are, admittedly, difficult to wrap one's head around. The tea party movement is so distinctly American, in its support for pure laissez-faire capitalism and free enterprise, and its explicit appropriation of the language and tropes of America. The movement is rife with talk about the founding fathers--though, let's face it, so is everything in American politics.

Europe is a liberal place, by our standards, but it's not terribly uncommon for British activists to the New World's brands of ultra-small-government conservatism. The Conservative Political Action Conference, held last weekend in Washington, DC, featured at least one British speaker on the big stage, who praised Ronald Reagan as sincerely (if not quite as effusively--then again, it's a known fact that the British are genetically more subdued) as the conference's American speakers.

From the portion of the interview I saw, it was difficult to tell whether the irony was mostly lost or enjoyed by Hannan. But, again, we all treat irony differently.

British tea partyism is intriguing, partly because it so overtly contradicts the ethos of overthrowing British subjugation, partly because of how the American tea party movement is so proudly American and so proudly rejects European political trends, and partly because it forces this question: is the copy of a copy as sharp as the original...especially in a place that's so inhospitable to the pure-free-enterprise, no-government-involvement ethos.

Feb 26 2010, 12:29PM

Obama Names SEIU's Stern to Deficit Commission

President Obama has named four members to his bipartisan deficit-reduction commission, including Andy Stern, the influential president of the Service Employees International Union.

Obama has already appointed former Clinton White House Chief of Staff  Erskine Bowles and former Senate Republican White Alan Simpson to co-chair the commission; House and Senate Democratic leaders will name the rest of the spots, each appointing three of their own members.

Obama's members are:
-SEIU President Andy Stern
-Honeywell Chairman, President, and CEO Dave Cote
-former Young & Rubicam Brands Chairman and CEO Ann Fudge
-Brookings Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin



What I Would've Sait At CPAC

RUSH: No, Snerdley. Look, I'm going to get to it.  I got an e-mail just in time ago, "Would you stop being mean to Snerdley?"  Hey, e-mailer! Snerdley should stop...

Sen. Inhofe To Ask DoJ For Climategate Investigation

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) today asked the Obama administration to investigate what he called "the greatest scientific scandal of our generation" -- the actions of climate scientists revealed by the...

A Failure Of White House Leadership

One other point on the public option: This has been a complete and utter failure of White House leadership. They need to give this effort their support, or they need...

Will The Republicans Post Their Health Plan...And When?

The President believes strongly that Thursday's bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform will be most productive if both sides come to the table with a unified plan to start discussion...

Feb 25 2010, 3:54PM

Why Not Pass Health Care While Leaders Are Trapped At Blair House?

President Obama and bipartisan leaders will be stuck in the meeting at Blair House for a while longer, and an interested reader has suggested:
...Since the leaders of both parties are stuck in Blair House, can the rest hold session and actually pass some legislation while nobody is paying attention? I just wish this would happen!
An unlikely scenario, but the Blair House meeting does provide a window if the rank-and-file members want to give it a try... The reader was under the impression--which I have not confirmed--that there is no cell reception or Internet at Blair House, meaning Obama and the congressional leadership wouldn't even get word of a vote happening.

Bottom line: it's constitutional. Both the House and Senate only need a quorum of a simple majority of the full body to hold session. Then again, Obama would have to sign it...


Feb 25 2010, 3:20PM

A Wrinkle In the Intelligence Debate

Last night, Democrats added a manager's amendment of their own to the 2010 intelligence authorization bill -- one that's left Republicans scrambling today.  It's called the "The Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Interrogation Act of 2010," and it would authorize criminal prosecution of intelligence officers who commit specified acts of torture and degrading techniques on detainees in their custody. 

The White House isn't happy; they've already threatened to veto the bill because it, in their mind, it infringes upon the rights of the executive branch by forcing the administration to disclose more about intelligence operations to more members of Congress -- Section 321. (Obama, like previous presidents, believes that the executive branch possesses the sole authority to decide what national security information is and how to protect it.)  The administration also has reservations about the prohibition on giving American authorities overseas the option to read captured terrorists Miranda rights. 


Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Feb 25 2010, 1:55PM

Health Care Summit: Reactions

If you're wondering what to think about President Obama's health care summit, or if you just want to know what bloggers and commentators are saying about it as it unfolds, check in with The Atlantic Wire, where Jake Simpson is following reactions to the meeting at various points throughout the day. So far, Sen. Jon Kyl's remarks and what has been dubbed an "Oh, snap!" moment between Obama and John McCain are creating the buzz.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Feb 25 2010, 12:53PM

President McCain Speaks, Angers President Obama

Sitting on the panel at President Obama's health care summit at Blair House today, John McCain offered some critique of how Democrats had attempted to pass health care--and Obama was not pleased about it.

The following testy exchange ensued:

"Let me just make this point, John, because we're not campaigning anymore. The election's over," Obama said.


Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Feb 25 2010, 12:28PM

As Obama Holds Summit, Progressives Continue Push For Public Option

President Obama's health care summit is happening right now at Blair House, but the public option--a proposal once seen as central to Demcoratic health care reforms--isn't part of what's being negotiated there.

Nonetheless, liberals who adamantly support the public option are continuing to push for its passage through the Senate's budget reconciliation rules.

On a conference call this morning hosted by the Progressice Campaign Change Committee (PCCC) 45 minutes before the summit was slated to begin, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said the public option shouldn't be thought of as dead.


Getty Images

Feb 25 2010, 11:40AM

A Big Vote Today On National Security

Pardon the interruption for a moment, but there's a big bill in the House today that could tie the hands of the Justice Department and the White House going forward. The intelligence authorization bill is up, but Republicans will probably use a motion to recommit -- a procedural tool that the minority can put forward after all amendments have been considered -- to force a vote on whether Guantanamo detainees can be transferred to the U.S. for criminal trials, or whether the detainees would face military commissions. (The House and Senate can influence this by the power of the purse, prohibiting funding for holding certain types of trials.)


Feb 25 2010, 11:31AM

Why the Two Parties Just Don't Agree on Health Care

The bipartisan summit is going on right now. You can watch it in a little picture box I've embedded after the jump. The president said he wants "for everybody to focus on not just where we differ but focus on where we agree, because there actually is significant agreement on a host of issues."

The points of agreement between Republicans and Democrats do not really matter. Look at it this way: Democrats want to massively extend health care by providing hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies to low-income Americans over the next ten years, and that will require recouping money with new taxes and Medicare cuts. That's where they're coming from. Republicans say they want a whole new bill that somehow reduces health care costs. Also they'd like to cut taxes. That's where they're coming from. It's a completely different approach to health care reform, and taxes, and government.