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Democrats' happy Monday

By Ben Pershing
No one likes Mondays, but it turns out that Feb. 22 was one of the brightest days Democrats have had in months.

On one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Obama released a compromise health-care plan that drew almost no criticism from his own party. On the other, Harry Reid muscled his $15 billion jobs bill past a Republican filibuster, paving the way for easy bipartisan passage this week. Given Democrats' recent record, two pieces of good news in one day qualifies as a veritable flood.

"President Barack Obama is upping the ante on health care," the Wall Street Journal ledes. "In a last-ditch effort to salvage his overhaul of the sector, the president unveiled a $950 billion plan that lays the groundwork for his party to try pushing its legislation through Congress without Republican support." While the measure was released ahead of Thursday's bipartisan summit, the audience that matters is Obama's own party. "Congressional Democrats cautiously embraced President Barack Obama's new health care plan as their last hope for enacting a comprehensive overhaul," the Associated Press reports, while "Republicans trashed it, dimming prospects for any deal at the bipartisan health care summit that Obama has scheduled for Thursday to try to jump-start the debate." The New York Times says "Obama appeared intent on forcing the Republicans into a choice: either put a specific alternative on the table, giving Democrats a chance to draw pointed contrasts between the parties' approaches, or be cast as obstructionist and not serious about addressing an issue of great concern to voters."

McClatchy writes that Obama's effort "may restore Democratic momentum for the bill by placing the president squarely at the center of the messy process of drafting legislation." The Washington Post notes "the president's proposal is striking for the extent to which it hews to the basic scale and framework of the bills on which Congress has toiled for months. That decision -- to go big one last time, rather than small -- emerged quickly inside the White House after senior advisers to President Obama concluded privately that his goals for comprehensive changes to the health-care system could not be done piecemeal." Politico says Monday's bill "is the latest salvo in a yearlong volley between the insurance industry and Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Every time public opinion flags, Obama and his congressional allies train their sights on those well-recognized villains at the big insurance companies."

David Brooks is worried about the pay-for: "The odds are high that the excise tax will never actually happen. There is no reason to think that the Congress of 2018 will be any braver than the Congress of today. It will probably get around the pay-go rules or whatever else might apply and it'll postpone the tax again. The excise tax will turn into another 'doc fix.; This is a mythical provision in which doctors are always about to get their reimbursements cut. But somehow they never do because the cuts are always pushed back, year after year." Jonathan Cohn thinks Obama should reach out to Republicans on one of their favorite issues -- malpractice reform: "There are ways to break the impasse. While malpractice may not be a major factor in rising health care costs, the system is clearly broken." Megan McArdle says, "If the Democrats use budget reconciliation to bypass the Republicans, they will be making a big mistake. Reconciliation is not meant to handle these sorts of problems; it's meant to help Congress get revenues in line with outlays without letting protracted negotiations push us into a budget crisis. It's not possible to do any sort of comprehensive, rational overhaul of the Senate health bill -- which after all, was intended to be the opening salvo in a negotiation, not the final bill."

What does the voters want? The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll "finds the public still split on health care reform legislation, with 43 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed. However, the poll also finds that majorities of Americans of all political leanings support several provisions in the health reform proposals in Congress and most attribute delays in passing the legislation to political gamesmanship rather than policy disagreements." The Fix notes: "Heading into Thursday's health care summit, President Obama's job approval numbers are steady if unspectacular in the latest data out of Gallup. Over the past week, Obama's job approval sat at 49 percent -- numbers virtually unchanged in Gallup surveys conducted over the past three months."

Harry Reid may have had the best day of all Monday. "Five Republican senators broke ranks with their party on Monday to advance a $15 billion job-creation measure put forward by Democrats, a rare bipartisan breakthrough after months in which Republicans had held together to a remarkable degree in an effort to thwart President Obama's agenda," the New York Times reports. The Washington Post calls the vote "a vindication for Reid, who is grappling with a tough reelection race in Nevada and faced questions in Washington over whether he mishandled the jobs issue." Bloomberg says "Republican leaders had demanded a chance to restore provisions Reid dropped earlier this month, including a package of business-related tax cuts. Reid's decision amounted to a bet that at least a few Republicans wouldn't vote against his stripped-down bill in an election year when the economy is at the top of the list of voters' concerns."

The man of the hour -- for Democrats, anyway -- was Scott Brown. The freshman "came into office as someone who could deliver the pivotal vote for the GOP to halt Democratic initiatives. But yesterday, Brown delivered for the Democrats, helping them advance a jobs bill President Obama and his party seek," the Boston Globe writes. The Boston Herald says "Brown's support counts as a win for ... Reid, who pressured the new senator heavily. Reid indicated the vote is a symbol of Brown's commitment to breaking the Capitol Hill logjam." But the bipartisan goodwill only goes so far; in a separate story, the Herald notes that "Brown yesterday warned the Obama administration against using the 'nuclear option' of ramming through Congress a revised $1 trillion health-care bill outlined yesterday by the White House." Dana Milbank says Brown's election "was supposed to bring a seismic change to national politics. It did just that Monday night, but not in the way Republicans had hoped."

Nate Silver looks ahead: "Is 56 is the new 60? If the Democrats can keep 56 of their own seats in the new Senate -- which will be a bit tough, but is far from out of the question -- then they may frequently be able to cobble together a coalition between the 56 Democrats and the four moderate Republicans -- Brown, Collins, Snowe and Castle." As for the merits of the jobs bill, The Hill reports "labor unions and liberal groups downplayed the significance of the Democratic victory, complaining the legislation is not ambitious enough. Lawrence Mishel, head of the union-affiliated Economic Policy Institute, called the Senate jobs bill 'small, puny.'" Robert Barro looks back and concludes "the fiscal stimulus package is a way to get an extra $600 billion of public spending at the cost of $900 billion in private expenditure. This is a bad deal. The fiscal stimulus package of 2009 was a mistake. It follows that an additional stimulus package in 2010 would be another mistake."

And here's who hasn't been having many good days lately -- Toyota. The Wall Street Journal reports that "Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales chief, James Lentz, plans to tell members of a House panel investigating the auto maker's handling of sudden acceleration complaints that the company is 'confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles.'" AP has a different kind of preview: "Rhonda Smith's story of six miles of interstate terror, as her Lexus suddenly zoomed to 100 miles per hour, will set the mood Tuesday for the first congressional hearing on Toyota's acceleration problems. The Sevierville, Tenn., woman shifted to neutral. She tried to throw the car into reverse. She hit the emergency brake. Nothing. Then, her Toyota-made car miraculously slowed down before she crashed." The Washington Post lays out the charges: "Congressional investigators Monday accused Toyota officials of making misleading public statements about the causes of its runaway cars and faulted federal safety regulators for conducting 'cursory and ineffective' investigations because of a crippling lack of expertise."

By Ben Pershing  |  February 23, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Next: Obama backs repealing antitrust exemption for health insurers


shinminoo, if the military junta is socialist/Marxist, Obama will support it. In Honduras, Obama was siding with the Marxist thugs and trying to force democratic Hondurans to submit to Castro, Chavez, Zelaya and Marxism!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | February 23, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

You areright, RUKidding0. Obamacare was NEVER about improving health care. It was always a socialist/Marxist scam to enslave us.

We were wondering who REALLY wrote the House and Senate bills. We knew they were NOT written by our representatives. Our congressmen and senators had not even read them! They are just being manipulated, coerced and bribed at our expense into passing them.

Now we know that the guidelines for the Obamacare scam are outlined in the 2007 book “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” written by Robert Creamer, a CONVICTED FELON who has worked on “progressive” (Marxist) projects with Obama for years. One of those projects is the Obamacare scam!

Creamer suggested in 2007 that a bogus health crisis be created! He outlined – point by point -- the lies, manipulation, intimidation, and coercion we have witnessed from Obama and his comrades to force us to swallow the Obamacare scam!

Convicted Felon and Alinsky-style community organizer Bob Creamer is the husband of Socialist Progressive Democrat Jan Schakowsky. Creamer trained Organizers for Obama in 2007. He’s in Obama’s inner circle and is among the “distinguished” guests at Obama’s White House parties.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | February 23, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

As we can see, DICTATOR Obama is ready to force us to swallow the Marxist Obamacare scam no matter how much the American people reject it.

Imitating Hugo Chavez and the rest of the Marxist thugs who are destroying Latin America, Obama wants to take over everything, including our health care system.

Imitating the Marxist thugs, Obama is also taking over the Legislative branch of power and becoming a dictator. The Legislative branch and not Obama has the power to make laws. But he's usurping the powers of the Legislative branch and becoming a DICTATOR.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | February 23, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

It is very revealing that the attacks are against Obama and not the legislation. Their response, Obama is a socialist reminds me of McCarthy seeing a Communist everywhere but never being able to out even one. These criticism are made by people who either do not know what a socialist is or those who know better but are hoping the reader is uneducated enough to not know.

Posted by: Gator-ron | February 23, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

In a last-ditch effort to salvage socialism, Obama and his Social Democrat Party's try still more spin to foist socialism on an unwilling and enraged American public before they lose power in November.

Obamacare was NEVER about health care reform.

From the very beginning, Obamacare was about our Social Democrat Party being hell bent on foisting socialism (in the form of social democracy) on an unwilling American people. This has been the singular ambition of the Social Democrat Party since FDR and will FOREVER remain their ambition, whether achieved in health care by a public option or by other crooked means.

Posted by: RUKidding0 | February 23, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Americans need to wake up!!! The Federal Reserve owns and controls our country!! They are not a branch of our government as you are lead to believe, but an independent central bank that owns and controls our dollar, economy, and political system!!!

Posted by: AMERICAWAKEUP | February 23, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Obama has been so silence on Burma crisis since he came to power and I would like Obama to be aware that Burma crisis is in very critical situation. Military junta is planning to hold sham elections in 2010 in order to legitimise military rule in Burma. This is the time to translate words into actions for the Obama administration. Obama you must speak up for Nyi Nyi Aung and you must speak up for Burma NOW!

Posted by: shinminoo | February 23, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

The photo-op on Thursday will be the "ice berg", all of those as witness will be passengers upon the Titanic.

I will watch, on television, like the movie.
We need a theme song.

Brown has revealed his Massachusetts roots.

Posted by: RayOne | February 23, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Who will step up and uphold the law? Understandibly the media will not tell the American people the truth. The Free Press will not function under a tyrant who is spending millions on lawyers to hide the truth....we don't have a valid president; we have an unqualified U.S. Senator who is circumventing the U.S. Constitution during wartime; and liberal leadership in Congress and the Judicial system has allowed it to happen. If U.S. wartime justice were exacted today there would be hundreds if not thousands of traitors shot for treason; including ALL our current top leaders. They have ALL allowed this; the greatest travesty in the history of freedom; opening the door for wholesale lies misleading America rapidly down the road to destruction without brakes.

Posted by: wonderbear | February 23, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Republicans may not be happy with the new Obama plan, but they are in no position to boycott Thursday's meeting. The White House is being very savvy in laying out on the table what would happen without GOP support while at the same time actively courting a GOP alternative, which would of course be completely unrealistic.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 23, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

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