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The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Dems continue to telegraph weakness on Bush tax cuts: Ezra Klein, on the Dems' mystifying unwillingness to hold a vote on just extending the tax cuts for the middle class:

Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. They have a much stronger negotiating position than the Republicans: They can decide what passes, and Republicans have never been willing to end the tax cuts for most Americans simply to preserve the tax cuts for the rich. But though they're the party in charge, Democrats aren't acting like it.

And, for now, Dems still control the House of Representatives, too! As I noted yesteday, the message Dems are currently sending to Republicans by seeking compromise for its own sake is this: We're going to let you walk all over us, as long as we can figure out a way to call it a "compromise."

* Obama takes ownership of earmarks ban: A fascinating statement from the President in the wake of Mitch McConnell's earmarks flip-flop:

I welcome Senator McConnell's decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can't afford during these tough economic times.

This is all about Obama positioning himself as the one who's driving reform and taking charge by setting the agenda for both parties.

* The left gears up for 2012: Michael Luo has lots more detail on the big outside group I reported on the other day that David Brock is planning, and a look at how the big Beltway power lefties are gearing up to offset the right's powerful new spending infrastructure.

Key nugget: Brock's group will regularly report its donors. Not that that will do anything to silence the B.S. equivalences or crazy theorizing about Soros.

* House GOPer: Give me my government health care, already! Glenn Thrush has the entertaining tale of an incoming House GOP freshman who won by campaigning against Big Government Health Care but is now demanding to know why his Big Government Health Care is taking a month to kick in.

* Cantor versus Politico and the left: Eric Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring hits back hard at Politico and lefty bloggers, claiming they falsely hyped that story about Cantor supposedly telling Netanyahu he'd side with the Israeli leader against Obama, something that "never happened."

* Counter-intuitive take of the day: Liberals patiently explain that fixing the economy, not annoying the left-wing base, is the best way to win back independents.

* Fact-check of the day: Walter Pincus does a fine job debunking the effort by the author of George W. Bush's memoir to whitewash the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Key point: The memoir author omitted the rather crucial historical facts that the inspectors concluded Saddam was cooperating and found no evidence of hidden WMDs. With all the talk about "nostalgia" for Bush, this is a useful reminder of the former president's real legacy....

* Bonus Bush fact-check: David Corn finds that Karl Rove has been airbrushed out of the Valerie Plame scandal.

* Bush "nostalgia" exists only in the bubble: The number who say Bush was a good or one of the greatest presidents has soared all the way up to 28 percent.

* Blue Dog is in for a whuppin': Of the eighteen House Dems who have expressed concern about Nancy Pelosi as minority leader, only two are willing to commit to voting for her challenger, moderate Dem Rep. Heath Shuler.

* But: The Congressional Black Caucus is witholding support for Pelosi until it is given a clearer sense of what Rep. James Clyburn's leadership role will be.

* No fightin' Dems? Digby notes that if the Dems don't fight, "the only politicians the voters will see fighting for them are the Tea Partiers." And, of course, the Republicans.

* And here's the slap of the day: Lisa Murkowski says Sarah Palin lacks the "intellectual curiosity" to be president.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | November 16, 2010; 8:35 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, 2012, House Dems, Independents, Morning Plum, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, Tea Party, taxes  
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Next: Americans are a lot like Andy Harris


A week or so ago an Obama supporter started with the question - What is so UnAmerican about the Obama health care plan? And her insistence on getting specific answers became demanding.

Several posters responded, with comments about the finances and the mandates.

However, Obama just answered her question loud and clear: Over one hundred companies and unions have been given waivers from complying with the Federal law.

WOW. Who knew last spring that companies and unions connected with Obama and the democrats would be allowed OUT of the Obama health care plan ???

I can not think of a more serious way to make a Federal law UnAmerican - than to make it apply to some groups and the politically-connected do not have to comply.

Clearly, this gives these companies a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

So, these companies can offer lower prices to their customers because they have lower costs.

This also starts to defeat the purpose of Obama's health care plan - because now ALL the competitors have to seek out the same exemptions - or face higher costs compared to their competition.

Obama - seeking a political advantage - has destroyed the rational behind his own health care plan. And that just about says it: the politics and the ego is more important than the health care itself.

The truth is that Obama is threatening the ECONOMIC BALANCE within our economy - this is a serious danger - economic dislocation leads to misallocation of resources and lower economic growth.

Instead of working to bring a better product to the marketplace, or giving better service, NOW under Obama, the key to lower prices is to get a government waiver from Obama's people.

That is repulsive in America.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

"Dems continue to telegraph weakness"

I know I am very hard on Obama when it is the fecklessness of the Democrats and the Democratic Party generally that is the root of the problem. But i focus on Obama because he can change the entire party dynamic singlehandedly and at a single swoop. All Obama needs to do is declare that he will not sign any bill decreasing taxes for the Rich. That's it. From that moment on, Obama becomes the boss and the entire debate shifts. It is painfully apparent that the dysfunction of the Democratic Party is on florid display in Congress and that Dem Congresspeople are not going to change. Why won't Obama take command? That is the burning question for the Democrats and, far more importantly, for the country.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 16, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The democrats are weak because their ideas are weak.

The democrats are also weak because their ideas lead to lower economic growth.

The democrats are weak because when people try to reason with them, they are unable to defend their ideas - and they respond by name-calling or other ways to shut down the conversation in order to avoid exposing how weak their ideas are.

It comes down to a question of honesty.

Honesty and also character. Instead of debating in an adult and upright manner - admitting when a point is valid, the democrats descend into a series of pathetic attacks and refusals to engage.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I hereby nominate Andy Harris, R-Md., for Hypocrite of the Year 2010 - he hasn't even been sworn in yet, and he's already demonstrated that what's good for congressmen is too good for the public.

Posted by: blondie3 | November 16, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne, re-read Obama's "fascinating" statement for your answer. Even Greg doesn't believe him anymore.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 16, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The best thing that President Obama has said the last couple of weeks when his statement on earmarks.

He positioned himself as the leader on earmark reform along with the Tea Party.

Finally President Obama is playing the game.

Instead of looking weak and laying in a crouched position, he looked much stronger and more of a reform. We played. We need to see more.

My advice to the White House is get rid of Axelrod sooner than later and bring in Plouffe sooner than later.

Posted by: maritza1 | November 16, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

maritza1, he's also FOR indefinite holding of terrorists without trial and keeping Gitmo open. Just wait, he'll lie about something you DO care about.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 16, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I hereby nominate Andy Harris, R-Md., for Hypocrite of the Year 2010 - he hasn't even been sworn in yet, and he's already demonstrated that what's good for congressmen is too good for the public.

Posted by: blondie3 | November 16, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse


"decreasing taxes on the rich"

The debate is whether to keep the taxes at 35% or not.

Seriously man, the Clinton Temporary Surcharge was just that... Temporary.

To say that the "Bush tax cut" expired, bu the "Clinton Temporary Surcharge" is still in effect is illogical and ridiculous.

This ENTIRE debate is about whether to make the Clinton Temporary Surcharge permanent or not.

Right now the tax rate is 35%.

Bush's tax cut cut the rate from 36% to 35%.

They can compromise by putting the rate back to 36%.

I find it highly unusual that few democrats want to actually allow themselves to speak about the rates.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

How many Reds are there on these forums ? Let's see... what is repulsive is Red misrepresenting waivers. Yes, we knew about waivers. Many companies already had contracts in place and could ask for a waiver. What is so difficult to understand other than Red's desire to lie to make a point. And he talks of honesty and character and Dems unable to defend ideas. How so, I don't know, he gives no details just makes the claim. As a counter point, just what ideas do the Repubs or tea party have ? I don't know, when asked how to reduce the deficit and specifically what they would cut, they won't answer. And he complains about the Dems refusal to engage. I'm sorry but his alternate reality is not the one the rest of us live in.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | November 16, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Obama says: "I welcome Senator McConnell's decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending"


What a complete joke - what was Obama's conduct as a Senator. AND how many earmarks did Obama agree to over the last two years???

If Obama was so against earmarks, with the democrats in control of Congress, Obama could have refused to sign any budget which included earmarks.

Instead, there has been complete silence from Obama over the past two years on earmarks.

Obama signed earmarks into the budget.

So, this is a COMPLETE JOKE.


Obama should be thrown out of office for ATTEMPTED DECEPTION.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

It is now time to start organizing behind the Woman from Alaska, in order to make her the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee.

Senator Lisa Murkowski for President. She is the Alaskan woman who didn't quit.

Posted by: Liam-still | November 16, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Without the Tea Party, Obama and the democrats would be busy placing hundreds, maybe thousands, of earmarks into the next budget.

Obama's statement is extremely deceptive - and it is an outright lie.



Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Alternet gives us a new name for the deficit commission:

"The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might better be called the New Class War Commission to Scale Back Social Security and Medicare Payments to Labor in Order to Leave more Tax Revenue Available to Give Away to the Super-Rich. A longer title than the Deficit-Reduction Commission used by media friendlies, but sometimes it takes more words to get to the heart of matter."

Posted by: lmsinca | November 16, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

In the mood for nausea before breakfast?

Joe Klein, previously the Chancellor of education in New York, left the post for...

"In taking the job with News Corp., Klein actually said, "I've long admired News Corporation's entrepreneurial spirit and Rupert Murdoch's fearless commitment to innovation... Klein also went on to say, "I am excited for the opportunity to be part of this team."...Klein added, "And to have the chance to bring the same spirit of innovation to the burgeoning education marketplace.""

Attend not only to the head-banging idiocy and sleaziness of such a descrpition of FOX and Murdoch but to that "burgeoning education marketplace". Schools (like prisons) as opportunity to grow corporate coffers (not to mention getting rid of pesky unions and that Satan-inspired "liberal education" thing).

It was about a decade and a half ago that I began bumping into news that big corporations (Boeing was one) were sniffing about trying to figure how they could create new profit opportunities by moving into public education. Increasingly, we are there. If you want to really make your day, read Ravitch's "The Myth of Chartered Schools"

Posted by: bernielatham | November 16, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to that alternet piece, very relevant to the tax policy discussions floating about right now. Also, very depressing, so read with caution.


Posted by: lmsinca | November 16, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Falmouth1, you don't speak for me. In addition "personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site."

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 16, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca- "Here's the link to that alternet piece, very relevant to the tax policy discussions floating about right now. Also, very depressing, so read with caution."

The article gets at least one thing wrong when it states that people think Obama is trying to help them. People seem to think Obama is trying and succeeding in redistributing the wealth to the poor, not the middle class. Obama has managed to screw this up so badly that both the wealthy and middle class are critical of him for doing the opposite of what he is actually doing.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 16, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but his alternate reality is not the one the rest of us live in.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | November 16, 2010 9:03 AM

Falmouth1, you don't speak for me.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 16, 2010 9:34 AM

Yeah Falmouth. clawman does live in the alternate reality.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 16, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse


Only if Sarah and Lisa agree to mud-wrestling matches instead of debates.

Imagine the ratings. What a basic cable coup !


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

The liberals are a laugh

Who would you rather have in Congress - a Blue Dog or a Red Dog???

Seriously, a Blue Dog is in your caucus, and tries to work with you.

A Red Dog will always vote against you.

Which would you prefer??? Then the liberals treat the Blue Dogs horribly - are happy to see them get a "whuppin"

That is pretty close to a completely idiotic position.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Falmouth1 at 9:03 AM

You asked what ideas are the democrats unable to defend.

Please look to the left of your webpage, where it says "Full Weekly Archive"

The Fix blog also has a similar link - for its blogs over the past three years.

As evidence that the democrats are unable to defend their ideas, I offer these two archives.

I hope that is enough "details" for you.

And by the way, waivers have not been misrepresented. It is clear and simply. I have stated several reasons why they are horrible for the economy.

In addition, yesterday, all the 111 companies and unions were listed.

This led to a banning - just for bringing up the subject. So instead of defending the waivers, the democrats just complain.

Defend them.

WHY should an individual have to buy a high-priced expensive health care plan, jam packed with benefits they don't need - when the Obama politically-connected companies can get waivers ???

NO ONE wanted this kind of political influence in the economy. It is UNAMERICAN.

It is horrible economy policy.

Yes, the health care plan IS Obama's economic policy, and it is dragging this nation down.

Companies are rushing to invest in other countries - they are holding back their investments in the US.

What does that tell you ???

Your comment is ridiculous, devoid of support and just silly.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

@RTR,...STRF....OF...???? Over one hundred companies and unions have been given waivers from complying with the Federal law.

No link no credibility, its that simple. Why were they given waivers? Accusing cronyism with no documentation=no credibility..

"Seriously, a Blue Dog is in your caucus, and tries to work with you.

A Red Dog will always vote against you."

The blue dogs got what they deserved for watering down every important bill the dems worked on. By making dem proposals weaker and less effective they both emboldened their opponents and demotivated their allies. At the end of the day, they cut their own throats for nothing...

And all the whining about deficits now is pure hypocrisy given what they (and their repub fellow travelers--the big hypocrites) supported 2 rounds of tax cuts while we ran huge unprecedented deficits and doubled the national debt. The blue dogs are so myopic and fearful of taking a stand with the rest of their party, they were destined to lose this year...They are hanging apart because they wouldn't hang together...

Posted by: srw3 | November 16, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Falmouth1 | November 16, 2010 9:03 AM

What is repulsive is that Obama promised that health care costs would go down under his plan.

They have gone up 10%-20% - with more to come next year and the next year and the years after those.

Why was there such a rush for Obama to place all these additional costs onto the economy???

Every reasonable person in the country wanted Obama to wait for the economy to get better BEFORE he pushed through this expensive program.

The whole thing was irrational.

The country has to come to terms that we have an irrational and unpredictable person in the White House and leading the democratic party. The damages could end up to be substantial by the time this episode is over.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

srw3 at 10:23 AM

It's 111 companies - they were listed on yesterday's blog.


The Blue Dogs can not get elected or re-elected by supporting your liberal ideas. You are being unrealistic.


At some point you will realize that the Blue Dogs were never weighing you down, it was the bankruptcy of the liberals ideas.

Moral bankruptcy as well as financial bankruptcy.

The American People do not want the liberal agenda - the Blue Dogs tried to tell you. As a result, the democrats lost control of the House. The rest of the party is headed for defeat especially if they continue with the same old tired thing which the nation has clearly stated it wants no part of.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Claw12, I'm glad I don't speak for you. Why would I want to ? You do such a good job making my point for me.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | November 16, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

All, nice take by Adam Serwer on new House GOP star Andy Harris:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 16, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: eastony12 | November 16, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Falmouth1, I don't know why you wanted to post on behalf of "the rest of us" (I suspect it has something to do with an inordinate feeling of superiority, but I don't "know" for sure). Thank you for abiding by my request.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 16, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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