The Morning Plum
* First question of the new year: Are Dems really going to go on offense against health reform repeal? And we're off and running! With the new House GOP leadership vowing to vote to repeal health reform before Obama's State of the Union address, the looming question is: How aggressively will Dems respond?
The New York Times assures us Dem leaders plan to go on offense in a big way, viewing the debate over repeal as a second chance to make the case for health reform:
Democrats, who in many cases looked on the law as a rabid beast best avoided in the fall elections, are reversing course, gearing up for a coordinated all-out effort to preserve and defend it.
Good news, if true. Another reason Dems need to be aggressive and proactive in pushing back against repeal: Obama will make health reform, his signature domestic achievement, a centerpiece in the case for reelection. In this sense, the repeal wars -- which will stretch far beyond this one vote into battles over GOP efforts to defend the law -- represent the first real skirmishing of the 2012 presidential race. So Dems need to fight this one on all cylinders.
* But will some "moderate" Dems play footsie with repeal?: A key House GOPer leading the repeal charge says Repubs may secure a veto-proof repeal majority for repeal with the help of Democrats who voted against reform -- though as Sam Stein points out, this is a rather "optimistic consideration of the congressional landscape."
Either way, "moderate" Dems flirting with the GOP repeal push is definitely something to keep an eye out for.
* Meanwhile, the fabled "government takeover" proceeds apace: Amid all the talk of repeal, creeping socialism continues to creep: Two of the most frightful provisions of health reform begin to take effect this year.
* Boehner to avoid pitfalls that claimed Gingrich? Perhaps mindful of the perils of throwing too much weight around early on, new House Speaker John Boehner plans to keep a low profile, setting a tone of austerity and modesty by reading the Constitution aloud and undertaking a symbolic 5 percent cut in Congressional office spending.
* Darrell Issa's choice: Will the GOP Congressman leading probes into the Obama administration avoid partisan bomb-throwing and focus mostly on accounting and government waste, or will he become the Don Quixote of the House GOP leadership, tilting his lance at "scandals" in every direction?
The early signs are mixed: He claims he'll focus mostly on ways to save taxpayers $200 billion, but he also continues to describe the Obama administration as "one of the most corrupt."
* Dems already gearing up for 2012 Congressional elections? New DCCC chairman Steve Israel says Dems are already targeting 68 GOP-held House districts won by Barack Obama in 2008, and predicts "buyers remorse" will enable Dems to take back at least the 25 they need to recapture the House. But: Redistricting!
* Political constraints on GOP majority? Relatedly, E.J. Dionne notes this morning that House GOPers in Obama districts will be reluctant to follow the Tea Party brigade over a cliff, suggesting some political constraints on the new GOP majority, at least in theory.
* Dem leaders to cut deal with GOP on filibuster reform? ICYMI, Jonathan Bernstein has a useful roadmap to what lies ahead, including the possibility that Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell could privately cut a deal on more modest measures than those sought by younger Dem reformers.
Atrios gently suggests that perhaps Dem leaders should be wary of reaching such a "deal," since so doing would inevitably be more in the interests of Republicans.
* Meanwhile: One of those reformers, Senator Tom Udall, insists momentum is building for a package of reforms that would eliminate "secret holds" and force senators to actually filibuster.
This will be a big story this week; we'll be blogging it right here.
* Public workers are the new welfare queens, ctd: Michael Powell has an interesting look at the national war on public workers, including the reality check that "public salaries, even with benefits included, are equivalent to or lag slightly behind those of private sector workers."
* Reality check of the day: For all the recent optimism about various indicators suggesting an economic turnaround, Paul Krugman warns that it won't amount to diddly, politically or otherwise, if unemployment doesn't come down significantly, which looks unlikely.
Also key: With Republicans and even some "moderate" Dems insisting that government spending is our main problem, "the best we can hope for from fiscal policy is that Washington doesn't actively undermine the recovery."
* Coming political skirmish of the week: The debt ceiling! Tea Party chieftain Jim DeMint is demanding a "big showdown" with Dems over increasing the debt ceiling, suggesting the Tea Party is dead serious about making this happen.
But top Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee is warning that "playing chicken" with the debt ceiling risks the "first default in history caused purely by insanity."
* Media dynamic worth watching: Steve Benen wonders when commentators will venture a few suggestions to the new GOP majority in order to reach compromise with Obama and Dems, rather than the other way around.
* And the public still favors higher taxes on the rich: A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds that a solid 61 percent favors higher taxes on the wealthy as the best means to curb the deficit. So let's hope Obama makes good on his vow to refight this battle in 2012.
Apparently the silly American public still hasn't gotten the memo explaining that tax cuts for the rich don't cost anything.
What else is happening?
| January 3, 2011; 8:39 AM ET
Categories: 2012, Health reform, House GOPers, Political media, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, filibuster, taxes
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