8 a.m.: Can't we all just agree on something? The first full week of September begins with Hill Democrats divided on health care, the Obama administration divided on Afghanistan and the business community divided on climate change.
In the Senate Finance Committee, the amendment process is complete but the finish line for health-care reform is still off in the distance. Ron Wyden and Jay Rockefeller have refused so far to pledge to vote for the measure, and at least one of their votes is necessary to move the bill out of committee unless Olympia Snowe decides to back it. Jill Lawrence writes that Rockefeller has been waiting 45 years for this moment, and that the strong public-option supporter is contemptuous of insurance co-ops as well as compromise ideas like a trigger or a state-run pilot program.
Though it has become conventional wisdom that the combined Senate bill will not include a public insurance option, "the Obama White House has launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea," the Los Angeles Times reports, courting moderates and monitoring the progress of potential compromises. Roll Call writes that most centrist Democrats "appear prepared to fall in line with Democratic leaders — provided they are presented with a bill that can withstand public scrutiny in their home states." That means packaging whatever form of public option does end up in the bill as something more palatable to wary Democrats like Blanche Lincoln.
Beyond the Finance Committee, Democrats' must grapple with a key lobbying bloc -- governors -- who are concerned that the expansion of Medicaid may bust their budgets, the Washington Post reports. USA Today focuses on gender politics, examining reform provisions that "would correct longstanding inequities and offer more coverage to women at lower costs." The Associated Press takes its crack at a Harry Reid story, noting that the Democratic leader has the difficult and unenviable task of merging two very different health-care bills and selling it to a divided caucus. Time writes that the coming weeks will test Reid and Nancy Pelosi "on a scale that no congressional leadership team has had to face in at least four decades." In the House, reform efforts are moving slowly, as leaders watch to see what the Senate does and say no bill will be on the floor for at least two more weeks.
Just as health care has made for some strange bedfellows in the capital, so too is the effort to move a climate change bill. "The flurry of companies quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is highlighting how the climate-change issue is straining traditional alliances in Washington, as some businesses seek to profit from overhauling the energy market and others try to cut deals to head off tougher regulation," the Wall Street Journal writes. Like the drug industry and hospital groups, which have broken with some business allies to back Obama's health-care plans, some energy companies and manufacturers have done something similar on climate change. Politico reports, "Two coalitions of top U.S. corporations are using Washington visits and more than $1 million in advertising to prod the Senate and White House to accelerate work on an energy and climate bill." Watch for Capitol Hill visits and press conferences from supportive CEOs this week, though it's not clear to anyone how quickly the Senate can move on climate change given that the chamber is preoccupied with health care, appropriations and other priorities. Carol Browner said Friday that it was "not likely" Obama would have a bill to sign in the next two months, and that was probably an understatement.
The battle between factions within the Obama administration over the way forward in Afghanistan grew hotter over the weekend, as the White House sent a shot across the bow of the commander of the war effort. James Jones said on CNN Sunday that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command," a reference to Stanley McChrystal's public airing of his view that thousands more troops are needed and anything less would be "short-sighted." David Petraeus, meanwhile, has a much smaller voice in the Obama administration than he did in the Bush administration, observes the New York Times. "The change has fueled speculation in Washington about whether General Petraeus might seek the presidency in 2012," the paper writes (speculation by whom?), while prudently adding: "His advisers say that it is absurd." Michael Barone mocks Obama for calling Afghanistan a "war of necessity" but then suggesting otherwise by considering half-measures, while E.J. Dionne warns that Afghanistan might kill Obama's hopes for big-ticket domestic reforms.
The postmortems on Chicago's Olympic bid are still being written. The Los Angeles Times writes that Obama himself was not sold on the idea of going to Copenhagen until the very end, and that he decided to go because his advisers were hearing that the balloting would be close enough to make the trip worthwhile. "The message was that . . . a personal appeal from the president would make a huge difference," said Valerie Jarrett, who clearly drove the process within the White House (and had already experienced some friction with other top aides before this episode). Clarence Page writes that the episode shows that Obama's "magic has its limits."
Is there one issue on which everyone can agree? Perhaps it's John Ensign, who appears to have brought both sides of the aisle together in derision. Politico reports that Ensign "finds himself isolated, both personally and professionally," with nary a Senate Republican willing to support or defend him publicly. Barbara Boxer confirmed Sunday that the Senate Ethics Committee is investigating Ensign. In addition to scrutiny from that panel and possibly with the Federal Election Commission, the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that Ensign may also be facing tax problems for his payments to the Hamptons.
October 5, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Go to full archive for The Rundown »
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.