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Friday House Line: Open seats in focus



Reps. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Mike Castle (R-Del.) are vacating their seats to make runs at the Senate, resulting in open seat races that rank among the most competitive contests in 2010. AP photos

If you are trying to gauge what sort of year 2010 will be for House Democrats, look no further than the number of open seats the party will ultimately have to defend.

Open seats -- those being abandoned by a sitting member either for retirement or a run for higher office -- are perennially the most likely to switch parties as they represent the closest thing to a fair fight that you get in Congress.

With the powers of incumbency a non-factor, open seats are more swayed by national environmental factors and, if the playing field is tilted to one party or the other, have a tendency to all fall in the same direction. In 1994, for example, Democrats lost 22 of their 29 open seats in the Republican wave; in 2006, Republicans lost eight of their 21 open seats and didn't manage to flip a single one of Democrats' twelve vacancies.

Given those numbers, it's no surprise that the recent retirements of Democratic Reps. John Tanner (Tenn.) and Dennis Moore (Kans.) have stoked some nervousness within the party ranks.

Moore and Tanner are the eighth and ninth Democrats to announce they will not run in 2010, not exactly a flood -- especially when considering 12 Republicans have already opted out of re-election runs. (By this time in the 2008 cycle, 16 Republicans and five Democrats had announced their plans to leave the House.)

The question that remains unanswered are whether Moore and Tanner are isolated cases or the start of an epidemic. There are 49 Democrats who sit in districts carried by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 and, among those, roughly a dozen and a half have held their seats for four or more terms.

It's those folks -- Reps. John Spratt (S.C.), Ike Skelton (Mo.) and Marion Berry (Ark.) to name three -- to keep on your retirement watch list. If they go, an epidemic may well be declared. But, you can bet Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) is doing everything he can to keep them in their seats for at least one more term.

Below you'll find our rankings of the ten races most likely to switch parties in 2010. As always, the number one race is considered the most ripe for a party switch.

And, one other note: The next House line will be expanded to 20 races to account for the wider playing field in the run-up to the midterms.

As always, kudos and critiques are welcome in the comments section below.

To the Line!

Coming off the Line: New York's 23rd, Colorado's 4th
Coming onto the Line: Tennessee's 8th, Mississippi's 1st

10. Alabama's 2nd district (Democratic-controlled): Republicans got a quality candidate in Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby (R) and the demographics of this district -- where President Obama took just 37 percent of the vote -- make it hard for any Democrat to win. But, Rep. Bobby Bright (D) isn't any Democrat -- he spent years as the non-partisan mayor of Montgomery -- and he fits the district well. Bright may also benefit from the gubernatorial candidacy of Rep. Artur Davis, who is seeking to become the first black governor of Alabama. With Davis leading the ticket, African American turnout should be elevated, a boon to Bright whose district has a black population of 30 percent. Bright is far from out of the woods in 2010 but, unlike some members ranked higher than him on the Line, he has a path to victory. (Previous ranking: 8)

9. Tennessee's 8th district (D): Tanner's retirement means this western Tennessee seat will be a major target for House Republicans in 2010 since McCain won it by 13 points in 2008. Democrats insist that the seat is far more competitive than that -- George W. Bush won it by just six points in his 2004 re-election bid and Harold Ford Jr. carried it in his unsuccessful 2006 Senate bid -- and Democrats believe they have a top-tier candidate in state Sen. Roy Herron. (Herron abandoned his longshot run for governor to seek the seat.) Republicans seem set on farmer Stephen Fincher as their candidate, pointing out that he raised more than $300,000 in the last three months for a race that was on no one's radar screen during that time. (Previous ranking: N/A)

8. Mississippi's 1st district (D): Much like Bright in neighboring Alabama, Rep. Travis Childers (D) holds a seat with a significant (27 percent) black population. Unlike Bright, however, Childers doesn't have anything on the ballot above him next November to drive black turnout, a major problem in a district where President Obama won just 38 percent in 2008. Republicans are excited about the candidacy of state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, arguing that he comes with none of the flaws that Greg Davis, the party's nominee in the special election last year, carried. (Previous ranking: N/A)

7. Maryland's 1st district (D): A new poll released by state Sen. Andy Harris' (R) campaign showed the Republican leading Rep. Frank Kratovil by a 52 percent to 39 percent margin, a very troubling piece of data for the freshman incumbent. While internal polls are rightly regarded with some skepticism, the fact that Kratovil didn't release numbers of his own painting a different picture suggests that Harris' numbers might not be that far off. Kratovil eked out a 3,000-vote victory over Harris in one of the best election cycles in recent memory for Democrats and it appears as though the district electorate, which gave McCain 59 percent of the vote in 2008, is ready to return to form. (Previous ranking: 9)

6. New Mexico's 2nd district (D): The dynamics of this race have been locked in for months. Freshman Rep. Harry Teague (D), sitting in a swing seat with a strong oil interests, votes for the cap and trade bill. Former Rep. Steve Pearce, who lost badly in his Senate bid in 2008, enters the race to recapture his former perch. A close race ensues. The x-factor? Teague's vast personal wealth, which could make this a more competitive contest than some Republican strategists believe it will be. (Previous ranking: 7)

5. Virginia's 5th district (D): Give freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D) this: he's got guts. After being pilloried by national Republicans for his vote in favor of the President's cap and trade proposal earlier this year, Perriello cast a vote last month for Obama's health care bill. Those twin votes almost certainly doom his re-election chances in this Southside seat where Republicans have found a top recruit in the form of state Sen. Robert Hurt. (Previous ranking: 6)

4. Illinois' 10th district (Republican-controlled): The decision by Rep. Mark Kirk (R) to run for Senate puts this affluent North Shore district up for grabs. Both parties have competitive primaries but whoever emerges on the Democratic side -- state Rep. Julie Hamos and 2006/2008 nominee Dan Seals are the leading contenders -- will have an edge in the general election given the strong Democratic lean of the district. (Previous ranking: 5)

3. Louisiana's 3rd district (D): Races in Louisiana are notoriously slow to develop but the underlying demographics of this seat -- 37 percent of the vote for Obama in 2008 -- don't bode well for a Democratic hold. Recruiting for this race is further complicated by the fact that Louisiana is widely expected to lose a seat in the decennial redistricting and this district appears to be the most likely to go. (Previous ranking: 4)

2. Louisiana's 2nd district (R): Rep. Joseph Cao (R) won the admiration of many Democrats nationally when he broke with his party to cast the lone GOP vote in favor of President Obama's health care plan last week. That's a step in the right direction for Cao but to assume he will win re-election because of that vote is a mistake. Always remember this when talking about Cao: McCain took 23, yes 23, percent of the vote in this district in 2008. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Delaware's at-large district (R): Republicans acknowledge privately that Rep. Mike Castle (R) who is running for Senate in 2010, is likely the only GOPer who could hold this seat. Delaware's strong Democratic lean combined with the strong candidacy of former Lt. Gov. John Carney (D) puts this seat at the top of the Line. (Previous ranking: 1)

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 4, 2009; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  The Line  
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Comments

sliowa1:

First off, let me say that I appreciate the rational discussion we're having -- pretty rare for the flame-fests that these comments sections usually become.

That said, I think we'll have to agree to disagree about the cost containment measures in the health care bills. Gruber points out in the NEJM op-ed what he calls "four prongs" in the Senate bill aimed at controlling costs (toward the end). For a relatively non-partisan look at cost containment, you can go to the Kaiser Family Foundation website and do a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills (http://healthreform.kff.org/). I'm not an economist, so I don't know how much each measure will "bend the curve," but it seems like the bills have a multi-faceted approach to attacking the problem.

Certainly, I don't think health care reform, as it stands, is the optimal solution, but it is a big step forward. I too wish there were some better faith negotiating between the Ds and Rs, even in the Group of Six, but the Rs have clearly taken that option off the table now. When it passes, the Ds will own health care reform, for better or for worse.

Posted by: mnteng | December 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

BB,

“The dollar has rebalanced with respect to currencies that float such as the euro, pound and yen. The Chinese government maintains an enormous trade surplus with the U.S. by dumping all of those dollars back into U.S. debt. This drives down demand for the yuan and keeps it cheap.”

While I will agree that yuan and dollar are out of balance due to policies in China. I would disagree about the strength of the US dollar to Euro. After initially climbing due to the flight of money to what is thought to be stability (I think the psychology has more to do about military strength rather than economic stability). The dollar has been heading south against the Euro (look it was bad when Bush was in office). Both Krguman and Greenspan are brilliant but I think both will manipulate numbers and arguments to prove the point of their party.

Sorry for the slow reply…I also have two small children (1 and 6) so weekend is typically internet free unless I am traveling on business or I have a deadline at work. I have been to the Charcoal Pit and it is a great little secret, unfortunately, my wife has Celiac Disease (CD) and people grill both their steak with rolls together (CD nightmare). You asked where I worked in Ames (suggesting either Ames Lab or ISU) I work for USDA (I formally worked at DuPont on East Coast prior to my move to Midwest…its been a great switch for me).

Posted by: sliowa1 | December 7, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

mnteng, kreuz_missile, shrink2,

Sorry for the slow reply, I normal do not read internet on weekends (family time)

I would agree with your points that the views of Filer do not support R talking points in terms of policy, but my point in posting his comment was more of a “Voodoo Economics” statement. He talks about was passed will not control cost, but rather make a bad situation worst. This legislation will not “bend the curve”, but rather drive up cost in terms of total dollars. Long term this is an entitlement that will suck the life out of the economy similar to what our other entitlements will do in the unforeseeable future. I also think its bad policy to pass something you know will be bad in hopes of changing it for something better down the road (how often does that happen).

The point of my first post was to say that D are being dishonest when they are saying we are trying to work with R. However, I totally agree that the R are by far the worst offenders in this honesty debate over healthcare reform.

Posted by: sliowa1 | December 7, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Let's see ... where to begin? I'll start w/ "death panels". I believe this started w/ Sarah Palin's facebook statement that read, in relevant part:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too polemic for your tastes, but this sounds like a normative statement to me, as opposed to a statement of fact, which could fairly be labeled a "truth" or "lie"

==

That's enough.

No idea what you think you're saying with "normative," or why you've perplexingly chosen a post on a social networking site to .. not sure about this .. mount a defense of Palin as a liar. Frankly you're weaving all over the road.

I'm not talking about Facebook, I'm talking about statement after speech after interview when Palin claimed with no ambiguity that the health care plan being discussed by Obama and the Democrats explicitly included plans for euthanasia panels. She said so many times, and she was lying, and she knew it. The plan had no such notion, nothing even suggesting it.

Not surprised you need to put quotes around "truth" and "lie," as I expected and you have confirmed, the concepts are rather sketchy and ambiguous to you. Republican? Thought so.

There's been a lot of dishonest debating around here by defenders of Palin lacking in intellectual acuity what they have in passion .. for example one of nature's crueler jokes who once posted here a lot in defense of Palin wrote that since the healtcare program would not spend a million dollars to extend the life of an undistinguished 99-year-old man one more year, it included rationing, hence death panels.

This is of course hyperbolic and absurd; those decisions are made now anyway, and much more harshly than that. They're made by insurance companies, they are advised by doctors, they are made by families who decide when enough is enough, or perhaps when the money all runs out. And they're made by patients themselves.

This is an argument about the finitude of resources, not morality.

Palin lied in her black throat.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 6, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

From sliowa:

The same Paul Krguman who said a weak dollar was good for America. There are a slew of economist who think a weak dollar monitory policy is terrible long term policy.

===

This argument suffers from a fundamental problem. There is widespread agreement that the dollar has been overvalued, particularly with respect to the Chinese yuan. A weak dollar isn't necessarily good for America, but neither is a strong one. A fairly valued dollar

The dollar has rebalanced with respect to currencies that float such as the euro, pound and yen. The Chinese government maintains an enormous trade surplus with the U.S. by dumping all of those dollars back into U.S. debt. This drives down demand for the yuan and keeps it cheap.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 5, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

'rightwing_genius' Is genius your last name or something? Otherwise I don't understand.

'polemic' 'normative.' Most impressive.

Posted by: petenflux | December 5, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

sliowa1:

kreuz and shrink2 have beaten me to my response, but I'll match your Flier with Leonhardt.

"The bill brought to the floor last week by Harry Reid, the Senate leader, has offered them a chance to make good on their rhetoric.

On the positive side, the bill includes nearly every big idea that health economists and medical researchers have for slowing cost growth — as well as for improving the patchwork quality of American health care.

But many of the ideas, like the rule on Medicare reimbursement, have been at least partly neutered. A provision to punish hospitals for infecting their patients, for example, would cut payments for the related treatments by a mere 1 percent. A provision meant to help people who don’t like the insurance options offered by their employer would apply to only a tiny fraction of them. A provision to encourage more cooperation among doctors would not apply to the areas where it is needed the most: chronic diseases like diabetes and congestive heart failure.

“There is a lot to like in the bill,” Dr. Alan Garber of the Stanford School of Medicine says, “but it needs to go further.”

Thus the opportunity for those centrist senators: to achieve their stated goal, they don’t suddenly need to turn themselves into health care wonks and rewrite the bill. They just need to improve what’s already there."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/health/policy/25leonhardt.html?_r=1&ref=business

Posted by: mnteng | December 5, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"As we learned a few months ago, our friends in Norway now see what was once the most prestigious award anyone could hope to receive as a tool with which to make a political statement."

The Nobel memorial prize in Economic Sciences is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, not Norway (the Peace Prize is the only one awarded b the Norwegians). The biggest historical criticism of it in the pasthas always been it is often used as a conservative counterbalance to the more liberal Peace Prize honorees, historically being awarded to folks like Frederick Hayek (1974) and Milton Friedman (1976). The Chicago School has earned 9 Nobels, more than any other economic philosophy.

That aside, overall (and pertinent to this discussion) I agree with Hayek's critique of the award itself, when asked if it were up too him whether the award should even be given: "the Nobel Prize confers on an individual an authority which in economics no man ought to possess. This does not matter in the natural sciences. Here the influence exercised by an individual is chiefly an influence on his fellow experts; and they will soon cut him down to size if he exceeds his competence. But the influence of the economist that mainly matters is an influence over laymen: politicians, journalists, civil servants and the public generally."

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 5, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Let's see ... where to begin? I'll start w/ "death panels". I believe this started w/ Sarah Palin's facebook statement that read, in relevant part:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too polemic for your tastes, but this sounds like a normative statement to me, as opposed to a statement of fact, which could fairly be labeled a "truth" or "lie". As for the Bridge to Nowhere, I don't recall her actually saying that she NEVER supported the bridge, and @ any rate there were actually 2 bridges of note (See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/09/tony_knowles_sean_parnell_karl.html.), but at any rate she declared that she said "thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere," which is true; she changed her mind. Something wrong w/ that? It seems to me President Obama has changed his mind LOTS of times, and I don't hear you lot squawking about him as you do w/ Palin.

Posted by: right-wing_genius | December 5, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

@right wing: I never supported that "Bridge to Nowhere."

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 4, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Dem control of the House is in doubt after next Nov.

==

In your daydreams

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

New Mexico 2 is a Red district. Count that one at number one on the list to switch back to Republican. The list should be about 50 to 60 long. Dem control of the House is in doubt after next Nov. The country is waiting for the moment Madame Nancy has to turn over her gavel and face lift to a Republican. Maybe they will just throw a pail of water on her and watch her melt.

Posted by: kenpasadena | December 4, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

But then, I suppose the concept of personal responsibility is lost on someone of your political persuasion.

==

That's a slanderous and contemptible lie that you cretins tell yourselves to feel all independent an' self-reliant an' stuff. Keep telling it to yourselves because it has you wasting a lot of time doing battle with straw men, and helps maintain you ineffectual and lost.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

OK, Tanz - may I call you "Tanz" - name 1 lie Sarah Palin has told.

==

death panels

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

OK, Tanz - may I call you "Tanz" - name 1 lie Sarah Palin has told. Also, how would YOU know which guys I "look up to"? FYI, I look up to God; classical economics - however rational & coherent - should not be elevated to the level of religion. If, by "look up to", you mean "admire" or "respect", then I'd say I look up to my parents as the model marriage and 2 of the most financially responsible people I have ever known. But then, I suppose the concept of personal responsibility is lost on someone of your political persuasion.

Posted by: right-wing_genius | December 4, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Were it not for the fact that I have encountered many faux-intellectuals

==

Aren't you the guy who referred to Sarah Palin as having integrity and competence?

It doesn't get any phonier than that. She's a lying bo0b.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

"Now if you'll excuse me, then I must take my Mercedes to the car wash to get that awful homeless man's blood off the grill."

This is boring. When you want to exasperate the people who are in charge, say something unexpected. I learned that in Catholic School.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 4, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I would think these comments were posted merely for shock value, trying to elicit some visceral response from an educated economist.

==

Krugman won that banking prize that people call the "Nobel in Economics," while the guys YOU look up to are still talking about trickle-down, thinking money, and market forces.

Silly fool.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

There's a lot of ignorance and mendacity on this page, but I seized on the remarks heralding Paul Krugman as some sort of brilliant economist. Were it not for the fact that I have encountered many faux-intellectuals who hold the bearded boob in high esteem, I would think these comments were posted merely for shock value, trying to elicit some visceral response from an educated economist.

Anyone care to point out when Krugman has been "right" about something? Anyone? That he has won a Nobel Prize is of no consequence. As we learned a few months ago, our friends in Norway now see what was once the most prestigious award anyone could hope to receive as a tool with which to make a political statement. Now if you'll excuse me, then I must take my Mercedes to the car wash to get that awful homeless man's blood off the grill.

Posted by: right-wing_genius | December 4, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

More fun, Dodd and Mikulski have also now signed onto the legislation:

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/70667-dodd-mikulski-join-brown-effort-on-gop-healthcare-amendment

-------------------------------------------
Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Barbara Mikulski (Md.) filed a unanimous consent request with Brown on Friday to co-sponsor an amendment being drafted by GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana.

The legislation would require lawmakers to join a public insurance plan included in healthcare legislation. Vitter is also considering proposing banning physician services currently available to legislators at the Capitol as well as taxpayer-funded services they are allowed at Bethesda Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“If we have a public option in this plan — and my hope is that we will — then I think there is nothing wrong with insisting that members of Congress be included,” Dodd said. “We support it in our committee, and I'm prepared to support it again here on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

sliowa1, I'm not sure you want to cite Flier as a source, he is advocating (as Krugman has earlier), that HCR doesn't go far enough, that the current bill will expand coverage but not control costs, necessitating further legislation and regulation down the line (a complete revision of how healthcare works - paying doctors a flat fee rather than pay-for-service as one example). The difference in their analysis is solely that Krugman is willing to take the 50% solution now and get the rest later (as is apparently Pres. Obama). The real underlying question is how soon will the costs become a problem, and can the additional necessary reform come before then? If they get this bill through, the answer to the latter I firmly believe is yes.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

"So the majority of our representatives may congratulate themselves on reducing the number of uninsured, while quietly understanding this can only be the first step of a multiyear process to more drastically change the organization and funding of health care in America. I have met many people for whom this strategy is conscious and explicit."

Well he never met me, but I agree, starting with universal coverage is the one best way to get America away from its obsolete creation myth, rugged individualism and on to the tremendous efficiency of small s socialism. Health care should be operated like a public utility.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 4, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

The Dean of Harvard medical school writes the exact opposite of your cherished Krugman and Gruber:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704431804574539581994054014.html

==

Can't you find a more reliable source?

Why do we have to keep reminding you guys that the WSH editorial page has never been reputable, and now even its news is no longer reliable?

Krugman has been right a hell of a lot more often than any Republican economist, but hey that's a pretty low bar.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

mnteng

“refer you to Paul Krugman (Princeton) and Jonathan Gruber (MIT), economists that are a lot smarter than most.”

Is this the same Paul Krugman who predicted that the banks had to be nationalized or we they were all going to fail (how many time did he sound the horn on that topic early in the year…he hasn’t been writing about that lately). The same Paul Krguman who said a weak dollar was good for America. There are a slew of economist who think a weak dollar monitory policy is terrible long term policy.

In terms of opposition to the health care reform:

The Dean of Harvard medical school writes the exact opposite of your cherished Krugman and Gruber:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704431804574539581994054014.html

Posted by: sliowa1 | December 4, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

sliowa1 writes:
"How can anyone say that the D plan is going to bring any real reform in the process."

I refer you to Paul Krugman (Princeton) and Jonathan Gruber (MIT), economists that are a lot smarter than most.

Krugman:
"Are we talking about real savings, or just window dressing? Well, the health care economists I respect are seriously impressed by the cost-control measures in the Senate bill, which include efforts to improve incentives for cost-effective care, the use of medical research to guide doctors toward treatments that actually work, and more. This is “the best effort anyone has made,” says Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A letter signed by 23 prominent health care experts — including Mark McClellan, who headed Medicare under the Bush administration — declares that the bill’s cost-control measures “will reduce long-term deficits.”"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/opinion/04krugman.html?em

Gruber:
"The United States stands on the verge of the most significant change to our health care system since the 1965 introduction of Medicare. The bill that was passed by the House and a parallel bill before the Senate would cover most uninsured Americans, saving thousands of lives each year and putting an end to our status as the only developed country that places so many of its citizens at risk for medical bankruptcy. Moreover, the bills would accomplish this aim while reducing the federal deficit over the next decade and beyond. They would reform insurance markets, lower administrative costs, increase people’s insurance choices, and provide “insurance for the insured” by disallowing medical underwriting and the exclusion of preexisting conditions. And the Senate bill in particular would move us closer to taming the uncontrolled increase in health care spending that threatens to bankrupt our society.

Despite the many reasons to be excited about this legislative breakthrough, skeptics abound. Their criticism is only going to get louder as the bill is debated on the Senate floor over the next few weeks. But the primary criticisms of the bills are largely unwarranted."

http://healthcarereform.nejm.org/?p=2473&query=TOC

Posted by: mnteng | December 4, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Bismon

“That might be a reasonable strategy if the Repubs were actually interested in compromise. They are not; they are interested solely in stopping anything proposed by the President specifically, or Dems generally. They seem to think this will reflect poorly on the President, and produce gains in the 2010 elections. I am skeptical that voters will agree. But, I've been wrong before.”

I wish it was so simple. I would say both D and R are being dishonest in this Health Care Reform debate. How can anyone say that the D plan is going to bring any real reform in the process. People need to know what the cost of health care is before they will take responsibility. Things that will bring some of the biggest changes to reform such as decoupling health insurance through your employer actually might have bent the curve, but opposition by unions killed it. I also think the mythical savings in Medicare that the D proposed is rather dishonest as well. The score card of being deficit neutral is rather weak since most of the costs do not kick in until the end and as the population ages will become unstainable just as our current SS system. I would say its frustrating to play along with someone who rejects legitimate concerns and ideas.

However, I do agree with your assessment that R are playing obstructionist, and they are hoping this opposition will gain them political points (its unfortunate). I think Bush’s unfunded prescription drug benefit was fiscally irresponsible and I think the D health care reform is just as irresponsible. Obama ran on change, but he is no different than Bush in terms of fiscal responsibility.

Posted by: sliowa1 | December 4, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

The painful memory of Hastert shouting down Democrats is much mitigated by the sight of the old fool stumbling around not knowing what hit him.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

And what kind of election will he expect in 2010, with Alex Castellanos at the communications helm for the RNC?

"Yesterday at the Newseum, consultant Alex Castellanos spoke at a 2010 elections preview hosted by the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Politico.

Castellanos, who fashions himself as a the “father of the modern attack ad,” has helped produce ads for industry clients — like the Chamber of Commerce and the health insurance trade group — to kill health reform.

Recently, after a top communications official was forced out of the Republican National Committee, Castellanos indicated that he will also advise the party on its communications strategy.

Perhaps what sets Castellanos apart from other political consultants is his use of subliminal, often racist, messages. In a profile piece, Eric Boehlert noted some of Castellanos’ most infamous work:

In 1990, working for Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, he produced perhaps the most racially divisive TV ad in campaign history. Called “White Hands,” it featured an angry white worker crumpling up a job rejection notice. He had lost out because “they had to give it to a minority.” More recently, in 2000, his firm National Media produced an ad mocking Al Gore’s stance on prescription drugs, flashing the word “RATS” on the screen for a split second. Castellanos denied using subliminal advertising. But it's on the film.

ThinkProgress caught up with Castellanos yesterday, and asked him if he had produced a “White Hands” ad for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) last year — who Castellanos advised for the Presidential campaign — would McCain have won the election? Castellanos, in a rare expression of honesty, said no he wouldn’t because his own “White Hands” ad would have hurt the country in “race relations” since “most people knew Barack Obama is a black man”

That's what he says, but then his is what he does:

'While Castellanos admits his own race-based ads would have backfired last year, he is still up to his old tricks. In a recent ad he produced for the Chamber of Commerce against health reform, one scene features a factory boss forced to fire a white employee. As the worker is summoned to the boss’ office, he taps a black coworker on his way out.

The black worker, still gainfully employed, looks directly into the camera for a moment before the white worker is dismissed by the boss. “This is the same old right wing dog whistle politics,” observed Eddie Vale, spokesman for the AFL-CIO. “They’re trying to use race and class to scare working people about a health care bill.”

Posted by: drindl | December 4, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Great post jmr, though that Hastert memory is painful indeed.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 4, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

hopefully Ds will unanimously join Sherrod.
Once again Rs don't know how to take yes for an answer.

Posted by: leichtman | December 4, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Like athletes who don't change their socks or underwear because they wore that pair the day they won the last big game, the Republicans seem to think this is 1994 all over again and they are ignoring the facts for the same playbook.

While I believe the Republicans will make some limited gains in the House, everyone should think about these things:

--The Dems lost several congressional races in 1993 (KY & TX) in the lead up to the midterms (that has not happened this time in fact they increased their majority).

--Several Dems were openly considering switching parties in 1993 and 1994 prior to the midterms (again that is not happening now)

--The Republicans were out of power in the House for 50 years (not 4 years). People remember the misrule of Hastert and Company.

--The Moderates and Conservatives were united in winning back the majority. That is not the case now--the teabaggers are the Democrats best friends.

While yes they won the governships in NJ and VA in 2009 like 1993 I believe that will have little effect on the midterms.

Posted by: jmr1601 | December 4, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

And to kill another Republican talking point - Sen Sharrod Brown (D-OH), one of the strongest Public Option advocates out there, is co-sponsoring an amendment with Vitter and Coburn to put all Senators and Representatives on the Public Option that Congress passes. Vitter and Coburn looked stupified that their plan had backfired and will probably pass with strong support.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"You need to produce his birth certificate. ...'You need to prove that he's your kid,' which we have done. But uh, yeah. So maybe we can reverse that and use the same [inaudible word] type-thinking on the other one."

The #1 on the Republican Leaders list (as of Fix 11/20 Friday Line) explains how the absurd and short lived rumor around Trig's maternity legitimizes birther politics.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

The current party is still not there, and no one is sure what the Republican party stands for except blocking Obama.

==

Some recent poll of registered Republicans turned up an interesting stat .. four out of ten have no idea who they'd vote for as president in 2012. Talk about rudderless.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"sit down with Rs on healthcare?" who cares, they are irrelevant/missing in action.

Been there done that. Rs have had a plethora of their demands met on healthcare and still zero support.

Last time I checked elections have consequences. Your party got crushed in 2008 and yet you think that entitles Rs to call the shots on healthcare. That is preverse

I distinctly remember that when the GOP won in 2000 that the first thing they did was to lock the doors on Ds in Congressional conferences and I don't recall any bipartisan outreach by Rs on W's break the bank tax cuts. R's threaten to filibuster every piece of legislation proposed by D Congressmen. When Ds attempted a filibuster they were threatened with the nuclear option.

Sorry Rs lost and that doesn't give them the authority to write healthcare legislation. By the way, precisely where was the R healthcare plan b/w 2000 and 2008?

Posted by: leichtman | December 4, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Silent Holocaust Destroying Liberty in America -- and the Obama Presidency?

OBAMA WRONG AT WEST POINT: U.S. DOES TORTURE -- ITS OWN CITIZENS

• Regional Homeland Security- administered "fusion centers" use a nationwide microwave/laser radiation "directed energy" weapons system, employing cell towers and satellites, to silently, invisibly torture, impair, slow-kill unconstitutionally "targeted" Americans and their families -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight.

For the rest of the story:

http://nowpublic.com/world/obama-wrong-west-point-u-s-does-torture-its-own-citizens
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
OR (if link is corrupted): NowPublic.com/scrivener re: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 4, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"The best chance for the democrats is to get off the wacky health care plan as soon as possible - drop the public option - and sit down with the Republicans and agree on tough regulation of the insurance companies."

They tried that already, still 0 Republican votes. Olympia Snowe won't commit to voting for the bill even if her compromise is accepted wholesale. Just like with the stimulus, bent over backwards to give them tax cuts and handouts for their districts that they requested. Still 0 Republican votes in the house, and they were quite proud of that. They're not honest brokers, and they're not interested in getting anything through. It's not gonna happen, and they've wisely stopped fighting to get the votes in advance, feeling a better chan ce both for the bill and a few Republican votes if they pass the bill they want and hope Snowe and 1-2 others will feel compelled to vote yes based on their own election pictures.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

As the Republican Rising! fizzles, it is only a matter of time before CC gets with the program and declares the birth certificate laugher a legitimate question.

Ronald Reagan was a great communicator, Obama speechifies and the Iraq war horror show is a muddled involvement. So why do I enjoy watching Republicans squirm? It is because they are dangerous, their existence is the legitimate question.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 4, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

President Obama won 37 Republican-held districts, but it isn't as relevant a number as the voters in 2010 likely won't reflect 2008. That's the only thing that really makes the 2009 races significant - that reminder. The youth vote was down 70%, the black vote down 40%. The voters did not change, but who showed up to vote did. This is why the out-of-power party tends to win the midterms - No president can ever fulfill the hopes made during the campaign (the whole you campaign in poetry and govern in prose narrative -you run on what you want to do, you govern based on what you can and what you must do), leaving part of the base less motivated, part ok with letting the other guy win for now because they still hold the big prize, meanwhile the other side is extremely motivated havign just lost the presidency and wanting to stick it to the President.

The real questions: once the campaign begins, will Republicans actually stand for something, not just against. They can win 15 seats on an anti-Obama narrative alone given the demographics already cited; whether they win more depnds both on the Democrats ability to rally their side depending on their successes over the next year (how much growth, how many campaign promises advanced) against the Republican case (here's how we'd do things differently). That was part of their 1994 message - that "Contract with America." The current party is still not there, and no one is sure what the Republican party stands for except blocking Obama.

Right now, it's easy to criticize the party in power, but the elections will likely turn into a referendum on both arties after the last ten years. That's why Republicans are so anxious to say stop blaming Bush, it's all Obama's fault; they know that is still their biggest problem - the people right now are torn between a party they are disappointed in and a party they hate. In this context, pushing for more ideologically pure, generic Republicans rather than strong individuals in tune with their districts may turn into a disaster for the Republicans.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"The best chance for the democrats is to get off the wacky health care plan as soon as possible - drop the public option - and sit down with the Republicans and agree on tough regulation of the insurance companies."

That might be a reasonable strategy if the Repubs were actually interested in compromise. They are not; they are interested solely in stopping anything proposed by the President specifically, or Dems generally. They seem to think this will reflect poorly on the President, and produce gains in the 2010 elections. I am skeptical that voters will agree. But, I've been wrong before.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 4, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

CC,
Good Line as always.

For those who are interested in a bigger picture analysis, from Hotline:

"Two big storylines are emerging on the national landscape, though they send mixed messages for the GOP: First, the NRCC is doing a better job than Dems in putting seats in play. But the seats they are missing are seats the party needs to win to take back the Speaker's gavel."

http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2009/12/two_emerging_me.php

Posted by: mnteng | December 4, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

It's more important to protect the public health than it is to protect the ability of insurance companies to maximize profit, particularly the two imperatives are at odds with each other.

Obama is on exactly the right track.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The best chance for the democrats is to get off the wacky health care plan as soon as possible - drop the public option - and sit down with the Republicans and agree on tough regulation of the insurance companies.


Obama has miscalculated dramatically the benefits of passing health care - and amazingly taken on a great deal of risk.


Posted by: 37thand0street | December 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Haven't we seen this exact same trio of pictures before? The guy on the left needs someone to pull him aside and explain that his dye job is unconvincing.

Palin & Pawlenty puff can't be far behind.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 4, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

thanks, bsimon.

Et tu, Howie? I thought this summed it up pretty well. CC seems to be one of the few who just hasn't picked up on this trend -- or maybe doesn't want to.

"Andrew Sullivan, former New Republic editor, former Time and Washington Post columnist, now with the Atlantic, came to prominence a decade ago as one of the earliest conservative bloggers. But by 2008 he was an unabashed supporter of Obama. He addresses his evolution, and that of the GOP:

"There has to come a point at which a movement or party so abandons core principles or degenerates into such a rhetorical septic system that you have to take a stand. It seems to me that now is a critical time for more people whose principles lie broadly on the center-right to do so -- against the conservative degeneracy in front of us. "

Posted by: drindl | December 4, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

OK. This is the second time I've seen this, without it being put in context:

"There are 49 Democrats who sit in districts carried by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008"

For the number to be meaningful, you also need to say:

"compared to XX Republicans who sit in districts carried by Barack Obama (D-POTUS) in 2008"

Posted by: sourpuss | December 4, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the imaginary resurgence, Howard Kurtz, of all people, notes a couple prominent conservatives who are leaving the party/ideology due to the prevalence of nutjobs that are taking over:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/04/11/LI2005041100587.html?hpid=news-col-blog

The first half is the relevant bit.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I agree with FairlingtonBlade, for the same reasons, but with the exception of Dodd in CT. I think, at the end of the day, CT voters will still hold their nose and vote for him, that or he will be beaten in a primary keeping the seat in Dem hands. I think AR, NV, CO, and DE are more likely, in that order (though I think Bennett seems to be making a strong case in CO and may hold it, meanwhile if Castle continues to tack right, he's a goner in DE).


I think something else needs to be seriously looked at by people on both sides - the political industry has dramatically changed since 1994, and one reason so many people were surprised that night is everyone was looking at the congressional generic. We didn't have The Fix and the regular updates of individual races. Many Dems who lost didn't spend any serious money because they didn't even realize they were in danger. The proliferation of micro-polling, micro-targeting, and the awareness of the political dynamic that could (emphasize COULD) be afoot makes every politician much more aware of exactly where they stand, likely limiting any huge suprises come election day beyond an additional five seats or so of what was forcasted (and even those suprise seats would likely be anticipated as close elections going in - one side whould just draw a disproportionate balance of those close races).

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Bill White of Houston, Texas announces a few minutes ago that he will be running for Governor of Texas.

Posted by: leichtman | December 4, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

'blade writes
"15 - 20 seats in the House and 2 - 4 seats in the Senate. The former due to many unlikely victories by Democrats in the previous 2 elections. In the Senate, Dodd is dedd and assuming some pick-ups in open seats."

In the Senate, GOP is still defending more seats than the Dems. Add to that their internal battles & I conclude they're not well positioned to pick up seats, which requires attracting swing voters. kreuz posted yesterday some interesting analysis about national polling that underscores how the GOP is very strong in the south but is losing ground elsewhere; that southern strength skews national polls, whereby strong sentiments in the south drag down other numbers, making this so-called resugence appear to be national, when its regional.

House numbers are tougher to pick. I'm skeptical of going by the 'President's party loses seats in the mid-terms' analysis; but it may hold true again, largely due to two big elections in a row for the Dems. Yet here in MN, the at-risk seats are held by Repubs, not Dems. The GOP is going after Walz in 1, but he's going to be tough to take out. Dems are targeting freshman Paulsen & taking another shot at Bachmann. The rest are pretty safe.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 4, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

List looks pretty good, I'd put 1 and 2 at a tie (though maybe you're using Cho's incumbency as a tiebreaker)...

It is really interesting, after all this, that 3 of the top 4 are Republican seats. Are the Republicans going to make a serious effort to hold them, or will they be written off to increase their chances elsewhere? Especially with Louisiana, given the double whammy of the GOP being mad at Cho for his HCR vote and the likely redistricting to follow which will likely leave LA-2 a stronger D seat in favor of making the other districts more Republican.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 4, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

15 - 20 seats in the House and 2 - 4 seats in the Senate. The former due to many unlikely victories by Democrats in the previous 2 elections. In the Senate, Dodd is dedd and assuming some pick-ups in open seats.

Hard to figure out the best number of the day. 10 - as in unemployment actually dropping or 7000 - as in NATO is actually backing the surge. Hard for 37th or zOuk to spin that, but those folks have some pretty powerful RDFs.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 4, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Yawn. More wishful thinking about an imaginary republican resurgence. And now a look at the same old tired tactics by Republicans:

"The NRCC has been quick to attack Tennessee state Sen. Roy Herron, who has emerged as the Democratic candidate for the seat of retiring Blue Dog Rep. John Tanner -- and along the way, they seem to be using some rather interesting rhetoric.

Herron is a former minister and an attorney, and he has taught at both the divinity and law schools at Vanderbilt, his alma mater. He has been married for 22 years, and has three sons. He has also written several books, including Tennessee Political Humor, How Can a Christian Be in Politics?, and God And Politics. However, the NRCC says Herron isn't being honest about his social liberalism.

Over the course of the past week, the NRCC has mounted a series of attacks on Herron that taken together could suggest they're trying to say that Herron is gay or effeminate.

When I first spoke to NRCC spokesman Andy Seré on Wednesday, Seré used Herron's personal blog against him. In addition to his legislative work, Herron talks on his blog about his physical fitness, and family's history of heart disease. "Rather than protecting small businesses, rather than protecting taxpayers, he often seems more interested in just watching his body image very closely," said Seré.

Is there meant to be any innuendo in that, I asked at the time? "No," said Seré, "but I think it's odd that you've got this 23-year state Senator who's running for governor, and now he's running for Congress, and he wants to represent people during very serious times, and he has blog entires on hi his body image."

Seré has sent out some press releases since then, such as "See Roy Run...From His New-Age Liberal Values," attacking Herron for opposing a ban on adoption by gays, and having been endorsed in his gubernatorial campaign (which he dropped out of when the House seat opened up) by a local gay newspaper. "With a record like Roy's, Barney Frank isn't going to be able to out-position him on the left," the e-mail says. The e-mail also has a picture of Herron in a marathon, clad in shorts."

Sarah Palin would be outraged -- wouldn't she? "Body image' for the rest of you is dogwhistle code on the right for 'gay'. Nothing subtle about it.

Posted by: drindl | December 4, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I'll stick with my prediction: Republicans pick up five seats in the House, lose one or two in the Senate.

Posted by: Bondosan | December 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Kudos!

Posted by: JakeD | December 4, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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