Chuck Grassley

[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] There's an interesting new development on the Elizabeth Warren front today. But, before I get to that, some backstory. I've written before about why Warren is likely to be confirmed as head of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection if the president nominates her. Basically, some key Republicans, like Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe (and even Jim Bunning), seem to like her.

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Last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd aroused the ire of progressive activists when he wondered whether Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard Law professor who is a leading candidate to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would be “confirmable.” “There’s a serious question about it,” he said on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show.” Dodd’s concern is legitimate given that a mere 41 votes can block action in the Senate, and that the GOP has been willing to filibuster even seemingly popular proposals.

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This is the third of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read parts one and two.) Be sure to come back tomorrow for the fourth installment, which reveals how Obama saved the House bill and what Olympia Snowe really wanted until the very end. House Money It was Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who had tried to get tough with the manufacturers of biological drugs.

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How They Did It

When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.

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Yesterday Chuck Grassley threw cold water on the idea of a bank tax to repay the financial bailout. His logic was, on its face, puzzling: "Any money raised from the TARP tax would have to be used to pay down the deficit. If a TARP tax is imposed and the money is simply spent, that doesn't repay taxpayers one cent for TARP losses. It's just more tax-and-spend big government, while taxpayers foot the bill for Washington's out-of-control spending." Ezra Klein puzzles over what Grassley was saying. Let me translate.

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Josh Nelson at Enviroknow says my defense of Lindsey Graham gives him too much credit: On the claim that Graham’s motivation for working on this bill was entirely pure, I’d love to see some substantiation.  Graham may have been working on the bill in order to weaken it at every step in the process, in a role similar to the one Chuck Grassley played as the health care bill moved through the Senate Finance Committee.  And indeed, that is what he has been doing throughout the process, all the while taking every opportunity to stick his thumb in the eye of environmentalists, as insult to i

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Adaptation

Earlier this month, in a profile of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, I identified two tactical mistakes the president had made while trying to pass health care reform. The first was his extensive efforts to reach a bipartisan deal—in particular, allowing Montana Senator Max Baucus to negotiate with Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee through most of the summer before weighing in. The second was Obama’s decision to attack insurance companies late last July after months of trying to co-opt them and other powerful groups.

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Be There and Be Square

The White House has released some more details about Thursday's Blair House meeting: Who will be there and the shape of the table where they'll all be sitting: The President will be seated in the middle of one side of the hollow square, with the Vice President, Secretary Sebelius, and congressional Leadership seated alongside him.

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A lot of Senate observers have been wondering whether Republican Lindsey Graham's really going to stick around to support a climate bill. After all, he's already been censured by his state GOP and will face a lot of pressure from the leadership not to work with Democrats. Surely at some point he'll just drop the issue, right? Well, maybe, but he sure doesn't sound like a man about to back off: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham renewed his call Tuesday for federal controls on greenhouse gas pollution, despite continued criticism from the Republican Party's most conservative members.

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The United States is on the doorstep of comprehensive health care reform. It's a staggering achievement, about which I'll have more to say later. but the under-appreciated thing that strikes me at the moment is that it never would have happened if the Republican Party had played its cards right. At the outset of this debate, moderate Democrats were desperate for a bipartisan bill. They were willing to do almost anything to get it, including negotiate fruitlessly for months on end.

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