Focusing on the House is a better strategy. Here's why
In the ensuing fourteen months, Democrats and their assorted allies will spend tens of millions of dollars to protect their razor-thin majority in the United States Senate. The Kentucky race alone—to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—could cost the parties in excess of $100 million, according to some estimates. In other competitive contests, outside spending could easily exceed that benchmark.
This week brought another major report on all the efforts in state capitals, almost all Republican-led, to restrict voting rights via new limits on voter registration, early voting, proof of residency and voter identification, all in the name of countering the phantom menace of voter fraud. In a conference call to announce the report, which was produced by the Center for American Progress, Rep.
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, likes to say that “no organization anywhere in the world is a more devoted advocate of free speech.” His response to the tragic shooting in Tucson came, therefore, as something of a surprise. In early January, Assange issued a press release arguing, despite the lack of any evidence, that right-wing vitriol had provoked the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, to go on a murderous rampage.
Early last week, Alvin Greene paid a visit to the studios of WBT Radio in Charlotte. Ostensibly, he was there to drum up support for his campaign to unseat South Carolina Senator Jim Demint. But, as is always the case with Greene, politics quickly gave way to farce. For two hours, he offered up his daffy policy proposals (like selling action figures of himself to end the recession) and fumblingly dodged embarrassing questions about his involuntary discharge from the military and his recent indictment for allegedly showing pornography to a University of South Carolina coed.
Not so long ago, all eight of the members of Congress being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics were black. Now, two powerful black members of the Congressional Black Caucus are on the griddle. There are two entirely appropriate responses. One of them is to wonder if there is something racial going on. Yes, that is reasonable. Dismissals of this line of reasoning as mere “crying racism” are, in this case, hasty. Bloggers blithely listing white people who have fallen into the OCE’s line of sight as disproof of the racism charge are missing the point.
With the deficit reduction commission still plugging away and expecting to release a report after the elections, the debate on the center-left is shaping up around the desirability of reducing Social Security spending.
Democrats have submitted the final draft of health care reform. It should get a good grade. After weeks of negotiation, they have agreed upon a set of amendments to the Senate health care bill. The changes mean the package as a whole will cover more people, and save more money, than the Senate bill would have originally. House Democratic leaders are saying enactment would produce biggest deficit reduction act in 17 years. House Majority Whip James Clyburn described himself as "giddy." The Democrats had to confront some tough trade-offs, too. And the amendments reflect that.
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.
It looks like the House is coming around on health care reform.
Historians will tell you that the Senate is where health care reform, like most sweeping pieces of liberal legislation, goes to die. But will this year's health care graveyard be in the House?