Nice Guys Finish Last
February 11, 2010

Everyone remembers that George W. Bush’s first tax cut was contentious when Congress considered it back in 2001. So contentious, in fact, that the Bushies didn’t even try passing it under normal Senate procedures. The GOP leadership, worried that it couldn’t collect 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster, relied on reconciliation, the Senate rule that allows budget-related measures to pass with a simple majority. What fewer people remember is the margin by which Bush’s tax cut finally passed the Senate. As it happens, the number of yeas was 62—including 12 Democrats.

If Only Rahm Had Tried Jim DeMint
February 09, 2010

I've been critical of Rahm Emanuel recently. But this line of attack seems a little unpersuasive: Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform. ... The lawmaker said Emanuel misjudged the Senate by focusing on only a few Republicans, citing Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as too narrow a pool. “In the Senate, you have to anchor in the middle and build out," said the lawmaker. “They just wanted to win," the source said of Emanuel and other White House strategists.

Unsentimental Education
January 29, 2010

“The cruel God of the Jews has you beaten too.”--Racine An interview by Joe Klein in Time magazine is hardly a historical event. But, when the interview is with Barack Obama, it lays claim to some newsworthiness. This is especially true when it is ballyhooed as a firstanniversary event. Since, moreover, (right after awarding himself good grades on Al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia) it’s clear that Obama wanted to make a point: “The other area which I think is worth noting is that the Middle East peace process has not moved forward.

Are The Senate Climate Talks Leading Anywhere?
January 24, 2010

From chatting with people on the Hill these past few days, it's clear that there's a lot of pessimism about the Senate passing a big climate bill this year. (And if nothing passes in 2010, next year won't be any easier, given that Democrats will likely lose a bunch of seats in the midterms.) The dour predictions aren't surprising, given that even health care reform is in peril right now.

Dear Nervous & Frustrated House Democrat...
January 20, 2010

Dear Nervous and Frustrated House Democrat, It’s up to you. A few days ago, after a year of debate, you were on the verge of achieving a goal that’s eluded progressives for nearly a century: Creating a national health insurance program. But now the whole effort could fall apart. When Scott Brown takes his seat in the U.S. Senate, the Republicans will have 41 members in their caucus--enough to stop passage of any bill if they stay united.

Real News On The Christmas Terrorist: He Was Already On A Watch List
December 26, 2009

I dimly remembered that Mohammed Atta and at least three of his brothers (a big word in Islam) had been known to security agencies at least a year before 9/11 as "likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States." This quote is from an August 9, 2005 article written by ace- investigator-of-intricate-matters Douglas Jehl for the New York Times.

Ben Nelson, Still a Big Problem (Updated)
December 17, 2009

In a local radio interview this morning, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson indicated that he remains a "no" for now. He's not satisfied with the compromise on abortion that Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey proposed. He's not happy about the burden the Medicaid expansion places on states. He's not content with the level of cost control. He could be posturing, of course, but this is entirely consistent with what he's been saying all along. And it's why insiders have been warning he'd be harder to win over than Joe Lieberman. (Time's Amy Sullivan is among those not at all surprised at this deveopment.

Pssst. This Isn't Over. (Updated)
December 15, 2009

Via Politico, here's what Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson said as he left a White House meeting with the rest of the Democratic caucus a little while ago: I’m not on the bill. I have spoken with the president and he knows they are not wrapped up today. I think everybody understands they are not wrapped up today and that impression will not be given. A lot of people are treating today as the end of the debate, for better or worse, now that the Democrats have shelved the public option and Joe Lieberman appears ready to support the Senate bill.

Dueling Climate Bill Hit The Senate
December 11, 2009

Copenhagen's nabbing all the headlines, but there's been some big climate news in the Senate this week. Yesterday, John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman unveiled an outline of their "tri-partisan" climate legislation. You can see the rough framework here. As expected, it's similar to the House climate bill, only with more subsidies for coal, nuclear, and offshore drilling. Given that Graham, a conservative Republican, seems fairly committed to hammering out a deal, most of the Senate momentum is behind this bill right now.

One Step Forward, One Step Back
December 10, 2009

More news from Speaker Nancy Pelosi today: She indicated that the House might be willing to pass the Senate's latest public option proposal, which entails offering new non-profit plans across the country and making Medicare available to some workers over 55. If true, that would eliminate a major point of contention between the two chambers. To be sure, first the Senate would actually have to pass the measure. And while Pelosi's endorsement might give it a little momentum, the latest pronouncement from Senator Olympia Snowe has taken away some. Via Politico: Sen.