Gay Marriage 101
October 21, 2009

Maine voters will decide on November 3 whether to repeal a law, signed by the governor in May, that legalized gay marriage. A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday shows that voters are split evenly on the issue: 48 percent of respondents said they'll vote to keep the law ("No On 1"), while another 48 percent said they'll vote to nix it ("Yes On 1"). Maine's gay marriage opponents recruited Frank Schubert, the p.r.

Tallying Up The Climate Bill Fence-Sitters
October 21, 2009

Darren Samuelsohn dusts off the crystal ball and tries to figure out if the climate bill can garner 60 votes in the Senate. By his count, there are now 67 senators in play—that includes 43 likely "yes" votes (including the two Maine Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins), 17 dithering Dems, and seven Republican fence-straddlers: Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, George Voinovich, Richard Lugar, Judd Gregg, and George LeMieux.

BREAKING: Finance Votes Yes, All Dems Plus Snowe
October 13, 2009

And there it is: Fourteeen votes for the Baucus bill, nine against. Maine Republican Olympia Snowe joined the entire Democratic delegation, including Blanche Lincoln, Jay Rockfeller, and Ron Wyden, the Democrats most likely to defect. Just a few weeks ago, the survival of health care reform seemed seriously in doubt. Town halls were turning into riots, Betsy McCaughey was running amok, and President Obama's popularity ratings were sinking. Putting together fifty, let alone sixty, votes for health reform seemed like an awfully tall order. It's still not a done deal.

BREAKING: Snowe Is a Yes
October 13, 2009

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, just now before the Senate Finance Committee, said she would vote to move the Baucus bill out of committee. She warned that she still wanted improvements and put down some markers, making clear she won't support a bill that moves substantially in the direction of what the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed.  But, she said, "When history calls, history calls." That it does. Is this a good thing? At the Washington Post, Ezra Klein says yes.

An Interview With Ron Wyden
October 12, 2009

Barring a last-minute change in plans, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on a health care reform bill Tuesday. Discussion--i.e., speeches--are supposed to start at 10 a.m. The vote itself is slated for 2 pm. The bill is expected to pass. The real question, most people will tell you, is the margin. And while a lot of focus will be on Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, one Democrat also remains a question mark: Ron Wyden. Last week I sat down with Wyden. We talked a bit about his controversial "free choice" amendment.

A Peek at What Max's Bill Really Means
September 14, 2009

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus says he will release a health care bill* very soon, maybe in the next 24 hours. And we already have a pretty good idea what it will look like, thanks to an outline Baucus has distributed to the Gang of Six--the bipartisan group with which he’s been trying to hammer out a compromise. Sources inside the Finance Committee say that the formal bill will look a lot like that proposal, with some minor modifications.

Over the Transom: Under the Radar and Worth a Read
September 12, 2009

I used to try to read every book that came over the transom. That didn’t last long, but there are always those amidst the flow that grab my attention, and among them, a few that really stick with me. Lately I have been struck by three. Marcus LiBrizzi exhumes the story of the tiny Atusville community on the outskirts of a small town in Maine (Lost Atusville: A Black Settlement from the American Revolution). Atusville was a black district – but not one of the grand old bustling commercial black meccas that thrived in most large American cities until the fifties like Chicago’s Bronzeville.

Why Reform Survived August
September 07, 2009

The August recess began with critics attacking health care reform because of its high price tag. It ended with critics attacking health care reform because of how reformers proposed to reduce that high price tag. The intervening weeks were nightmarish: Instead of using August to showcase what reform could do for the average American, the White House spent most of its time knocking down rumors of death panels for the sick and elderly. And as the right became energized, the left grew disillusioned, as much by the administration’s backroom deals as by its ineffectual messaging.

Obama’s August: Not Bad, Actually
September 02, 2009

In today’s Washington Post, Dan Balz makes the case that August was a disaster for the Obama administration and health care reform. I believed that before I read Balz’s column--in fact, there can’t be anybody who follows politics who doesn’t believe August was terrible for the Democrats. But Balz’s column paradoxically made me think that perhaps we all had it wrong. Obviously, August saw a decline in Obama’s approval ratings and public confidence in health care reform. But public support is not the only variable here.

In Which I Triple Down on Kennedy, Health Care
August 28, 2009

Okay, in for one blog item, in for three... The emerging CW on Kennedy and health care is that his death either doesn't change or worsens the Senate math because the people who hold the key votes--Republicans and moderate Democrats--don't hail from states where there's much of an outpouring of goodwill. As my colleague Mike Crowley puts it today, subbing in for the apparently human (who knew?) Mike Allen in Politico's "Playbook": Will there be a “Kennedy effect” that pushes health care through? Not likely.