December 12, 2008
As of Friday night, it still appeared the Bush Administration was prepared to do what Senate Republicans wouldn't: Rescue the auto industry.
In a surprise announcement this week, the EPA declared that it would drop plans to modify two rules on coal-plant emissions. One of these rule changes would have made it easier for coal plants to expand their capacity without triggering the New Source Review process, which generally requires a plant to install improved emissions-scrubbing technology. This would have been a major change to the way the Clean Air Act is enforced, and the fact that it's not going to happen is a major victory for environmental groups. So why did the EPA change its mind so suddenly?
When the Senate Republicans killed the auto bailout last night, Mitch McConnell looked like a genius (NBC's Mark Murry: "it’s amazing how McConnell was able to run circles around Reid.") But if the White House follows through on its suggestion that it might use TARP funds to stave off bankruptcy, the GOP maneuver will have been a total disaster. Remember, the Republicans have leverage because they still have 49 Senate seats and the auto companies need their loans right away.
Abner Mikva For Senate?
The former congressman, judge, professor and White House counsel (and friend of Barack) is the only antidote to the open-seat Blago sleaze, says a HuffPo blogger. Mikva's 82, but the idea would be to let him keep the seat warm for two years--no special election--while Democrats field a strong candidate for 2010 free from the shadow of this week's scandal. --Michael Crowley
December 11, 2008
At the Chicago press conference, Obama just gave the clearest signal yet that he intends to make health care reform a top priority. After running through the litany of familiar problems--rising costs, faltering coverage, poor quality--he vowed to tackle the problem "this year and in this administration." Afterwards, he confronted head-on the argument that the rough economy makes this a poor time to try health care reform.
Obama on Health Care: "This Year ... This Administration" At the Chicago press conference, Obama just gave the clearest signal yet that he intends to make health care reform a top priority. After running through the litany of familiar problems--rising costs, faltering coverage, poor quality--he vowed to tackle the problem "this year and in this administration." Afterwards, he confronted head-on the argument that the rough economy makes this a poor time to try health care reform.
* As a rule, fast-food companies don't divulge where their ingredients come from. But that didn't faze Hope Kahren and Rebecca Kraft, two researchers who analyzed the isotopes various fast-food staples and tracked down their origins for the scientific journal PNAS.
Obama Deterrence Theory
Ha'aretz: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran. This has conservatives like Michael Ledeen upset at the implication, in their reading, that Obama is resigned to an Iranian bomb and hasn't meant it when he's promised to do everything necessary to prevent one.
A Business View Of Obama's New Picks
Interesting take on Obama's energy/environment appointments today from the blog of the powerful National Association of Manufacturers: First reaction: Classic inside-outside game. Chu, with his stellar reputation and record of accomplishments, will handle the image and PR side of the Administration’s energy push. Browner, the regulator and political infighter, will be responsible for managing the internal disputes, imposing discipline, pushing the regulatory, legislative and policy agenda. Smart politics. Hard to see how the combination will improve U.S.
The Labor Secretary Guessing Game
Tim Fernholz at The American Prospect reports today that union leaders are pleased as punch with Obama, particularly after he sided recently with workers protesting at a closed factory in Illinois. Jim Grossfeld, a labor consultant who's worked with several unions and congressional leaders, recently told me that "no one has ever been elected president who has as sophisticated an understanding of the labor movement as Barack Obama. ... He's a guy who's seen first-hand how collective bargaining can empower poor people in Chicago. That's huge." This is all good news.