CBO: Robust Public Option lowers deficit the most

This is potentially very good news for the "robust public option" that has been claimed dead but is still alive and kicking.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/10/21/h ealth.care.cbo/index.html?iref=mpstoryvi ew


CBO finds Dem bill with public option reduces deficit

A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the House Democrats' health care plan that includes a public option would cost $871 billion over 10 years, according to two Democratic sources.

CBO also found that the Democrats' bill reduces the deficit in the first 10 years.

This new CBO estimate, which aides caution is not final, is significantly less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees this summer. More importantly, it comes under the $900 billion cap set by President Obama in his joint address to Congress last month.

The bill WITH the public option would actually reduce the deficit?  That should be music to the ears of deficit-hawkish blue dog Democrats and Republicans alike.

Senior Democratic aides told CNN that House Democratic leaders are likely to put this version of the public option favored by liberal Democrats in the final bill they are drafting. While no final decision has been made, on Tuesday night Speaker Pelosi made the case to House Democrats that this approach saves the most money and would put the House in a better negotiating position when it comes time to negotiate a final health care bill with the Senate.

Right on.  Why would we not put the bill out there that saves the most money, reduces the deficit by the largest measure?  

Moderate, "blue dog" Democrats in the House largely oppose the robust public option and instead argue for a government run insurance option that could negotiate reimbursement rates directly with doctors and hospitals. CBO's analysis of that approach was not available according to Democratic sources, but aides say the preliminary analysis shows it does not save as much as the approach pushed by Pelosi.

Look at that.  The Blue Dog's approach does "not save as much." Yet, it is favored by them anyway.  Not because of budgetary motivations, obviously, but because they are in bed with the health insurance industry, having to give legislative payback for the money received from the various anti-reform tentacles of the industry.   At least after the CBO report comes out on Wednesday they will not have high-minded budget-hawkery to hide behind anymore.

The robust public option provides the largest deficit reduction over 10 years.  PERIOD.  

Blue Dogs and moderate Republicans need to come clean about their true motivation here.  Deficit and budget concerns can no longer be used to explain their opposition to the public option, now that the CBO is releasing their calculated estimates that the "robust public option" plan would provide the largest deficit reduction.

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Quinnipiac: Sotomayor pick gets 2 to 1 approval - GOP's epic fail

Recently Gallup polled the question whether Obama's pick of Sotomayor was "excellent,""good,""fair" or "poor." 

http://www.gallup.com/poll/118886/Positi ve-Initial-Reaction-Sotomayor-Nomination .aspx

Today's poll release from Quinnipiac asked for a more telling  simple "approve" or "disapprove" answer. It shows to what extent the GOP is going over the cliff on the Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, as the shrill hysterics regarding Sotomayor coming from the right must appear as nutty and ill-advised to the strong majority that approves of the nominee as it does to us here.

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1284.xml?Rele aseID=1306&What=&strArea=;&s trTime=120

May 29, 2009 - U.S. Voters Approve 2-1 Of Obama's Sotomayor Pick, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Legal Skill More Important Than Diversity, Most Say

American voters approve 54 - 24 percent, with 22 percent undecided, of President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

The Sotomayor nomination wins support from Democrats 81 - 3 percent and independent voters 50 - 26 percent, while Republicans oppose it 46 - 26 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey finds. Men approve of the nomination 48 - 31 percent while women approve 59 - 18 percent.

54% approval vs. 24% disapproval represents a +30% net positive assessment of Obama's pick.  Yet, the wingnuts are predictably up in arms and pepper the nominee with choice epithats and insults.  Is there no end to the stupidity of Republicans, who time and time again go against the strong preferences of the American people?    The dilemma for the GOP is that their most visible and vocal "voices" are the people who are dragging the GOP into the gutter and over the abyss:  Newt Gingrich twittered "racist." Rush Limbaugh chattered: "reverse racist." Tancredo vomits: "Latina KKK member." Add Cheney and Rove to the mix of "voices" the Republican party shows to the American people, and it is clear that the party seems doomed for the next few years, at the least.  Without a single exception a parade of people very much disliked and shunned by the American people while Republicans who enjoy stellar popularity with the American people (like Powell and Crist) are asked to STFU or leave the party altogether.  That gives the American people the impression that the Republican "voices" and the de-facto Republican leaders ARE indeed these boobs who crowd the airwaves for personal gain.  Somewhat reasonable voices, like Cornyn's remark that Newt Gingrich's and Limbaugh's accusations of racism are "terrible," are drowned out and shouted down.  Unbelievably, conservative Cornyn is now a RINO to the Republican base.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news2260369/posts

http://www.redstate.com/senator_john_cor nyn/2009/05/29/on-the-nrsc-endorsement# comment-225

Nice to see the Republican party self-destructing so thoroughly and completely over the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.  They simply could not resist their tendencies, which have come to the fore here:  Anti-Hispanic, Anti-Immigrant, racially tinged against anyone non-white, against strong female role models.  They will bleed support more than ever for this.  

There's more...

Ridge out of Senate race - Joe the Plumber quits the GOP

The GOP is in such bad state of disarray that they have problems recruiting any promising candidates for the Senate or House, latest example being THE major "plum" Tom Ridge, and their idol/icon for the "average Joe" is quitting them altogether in a stunning reversal of fortunes for the "party of the average Joe."

1. Tom Ridge just announced that he will not be seeking the Republican nomination for the PA Senate seat currently held by Arlen Specter.

Here the scoop:

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2 009/05/07/1925437.aspx

Ridge not running

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge will not run for U.S. Senate in 2010.

"After careful consideration and many conversations with friends and family and the leadership of my party, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Senate," Ridge said in a statement, adding later, "The 2010 race has significant implications for my party, and that required thoughtful reflection. All of the above made my decision a difficult and deeply personal conclusion to reach. ... To those who believe that the Republican Party is facing challenges; they are right. To those who believe the Democratic Party is without its own difficulties, they are wrong. No one party has a monopoly on all of the answers. ... And so my desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace."

So, very likely Toomey will be the Republican candidate and will be a major longshot.  As has been typical since the 2006/2008 takeover, the "debate" for that seat takes place now within the Democratic party.  Here is to hoping that Sestak mounts a credible and successful challenge to Specter.

2. Joe the Plumber is outraged and quitting the Republican party.

http://www.time.com/time/politics/articl e/0,8599,1896588,00.html

Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, tells TIME he's so outraged by GOP overspending, he's quitting the party -- and he's the bull's-eye of its target audience. But he also said he wouldn't support any cuts in defense, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid -- which, along with debt payments, would put more than two-thirds of the budget off limits. It's no coincidence that many Republicans who voted against the stimulus have claimed credit for stimulus projects in their district -- or that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal stopped ridiculing volcano-monitoring programs after a volcano erupted in Alaska. "We can't be the antigovernment party," Snowe says. "That's not what people want."

Anyone confused yet about "Joe the Plumber"?  He wants nobody to touch Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, putting him at odds with about 80% of Republicans?  Where is he going to go?  Can't be the secessionist/teabag wing of the party, so will we see him declare begrudgingly that he is joining the Democratic party, too?   Stay tuned.

This is too much fun.  On a daily basis the self-mutilation of Republicans provides fodder for late-night hosts and keeps Stewart and Colbert beaming from ear to ear.  Let's hope they don't come to their senses any time soon and let's hope they continue to trot out Bachmann, Cheney, Gingrich, Rove, Beck, Hannity, Coulter and Limbaugh on a daily basis, so the rest of us recoils in horror and vows to never again let these people anywhere near the levers of power.

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Nutty Republicans - Tedisco sues for ratification as winner

As if we needed any more evidence that the Republican party on the whole has gone off the reservations and is ruled and occupied mostly by egotistical blowhards, conspiracy nuts and paranoids, here comes more evidence:

http://www.registerstar.com/articles/200 9/04/17/news/news02.txt

Tedisco asks to be declared winner

Murphy still holds lead

COLUMBIA COUNTY -- 20th Congressional District candidate Republican Jim Tedisco submitted a petition to the Dutchess County Supreme Court Thursday asking the judge to declare him the winner of the extremely close special election race, despite the numbers currently being in favor of his opponent, Democrat Scott Murphy.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/04/down_178_votes.php
...despite being down by 178 votes at last count, Republican Jim Tedisco has petitioned Duchess County Supreme court to declare him the winner of the NY-20 Congressional post-election. The logic escapes us, but the Syracuse Register-Star says Tedisco also wants all the votes, machine or paper, re-examined, except for the hundreds of absentee votes he has challenged, which he wants to remain unopened.

Could it get any nuttier?  You are behind in numbers during the recount with the deficit growing by the day, yet you sue to be declared the immediate winner?  Is there something in the water that Republicans have shipped in to them that makes them act like sore losers, complete nutcases, lunatics?  

This right on the heels of Texas governor Perry nutty warnings about possibly, perhaps seceding from the United States if Washington does not shape up in line with his right-wing desires.  

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/16perry-secession-talk-anti_n_187876.html

Of course, Norm Coleman continues to refuse to accept the results of the Minnesota recount and the decision made by the Minnesota court panel, threatening to go all the way to the US Supreme Court with this:

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr /15/coleman-refuses-to-throw-in-towel

Between Tedisco and Coleman it is hard to make out who the sorest loser of them all is, but one thing is for sure:  These antics by its officials sure don't endear the Republican party to Independents, moderates from either party and generally sane people in  the country.  They continue to make themselves into laughingstocks, all while believing to have righteousness on their side when the vast majority of Americans only see lunacy.  

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Stocks are soaring. Will media discuss this as Obama's doing?

Fat chance.  The media loves itself some controversy and blame assessment, but it SHOULD be "what is good for the goose is good for the gander," no?

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/W/W ALL_STREET?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=HOME

1.  Stocks soared 600 points in 3 days after today's 240 point rise.  The 600 points represents the biggest 3-day jump since November.  

2. Bank of American has been profitable this year and is expecting to actually make money this year, according to BoA's CEO:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=2 0601103&sid=a6wOL6o84Y0g&refer=u s

The BoA announcement comes on the heels of Citibank's CEO stating that Citibank is "is currently enjoying its best quarter since 2007."

http://www.howestreet.com/articles/index .php?article_id=8867

as well as JP Morgan's CEO announcing that his bank has been seeing a profitable year so far:

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssFinan cialServicesAndRealEstateNews/idUSN11316 79420090311

The #1, #2 and #3 banks are reporting profitable quarters, which may be an indication that the banking sector is turning the corner.  All 3 CEO's made comments that indicate that they expect a profitable year.  

3. GE's credit rating was not downgraded as much as expected, but more importantly "General Motors also said it will not need a $2 billion loan it previously requested from the government."

4. The Dollar has strengthened substantially against the Euro, the British Pound and various Asian currencies.

All of last week on CNN, Fox, CNBC, the major networks, the constant drumbeat was about the markets going down because of Obama spooking the markets with the speed with which he is trying to get programs passed, bills enacted.  Now we are seeing some good news with the markets, a sharp 600 point upturn and two announcements that the largest banks in the US appear to be profitable again as well as GE not needing a $2 Billion loan they had previously requested (suggesting that they may be turning the corner as well.)  The Dollar is continuing to gain over other currencies.  Should the talk not also turn around on a dime, given the new market conditions?  If we are to believe that Obama is responsible for market movements, as was claimed last week on all the networks, should positive movement not also be logically attributable to Obama's policies paving the way for a slow but sustained rebound?  Should a 600 point uptick in the stock market over 3 days not result in the same positive reaction and commentary towards Obama by the likes of Lou Dobbs as a 600 point drop over a similar period has resulted in negative talk?

To expect the media to turn on a dime quickly and reverse their recent penchant to put negative market movements strictly at Obama's feet would be relying on the media to be able to arrive at honest assessments and realize their own over-reaction, which is not realistic.  But as some of the sectors appear to become solvent again faster than many analysts had expected look for the self-anointed "experts" (like Cramer) to calm down a bit with their shrillness of recent days.  That alone would be an improvement over what we have seen last week and would make it easier to follow the course already set in motion to pass an ambitious budget and see universal health care realized this year.  

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If stimulus bill passes tonight, what lessons can we draw from the stimulus fight?

Here a simplified timeline of the stimulus battle, and where it currently stands:

1. House passes bill with virtually 100% progressive items and zero support from partisan Republicans.  

2. Public sees Republicans as highly obstructionist.

3. Senate bill starts off more than $100 Billion larger than House bill - now at $925 Billion

4. Moderate Senate Republicans balk that bill is too large and ask to trim "tens of Billions of fat" from the bill.

5. Group of moderate Senators on both sides of the aisles get together to trim fat and to guarantee passage of the stimulus package with virtually all important aspects of the House bill intact and trimmed by the same $110 Billion Dollars the Senate bill started out LARGER than the House bill ended up being.

Some key elements and quotes of today's developments:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2009/02/05/AR2009020501622_ 2.html

Obama assailed "misguided criticisms" of the stimulus plan that he said echo the "failed theories" that helped create the crisis, notably reliance on tax cuts as a cure-all.

Here Obama dismisses conservative trickle-down theory in the form of tax-cuts, primarily for the wealthy, as an utter failure. Thus the Republican version of Economics 101 is wiped off the table.  

Next comes the whip:

In response,  Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the majority whip, said, "This notion from the other side of the aisle that tax cuts solve everything has failed." He said it was part of the Bush administration's "failed policies" that have mired the nation in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. He cited President George W. Bush's insistence on "sending tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America and waging a war without paying for it."

Here Durbin echoes Obama's sentiments of the Republican's tax-cut solution as an utter failure, fleshing it out further to explain the disastrous effects the failed economic theories instituted by Republicans had on the economy.  Invoking Bush's name here and reminding everybody who was in charge over the last 8 years is always a good thing, sure to get the public to agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed.

Eighteen senators, including five Republicans, expect to spend hours at the table, but the amendment they hope to produce could attract enough support to guarantee Senate passage with the bipartisan backing that Obama has sought.

Obama met yesterday with the two leaders of the group,  Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and  Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and urged them to try to find common ground. Collins said she discussed specific provisions with Obama and that the two had haggled over items, but left with the impression that the president was prepared to make his own sacrifices to push the bill over the finish line.

If the bill is amended enough to trim $100 Billion to bring it close to the House version of the bill in terms of spending it would pacify a handful of moderate Republicans and the Democratic blue dogs and get the bill passed.

Democratic leaders said they hoped to vote on a number of amendments today, with a vote on final passage possibly coming tonight.

"There's good reason to hope we might finish this bill this evening," said  Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Obama, in an op-ed piece published in today's Washington Post, urged lawmakers to hurry up.

Folks, this thing might be OVER tonight. Collins' comments are encouraging, and if she is brought on board you know Snowe is already on the ship.  

If this thing is indeed going to happen tonight, as it seems possible, perhaps likely, now, what lessons can be learned from it?

Here is the real lesson of the stimulus fight, and it could provide a good model for future overhauls:

1. Don't worry about Republicans in the House. Get your bill passed and paint flailing and hyperventilating Republicans as obstructionist.

2. Start the corresponding Senate bill off 8% to 10% higher than the House bill, then agree to trim said 8% to 10% as fat to get moderates on board.  Be prepared to cave on a few items that moderates might see as frivolous spending.

3. Paint the opposition's desired policies as historic failures, not to be repeated now or ever.  Call for swift passage of the bill to avoid an economic disaster.

I think that if the bill passes tonight on the strength of the 14 moderates coming to an agreement on the bill, this could serve as a model to get other contentious bills passed, first and foremost a universal health care reform bill.

There's more...

Republicans on very thin ice with stimulus obstructionism

In the ongoing debate about the fallout of the stimulus package's passing in the House without a single Republican vote there are some rainclouds that threaten to disrupt the congratulatory shoulder patting and guffawing Republicans seem intent to engage in at the moment, believing that they somehow "scored a victory" by being principled and united in opposition.

Reality seems to paint a different picture. There seems to be very little wiggle room between the thin ice the Republicans on a whole are balancing on here and the cliff they may already have crossed, unaware that like Wiley E. Coyote they are going to look down any moment now to see the bottom below their feet vanished.  

1. Support for the stimulus package appears to be growing in the wake of the House vote

http://www.democracycorps.com/strategy/2 009/01/president-barack-obama/

Poll pdf: http://www.democracycorps.com/wp-content /files/dc10012909fq1sperling.pdf

In this week's national survey, completed as this plan was being debate, 62 percent support Obama's economic recovery plan - more than twice as many who oppose (27 percent).

As this poll was conducted from Jan. 26 through Jan 29 - 1000 likely voters - this is the first poll that draws entirely from responses given AFTER the historic House vote.  We are talking support for the package to the tune of +35%, a poll blowout.

2. Obama's personal ratings improved in the wake of the House vote

From the same DC poll referenced above:

Over 70 percent of voters now describe the president as honest and trustworthy, and three-quarters say he is a strong leader. While Obama's outreach to Republicans may not have generated any Republican votes on his economic plan in the House, it is clearly cementing his reputation as a bipartisan problem solver; an astounding 80 percent of voters, including 56 percent of Republicans, say Obama is willing to work with both parties.

Overall approval ratings:

Obama boasts his strongest personal ratings yet, now enjoying a better than 3:1 favorable-unfavorable ratio nationally.

Latest Rasmussen numbers published on Saturday appear to back this up:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_c ontent/politics/obama_administration/dai ly_presidential_approval_index

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Approval Index for Saturday shows that 45% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing as President. That's his highest positive rating yet. Twenty-two percent (22%) Strongly Disapprove to give Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of +23 (see trends).

The real risks Republicans are facing with their obstructionism to the stimulus package is analyzed in the CSM article after the break into the extended entry, as well as additional likely reasons Republicans may be laughing all the way into a gigantic buzzsaw right about now:

There's more...

LAT poll - 97% of Democrats approve of transition, zero disapprove

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la- 121008-na-poll-g,0,4977208.graphic

To be clear, the transition comes down to mostly building the cabinet, but also encompasses public statements made about future policy proposals - to be implemented once Obama takes office -, so the overall approval shown here encompasses the entire transition phase as a whole, not just the cabinet picks.   However, the cabinet announcements are the most prolific stories coming from a presidential transition phase, so it is likely that the transition approval shown is mostly due to the shaping of the cabinet.

The data graph shows that as of today a full 97% of Democrats approve of Obama's handling of the transition.  More telling is that no Democrats disapprove of Obama's handling of the transition. ZERO. The closest discontent to be found is in 3% of Democrats putting themselves in the undecided column of 'Don't know.'   I am quite sure that this is some new record for presidential transition periods with approval amongst ones own part members basically unanimous.    

Let's also make the assumption here that progressives/liberals make up about half of those who count themselves in the Democratic corner.  Where is the disapproval and discontent amongst progressives the mainstream media has been crowing and palavering about for over a week now?  Would that not show up in the subgroup of DEMOCRATS in polls like these with a BETTER THAN ZERO disapproval rating?  

Polls like these seem to suggest that those who voice outright disapproval and disappointment with Obama's transition are in the tiniest of minorities, but due to the high profile of blogs have found a strong megaphone to air their grievances and in some instances claim to be talking for a numerous slice of the progressive part of the Democratic party, when that does not appear to be the case at all.   Others have a more nuanced approach and disagree with a few of the appointments but overall are satisfied.  But one can parse those from the disapprovers easily when looking at broad judgements and policy predictions based on an overall negative perception of the cabinet picks.

Another thing to ponder:  When Obama sees that his handling of the transition is met with very strong approval from his own party to the tune of 97% and 0% disapproval, does that not suggest that Obama would have to feel that he is doing "the mix" of his cabinet picks exactly right?  Does this not, to Obama, validate strongly what he has been doing?

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Gore destined for energy secretary or EPA administrator?

Al Gore is meeting with Obama today:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/08/o bama.gore/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

Gore stated last week that he wasn't interested in a cabinet post, but would he really turn an appointment down if offered by Obama?  Energy and the environment are going to be two major focus points of the Obama administration.   The visit is raising expectations, although there is a chance it is just an informal get together to discuss a more informal advisory role.  I personally believe that Obama will be offering a cabinet position to Gore today, for what its worth.

 Former Vice President Al Gore is set to meet with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday, leading to speculation Obama is eyeing Gore for a slot in his administration.
>>>>>>
Nonetheless, Gore's high profile visit to Chicago, Illinois, to meet Obama and Biden is raising eyebrows, even among some of Gore's close advisers.

"The Gore trip is for more than just a chat," a close friend of Gore told CNN's John King. "He wouldn't burn that much carbon flying to Chicago just to talk."
>>>>>>

While this is the first time Gore is set to sit down with the president-elect since Election Day, the two regularly speak, aides have said. The meeting comes as the Obama transition team turns its focus toward naming its energy secretary and Environmental Protection Agency administrator -- two key posts that remain vacant.

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FL - Record early voting with huge Democratic 56% to 29% edge

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/200 81021/BLOG8101/810210249?Title=Democrats _hold_edge_in_early_voting

Democrats dominated Florida's first day of early voting, casting nearly 86,000 of the 153,000 ballots on Monday.

Statewide, the Democrats claimed 56 percent of the ballots cast to the Republicans' 29 percent _ or 45,000 ballots. Independent and third-party voters accounted for the remaining 22,000 ballots _ or 14.5 percent.

So far, so good, for the first day.  56% Democrats, 29% Republicans, 14.5% Indepedents and Third-party voters. Very North-Carolina-like early voting numbers, a great sign for Democrats this year.  

Early voting and absentee ballots for the heavily contested presidential race in Florida are expected to set records this year. The 153,000 ballots cast on the first day of early voting tripled the 46,000 early-voting ballots cast in 2006, the state's last statewide general election.

Record-setting early voting suggests record-setting turnout on Nov. 4.  That should be very favorable to Obama who not only holds a lead in this state but also is said to be heads and shoulders above the McCain campaign when it comes to state organization.

more in the extended entry...

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