Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Republicans blast Democrats over the procedural tricks they're employing:
"Days away from critical decisions on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republicans assailed Democratic plans to push the massive legislation through the House without a direct vote. "Anyone who endorses this strategy will be forever remembered for trying to claim they didn't vote for something they did," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday. "It will go down as one of the most extraordinary legislative sleights of hand in history." Democrats said no final decision had been made on the complex strategy. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to shield lawmakers from having to vote directly on a Senate-passed health care bill because it's unpopular with House Democrats.
Instead, under her favored approach, lawmakers would approve a rule for debate that would deem the Senate bill passed once a smaller package of fixes to the larger bill has also passed.
"Nobody wanted to vote for the Senate bill," Pelosi, D-Calif., explained in a round-table meeting with liberal bloggers Monday. "It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know, but I like it because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill," she said of the approach."

Note that Democrats aren't even trying to deny the trick they're using, or why they have chosen to use it. People used to say that those who have nothing to say, blather on about "process." But not this time. This time it's clear that the process matters, and that it resonates against Democrats. As the article linked above gets to later:

"Democratic leaders contend there's nothing unusual about the strategy, which both parties have used in the House to create a distance between lawmakers and politically unpopular votes such as raising the debt ceiling. But Republicans were quick to portray it as the latest Democratic trick on health care, and some moderate rank-and-file Democrats voiced discomfort.
"I'm getting a lot of comments about the process, and a lot of unease," Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., said in an interview Monday."

This trickery is hardly the kind of "hope and change", not to mention it's not the kind of openness and fairness that liberalism always promises; conservatives need to keep pointing this out.

And it's Democratic Party pollsters who continue to present evidence suggesting that the American people are not comfortable with the process:
"...Obama’s chief pollster, Joel Benenson, has released a memo noting that process has been a mess for Democrats. “Independents’ concerns about health care reform are not about specific provisions in the bills passed by the Senate or House, but instead reflect concerns about reforms’ stagnation and the backroom deal-cutting, particularly those that benefit the constituents of key swing senators or special interests, such as the pharmaceutical industry,” he writes."

Jim Geraghty over at NRO pegs all this exactly right:
"Yesterday, Obama kept emphasizing that "courage" was required on the health care issue, along with an up-or-down vote. How perfect that on the exact same day, Pelosi agrees to a rule that would skip an up-or-down vote, because too many House Democrats are afraid to vote on the Senate bill directly."

In other political news: looking ahead to 2010 Senate elections, it appears that Democrat Barbara Boxer in California will face at the least a very competitive race. Republicans have a chance there.

Republicans meanwhile have an excellent shot at unseating Democrat Russell Feingold in Wisconsin--if Tommy Thompson runs, and who knows, maybe even if he doesn't.

And don't forget that, in Pennsylvania, Repub-turn(coat)ed-Democrat Arlen Specter still has to win the Dem primary. A poll out today shows he leads his opponent, Joe Sestak, but only by 11 points...hardly a runaway. Still competitive. Could Specter even lose the Democratic primary??? Stay tuned.