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The Real West Wing Tour Guide

Here is a small Christmas gift for you: The Real West Wing Tour Guide (circa 2007).
By |Wednesday, 23 December 2009|

My foggy legislative crystal ball

I tried to update my projections for health care legislation but found I was making wild guesses. This is too much of an inside game for me to predict what will happen over the next ten days. My crystal ball is foggy. I can, however, offer some questions and observations for you to consider. I hope you find them useful.
By |Thursday, 17 December 2009|

Updated health care reform projections

Updated projections

I am lowering from 50% to 35% my prediction for the success of comprehensive health care reform.  I now think the most likely outcome is a much more limited bill becomes law.

  1. Pass a partisan comprehensive bill through the House and through the regular Senate process with 60, leading to a law; (was 30% -> 30%)
  2. Pass a partisan comprehensive bill through the House and through the reconciliation process with 51 Senate Democrats, leading to a law; (was 20% -> 5%)
  3. Fall back to a much more limited bill that becomes law; (was 15% -> 45%)
  4. No bill becomes law this Congress.  (was 35% –> 20%)

My last update was 3 1/2 weeks ago, right before the motion to proceed was adopted.  My prediction then that “there is zero chance a bill makes it to the President’s desk before 2010” has been proven correct.  At the time that was not an uncommon prediction, but it was inconsistent with what the White House, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Reid were all saying.

I still believe that if a comprehensive bill becomes law, I anticipate completion in late January or February, with the latter more likely.

In mid-November I wrote,

I would expect that as the third week approaches, Reid would begin to signal that the Senate has worked hard on the bill and needs to bring debate to a close.  Around the middle of week three, he would file a cloture motion on his substitute amendment, with the cloture vote happening on or near Friday, December 18th.

Public and private sources suggest this is likely to play out as predicted.

New prediction:  I think Leader Reid will not invoke cloture before Christmas.  What’s harder to figure out is whether he’ll even try.

Analysis

I’m still stuck on my “two equally strong stories” model:

  1. It appears the President’s private meeting last Sunday with Senate Democrats had a similar effect to his September Address to Congress.  He unified them, rallied them, and generated tremendous team spirit and legislative flexibility.  It appears that 60 Senators agree that they need to agree on something, and are willing to bend a lot to reach their common legislative goal.  No one of those 60 Senators wants to be vote #41 against cloture, and they’ll give up a lot to avoid that situation.  The internal caucus politics and vote counting leads me to believe there’s a 90% chance that cloture will be invoked.
  2. But the substance of the Reid amendment, and especially […]
By |Thursday, 17 December 2009|

Legislative hostage taking

Chairman Conrad may get his commission, although I doubt it he will get it now. He may get his vote, although I doubt as an amendment to a clean debt limit bill. If he confronts Leader Reid over the debt limit, either in private or on the Senate floor, Reid has all the leverage. He can force Conrad to back down.
By |Saturday, 12 December 2009|

How would the Reid bill affect the middle class?

There has been confused public discussion about the effects of the Reid bill on low- and middle-income taxpayers. Senator Grassley and his Finance Committee staff have worked with the Joint Tax Committee staff to disentangle the strands a present and clearer picture of the actual financial effects of the Reid bill on different middle class populations.
By |Thursday, 10 December 2009|

The President’s new economic proposal

Here is the President's new economic proposal, which he is not calling a stimulus.
By |Wednesday, 9 December 2009|

A good jobs day

Today's employment report is good news.
By |Friday, 4 December 2009|

The President’s 2010 challenges: jobs, deficits, and taxes

By the end of February we will either have a health care law or the bill will have died. Jobs, deficits, and taxes will dominate the rest of the 2010 American domestic policy debate.
By |Thursday, 3 December 2009|

Senate floor #011: The “hidden tax” of the uninsured

If you're advocating a policy to subsidize coverage for people who are now uninsured, I hope you'll argue that the benefits to those uninsured are worth the higher costs to others. Don't argue that we'll save money overall, or that it will financially benefit those who are now insured. This one isn't a free lunch.
By |Wednesday, 2 December 2009|

Senate floor #010: Minority party rights and tactics

Yesterday Senate Budget Committee Ranking Republican Judd Gregg sent Senate Republicans a reminder of all the procedural tools available to Senators “to insist on a full, complete, and fully informed debate on all measures and issues coming before the Senate.” When you’re in the majority, you often refer to these as stalling tactics and obstructionism. When you’re in the minority trying to prevent a bad bill from becoming law, you often refer to these as rights that can be protected.

I’ll cut and paste the description of the rights. I won’t describe them here – please consider this a reference document.

Since the Senate is now considering the bill and the Reid substitute amendment, we’re past section I. Tools still available and useful to the minority begin with “Senate Points of Order,” the third bullet in section II.


FOUNDATION FOR THE MINORITY PARTY’S RIGHTS IN THE SENATE (Fall 2009)

The Senate rules are designed to give a minority of Senators the right to insist on a full, complete, and fully informed debate on all measures and issues coming before the Senate. This cornerstone of protection can only be abrogated if 60 or more Senators vote to take these rights away from the minority.

I. RIGHTS AVAILABLE TO MINORITY BEFORE MEASURES ARE CONSIDERED ON FLOOR

(These rights are normally waived by Unanimous Consent (UC) when time is short, but any Senator can object to the waiver.)

  • New Legislative Day – An adjournment of the Senate, as opposed to a recess, is required to trigger a new legislative day. A new legislative day starts with the morning hour, a 2-hour period with a number of required procedures. During part of the ?morning hour? any Senator may make non-debatable motions to proceed to items on the Senate calendar.
  • One Day and Two Day Rules – The 1-day rule requires that measures must lie over one ?legislative day? before they can be considered. All bills have to lie over one day, whether they were introduced by an individual Senator (Rule XIV) or reported by a committee (Rule XVII). The 2-day rule requires that IF a committee chooses to file a written report, that committee report MUST contain a CBO cost estimate, a regulatory impact statement, and detail what changes the measure makes to current law (or provide a statement why any of these cannot be done), and that report must be available at least 2 calendar days before a bill […]
By |Wednesday, 2 December 2009|