Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Morning Must Reads from DCExaminer

Wall Street Journal -- Coakley's Saviors
A shout-out from the Journal editorial page for Examiner colleague Tim Carney’s reporting on the desperate dash by the drug and insurance industries to prop up the Senate candidacy of Martha Coakley and save the president’s health-care program.
Team Obama is giving Coakley a bit of the Creigh Deeds treatment, with lots of blind quotes about problems with her campaign. The high-profile event Coakley attended for drug and insurance lobbyists at Capitol Hill wine bar Sonoma gives credence to the arguments that she lacks good sense.
With new polls showing the race to fill what David Gergen called “Ted Kennedy’s seat” heading down to the wire and Republican state Sen. Scott Brown looking increasingly plausible to voters, Coakley rubbing elbows in D.C. with the same corporate interests that helped the president dash liberal health-care dreams is about as bad a PR move as I can imagine in a race where Democratic dissatisfaction is the primary obstacle to her success.
“Against overwhelming public opposition, the only things keeping ObamaCare alive at this point are power politics and the misguided corporate cease-fire that Democrats have either coerced or bought—or is homegrown at companies like Pfizer that are deeply invested in more government control of the economy. Ms. Coakley's election would make that outcome a certainty.”

New York Times -- Labor Campaigns Against Tax on Health Plans

Like a employee demanding a raise without another job offer, the House has little leverage when it comes to making demands on the Senate on health care.
The increasingly frosty national political climate for Democrats and their health plan means that Ben Nelson and others in the Senate would be happy to have an excuse for 86ing the legislation.
Writers Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn show House members looking for just a little dignity – the public option is gone and the tax on union health plans is staying, but please, please, couldn’t they have a national insurance exchange instead of the regional ones in the Senate bill. The answer will be no again, leaving it up to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep restive liberals and anxious moderates in the narrow winning coalition that passed a very different bill in November.
“At their caucus, House Democrats said, they felt pressure to make concessions to get a deal on health care. ‘A lot of people think we have a gun to our head and don’t like it very much,’ said Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York.”

Associated Press -- Obama wants $33 billion more for war
The president’s pivot to fiscal responsibility is starting to look more like a double dribble as health care lingers and new spending demands pile up.
The spending plan being built by budget stud Peter Orszag reportedly calls for a largest-ever $708 billion in defense spending.
The president will also ask Congress for a supplemental war appropriation of $33 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite a pledge that all war spending would now go into regular budgets. It’s a cheat that may allow Orszag and Obama to make deficit forecasts look better, but invites a revolt in Congress.
“The extra $33 billion in 2010 would mostly go toward the expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops for that war as part of an overhaul of the war strategy late last year.
The request for that additional funding will be sent to Congress at the same time as the record spending request for next year, making war finding an especially difficult pill for some of Obama's Democratic allies.”

Wall Street Journal -- Job Data Set to Fuel Fight Over Stimulus
The White House is phasing out “saved or created” as a term of use and backing off the Bidenous claims that the $787 billion stimulus plan would kick the economy into a higher gear. The new pitch in the days of double-digit unemployment is: things would have been much worse without the stimulus, which, by the way, has already run its course.
David Axelrod is warning Republicans that this year’s elections won’t be a referendum on Obama, but even under that unlikely scenario, can defending the status quo really be the smart move for the administration.
But writer Louise Radnofsky tells us that’s what the new report from the president’s economic advisors says: it could have been worse.
Of course, these were the same people who told us that if Congress didn’t pass the stimulus unemployment could be headed as high as 8 percent.
“Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House oversight committee, described the latest CEA numbers as ‘self-serving and deceptive.’”

New York Times -- A Year of Terror Plots, Through a 2nd Prism
Good news from writer Scott Shane: very few of America’s murders were committed by terrorists!
There were 14,000 murders last year, but only 14 committed in the name of jihad, so why is everybody so worried about terrorism when they should be thinking about bigger concerns?
In a foolish news analysis, Shane argues that the domestic terrorist attacks in 2009 weren’t very well planned and killed very few people when you think about it.
Shane’s points is that though we had no domestic terror attacks after 2001 until two successful strikes and several thwarted attacks in 2009, it was really the work of, as President Obama might say, “isolated extremists.” Since it was not al Qaeda proper pulling the strings directly and that the attacks were amateurish”, Shane says it shows that the group is losing steam and that radical Islam itself is not such a great threat. Nidal Hassan may have been a rookie, but he scored big, eliminating 13 high-value targets and sewing worry throughout the U.S. armed forces.
If it weren’t so scary that to think of the commonness of this view, it would be a funny piece.
“In 2008, in his book ‘Leaderless Jihad,’ Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former C.I.A. officer who has long studied terrorism networks, wrote that Al Qaeda was in decline, to be replaced by dispersed terrorists for whom it provided mostly inspiration. The new generation of extremists, he believed, would be less skilled and would likely pose less of a threat than the network responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Dr. Sageman said he saw no reason to revise that judgment today. The plots of the last year should be carefully analyzed and the findings used to improve counterterrorism, not turned into fuel for thoughtless anti-Muslim panic and discrimination, he said.
‘If we overreact and upset 1.5 billion Muslims,’ Dr. Sageman said, referring to the global total, ‘then we’ll have a lot bigger problem on our hands.’”

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