Friday, February 26, 2010

Morning Must Reads from DCExaminer

New York Times -- After the Summit

The Times’ editorial page neatly sums up what the president’s scolding session on health care was all about: checking the “bipartisan outreach” box on the pre-flight checklist for a legislative gambit that would be the most partisan path to such a major change to domestic policy since perhaps the years of radical Republicanism following the Civil War.
Remember that Social Security drew 16 Republican votes in the Senate and only 32 nays in the House (16 from each party). Medicare and Medicaid were created with 70 votes in the Senate and 308 votes in the House.
Blue Dogs are praying that the president (or Rahm Emanuel) really does have a “Plan B” and that he is staging the current preparations for a kamikaze mission in an effort to placate the Left and will, in the end, opt for another build out on the existing welfare state rather than trying to erect a whole new structure.
But the Times seems absolutely giddy that the summit was a flop, believing it demonstrated that Republicans are of no use and ought to be disregarded. They’re ready to start the countdown to the launch of the health care ICBMs.
There are plenty of happy Republicans, too. They were worried that Obama might offer something so juicy (maybe real malpractice reform) that they would look like jerks for refusing to compromise.
Now that Obama has taken it this far, would the Times and the rest of his political base let him turn back?
After all, they still think the House would pass the Senate bill. At best, it seems that Obama will have no choice but to waste weeks and additional political capital trying to ram his proposal through before he can take up a compromise plan – which would mean more weeks lost and more controversy over an issue that voters have had it with.
“Here is a basic fact: If the House Democrats voted tomorrow to approve the Senate bill, health care reform would become the law of the land.
The president and Speaker Nancy Pelosi should push the House to accept the fundamentally sound Senate bill. If they still cannot garner enough votes from their own caucus, they should alter the Senate bill slightly with parallel legislation that could be passed with budget reconciliation.”

Dana Milbank -- Professor Obama schools lawmakers on health-care reform
Spot on.
Milbank gets where Obama was coming from – the position of an annoyed teacher of a remedial class.
You could see in the president’s face as the session went on that he was frustrated by the failure of Republicans to grasp his arguments and eventually bored by their unwillingness to praise his name. Aside from making for boring television, it made for more evidence of Obama’s tendency to like dialogue with those who seek his favor but an inability to engage with those who don’t really care what he thinks about them.
“The 40 lawmakers and administration officials, seated in squeaky chairs around the square, were to speak only when called on. After each talked, Obama would determine whether the speaker's point was a ‘legitimate argument.’
While each of them had to call him ‘Mr. President,’ Obama, often waving an index finger, made sure to refer to each of them by their first name: ‘Thank you, Lamar. . . . We're going to have Nancy and Harry. . . . John, are you going to make the presentation yourself?’
If somebody went on too long, Obama cautioned the lawmaker to be ‘more disciplined.’ When Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) spoke about Medicare cuts, Obama cut him off. ‘I don't mean to interrupt,’ he said, but ‘if every speaker, at least on one side, is going through every provision and saying what they don't like, it's going to be hard for us to see if we can arrive at some agreements.’”

New York Times -- Plan to Seek Use of U.S. Contracts as a Wage Lever
What if the federal government didn’t just give preference to union contractors but put all non-union contractors at a disadvantage?
The president is considering entering an executive order that would mean any company that had been subject to a labor complaint (i.e. every non-union company) would lose points against a more competitor with a more salubrious attitude about wages and work rules (i.e. unionized shops).
The government spends $500 billion with contractors every year.
Writer Steven Greenhouse, developing a story broken by The Daily Caller, seems surprised that people who mow lawns on federal contracts would not make more than $22,000 a year. That won’t even pay for parking in the Upper West Side.
Unions say it will lift wages nationally and actually save money because better-paid workers will be more productive. Maybe, or maybe it will make things more expensive and make government work even more poorly.
“The officials briefed on the plan said it was being developed by officials in the Office of Management and Budget, the White House Office of Legal Counsel, the Treasury, Justice and Labor Departments and the vice president’s Middle Class Task Force.
Even as business groups press the administration for more details, they are denouncing the plan, tentatively named the High Road Procurement Policy.”

Wall Street Journal -- Push to Oversimplify at Climate Panel
Looking to overcome a crisis of confidence the U.N. climate shop is trying for a semi-mea culpa. The departure of climate boss Yvo de Boer, the exposure of cooked climate data, the exclusion of dissenting voices, the revealing of conflicts of interest among leaders and the failure of the Copenhagen summit has left the Holy See of Global Warming.
Even Al Gore allows that some of the data pointing to the dangers of ManBearPig is a bit confusing. It’s still worth spending trillions on, mind you, but he may have overstated things just a teensy bit in the name of a good cause. It was fake certitude with a purpose.
Writers Jeffrey Ball and Keith Johnson take a fascinating look at the Warmists’ walk of shame after using phony facts to convert scare tactics into legislation and treaties.
“Richard Alley, a geoscientist who helped write the IPCC's latest report, issued in 2007, described a trip that summer to Greenland's ice sheet with senators who urged him to be as specific as possible about the potential for sea-level rise. The point many of them made, he said: Give more explicit advice—because, if the sea rises, ‘the levee has to be built some height.’”

New York Post -- House Ethics panel slams Charlie for Caribbean junkets
Charlie Rangel never had any cause for alarm once his fate was in the hands of the House ethics committee.
Rangel, who’s been under fire for a host of shady dealings, is getting a rebuke for trips he and other Congressional Black Caucus members took to St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda. It’s great news for Rangel who can now say he was investigated and punished. Rangel is publicly denouncing the findings, but since this means that his other transgressions will likely float away like a palm leaf on the Gulf Stream, he must be thrilled.
Writer Geoff Earle looks at the battle:
“Rangel remains under investigation by the Ethics Committee, which is conducting a wide-ranging probe into whether he failed to pay taxes on rental income from his Dominican villa, as The Post reported; whether he failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and income, also reported by The Post; and fund-raising he did for a CUNY center named for him.”

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