Senate Progressive Media Summit Liveblog
Marcy and I are at the Hart Senate Office Building with Atrios, Jerome, Bowers, David Corn, Mike Rodgers, Natasha Chart, Chris Hayes, Brownsox and others listening to various Senators come in and talk about their issues.
Stabenow: Obama will soon sign an executive order lifting the ban on stem cell research. The Senate will also pass bill enhancement and extension of SCHIP in the next couple of weeks. In the stimulus plan there will be a substantial investment in health IT, but privacy issues need to be addressed.
Wyden: Answering a question about whether we will be moving toward single payer, Wyden says that single payer winds up devolving into an argument with people who are opposed to "too much government." But if you use the term "universal coverage" and you say that for the same amount of money everyone can have the same coverage as members of Congress, it’s not so polarizing. So basically, no.
Stabenow: We want to avoid the pitfalls of ’94. (Not sure why they’re fighting a 15 year-old battle with no acknowledgment that the political climate and public opinion are completely different, but there you have it.) They’ll address it after they tackle the stimulus package but think it will take months of work.
End-of-life a huge issue and Stabinow says humor-challenged wingnuts don’t appreciate when she jokes that "we all need to agree to live 30 less days." Wyden gets ovation for objecting to unanimous consent on Schiavo. He’s also opposed to people not being able to get curative care when they’re getting Hospice benefits.
Reid: We need to "look back" and it’s possible that a committee will be formed to investigate BushCo. Said he can "count votes" and they needed Joe Lieberman’s vote. Does that mean he thinks Joe would have cast punitive votes in retribution for losing his chairmanship? How statesmanlike. Said that"meaningful oversight" was important but didn’t say how he planned to have Senate oversight of the $55 billion a year Homeland Security budget since Joe won’t exercise any.
Said he hoped the Senate would take up Employee Free Choice in the summer but they’re still missing "a couple of votes." Asked for help pushing back on the stupid meme that Employee Free Choice destroys Secret Ballot.
Levin: "I think the Iranian government is hell bent on getting nuclear weapons," based on the fact that Iranians won’t open up facilities to inspection and intelligence sources. Russia is second to Israel the most threatened by Iranian nuclear capability, so if US and Russia can join together on a missile defense system against an Iranian threat, then he thinks Iran will take that seriously. He also thinks NATO expansion is an important part of avoiding military action in Iran.
Sanders: Has seriously worries about placing 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan. In terms of Putin’s authoritarianism and disregard for civil liberties
Marcy asked Levin about Reid’s statement that he was giving Levin money to investigate BushCo. "There needs to be I believe an accounting of torture in this country," said Levin. The Armed Services Committe which I chair recently did a report on torture policies at the highest levels of this government (full report to be released in the next couple of weeks). He suggested to Holder that he appoint someone like a retired judge or others in his office with a lot of credibility to take all the available information, the existing documentation, and compile it.
They’re all going to go cast their votes for Hillary Clinton then they’ll be back for a reception at 5pm.