Vote-a-rama has begun on the reconciliation bill in the Senate, but Democrats are expected to bat down any Republican amendments. In fact, they’ve already done so on the first, although Jim Webb bolted and voted with the Republicans on it. So if anything newsworthy happens, I’ll update. Here’s the best of the rest:
• Nancy Pelosi just named her three members to the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Commission: Budget Committee Chair John Spratt (D-SC), Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Not a Blue Dog in the bunch, and two progressives. Good for Nancy. It will be tough to get 14 votes for deficit hawk crap on this commission now.
• Frank Lautenberg’s filibuster reform bill would actually “make them filibuster,” forcing Senators to be on the floor at all times while blocking a vote. Obviously this is unlikely to happen unless the Senate rules get changed at the beginning of the next session, but things are moving in that direction. Chris Bowers thinks it’s a matter of time.
• The housing market is frozen, the voluntary mortgage modifications aren’t working, so today, Bank of America relented and offered a plan to modify principal, up to 30% of an individuals total balance. Details here. This may only affect 45,000 borrowers, but if it’s successful, maybe other lenders and servicers will join the cause.
• Not only is the individual mandate a Republican idea, it’s an expression of conservative ideology of personal responsibility. This is where the libertarian movement splits off, but it remains a Republican idea.
• I don’t think the lawsuits against the individual mandate have a chance (though Ron Wyden’s argument against them is silly, because his opt-out doesn’t start until 3 years after the mandate begins), but if you can’t get the insurance industry on board with
repeal, you’re pretty much done. They would openly fight repeal, by the way, especially of the mandate, because taking all comers without that requirement would sink them. The industry will now move to lobbying the hell out of rulemaking and implementation.
• Supporters of the health care law need to do themselves a favor and knock off the superlatives, especially when there are so many flaws that will eventually need to be fixed. It does a disservice to future efforts to call it the most revolutionary social legislation EVAH.
• The Google/China showdown continues, with China censoring Google content from the separate server in Hong Kong. Google is not actually as prominent in China (Baidu is the preferred search engine), so this could end with them up and leaving the market.
• I didn’t know Chuck Grassley was Jewish, because taking credit for the health care law while voting against it and trying to torpedo it can only be described as chutzpah.
• Turns out House Republicans already tried to repeal parts of the health care legislation today, inside a jobs bill. They failed, but ten Democrats joined them: Altmire, Boucher, Bright, Chet Edwards, McIntyre, Minnick, Nye, Owens, Rush and Taylor. Man, Bobby Rush holds a grudge.
• If you believe that Democrats are at a low ebb right now and that passing health care will help them in November, then they still have a chance to flip Ohio’s open Senate seat.
• I’m glad Bill White, running as a Democrat for Governor of Texas, is making an issue out of that horrible revisionist school textbook ruling. White actually has a shot to win.
• Wow, Tom Shales is an asshole. Who knew?
• Education Secretary Arne Duncan kept a secret list while running the education system of Chicago, containing the names of rich people who he’d try to pull strings for to get their kids in a good public school. He might want to explain that.
• Nice profile of Elizabeth Warren, who will end up running whatever consumer protection bureau comes out of financial reform, whether standalone or not.
• One reason I’m still wary of prospects in November is the state of the the economy, and the nation’s largest state will experience a slump through 2011, providing a drag on any national trends.
• Look out for this development – an imbalance between certain types of Congressional staff and how their health plans are treated in the new legislation. I could see a GOP hissy fit around this.
• This gave me a lot of painful memories. What a dickish human being.
• Finally: hell no you can’t.