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The Roundup for March 3, 2011

Forgive the delay. A lot of stuff actually happened here late in the day, but I’ll save a couple of those for tomorrow. For now…

• The House Judiciary Committee passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I suppose it’s a victory that only one Democrat, nonvoting member Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, voted for the bill in committee. It’s a horrendous attack on the right to choose, and Democrats ought to be united in opposition.

• Jeff Merkley managed to get 17 Democrats and Olympia Snowe on board a letter demanding that the regulators to actually do something about the foreclosure crisis. At the same time, Republicans in the House could move to cancel the ineffective HAMP program in the next day or two, replacing it with… nothing. I get the suspicion that the global settlement over foreclosure irregularities is just the Obama Administration’s safety valve in case HAMP gets repealed.

• At least among the Congressional Progressive Caucus, there’s great solidarity with the folks in Wisconsin. Tammy Baldwin in particular has been in the Capitol multiple times and involved herself with the protests.

• The Republicans in Wisconsin are floating a bunch of nonsense about chipped marble. The building is so much more spotless that anyone could ever hope to expect after two weeks of occupation. The protesters have recycling and cleanup teams. This is bullshit. But not as much as the ammo at the entrance rumor! Meanwhile their lockdown of the Capitol kept out firefighters during an emergency call.

• Of the 16 Senators in Wisconsin currently eligible for recall, 14 have active recall campaigns going against them, including 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats. The next few months in Wisconsin could be wild. As for who will win, the Wisconsin Democrats just seem smarter to me. Witness this this bit of genius from Sen. Jon Erpenbach to get his paycheck out of the clutches of the Republicans. On the Republican side you have dunderheads like Glenn Grothman.

• I think the broadside attacks on teachers have caused a strong negative reaction among the public. Especially when you hear these personal stories of teachers who get paid crap and sacrifice for the love of their profession. Even anti-teacher’s union and pro-“reform” types like Matt Miller and Education Secretary Arne Duncan felt compelled to defend them. The nationwide sympathy for teachers is bad news for those who want to use teachers as a scapegoat for student achievement issues that can be better explained by poverty statistics.

• Senate Democrats want to block any cuts to Social Security benefits in an aggressive move to end the attacks on the social insurance program. They seem to have got Claire McCaskill, known as a budget hawk, to affirm her opposition to any cuts.

• Today in the Arab uprising: Yemen’s leader apparently reached a deal with the opposition that would have him step down within a year; Egypt’s interim prime minister, installed by Mubarak, has resigned; Tunisia’s interim President has called for an election date in July.

• President Obama authorized refugee airlifts out of Libya, and again called on Moammar Gadhafi to resign. He didn’t shut the door on a no-fly zone but didn’t call for one either. The refugee situation in the country is fast becoming a serious crisis. By the way, this is the strangest group of fighters in the history of civil wars.

• Another civil war in Africa is happening in Ivory Coast. Six female supporters of Alassane Ouattara were shot dead by forces loyal to the President who lost the election but won’t leave, Laurent Gbagbo.

• I’m sickened that they convicted Tim DeChristopher for his actions bidding up leases at an oil and gas auction in 2008. So he’s going to jail but not the head of Bank of America. Got it.

• In addition to busting unions, Scott Walker’s plans include going after women’s health.

• I love a good takedown of David Brooks as much as the next guy.

• Democrats pulled off a really good motion to recommit today, getting Republicans to vote unanimously for the Bridge to Nowhere.

• Wyden and Grassley want to force release of doctor and individual provider payments through Medicare, which could lead to some recognition that we pay more for health care than any other nation in the world in part because of obscene provider demands.

• It’s March already, 20 months before the 2012 Presidential election, and Newt Gingrich became the first major potential candidate to announce for the Republican nomination, and even then he’s only exploring the possibility and putting up a website that looks more like trolling for donations than anything.

• A 20-year dispute over cross-border trucking routes between the US and Mexico could be over. Read the White House fact sheet.

• There’s an anti-union measure working through Congress too, this one having to do with aviation workers and their right to unionize.

• Evan McMorris-Santoro rounds up the complaints of the six Republicans who voted against the anti-union bill in the Ohio Senate yesterday.

• I have a feeling this appeal for stronger mine safety laws will fall on deaf ears in the House.

• Great tribute to the protest movement in Madison. Though I think they should swap in the Dropkick Murphys song.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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