March 28, 2010: Health Care Passage Aftermath

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Obama Widens Approval as Democrats Converge With Republicans: President Barack Obama receives lukewarm ratings from Americans, at least until you compare him with other major political figures and institutions. Fifty percent approve of the job he is doing, a Bloomberg National Poll shows, down from 54 percent in December….
    Obama, 48, still enjoys an 85 percent job-approval rating among Democrats, compared with 46 percent among independent voters and 11 percent among Republicans…. – Business Week, 3-24-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Palin kicks off Tea Party Express tour: Organizers described this gathering Saturday of thousands of Tea Partiers minutes from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home in desolate Nevada scrub as a “conservative Woodstock.” But instead of gorging on LSD, free love and Jimi Hendrix, thousands of attendees binged on seething anger at Washington and swooned to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Tea Party Express kicked off a 43-city cross-country bus tour that’s intended to rouse voters to their cause.
    “We’re sending a message to Washington,” Palin told the crowd that exploded in chants of “Sarah! Sarah!” when she took the stage. “The big government, big tax Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending spree is over,” she said, referring also to the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. “You’re fired.”… – SF Chronicle, 3-27-10
  • What didn’t get into the healthcare bill: In the year it took Congress to write and pass a healthcare overhaul, turbulent political shifts — including the Democrats’ loss of the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the rise of the tea party movement — forced critical compromises on the scope of legislation. The downsized ambitions of the final package mean that 32 million more people — not the 37 million in the original proposals — will end up insured by 2019. Others will face greater financial strain than lawmakers originally envisioned…. – Miami Herald, 3-28-10
  • Obama Announces 15 Recess Appointments, Scolds GOP Obama announces 15 recess appointments in agencies, citing GOP stalling tactics in Senate: Fed up with waiting, President Barack Obama announced Saturday he would bypass a vacationing Senate and name 15 people to key administration jobs, wielding for the first time the blunt political tool known as the recess appointment. The move immediately deepened the divide between the Democratic president and Republicans in the Senate following a long, bruising fight over health care. Obama revealed his decision by blistering Republicans, accusing them of holding up nominees for months solely to try to score a political advantage on him. “I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government,” Obama said in a statement…. – AP, 3-28-10
  • Obama must seize momentum after big week: Doubted and deeply in need of a comeback, President Barack Obama had a political dream week: a historic remaking of America’s health care system, an overhaul of how students pay for college and a groundbreaking deal with Russia to shrink nuclear arsenals. The biggest foreign and domestic policy victories of Obama’s presidency positioned him to keep swinging big. He has fresh results to back up his argument that persistence pays. The White House’s thinking is that the burst of success, particularly in extending health coverage to millions more people, will carry over to other issues and show lawmakers, and perhaps foreign leaders, the value of sticking with Obama.
    As a vindicated tone took hold in West Wing offices, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put it this way: “Accomplishment demonstrates leadership and strength. And those are tangible currencies in Washington.” Yet this town also is known for having a short memory, and the forces working against the president are considerable…. – AP, 3-27-10
  • McCain understudy Sarah Palin is now the star: John McCain and Sarah Palin were back together again Friday. His presidential campaign was floundering when he first reached out to her. Now, facing a challenge from within his party as he seeks reelection to the Senate, McCain has turned to her again to help bail him out. But what a difference.
    For starters, the understudy is now the star. A majority of Americans may think Palin is not qualified to be president, but the GOP faithful love her, as does cable television. Cable news was fixed on Palin as she delivered her introduction of McCain at a rally in Tucson on Friday afternoon. Minutes after McCain took the microphone, they cut away from the rally for other news…. – WaPo, 3-28-10
  • Two big wins, a presidency transformed for Obama: Two big wins for Barack Obama at home and abroad — a historic health care bill and a new arms treaty with Russia — have injected sudden momentum into a presidency that had been looking beleaguered. “What a week here,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs wrote on his twitter feed, as Obama concluded a new strategic arms reduction treaty in a call with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday…. – AFP, 3-26-10
  • Republicans fight extension of jobless pay: Democrats say they’ll seek retroactive unemployment benefits when the Senate returns in two weeks…. – LAT, 3-27-10
  • Still time to fix lapse in jobless benefits: Congress left for a two-week vacation Friday without extending jobless benefits for people who have been out of work for more than six months. But that may not be as bad as it sounds. The impact of the benefit cutoff will be limited, so long as lawmakers quickly fix the problem when they return next month. The same holds true for a lapse in authorization for generous health subsidies for the unemployed and for a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors. Dropping the ball on jobless benefits doesn’t put Congress in a flattering light. But unlike an episode three weeks ago, when Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning held up a nearly identical measure over deficit concerns, Democrats don’t seem poised to reap political gain from this round of GOP obstruction…. – AP, 3-26-10
  • Healthcare changes head to Obama for signature: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday formally signed and sent to President Barack Obama the final installment of landmark healthcare overhaul legislation. “This our gift to the American people,” said Pelosi, who celebrated her 70th birthday on Friday. The much smaller companion bill to the broad overhaul signed this week by Obama includes changes sought by the House that would make insurance more affordable, raise taxes on the wealthy and close a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for the elderly. Obama will sign the companion bill, which also includes changes in the U.S. student loan program, on Tuesday at a community college in Virginia, the White House said. Congress is beginning a two-week spring break and Democrats plan an all-out effort to try to sell the package to a skeptical public. Republicans remained united in their opposition to the sweeping $940 billion overhaul and have vowed a campaign to repeal it…. – Reuters, 3-27-10
  • Why did health-care reform pass? Nancy Pelosi was in charge: Congress had tried to hammer together a national health-care initiative for a century, but it wasn’t until a woman ascended to a key position of power in Washington that a plan actually passed. This is not a mere historical coincidence. Sure, President Obama pushed health-care reform to the top of the country’s agenda, and the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate were essential to passing the bill. But make no mistake: The overhaul happened because Nancy Pelosi wanted it to happen, deep in her DNA…. – WaPo, 3-28-10
  • Can Republicans win by opposing Obama?: Can Republicans ride all the way to Election Day in November by opposing most of President Barack Obama’s major policies? So far they are sticking with this strategy…. – Reuters, 3-27-10
  • Obama administration revises anti-foreclosure strategy: The Obama administration Friday tried to manage expectations about its newest foreclosure-prevention efforts, while consumer advocates and others who track the housing market praised the initiative but questioned whether it would succeed in curtailing the foreclosure epidemic. The initiative, announced Friday, expands on the government’s marquee foreclosure prevention program, Making Home Affordable. That program was originally expected to reach as many as 4 million borrowers, but it is not on track to help so many…. – WaPo, 3-27-10
  • Congress approves final changes to health plan: Democrats overcome GOP efforts to derail the overhaul. Obama is expected to sign the bill in the next few days…. – LAT, 3-25-10
  • Congress passes amended health-care law: Congress agreed Thursday to amend the nation’s new health-care law, concluding a long, contentious quest to pass major changes, and lawmakers prepared to head home for a two-week recess to hear voters’ reactions…. – WaPo, 3-25-10
  • A look at details of the health care overhaul law: Some features of the health care overhaul bill President Barack Obama has signed, as modified by a package of changes passed Thursday by the House and Senate…. – AP, 3-26-10
  • Unemployment benefits set to expire April 5: Unemployment benefits are set to expire for at least a week on April 5, as Congress plans to break for two weeks without agreeing on an extension of the program. Last week, the House approved a $9 billion measure containing one-month extensions of unemployment insurance, COBRA health benefits and federal flood insurance. Senate Democrats hoped to have their chamber approve the same bill Thursday. But Republicans refused, complaining that the bill is not offset with spending cuts elsewhere…. – WaPo, 3-25-10
  • Obama shopping for Rove memoir?: President Barack Obama smiles as he holds up copies of Karl Rove and Mitt Romney’s books as he makes an unannounced stop at Prairie Lights book shop in Iowa City in Iowa, Thursday, March 25, 2010.
    President Obama popped into an Iowa City bookstore Thursday joking he was there to buy Karl Rove’s memoir. The president surprised the staff of Prairie Lights Books, one of America’s great independent bookstores, after mentioning its plight in a health care speech at the University of Iowa. He used the 32-year-old bookstore to highlight how small businesses would benefit from the health care overhaul bill he signed into law on Tuesday…. – WaPo, 3-26-10
  • Mandate idea was touted by right: The lawsuit against the healthcare-reform act focuses on a provision that was originally developed by conservatives…. – Miami Herald, 3-26-10
  • White House to announce housing aid: sources: The White House plans to announce on Friday that it will require lenders to lower the mortgage payments of some unemployed workers and encourage lenders to eliminate some principal debt of homeowners who owe more than their home is worth, sources familiar with the plan said on Thursday…. – Reuters, 3-26-10
  • G.O.P. Forces New House Vote on Package of Health Bill Changes: With the Senate working through an all-night session on a package of changes to the Democrats’ sweeping health care legislation, Republicans early Thursday morning identified parliamentary problems with at least two provisions that will require the measure to be sent back to the House for yet another vote, once the Senate adopts it. Senate Democrats had been hoping to defeat all of the amendments proposed by Republicans and to prevail on parliamentary challenges so that they could approve the measure and send it to President Obama for his signature. But the bill must comply with complex budget reconciliation rules, and Republicans identified some flaws. Under the reconciliation rules, provisions in the bill must directly affect government spending or revenues…. – NYT, 3-25-10
  • Obama issues low-key order on abortions: Anything but jubilant, President Barack Obama awkwardly kept a promise Wednesday he made to ensure passage of historic health care legislation, pledging the administration would not allow federal funds to pay for elective abortions covered by private insurance. Unlike Tuesday, when a beaming Obama signed the health care law in a nationally televised ceremony interrupted repeatedly by applause, the White House refused to permit coverage of the event. It occurred in the Oval Office in the presence of a small group of anti-abortion Democratic lawmakers who had extracted the commitment over the weekend. The president supports abortion rights…. – AP, 3-25-10
  • 20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms: If some reports are to be believed, the Democrats will pass the Senate health care bill with some reconciliation changes later today. Thus, it is worthwhile to take a comprehensive look at the freedoms we will lose. Of course, the bill is supposed to provide us with security. But it will result in skyrocketing insurance costs and physicians leaving the field in droves, making it harder to afford and find medical care. We may be about to live Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”… – Investors, 3-23-10
  • 14 states sue to block health care law: Officials from 14 states have gone to court to block the historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, arguing the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution. Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The complaint calls the act an “unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states” and asks a judge to block its enforcement.
    “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage,” the lawsuit states. The case was filed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and joined by 11 other Republican attorneys general, along with one Democrat. McCollum said the new law also forces states “to do things that are practically impossible to do as a practical matter, and forcing us to do it without giving any resources or money to do it.”… – CNN, 3-23-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Palin stumps for McCain at Arizona rally: They have rarely spoken in 17 months. Their relationship, as America now knows, turned testy before they parted ways. But as at many family reunions, the old feelings were set aside as Sarah Palin embraced Sen. John McCain here on Friday and argued that he should not be unseated by a conservative challenger. “We need this new blood coming into the system and new party officials and folks who are willing to stand up and speak out for common-sense conservative solutions,” Palin said. “But we also need statesmen and heroes like John McCain to help us get through these challenging times.”… – NYT, 3-26-10
  • Romney attacks health care law similar to his own: Mitt Romney has a problem with Obamacare. It looks a lot like Romneycare. The prospective Republican presidential candidate’s vulnerability on the issue was evident this week, when he was interrupted during a tour for his new book by a woman upset with the Massachusetts health care law Romney signed as governor in 2006. That law has some of the same core features as the federal law President Barack Obama, a Democrat, signed on Tuesday. And that’s creating an uncomfortable straddle for Romney as his party makes attacking the new health care law its main message this midterm year…. – AP, 3-26-10
  • Romney keeping it real – and we need it now more than ever: Perhaps it’s fitting that, days before President Obama signed into law his version of health care reform, former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney retook the lead in the early 2012 White House polls. According to a March Public Policy Polling survey, Romney led former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee by 28 percent- 24 percent among Republican primary voters, with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin securing 23 percent. A day earlier, a separate PPP poll found Romney tied Obama at 44 percent in the general election—a better showing than from any other… – Daily Caller, 3-26-10
  • McCain, Palin to campaign together in Arizona: John McCain and Sarah Palin will be back on the campaign trail Friday, their first time campaigning together since McCain lost the presidential election a year and a half ago with Palin as his running mate. This time, they have a different prize in sight: McCain’s Senate seat…. – AP, 3-25-10
  • Palin Makes Fans Uneasy by Backing McCain: Tea Party Favorite Heads to Arizona to Help Running Mate Battle a Primary Challenge From Immigration Foe Hayworth…
    Like many Republicans, Ms. Palin is trying to navigate a political order transformed from 2008. Mr. McCain was the Republican nominee for president in 2008, but he is now fighting off an aggressive primary challenge in a state he has represented since 1983. A Rasmussen Report released March 16 shows Mr. McCain ahead by seven points, with a margin of error of plus or minus four points. Earlier polling put Mr. McCain ahead by 22 points…. – WSJ, 3-25-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Two Major Reforms on Health Care & Higher Ed: The President looks back on a week that saw the passage of two major sets of reforms: one putting Americans in control of their own health care, and one ensuring student loans work for students and families, not as subsidies for bankers and middlemen…. – WH, 3-27-10
  • Remarks by the President on the Announcement of New START Treaty James S. Brady Press Briefing Room: Broadly speaking, the new START treaty makes progress in several areas. It cuts — by about a third — the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy. It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies.
    With this agreement, the United States and Russia — the two largest nuclear powers in the world — also send a clear signal that we intend to lead. By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities.
    I’m pleased that almost one year to the day after my last trip to Prague, the Czech Republic — a close friend and ally of the United States — has agreed to host President Medvedev and me on April 8th, as we sign this historic treaty. The following week, I look forward to hosting leaders from over 40 nations here in Washington, as we convene a summit to address how we can secure vulnerable nuclear materials so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. And later this spring, the world will come together in New York to discuss how we can build on this progress, and continue to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime…. – WH, 3-26-10
  • Mitt Romney: A Campaign Begins Today: America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends. He promised better; we deserved better.
    He calls his accomplishment “historic” — in this he is correct, although not for the reason he intends. Rather, it is an historic usurpation of the legislative process — he unleashed the nuclear option, enlisted not a single Republican vote in either chamber, bribed reluctant members of his own party, paid-off his union backers, scapegoated insurers, and justified his act with patently fraudulent accounting. What Barack Obama has ushered into the American political landscape is not good for our country; in the words of an ancient maxim, “what starts twisted, ends twisted.”
    His health-care bill is unhealthy for America. It raises taxes, slashes the more private side of Medicare, installs price controls, and puts a new federal bureaucracy in charge of health care. It will create a new entitlement even as the ones we already have are bankrupt. For these reasons and more, the act should be repealed. That campaign begins today. – NRO, 3-22-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: Welcome to Obama’s America By passing health care reform, the president has become a transformational leader, although not a post-partisan one: To pass this legislation, Obama had to break the vow that had defined him politically and helped launch him into the White House. He failed to become the post-partisan, red and blue together healer he hoped to be; what the American people elected him to be. But he did fulfill the promise he made in January 2008 to be a “transformational” leader. At the time, he offended his rival Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats by saying bluntly that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, that Bill Clinton did not,” and that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.”… – The Mark, 3-26-10
  • Robert Dallek: Health care bill anger a sign of the times?: “It’s unusual that you get this kind of outrage and response to a piece of legislation,” said historian Robert Dallek, author of the upcoming book “The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope.” “Of course, it’s being fanned in some ways by Republican leaders who keep saying majorities are against this legislation, when in fact there is a pretty even divide in the country, from what the polling data shows,” he added….
    “I think it’s partly the fact that you have this recession, an economic problem that puts people further on edge than they are normally,” he said. “I think there’s an awful lot of anxiety about that out there. That fans the flames of agitation.” He likens those worries to fears in the 1930s with the Great Depression. “Remember in the 1930s when you had such a dreadful economic downturn,” he said, noting that a movement popped up that was “full of a kind of rhetoric and anti-Semitism and anti-government.”… – CNN, 3-26-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Health care bill anger a sign of the times?: Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian and CNN.com contributor, wrote that frustration with joblessness — like the opposition to Obama’s economic stimulus bill — was also seen during the New Deal era. “It is possible that continued frustration about jobs allows Democrats to target Republicans as an obstructionist party that has in fact hampered their efforts to revitalize economic growth,” Zelizer wrote in the commentary. “During the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt understood that you could not have recovery without jobs. This is why he made public works programs the centerpiece of the New Deal.”… – CNN, 3-26-10
  • Tevi Troy: Bush, Obama, and the Intellectuals America’s intellectual class seems to adore President Barack Obama nearly as much as it reviled his predecessor. While George W. Bush was routinely derided for his purported lack of intelligence and learning, Obama has been embraced by the intellectuals as one of their own — to a degree unmatched by any president since perhaps Woodrow Wilson. Indeed, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof spoke for many when he argued after the 2008 election that “American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.” Rebecca Mead of the New Yorker even sought to make it official, calling Obama a “certified intellectual.”
    This difference in attitudes says as much about the state of American intellectuals as it does about Bush and Obama. It also highlights the complicated relationship between intellectuals and the modern American presidency. That relationship has been of great interest to recent presidents; most chief executives since John Kennedy have tended, in some overt way, to their links with the nation’s intellectual elite. They have sought to use these intellectuals to their own advantage, whether as expert advisors, cultural ornaments, or political cover.
    The story of those efforts, and of the assumptions underlying them, illustrates the changing role of intellectuals in our culture — from esteemed and establishmentarian, to countercultural and oppositional, to highly politicized and partisan. This narrative can also help us better understand the interplay of elitism and populism in our recent political history. Above all, it is a cautionary tale for President Obama…. – National Affairs, Spring 201

Special: President Obama Signs Health Care Bill into Law

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President signs health reform into law

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll show health care plan gains favor President Obama reaches for a pen to sign the health care bill Tuesday. A poll finds increased support for the measure: By 49%-40%, those polled say it was “a good thing” rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms — as “enthusiastic” or “pleased” — while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as “disappointed” or “angry.” The largest single group, 48%, calls the legislation “a good first step” that needs to be followed by more action. And 4% say the bill itself makes the most important changes needed in the nation’s health care system.
    “After a century of striving, after a year of debate, after a historic vote, health care reform is no longer an unmet promise,” Obama declared in a celebration at the Interior Department auditorium with members of Congress, leaders of advocacy groups and citizens whose personal stories were cited during the debate. “It is the law of the land.”… – USA Today, 3-23-10
  • House passes Democratic changes to health bill: The House has passed key changes to its just-approved overhaul of health care legislation. The changes are part of a prearranged agreement to guarantee passage of the historic legislation. The changes passed by a 220-211 vote. That bill now goes to the Senate for final approval, where it only requires a simple majority to pass…. – AP, 3-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • It’s the law of the land: Health overhaul signed: Claiming a historic triumph that could define his presidency, a jubilant Barack Obama signed a massive, nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul on Tuesday that will for the first time cement insurance coverage as the right of every U.S. citizen and begin to reshape the way virtually all Americans receive and pay for treatment. After more than a year of hyperpartisan struggle — and numerous near-death moments for the measure — Obama declared “a new season in America” as he sealed a victory denied to a line of presidents stretching back more than half a century. Democratic lawmakers cheered him on, giving the White House signing ceremony a rally-like atmosphere as they shouted and snapped photos with pocket cameras or cell phones…. – AP, 3-23-10
  • Obama Signs Health Care Overhaul Bill, With a Flourish: With the strokes of 20 pens, President Obama signed his landmark health care overhaul — the most expansive social legislation enacted in decades — into law on Tuesday, saying it enshrines “the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.”
    Republican lawmakers plan to put up roadblocks to the health reconciliation bill. At a news conference on Tuesday, from left, were Senators Jon Kyl, Judd Gregg and Mitch McConnell. Mr. Obama signed the measure, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, during a festive and at times raucous ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He spoke to an audience of nearly 300, including more than 200 Democratic lawmakers who rode a yearlong legislative roller coaster that ended with House passage of the bill Sunday night. They interrupted him repeatedly with cheers, applause and standing ovations.
    “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “Today we are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself, that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.”… – NYT, 3-24-10
  • Obama signs health care reform into law: President Obama signed legislation into law Tuesday that will overhaul the nation’s health system and, jubilant Democrats hope, overhaul their own political fortunes and become not their Waterloo, but the GOP’s. For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi enactment marks the pinnacle of her career, delivering a landmark law that has eluded Democrats for decades without a single Republican vote. Weeks after insisting that the House could not pass the legislation, the San Francisco Democrat led her chamber to do just that, showing a mastery of legislative maneuvering unmatched by any of her predecessors from either party in recent memory.
    On Tuesday, Obama singled out Pelosi as “one of the best speakers the House of Representatives has ever had,” and Republicans turned to her as the chief target of their ire. So widespread were her kudos that she rivaled the president as the Washington leader most responsible for bringing Democrats’ hard-fought victory to fruition…. – SF Chronicle, 3-23-10
  • Biden to Obama: “A big [expletive] deal”: After introducing Obama at Tuesday’s health-care bill signing ceremony, Vice President Biden turned to the president and said, “This is a big [expletive] deal.”… – WaPo, 3-23-10
  • Ted Kennedy is celebrated for his longtime support of health-care reform: While President Obama gathered with lawmakers for a bill-signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday afternoon, dozens of others came to commemorate health-care legislation here, on a quiet hillside in Section 45 of Arlington National Cemetery. The grave site of Edward M. Kennedy consists of only a white cross and a flat marble footstone, but it has attracted hundreds of visitors during the past several days. First came Vicki Kennedy, the widowed wife, staying for several hours Sunday while Congress prepared for its decisive vote. Next was Patrick Kennedy, the son, who left behind a note written on his congressional stationery Monday morning. Then, on Tuesday, health-care advocates and student groups were led to the grave by tour guides, one of whom pointed to the white cross and recalled, “The Great Ted Kennedy, the man who championed health care.”… – WaPo, 3-24-10
  • Health bill included big Republican idea: individual mandate: The lawsuit against the health care overhaul filed Tuesday by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is focused on a provision that has long been advocated by conservatives, big business and the insurance industry. The lawsuit by McCollum, a candidate for governor, and 12 other attorneys general, focuses on the provision that virtually all Americans will need to have health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. The lawsuit calls this an “unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of individuals.” It states the Constitution doesn’t authorize such a mandate, the proposed tax penalty is unlawful and is an “unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states.”… – Miami Herald, 3-24-10
  • Israel Absorbs Twin Rebukes From Top Allies: Israel found itself at odds with its two most stalwart allies on Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu culminated a tense visit to Washington with a face-to-face session with President Obama that apparently failed to resolve the impasse between the two over a comprehensive Middle East peace plan…. – NYT, 3-24-10
  • Economic Scene In Health Care Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality: For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago… – NYT, 3-24-10
  • Gap in health care law’s protection for children: The Obama administration is scrambling to fix a potential problem with a much-touted benefit of its new health care law, a gap in coverage improvements for children in poor health, officials said Tuesday…. – AP, 3-24-10
  • Obama to sign health care reform into law, then promote it on the road: President Obama will sign sweeping health care reform legislation into law at the White House on Tuesday, according to two Democratic officials familiar with the planning….
    Passage of the bill was a huge boost for Obama, who made health care reform a domestic priority. Aides said Monday that Obama exchanged handshakes, hugs and “high-fives” with staffers when the outcome of the House vote became apparent. “I haven’t seen the president so happy about anything other than his family since I’ve known him,” said senior adviser David Axelrod, adding that Obama’s jubilation Sunday night exceeded his election victory in November 2004. “He was excited that night, but not like last night.”… – CNN, 3-23-10
  • A look at the health care overhaul bill: Congress approved a major overhaul of the nation’s health care system for President Barack Obama’s signature. Here are some of the features of the legislation…. – AP, 3-23-10
  • Republicans’ new health care reform bill rallying cry: Repeal it: Republicans couldn’t stop Democrats from passing the health care reform bill Sunday. Now, they vow to make the bill – and big government spending – the core issue of the 2010 elections…. – CS Monitor, 3-22-10
  • 10 states line up to sue over health bill, Florida AG says: Virginia, 10 other states plan to file suit challenging health care reform bill… Florida AG Bill McCollum: “This is a tax … on just living, and that’s unconstitutional”… McCollum says bill would force states to spend money, which violates 10th Amendment
    (CNN) — Ten states plan to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care reform bill, Florida’s attorney general announced Monday. Bill McCollum, the Republican attorney general under fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, told a news conference that the lawsuit would be filed once President Obama signs the health care bill into law. He said he’ll be joined by his counterparts in Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington… McCollum said the lawsuit would challenge the bill’s provision requiring people to purchase health insurance, along with provisions that will force state government to spend more on health care services…. – CNN, 3-22-10
  • Healthcare victory could bolster Pelosi: Keeping her majority come November will be another test for the House speaker…. – LAT, 3-23-10
  • On health care, Pelosi kept Democrats thinking big: The landmark health care bill about to be signed into law is as large as it is due in no small part to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stewardship. When Democrats in Congress and the White House were despondent and inclined to retreat on health care just two months ago, Pelosi stood firm against despair and downsizing. As a result, she could emerge from the yearlong struggle among the most powerful speakers in history…. “It’s safe to say that she’s going to change some of the ways that we look at effective speakers, and maybe create a new definition of how to get things done under incredibly difficult circumstances,” said Ray Smock, who was House historian for a dozen years under former speakers Tip O’Neill, Jim Wright and Tom Foley. – AP, 3-22-10
  • Debra J. Saunders: ObamaCare means: Don’t look behind the curtain: You’ve really got to hand it to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Saddled with a majority of both houses and a hold on the White House, they somehow managed to pass the Senate health care bill in the House. It’s practically a miracle. And because Washington loves a victory, Pelosi is now seen as stronger, not as a Democrat who unconscionably lost 34 Dems and every Republican… – SF Chronicle, 3-22-10
  • Before health vote, a weekend of ugly discourse: Remember how shocking it was six months ago when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” to the president? Suddenly, that outburst seems positively genteel. From the “N-word” and anti-gay slurs being leveled at congressmen by protesters right outside the Capitol, to a shout of “baby killer!” within the chamber itself, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats online, the weekend saw an explosion of stunningly ugly discourse. What is going on? Is our political culture sinking ever lower? Actually, say political historians, not necessarily, though it surely may seem so. In reality, they say, such a descent into incivility happens periodically at times of significant political change…. – AP, 3-22-10
  • On final day, Obama works vote outside public view: Capping a long day and a consuming political journey, President Barack Obama celebrated the passage of health care legislation on Sunday with hugs, high fives and an emboldened attitude. Said the president to the nation, “Tonight, we answered the call of history.” At nearly midnight in Washington, with a big swath of country asleep or headed that way, Obama strode into the ornate East Room with Vice President Joe Biden backing him. There was no hour too late for the president to embrace this moment.
    “I want to thank every member of Congress who stood up tonight with courage and conviction to make health care reform a reality,” Obama said as the top members of his own health care team stood beaming nearby. “I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people. But it was the right vote.”… – AP, 3-22-10
  • House Passes Historic Health Care Reform Legislation: The House of Representatives on Sunday passed a sweeping $940 billion health care bill in a historic vote that will dramatically change the U.S. health care system and expand health insurance coverage to 32 million more Americans over the next decade. “Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party … it’s a victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense,” President Obama said in a statement after the vote. He added: “This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform. It will not fix everything that’s wrong with our system, but it will move us in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama: House Democrats approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system on Sunday, voting over unanimous Republican opposition to provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans after an epic political battle that could define the differences between the parties for years. Reporters gathered around Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, at the Capitol on Sunday. Ms. Pelosi called the health care bill “liberating legislation.”
    With the 219-to-212 vote, the House gave final approval to legislation passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Thirty-four Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill. The vote sent the measure to President Obama, whose yearlong push for the legislation has been the centerpiece of his agenda and a test of his political power. After approving the bill, the House adopted a package of changes to it by a vote of 220 to 211. That package — agreed to in negotiations among House and Senate Democrats and the White House — now goes to the Senate for action as soon as this week. It would be the final step in a bitter legislative fight that has highlighted the nation’s deep partisan and ideological divisions…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • With the vote, a new stature for Obama: President Obama scored a stunning political and legislative victory on health care last night that not only will earn him a place in history books, but promises to establish him as a stronger leader of the Democratic party after a tumultuous first year…. Boston Globe, 3-22-10
  • Obama achieves health law success that eluded past: Rarely does the government, that big, clumsy, poorly regarded oaf, pull off anything short of war that touches all lives with one act, one stroke of a president’s pen. Such a moment has come. After a year of riotous argument, decades of failure and a century of spoiled hopes, the United States is reaching for a system of medical care that extends coverage nearly to all citizens. The change that’s coming will reshape a sixth of the economy and shatter the status quo. To the ardent liberal, President Barack Obama’s health care plan, passed by the House on Sunday night, is a shadow of what should have been, sapped by dispiriting downsizing and trade-offs. To the loud foe on the right, it is a dreadful expansion of the nanny state…. – AP, 3-22-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama signed major health care legislation into law on Tuesd

  • Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Health Insurance Reform Bill East Room: Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable. With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game- playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve. It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.
    But today, we are affirming that essential truth -– a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself –- that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. (Applause.) We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.
    We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities. We are a nation that does what is hard. What is necessary. What is right. Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny. That is what we do. That is who we are. That is what makes us the United States of America.
    And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care. (Applause.) And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country…. – WH, 3-23-10 Video
  • This is What Change Looks Like: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.
    Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics. We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests. We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges. We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.
    Today’s vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform. To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard — it has been heard tonight. To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — let me reaffirm that conviction: This moment is possible because of you….
    Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party — it’s a victory for them. It’s a victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense…. – WH, 3-22-10
  • “Make True on that Promise”: Remarks by the President to the House Democratic Congress Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium, Washington, D.C.: In his remarks to the House Democratic Caucus yesterday, President Obama put the upcoming health insurance reform effort into a larger context with some powerful thoughts about how he got invovled in politics and what moments like now mean for the country. …
    And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.
    Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow. – WH, 3-21-10 WH, 3-21-10
  • Fiery Boehner: ‘Hell no you can’t!’: In his final words from the floor of the House before a vote on health care reform legislation, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) led a fiery round of rhetorical questions….
    “Can you say it was done openly with transparency and accountability, without backdroom deals and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?,” Rep. Boehner asked. “Hell no you can’t!”
    “Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s assessment?” he asked. “Hell no you haven’t.”
    The acting speaker then banged his gavel, saying calmly, “Both sides would do well to remember the dignity of the House.”
    “By our actions today, we disgrace their values. We break our ties to history in this chamber,” Rep. Boehner said…. – NECN, 3-21-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Bruce Schulman: Before health vote, a weekend of ugly discourse: “I was on my way to work this morning and I saw an amazing bumper sticker,” says Bruce Schulman, a historian at Boston University. It directed a vulgar curse word at Obama. “It’s hard for me to believe that we would have seen that a few decades ago,” says Schulman. “Even with Richard Nixon, who was so hated by many.” Still, Schulman says, it’s clear that with the Internet, social media and other platforms, many with extreme views now merely have a megaphone they didn’t have years ago…. “The rawest, most unfiltered comments now become part of the political discourse,” Schulman says. – AP, 3-22-10
  • How Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: After months of debate, deals and delays, a health reform bill is now headed to the president’s desk. Three historians assess the significance of the moment, in the context of nearly 100 years of U.S. health care legislation…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Robert Dallek, Presidential Historian, Stanford University: How Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: …In terms of the future, I would say the argument will not disappear. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this debate about national health insurance. If it works well, the Democrats will have a very significant talking point for the future. If it falls short, if it’s somehow seen as a failure, the Republicans are going to have a powerful talking point against the Democrats…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Ellen Fitzpatrick, Professor of History, University of New HampshireHow Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: …The battle over this legislation — waged with skills and determination by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reinforced by pressure from the grassroots who looked with dismay upon the prospect of another defeat at the hands of political inertia and incompetence — marks a milestone in the young Obama presidency. Having staked so much on a promise of change, Obama redeems that pledge in ways that — whatever the struggles ahead — casts in stark relief the recalcitrance of his opponents. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Richard Norton Smith, Scholar in Residence, George Mason University, How Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: To state the obvious, it is an enormous personal victory for Barack Obama — not only the magnitude and scope of what is being achieved but how it’s been done, how it has been brought back from the grave. That is the stuff of instant legend as well as lasting history. In some ways, it’s almost easier to predict what historians a generation from now will say than what voters will say six or seven months from now. What we can’t know, what no poll can measure, is what aura will accrue to this president and his party as a result of pulling this rabbit out of a hat…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Jordan Michael Smith: What Obama Could Learn from a New Book on FDR: Health care reform is a major victory for the United States. But, paradoxically, its very passage illustrates the depths of government dysfunction. Reform took 13 months, billions of dollars in advertising and lobbying, and Herculean patience and effort on the part of lawmakers, voters and grassroots supporters — and still the United States’ health care falls well short in terms of quality and breadth of coverage per capita than almost every industrialized country in the world. Even worse, the Supreme Court may strike down some of the new health plan’s provisions…. – Huffington Post, 3-22-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Pelosi emerges as powerhouse in D.C.: The passage of health care will certainly rank as one of the major political achievements of recent decades. Legislation that will eventually extend health care coverage to more than 30 million more Americans, greatly expand the number of options that citizens have when purchasing health care, bring healthy citizens into the pool of the insured and thus lower costs and create important regulations on health care companies will be remembered as one of the biggest domestic policy changes since the Great Society of the 1960s.
    While most attention will focus on President Obama for pulling off a Herculean task that eluded many of our great presidents, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerges from this battle as the real powerhouse in Washington. She has pursued a clear ideological agenda but through pragmatic political tactics. Like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, she stands for something, yet knows how to round up votes…. – CNN, 3-21-10
  • DAVID E. SANGER: News Analysis A Major Victory, but at What Cost?: The House’s passage of health care legislation late Sunday night assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation’s social welfare system. After the bitterest of debates, Mr. Obama proved that he was willing to fight for something that moved him to his core. Skeptics had begun to wonder. But he showed that when he was finally committed to throwing all his political capital onto the table, he could win, if by the narrowest of margins. Whether it was a historic achievement or political suicide for his party — perhaps both — he succeeded where President Bill Clinton failed in trying to remake American health care. President George W. Bush also failed to enact a landmark change in a domestic program, his second-term effort to create private accounts in the Social Security system…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • With the vote, a new stature for Obama: “Some were saying the bloom was really off the rose,” said Roger Wilkins, a historian and author who served as an assistant attorney general in the Johnson administration. “There’s a ‘Bambi’ quality to him. When you look at him, there’s this lithe young man who likes to play backyard basketball. “I think that everybody who thought that Bambi had moved into the White House knows that’s not true today.” Wilkins continued. “He is one tough fellow, and he has proved himself to be pretty good at politics as well.” – Boston Globe, 3-22-10

March 22, 2010: Congress Passes Health Care Bill

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama delivers remarks following the health care vote

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • House passes Democratic changes to health bill: The House has passed key changes to its just-approved overhaul of health care legislation. The changes are part of a prearranged agreement to guarantee passage of the historic legislation. The changes passed by a 220-211 vote. That bill now goes to the Senate for final approval, where it only requires a simple majority to pass…. – AP, 3-22-10
  • Reagan ‘GE Theater’ tapes restored, go to library: All 208 episodes of television’s “General Electric Theater,” hosted by then-actor Ronald Reagan, were delivered to former first lady Nancy Reagan on Wednesday as part of the two-year celebration of the late president’s 100th birthday. The 1954-1962 “General Electric Theater” tapes, most believed to be damaged or lost, were recently uncovered in the General Electric/NBC Universal archives. They were restored to broadcast quality for use in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Reagan traveled the nation as GE’s goodwill ambassador to its plants during the 1950s. “The opportunity to represent GE back in the 1950s, and the encouragement he received from the employees he met along the way, really launched Ronnie’s career in public service,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement released Wednesday. “I know he would be honored by this tribute.”… – AP, 3-17-10 Reagan Centenniel Site
  • Fox News Poll: 68% Say Vote Out All Incumbents: Fox News poll shows 68 percent of voters would oust all incumbents, while 20 percent would keep all lawmakers in office. AP, 3-19-10
  • NBC News poll: Americans hate the Congress: In a poll jointly released today by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, the American public overwhelmingly agrees: The nation is on the wrong track, the economy has negatively affected the country and Congress is broken – just 17% of Americans approve of Congress’ job, according to the poll…. 48% of respondents approve of Obama’s job as president, and 47% disapprove 50% of respondents would vote to replace every single member of Congress, if given the opportunity Nearly 3 in 4 still agree with this even if it means Democrats keep the majority Nearly 3 in 4 agree with this even if it means Republicans take majority…. – Monsters and Critics, 3-17-10

THE HEADLINES…

President Obama met with House Democrats in Washington Saturday, including Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

President Obama met with House Democrats in Washington Saturday, including Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

  • On final day, Obama works vote outside public view: Capping a long day and a consuming political journey, President Barack Obama celebrated the passage of health care legislation on Sunday with hugs, high fives and an emboldened attitude. Said the president to the nation, “Tonight, we answered the call of history.” At nearly midnight in Washington, with a big swath of country asleep or headed that way, Obama strode into the ornate East Room with Vice President Joe Biden backing him. There was no hour too late for the president to embrace this moment.
    “I want to thank every member of Congress who stood up tonight with courage and conviction to make health care reform a reality,” Obama said as the top members of his own health care team stood beaming nearby. “I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people. But it was the right vote.”… – AP, 3-22-10
  • House Passes Historic Health Care Reform Legislation: The House of Representatives on Sunday passed a sweeping $940 billion health care bill in a historic vote that will dramatically change the U.S. health care system and expand health insurance coverage to 32 million more Americans over the next decade. “Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party … it’s a victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense,” President Obama said in a statement after the vote. He added: “This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform. It will not fix everything that’s wrong with our system, but it will move us in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama: House Democrats approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system on Sunday, voting over unanimous Republican opposition to provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans after an epic political battle that could define the differences between the parties for years. Reporters gathered around Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, at the Capitol on Sunday. Ms. Pelosi called the health care bill “liberating legislation.”
    With the 219-to-212 vote, the House gave final approval to legislation passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Thirty-four Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill. The vote sent the measure to President Obama, whose yearlong push for the legislation has been the centerpiece of his agenda and a test of his political power. After approving the bill, the House adopted a package of changes to it by a vote of 220 to 211. That package — agreed to in negotiations among House and Senate Democrats and the White House — now goes to the Senate for action as soon as this week. It would be the final step in a bitter legislative fight that has highlighted the nation’s deep partisan and ideological divisions…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • With the vote, a new stature for Obama: President Obama scored a stunning political and legislative victory on health care last night that not only will earn him a place in history books, but promises to establish him as a stronger leader of the Democratic party after a tumultuous first year…. Boston Globe, 3-22-10
  • Obama achieves health law success that eluded past: Rarely does the government, that big, clumsy, poorly regarded oaf, pull off anything short of war that touches all lives with one act, one stroke of a president’s pen. Such a moment has come. After a year of riotous argument, decades of failure and a century of spoiled hopes, the United States is reaching for a system of medical care that extends coverage nearly to all citizens. The change that’s coming will reshape a sixth of the economy and shatter the status quo. To the ardent liberal, President Barack Obama’s health care plan, passed by the House on Sunday night, is a shadow of what should have been, sapped by dispiriting downsizing and trade-offs. To the loud foe on the right, it is a dreadful expansion of the nanny state…. – AP, 3-22-10
  • Clinton pokes fun at Dems, GOP and himself: Former President Bill Clinton poked fun at Republicans, Democrats, his own health and his audience of reporters Saturday night, telling the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner he was there because “I really didn’t have anything much better to do tonight.” Clinton, who stood in for President Barack Obama, said Democrats are going to pass health care. “It may not happen in my lifetime, or Dick Cheney’s, but hopefully by Easter,” he said referring to his and the former to vice president’s heart ailments…. – WaPo, 3-21-10
  • U.S.-Israel rift adds tension to AIPAC meeting: After more than a week of tense relations between the United States and Israel, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech on Monday will be closely watched to see if the Obama administration’s get-tough approach continues or whether Clinton will emphasize common ground. Last week, the administration used strong diplomatic rhetoric to express indignation over Israel’s announcement that it will build 1,600 new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, a declaration that came during a visit by Vice President Biden…. – USA Today, 3-21-10
  • Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill: To avoid the threat of a filibuster by Senate Republicans, Democratic leaders are planning to pass health care overhaul in a three-step process. The House completed the first two parts on Sunday by passing both the health bill approved in December by the Senate and a separate package of changes in a budget reconciliation measure — which can be adopted in the Senate by a simple majority. A look at key provisions of the Senate bill and the changes proposed in the reconciliation bill passed by the House Sunday…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • Stage is set for historic healthcare vote: House Democrats scrap plans to use a controversial move and are expected to pass the biggest change since Medicare…. – LAT, 3-21-10
  • Democrats, Hunting Final Health Votes, Predict Slim Margin: With the stage set for a historic showdown over landmark health legislation in the House on Sunday afternoon, the White House and Democratic Congressional leaders winnowed their hunt for votes to a slim list of lawmakers, including several opponents of abortion who were demanding assurance that no federal money would be used to pay for insurance coverage of the procedure. Democrats late Saturday night said the 216 votes needed to pass the bill were nearly within their reach, but acknowledged that the margin of victory would likely be razor thin even under their most optimistic scenario. Republicans said they still held out hope of derailing the legislation…. – NYT, 3-21-10
  • Budget estimate key to health bill passage: Many people find it hard to understand how the health care legislation heading for a decisive vote Sunday can cost $940 billion over 10 years and cut the horrendous federal budget deficit at the same time. A turning point for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is leading the Democrats’ efforts to pass the legislation, came Thursday when the Congressional Budget Office said the measure would reduce the deficit by $138 billion in the first decade, and as much as $1.3 trillion the decade after that…. – SF Chronicle, 3-19-10
  • Latinos increasingly critical of Obama’s record on immigration: As tens of thousands of immigrants and their supporters prepare to demonstrate in Washington on Sunday in favor of an immigration overhaul, the Obama administration is finding its relationship with this largely Latino community complicated by its mixed and misunderstood record on immigration enforcement. Compared with the Bush administration, Obama officials have substantially cut back on job-site roundups of illegal workers in favor of less controversial measures, such as auditing employers’ books and expanding programs that target unauthorized immigrants convicted of crimes…. – WaPo, 3-19-10
  • Health Showdown Is Set Bill Gets Boost From New Cost Estimate; Obama Delays Trip for Weekend Vote: Democrats made a final sprint toward a weekend vote on their health-care bill, pressuring wavering lawmakers as the Congressional Budget Office put the cost of the legislation at what party leaders see as a politically palatable $940 billion over the next decade…. – WSJ, 3-19-10
  • SC gov agrees to pay ethics fine, gets divorced: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has closed two chapters of his life, agreeing to pay $74,000 in fines to resolve ethics charges brought against him after last summer’s revelation of an extramarital affair, and receiving word that a judge had formally ended his 20-year marriage to his wife, Jenny…. – WaPo, 3-19-10
  • Bill Proposes Increased Aid to the Needy for College: The federal government would provide $36 billion in new financing for Pell grants to needy students over the next 10 years under legislation announced Thursday by Congressional Democrats. The maximum annual Pell grant would rise to $5,975 by 2017, from $5,350 this year. The new Pell initiative includes $13.5 billion to cover a shortfall caused by the sharp increase in the number of Americans enrolling in college during the recession…. – NYT, 3-18-10
  • 2 Senators Offer Immigration Overhaul: Two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, unveiled the outlines on Thursday of a proposal to overhaul the immigration system, which would require illegal immigrants to admit they broke the law before they could gain legal status and require all workers in the United States to carry a biometric identity card to prove that they are eligible to work. In carefully choreographed moves, the senators, Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, described their proposal in an editorial posted at midafternoon on the Web site of The Washington Post…. – NYT, 3-18-10
  • Holy War Erupts Among Catholics Over Abortion Language in Health Care Bill: The abortion language in President Obama’s health care reform bill has ignited a holy war among Catholics, sharply dividing them on whether the legislation would subsidize the termination of pregnancies…. – Fox News, 3-18-10
  • Health bill picking up key votes Healthcare bill gains momentum: President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confer after a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon at the Capitol President Obama and Democratic leaders gathered momentum for their sweeping healthcare overhaul Wednesday, picking up support from Democratic factions where defections were most feared: liberals, abortion opponents and backbenchers. Working into the night to put the finishing touches on the legislation, Democratic leaders said they continued to expect the balloting to be a cliffhanger…. – LAT, 3-18-10
  • Nuns in U.S. back healthcare bill despite Catholic bishops’ opposition: Their letter to Congress urging passage reflects differing views on whether it would lead to federally funded abortions…. – LAT, 3-18-10
  • Obama appears on Fox News, long White House target: After weeks of the White House belittling Fox News, President Barack Obama has appeared on the cable network to sell his embattled health care overhaul. During an interview Wednesday punctuated with interruptions and chiding, Obama defended his health care plan and the process by which it is heading toward becoming law. In the interview with Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier, Obama several times emphasized the upside of the proposals and dodged questions about how Congress might pass it…. – AP, 3-17-10
  • Obama speaks in district of Kucinich, old campaign foe and current critic: The liberal Ohioan, a former mayor of Cleveland, has been a persistent critic of Obama’s health care plan, saying it doesn’t go far enough. He voted against an Obama-backed health care bill in November. – USA Today, 3-27-10
  • Health bill gains ground but release delayed: President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care legislation won precious support from a longtime liberal holdout in the House on Wednesday and from a retired Catholic bishop and nuns representing dozens of religious orders — gaining fresh traction ahead of a climactic weekend vote. “That’s a good sign,” said Obama, two weeks after taking personal command of a campaign to enact legislation in what has become a virtual vote of confidence on his still-young presidency. But Democrats delayed the planned release of formal legislation at least until Thursday as they sought to make sure it would reduce federal deficits annually over the next decade…. – AP, 3-17-10
  • US wants Osama bin Laden alive, US commander in Afghanistan says: General Stanley McChrystal said Wednesday that given the opportunity, the US would like to capture Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden alive, appearing to contradict comments made Tuesday by Attorney General Eric Holder…. – CS Monitor, 3-17-10
  • Democrats Consider New Moves for Health Bill: As lawmakers clashed fiercely over major health care legislation on the House floor, Democrats struggled Tuesday to defend procedural shortcuts they might use to win approval for their proposals in the next few days. House Democrats are so skittish about the piece of legislation that is now the vehicle for overhauling the health care system — the bill passed by the Senate in December — that they are considering a maneuver that would allow them to pass it without explicitly voting for it. Under that approach, House Democrats would approve a package of changes to the Senate bill in a budget reconciliation bill. The Senate bill would be “deemed passed” if and when the House adopts rules for debate on the reconciliation bill — or perhaps when the House passes that reconciliation bill…. – NYT, 3-17-10
  • Health bill will pass, Sebelius says: Consumers will see immediate benefits through increased transparency from insurers under health care reform that the House is hoping to pass this weekend, President Barack Obama’s top health official said Tuesday. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said having health plans report their premiums to the government would help slow their rise because insurance companies will have to justify the rate increases. Chicago Tribune, 3-17-10
  • Obama’s health-care reform speech in Ohio convinces a few skeptics: Retirees who voted Republican in the last presidential election, Carol and Paul Gerhardstein were unhappy about Democratic plans to overhaul the nation’s health-care system. But they showed up at a rally this week to hear President Obama defend his proposals, and a funny thing happened. “He convinced me that we are doing the right thing. He’s going to look out for us,” Carol Gerhardstein said after Obama’s motorcade departed in a cold drizzle Monday. “I gained a little more trust in him.”…. – 3-16-10
  • Obama to Take Questions From Fox News: President Obama will give a rare interview on Wednesday to Fox News, the cable network that a top administration official once accused of being a political arm of the Republican Party. The interview, with Bret Baier, an anchor and a former chief White House correspondent for Fox, will be broadcast at 6 p.m., at the height of a week in which Democrats, including Mr. Obama, are pressing allies and lawmakers to push ahead to get the health care bill passed in the House despite solid Republican opposition and the lessening of public support for the legislation…. – 3-16-10
  • Pelosi: Dems will have votes to OK health care: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, surrounded by at least a dozen restless babies at a news conference Monday, declared that when she brings health care reform to the House floor, likely by the end of this week, “we will have the votes.” If she is correct – and no one is more skilled at the inside legislative game than the San Francisco Democrat – Pelosi will have delivered a monumental victory for President Obama and an achievement that Democrats have promised for decades. Driven by what she has described as a moral and political imperative, Pelosi said last summer that health care reform is what Democrats “were born to do.”… – SF Chronicle, 3-15-10
  • House may try to pass Senate health-care bill without voting on it: After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate’s health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it. Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed…. – WaPo, 3-16-10
  • Amid Democratic Impatience, Senators Move on a Jobs Bill: The Senate cleared the way on Monday for final Congressional approval of a Democratic plan to spur job creation as Democrats grew impatient with delays in enacting what they hope is the first in a series of economic measures. By a bipartisan vote of 61 to 30, the Senate eliminated the final procedural obstacle to approval later this week of a bill that would exempt employers from payroll taxes through the end of the year on newly hired employees who have been out of work for at least 60 days…. – NYT, 3-15-10
  • ObamaCare plays on Americans’ fears: As a candidate for president, Sen. Barack Obama rejected “the politics of fear.” Well, he won. So now he’s playing the fear card to the hilt. Monday President Obama went to Strongsville, Ohio, to warn that unless his ObamaCare passes, middle Americans should be very afraid of the day when they (Fear No. 1) lose their job or income, then (Fear No. 2) fall seriously ill, and then (Fear No. 3) receive the health care they need, but lose valued assets…. – SF Chronicle, 3-15-10 <>
  • Mistress of Edwards Ends Silence on Affair: In an interview with GQ magazine, Rielle Hunter talks publicly for the first time about her relationship with former Senator John Edwards, which began during his presidential campaign. NYT, 3-15-10 CQ Interview
  • Israel rejects U.S. calls to halt East Jerusalem plan: Prime Minister Netanyahu says construction will go ahead, despite a diplomatic flap…. – LAT, 3-16-10
  • US Israel criticism ignites firestorm in Congress: The Obama administration’s fierce denunciation of Israel last week has ignited a firestorm in Congress and among powerful pro-Israel interest groups who say the criticism of America’s top Mideast ally was misplaced. Since the controversy erupted, a bipartisan parade of influential lawmakers and interest groups has taken aim at the administration’s decision to publicly condemn Israel for its announcement of new Jewish housing in east Jerusalem while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting on Tuesday and then openly vent bitter frustration on Friday…. – AP, 3-15-10
  • U.S.-Israel crisis: This time, it’s serious: Last summer, when the relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations was getting off to what appeared to be a rocky start, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was at pains — twice — to deny that he had been “summoned” to the State Department for a dressing down. One such “meeting” was actually a friendly phone call, he said, and the other was a routine getting-to-know-you meeting. The distinction was key, he told journalists: When the State Department actually “summons” an envoy, “That’s serious.”… – JTA, 3-15-10 The U.S.-Israeli flap: discuss

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • McCain, Palin to campaign together in Arizona: John McCain and Sarah Palin are scheduled to campaign together in Arizona next week for the first time since they conceded the presidential election in Phoenix in 2008. Palin and McCain will be at a rally and picnic in Tucson on March 26, followed the next day by a rally in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa…. – AP, 3-15-10
  • Democrat Enters N.Y. Governor Race as Republican: Steve Levy, a longtime Democrat, in Manhattan on Friday after announcing his candidacy for governor as a Republican: Fresh off an announcement that jolted the New York political world, Steve Levy, the Long Island Democrat who abandoned his party to run for governor as a Republican, is working to secure endorsements as he tries to gain an edge in the contest for the nomination. His candidacy barely a day old, Mr. Levy, the Suffolk County executive, has already siphoned away the support of several influential county leaders from former Representative Rick A. Lazio, who until this week appeared to be the Republican front-runner…. – NYT, 3-19-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

President Obama, with the vice president at the White House, hailed the passage of the health bill.

  • This is What Change Looks Like: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.
    Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics. We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests. We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges. We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.
    Today’s vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform. To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard — it has been heard tonight. To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — let me reaffirm that conviction: This moment is possible because of you….
    Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party — it’s a victory for them. It’s a victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense…. – WH, 3-22-10
  • “Make True on that Promise”: Remarks by the President to the House Democratic Congress Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium, Washington, D.C.: In his remarks to the House Democratic Caucus yesterday, President Obama put the upcoming health insurance reform effort into a larger context with some powerful thoughts about how he got invovled in politics and what moments like now mean for the country. …
    And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.
    Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow. – WH, 3-21-10 WH, 3-21-10
  • Fiery Boehner: ‘Hell no you can’t!’: In his final words from the floor of the House before a vote on health care reform legislation, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) led a fiery round of rhetorical questions….
    “Can you say it was done openly with transparency and accountability, without backdroom deals and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?,” Rep. Boehner asked. “Hell no you can’t!”
    “Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s assessment?” he asked. “Hell no you haven’t.”
    The acting speaker then banged his gavel, saying calmly, “Both sides would do well to remember the dignity of the House.”
    “By our actions today, we disgrace their values. We break our ties to history in this chamber,” Rep. Boehner said…. – NECN, 3-21-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Urges Action on Financial Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 20, 2010: …Now, I have long been a vigorous defender of free markets. And I believe we need a strong and vibrant financial sector so that businesses can get loans; families can afford mortgages; entrepreneurs can find the capital to start a new company, sell a new product, offer a new service. But what we have seen over the past two years is that without reasonable and clear rules to check abuse and protect families, markets don’t function freely. In fact, it was just the opposite. In the absence of such rules, our financial markets spun out of control, credit markets froze, and our economy nearly plummeted into a second Great Depression.
    That’s why financial reform is so necessary. And after months of bipartisan work, Senator Chris Dodd and his committee have offered a strong foundation for reform, in line with the proposal I previously laid out, and in line with the reform bill passed by the House.
    It would provide greater scrutiny of large financial firms to prevent any one company from threatening the entire financial system – and it would update the rules so that complicated financial products like derivatives are no longer bought and sold without oversight. It would prevent banks from engaging in risky dealings through their own hedge funds – while finally giving shareholders a say on executive salaries and bonuses. And through new tools to break up failing financial firms, it would help ensure that taxpayers are never again forced to bail out a big bank because it is “too big to fail.”… – WH, 3-20-10
  • Obama appeals to Iranian people in Internet video: In a fresh appeal directly to the Iranian people, President Barack Obama says in an online video that the United States wants more educational and cultural exchanges for their students and better access to the Internet to give them a more hopeful future.
    “The United States believes in the dignity of every human being and an international order that bends the arc of history in the direction of justice — a future where Iranians can exercise their rights, to participate fully in the global economy and enrich the world through educational and cultural exchanges beyond Iran’s borders,” Obama said in the video, which had Farsi subtitles.
    Even though the United States and Iran continue to have differences, Obama said, “we will sustain our commitment to a more hopeful future for the Iranian people — for instance, by increasing opportunities for educational exchanges so that Iranian students can come to our colleges and universities and through our efforts to ensure that Iranians can have access to the software and Internet technology that will enable them to communicate with each other and with the world without fear of censorship.”…. – USA Today, 3-20-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, carries the gavel that was used when Medicare was passed while walking with other congressional Democrats to the Capitol before the health care vote Sunday.

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, carries the gavel that was used when Medicare was passed while walking with other congressional Democrats to the Capitol before the health care vote Sunday.

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Pelosi emerges as powerhouse in D.C.: The passage of health care will certainly rank as one of the major political achievements of recent decades. Legislation that will eventually extend health care coverage to more than 30 million more Americans, greatly expand the number of options that citizens have when purchasing health care, bring healthy citizens into the pool of the insured and thus lower costs and create important regulations on health care companies will be remembered as one of the biggest domestic policy changes since the Great Society of the 1960s.
    While most attention will focus on President Obama for pulling off a Herculean task that eluded many of our great presidents, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerges from this battle as the real powerhouse in Washington. She has pursued a clear ideological agenda but through pragmatic political tactics. Like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, she stands for something, yet knows how to round up votes…. – CNN, 3-21-10
  • DAVID E. SANGER: News Analysis A Major Victory, but at What Cost?: The House’s passage of health care legislation late Sunday night assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation’s social welfare system. After the bitterest of debates, Mr. Obama proved that he was willing to fight for something that moved him to his core. Skeptics had begun to wonder. But he showed that when he was finally committed to throwing all his political capital onto the table, he could win, if by the narrowest of margins. Whether it was a historic achievement or political suicide for his party — perhaps both — he succeeded where President Bill Clinton failed in trying to remake American health care. President George W. Bush also failed to enact a landmark change in a domestic program, his second-term effort to create private accounts in the Social Security system…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • With the vote, a new stature for Obama: “Some were saying the bloom was really off the rose,” said Roger Wilkins, a historian and author who served as an assistant attorney general in the Johnson administration. “There’s a ‘Bambi’ quality to him. When you look at him, there’s this lithe young man who likes to play backyard basketball. “I think that everybody who thought that Bambi had moved into the White House knows that’s not true today.” Wilkins continued. “He is one tough fellow, and he has proved himself to be pretty good at politics as well.” – Boston Globe, 3-22-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Obama risks being called ‘The Undecider’: President Obama has had trouble sticking with his decisions. In several high-profile cases during his first year in the White House, there has been a pattern where the president takes a position on an important matter, feels the political heat for what he has said, and then backs off.
    If President George W. Bush was the self-proclaimed “The Decider” who insisted on staying the course regardless of how many problems emerged with a policy, President Obama is starting to run the risk of becoming known as “The Undecider” who is unable to stand firm after announcing a position. In the case of President Bush, what might have been a source of political strength turned into a political weakness….
    With President Obama, it seems that the danger is just the opposite. On national security, there have been several instances when the president has backed off critical decisions….
    President Obama can’t afford to become “The Undecider.” If he wants to re-energize his presidency and improve his legislative scorecard, opponents need to know that when the White House proposes something it will fight tooth and nail for it. Supporters need to know that when they stand behind the president, he will not walk away. – CNN, 3-18-10

History Buzz March 15, 2010: Reagan Fever & Revisiting Richard Hofstader

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Conservatives on Texas school board revising curriculum, change history: Dr. McLeroy, addressing the Texas school board (Washington Monthly) The Texas Board of Education has approved a new school curriculum that will put a stamp on history and economics textbooks that will horrify some and be questioned by others…. – Examiner, 3-14-10
  • Larry Schweikart: University of Dayton historian criticizes textbooks for minimizing Reagan: …As for controversy, Professor Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton, sees plenty in the textbooks he reviews. When vetting a history book, Schweikart first turns to any section discussing President Ronald Reagan. He says what you find there will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not a book is slanted. Schweikart believes that’s how many errors wind up in school textbooks: bias…. – FOX News (3-11-10)
  • Centuries-Old Shipwrecks Found in Baltic Sea: A gas company building an underwater pipeline stumbled upon several wrecks, some dating back 800 years…. A dozen centuries-old shipwrecks dating from medieval times to the world wars have been found. The ships were very well preserved because ship worms that eat wooden wrecks don’t live in the Baltic Sea. Thousands of similar wrecks have previously been found in the Baltic Sea…. – Discovery.com, 3-9-10
  • Jonathan D. Spense: Eminent China Scholar Will Deliver 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities: Jonathan D. Spence, an expert on Chinese history and culture and a professor emeritus at Yale University, will deliver the 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced on Monday…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (3-8-10)
  • 45 years after Selma civil rights march, some see ways to go: Robert Powell and Maria Gitin had not seen each other in 45 years until Sunday, more than four decades after they rode a donkey together through rural Wilcox County to register voters. Gitin answered the Rev. Martin Luther King’s call for civil rights workers to come to Alabama after state and local law enforcement officers beat marchers trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965…. – USA Today, 3-7-10
  • Reagan Fever: Ronald Reagan fever has not subsided in the GOP. The most recent flare-up came with the proposal of Congressman Patrick McHenry to replace Ulysses S. Grant with Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill. “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” McHenry wrote to his fellow members of Congress. “Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half-dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
    Not exactly. It’s true that Reagan fans have been agitating for some time to memorialize the Gipper in a variety of ways, and, as the renaming of National Airport a few years ago indicates, they’ve been pretty successful. But putting him on the $50 bill doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, it’s unfair to Grant. As UCLA historian Joan Waugh, who has written a history of Grant, observed in the Los Angeles Times, he has gotten a bum historical rap….- National Interest, 3-12-10

OP-EDs:

  • Tevi Troy: Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s “C” in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents “dumb.”
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics….
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. – Politico, 3-12-10

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Ellen Fitzpatrick: Dear Mrs. Kennedy Book recalls grief of a nation, one condolence letter at a time: …But at least one of Jane’s notes ended up among the 200,000 pages that were sent to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, where they sat largely ignored until historian Ellen Fitzpatrick decided to write “Letters to Jackie: Condolences From a Grieving Nation.”
    The book, released last week by HarperCollins, includes more than 200 never-before published letters divided into three categories: vivid recollections of the day Kennedy was killed; letters that express views on society, politics and the presidency, and personal experiences of grief and loss…. – AP, 3-14-10
  • Professor’s book shows delicate relationship between love, honor, and politics: “The Tyranny of Opinion,” written by Pablo Piccato, associate professor of history at Columbia, recounts an 1894 dispute between two politicians over a woman’s love…. – Columbia Spectator, 3-9-10
  • Ken Gormley: Southern Bound: ‘Death of American Virtue’ brings clarity: Good lord, how time marches on. It’s already been over a decade since the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal and the ensuing struggle to impeach President Bill Clinton riveted the nation. And now, in a project begun before the smoke had even cleared, we have a massive (800 pages, counting notes, bibliography and index) new book about the whole mess. Not interested? Think again, for if you have any curiosity about politics and power, “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr” (Crown, $35) by Ken Gormley provides some much-needed balance and perspective on one of the most distasteful and divisive episodes in modern American history…. – Mobile Press-Register, 3-14-10
  • Anthony Brandt: The Frozen Unknown: THE MAN WHO ATE HIS BOOTS The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage But the fabled Northwest Passage has returned to the news pages as a warming climate unlocks its deep channels, allowing access to hydrocarbons below the seabed. Anthony Brandt anchors his robust new history, “The Man Who Ate His Boots,” in that modern context…. – NYT, 3-11-10 Excerpt
  • Jonathan Phillips: Butchers and Saints: HOLY WARRIORS A Modern History of the Crusades It’s tempting to dismiss the crusaders’ piety as sheer hypocrisy. In fact, their faith was as pure as their savagery. As Jonathan Phillips observes in his excellent new history — in case we needed reminding at this late date — “faith lies at the heart of holy war.”…. – NYT, 3-11-10 Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • Letter from America An Old Essay Used to Explain a New Movement: The name Richard Hofstadter has been summoned up a lot lately in liberal opinion columns and the blogosphere as an eloquent and intellectually impeccable explanation for political developments like the Tea Party movement, the stardom of Sarah Palin, and the claim on right-wing talk radio that Barack Obama is a “socialist,” maybe even a “bolshevik” leading America to ruin. Mr. Hofstadter was the highly respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at Columbia University among whose most famous essays was one called “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” published in Harper’s Magazine in 1964, which is the piece of writing being cited most often these days…. – NYT, 3-11-10

QUOTES:

  • Amy Strebe: US honors pioneering women military pilots: Amy Strebe, a historian and author of “Flying for her Country,” said the tribute came not a moment too soon. “This is the time to do it. In a couple of years they are not going to be with us anymore,” she said. – AFP, 3-10-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Q+A: Interview with historian Simon Schama Dr Simon Schama interviewed by PAUL HOLMES: PAUL So you are anti federation. Obama – let’s talk about Barack Obama, of whom you are a keen student, he’s been President for what nearly a year, just over a year, and on the matter of Obama he’s called off his trip of Asia and I think Melbourne for I think three days, this is because the White House seems to think Simon that he can possibly get his health reform through very shortly. Is he going to be able to do that do you think, realistically.
    SIMON I think he is actually, we’re in act three of Obama actually Paul, I think act one was the extraordinary campaign he ran, the unrealistic expectations that him as some sort of American messiah, someone who’d bring Americans together at a moment of multiple crises. Act two was Obama being so convinced that he could bring Americans into that great national cuddle and getting on as a policy wonk person with the day to day business of governing that he forgot about politics. Act two between Spring and Christmas last year he absolutely lost the political plot, he lost all the toughness which is there underneath the rather philosophical lofty nice guy. Act three he’s decided to be much more of a fighter, and the business of health care reform is he’s using a process called reconciliation, which is sort of the opposite of what it sounds. It is a way to use the budgetary process to get through pieces of legislation that don’t require a super majority of filibuster proof majority, just a simple majority. It was thought to be so-called nuclear option, something that could blow back in political disadvantage, but George Bush used it to enact taxcuts and that takes away an issue from the Republicans, he’s gonna use that for health care reform, and he’s gonna use it for financial regulation reform, and my bet is even though Republicans think it will polarise the country more, the country will actually be grateful for seeing a tougher more decisive President…. – TV New Zealand, 3-14-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Janet Gezari: Professor´s fellowship fosters Euro-American relations at the American Academy in Berlin: There is no typical day for Professor Janet Gezari at the American Academy in Berlin, where she is spending the semester as the Siemens Fellow. One minute she’ll be dining with a famous opera director or visiting the Federal President’s office, and deeply engaged in her research or exploring the sites of Berlin in the next. “This is a remarkable opportunity for me,” Gezari, the Lucy Marsh Haskell ’19 Professor of English, said. “In addition to ideal conditions for working, I have the opportunity to get to know Berlin and Berliners.”…. – Connecticut College, 3-12-10
  • Joseph Bergin: Manchester historian honoured A University of Manchester historian has received one of the Europe’s oldest and most important history prizes: Professor Joseph Bergin was given the prize this month from the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for his book Church, society and religious change in France 1580-1730. It recognizes the most important works published on the history of France, and is rarely given to non-French language publications. “It is a great honour to receive this award, and recognition that this book is now regarded as most comprehensive account written in any language – French included – of the subject and period,” said Professor Bergin… – Manchester News, 3-11-10

SPOTTED:

  • Bernard Bailyn: Pulitzer Prize-Winner Offers Lesson in History: Bernard Bailyn, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian,and professor of early American history at Harvard University, treated an intimate audience gathered in Fulton Hall Tuesday evening to an unconventional lecture on the context and piecemeal construction of the American Constitution. “I am very much interested in the contingencies, accidents, personalities, and timing that play into the outcome of historical events,” Bailyn said in his introduction. Bailyn said that the writing and interpretation of the American Constitution was the “perfect example” of the outcome of such a strange mixture of factors, pointing out what he described as the numerous Constitutional accidents, compromises, and contingencies that undermine the modern-day sense of the document’s inevitability…. – BC’s The Heights, 3-11-10

ON TV:

  • Donald L. Miller: HBO sought Easton professor’s expertise for ‘The Pacific’ war series HBO’s ‘THE PACIFIC’: A simple question from his 6-year-old granddaughter inspired Easton historian Donald L. Miller to start writing about World War II. Miller, a Lafayette College history professor, has since written three books on the history of World War II. That led him to his latest project, as historical consultant and a writer for HBO’s ”The Pacific.” The 10-part miniseries on the U.S. Marine Corps’ World War II campaign in the Pacific begins airing at 9 tonight. Its producers include Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg…. – Morning Call, 3-14-10
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Nicholas Schou: Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Timothy M. Gay: Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Hardcover) March 23, 2010
  • John W. Steinberg: All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914, (Hardcover) April 1, 2010
  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Professor Jack Pole’s reassessment of American ‘exceptionalism’: Professor Jack Pole, the historian who died on January 30 aged 87, was a pioneering figure in the study of American political culture whose challenge to the notion of American “exceptionalism” ignited a debate that has yet to burn out…. – Telegraph (UK), 3-13-10
  • Richard Stites, Historian of Russian Culture, Dies at 78: Richard Stites, who opened up new territory for historians with a landmark work on the Russian women’s movement and in numerous articles and books on Russian and Soviet mass culture, died on Sunday in Helsinki, where he was doing research. He was 78 and lived in Washington. The cause was complications from cancer, his son Andrei said…. – NYT (3-13-10)
  • Thomas Garden Barnes, Berkeley professor and advocate of Canadian history, dies at 80: UC Berkeley history and law professor emeritus Thomas Garden Barnes, who was known as an erudite academe of English, French, American and Canadian law and history, died Tuesday. He was 80…. – The Daily Californian (3-11-10)

March 15, 2010: Obama Administration Health Care, Education & Israel

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Republican resurgence among young adults: A new poll shows 18- to 29-year-old Republicans are more politically energized than young Democrats and are more inclined to vote in this fall’s elections. Young adults are also extremely concerned about the economy.
    Forty-one percent of young Republicans say they plan to vote in November, compared with 35 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Independents, according to the poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), a nonpartisan group. Fifty-three percent of those who voted for Sen. John McCain (R) of Ariz., in 2008 say they will definitely vote in midterm elections, compared with 44 percent of those who voted for President Obama…. – CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Poll: Financially pinched, young adults lose faith: Young adults are financially anxious, worried that they can’t meet their educational, housing and health care needs, according to a new poll that exposes a growing pessimism about achieving the American Dream. The poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that six out of 10 of those surveyed worry they may not meet their current bills and obligations. Nearly half of those attending college wonder whether they will be able to afford to stay in school. And more than eight out of 10 said they expect difficulty finding a job after graduation. Fewer than half said they believe they will be better off than their parents when they reach their parents’ age…. – AP, 3-9-10
  • Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups.
    The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin – 51 percent to 41 percent – Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
    “This is surprising, given the global acclaim – and Nobel peace prize – that flowed to the new president after he took office,” the pollsters said…. – Washington Times, 3-9-10
  • New poll spells potential trouble for Democrats: A new poll on Monday found signs of trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and his Democrats on national security issues such as the handling of terrorism suspects. The poll was conducted jointly by Democratic Corps, a Democratic organization, and Third Way, a progressive non-profit organization. It was done mainly to gauge voters’ views on Democrats’ handling of national security.
    The poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track. It also found that people rated Democrats at about the same level as Republicans, in what amounted to an erosion of the advantage Democrats have held.
    “We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll,” said Democracy Corps’ chief pollster Stan Greenberg. “If the election were held today, this would be a ‘change’ election.”… – Reuters, 3-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Agencies lag in following Obama’s openness order: President Barack Obama is having difficulty getting all federal agencies to follow his order to deliver “a new era of open government,” according to a study of how they administer the Freedom of Information Act. The National Security Archive, a private group that publishes declassified government information and uses the act and lawsuits to pry out official records, found a decidedly mixed record in an audit of how 90 agencies responded to Obama directives to open more records, and the guidelines and training sessions that followed from the Justice Department…. – AP, 3-14-10
  • Catholic hospitals support health care bill: A group representing Catholic hospitals is rallying behind President Barack Obama’s health care bill. Support from the Catholic Health Association could help persuade anti-abortion lawmakers to provide critical votes in the House for the overhaul. The group’s chief executive, Carol Keehan, writes on the association’s Web site that the legislation isn’t perfect, but is “a major first step” toward covering all Americans and would make “great improvements” for millions of people….- AP, 3-13-10
  • Reports: U.S. Pressuring Israel to Scrap Building Plan: The controversial plan to build 1,600 apartments was approved during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the region last week…. – AP, 3-15-10
  • GOP Lawmaker: White House Job Offer to Sestak Would Have Been a ‘Crime’: A GOP lawmaker says that the White House committed a “crime” if it offered Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak a federal job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa…. – FOX News, 3-13-10
  • Obama promise: Brighter education futures for kids: President Barack Obama is promising parents and their kids that with his administration’s help they will have better teachers in improved schools so U.S. students can make up for academic ground lost against youngsters in other countries.
    A plan to overhaul the 2002 education law championed by President George W. Bush was unveiled by the Obama administration Saturday in hopes of replacing a system that in the last decade has tagged more than a third of schools as failing and created a hodgepodge of sometimes weak academic standards among states.
    “Unless we take action — unless we step up — there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential,” Obama said during a video address on Saturday. “I don’t accept that future for them. And I don’t accept that future for the United States of America.”
    In the proposed dismantling of the No Child Left Behind law, education officials would move away from punishing schools that don’t meet benchmarks and focus on rewarding schools for progress, particularly with poor and minority students. Obama intends to send a rewrite to Congress on Monday of the law…. – AP, 3-13-10
  • Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing: The new Coffee Party movement deemed its official kickoff Saturday a “huge success,” with dozens of talks held at coast-to-coast coffee shops as members came together to discuss the issues most important to them.
    Billed by many as an answer to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. While the group has become an instant hit online — it boasts more than 141,000 Facebook fans as of Saturday — gauging the success of this weekend’s coffee meetups was predicted to be an indicator of the group’s strength…. – CNN, 3-13-10
  • Democrats move toward grouping health reform with student-aid bill: Democratic leaders said Thursday that they were increasingly inclined to release a final health-care bill that could accomplish two of President Obama’s top domestic priorities: guaranteeing coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans and vastly expanding federal aid for college students…. – WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Health Care Bill ‘Still a Jump Ball,’ White House Official Says: Passage of health care reform bill is “still a jump ball,” official tells Fox News, as Democratic leaders point to progress…
    The prospects for Democratic victory on health care reform, the president’s signature domestic initiative, have improved, but “it’s still a jump ball,” a top White House official intimately involved in the ongoing health care negotiations with House and Senate Democrats told Fox News late Friday. That assessment confirms that the White House and Democratic leaders so far lack the votes to pass health care in the House. And it undercuts somewhat the declaration Friday from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that President Obama finally feels the wind at his back on the issue…. – Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama prepares for showdown on health care: This time, the President acts as if he has set a deadline he can believe in… – Globe & Mail, 3-12-10
  • Clinton Rebukes Israel for Housing Announcement: In a tense, 43-minute phone call on Friday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s plan for new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem sent a “deeply negative signal” about Israeli-American relations, and not just because it spoiled a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
    Such blunt language toward Israel is very rare from an American administration, and several officials said Mrs. Clinton was relaying the anger of President Obama at the announcement, which was made by Israel’s Interior Ministry and which Mr. Netanyahu said had caught him off guard…. – NYT, 2-12-10
  • Scott Brown to give GOP rebuttal to President’s weekly radio address: US Sen. Scott Brown, who was elected on a wave of opposition to current health care reform plans, will give the GOP rebuttal to President Obama’s weekly address as the White House ramps up their reform efforts. The high-profile address comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced yesterday he would push to pass the reforms through reconciliation…. – Boston Herald, 2-12-10
  • Senators give Obama a bipartisan plan on immigration: The president is encouraged, but healthcare politics could jeopardize the proposal…. – LAT, 3-12-10
  • At U.N., Clinton rallies for more women’s opportunities worldwide: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told government delegates and activists here Friday that violence against women remains a “global pandemic” and that their “subjugation” constitutes “a threat to the national security of the United States.” Speaking on the final day of a two-week U.N. conference on women’s rights, Clinton urged U.N. member states to expand opportunities for women and end practices that subject them to discrimination and violence…. – WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Dems look to health vote without abortion foes: House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama’s health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats. A break on abortion would remove a major obstacle for Democratic leaders in the final throes of a yearlong effort to change health care in the United States. But it sets up a risky strategy of trying to round up enough Democrats to overcome, not appease, a small but possibly decisive group of Democratic lawmakers in the House…. – AP, 3-12-10
  • Dems Abandon Abortion Deal, Ready Health Vote: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel emerged from a meeting in the Capitol with top Democratic lawmakers Thursday night saying, “We made a lot of decisions. We’re getting towards the end.”… – AP, Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama Lists Who Will Get Prize Money From Nobel: President Obama has made good on a promise to give his $1.4 million in Nobel Peace Prize money to charity, releasing on Thursday the names of the organizations that will benefit.
    “These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I’m proud to support their work.”
    Mr. Obama put Fisher House, an organization that provides housing for the families of those being treated at major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers, at the top of the list with a $250,000 donation. Fisher House was followed by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the project his two immediate predecessors are running to raise money for relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, which will get $200,000… – NYT, 3-11-10
  • Senate approves $138-billion spending bill: The legislation, which must be reconciled with the House version, would extend jobless benefits and tax measures created to boost the economy, and help states pay for Medicaid…. – LAT, 3-11-10
  • Key senators balk at adding student loan overhaul to health-care legislation: As they push to finish health-care legislation by the end of the month, Democratic leaders in Congress are weighing whether to add another of President Obama’s priorities to the package: a popular proposal to overhaul the federal student loan program. The move could clear the way for Obama to claim victory on two of his most significant domestic initiatives in a single signing ceremony. Administration officials and House leaders have pressed aggressively for the addition in recent days. But key senators are objecting to the move, arguing that political resistance in the Senate and the rapidly rising cost of the education measure could jeopardize efforts to push health-care reform to final passage…. – WaPo, 3-11-10
  • It’s Obama vs. the Supreme Court, Round 2, over campaign finance ruling: Roberts calls scene at State of the Union ‘very troubling’ In remarks during a question-and-answer session with law students at the University of Alabama, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. protested the timing of President Obama’s State of the Union disapproval of the court’s decision in a major campaign finance case.
    President Obama and the Supreme Court have waded again into unfamiliar and strikingly personal territory. When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told law students in Alabama on Tuesday that the timing of Obama’s criticism of the court during the State of the Union address was “very troubling,” the White House pounced. It shot back with a new denouncement of the court’s ruling that allowed a more active campaign role for corporations and unions…. – WaPo, 3-11-10
  • Bill Clinton, Bill Gates unite in foreign aid plea: Former president Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder Bill Gates called Wednesday on US lawmakers to boost foreign aid to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria in the world’s poorest nations. The leading philanthropists went to Capitol Hill to boost support for the so-called Global Health Initiative (GHI) and promote a crucial health aid budget bill proposed in 2009 by President Barack Obama’s administration.
    “I hope you will pass this bill,” Clinton said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is a very good bill, I think, and I think it is the next logical step” in US efforts to boost global health care… – AFP, 3-10-10
  • Obama Gets Tough on Health Care Fraud: President Obama continued his drive for a health care overhaul on Wednesday, ordering a crackdown on Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud, while in Washington, House leaders said they hoped to have a completed bill to present to rank and file members Thursday morning….
    “The health care system has billions of dollars that should go to patient care, and they’re lost each and every year to fraud and abuse and massive subsidies that line the pockets of insurance company executives,” Mr. Obama told about 500 mostly supportive local residents in the gymnasium of St. Charles High School here…. – NYT, 3-10-10
  • Obama backs bipartisan crackdown on healthcare cheats: President Barack Obama, making a final push for healthcare reform, will back bipartisan plans to stamp out waste in government-run medical programs for the old and needy, the White House said on Tuesday… – Reuters, 3-9-10
  • Mitt Romney: Tea Party movement is great as long as they vote Republican: Mitt Romney is supportive of the Tea Party movement but draws the line when it comes to a third party. CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Ex-Congressman Massa says groping wasn’t sexual: Former Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat who resigned his seat Monday amid a sexual harassment investigation, goes on TV to defend himself…. – LAT, 3-10-10
  • Obama takes hard-sell health pitch to Pa.: President Obama stepped up pressure Monday on his fellow Democrats to retool the nation’s health care system, decrying those who put politics above policy. Saving his harshest rhetoric for the insurance industry, Obama began his latest attempt to pass his 10-year, $950 billion measure by declaring, “The issue here is not the politics of it.”
    “It’s hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There’s no doubt about that,” Obama said. In contrast, he said, “What’s hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country.”,…. – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Obama hails contributions of ‘daring’ women: Crediting their role in the American story, President Barack Obama on Monday praised the nation’s “daring, indomitable” women — including the one-time political rival who is now his secretary of state. “Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling,” Obama said in the grand East Room packed mostly with women. “It’s because of them — and so many others, many who aren’t recorded in the history books — that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey.”
    “We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success,” Obama said. “We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I say that not only as a president, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband.” – AP, 3-8-10
  • Joe Biden in Israel to press Mid-East peace talks: US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden – the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit the region – will meet both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Iran’s nuclear intentions are expected to be at the top of Israel’s agenda…. – BBC News, 3-8-10
  • Pa. Sen. Arlen Specter is penning a book: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, is writing a book about his experiences… – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Healthcare overhaul comes down to Pelosi and Obama: A bill’s fate depends on whether the House Speaker can land enough votes – and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats complain he has not done…. – 3-8-10
  • Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts: Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country’s health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure. The issue is one of several that have been raised by Democrats over the bill, which President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are pushing to pass by the end of March. Conservative Democrats have raised questions over the bill’s language on abortion and tax increases, while liberals are unhappy with its failure to include a government plan that would compete with private insurers…. – WSJ, 3-8-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Voter turnouts for primaries ‘a concern’: The red-hot race in Texas earlier this month between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Republican gubernatorial nomination helped drive the state to its biggest primary turnout in 20 years. And just how many people showed up for the election? About 1.5 million Texans cast ballots in the March 2 GOP primary for governor, according to the secretary of State’s office. That means only about 1 in 10 of the 15.3 million Texans 18 and older who were eligible to vote actually cast a ballot, according to Curtis Gans at American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate… – USA Today,
  • McCain campaigns for NH Senate candidate: Arizona Sen. John McCain told New Hampshire voters Saturday that if the current health care bill passes, opponents will immediately launch a nationwide movement to repeal it.
    “We can repeal it, but I would hate to have to have that task; obviously because there’s still the same resident of the White House,” he said at a town hall meeting reminiscent of those he held during his two presidential campaigns.
    On Saturday, McCain was stumping for fellow Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Judd Gregg…. – Boston Globe, 3-12-10
  • Bush keeps Crist in his gun sights: Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been increasingly critical of Gov. Charlie Crist, but his election endorsement is still pending. There’s been a lot of speculation about when Jeb Bush will finally make his preference official and endorse Marco Rubio for the Senate. But it strikes us that Rubio is better served for now with the popular ex-governor continuing with his current role: ostensibly neutral and taking increasingly tough shots at Charlie Crist from the sidelines…. – St. Peterberg Times, 3-14-10
  • GOP nominates newcomer to succeed Murtha: Republicans last night selected a political newcomer who has never sought elected office as their nominee in the special election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha. Tim Burns, a self-made millionaire from Eighty Four, Washington County, and a native of Mr. Murtha’s hometown of Johnstown, handily defeated Bill Russell, who mounted a strong challenge to Mr. Murtha in 2008…. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3-12-10
  • Palin will make an appearance at fundraiser for Bachmann: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will bring her star power and fundraising prowess to Minnesota next month to help U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann with reelection. Bachmann announced Thursday that Palin will host a fundraising dinner April 7 at a Minneapolis hotel. There will be a private reception and photo opportunity at 4:30 p.m., a general reception at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 p.m. It’s not known how much tickets will cost…. – Star Tribune, 3-11-10
  • Cuomo Hands Paterson Case to an Ex-Judge: Facing growing political pressure, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday appointed an independent counsel to take over his office’s investigation into the Paterson administration’s response to a domestic violence case. Mr. Cuomo said Judith S. Kaye, the former chief judge of New York, would lead the inquiry, along with an investigation into whether the governor lied when he was questioned by the State Commission on Public Integrity about his office’s solicitation of Yankees World Series tickets…. – NYT, 3-11-10
  • With a huge lead in Florida polls, Rubio dazzles crowd: The second poll in a week shows him more than 30 points ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist…. – Jacksonville.com, 3-11-10
  • Romney Ties Decision on Presidential Bid to Outcome of November Elections: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that his decision on whether to run again for president may hinge on the outcome of the November midterm elections….
    “I don’t really have the pros and cons laid out yet,” he said. “It’s something which we won’t have to decide until some time after the November elections. My guess is after those elections are over and we see where the country is, and we see the features in our own lives that may affect a decision like that, we’ll sit down and make a decision.”… – Fox News, 3-8-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) Delivers Weekly GOP Address on Health Care: In the Weekly Republican Address, newly-elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts explains that the Democrats running Washington have their priorities all wrong. Sen. Brown says Americans “told me that they want their President and Congress to focus on creating jobs and reviving Americas economy. Instead, for more than a year now, we have seen a bitter, destructive, and endless drive to completely transform Americas health care system.”
    “Somehow,” Sen. Brown notes, “the greater the public opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they seem to force it on us anyway. Their attitude shows Washington at its very worst the presumption that they know best, and theyre going to get their way whether the American people like it or not.”
  • Sen. Brown says, “I havent been here very long, but, I can tell you this much already: Nothing has distracted the attention and energy of the nations capital more than this disastrous detour. And, the surest way to return to the peoples business is to listen to the people themselves: We need to drop this whole scheme of federally controlled health care, start over, and work together on real reforms at the state level that will contain costs and wont leave America trillions of dollars deeper in debt.” – You Tube, 3-13-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama to Send Updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act Blueprint To Congress on Monday Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 13, 2010: Under the leadership of an outstanding Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, we launched a Race to the Top, through which states compete for funding by committing to reform and raising standards, by rewarding good teaching, by supporting the development of better assessments to measure results, and by emphasizing math and science to help prepare children for college and careers.
    And on Monday, my administration will send to Congress our blueprint for an updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act to overhaul No Child Left Behind. What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states, and from local schools and school districts. So, yes, we set a high bar – but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it…. – WH, 3-13-10
  • The Conscience of a Florida Conservative: “They voted for somebody they’d never heard of in Barack Obama because he ran on the platform of a very devoted centrist.” That’s the answer from Marco Rubio when asked about his stunning rise to national prominence as a Republican challenger to a popular Republican officeholder in the key electoral state of Florida. Underlying this strange political season, says Mr. Rubio, is the president’s rapid uncloaking in office as anything but the postpartisan that voters thought they had elected. “Within weeks,” says Mr. Rubio, “he began trying to implement what appears to everyone else to be the left-of-center politics of the last 50 years, but in a much more aggressive way, using the excuse of a severe economic downturn as justification for growing and in essence redefining the role of government in America.”… – WSJ, 3-15-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Tevi Troy: Health Care: A Two-Decade Blunder: …Fast-forward 19 years: it is the Democrats who are now faced with divining the results of another underdog’s victory. In January, a little-known state senator named Scott Brown defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election for the United States Senate. Universal health care was once again on center stage. This time around, though, the Republican seized on widespread antipathy to what has come to be seen as an incoherent Democratic scheme for an unworkable federal takeover of health care…. – Commentary Magazine, 4-10
  • Tevi Troy: Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s “C” in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents “dumb.”
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics….
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. – Politico, 3-12-10
  • Fred Greenstein: Obama Gets High Scores on Leadership Report Card: That’s according to presidential historian and author Fred Greenstein, professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. The author of the new Inventing the Job of President has just updated his initial Obama report card and declared the president a “rare political leader.”
    In a scholarly paper, Barack Obama: The Man and His Early Presidency, Greenstein looks at six key leadership qualities and seems to find that the nation’s first African-American president is up to snuff. “Barack Obama is a fascinating political specimen,” writes Greenstein, whose books include The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama; The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader; and How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965.
    “Indeed,” adds Greenstein, “he may turn out to be the rare political leader who is marked by both a first-rate temperament and a first-rate mind.”… – US News, 3-12-10
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP health care refusal could backfire: Most Republicans have opposed President Obama’s health care bill from the first day he proposed reform. If the House passes the Senate bill in the next few days, it will probably do so without any Republican support.
    Regardless of whether the legislation passes, Republicans can already claim a victory, given that the struggle for legislation has lasted more than a year and tied up the rest of the Democratic agenda….
    Yet Republicans should be wary about celebrating too much. The strategy of obstruction poses significant risks….
    A recent leaked document from the Republican National Committee suggests that the party is planning to base its 2010 campaign on fear and negative attacks, rather than hope and ideas. Sometimes, in the enthusiasm over a battle, armies can lose sight of the war.
    Republicans might have regained their fighting spirit over health care, but the strategy could prove to be costlier than they expect. – CNN, 3-8-10
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