If Democrats still hope to brand Republicans in Congress as the stubborn cause of gridlock, they must address a major headache. This problem also threatens the party’s courtship of anti-special-interest populists. It undermines their claim to be champions of the poor.
The Democratic Party has a Harry Reid problem.
The Senate minority leader is threatening to block or otherwise undo a bipartisan, long-term plan to finance health care for older Americans, pay doctors who accept Medicare, and extend vital health care programs for children and the poor.
Respected congressional correspondent David Rogers of Politico called the plan “a major breakthrough,” and two top reporters at The New York Times declared the package “as politically remarkable as it is substantive.”
What is remarkable is Reid’s chutzpah. At a time when most voters are demanding bipartisan results from a Congress with record-low favorability, when President Obama barely lets a day pass without raising legitimate concerns over GOP obstruction, Reid stands ready to kill a deal between House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“It is a role in which Mr. Reid is becoming increasingly comfortable as he exploits his leverage in the minority to thwart his political opponents, even if that means an unusual split with Ms. Pelosi,” Jennifer Steinhauer and Robert Pear wrote for The Times.
Reid and some fellow Senate Democrats are doing the bidding of Planned Parenthood, a powerful source of donations and lobbying on the Left, now arguing that Pelosi should not have accepted restrictions on abortions as part of a two-year, $7.2 billion extension of federal money for community health centers.
They worry that a provision in the bill codifies abortion restrictions beyond long-standing language already embedded in many health care spending laws. It is a legitimate concern, but one that brazenly ignores the broader picture and political realities that Pelosi laudably recognized.
Pelosi, by the way, is an unmatched advocate for women’s rights.
Rogers makes a great case against the obstructionist Democrats:
If Senate Democrats can’t see past the trees and make this distinction, critics say it speaks volumes about their politics.
Indeed, the tepid support from Senate Democrats also gives lie to their oft-stated concerns about income inequality. If the package fails in Congress, the very wealthy will escape having to pay more in Medicare premiums. The biggest losers will be low-income seniors and working-class households down the economic ladder.
Like a green shoot in a desert, this Boehner-Pelosi deal needs to be encouraged and nourished—not crushed like a roach at Reid’s Ritz-Carlton. President Obama needs to show some leadership and tell his buddy in the Senate to back off.
Stop obstructing. Stop being such a pain.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."