While “the federal health care reform bill passed into law earlier this year isn’t popular” in WY, WY Dem chair Leslie Petersen (D) on 10/7 “urged opponents to give it a second look.” She said critics of the health care overhaul, “do not understand all the really good things that are in that act for them.”
Petersen’s support for the health care overhaul “is one of her key policy differences” with ex-U.S. Atty Matt Mead (R).
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Petersen “criticized those” who have called for WY to join a multistate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care bill, particularly one part requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance. Mead said 10/7 that he disagreed that the new law, much of which goes into effect in ‘14, will lower health care costs for WY residents.
Mead also said the cost of joining a lawsuit would be cheaper for WY than the cost of the new health care law (Pelzer, Casper Star-Tribune, 10/8).
Every four years, the race for the White House is defined by a turning point, a period when the contest breaks toward one side and the other can never recover. In the winter and spring of 1996, a rebounding economy gave Bill Clinton a lead over Bob Dole that he never relinquished. In 2008, the growing economic crisis in early September shut down any hope that Sen. John McCain‘s presidential campaign had left.
If Republican Mitt Romney is inaugurated as president in January, history may look to June as the month in which President Obama’s fate was sealed.
This may be the month, seen in retrospect, in which it became clear the economic winds that propelled Clinton to a second term won’t be at Obama’s back. Administration officials barely tried to spin last week’s dismal jobs report, an acknowledgment that there was nothing to brag about.
The economic turmoil that ushered Obama into office, and dramatically shaped his first-term agenda, is an existential threat to the prospect of a second term. Republicans would love nothing more than to convince voters that the president is at fault, but the fact is, there’s little the president can do to alter the course of the world economy.
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And the true threat to the economy doesn’t even lie inside our borders. The global recession borne of the U.S. housing bubble once spread to Europe; now, like a new strain of pathogen immune to antibiotics, the crisis in the eurozone threatens to leap back across the Atlantic. Greece teeters on the brink of leaving the eurozone, which would mean more economic instability. Greek voters head to the polls on June 17, and most expect an anti-austerity leftist party to make further gains, putting any future European bailout money at risk. Spain, meanwhile, faces skyrocketing interest rates, raising the prospect of another European economy headed toward a precipice.
Back home, the Supreme Court is putting finishing touches on a decision on the constitutionality of Obama’s health care overhaul and its individual mandate. Obama has signaled that he will run against Washington at large, the Republican House of Representatives in particular, and maybe even the Court itself; if the Court strikes down the health care overhaul, Obama will have a new target but at the cost of his signature domestic achievement. The White House has never found a way to explain health care reform in a succinct manner, and relitigating the issue in the heat of a presidential campaign isn’t a position of strength for the Obama campaign.
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Democrats are also worried that in Wisconsin, June may have provided just a taste of what’s to come from a convoy of wealthy Republicans willing to spend hundreds of millions on elections. Republicans vastly outspent Democrats in Gov. Scott Walker’s successful bid to turn back a recall attempt. While most strategists on both sides caution against a special election’s ability to forecast general-election results, some Democrats have a nagging suspicion that the flood of money that gave Walker the advantage will be repeated in races across the country. Democrats are using Walker’s win to push skeptical donors off the fence, but it’s unclear whether even major buy-in from wealthy liberals can match Republican donor commitments already on the table.
Walker’s win added to the perception that Romney has momentum. Senior Republicans were once quietly resigned to the likelihood of another four years under Obama; that mood has changed.
Even some potential vice presidential short-listers, who had been cool to the idea of serving as the second-in-command on a long-shot ticket are more interested: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio once expressed no interest in the vice presidential nomination. Their attitudes, and their travel and speaking schedules, have changed dramatically in recent weeks. All three seem to be auditioning.
There are plenty of reasons Democrats should remain optimistic that June will be but a bump. The coalition that elected Walker told exit pollsters they favored Obama by a significant margin (a sentiment reflected in the most accurate poll of the race, out of Marquette Law School). Across the nation, Democrats have a much better infrastructure than Republicans in key battleground states. And Obama leads in both national and most battleground state polls. The Supreme Court might end up declaring health care reform constitutional, and the economy might begin to pick up steam and add jobs at a more impressive clip.
But if Romney wins the White House, remember June as the month in which Romney’s campaign went from resembling Bob Dole’s ill-fated 1996 effort to representing something closer to Bill Clinton’s 1992 win. The tipping point toward a Romney victory may be at hand.
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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 bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"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.