Friday, November 13, 2009

A Conversation That Might Have Happened at the White House, Budget Freeze?, Blinking on Afghanistan, Obama Poll Numbers

They Might Have Said This at the White House....
A conversation between President Barack Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that could have happened...

Sebelius: Our health care bill has passed the House, 220-215, Mr. President.

Obama: Great news, Kathleen! So all we have to do is pass a bill through the Senate and I can sign this baby into law, right?

Sebelius: Well, not quite Mr. President. We have to get a bill passed in the Senate, then have a conference committee consolidate the two bills and the combined bill pass both House of congress.

Obama: But we should be able to get it through the Senate, right? I mean, we have 60 seats there...heck, we could even give up 10 Senators and still win, right?

Sebelius: No, Mr. President, we need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

Obama: Oh yeah, the filibuster, right. Well, at least we have the 60 votes we need.

Sebelius: Not quite, Mr. President. Sen. Ben Nelson will only support a bill if we include an amendment to ban abortion funding.

Obama: Well, I said reproductive care would be the centerpiece of my health care legislation, but we gave it up in the House, so I guess we'll give in there too, so long as it gets us to 60.

Sebelius: Not so fast, Mr. President, Sen. Lieberman won't back a bill with a public option in it.

Obama: Can't we just get Olympia Snowe from the other side? Then we won't need Lieberman.

Sebelius: Senator Snowe will only back a bill with a trigger mechanism, Mr. President, not a real public option.

Obama: So...I guess we will have to give ground on the public option. We get a bill then, right?

Sebelius: We might get it through the Senate, Mr. President, but 40 House Democrats have said they will vote against the conference report if it contains the abortion provision.

Obama: What? They just passed a bill with the provision in it!

Sebelius: But they say they won't back it this time. Also the progressive caucus won't back a bill without a strong public option.

Obama: can we put it back in?

Sebelius: Then it won't pass the Senate, plus Bart Stupak and 30-some other Democrats who are anti-abortion will vote against it then.

Obama: So...let me get this straight. We passed a bill in the House with a public option and no abortion funding. We can't get a bill through the Senate with a public option or abortion funding and we can't get a bill back through the House with or without abortion funding and we can't get a bill through with or without a public option?

Sebelius: Exactly, Mr. President.

Obama: Can we talk about Afghanistan now?

The Senate may take up the health care bill next week. Stay tuned for more high drama.

A Budget Freeze?

The White House is leaking word that the President's budget for Fiscal 2011, which is scheduled to be released in February, may contain an across the board freeze in spending or even an across the board 5% cut, combined with new taxes to combat the deficit.

Remember when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposed an across the board freeze? Then-Senator Barack Obama said that was a "hatchet when what is needed is a scalpel." Of course, we were also going to be out of Afghanistan in the first year of his Presidency...

I have trouble reconciling passing a $787 billion stimulus bill and then EIGHT MONTHS later proposing cuts to core spending. Does the White House think the economy has improved THAT much?

More likely, this is a reaction to the poor Democratic showing in 2009. The White House might be wiser to consider what 2010 will look like if unemployment is still 10%+.

ALL Options Rejected?

One more time back to the drawing board as the President has rejected all presented options on Afghanistan. News reports had been that he was leaning towards sending an additional 30,000 troops but evidently is not yet satisfied with the strategy.

Okay...I'm all for careful deliberation, but at some point you actually have to make a decision. I know all the options suck. They will still suck the next time your advisers talk to you. Go all in, fold or somewhere in-between. Those are pretty much the options.

Time to act, Mr. President. You won't ever know all the facts. But our troops on the ground deserve a clear direction and strategy.

Obama Numbers Stay Within a Range

President Obama's approve minus disapprove is still bouncing around in the +8% range. His worst day yet of his Presidency for his aggregate numbers was yesterday at +7.7%...still ahead of his +7.2% total in November, but by a mere 0.5% margin.

The monthlies tell the same story as the President's November numbers hoover just above +8%.

Next up -- we have some new 2010 polls...and the news in total looks marginally worse for Democrats.

Thanks for reading. If you like this site, tell your friends.

No comments: