Blog Archives

Why I love (and support) Bernie Sanders…

As the debate over deficits ramped up in Washington today, Sen. Bernie Sanders laid out the compelling case not to slash programs for working families. Any deficit reduction package must rely on new revenue for at least half the reduction in red ink, he added in a major address in the Senate. Sanders spoke at length about what caused deficits (wars, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the rich) and how to shrink them (more revenue from the wealthiest Americans to match spending cuts). He urged fellow senators not to yield to Republican congressional leaders who “acted like schoolyard bullies” when they walked out of budget negotiations. And he urged President Obama not to accommodate them again on the backs of working Americans, the poor and the Elderly. He summed up the situation in a letter to the president that had been signed by more than 18,700 people by the time he completed his speech.

Sign the letter »

Republicans lose…

But they’ll bring it up again…

This from the Herald Mail:

clipped from www.herald-mail.com

As expected, the Senate has rejected a Republican attempt to repeal the year-old health care law.
The ultimate fate of the controversial law is expected to be determined by the Supreme Court.
But congressional Republicans emboldened by gains in last fall’s elections have made a priority of trying to wipe it off the books. All 47 members of the GOP rank and file voted for repeal. There were 51 votes to leave it in place, 50 Democrats and one independent.
Earlier, the Senate voted to repeal a small part of the law in an attempt to lessen paperwork requirements for businesses. Obama has already invited lawmakers to take that action.
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Were you one of the 50,000?

If you were one of the 50,000 people across the country who signed the online petition (and made comments as well) from the Bold Progressives (Progressive Campaign Change Committee), then here are the names and comments being presented to Senator Harry Reid in Nevada:

I often wonder if all the petitions I sign with progressive groups really get through. I guess they do.

How the GOP will force a repeal vote in the Senate

This from Salon, by Alex Pareene… something to start your depressing morning with:

 

clipped from www.salon.com
Exciting news! Having already wasted a day of everyone’s time pretending to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House of Representatives, Republicans are now set to force a vote on repeal in the Senate, where purely symbolic expressions of legislative sour grapes can take weeks.
It was previously thought that Harry Reid would simply block a vote on repeal and that would be the end of it, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell always finds a way. He could use “Rule 14” to bring it to the floor, for example. Or — and this is what he’ll probably do — he could attach repeal as an amendment to something likely to pass the Senate.
The Heritage Foundation even has a little FAQ on how the Senate can repeal Obamacare. Of course, irony of ironies, every repeal option requires either 60 or 67 votes.
I am expecting basically weeks of make-believe repeal of Obama’s cootiecare health bill, over and over again. It just feels good, to the GOP.
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Looks like Obama got more today than anyone expected…

Both the Senate and the House (finally) passed the health bill for 9/11 first responders and it was sent to the White House for Obama‘s signature. The Senate was unanimous (after offices of Senator Coburn and others were stormed by 9/11 first responders this morning.) The House took very little time to pass it… and now it’s going to be law. It looks like the Republicans were “shamed” into coming in on this after tromping it the other day.

The Senate also finished up with and passed the START arms reduction treaty with Russia by a 71-to-26 vote. The treaty had needed at least two-thirds support for passage.

The President signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell bill that was passed yesterday.

I’ll bet Mitch McConnell will have to agree with Lindsey Graham that Harry Reid has “eaten our lunch.”  And the President, at his Press Conference this afternoon said “we are not doomed to endless gridlock.”

Today, Obama and the Democrats lived up to their word. They maintained their focus and, despite the agreement on the Tax Cuts, brought in the majority of their bills. It’s going to be a Happy Holiday for Democrats.

So the Senate is at work AGAIN today… on a SUNDAY… Don’t you feel bad for them?

No?

I guess I don’t either. I spent an hour or so watching them debate the START treaty this afternoon… actually debating an amendment or two which are NOT going to get on the bill (they’ll be voting on amendments at 3:00… that’s when I’ll turn it on again)… and was amazed at how frightening it is to have politicians control nuclear weapons. I had to turn the TV off while Senator Kyl was trying to find things to blame Obama on in this treaty… and, of course, to complain about being forced to work when they should be home celebrating Christmas.

Will they get this through by tomorrow or Tuesday? We’ll see. The Republicans are great stallers here and want to take up as much time as possible (and there are some judicial appointments that are taking up space in the Senate minutes as well) and perhaps we will have to leave until the January term begins and the Dems have less Senators and no control on the House. As Driftglass told Bluegal on their on-line broadcast Wednesday, the Republicans are hostage taking thugs that will use all kinds of crap to make important legislation either die or get watered way down. They hold our security hostage and the Dems and Obama are knuckling under. Do you hear the alarm going off?

I didn’t notice if Manchin has shown up today, but I’m not sure it matters. I hate to say it, but I think everything has been pre-decided.  We’ll find out when the votes are over, but I don’t think we’ll be surprised.

Anyway, I hope you are having a nice Sunday and, if you prefer the Senate to a football game or an afternoon movie, I hope you are entertained… and not taken in.

OK… DADT is now history… the Senate has voted it out and the bill is on its way to Obama.

So the score so far today is Democrats 1 (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is voted out), Republicans 1 (Dream act voted down… actually, it didn’t get passed the 61 vote filibuster requirement). Tomorrow they will be debating and maybe voting on the START treaty… whoever wins on that one will break the score.

 

I hope Harry Reid can keep everyone there until the work is done.

Staying out of the weather and watching the Congress…

It’s been snowing steadily since nine this morning and, while the dogs love walking around in it, I’m looking for reasons to stay inside today. One of those reasons is to watch the Senate debate the START treaty, which is not even close to the action in the tax cut extension debates earlier on, and flipping back to the House of Representatives who nearly completed debate on the rule for taxes when Rep. McGovern (D-MA) pulled the bill off the floor. Lawmakers are uncertain if they have enough votes to bring the tax bill to the floor.

Before the debate on the tax bill starts, the House first needs to pass the rule on how the debate and votes will go, with a simple majority vote. If the rule passes, the will be three hours of general debate and one amendment to change the inheritance tax provisions in the bill. For the last two hours, though, nothing has happened and the House is now out. The Democrats were supposed to go into a closed meeting, but the word from CSpan is that the Closed Meeting has been delayed. Whether or not they come back this evening, I don’t know.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which the House voted to end yesterday, went the to Senate and lost. The Senate has failed to get past a roadblock on a bill that would repeal the policy banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The procedural vote failed, 57-40, and was mostly along party lines. Sixty votes were needed to move forward.

All in all, it has been pretty dismal in Congress today.

Morning with the House of Representatives…

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Mark Twain

I’m having a morning of amusing television watching the House of Representatives on C-Span debate the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. Well, right now they are debating the rules by which they will debate the subject (which is funny enough in and of itself).

The Democrats are pushing to extend the cuts to 98% of Americans who earn less than $250,000 a year while restoring the taxes on Millionaires and Billionaires. Republicans are threatening a standoff… either give tax cuts to everyone, including the wealthy, or have the vote held up and watch it die in the Senate.

The republicans are, essentially, wasting as much time as possible with the goal of getting into the next Congress and passing  return to the Bush tax cuts as a return legislative move.

Of course, the thing that would work now is the Democrats in the House pushing this through and the Senate finding two Republican votes to get the filibuster-ending 60 votes which would pass the legislation before everyone trots home for Christmas.

Is this likely to happen? Probably not. There is also the notion that the President has already agreed to a temporary extension for everyone and the wealthy would be taxed again a couple of years down the road. With change in control of the House, this would be highly unlikely…the Republicans, supporting the wealthy, would seek permanence of the extension.

While a fifteen minute vote on the first House rule is going on in the House, I switch to the Senate to listen to Byron Dorgan (D – North Dakota) compare the untaxed Wealthy with the middle class soldiers who get up this morning to get shot at by Afghanistanis. I don’t think anyone is listening (the Senate floor seems to be empty). I’m often curious if Senate speeches accomplish anything at all.

Back to the House where Democrats are voting for the rule and Republicans are voting against it. Surprise, surprise. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Congressfolk voted according to actual values rather than party lines?

Quote of the Day – Can the Republicans Take the Senate? Cornyn Doesn’t think So…

“I think we don’t get the majority back but we come awfully close, and we finish the job in 2012.”

–  NRSC Chairman John Cornyn on the Today Show this morning.

The “Poster Boy of Close Campaigns” gives a hell of a speech…

Al Franken last week in Minnesota… and why we don’t give up when the pollsters and Chris Matthews and everyone else does in the last 6 days before the election…

Tim Kaine says turnout at election is going to make the difference…

We’re entering the last week before the November 2nd election and Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party Chair, is seeing advanced Democratic presence in the states where there is early voting… especially in Nevada… which does not seem to equal the current poll of Independents who are leaning Republican.

The President is crossing the country again making even more campaign support speeches for Democrats and the concern seems to be not with Independents, but to make sure a majority of registered Democrats from the 2008 victory come out to vote.

We seem to be having a large Democratic turnout in the Jefferson County, WV, early voting… including Elly and me… but I know from the past that Jefferson County is more liberal than most of the state and  often presents a different result. Hopefully, however, Governor Manchin will take the Senate if people realize what a danger Raese is to the state. WE can hope… the polls are too close.

I encourage all the Democrats out there (and all the Independents who have not been suckered in by the Tea Party/Republican positions and statements) to vote and vote early if possible (in my state you have Early Voting until Thursday.) There is too much left to do to bring the Country back from the 8-year Bush destructiveness. There is no need to dig the hole deeper.

How the Senate Voted Last Year (Thanks to Congress.org)

Here are the most asked-about votes of 2010 with links to how your lawmakers voted:

1. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Reconciliation
Passed (56-43, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed the final version of a bill to overhaul the nation’s health care system in March using a procedure known as reconciliation, which allows the Senate to bypass a filibuster with a simple majority.

The bill mandates that individuals buy health insurance with exceptions for certain religious groups and those who cannot afford coverage. Those who do not buy insurance will be subject to a tax.

Under the bill, beginning in 2014 insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and cannot drop coverage of people who become ill. In addition, a section of the bill makes the federal government the sole originator of student loans.

2. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Agreed to (60-39)

The Senate passed the final version of the financial regulation reform legislation in July. The bill creates new regulatory procedures to assess risks posed by large financial institutions and facilitate the orderly dissolution of failing firms that pose a threat to the economy.

It will also create a new federal agency to oversee consumer financial products, bring the derivatives market under significant federal regulation and give shareholders and regulators greater say on executive pay.

3. Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act
Agreed to (61-39)

The Senate passed this bill in August to provide $16.1 billion to extend increased Medicaid assistance to states and $10 billion in funding for states to create or retain teachers’ jobs. The cost of the programs will be offset by changing foreign tax provisions, ending increased food stamp benefits beginning in April 2014 and rescinding previously enacted spending.

4. Nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court
Confirmed (63-37)

The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in August. The former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan had served as Obama’s solicitor general since March of 2009 and was the first woman to hold the position. She replaced Justice John Paul Stevens, who had been appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975.

5. 2011 Defense Authorization, Cloture
Rejected (56-43, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected this attempt to start debate on the 2011 Defense spending bill, which would authorize $725.7 billion in discretionary funding for defense programs. The bill would have also repealed a 1993 law that codified the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning military service by openly gay men and women.

Quote of the Day… does this woman ever think before she speaks?

“I’ve got Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys.”

Christine O’Donnell addressing top GOP insiders.

 

From HuffPo:

On Hannity’s popular afternoon drive-time show, the Tea Party-inspired Senate contender acidly criticized the party, specifically the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for not funneling any serious cash (beyond a pro forma $43,000) into her race against Democrat Chris Coons.

 

Looks like Democrats will retain NY Senate seats…

Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman.

Kirsten Gillibrand

There were wonders about whether Kirsten Gillibrand could hold onto Hillary Clinton’s old seat. Quinnipiac poll numbers say “no problem”.
clipped from politicalwire.com

Gillibrand Headed for a Blowout

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York finds Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) leads challenger Joseph DioGuardi (R) by 21 points among likely voters, 55% to 34%.

 

In the state’s other Senate race, Sen. Charles Schumer (D) tops challenger Jay Townsend (R) by an even larger margin, 63% to 32%.

Notes pollster Maurice Carroll: “If Republicans are going to take back the U.S. Senate, it doesn’t look as if New York will be much help. Both New York seats are on the ballot and Gillibrand and Schumer have comfortable leads.”

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Quote of the Day – From a Republican…

Moxie Festival Parade - Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

“Frankly we haven’t done our jobs well here in Washington and that disturbs me. There’s all this partisanship and polization, and ultimately it yields two outcomes: either scorched-earth victory for one side or political stagnation.”

– Senator Olympia Snowe (R – ME)

Does that mean you are upset with your own, uncooperative Party?

The major issues are still there requiring attention… and Congress goes home accomplishing nothing.

This is the kind of job to have. Be elected to maintain and improve our Nation, get swamped by letters and blogs and broadcasters from the great majority of Americans pleading with you to attend to the problems, blame each other for doing nothing, and go home to campaign for office again. On top of that, you get paid pretty well to do all of this.

I am disgusted with Congress, both the people I voted for and trusted and supported and the people I already expected this crap from. As I have said in previous posts, we seem to have no system that works to really keep this political joke from being told. Voters seem to have no real control… that control is granted (and now endorsed by the Supreme Court) to major corporations and foreign countries.

Will questions be raised in the next month of campaigning which will find truth in what a candidate will actually stand for, actually DO? Is honesty too much to ask for? If candidates are prepared to spend outrageous amounts of their own money to shut opponents out of the media (Linda McMahon has pledged to spend $50 Million of her own dough in CT, a state where a Senate election used to find $13 Million as outrageous), will we find out what they would hope to accomplish when (not if) elected?

I doubt it sincerely. And yet, if I decide not to vote, I am paying into the problem. What choices remain? Think back to a country founded by patriots who saw the domination of money (ie: the British Government and The King) and power as a threat to their lives and freedom. What would they say if they saw us today?

If You Want To Know Why The Government Doesn’t Work…

…ask Jim DeMint.
This article in this morning’s HuffPo really got to me, especially after yesterday’s Cloture failure on Offshore Business practices.Here’s the start of the article… go in and read the rest:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Jim DeMint
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) raised eyebrows on Monday when his office emailed GOP aides to let them know that he would block all legislation that he and his staff have not personally cleared until the November elections.

Now, however, a Democratic senator is coming forward to relay that DeMint’s threat of grinding the consideration of bills to a halt is nothing new. It has been a formal policy of his since Obama was elected president.

“It is my understanding Jim DeMint has had a standing hold on everything throughout this two year process,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. “When I have had amendments on a couple of occasions, I have been told: ‘Absolutely, we in the Republican leadership are fine but you are going to have to clear it with Jim DeMint because he has a standing hold on everything.’ So I’m not sure this is a real change from what he has been doing.”
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West Virginia: Here’s the newest TV spot from the Dems…

Vote for Manchin…here’s why:

Clear?

Sorry, Senator Dorgan… No Cloture on Overseas Business Bill

Requiring a 60 vote plurality to avoid filibuster on the Senate bill S.3816 to tax overseas investments to keep jobs from being taken away from our shores (see yesterday’s post “Why it’s important that we get behind Senator Byron Dorgan…“), the opportunity to correct a real problem was killed by a when only 53 Senators voted for Cloture. This fell seven votes short of allowing the bill to even be discussed by the Senate.

Along with the Republicans who all voted this out was that traitor to the Middle Class  Joe Lieberman (Asshole – CT) who is, hopefully, going to be retired at the end of his term. A vote against this bill really indicates who may be in the pockets of big corporations that refuse to pay taxes to the country they made their mark in as they give 50¢ an hour jobs to Mexicans and the Chinese. I’m beginning to think that some of the Teaparty complaints may have some validity (it’s too bad they are so stupid about so many other things.)

_____

Note: It has just been announced that former President Jimmy Carter has been hospitalized in Cleveland, OH. The former President has been on a book tour where he has been making three or more appearances a day… possibly draining on an 86-year-old.

We wish President Carter our best and hope he is back out on the tour soon.

Why it’s important that we get behind Senator Byron Dorgan…

Dorgan (D – North Dakota) is the Senator who introduced legislation, S. 260, to shut down a tax loophole that rewards U.S. companies that move U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas. The legislation would close the loophole that allows U.S. multinational companies to defer paying income taxes on profits they make from the U.S. sale of the products manufactured in foreign factories, until those profits are returned to the United States, if ever.  Manufacturers who remain in the United States receive no similar subsidy.

While passage of this law has obvious benefits for the U.S., it has been something Dorgan has been trying to get through for ten years.

You may not believe it, but when a U.S. company closes down a U.S. manufacturing plant fires its American workers and moves those good-paying jobs to China or other locations abroad, U.S. tax law actually rewards those companies with a large tax break called deferral. The tax code allows these firms to defer paying any U.S. income taxes on the earnings from those new foreign-manufactured products until those profits are returned, if ever, to this country. If a company making the same product decides to stay in this country, it is required to pay immediate U.S. taxes on the profits it earns here.

– Senator Byron Dorgan

Examples of products that used to be manufactured in America but now are being made in China or Mexico or other countries? How

No longer Made In America

about Nabisco Fig Newtons, which are now made by 50¢ per hour workers in Mexico. Or Huffy Bicycles, formerly made in Ohio, now made in China by 33¢ per hour workers. Or Etch-a-Sketch. Or La-Z-Boy furniture. Or Fruit of the Loom underwear. The list goes on and on.

And we support the outsourcing of products in two ways. When we go to Wal-Mart or K-Mart (companies that demand our products at the lowest prices) and purchase them we give tacit support to the throwing away of American jobs. But that isn’t the only way we support major corporations who screw Americans out of their jobs…we give them tax breaks for doing it! These are called “Deferrals” and they are totally legal.

We have lost so many jobs, especially in the 8 Bush years when close to 750,000 jobs a month disappeared as work making everything

Made In Mexico

from solar panels to Radio Flyer Wagons went to China, Mexico, and other countries where child labor at 50¢ per hour for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, can create products for minimum corporate expense. It will be extremely difficult to bring jobs back, but without changing the law so that tax breaks go to those who remain in America to carry out manufacturing and not to those who rob us of jobs and send the production overseas.

The Senate is debating the issue today. Needless to say, no Republicans are stepping up to the plate yet and Republican leader McConnell (R-Kentucky) has stated that no problem exists. The President signed legislation today to make $50 Billion Dollars available to banks for loans to small businesses. Hopefully, this will create employment and perhaps see new products manufactured in our country.

One could hope.

Mayor Bloomberg calls Tea Party “A Fad”

clipped from dekerivers.wordpress.com

It might be more an embarrassment than a fad.

Mr. Bloomberg described the Tea Party movement as a fad, comparing it to the short-lived burst of support for Ross Perot in 1992. The mayor suggested that the fury it had unleashed was not a foundation for leadership.

“Look, people are angry,” he said. “Their anger is understandable. Washington isn’t working. Government seems to be paralyzed and unable to solve all of our problems.”

“Anger, however, is not a government strategy,” he said. “It’s not a way to govern.”

Mr. Bloomberg said he wanted to see more of the cooperation once displayed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch and Edward M. Kennedy.

He said that he would not have voted for either of them (“one because he’s too liberal for me, one because he’s too conservative for me”), but added, “These two guys who went into the Senate together and were the closest of personal friends for 40 years, they were everything that democracy says a senator should be.”

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I hope the Mayor is right. And I hope we can elect folks to the Senate who DO work together despite Party affiliations.

Things are just getting worse in government every day.

I don’t often feel bad for Republicans… but after the Delaware Primary, I have that feeling…

The Delaware Republican Party yesterday had a Tea Party Candidate, Christine O’Donnell, tromp the party endorsed candidate for their Senate nomination.

“[P]ublic records show O’Donnell has no steady income, no savings, no investments and owns no property. She rents a room out of her campaign office, which is a town home in a residential community.”

– DelawareOnline

Shortly after dropping a gender-discrimination suit against her former employer, a conservative printing firm that fired her for misusing company resources, she began her Senate run. She is also facing an IRS lien for $11,000 in unpaid taxes.

Take a look at the NY Magazine article that I’m printing the opening paragraph of and you’ll see what I mean (just her notion of what “carbon dating” means is pretty outrageous.) Delaware has always appeared to be a small but advanced State, well ensconced in the 21st Century… now it has an opportunity to go in reverse direction.

Read on:

clipped from: nymag.com

GOP’s Delaware Senate Nominee Christine O’Donnell Not a Big Fan of Evolution

Christine O’Donnell won’t have to lie about this Senate race. She won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Delaware fair and square, against a much more experienced, much more moderate, much more respected opponent, nine-term congressman and former governor Mike Castle. Now that she’s the nominee, the Republican Party will likely abandon the woman the chairman of the Delaware GOP recently said “could not be elected dog catcher.” Perhaps, in addition to all the things that have already come out about O’Donnell — tax questions, misuse of campaign funds, a trail of lies, some interesting thoughts on masturbation — they know how much remains left uncovered. Such as that, on March 30 of 1996, in her role as the spokeswoman for the Concerned Women of America, O’Donnell debated the merits of evolution on CNN, and she was not a fan.

Read the rest HERE.

Congress is back in session and the coming elections are influencing everything…

I watched the Senate for awhile this morning. They are working on a bill to provide more money to smaller banks to loan to small businesses so they can create more jobs. Admirable.

Except…

Republicans have gone after the issue of 1099 forms that businesses have to provide to the IRS for new purchases over $500.00 (primarily because the people they are buying a lot of their supplies from can’t be counted on to declare income), and they are doing this with the Johanns Amendment which throws out just about everything in the bill… but is really being used to disable income to the Health Care law that was passed earlier this year. The debate this morning by Senator Nelson from Florida (D) proposes another amendment that cuts out the 1099s for purchases under $5,000.00 and does not disable Health Care funding. Voting on these amendments (Johanns first) is going on now. Eventually they will get back to debating the whole bill.

…and Johanns did not get the 60 votes it needed.

The House hasn’t come back into session yet. They should be taking up the Republicans’ push to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone and President Obama’s insistance on returning the taxes on the rich. That should be fun. We saw John Boehner’s slip(?) on the Sunday talks that if he had to he’d support the President’s proposal since it would keep the tax cuts on 98% of us who are NOT rich (income less than $250,000.00 per year). Maybe this will begin this afternoon.

____________________________

UPDATE:

The Nelson Amendment was also voted down, but the Senate moved to go into debate on the overall bill before they broke for lunch.

Josh Marshall tells us “Why It’s All Up to the Prez Now”

John Boehner

John Boehner

Here’s the beginning of an article in today’s Talking Points Memo. Please go in and read it all:
clipped from www.talkingpointsmemo.com
Political campaigns often include inflection points where key decisions on each side, taken over a short period of time, can have a vast effect on the outcome of the election. This looks like one of those moments. Despite being in the House leadership for over a decade, John Boehner‘s performance yesterday on Face the Nation showed he’s still out of his league as a party leader on the big stage. Boehner gave the president and the Democrats a big opening by conceding that he’d vote for an extension of only those tax cuts on incomes under $250,000 a year.
But the first response from the Senate Democratic leadership we’ve heard is that, in their view, Boehner’s concession is not particularly relevant since the real fight is in the Senate, and turns on whether the Democrats can overcome a Republican filibuster.
Legislation and politics aren’t two separate worlds. Each feeds off each other,…

any inability to grasp this can and usually is fatal.
Read MORE.
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