Reconciliation Process Gaining Ground In Senate To Pass Health Care

“…. the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

There is no way that a Democratic Congress can not pass health care, and then try to go back to their base and ask for money and votes this fall.  Having said that……

More news to report today about the growing chances that the reconciliation process will be used to effect change in the nation regarding health care.  (The same process that Republicans used to pass their ideas when they were in power.)   The reason Democrats have a majority in the Congress is to do the nation’s business.  The health care crisis is one of the top priorities this year.  As such the news from Senator Conrad today was very important.

The Senate Budget Committee Chairman said Wednesday he’s willing to use special rules to force changes to the healthcare legislation through the Senate with a simple majority vote. the bill.the content ofhe opposed prior to this week’s special election in Massachusetts, is contingent on  positionSen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) made clear his openness to applying budget reconciliation to healthcare, a

His comments lend weight to speculation that congressional Democratic leaders plan to have the House pass the Senate healthcare reform without changes, then pass a second bill with changes hashed out between the two chambers’ leaders and the White House.

Some of the key compromises that were tentatively made between House and Senate Democratic leaders and the White House last week, however, could fall under the rubric of a budget reconciliation bill, such as changes to the taxes that would finance the healthcare bill. Conrad noted, however, that resolving disputes over issues like abortion funding and immigration would be much harder to accomplish through reconciliation.
 
Liberals in and out of Congress strongly favored using reconciliation from the start as a way of avoiding concessions to Republicans and centrist Democrats on proposals such as the government-run public option insurance programs but Senate Democratic leaders never embraced that approach
.

Cindy McCain, John McCain’s Wife, Joins California’s No H8 Gay-Rights Campaign

Well I am stunned.  And heartened.

One of the planks of the conservative platform upon which presidential candidate John McCain ran in 2008 was his opposition to gay marriage. So imagine the surprise of the organizers of the “No H8 Campaign,” which is a photo project devoted to collecting images in protest of the passage of Proposition 8, when McCain’s wife Cindy volunteered to be included.

“In the year since we’ve started the NOH8 Campaign, we’ve been surprised at some of the different individuals who have approached us showing their support. Few, though, have surprised us more than Cindy McCain — the wife of Senator John McCain and mother to vocal marriage equality advocate Meghan McCain. The McCains are one of the most well-known Republican families in recent history, and for Mrs. McCain to have reached out to us to offer her support truly means a lot.”

Currently, Proposition 8, which took away the rights of gay couples to marry in California last year, is being debated in federal court. The trial is not being broadcast, but live-acted reenactments are expected to be streamed here after each session, starting today.

Redefining Republican [NOH8]
Cindy McCain Poses for NOH8 [Advocate.com]

Do We Have Money To Pay For Haitian Earthquake Victims?

I advocated that this nation must address, by means of Congressional action, a sweeping Haitian relief bill in order to deal with  the human crisis that took place last week.  I have been heartened that several folks responded with open hearts and wondered how they could make a difference.  The readers, I might add, were from all parts of our country.

I also received the following message concerning the cost of such a plan, and know that the writer was being sincere in his question and concern.  I add his comment in order to answer him.

I hate to say this but where is all the money going to come from to educate, feed, cloth and health care. This is madness to keep bringing more and more people to our country. We just cannot continue to be the safety net of the world.

At times like this I think we need to address the problem as if it were a barn on fire.  Make sure the kids are out of the building, put out the flames, and then sit around the table and talk about where we go from there.   With a nation like ours there is not a lack of money.  I offer as evidence the following top ten movies from this past weekend, and the amount the films have grossed.  Mind you this is just the movies.  The popcorn is extra!

The first set of figures are the weekend totals, and the second is the gross of the film since it was released.

Avatar   $42,785,612 $493,252,617  
The Book of Eli   $32,789,494 $32,789,494  
The Lovely Bones   $17,005,133 $0  
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel   $11,619,949 $192,711,792  
Sherlock Holmes   $9,889,154 $180,082,554  
The Spy Next Door   $9,726,056 $9,726,056  
It’s Complicated   $8,112,555 $88,664,380  
Leap Year   $5,928,510 $17,629,680  
The Blind Side   $5,557,274 $226,766,539  
Up in the Air   $5,445,379 $62,818,050  

I use this as one very small example to show that we have money in this nation to use for a variety of purposes.  I love films and so I encourage Hollywood to make movies and folks to sit and watch them.  I know that  when crisis strikes and our moral code tells us to act we have it within us as a nation to respond.  And I also know we have the money to make it happen.

Conan O’Brien Exit Deal Nearly Done At NBC

After such a pleasant experience with NBC why would Conan O’Brien have anything bad to say about the network?  Oh, that is right, the lawyers for NBC have made it so he can’t say anything negative……. 

One final obstacle, among others, is the amount of severance for staff of “Tonight,” the people said. Under the agreement, Friday night’s show would be the last for Mr. O’Brien and his staff.

Other issues also remain in play, including smaller points about non-disparagement and the timing of severance payments, the people said.

The deal currently on the table includes a payout of roughly $32 million to $35 million for Mr. O’Brien, along with about $12 million for the show’s staff, although those figures could still change, people familiar with the situation said. Mr. O’Brien’s representatives are asking for roughly $600,000 to cover several months of pay for staff, rather than weeks, those people said.

President Obama, The First Year

Today I feel very proud about President Obama.  As we mark the first year of his stewardship of the nation I look back and see much to be thankful for.

I am aware that governing is a thankless task that requires a balancing act, which in this fractured political culture, is almost impossible to achieve.  Not everyone is going to be pleased.  Some  of my liberal friends want more hard-hitting policies when it comes to bankers and Wall Street, others want single-payer health insurance, while others want gay rights moved  up the agenda.  I  share some, but not to the level and breadth of many, those concerns as expressed by the base.  For instance, I by-and-large support the banking policy and TARP funding.  While my friends on the left often bemoan the lack of swift results, the right cries out that big government is about to swallow us whole.  I hear them all, but find I take great pride in other parts of the leadership and style of President Obama.  I find myself grateful for the little things, such as his sentences have a subject, verb and sometimes an object!  I no longer need to wince when listening  to the President.  Most important though, I am grateful that Obama shares my values. 

This past year the Obama White House has pleased me with its foreign policy moves, and the world reacted with warmth and a growing sense of renewed confidence in shared responsibilities.  It was perfect timing that Obama was able to connect with the world as a black American with Muslim roots when so much of the Islamic world had viewed the past eight years with suspicion and anger.  The fact that Obama shows respect to the world community is exactly the type of leadership I had hoped for.

With two wars to manage it would have been a lot easier to wind both down instead of ramping one up.  But  after a time to reflect and study ( a process I much respect) Obama made the correct decision to try and secure, as best as possible, Afghanistan.  The fight against the Taliban will not be easy, but it is important.  Troop increases that go against the grain of public opinion is never easy, but in this case it shows a seriousness of purpose which I applaud.

There are fights to be waged over health care, cap-and-trade, civil rights, and the likely replacement of Justice Stevens this summer.  All will be contentious and produce frothy debate.   The outcomes are unknown, but one thing is certain.  There is a bright and capable leader in the White House that has taken on many issues at once as the times dictate that it be this way.  With Obama there is a calm and reasoned approach to the process of governing.  He knows this is work for adults, and he treats it that way.  There is a serious pose on his face, and a contemplative nature to the way he conducts the affairs of the nation.  I may want more, and push here and there for greater strides when creating policy.  But at the end of the day I know there is leader in the White House who shares my values, and views of the world.  

That is priceless.  And for that I say Thank You President Obama.

Now forward to year two!