Tag Archives: Senate Republicans

Will Abortion KIll Healthcare Reform?

And to think all this time I thought the public option was the most controversial element of reform. Silly Me! Some lawmakers managed to convince House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include an amendment in the House bill barring the use of federal subsidies to pay for insurance that covers elective abortion. That means only in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother could such subsidies be used. Needless to say, while enough lawmakers found this acceptable to get the bill passed in the House, some were furious.

You know what? They’ve got a right to be mad. This amendment, a bone to moderate Democratic House members, makes abortion available only to those who can afford it. It is a backhanded way of telling poor women that a group of lawmakers, most of them men, still want to be able to tell them what to do with their bodies. That the Speaker of the House is a woman is tragically ironic, but no excuse. Neither is the political expediency that this “deal” represents.

Now the same debate is about to begin in the Senate. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, has already said he won’t vote for the bill unless the Senate version is as restrictive as that passed by the House. Who needs Republicans when you’ve got guys like this? Senate Republicans, by the way, wouldn’t vote for this bill if it restricted abortion, banned any care for illegal immigrants, and eliminated the public option. They’re simply the Part of No, meaning if Democrats crafted it, they can’t vote for it.

President Obama, to his credit, wants the House language on abortion eliminated from the final bill. He’s right when he says it’s a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill. Yet the House amendment presents the clearest gauntlet thrown down yet by so-called moderate Democrats. They presented Pelosi with an all or nothing at all scenario, leading a number of progressive Democrats to threaten a scenario of their own.

It all boils down to a couple of simple questions. Is the prospect of insuring 36 million Americans worth forcing some women to give up their right to choose? Will moderate Senate Democrats, if Majority Leader Harry Reid caves on abortion, then go after the public option? Where exactly do folks draw the line? When does the unpalatable become unacceptable? Keep in mind that unlike Nancy Pelosi, Reid opposes a woman’s right to choose.

Looks like it’s cards on the table time. But who will blink first? You tell me.

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Who Will Win the Battle of Global Warming?

Yes, folks, it’s back in the news, and with good reason. Climate change is on the front burner in Washington, where the Senate is taking up the climate change bill the House passed recently. It’s also being debated at the G-8 summit in Italy.

global_warming_panic

In the Senate, one should keep in mind a climate bill has been rejected three different times. We ought to pray there isn’t a fourth, but the politics of the environment isn’t always a cut and dried thing, Al Franken’s swearing in not withstanding.

What’s troubling about the latest round of “what should we do about the environment?” is the strong pushback against the idea that global warming is even a problem. Don’t believe me? Keep in mind that Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe once called global warming “the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people”. He’s still at it, and at the same time arguing about the cost, and whether US action alone will make any difference.

That’s where the G-8 comes in.

G8_2009_logo

Despite most developed countries agreeing in principle with the notion of fighting global warming, some countries are resisting the idea, especially during this time of economic crisis. That’s all the cover Senate Republicans need. Their thinking goes like this. If countries like China and India aren’t ready to work on the problem, why should the US? At the root of their argument, however, is Imhofe’s skepticism about the need for any action at all. Global warming, the argument gores, just doesn’t exist.

Al Gore speaking at Oxford and comparing the threat of global warming to that of the Nazis only pours gasoline on the flame. To top it off, the media seems to be giving more and more time to scientists who side with Inhofe. Some have fall back positions. They argue against the need for unilateral action, then the need for immediate action, then the need for any action at all.

Part of the problem is that the consequences of inaction could take years to be made manifest in a tangible way. Despite what many of us say about making the world a better place for those coming behind us, if we have to sacrifice in any real way, our words ring hollow. The Republicans know this. That’s why they try to link nuclear power with solar energy in legislation. They don’t figure any of them (or us) will be around for the next Chernobyl. Or will we?

Reasonable people may disagree about how long it will be before the effects climate change smack us in our collective face. Yet the science is there. The world, no matter what the temperature where you may be now, is getting warmer, little by little. The question is whether our Beltway lawmakers have the guts to tackle the issue.

What do you think? Do they?

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New York State Senate- You're Kidding, Right?

This is a story that’s now a week old. It’s become more than a circus, so convoluted that even grizzled, veteran reporters are left shaking their heads. It’s the story of the New York State Senate, a body that at its best won’t win any awards for legislative efficiency. Trust me, this past week was not the senate at its best. For the benefit of those not living in or near New York State, the names of the players will be left out. Following the story is tough enough as it is.

NY Senate Coup

One week ago, the 32-30 Democratic Party edge in the senate was upset when two senators decided to caucus with the Republican minority. The pair had their reasons for doing so, and their public statements cloaked their rationale in reforming the often dysfunctional body. Most senate watchers sensed something different, that is, a grab for power by two Democrats who couldn’t achieve it any other way.

The Republicans could barely contain their glee. Never mind that many of these same people had demanded one of the renegade senators resign after he’d been indicted on felony charges of cutting his girlfriend in the face with a glass bottle. That was then, this is now. The other member involved in the coup is under investigation by a district attorney and the state attorney general. Of course, people wanted to know how this coup took place under the nose of the Senate Majority Leader, a Democrat whose job it is to keep his flock in line and on message.

We then found out that a major force behind it wasn’t even an elected official (like the governor), but instead a billionaire who had recently changed his residence from New York to Florida to protest high taxes.

It was soon after that this so-called upper body of the state legislature was exposed as little more than a circus without a ringmaster, 62 people left to stand naked, clothed only in their own self interest.

Associated Press A sergeant at arms staff member stands in front of a locked gate leading to the state Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, Wednesday.
Associated Press A sergeant at arms staff member stands in front of a locked gate leading to the state Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, Wednesday.

Editorial boards from New York City to Buffalo cried foul. One paper said the public should rise up and withhold the salaries of these elected officials (fat chance). The Democrats went to court in an effort to challenge the coup.

A judge told them to settle it among themselves. And then, over the weekend, a new wrinkle.

One of the renegade senators changed his mind, and went back to the Democratic fold. This after both were seen at a baseball game smiling and sitting in some pretty expensive seats. Now this august body is deadlocked at 31-31.

It means nothing can get done. Monday, Senate Republicans tried to hold a session, but didn’t have the 32 members necessary.

The Democrats held a news conference. to announce a new majority leader, but without a majority, they had to find a different title. Both sides are due in court Tuesday, when this charade can only get more bizarre, and for some, more laughable.

The only question left is whether these clowns will be forced to leave the circus next year when they’re up for re-election. Some might think it’s a cinch, but I’m not so sure.

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