Saturday, February 25, 2017
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lowkell

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Dennis Kucinich Switches To “Yes” On Health Care Reform

I never thought I'd say this as long as I lived, but here it is, "Thank goodness for Dennis Kucinich!"
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced this morning that he will in fact vote for the Senate health care bill. Kucinich's switch was a major pickup for Democrats who are clinging to a razor thin majority on health care reform and have been struggling to find the votes to get it passed.

"This is not the bill I wanted to support, Kucinich said. "However after careful discussions with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, my wife Elizabeth and friends, I decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."

Kucinich originally voted no on the House version of the bill last fall.

What's interesting about Kucinich's decision is that he, more than almost anyone else, represented opposition to the current health care reform approach from the left. Like many on the left, Kucinich would have preferred a single payer system or at least a robust public option. In the end, however, Kucinich came down on the side of pragmatism and "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the possible."  With that, it appears that opposition to health care reform legislation from the left has essentially evaporated, with one notable exception in the blogosphere. Personally, I'm with the pragmatist camp, which I'm amazed to report now includes Dennis Kucinich.

P.S. Among Virginia Democrats, it appears that Rick Boucher is undecided, Tom Perriello is undecided, and Glenn Nye is undecided. Jim Moran and Glenn Scott are definite yes votes, and my guess is that so is Gerry Connolly, but we'll see...

UPDATE: See here for every representative's position on health care reform legislation.

Mark Warner’s Gotta Like This Article

This morning's edition of The Hill has an article on Mark Warner that he's got to be very happy about. Entitled, "Sen. Warner gaining more influence," the article reads like a piece of (Mark Warner) campaign literature.

Among other things, the article quotes Sen. Lindsey Graham as saying "[Warner]'s an easy guy to work with." It has John Podesta calling Warner "one of the few people that can still have a civil conversation with people across the aisle." It quotes Sen. Bob Corker describing Warner "the best partner anybody could possibly imagine." It refers to a "senior Democratic aide" calling Warner "a promising candidate" for Majority Leader if Harry Reid loses reelection. It says Warner has worked "behind the scenes...to unify junior Democratic senators," that he "has won rave reviews from business leaders," and that "Senate Democratic leaders view Warner as one of the more promising new members of the conference and have given him challenging assignments." And it quotes the head of the Business Roundtable, praising Warner as "one of those few members of the Senate who understands the business side and gets how the business has to operate."

As I said, this article could be a piece of Warner campaign literature. The only question is, what will Warner run for next?

Cantor vs. Hoyer on Health Care Reform


For my money, Rep. Hoyer does a far better job explaining where we are on health care reform than Eric Can'tor, who mouths the same, disingenuous Republican talking points as he always does.  I particularly like when Hoyer points out that "deeming" was a procedure used "almost 100 times under Newt Gingrich and over 100 times by Speaker Hastert, which my friend Mr. Cantor supported most of the time if not all the time." But now, all of a sudden, Can'tor argues that it's evil incarnate, as is reconciliation, which Republicans also used many times, including on pieces of major legislation. As I said, "disingenuous." But that's Eric Can'tor and the Republican'ts for you, I guess.

P.S. Less substantively, I believe that even Congressman Can'tor has to admit that Hoyer's much better dressed for St. Patrick's Day. :)

Kaine: “I scratch my head in amazement” at Cooch the Birther

On this matter, I believe Tim Kaine speaks for all of us:
"I scratch my head in amazement that somebody in a position of that altitude would express and opinion like that," Kaine said of Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's comments. "I read the transcript and what he said is that he posited that perhaps the president was born in Kenya, I think it was, and I think he said that is a reasonable hypothesis or something like that. It's ridiculous."

Speaking outside the White House, Kaine continued: "The president is an American citizen, duly elected by the voters. But some people just can't accept that. And they're still having trouble accepting that and I think that's what the attorney general is, maybe in that camp."

Personally,  I "scratch my head in amazement" not only that Cooch is a birther, but that he's also a climate change denier, a raging (and raving) homophobe, a "states rights" extremist, a tinfoil hat wacko who believes the government is tracking his kids via Social Security numbers, and a guy who talks to his toy elephant named "Ron". Given all this, what I really "scratch my head in amazement" over is that the people of Virginia elected Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General last year over the sane and super-qualified Steve Shannon. What. The. Hell?!?

Virginia Is For…Birthers?

Virginia may be "for lovers" generally speaking, but within the Virginia GOP, it appears to be more for "birthers" than for "lovers" (certainly not gay lovers!). First Cooch, now there's this.
I asked {2nd CD Republican candidate Ben Loyola} point blank if Barack Obama was a natural born United States citizen. His response: "I'm not sure, and that troubles me."
Another "cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs" Republican, I guess that's not a shocker these days. What about the likely 2nd CD Republican nominee, Ken Cuccinelli clone Scott Rigell, does he also doubt that President Obama was born in the United States? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Scott Surovell: “Harry Byrd Rolls Over”

For anyone who wants to understand how messed up the recently-passed Virginia budget really is, see Del. Scott Surovell's superb analysis at "The Dixie Pig". Here's an excerpt:
Going into this budget cycle, we were faced with a $2.1 billion hole to plug after $7 billion of cuts already if we rejected Governor Kaine's proposal to eliminate car tax relief and increase the state income tax. The budget that the House & Senate just passed on Sunday night was "balanced" by using the following maneuvers.

[...]

There are some problems with these methods. The Virginia Retirement System is not our Rainy Day Fund. I do not view "borrowing" monies allocated for retirement as balancing a budget. While it is not technically "debt" borrowed from a third party, it is borrowing from the future. It perverts our state's pay-as-you-go history.

[...]

The reality is that Virginia's Budget suffers from significant structural deficits that we did not address this session. Our annual expenses exceed our annual revenue. The FY 2010-2012 hole was plugged with one-time fixes that papered over a problem instead of dealing with it. While I am glad that we fought and lessened the impact today, I am very worried about the future.

Other than that, heckuva job the Virginia General Assembly and by Bob McDonnell!  Not.

Tom Perriello: Senate Health Care Bill Upholds Hyde Amendment

The following statement is from Rep. Tom Perriello and is basically a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the Senate health care bill in terms of abortion language.  Whaddya think of that, Rep. Stupak? :)
Since the beginning of the debate on health care reform, I have maintained a pledge that I would not support any health care reform bill that includes federal funding for abortion, and I stand by that pledge today. The original House bill language (Capps Amendment) did not meet this standard, and so I opposed that language. I voted for the Stupak Amendment-the only alternative offered at the time-because it ensured no federal funding of abortions, even though it also went beyond the current federal standard (Hyde Amendment) to prevent Americans from purchasing private insurance with their own dollars.

As health care experts and pro-life leaders agree, the abortion language in the Senate bill upholds the Hyde Amendment standard. The Senate health care bill prevents federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, as the Catholic Hospital Association and legal experts have recently stated and as my own research has confirmed.

Furthermore, several key yet unadvertised provisions of the bill are likely to reduce the number of abortions in this country in ways that move beyond politics toward a real impact on the culture of life in our country, such as those that provide $250 million for programs to support vulnerable pregnant women and increase the adoption tax credit, also making it refundable, so that lower income families can access it fully.

I have tended to avoid the labels pro-life and pro-choice-often drawing ire from both sides of this debate-because I believe those labels serve to end debate rather than start us on a path towards solutions. I understand why many pro-choice groups consider the Senate language a major setback, but I made this pledge to the people I represent. Mired as we are in the issue of taxpayer dollars in this debate, we have not been discussing how this bill can reduce abortions. My hope is that, after this debate in the health care bill, lawmakers will come together to support a culture of life in their policy-making, including improving pre- and post-natal care.

I have plenty of serious problems with the Senate bill and, until I see the final language, I cannot take a position on final passage. But the existing language on abortion in the current Senate bill meets the pledge I made to ensure no federal funding for abortion in this health care bill.

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