Do Nothing Republicans

This is rather interesting. Congressional Republicans, in the wake of their embarrassing and downright depressing loss in the special election in Mississippi's first congressional district, are talking about downplaying the things that currently make the party so unpopular with the American people while trying to embrace as tightly as possible their presidential nominee, John McCain. McCain, however, will have none of it, report Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse.

But Mr. McCain's advisers said the Mississippi race underlined his intention to distance himself as much as possible from Congressional Republicans. Mr. McCain has already been openly critical of some of President Bush's strategies.

Times are tough when a party's presidential nominee is afraid to being affected by the taint that surrounds his party's membership in Congress. But it's not the first time that we've seen this before. During the run up to the 1948 presidential election, Harry Truman ran as much against the "Do-Nothing Republican Congress" headed by the unpopular Robert Taft of Ohio as he did GOP presidential nominee Thomas Dewey. What's more, Truman drove a wedge right down the middle of the Republican Party, introducing legislation in Congress seeking the implementation of the moderate policies upon which Dewey was running his campaign -- policies, however, that were anathema to the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill (particularly Taft).

There's a possibility that the Democrats could do the same thing here -- split McCain off from his base, and from the Republican leadership in Congress. The problem, of course, is that unlike Dewey, who was genuinely a moderate and even had some progressive tendencies, McCain is a hard right conservative. Luckily, however, even as McCain finds himself well to the right of center on most issues, his party's leadership and much of its base is even more conservative than he is. On at least a few issues, there is some light of day between McCain and folks like John Boehner.

What could the Democrats do to exploit this? Bring up some of those policies upon the back of which McCain pretends to be a moderate but which he would never exert any real political capital trying to pass if president and dare the Republicans to vote for them. For instance, look at the issue of immigration. Because Republicans on Capitol Hill would never support a serious solution to the problem that attempts to stop the flow of those unlawfully crossing the border while at the same time figuring out a path to legalization for the millions already here who are so important to the American economy, if the Democrats introduced such legislation they could illustrate to the American people that while McCain might talk a good talk, when push comes to shove he (a) can't get it done when it counts, and (b) doesn't command the respect of his own party.

Americans don't want someone who won't or can't get things done to be President. Do nothing Presidents, just like do nothing Congresses, just aren't popular. So although attempting such a move carries at least some risks -- most notably the possibility that McCain comes off as more of a moderate than he actually is -- the potential upsides of such a move, including outing McCain as someone who when push comes to shove will not be able to achieve many if any of the policy proposals where he is slightly less conservative than the rest of his party, just might make it worthwhile.

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Baucus, Senate Dems Push for Unemployment Benefit Extension

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Max Baucus and the Senate Democrats more broadly catch a lot of flak (at times rightfully so) for not sufficiently fighting for progressive ideals in their policies. But taking a look at Baucus' stimulus bill, which stands in a bit of a contrast with the legislation agreed to by the President and the House leadership, it appears that it's the Senate Democrats, and Baucus in particular, who are fighting for at least one important progressive aspect of a stimulus bill: an extension of unemployment benefits.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today unveiled a proposed economic stimulus package providing a flat $500 rebate to any American with $3000 of qualifying income to report on a 2007 tax return - including tens of millions of seniors living on Social Security.  Rebates would be doubled for married couples filing jointly, and families would receive an additional $300 per child under age 17.  The Baucus plan extends Federal unemployment insurance benefits for jobless Americans in all states by 13 weeks, with additional benefits for workers in states with high unemployment.  Businesses losing money in the economic downturn will be allowed to write off losses retroactively for as many as five years.  Scores will be available later today, but the total package is expected to cost approximately $156 billion.

The Senate bill lifts the cap for individuals, effectively pegged at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples filing jointly in the House bill, meaning that the highest wage earners would receive tax rebates as well. What's more, it seems that those earning less than $3,000 per year would not get a rebate in the Senate bill but would in the House bill (at least as best I can tell from these initial reports). However, the Senate version extends unemployment insurance, which is extremely important to ensuring that those most adversely impacted by the current economic downturn, will have some of their troubles at least partly alleviated. The agreement between the House and the President does not include such an extension.

In the end, the proof will be in the pudding, and leadership from both parties in both chambers of the Congress will likely have to get together to forge a compromise bill. But it is nevertheless good to see that the extension of unemployment benefits is now at least on the table.

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Obama's legislative achievements (w/edits)

Charles Peters, the founding editor of the Washington Monthly, wrote in a January 4, 2008, Washington Post op-ed

People who complain that Barack Obama lacks experience must be unaware of his legislative achievements. One reason these accomplishments are unfamiliar is that the media have not devoted enough attention to Obama's bills and the effort required to pass them, ignoring impressive, hard evidence of his character and ability.

But was Peters referring to Obama's "legislative achievements" during his two years in the U.S. Senate? No. He wants the media to examine Obama's accomplishments in the Illinois Senate and compare them to the legislative accomplishments of his Democratic rivals in Congress.

But what about Obama's legislative accomplishments since joining the Senate? Since he declared that he was officially running for the presidency in February 2007, what about the legislation that he introduced and was passed in 2007 during the 110th Congress?

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A Rare Victory For Congress

Happy New Year!

At the end of a difficult year for Democrats both here and in Congress, they actually scored a victory in the final moments of 2007 that was left unreported; buried by Times Square and the upcoming Iowa Caucus.

President Bush signed into law, grudgingly, a bill that countered his administration's long tradition of secrecy since 9/11.

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Does America Want Progressive Leadership?

Perhaps we've gotten off on the wrong foot. Allow me to reintroduce myself, I'm nrafter and I'm an apologist for our leadership. I'm not defending them because I don't think they should be fighting the Bush Administration or ending the war. I'm defending them because up until recently, I wasn't a regular here on the blogs. I'm come around, write a small diary, leave a comment or two, but I wasn't here everyday. I come from a conservative Republican "Reagan was Jesus II" background where I was not only an outcast, I was an enemy. I had to be ashamed of my beliefs. How can any American believe what I did? I was looking for a place where I didn't have to be ashamed anymore. I found it here.

You might be interested to know that my family hates the war hates Bush and voted Democrat last year, but aside from the war, they think we should bomb Iran, torture people because "tough saves lives" They think it's perfectly ok to conduct wiretapping without warrants and those who oppose it "don't understand the threat." They think gay marriage will destroy society and the ACLU is the anti-Christ. They think welfare should be eliminated because everyone on welfare is a fat minority who has 10 kids so they don't have to work, and little brown men from Mexico are trying to take over the country and make us Spanish-speaking drug dealers. They think social security should be privatized, and healthcare is people's responsibility and they aren't going to spend their money to take care of lazy people. They think Democrats hate the military and love Communists nad Joe McCarthy was an American hero. Whether the war ends or not, they're voting for Rudy Giuliani because "he's such a great leader."

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