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Posts Tagged ‘vote’

Democrats & Media Try To Shift Obamacare Opinion with Shaky one-day Gallup Poll

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The establishment media and the Obama Administration have been hyping Gallup's one-day poll taken the day after Obamacare's passage and ignoring all other polling data, which explicitly contradict those Gallup results

As many are undoubtedly already aware, the polling outfit Gallup, as well as all Democrats and establishment media, have been pushing a one-day poll done on Monday, March 22, 2010, the day after the House of Representatives’ historic passage of Obamacare, to “prove” that American opinion simply shifted overnight to support Obamacare by a 9 point margin, 49%-40%.  Anyone who has seen Gallup boss Frank Newport interviewed or read a Gallup release is well aware of the left-leaning nature of Newport’s views. As will be described in detail below, this over-reliance on a one-day poll, taken on perhaps the most positive media day for the Obama Administration ever, appears to be an attempt by the Democrats and the establishment media to actually shift public opinion in America in favor of Obamacare based on a poll that is dubious at best.

The Obama Administration, Democratic politicians and the establishment media have been harping on the one-day Gallup poll showing Americans approved of the House’s actions by a 49%/40% margin since Tuesday and up to and including today, as Gallup trumpets favorable polling to Obama on its front page asking whether Obamacare was a “good first step” or not and cable networks continue to discuss the Monday poll. Amazingly, the media and the Democrats continue to trumpet these one-day results from Monday nearly a week after the poll was taken while Gallup fails to do any further polling on this issue.  This conduct clearly begs the question: why not continue the polling on Tuesday and Wednesday to do a proper three day sample? Perhaps the left-leaning Gallup obtained the results it and its left-wing allies wanted on Monday and feared a dilution of the outlier results obtained on Monday with additional days of polling, which, of course, would have enhanced the accuracy and reliability of the polling overall.

Many factors point towards a conclusion that this one-day Gallup poll is an outlier at best or an manufactured result at worst, as every other poll released since the House vote has shown Obamacare remaining unpopular with Americans, clearly contradicting the one-day Gallup results.   For instance, Quinnipiac did a poll over two days, March 22 and 23, demonstrating that Obamacare remained quite unpopular with Americans, with 49% opposing and only 40% in favor (the exact opposite of Gallup’s findings). That same Quinnipiac post-Obamacare poll showed President Obama at the low of his Presidency for approval, 45%, which is “President Obama’s worst grades so far, tying his 45 – 46 percent approval February 11.”  It certainly defies belief that Obama himself would be less popular overall (45%) than his signature initiative which has been his primary focus for his entire Presidency so far (49%, according to Gallup’s one-day sample).    Indeed, today Gallup itself shows Obama’s approval is down to 48%, again casting doubt on the legitimacy of their one-day poll on Obamacare approval.

Bloomberg's Poll Found Obamacare remains unpopular with "no meaningful movement of opinion the final night of interviewing, after the vote was taken“, explicitly contradicting Gallup's findings

Another post-Obamacare poll which casts serious doubt upon Gallup’s one-day polling results is from Bloomberg News, which noted in its release of a March 19-22, 2010 poll that the final day of polling, the same day in which Gallup’s one-day poll was in the field, showed “Americans remain skeptical” of Obamacare with “no meaningful movement of opinion the final night of interviewing, after the vote was taken“:

Americans remain skeptical about the health-care overhaul even after the U.S. House passed landmark legislation that promises to provide access to medical coverage for tens of millions of the uninsured.

At the same time, most say the government should play a role in ensuring everyone has access to affordable care, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. A majority also agree that health care is a private matter and consider the new rules approved by Congress to be a government takeover.

The poll found the percentage of Americans who favor the almost $1 trillion 10-year plan remained at about just four in 10 following the House vote on March 21 to send the bill to President Barack Obama, who signed it into law today.

The poll of 1,002 adults was conducted March 19-22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. There was no meaningful movement of opinion the final night of interviewing, after the vote was taken.

Of course, the Bloomberg and Quinnipiac findings received little to no attention from the establishment media or Democrats, who were busy pushing the one-day Gallup poll in every possible medium. Also, Rasmussen polling, which was nearly alone in correctly calling the New Jersey Governor’s race for Chris Christie (R-NJ)  and came within one point of calling the exact final results of the 2008 Presidential election, found that by a 55%/42% margin Americans want Obamacare repealed, with independents favoring repeal by a massive 59%/35% margin:

Just before the House of Representatives passed sweeping health care legislation last Sunday, 41% of voters nationwide favored the legislation while 54% were opposed. Now that President Obama has signed the legislation into law, most voters want to see it repealed.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.

In terms of Election 2010, 52% say they’d vote for a candidate who favors repeal over one who does not. Forty-one percent (41%) would cast their vote for someone who opposes repeal.

Not surprisingly, Republicans overwhelmingly favor repeal while most Democrats are opposed. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 59% favor repeal, and 35% are against it.

Apparently Gallup would have us believe independents support Obamacare by a 46%/45% margin, despite Rasmussen’s findings, from a more reliable two day sample, that independents favor repeal by a whopping 24 point margin (59%-35%).  Finally, CBS News did a two-day poll after Obamacare’s passage which showed Obamacare underwater by a 42%/46% margin and finding that “nearly two in three Americans want Republicans in Congress to continue to challenge parts of the health care reform bill.” Obviously, when 2/3 of Americans desire continued GOP resistance to the implementation of Obamacare, it is spurious to claim that Obamacare has magically transformed overnight into a popular piece of legislation.

Was USA Today Carrying Water for the Obama Administration when it hyped a one-day Gallup poll on its front page this week despite other polling data which explicitly contradicted Gallup's findings?

Despite four other pollsters directly repudiating the results of the one-day Gallup poll showing Obamacare favored by the public by a 49%/41% margin, the establishment media continues to this day to trumpet the one-day Gallup poll to “prove” that Americans now support the Obamacare package. Epitomizing the establishment media’s extraordinary over-reliance upon this one-day Gallup poll, national newspaper USA Today used its entire front page above the fold on Wednesday to push the idea that Obamacare has suddenly become popular, literally overnight, based on the single day of Gallup polling. Of course, USA Today makes no mention of the contradictory Bloomberg results in its “objective” report on Americans’ views on Obamacare on Wednesday. It appears that the establishment media and Democrats are attempting to push low information voters who are not paying close attention into supporting Obamacare by bombarding such voters with the message that Obamacare is now favored by most Americans.

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs Strongly Pushed the one-day Gallup Poll showing Obamacare to be popular, despite previously slamming day to day fluctuations in Gallup polling as "meaningless"

Further, the Obama Administration has happily pushed the Gallup poll as hard as it could, with senior White House spokeman Robert Gibbs going so far as to tweet out a link to the poll while saying this:

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, amid the glee of the healthcare bill signing Tuesday, tweeted @PressSec “In the polling obsessed town of Washington, DC this will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on” with a link to a story about the USA Today/Gallup poll that said 49 percent vs. 40 percent saw passage of the bill as “a good thing.”

Gibbs wrapped the Obama Administration up into the “credibility” of the one-day Gallup poll despite having specifically slammed Gallup’s polling as unreliable on a day to day basis several months ago, calling such daily fluctuations “meaningless” then:

The White House lashed out at the Gallup Poll on Tuesday after the survey’s daily tracking numbers showed President Obama’s approval rating dropping to a new low of 47 percent.

Asked for a response to Monday’s tracking poll, which placed Obama’s approval numbers among the lowest of any recent president in December of his first year in office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs mocked the reliability of the widely respected polling firm.

“I tell you, if I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I’d visit my doctor,” Gibbs said. “If you look back, I think five days ago, there was an 11-point spread, now there’s a 1-point spread. I mean, I’m sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that. I don’t put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend.”

He added: “I don’t pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it.”

For the White House, it appears, Gallup’s daily one-day samples are “meaningless” and comparable to what a “6-year-old with a crayon” would do, unless, of course, that one-day sample supports the Obama Administration. Then, as Gibbs tweeted out after the publication of the full, front page USA Today story on the Gallup numbers, Gallup’s one-day sample should be treated as irrefutable truth that “will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on.” Such explicit hypocrisy and doublespeak from the Obama Administration has gone completely un-noted in the past week by the media, and it falls to a tiny centrist blog such as this one to point out the objective facts surrounding this matter.

Indeed, most pollsters agree that one-day polls are less reliable than samples taken over several days because of the natural variability of the polling sample obtained in any given day, which of course is smoothed out by having multiple days of polling.   ABC News, another left-leaning pollster, explains this “night to night variability” in its polling experience:

Our practice is informed by the fact that, in all our polling, we see night-to-night variability in party ID that appears to represent trendless sampling variability rather than actual changes in partisan self-identification.

Gallup, of course, did not release its methods in weighting, or not weighting, the data it obtained for its one-day poll on Obamacare’s approval. However, the application of simple logic indicates that the day after the passage of a massive legislative package which has been a “dream” of Democrats for nearly a 100 years, the sample obtained would skew towards Democratic voters whose enthusiasm was surely spiking. Conversely, independents and Republicans, who both strongly opposed the Obamacare package before its passage, would have been more likely to avoid any pollster calls on Monday as the depressing news sunk in that the Democrats managed to ram through the massive legislative package.  This type of self-selection bias, on perhaps the most favorable media coverage day of the Obama Administration ever, is again ignored by every mainstream media report on the Gallup poll.

Finally, as is obvious to anyone who was watching the news or reading newspapers or websites on Sunday night and Monday, the establishment media has been in full celebratory mode regarding the passage of Obamacare, with newspaper headlines screaming in 6 inch print about the “historic” nature of the passage of Obamacare as finally completing the century-long “dream” for such legislation. Monday was perhaps the most positive media day ever during the Obama Administration, with the possible exception of Inauguration Day. Regardless, such overwhelmingly positive, saturation coverage of the Sunday night passage of Obamacare by the media undoubtedly had an effect on those polled by Gallup on Monday. Despite this, Gallup chose to only poll on that one day, and thereafter the Democrats and establishment media have focused solely upon this one-day outlier poll while ignoring all other polls which explicitly contradict its findings, four of which are noted above.

It remains to be seen if this gambit by the Obama Administration and the establishment media to shift public opinion in favor of Obamacare via the use of the dubious one-day poll taken on perhaps the most favorable media day ever for the Obama Administration will work.  In the history of the United States, never before has any poll, let alone a one-day poll, been afforded such prominence in reporting across all media sources and in repeated use by a national political party. What is certain is that the media is ignoring the other polls which all contradict the Gallup results, and the facts on the ground, such as today’s overflow crowd at the tea party rally in Searchlight, Nevada, and the million folks who signed up to oppose Obamacare within 11 days on a Facebook page, continue to indicate strong opposition to the Obamacare package, notwithstanding the preferences of the Obama Administration and the establishment media.

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Will He or Won’t He? Bart Stupak Wavers as Obamacare Hangs in the Balance; UPDATE: The Hill Says Dems Do Not Have the Votes; UPDATE#2 Stupak Caves, Will Vote Yes, Obamacare Set to Pass

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Anti-Abortion House Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) Appears to Hold the Key Swing Votes that will Determine the Fate of the President's signature Obamacare Initiative

About a half an hour ago, MSNBC reported that anti-abortion House Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) had reached an agreement with President Obama regarding a promise to issue an executive order to eliminate all federal abortion funding in Obamacare and accordingly is now a yes vote. NBC’s tweet:

Anti-abortion leader Rep. Bart Stupak to vote for health care bill, increasing chances for passage – NBC

The wisdom of an ardently pro-life Democrat trusting the most pro-choice President in American history to rigidly enforce a ban on all federal funding of abortion via executive order is an open question. However, about 10 minutes later, CNN reported that Stupak himself had told a CNN producer that he is “still a no vote” for now and that negotiations were ongoing. CNN’s tweet:

Urgent — Rep. Stupak to CNN producer Lesa Jansen: “I’m still a no…There is no deal yet. Its a work in progress.”

Will the Democratic Blue Dogs End up being Obama's Lap Dogs and Push Through Obamacare?

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be a few votes short of her goal of 216 to pass Obamacare later today, the decision of Bart Stupak, which undoubtedly be followed by his 6 to 12 like-minded anti-abortion House Democrats, appears to be the determination that the entire Obamacare package will either rise or fall on. Another interesting tidbit was reported by the Drudge Report about an hour ago, quoting Pelosi, overheard on a cell phone, speaking to Dem. House Maj. Leader Steny Hoyer:

‘Steny, we have to get to 217. None of these members wants to be the deciding vote’

The day of Obamacare drama will continue to unfold in the hours to come, with a final up or down vote in the House likely sometime this evening, with no one really sure right now which way the vote will go. Here’s the likely schedule for today:

2 p.m.: The House will debate for one hour the rules of debate for the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill.

3 p.m.: The House will vote to end debate and vote on the rules of the debate.

3:15 p.m.: The House will debate the reconciliation package for two hours.

5:15 p.m.: The House will vote on the reconciliation package.

5:30 p.m.: The House will debate for 15 minutes on a Republican substitute and then vote on the substitute.

6 p.m.: The House will vote on the final reconciliation package.

6:15 p.m.: If the reconciliation bill passes, the House will immediately vote on the Senate bill, without debate.

UPDATE: Washington daily The Hill reports about 20 minutes ago that the Democrats do not yet have the votes, and in fact The Hill is reporting a total of 39 “NO” votes from Democrats on their whip count, enough to sink Obamacare. High drama with Stupak and others is sure to continue as Pelosi and Obama work feverishly to find the 3 or 4 votes they need:

Hours before a scheduled vote on healthcare reform, Democratic leaders don’t have the votes.

The decisions of two Tennessee Democrats, Reps. John Tanner and Lincoln Davis, to vote no has put President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her lieutenants in a major bind.

If every member votes, Democratic leaders can only afford 37 defections. According to The Hill’s whip list, there are 39 Democrats planning to vote no.

Furthermore, The Hill also has eight Democrats in the undecided/unclear column: Reps Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Paul Kanjorski (Pa.), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Bobby Rush (Ill.) and Loretta Sanchez (Calif.).

There have been various reports on Sunday that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and other anti-abortion lawmakers have agreed to an abortion deal involving an executive order from the Obama administration. However, Stupak’s office are strongly denying those reports.

UPDATE #2: Bart Stupak just held a news conference on Capitol Hill and announced that he has reached a deal with President Obama to vote yes on the bill, despite Stupak’s condemnation of the very bill he is set to vote for because of the language in the Senate bill which allows federal funding of elective abortions. Of course, the President cannot override the very Senate language that Stupak is opposed to, making this “deal” with Stupak to create an executive order more about political cover and show than an actual policy change away from the present Senate language will clearly allows federal funding of abortions.

With Stupak’s reversal, the decks are now cleared for a gigantic Democratic victory today and the passage of perhaps the most significant legislation in decades – Obamacare – and a fundamental remaking of 20% of the United States’ economy.

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Obama Lies, Quotes Lincoln “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true”

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

President Barack Obama, pictured here at the House Democratic Caucus meeting today, implausibly claimed that after the passage of Obamacare, all Americans will keep their present health plans and doctors despite clear indications to the contrary

In his last speech before the historic vote on his Obamacare package in the House of Representatives set for tomorrow, President Barack Obama gave a speech to a members-only House Democratic caucus meeting today.   In his speech, the President sadly repeated many of the same lies and misrepresentations he made yesterday at George Mason, including his false claims that everyone can “keep their doctor” and “keep their plan” while also falsely asserting that Obamacare will be an “historic” deficit reduction bill.  Obama made these claims despite their debunking by even establishment media sources many months ago, and the CBO’s addendum to their scoring made public late yesterday that reports an addition to the deficit of $59 billion over the next 10 years from Obamacare once the “doctor fix” is factored in.

Despite making these misleading and explicitly false statements in his speech today, Obama recited an Abraham Lincoln quote about speaking the truth in his speech today, twice:

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true”

Apparently the establishment media has no interest in reporting on the explicit lies (you can keep your doctor, you can keep your health plan and Obamacare will be “historic” deficit reduction) repeated again by the President today, as the NYT, CNN, WaPo and the AP all focus on the rhetorical grandeur, the “history being made” and the “impassioned plea” in Obama’s speech to Democrats today while ignoring the substantively false claims made by the President.

Amazingly, none of the above-linked articles make any reference to the President’s claims that all Americans will be able to keep their doctor and keep their insurance after the passage of his reform plan; instead, the establishment media just completely ignores these explicitly false statements.

The Associated Press epitomizes the frenzied, wrongful efforts of the establishment media to cover for the explicit lies of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats regarding Obamacare, printing this as if it is fact:

The sweeping legislation, affecting virtually every American and more than a year in the making, would extend coverage to an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans, forbid insurers to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut federal deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

Congressional analysts estimate the cost of the two bills combined would be $940 billion over a decade.

In repeating the explicitly false claims above, as made by Obama and the Democrats, the AP fails to mention the fact that the CBO admitted last night that Obamacare will actually add $59 billion to the deficit over 10 years when the pending “doctor fix” is enacted and further fails to mention that the CBO has also stated that at least $50 billion in additional funds will be required to administer Obamacare over 10 years after its passage, meaning Obamacare will add at least $109 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Sadly, that $109 billion in deficit spending resultant from Obamacare does not account for the many additional budget gimmicks used by the Democrats to entrench the false perception that the bill that creates over $100 billion a year in new federal entitlement spending will actually be an “historical” deficit reduction bill. Even the NYT’s Obama-loving (literally) columnist David Brooks listed the many ways the CBO score is explicitly rendered false by no less than seven Democratic “dodges” designed to game the CBO scoring process:

They’ve stuffed the legislation with gimmicks and dodges designed to get a good score from the Congressional Budget Office but don’t genuinely control runaway spending.

There is the doc fix dodge. The legislation pretends that Congress is about to cut Medicare reimbursements by 21 percent. Everyone knows that will never happen, so over the next decade actual spending will be $300 billion higher than paper projections.

There is the long-term care dodge. The bill creates a $72 billion trust fund to pay for a new long-term care program. The sponsors count that money as cost-saving, even though it will eventually be paid back out when the program comes on line.

There is the subsidy dodge. Workers making $60,000 and in the health exchanges would receive $4,500 more in subsidies in 2016 than workers making $60,000 and not in the exchanges. There is no way future Congresses will allow that disparity to persist. Soon, everybody will get the subsidy.

There is the excise tax dodge. The primary cost-control mechanism and long-term revenue source for the program is the tax on high-cost plans. But Democrats aren’t willing to levy this tax for eight years. The fiscal sustainability of the whole bill rests on the naïve hope that a future Congress will have the guts to accept a trillion-dollar tax when the current Congress wouldn’t accept an increase of a few billion.

There is the 10-6 dodge. One of the reasons the bill appears deficit-neutral in the first decade is that it begins collecting revenue right away but doesn’t have to pay for most benefits until 2014. That’s 10 years of revenues to pay for 6 years of benefits, something unlikely to happen again unless the country agrees to go without health care for four years every decade.

There is the Social Security dodge. The bill uses $52 billion in higher Social Security taxes to pay for health care expansion. But if Social Security taxes pay for health care, what pays for Social Security?

There is the pilot program dodge. Admirably, the bill includes pilot programs designed to help find ways to control costs. But it’s not clear that the bill includes mechanisms to actually implement the results. This is exactly what happened to undermine previous pilot program efforts.

All of the above-referenced “dodges” and gimmicks to obtain a good CBO score are based on publicly available information, yet nowhere in the establishment media can you find this information actually reported to rebut the ridiculously false claims by Obama and Democrats over the past few days that Obamacare will actually reduce the deficit and be “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history.” The NYT yesterday even manages to lionize the CBO scoring as unimpeachable and nonpartisan while attacking those who dared to note some of the above-referenced dodges and gimmicks listed by Brooks. In short, the establishment media is allowing the President and the Democratic Party to use an explicit lie (Obamacare reduces the deficit) to sell their comprehensive plan to the American public without informing the public in any way of illusory basis for such claims. Such conduct is a true abdication of the 4th Estate’s role as a watchdog of the American government.

The Misinformation and Lies on Obamacare Presented by President Obama and Deemed by the Media as Truthful Remind Some of the World Described by George Orwell in his classic work, "1984"

Further, Obama concludes by claiming that Democrats must pass this bill for “the American people”:

“Help us fix this system,” Obama said. “Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid — do it for all those people out there who are struggling. . . . Do it for the American people. They’re the ones who are looking for action right now.”

Amazingly, the Washington Post and the other establishment media articles fail to note that CNN’s latest poll found 73% of Americans want Obama and the Dems to either stop or start over from scratch and only 25% are “looking for action right now.” Similarly, Fox News’s latest poll found that 64% want Obama and the Dems to stop or start over from scratch and only 30% are “looking for action right now.” Even the highly left-wing Kaiser Foundation’s latest poll shows that 56% of Americans want Obama and the Democrats to stop or start over, while 42% want to proceed to a vote now. All of the establishment media reporting also omits any reference to the fact that a full 80% of the American public are satisfied “with the quality of medical care available to them” in the much-reviled “status quo”. Based on these polls, it is impossible to claim with a straight face that passing Obamacare now is what the American people are looking for “right now” – yet this is exactly what Obama is saying, and the media simply cheers without retort, notwithstanding the indisputable facts noted above.

Finally, Obama today made the equally ridiculous claim that Obamacare “runs straight down the center of American political thought” and “is a middle of the road bill” and, again, no one in the media even bothers to rebut this claim with the obvious fact that the only bipartisan thing about Obamacare is the opposition to Obamacare, as at least 31 House Democrats are joining a unified Republican opposition to the bill. Sadly, facts such as these go unmentioned by the establishment media reports as they scurry to defend their hero President Obama as the final hours tick away before the all-important House vote on Obamacare.

When the 4th Estate (media) work so strenuously to support both the President and the Congress in an effort such as Obamacare, avoiding the reporting of any facts which could possibly hinder the Democratic effort to “remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy” while cheerleading every step of the way, the continued viability of the American political system moving forward can reasonably be questioned by centrists and independents as such coordinated misinformation brings to mind the world described by George Orwell in his classic work “1984”.  Should Obamacare pass the House and become law, years from now historians will review Obama’s speeches from yesterday and today and likely designate them as some of the most misleading speeches by an American President in the history of our country.

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Reversal: Democrats Abandon “Slaughter Solution” Under Pressure from GOP

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

House Democrats just now announced they are abandoning the "Slaughter Solution" under pressure from the GOP and will indeed hold an up or down vote on the Senate bill

In an amazing reversal that happened just moments ago, Congressional Democrats now appear to be reversing their plan to use the “Slaughter Solution” to “deem” the Senate bill “passed” without an up or down vote.   Republicans had been pressuring congressional Democratic leaders for the past few weeks to do exactly that, and the Washington Post now confirms “deem and pass” is dead:

House leaders have decided to take a separate vote on the Senate health-care bill, rejecting an earlier, much-criticized strategy that would have permitted them to “deem” the unpopular measure passed without an explicit vote.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Saturday that the House would take three votes Sunday: first, on a resolution that will set the terms of debate; second, on a package of amendments to the Senate bill that have been demanded by House members; and third, on the Senate bill itself.

The abandonment of the “Slaughter Solution” by Democrats, under pressure from GOP leaders, is a welcome development in the health care reform debate which likely heads off a potential constitutional crisis if such a strategy was used. Now, all eyes will focus on the up or down vote on the Senate bill itself tomorrow.

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Gibbs Fibs re Slaughter Solution, Claims House Will “Pass the Underlying Senate Bill” and Then Take up Fixes

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Did White House Spokeman Robert Gibbs Lie this morning on CBS's Face the Nation When He Claimed the House will pass the Senate bill and President Sign it Before any "Corrective" Legislation is Passed by the House?

Despite White House and Congressional Democratic leadership support for a single, final House vote on Obamacare, in an incredible display of intentionally misleading statements by a federal official, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs today declared that the House will pass the “underlying Senate bill” next week, and that it will be signed by the President and then “corrective” bills will be passed through the House and Senate to “fix” the language of the Senate bill.   Gibbs even explicitly murmured “right” and “yes, sir” and nodded as CBS’s Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer stated his understanding that the House must pass and President must sign the Senate bill before any “fixes” could be passed:

BOB SCHIEFFER: A– as I understand it, and– and the parliamentarians seemed to have ruled that the House is going to have to pass the bill that the Senate passed.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And then the President is going to have to sign that before the House votes on this so-called reconciliation package. It’s going to correct all those things they don’t like in
this Senate bill.

Gibbs then continues after Schieffer pushed Gibbs on whether the Senate actually pass the “corrections” to the then-passed Obamacare:

ROBERT GIBBS: Yeah. Well, again, we’ve– we’ve worked with leaders in the Senate. We’ve talked to members of the Senate. The President has. And, look, members of the House, the President, and members of the Senate want to see some of those corrections made in– in that legislation. I– I think this is going to happen. Again, I think the House will have passed the Senate bill a week from today. We’ll be working now next on getting those corrections passed by both the House and the Senate. And we’ll have health care reform in this country.

These statements were made by the top White House spokesman despite actions of the White House and Congressional Democrats, who are planning to “deem” the Senate bill passed via a parliamentary trick known as the “Slaughter Solution,” named after the House Democrat who is the author of this unprecedented procedure, House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Obama worshipper and Newsweek journalist David Stone explains the Democratic trickery to avoid an actual up or down vote on the Senate bill in the House:

In a perfect case study of how dramatic Washington can get on a Friday afternoon, attention on health care appears to have shifted from when the final vote will be (next week?) to the possibility of a new parliamentary procedure to greenlight the bill. At issue is what’s being dubbed the “Slaughter solution,” which, in a roundabout way, would let the House pass the Senate bill without actually voting on it.

Here’s how: Rep. Louise Slaughter is chair of the House Rules committee, and as such, figured out that the House could momentarily change its rules to say that the House doesn’t need to pass the Senate bill since both bills are pretty similar anyway (in that they’re about the same subject). That way, Democratic members reticent about voting for the Senate bill technically wouldn’t have to be on record voting for it. They would just have to vote not to stop it from passing. It’s effectively a shift from active passage of the bill to passive. Then, after this rule passed, the Senate bill would go straight to the president, he would sign it, and then both chambers would start working on a few fixes through reconciliation.

The Obamaphile journalist David Stone concludes it is ludicrous to think the Democrats would actually do this, despite Democratic House Rules Chairwoman Slaughter’s explicit plans to do so, as reported by the non-partisan Congress Daily:

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.

Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.

Even left wing MSNBC journalist and former longtime Capitol Hill staffer (and veteran of the Hillarycare battle) Lawrence O’Donnell noted that the “Slaughter Solution” of “deeming” the Senate bill passed via rule-based trickery and then only holding a vote on the “fixes” to the Senate bill is an “unprecedented” maneuver in the legislative history of the United States that attempts to “amend a ghost” of an non-passed bill.  The entire uncut O’Donnell appearance on Morning Joe on March 12, 2010 can be seen here.  O’Donnell notes the “unprecedented” nature of the Democrats’ plan to switch gears after Scott Brown’s Senate victory and pursue reconciliation to pass Obamacare:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Will Democrats get health care passed?

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: I’m going to say what I’ve said all along in my humble approach to this subject.  I, having worked on this kind of legislation on the Senate floor, trying to get it passed, and in committee.  I do not see how they can do this.  Now, and part of that is because it’s never been done before. And they have moved into a legislative territory that has never previously existed.  The Republicans have not been very smart about trying to describe this. It’s difficult to describe.  But this is unprecedented, using reconciliation this way. Because what they’ve done, is that they’ve abandoned a bill in mid-conference. The Senate passed a bill, the House passed a bill. They were in mid-conference negotiating this bill, in conference, and they said it’s going to be impossible for us to pass it now because of Scott Brown, so we’re going to abandon conferencing this bill and move over to another legislative vehicle, called reconciliation.  To handle something you’ve already been legislating another way, now, that’s never occurred before.

SCARBOROUGH: That’s never happened?

O’DONNELL: Never, never, never.

Such emphatic condemnation of the Democratic endgame strategy to pursue the “amend the ghost” trickery in the House and reconciliation in the Senate to pass Obamacare from an explicitly left wing ideologue like O’Donnell is a bright red flag for centrists and independents. Perhaps Newsweek’s David Stone is correct in saying that it is “hard to imagine a scenario in which such a process would actually fly.Left-leaning The Hill concurs that the “Slaughter Solution” is a “sneaky, slimy sleight-of-hand” and that no one will be “fooled by this.”

The talking points distributed by House Democratic leadership on Friday, which Robert Gibbs and the White House were undoubtedly privy to and approved of prior to their release, make it clear that “Slaughter Solution” is part of the endgame plan to pass Obamacare:

The Van Hollen memo also advised members to avoid talking about the process.

“At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote — up or down; yes or no? Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL,” the memo says. “People who try and start arguments about process on this are almost always against the actual policy substance too, often times for purely political reasons.”

Leadership expects a CBO score on the reconciliation package by today or Monday. No decisions have been made on how the final process will unfold on the House floor, the memo says. So it appears Democrats are still grappling with whether they can use the process to pass the Senate bill without voting directly on the bill. Many Democrats view the Senate bill’s deals and policies as a toxic political mix that they would rather not endorse without first making changes to it.

Tellingly, Gibbs concludes his interview by stating that only one House vote will be required, impliedly accepting the “Slaughter Solution” and explicitly contradicting his earlier agreement with Schieffer that two House votes would be required, one to pass the Senate bill and another to pass the “corrections” to the Senate bill:

ROBERT GIBBS: –I– I do think this is the– I do think this is the climactic week for health care reform. And like I said I– I think whoever you interview just this time next week, you won’t be talking about a proposal in the House. You’ll be talking about the House having passed that proposal and us being a signature away from health care reform in this country.

As this is the “climatic week for health care reform” it is truly unfortunate that procedural trickery such as the “Slaughter Solution” and reconciliation are being pursued by the Democrats on such an important piece of legislation, even in the face of criticism by left-leaning journalist allies like Newsweek, MSNBC and The Hill.   Unfortunately, the NYT and Washington Post have not touched the “Slaughter Solution” controversy to date, and the major networks are ignoring it as well, so outright misrepresentations like Gibbs’s claims on Face the Nation today will probably continue to slide under the radar until the deed is done as planned by the Obama Administration and the Congressional Democratic leadership.

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Gallup: President Obama Job Approval At All-Time Low of 46%

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Gallup reports today that President Obama's job approval has fallen to an all-time low of 46% amongst all adult Americans

President Barack Obama received more bad news today regarding his sagging popularity with the American people, as for the first time Obama’s job approval amongst all adults, as measured by Gallup’s polling, fell to just 46% today. It appears that the American public’s approval of President Obama declines at times of intense focus on health care reform. As you can see from the chart below, Obama’s approval has been steadily declining since his Inauguration and has now reached the low of his Presidency:

With the next week or so being the final days before the all-important House of Representatives vote on Obamacare, Obama’s sliding approval numbers are sure to draw the attention of wavering House Democrats as they decide whether to side with the President and vote for his signature, yet widely unpopular, health care initiative or risk the President’s wrath by voting down Obamacare just days from now.

UPDATE: Ed at Hotair notes that the Congressional Democratic leadership has canceled all committee hearings and is meeting behind closed doors regarding Obamacare. Perhaps today’s Gallup numbers are a topic of discussion:

Faced with caucus members who aren’t responding to the normal arm-twisting, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer abruptly canceled scheduled committee hearings to call the party leadership into closed-door conference to plot strategy and tactics. That left Fox News with no one to discuss the events except Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)


Pelosi has insisted that she has the votes to pass it, but the sudden dive behind closed doors suggests otherwise. If they had the votes, they’d produce the bill and schedule the roll-call vote.

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Did Obama Scuttle Yesterday’s Bailout Vote? An Objective Analysis

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

The defeat of the bailout deal in the House yesterday afternoon and subsequent largest single-day points selloff of the Dow Jones index has put a white hot focus on the bailout as the single most important issue in the campaign. The stakes for Obama and McCain could not be higher as the candidate who is perceived by moderate, centrist swing voters as fashioning a solution will probably seize the inside track to the presidency. An interesting question to independent, centrist observers is whether Obama’s campaign did or did not intentionally scuttle yesterday’s bailout vote in order to deny McCain credit for fostering the bipartisan package. Some evidence supports both theories. It cannot seriously be contended that McCain scuttled the package as he suspended his campaign to push the deal and limited campaigning through the weekend to focus on pushing House GOP members to vote for the bailout.

Last night, the Obama campaign changed strategy by strongly calling for the passage of the bailout with a single phrase: “Get it done”. This morning, echoing the House GOP’s call during weekend negotiations, Obama called for raising the federal deposit insurance coverage on bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000 for each individual. Again this afternoon, Obama stated in a speech that this is a moment of national emergency in which the parties must come together to pass a bailout package immediately.

Obama’s move into the middle of the bailout deal fray is a marked shift from his campaign’s prior strategy over the last two weeks to stay away from direct, specific support for the bailout deal. To an objective observer, it appears that Obama is now making his move to the center on the bailout to appear presidential in a time of crisis and as leading the charge to a solution after yesterday’s failed vote and fear spreading throughout the American public and world. As overseas markets stabilized overnight and stock market is strongly up today, Obama is well-positioned to claim his shift in position made a significant difference.

Historians and independent minded voters will ponder whether or not the Obama campaign moved behind the scenes to scuttle the vote yesterday with last-minute manuveoring by the Democrats. Indeed, had the bill passed yesterday, McCain would likely have been perceived as the dealmaker who brought about bipartisan consensus with the suspension of his campaign. The actual moment-to-moment breakdown of yesterday’s vote and the last week of negotiations provide evidence both ways of the Obama campaign’s intent, or lack thereof, to scuttle the yesterday’s vote.

As a starting point, recall that last week very few House Republicans supported the bailout. At that time, congressional Democrats had been negotiating almost exclusively with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and excluding the House GOP from the talks on the bailout. On Tuesday of last week, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid directly called on McCain to “produce” House GOP votes for the package and lead:

We need, now, the Republicans to start producing some votes for us. We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do.

Also, early last week Pelosi announced that she would not push through the bailout package unless a majority of the House GOP supported the package. Sensing the potential for catastrophic defeat, Paulson then called upon McCain to get involved in the dealmaking process to bring along a significant portion of the House GOP.

McCain, being McCain, reacted dramatically to Paulson’s call and suspended his campaign the next day to focus on on pushing for a deal and a White House meeting with all congressional leaders and both candidates present. Obama, after rebuffing McCain’s request to jointly suspend campaign operations to deal with the crisis and delay the first debate, agreed Wednesday night to President Bush’s request to attend a Thursday White House meeting.

As McCain was touching down in DC on Wednesday, Democratic Committee Leaders Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, along with Paulson and a liberal GOP senator, announced that a bailout deal was reached. National media outlets cooperated and reported the bailout was a done deal. Objectively speaking, this reporting was clearly not grounded in reality as House GOP leaders had in no way signaled support for the Dodd-Paulson draft agreement and Pelosi had made clear that without that support, the House would not pass the bailout. Regardless, the media narrative reported that McCain had “blown up” the deal by arriving in Washington on Thursday afternoon, and Reid reversed himself by stating that McCain should stay out of town.

From a centrist, independent perspective, it is not hard to extrapolate Reid’s change in position as reactive to McCain’s bold suspension move and at the behest of the Obama campaign. Additionally, the hastily arranged news conferences on Wednesday to present the Dodd-Paulson deal were intended by the Obama campaign to undercut McCain’s move and paint him as reducing bipartisanship by “injecting presidential politics”.

The Dodd-Paulson draft was the product of negotiations between Paulson and the Democrats, and included many poison pills which made significant GOP support impossible. Such poison pill provisions included the now-infamous directive to provide 20% of any profit from any individual transaction under the bailout legislation to two federal trust funds, which hand out grants to organizations such as ACORN.

The turning point in the negotiations occurred on Thursday night at the White House, where Bush, McCain, Obama and congressional leaders from both parties convened a meeting about the bailout package. By the time of the meeting, in response to the Dodd-Paulson “deal”, the House GOP had released an alternative plan which would allow for banks to purchase federal insurance for the mortgage assets instead of Paulson’s plan to purchase the toxic mortgage assets directly. Bush began the meeting by yielding to Pelosi and Reid, who then yielded to Obama.

Obama expounded on the virtues of the Dodd-Paulson deal and attacked House GOP leader John Boehner for disrupting the Dodd-Paulson deal with his alternative proposals. Amazingly, Obama reportedly used talking points against the House GOP proposal leaked by Paulson to Goldman Sachs and then by Goldman Sachs to Obama. Boehner defended his proposals, and the meeting quickly devolved into a shouting match amongst the participants. The fallacy of the “deal” announced by Dodd, Frank and Paulson that afternoon was exposed and the meeting broke up in acrimony with an agreement to restart negotiations with a House GOP negotiator on board.

Thereafter, the House GOP leadership whip Roy Blunt was included in negotiations by congressional Democrats over the weekend and some of the more onerous provisions to conservatives were removed, such as the ACORN funding vehicle noted above and a provision that would allow bankruptcy judges to reduce principal and interest of defaulted mortgages without lender consent. The mortgage insurance alternative pushed by Blunt was included in the package, but only as an option as Paulson would not be compelled to use this option. Three other key provisions pushed by the GOP, an end to the “mark to market” requirement for valuation of assets (a return to a three year average in SEC reporting instead of a snapshot market valuation), a rise in the FDIC cap from $100,000 to $250,000.00 and temporary cuts in capital gains and inflow taxes were left out of the deal.

Negotiations dragged on over the weekend until all sides emerged late Saturday night with congressional Democrats again announcing a deal was in place while Blunt said he was “optimistic” but wanted to see the final text produced by the Democrats. A GOP aide added this tepid statement: “I’m not sure yet we can sell it to our conference, but I’m 100 percent sure that this is the best deal we could.”

After some jostling on the Sunday talk shows between campaign surrogates and personal appearances by McCain (“This Week”) and Obama (“Face the Nation”), a media consensus developed that the passage of the bailout deal was likely, if not inevitable. Both Obama and McCain claimed some credit. Indeed, top campaign strategists Steve Schmidt (McCain) and David Axelrod (Obama) squared off on the issue of who should get credit for creating the consensus needed to reach a deal, with Axelrod dismissing any productive role by McCain as “fiction”.

By Sunday night, the Obama campaign was certainly analyzing whether a passage of the Dodd-Blunt Saturday night deal would help or hurt his and McCain’s campaign. With the dire economic news dominating the headlines, Obama had been benefitting greatly in national and state polling, moving from a slight McCain lead to a small but significant Obama lead. The passage of the Dodd-Blunt compromise on Monday afternoon would have surely lead to a gigantic market rally and an intense focus on how each candidate contibuted over the last two weeks to fashion the solution.

Additionally, passage on Monday would have likely moved the severity of the immediate crisis from dominence over the campaign. While Obama’s campaign was already claiming some credit on the Sunday shows, internal polling may have indicated that McCain would be perceived positively as rallying support by delivering a critical bipartisan bill at a time of crisis should the bill pass and calm the markets. Up to this point, the Obama campaign had been successful in painting McCain as “blowing up” the Dodd-Paulson deal while slowing down subsequent negotiations by “injecting presidential politics”.

An analysis of the action on Monday is inconclusive as to whether Obama intentionally scuttled the House’s passage of the Dodd-Blunt package, with evidence on both sides.

Time reports some facts, albeit with a predictably liberal spin, regarding Monday’s vote in the House:

But the two parties have different accounts of what led up to the vote. Two Republican recollections of the same conversation had Blunt informing Hoyer that they were short — Blunt counted 60-some GOP votes and was hopeful they could get as many as 75 — and that Democrats would have to make up the rest. Four Democratic sources dispute this version, insisting they were always promised between 80-90 GOP votes — still short of the 100 votes that would make up a majority of House Republicans, but enough to qualify as a bipartisan victory.

But even some Republicans remarked that their leaders didn’t seem to be trying too hard to get the votes. There wasn’t “some of the bursting of arms that I’ve seen in some votes over the past 12 years,” said Rep. Chip Pickering, a Mississippi Republican. Why wouldn’t there be a harder push on such a crucial bill? “The leaders knew people have deeply held convictions on this,” Pickering said. “Everyone knew what the stakes were.”

And the stakes become even clearer once the tally started at 1:27 Monday afternoon. By 1:51, 227 members had voted against it – nine votes more than the 218 majority. By 2:02 p.m. Hoyer and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the No. 4 House Democrat, were in animated discussions on the Republican side of the chamber with Boehner and Blunt. Hoyer “was running around in there saying, ‘The market is falling! The market is falling!'” said Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican. Faced with a major GOP shortfall, Democrats refused to force 12 of their members to change their votes for a bill that they had just spent the past week renegotiating in order to garner Republican support, dropping several provisions important to Democrats. By 2:05 the vote was done, failing to pass by a margin of 228-205. In the end, Republicans delivered 37%, or 65 of their 199 members, compared to 60% of House Democrats who voted for President Bush’s “rescue” plan.

An aide to No. 4 Democratic House Leader Raul Emanuel commented that “We wanted enough to put the pressure on the Republicans and Congressman Emanuel was charged with making it close enough. He did a great job.” Accordingly, the Democratic leadership itself confirms that vote totals for the bill were kept down to increase pressure on Republicans to support the bill, notwithstanding Blunt’s call to Hoyer earlier in the day stating that Blunt’s count was in the 60’s for GOP support.

It must be noted that Emanuel was a board member of Fannie Mae, and may be concerned about a potential McCain Department of Justice engaging in a widespread Fannie Mae investigation as he was a board member. Furthermore, Emanuel is born of Illinois politics, as is Obama, and has taken a role as a lead Obama surrogate since the end of the primaries when Emanuel supported Clinton and is clearly taking his marching orders from Obama.

Another piece of evidence which weighs against Obama intentionally blowing up the Dodd-Blunt deal is the release of Obama’s Monday remarks prior to his speech. Those remarks appeared to assume that the bailout had passed – once it failed, Obama’s actual speech was altered to reflect that reality. On the other hand, that release could have been gamesmanship by Obama’s campaign to disprove the potential accusation that he killed the bill before they were made.

The role of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the failure of Monday’s bailout package cannot be overstated, and Pelosi is certainly taking her marching orders from Obama as well. Incredibly, an aide to House Democratic leadership noted that Pelosi essentially ordered Democratic Whip James Clyburn to not do his job rounding up votes:

“Clyburn was not whipping the votes you would have expected him to, in part because he was uncomfortable doing it, in part because we didn’t want the push for votes to be successful,” says one leadership aide. “All we needed was enough to potentially get us over the finish line, but we wanted the Republicans to be the ones to do it. This was not going to be a Democrat-passed bill if the Speaker had anything to say about it.”

Pelosi’s final contributions as Speaker to move this legislation bear mentioning: railing against the House GOP members on Saturday for being “unpatriotic” for not engaging in bailout negotiations earlier (notwithstanding the fact that Democratic leadership froze out the House GOP) and moments before the vote Monday, giving a blisteringly partisan speech on the House floor attacking the GOP and Bush, dovetailing nicely with Obama’s claim that the crisis was the “final verdict” on Bush and GOP deregulation policies. In an odd moment of symmetry with Obama’s later speech, Pelosi’s partisan comments were deviations from the remarks issued by Pelosi’s office that morning and up to an hour after she spoke.

Most of Pelosi’s closest congressional allies from California voted against the bailout, and a third of the Democrats on the committee which wrote the bill (12 of 37) voted against the bailout. Almost all freshman Democratic House members voted against the bill with Pelosi’s blessing just as voting began, as did many of Pelosi’s House committee leaders. Many fence-sitters on the GOP side saw this early voting action and Pelosi’s attack speech as the straw that broke the camel’s back and lead them to vote against the package.

Furthermore, a majority (23-16) of the all-Democratic Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) voted against the bailout, despite the fact that few CBC members face competitive elections in November and Obama has considerable sway over the caucus. Indeed, even Obama’s national campaign chairman, close ally and Chicago-based Illinois Democrat Jesse Jackson, Jr. voted against the bill. Accordingly, it stands to reason that if Obama wanted to push the bailout package through, he could have called upon his close allies in the CBC or at least national campaign chairman Jackson to support the package – but Obama did not expend that political capital.

At the end of the day, McCain and the House GOP leadership was only able to garner 65 votes for the Dodd-Blunt bailout package. McCain’s Arizona House contingent all voted against the bailout as well, perhaps indicating the lack of McCain’s ability to corral votes. McCain did make calls on Sunday pushing the package to House GOP members.

At the moment of truth, Democratic leadership refused to force 12 of its members to switch their votes and the bill failed, creating a market free fall to the largest single day point loss in Dow Jones history. The resultant headlines clearly favored Obama, as McCain was ridiculed for being unable to garner enough House GOP support to pass the package. Had the package passed, even if only with the same 65 House GOP votes, McCain would clearly be in a position to claim some credit and the economic crisis would be declining in importance.

Taken together, the evidence outlined above does not conclusively prove whether Obama’s campaign did or did not intentionally scuttle yesterday’s vote, and it is likely no conclusive evidence will ever emerge. However, the fact that so many close allies of Obama’s voted against the bill, the mudslinging by Pelosi moments before the vote and Emanuel’s choking off of additional Democratic votes support the theory that the Obama campaign made a conscious decision to scuttle the bailout package Monday.

Obama clearly benefits from the continued dominance of the economic crisis on the media narrative of the campaign, and Obama’s newfound full-throated endorsement of the bailout after it’s failure yesterday indicates that Obama now wants the bailout to pass and the credit to accrue to him and not John McCain. Fear is now spreading through Main Street America and Obama may indeed be seen as the saviour of the economy with his new push, while the GOP is perceived as at fault for Monday’s failure. Whether Obama intentionally scuttled the vote Monday or not, the bill’s failure and his new strategy is likely to succeed in continuing his rise in the polls while foreclosing any chance that McCain can quickly regain the momentum and perhaps the Presidency.

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Bailout Vote Fails – Dow Crashes – Arm Twisting Ongoing

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Washington, D.C. shocked the markets just now as the vote on the bailout package failed 228-205, with one nonvote. Critics continue to tout alternative rescue strategies to the bailout which would not use taxpayer money to purchase the mortgage securities. The Dow Jones average dipped almost 700 points just as the “nay” votes passed the critical halfway point of 217 points, and is now stabilizing at approximately 450 points down at 10,700.

Already, two votes have switched to “yea”, and that count now stands 226-208. Right now, behind the scenes, the game of chicken between Pelosi and Boehner continues as another 11 votes are needed to switch to pass the bill. Whether the bill passes today or not will set the political agenda for the candidates the battle may take the focus off of McCain’s newly aggressive strategy outlined in his speech today.

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