TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning liveblog of the Sunday Morning nabobs and the television shows they have but which you really don't need to watch. Someday, BBC4's Charlie Brooker will have to parody these things

My name is Jason and the State of my Union is SNOWED UPON, by a surprisingly large amount! Today we have SOTU after-action chit chat, plus my boss, she is on one of these panels today. You can send me emails, or leave a comment, or follow me on the Twitter later, when all is calm and I'm just making random quips into the ether. Use your iPad for that, maybe. (I hope we do nothing but type about all the jobs we're getting, making iPads, today!)

Probably not, though. So, okay:


So, we are going to talk about the economy! With four people who know a lot about politicizing the economy, Chris Van Hollen, Paul Ryan, Evan "Hyper-timid Incrementalist Bullshit Maven" Bayh, and some other dude, Lamar Alexander, I think.

If you want to hear something of substance, about the economy, before you slog into these dudes yammering, let's toss it over to Choire Sicha:

The big headline today is that, from 2009's third quarter to the fourth quarter, the gross domestic product increased at an annualized rate of 5.7%. This sounds really big! So many big headlines about it. But may we put it in perspective? One of the short versions is that people had more cash, and spent more, in the final three months of the year, that they did in the previous three months. So when the Times trumpets that the "U.S. Economy Grew at Fastest Pace in 6 Years Last Quarter," what they mean is that, in six whole years, this is the largest quarter over quarter contrast. Is this shocking? Actually it is because the previous quarter was kind of garbage. Let us instead compare to years previous. The government says: "GDP decreased 2.4 percent in 2009 (that is, from the 2008 annual level to the 2009 annual level), in contrast to an increase of 0.4 percent in 2008." So, you know, another way to headline this announcement would be something like: "U.S. Economy Ended 2009 Only 2.4% Worse Than 2008." Here's how Bloomberg expressed that idea: "For all of 2009, the economy shrank 2.4 percent, the worst single-year performance since 1946."

On the other hand, that could be a terrible way of looking at it, and we may have actually oriented our ship of state in the direction of prosperity! This stuff is really confusing, okay! And Nouriel Roubini says that dark days are ahead of us, but then, that's sort of the same thing as Katy Perry saying, "Look, I have boobs, they are a work of Da Vincian perfection."

Anyway, I guess this next part will help make all of this more perplexing.

Ryan says Obama's State of the Union was "insincere," like maybe a Death Cab For Cutie record? He doesn't want tax hikes. He wants magic debt reduction, AND revenue decreases, which leads to UNDERPANTS, which leads to Profit! But Evan Bayh, he wants someone to reduce the deficit for him, but he'd like to not do it himself. SOMEONE DO IT FOR HIM. And he yells at "far left wing blogs" for criticizing the spending freeze -- in 2008, Obama criticized the spending freeze, because he was a blog!

Alexander isn't happy either, he doesn't want TARP spent on small businesses. Van Hollen says "you have to believe in the tooth fairy" to believe that the stimulus had no effect on the GDP, but maybe it was slower inventory liquidation that caused it?

Senate has passed Pay As You Go, which was opposed by the GOP in the Senate, but Van Hollen touts it as "conservative" anyway, which seems like one of those instances where you should "use your own frame" or whatever.

Wallace says, "But isn't your answer for everything a tax cut?" Alexander says, OH IT'S JUST PART OF A SOLUTION. We should also reduce health care costs (THROUGH MAGIC.) Then he says he wouldn't approve of a massive tax cut...he'd approve THREE MASSIVE TAX CUTS, and pretend they are boutique matters.

Now they are talking about the deficit commission idea that is not going to work and which Obama will create through executive order so we can watch it not work. See, Alexander won't serve on it. He won't get seven more Republicans to vote for it. Ryan says he would serve on it, but says it's gotten politicized. He also seems to thing it's become more "Democratically tilted," but the last I heard, the Gregg-Conrad commission looked like this:

8 Democratic Lawmakers + 8 GOP Lawmakers + 2 White House Appointees= 10 Dem/8 GOP

Whereas Obama's would look like this:

6 Dem lawmakers + 6 GOP lawmakers + 6 WH appointees (4 Dem/2 GOP) = 10 Dem/8 GOP

If that's how Ryan does math, then maybe he should not be appointed to this thing!

Bayh: "I think it's unfortunate the sort of blame laying that's going on." He then goes on to do a bunch of blame laying.

Is Health Care Reform dead? Van Hollen says no, they are talking with the Senate to make a deal.

Oh, goody. More of these four! Lamar Alexander wants Captain Crotchfire to be tried in a military commission, where he will never be tried or convicted, just jailed forever. Same with KSM. Evan Bayh wants to not spend money trying KSM, because of all of our "fiscal problems." Can't wait to see his plan to make the Afghanistan war deficit neutral. Regardless, I'm okay with spending less money, but not trying these guys in Federal court is just crazy insane.

How on Earth is a trial "giving KSM a propaganda tool?" This, I have never understood. Not giving him a trial makes us look like quislings and it makes al Qaeda look like they are right about us. That's a propaganda tool. I think that these idiots think that at a trial, defendants get to monologue, endlessly, and that KSM has got some sort of magic hat that he wears that makes his insanity sound convincing.

Ryan is happy that the GOP hosted a Q&A with Obama. It looks like they're regretful of having cameras on, in the room, but I think the GOP is drawing the wrong lesson. Yes, I think that on that day, Obama had the better run of things. But every dog has his day: the GOP should study game tape, and hold the next televised Q&A as soon as possible. Personally, I'd like to see the Democrats get their shot at the same thing -- ask Obama questions. I'd like to see which Democratic lawmakers want to offer leadership of their own, and which ones just want to kiss the President's ass.

This stuff is great, and it would have been great -- at least to my mind -- even if the GOP had spent the whole day kicking Obama's ass. I guess I just love the smell of accountability in the afternoon. LET'S MAKE THIS A TRADITION, GUYS.

MORE PANELS. This time it's the Fox panel, with Charles Krauthammer switched out for Brit Hume, which is bad news for Tiger Woods, and all of America's Masturbators.

Kristol says that Obama was mugged by reality in 2009, which is why I always cross to the other side of the street when I see reality coming. Kristol says that the second year will be more centrist, Liasson says that's always how it was intended, and that they wanted to "test Congress to see how much they could handle." But, she says, HCR could still get through. She also agrees that the Obama/GOP tete a tete was a great idea.

Krauthammer says the Obama is "still an ideologue" and has no plans to pivot.

I think that Obama does himself absolutely no political harm, by the way, at pointing to the bleachers and swinging for the fences on financial reform. And the side benefit is: really good financial reform might get passed!

Juan Williams is here to state the obvious: Obama is going to switch his focus to jobs. Krauthammer insists that Obama is showing "no retreat" from his earlier positions. Is Krauthammer trying to rally the liberal base, here? This is all very "David after Dentist."

Oh, there's still more of this panel? The terror trials: Kristol says that moving them is an embarrassment for Eric Holder, and that KSM should be tried by a military commission, and predicts that he'll be tried at GITMO by the end of the year. According to the Unified Theory of Kristol Prognostication, this means that won't happen, which is a relief. Liasson, agrees, thinking that it will be a trial in some other Federal court venue.

Krauthammer thinks Eric Holder has made fundamental mistakes in the War on Terror, which, bu the Unified Field Theorem Of Krauthammer Never Being Right on National Security, is the most comforting news I've heard in a long while.

Juan Williams points out that "we convict terrorists in court all the time." Smash cut to Kristol gritting on him.

Anyway, moving the trial from the Federal venue makes America look like a punch of wimps.

Krauthammer, by the way, is styling himself as an expert on underpants-borne explosives. And now Juan Williams is yelling at everyone else, and I already have a headache so: click.


Barbara Walters is going to ask Scott Brown about the nudity of his nude campaign for a naked America, in trucks. Hopefully, she will ask about the SNL sketch from last night, but probably not, this looks pre-taped. Here is that, though:

Anyway, Scott Brown still does dishes and walks a teensy little teacup dog. But according to Brown, WE ARE ALL THE FORTY-FIRST SENATOR NOW. But don't make him out to be the new King Obama hater:

WALTERS: It has been said all over the country that your election was more about disappointment in the president than it was about voting for you in particular.

BROWN: I have to respectfully disagree. People here spoke very loudly and -- and very plainly about taxes and spending, terrorism, and the health care proposal.

Brown does not have business cards. Which reminds me, my business cards have the wrong address, and they need to be updated. I identify with Scott Brown, although America, quite rightly does not want to see me nude, because that would be like an atomic boner killer, hidden in tunnels under Iran. But maybe Arianna will mention my need for business cards, on the panel. In the meanwhile, just use my email address, America.

Brown says he's pro-choice, and seems to be okay with gay marriage, though this is more something he just doesn't publicly object to when Walters brings it up, and then does not bring it up again. Isn't this all stuff that we've known about Scott Brown, for a long time now? Maybe she'll ask if she knows who Curt Schilling pitched for?

Walters asks about the Tea party's influence, to which Brown replies: "Well, you're making an assumption that the Tea Party movement was influential, and I have to respectfully disagree. It was everybody." I sort of see the Tea Party movement as a front group that takes people's money and gives it to Sarah Palin, for speaker's fees.

Brown goes on to say that Obama's SOTU indicates that on "some issues," the president has "gotten a message from [his] election." But Brown also notes that he is supportive of things like the Afghanistan escalation already. BUt, he says that spending freezes must happen "immediately." And yes, that would destroy the economy faster and quicker, instead of teasing it back to a little bit of life and then jumping out at it and yelling, "BAH! SPENDING FREEZE! ENJOY SOME REINFORCED, CYCLICAL DOWNTURNS, BITCH!"

Brown is in favor of creating a budget commission by executive order that will get bogged down in three layers of supermajority veto points, but allow Scott Brown to never have to make a difficult choice on budget cuts that might upset his constituents. (That's what the budget commission does, after all, it is a device by which INCUMBENCY IS PRESERVED.)

Brown thinks that the whole HCR plan should be scrapped, lest it become as popular as it is in Massachusetts. Were that to happen, he would have to support it, in order to preserve his incumbency.

Walters wants to know if Tim Geithner should be replaced, to which he replies: "I think that if he feels comfortable with -- with Tim, then he -- he should keep him." That's sort of a fancy way of saying, "Jesus, I just got here, lady!"

Brown won't take a side on Don't Ask Don't Tell (though he's clearly in favor of it) because first, he wants to speak to the "generals on the ground." So, he's already embracing at least one stupid Washington cliche! Anyway, I'm sure that the "Generals on the Ground" are looking forward to getting the message from their Receptionists On The Ground: "General? On the ground? Scott Brown called, and he really, really, needs to know about the Gay, and what is happening with the Gay? That's how he put it. Also, I think he tried to sell me his daughter or something? SO IRONIC, when you consider the phrase don't-ask-don't-tell, right? Anyway, General, how is the ground doing? Oh, you don't have time to talk about the ground? Okay. I'm sure you are doing the best you can, with the ground. Anyway, Scott Brown is worried about the Gay and his daughter's dowry, or something, so, whenever you want to take up this post-modern staged reading of TAMING OF THE SHREW, call him back?"

Here's an interesting exchange:

WALTERS: President Obama said that in the last year there are more Al Qaeda terrorists including leaders captured or killed than in 2008. Now, obviously there are incidents like the one on Christmas day. Do you think that the president has made the country more safe?

BROWN: I think -- I think -- I don't think it's just about the president. It's not his job. His job is to be our leader, and he delegates to the appropriate authorities to make those decisions.

So I'm not going to give him a grade and say who did -- President Bush or President Obama -- who did the better job. I just want them to continue to do a good job, and I want to be able to provide, you know, my knowledge and my energy to helping.

Could Scott Brown be the only person in Washington besides myself that understands that the POTUS is supposed to preserve and defend the Constitution and that he's not sworn to protect Americans? Interesting.

WALTERS: There's so much -- there's been so much anger and so much conflict. Do you think it's going it change?

BROWN: Well, it happens in many presidencies. This isn't the first. The fact that the number is a 60-40 number has certainly contributed to that, you know, head-banging.

It's been like, one long Motorhead concert, here. With Michele Bachmann as the opener.

Walters wants to talk about Brown's upbringing and brown quips, "I'm not going to cry by the way." BECAUSE WALTERS MAKES GROWN MEN CRY, THROUGH HER JOURNALISM MAGICKS!

Things get WAY SOFT FOCUS FROM THERE. Did you know Scott Brown loves his family? I hope the Russians love their children too! I hope we can all build fortresses around our hearts! And in those fortresses, take nude pictures of ourselves.

By the way...

WALTERS: The Cosmopolitan Magazine. Well it just so happens, I have it.

BROWN: Great. I'm sure you do.


BROWN: Really? You're kidding, right?

WALTERS: Here. I really do. I have the magazine.

BROWN: Oh, yeah. The good old days. Do you want me to sign it?

WALTERS: Actually -- I want you -- well, it's a thought. I could -- I could then sell it for a lot.

BROWN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

WALTERS: But this is...

BROWN: Yeah.

WALTERS: ... the actual picture.


WALTERS: It's a -- it's a...

BROWN: I wish I still looked like that.

WALTERS: Well I'm not going to ask you to prove it. But this is pretty -- this is pretty raw stuff.


WALTERS: You know some women have said to me, "If a woman did a nude centerfold spread" -- even if it was more than 20 years ago -- they're not sure that she would be elected senator, because there's a double standard. What do you think?

BROWN: I think if someone is qualified, regardless of what they did in their youth -- we all make mistakes. I'm not perfect. And do I regret doing that? No. Cause if I hadn't done that, I never would have been sitting here with you. It's all connected. So is there a double standard? I hope not. If someone is qualified to do the job, they should be able to do it, regardless of what they've done in their past.

Kids at home: if you really want to meet Barbara Walters, splaying your junk in a lady mag is just one way of doing that. It's really important that you remember that.

Scott Brown will apparently like American Idol to give his daughter another chance. This really is the most substantive use of your time this morning, by the way. Learning about this interview? Or watching it? Yes. This was a remarkable day, in my life.

Okay! So panel time with George Will, Roger Ailes, Paul Krugman and my boss, so let's see just how fast this conversation turns all meta on me!

Walters begins with a question about how Fox is getting along with the White House, and Ailes does some re-litigation of that pool report incident, asserting that the WH attempted to "ban" them, and that the other networks came to Fox's defense. Uhm...let's go over to Christina Bellantoni:

Feinberg did a pen and pad with reporters to brief them on cutting executive compensation. TV correspondents, as they do with everything, asked to get the comments on camera. Treasury officials agreed and made a list of the networks who asked (Fox was not among them).

But logistically, all of the cameras could not get set up in time or with ease for the Feinberg interview, so they opted for a round robin where the networks use one pool camera. Treasury called the White House pool crew and gave them the list of the networks who'd asked for the interview.

The network pool crew noticed Fox wasn't on the list, was told that they hadn't asked and the crew said they needed to be included. Treasury called the White House and asked top Obama adviser Anita Dunn. Dunn said yes and Fox's Major Garrett was among the correspondents to interview Feinberg last night.

Simple as that, we're told, and the networks don't want to be seen as heroes for Fox.

TPMDC spoke with a network bureau chief this afternoon familiar with the situation who was surprised that Fox was portraying the news as networks coming to its rescue.

"If any member had been excluded it would have been the same thing, it has nothing to do with Fox or the White House or the substance of the issues," the bureau chief said. "It's all for one and one for all."

A Treasury spokesperson added: "There was no plot to exclude Fox News, and they had the same interview that their competitors did. Much ado about absolutely nothing."

But the White House isn't backing down from its feud with Fox.

"This White House has demonstrated our willingness to exclude Fox News from newsmaking interviews, but yesterday we did not," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

This is not off to a good start!

Arianna brings up Glenn Beck, and his language. Ailes says, "let's not be the word police." Arianna brings up Eric Hofstadter and the "Paranoid Style Of American Politics." Ailes comes back about a comment left by a HuffPo commenter that described him as a "malignant tumor." Is that the worst you commenters have ever said about Roger Ailes? Probably not! But y'all should be more civil. And who's to say Ailes doesn't look like a benign tumor, or just a mass of perfectly healthy intestines? I guess that I'm saying is that it's okay to be classy, sometimes.

Will says that "there is cynicism and rage" but that basically most Americans don't care about the media. And I hope that doesn't change, America!

Krugman says that what bothers him is that the public is "not getting informed" about the basic issues of the day. He cites both, "poor reporting" and "deliberate misinformation." Ailes says, "the American people are not stupid!" Krugman says BISH PLS! "It's Mitt Romney's health care plan. People were led to believe that it was socialism."

AILES: But there are 300 million people who have a health care plan that they are happy with. There are about 30 million people who don't have a health care plan. So as an executive, what do you do? You go fix the 30 million. You don't go over here and upset the apple cart for 300 million...

KRUGMAN: Which is exactly what the plan was.

Can health care reform be saved?

KRUGMAN: You know, it's just possible, not completely dead. It could be saved if the president wakes up. If just possibly Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can make a way for this to happen, but it's not very likely.

HUFFINGTON: The only way it can be saved is if the Democrats decide to follow Senator Harkin with his reconciliation sidecar. That's the only way this could be saved.

My boss goes on to note where the economic crisis remains:

HUFFINGTON: But most important, people have not really focused on the crisis on the middle class. When Lehman Brothers collapsed, everybody focused and they did unprecedented things. The middle class is in real trouble. I mean, if you look at the latest Brookings report about the rise of poverty in the suburb, about the fact now that we have one in eight people whose mortgages are under water, who can't pay their credit card bills, this is a major, major problem that the administration is not seriously addressing it.

But she and Krugman disagree on whether Tim Geithner is a problem. Krugman says: "The problem is that Tim Geithner, going back to something earlier, he and the president are soul mates. They both have the view of essentially incrementalist tinkering of the edges and Obama needs to have a view that he's really going to take on. I think financial reform could be an issue where he can recapture some of the sense of being an outsider, some of the sense of running against business as usual. The Republicans will make that easy for him because they are going to be dead set against any kind of financial reform. They will vote not a single vote for any realistic curbs on Wall Street. But he has to find that fire in himself. It's not a question of replacing Tim Geithner, it's a question of replacing his own tendency to think well, you know, let's just stabilize things a little bit."

And I think Paul is right, politically and policy-wise. The problem with removing Geithner, bluntly, is that if you fire him, you consign America to having no Treasury Secretary at all -- a replacement will never get confirmed. Rather, Geithner should be given a better plan to execute, and he can make all the calls on his Wall Street telephone tree and tell him that they're going to have to spend some time apart.

And now, I would like to present, A STUDY IN SERIOUSNESS, a playlet in one scene, starring Barbara Walters, Paul Krugman and Roger Ailes:

KRUGMAN: There's only so much politically that Obama can do to create jobs, because he doesn't have a political capital now. This is, you know, early on in the administration, I was frantic, saying, you have to go big, because you are going to get one shot at this, and they didn't. And so that's -- that is where we are now.

But now to buy into the notion that we're going to start reducing the deficit when the unemployment rate is still at 10 percent, is a very bad thing.

AILES: Jobs is the second issue, in my view.

WALTERS: What's the first?

AILES: Safety and sovereignty of the United States, and I think people, when they see a guy get all the way over Detroit to (inaudible) his underpants, but he could have, and now we're in a situation where we're going to have to either -- we took everybody's shoes off; now we're going to have to take everybody's underpants off. But the fact is, that's not going to stop. We've got to get much tougher. We've cut the hands off the CIA. We can't -- it's the Norwegians that are doing this. We know who it is. We can't seem to say it. So sooner or later, we're going to have to toughen up on all this stuff. And the American people know it, they feel it, and they're worried about it.

And here's the sequel:

AILES: FOX News is fair and balanced. We had Geraldine Ferraro on for 10 years as the only woman the Democrats ever nominated. Now we have the only woman that the Republicans nominated. I'm not in politics, I'm in ratings. We're winning.

HUFFINGTON: Roger, you clearly are in ratings, but if you are in ratings, can you explain to me why FOX went away from the meeting the president was having in -- why did you go away, 20 minutes before the end?

AILES: Because we're the most trusted name in news.

Sometimes, I tell you, this shit just writes itself. And now, for the Sunday funnies:


Couldn't NBC have settled their late night wars by giving Meet The Press to Conan O'Brien? Oh well, now we'll never know. This is what happens at NBC. Don Geiss is robbing banks now! Crazy.

That's okay. Anthropomorphic charisma machine David Axelrod is here to sell us an iPad, or something. And John Boehner is here, to promote the way his face is "The Situation" of faces, that have found themselves in that situation. I just checked in to see what situation the Situation is in.

Speaking of...

AXELROD: Look, here's the situation. The Attorney General and the Defense Department worked out protocols about how these cases should be handled. Under those protocols, the Attorney General decided to bring-- Khalid Sheik Muhammad back to New York to stand trial for his crime for the murder of 3,000-- innocent people. And he wanted to do it near the-- the site of-- of the crime itself.

He wanted to do what the Bush Administration did-- over and over and over again and try these people in-- try these murderers in-- in-- Article Three court. Where these-- an-- and that's what he decided to do. The local authorities were receptive to that, at the time. Since then, as you know, the Mayor and the Police Chief and others have changed their minds. And said they thought it would be logistically difficult and too expensive. We have to take that into consideration. And we're doing that now.

Now, here's the "Snooki": "The President believes that we need to take into consideration what the local authorities-- are saying. But he also believes this. He believes that we ought to-- to bring Khalid Sheik Muhammad and all others who are involved in terrorist acts to justice swift and sure. In the American-- justice system. Now, we have a military commission system and that has its place. But-- we ought to bring people to justice."

As far as how Captain Crotchfire goes, Axelrod insists that "We have not lost anything as a result of how his case has been handled."

Gregory brings up the Obama/House GOP Q&A. He asks: "I wonder whether the decision to accept that invitation was a recognition on the President's part that if he wants to be more than a one term President, he's got to govern from the middle." That's how David Gregory sees the world! Obama must govern from "the middle." And yet the "middle" wants a public option!

DAVID GREGORY: Does he feel-- does he feel like he has to move to the middle to achieve?

DAVID AXELROD: Again, I don't think this is a question of left, right, or center. This is a question of what works.


Gregory: "You talked about a price for Republicans if they continue to block the President's agenda."

I know one price the Republicans won't have to pay! David Gregory will never admonish them for not "moving to the middle."

David Axelrod says that the White House and Congressional Dems have been happy to incorporate GOP policy ideas, right along, so that they really need to start shutting up about that. Let's go to health care reform, HOUSE OF REPS style, to see what Axelrod is talking about:

1. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - DEFICIT NEUTRAL BILL: "Do the American people believe that this almost 2,000 page bill won't add to the deficit?" [Rep. Eric Cantor, 10/29/2009]

HOUSE BILL - DEFICIT NEUTRAL BILL: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House bill costs $894 billion over 10 years and actually reduces the deficit by $30 billion and continues to reduce the deficit over the second 10 years.

2. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - REDUCE COSTS OVER LONG TERM: "Nevertheless, House Republicans recognize the need to lower health care costs." [Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), 9/9/09]

HOUSE BILL - REDUCES COSTS OVER LONG TERM: Encourages payment reforms that can help lower costs. Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish specific benchmarks for expansion of the Accountable Care Organization, Payment Bundling, and Medical Home pilot programs. The bill will also slow the rate of growth of the Medicare program from 6.6% annually to 5.3%.

3. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - POLICIES ACROSS STATE LINES: "Interstate competition allowing people to buy insurance across state lines." [Sen. John Thune (R-SD), 9/8/2009]

HOUSE BILL - POLICIES ACROSS STATE LINES: Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts - permits states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines.

4. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - MEDICAL MALPRACTICE REFORM: "Why not bring about reasonable restrictions and limits on medical malpractice claims to end the era of defensive medicine?" [Rep. Mike Pence (R-IA), 9/9/2009]

HOUSE BILL - ENCOURAGES MALPRACTICE REFORM: The bill establishes a voluntary state incentives grant program to encourage states to implement "certificate of merit" and "early offer" alternatives to traditional medical malpractice litigation.

5. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - HIGH RISK POOLS: "Senator McCain has a proposal sometimes called high-risk pools at the state level...These are efforts I think we can have bipartisan agreement on and deal with the question of pre-existing conditions." [Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), 9/10/2009]

HOUSE BILL - HIGH RISK POOLS: To fill the gap before the Exchange becomes available in 2013, the bill creates an insurance program with financial assistance for those uninsured for several months or denied policy due to preexisting conditions.

6. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - ALLOW YOUNG PEOPLE TO STAY ON PARENTS' POLICIES: "Recognizes that not all high school and college graduates are able to find a job that offers health care coverage after graduation. By allowing dependents to remain on their parents' health policies up to the age of 25, the number of uninsured Americans could be reduced by up to 7 million." [Republican Health Solutions Group]

HOUSE BILL - ALLOW YOUNG PEOPLE TO STAY ON PARENTS' POLICIES: The bill requires health plans to allow young people to remain on their parents' insurance policy until they turn 27.

7. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - NO PUBLIC MONEY FOR ABORTION: "The American people will not stand for government-run insurance that uses taxpayer money to fund abortions in this country." [Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), 10/16/2009]

HOUSE BILL - NO PUBLIC MONEY FOR ABORTION: The bill prohibits abortion services from being made part of essential benefits package and prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, and to save life of the woman).

8. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - PROTECT SMALL BUSINESSES: "Helps employers offer health care coverage to their workers by reducing their administrative costs through a new small business tax credit." [Republican Health Solutions Group]

HOUSE BILL - PROTECTS SMALL BUSINESSES: The bill exempts 86% of businesses from the requirement to provide coverage. Businesses with payrolls below $500,000 are exempt while firms with payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000 would pay a graduated penalty. Small businesses would also receive a tax credit that helps cover 50% of their health care expenses.

9. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - PROMOTE JOB WELLNESS PROGRAMS: "Promotes prevention and wellness by giving employers and insurers greater flexibility to financially reward employees who seek to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, and manage chronic illnesses like diabetes." [Republican Health Solutions Group]

HOUSE BILL - PROMOTE JOB WELLNESS PROGRAMS: The bill establishes a grant program to help small employers create or strengthen workplace wellness programs.

10. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - DELIVERY SYSTEM REFORM: "Uses new and innovative treatment programs to better coordinate care between health
care providers, ensuring that those with chronic disease receive the care they need and do not continue to fall through the cracks." [Republican Health Solutions Group]

HOUSE BILL - DELIVERY SYSTEM REFORM: The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish specific benchmarks for the expansion of the Accountable Care Organization, Payment Bundling, and Medical Home pilot programs.

I'm actually a big fan of finding ways to incorporate differing policy priorities and good-faith attempts to mollify the substantive concerns of the opposing party, Here, we see that House Democrats deserve a lot of credit for doing both.

And now, the weekly exercise in explaining the fact that Obama cut taxes to David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY: One of the debates about spending has to do with the other side of it, which is tax relief. The President's very clear that he wants to let the Bush tax cuts expire. Doesn't want to tax anybody-- or wants to keep-- wants taxes to go up, those making above $250,000. What tax relief would the President consider?

DAVID AXELROD: Well, first of all, the President has said that-- that he thinks that we ought to continue-- those portions of the tax cuts that apply to the middle class. Middle class has-- struggled-- mightily in this economy. And for some time-- before. He-- he's also-- he-- he initiated the-- the Republican Caucus voted against it, but he initiated a tax cut for 95 percent of the American People, the make work pay cut-- tax cut.

Tune in next week, probably, when someone has to explain this again, to him, because he's a fuzzy-brained ninny.

Gregory also wants to know if the State Of The Union was the right forum to call out the Supreme Court. Let's cut to the relevant research:

Harding criticized the Supreme Court for overturning the Child Labor Law in his 1922 State of the Union. In 1922, the Supreme Court found the Child Labor Law of 1919 to be unconstitutional. In his State of the Union address, President Warren G. Harding criticized the court for putting "this problem outside the proper domain of Federal regulation until the Constitution is so amended as to give the Congress indubitable authority. I recommend the submission of such an amendment."

Reagan criticized the court for its ruling on school prayer. In his 1988 State of the Union address, Reagan expressed his displeasure with the court's recent ruling on school prayer:

And let me add here: So many of our greatest statesmen have reminded us that spiritual values alone are essential to our nation's health and vigor. The Congress opens its proceedings each day, as does the Supreme Court, with an acknowledgment of the Supreme Being. Yet we are denied the right to set aside in our schools a moment each day for those who wish to pray. I believe Congress should pass our school prayer amendment.

Reagan directly attacked the Supreme Court for Roe v. Wade. In his 1984 State of the Union address, Reagan attacked the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, during a discussion on abortion:

And while I'm on this subject, each day your Members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America is one nation under God. I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here leading you in prayer, then why can't freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every schoolroom across this land?


During our first 3 years, we have joined bipartisan efforts to restore protection of the law to unborn children. Now, I know this issue is very controversial. But unless and until it can be proven that an unborn child is not a living human being, can we justify assuming without proof that it isn't? No one has yet offered such proof; indeed, all the evidence is to the contrary. We should rise above bitterness and reproach, and if Americans could come together in a spirit of understanding and helping, then we could find positive solutions to the tragedy of abortion.

Bush condemned "activist judges" who are "redefining marriage by court order." In his 2004 State of the Union address, Bush criticized "activist judges" who, according to him, were "redefining marriage by court order":

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our Nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

The outcome of this debate is important, and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight.

I mean, it would be pretty awesome if they could maybe look this stuff up before they did their teevee show.

Anyway, Axelrod quips: "We've become accustomed to unusual outbursts in the chamber during these speeches."

Axelrod goes on to say that America is better off now then it was a year ago, based upon a GDP figure that's as high as it is because of a fluke in the inventory numbers. NO WORRIES, THOUGH! David Gregory totally nails him with his follow-up question: "David Axelrod, thank you as always for being here."

Now here's John Boehner! I bet you are wondering when the part where David Gregory asks Boehner, "Why won't you start governing from the middle?" happens. I guess it happens right here?

DAVID GREGORY: Although the President took on this idea of it being leftist policies on health care, indicating that it was in fact a move to the center and cost containment that cost him some of the support among within his own party. My question is if you heard the President in the State of the Union that saying no is short term good politics, but it's not leadership. You heard the State of the Union. You heard the President this Friday Address. What are you prepared to say yes to? Specifically?

There's a dearth of interesting moments that follow, but it's worth noting that Boehner is not unilaterally against cutting waste at the Pentagon. And neither is SECDEF Gates, so I just cannot fathom why DoD funding cannot be on the spending freeze table. That's where we should start, given that we are pretty much on a counter-terror/counter-insurgency footing right now. Why are we still building fighter planes if we are not currently aware of a coming alien attack?

Also, Boehner is just fine with Michael Steele continuing on at the RNC.

One more panel discussion, and we can toss this morning in the litter box. The larger chunks are: David Brooks, David Faber from "The C stands for the C-Word" CNBC, Eugene Robinson, and Mort Zuckerman.

Wouldn't you have David Brooks discuss a cartoon from the New Yorker? Yes, because he is an elitist prig. Anyway, he says the "country is way ahead of Washington in its anger and its rage." Zuckerman thinks the anger is "a plague on both houses," but that the President takes the heat because he represents his party.

David Gregory then constructs a question out of a quip Obama made at a basketball game that I do not understand because my SAT score was too high.

David Faber says that the challenges the country is facing are "significant." LEARNING SO MUCH TODAY.

Zuckerman finally brings up how the GDP was paced by a reduction in inventory liquidation, so he wins the prize for Pundit of the Day, which goes to the pundit that says, at last, the thing that all discussions should have begun with in the first place, but didn't, which means this Sunday, like all Sundays was a waste of time and an expense of shame and a missed opportunity to really explain issues to the American people. The prize is a $5 gift certificate to Au Bon Pain, as soon as Au Bon Pain invents them.

"It all comes down to uncertainty, at the end of the day," says Brooks. IF ONLY THERE WAS, LIKE, SOME MASS MEDIA THAT COULD BREED CERTAINTY IN THE PUBLIC!

Faber says that the government cannot create jobs, other than the jobs that they can create. So someone else will have to start hiring, because jobs turn out to be important. LEARNING SO MUCH TODAY.

Gregory asks if the Obama administration made a mistake by leading with health care reform, before they got some solid governance under their belt, and Robinson helpfully informs him that when you wait too long and get into an election year, lawmakers turn into wusses, and you can't pass anything.

Then, I have to admit, my eyes just glazed over for a while.

Is this show just going to become a forum for David Gregory to talk about the covers of magazines?

Newt Gingrich has called for a "new Contract with America?" He is truly the most original man in American politics.

WHEN WILL PEOPLE GIVE THE UNEMPLOYED JOBS, DAVID FABER? He does not know. That is the answer. But maybe you can make banks more confident in lending if you'll go back to underwriting all their terrible decisions?

David Brooks says that Eric Holder, in not talking about the KSM trials with the president before he made his decision, made a big mistake. BUT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS SUPPOSED TO BE, as they say, "INDEPENDENT," from the White House? Eugene Robinson sort of points this out?

Ugh, this show. Now it's over.

Well, that's that! Now, America can get back to being concerned about what matters most to them. The premiere of LOST. To get you in the mood for being lost and confused and not having the answers to questions, here's Mike Pence, playing "Hurley," delivering the immortal line, "Well, look, you know, I was, uh, yeah, yeah, look, uh."

Have a great week!