DeMint Brings “DeStupid” Against Obama

March 29, 2010

South Carolina’s Repug U.S. Senatorial mistake tells us the following from The Hill today (here)…

A day after the Senate adjourned for Easter recess President Obama said he was going to appoint 15 of his nominees during the break, depriving the Senate the opportunity to vet and vote on any of them.

Wrong – as Think Progress tells us here (quoting White House Communications Director Jen Psaki)…

Many of these fifteen individuals have enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but have found their confirmation votes delayed for reasons that have nothing to do with their qualifications. … Because of political posturing, these fifteen appointees have waited an average of 214 days for Senate confirmation. […]

To put this in perspective, at this time in 2002, President Bush had only 5 nominees pending on the floor. By contrast, President Obama has 77 nominees currently pending on the floor, 58 of whom have been waiting for over two weeks and 44 of those have been waiting more than a month.

And DeMint went onto the Bob Schieffer program “Faze The Nation” yesterday to trot out the same old whine about the Senate being denied an opportunity “to vet and vote on any of them,” to which TP says in response…

Despite what DeMint is saying, the problem is that Republicans were preventing (Craig) Becker (nominated for the NLRB) from receiving an up-or-down vote. Becker, in fact, has never received such a vote, thanks to a GOP filibuster (which was joined by Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln). In February, the motion to file cloture on his nomination was defeated by a 33-52 vote (with 15 senators missing the vote), eight short of the 60 needed to proceed to debate and a final vote. Even if all of the non-voting members had voted no, Becker still would have received the approval of a majority of the Senate.

There’s a similar story for many of other Obama’s nominees, including Erroll Southers, the man Obama chose to lead the Transportation Security Administration. DeMint led the opposition to Southers — in an attempt “to prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union” — who eventually chose to withdraw from consideration because of the delays.

More on Southers in a minute; the Hill article by DeMint includes him in a list of President Obama’s “Top 10 Failed Nominees and Appointees,” including the following (I’ll just look at 5 from the list for now):

White House “Green Jobs” czar Van Jones resigned after he it was discovered he signed a statement in support of a 9/11 “Truther” group.

Which, last I checked, was perfectly legal behavior (free speech and all that, you know).

Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) withdrew his nomination to become Health and Human Services Secretary after it was discovered he failed to properly pay his taxes.

Concerning Daschle, DeMint is actually correct, but the following should be noted (here)…

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s pick for health and human services secretary, Tom Daschle, failed to pay more than $128,000 in taxes, partly for free use of a car and driver that had been provided to him by a prominent businessman and Democratic fund-raiser, administration officials said Friday.

Mr. Daschle, concluding that he owed the taxes, filed amended returns and paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest on Jan. 2, the officials said.

After over a year of ridiculous partisan warfare with the Repugs, though, I wonder if Obama would have been as quick to accept Daschle’s resignation now as he was soon after he was inaugurated, when he was still all “hopey, changey” and like that.

DeMint also mentions Bill Richardson, who “withdrew his nomination to become Commerce Secretary because of an ongoing investigation into whether he doled out government contracts in exchange for campaign money” (as Wikipedia tells us here, “In August 2009, federal prosecutors dropped the pending investigation against the governor”).

Now, about Southers; here is DeMint…

(He was) Obama’s nominee to serve as director of the Travel Security Administration, (but he) withdrew after refusing to answer questions about collective bargaining and false testimony he presented to Congress.

From HuffPo (here)…

Southers said he couldn’t give DeMint a definitive answer on the collective bargaining issue because it wasn’t a yes or no question (the type of answer DeMint demanded), and required access to information he wouldn’t have had until he was confirmed.

And finally from DeMint…

Maj. Gen. Robert A. Harding, Obama’s second nominee to service as director of the Travel Security Administration, withdrew his name after it was discovered he received “service disabled veteran” status for sleep apnea.

Call me crazy, but based on this, it looks like sleep apnea could be a legitimate service disability (I would imagine that it would be difficult to, say, navigate a tank if you’re dozing off due to such a condition).

This is all typical for DeMint and his childish little games, though, also in evidence here in which he opposed the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act in 2007 after an agreement had supposedly been reached on it between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao.

As usual for a Repug, DeMint isn’t interested here in the whole “advice and consent” thing the Senate is supposed to perform here as opposed to trying to score cheap political points (which I’m sure will comfort DeMint’s equally clueless legion of teabagger followers).

Of course, having looked like a first-class rube over the passing of health care in the wake of DeMint’s call to stop it because “It will break (Obama) – It will be his Waterloo,” I suppose DeMint has to do something to try and remain relevant somehow.

Is Daschle Doing The “Health Care Hustle”?

September 1, 2009

Deborah Solomon of the New York Times conducted the following interview with the one-time Obama HHS Secretary nominee in the Sunday magazine, in which we learned the following…

DS: It has been reported that you’re a paid adviser to the insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, which opposes your belief that health care reform needs to have a public option. Why do you work with them?

TD: On the left there are those who say that you should never talk to people who differ with you on a high-profile issue. My question to the left would be, whom would they advise these insurance companies talk to? Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin? That’s the alternative. They can talk to Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, or they can talk to me.

Well, given that UnitedHealth Group has pretty much decided to do anything they possibly can to defeat the public option by claiming it will cost too much money (here), when in reality it will do the opposite (here, according to Daschle himself)…yeah, I think they should be talking to Limbaugh, Beck and Palin instead (to undermine their basically untenable positions, that is).

And this kind of “hedging his bets” mentality is what bugs me about most Dem “centrists” such as Daschle generally and on this issue in particular (though I guess the instruction “from the top down” was for no “drama” on this issue, and that seems to be the way both Daschle and Kathleen Sebelius – the eventual HHS Secretary – have gone about it).

The problem, of course, is that there was bound to be “drama” on this issue, a fight that has been simmering at varying degrees in this country for over 70 years. And I’d like to see Daschle drawing the same confrontational line that he takes against “the left” against some of his other “shareholders” on this issue (every time I see Democrats/progressives/liberals/whatever referred to as “the left,” by the way, I feel that we should all be harvesting grain in a field somewhere wearing red bandanas to capture the sweat of our brow and happily singing songs about the workers’ control of the means of production).

But I digress…

Meanwhile, Alison Kilkenny of HuffPo tells us the following from here…

…it was Daschle who first introduced the idea of nonprofit insurance cooperatives as an alternative to the public option. Daschle and his good buddy, Blue Dog Kent Conrad, came up with the idea of insurance co-ops which included the concept of “triggers” that landed Rahm Emanuel in hot water with progressive groups like Firedoglake when he first floated the idea past the public. Basically, the trigger idea meant that the public option would only become a reality if state co-ops or other programs failed to meet certain cost and coverage goals within five years. The idea sank almost immediately thanks in large part to progressive watchdog groups. Now, Henry Waxman told Roll Call, “[Emanuel] doesn’t stand by the trigger…He said the president and his administration and he are for a public plan as one of the options.”

Privately, Daschle tells his health care industry buddies that the public option is far from finalized. In order to calm the nerves of drug company executives, Daschle told them that “there is no consensus on whether there ought to be a public option.” As recent as last week, he told the hospital executives, “There is virtually no support among Republican members for a public option, and that remains an unresolved element of this debate.” Of course, Daschle is only concerned with support in Congress. Meanwhile, the newest polls indicated that Americans overwhelming(ly) support the idea of including a public option in health care reform.

Given that, Daschle should remain as adamant about the public option (and its cost benefit) as he first was in the linked post above.

I understand, though, that Daschle is a strategist, as Jed L. recounts in this Daily Kos post over what would eventually become the fiasco of Medicare Part D. However, I think health care reform calls for the “fire in the belly” approach of the late Sen. Kennedy (probably impossible to calculate the impact of his loss on this issue and so many others), as opposed to the calculated strategy of Daschle who, as Jed notes, wanted to pass the bill to help fellow South Dakota senator Tim Johnson in a campaign against John Thune in 2002, who of course would defeat Daschle two years later.

(And by the way – and this goes for all Dems – I more or less came to accept that “single payer” wasn’t going to fly, but I never received an explanation to that effect from the party that has tried to pull off health care reform. That would have been a nice courtesy, if nothing else).

I suppose part of what has spurred me on to say something is a recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he criticized the Dems for not selling this issue as forcefully as the Repugs would for one of their pet causes. And though I realize that there’s a big difference between marketing something as complicated as health care reform as opposed to a war of choice in Iraq, I’m not sure that Daschle or the Dems generally have any idea of how to do the former (again, in a way befitting the Bush crowd, which was never shy about what it wanted).

In closing, I should note that Solomon tells us that Daschle “felt liberated” when he left the Senate to the point where he decided to wear red glasses.

Given that Tom Daschle has decided to bring the metaphorical knife to the health care gun fight on the matter of the public option (and doesn’t seem to understand those who came properly armed), I believe those glasses have somewhat of a rose-colored tint to them also.

Update: In a related vein, as they say, I present this (hat tip to Atrios – I should link to John Cole more often).

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