Over the weekend, after the Waxman-Markey climate change bill passed the House by a predictably slim margin, President Obama sat down with some climate and energy reporters to discuss the state of play of energy reform.
Addressing the political risk some Democrats took by voting for the bill, Obama mocked the GOP for perpetuating a myth that should be familiar to readers of TPMDC. "So are there going to be nay-sayers?" Obama asked. "Absolutely."
Are there going to be short-term instances where you can get political gain by scaring the bejesus out of people and telling them that their electricity rates are going to go up a thousand percent and this is going to be a tax of $3,000 -- even though the studies that they cite the authors of say that these guys are just lying about these costs? Yes. Those political talking points will, in some cases, have some short-term impact.
In a 5-4 decision--in which Anthony Kennedy was once again the swing vote--the Supreme Court has rejected a decision by Sonia Sotomayor and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, finding that the city of New Haven's promotion policy for firefighters, amounted to discrimination against whites. The city had tossed out a promotions test on which black firefighters performed poorly, prompting a number of white firefighters to sue.
The ruling can be found here (PDF). This move could reignite the fight over Sotomayor, who Obama nominated to the Supreme Court this spring. Conservatives have repeatedly cited the case--Ricci v. Destefano--as evidence that the New York judge would favor minorities in her decisions as an Associate Justice.
Already, the RNC has released a "Research Briefing" called "Reaching on Ricci" in which they allege that Sotomayor has now had seven of her decisions go before the High Court, and the Court has agreed with her reasoning only once."
To reach that ratio, though, they cite one case--Knight v. Commissioner--in which the lower court's ruling was upheld.
Conservative groups and Sotomayor supporters alike will be weighing in throughout the day. We'll let you know what they have to say.
A lot of talk is going around about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R-MN) statement on CNN yesterday that he would sign a certificate of election for Al Franken. But in fact, nothing new was said here -- he reaffirmed stuff he's said before, that he'll sign a certificate under the orders of the state Supreme Court, but if a federal court intervenes to stop him then he will follow that order, too:
"Well, a federal court could stay or put a limit on or stop the effect of the state court ruling. If they chose, if they do that, I would certainly follow their direction," said Pawlenty. "But if that doesn't happen promptly or drags out for any period of time, then we need to move ahead with signing this, particularly if I'm ordered to do that by the state court."
The big question here is whether Pawlenty is playing a wink-wink, nudge-nudge of subtly encouraging such a federal challenge, or if he's simply saying that he'll follow court orders while also laying out the potential permutations that can happen. His tone in this particular interview maybe seemed a bit more in favor of the second option than last time. But there's only one way to find out what will actually happen.
Obama Opposes Trade Penalties In Climate Bill
President Obama has come out against a provision of the climate-change bill that passed the House on Friday, which would impose tariffs on other countries that don't accept limits on pollution. "At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we've seen a significant drop in global trade," Obama told reporters, "I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there."
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama will meet one-on-one with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, at 2:15 p.m. ET, with an expanded meeting at 2:45 p.m. ET. At 4:25 p.m. ET, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a reception for LGBT Pride Month. At 7:15 p.m. ET, Obama will attend a reception for National Finance Committee members.
Axelrod: Obama Won't Rule Out Middle-Class Tax Hike
Appearing on This Week, Senior White House David Axelrod did not rule out the idea of President Obama raising taxes on people making under $250,000 -- which Obama pledged not to do during the 2008 campaign -- in order to fund health care. "One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done," said Axelrod. "That's not the way the president approaches us. He is very cognizant of protecting people -- middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks."
McConnell: We Have Best Health Care System In The World
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attacked the Democrats' health care proposals. "Well, listening to them, you wouldn't recognize that America has the finest health care system in the world. We have some problems with access and with cost, which can -- addressed without wrecking the best health care system in the world," said McConnell. "What they really have in mind, Bret [Baier], is to create a government-run plan after which there won't be any private insurance companies."
Obama Praises Energy Bill, Calls For Senate Passage
In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama praised the House of Representatives for passing the energy bill last night, calling it an important component of economic growth and technological development. And he urge the Senate to follow suit quickly:
"Now my call to every Senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past," said Obama. "Don't believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It's just not true."
Boehner Blasts "Go-It-Alone" Democrats
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) delivered the Republican address this weekend, going after the Democrats on the issues of spending, health care and energy:
"Republicans are offering common-sense solutions that will make a real difference in creating jobs, making health care more affordable, and promoting a cleaner, healthier environment, and reducing energy costs," said Boehner. "We hope our Democrat colleagues will abandon their failed go-it-alone approach and work with us to make these reforms a reality."
After House Minority Leader John Boehner's pseudo-filibuster, the final vote on the Waxman-Markey bill was 219-212 with eight Republicans voting in favor and 44 Democrats voting against. Interestingly, at least one Democrat voted for the bill but was then cleared to switch to a 'no' vote once final passage was assured. The bill needed only 218 votes to pass, but the single additional vote will spare certain vulnerable Democrats from the charge that they were the deciding vote on the bill's success.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) took to the House floor this evening, in order to make what may be the strongest Republican argument there is against the climate-change bill -- that it represents a full-scale takeover of "every aspect" of people's lives by a tyrannical government:
Bachmann recited various statistics about how awful the bill would be. "But what is worse than this is the fact that now because of this underlying bill, the federal government will virtually have control over every aspect of lives for the American people," she said. "It is time to stand up and say: We get to choose. We choose liberty, or we choose tyranny -- it's one of the two."
As I reported yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner has seemingly traded in his old talking point on cap and trade legislation for a blue chart with brightly colored words on it.
Moments ago, he brought his new weapon to the House floor.
Unfortunately for Boehner, it doesn't seem to be changing anybody's mind with respect to the Waxman-Markey bill. But more unfortunately for its supporters, he's also poised to drag this debate on for hours by reading a recently incorporated 300 page amendment to the bill out loud. A pseudo-filibuster, if you will, to delay the vote as long as possible.
The House of Representatives will soon begin the mark up process on its so-called tri-committee health care proposal, and in these early stages, discussions are under way between the bill's advocates and its potential opponents to help build support for it. One of the key legislators in this process is Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) who has considerable clout with moderates in his party.
I asked him a bit about his coalition building yesterday, and here's what he had to say.
"People are still looking at it and trying to understand it and asking questions. A fair number of moderates are with us, a fair number of moderates have reservations. I met with a number of my friends who you might call moderates, or Blue Dogs, last night and we talked about their concerns and about how their concerns can be met with a bill that I would regard as responsible."
Certain Blue Dogs have raised objections to the public insurance option (or aspects thereof) some of which were addressed when that particular provision was being drafted.