Pennsylvania's Joe Lieberman (Rep. Joe Sestak)

This is what happens when we play politics instead of standing up for our principles.

After the House passed health care reform with a strong public option to provide real choice and savings for Americans, Joe Lieberman has killed the public option in the Senate and threatened reform as a whole. He's even refused excessive compromises, including a public option "trigger" and allowing Americans to buy into Medicare at age 55 -- a position he advocated only months ago.

It's a shame that the most important piece of the Democratic agenda has been hijacked by a member of the Democratic Caucus representing a solidly Democratic state, but it's not surprising.


Lesson learned from the pilgrims (Rep. Michele Bachmann)

Credit to Scott Johnson at Powerline for a great Thanksgiving day post featuring the work of Professor Paul Rahe, "one of the academy's foremost authorities on the history of republics." Reflecting on Thanksgiving, Rahe points to the Pilgrims as an example of how we today can better understand how socialism thrwarts hard work and innovation while discouraging what should otherwise be a productive and fruitful society:


The politics of 'yes' (Sen. Michael Bennet)

When it comes to health care reform -- when it comes to lowering costs and finally doing something about the millions of people in this country who live just one medical emergency away from financial ruin -- "no" is not a serious response.

So when John King from CNN asked me if I would vote for health care reform, even if it meant losing my job, it was easy for me to answer.

I said "Yes."

There is no reason we should buy the political scare tactics of opponents who say supporting health care reform is a one-way ticket out of office.


D.C. takes up same day registration, so should Congress (Sen. Russ Feingold)

Today, Virginians will turn out to elect their new governor. Unfortunately, Virginians who are eligible to vote but missed the October 5th registration deadline will not be able to play a role in this important process.

It would be a different story if these Virginians lived in our states, Wisconsin and Minnesota, or any of the seven other states that allow citizens to register and vote on the same day. If they did, merely missing a deadline some 30 days before Election Day -- deadlines that vary widely from state to state -- would not prevent them from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

In 2007, two states, Iowa and North Carolina, adopted Same Day Registration (SDR) proposals. Both states experienced their highest level of voter turnout in decades. Today the DC City Council is scheduled to vote on an omnibus election reform bill that will allow SDR in our nation's capital.


The Big Question: The Scozzafava effect?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer some insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Dede Scozzafava drops out of the special election in New York's 23rd district and endorses the Democratic candidate.

What does it all mean? Are there national implications for this weekend's events in New York?

Rep. Michael E. McMahon (D-N.Y.) said:

“This weekend’s events seem to be another example of a growing trend -  that moderate, centrist voices are perceived as not being welcome in the Republican party."

Rob Richie of Fair Vote said:

Most observers are naturally focused on the implications of the battle between Dede Scozzafava and Doug Hoffman for what means about the future  of the Republican Party and how large its tent may be the in the future. But, combined with Chris Daggett's surprisingly strong poll numbers in the New Jersey governor's race, what grabs me about Hoffman's rise and Scozzfava's fall is its implications for voter frustration with the major parties. Hoffman's poll numbers grew large enough to crash through the glass ceiling that can so often suppresses potential third party votes. Daggett seems to have fallen short of that goal ,but in 2010 we may well see more cases of strong independent and third party challenges if the major parties continue to have problems getting the people's business done in Washington. That's healthy for our democracy, as it increases accountability for both individual incumbents and the major parties in general -- we just need voting reforms like instant runoff voting to accommodate increased voter choice.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), said:

Democrats are more mainstream and represent middle Americans more effectively as opposed to the conservative Republican that is not in accord with the majority of Americans. This is a clear indication that the Republican party has yet to rebuild itself to represent and address the issues of mainstream Americans in an efficient manner.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), said:

“What it means is that Dede Scozzafava believes that Bill Owens would be a better member of Congress for the 23rd Congressional District than Doug Hoffman. It means the right-wing candidate in the race is for rolling back policies that would create jobs, improve healthcare and increase our energy security. And it means that there are people, like Dede, in the Republican Party who want solutions to our problems.

...when you consider that for a long time, this seat has been safely in the hands of the Republican Party. The implication is that the President’s messages on health care reform, job creation and clean energy policy are resonating in every corner of the country, and that’s why a democrat is enormously competitive in this race.

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit said:

It means that the Republican establishment blew it.  It also formed a rallying point for the Tea Party movement which — by getting Scozzafava to drop out — has already won a victory regardless of what happens on Tuesday.

Whether it's a Pyrrhic victory or not depends not on who wins tomorrow, but on how the GOP establishment, and the Tea Party movement, act afterward. If they reconcile and work together, it's good news for the GOP. If they engage in extended infighting, or if we see the Tea Party movement turn into a third party, then it's probably good news for the Democrats.

Michelle Bernard, President of the Independent Women's Forum, said:

There are limits to the application of what's happen in New York's 23rd district to the rest of the country: After all, New York is unique in many ways, not least of which is how these nominees are chosen and the opportunity for representatives of third parties to impact races. But both Republicans and Democrats would be wise to consider these possible lessons from the New York special election.

Republicans: especially in a special or off year election, your base is going to drive the race and impact the perception of the candidate. The base isn't going to be satisfied with candidates barely distinguishable from that of the other party. And it isn't about social issues: it's about the size of government, limits to government power, government's burden on taxpayers, and the protection of individual rights. Most importantly, conservatives will take heart that so many independents have expressed support, not for the most "centrist or “moderate” candidate, but for the one who promised to limit the size of our government's ever expanding waste line. In this case, it was the conservative candidate.

Democrats should be concerned about this very same thing: Democrats are losing independents in droves. Runaway spending, runaway government like creating czars that can arbitrarily make the equivalent of law, and a perceived unwillingness to listen to the public (which doesn't want this health care package: see the Independent Women's Forum's last poll to see the tepid support these plans receive from women and Independents) has a heavy price. Independents had believed that the President would govern from the center and truly work with both sides of the aisle. Today, many of them appear to question this. It is quite possible that voters are going to want a check on what this Democratic Congress stands for and this should worry vulnerable Members of Congress.

Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics, said:

I’m all for spinning the events in one congressional district (or state) into a national story. It’s good for business. But in the midst of overreaching, let’s secretly remember that NY-23 is an extraordinary case caused by eleven party elites in a back room, picking a liberal Republican as the House nominee. In rare cases when moderate or liberal Republicans are nominated, it is usually a broader primary electorate doing the choosing — and it is harder to generate a rebellion against ‘the will of the people’. Yes, NY-23 will embolden the tea party activists and the GOP right. But conservatives already run the party in the vast majority of places across America.

William Redpath, Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, said:

It means that, at the end of the day, the two older parties will do anything to protect their own and their duopoly in US politics. Anything and everything else means less to them.

John F. McManus, President of the John Birch Society, said:

Scozzafava's endorsement of the Democrat demonstrates quite dramatically that there is very little difference between establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans. Further, her abandoning the race because of the obvious voter preference for Conservative Party candidate Hoffman indicates that voters are turning once again toward traditional values. Should Hoffman win, his victory will send a large shock wave throughout the nation (her dropping out sent a small shock wave) and signal the shift of momentum away from big government toward the strictures in the U.S. Constitution.


Unhappy fiscal new year (Rep. Jason Chaffetz)

The federal government's fiscal year begins October 1, and there's little reason to believe this year will be better than the last. Publicly held federal debt is forecast to increase from 56% of gross domestic product to 66% in 2010, driven by a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion in 2010. When debts owed to various government trust funds are included, our debt burden will reach nearly 100% of GDP in 2010. When unfunded liabilities of more than $100 trillion from Social Security, Medicare, and government employee pensions are included, our total debt is several times larger than GDP.

Contrary to what some have told us in the past, deficits and debts do matter, and at the levels these debts have been accumulating, they matter a lot. Excessive government debts eventually lead to higher interest rates, inflation, a reduction in private investment, and a higher percentage of tax dollars being used to pay off interest instead of funding programs or cutting taxes. In 2010, nearly $200 billion will be spent on interest payments, almost half of which will be going overseas. Interest payments are forecast to skyrocket to $829 billion by 2019.


Congress must act to prevent WMD attack (Former Sens. Bob Graham and Jim Talent)

When Senators Lieberman and Collins introduced the Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2009, they performed a true act of leadership.  They addressed the urgent and the important by taking steps now to prepare for the very real threat of terrorism.

Our Commission unanimously agreed that it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.  And it is more likely that we would face bioterrorism — unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency. This bill is a giant step in the right direction.

Many of the Commission’s recommendations are included in this bill: improving biosecurity, ensuring rapid delivery of medicines and vaccines, enhancing intelligence capabilities, and increasing citizen preparedness.  One aspect of the bill could be misunderstood but plays a critical role: enhancing security in U.S. laboratories.

Fortunately, the approach is based on a strategy of risk management.  The bill creates tiers of regulatory oversight for dangerous pathogens. Most resources and oversight would apply to the most dangerous “tier-one” pathogens, a list that includes closer to eight pathogens than the 80 currently regulated.  This means more focus on the greatest risks. Other pathogens need to be tracked and registered, but aren’t in the same league as anthrax, ebola, and plague.

A tiered approach ensures that U.S. laboratories can focus on innovation and not paperwork.  Meanwhile, we can be more secure knowing that labs dealing with the most dangerous pathogens are safer and more secure.

Our Commission work has given us a grave responsibility — to stay focused on terrorist threats to U.S. security and global stability — and ensure America takes steps to reduce the threats we face.  We look forward to helping move this legislation forward and meet our vital mission.


Defensive medicine driving up healthcare costs (Rep. Michele Bachmann)

Last week, in four different public venues across central Minnesota, I heard firsthand the people’s concerns about the future of their health care. While there was certainly a mixed bag of opinion from every part of the political spectrum, fear of and opposition to a government takeover of our health care system was most evident. And understandably so.

Regardless of your political party or ideology, one thing we can all agree on is that reforms must be made to our health care system. We’ve got top-notch medical professionals and high-quality treatments, but too many Americans can’t access that care because of high costs. It's important that we do not get lost in the glamour of big overhauls and look past meaningful reforms, like association health plans that let small businesses bond together to reduce coverage costs or health savings accounts that let you save for care tax-free. Bigger is not necessarily better.


THE BIG QUESTION -- Monday, Dec. 16

The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question that's driving discussion in news circles around the country.

Today's Big Question is:
What's the next step for the GOP on the path back to electoral competitiveness?

See responses below from Hudson Institute President Dr. Herbert London, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), NDN President Simon Rosenberg and ATR President Grover Norquist.

Dr. Herbert London, president, Hudson Institute said:
The GOP has a real challenge before it. The way back is to develop ideas and a sense of vitality that appeared to be lacking in the last presidential effort. Read the full response

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said:
The results of the 2006 and 2008 elections have forced the GOP to refocus their efforts to restore the conservative brand. Instead of just talking about fiscal responsibility (yet acting contrary to this message), we must once again restore the trust of the America voter through action. Read the full response

Simon Rosenberg, president, New Democratic Network said:
Absent huge Democratic mistakes in the next few years, the Republican Party's road back could very well be a long one. They just suffered their worst Presidential defeat in 44 years, and have now suffered crushing defeats two elections in a row, a rarity in American history. Read the full response

Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform said:
Republicans and conservatives have accomplished step one in rebuilding: they refused to panic, get depressed or turn left as instructed by the establishment press in 1964, 1974, 1992 and again in 2008. Read the full response


I Will Be Ready to Hit The Ground Running (Resident Commissioner Elect Pedro Pierluisi)

I swear in on January 6th but I’m already in Washington because so many things are happening that I have to be around.

It’s been nonstop since I got elected. I got elected by a very wide margin, larger than anytime in the last forty years in Puerto Rico. First, I participated in the freshman orientation and I met with the leadership. Then, I went back home for a couple days and then came up for an optional training we had at Harvard University at the Institute of Politics and that was very rewarding and interesting.