Legislative and Political Update: Obama’s OMB Director Defends Bush


Tomorrow is the last day for OMB Director Peter Orszag, 40. He is moving to NYC to join the staff of the Council on Foreign Relations. In September he will be married to ABC Weekend Good Morning America co-host Bianna Golodryga, 31. Orszag says history will vindicate former President Bush’s TARP decision.

IN THIS REPORT: Elena Kagan, Disclose, Health Care Reform, Stimulus, Rangel Investigation, and updates from Alaska, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
2010 ELECTION: Over two-thirds of new Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 are now listed as vulnerable. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be spending $28 million on TV ads in these 40 House Districts. Many of the lawmakers are trying to distance themselves from the national Democratic Party. For example, an ad for Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) says “I’m not Obama; I’m not Harry Reid; and I’m not Nancy Pelosi. I’m Dina Titus and I’ve been there for you every day.”
TODAY IN HISTORY: In 1975: Gerald Ford became the first President to visit the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation which created NASA. NASA was formed nine months after the Soviets beat the U.S. into space by launching Sputnik, the first satellite.
STIMULUS: Peter Orszag, the outgoing Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), spoke at the liberal Brookings Institute yesterday. He had to endure criticism from the left regarding his signature issue, the $787 billion stimulus. Conservatives attack the stimulus for not being effective in job creation while the left was blasting it yesterday for not being large enough.
Orszag said it was not politically feasible in early 2009 to further increase the size of the stimulus. Orszag was a Brookings Fellow before becoming Director of the Congressional Budget Office when Democrats took over the Congress in January of 2007. When asked if the Bush administration’s TARP program was successful, he said the results were not debatable. He claims it saved the American banking system and avoided a depression.
ELENA KAGAN: President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court has now been endorsed by four Republicans: Senators Olympia Snowe (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Susan Collins (ME) and Richard Lugar. (IN). No Democrat is expected to oppose Kagan.
DISCLOSE: The Democrats campaign reform act, which they call Disclose, was defeated on Tuesday night when they were unable to break a filibuster. The bill passed the House last month by a 219 to 206 margin.
Disclose is an attempt to legislatively overturn the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 decision in January that allows corporations and unions to spend freely on campaign ads and “electioneering communication.” Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will today introduce a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling.
HEALTH CARE REFOM: President Obama is trying to reassure seniors who are abandoning the Democrats in significant numbers. The President says “First and foremost, what you need to know is that the guaranteed medicare benefits you’ve earned will not change, regardless of whether you receive them through Medicare, or Medicare Advantage.”
The Congressional Budget Office disagrees and says on average, Medicare Advantage enrollees will get $68 less a month in benefits by 2019 because of the law. The payment cuts to Medicare Advantage begin in 2012.
RANGEL INVESTIGATION: The House Ethics Committee will today make public a “Statement of Alleged Violations” against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), the former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Rangel said yesterday he is still in negotiations with the Committee regarding a deal to address the charges, but it is doubtful a settlement will be reached. Any deal would require the support of at least one Republican.
If no deal is made, a trial will be held in September. Three Democrats have now called for Rangel’s resignation: Reps. Betty Sutton (OH), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ) and Walt Minnick (ID). More Democrats are expected to come forward after the report is released today.
ALASKA: A poll measuring approval ratings has former Gov. Sarah Palin in last place, but she still doing far better than many Democrats. The results were: former Sen. Ted Stevens 79% favorable; Sen. Lisa Murkowski 73%; Gov. Sean Parnell 72%; Rep. Don Young 57% and Sarah Palin 56%. They are all Republicans.
ILLINOIS: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (D) has a 37% approval rating while 47% disapprove. Only 31% of voters want to see him re-elected to a 7th term. If Daley does retire, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has said he would like to seek the office. Daley has been in office since 1989 and the Democratic primary is seven months away.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: There was both good news and bad news for Attorney General Kelly Ayotte regarding her recent endorsement from former Gov. Sarah Palin. It has definitely helped her with social conservatives and has enhanced her lead in the Republican primary for this open U.S. Senate seat. She now has a 47% to 14% primary lead. The bad news is that it is not helping in the general election. Ayotte’s lead over Rep. Paul Hodes (D) has declined from 15% to 8%. Ayotte’s unfavorable rating went from 13% to 27%.
MISSOURI: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) is campaigning in St. Louis this weekend for Rep. Roy Blunt who is seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Blunt, the former GOP House Whip, faces State Sen. Chuck Purgason in the primary. Tea Party groups have endorsed Purgason because Blunt voted for former President George W. Bush’s TARP program. Purgason has endorsed by 28 Tea Party groups and “Joe the Plumber” (Samuel Wurzelbacher), but has raised $32,000 compared to Blunt’s $8.2 million.
MINNESOTA: Speaking of Bachmann, the Chairwoman of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, and her challenger, State Sen. Tarryl Clark (D), are on track to raise $7 million which will make this the most expensive House race in the nation during the 2010 cycle.
OREGON: Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) is stepping down because of term limits, and former two term Gov. John Kitzhaber was expected to reclaim this office. Kitzhaber is a medical doctor and is continuing to run behind the GOP’s Chris Dudley who is well known from his years with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazer’s. Republicans have raised more money than Democrats, and they have been surprised Kitzhaber has not been more aggressive in the campaign. The GOP is now leading by three points in the polls.
PENNSYLVANIA: Republicans have high hopes in six Congressional Districts but with less then 100 days before the election, Democrats continue to have a sizable fundraising advantage. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), the nominee for Arlen Specter’s Senate seat, has requested a campaign appearance from First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sestak says he would prefer to have Michelle rather than Barack Obama. Sestak is advocating a 15% tax cut for small businesses and says “My party has to understand ‘business’ is a good word.” Sestak claims to be an independent Democrat, but an ad sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says he voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 100 percent of the time.
He responded by saying his staff never even looks at talking points passed down from the Speaker’s office. Sestak was successful in having many TV stations stop running the ads when he demonstrated he had voted against the Speaker on the DISCLOSE Campaign Finance Act.
WASHINGTON: The White House confirmed yesterday the President will make his first visit to Washington State on August 17th where he will appear at a fundraiser for vulnerable Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Former State Sen. Dino Rossi (R) is ahead of her by 3 points in the July 14th Rasmussen Poll.
Washington State is solidly in Blue America, but as the polls indicate, sentiments is shifting this year. 2010 is expected to be a wave election that will alter the composition of the Congress.
In 1994, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said the state was “ground zero” in that year’s Republican Revolution when six Democratic seats in Washington were won by Republicans. The losers included the then Speaker of the House, Tom Foley, and President Clinton’s appearances were not able to hold back the GOP avalanche.


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