Tales from the Trail

House Democrat wants GOP apology for threats and violence

USA/

House Democrat Barney Frank says Republican leaders should apologize for threats and vandalism against Democrats who’ve had the temerity to back President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda.

Why? The Massachusetts Democrat says Republicans have actually been cheering on the bad behavior. And, he adds, recent Republican condemnations have not gone far enough.

“I’m glad that my Republican leadership colleagues now have decided to denounce it. But they’ve been very late to do that. Over the weekend, they were much more egging on this kind of behavior than denouncing it,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America.  ”I think there ought to be some apologies.”

First, there was House Republican leader John Boehner’s castigating remark last week about the “punk staffers” who are working on Democratic financial reform legislation. Frank believes that comment was the starting gun for increasingly aggressive rhetoric by Republicans and their supporters.OBAMA/

Then there were the folks in the House balcony on Sunday who disrupted the healthcare proceedings with shouts that prompted security officers to act.

Who are you calling a “punk staffer”?

House Republican leader John Boehner’s comment about “punk staffers” involved in the writing of the financial regulation bill did not seem to sit well with White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers.

FINANCE/SUMMERSIn an appearance at the National Press Club, Summers made a point of bringing up the comments by Boehner, who urged bankers to stand up for themselves and said they should not “let those little punk staffers” working on the bill take advantage of them.

Boehner may not have been spoiling for a fight, but he got one.

Summers pressed his criticism of lobbyists who the Obama administration accuse of trying to water down the proposals for tighter regulation of Wall Street.

Massa waning as news fodder but may rise again to plague Democrats

AUTOS/BAILOUT

Eric Massa may soon vanish from the 24-7 news cycle. But the martyred Democrat, who says he fell from grace beneath the naked power of Satan’s spawn, could reappear some day soon as a burr under the saddles of his former congressional colleagues.

Republicans would like Massa to do for them what Mark Foley did for Democrats four years ago: provide a scourge with which to flail the other guy in a mid-term election year.

Foley, a Republican, resigned from Congress in September 2006 amid allegations that he sent sexually explicit emails and instant messages to male congressional pages. As such, he was among the denizens of that swamp of Republican corruption that Nancy Pelosi vowed to drain just before Democrats took control of Congress and gave her the speaker’s gavel.

Obama healthcare on political operating table

Last year, President Barack Obama tried to get Congress to pass healthcare legislation that came from the minds of  lawmakers.

We all know how well that went.

So today, Obama put his own version on the table.

The response from Republicans was (shock of shocks) — they don’t like it. House Republican leader John Boehner says Obama’s proposal jeopardizes bipartisan healthcare work (You might ask what bipartisan healthcare work? We’re not quite sure).

The response from Democrats was (shock of shocks) — they’ll review it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it contained positive elements from the separate bills that passed the House and Senate last year.

Democrats fire back at Republican health plan

Democrats, who have been on the defensive in a partisan battle over their sweeping healthcare overhaul, are firing back now that Republicans are preparing an alternative in the U.S. House of Representatives.hoyer-and-pelosiHouse Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that Republicans will get a vote on their proposal when the House considers the Democratic-written legislation possibly later this week.Hoyer, a Democrat, did not shy away from offering his own opinion about the Republican bill, saying it would allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and would “gut consumer protections and encourage a race to the bottom.”Republicans argue the provision would inject more competition into the market and help lower premiums. But Hoyer said insurers would flock to states with the fewest consumer protections, sell their policies at low prices and that many consumers would discover in the middle of a health crisis that their policies don’t offer adequate protection.Other provisions in the bill, as outlined by House Republican Leader John Boehner, would encourage insurers to “cherry pick” and enroll the healthiest people, Hoyer said.The Republican proposal also leaves out major market reforms contained in the Democratic bill that would bar insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging more based on medical history.A summary of the House Republican proposal is to be made available here.Boehner argued that the Republican plan aims to rein in soaring insurance premiums, but Hoyer and other Democrats say it would do little to expand coverage or make healthcare more affordable.”It doesn’t provide for insurance availability for all Americans,” Hoyer said. “It does little to expand access to coverage or address the $1,000 to $1,100 extra that every American is paying for people who do not have coverage and therefore add to the uncompensated care in hospitals.”Click here for more Reuters political coveragePhoto credit:  Reuters/Joshua Roberts (House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is greeted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi at healthcare event)

House Republicans aim to kill Democratic health bill

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are gearing up for an epic battle against the sweeping healthcare reform that Democratic leaders hope to bring to the House floor for debate later this week.

boehner“Our goal is to make this as difficult as possible to vote for it,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner. “We think this bill is the wrong prescription for what ails our healthcare system in America.”

Representative Mike Pence, who heads the House Republican Conference, said the campaign against the bill unveiled last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began over the weekend with Republican members delivering copies of the huge 1,990-page bill to public libraries. Also, Republican women are speaking against the bill this week on the House floor.

from Summit Notebook:

Senator Levin: partisanship has no place during war

A war of words over U.S. policy on Afghanistan is heating up between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill as they await President Barack Obama's new strategy.

"This kind of partisanship in the middle of a war I find to be really out of place," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, said.

He was responding to House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner's statement that "the current political uncertainty should not be used as a pretext for the White House to back away from the counter-insurgency strategy the president announced in March."

After a year’s respite, lipstick-wearing pig returns to US politics

The lipstick-wearing pig is back, making its annual appearance in the political discourse of the country.

The last time it was out and about, eerily enough, was a year ago Wednesday , tripping from Barack OBAMA/Obama’s tongue as the U.S. senator campaigned for the presidency.

Republicans don’t know what real change is, he told a crowd in Lebanon, Virginia.

House Democrats bash health care opponents’ tactics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit back at protesters vocally disrupting healthcare reform meetings around the country, calling them “un-American” – and with that word ignited the ire of opposition Republicans.

Pelosi and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in USA Today that there was an “ugly campaign” to misrepresent the healthcare overhaul legislation being written in Congress and stop public debate, which they said is “at the heart of our democracy.”

Opponents have shouted down lawmakers at town meetings held to explain the healthcare ideas, calling the proposed government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers “socialism” – a fighting word in American politics.  “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” the Democrats wrote.

Who’s not for funding U.S. troops?

Usually congressional debates over funding U.S. troops are fights where lawmakers try to best each other praising them and throwing as much money as possible at them for fear of appearing less patriotic than someone else.

But Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives are girding for an all-out brawl over a roughly $95 billion bill to fund the troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq — but not because of that money but rather because of provisions to shore up the International Monetary Fund.

While most in Washington know what the IMF is, many Americans do not. It provides loans to governments around the world trying to weather financial crises and get their economies back on track.