WSJ: The Senate on Wednesday voted 51-47 against repealing the health-care overhaul but approved a measure eliminating a tax requirement that had irked small businesses.
All of the chamber’s Democrats who were present and one independent who caucuses with them voted against it, and every Republican voted for it…
Wednesday’s voting produced a small change to the health law, though. The Senate voted 81-17 to remove a piece of the law that calls for businesses to file a 1099 tax form when they pay a vendor more than $600 in a year.
President Barack Obama has indicated he would sign the tax-change measure, and the House already approved a similar bill. The change will be the most significant so far to the law, designed to expand insurance to 32 million Americans.
….Wednesday’s vote against repeal means that a Republican repeal bill, which passed the House last month, is now effectively dead in Congress.
Two senators, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, missed the day’s votes.
Meanwhile Ronald Reagan’s former Solicitor General, Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, and New York University law professor Rick Hills (a “registered Republican and outspoken conservative”),believe the health care mandate is constitutional – which is bad news for Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson in Florida.
Vice President Joe Biden talks with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., after President Barack Obama signed the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Behind them, the President talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Reuters: President Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain, bitter rivals from the 2008 election campaign whose feud festered for two years, completed a thaw Wednesday when they sat down for Oval Office talks.
Obama’s defeat of McCain in the 2008 presidential election left sour feelings on both sides that lingered through Obama’s first two years in office.
Events surrounding the shooting a month ago of Democratic lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords of McCain’s home state of Arizona helped improve ties between the two leaders.
Obama’s appeal at a memorial service in Tucson for a renewed era of civility between politicians in Washington drew praise from McCain in a Washington Post opinion article.
…A White House official said the half-hour meeting arose after they spoke by phone to discuss McCain’s Post article.
“Senator McCain had indicated that he wanted to discuss a number of important issues with the president, and the president was eager to see him,” the official said. More here
“Bitter” rivals? Only one of these men is bitter, and it sure ain’t the President
Marc Ambinder (The Atlantic): A few months after Barack Obama took office, CIA analysts monitoring the Middle East received an unusual request from the National Security Council. The president had appreciated the in-depth country profiles the intelligence community had prepared for him to read. But there was something missing. The white papers all assessed what various groups within each country didn’t like about the United States – but there was very little about what they admired. So that’s what Obama wanted to know: What do Yemenis, Qataris and Egyptians like about the U.S.?
The answer, in the case of Egypt, was the American education system. The competition for visas to study inside the U.S., particularly among those with a bent toward the hard sciences, was fierce. And it was considered a point of pride for a family member to brag about his brother studying overseas.
The National Security Council and the State Department turned this nugget of insight into policy: Obama would expand the number of educational visas available to qualified Egyptian students. The State Department would increase its direct outreach to Egyptians; it would hold entrepreneurship and science summits, and would convene gatherings of Egyptians to meet with visiting American scientists. As the White House’s focus turned to Egypt late last week, the aspirations of young Egyptians were very much on the president’s mind … After Tunisia, the intelligence community, the diplomatic community and the White House all anticipated that protests would spread …. Egypt was simply the most logical candidate for unrest….
BWD posted this article on The Only Adult In The Room – and if you read it you’ll see why ‘The Only Adult In The Room’ is so appropriate. It’s absolutely fascinating, a real insight in to how the President is dealing with this crisis as carefully and thoughtfully as possible.
Meanwhile, the media bleats cluelessly, completely ignorant of just how delicate this situation is, or how far-reaching the consequences might be in the Middle East. Unless the President announces he’s nuking Mubarak and/or the Muslim Brotherhood they’ll conclude he’s not being pro-active enough. Aw, sounds, like they’re lonesome for Bush.
Did you hear them whinging today at Robert Gibbs’ press conference? The President isn’t being made available to them to answer questions on how he’s responding to the crisis! So, the most critical thing here – more critical than the future of Egypt! – is that the President reveal to Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and their buddies the nature of the careful work being done behind the scenes? Right.
President Barack Obama is updated on the severe winter storm currently moving across the country during a phone call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the Oval Office, Feb. 2. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)