The 113th Congress’ final week will be tough on Democrats

The U.S. Capitol building / Photo: Patrick McKay, used under Flickr Creative Commons license
The U.S. Capitol building / Photo: Patrick McKay, used under Flickr Creative Commons license

WASHINGTON, December 8, 2014 — Democrats wake up this morning to a tough week. Senator Mary Landrieu, Louisiana is no more. Landrieu, a three-term incumbent, was the Democrats’ last Southern statewide politician. She was trounced, 57 to 43 percent by Republican Bill Cassidy, giving the GOP its ninth seat pickup and a margin of four seats.

This means the Republicans have their first senate majority since 2006. It also means they need to be decisive and smart in identifying and putting forth a platform that meets America’s needs.

There are equal parts optimism and pessimism within the party about their ability to achieve that goal. If they can’t be smart now, they will have an impossible task in 2016, when the GOP will be defending 24 seats.

Landrieu’s loss is being blamed on her support for Obamacare, and on Obama’s toxicity in Louisiana, where his approval rating was 39 percent in November exit polling.

Obamacare will be a thorn in the president’s side when Jon Gruber visits the House as a guest of Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who will be asking Gruber about the deception perpetrated on the American people in the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Gruber, a healthcare economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a well paid Obamacare consultant — he’s earned several million so far from it — will be asked about his comment that it was “the stupidity of the America voter” that allowed the bill to pass. Furthermore, Gruber has said the law was deliberately written to conceal the fact that it raised taxes.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. … Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. … Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

Democrats are distancing themselves from Gruber; Nancy Pelosi failed to remember her past high praise of the economist, who she now says she never heard of, saying “what difference does it make, Obamacare is good for the country.”

Democrats will have to answer to false reporting on Obamacare signups; they lied about the number of people signing up for medical insurance, admitting that 400,000 enrollees counted as “successes” signed up for dental, not medical coverage.

A favorite whine of Democrats, in particular Harry Reid, is the “big money Pacs owned by persons like the Koch brothers that want to buy America’s political process.” It will be interesting to see if the media picks up the story that Democrats have surpassed Republicans in Super Pac fundraising, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Six super-spending PACS spent $177 million boosting Democrats in the 2016 mid-term elections, compared to the $80 million spent by Republican supporters, according to a analysis of FEC filings.

The top Republican PAC is the Koch Bros. Americans for Prosperity. Top three democratic PACS to watch are Senate Majority Pac linked to Reid, the House Majority Pac linked to Pelosi, and the Next Gen Climate Action backed by Tom Steyer, a liberal hedge fund billionaire who National Journal reports as the election’s largest single donor at nearly $70 million.

Secretary of State John Kerry steps in front of the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Tuesday afternoon to field questions on the Obama Administration’s war policies, including the escalating involvement of American Troops in Syria and the increasing air war against the Islamic State — actions the president has taken without Congressional authorization.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on a resolution authorizing the force Obama has already taken against the Islamic State. The measure, backed by Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., will not reach the Senate floor before the Christmas break, however the bill will be set up for discussion by the next Congress.

With the 113th Congress winding down, the House and Senate need to work together to pass a government funding bill and renew the terrorism insurance program, the last bit of legislating they will do before the Republicans take control of Capitol Hill with the 114th Congress.

Monday will see House GOP leaders bringing their government-funding bill that will keep the government working until September 2015 to the floor. A point of contention is that the bill only extends Department of Homeland Security funding until February, which Republicans are hoping will allow them to exert some pressure on Obama over his latest executive action giving millions of undocumented immigrants amnesty.

Unveiled on Monday, the legislation could make it to the House by Wednesday, avoiding a government shutdown. Speaker of the House John Boehner has promised that the new Republican controlled congress will change Obama’s executive order when DHS funding comes up for renewal in February.

The bills will pass by the “government shutdown” deadline on Thursday, but first we are promised some political drama between Republicans and Democrats as all are trying to appear to be the party moving forward, while painting their opponents as obstructionists.

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