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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 14:56:38 PM CST


Following up on the diary I posted this morning, this post compiles links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage of national politics from July through December 2009. Health care reform was again the number one topic. I wish there had been a happy ending.
desmoinesdem :: Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 2)
July 2009

A video of Chuck Grassley went viral after he told a questioner at a town-hall meeting to "go work for the federal government" if he wanted a health insurance plan like the one Grassley enjoys.

The Iowa Farm Bureau expressed confidence that the climate change bill would die in the Senate. It seems that they were right.

Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska right before the Fourth of July.

The health care reform debate demonstrated that Washington's revolving door between government and lobbying is still running smoothly.

Al Franken started making us proud immediately after being sworn in as the junior U.S. senator from Minnesota.

Steve King was the only House member to vote against placing "a marker acknowledging the role that slave labor played in constructing the Capitol" in a "prominent location in the visitor center's Emancipation Hall."

The Government Accountability Office examined how 16 states were handling federal stimulus funds. Iowa got good marks for its "foundation of safeguards to help ensure the funds are being spent in the way that they were intended and to minimize the fraud, waste and abuse."

News emerged that the CIA did withhold "information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney." Republicans included Steve King had been bashing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for months after Pelosi claimed the CIA did not reveal its waterboarding policy during a 2002 briefing. RDemocrat posted more reflections on this story.

Guest poster jamess wrote about the insurance industry's rescission practices and which illnesses are most likely to put policy-holders on the "drop list."

Health Care for America Now and the Iowa Citizen Action Network created a "job application" for Iowans wanting to take Chuck Grassley's advice to "go work for the federal government" if they want good health insurance coverage.

Chuck Grassley lectured Judge Sonia Sotomayor and generally didn't distinguish himself during her confirmation hearings, but he did get a laugh out of the room.

There was massive demand for the high-speed rail funding allocated in the stimulus bill.

Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell helped negotiate new language in the House health care reform bill to change Medicare reimbursements.

Representative Tom Latham tried but failed to replace $3 billion in high-speed rail funds with more money for roads in a transportation appropriations bill.

Cash for Clunkers went into effect.

Chuck Grassley announced plans to vote against confirming Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

The RNC ran radio ads against Leonard Boswell on health care.

Guest blogger RDemocrat called for opposing the compromise House version of health care reform (which would have been a lot better than the final bill we're likely to get).

Amid growing dissatisfaction with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' handling of the health care reform bill, Tom Harkin suggested having the Democratic caucus vote by secret ballot every two years on whether a chairman should continue in that role.

August 2009

The National Republican Congressional Committee included Leonard Boswell (IA-03) on its list of 70 Democratic-held districts to be targeted in 2010.

The Sunlight Foundation reported on Chuck Grassley's ties to health and insurance PACs.

I still held out hope that Congress might reject Obama's deal with big Pharma.

The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Iowa Republicans grew increasingly worried that Chuck Grassley might help Democrats pass health care reform, but I knew he wasn't working to improve the bill or its chances of passing.

Congress quickly moved to extend the Cash for Clunkers program in light of huge demand. By the end of the month, President Obama signed a bill allocating another $2 billion to the program.

Sarah Palin's warning about "downright evil" health care rationing inspired this diary about health care rationing that happens already.

Chuck Grassley played the "pull the plug on grandma" card.

Iowa got the highest marks in the Work Loss Data Institute's 2009 state report cards on workers' compensation.

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat attended a Tom Harkin health care forum and declared, "Now I understand why war happens."

Leonard Boswell was vague about what he considered essential elements of a health care reform bill.

Democratic candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture Francis Thicke advocated "ecology as a model for livestock production."

News emerged that in 2003 Chuck Grassley voted to fund end-of-life counseling for the terminally ill.

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat posted some ideas on how to "defeat the health care forum bullies".

The White House sent Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius out on tv to make clear that the Obama administration was not insisting that health care reform include a public option.

Bleeding Heartland user hei posted a first-person account from one of Dave Loebsack's town-hall meetings.

Chuck Grassley admitted that he would vote against health care reform even if Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus amended the bill to include all the changes Grassley requested.

As some Senate Democrats floated regional health insurance co-operatives as an alternative to the public option, the New York Times noted that health insurance co-ops had already failed in Iowa.

A coalition of labor unions started running ads against Chuck Grassley on health care reform.

Critics of the public option continued to ignore bigger problems with huge problems with current health insurance industry practices.

Rumors continued to circulate about a high-profile Democrat joining the race against Chuck Grassley.

The Cash for Clunkers program ended, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced plans to introduce cash rebates for energy-efficient appliances.

I suggested five ways to fight for the public option.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman vowed to shine a light on the health insurance industry's common business practices.

I chose not to attend an Organizing for America rally on health care reform.

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat, an early Obama supporter, lost patience with the president: "I refuse to work for his version of health care reform when he has no clear goal other than to pass something - anything - that may get through Congress, regardless of content."

Senator Ted Kennedy passed away, and his friend John Culver (former U.S. Senator, father of Chet Culver) made memorable remarks at the funeral.

September 2009

Polls showed Democrats losing the generic Congressional ballot advantage and trailing Republicans in terms of voter intensity.

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a report on how quickly states are turning around stimulus road funds, and Iowa scored quite well.

I never believed the rumors that social conservatives were considering a primary challenge against Chuck Grassley.

The Obama administration's negotiating position on the public option irritated me. (That post was written under the assumption that Obama wanted a public option in the health reform bill, which is arguable.)

I maintained that Chuck Grassley is not a knucklehead.

Tom Harkin became chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee after Senator Chris Dodd decided to remain chairman of the Banking Committee.

Barack Obama delivered a speech on health care reform to the House and the Senate. I was disappointed by lines he drew and didn't draw in the sand.

Tom Harkin claimed he had 60 votes to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in July, but Senator Ted Kennedy was too ill to come to the Capitol to vote.

I discussed why Jews are liberals and Norman Podhoretz is asking the wrong question.

Tom Harkin held his annual steak fry, featuring Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Harkin promised that health care reform containing a public option would pass by Christmas.

BruceMcF described what a real public health insurance option would look like.

I was disturbed by the failure of any prominent Republican to denounce political rhetoric of armed rebellion.

Health insurance co-ops, proposed by some Democrats as a compromise in place of a public option, are designed to fail.

Tom Latham and Steve King voted against the student loan reform bill that passed the House of Representatives. Tom Harkin promised to get the reform through the Senate.

Iowans again split on party lines as the U.S. House extended unemployment benefits.

Steve King decided same-sex marriage would lead to a "socialist society."

Chuck Grassley continued to make the case against health care reform.

The death of census worker Bill Sparkman prompted this post urging conservative politicians to stop demonizing the census.

Asked about the Congressional vote he most regrets, Steve King said he couldn't think of any and pivoted to bragging about what he considers his "best vote": against the $1.5 billion aid package for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The growing questions surrounding Strategic Vision made me wonder whether their 2007 Iowa polls were fabricated.

Kentucky-based blogger RDemocrat discussed the widening gap between rich and poor in this guest post.

Conservatives including Steve King targeted the Service Employees International Union as part of the continuing war on ACORN.

The Senate Finance Committee rejected amendments that would have included a public health insurance option, but Tom Harkin continued to insist that Senate Democrats had the votes to pass a public option.

October 2009

During the Senate Finance Committee markup of the health reform bill, Chuck Grassley had the insurance companies' back.

Senator Byron Dorgan vowed to offer an amendment on importing prescription drugs. The Senate eventually voted down that amendment in December, partly because the White House had promised pharmaceutical companies that re-importation would not be part of health care reform.

I became increasingly concerned that health insurance companies would easily evade the new regulations being considered by Congress.

The health care reform battle took a toll on Chuck Grassley's approval rating, according to Survey USA.

Rinku Sen and Billy Parish cross-posted a piece on youth unemployment.

Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Movement toward an "opt-out" public health insurance option concerned me.

I wondered whether Iowa Republicans would seek out Sarah Palin's endorsement next year.

Tom Harkin correctly predicted that a food safety bill would not clear Congress this year.

News that a Colorado insurance company used a breastfeeding infant's "obesity" as an excuse to deny insurance coverage outraged me.

Chuck Grassley capped months of bad-faith negotiating by voting no on the Senate Finance Committee's health reform bill, even though it lacked a public health insurance option.

News of record pay on Wall Street prompted this post on the failures of the bailout policy that George Bush began and Barack Obama continued.

Chuck Grassley whined about Senate Democrats not including Republicans as the health reform bills passed by the HELP and Finance committees were merged. Meanwhile, Grassley suggested an individual mandate to purchase health insurance might be unconstitutional, even though he was on record during the summer supporting that kind of mandate.

The same week that Steve King joined the right-wing crusade against White House "safe schools" official Kevin Jennings, Mike Denklau became the first Democrat to announce plans to run against King in Iowa's fifth Congressional district in 2010.

I reflected on the good life enjoyed by uninsured apes in America, as opposed to human beings who lack health insurance.

Bleeding Heartland user Runaway Rose analyzed Chuck Grassley's stance on climate change-related issues.

Inspired by ads New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine ran against overweight Republican Chris Christie, Bleeding Heartland user American007 pondered whether Chet Culver might be too big to win re-election.

I took another guess at how the likely Republican presidential candidates will do in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

House Progressives failed to round up 218 votes for the more robust version of the public health insurance option.

Harry Reid included a very weak opt-out public health insurance option in his merged health reform bill, no thanks to President Obama, who urged Reid to drop the public option in favor of a "trigger."

Tom Harkin predicted that Joe Lieberman would not stand in the way of health care reform, because he has too much to lose.

November 2009

Democrats in Iowa and nationwide should not resort to sexist insults when mocking Sarah Palin.

I argued that it's a waste of time for journalists to speculate on whether Steve King will run for president in 2012.

I reviewed some reactions to the off-year elections in Iowa, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia. In general it was a tough night for Iowa incumbents.

Steve King falsely claimed that the Democrats' proposed health care reform would cancel every private insurance contract in the country. King also missed a House Judiciary Committee hearing in order to participate in Michele Bachmann's Capitol Hill rally against health care reform. In so doing he helped doom several GOP-sponsored amendments to the PATRIOT Act.

The U.S. House narrowly approved a health care reform bill, and Iowa's representatives split on party lines.

The Iowa-based conservative advocacy group American Future Fund asked the Federal Election Commission to overturn state bans on political robocalls.

Health Care for America Now ran ads thanking a number of House Democrats for supporting health care reform, including Iowa's Leonard Boswell.

The Pew Center on the States released a report on state budget problems, and Iowa got good marks as one of the states "least like California." You'd never know that from listening to Iowa Republicans, however.

Crisitunity's Swing State Project post about vulnerable Democratic-held House districts suggested to me that the National Republican Congressional Committee is unlikely to invest heavily in Leonard Boswell's GOP opponent next year.

The Des Moines Register's Iowa poll indicated that Roxanne Conlin would have an uphill battle against Chuck Grassley.

I argued that we should pull the plug on the climate change bill pending in Congress because Senate Democrats including Tom Harkin are demanding even more concessions to polluting industries.

A report on the AIG bailout released by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program confirmed my opinion that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner must go.

I viewed the upcoming GOP primary in Iowa's second Congressional district as a sign of the shrinking Republican tent. In a D+7 district long represented by Jim Leach, none of the potential GOP candidates is a social moderate.

Republican hypocrisy regarding the Obama administration's plans to try some terrorism suspects in the U.S. inspired this post.

After reading a report from Physicians for Social Responsibility, "Coal's Assault on Human Health," I suggested that it's misguided for some politicians to claim that climate change legislation would be "unfair" to residents of coal-dependent states.

I urged President Obama to ignore the people advising him to make deficit reduction a top priority next year.

I apologized for wrongly assuming that census worker Bill Sparkman had been murdered in September.

Bleeding Heartland user American007 speculated about nine possible choices for Time magazine's person of the year. This diary did not predict the selection of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke but presciently noted that Time's editors often "recognize the people attempting to combat the bad economy."

I discussed the so-called "purity test" resolution backed by some RNC members, which is intended to cut off GOP support for any candidate who strays too far from conservative dogma. At least two of Iowa's three RNC members support the test.

December 2009

I was disappointed by President Obama's speech announcing an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

The executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement published a good piece in the Des Moines Register about ending USDA loans that encourage construction of more factory farms.

Jim Gibbons' Congressional campaign's first attack against Leonard Boswell was pathetic, even by the standards of modern Republican campaigns.

Bruce Braley's House Populist Caucus and Tom Harkin advocated new Wall Street transaction fees to increase revenue and discourage "reckless speculation."

OK, this wasn't a political story, but I posted some reflections on John Lennon's music on the 29th anniversary of his death.

Bruce Braley called for Congress to include Buy American provisions in a jobs bill (the final bill included that language).

Leonard Boswell turned up on a list of 17 House Democrats that the NRCC hopes to pressure into retirement.

I gave up hope that health insurance reform would be an improvement on the status quo after Senate Democrats brokered a lousy deal that fell apart days later.

Two votes in the House over reforming the estate tax and extending some tax breaks for businesses told me a lot about Republican priorities.

A draft memo from the Department of Justice indicated that the Obama administration was likely to move some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois.

A federal judge halted a Congressional ban on funding for ACORN on the grounds that the legislation was an unconstitutional bill of attainder.

The Senate health insurance reform bill was looking worse every day (though a later version of Reid's manager's amendment did close one of the loopholes I mentioned in that post).

Tom Harkin said he may reintroduce a bill he sponsored in 1995 that would have changed the Senate's rules on the filibuster.

The House approved new regulations of Wall Street, and Iowa's delegation again split on party lines.

I was furious that White House officials told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to give in to all of Joe Lieberman's demands on health care reform. Lieberman later said that President Obama never asked him to support a public health insurance option.

I responded to Nate Silver's claim that any Democrat who opposes the Senate's version of health care reform must be "batflippin' crazy."

Bill Maske declared his candidacy in Iowa's fourth Congressional district. He faces an uphill battle against eight-term Republican incumbent Tom Latham.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made me angry with their incessant spin about "Republican obstruction" being the main threat to real health care reform.

I couldn't believe that Time magazine named Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke the person of the year. It reminded me of why my high school debate coach dismissed publications like Time and Newsweek as "McNews."

Environment Iowa warned that expanding our national investment in nuclear power is not the answer to global warming.

I reviewed some recent national opinion poll data on health care reform, which should worry Democrats.

Jim Gibbons secured the backing of many heavy-hitter Republican donors in his race for the GOP nomination in IA-03.

I got fed up with MoveOn.org after receiving yet another e-mail blaming Joe Lieberman for "single-handedly" trying to block health insurance reform. (Later MoveOn.org did come out against the Senate's version of the bill, but they still failed to hold the president accountable for his role in letting the bill get watered down.)

The House passed a jobs bill using returned money from the Wall Street bailout, and Iowa's representatives split on party lines.

After seeing the weak November fundraising numbers from the National Republican Congressional Committee, I predicted the NRCC will not spend heavily in IA-03 next year.

Senate Democrats reached a deal on health reform and secured 60 votes for the first cloture motion.

The National Republican Congressional Committee started a new robocall against Leonard Boswell three days before Christmas.

Wall Street viewed the Senate deal on health reform as good news for the insurance industry.

The Senate passed its version of health insurance reform on Christmas Eve.

The Census Bureau's last population estimates before the 2010 census confirmed that Iowa will lose a Congressional district during the next reapportionment.

Harkin confirmed that he is looking for allies to change the Senate rules on the filibuster.

Citing official statements by Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Grassley and Harkin, I previewed next year's campaign messages on health care reform.

I launched a holiday haiku contest, and Bleeding Heartland readers submitted some good haikus inspired by the governor's race and the campaign in Iowa's third Congressional district.

Likely 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty endorsed the idea of a federal constitutional amendment requiring Congress to pass a balanced budget.

The Department of Labor released an encouraging annual Statement of Regulatory and Deregulatory Priorities.

Early Obama supporter John Norris was confirmed for a position with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Steve King kept scaremongering about health care reform and the threat posed by moving terrorist suspects from Guantanamo Bay.

Environment Iowa's annual scorecard for the Iowa Democrats in Congress got me thinking about how Bruce Braley, Tom Harkin and Leonard Boswell handled the climate change issue during the year.

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