Obama's caucus victory 10 years later: A look back in photos

Many thanks to Jordan Oster, a public affairs consultant and clean energy advocate from Des Moines, for this review of a remarkable Iowa caucus campaign. -promoted by desmoinesdem

January 3 marked the tenth anniversary of Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 Iowa Democratic Precinct Caucuses.

Like a number of supporters and former staffers, I took to social media earlier this week to share photos and memories from his campaign. You can check out the full Twitter thread here.

As this anniversary approached, I began to gather photos and recollections of the Obama campaign. The Iowa caucuses have long captivated me, and I have tried to do my part to preserve and keep its unique history alive. A camera is usually a required accessory when I attend presidential events, and I have filled many memory cards with photos of presidential candidates since I first got involved with campaigns in 2003.

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New thread on the debt ceiling sellout

President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders announced a deal on raising the debt ceiling in exchange for at least $2 trillion in domestic spending cuts. The agreement is complicated in many respects, but the gist is that Republicans will get almost everything they have demanded throughout this process (if they are smart enough to accept total victory).

After the jump I’ve posted the ludicrous White House talking points on why this deal is “a win for the economy and budget discipline.” They brag about putting the U.S. “on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President,” as if that’s a good thing. No economist would endorse big domestic spending cuts, given the current state of the economy. The deal calls for many of those cuts to happen in 2013 or later, but unemployment is not going down in any significant way before 2013–more likely, it will increase. Some Democrats claim the president will hold the line on extending the Bush tax cuts in late 2012, but that is a sick joke. Obama has no credibility on these issues. Only two weeks ago he said he would reject a $2.4 trillion spending cut plan that did not include any tax increases. Look where he is now, serving up a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich” and thanking Republican leaders for doing their part.

House Speaker John Boehner is trying to sell the deal to the House Republican caucus with this slide show (pdf file). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hasn’t committed to supporting the deal, but I assume a significant number of House Democrats will be stupid enough to go along. Any Democrat who votes for this deal deserves to lose.

I will update this post with comments from the Iowans in Congress as those become available. Recent statements from most of the Iowa delegation are here, along with details on how our representatives in the U.S. House and Senate voted on the debt ceiling proposals offered since Friday.

UPDATE: The deal passed the House easily on August 1, but all of Iowa’s representatives voted against it.

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Sebelius warns insurers against excluding sick kids

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to the head of the insurance industry’s lobbying arm yesterday warning against efforts to continue to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Excerpt from the letter, which you can download as a pdf file at Greg Sargent’s blog:

Health insurance reform is designed to prevent any child from being denied coverage because he or she has a pre-existing condition. Leaders in Congress have reaffirmed this in recent days in the attached statement. To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, I am preparing to issue regulations in the weeks ahead ensuring that the term “pre-existing condition exclusion” applies to both a child’s access to a plan and to his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan. These regulations will further confirm that beginning in September, 2010:

*Children with pre-existing conditions may not be denied access to their parents’ health insurance plan;

*Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to insure a child, but exclude treatments for that child’s pre-existing condition.

I urge you to share this information with your members and to help ensure that they cease any attempt to deny coverage to some of the youngest and most vulnerable Americans.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent Sargent the following statement:

The intent of Congress to end discrimination against children was crystal clear, and as the House chairs said last week, the fact that insurance companies would even try to deny children coverage exemplifies why the health reform legislation was so vital. Secretary Sebelius isn’t going to let insurance companies discriminate against children, and no one in the industry should think otherwise.

Let’s hope this works. I wouldn’t be surprised to see insurance companies challenge the new regulations in court. They must have been counting on that loophole to save them money during the next few years.

UPDATE: David Dayen is probably right about the insurance companies’ motives here:

You can pretty much figure out AHIP’s game here. With no restrictions on cost until 2014, the industry can raise their premium prices almost at will. Even the bad publicity suffered from that 39% rate hike of Anthem Blue Cross [of California] plan has not stopped that scheduled increase from taking effect in May. And when outrage is expressed by families facing double-digit rate hikes, AHIP will clear their throats and blame the pre-existing condition exclusion for children, forcing the poor insurance companies to take on a sicker risk pool and raise prices to survive.

Except covering kids is fairly cheap to begin with. And the universe of kids with a pre-existing condition who aren’t covered through SCHIP, Medicaid, or an employer plan is extremely small. So by making a big issue of this, AHIP potentially sets up large rate hikes in the 2010-2014 period that aren’t at all justified.

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Braley undecided on health insurance reform vote (updated)

On Sunday, the House of Representatives will vote on the Senate’s health insurance reform bill and some “fixes” to that bill. The procedural details have not been fully worked out (David Waldman takes you through the weeds here and here), but it’s clear that the vote will be very close. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to find 216 votes to pass the bill.

Various whip counts are floating around the internet. Take your pick from David Dayen’s version at FireDogLake, the Chris Bowers tally at Open Left, or the latest from The Hill staff. Several Democrats who voted against the House health care reform bill in November have announced plans to vote for this version. However, others who voted for the House bill remain undecided or have said they will vote no.

Today Peter DeFazio (OR-04) threatened to vote no on the bill because of changes in language on correcting geographical disparities in Medicare spending. DeFazio explained, “We spent months working this out. If we don’t get it in this bill, we will never get it.” The Huffington Post reported that other House Democrats share DeFazio’s concerns.

Because all three Iowa Democrats in the House strongly supported the changes to Medicare reimbursement rates that were included in the House bill, I contacted their offices today to find out whether they, like DeFazio, consider this issue a deal-breaker. I have not yet heard back from staffers for Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03) or Dave Loebsack (IA-02), but a spokeswoman for Bruce Braley (IA-01) sent me this response:

Congressman Braley has spent hours in meetings with Speaker Pelosi and House Leadership this week, discussing the need to correct geographic disparities in Medicare reimbursement and how those corrections can be accomplished in this final bill.  Congressman Braley is still very much undecided on how he will vote on the reconciliation package and this is one of many factors that will play a role in his final decision.

I’ve never seen Braley on any list of wavering Democrats on the health insurance reform bill. If he and DeFazio do end up voting no, it will be much harder for Pelosi to find 216 votes. On the other hand, a compromise could be reached before Sunday:

At her press briefing Friday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked about Rep. Peter Defazio’s objections to the removal of the Medicare disparity fix from the final bill. “We’re working on that language,” said Pelosi. “I feel comfortable about where we are heading.” She said she supports the language that was in the House bill and is working toward restoring it as much as possible.

“We have reached agreement before,” she said of the dicey political issue.

I will update this post if and when I hear back from Loebsack’s and Boswell’s offices.

UPDATE: Loebsack’s spokeswoman confirmed that he will vote for the bill. Boswell seems like a firm yes as well, judging from an e-mail blast he sent yesterday, which I have posted after the jump.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Braley confirmed that he will vote for the bill because of the deal on Medicare reimbursement payments I discussed in more detail here.

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Hey, Republicans: Bruce Braley can multitask

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee confirmed yesterday that Representative Bruce Braley will co-chair the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program this year. Red to Blue candidates are Democratic challengers seeking to win Republican-held House districts. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen noted this week that even in a “tough cycle for Democrats,”

The DCCC is focused on not only protecting our threatened incumbents, but also staying aggressively on offense. The talented leadership of our battle-tested Red to Blue chairs Bruce Braley, Allyson Schwartz, Patrick Murphy, and Donna Edwards will ensure Democratic candidates have the infrastructure and support they need to be successful.

The Republican Party of Iowa responded with a boilerplate statement accusing Braley of being loyal to “San Franciscan Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi” instead of the citizens of Iowa’s first Congressional district. Their attacks on Braley’s record could hardly be more misleading.  

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