Dems: Get out and read Constitution on House floor!


The Washington Post
The Morning Plum
Dems: Get out and read Constitution on House floor!
By Greg Sargent, January 5, 2011

* Congressional GOP formally takes power today: With House Republicans set to assume the majority at noon, Paul Kane lays out the long-term game plan: The real action will come after all the symbolic efforts to repeal Obama’s agenda, when House Republicans try to “force Obama into what they consider principled compromises.”

Also key: The GOP’s expanded Senate minority means that Dems will suddenly need at least seven Republicans to vote with them in order to overcome filibusters, considerably expanding Mitch McConnell’s power and capacity to extract concessions from Dems. One key question now: Will this town’s media elite start seriously placing some of the onus for cooperation and governing on the GOP? Or will the default position continue to be that Obama and Dems are almost entirely responsible for overcoming disagreement and gridlock and for “changing the tone” in Washington?

* GOP already scaling back goals for budget cuts? Jackie Calmes has a good piece reporting that GOP leaders are quietly acknowledging that they may need to downsize their budget cut plans by as much as half.

Also important: Calmes notes that while GOP leaders are currently claiming that their original goal of $100 billion in cuts was hypothetical, in fact it was the figure in the House GOP’s “Pledge to America” of last September.

* Incoming House GOP faces major Tea Party challenge: Relatedly, GOP lobbyist Vin Weber offers an apt description of the challenge House GOPers face in managing the restive Tea Partyers, who will get very angry if Obama’s agenda — not to mention the entire federal government — isn’t immediately dismantled from top to bottom:

“They have no sense of the limits on a party that controls only one of the three seats of power. Managing that relationship is going to be difficult.”

* Wily John Boehner determined to avoid Gingrich fate: Also worth watching: The new House Speaker is proving more politically wily than one might have expected, carefully emphasizing his working class roots and familial ties and generally avoiding the bomb-throwing image that ultimately sank Newt.

* Dems: Get out and read Constitution on House floor! More and more left-leaning writers are making the case, as I have, that Dems should be embracing, rather than scoffing, at plans for a public reading of the Constution. The Constitutional Accountability Center’s Elizabeth Wydra explains why and how progressives can use the public reading as an opportunity.

* Also: Dalia Lithwick has a very nice piece noting that “this is an opportunity to engage in a reasoned discussion of what the Constitution does and does not do,” and patiently explaining to the Tea Partyers that “the Constitution wasn’t written to reflect the views of any one American.”

* ICYMI: Republicans have invited Dems to join in the reading of the constitution, and they should do this.

* Filibuster reform update: With Senate Dems set to introduce a package of changes today, reform picks up the qualified endorsement of the Post editorial board, which will help drive opinion in Congress.

* White House gears up anti-repeal push: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius makes the full case against repeal, suggesting the White House is gearing up to use repeal as an opportunity to sell the American public once again on what the law actually does.

* About Obama and that Guantanamo statement: In case you need to get caught up on that developing story about the President perhaps signing a statement nixing Congressional limits on his ability to close Guantanamo, Dan Froomkin has a lucid and useful overview of the situation.

* Random question of the day: How will press coverage of the House GOP majority compare to the media’s less-than-illustrious performance during the 1990s?

* Takedown of the day: Jonathan Cohn skewers the right’s latest “government health care takeover” lie, this one designed to baselessly frighten cancer patients.

* Hallucinatory attack line of the day: GOP Rep. Jack Kingston appears to believe that the food safety bill, which is under attack by Republicans over its cost, will result in thousands of “food police” inspecting your “girl scout cookies.”

* And the fantasy of the day: Breaking: Sources close to Michele Bachmann say she is set to travel to Iowa in the course of seriously exploring a 2012 presidential run. Maybe it’s a tacit bid to become Sarah Palin’s Veep candidate? Palin-Bachmann 2012!

What else is happening?