Another bad campaign finance ruling: Federal Appeals Court unanimously strikes down the $5,000 contribution limit to Federal PACs.
Senate Adjourns with unfinished business: In addition to not passing an extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits, the Senate left town without passing a Medicare doc fix. This will result in Medicare doctors receiving a 21% cut in pay starting on April 1st. The Senate plans to solve this problem by passing an extension in mid-April that will restore the lost benefits and pay retroactively:
Meanwhile, COBRA benefits expire April 1; a 21-percent cut in Medicare doctor payments is scheduled to take effect that same day; and the filing deadline for UI benefits arrives April 5.
Senate lawmakers will tweak the bill to make the extensions retroactive, Reid's office said.
The money will come, but having it come late will still cause problems for a lot of people. Not good.
New foreclosure prevention program announced: The Obama administration is revamping their program to prevent foreclosures. Once again, it takes money from TARP (which is good) instead of appropriating new funds. I don't pretend to understand this policy very well, but Wonk Room is impressed. It better work, because this program is probably the last best chance for Democrats to improve the economy for average Americans before the midterm elections.
Democrats getting riled up?: Democrats might be narrowing the voter intensity gap, according to the weekly Daily Kos poll tracking poll. Whether this holds up as the year goes on, and in other polls, is another question. Kos is absolutely correct when writes, in his press release for the poll, that "this intensity gap will bear tracking the rest of this cycle."
The dangers of over-promising and relaxing on health reform: David Dayen responds to my article from earlier today touting the expansion of public health insurance and public care for low-income Americans as a major progressive accomplishment in the far from perfect health reform legislation. He is worried about complacency and overpromising:
Student loan reform is smart and 100% defensible in concept. The Affordable Care Act involved legislative compromise and must be watched carefully to ensure it achieves the promise that many liberals are touting this week. Rather than labeling it, we have to work to make it actually operate properly.
I don't disagree. In fact, analogously, I think there was far too much complacency in the center-left after the 2008 elections. Everyone was tired and happy after the election, and didn't want to work to prevent bad transition appointments like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. Those appointments resulted in bad policies like an ineffective foreclosure prevention program that helped far to few people, and which the Obama administration has now had to entirely revamp. And, those bad policies have resulted in an economic environment that is worse than it had to be for average Americans, which has in turn resulted in an electoral environment that is far worse than it had to be for Democrats. And, that will result in even worse policies down the road, as Republicans and conservatives accrue more power.
We have to always keep pushing. I just don't think that is incommensurate with feeling good, and pointing out that we have made some gains, too.