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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:34 pm 
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I think it certainly makes sense to try to appeal to conservative voters who might be swayed to vote for more liberal candidates in upcoming elections. The Republican party has relied on Reagan Democrats since the 80's to win national elections, I’d love nothing more than to see some Obama Republicans in future elections. So I see his “reaching out” to be geared more to voters than politicians. He doesn’t really need the Republican politicians votes anyway, does he?

But I agree there is no sense in watering down an agenda for the sake of someone who isn’t going to give you the time of day anyway. I’m not too impressed with the tax cuts in the current stimulus proposal, for instance. If the point is to get money into the economy fast, I don’t think tax cuts are necessarily the way to go (anyone other than those at the bottom of the economic ladder are more likely to save any extra money right now than spend it, imo). I’d much rather see that money spent on infrastructure projects that are ready to go right now.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:39 pm 
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At least in 2008, Obama already won a lot of those voters. And the support for the stimulus is high even among conservatives. I think Obama's "outreach" is a political ploy, gambling on the assumption that things will be starting to turn around, or showing signs of turning around, by 2010. In that case the Republicans who voted against the stimulus will come across as obstructionists.

Of course he's got to believe it will work. If it does not, suddenly the Republican "no" makes them look smart.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:36 pm 
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A politician's version of bipartisanship is the opposition caving in. I see Voronwë blames the Republicans for not being bipartisan, and Prim succinctly agrees. How dare these Republicans not be Democrats and vote for Obama's large spending plan, I guess. I suppose by the accepted HoF definition that being bipartisan means adopting the President's position, the Hall of Fire is a bipartisan board.

The fact that only 11 Democrats voted against the stimulus should tell you all you need to know about how "bipartisan" Obama's plan is. It wasn't. If it had been, there would have been more Democratic opposition to it. A legitimately bipartisan effort would have garnered some Republican support, as well. The burden of proof is on Obama to show he is bipartisan. He didn't do it. He didn't NEED to do it. If he can get it through the Senate, he won't have to be bipartisan at all, though he can still play at being bipartisan with meetings and speeches and statements to the press. But politicians are only bipartisan when they have to be. Obama is not an exception.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:47 pm 
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Faramond - could you give us your ideas on what bi-partisanship means in the current situation? How would it work in your opinion?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:51 pm 
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Hi Faramond! (It's good to see you here.)

I think Obama did do some things to try to make it a truly bipartisan bill, beyond meetings and speeches and statements to the press. Despite the objections of most in his party, he included $300 billion in tax cuts in the package (which the house reduced, but only to $275 billion). He engineered the removal of the provision that most Republicans found most upsetting - the money for contraceptive, which prompted a howl of protest from supporters (including a letter-writing campaign by Planned Parenthood). Do you disagree that these were real concessions to try to make the plan palatable to those across the aisle? Do you think that these things were no more than window-dressing, with no real significance at all? Do you think that Obama was being disingenuous in saying that he was trying to be bipartisan? Do think he should have either (1) supported the Republican plan that included almost only tax cuts in order to show that he was truly "bipartisan"; or (2) abandoned any pretense that he was trying to be bipartisan. I'm genuinely interested in your opinion about these things.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:56 pm 
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I think the bipartisanship being discussed is displayed in the fact that President Obama is willing to let the GOP have their say, and to hear them out; that's not the same as doing what they want. The fact that they've had nothing to offer except expanding the exact same policies that got us here isn't his problem.

I honestly believe that if a GOP member of Congress came up with an idea that Obama liked, he'd use it. Whether the GOP leadership would allow someone in their ranks to actually help the President is another issue.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:02 pm 
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sf:

Both sides would be left unhappy. Republicans would actually have a hand in crafting some of the legislation. Obama would be signing into law a bill that he didn't think went far enough to stimulate the economy. Is that what you guys really want? Because that's what true bipartisanship would look like.

You can only have true bipartisanship between equals. But guess what --- the Democrats and Republicans are not equals. If this was a knife fight the Democrats would have a David Bowie knife ;) and the Republicans would have a spork with one of the tines broken off.

I don't think intentions matter here. Human nature is what it is. Unless the Republicans control something, either the house or the Senate or the White House, there can't be real bipartisanship. At most the Democrats have to make a few concessions in the Senate, because they have 58.9 senators only.

I don't think you can offer up a few concessions and call it bipartisanship. First of all, concessions usually have a very specific purpose, and that is buying votes when the outcome is close. Second of all, a few concessions don't change the overall nature of the spending package. Does taking out the birth control spending make if bipartisan?

I Obama's version of bipartisanship will end up being holding on to the conservative Democrats and getting Snowe to flip often enough to get things done. But that's not true bipartisanship. I don't fault him for not being truly bipartisan, because really why would he? I only fault him for trying to pretend he is bipartisan.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:08 pm 
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Was it a wise move on the part of President Obama to publicly mention the name of Rush Limbaugh and suggest that Republicans in Congress should stop listening to him?

Something I find nearly amazing - (not quite full blown amazing but startling just the same) is the positioning by national commentator Rush Limbaugh and somehow, someway he is now a main player in the Republican power structure. He went on his radio program and basically threatened to expose any Republican who voted for the stimulus bill and not one then did. And when a single Republican House member even voiced mild disapproval with Rush, he was deluged in a flood of angry calls and emails which prompted him to do a quick public apology to Limbaugh on his radio show.

Just months ago, Rush could not even back a successful candidate in the Republican primaries and seemed to be being passed by. His listernership got him nothing except the opposite of what he wanted - John McCain as the parties candidate.

Now, he looks like he is a major player manipulating Congressmen from his island in Florida. Quite an accomplishment in just a few months time. We wondered who was going to fill the vacuum in the Republican leadership- and it looks like we partially have our answer.

Faramond - I think you are essentially correct.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:10 pm 
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Thanks, Faramond.

(I had to Google the term "David Bowie knife" to figure out what you were talking about.)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:31 pm 
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Marijuana Reform Is Part of the Progressive Agenda So Why Are Obama's Drug Cops Already Making Pot Raids

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In response to the Change.gov poll, the administration posted a curt, one-sentence response, ‘President Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.’ The reply, though disappointing to some, was hardly unexpected. In 2004, Obama voiced support for decriminalizing pot (a policy that replaces criminal sanctions with the imposition of fines only), but fell short of endorsing legalization. (Although as a candidate for president, Obama renounced his support for decriminalization.) Less expected, however, were the actions of the Justice Department last week when U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials raided the office of a California medical marijuana provider, as well as two medical grow houses in Colorado. (The possession of marijuana for medical purposes is legal in both states, and nonprofit organizations may legally dispense marijuana to authorized patients under California law.) The busts outraged many drug-law-reform advocates, who were quick to point out that the new president had pledged on the campaign trail not to use Justice Department resources to circumvent state medical marijuana laws.

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Last edited by Cenedril_Gildinaur on Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:35 pm 
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I think Obama did do some things to try to make it a truly bipartisan bill, beyond meetings and speeches and statements to the press. Despite the objections of most in his party, he included $300 billion in tax cuts in the package (which the house reduced, but only to $275 billion).


Did Obama's preferred plan have no tax cuts? I wonder how much of a compromise this really was.

I would prefer that the plan have no tax cuts, by the way. The deficit is too high to support tax cuts right now. If the economy needs to be stimulated it has to be done as efficiently as possible. That means targeted spending. Tax cuts aren't transmitted into the economy at a 100% rate.

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He engineered the removal of the provision that most Republicans found most upsetting - the money for contraceptive, which prompted a howl of protest from supporters (including a letter-writing campaign by Planned Parenthood).


He might as well put that back in there, unless he needs to keep it out to get it through the Senate, or unless he's really serious about spending only on things that can actually help the economy.

Though I guess any money spent is in some way "stimulus". I suppose.

In any case I don't think the House is the real target of these concessions. I think it's the Senate.

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Do you disagree that these were real concessions to try to make the plan palatable to those across the aisle?


No. So, Obama reached out a quarter of the way. Not halfway --- why would he? But I don't think it's fair to blame the opposition for the failure of "bipartisanship" when they have to come 3/4 of the way to get it done.

The serious question the Republicans have to ask themselves is how much they value these small concessions Obama is willing to give them. Right now Obama has no incentive to give them out in the future, at least as far as the House is concerned. The Republicans may want to consider that getting a few concessions is better than getting nothing at all.


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Do you think that these things were no more than window-dressing, with no real significance at all? Do you think that Obama was being disingenuous in saying that he was trying to be bipartisan?


He's walking a fine line there. I reserve judgement beyond that for the moment.

What I really find disingenuous is blaming Republicans for the failure of bipartisanship here. The primary reason it failed is because it wasn't really necessary. It may be that it would have been in the Republicans best interests to make it work, as I said earlier.


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Do think he should have either (1) supported the Republican plan that included almost only tax cuts in order to show that he was truly "bipartisan";


No.

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or (2) abandoned any pretense that he was trying to be bipartisan.


Well, Obama said that he won. So right there he wasn't pretending that there was true bipartisanship going on.

I think he should not ever give the impression that he's truly meeting the Republican's "halfway" and then fault them when they don't arrive at his position.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:48 pm 
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Faramond wrote:
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I think Obama did do some things to try to make it a truly bipartisan bill, beyond meetings and speeches and statements to the press. Despite the objections of most in his party, he included $300 billion in tax cuts in the package (which the house reduced, but only to $275 billion).


Did Obama's preferred plan have no tax cuts? I wonder how much of a compromise this really was.

I would prefer that the plan have no tax cuts, by the way. The deficit is too high to support tax cuts right now. If the economy needs to be stimulated it has to be done as efficiently as possible. That means targeted spending. Tax cuts aren't transmitted into the economy at a 100% rate.


I agree with you. And I don't think that we will ever know what Obama's real preference is. The thing that we have to remember about Obama is (like anyone who succeeds in politics as well as he has) he is a politician first and foremost.

Quote:
Quote:
He engineered the removal of the provision that most Republicans found most upsetting - the money for contraceptive, which prompted a howl of protest from supporters (including a letter-writing campaign by Planned Parenthood).


He might as well put that back in there, unless he needs to keep it out to get it through the Senate, or unless he's really serious about spending only on things that can actually help the economy.

Though I guess any money spent is in some way "stimulus". I suppose.


Personally, I think that the plan should focus as much as possible on job creation and other direct economic stimulus, and that things like the contraceptive provision are beside the point.

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In any case I don't think the House is the real target of these concessions. I think it's the Senate.


Yes, I agree that is true.

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No. So, Obama reached out a quarter of the way. Not halfway --- why would he? But I don't think it's fair to blame the opposition for the failure of "bipartisanship" when they have to come 3/4 of the way to get it done.


Fair enough.

Quote:
The serious question the Republicans have to ask themselves is how much they value these small concessions Obama is willing to give them. Right now Obama has no incentive to give them out in the future, at least as far as the House is concerned. The Republicans may want to consider that getting a few concessions is better than getting nothing at all.


Or maybe they have decided that since Obama has no incentive to meet them more than a little way, they would be better off standing firm. That's not the way I look at things, but perhaps that is the better strategy.

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I think he should not ever give the impression that he's truly meeting the Republican's "halfway" and then fault them when they don't arrive at his position.


Again, fair enough. I always come away with these discussion with you with a somewhat different perspective than I had going in. Which is, after all, the highest purpose of discussing these things.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:02 pm 
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:wave: to Faramond.
Hurray for alternate viewpoints! :)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:24 pm 
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Faramond - I do not think Obama has any obligation to meet the Republicans "halfway" to use your term. Nor should he. As you have stated, Obama won the White House. Dems won the Senate bigtime. Dems won the House bigtime. There is no need to go halfway to the Republican side.

Voronwë said

Quote:
Or maybe they have decided that since Obama has no incentive to meet them more than a little way, they would be better off standing firm. That's not the way I look at things, but perhaps that is the better strategy.


It seems that is indeed the Republican position. Lets remember that every single Republican member of the House was elected despite the Obama win. Every single one. The country may be changing - but not as it impacts them. Demographics may be changing - but not as it impacts them. Idealogy may be changing - but not as it impacts them.

Is it the better strategy? It depends on adding the words "better for who"? The current incumbents probably take solace in the traditional wisdom that off year elections favor the party outy of power in the White House. So perhaps Republicans see this as their low point and its only up from here.

I am now firmly convinced based on events of the past three months, that the Republican Party will not change from within to meet the changing demographics of America barring two future events:
1- repudiation of the Republicans in the 2010 elections causing them to lose even more seats and going against historical precedents
2- losing again in 2012

Only then will change come - and that will because they simply can no longer deny reality and so many of them will be gone from the scene.

CG - I have been called a liberal and a progressive and I am against any effort to reform or legalize marijuana laws. Its not even on the map for me. I was very active in the Obama campaing. I now attend local meetings to strengthen the Dem party in my town. Nobody ever talks about marijuana or drug laws. And everyone there is what is described as a liberal or progressive.

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There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.... John Rogers


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:43 pm 
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Faramond, thanks for your posts. You make excellent points.

I do want to say that I didn't mean to claim that Obama was (or was trying to be) truly bipartisan. I meant that he was maneuvering to be the one who would be perceived as trying to be bipartisan, and to cast the opposing party as would-be obstructionists. And, being a very skillful politician, he succeeded in that.

The party in power usually does seem to expect or demand that "bipartisanship" means "doing it 100% our way." To the extent that Obama bends that rule, we are better off than we have been, I think. But it's a game of perceptions almost more than a game of substance at this early point.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:05 am 
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sauronsfinger wrote:
CG - I have been called a liberal and a progressive and I am against any effort to reform or legalize marijuana laws. Its not even on the map for me. I was very active in the Obama campaing. I now attend local meetings to strengthen the Dem party in my town. Nobody ever talks about marijuana or drug laws. And everyone there is what is described as a liberal or progressive.


I know that in spite of your very conservative outlook you are considered a liberal due to your support of labor unions. ACLU members are also considered liberals and have quite a different outlook than you do on many issues (and their outlook on the issues is why I joined the ACLU). But note I didn't write that it is a liberal issue, I wrote that it is a progressive issue. It's certainly not an issue embraced by conservatives or Republicans. Conservatives and Republicans generally reject the idea of even the tiniest loosening of the drug laws.

The viewers of change.gov catapulted this issue to the top of their poll on the issues, showing that among Obama supporters (at least those on the internet) this is indeed an issue. The public is turning against the drug war, which is why reform initiatives pass when they make it to the ballot as they have done in several states.

Obama had earlier promised to not use the justice department to circumvent state laws on this topic, but he also promised change and he changed his mind on the promise.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:13 am 
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CG
One issue - of your selection - does not define anyone. Nor is it right or fair for anyone to attempt to paint someone in a corner by doing so.
Progressives are for drug legalization.
You are not for drug legalization.
You are not a progressive.


That sure does not work in a world with countless issues facing us in varying complexities.

Quote:
The public is turning against the drug war, which is why reform initiatives pass when they make it to the ballot as they have done in several states.


First, I hear a great deal about "the war on drugs" but I have yet to see it in action or read documentation about it. World War II was a real war. Not because of the fighting an enemy in battle, but because of the total mobilization of society untied in common purpose to win. I do not see anything remotely approaching that in the so called drug war. It does not exist.

My own state of Michigan had a ballot proposal to legalize medical marijuana for certain patients under certain conditions. I signed the petition to put it on the ballot and voted for it in November. At the same time I am 100% against general marijuana legalization. I know others here in the same position. So please do not use this very narrow issue of medical marijuana to jump to the wrong conclusion that the same voters want all marijuana legalized.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:20 am 
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sauronsfinger -

sauronsfinger wrote:
Faramond - I do not think Obama has any obligation to meet the Republicans "halfway" to use your term. Nor should he. As you have stated, Obama won the White House. Dems won the Senate bigtime. Dems won the House bigtime. There is no need to go halfway to the Republican side.


Absolutely true. And Faramond also said:
Quote:
No. So, Obama reached out a quarter of the way. Not halfway --- why would he? But I don't think it's fair to blame the opposition for the failure of "bipartisanship" when they have to come 3/4 of the way to get it done.

as well as
Quote:
What I really find disingenuous is blaming Republicans for the failure of bipartisanship here. The primary reason it failed is because it wasn't really necessary. It may be that it would have been in the Republicans best interests to make it work, as I said earlier.


which boils down to:

Faramond wrote:
I don't fault him for not being truly bipartisan, because really why would he? I only fault him for trying to pretend he is bipartisan.


My personal perspective:

a) Obama has absolutely no obligation to meet the Republicans "halfway".
b) But neither does he have the right to reach across a quarter of the way, so to speak, and then infer that he tried to be bipartisan and it was shot down and is all the Republicans' fault.

Of course, Obama doesn't say this second thing, and I respect him for that. But it appears that many of his supporters does want to, and that's the part that I find a little annoying. :P

I am not a Democrat or a Democrat supporter, but I want to see Obama succeed because I want to see America succeed. You cannot have a successful America and a dud president, as one could argue the past eight years showed us, and it irks me that so many people would put party politics above the good of the country.

( I speak generally here, not about posters on this board in particular. )

PS: I do not like the tax cuts at all, either. To me it feels like digging the hole deeper just so the tax payers can have it waved in their faces that they were 'beneficiaries' of the debt they're forced to assume, somehow. I am rather against any tax cuts at all, at this point.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:36 am 
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In the end, Obama will have to turn to his own party to get his agenda passed. The idea of bi-partisan support from many Republicans is in many ways like the mirage in the desert. It looks so attractive and can be so seductive. And so deadly.

When Dems in the 80's supported the programs of Reagan, were they met halfway and their ideas included? Or were they expected to come on over due to the Reagan "mandate" claimed by him and his supporters?

President Obama will have to deal with the dissent within his own party. Most people are practical enough to understand that compromise that gets you something is the way the game is played in Washington - and indeed in most of life. Compromise which gets you nothing except less of what you could have had in the first place does not stay in favor for very long.

This is going to be a most interesting year. I suspect 6 or 12 months from now, this whole issue will have long been decided.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:43 am 
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I heard an interesting interview on NPR on the way home with a Republican house member (I think it was Tom Davis, but I could be wrong). He was very effusive in his praise of Obama, and placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Pelosi and the House leadership, for not giving them an opportunity to help shape the bill. This congressman said something very interesting. He said he thought that Obama was likely to spend more time meeting with him and his Republican colleagues -- not the party leadership, but the rank and file -- in a couple of week, than Bush did in a year. That is rather extraordinary. The upshot is that Obama is building good will for later legislative initiatives that will require bipartisan support, such as health care reform and energy policy.

Then they had an interview with a Republican senator (I did not at all catch who it was). He was sure that the bill was going to be significantly modified in the Senate, and that eventually the modified version will garner the support of some Republican House members. We'll see.

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