The President’s Pennsylvania Problem

Crossposted from DemConWatch.

Obama has his polling problems. In Pennsylvania, his approval rating has fallen to 46/48, his approval amoung Democrats is below the national average and PPP says:

Obama's poll numbers are worse in Pennsylvania than they are in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico, all states that went Republican in 2004 even as Pennsylvania voted Democratic. The President's persistently poor numbers in a state that's gone Democratic in every Presidential election for the last 24 years probably make Pennsylvania the place where Obama should be most concerned about his current standing.

PPP goes on to attribute Obama's problem to Hillary Democrats. PPP also has bad news for Obama in North Carolina. Florida, even with Rick Scott, is not any more friendly.

There is something more concerning about Pennsylvania than the polling numbers, though, and that's the dollar numbers. First, let's look at the 2008 vote totals by county:


Philadelphia is actually the little blue area where the last “a” in “Philadelphia” is located. The big blue area to the left is Delaware County, To the left of Delaware County is Chester County, Above that, the dark blue is Montgomery County, and the light blue on the right is Bucks County. This is what gave Obama his win of the state with 54.7% of the vote, with, yes, an assist to the north, plus Pittsburgh, Erie and State College. 

Let's look at the money raised in 2008: (data from Open Secrets, all numbers rounded)

Totals 2008, Pennsylvania, $25.3 million collected statewide:

Top recipients:

Obama $ 11.4 million
McCain $ 4.6 million
Clinton $ 4.3 million
Giuliani $1 .3 million
Biden  $ 950,000
Romney $ 650,000

Overall for the Philadelphia Region (the counties cited above, plus the counties of Gloucester, Camden and Burlington in Southern NJ):

Obama $ 8.5 million
McCain $ 2.7 million

While other candidates received funding (for example, Romeny received $ 476,000) if you look at the ratio of Obama to McCain money, it's about 76% to 24%. 

In the top 4 zip codes, these were the Obama/McCain splits:

19103 (Philadelphia)
     Obama $ 557,000 (85%)
     McCain $ 98,000 (14%)
19010 (Philadelphia)
     Obama $ 307,000 (70%)
     McCain $ 129,000 (30%)
19087 (Wayne)
     Obama $ 264,000 (65%)
     McCain $ 139,000 (35%)
19085 (Villanova)
     Obama $ 186,000 (57%)
     McCain $ 137,000 (42%)

The Philadelphia Inquirer (17 July 2011, p. A3) took a look at the 2011 Q2 money in the Philadelphia area. (The counties above from PA and NJ.) Overall, Obama collected $ 227,190 and Romney collected $ 204,000. An additional $ 125,000 was taken in, in descending order by Santorum (PA only, he didn't get a dime in south Jersey), Paul, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Cain, Bachman and Johnson. The split here is 53%/47%, Obama to Romney. That's a little concerning. 

Also of concern is the money collected in the top ten zip codes. The data is arranged from most to least money, and identical zip codes are highlighted. All cities/town in Pennsylvania unless otherwise noted.


If you do the math, you'll find out that Romney collected $ 117,150 and Obama collected $ 85,193. Now admittedly, Obama tends to raise money from smaller donors, while Romney collects from larger donors. Thus, it's very likely that more humans (and ergo voters) donated to Obama than Romney. Further, it's early and the economy is in a completely different solar system than it was in 2007. But there are these two things…

The two most concerning zips to me are 19103 and 19087. 19103 (map) is part of Center City, and there is a concentration of über rich there, which can account for the relatively large Mittens draw. But it's also a very young area, with the largest proportion of residents being between 25 and 30 years old. (Source) Like I said, concerning.

And then there's Wayne. Zip code 19087 has an interesting history. It, along with zip code 19335 had their geographic areas defined well BEFORE zip codes were designated in the 1960's, by two very enterprising Postmasters. It used to be that the Postmasters were paid based on how many people received mail.  These guys took HUGE land areas, back when properties were large, even though the population wasn't there. Currently, 19087 is in three counties (Chester, Delaware and Montgomery). It's rich. It's educated. Data here. Most of all, though, it was an Obama stronghold in 2008. Again, like I said, concerning. 

More after the jump.

I live in 19087. And I know what the deal is here. For a candidate to win a precinct, or a zip code, a county or a state takes one of two things: a hugely strong, well-organized, on-message, well-funded candidate organization or an incredibly well-run, lock-step local party organization (think political machine). A combination of the two is optimal, but incredibly rare. 

In 2008, the Obama campaign officially arrived to our area on 1 April. Prior to that, Steering Committees had been put into place, including fund raising arms, outreach had been accomplished to online Obama support groups, and virtually no formal contact had been made with the local Democratic organizations, except to certain individuals who spanned both the Steering, etc., committees and the local organizations. 

The first full week, locations were operational and hundred of pairs of boots were on the ground, calling, fund-raising, holding voter drives, door knocking, lit dropping. This was, you may remember, for a primary. It became more intense after the primary: no one left, more paid interns were dropped on the area. 

The local organizations across the counties were split between Obama and Clinton, but most fell in line after the primary. However, the canvass, phone bank, fundraising and all other aspect's organization and leadership came exclusively from the campaign. This was a problem for the primary in Philadelphia as the Obama campaign refused to work in concert with the machine, which held down Obama's numbers in the city. The mistake was not repeated in the general.

OFA is still here: they have some events, do some phone banking and fund raising. Their numbers are far below what they were in 2008. And support, as shown by polls, fundraising totals, and general conversation is well below the last campaign. A lot of people who worked, and worked HARD in 2008, won't be doing it again. Obama cannot win Pennsylvania without winning Philadelphia and running up huge numbers in the surrounding counties. This is more important this year given the decreased population in southwest Pennsylvania. He cannot win Delaware nor Chester Counties without their parts of zip 19087. (He can still win Montco without 19087.) 

Q2 fundraising, and the current polling data should be a wake-up call for the campaign. While Pennsylvania has gone blue for the last five presidential elections, the 2010 elections were a rout: we lost the Assembly, Senate, Governor's Mansion, a Senate seat, and four House seats. All that, and current statewide Democratic registration is 50.8%. (Since you want to know, its 37% GOP, with the rest minor parties or unaligned.) 

The local Democratic organizations will not be of much help. They are fractured: disheartened by 2009 and 2010, split by a very ugly Democratic Congressional primary in 2010, underfunded, and without a functional GOTV program. This means that OFA has to hit here hard, and start culling support if Pennsylvania is to stay blue for the 6th presidential election in a row. 

Will this happen? It's uncertain, and the is a microcosm of what could conceivably cost Obama the 2012 election. Sure, there's a lot of time, and Mittens may well not be the candidate. That would be good for Obama as he polls much better against all the other current characters. But no matter who the Republican is, Obama still needs to get his people out, ground up, as worked in 2008. To win here, Obama needs people like me. I gave money, collected money, ran voter drives, ran a call center, canvassed, fielded canvassers, housed an intern, blogged, and above all, got my people out. From March to the election, I conservatively put 30 hours a week into Obama's campaign. Obama has about 8 months to win me over: I'm hoping…

Todays #hcr Moment: Hospital Failures in Massachusetts

Crossposted from DemConWatch.

The Massachusetts health care experiment has been up and running for five years now. As I and others have been writing for years, it was a bad idea then, it's a bad idea now, and it's only going to get worse over time.

Today's problem? Hospitals. In the 1980's there were 95 hospitals in the state. Now, there are 65, and 16 of them lost money last year. In June, two of them (both over 120 years old) filed for bankruptcy. Ouch. There are currently about 6.5 million people in the state, up from 5.7 million in 1980. More people, less access.

The problem for hospitals, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, is trifold. First, reimbursement rates keep falling across the board, but especially as relates to Medicare and Medicaid. Related to that, hospital costs keep rising. Second, there is a huge difference between rich and poor hospitals, setting things up (like across America) where the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. Finally, there is the issue of “the deal”. 

Hospital costs are somewhat fixed. Labour is a huge one, and then there are the costs of things like drugs, medical equipment, supplies, food. We can talk economies of scale, and that prices are too high, but the bottom line is that when you're sick, you need care, and care costs.

More after the jump.

Then we come to the issue of rich and poor hospitals. Rich hospitals are mostly, but not always, private and for-profit. They're in “better” neighborhoods. They have the newest equipment, higher percentage of private-insurance pay patients, as well as things like private suites, on-site chefs, and in some cases 4 star hotel-like accommodations. These hospitals often work in groups: a first tier teaching hospital in a city, with tertiary feeders in richer suburbs. At the other end of the spectrum are community-based hospitals, in poorer neighborhoods, or the only game in town for 200 miles in a rural area. They have x-ray machines and maybe CT scanners, but doubtful MRIs and for sure no PET or BEAM scanners. No robotic surgery equipment, no electronic records. Often licensed professionals are replaced with aides, or “technical partners“. 

This second issue of rich and poor hospitals is exacerbated by “The Deal”. When I wrote about this back in 2009, I opened with: 

“The Deal” refers to the relationship that a large insurance company has with all of the hospitals in a geographic area. With the exception of military bases, prisons, and Indian Reservations, virtually every other acre in America has one insurance company with “The Deal.”

You can see the full article here, complete with US map showing insurance company market share. In 2009, with the exception of Florida, Oklahoma and New York, one or two insurance companies controlled more than 50% of the market. Indubitably, it's gotten worse since then.

In Massachusetts, this all comes together (to the great detriment of patients) with Partners, a very large conglomerate of hospitals that cut a deal with the Blues in 2000, driving up both hospital and insurance costs across the state, decreasing quality care across the board, and fully showing the damage The Deal will do. In this case, not just losing money, but the bankruptcies of Quincy Medical Center and North Adams Regional Hospital.

The political ramifications are far-reaching. Not just because of the parallels of the Massachusetts plan and the Federal plan. But because when Medicaid and Medicare funds are cut as part of the debt ceiling deal, more people suffer. Massachusetts is the case that proves the point that single payer is the way to go for every single rational reason there ever has been, or could be. 

Health care is not a matter of “if”, but of “when”. Everyone gets sick, or has an accident, at some point in time. The worse one's economic situation, the higher the probability of needing MORE care. I could go on for tomes about what's wrong with health care in America, and what we need to do to fix it. (Wait, I HAVE….if you put “health care” in as a tag in DCW, you'll see more than 300 articles over the past few years.) But for today, CALL. And while you're on the phone, mention that “raising taxes” is the wrong phrase, it should be “making tax cheats pay what they've owed for decades.” We need to stand up as one and do everything we can to prevent the wacko right in charge of DC from killing even more poor people. And yes, every hospital that closes leads to deaths. Just looking at emergency rooms, more than 25% have closed:

In 1990, there were 2,446 hospitals with emergency departments in nonrural areas. That number dropped to 1,779 in 2009, even as the total number of emergency room visits nationwide increased by roughly 35 percent. – NY Times.

So do something today. Call the White House and your reps and let them know how important it is to keep Medicare and Medicaid (and the rest of the safety net while you're at it) out of the debt ceiling deal. In case you don't have the numbers on speed dial:

White House Switchboard: 202.456.1111.
Full list of Senate numbers here.
Full list of House numbers here.

Pulling the Football, and Why it Keeps Happening

Crossposted from DemConwatch

Boehner said no to the Obama “compromise.” Boehner caved to pressure from the far right. You shouldn't be surprised. Obama shouldn't be surprised. Then again, Charlie Brown shouldn't have been surprised after the first 50 times.

The reason this keeps happening is NOT because the president is stupid. But because he, and the rest of the Democratic Party are seemingly oblivious to the cognitive dissonance that affects America. That is, most people do not come close to understanding what the truth is, nor what the potential ramifications of certain proposals can be. 

To wit: most people who receive government money don't know that they receive money from a government program. Here's the chart:


Now, that chart is from a 2008 study, but it's unlikely the percentages have changed much. Face it, people can't value something they don't know they have. Further, the higher up on the income ladder a taxpayer is, the more likely he/she has received a tax subsidy of some sort. If you want to read the full, fascinating report, it's after the jump.

And there's something else that people don't know: if you add together the TOTAL cost of early childhood programs, low income housing programs, WIC funds, teacher training and afterschool programs, job training for the unemployed, LIHEAP, community health centers, homeless assistance grants, legal services for the poor, and Title X family planning, you get $44 billion dollars.  Want to guess how much it costs each year for extending the Bush tax cuts for JUST the top brackets? $42 billion. Full breakout in chart form here, which includes some other eye-popping dollar amounts only for the rich.

The next time you're out driving in real traffic, watch the people who only see what's ahead of them, never on the side, nor behind them. Most people don't have a sense of what's around them. They can only look right in front of their noses. The Democrats, and ESPECIALLY the president, need to put these sorts of data right in front of people, as many times as it takes, until they understand.

The Resignation of Anthony Weiner: Wrong on so Many Levels

Crossposted from DemConWatch

The resignation was in some ways anticlimactic. I'm much more disappointed by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Chris Van Hollen relative to this whole situation than by Weiner. 

Remember Charlie Rangel? Here is a guy who REALLY broke the public trust. The Ethics Committee investigated him for years. He still hasn't paid his parking tickers. He still has the place in the Caribbean and four (4!!!) rent controlled apartments. No member of the Democratic leadership ever publicly called for his resignation. They didn't call for William “Cash” Jefferson's resignation. 

His offense, according to Bill Maher, was that of all the people involved in any form of sex scandal, he didn't get any. I think that's funny, but not the actual reason.

The Democratic leadership didn't LIKE Anthony Weiner. He was a lifetime politician, having been in some form of public service his whole career. He started out working for Chuck Schumer, went on to be a NYC councilman, and then to the House. Rumour has it his original career goal was to be a TV weatherman. He has always been an unabashed liberal: if you look at his record, you'll see that he is someone who actually probably read both the US Constitution and the Democratic Party platform and STUCK TO THEM. He never backed down. A thorn in the side of a spineless, ball-less leadership that prefers compromise to winning. They didn't honestly like his politics, nor his persona. On a personal level, they didn't like HIM.

A secondary consideration is related to what Bill Maher said: “people” find sexting weird. Well, people of a certain age. Certainly teenagers don't. An affair? Lots of people have affairs. Have since the dawn of marriage. It's in the Old Testament, early on. Hookers? The world's oldest profession. Sexting is new, texting is only about 20 years old:

The first text message (“Happy Christmas”) was sent in on December 3, 1992 over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom from Neil Papworth of Sema Group from an R&D lab using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone.

Sexting is much newer: think about when you started texting. And face it, like all technologies, eventually sex gets involved. As in: there was less phone sex on party lines then there was once 900 numbers became popular. As it happens, the term “sexting” was only coined in 2005. And let's be honest, ON AVERAGE, the younger you are, the more likely you are to embrace newer technologies sooner. Which explains Nancy and Steny, but you'd think that even if they don't do it, Chris and Barack would have been less appalled. Oh, wait, they didn't LIKE him. 

The resignation itself causes unintended consequences for the Democrats: especially Andrew Cuomo who should be spending time getting gay marriage passed and not be distracted having to come up with a primary date.

Today, the left lost a solid voice. A solid vote. It's a sad day. 


A Passover Tale

We all have them: the family stories that enrich the holidays, be they holy days or festivals. One of my favourite ones is of Passover. 

It happened about 10 years ago. My mother was cooking. My dad and I had finished setting the table, and my dad was trying to figure out where to put the Afikomen. He'd put it in the piano bench the year before and Noah (age 6 that year) had found it in like 2.3 seconds. We decided to wrap it in a linen napkin and Velcro it to the bottom of the dining room table. My precocious pup Olivia was with us, she was about 4 at the time. At the appointed time, my dad said “Okay, it's Afikomen time. Find it.” Olivia immediately ran under the table and barked. Ben (about 10 at the time) said “What's Olivia going to do with $5? This is unfair.” My dad counselled that Olivia liked toys like all the other kids! Olivia went back to hanging with Noah who had a propensity to drop food he didn't like — and he didn't like brisket at all…..a win for Olivia all around…. 

What's your favourite Pesach tale? 

Publisher's Note: Here is my story.

 When I was young I had a Schnauzer named Pepper.  We were hiding the Chametz before Passover. We did the symbolic search with 10 pieces of bread, and tried to find really tough places to hide it. Of course, we took notes of where we hid them; G-d forbid we lost a piece of bread after sanitizing the whole house. Anyhow, my brothers couldn't find one piece and eventually they gave up, and I consulted my notes. I went to each of the 10 spots and couldn't find the chametz, but they had only collected 9. Clearly there is a discrepancy. What a conundrum … until we noticed the bread crumbs on the face of Pepper. 

Deficit Reduction by Philosophy

Crossposted from DemConWatch

Scott lays out all the numbers. And numerically, he's certainly correct. We'll have to do a number of things to get the deficit under control. And if you want to see what you'd like to cut, click here for the Budget Calculator which shows what is saved, program by program, based on the choices you make.

But the determination of how to measure out the ingredients in the recipe is based 100% on philosophy. Whether the recipe sells is predicated on politics and message control, but at base, it's philosophical.

The Ryan plan, and other privatization plans are based on the philosophy that people should stand on their own two feet and accept no government help. And we can all take blame for the rise of someone like Paul. Years ago, when Medicare and Social Security were a gangrenous foot, no one would modify the programs, they were considered the third rail. Thus, no cutting off the foot to save the leg. There were modifications that could have been made decades ago, but now we've got gangrene up into the thigh. We can still save part of the leg, but Ryan and his ilk want to cut off the whole leg. And as Scott's numbers show, it won't be enough. Not only that, but there is a set of numbers he doesn't present: what happens if the elderly have no Social Security and no health care?

First, the number of homeless rises. Then, the number of sick brought to the hospital (generally by ambulance after they collapse on the street) greatly rises. Talk about an unfunded mandate on every hospital in America. And the food banks. And every charity: none of which have enough money to care for the number of people currently asking for help. 

Do we have to recalculate how we care for our sick and elderly? Sure. The Economist, in the 7 April edition, has a great special section on that. (Sadly, you need a subscription to read it online, I greatly advise you either buy a copy or read one in the local library. You can see some of it online, but not enough of it.) They point out that across the developed nations, retirement age needs to rise, and with that, how companies treat their employees needs to change also. That is, the current system says that seniority equals power, but for people in their 60's, most people want less “power” and more ability to mentor, share knowledge, and have personal flexibility. It's a little different here in the US as people change jobs far more often than those in Europe and Asia, but still there are great ways to use skills and talents. The section also points out that not all jobs are created equal: someone sitting at a computer into his 70's is doing easier work than digging ditches, and thus there needs to be a scaled response of retirement ages pegged to the type of work. They do not mention, but it is certainly a given, that the longer people work not only do they collect later, but they pay in longer, thus affecting the balance of input and outgo. 

Philosophically, I'm in favour of raising retirement ages, while instituting programs that keep people working who want to work longer, and even doing away with early retirement at 62, with exceptions for physical limitations. I'm in favour of revamping Medicare and Medicaid as part of an overall Single Payer system which solves the financial problems of both programs, and lowers costs across the board once certain cost controls are put in place. (Um, they're actually there now, they're just not transparent.)

Then, I'd like to see the military budget cut and have us cease being the world's policeman. Imagine if each “send the troops” piece of legislation were debated publicly like other aspects of the budget. Fewer would support paying.

Finally, I say raise taxes. And yes, start with me. I'd be glad to pay 10% more than I pay now for the improvements I want. I think we've become so tax-averse that we fail to see that taxes are nothing more than a payment for services. 

So, play with the budget. If it looks familiar, yes, we've linked to it before. Then come back with what YOU want to cut, and what YOU are willing to pay for. It's not just the dollars, it's the belief system, too. 


This post was originally posted at DemConWatch, written by Scott Calvin, Professor of Physics at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY


We all have many questions about the conflict in Libya: How long will it last? Who are the rebels? How tough will it be to get Qadhafi to leave? How many civilians will be killed? Does the country have a chance of becoming a stable democracy? Will it even be a single country in the future?

We're likely to have a much better sense of the answer to these questions soon, for a simple reason: the rebels are advancing toward Sirte.

What's Sirte? It's Qadhafi's home town, lying midway on the Libyan coast between the country's two largest cities of Tripoli in the west and Benghazii in the east. It has become, under Qadhafi, a kind of secondary capital for the country, with some government ministries headquartered there. It is also the home to Qadhafi's tribe, among others.

The rebels have recaptured Ajdabiya, and reports today indicate Brega is in their hands as well. Next up is Ras Lanuf, then Bin Jawad, which is as far as the rebels got before Qadhafi's counterattack, and then…Sirte.

What happens when they get there? Do the residents side with Qadhafi, and oppose the rebels? If that happens, it is probably impossible for the rebels to take it, and it becomes unlikely the entire conflict will have a swift resolution. Or do the residents join the rebellion? If that happens, then Qadhafi is probably done. Or it could trigger ethnic strife within the city, or even some kind of neutral reaction. Finally, the rebels could decide to bypass Sirte altogether, continuing by it toward the west and the cities nearer to Tripoli. But how does that work? Would the rebels cut off supplies to Sirte, in effect besieging it?

And what does the coalition do in any of these cases? Here's a nightmare scenario: suppose the rebels take Sirte and then begin killing members of Qadhafi's tribe indiscriminately. There's no evidence they are planning to do this, mind you, but just consider what would happen if they did. Would the coalition then begin bombing rebel positions in order to protect the civilians?

Sirte is the test–for the rebels, for the coalition, for the President, for Qadhafi. The way things are going now, it looks like we'll have some answers to the question of Sirte in the next week or so, and with that, some answers to many of the questions surrounding Libya.

UPDATE: Rebel forces have taken Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad, eclipsing their former high-water mark. Forget answers coming in the next week or so; the rebels are coming face to face with decisions about Sirte now. President Obama had better write his address to the nation, scheduled for tomorrow night, in pencil.

Redistricting Pennsylvania

Cross-posted from DemConWatch.

Thanks Tmess2 for the great introduction to the Pennsylvania census numbers (and all the great census work overall).

The first thing I'd like to say about the Pennsylvania census numbers is that Philadelphia gained population for the first time since 1950. The current population of 1,526,006 raises it back to fifth largest in the US, replacing Phoenix, which had surpassed Philly about 4 years ago, and now has a population of 1,445,632. (Sorry, local pride and all that….plus we're not out to send people out of the country….)

So here's the map: 



And here is the current map of Congressional Districts:

If you look at the two maps, you can see that certain areas will win, and some will lose. So, what do we think will happen given that on the state level, Pennsylvania became a Republican state in 2010? Despite the fact that the governor and three of four legislative caucuses are all from the western part of the state, that's the most likely point of loss for the seat that will disappear. If John Murtha were still alive, there's no doubt that his would be the district gerrymandered out of existence. But it looks like that district, the 12th, currently held by Blue Dog Mark Critz might end up more blue. 

Still, the GOP will be playing with the lines in Southeastern PA. The money is on redrawing the line between the 2nd and the 8th, currently held by Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz, respectively. This would be a battle between suburban whites and Philadelphia blacks. The kind of bloodbath the Republicans would pay to see.

Another likelihood is that the 6th and 7th (Jim Gerlach and Pat Meehan (representing Joe Sestak's old district), respectively) will expand west into Lancaster County. Except, um, for Joe Pitts. He's the currently longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania delegation. He likes his job. He's a "good" Republican. He's also 71 and not spry. Still, the way population has grown more in Chester County as compared to Lancaster County, it’s hard to tell. We'll see. 

Almost everything else is in flux except CD 1, Bob Brady's district. No one messes with Bob Brady. 

In many states, there is discussion about the growth of the Hispanic population and its affects on election outcomes. This is true in places like California, where the non-Hispanic white population is pegged at 40%. But here in Pennsylvania, Hispanics are not yet a driving force. Despite their huge percentage contribution to the overall state population growth, they are still less than 6% of the population, and are not organized as a political force. 

Your Representative: Working Hard or Hardly Working

— DocJess

Welcome to the start of the 112th Congress.  In addition to getting more paid vacation time then any other group of people, including union workers and even most part time workers, Congress generally doesn’t meet Monday or Friday. That’s 102 scheduled vacation days (exclusive of the Monday/Friday deal) with adjournment on 8 December, leading to an additional 16 days off. Strikes me as obscene. If I owned a company and paid someone in the neighborhood of $250,000/year in salary, benefits and perks (exclusive of the office budget) – I’d expect that person to work more than he/she took vacation. But maybe that’s just me. You can see the full calendar here.

Then again, this might be a good year for gridlock, given what the House led by the Tan Man and his DeMint-led cohorts in the Senate want to do.  
On their agenda:

  • Repeal healthcare. And no, this won’t happen.
  • Repeal safe and legal abortion. This might happen.
  • Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. NOT gonna happen.
  • Debt ceiling? The tea baggers are already up in arms about what the lame duck Congress did, and they do not want to raise it. Hopefully, cooler heads amoung the Republican intelligencia (sole member: Karl Rove) and the GOP members who have been around long enough to want to come back for an additional term will prevail.
  •  Spending bills: remember there’s no budget, just a continuing budget resolution that will need to be renewed/reviewed/reconsidered/beaten with a stick in February.
  • White House ethics trials.

Adapted from DemConWatch.