Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • Health Care: Explaining the Public Option 'Trigger'

    Early word out of the White House is that while President Obama will reiterate personal support for the public option in his speech tonight, he’ll signal to Congress that he’s willing to sign a bill without a government-sponsored health-care plan. How will he keep Democrats on board and still woo Republicans? One compromise that’s become the talk of Washington and could come up in Obama’s speech tonight: the so-called “trigger” option.It’s an idea that was first floated by GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe, one of the few Republicans who has continued to actively negotiate with the White House on a health-care-reform compromise. The idea is to give insurance companies a set period to make changes that would bring down long-term costs and help cover more people. If the industry didn’t meet the goal, it would trigger a so-called public insurance option to put pressure on companies to make those changes. Still up for debate: what that defined period would be. Would it be two years? Would it be...
  • Photo Blog: Bill and Barack, Together Again

    Sitting in the audience at a memorial for Walter Cronkite this morning, former president Bill Clinton whispers something to President Obama. Were they talking Obama’s health-care speech tonight? After all, it was 16 years ago this month that Clinton, also in the early months of his first term, went before Congress to make his pitch for health-care reform.
  • Supreme Court Revisits Campaign-Finance Reform

    Is the Supreme Court poised to overhaul the nation’s campaign finance laws? That’s the question as the court holds a special session today to rehear a case that could potentially change laws that restrict spending by corporations and unions on campaigns. The case centers on Hillary: The Movie, an unflattering 90-minute film about Hillary Clinton that the conservative group Citizens United produced during the 2008 campaign. Back then, the Federal Election Commission ruled the film was the equivalent of an attack ad and therefore came under the regulation of a 2002 campaign finance law that restricts spending by outside groups trying to affect the outcome of a campaign. Citizens United promptly sued, claiming the FEC was trying to suppress free speech. While the Supreme Court will weigh whether the FEC’s actions in regard to the Hillary film were correct, the focus of the debate has shifted to a larger question: should corporations and unions be treated differently from individuals...
  • Why Pelosi Will Be the One to Watch During Obama's Health-Care Speech

    President Obama’s highly anticipated speech to Congress won’t be must-see TV just because of what he’ll say to lawmakers tonight. Equally, if not more important is the reception he’ll get from members of Congress, in particular the woman sitting directly over his left shoulder: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Who can forget how enthusiastic Pelosi was during Obama’s last speech to Congress in February, when she leapt up to offer applause so often that Gawker dubbed her “Pop-Up Pelosi.” Will she be as excited tonight? Probably not, as the White House has signaled that Obama won’t draw a line in the sand over the creation of a public insurance option in the health-care reform bill. Perhaps more than anyone on Capitol Hill, Pelosi has advocated for the public option. Should Obama signal he’d support a bill without it, it could prompt a major rift with a key Democrat who has frequently shown she doesn’t mind playing frenemy to the White House....
  • Poll Watch: Americans Still Split on Health-Care Reform, Say It Will Affect 2010

    On the eve of President Obama’s speech to Congress on health-care reform, there’s an interesting new poll out from Gallup that shows Americans are just as divided on the issue as they were a month ago. According to Gallup, 39 percent of those polled say they would direct their member of Congress to vote against a health-care reform bill, while 37 percent say they want their lawmaker to support it. Roughly a quarter of those polled—24 percent—say they still just don’t know what to think. That undecided number is actually down 5 percent from a month ago, which suggests people are slowly starting to make up their minds. Yet the most interesting statistic is this: despite all the confusion, a whopping 64 percent of those polled say how their lawmaker votes on the issue will be a “major factor” in how they vote in 2010. On the flip side, 21 percent say it will be a “minor factor,” while 13 percent say it won’t matter at all. So, let’s get this straight: Americans remain split over what...
  • Obama Will Release White House Visitor Logs

    Looks as if we’ll soon know more about who is coming and going at the White House. The Obama administration announced today that it will begin voluntarily releasing visitor logs to the White House, disclosing on its Web site the names of thousands of people who come into the complex each year. It won’t be instantaneous. The policy, which goes into effect on Sept. 15, will allow the release of visitor logs and access information electronically captured by the Secret Service at least 90 days after the fact—meaning we won’t get to see the first list of names until roughly December. There will also be limits on what we will see. The names of personal guests of the Obamas won't be released—something the Bush White House, for all its stonewalling on visitor lists, occasionally did. The White House also won’t disclose people visiting for what administration officials describe as “sensitive meetings”—though according to the statement explaining the policy, it will tell us when it&apos...
  • 2010 Preview: The Hottest Races in the Senate for Democrats

    Election Day 2010 is still more than a year away—423 days to be exact. But it’s never too early to begin looking at what will be the hottest races to watch. Over the next two days, your Gagglers will look at a handful of must-watch Senate races, a list that will no doubt evolve over the next year as the battle for Congress begins. First up, a look at the seats currently held by Democrats. The party began the year with a comfortable margin in the Senate but now look at risking not just losing their 60-seat majority but possibly control of the chamber itself. On the vulnerable list: some of the best known Democrats in the country, including Chris Dodd, Barbara Boxer, and Harry Reid. Over the recess, party activists warned Democratic voters not to be complacent. With a little more than a year to go, can Dems turn it around? The question isn’t who is considering a run against Blanche Lincoln but increasingly, who isn’t? Just a few months ago, the two-term Democrat’s reelection bid...
  • Will Ethics Problems Hurt Pelosi and the House Democrats in 2010?

    Do House Democrats have a double standard when it comes to ethics? Word broke earlier this week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to allow Rep. Chuck Rangel to keep his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee despite continuing ethics problems. The latest revelation: he failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on his financial-disclosure forms over the past several years. According to amended forms recently filed with the House, Rangel failed to disclose at least $800,000 in assets and income since 2002. The latest dustup comes amid an ongoing House ethics investigation into other questionable acts by the New York congressman, including his failure to report income from and pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic and his ties to a real-estate developer who leased him four rent-stabilized apartments in New York. The panel is also looking into Rangel’s fundraising and whether he improperly used his office to raise money for a public policy...
  • The White House Waffles on the Public Plan. Again.

    The big story in Washington today is word that President Obama will try to reclaim momentum on health-care reform, beginning with a speech in the coming weeks that will lay out exactly what he wants in a bill. Possibly not included: the so-called public plan, which has proven to be the most divisive aspect of the debate so far. A government-run option has been the holy grail for many on the left, including the AFL-CIO, which announced yesterday that it wouldn’t support a bill without it. “It’s an absolute must,” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka said Tuesday. Well, that should make for an interesting conversation when Obama addresses the group’s national convention later this month. As Politico reports this morning, some Obama aides “welcome a showdown” with those on the left who argue they would rather have no health-care law than one marked by compromise. In their view, it would allow Obama to show he’s willing to stand up to Dems to get something done. “We have been...
  • With an Eye on 2012, Mike Huckabee Plays the Sarah Palin Card

    Nice guys finish last—at least that seems to be the lesson Mike Huckabee has learned from losing the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. The former Arkansas governor made headlines last week when he suggested on his radio show that the Democrats’ health-care bill under debate in Congress wouldn’t have covered Sen. Ted Kennedy in his final days of battling cancer. “Proponents deny that the bill would devalue older people’s lives, or encourage them to accept less care to save money. But it was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to just consider taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them,” Huckabee said, according to Politico. “Yet when Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. He freely did what most of us would do. He chose an expensive operation and painful follow-up treatments.” Over the weekend,...
  • Conspiracy Watch: Does Obama's Health Care Logo Resemble a Nazi Symbol?

    If you ever doubt the power of conservative talk radio, consider this: The No. 1 search term on Google right now is “Obama health care logo.” Your Gaggler had literally no idea what it was about so she, naturally, Googled it.  It turns out that radio host Rush Limbaugh on his show today went after the logo being used by Organizing for America in its push for health-care reform. Citing the conservative blog Sweetness & Light, Limbaugh told his listeners the OFA logo looks similar to a Nazi symbol. Limbaugh brought up the comparison in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment about protestors at town hall meetings this week, telling a reporter that she spotted people “carrying swastikas.” “They accuse us of being Nazis, and Obama's got a health-care logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook,” Limbaugh said today. Seriously, Rush? Well, doctors everywhere should be in the doghouse then, considering the logo incorporates the caduceus, a symbol of medic...
  • Fake Grassroots Outrage Over Health Care? What's New?

    If there’s one thing clear about the battle over health-care reform, it’s this: Washington never changes. As Katie blogged yesterday, one of the big White House talking points this week is going after “fake” grassroots groups who are rallying their supporters to show up and cause commotions at town halls sponsored by members of Congress. Their goal is to defeat some of the proposals included in the health-care bill being debated in Congress, including a President Obama-endorsed, government-run insurance option. Among the coalitions working against the plan: FreedomWorks, a conservative group aligned with former GOP majority leader Dick Armey. This group is hardly new to the Washington game of ginning up what some would describe as fake grassroots momentum. Your Gaggler profiled the group four years ago when they were on the other side of the argument, working in tandem with the Bush White House to push Social Security reform through. Back then, President Bush hit the road to stir up...
  • Gibbs Backtracks on Whether Ahmadinejad Is 'Elected Leader' of Iran

    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs caused quite a stir yesterday when he referred to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the “elected leader” of Iran—this in spite of all the violent protests over June’s disputed election results in that country. Opponents say Ahmadinejad stole the election, but nonetheless, he was sworn in today for a second term as president of Iran. While countries like Russia were quick to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his re-election, the U.S. and other allies have been careful not to get mired in the electoral dispute. For instance, France this week emphasized that they recognize states, not particular governments. This afternoon, Gibbs retracted his “elected leader” comment and said it was not for him or the U.S. to judge whether Ahmadinejad was legitimate but up to the Iranian people. “He’s been inaugurated, that’s a fact,” Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One. “it's not for me or for us to denote his legitimacy, except to acknowledge the fact.” Here’s Gibbs’s...
  • Happy Birthday, President Obama

    President Obama turns 48 today. He’ll spend his birthday at the White House, where he’s having lunch with the entire Senate Democratic Caucus this afternoon. “Chuck E. Cheese was booked,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs joked yesterday. Yeah, yeah—You laugh now, Gibbs, but wait until you see Harry Reid jump out of a giant cake. In honor of the prez’s birthday, your Gaggler is posting what seems to be one of the more controversial documents these days: Obama’s birth certificate. Confirmed again and again by Hawaii’s state health department, the document shows that Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu—though some folks just don’t believe he’s a U.S. citizen and likely never will. A Research 2000 poll sponsored by the liberal blog Daily Kos found that while a majority of those polled believe Obama is a natural-born citizen, 11 percent of those surveyed didn't buy it, while 12 percent just didn't know--small, but fairly disturbing numbers nonetheless.Still, one could say ...
  • Does Obama Need the Traditional Media? Yes and No.

    As President Obama nears his 200th day in office, there’s one major thing we’ve learned about this White House: Increasingly, they don’t need the press. Case in point: Last night, administration officials posted a short video looking at the process by which Obama gets his mail. According to the White House, the president reads 10 letters from average people every day—correspondence culled from the literally tens of thousands of pieces of mail sent to Obama each week. This is not exactly breaking news. We’ve known about Obama and his letters for months—plenty of people have written about it and NBC included brief footage of the letters in its documentary on the Obama White House that aired in June. But the White House video goes significantly more in depth—showing the mail room where letters are sorted by topic and the staffers going through them to pick which ones will make it to the president’s desk. And then you have Obama himself reading the letters aloud and talking about the o...
  • Photo Blog: Ale to the Chief

    And here it is: The official White House photo of President Obama clinking beer mugs with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and his arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police. Not pictured: Joe Biden who also attended and drank, gasp, non-alcoholic beer. (Seriously Joe?)  So what happened? Well, no one apologized, but according to Crowley, the two agreed that it was more important to look forward rather than backward. Gates said he better understands the sacrifices officers like Crowley make. And Obama was just thankful to be there. Gates and Crowley apparently agreed to talk again—this time away from all the lights and cameras. And that's it. So can we talk about something else now?
  • What is Happening in this Picture? You Tell Us.

    We've said it before and we'll say it again: The official White House Flickr feed is a constant source of entertainment--and not always in the way the administration probably intended. Your Gaggler has to give major props to Ana Marie Cox and Jason Linkins who have written some pretty hysterical interpretations of what exactly is happening in WH photos for The Awl. But you know what? We bet you, dear Gaggle readers, can be just as funny. So here's your first assignment: What is happening in the above picture from this week featuring President Obama and some visiting members of the official Chinese delegation. Tell us in the comments or send us an email. We'll publish the funniest and maybe we'll even come up with an official Gaggle prize. Wow, right?! I still happen to have a perfectly preserved "Scott" cookie from Scott McClellan's going-away party in the White House briefing room in 2006--though that might be hard to give up. But we'll...
  • The Looming Ad War over Health Care Reform

    If you thought the debate over health care reform was heated now, just wait until Congress goes home for recess—especially if you live in a so-called swing district. Pretty much every lobby with a stake in health care—big business, insurance, pharmaceutical companies, both political parties, among others—are planning a major blitz to try to shape the outcome of the bill. And that means you likely won’t get a reprieve from the back and forth over cost and the so-called public plan anytime soon. For lack of a better word, it’s going to be a total ad-pocalyse, along the likes of what we saw during the final weeks of the presidential campaign last fall....
  • Obama Calls Out Newsweek. We Respond.

    Who says news mags are dead? At a town hall in North Carolina this afternoon, President Obama gave a shout-out to this week’s cover of Newsweek:...
  • Will Shaq Meet Obama Today?

    Is Shaquille O’Neal famous enough to just waltz into the White House unannounced? Apparently not. The gigantic NBA basketball star, now of the Cleveland Cavs, is in Washington today, where he’s set to host the WWE’s Monday Night RAW. Wrestling, basketball, acting—what can we say? The guy does it all. But is it enough to get him an impromptu visit with President Obama? For days, Shaq has been talking up a personal experiment: Is he so famous that he can just walk up without an appointment and get into the White House? He took an impromptu survey Friday on a DC sports radio show. “Check this out, I got on a nice suit, I'm in D.C. paying a visit, I jump out of a cab in front of the White House, I don't use none of my political/law enforcement connections. If I go to the gate and say, 'Hey, I'm in town, I would like to see the President,' do I get in, or do I not get in?” Shaq asked. Well, he tried. On Sunday afternoon, Shaq arrived in D.C. and promptly...
  • It's WH vs GOP on Health Care as Obama Tries to Convince Dems His Loss Would Be Their Defeat

    Add another GOP senator to the list of Republicans the White House is assailing for stalling health care reform in the name of politics. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, trashed President Obama’s efforts on two different radio shows this week, implying that the GOP’s attempts to stall health care reform will bring about Obama’s “demise.” “We are plotting the demise on a week by week basis of where Bill Clinton was in 1993 and where Obama is today, and his demise ratio is greater than Clinton’s was in 1993,” Inhofe told the conservative Janet Parshall radio show on Wednesday. That same day, Inhofe went on the Hugh Hewitt show saying essentially the same thing. “I just hope the president keeps talking about it, keeps trying to rush it through,” Inhofe said. “We can stall it. And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.” Both clips surfaced late Thursday on the site Think Progress, a non-profit liberal group...
  • Obama Gets Spriritual Guidance Via His BlackBerry

    Another interesting moment from that ABC interview: Terry Moran asks President Obama about his “spiritual life.” “Well, I had a habit of praying every night before I go to bed. I pray all the time now,” Obama tells Moran. He repeated what many of his senior advisers have been saying: The Obamas haven’t found a “church home” in DC and that, for now, they’ve been worshiping at a chapel near Camp David, when the family is up there for the weekend. “(We’re) still trying to figure out how to move this big apparatus called the presidency without being hugely disruptive to congregations,” Obama said. In the meantime, Obama has also been getting spiritual guidance through his BlackBerry. According to the prez, Joshua Dubois, who handles the White House’s faith-based initiatives, emails him a devotional everyday. (BTW, is this the first confirmation of someone who has Obama’s email address outside his immediate inner circle?) “That’s how I start my morning,” Obama tells ABC. “He’s got a...
  • Obama: 'Scare Tactics' Are Causing Poll Numbers to Drop

    ABC just posted the transcript of its full interview with President Obama set to air tonight on Nightline. The talk is heavy on health care—Obama is a lot more feisty than he was last night in defending its details. At one point, Terry Moran asks Obama about the polls, which show he’s lost some of his momentum on health care. The president blows it off and blames his critics and their “scare tactics.” “What the polls are showing is, is that the more they focus on the political arguments that are out there, as opposed to my plan, the more anxious people get,” Obama tells ABC. “That's not a reflection of us walking through the American people on our plan. That's a reflection of the fact that this debate consistently degenerates into a certain pattern, which is, government takeover of health care and you know, this is going to be radical and, you know, somebody's going to get between you and your doctor.” Moran also asked Obama about his recent meeting with the director...
  • Obama Stands By His Gates Remarks, But Did He Go Too Far?

    President Obama is sticking by his statement last night that police in Cambridge, Mass., acted “stupidly” in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates but he now says “everybody” involved should have behaved better. In an interview with ABC’s Terry Moran for a piece that will air on “Nightline” tonight, Obama said he was taken aback by the response to what he said on the subject at his presser last night. “I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement because I think it was a pretty straight forward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama told ABC. "I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do… And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion....
  • Obama on Senate Health Care Delay: 'That's Okay'

    Speaking to a town hall in Shaker Heights, Ohio, President Obama just responded to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement that the Senate won’t get to a health care reform bill until the fall. Obama, who said he hadn’t spoken to Reid, said the delay is “okay” as long as people weren’t postponing the vote in hopes of killing the legislation. “That's okay," he said. "My attitude is I want to get it right, but I also want to get it done promptly, and so long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable with moving a process forward that builds as much consensus as possible.” Still, he added, “We’ve got to get it done, and we’ve got to get it done soon.” He pressed Congress to get him a bill by “the end of the year.” “I want it done by the fall,” he insisted. Here's an excerpt of Obama’s remarks today:...
  • BREAKING: Senate Dems Push Off Health Care Until Fall

    Bad news for President Obama: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just told reporters on Capitol Hill that the Senate won't take up health care until after Congress's August recess. “It’s better to get a product that’s based on quality and thoughtfulness than on trying to just get something through,” Reid told reporters, according to Politico. The hold-up is apparently stalled negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee, which is debating how to pay for health care reform. Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who chairs the committee, has been attempting to craft a bill that will get bipartisan support. According to Reid, the decision was made late Wednesday night (around the time President Obama was giving his news conference) that the Senate Finance committee simply needed more time. The White House had wanted to see a vote by this Friday in the Finance Committee, in hopes of seeing the larger bill move to the Senate floor for a vote by Aug. 7th. It's unclear if the Baucus...
  • Everything You Need to Know About Obama's News Conference (But Were Afraid to Ask)

    In his fourth primetime news conference, President Obama delivered an extended defense of his policies on health care and the economy—two issues where he’s lost significant ground in public opinion in recent weeks. And when we say extended, we literally mean extended. In the hour-long presser, Obama took just 10 questions. That’s a pretty low number even for him, as he took his time responding, if not always answering, each of the queries. During his first six months in office, Obama has become the master of using questions to simply get out his preferred talking points, and Wednesday was no exception. From the top of the news conference, Obama’s assignment was to explain this increasingly complicated push for reform and sell the American people on why it’s so necessary to do something now. “I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, ‘What's in this for me?’” Obama said in his opening statement. “How...
  • TV Guide: Viewers Prefer Regular Shows to Obama

    We’re still over an hour away from the kick-off of President Obama’s news conference, but here’s some discouraging news for the White House: TV Guide polled its online audience to see whether they’d rather watch an Obama event or regular primetime TV. Guess what? A majority—62 percent of those polled—say they rather be watching their TV shows. Granted, it’s an online poll and not very scientific. But it's no secret here in the White House press room that the networks don't like interrupting their regular primetime programming for Obama events. Their beef: It costs them millions in lost advertising revenue. In fact, there was a little drama about the timing of all of this. Initially, the White House had announced that the news conference would begin tonight at 9pm, but NBC reportedly balked. (They have an interview with Susan Boyle, a Dick Cheney fave, airing tonight.) In hopes of getting more coverage, administration officials decided to move up the start time an hour...
  • Here's What the WH Wants You To Hear Tonight

    The White House just put out excerpts of what President Obama will say tonight at the top of tonight’s news conference. For the record, it's not much new:...