Post Politics Hour

Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 4, 2010; 11:00 AM

Don't want to miss out on the latest in politics? Start each day with The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m. as a member of The Washington Post's team of White House and Congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post's coverage of political news.

Washington Post national political writer Lois Romano was online Thursday, March 4 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest in political news.

The transcript follows

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Lois Romano: Good Morning everyone- sorry for the delay. Lets get started!


Vienna, VA: Lois, have you been called in to referee the Broder vs. Milbank bout?

If not, what's your take on this? The fable of Emanuel the Great (Post, March 4)

Lois Romano: Funny thing is- Dave and Dana are friends and great fans of each other. Needless to say these dualing opinions have created much buzz in our newsroom.

And I'm not getting in the middle of that one......


Dallas, Tx: So does Palin shopping around for a TV show now take her out of political contention? How does this impact the seriousness of her as a politician?

Lois Romano: It doesnt take take her out of contention as a political matter-- but she may have decided to take herself out by going this route. One of Palin's greatest values to the party is her celebrity-- her platform. There are many Republicans who like her and listen to her-- but wouldnt necessarily vote for her. So having a show could be helpful in getting out the message, and earning her money.

As a political matter, however, it's high risk. It makes her vulnerable to misspeak-- which would not be a good thing if she choses to run for president.


Florissant Valley, MO: Morning, Lois. Can you help us decipher the rather surprising choice of Rep Levin over the guy whose seniority should've given him the slot. Is this Nancy P weighing in to preserve appearances--an election-oriented move?

Lois Romano: The choice of Pete Stark was a problem. First of all he's been ill, and has missed hundreds of votes. After suffering through Rangell's investigation, the committee needed someone who could quickly engage.

Also, he's had a history of make controversial and inappropropriate remarks.

This from politico:

"Was ensnared in an ethics investigation into claims he tried to obtain a tax credit for Maryland residents -- his main residence is in California . ... He called former Connecticut Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson a 'whore for the insurance industry' and said she got her information from 'pillow talk.' He said Jewish members of Congress were a cause of the Gulf War. More recently, he accused Republicans of sending soldiers to Iraq 'to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement.' "


New York: Good morning Lois -- The Democrats were quite successful at running conservative Dems against moderate Republicans, especially in 2006. But it seems that, only a few years later, many of these seats are now shaky due to retirements or GOP resurgence. Given that these conservative Dems have been less than cooperative when it comes to the Obama agenda, are party leaders rethinking or regretting this strategy? Thanks.

Lois Romano: Thats a good question- my guess is that its mixed. They couldnt have gotten the majority without those folks-- and some of them couldnt have gotten elected unless were more moderate/conservative.

I think they would take the majority under any circumstances and hope they could bring people around.


New York: My congressman, Charlie Rangel, is a good guy who seems to have lost his way. Now that he's on the ropes, and hasn't announced that he's running for reelection this year, can we expect more Democratic challengers to emerge (she asks hopefully)? I know of only one, and he hasn't gotten much attention. Thanks for the chat.

Lois Romano: I dont think anyone of consequence will announce --until he decides not to run again. He's a legend and beloved in harlem.


Alexandria, VA: In order to get elected to Congress, I assume that member of the House or Senate has a high degree of political smarts. Given that presumption, I can't see how an elected Democrat can reasonably think that a vote against the President's health care plan would be good for his or her own political health. While there may be a certain amount of posturing leading up to a vote,when push comes to shove, is there any upside at all for a Democrat to vote against the single major initiative of his/her political party in a generation?

Lois Romano: Some legislators are from conservative districts or states where constituents are not keen on the bill for various reasons-- one being that it costs too much and will drive up the deficit. Those legislators will oppose the bill in the hope of getting reelected.


Outside the Beltway: Good Morning Lois,

I used to think the House really had no Ethics Committee. Now, I see they do have a committee, but apparently there are no ethical standards to speak of. There were 6 Congresspeople cleared of wrong doing on fundraising issues, but I can tell you if I had done what they had done, I would have lost my job, I wouldn't be "admonished." And Charlie Rangel, my goodness, he should be out of Congress, not off the committee.

Please give me some examples of what it takes for a Congressperson to be kicked out of their job, as would happen in the Real World. Apparently even finding $90,000 in the freezer wasn't enough for Congress to do anything to Jefferson. Murder maybe? What else?

Lois Romano: The Constitution allows that each chamber has the power to expel its members. But both bodies prefer to let the courts deal with it. You know, innocent until proven guilty.

Once that process plays out, most members step aside if found guilty. If they dont- then the people speak as was the case with jefferson, who was defeated.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Lois, I always appreciate your thoughts and chats on here. This is just a comment; hopefully a concise one. As an attorney in town who practices in both the regulatory/transactional and government relations areas (aka, I am a "lobbyist") I find the whole Rahm-deal a bit perplexing.

Rahm is a supremely talented strategist who has the relationships that are required to succeed in this town. I understand the non- beltway crowd does not like how business is done here and that there is bipartisan approbation of the special interests. However, as a progressive guy myself, I would tell my fellow travelers that we need Rahm a lot more than the others. The bottom line is people in this town who have their hands on the levers of power - both on the Hill, in agencies, and on K Street - do not care about Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, or Robert Gibbs. Those are three vestigial people to the beltway crowd: they are not from here, nobody is indebted to them, and no one fears them because they will be gone in 3 or 7 years (back to Chicago, at that). Rahm is different. People owe their careers to him, people fear his wrath. When he says something it carries real weight.

I understand people think Rahm is a DLC-hack. Whether that is true or not, Rahm has always understood that the reason winning is most important is because it is much more important to block your opponents agenda than to pass your own. Of course Rahm elected conservative Dems and moderates to get back Congress. That was our party's only chance to thwart the Republican agenda, and thwarting that agenda means we dont live in a world were environmental policy is written by Jim Inhofe and tax policy/healthcare policy is not written by a rightwing nut like Dave Camp.

I get that my fellow Dailykos-ers do not like this centrist paradigm, but legislation in Washington is passed incrementally, and is requires gaining and holding political capital over years, not months. I think Rahm gets that a lot more than Jarrett, Axelrod, and Gibbs who seem to think they can ride this wave of "its the right thing to do and we were elected to transform America." That is almost exactly what Jimmy Carter did with the GA mafia...didnt work.

Lois Romano: thank you for the comment. Rahm is one of those complex souls that books will be written about....


St. Louis, MO: Yesterday, Orrin Hatch penned an Op-Ed in the post which was full of misconceptions and blatant lies. Doesn't Post examine for accuracy before printing op-ed's. If not, can I write something that is totally ridiculous and send it to Post in the name of op-ed? Orrin Hatch: Reconciliation on health care would be an assault to the democratic process (Post, March 2)

Lois Romano: The Post does read all of its opeds for factual accuracy--thats not to say an erroneous factoid could slip through the vetters.

And no you cant.


Poplar Bluff, MO: Lois, thanks for the chat. I was watching a news program last evening in which the pundits were talking about the role of the Senate parliamentarian would play in the reconciliation votes on the health care bill. Could you explain the role of the Senate parliamentarian in this matter and is he/she appointed by the majority party or picked in a bipartisan manner?

Lois Romano: Here's an interesting story from Bloomberg on the role of the parlementarian. hope its useful.


Princeton, NJ: The media seems to have given up any effort to fact check. The Post's feature that did that has disappeared. This is especially bad in the health care debate where the Republicans have lied over and over again, much more tham the Democrats. For example, Senator Enzi gave a speech on the floor in which he named 3 drugs which he said were not approved by the British NHS because they were too expensive. At that time 2 of them were approved and paid for, and shortly thereafter the third was. Cost had nothing to do with it. NHS was seeing if the drugs worked. One example of hundreds.

Do you believe the media in general and the Post in particular has a duty to get the facts to the people?

Lois Romano: We make every effort to fact check --but we neither have the time nor the resource to check every word that comes from a members mouth on the floor. They can say just about anything and then correct it later for the Congressional Record.


Chicago: Lois: you stated: Some legislators are from conservative districts or states where constituents are not keen on the bill for various reasons-- one being that it costs too much and will drive up the deficit. The only credible referee in this matter has been the CBO which has said that the bill would contain costs and reduce the deficit. I always thought the Fox Party echo chamber was formidable but maybe I have underestimated it all these years. Please tell me you misspoke? Thanks.

Lois Romano: Perhaps I wasnt clear: the constituents in these districts have come to believe the bill is too expensive.

I dont have an opinion.


North Manchester IN: Hi Lois! Was there any grumbling from fellow Dems about Speaker Pelosi's urging of her party to vote for HCR no matter the consequences? She is in mega-safe district for Dems, so she could shoot Boehner on national TV and still win. Heck, she might get more votes.

Lois Romano: Nancy Pelosi is indeed a partisan from a safe district. She gets lots of pushback all the time from moderate dems-- but that doesnt mean she wont contine to push for all the votes she can muster-thats her job.


An erroneous factoid!!!???: There was little in Hatch's piece that could even remotely pass as objective truth. What is D.C.'s aversion to calling lies LIES??

Lois Romano: write a letter to the editor.


RE Health care: " one being that it costs too much and will drive up the deficit"

This is not true. The CBO Says the bill will lower the deficit by 130 billion over the next ten years.(even more in the second decade) You are willingly repeating talking points even after they have been proven false. No wonder the public is confused

Lois Romano: Again- I was stating what these constituents may believe- not what I think.

I have no opinion.


Richmond: It's amazing, Lois, how circumspect you are about ethics when the Democrats are in charge. Nancy Pelosi campaigned on the 'most ethical Congress ever' line. But this feels like 2006 all over again. Do you think ethics will be an issue in the fall? Can we really trust the Democrats?

Lois Romano: Ethics are always an issue for members of both parties. Im not circumspect at all. Historically, Congress has been reluctant to expel memebrs unless they are found guilty as charged. This applies to both parties. On the GOP side, you could look at Larry Craig who is still serving- after his incident. These are serious charges against Rangell.


Lois Romano: Unfortunately, its time to end. Thank you all for joining me today. Hope to see you here in a couple of weeks.


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