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Twitter Round-Up: Could the Speaker Look Weaker?

Just hours before the Department of Homeland Security was set to shut down at the hands of Republicans, Speaker of the House John Boehner threw up one last Hail Mary toward avoiding governing at all costs and kicking the American Security can down the road. Instead, he lost 52 House Republicans and his 3-week continuing resolution went down 203-224. As can be expected, another in a long list of failures by the House GOP leadership was not lost on the Twitterverse.

02.27.15 | permalink

Republicans in Congress are doing the only thing they know how to do: YELL LOUDER

boehnerass

 

Republicans in the House and Senate have finally accepted the truth that they were only able to acknowledge as a possibility before: GOP Leadership has NO plan for funding Homeland Security beyond the February 27th deadline if the Senate cannot pass their current bill. But coming to terms with the truth and reacting with common sense are not mutually exclusive Republican traits.

In response to their utter failure to undermine the President’s very popular executive action on immigration, Republicans won’t try to work with Democrats to pass their own immigration bill and fully fund DHS. Instead, they’ll dig back into the tried-and-true GOP playbook to do the only thing they’re really good at: ramping up rhetoric and shouting louder than anyone else.

On Wednesday morning, Speaker John Boehner challenged Senate Democrats to “get off their ass” to pass the stunted DHS spending bill. Knowing his use of “ass” would get him plenty of press over the next few days, Boehner was able to ignore that his counterpart in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has already punted the ball back to the House and, more importantly, the President has promised to veto the bill.

But the loudest, most divisive voice came from Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who pulled out his crystal ball to do some blamesplaining (emphasis ours):

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who is up for reelection in blue Illinois in 2016, was more direct. "If they're cynically trying to restart the government-shutdown battle, they should be blamed directly. … It's a very dangerous game. If we have a successful terrorist attack—all the dead Americans from that should be laid at the feet of the Democratic caucus," Kirk said.

OOF.

He wasn’t done (emphasis, again, ours):

“The Republicans — if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans,’” Kirk said Tuesday.

So how did we get to the point where a sitting US Senator decided it’d be advantageous to himself and his party to foretell of terrorism and dead Americans? It’s a short walk off a long pier:

1. The House of Representatives refuses to vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill in the 113th Congress.

2. President Barack Obama, seeing the inaction in the House, goes ahead and uses executive action to bring relief to millions of families in the United States.

3. Knowing Republicans would hate this, the President gives them a way out: “Pass A Bill”

4. House Republicans don’t pass a bill.

5. The new Republican majority in both chambers of Congress move to prevent the President’s immigration action through legislation, which doesn’t work.

6. The clock towards a very unsavory Department of Homeland Security shutdown starts to tick louder.

7. Republicans blame Democrats for the deaths of (literally countless because they don’t exist) Americans in (literally countless because they don’t exist) terrorist attacks, all because…

1. The House of Representatives refused to vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill in the 113th Congress.

Republicans in Congress can yell above the noise all they want, but their job isn’t to be heard; it’s to ACT. They need to pass a clean DHS funding bill to protect those who protect our homeland.

02.11.15 | permalink

Disastrous First Month For Republicans

This week at the Democratic retreat in Philadelphia, we saw President Obama and members of Congress energized, ‘fired up’ and ready to make a forceful case for progressive policy priorities that will help working families. Meanwhile, as January comes to a close, it’s clear that the first month of this new Tea Party Congress has been full of division, dysfunction and extreme votes, or as one Republican member of Congress put it:

 

“Week one, we had a speaker election that did not go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we got into a big fight over deporting children, something that a lot of us didn't want to have a discussion about. Week three, we are now talking about rape and incest and reportable rapes and incest for minors. … I just can't wait for week four.” - Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)

 

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

But unfortunately, week four was no better, with Republicans continuing to propose their extreme policies that would be disastrous for our country:

 

  • Republicans have already made clear their intention to play politics with Homeland Security funding in a reckless effort to stop the President’s immigration executive action that will keep families together.  Polling shows Americans overwhelmingly support the President’s path on immigration, and a CBO estimate out this week showed that the House Republicans’ anti-immigrant DHS funding bill would actually increase the deficit by $7.5 billion. This week also saw Republicans stumble on their border bill – legislation that the Secretary of Homeland Security called "extreme to the point of being unworkable" – because they didn’t have the votes on their side for it.  Another example of leadership in disarray.
  • Polling has also shown that the Democrats’ vision of tax fairness and the middle class priorities laid out by the President in his State of the Union address enjoy wide public support, while the GOP’s trickle-down approach does not. Yet that didn’t stop John Boehner and Mitch McConnell from going on 60 minutes this week to announce that progressive efforts to lift the middle class were “Dead, real dead” in the eyes of Republicans.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services also announced this week that the Affordable Care Act is working, as 9.5 million Americans have signed up for coverage.  So what did Tea Party extremists in Congress do? Double down on their failed efforts to stop this critical law.  They announced their intention to block any attempt to restore the subsidies making health insurance more affordable for an estimated 6.1 million Americans should the Supreme Court strike them down.So what does week five of Republican control of Congress have in store for us? Attempting for the umpteenth time to repeal Obamacare!

 

So what does week five of Republican control of Congress have in store for us? Attempting for the umpteenth time to repeal Obamacare!

That doesn’t sound like a winning plan to us.

 

01.30.15 | permalink

AUFC Wins Reed Award for Best National Ad for Public Affairs/Issue Advocacy Campaign

It’s an honor just to be nominated – and even better to win! This weekend in Las Vegas, AUFC took home a Reed Award, named after Campaigns & Elections founder Stanley Foster Reed, for ‘Best National Ad for Public Affairs/Issue Advocacy Campaign’.  

It was in recognition of ‘Leadership’, the first national ad in support of the President’s immigration executive action to give millions of undocumented workers the opportunity to keep their families together, get right with the law and pay their fair share in taxes.  What caught the attention of award judges was the use of footage of President Ronald Reagan, who in 1986 signed a similar executive action deferring deportations.  Reagan speaking about the U.S. as a ‘shining city’ with doors open to immigrants juxtaposed with President Obama making the same case today really took the wind out of the sails of Republican arguments that this action was unprecedented and unlawful.  Not to mention their complaints that the President had no business acting alone when House Republicans had refused to vote on a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform the Senate passed over 500 days ago.  As the ad concludes: When Congress Refuses to Act, Presidents Must Lead.

Unfortunately, it’s clear Republicans remain uninterested in making any inroads with the immigrant community. The Reed Award came the same weekend as the Iowa Freedom Summit, where Republican Presidential hopefuls gathered to kiss the ring of anti-immigrant demagogue, Congressman Steve King. 

Watch 'Leadership' Here: 

01.26.15 | permalink

Breaking Down The Medicare Lie

Are you familiar with ‘The Medicare Lie’? Republicans and their shadowy supporters (read: Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers and Tea Party extremist groups) have been using it to attack Democrats for a while. It’s a big one. It’s also important, so let’s break it down.

The claim is that the Affordable Care Act—or “Obamacare”—was funded in part by gutting Medicare to the tune of $716 billion. So, Republicans argue, that any Congressperson or Senator who voted for Obamacare, or anyone who even supports it, essentially is trying to strip Medicare of A LOT OF MONEY. There are tens of millions of seniors across America who rely on Medicare to stay healthy, and they are arguing that Obamacare is taking money directly out of their pocket.

Now I’m the first to admit that this claim sounds bad. But it takes about two seconds to head over to Politifact and see that this ridiculous idea has been debunked literally dozens of times. From the occasional “Half True” to lots of “Mostly False,” “False” and plenty of “Pants on Fire,” Politifact can’t fact check this lie fast enough.

Republicans lying, in and of itself, is nothing new. But The Medicare Lie is particularly egregious. Here’s why: WHILE DEMOCRATS AIM TO STRENGTHEN MEDICARE, THE REPUBLICANS WANT TO GUT IT COMPLETELY!

You know Paul Ryan:  Congressman from Wisconsin, former Vice Presidential nominee, gym rat. Well along with being a conservative politician from the Midwest and Ayn Rand’s biggest fan, Ryan is also the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. In that role, he crafts budget proposals for Congress.

Now we all know how much of a disaster the Ryan budget would be for the American people, cutting taxes for the rich and social services for the poor. But what we need to know for the sake of this post is that one of the social services it would gut is Medicare. Paul Ryan and his Republican buddies in Congress wants to voucherize Medicare. Rather than guaranteeing coverage for all seniors, he would like to give them a gift card to visit the doctor of their choice. Once their gift card is empty... we’ll that is apparently no longer the problem of the Republican States of America.

Republicans and their billionaire friends have been running ads against Democrats throughout the midterms invoking The Medicare Lie. But the truly astounding part is that they are accusing Democrats of trying to destroy Medicare, while at same time trying to destroy Medicare all on their own.

The Republicans are trying to have their cake, and eat it too. And while they are at it, they would also like your cake, your vote and your goddamn health insurance.

 

Brad Woodhouse is the President of Americans United for Change

10.23.14 | permalink

Going to the Political Theater

This blog is cross-posted on RaiseTo1010.com

Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked the effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. On Tuesday, after the Koch brothers blasted out a plea to Republicans to vote “no”, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rushed to the floor of the Senate to voice his opposition to raising the minimum wage. Wednesday, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) belittled low-wage workers by fudging their demographics (Young! Uneducated!) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) reduced the entire discussion to nothing more than “political theater”.

Political theater? Give me a break. These hard-working Americans would love the opportunity to just step into a movie theater with their families once or twice a year.

The performers in the true “Political Theater” are so good that they use the fourth wall to seal themselves off completely from the constituents they claim to work for. Soliloquys are presented as dissertations on the meaning of life in America, without much of an idea of what life actually is in America. Stage combat plays out as a war on their real enemy, an ever-growing cultural uprising based on equality and fair play, using their most powerful and effective weapon: fear.

The actors and actresses of the true “Political Theater” are the Senate Republicans, themselves.

Raising the minimum wage isn’t “political theater”. On top of the 28 million who would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage, taxpayers everywhere will see a decline in the need for public assistance funding ($4.6 billion in SNAP funding per year, alone). The nation will enjoy a jolt in economic activity to the tune of $22 billion, creating the opportunity for more jobs at better wages. 73% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and three states have already gone ahead and done it.

It takes a special kind of performer to tap dance around numbers like those. As they showed yesterday, Senate Republicans are up to the challenge.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. How do you get to the “Political Theater”? An unheralded ignorance to the needs and desires of the American people.

 

Jimmy Donofrio is the Digital Director for Americans United for Change

05.01.14 | permalink

Raising The Minimum Wage: Americans Get It… What’s Congress’s Problem?

Let me turn your attention to some video released by Think Progress today of Representative Dennis Ross (R-FL 15) at a town hall meeting in Tampa, FL. When asked by constituent and low-wage worker Shaneeka Rainer whether or not he’d support raising the minimum wage, Ross rejected the notion, saying, “It’s not right.”

If Rep. Ross had left it there, this would just be another example of a Republican member of Congress dismissing the struggles of hard-working Americans. Instead, he turned the tables in his own town hall meeting and asked, “Who’s going to pay for it?”

ROSS: “If we are going to make it a living wage, who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to pay for it?”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: “I will. I’ll pay 20 cents extra for a hamburger.”

This response to an otherwise rhetorical question elicited a smattering of applause from the town hall, and put the Congressman on his heels. This response to an otherwise rhetorical question was the tide of the minimum wage fight rising in the face of dwindling opposition.

“I will.”

It’s a simple rallying cry being trumpeted all over the country right now in the name of raising the minimum wage. It’s a declaration in a town hall in Florida that marginally higher prices for goods are well worth making sure that our fellow Americans can make enough money to pay their bills. It’s an announcement from a pizza chain in Minnesota that paying higher wages to their staff ensures future earnings and allows them to offer better service to their customers. It is states like Connecticut and Maryland not waiting for Congress to act and voting to raise their minimum wages to $10.10 an hour.

Yet, Republicans continue to stand in the way. Just yesterday, Governor Mary Fallin signed a law that bars all Oklahoma cities from setting their own mandatory minimum wage, effectively freezing it at the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

Low-wage workers in this country are struggling. They are pleading for someone to step up to the plate for them and for our economy.

Americans everywhere are saying “I will.”

Sadly, for Republicans in Congress, “It’s not right.”

04.16.14 | permalink

An Open Letter To Kathleen Sebelius

Thank you, Madam Secretary.

Thanks for ensuring that 7.5 million Americans could sign up for affordable, quality health insurance.

Thanks for your commitment to fixing the website, and for your leadership throughout the (hugely successful) open enrollment period—despite what some people had predicted.

Thanks for reaching out to Republican governors to help set up state exchanges, work to expand Medicaid, and reach compromise on marketplace structures in many red states, despite repeated and relentless Republican attempts to sabotage the law.

Thanks for having the courage to stand in there during your 5+ years of service—the 6th-longest among Cabinet members—despite having to put up with misleadingfalsified, and repeatedly debunked attacks on the ACA throughout your time in the Administration.

Thanks for teaching us how to sneeze properly.   

Thanks for helping these people #GetCovered.  And also these people.  And these people.  And this cancer survivor.  And this small business owner.  And this person with a pre-existing condition.  And 9.3 million other Americans who otherwise would not have had health insurance.

Thanks for everything, Secretary Sebelius, from me and some of my friends.

See Also:

Adam Hoyer is the Executive Director of Protect Your Care

04.11.14 | permalink

Congress - Give America a Raise

A big bus and a tank of gas will take you anywhere you want to go in the lower 48. But an idea - an economic imperative, a moral necessity – will reach out and touch the American people. That was, and has always been, the motivation behind the ‘Give America a Raise’ Bus Tour:  The idea that raising pay for the low-wage workers of this country benefits all Americans, not just those who see a bigger paycheck. We’ve traveled from Maine to New Hampshire, from Connecticut to New York and Pennsylvania, to Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin, through Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and now here, on the doorstep of Congress in Washington, DC, to demand a living wage for hard-working Americans, a fighting chance for families living in poverty and a boost to this nation’s economy.

We’ve met small business owners on the forefront of this movement who won’t wait for Congress to act. We met Sean Garceau, General Manager of Miguel’s, a Mexican restaurant in Bangor, ME, who was thrilled to hear his workers talking about the gift they were able to afford to buy their loved one or the night out they spent with their family. We met Jeni Burns, the owner of Ms. Groovy’s Catering and Café in Charleston, WV, who knew that paying her contractors more meant they would come to work with purpose and that she could hold them to a higher standard; that minimum wage will get you minimum work.

We’ve heard impassioned pleas from the faith community, imploring America to reevaluate the moral dilemma behind making people work at $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers) an hour. We heard from Pastor Gail Kinney in New Hampshire, who reminded us that all work should have dignity, and those who perform these jobs, whether they’re 16 or 66, should feel like their work has value. Gary McCaslin, a retired Baptist Minister in Corning, NY, explained that raising the minimum wage wasn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue, but a moral issue, and that no member of Congress worries about where their next meal will come from or where their family will sleep at night.

But most importantly, we’ve listened to everyday Americans struggling to survive on low wages, working multiple jobs and still not getting by. We listened to Nate Smith tell of his back-breaking work as a baggage handler at Philadelphia International Airport, where he works full-time but still can’t afford his own apartment and struggles to provide for his beautiful daughter, Jasmine. We listened to Tabitha Whalen, who works at multiple Dunkin Donuts in the Portland, ME, area, and her tireless efforts to keep a roof over the head of her son, Malachi. We listened to Gale Hamilton from Springfield, IL, who works two jobs and is going to school to better herself and her family. Gale hasn’t had the luxury of working just one job since her now 17-year-old daughter was two.

These are just a sampling of the stories we heard on our 11-state tour, and all of the stories we heard are just a microcosm of life for 28 million Americans who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. These are voices that need to be amplified, need to be heard. We urge Congress to hear these voices. We urge Congress to fight for these voices.

Congress – Give America a raise. #RaiseTheWage

Brad Woodhouse is the President of Americans United for Change

To learn more about the ‘Give America a Raise’ Bus Tour, visit http://www.RaiseTo1010.com.

04.03.14 | permalink

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