AUFC President Brad Woodhouse introduces Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday
A broad spectrum of voices joined Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse in their support of yesterday's historic vote in favor of filibuster reform, forever to be known as "The Reid Rule."
Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid desires a huge thank you for taking a strong step forward today to break through the dysfunction in Washington and end Republican gridlock in the United State Senate. Senator Reid has been working tirelessly to ensure the United States has a functioning Senate and today’s actions make the Senate a place where we can actually get things done for the American people. Those who want the U.S. Senate to operate according to its norms and traditions are cheering today. For too long, the Republicans strategy of preventing up or down votes on qualified nominees, without respect to their merits, actually marked a radical departure from Senate history. Today we said no more. Let’s be clear – this minor common-sense change puts an end to Republican obstruction of the President’s constitutional duty to appoint nominees. These nominees have been blocked time and time again, not because of their qualifications, but as part of a larger Republican strategy to undermine laws and agencies they don’t agree with. No more. It’s time to get things moving again. So today, we’re christening "the Reid rule" – the action giving all future presidential nominees an opportunity to have an up-or-down vote. Now the people’s business can get done.”
CWA: The Communications Workers of America commends Leader Reid for his leadership in ensuring that the President’s executive and judicial nominations get an up-or-down vote. Today’s Senate action restores an important principle of our democracy. The Senate majority’s procedural action means that President Obama’s nominations will get confirmation votes. This procedure isn’t new and there’s nothing “nuclear” or revolutionary about it. Instead, it is the Republicans’ recent strategy of preventing up or down votes on qualified nominees without respect to their merits that has been a radical departure from Senate history. Republicans have been blocking votes on qualified executive and judicial nominees as part of a larger strategy to undermine laws and agencies they disagree with, and to deny President Obama his constitutional authority to fill vacancies. After months of Republican empty promises and broken agreements, Leader Reid had no other choice but to put forward the procedural motion. The Senate has changed application of the rules at least 18 times in the last 35 years, though not necessarily regarding nominations. In 1980, then Majority Leader Byrd used the exact same procedure to eliminate filibusters on a motion to proceed to nominations. “The Senate action re-enforces the intent of Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which clearly states that the Senate’s obligation of advice and consent is based on majority support, not super majority support. This is a good first step toward restoring a Senate that functions as an integral part of our democracy,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.
Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way: “The fact that there’s now a path forward to the confirmation of these three extraordinarily qualified D.C. Circuit nominees is unquestionably good news. It’s now time for the Senate to get on with the business of governing after spending far too long bogged down with reckless GOP obstruction. Republicans’ abuse of Senate rules during this administration has been astounding. While President Obama has made an effort to work with Republican senators to nominate fair, accomplished judges, Republicans have blocked his nominees at every turn, often for no reason other than the fact that it was President Obama who nominated them. This irresponsible obstruction is part of a larger effort by Republicans in Congress to nullify laws they don’t like and overturn the results of elections that they lost. This profoundly anti-democratic approach to governing shut down our federal government, and threatened to shut down our courts. We are thrilled that President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees and the other federal judicial nominees waiting for Senate votes will finally get the fair consideration that they deserve. Senate Republicans have refused to do their jobs for far too long. It’s time to get the Senate working again.”
AFSCME President Lee Saunders: “Washington is broken and the extreme partisan gridlock in the Senate is untenable. Senator Reid did the right thing in moving to change Senate rules to allow a majority vote on most executive branch nominations. This is a major step toward resolving Senate obstructionism.”
Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU): “We fully support Majority Leader Reid’s action to end the era of Republican obstructionism in the Senate. For too long, a minority of Senators have prevented dozens of qualified nominees from being confirmed, often for petty political reasons or for no reason at all. The impact of this obstructionism has been felt by working people as critical positions in the government and on the courts have been left unfilled, including the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt to lead the Federal Finance Housing Agency. Other important nominations on hold include the three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit where there are three extremely qualified nominees awaiting a fair vote, Professor Nina Pillard, Judge Robert Wilkins and Patricia Millett. We thank Majority Leader Reid for taking this courageous step and look forward to seeing President Obama’s nominees receive fair up or down votes in the Senate.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “Time and again, Republican Senators have put political obstruction ahead of what’s best for America. Their unprecedented abuse of the Senate rules is a naked attempt to nullify the last election by denying President Obama his picks for critical judicial and executive branch posts. But the Constitution does not allow a minority of one house of Congress to hold the other two branches of government hostage. We applaud the leadership of Senator Reid to uphold democracy by breaking through the gridlock in order to address the pressing needs of our country. These Washington games have real consequences in people’s lives. Democrat, Republican or Independent, it’s a disgrace and simply un-American if we are not working hard for the people across the country struggling to make ends meet. Working people expect their leaders to maintain a functioning government that works for them and the labor movement will continue to hold those leaders accountable to do just that.”
John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority: “The Senate’s vote today to change the rule requiring a super majority of 60 votes to confirm most presidential nominees to a simple majority is welcome news to small employers. When Congress holds up the confirmation process for heads of government agencies, it hinders its ability to function properly and do critical work that benefits small businesses, consumers and the economy. A scientific opinion poll Small Business Majority released recently found a strong majority of small business owners believe Congress has been doing a poor job confirming presidential nominees. The poll also revealed small employers believe the president’s nominations deserve a timely up or down vote and don’t approve of the Senate regularly holding up votes to confirm nominations to key government positions like judgeships and government agencies. Small businesses understand that to survive in this tough economy they need government agencies running smoothly and forming policies that encourage them to innovate. That’s why they support timely votes on the president’s nominees, so the government can continue to promote policies that will help small employers grow and create jobs. If lawmakers want to do what’s best for small businesses, they should spend their time working to strengthen our economy and advancing smart policies that encourage job creation—not holding up confirmation processes for presidential nominees or hindering government agencies from doing their jobs. We hope this rule change will speed up the process for nominees and prevent some lawmakers from using filibusters to delay or even prevent confirmations based entirely on partisan politics. It’s the right thing to do for small businesses and our country.”
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “The Senate is one of our democracy’s most important institutions. Yet it has been clear for some time that this once great deliberative body has been severely hampered by the extreme overuse and outright abuse of the filibuster to keep the Senate from performing its constitutional duty to ‘advise and consent’ on executive and judicial branch nominees. Because it requires a super-majority to overcome it, the filibuster is supposed to be an ‘in case of emergency’ legislative tool reserved for extraordinary situations. Instead, it’s now being used routinely to keep highly qualified nominees from receiving simple ‘yes-or-no’ confirmation votes. As a result, our executive and judicial branches are suffering in their ability to provide service and to dispense justice to the American people. The routine use of the filibuster also has been highly corrosive to the comity that enables the Senate to do much of its work. Majority Leader Reid has done his job by scheduling timely votes on nominees who have been thoroughly vetted by the various committees of jurisdiction, yet the obstruction persists. The Senate as an institution reached its nadir with the filibusters of Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and of Patricia Millett, Cornelia ‘Nina’ Pillard, and Judge Robert Wilkins to fill long-standing vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, widely acknowledged as the nation’s second-most important federal court. These are nominees of impeccable qualifications, knowledge, and judgment, the kind of people who view public service as a calling and a duty. The fact that those who blocked their confirmations using the filibuster declined to challenge their qualifications, character, or fitness for the offices to which they were appointed speaks volumes about the way the filibuster is being abused. Senator Reid should be applauded for enabling the Senate to perform its constitutional duties regarding executive branch nominees and judicial nominees below the Supreme Court level. Adoption of the Reid Rule mean that Congressman Watt and the three nominees for the D.C. Circuit will finally be judged on their merits, as they should have been in the first place. We are confident that when yes-or-no votes are scheduled, all four will be confirmed.”
Center for American Progress’s Tom Perriello: “Today’s vote to reform the Senate rules is a victory for the American people and an important step towards getting Washington back to work. Today’s targeted reforms come after years of unprecedented partisan obstruction by the same Republicans who shut down the government and repeatedly held our economy hostage. By abusing the rules of the Senate, the Republican minority has used extreme tactics to retroactively veto laws and the institutions that uphold them. These obstructionist tactics have crippled the ability of the executive and judicial branches to address the most important issues of the day, such as our nation’s housing crisis, consumers’ and workers’ rights, and the ability to enforce clean air and water protections. Even Chief Justice John Roberts agrees that the current number of judicial vacancies represents a crisis and has urged the Senate to fill these vacancies, including those on the D.C. Circuit, as quickly as possible. The American public is tired of partisan obstruction and wants Congress to do its job. In the Senate that means allowing simple up-or-down votes on nominations. By reforming its rules, the Senate will finally return to its proper role as spelled out in the Constitution: advise and consent, not obstruct and delay. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his colleagues deserve praise for reforms that prioritized the needs of the American people over partisan gamesmanship.”
Demos President Miles Rapoport: "Our system of government calls on the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm federal judges to lifetime service on the bench. This particular court is critically important, and has jurisdiction over a number of government agencies and decides the fate of many government regulations. Yet in an attempt to keep the court in conservative hands, Senate Republicans have attempted to nullify the president’s constitutional authority and have abused Senate procedure for purely political reasons. This unprecedented use of the filibuster has provoked the need for a change. Since 1949 there have been 168 nominations filibustered, and 82 of them have been under this president. Demos applauds this step toward returning the Senate to its business of serving the American people. The time for serious governing without unrelenting obstruction is now."
Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen: “After years of unprecedented obstruction, Senate Republicans left their Democratic colleagues with no choice but to repair the chamber by changing its rules. We commend Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid for putting the Senate back to work, and thank the 51 other Democrats who supported his efforts. Now the Senate can do its job and give each of the President’s D.C. Circuit nominees a prompt, up-or-down vote.”
Fix the Senate Now: “Those who want the U.S. Senate to live up to its traditions as a deliberative body where qualified nominees can receive up-or-down votes should applaud today’s news and thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Senate Democratic caucus. In recent years, the U.S. Senate has been a broken and dysfunctional institution unable to work for the American people due to the runaway obstruction. Today’s reforms are a step toward breaking through that unprecedented gridlock and moving the chamber back toward the constitutional framers’ vision. This promising step forward is in line with the numerous other instances that the Senate has reformed its filibuster and cloture rules. Additionally, just since 1977, there are18 different instances that the Senate changed its practices by a simple majority vote (see this 2005 Republican Policy Committee (RPC) in-depth overview of Senate reforms by simple majority, available here). Today’s developments will benefit the American people and the basic functionality of our democracy. The Senate should now proceed to provide a yes-or-no vote to all pending nominees. Ensuring that qualified nominees can be judged on their merits and can receive an up-or-down vote should not be a contentious notion.”
Fair Share: “For weeks, months and years, Senate Republicans played games with President Obama’s nominees to key positions not because of ideological differences or questions of qualification. Rather, Senate Republicans blocked these nominees simply because they had a legislative agenda and issues with the Administration that they could not muster majority support for. Enough is enough. When it came to the President’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, even Republicans admitted they had no grounds to oppose the nominees on the merits. Still, they filibustered. They delayed. They obfuscated. Make no mistake: This is not inside baseball. Throughout President Obama’s time in office, nominees to various judgeships and to federal agencies that protect workers, defend Americans against discrimination and make our food, water and air safe have been blocked, time and again. Today’s action will restore balance to the U.S. Senate and allow it to put the well-being of the American people above the extreme interests of a minority party.”
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW): “NCJW applauds the Senate’s reform of the filibuster rule, which means senators may now confirm the President’s nominees by a majority vote. The overuse of the filibuster, once employed sparingly, has become a tool to block appointments for all sorts of reasons having nothing to do with the qualifications of the nominees at hand. It has made the Senate’s process a travesty of democracy. Four highly qualified nominees to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals were previously blocked by the filbuster’s requirement that 60 votes be mustered to end debate. Other highly qualified nominees for administration positions have been blocked as well. Sometimes the opposition has not cited any reasons at all to justify their refusal to permit an up or down vote. The three surviving nominations (one was finally forced to withdraw) should now be brought to a vote. The filibuster was once a procedural safeguard for the minority, used only four times between 1917 and 1960. Now it is commonplace. It no longer ensures unfettered debate – rather it awards veto power over presidential nominees to a minority of the Senate.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune: "Today is a victory for everyone who believes that a fully-functional Senate and a fully-functional democracy should be the standard, not the exception. Over the last few years, Republican obstructionists in the Senate have abused the rules to create unprecedented gridlock, knowing full well they and their big polluting allies would lose a fair fight in which the majority rules. As a result, almost nothing has been achieved in Washington and the American public has rightly become disgusted with Congress. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues, critical nominees who have been blocked from doing their jobs should now get an up-or-down vote -- and those who use gridlock to score political points have now been denied one of their most prized weapons. Now, it is time to proceed to a vote to confirm these nominees right away. There is much work left to do to fix the Senate and get our democracy working again for the American people, but today the momentum has shifted in the right direction.”
CREDO's Political Director Becky Bond: "We are thankful for Senator Harry Reid's leadership today to ensure that White House nominees get an up-or-down vote. Republican abuse of the filibuster not only makes it impossible for the White House to appoint judges and high level officials as mandated by the Constitution, but also threatens to make the Senate powerless to carry out its legislative duties. The Majority Leader's move is a long-overdue first step towards much needed filibuster reform. We hope Senator Reid and the Senate Democratic Conference will continue to stand strong and fight to rein in the Republicans who have paralyzed the Senate and made a mockery of the separation of powers with their petty, abusive and obstructionist strategies."
Democracy for America's Executive Director Charles Chamberlain: "Facing an unprecedented level of Republican obstruction rooted in petty politics, Senate Democrats have rightly reformed the filibuster and the grassroots base of the Democratic party have their back for taking this important stand."
Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron: “Alliance for Justice commends Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Senators who voted to change Senate rules today for their courageous decision to end the unprecedented abuse of Senate rules by a Republican minority dedicated to obstruction-at-all-costs. This was not a decision made easily or taken lightly. There was no choice. The Republican minority had turned the existing rules into weapons of mass obstruction. Most recently, they acknowledged that they had no grounds to oppose on the merits President Obama’s supremely-qualified nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. But they filibustered those nominees anyway. This change in the rules is the only way to return the Senate to its place as the world’s greatest deliberative body; it is the only way to ensure that the Senate can put the well-being of the American people ahead of the political interests of an extremist minority. Now that the rules have changed, the Senate must move quickly to confirm President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees, and all of the other nominees that, until now, have been held hostage to obstruction. Those nominees include 14 more nominees for judgeships who are currently awaiting Senate floor votes, and executive branch nominees such as Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., whose nomination to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency was filibustered last month.”
Justice at Stake Director of Federal Affairs & Diversity Issues Praveen Fernandes: “While we are dismayed that it had to come to this, today’s developments leave the fair-courts movement hopeful that the Senate might move forward to expeditiously schedule and hold up-or-down votes on judicial nominees. Today, nearly 10% of the federal judiciary sits empty. Well over half of this country’s population lives in a jurisdiction in which a judicial emergency has been declared, meaning that their courthouses don’t have enough judges to adequately handle their caseload. At its core, this judicial vacancy crisis is a justice crisis. The American people (who depend upon judges for the protection of their rights) and American businesses (which rely on our courts for the structural certainty required for economic growth) deserve nothing less than a judiciary that is fully staffed with qualified judges. We hope that the judicial nominations and confirmations impasse has ended and that up-or-votes will proceed without further delay. We also hope that senators across the political spectrum will pledge to protect the strength and vibrancy of our courts. People across this country deserve nothing less.”
ACS President Caroline Fredrickson: “With obstructionists in the Senate bent on a shutting down the judiciary, something had to give. President Obama has three years left in his term and he must be able to fill these positions. The government must be allowed to function and our judiciary must be able to serve the people. In order to do that the Senate must fill its constitutional role or we will face an even bigger crisis down the road. Our judicial system is hamstrung and a rules changes was necessary to ensure it gets back up and running.”
Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law: “The Senate’s action today is a significant step to help overcome government dysfunction. The Senate’s proper role is to advise and consent, not obstruct and deny. Recent filibusters have paralyzed Washington. One branch of government is preventing the other two from operating. Ending rampant filibuster abuse is vital for our courts to fulfill their promise of justice and our agencies to effectively execute our laws.”
11.22.13 | permalink
by Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change
A single mother with one child, working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour, will live in poverty. Unfortunately, it’s not just a theoretical situation for millions of Americans; working at the minimum wage, coupled with rising costs and increasing home and rental prices, is “really squeezing poor, working people.”
Among the biggest problems with the federal minimum wage is that it doesn’t represent the “living wage.” MIT developed a great tool to calculate the hourly wage rate that represents minimum standards of living in communities across the country. A quick look around the map shows that our wage standards are lagging way behind what is needed to get by.
Raising the minimum wage is not an unpopular idea – quite the opposite. A Gallup poll taken earlier this month showed that 76% of Americans support raising the minimum wage. And this support is across the board, with 91% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 58% of Republicans (up 8% from March) saying they would vote for a law that raised the minimum wage.
Further proof of its popularity can be seen in New Jersey. The same electorate that re-elected Republican Governor Chris Christie also voted overwhelmingly to raise the state’s minimum wage. Furthermore, the approved ballot question also amends the state Constitution to include yearly increases in the minimum wage tied to inflation.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 – but that’s just the first drop in a waterfall of growth that would be felt across the country. According to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would raise the wages of 30 million workers. Over the phase-in period, GDP would be increased by $33 billion, and would result in the creation of 140,000 jobs because of the increase in spending.
Recently, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stated that increasing the federal minimum wage was “job one for this administration.” We stand with Secretary Perez, President Barack Obama, the low-wage earners across this country and the majority of Americans who support raising the minimum wage. Raise The Wage – for the good of everyone.
11.20.13 | permalink
Monday, November 4, 2013
Thank you, Jenn. Thank you to OFA and to all my fellow progressives. It's a privilege to be here.
I was thinking I’d give you a 22-hour lecture while reading from my favorite Dr. Seuss book. But then I realized you probably have more important things to do. In case you’re wondering, it’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
But in all seriousness: we are at a critical moment in history.
The President’s signature healthcare law – and affordable health care for millions of Americans - is on the line.
There are groups backed by hundreds of millions of special interest dollars carrying out an aggressive campaign of misinformation, fear and sabotage against the Affordable Care Act.
The lengths some of these folks have been willing to go to deceive the American people about Obamacare and to intimidate and scare those who are trying to bring affordable health care to millions of people – is shocking.
These people suffer from a disease for which even Obamacare knows no cure – they suffer from “Obamacare derangement syndrome.”
These folks are opposed to everything that President Obama and his supporters and his party represents.
Their ideology is so rigid and unyielding the last thing they can afford to happen ever is for Obamcare to work.
So they are still pinning away for the failed system the Affordable Care Act is replacing where insurers decided who was worthy of coverage – and who was not.
These folks have a loose allegiance to truth and they take a shoot first and ask questions later approach to any perceived ill of the Obamacare rollout. It’s breathtaking the lengths they will go to politicize healthcare and to deny people affordable access to it.
These attacks have sought to distort a law that is bringing the way our health care system works into alignment with our nation’s values; that will make our economy stronger and our people healthier all while reducing the deficit that these folks seem to think is the only issue America faces.
Obamcare brings fairness to a healthcare market that was rigged in favor of big insurance companies.
It puts people before profits.
Those of us who are working so hard on behalf of this law believe that in America, no one should be denied coverage because they have a preexisting condition
and no family should go bankrupt because they or their loved one gets sick.
When the President signed the Affordable Care Act he delivered on a promise of health care reform that had eluded presidents as far back as Theodore Roosevelt.
But that progress must be defended and the ACA’s success depends on us getting out there to set the record straight. To push back against the special interests that have done nothing but try to impede, repeal and defund the law for years.
They’re rooting for its failure with no plan to help people who would suffer as a result. There are members of Congress who shut down the government to derail Obamacare.
When it was all said and done, the Tea Party shutdown hurt our economy, wasted billions of dollars and did nothing to derail Obamacare.
And now – after all that – shutting down the government, a 22 hour Tea Party led filibuster, more than 40 votes to repeal Obamacare – now Republicans are concerned people can’t enroll fast enough? C’mon man!
You could call what these Republicans are engaging in hypocrisy, but that would be an insult to hypocrites.
Their scattershot efforts to sabotage a law that helps millions of Americans are pathetic. Nobody is fooled. I don’t know – maybe they’re just upset that Obamacare is more popular than they are!
So while the Obamacare alarmists crow over each pothole on the road forward, every one of us needs to stay focused, committed to empowering Americans with the facts about Obamacare.
The calendar has turned to November. A year from now – next November – Obamacare will be the success we have always forecast it to be – and the opponents of Obamacare will be just as extreme and out of step as they are today.
The bugs in Obamacare will be fixed- but there is no cure for Obamcare derangement syndrome.
Between now and then we must persevere – fight fear with facts, sabotage with solutions.
We didn’t shrink from this fight in the darkest and most difficult hours during the bill’s passage and we will not shrink from it now.
With each passing day, more and more Americans are waking up for the first time knowing that they will have the security of quality, affordable health care. That is change we can believe in; we can’t let up now.
Thank you for having me.
11.04.13 | permalink
Since 2005, Americans United for Change has been at the epicenter of the progressive community’s rapid response and communications operation. In that time we have perfected the recipe for whipping up opportunities for messaging that promotes a progressive agenda. From our founding as the campaign to beat back President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security to our leadership in organizing opposition at Republican town hall meetings to the fictional Romney-Gekko campaign, Americans United has been consistently creative, responsive and uniquely effective.
05.11.12 | permalink
Nancy Pelosi was been one of the most pro-consumer Speakers of the House in American history. She led the House to pass the first Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, backed by numerous consumer advocates and strongly opposed by the financial industry. We have no doubt that Leader Pelosi will continue to work tirelessly to protect consumers, keeping the pressure on big banks and Wall Street.
SEE: Huffington Post: '60 Minutes' Hit On Boehner, Pelosi Falls Short
“Throughout 2009 and 2010, the House consistently passed stronger and more progressive legislation than the Senate, but in the scenario laid down by CBS, it was the other way around when it came the credit card reform. But in 2008, before the stock transaction, the House had already passed the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights over the objections of industry lobbyists.”
11.14.11 | permalink
Expect That # to Rise Fast If Senate Republicans Vote Down Jobs for America’s Veterans
SEE: Washington Post (Plum Line): ‘Half of Americans believe GOP is sabotaging Obama’s jobs policies for political reasons’
Of course polling shows half the American people believe Congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to tank the economy for political gain. Why wouldn’t they after House Republicans have gone 307 days without offering single jobs bill, instead making things worse insisting on cuts that cost 370,000 Americans their jobs, and passing bill after bill designed not to create jobs but to maximize profits for big insurance, big banks, big oil and companies that ship jobs overseas at the expense of the middle-class. Not to be outdone, Senate Republicans have voted 3 times in the last 4 weeks to deliberately keep millions of Americans out-of-work rather than see millionaires like themselves pay a fraction of one-percent more in taxes.
Expect the number of Americans who agree Republicans are rooting for the economy to fail to rise exponentially if Senate GOP derail the next fully-paid-for piece of the American Jobs Act that would specifically help put our nation’s veterans back to work. If Senate Republicans stand in the way of jobs for America’s veterans, they won’t just be the Party of No, but the Party of Absolutely No Scruples.
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." -- Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
11.07.11 | permalink
From Rep. Steve Chabot confiscating cameras from constituents to Rep. Lou Barletta shutting down town halls all together, Republicans know they have reason to be nervous about bearing the brunt of constituent anger for threatening our economic well-being to protect tax cuts for millionaires and big oil, like Rep. Dan Benishek admitted doing. The message from their constituents is clear: The middle class has sacrificed too much already – they should not have to give another dime.
The Hill: House GOP worries voters' anger over economy may sting them: “House Republican lawmakers worry the sputtering economy will be a problem not only for President Obama but could sweep them out of office next year as well. Fearing angry protests, some GOP lawmakers have decided to skip public town-hall meetings. Others have mustered courage to face constituents in unpredictable settings, sometimes with uncomfortable results. “I’ve never seen people as angry as they are right now. They’re angry at the whole system and evidencing that in their comments to me,” said Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), who has crisscrossed his district attending chicken dinners and state fairs… GOP freshmen concede they could suffer politically because of widespread sentiment that Washington is not doing enough to fix the economy. … Rep. Paul Gosar, a freshman Republican from Arizona, has held town-hall meetings and met with local chambers of commerce. “They’re very angry,” he said of his constituents. “They want to get back to work and they feel government is in the way with rules and regulations.”… Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) faced angry protesters at a town-hall meeting in Avondale, Ohio, on Monday … But Chabot also recognizes that he may get blamed as well on Election Day… Even so, Chabot says “I’m fully aware that when there’s frustration, all incumbents can be held somewhat accountable, whether they were responsible are not.”
Los Angeles Times: Members of Congress avoid town hall brawls this recess: “During recent recesses, members of Congress who returned home to host town hall meetings participated in a phenomenon that changed the national agenda but also subjected them to raucous sessions with constituents venting anger in face-to-face showdowns. This summer, with approval ratings of Congress as low as 13%, they appear to have learned their lesson. Washington lawmakers are using the political version of crowd control, shying away from wide-open forums and choosing alternative appearances to avoid the attacks that dominated the 2009 healthcare town halls or this year's outbursts over Republican proposals to restructure Medicare. Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the architect of the GOP budget, took a bashing at some of the 19 public "listening sessions" last spring in Wisconsin after the House passed his proposal to revamp Medicare. This month, Ryan opted for a conference call to connect with thousands of constituents … Lawmakers seem to prefer meeting constituents in more controlled venues, avoiding rabble-rousers or amateur videographers who may turn them into the next online spectacle. Some events are hosted by groups that charge entrance fees, another way to filter who is in the audience.
Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) Duluth News Tribune: Duluth gets its wish – a town hall with Cravaack: “U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack drew some praise, hearty shouts of anger and a packed house Wednesday afternoon at a hastily called “town hall” meeting at Duluth International Airport. More than 200 people crammed into a room at Duluth International Airport, with more spilling into the hallway, to hear the freshman congressman talk for 25 minutes on what he called a growing U.S. budget and debt crisis… “It’s going to be tough, there’s no question about that. But we can do it together,” Cravaack said, at which point a woman in the audience blurted, “The wealthy, too?” “Every body, ma’am,” Cravaack responded… But others were more interested in why wealthier Americans shouldn’t be asked to pay more taxes, expressing support for President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000. “I am this future you keep talking about,” said Fiona O’Halloran-Johnson, a UMD student. “This is your future asking why you aren’t raising taxes on people who can afford it.” … When asked if he would support renewable-energy jobs and tax credits, Cravaack gave a tepid yes. “If it can pay for itself, I’m all for it,” Cravaack said. “To be honest, I’d like to see the oil fields opened up.” … Instead of cutting benefits or privatizing the [Medicare and Social Security], [Brady Nelson, president of Steelworkers Local 1163 in Cloquet] said, Congress should raise the income level under which people must contribute to bring in more revenue. But that also would require employers to pay more in taxes and could reduce jobs, Cravaack responded.”
VIDEO: Think Progress: GOP Rep. Cravaack Finally Holds Town Hall, Gets Pointed Questions On Pell Grants, Taxes
But Cravaack STILL didn’t let everyone talk:
- "I thought it was poor. He spent a lot of time explaining his position. He did not allow enough people to speak,” said Kathy Hern, an unemployed worker.
- "I thought it was kind of a rip off, being that he smoke screened us for 30 minutes and then gave us 30 minutes to ask questions. There was a long line, you know, I was in line I didn't get to ask my questions," said Jordan Kotzian, Duluth resident.
Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) Petoskey News: Benishek delves into debt ceiling vote, federal budget during forum: “Congressman Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, addressed federal spending during a public forum Tuesday in Petoskey… "(Democrats) talk about raising the taxes on the oil companies. I think oil companies pay their fair share," Benishek said. "I can understand where the oil company wants to deduct the cost of drilling a well. That's one of the tax breaks for oil companies -- the subsidies -- they get to deduct the cost of the well the year you drill.”
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) WLWT: Cameras Taken During Rep. Chabot Town Hall (VIDEO from News Cameras): “A meeting between Rep. Steve Chabot and constituents on Monday included confrontations over cameras at the event. Two protesters had their cameras taken from them by a Cincinnati police officer at the event at the North Avondale Recreation Center. When one pulled out a camera phone to shoot a photo, he was escorted to the back of the room… Reports about the incident have since shown up on several political blogs and at least two videos (below) were posted to YouTube.”
Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA): The Daily Advertiser: “Vitter and Landry echoed each other's conservative talking points and took stabs at Washington, saying the nation's capital "has a spending problem, not a revenue problem." "We don't fundamentally think it's a tax problem," Vitter replied when an audience member asked about using new revenues to fix the growing deficit. "Raising taxes is counterproductive at any time." Though Vitter and Landry said they opposed tax increases, they both agreed that tax reform — flattening the code, expanding the base and cutting loopholes — is imperative.”
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) Morning Call: Dent hears constituents' fears first hand: “For nearly two hours the scene replayed as Dent walked door-to-door with three staff aides. Barbara Hummel, 63, answered her door wearing oxygen tubes on her nose. She is on disability and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which makes it difficult to breathe. She told Dent she's worried about Social Security. Her bills are already tight, she said, and any cutback would "really devastate me." She told Dent she's worried about Social Security. Her bills are already tight, she said, and any cutback would "really devastate me." Dent told her the entitlement would be protected for her, but the challenge is figuring out how the system will work for her children.”
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) Carmichael Patch: Lungren Town Hall Meeting Gets Heated: “An estimated 350 people, both supporters and detractors, of U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, attended what became a heated town hall meeting Wednesday at Carmichael's La Sierra Community Center…Thus for Lungren, federal budget cuts are necessary to prevent further spending of money that Americans do not have. “We can’t continue to do that,” he said. “Just raise taxes on the rich,” audience member Richard Seyman shouted at Lungren. Some cheered his words. Lungren chided Seyman for being rude.…Ann Shaw, 72, is a Medicare recipient who lives in Carmichael. She calls for upper-income Americans to pay higher taxes to support Medicare.”
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) Politico: The perils of the supercommittee: “On Tuesday [Rep. Fred Upton] saw his fears weren’t unfounded, when he faced a crowd of about 50 voters eager to ask him questions about the new committee… Taxes topped the list. He was vague about the issue, saying he didn’t want to raise taxes on businesses who are trying to hire, but repeatedly said he wouldn’t prejudge the work of the committee…Upton did say that the panel will “be looking at all the different loopholes and different subsidies that are there and try to make some decisions as we proceed.” When asked if he would pay more taxes to help aid in the recovery, he said “We’ll see where the panel comes” and also said “we’ll see, again, that’s going to be part of the debate.”
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) St. Louis Beacon: Manufacturing tours, not town halls, are the congressional activity of choice: “As area members of Congress have fanned across the state for this month's recess, they're all business. Preferably, small business. Not town halls….Not everyone is happy with this month's lack of town halls. A progressive coalition of labor, elderly, community activists and the unemployed are holding their own town hall in Ballwin on Wednesday within a block of a local office for U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood. A spokeswoman said the town hall is to protest Akin's decision not to hold any.” SEE VIDEO FOR COMMUNITY TOWN HALL here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G--fY4rQlR8
Constituents Hold Their Own Town Hall in Rep. Todd Akin’s District
PROTESTORS SWARM WEST VIRGINIA, IOWA, TEXAS
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) Metro News: Union Leaders Slam Capito at Protest: “Protesters outside the Kanawha City office of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., railed against the congresswoman Thursday afternoon, going so far as to blow up a giant pig balloon in front of her office. Deriding possible cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, about 50 protesters with the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and other unions slammed Capito's stances on government spending and social safety-net programsState AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said Republicans want to dismantle entitlements that protect low-income families. "Why?" Perdue asked. "Let's get back on jobs. Let's talk about jobs, not cutting Medicare and hurting the people people, not cutting Social Security."…Protesters continually chanted "where are the jobs?" outside Capito's office. They say Capito played chicken with the economy and contributed to job destruction during the debate over the federal debt ceiling.”
Protestors Outside Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s Office
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Sioux City Journal: Union members protest outside King's office: “Hoping to send the message that jobs are needed now, 15 members of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 staged a protest Thursday morning outside of 5th District Congressman Steve King's Sioux City office. Standing under the awning of the office, the protesters held signs which displayed a variety of messages, all with the same theme: jobs. King was not at the office at the time. Event organizer Brian Guillaume, 23, was pleased with the turnout and from the reaction of people passing by on Nebraska Street. "Jobs are the focus now," Guillaume said. "We need to make sure they are being created otherwise we are not going to have any work left in this country."
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) WFAA: Liberal group protests GOP congressman: “Dallas Congressman Jeb Hensarling is the co-chair of the new super committee that Is supposed to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit by Thanksgiving. But with the attention comes more controversy. Local members of the liberal group, MoveOn, lined up outside the Lakewood Country Club to let Hensarling know they want programs for seniors and the poor protected. "There should be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid there should be only increases in all three and in public education," said Stephen Benavides, spokesman.”
Rep. Quico Canseco (R-TX): San Antonio Express: Protesters take fight over Medicare, budget to Canseco: “About 70 local residents rallied in protest Wednesday against U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco as the Republican congressman railed against government spending in a speech to the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce in a downtown assembly hall. The protesters, many of them middle-class seniors, were upset over Canseco's staunch support for a budget plan approved by House Republicans in April that would reform Medicare, lower taxes on corporations and cut $4.4 trillion from the nation's deficit over the next decade. They claimed the protest was inspired by Canseco's refusal to meet with his working-class constituents. “I want him to know that I'm a senior citizen, my wife and I,” said the Rev. Ysidro Solis, 73. “It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if he takes away our Medicare, we're gone.””
WOAI: Liberal group protests Congressman Quico Canseco (VIDEO): “A group protesting Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco of District 23 gathered outside a luncheon where he was speaking on Wednesday. They were angry over many decisions the freshman congressman is making. The protestors showed up by the bus load holding signs and chanting… One of the protestors, Nick Lee said, “We're opposing the influence of money in politics which is reflected of the support that Canseco gets from big business and billionaires”… Military and veteran’s issues, Medicare, jobs, and the economy were all big concerns for this group. “We need to stimulate the economy and not by cutting where jobs are located,” said Mata.”
KSAT: Critics Accuse Francisco Canseco Of Ignoring Constituents (VIDEO BELOW): “Demonstrators chanted and marched in a circle outside Francisco "Quico" Canseco's "State of the District" presentation to the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Those in attendance said they were unhappy with Canseco's voting record and claim he refused to meet with south side constituents.”
08.26.11 | permalink
On April 15, 2011 235 U.S. House Republicans voted for a budget plan authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that would decimate Medicaid and end Medicare as we know it in order to pay for trillions of dollars in new tax breaks to millionaires, big oil companies, and corporations that outsource U.S. jobs. On May 25, 2011, 40 Senate Republicans voted for the Ryan budget. Many of these Republicans have since publicly denied that they voted to end Medicare. Numerous independent analyses beg to differ.
Ø Wall Street Journal, 4.4: The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.
Ø The Economist, 4.5: But there is one thing about it that's fairly clear, regardless of what's in the details Mr Ryan will announce today: Mr Ryan's plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.
Ø McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 4.5: Ryan's is the opening move in a political chess match that's likely to unfold over several years. His plan effectively would end Medicare for seniors, revamp Medicaid for the poor, scrap the 2010 health care law, roll back nonmilitary federal spending overall and lower individual and corporate tax rates.
Ø New York Times columnist and Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, 5/16: I know that serious people are supposed to be shocked, shocked at the Democrats calling the Ryan plan a plan to dismantle Medicare — but that’s just what it is. If you replace a system that actually pays seniors’ medical bills with an entirely different system, one that gives seniors vouchers that won’t be enough to buy adequate insurance, you’ve ended Medicare. Calling the new program “Medicare” doesn’t change that fact.
Ø Krugman, June 5, ‘Vouchercare Is Not Medicare’: But Comcast, the station’s owner, rejected the demand — and rightly so. For Republicans are indeed seeking to dismantle Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a much worse program…. But there’s nothing demagogic about telling the truth. Start with the claim that the G.O.P. plan simply reforms Medicare rather than ending it. I’ll just quote the blogger Duncan Black, who summarizes this as saying that “when we replace the Marines with a pizza, we’ll call the pizza the Marines.” The point is that you can name the new program Medicare, but it’s an entirely different program — call it Vouchercare — that would offer nothing like the coverage that the elderly now receive. (Republicans get huffy when you call their plan a voucher scheme, but that’s exactly what it is.)
Ø Talking Points Memo, 6.14: Here's Tom Scully -- former Bush administration director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- on the Republican plan, in an interview with me. "It gets rid of -- and I would do that -- gets rid of the current Medicare program where the government is the insurance company and the government sets the prices."
Ø Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4.7: The first year the voucher would apply, CBO estimates that total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the Ryan plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare. CBO also finds that this beneficiary's annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.
08.24.11 | permalink
At Steve Chabot’s recent Cincinnati town hall, Chabot took an extraordinary step, banning constituents from filming the town hall and asking questions directly. What didn’t he want people outside the event to see? Perhaps his defense of tax cuts for billionaires and Wall Street corporations.
CITY BEAT: [LOSER]
“STEVE CHABOT: The representative from Ohio’s 1st Congressional District might occasionally talk tough on the House floor, but he’s apparently petrified of his constituents. That’s about the only conclusion an observer can draw from Chabot’s supposed “town hall” meeting Aug. 22 in North Avondale. Unlike real town hall meetings, attendees weren’t allowed to directly ask good ol’ Stevie any questions, instead having to submit them in writing before the session began. (A cynical mind would say that’s so some tough questions could be discarded, while staffers helped devise answers to others.) Also, attendees weren’t allowed to use cameras of any type to record the esteemed congressman and his equivocating replies, allegedly due to “security concerns.” To make sure, a Cincinnati police officer man-handled anyone who tried. Say what you will about Congressional Dems, at least they weren’t afraid of interacting with angry voters over health-care reform in summer 2009. How wimpy.”
Think Progress: Chabot Refuses To Consider Any Revenue Increases Because He ‘Doesn’t Really Buy’ That Taxes Are At Historical Lows (VIDEO): “During a town hall meeting earlier this week, an Ohio constituent posed the same hypothetical to Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). Chabot was initially hesitant to answer because “we’re never going to get that deal,” but then went on to express his opposition to raising revenues at all, saying, “I’m not for raising taxes.” When a constituent correctly noted that taxes are at their lowest level in more than 50 years, Chabot was skeptical, declaring, “I don’t really buy that that’s the case.” (WATCH THE VIDEO)
Town Hall Crowd Jeers Rep. Chabot For Voting To Strip Planned Parenthood Funding (VIDEO): “During a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) faced stiff resistance from constituents over his opposition to federal funding for Planned Parenthood. After a citizen asked the congressman why he stood “against funding Planned Parenthood when public funds are not used for abortion,” Chabot argued that the money was fungible so he opposed funding because “they are the largest abortion provider in the United States.” This response brought loud jeers and shouts of “no!” from the audience. When Chabot later accused Planned Parenthood of using federal funds for abortion, one constituent asked, “Do you have any proof of that happening?” Chabot declined to respond.”
08.24.11 | permalink
FACT: Ryan-GOP Budget Plan “would essentially end Medicare”
On April 15, 2011, 235 U.S. House Republicans voted for a budget plan authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that would decimate Medicaid and end Medicare as we know it in order to pay for trillions of dollars in new tax breaks to millionaires, big oil companies, and corporations that outsource U.S. jobs. On May 25, 2011, 40 Senate Republicans voted for the Ryan budget. Many of these Republicans have since publicly denied that they voted to end Medicare. Numerous independent analyses beg to differ.
- Wall Street Journal, 4.4: The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.
- The Economist, 4.5: But there is one thing about it that's fairly clear, regardless of what's in the details Mr Ryan will announce today: Mr Ryan's plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.
- McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 4.5: Ryan's is the opening move in a political chess match that's likely to unfold over several years. His plan effectively would end Medicare for seniors, revamp Medicaid for the poor, scrap the 2010 health care law, roll back nonmilitary federal spending overall and lower individual and corporate tax rates.
- New York Times columnist and Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, 5/16: I know that serious people are supposed to be shocked, shocked at the Democrats calling the Ryan plan a plan to dismantle Medicare — but that’s just what it is. If you replace a system that actually pays seniors’ medical bills with an entirely different system, one that gives seniors vouchers that won’t be enough to buy adequate insurance, you’ve ended Medicare. Calling the new program “Medicare” doesn’t change that fact.
- Krugman, June 5, ‘Vouchercare Is Not Medicare’: But Comcast, the station’s owner, rejected the demand — and rightly so. For Republicans are indeed seeking to dismantle Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a much worse program…. But there’s nothing demagogic about telling the truth. Start with the claim that the G.O.P. plan simply reforms Medicare rather than ending it. I’ll just quote the blogger Duncan Black, who summarizes this as saying that “when we replace the Marines with a pizza, we’ll call the pizza the Marines.” The point is that you can name the new program Medicare, but it’s an entirely different program — call it Vouchercare — that would offer nothing like the coverage that the elderly now receive. (Republicans get huffy when you call their plan a voucher scheme, but that’s exactly what it is.)
- Talking Points Memo, 6.14: Here's Tom Scully -- former Bush administration director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- on the Republican plan, in an interview with me. "It gets rid of -- and I would do that -- gets rid of the current Medicare program where the government is the insurance company and the government sets the prices."
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4.7: The first year the voucher would apply, CBO estimates that total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the Ryan plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare. CBO also finds that this beneficiary's annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.
08.24.11 | permalink