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
As CBS reports: “Amid voter anger, most House members skipping August town halls” – Why? What are Republicans, especially Lou Barletta (R-PA), afraid of? They’re avoiding their constituents that want to know why they keep letting billionaires and big oil off the hook while asking seniors, middle-class families to make more sacrifices…
The Hill: Republicans at home face Tea Party-style protests from liberal, labor groups: “Hundreds of people showed up at the Wayzata Golf Club in Wayzata, Minnesota, Friday to protest a fundraiser for Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), which was attended by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)… On Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) the chairman of the House Budget Committee, called police to break up a sit-down protest at his district office in Kenosha, Wisconsin…A two-hour town-hall session turned contentious on Thursday night when constituents grilled Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, about her opposition to raising taxes on the rich, at times hooting at her answers…Protesters gathered near Rep. Fred Upton’s (R) office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Wednesday morning holding “Where are the jobs?” and “Show us the jobs” signs and even a paper-mache effigy of the congressman. Upton is one of six Republican members of a supercommittee charged with crafting a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package.”
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) Think Progress: Rep. Chabot Bans Cameras At Town Hall As Constituents Chant ‘Where Are The Jobs?’ (VIDEO): “Before the event began, dozens of protestors gathered outside the auditorium with shirts that read “Tax Wall Street. End the Wars. Public Investment in Jobs.” They held signs blasting Chabot’s votes on the Ryan budget – “74% Of U.S. Seniors Say: Hands Off Medicare” – and the debt ceiling – “Revenue, Not Cuts”. Chants of “Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs?” and “What do we want? Jobs! When do we want them? Now!” also broke out as constituents filed into the meeting. Watch video here:
WLWT Cincinnati (VIDEO): “A portion of the crowd actually put blue tape over their mouths ... because they weren't permitted to voice their questions and concerns to the west side Republican.”
Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) Naples News: “But Dennis Holland, an unemployed engineer from Fort Myers, wanted to know why Mack was proposing a plan that would cut Social Security benefits, disability benefits and armed forces benefits while supporting another piece of legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide for a zero capital gains rate. “Those bills cancel each other out,” he said. “Why are you taking a big bite out of our active military benefits, our disabled benefits to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent of Americans?” Mack said his Penny Plan would give Congress and the president the opportunity to make cuts that wouldn’t affect people’s benefits… Mack said he was for revenue enhancers, but that did not include tax increases or other things that would hamper small businesses’ ability to operate or create jobs. “Any program that understands that small business is the generator of jobs and that small business needs less regulation and less taxes …. I will support,” he said. One woman asked why Mack seemingly went back on his plan to protect Florida’s environment when he came out in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would erect a pipeline between Canada and Texas. She asked why Mack wouldn’t support clean energy solutions for the state.”
Sending a Clear Message Outside Super Committee member Rep. Jeb Hensarling Event Today in Dallas, TX
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) Elk Grove Patch: Lungren Faces Hecklers at Town Hall: “Those pressures were on display Thursday evening at a town hall meeting at the Wackford Community and Aquatic Complex, where about 150 constituents turned out to grill the Congressman on everything from the debt ceiling to oil company subsidies. One young woman was ejected from the hall early in the meeting after she stood up to scold Lungren on spending cuts she said were compromising her generation's future…At one point, an audience member asked a question about highly profitable oil companies receiving government subsidies. "As far as I know, oil companies and other corporations are paying their taxes," Lungren began, but was quickly interrupted by shouts of "What planet are you on?" and "No billionaire left behind!" … “I don't think it solves the problem," Lungren said of taxing the rich. If he could personally revamp the tax system, he said, he'd impose a flat tax rate on everyone or get rid of income tax altogether.
Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) Watertown Daily Times: Petri meets with constituents: “Watertown resident Robert Finnel told the congressman the country could start digging itself out of the hole by taxing the rich at a higher rate and cutting government wages. “How about the wealthy paying more instead of the middle class? There are a lot of multimillionaires and billionaires in this country and they have their tax offices offshore and don’t pay any taxes,” Finnel said. “Let’s get some of that back instead of cutting the middle class.” Petri said increasing taxes for the rich is a tricky subject because most of those people live off their assets and not their yearly income. “The people who already have all kinds of money don’t necessarily mind that tax rates go up because they are not relying on their income,” Petri said. “Many of the people who are rich can just live on their dividends or on tax-free interest from local and state bonds. So, the trick is not necessarily changing the rates. All I am saying is it’s not as easy as it sounds to figure out how to extract revenue from people who can change what they’re doing and move their money around.”
Beaver Dam Daily Citizen: Budget, economy topics at Petri town hall meeting: “About a dozen people showed up for a town hall meeting with Rep. Tom Petri in Beaver Dam Friday and not surprisingly, the federal budget and the economy were on everyone's mind… Lisa Davidson asked about the future of Medicaid… A question about single-payer or "socialized" medicine led Petri to explain that he favors a system that would allow states to offer single-payer systems… One person asked if Petri would remove his name from a list of Congressmen who vowed not to raise taxes. Petri avoided answering the question. He said later that raising taxes on the wealthy was a difficult proposition. He pointed out that wealth is often measured in assets not in earnings and taxing earnings would most likely lead people to seek tax shelters for their earnings, including tax-free bonds.”
Sheboyan Press: Spending hot topic at U.S. Rep. Tom Petri town hall meeting: “About 20 people attended the meeting at Kohler Village Hall hosted by the Fond du Lac Republican, in his 33rd year in Congress, and much of the discussion centered on how to balance the federal budget, as well as what to do about the future of Social Security…Judy Hartman, 66, of Sheboygan Falls, said she has been receiving mixed messages on what Congress plans to do with Social Security, and she doesn't want to see it cut for people who are approaching or at retirement age and need the money to survive. "Social Security is in some need of reform, but that should be for people down the road who still have some time to plan, instead of people who are already retired," Hartman told Petri.”
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ) Asbury Park Press: Runyan fields questions in Berkeley on jobs, economy and entitlements: “After listening to Runyan speak for 40 minutes, however, David Rosenak, 66, a disabled veteran, was not buying it. “The one chart you did not have up there is the distribution of wealth in this country, where 80 percent of all the people in this country own one percent of the wealth ... and one percent of the people own 80 percent of the wealth,” Rosenak said. He asked, what did the congressman plan to do to reduce unemployment? Reforming the federal tax system is the number one issue in getting Americans back to work, Runyan said… “What you’re talking about doing, is (saying) let’s reduce the price of shoes so we don’t lose a dollar on every pair,” Rosenak argued. “That’s not what I’m saying,” Runyan replied. “There’s people with capital out there, who are sitting on their wallets. They don’t want to lose that dollar you’re talking about. They want to to know what the rule of the game is for 10, 15 years.” “The thing we need now are jobs, and don’t talk to me about taxes. Talk to me about investment, about infrastructure,” Rosenak explained, becoming visibly irritated. “Don’t talk to me about drilling oil. Talk to me about alternate forms of energy, Let’s get this country back to work and then you broaden the tax base. Let’s tax people who are making money who have enjoyed the benefits of this great country ... You spend money to make money,” Rosenak said… Marianne P. Clemente, 65, of Barnegat, who is a member of the new “Democrats for Change of Ocean County,” pressed Runyan on a number of issues, including corporate subsidies. “We have the second-highest corporate tax rate, yet so many of our corporations pay no taxes,” Clemente said. “Exxon gets oil subsidies and they report record profits. Why aren’t we going after those things?”… Runyan said he agreed corporate tax loopholes should be closed.”
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) Think Progress: At Town Hall, GOP Rep. Hultgren Can’t Explain How Bush Tax Cuts Created Jobs (VIDEO): “Last week, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) held a town hall meeting in Geneva, Illinois where he was peppered with questions about the Bush tax cuts. A woman stood up and asked him to explain how the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy created jobs for Americans. Hultgren repeatedly avoided answering the question, instead choosing to bash the stimulus or claim Illinois’ economy was hurt by higher taxes. Members of the audience continually asked him “Where’s the evidence?” but he avoided providing any answer.
08.23.11 | permalink
August 18, 2011
Why Are Republicans Charging to Ask Questions? “Are some House Republicans avoiding the public during the August recess? … Norman Ornstein, an expert on Congress at the American Enterprise Institute, says he can't remember a time like now when it appeared as though lawmakers were avoiding meeting with the public…[These Republicans] know how potent they can be. They know Americans aren't happy with Congress and, especially, not happy with them,” he said.
- USA Today: If it's August, House members hold events to meet the public
See below for a small sample of why Americans are out in full force this August, pushing their Republican members on why they continue to stand by tax cuts for billionaires and big oil at the expense of middle class families.
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) Beacon News: Constituents at Sandwich town hall session press Rep. Hultgren to tax the rich: “A number of his constituents sent a clear message to U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren on Wednesday night — go ahead and raise taxes. “Stop coddling the mega-rich,” said David Edelman, an Oswego resident, quoting America’s wealthiest taxpayer, Warren Buffett. “Everyone understands we have a problem, and the solution is shared sacrifice.”… But despite a discussion dominated by those in favor of a more progressive tax structure, Hultgren reaffirmed his campaign promises of lowered taxes and regulations — to spur economic growth — and a more simplified tax code… A shouting match erupted briefly between both sides of the tax debate when the lone speaker in favor of continued tax cuts addressed Hultgren, who shushed the crowd repeatedly throughout the hour so people could be heard… Though constituents quizzed Hultgren for about 40 minutes on his anti-taxation stance, in particular his decision to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge of lobbyist Grover Norquist that promises to vote against any bill that would raise taxes, those who spoke said they didn’t think their voices were heard. “It just established for me that Randy Hultgren is fighting for the top 1 percent,” said Edelman. “The vast majority of Americans want a shared sacrifice, but right now we’re not being asked to contribute much of anything.”
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) Kane County Chronicle: Hultgren hears from constituents seeking answers on jobs: “[Randy] Hultgren – R-Winfield, who represents the state’s 14th Congressional District – and his staff were greeted with homemade signs reading “Tax Wall Street millionaires” and “Jobs: So simple even a caveman knows it.” … In response to a question about raising taxes, Hultgren said his “commitment is to my constituents. I’ve said all along I would not raise taxes.” Later, an audience member asked how he could make that commitment without knowing what the future holds. … Dean Edelman of Oswego quoted a recent opinion piece by Warren Buffett that appeared in The New York Times in which the billionaire urged Congress to “stop coddling” the country’s superwealthy citizens. “We have to be there for our veterans and our seniors. My question to you is, who are you fighting for, the working people?” Edelman asked. “Words don’t mean as much as actions.” In answering Edelman’s question, Hultgren said the tax code needs to be cleaned up. At least two people asked about Medicare issues. “Why is it OK to take money from Medicare?” one man asked, suggesting a line-by-line review of the budget. “I’m all for looking into that. Let’s be transparent and accountable,” Hultgren said.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) Martha’s Vineyard Times: Senator Scott Brown answers Martha's Vineyard friends and foes: “Pat Gregory, who owns the Vineyard Haven office supply business Educomp, asked a pointed question about tax policy, an issue he said his staff talks about. "Across the United States, there's growing income disparity between the haves and the have-nots," Mr. Gregory, West Tisbury town moderator, said. "Do you think tax policy can affect that, and whether your pledge to not ever raise taxes would impede that?" "Raising taxes in the middle of a 2.5 year recession is a job killer," Sen. Brown responded. "I understand cutting taxes is supposed to create jobs," Mr. Hale said. "I haven't seen any jobs being created in the last ten years, never mind the last eighteen months. How do you reconcile the fact that decreases in taxes have not increased jobs?" "I respectfully disagree that we haven't had job creation," Sen. Brown responded.
Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) Seacoast Online: Guinta faces tough crowd in Greenland: “U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta met with a rancorous crowd Wednesday at a District Discussions meeting organized by the freshman Republican congressman…Fifteen activists with the N.H. American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, N.H. Alliance for Retired Americans and Moveon.org picketed outside with signs bearing slogans like "Hands off Medicare and Social Security."… Civility was lost in a display of the public's frustration over the state of the country as people argued and interrupted each another and Guinta. Jobs were on the minds of many, including John Cochrane, of Barrington, who has been out of work for 3½ years. "I need desperate help," he said. "I want to be a good American again. I don't want to be a second-class American."… Many voiced concerns about tax breaks for corporations and America's most wealthy. … Joan Jacobs, 67, a retired Portsmouth resident, clashed frequently with Guinta's remarks, interrupting him several times to argue about his stance on Obama's health care reform and other topics. "You went and voted for a terrible agenda," she said. "I want to know about your votes and your policies, and I'm not happy at all."
VIDEO Think Progress: GOP Rep. Frank Guinta Refuses To Say Whether He Would Accept A 10:1 Spending Cuts To Revenue Deal: “Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) was asked about such a deal yesterday at a town hall in Greenland, NH. He dodged the question — admitting to the crowd “I don’t know if that answers your question” — and instead told attendees that he was not opposed to new revenue as long as it didn’t come from actually raising tax rates. Multiple attendees then challenged him, asking him why he wouldn’t support raising rates on corporations or the wealthiest Americans.”
Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) USA Today: Town-hall-style meetings offer chance to connect: “Bill Meyers, 77, challenged Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., about his support of an “unreal” balanced budget amendment, and his support of a pledge, authored by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, not to raise taxes. "Which takes precedence? Your constituents or Grover Norquist?" "If you look at my record of raising taxes, you'll see a big goose egg," Terry said proudly. "What about the wealthy?" shouted a man from the back of the room… "Even Warren Buffett says so!" shouted Scott Downing, 71, a retired math teacher. "Yes, I've had that thrown in my face a thousand times," Terry responded, saying he disagrees with Buffett on taxes.”
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) USA Today: Warren Buffett's congressman: 'We disagree on taxes': “Terry said he's not sure the majority of people in Nebraska support Warren Buffett's position on taxes. One who does is Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who represents the neighboring district that includes Lincoln and much of rural eastern Nebraska. At a town hall meeting in West Point, Neb., later the same day, a woman asked, "Did you hear what Warren Buffett said?" "Yes, and I don't necessarily disagree with him, either," said Fortenberry, a Republican. Fortenberry later told USA TODAY that he doesn't want to see taxes raised on small businesses and entrepreneurs. But he said Buffett is right that loopholes in the tax code "skew in favor of the ultra-wealthy, ultra-wealthy corporations and the overseas aristocracy."
Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Town hall talk turns heated: “Peter Fricke's voice rose to a shout Wednesday as he stood to make comments that were not well received by many attending U.S. Rep. Tom Petri's Town Hall gathering at City Hall. "Barack Obama has created more private jobs in the past two years than George Bush did … FDR was one of our best leaders … you have to raise revenue from the rich," Fricke said. The Two Rivers resident said he has four daughters. "I'm making $30,000 a year and just trying to get by … I'm not going to tolerate any more lies … watch what you say," he said…[Petri] believes tax rates should be raised on hedge fund managers whose incentive bonuses are treated as capital gains and not as income.”
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) Cincinnati Enquirer: Senior citizen lunch turns into Chabot town hall: “In front of a room full of senior citizens, U.S. Rep Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) defended his support of a federal budget that means dramatic changes to Medicare…Some questions from the crowd: Show me the jobs that are being created from the tax breaks for corporations. Chabot’s response: “There are folks who are scamming the system. It’s outrageous. But it happens because the tax code is so convoluted. I’m hoping there’ll be a tax reform.”
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) Pensacola News Journal: Miller takes heat for debt deal: “U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller came home Tuesday to a constituency ready to vent its frustration. …A crowd of constituents, Democrats, Republicans and independents, showed up at the church — many bashing federal spending and prolonged war, a few encouraging higher taxes. Miller, R-Chumuckla, had a consistent response: "We don't have a tax problem in Washington. We have a spending problem.”
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) Wausau Daily Herald Editorial: Our View: Duffy must clarify his plan for jobs: “As has been the case since the Ashland Republican first began to campaign for the job, he argued the U.S. debt and deficit are the most serious long-term challenges the nation faces. This might well be the case. But in the immediate term, clearly the most serious issue is jobs, and the number of Americans who don't have them. Duffy tends to conflate the two issues -- debt and jobs -- but they are not the same thing and really need to be treated separately. Like other Republicans, Duffy is adamant that "raising taxes won't get Americans back to work." Fair enough. But that's a description of a policy he opposes. If he believes that what the U.S. economy needs is fresh tax cuts, then he should introduce legislation to cut taxes in the way he thinks is most beneficial. Otherwise we are stuck in the status quo.”
08.18.11 | permalink
August 18, 2011
MUST READ BELOW – Darrell Issa never misses a chance to defend Goldman Sachs, going to great lengths to prop up the big banks to benefit his pockets but this recent revelation – concealing the identity of a key staffer who was a top exec at Goldman Sachs – is beyond the pale. This behavior, if not blatantly unethical, is certainly appalling and disgraceful from any member of Congress, but especially the chair of the committee that’s in charge of conducting investigations on behalf of the public interest.
By Lee Fang on Aug 18, 2011 at 3:21 am
Peter Haller, also known as Peter Simonyi, a former Goldman Sachs VP now working for Chairman Issa to block regulations on Goldman Sachs
Has Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators? ThinkProgress has found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then quietly went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that affect Goldman Sachs’ bottom line.
In July, Issa sent a letter to top government regulators demanding that they back off and provide more justification for new margin requirements for financial firms dealing in derivatives. A standard practice on Capitol Hill is to end a letter to a government agency with contact information for the congressional staffer responsible for working on the issue for the committee. In most cases, the contact staffer is the one who actually writes such letters. With this in mind, it is important to note that the Issa letter ended with contact information for Peter Haller, a staffer hired this year to work for Issa on the Oversight Committee.
Issa’s demand to regulators is exactly what banks have been wishing for. Indeed, Goldman Sachs has spent millions this year trying to slow down the implementation of the new rules. In the letter, Issa explicitly mentions that the new derivative regulations might hurt brokers “such as Goldman Sachs.”
Haller, as he is now known, went by the name Peter Simonyi until three years ago. Simonyi adopted his mother’s maiden name Haller in 2008 just as he was leaving Goldman Sachs as a vice president of the bank’s commodity compliance group. In a few short years, Haller went from being in charge of dealing with regulators for Goldman Sachs to working for Congress in a position where he made official demands from regulators overseeing his old firm.
It’s not the first time Haller has worked the revolving door to help out Goldman Sachs. According to a report by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, Haller — then known as Peter Simonyi — left the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2005 to work for Goldman Sachs, then quickly began lobbying his colleagues at the SEC on behalf of his new firm. At one point, Haller was compelled to issue a letter to the SEC claiming he did not violate ethics rules. A brief timeline of Haller’s work history underscores the ethical issues raised with Issa’s latest letter to bank regulators:
– After completing his law degree in 2000, Haller was employed by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as an economist, and later with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Office of Enforcement.
– In April of 2005, Haller resigned from the SEC to take a job with Goldman Sachs. He soon began lobbying the SEC on behalf of Goldman Sachs.
– On September 2, 2009, Haller left Goldman Sachs to take a job with the law/lobbying firm Brickfield Burchette Ritts & Stone.
– In January of 2011, Haller was hired to work for Issa on the Oversight Committee. Under the supervision of Haller, Issa sent a letter dated July 22, 2011 to bank regulators (including the heads of the Federal Reserve, FDIC, FCA, CFTC, FHFA, and Office of Comptroller) demanding documents to justify new Dodd-Frank mandated rules on margin requirements for banks dealing in the multi-trillion dollar OTC derivatives market, like Goldman Sachs.
When he took over the chairmanship of the Oversight Committee this year, Issa dramatically shifted the committee’s focus away from its traditional role of investigating major corporate scandals. Instead, Issa has used the committee to merge the responsibilities of Congress with the interests of K Street and Issa’s own fortune.
In June of this year, ThinkProgress broke the story about Issa’s own complicated relationship with Goldman Sachs. We revealed that Issa purchased a large amount of Goldman Sachs high yield bonds at the same time as he used the Oversight Committee to attack an investigation into allegations that Goldman Sachs had systematically defrauded investors leading up to the financial crisis. This conflict of interests, along with our exclusive story about Issa’s earmarks benefitting his own real estate empire, received coverage in a recent piece by the New York Times.
We also broke a story last month revealing other revolving door conflicts within Issa’s staff. Peter Warren, Issa’s new policy director, maintains some type of financial contract with a student loan lobbying group he led last year, and received a bonus from the lobbying group before leaving to work for Issa. Since joining Issa’s staff, Warren and his colleagues have fought to weaken the recently created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency charged with overseeing student loans.
The new revelations about Peter Haller, however, raise even more significant ethical concerns than Peter Warren and other ex-lobbyists working for Issa. Why did Issa hire a high-level Goldman Sachs executive to work on stopping regulations on banks like Goldman Sachs? Haller’s direct involvement in the July letter brings Issa’s ability to lead the Oversight Committee — charged with conducting investigations on behalf of the public interest — into serious doubt.
08.18.11 | permalink