GOPers still trying to repeal health care reform, despite increasing support for it

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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Don’t these guys have anything better to do? Apparently not:

The top two House Republicans are renewing their calls to repeal the health care overhaul and will back efforts to force votes on the House floor amid polls that show the public continues to have decidedly mixed feelings about the legislation.

“Either course of action would begin to implement the will of the people with respect to Obamacare,” Boehner and Cantor said in a joint statement. “Accordingly, we will be signing both discharge petitions and encouraging our colleagues to do the same.”

Yes, Republicans are engaging in a completely futile exercise to implement the will of the people. Because clearly, the people hate health care reform. Right?

A tracking poll released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that support for the overhaul spiked 7 percentage points, to 48 percent, over the past month.

But the intensity of opposition to the legislation appears to have leveled off. Twenty percent of people reported “very favorable” opinions, up from 14 percent last month, but down from a peak of 28 percent in March.

So why the renewed interest in repealing increasingly popular legislation?

“The American people asked Congress and President Obama not to pass the massive health care overhaul, and they were ignored,” Boehner and Cantor said in their statement.

Oh. Right. Because “the American people” were ignored by meany President Obama. The same American people who increasingly favor the legislation and who oppose attempts by Republicans to repeal it. Those American people.

Way to have your fingers on the pulse of the nation, fellas.


CO-Sen: President v. President in the Dem primary

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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In the first primary to split the current administration and the former Democratic administration, Bill Clinton makes an endorsement.

Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Democratic grassroots underdog Senate hopeful Andrew Romanoff Tuesday, calling Colorado a better place because of his leadership in the state house.

In a letter that surprised politicos nationwide, Clinton outlined Romanoff’s state legislative accomplishments, including putting together an economic recovery plan and passing the largest investment into school construction in the state’s history. Romanoff is running against Democrat incumbent and White House pick Michael Bennet….

“Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead,” the two page letter reads. “I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November.”

The article goes on to point out that Romanoff endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential primary, while Bennet endorsed Obama. According to Clinton’s spokesman, Clinton has known Romanoff “since 1992 when he met him at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.”

The “grassroots underdog” description of Romanoff, given he’s capable of getting the endorsement of a former President along with his tenure in the state legislature, is perhaps stretching a bit. A Clinton source told TPM that “the email . . .  is likely to be the only campaign effort on Romanoff’s behalf. Clinton will not appear at any Romanoff campaign rallies.”


Sherrod Brown: No recess until jobless benefits pass

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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The good Senator named Brown is doing his damnedest to get jobless benefits passed.

The House and Senate should stay in session until they can pass an extension of unemployment insurance, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Wednesday.

Brown urged leaders to keep Congress in session and eat into the holiday weekend and next week’s recess, if necessary, to pass a long-delayed extension of benefits and tax cuts that’s stalled in the Senate.

“For too many weeks, Republicans have blocked legislation that would extend tax cuts for small businesses, close tax loopholes that encourage corporations to ship jobs overseas, and extend unemployment insurance,” Brown said in a statement. “Congress should not adjourn for the July 4 holiday weekend without passing an extension of unemployment insurance.”

This is the message Harry Reid needs to hear: keep them in. Bring out the cots. Only let them out to attend Sen. Byrd’s funeral, and then bring them back. One thing we know, breaking out the cots tends to break loose Republican votes. Take their vacation away until they help the 1.2 million Americans who have prematurely lost their unemployment insurance.


R2K or not, Republicans are still nuts

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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One of the more bizarre plot lines emerging from this R2K fiasco is that conservatives think our wingnut poll from January is discredited. That was the poll that found that a significant number of Republicans were birthers, wanted Obama impeached, etc.

Conservative protestations about that poll were always bizarre, since their messaging has strongly pushed those beliefs, but whatever. It was clear that they want to believe those things, but they don’t want anyone to know they believe those things.

And so they rejoice with the downfall of Research 2000, because it proves they aren’t as crazy as the world thinks they are! But of course, our polling wasn’t the only polling that exposed the modern conservative movement’s craziness.

Public Policy Polling:

While I’d agree that Research 2000’s poll may have been bogus, I would not agree it means Republicans don’t think those things. We have polled on many of the same issue over the last year and in some cases found even more Republicans buying into some of those conspiracy theories. For instance:

-In September we found only 37% of Republicans believed Barack Obama was born in the United States while 42% think he was not and 22% were unsure. Those numbers actually showed a higher birther quotient than the discredited R2K numbers that claimed 42% of Republicans believed Obama was born in the country while 36% thought he was not, and 22% were unsure.

-In November we found 52% of Republicans thought ACORN stole the 2008 Presidential election for Barack Obama while 27% thought he legitimately won it and 21% were unsure. That again showed a much higher level of belief in election fraud than the R2K numbers that claimed 21% of Republicans believed the election was stolen while 24% thought it was not and 55% were unsure.

-In December we found 35% of Republicans thought Barack Obama should be impeached while 48% thought he should not be and 17% were unsure. The Research 2000 poll claimed a similar, although slightly higher, level of support for impeachment from Republicans with 39% favoring it, 32% opposed, and 29% not sure.

Would I be leery of the Research 2000 findings on some of these extremist Republican views? Absolutely. But other pollsters have found the same thing. The discrediting of R2K doesn’t change the fact that many GOP voters do subscribe to these unproven conspiracy theories.

Harris:

67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.

57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim

45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”

38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”
Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”

ABC News:

Fourteen percent of Americans say without prompting that they think Barack Obama was born in another country, rising to one in five when those with no opinion are offered that as a possibility. But for many it’s not a firm belief – and some appear not to hold it against him […]

In addition to Obama disapprovers, people who are more apt than others to say Obama was born in another country include conservatives, Republicans, supporters of the Tea Party political movement (31 percent in each group), evangelical white Protestants (33 percent), and supporters of John McCain in 2008 (30 percent) – all groups broadly critical of Obama.

Vanity Fair-60 Minutes:

Long after the question of President Obama’s birthplace should have been put to rest, a new poll shows that nearly one in four Americans believe the “birther” lunacy that the president was born outside the country. The Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll found that 24 percent of respondents think Obama was born outside the U.S., with six percent saying he was born in Kenya, another two percent choosing Indonesia, and the remainder being unsure of his exact foreign origins.

Conservatives can hope that all these polling outfits are found out to be frauds as well, or just accept that their base is buying the crap they’re selling. If they want to scream about Obama being illegitimate, then maybe people will believe that Obama is illegitimate.

And rather than be embarrassed about it, they should own it.


Midday open thread

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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  • Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) got into it with a Minuteman at a recent town hall meeting:

    “The minutemen want to have something to say,” Stark says as one of the border security advocates begins to ask a question. “Who are you going to kill today?”

    After brushing off the congressman’s remark, the activist said, “I want to know why the federal government is not doing anything more to seal the borders of this country?”

    “Well, we can’t get enough minutemen armed,” Stark answered. “We’d like to. Get all the minutemen armed so they can stop shooting people here.”  […]

    The man then interrupted Stark, telling the congressman, “this a very serious matter and you’re sitting there making fun of it.”

    “I don’t have to make fun of you sir,” Stark responded, “you make a fine job [of it] all by yourself.”

  • Day three of Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing and TPM reports that “the press seats are near deserted.”
  • The latest installment in the Eric Cantor v. John Boehner soap opera:

    House Minority Whip Eric Cantor has asked the ethics committee to greenlight a national book tour this August for a new GOP manifesto he’s co-authoring with two younger members of Congress, according to sources familiar with the situation.

    This is classic Cantor: a hyperambitious move to publish and push ideas he thinks will help rebrand the GOP, on his terms — and not necessarily those of his boss, Minority Leader John Boehner.

    If this were an isolated incident, it would pass without a peep. But it’s not: Cantor is earning a reputation for pushing his ideas so hard and so often that some GOP colleagues are questioning his motives. Is he guided by a burning desire to help the party — or to boost himself?

  • Mike Huckabee is giving “every public indication that he is ramping up a run for president.”
  • Bill O’Reilly on the real reason for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s downfall:

    I don’t know his ideology, but when I heard that her’s an avowed liberal who turned off FOX News in his office, which as you know is the most widely watched network on all the army, marine and naval bases, all over the globe by far…FOX NEWS,FOX NEWS, FOX NEWS. When he did that and I heard that,”OK, maybe his own ideology brought him down. I wonder if general McChrystal is as liberal now today as he was today before the Rolling Stone article? So I think you live by the liberal sword, you die by the liberal sword.

  • The DFH McChrystal will, by the way:

    … retain his four-star rank when he retires from the military, the White House said Tuesday. The decision means the general will earn about 9,700 per year before taxes in military retirement pay.

  • Joe Scarborough says that he’s heard that Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) is a bar-hopping bum.
  • Another Republican putting business over safety:

    Yesterday, Democratic lawmakers proposed new legislation that “would make it easier to shut down mines with poor safety records” and “would also boost penalties for serious violations, grant mine regulators the power to subpoena documents and testimony, and offer greater protection to whistleblowers who report safety problems.” The lawmakers say the legislation “is needed to fix a badly flawed system that came to light after the accident at the Upper Big Branch mine” that killed 29 workers in April. But Republicans like Rep. John Kline (R-MN) are balking at the proposal, claiming that it is too “expansive”:

    Instead, said Kline, the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, the Democrats have overreached, proposing “a much more expansive approach” than that needed to protect the nation’s miners.

  • News from TV-land:

    Stunning the television world, the CNN host Larry King announced Tuesday evening that he would end his iconic talk show, “Larry King Live,” sometime this fall.

  • Want to ask the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs about immigration? Leave your questions at that link. I’ll forward all non crazy questions, regardless of party or ideology, for consideration. — DS


Bank bill faces House passage, Senate delays vote (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., left, leans over to talk to Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 28, 2010. prior to their introduction statements on behalf of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)AP – A sweeping overhaul of financial regulations aimed at preventing another economic crisis headed Wednesday for a final House vote after Democrats backed down on a billion tax they had added on big banks and hedge funds.

Leahy predicts Kagan approval; hearings near end

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan neared the end of a grueling turn in the Senate Judiciary Committee witness chair Wednesday, and the senator presiding over the proceedings predicted her confirmation.

Financial reform: Brown still playing coy

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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The House is going to vote on the revised conference report on financial reform today. Yesterday, the conference reconvened in order to find a new way of paying for the bill, because Republican Senators, particularly Scott Brown, thought taxes on big banks was unfair to the big banks. Ezra links to a good summary of the changes.

Conference reconvened due to the protests from centrists Republicans in the Senate who didn’t like the idea of taxing the big banks and hedge funds. Instead, taxpayers will pay for the regulation, since any TARP money unspent was supposed to go towards paying down the deficit. Those billions of dollars that would have been wiped out of the deficit will now have to come from the American people. Any money from higher bank assessments will ultimately cost consumers too, since banks will just pass on the expense to them through higher fees.

These Republicans have made a very strange choice. They decided to lighten the load on big banks, some of which will now just have to pay slightly higher assessments. Meanwhile, investment banks — like Goldman Sachs — will virtually escape the expense entirely, since they have few deposits. Hedge funds avoid the cost completely. Even though a tax on big banks might have been an economically questionable decision, it’s hard to see how pushing the tax to average Americans and smaller banks helps matters.

If these Republicans were really concerned about a tax, then they should have demanded spending cuts to fill the gap or scaled back some of the expensive regulation that the bill calls for. The only ones who benefit from this change are big banks and hedge funds. Taxpayers and community banks are indisputably worse off.

That’s a strange–and bad–choice by Republicans if viewed through a policy lens, but from a political standpoint it makes perfect sense. They want the big banks on their side going in to November, and undoubtedly expect to be richly rewarded for representing their interests.

But here’s the good part (good in the exasperatingly predictable sense). Scott Brown is still holding out his vote.

This morning, Brown continued to hold out, saying he would not make a decision on the bill for at least another week, after the Senate returns from a weeklong recess. That may be too late: the House is planning to take up the issue this afternoon, and Senate Democrats are still hoping they could squeeze it in this week.

“I appreciate the conference committee revisiting the Wall Street reform bill and removing the billion bank tax,” Brown said in a statement. “Over the July recess, I will continue to review this important bill. I remain committed to putting in place safeguards to prevent another financial meltdown, ensure that consumers are protected, and that this bill is paid for without new taxes.”

Scott Brown must have been spending a lot of time at Olympia Snowe’s knee, learning all about how to hold that damned football.

Update: Susan Collins is now leaning toward a “yes” vote. Reid has announced that the the vote will be after the July 4th recess.

Ezra has a post on Feingold, who is still opposing the bill, that echoes my thoughts. Feingold was pressured by progressive groups to hold out his vote for a stronger bill. That didn’t work, since it appears that negotiating with Brown and Collins was the way the White House and Dodd chose to go–that’s two votes rather than one. From a principled standpoint, yeah, the bill isn’t as strong as Feingold, or most reformers wanted. From a practical standpoint, his continued holding out isn’t going to make the bill better at this point, and won’t make it more likely that Congress comes back with a stronger bill if this one fails. There are improvements on the status quo in the bill, even if it doesn’t end too big to fail. Feingold should vote for cloture, and vote against final passage.


Stormy seas delay plan to double oil capture rate

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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In a press briefing earlier today, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, commander of the federal response to BP’s spill, announced that rough seas caused by Hurricane Alex are forcing a delay in a plan to double the rate of oil captured from BP’s leaking well.

The plan to increase capacity depends on the addition of a third vessel by the end of June, the Helix Producer, to the two already capturing oil. That vessel is now on site, but with waves at between seven and twelve feet, the conditions in the Gulf are too rough to connect it to the piping carrying the captured oil. Allen said that until the waves fall to between three to five feet, it won’t be possible to connect the new vessel to the piping.

Currently, BP is able to capture about 25,000 barrels per day using two vessels, the Discoverer Enterprise and the Q4000. Unless conditions worsen, that capture rate will continue until it is possible to connect the Helix Producer. Once that happens, the capture rate capacity will increase to 53,000 barrels per day, which might be enough to capture 90% of the oil flowing from the leaking well. BP developed the plan for additional capacity earlier this month under pressure from Allen and the administration.

The rough waters generated by Hurricane Alex are also causing problems across the Gulf Coast, pushing more oil onto the shoreline in all Gulf States — including, for the first time, Texas.

In his briefing, Allen also debunked a false rumor being spread by former oil company executives and right-wing media that the government was barring the use of foreign flagged vessels in the cleanup operation due to the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act, vessels used to carry goods between U.S. ports must be U.S. flagged. The rumor claims that foreign flagged vessels have been turned away from helping in the cleanup effort because of the Jones Act, but Allen said there was no basis in fact for that claim. According to Allen, the Jones Act does not apply to waters more than three miles offshore and therefore is not relevant to the response operation. Allen also said that even if it were relevant (or a situation arises where it would become relevant), a waiver would be granted.

The urgency of pushing back on false rumors like this was underscored by a new Marist poll released today showing people think President Obama is handling the oil spill as badly as President Bush handled Hurricane Katrina.


Reid introduces stand-alone jobless benefits bill

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2010-05-2008

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Reid and Baucus introduced a stand-alone bill last night to extend help to the 1.2 million people who prematurely lost jobless benefits last week. He’s working with McConnell to try to get it on the floor today. In addition to the benefits extension, the bill would also extend the homebuyers’ tax credit. Here is a summary of what’s in the bill:

Unemployment benefits: Restarts the emergency unemployment compensation program phased out at the end of May 2010. The program provides up to 53 weeks of extended benefits, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. The measure is retroactive — meaning that Americans who have lost their unemployment checks will be compensated — and goes through November.

Further extended benefits: Restarts funding for further tiers of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks.

Eliminates the penalty for part-time workers collecting unemployment benefits: Gives states the option to let UI claimants keep certain benefits if switching to state benefits would reduce their weekly UI check by at least 0 or 25 percent.

These three provisions cost .9 billion over ten years.

Extends the closing date for the homebuyer tax credit: Homebuyers need to have purchased a house by April 30, 2010. Now, they need to close by Oct. 1, not July 1, 2010. The provision is estimated to cost 0 million over ten years.

Change to the Travel Promotion Act (TPA): The Department of Homeland Security was due to fund the Travel Promotion Board by the end of the year. This delays that funding start by a year. This change saves million over ten years.

No, you cannot claim a homebuyer tax credit from prison: Remember all those prisoners claiming the homebuyer tax credit — even when serving life sentences? This allows the IRS to disclose tax return information to prison officials, to help recoup money from fraudulent claims. This raises million over ten years.

Finding money elsewhere: This takes back million in unspent Defense Department funding due to expire on Sept. 30, 2010. This saves million over 10 years.

Scott Brown has offered his own, “deficit-neutral” UI extension, which would take the money from unspent stimulus funds–yeah, the stimulus funds that are in the pipeline to create some jobs. Republicans don’t want any job creation, they want a broken economy, and Brown is more than eager to help them get it.

Update: Brown just stood on the floor to talk about his bill, the one that would rob funds from the stimulus that’s intended to create jobs.

His bill is undoubtedly in response to headlines like this one, from back home: Brown Joins Filibuster; Mass. Loses 0,000,000:

The Senate bill provided 0 million in federal aid to Massachusetts that was expected to help fund the fiscal 2011 budget. Sen. John Kerry said it was a “terrible blow” to the state to lose it. Remember when Brown said, as the Boston Globe reported, “I’ll look at every bill for its merits and how it affects our state and then I’ll make a decision” on January 20? Bostonist will need someone to explain the merits of losing 0 million to us.

This bill is also Brown’s excuse to, once again, vote against this jobless benefits extension bill. Reid has to have one more vote to get this passed. It’s not going to come from Ben Nelson, so Scott Brown is on the hot seat.

If you live in Massachusetts, it might not hurt to send him an e-mail or give him a call at (202) 224-4543 to let him know let him know you don’t appreciate his cheating your state out of 0,000,000 and to vote for this damned bill.