Archive for category 2012 Elections

Bob Casey For The People

With a sturdy genealogy linked to politics and Pennsylvannia, Bob Casey jr. was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.  Bob upset incumbent conservative Republican Rick Santorium who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for the office of President of The United States.  Bob Casey sr. was a popular Governor in the state. This time around Senator Casey will be standing on his own two feet.

Republicans will link Casey to President Obama whose approval rating in the state has slumped since his election in 2008.  Casey has stood shoulder to shoulder with the President in opposition to Republican initiatives to increase the struggles of We The People.  In Pennsylvania, history suggests that candidates rise and fall based on their connections to the President.   Indeed, it was Santorum’s allegiance to President Bush that opened the door for Casey in 2006.

President Obama has not fared well in recent polls in the state.  This time around Casey is banking on the state’s track record of supporting candidates that have reasonable solutions.  Senator Casey is a much-needed voice for We The People.  The Senator drew kudos for challenging The House Republicans in regards to the recent fiasco linked to the temporary extensions of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits (check for example: businessloans.org).  Casey can be counted on to fight hard for the more permanent payroll tax cut upon his return to Washington.

The Senator has been a busy contributor on behalf of his constituents.  He has co-sponsored or sponsored much legislation.  Senator Casey was particularly active in 2011.  Residents of Pennsylvania have received full value for Casey’s efforts.  In addition to his forward thinking, We The People legislation,  Casey has been involved with many of the most important Committees in Congress.

Since taking office, Senator Casey has had the opportunity to tackle many issues affecting Pennsylvania by sitting on several Senate Committees. If you’d like more information on any of the committees he works on, please click on the name of the committee below.

Joint Economic Committee »

  • Chairman

Foreign Relations Committee »

  • Chairman – Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs
  • Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Subcommittee on European Affairs
  • Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women’s Issues

Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry »

  • Chairman – Subcommittee on Nutrition Specialty Crops, Food and Agricultural Research
  • Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation
  • Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions »

  • Subcommittee on Children and Families
  • Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging

Special Committee on Aging »

Casey’s work on these committees could well position him for a 2012 run for The Presidency.  In this, his first term, Casey has been able to work on both sides of the aisle but has clearly represented We The People ahead of his own best interests.  In Washington, there are not enough of these politicians.  His work as chairman of the Joint  Economic Committee has drawn high praise.  Working with Republicans who favor We The Few has proved unusually challenging as Republicans are more interested in scoring media points than working to constructively to initiative We The People legislation.

As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Casey has visited troops in Afghanistan.  The Senator has also lobbied hard for veteran’s rights.  Casey is well aware of the challenges that returning veterans will face.  He has seen the Iraq and Afghanistan wars first hand.  He is rightfully concerned about Iran and views conflict as a failure in diplomacy. 

Senator Casey can expect a fierce reelection fight.  Republicans are well positioned with a GOP Governor and with Obama’s waning approval rating.  Yet, like all voters, Pennsylvania’s electorate must really evaluate their choices.  Would Republicans want more gridlock or less.  Would the state really support a candidate that would legislate under the weight of the Norquist Pledge or who is a member of the Tea Party.  It will take more than that to unseat Senator Casey. 

There could be as many as 11 Republican candidates for Casey’s seat.  Most prominently mentioned are former Representative Sam Rohrer,  Former Santorum aid Marc Scaringi, and state senator Jake Corman.  Rohrer is considered the front-runner in what promises to be a draining nominating process.  However, analysts believe that Casey has a well-organized ground game in the state.

Former Republican Governor Tom Ridge has stated that he will not pursue elected office.  He or Santorum would both have name recognition but Casey polls  favorably against all declared candidates.  In Casey’s win over incumbent was quite remarkable.  Santorum raised $25 million compared to $17 million by Casey.  Santorum’s positions were just too conservative to merit another term.

Casey endorsed the President over Hilary Clinton in 2008.  He later was selected to speak at the Democratic National Convention.  Casey is currently sporting a 54 percent approval rating.  If the employment numbers continue to increase and if the economic recovery continues to solidify, Casey and Obama will improve their approval ratings.  The President’s approval rating in the state has already improved since August when he slumped to 35 percent.  His ten point surge is attributed to the Republican obstructionist policies.

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Nelson’s Retirement Pressures Dems

As soon as Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson announced that he would retire rather than run for a third term,  Republicans began to look ahead to 2012 with the real possibility that the GOP could gain control of the Senate..  Currently, Democrats hold a 53-47 edge that includes Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders.

Nelson’s retirement brings the number of Senate retirees to nine.  Six Democrats, Two Republicans and One Independent will not seek re-election in 2012.

Below are all Senate Retirements to Date.

  1. Arizona – Republican - John Kyl – 3 terms
  2. Connecticut – Independent – Joe Lieberman – 4 terms
  3. Hawaii – Democrat – Daniel Alkala – 4 terms
  4. Nebraska – Democrat – Ben Nelson – 2 terms
  5. New Mexico – Democrat – Jeff Bingaman – 5 terms
  6. North Dakota – Democrat Kent Conrad – 5 terms
  7. Texas – Republican – Kay Bailey Hutchison – 3 terms
  8. Virginia – Democrat – Jim Webb – 1 term
  9. Wisconsin – Democrat – Herb Kohl – 3 terms

These retirements will present the 2013 with a shortage of experience.  In total, these retirees have served 30 terms in the Senate.  The Democrats currently hold a 53-47 majority but that majority includes Independents Lieberman and Sanders who caucus with Democrats.  One cannot help but wonder if the high number of retirements is based on the highly volatile atmosphere in Washington.

The dismal approval rating of Congress detracts from the good work performed by serious, long-term Senators.  The high number of retirements is a reflection on the sorry state of Washington. 

Nelson’s retirement is likely to cost the Democrats a much-needed seat as a list of challengers assembles for a run against an unamed Democrat.  Nebraska’s popular Republican  Governor, Dave Heineman, has been approached by Senate Minority Leade Mitch McConnell to run for office.  Heineman informed the Omaha World-Herald that he was not considering a run for the vacant seat.  Nelson’s retirement caught Nebraska’s Democrats by surprise.  Former Senator and Democrat Bob Kerrey has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Nelson, but Kerrey was cool to overtures.

As it stands now, three Republicans will square off in a primary battle.  Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Treasurer Don Stenberg and state senator Deb Fischer will vie for the Republican nomination. If Kerrey stays out of the race, Democrats Kim Robak, a former Lieutenant Governor and state senator Steve Lathrop will run for the nomination.  Republicans were geared up to battle with Nelson and promised a formidable campaign.  In Nebraska, President Obama is not viewed favorably and all Democrats willface uphill battles.

Nelson was an independent thinker and voter.  He is also the only elected Democrat holding a Congressional seat.   Senator Nelson voted for the needs of his constituents.  Thos eneeds were not always Democratic initiatives.  Upon hearing of Nelson’s retirment, President Obama described Nelson’s bipartisan approach as “a trait far too often overlooked in today’s politics.”

Nelosn was involved in three controversial acts.  The first took place in 2005 when the Senate was controlled by the Republicans. Nelson joined the “Gang of 14″ Senators who agreed not to oppose GW Bush’s nominations for justices unless there were extraordinary circumstances.  This group allowed Bush to fill positions on the federal bench.

Nelson most controversial vote came during the Obama health insurance debate. Initially,  Nelson would only agree to the legislation if Nebraska would be exempot from paying for the expanded Medicare coverage.  Republicans dubbed this concession, which Nelson later rescinded, the “Cornhusker Kickback.”  This incident was sure to be recalled during another run by Nelson.

Senator Nelson’s  third controvesial position surfaced in Agust of 2011.  The Senator voted against the debt ceiling increase.  He explained his vote saying, “it sets up a maze on convuluted procedures that willonly continue the chaos and political games Nebraskans are tired of seeing.”

In the 2012 elections, Democrats are defending 23 seats.  Republicans are defending 10 seats.  It is early to tell how some important races will conclude.  Senator Patty Murray of Washington is the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaogn Committee. In response to Nelson’s announcement, Murray said, “We remain confident that we will hold the majority next year because incumbents have built strong organizations in their states.”

That may be true, but Republicans want the Senate and the Presidency to add to their majority in the House.  They are armed and dangerous.  Tea Party activists are already taking their grass roots campaign to the people.  Polls suggest that political ideology will play a big part in the 2012 elections.  It is expected that more Americans than ever before will vote straight down party lines.  The Democrats’ ability to hold the Senate may well rest with President Obama.  If the President can somehow work around Congress and get his jobs bill approved, all Democrats may get a boost.

One cannot help but recall Senator Mitch McConnell’s pledge that his most important goals was to make President Obama a one-term President.  If the Republicans had used the same energy as has been expended working against Obama to concentrate on the People’s needs, the recovery from the Republican-caused recession would be on more stable ground.

Two important seats that Democrats could gain belong to Scott Brown of Massachussetts and  the seat held by Dean Heller in Nevada.  Heller was appointed to fill the seat held by John Ensign, who retired following an ethics inquiry.  House Democrat Shelley Berkley is popular in her home state and has an excellent chance to outduel Heller.

In Massachussetts, Elizabeth Warren has masterfully gained support for her run at Brown.  Warren is an Obama favorite and is in a state that will strongly support the President.  Warren is a credible candidate with outstanding experience in the bureacracy of Washington.  In rceent polls, Warren has edged past Brown who will take to the offense in January.

Republicans need to gain just four seats to have the majority in the Senate.  In order to hold the majority and have a workable balance of power, a Democratic Senate is the nation’s best bet.  If  We The People lose the Senate, we will only have ourselves to blame.  We Democrats need your votes and your hard work.  If We The People do not fight for ourselves, we leave ourselves subject to the whims of the Republicans.

If they have their way, Republicans will send We The People to engage Iran.  We The People will earn less.  The entitlements will diminish as the budget for defense continues to escalate.  The quality of education will suffer.  The environment will be at risk.  And, the country will once again be at the mercy of too big too fail institutions.

If that is what you want, you are We The Few, not We The People.  Let’s do our very best to get the President another term, increase our  majority in the Senate and take back the House.  How pleasant it would be to restore sanity to government.  Every Tea Party candidate and every signee of the Norquist Pledge must be run out of town.  That is the only course of action to make the insanity cease and desist.

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Independents and First Time Voters

The 2012 Presidential Race and the races for the House and Senate are likely to shape the United States long into the future.  With important decisions about the budget and about a host of other serious issues, the time for action has come.  We The People are very aware of the gridlock caused by Republicans.  This gridlock  threatens the unemployed, the elderly, the needy and the poor.  These groups cannot seriously view the Republicans as their saviours.  Democrats believe in pro-active reform but also believ in responsible and balanced change.

In response to the financial crisis that was caused by the unregulated and permissive policies of the Republicans and GW Bush, We The People demand change. If we permit the irresponsible Republicans to have their way yet again, we will have no one to blame except ourselves.  If Republicans win the House and the Senate, our children and grandchildren will be paying for our irresponsible voting for most of their lives.

If you were once in the middle class or if you are in need of a job, do you seriously believe that the Republicans have your best interests at heart.  Remember this is the party of We The Few.  Do you believe that the Tea Party and other Republicans have rendered the federal government defenseless?  If so, help us get out the vote.

While the Democratic platform  is clearly the last stop-gap from further destruction of the middle class, the elderly and ravaging the poor, the Republicans are armed to the teeth.  Due to the severity of multiple issues inherited by President Obama from his predecessor,  jobs are hard to find.  Personal income is down.  Foreclosures are an everyday occurrence.

However, the reality is that Republicans are quick to attack the President but they are very slow to offer solutions.  In all the Republican Debates, the only person that took a definite stand was Herman Cain with his 9-9-9  flat tax plan.  Not one other candidate has taken a position about a new jobs program.

There are many reasons to be concerned about the 2012 elections.  Consider that since the 2008 elections more than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican Parties in favor of declaring as an Independent.  This pattern is most evident in states that compose the 8 swing states.  In these states, USA Today reports that 800,000 voters have left the Democratic Party and 350,000 have left the Republican Party.  Voters that now identify themselves as Independents have increased by 325,000.  Since the last Presidential Election, there are 1.7 million less Democrats.  The total number of Independents has increased by 1.7 percent (400,000) since 2008.

Swing states that register by party are:

  1. Colorado
  2. Florida
  3. Iowa
  4. Nevada
  5. New Hampshire
  6. New Mexico
  7. North Carolina
  8. Pennsylvania

The states with the biggest increases in Independents are Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona.  The fate of the next President, the 2013 House and the 2013 Senate may well rest on how Independents vote.

With 42 million national registrants, Democrats still dominate Republicans with 24 million registrants.

Another much sought after faction of voters is the Latino Vote.  It is expected that if Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate, he will select Marco Rubio of Florida to increase his share of Latino voters.  Latinos are not happy with President Obama’s increased rate of deportation.  However, based on Romney’s much declared conservative policy, Latinos had best beware of the consequences of a Republican President.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, a poll between November 9th and December 7th, Latinos still overwhelmingly support President Obama

Another area of concern is the high quantity of  first-time voters expected to voters in 2012.  While it is true that senior voters vote for policies that have a direct impact on them, first-time voters are likely to vote for the platform that offers jobs, educational assistance and educational excellence.  First-time voters vote according to differences in policies in these areas.  With new voter restrictions being imposed on first-time voters, the poor and Latinos, it is imperative that Democrats develop on-the-ground recruitment strategies.

The dangerous and disruptive Tea Party has the resources and a well-organized grass-roots campaign that is experienced in door-to-door recruitment.  This group poses a serious threat to the President and Congress.

Because Independents have strong ideological postures, they gravitate to platforms that meet their expectations of the role of government, the environment, social issues and immigration.  Independents are more flexible and do not want to be liberal or conservative.  According to the Pew Study, there is growing rejection of political ideology but that should not be interpreted as a shift toward moderation.  Independents will vote in 2012 and they may well determine the Presidential election and where the power in Congress will lie.

For example, in 2008 Independents gave President an eight point edge.  In 2010, Republicans won the House with a 19 point Independent majority.  Independents are difficult to read.  It is possible that they will listen closely to House, Senate and Presidential debates before finalizing their votes.  It is probable that Independents will not vote along a party line.  Rather, they will vote for the candidate that rings their chime.

The challenge for Democrats will be to assist voters register and to get out the vote.  Several polls show that voters hold Republicans accountable for the gridlock in Washington.  It is no coincidence that as the approval rating of Congress deteriorates, the support for President Obama increases.

Regardless of how public opinion views the Tea Party, these activists will be charged up in 2012.  The Tea Party may be the only group of activists who is pleased with the way government is running.  That is a message the Democrats need to carry to Independents and first-time voters.

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Cantor Must Go!

As a Republican extremist and House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor has tarnished the nation’s credibility, damaged the economy and kept the unemployment rate high.  He is the most active contrarian in The House.  He has undermined Republican Speaker of The House, John Boehner, on numerous occasions.  Cantor has also drawn the ire of John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and many high-ranking Republicans.  His conduct has been detrimental to the needs of the public. Until Cantor is gone, residents of Virginia’s 7th District and taxpayers across the land will continue to struggle under the weight of rising debt and weakened national defense.

Eric Cantor
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gage Skidmore

The most notable disagreement with Boehner came after the Speaker and President Obama agreed to a $4.2 trillion debt reduction bill.  After the President and the Speaker shook hands on the deal, Cantor went about rallying Tea Party members of the House to oppose the most aggressive deficit reduction plan ever created..

Boehner was humbled and his role as Speaker of The House fell under heavy criticism.  Eric Cantor is supposed to represent his constituents but the Virginian is not ashamed to put his own interests ahead of all others; a personality characteristic that has existed long before he came to Congress.

To Cantor,  the Speaker of The House and The President represent similar problems.  Speaker Boehner and President Obama have power.  Cantor wants that power.  The Leader of Republicans in the House never fails to calculate his own personal agenda ahead of the best interests of the country.

As the Republican Leader of the House, Cantor has never proposed a jobs program and has never stated a position on foreign policy. What he has done is criticize every success of the Administration and every pro-We The People initiative.  What would please Eric Cantor the most is that the economy plunges back into recession and that the unemployment rate continue rises prior to the election.

Like the Republican Candidates for the Presidency, Cantor is long on criticism and short on proposals.  

The aspect of American society that Cantor represents is those contributors who fill Republican coiffures.  In the recent payroll tax extension and unemployment extension, Cantor once again stabbed Boehner in the back.  After Boehner gave Mitch McConnell his proxy in the recent negotiations, Cantor rallied opposition to the proposals.  This time President Obama stared down the majority Leader.

Eric Cantor was revealed for what he is; a childish and amateur politician.  He is self-serving and smug.  For his role in the payroll tax cut extension, many of his fellow Republicans turned on him, including Senate Minority Leader McConnell and Senator John McCain.  Had the Senate’s payroll extension been put before the House, the bill would have passed.

Cantor was not about to have that happen.  His dangerous behaviour is a pattern that has played out all his life.  In high school, Cantor was remembered as the person who wanted everything his way and wanted it immediately.

This mindset has allowed him to paint himself into a corner on several key issues.  His reluctance to accept the debt reduction plan created by Boehner and Obama caused the US credit rating to be lowered.  His opposition to the payroll tax extension not only damaged Boehner but also humiliated himself.  His greatest flaw was to undermine the Super Committee.  The result of that action will trigger billions dollar of defense spending, a key element of the platform for the Republican Party.

Since successfully undermining the Super Committee, Cantor has spent much political capital in attempts to overturn the automatic cuts to defense.

It should not be a surprise that Cantor is a big fan of Virginian Newt Gingrich; the father of partisan politics.  Americans would do well to remember that Gingrich was ousted from the House and fined $300,000 for unethical conduct.   Eric Cantor wants Boehner’s job so that he can continue his partisan politics and penalize the American populace.

Newt Gingrich
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Cantor has represented Virginia’s 7th District since 2001.  After serving one term, Cantor was selected by Minority Whip, Roy Blunt, to serve as Assistant Minority Whip.   In 2006, Republicans pushed Cantor to oppose Blunt and run for the office of Minority Whip.  Cantor declined.

When Blunt stepped down in 2008, Cantor filled the slot.  Cantor has proven to be a good fund-raiser.  He has moved further right since his initial campaign.  Today, Cantor is considered a conservative extremist or obstructionist.  During John McCain’s Presidential run, Cantor was often mentioned as a possible running mate.  He rose more than $60 million on behalf of Republican candidates in 2008.

Cantor’s legislative record is unimpressive.  He has made his mark as an opponent for the President’s job plan, the opposition to the most aggressive debt reduction plan to date and for every other constructive program initiated by the President.

His unwillingness to engage in constructive negotiations has drawn the ire of We The People and of his own party.  Democratic Senator John Kerry served on the Super Committee and was especially critical of Cantor’s influence on Republicans on the committee.  He has become famous for walking out of negotiations.

It is time Americans and Virginians realized that Cantor’s negative contributions put the country at risk.  Just as he was unconcerned about the country’s credit rating, he is also unbothered by the state of the fragile recovery.  Cantor’s enemies are not communists or even al Qaeda, instead they are Democrats and President Obama.

In a recent meeting with the media, Cantor chastised the media for not accurately reporting the Republican position on jobs.  When pressed to elaborate about the Party’s jobs plan, Cantor was speechless.  Instead, he made a vague generalization about creating a favorable environment for jobs programs. He offered no details.  Offering no solutions is typical of Republicans and Cantor.

In December 2008, Cantor made a strong speech on the floor of the House opposing the government bailout of GM and Chrysler.  His theory reflected the far right theory that the companies had failed in the marketplace and should be allowed to fail as employers.  At the same time, Cantor was supportive of the Wall Street and financial institution bailout.   Of course, these institutions are powerful financial contributors to Republican coiffures.

In December 2011, Cantor drew criticism from Palestine’s MK Ahmed Tibi, the late Yasar Arafat’s political adviser. In an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Tibi pointed out Cantor’s comments regarding the relationship between Palestine and Israel as inciting more tension between the two countries.  As the lone Jew serving in the House, Tibi suggested that Cantor was a hypocrite and that the Majority Leader in the House was creating a bigger divide between the two nations.

Tibi said Cantor’s remarks were inflammatory and were helping to create a create a recipe for disaster.

In the year-end Gallup poll, The House easily posted the worst approval rating in the history of the country.  The 86 percent “disapproval rating” is hardly surprising. However, independents registered the highest disapproval rating. The final approval rating was 11 percent.  The average approval rating of Congress for 2011 was an anemic 17 percent.  Among independents, the approval rating was a shocking 7 percent.

Just 12 percent of Republicans approve the 2011 conduct of Congress. 32 percent of Americans feel the Congress is permanently broken.  52 percent believe that the failure is due to the elected politicians in Congress.

Cantor has also drawn the ire of the Occupy movement.  Cantor has refered to the Occupy movement as “class warfare.”  He also attacked Nancy Pelosi for praising the protestors.  Cantor views the Occupiers as an unfounded protest movement by the poor, the needy and the homeless.  He has said that he is concerned about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Republicans describe the Occupy movement as an uprising of the poor.   Republicans and especially Eric Cantor have no time for the poor.

Majority Leader of the House, Cantor, is fittingly dubbed “Overdog.”  This moniker is intended to describe his strong support for large corporations and We The Few at the expense of We The People.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer located a high school quote of Cantor’s, “I want what I want when  I want it.”  This is the attitude that has led Senate Majority Leader Reid to characterize Cantor as”childish.”  In every discussion about the deficit, Cantor has walked away.

In the payroll tax cut extension, Cantor found himself opposing a tax decrease.

2102 Election and Ernest Wayne Powell

In the 2012 election, Cantor will be opposed by Democratic trial lawyer Ernest Wayne Powell, a former military officer. Powell has listened carefully to the voters of the Seventh District.  He presents a strong challenge for Cantor because he is not a career politician.  He has succeeded in the private sector and is committed to representing the needs of the majority of constituents in the district.

Powell will be bucking the odds against the well-financed Cantor.  However, with more controversy, Cantor’s contrarian is sure to keep him in hot water right up to the election.  His continued opposition to the payroll tax extension will reveal Cantor for the dangerous obstructionist that he is.

Powell’s success may very well hinge on a grass-roots effort.  Residents of Virginia’s 7th district must ask themselves if they are better off today than they were when Cantor became the Majority Leader in the House?  This really is a question that all Americans should ask.  The solution is simple.  Vote Eric Cantor out of the House.  If Democrats can bond with Independents, Cantor can be ousted and the American economy can get back on track in 2013.

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Government For The People Is Lost

At a time when Americans desperately needed government for the people and by the people, the 2011 Congress failed to deliver on any substantive legislation.  No tax reform, no jobs programs and no ethics.  Washington ended the year on legislation that typified the self-interests of the Republican Party.  Rather than government for We The People, Republicans worked feverishly to appease the lobbyists of We The Few.  The end of year disagreements even had Republicans fighting and sniping at each other to the media.  This is the chaos that Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell are using to undermine President Obama.

The problem for Boehner and McConnell is that in further hurting their party’s image, the Republicans boosted the President’s approval rating.

The Republican Party looks to be crumbling at the seams.  When Americans go to the polls, please remember the 2011 Congress.  If there was ever a stronger case for a Democratic controlled House, Senate and Presidency, the Republicans and Grover Norquist have provided We The People with a clear-cut choice.  Will it be Government for We The People or will it be government for We The Few.

We The People should realize that the Republican Party only has the interests of We The Few in mind.  We The People must get engaged and stay that way through the 2012 elections. Do not rest until Democrats control the House, the Senate and the Presidency.  

If the 2011 Congress were analyzed like a Dow Jones equity, the chart would show a steady but rapid decline.  In the eyes of the public, there were no spikes upwards.  Congress had to work hard to achieve a 10% approval rating.  According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of Americans thought Congressmen were ethical and honest.

The only thing Republicans were able to agree upon was their desire to unseat the President.  They showed a willingness to throw We The People under the bus in their quest.   Republicans presented obstacle after obstacle to damage the economy and make We The People suffer more so that a Republican would replace Obama in 2012.  Yet, every time a Republican debate took place, the President’s stock increased.  The Republican candidates for Presidency were as dysfunctional as the party itself.

Since taking office in 2009, the President has faced many challenges.  Unfortunately, he underestimated the severity of the economic times. Perhaps, he was not sure how to react to the crisis that swept the country.  When he had a majority in both Houses of Congress, he used his political capital to pass Obamacare, a top component on his platform.

His vision for medical insurance for the nation was a strong campaign promise.  The timing for this initiative was bad.  Rather than focus on employment programs that might have boosted and economy and improved the nation’s infrastructure, Obama turned to his health program.

No President in the last sixty years inherited such a mess.  George W. Bush and his Republican cronies left the country with two unfunded wars, a rapidly increasing budget deficit and a financial and housing crisis created by the lack of regulation, a Republican mandate.  Bush’s response to the global crisis was to pour taxpayer money into the banking sector.  He extended the Bush tax cuts at exactly the time these cuts should have been allowed to expire.  However, the Bush Tax Cuts favored We The Few, another Republican mainstay.

Republicans framed the Bush Tax Cuts as the savior of the middle class.  According to the Bush – Cheney team, the cuts were a good thing.  The beneficiaries of these relaxed taxes would enable We The Few to become aggressive “job creators.”

The jobs never came as millionaires and billionaires pocketed the money Bush, Boehner and McConnell said would be invested in American jobs.

After stabilizing the banking sector, credit markets remained entwined in a web of failing mortgages, high unemployment, diminishing GDP and a housing crisis that the country had never-before experienced.  Sadly, the Republicans and Bush perpetuated the housing crisis by nationalizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest holders of bad debt mortgages in the nation.  This means that We The People are paying for the flawed lending practices that profited Wall Street. Adding the weight of these failing mortgages to the taxpayer’s damaged 401(k’s) and other retirement funds was simply too big a cargo.

Republican programs for We The Few destroyed middle America’s safety net, the equity in their homes.

Meanwhile, the very banks that perpetuated the housing crisis began to record huge profits.  Equally disturbing were the phenomenal size of bonuses these corporations paid to the very bankers who caused the recession.  In a dormant state of non-growth in GDP, financial institutions and local governments began to lay off millions of Americans.

Amazingly, not one of these corrupt bankers was imprisoned.  In fact, these bankers were living the high life as the middle class continued to pay the price for the lavish wages paid to unscrupulous people.  This was not capitalism.  This was malicious greed with volumes of moral hazard and amble doses of betrayal.

What began to evolve from this predicament was a caste system never-before experienced in the U.S.  The distance between We The People and We The Few has never been as wide as it is now.  Moreover, the widening trend continues.

To make sure this deep divide stayed that way, Grover Norquist pressed Republican politicians on all levels of government to abide by the Norquist pledge that there would be no tax increases in any new legislation.   Most of the Republicans that signed this pledge did not indicate their intent to do so prior to taking office.  This dilemma left constituencies questioning their choices.

In the 2010 elections, an activist group called the Tea Party ousted Democrats in the House giving Republicans a majority.  The Democrats retained a narrow majority in the Senate.  Without 60 votes, Democrats fell prey to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for filibuster.  In fact, the Senate was neutered.

The effect of the Tea Party and the pledge by The Speaker of the House and the Minority Speaker in the Senate to limit President Obama to one term at all costs created strategic gridlock meant to damage the President’s credibility.  Republicans used their newfound power to show their disdain for the middle class, the unemployed and the needy in 2010.

With 7 million unemployed Americans needing an extension of the unemployment benefits, Republicans vowed to allow the benefits to expire beginning in 2010.  However, if the President would extend the Bush Tax Cuts for We The Few, Republicans would extend the unemployment benefits for We The People.  This was a bitter pill for the President, but he swallowed and saved the benefits for middle America.  The Bush Tax Cuts are set to expire at the end of 2012.

From the passage of those two programs, Congress became irreparably broken.  Republicans viewed the President as soft.  They saw an opening and struck. Republicans realized that Obama was for We The People.  Republicans used the President’s commitment to We The People as his Achilles Heel.  Anytime they wanted legislation, Republicans would hold We The People  hostage.

The Republican willingness to hold We The Peope hostage has been the only consistent theme of this Congress.

Speaker of The House, John Boehner, welcomed a large freshman class in January 2011.  Boehner vowed great things in 2011.  What the seasoned Boehner did not understand was that the Tea Party did not like his politics or Bush or Obama. Under the guise of financial credibility, the Tea Party was poised to assault the middle class and prevent passage of any legislation about jobs.

We the People
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In April 2011, the Congress and the President locked horns over spending.  Republicans favored deep cuts to education, Medicare, Medicade and an overhaul of the Social Services benefit system.  Planned parenthood and the right to abortions also came into play.  This time, Republicans broadened their sights.  They used the leverage of a government shut-down to gain a $38 billion reduction in spending.

Voters watched these events unfold and became uncomfortable with the rhetoric and the dysfunction in Washington.

The bitter divide in Congress gained traction during the subsequent Debt Ceiling talks.  The President wanted a sweeping, balanced effort to dramatically trim the fat off the budget.  Republicans favored spending reductions without any tax increases.  This debate reached ugly in a heartbeat.  It was apparent that the far right-wing of the Republican caucus intimidated the less conservative Republicans.

The Tea Party had control of the party and Boehner was rendered useless. As 2011 winds down, Boehner will be remembered as the most ineffective leader of the most ineffective House in the history of the nation.  During the debt ceiling crisis, Boehner’s role as tightrope artist played out in full view of the public.

Political Cartoon From the Rapid City (SD) Journal:  Republican Greed
Creative Commons License photo credit: JoeInSouthernCA

During the crisis, Boehner met with President Obama and crafted a $4.2 trillion deficit reduction package.  The President and Boehner agreed to a package that the country needed to stave off a credit reduction.  However, when Boehner presented the plan to his caucus it was rejected.

In their deficit reduction package, there would be increased revenue generated by a small increase in taxes to millionaires and billionaires.  All the Republicans who signed the Norquist pledge were put on the spot to either pass legislation with some increased taxes that would benefit the country or honor their Norquist pledge.

Boehner failed to rally his caucus around this powerful deficit reduction initiative.  The country was poised to show the world that the USA stood ready to tackle its debt in a responsible manner.  When Boehner refused to accept calls from the President, it was clear that he had no control over House Republicans.

The net effect of this debt ceiling fight was that for the first time in the history of the Republic the USA lost its treasured AAA credit rating; an event Republicans considered minor. 

Congress pushed the American public to the limits when several high-profile Republicans indicated that they were willing to default on our national debt. The public’s ire over this irresponsible mindset began to surface.  Boehner became a tainted leader of a tainted majority.  Rumors of a change in leadership in the House started to circulate.  The Tea Party’s, Eric Cantor, was often mentioned as a replacement for Boehner.

Boehner’s embarrassing inability to get his caucus to accept his own spending plan, not only stunned Americans but triggered red flag warnings around the globe.  On paper, a 10-year $917 billion spending cut was passed. The parties agreed to another $1.2 trillion in cuts which would be decided by a Super Committee before the 1st of December.  In the event of an inability to agree on cuts, provisions were implemented to trim $1.2 trillion in spending cuts without further approval.  The majority of these fixed cuts were in defense.

Another effect of the failed debt ceiling package was that the country’s credit was lowered by Standard & Poor’s.

To the country, it was now perfectly clear that Washington was in chaos. A familiar pattern had evolved. All legislation was only dealt with in the final hours.  Every significant legislative initiative was flawed. Most were temporary band aids.  The citizenry was appalled by the continued cross-party assaults.

As Congress was coming apart at the seams, the President took to the road.  He took his We The People vision to communities across the country.  His message began to resonate.

During the Summer, Republicans opposed labor rights for a relatively small group of air service providers.  Opposition to labor rights was part of the Tea Party mantra.  In this argument, Congress caused a partial shutdown of Federal Aviation Services.

Newly elected Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, a Tea Party member was busy denying state employees their rights to collective bargaining. Walker is now facing a recall. In Wisconsin, Republicans can expect a big backlash from Walker’s actions.

Republicans refused to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) additional funds to assist communities suffering from flooding and damage from hurricanes.  When FEMA announced the agency had enough funding to get to the beginning of the new fiscal year, last-minute temporary funding was approved while politicians agreed to settle their differences in upcoming months.

Again, the pattern of last-minute negotiations and temporary band aids reared its ugly head. Americans were uncomfortable with this method of government. 

When the Congressional super-committee was unable to find common ground on a deficit reduction plan, the dysfunction in Congress caused unified disdain.  Again, there was a flurry of last-minute negotiations but this time there were no results.  Therefore, the already agreed-upon cuts including significant cuts to military spending were imposed.  This dysfunction spurred the Occupy Wall Street movement which spanned across the country.

Public opinion swooned further when 60 minutes released a report that members of Congress were reaping big profits by using insider-trading to fill their pockets.

To cap off the year, Republicans in Congress put tax increases for 160 million Americans on the table.  Republicans were also agreeable to terminating unemployment benefits to millions of other Americans.  This time Republicans in the Senate fought with Republicans in the House.

Smug Eric Cantor stood behind Boehner at every press opportunity.  His devilish grin angered struggling Americans who had expected the Senate’s extensions to be temporarily extended.  Boehner found himself squeezed by Cantor and his allies and the Senate Republicans and by the American public who helplessly watched this dysfunctional group play their hands.

John McCain, Mitch McConnell had no defense for the House Republicans.  Even Donald Trump disavowed the GOP.

As the congressional approval rating fell below 10 percent, the President’s approval rating climbed to 50%.  Rather than listen to Republican rhetoric, Americans supported their President.  Obama’s commitment to take his message to We The People was working.

The President has come across as a solid man with a vision that would balance the playing field between We The People and We The Few. This President has a balanced approach to government. Looking at the Republican candidates for the Presidency, Americans should be nervous.  If Republicans have the House, the Senate and the Presidency, We The People have no cause for hope.  We can expect another war, failed tax policies, damage to the environment, unregulated practices in the financial industry and continued high unemployment.

To restore dignity to We The People, a Democratically controlled House, Senate and Presidency are necessary.  When Americans go to the polls, they must remember the Payroll Tax Cut and Unemployment Insurance extensions.  Voters who remember the insanity caused by Boehner and Cantor and McConnell should act to eliminate the Tea Party, Norquist supporters in favor of a functional body that serves We The People.  Think about this.

A functional government for We The People is what We The Few fears more than anything else.

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Congress Caps A Completely Futile Year

In the close of the year for the most ineffective Congress in history managed to cloud issues and merge their We The Few ideology into basic legislation to assist the poor, the needy and the middle class.   So, the Senate has gone home for a long, undeserved break.

Once again, nothing has been resolved.  So that the Senate can enjoy a nice holiday, We The People were given two months of relief with the very real prospect that household income will lower and unemployment benefits will disappear on March 1st.  However, the revision of the House bill must be approved by the House and Majority Leader Boehner announced on Sunday, that the Senate extension bill would not be approved.

Rather than pass stand-alone legislation that would extend the payroll tax reduction through 2012 and extend unemployment benefits for 160 million Americans, the Senate agreed to a short-term fix that appears nothing more than a means for Senators to return home through the end of the year.

Congress did manage to pass a $915 billion spending program that will keep the government operating through September 30th.  President Obama had strongly urged Congress to put politics aside and protect the middle class and the unemployed through 2012.  The Senate passage of the band-aid fix provided by the temporary payroll extension and the temporary unemployment extension, allowed the Senate to promptly skip town until late January.
The US Capitol
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The House was due to vote on the temporary bills.  Previously, Majority Leader, John Boehner, forcefully encouraged the Senate to  pass the original version of the bill that had passed the House.  The House’s  bill  contained an attachment to the Keystone XL pipeline, which The President has put on the calendar in 2013.    The Keystone XL pipeline, will run from Canada to Texas and has been opposed by environmentalists and put on hold by Obama until proper environmental evaluations are compiled.

The State Department has tabled consideration for the Pipeline first proposed by Republicans in 2008.  The President has agreed to re-visit the project in 2013.  As Republicans presidential candidates have made clear, the nation’s environmental concerns are secondary to the interests of We The Few.

This temporary legislation leaves millions of Americans and businesses to guess what will happen in the 45 days before the temporary extensions expire.  

Congress leaves town with a stunning  9% approval rating that is trending down.  When We The People understand the full repercussions of this last-minute legislation, the approval rating should decline further.  In their efforts to get home for the holidays, Congress passed self-serving legislation without a constructive foundation.

When Congressmen return to their districts, Democrats and Republicans alike should press their representatives to swarm the ir home bases with calls, appearances and demand action and cooperation.

The serious question is why these predictable confrontations must be played out in full view, pitting Americans against each other.  With the crisis in Europe, the U.S. needs to make a concerted effort to reduce the deficit and get Americans back to work.  One hand washes the other. Congress recognizes this hard reality but does not have the political will to stimulate growth and make tough choices on spending.

Grover Norquist may be viewed as the most powerful man in the country but his lobbyist friends are not far behind.  Pandering to special interests is viewed as the only way to survive in Washington.  Faced with bitter reality on Main Street, the divide between Washington, their special interests and We The People appears irreparable.

Boehner’s response to the sixty day bill was to threaten that the Keystone pipeline would be part of the more permanent solution.  This raises questions about Republican support for this project.  The plan is that Gulf Coast Refineries will refine inexpensive tar sand Canadian crude into diesel fuel and other products which will be exported to Europe and Latin America.  The majority of the fuel will be exported and not used by Americans.

The Keystone Pipeline has been hailed by Republicans as a jobs bill.  Yet,the State Department released a report indicating that total employment would amount to about 3,500 – 4,000 new jobs.

Is this the Republican solution to the jobs crisis?  Is this the reason that the tax rate for billionaires and millionaires stays at historic lows?   Are these the “job creator” programs?  Are they serious?

Let’s call the Keystone XL pipeline what it is;  more pandering to a large and powerful lobby.  Republicans will use their leverage against We The Few to press for accelerated approval of this program.  Consideration for the pipeline must be included in negotiations with the two temporary programs.

This legislation has no basis.  It creates more questions than it answers.  Businesses will hesitate adding employees until long-term solutions are on the table.  Why do all significant all Congressional legislative actions not address the purpose of the legislation. Why are real jobs plans shaped with a rider that Republicans know are doomed to be vetoed?  Why does the 2011 Congress not engage in civil debates about stand-alone that would benefit We The People instead of We The Few?

How do bills that will improve the economy and offer business a real-time incentive to hire, carry legislative attachments that do none of the above?

We know the answer is special interest groups.  How does a member of Congress look constituents in the eye and say they are representing We The People when their agendas are personal  gain.

Congress has left town leaving Americans to wonder what bombshell is next. Why, when the majority of Americans need help, are Republicans working against the working man?  Even Republican John McCain questioned the Senate and House as to why a 1200 page bill, that not one Senator had read, was passed.  We really need to think about that.

This is a summary from the U.S. State Department describing the effects of the Keystone XL pipeline:

  1. Keystone XL is a pipeline for oil export.
  2. Gulf Coast refineries will receive relatively inexpensive Canadian tar sand oil and prepare it for export.
  3. Most of the finished product will not be used in the U.S.
  4. U.S. demand for oil is significantly lower than it was in 2007.
  5. The U.S. Energy Department states that implementing energy efficiency will decrease demand and reliance upon Middle East oil.
  6. Currently, Midwest farmers use refined Canadian tar sand oil.
  7. The results of Keystone will actually increase the price of end products for this market because the current supply to the Midwest will be diverted.
  8. Midwest farmers can expect an increase of $0.20 per gallon.  Increased demand would increase Canadian annual revenues from $2 billion in 2009 $3.9 billion in 2013.
  9. Overall, midwest farmers spent $ 12.4 billion on fuel in 2009.  Projections indicate the cost of the same quantities of fuel will reach $15 billion by 2013.
  10. In its 2008 application for TransCanada’s Presidential Permit, the highest number of workers needed for constructing the pipeline would be 4,000 jobs.
  11. When TransCanada installed its pipeline to South Dakota, only 11% of the labor force was from South Dakota.
  12. TransCanada predicted that the existing Keystone I pipeline to the midwest would spill once every 7 years.
  13. In Fact, Keystone I has had 12 spills this year.
  14. When excavating for repairs, TransCanada said that defective steel had been used.
  15. Environmentalists strongly oppose the pipeline.
  16. Fear of more ruptures which would spoil the region’s water supply for 2 million people, eliminate wildlife and damage the environment along the scale of the BP oil spill makes a complete analysis of the new pipeline absolutely necessary.

Well aware of these factors, Republicans want to accelerate the construction of the pipeline. Below are summaries of studies performed by dissenting parties.

The Rockefeller Foundation reported that emissions caused by the pipeline consist of alarmingly high greenhouse gas (GHG).

The State Department Environmental Impact Statement  does not analyze the lifetime of these emissions.

No studies regarding the effects on wildlife or carbon emissions at the refinery sites have been presented.

As it stands now, the pipeline would cut a swath through America’s heartland and impact the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers.

In summary, the Keystone XL pipeline would provide the Gold Coast Refineries the ability to increase exports to Europe and South America.  The pipeline will drive fuel prices in the midwest and in other areas.  There are serious environmental questions about this project.  There simply is not enough data to move ahead at and accelerated pace.  There are valid risks and consequences with this Republican initiative that cannot really be deemed a job creator.

So the question is, why are Republicans pushing so hard for the pipeline?   Why are Republicans holding We the People hostage over a pipeline?  Once again, the lobbyists and big oil are a higher Republican priority than the environment and the impact this project will have on Americans.  If this is the Republican vision for a jobs program, they are more disconnected than ever.

Let’s be clear. The Keystone XL project will benefit oil companies, not We The People.  The only way to protect ourselves is at the polls.  If you want progress and want to end these bitter last-minute deals, the 2012 elections offer We The People a chance to rid ourselves of Tea Party members, Norquist pledge signers and to create a functional Congress that will work for us.

The time to act is now; not next year.  If we fail, life for We The People will continue to deteriorate.  We will fight the wars created by We The Few. We will have no consumer protection agency. Our health care will diminish.  The job market will not improve.  The consequences of not opposing We The Few legislation will further deteriorate our new caste system.  And, We The People will wonder how all this happened.

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Kentucky’s Ben Chandler Draws Norquist and Tea Party Ire

The good news is that Congressman Ben Chandler has drawn the ire of radical Tea Party Activists and Grover Norquist’s Americans For Tax Reform.  Kentucky’s 6th district Representative was in the midst of a December fray regarding 3 pieces of legislation that Tea Party and Republican congressional members  pushed through the House.  These bills directly oppose the Administration’s efforts to protect We The People.

Chandler is the chair of the Blue Dog Coalition’s Task Force on Oversight and Regulatory Review.  This group is committed to reviewing approximately 8,000 pieces of legislation each year and ensuring that the intent of the legislation is consistent with the language of the bill.

Of Late, Congressman Chandler has drawn the ire of the Tea Party for opposing the Bush Tax Cuts. According to the Americans for Tax Reform, this is in violation of his Norquist pledge.  Chandler does not stand alone in revoking the pledge, called by Presidential hopeful John Hunstman a ridiculous pledge.  238 members of the House have signed the Norquist pledge.

To date, Chandler is the only Democrat to pull back from the pledge. He is joined by several courageous Republican members of congress that have reconsidered the economic impact of the Bush Tax Cuts, which extension Chandler supported in 2010 when Republicans held 7 million unemployed Americans hostage. The other Democrat to sign the pledge is Rep. Robert Andrews of New Jersey.  Recently, Andrews cooled the pledge and has indicated he is in Washington to do the People’s business, not follow Grover Norquist’s agenda.

Chandler advocates a balanced approach to reducing the deficit.  His position has incurred the wrath of the Tea Party and Norquist.  However, the number of Congressional members revoking their pledge is encouraging.  Of course, in 2012, the voters who do not ask whether a candidate intends to sign or has already signed Norquist’s pledge is proper due diligence.

The moral hazard of the Norquist pledge is far-reaching.  Responsible government means governing for We The People, not holding millions of Americans hostage while millionaires and billionaires enjoy a tax holiday.

Somehow, Republicans have attached the term “job creators” to We The Few.  In fact, loose regulation and unduly low taxes have pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy. Additionally, the Republican mandate opposing more regulation is what allowed We The Few to increase their treasure chests at the expense of American and every other nation who held mortgage-backed securities.  Tea Partiers and Republicans want to re-visit those “Happy Days.”  They are also ready to take action against Iran before We The People have paid for the last two Republican induced wars.
The Message Is ... (Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street)
Creative Commons License photo credit: JoeInSouthernCA

Congressman Chandler gets it.  Although he supported the Tax Cut extension in 2010, he will not support the cuts in 2012.  Despite his initial error in signing the pledge, Chandler has proved to be a conscientious representative.  His voting record has been erratic.  He opposed Wall Street regulation, voted against the Health Care Reform and voted for the Stupak Amendment opposing Pro-choice.

The Tea Party’s December assault against Chandler was triggered by his positions on three important Republican bills.  The Congressman voted against two bills that did pass in the House and voted in favor of three bills that would contain the damage of another bill.

The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act – HR 527 – passed the House on December 1st.  This bill addresses the impact that transparency and accountability have on small businesses.

Regulatory Accountability Act – HR 3010 – Passed the House on December 2nd. Requires a transparent and thorough examination of proposed regulatory reforms before they are enacted.

Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act 2011 (REINS) -HR 10 - Passed the House on December 7th. This wide-ranging legislation specifically identifies responsibilities of corporations with an economic impact of $100 million.

Chandler voted along party lines on REINS and on HR 3010.  He voted for HR 527, but also voted on three amendments that would diminish the effect of  HR 527.  19 Democrats supported HR 3010.  Twenty-eight Democrats voted for HR 527.

HR 3010 concentrates on 12 independent federal agencies as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  In efforts to weaken CFPB, Republicans have refused to accept President Obama’s nominee to head the new agency.  Among its necessary responsibilities, CFPB is charged to enforce Truth in Lending and Full Disclosure which would have prevented the housing crisis.  CFPB is We The People’s protection against unscrupulous credit card policies and bank overcharges.

All three bills are expected to fail in the Senate.  President Obama has already declared that he would veto all three bills.

Rep. Chandler finds himself in precarious position for the 2012 elections, when all incumbents will be subjected to close scrutiny.  Chandler barely survived a 2010 challenge from Republican Andy Barr.   The margin of victory was just 600 votes. With new redistricting, the 6th district will lean heavily Democratic.

Barr has already challenged Chandler’s voting record.  Citing the high unemployment and defending the Republican stance against regulation as a “job killer,” Barr will be a formidable opponent.

In defense, Chandler argues that his votes have reflected the wishes of his constituents.  However, Kentucky Democrats are not thrilled with his voting record and have raised concerns about his original support of the Norquist pledge. Chandler counters that his growing seniority offers him a chance to provide a bigger voice in the dysfunctional House.

In addition to the Blue Dog coalition, Rep. Chandler serves on the following caucuses:

  1. Healthy Forests Caucus
  2. Horse Caucus (Co-Chair)
  3. International Conservation Caucus(Co-Chair)
  4. Public Broadcasting Caucus (Co-Chair)
  5. Wildlife Refuge Caucus

Congressman Chandler serves on these important committee:

  1. Committee on Foreign Affairs
  2.  Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
  3. Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
  4. Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence

The seats on these committees and subcommittees are treasured.  Democrats,  Kentucky and the nation can ill-afford to lose Chandler’s experience in Intelligence and Foreign Affairs.

Chandler has also received endorsements from several significant groups, including:

  1. The Veterans Vision Board endorses Chandler as a champion of Veteran’s rights.
  2. The Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans of America
  3. The 11 million member Trade Brigade of Citizens Trade Campaign.
  4. The Herald- Leader

Congressman Chandler’s voting record will come under fire from Andy Barr.  Kentuckians must appreciate that rather than vote along party lines, Chandler has had the courage to revoke the Norquist pledge which is the singular roadblock in reducing the country’s debt representing the safety and well-being of his constituents.  Ben Chandler needs your support.  The Tea Party activists have taken to the streets.  Democrats must respond in kind.

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Kucinich Looking For Seat

Dennis Kucinich, the eight-term Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s 10th District, faces the strong possibility that redistricting may result in the elimination of his district. Although the new districting is not confirmed, Congressman Kucinich has been spending a good deal of time in Seattle and in other Washington state areas. In Washington state, an individual can run for Congress by moving to the state and registering to vote before the Spring filing date.

DNC
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Surprisingly, the 2004 and 2008 candidate for the office of President is getting mixed reviews from some Democrats in Washington.  Judith Shattuck is the chairwoman of the Washington State Progressive Caucus and has long been a Kucinich supporter. Kucinich epitomizes the Democratic Progressive movement. According to Shattuck, Kucinich can count on support from the strong Progressive community in the state.

However, not all Democrats are excited about the congressman’s run.  The chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, Dwight Pelz, fears that Kucinich’s arrival might divide the party and jeopardize the seats they have and two new unfilled seats.  “It is inappropriate for a sitting congressman from Cleveland to try to run for Congress in Washington State.  It is sort of ethically tainted,” offered Pelz.

Because of its own redistricting, Washington State has two open seats.  Kucinich has visited the state several times since the first of the year.  The state’s requirements for residency are favorable for the congressman, who can begin speaking tours in the state before he must declare for a run in the Spring.

When asked about a possible Kucinich run, the GOP chairman of Washington state, Kirby Wilbur, offered to pay his airfare for the run. Wilbur believes Kucinich is too far left for the state’s voters.

Anyone who has followed the congressman’s career knows that he is one tenacious competitor.  While he is clearly a Progressive, he is also a clear voice of reason in these politically charged D.C. environment.  Kucinich is unafraid to express his opinions.  At times, his position on foreign policy has puzzled other congressional members.  Ironically Representatives Kucinich and Paul were the only two members of the House to vote against H. Resolution 175.  This resolution condemned the government state-sponsored persecutions of a minority class and for continuing a policy in violation of International Covenants on Human Rights.

Some of Kucinich’s positions include:

*     Supports the withdrawal of the US from The North American Free Trade Agreement  (NAFTA).

*     Opposes the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)

*     Supports dialogue with Iran rather than a military action.

*     Supports efforts to reduce emissions that are causing climate change.

*     Supports the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases.

*     He criticized the Obama Administration for its role in Libya.

*     Kucinich submitted a failed resolution regarding the War in Afghanistan in March 2010.

*     Rep. Kucinich opposed G W Bush’s foreign policy and specifically te involvement in Iraq.

*     Supports the abolition of all nuclear weapons

*     Kucinich supported the controversial Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.

Kucinich favors negotiations rather than military confrontations.  The congressman is strong on Homeland Security, but views conflict as the last of all options.

Rep. Kucinich led a move to bring articles of impeachment against George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.  In the 2008 Presidential elections, he was the only candidate to vote against invading Iraq.  Kucinich proved himself to be a worthy opponent in the stretch run of the 208 elections. His impressive debating skills are unquestioned.

Representative Kucinich currently serves on five committees:

*     Committee on Education and the Workforce

*    Subcommittee on Workforce Protections

*     Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions

*     Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

*    Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending (Ranking member)

In his 10th District, Kucinich is legend.  At 31, he was elected to serve as the Mayor of Cleveland, where he is affectionately dubbed the “boy mayor.” The congressman served as Mayor of Cleveland from 1977 until 1979.  He has been a committed and consistent advocate for the Progressive movement ever since.  He was born in Cleveland on October 8, 1946.  Kucinich graduated with a BA from Cleveland State University.  He earned his Master’s Degree in speech and communication from Case Western Reserve University.

On December 13, 2011, Kucinich stood in opposition to H.R. 3630 known as the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.  This legislation is from the far right and would trim unemployment benefits by 40 weeks.  This bill would negatively impact more than 1 million unemployed Americans and 200,000 Ohioans. At a time when the Department of Labor reports that more than 2 million Americans have run the course of their 99 weeks of benefits, Kucinich stands for We The People and opposes We The Few.

Rep. Kucinich has expressed his convictions that Americans want work, not unemployment benefits or welfare.  He is mystified by the bank bailouts at the expense of Main Street. He is an aggressive supporter of job creation legislation.

On December 12th, Kucinich and Fortney Stark (D-CA) authored a memo to fellow Members of Congress asking for their support in opposition to legislation making it illegal to conduct diplomatic efforts with Iran.  Kucinich and Stark support diplomacy rather than the alternative.

Ohioans will miss their “boy mayor.” This is a point in history that Ohioans need the voice of a We The People representative.  Ohio’s loss of Kucinich may be Washington State’s gain.  Most importantly, there are two unfilled seats in the House that Democrats definitely need to fill.  We The People need Dennis Kucinich in the House and We The People want the congressional gridlock to end.  With every ousted Tea Party member, Democrats take one chink out of the gridlock that is paralyzing Congress.

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Obama’s We The People vs. We The Few

In an interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama stated his “We The People” platform and described distinct differences with the Republican “We The Few” mandate.  President Barack Obama answered questions about the 2012 election from anchorman Steve Kroft.  The distinct differences between the President’s vision of the U.S. and the Republican vision will offer voters a stark contrast and a clear choice.

President Obama's love for children!
Creative Commons License photo credit: U.S. Embassy New Delhi

Whether his opponent is Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Newt-Romney, as Michelle Bachmann calls the GOP frontrunners, President Obama will be the most consistent voice in the presidential campaign.  While Americans show amazing tolerance with politicians whose self-interests precede the interests of their constituencies, the 2012 Presidential election will pit a man of integrity, balance and passion  against an opponent who is inconsistent and brings loads of dirty laundry.  The Republican Party is so out of touch that party members are pinning their hopes on a candidate who disgraced himself and Congress.

Newt Gingrich
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Gingrich has more dirty laundry than anyone on the stage.  During his reign in Washington, his conduct was so outrageous that Republicans serving at the time have voiced strong opposition to his candidacy. This guy is not trustworthy. Gingrich does not suffer fools or the public.  How this political beast looks the needy in the eyes is a mystery.

Think of a vote for Gingrich as a vote against child labor  laws.  What more do you need to know?  In the 60 Minutes interview, the President encouraged voters to carefully consider the platforms of the two parties.  A vote for Obama is a vote for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.  A vote for Obama is a vote for education.  A vote for The President is a vote for assistance to the needy.  A vote for Obama is vote for a successful foreign policy.  A vote for Obama is a vote against a military action we cannot afford.  A vote for Obama is a vote to get the country back to prosperity after eight years of Republican rule that shaped American society into a caste system that is perpetuated by every Congressional vote and every Republican initiative.

Although President Obama handled the interview with presidential elan, he expressed frustration with his inability to further his vision due to Republican obstacles. Programs like the Bush Tax Cuts or long-term unemployment benefits or a payroll tax cut are used  as bargaining chips.  Republicans forget that their policies created this black hole.  Now that they have pushed We The People into a bottomless pit of indignity, they have no difficulty asking us to pay for their failed programs and the large institutions that We the People bailed out.  Track record is a matter of convenience to Republicans.

You see, Republicans are only interested in We the Few. While We the People were bailing out unregulated institutions that gambled with client’s money, We the Few turned to We the People for help.  We the Few have been doing very well financially ever since We the People kicked in.

When asked about his job performance thus far, the President answered that there was much work left to do. Changing the influence peddling style of government to a democracy is serious work.  This work will not be concluded in one term or two terms.  In fact, the entire Washington persona must change and it will be years before the lobbyists stop greasing the pockets of their party favorites.

The President was clear that despite the high rate of unemployment, the economy is on the mend.  Interestingly, he pointed out that his biggest accomplishment may well have been avoiding another Great Depression.  After all, when he took office, the U.S. was in dire straits.

We should be clear that at the time of the Obama’s inauguration, the country was in two extended wars, the financial sector was melting down and the government’s revenue had been severely trimmed by the Bush tax cuts.  Eight years of Bush Republican policies pushed the country to  the verge of bankruptcy.  The very party that now opposes government spending and supports low taxes for millionaires and billionaires exhausted mammon without any plan to pay for the spending spree.  Worse yet, Republicans entered We the People into a war on the false promise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  Not very many of the We the Few families spent time on either front.

So much for Bush intelligence.  So much for Republican foreign policy.

President Obama protected We the People by disposing of Bin Laden and helping to rid the world of Moamar Khadafy.

President Bush and his Republican cronies took control of the troubled housing programs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  If you have the courage, take a look at the balance sheets of these organizations. Please hurry because they could fall any day.  Let us not forget that GOP standard-bearer Newt Gingrich has received millions of dollars in consulting fees with Fannie Mae.  If his consultancy helped Fannie Mae, perhaps the government should ask that its money be repaid.

Two components of the President’s platform were to bring the two wars to an end and to structure a national health insurance plan that would provide health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans.  Opponents of the President are quick to point out that he used his majority in the House and Senate to pass a program that is doomed to fail and will bankrupt the country. Critics also point to his inability to add jobs in those first two years.

In the 60 Minutes interview, the President suggests that his critics do not  understand the depth of the economic and military crisis. Despite the economic damage created by less regulation, the Republicans want to return less regulation.  We the Few and especially congressional inside traders have reaped significant profits in the wake of their unregulated catastrophic practices.

The two wars, the take over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the lack of regulation in financial activities caused the Repulican made recession.  President Obama has been a consistent voice against the lack of regulation that allowed millions of homes to be sold to unqualified purchasers.  Under his watch, Truth-in-Lending has been clarified.  Full disclosure is now a requirement for mortgage loans.

Under Republicans, unregulated financial institutions encouraged extending loans to homeowners who could declare unverified income and obtain mortgages for more than 100 percent of the appraised value.  Lenders then took pools of mortgages that never should have been made and bundled them into a product called mortgage-backed securities.  As Wall Street soldthe securities, they made bets that they would fail.  We the People call that a scam.

Mortgage backed securities were then traded nationally and internationally.  Meanwhile, the mortgage originators knew they were selling toxic loans.  Of course, the business plan yielded huge bonuses to companies that knew the ceiling would fall. And, fall it did.

The ripples of the no-regulation Republican policy struck quickly and decisively.  World markets tumbled.  When the ceiling fell, businesses began to fail and employers immediately started trimming jobs to the tune of one million per month.  While unemployment remains at unacceptable levels, the fact of the matter is that President Obama put his finger in the dam.

The President told 60 Minutes, he was frustrated. Who wouldn’t be?  President Obama has proposed numerous programs to create jobs.  He has instituted a Consumer Protection Agency with teeth.  His actions saved the auto industry.  The President put a $4 trillion deficit reduction package on the table that Speaker Boehner could not sell to his party.  Boehner’s solution was to not return the President’s phone calls.  How’s that for responsible leadership?

How could Americans know that when the country needed real leadership, the most ineffective Congress in the history of the nation would tie the President’s hand? Imagine trying to wind down two wars, quell anxiety in Europe, hold the fragile economy together, launch job programs, manage the most successful foreign policy in three decades and keep the financial sector compliant with one hand tied behind your back.

To his credit, President Obama told 60 Minutes that he was not caught by surprise by the grave condition of the country at the start of his term. Obama has much work to do and more work than could be accomplished in one term.

Interviewer Steve Kroft pressed the President about the Republican frontrunners Gingrich and Romney.  Obama did not engage.  In the President’s mind, it is not the candidate that voters must consider.  We the People need to consider the very different platforms offered by any Republican candidate and the President’s own vision.

The interview was a stark contrast to the Republican debate on Saturday. Barack Obama is every bit the man who should be President.  His demeanor, his consistency and his patience are quite remarkable.  While politics may have dimmed his star, this man is a leader.  Unlike frontrunners Romney and Gingrich, President Obama has remained on message.

Republicans in Congress have put their political ideology ahead of We the People’s interests.  Instead, they have refused a balance approach to reducing the deficit. Recent Republican proposals include stipulations that the federal work force continue with frozen pay rates and that 10 percent of the workforce be trimmed.  Republicans want taxes lowered but are unable to support extension of the payroll tax cut that is a tremendous inducement for small businesses.  The President has asked that this be stand-alone legislation.  Republicans are unwilling to concede on passing the stand-alone tax reduction.

The time for We the People to set Congress and the Republicans straight is everyday until President Obama is reelected and We the People take charge of the House and the Senate.  When the time comes, We the People must vote and please vote with your heart.

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Kirsten Gillibrand Working For New York

Kirsten Gillibrand has always run on a platform of transparency and accountability.  With Senator Gillibrand, there are no surprises. In her very first campaign against 4=term  incumbent Republican House Member John Sweeney in the 2006, her accountability was major factor.  Sweeney, like many Republicans had plenty of surprises. 

With two years under her belt, Gillibrand comfortably withstood a challenge from one-time Republican New York State Chairman, Sandy Treadwell in 2008.  In a televised debate against Treadwell, Gillibrand made a lasting impression with her sharp responses and thorough knowledge of problems and offered viable solutions to  her constituency.

Gillibrand, 45, is a mother of two young children. She attended Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, Dartmouth College where she was Magna Cum Laude and from the UCLA law school.  Kirsten has deep roots in Albany politics.  She has proven to be an outstanding fund-raiser and has more than $7 million in her reelection war chest.

If NY Republicans have their way, she will need all of that and more to hold her seat in the Senate.  In 2008, Gillibrand was selected by Governor Patterson to fill the vacated seat of Hillary Clinton, who accepted President Obama’s offer to serve as Secretary of State.  Prior to her election to serve in the House, Kirsten worked for Andrew Cuomo.  Governor Cuomo and Senior member of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, will not be on the over-card in this election.  Gillibrand may gain coat-tail support from President Obama’s run but Republicans are clearly posturing for a serious run.

Gillibrand moved to the Senate from the House in 2008.  She served for 2 years before a special election, which she won with 63 percent of the majority.  Gillibrand does not have the name recognition of Schumer or Cuomo but she has been and active Senator.  Her most recent action was a high-profile presentation of legislation

As of this date, Gillibrand has co-authored a bill known as The Stock Act.  Despite enough support from both sides of the aisle in the House that would have passed the bill, Republican majority leader in the House, Eric Cantor, refused to put the bill to a vote,  Surprise, surprise!  Why would the Republicans oppose a bill that had “teeth” and would prohibit members of Congress from participating in “Insider Trading?”  Again Gillibrand’s public call for Congressional accountability was rejected by Cantor.

Now, why would anyone expect Eric Cantor to table a transparent bill calling for accountability that increases the integrity of Congress?  Just one more example of the self-interest that has gridlocked the Hill and embarrassed taxpayers and traditional Republicans.

The Stock Act is typical of the Gillibrand platform.  The Senator stands firmly for her constituents. She is straightforward, honest and votes for programs that benefit New Yorkers.  There are no backroom deals in Senator Gillibrand’s record. 

Senator Gillibrand is the first Senator to post her daily schedule on her blog.  She also identifies participants in all her meetings.

Kirsten has vigorously fought for proper health care for 9/11 first responders. The Senator also helped overturn the 17-year ban against gays serving in the military.  At first, Senator Gillibrand was viewed as a Senate fill-in and outsider, but the Senator’s ability to articulate her convictions on a variety of issues soon established Kirsten as the real deal. The Senator also supported the Dream Act, which is legislation that her constituents approve as a positive solution to the immigration issue.

Senator Gillibrand sits on the following committees which reflect areas of concern in New York State.

 Special Aging Committee

Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee

Armed Services Committee

Environment and Public Works Committee

Senator Gillibrand’s seat of the Armed Services Committee is important.  The Senator is becoming a firm voice in the arena of Defense. Her  committee experiences may make it difficult for a Republican candidate to debate with Kirsten.

Senator Gillibrand should receive high praise and public endorsements from the state’s two biggest political names; Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer. Gillibrand’s top priority is to create jobs and defend the middle class. 

Republicans see Gillibrand as a beatable target in the 2012 election.  With 21 Democratic Senate seats at stake in the 2012 Senate races, this is one seat Democrats can ill  afford to lose.  Not only is Gillibrand a tenacious voice, she is also everything American politics should be.  It is no accident that her closest friend in Congress is Arizona’s inspirational Gabby Giffords.

Republican State Party Chairman, Ed Cox, posted a letter in the Syracuse Post Standard.  The headline was State GOP seeks strong challenger for Gillibrand.  Thus far, the only announced candidate is George Maragos, the Nassau County Comptroller.  However, it appears the GOP would prefer unannounced Harry Wilson, a self-made millionaire and hedge fund manager.  

Wilson was extremely critical of the Super Committee’s inability to arrive at meaningful spending cuts.  In his first run at the Office of State Comptroller, Wilson was narrowly defeated by incumbent Democrat, Tom DiNapoli.  As of this date, Wilson has on;ly said he was “seriously considering” a run at Gillibrand.  To fund his campaign, Wilson used his own funds.  

Gillibrand can expect both Wilson and Maragos to present a platform pushing for serious deficit reductions. It is unclear if the Tea Party will back either candidate.  It may help Senator Gillibrand if either of the Republican candidates adopts the Tea Party platform or if the agree to sign the Norquist pledge if elected.  The two most divisive obstacles for effective governance are the Tea Party and the Norquist Pledge.

If New Yorkers are tired of gridlock and sympathetic to the plight of the impoverished and the middle class, voters must support Gillibrand and all Democratic members of the House.  Republicans have taken every opportunity to continue the unemployment malaise.  A vote for Democrats is a vote against Norquist and a vote for untangling the necessary gridlock. All the while, Kirsten Gillibrand has always been  a voice of reason.  We can count on Gillibrand to improve accountability in the U.S. Senate.

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