Posts Tagged Barack Obama

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.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

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.

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

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
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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.

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments