Posts Tagged Democrats

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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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
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sam Gordon Photography

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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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.

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