Posts Tagged Grover Norquist

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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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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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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Senator Bill Nelson In Fight For Florida Re-election

The goal of every American should be to end the gridlock that has frozen Congress since the arrival of Grover Norquist’s pledge and Tea Party activists in 2010.  In the Senate, Democrats may have difficulty holding and increasing their slim majority.  21  Democratic Senators, 10 Republican Senators and 2 Independent seats will at stake on November 6, 2012.

Senator Bill Nelson speaks
Creative Commons License photo credit: jonworth

With a congressional approval rating of 9 percent, every incumbent can expect strong opposition.  This reality is a dark cloud hovering over Democrats in the Senate.  President Barrack Obama has framed the Democratic platform as a hopeful plan to help the impoverished and middle class from irresponsible legislation that threatens the country’s educational system, health programs, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

In 2012, Democrats are expected to push hard for the millionaire and billionaire tax increase that the majority of Americans and many millionaires and billionaires support.  Those members of Congress who have signed the Norquist Pledge have staunchly opposed any tax increase proposals or any legislation paid for by this tax increase.

The majority of American voters support the millionaire and billionaire tax.  However, many of their constituents were unaware that their representatives and senators had signed the controversial pledge.  Every candidate for public office should be required to state their position on the Norquist Pledge. Furthermore, no new congressional members should sign the pledge unless their constituents agree with the pledge.

The paralysis of the Norquist pledge was best exemplified when 8 Republican presidential hopefuls responded that they would not support a tax increase even if every dollar of the tax increase was accompanied by 10 dollars in spending cuts.  This revelation left all Democrats and many Republicans stunned by the inflexible response.  To unlock gridlock, congressional members who have signed the Norquist pledge must go. Although they may not admit it, traditional Republicans will welcome the departure of these extremist politicians.

This country needs honest politicians who are willing to respond to the people’s needs not the paralyzing political agenda that has caused the US credit rating to slump and has not provided one constructive job program.  The 2012 voter will have tough decisions to make, but by eliminating the Norquist supporters the Congress may be able to function as effective bodies of government.  At this point, that 9 percent approval rating has a long way to go.  2012 is the first step in what promises to be a steep climb back to the functional bodies that We The People need.

Once again, Florida promises to be a key battleground state.  With a very unpopular first term Republican Governor, Rick Scott, voters have begun circulating a petition for recall. Scott’s endorsement carries little weight and may well work against other Republican candidates in 2012.

The senior Senator from Florida is Bill Nelson. The Senator was educated at Yale and obtained his law degree from the University of Virginia.  Nelson enjoys a productive 30-year career in politics.  Bill is a fiscally moderate Democrat.  He began public service by serving in the Florida State House of Representatives from 1972 until 1979.  Presently, Nelson serves on the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Senator Nelson served in the US House from 1979 until 1991.  He won the election to the Senate in 2001 and was re-elected in 2006.

Bill has successfully represented Floridians in both houses of congress.  He is passionate about NAS and is the only member of Congress to go into space.  He has long advocated that Washington should increase funding to NASA.  In 2001, Nelson warned “You just can’t continue to starve the American space agency of funds (without jeopardizing safety.) I am very frustrated with the White House budget proposal on NASA.”  His comments were ignored and in 2003 the shuttle suffered a fatal accident.

Senator Nelson has or is currently serving on the following important Senate committees.

*     Commerce, Science and Transportation

*     Commerce Subcommittee on Technology and Space (Chairperson)

*     Budget Committee

*     Finance Committee

*     Select Committee on Intelligence

*     Special Committee on Aging

Senator Nelson is highly respected.  He has a long record on integrity in terms of respect for civil liberties, transparency and public accessibility, equal rights, environmental protections and peaceful solutions to foreign policy issues.

Several Republicans have not committed to the primary.  The possible list of candidates is long.

*     George LeMieux of Broward County.  Former chief of staff for Governor Charlie Crist who was appointed by Crist to fill the seat of Mel Martinez.

*      Mike Haridopolos – The President of the State Senate hails from Merritt Island.

*     Connie Mack IV – Member of the US House. Has strong name recognition.

*     Adam Hasner - Former State House Majority Leader.  Excellent fund-raiser.

*     Vern Buchanan – Member of the US House.  Serves on Ways and Means Committee.

Other possible Republican candidates are Jeb Bush, Mike McCalister, Bill Fisher, Allen West and others.

Below are the results of “You just can’t continue to starve the American space agency of funds (without jeopardizing safety.) I am very frustrated with the White House budget proposal on NASA.” In 2003, the space program experienced a fatal crash.

Below are the results of a Wilson, Perkins, Allen Research poll on 11-16-11.

1.     Nelson 48% vs. Hasner 33%

2     Nelson 47 % vs. Lemieux 32%

3.     Nelson 46% vs. Mack 35%

4.     Nelson 47% vs. McCalister 32%

5.     Nelson 49% vs. Miller 30%

This is a Senate Race that Democrats can ill afford to lose.  It would be helpful if a recall of Governor Scott is successful.  There is a strong possibility that Florida’s other Senator, Marco Rubio will be the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Like other responsible representatives, Nelson is frustrated by the Republicans unwillingness to address The People’s concerns. Nelson has an important presence in the Senate and Floridians cannot suffer another Norquist supporter.  As with most of the 2012 elections, middle class and the impoverished voters must decide if they trust Norquist’s Republican  supporters more than their Democratic counterparts.  If voters are fed up with the Republican gridlock that is designed to support Wall Street and big money politicians at the expense of We The People keep support Bill Nelson for the Senate.

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Obama Draws Line In Sand

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his most powerful speech since taking office. The central theme was  that America succeeds when everyone “gets a fair share and pays their fair share.”  President Obama eloquently presented a passionate statement about the 2012 race for the White House and the malaise that Republicans have caused in the nation’s most ineffective Congress in history.

Barack Hussein Obama Vector Portrait
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vectorportal
The President described the rights of the middle class and the impoverished as the defining issue of his campaign to serve a second term.  The tone of the speech was forceful and served to differentiate the political philosophies of the Republican, Tea Party and Democratic principles.

The President drew upon the policy statements that have surfaced in the Republican debates. Obama vowed to continue with the regulatory initiatives that have cracked down on predatory lenders, Wall Street and other consumer credit markets.  Obama’s new truth in lending policies now calls for transparency and full disclosure, two principles that were compromised in the housing boom. The President was on the attack against programs that have helped create more financial disparity in American Society.

The President repeated his belief that most millionaires and billionaires were receptive to paying their fair share of taxes.  In a recent poll, 67 percent of Americans favor higher taxes on the wealthy.  President Obama continues to press the Republicans and especially the Tea Party on tax increases for the wealthy.  The Republicans have been slow to extend two important pieces of legislation.  Without extensions,  the long-term unemployment benefits and the current  payroll tax cut will soon expire. These bills have helped encourage jobs and have helped millions of unemployed workers survive.

Last time around, the Republicans used the fate of the unemployed to leverage a major concession from the White House.  7 million people would have had their benefits halted if the President did not agree to extend the Bush Tax Cuts.  Republicans hold these tax cuts as the means to increase jobs.  However, the tax cuts have now been in play for nearly ten years.  During that time, there is little evidence that the “job creators”or the benefactors of the Bush cuts have risen to meet the unemployment challenge.

Traditional Republicans and Tea Party Republicans advocate for the extension of Bush’s cuts.  In reality, the Bush Tax Cuts have served the wealthy well.  At the same time, the middle class struggles to stay above water.  One of the President’s major  concerns is the shape of our society.  With more than 40 million families and 21 million children living in poverty, American society has taken on the appearance of a caste system.

In seeking remedies to pay for their failed policies and two wars, the poor and the middle class are being asked to cut back on education, health and social services. The Republicans have not offered one jobs plan.  Republicans  are content to oppose every plan from the Democratic side. When the country most needs these programs, Republicans ask the middle class to sacrifice so that the wealthy can be more prosperous.

The gap from the real-time reality on Main Street and the prosperity on Wall Street is characterized by Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s response to the President’s speech. After agreeing to participate in a debate hosted by Donald Trump, Gingrich was asked by CNBC his opinion of Obama’s speech.  His response was that President Obama “is the finest food stamp president in American history.”  You really have to wonder on what planet Gingrich lives.

President Obama does not complain about where 8 years of GW Bush’s Republican policies took America.  Rather than admit their policies failed, they are attempting to destroy the messenger.  By ignoring the economic and employment crisis that Republicans initiated and enabled, the GOP Presidential candidates try to distance themselves.  The rest of us will be paying for the Republican’s  lavish spending for years to come.  Where were Republican politicians then? How nice it must be to have a short memory and be able to overlook the moral hazards of GW Bush.  Republicans launched two wars, one against a country that did not have weapons of mass destruction, and offered the public the Bush Tax cuts.  At that time, Republicans were not questioning how the wars and the tax cuts would be funded.

Adding insult to injury, the Republican defense of unregulated financial institutions caused the recession and tore through 401k’s and money market saving that impacted the middle class more than any other income level.  On Tuesday, the President passionately confirmed his commitment to further his new regulation policies.  Yet, by Wednesday morning, Republicans vowed that they would oppose every proposed leader for the leadership of Obama’s new consumer protection bureau would.

The President’s vision highlights the need for a stronger educational system. The US needs scientists and educated entrepreneurs. The opportunity to succeed ceases when the country’s educational facilities are understaffed and when academic excellence is compromised by funding cuts.

The President offers a solution the gridlock that has constipated Washington. To get out from under, voters must re-elect the president and try to overturn the majority in the House and add seats to their narrow majority in the Senate.  This is the formula that will unchain the middle class and the poor.  This is the formula that will clarify the country’s priorities.

President Obama called upon his base to get out the vote. The consequences of a lack of support will dramatically change the landscape of the country.  The 41 million middle class families that are trending toward poverty will have a hard landing.

The Republicans can paint the scene time and time again, but the end result is always the same. Most Republican congressional members have put their Grover Noquist pledge ahead of the best interests of their constituents.   Republicans will follow a path that is filled with self-interest.  If Republicans take the White House and gain control of the Senate and the House, the poor and the middle class will receive less help and drastic cuts to education and social programs.

The President has a vision for the future.  The President is committed to higher education.  The President is committed to an aggressive jobs bill.  He believes in the common good.  Reverse all these statements and you have the Republican candidate for President.

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