Posts Tagged We the People
Today, Republican House members tabled the Senate’s bi-partisan payroll tax cut extension and the unemployment benefits extension. These bills were passed by the Senate in a decisive bi-partisan vote of 89 – 10. For the 2011 Senate, the margin of approval for the bills was astounding.
Failure to extend the payroll tax cut will result in 160 million Americans paying between $1,000 and $2,500 more in 2012. Millions more Americans will lose 40 weeks of unemployment benefits. Passage of the Senate bill would have granted the continuation of these benefits.
Republicans fail to acknowledge that the payroll tax cut has successfully added jobs and increased take home pay while encouraging small businesses to hire. The country is inching out of the recession. Unemployment rates are decreasing. Housing is getting a bounce. The GDP is off the dime and growing more quickly than expected.
This fragile recovery serves We The People well, but is not to the Republican’s benefit.
The only consistent policies from Republicans is their commitment to replacing President Obama while protecting millionaires and billionaires. To advance these two goals, Republicans and Tea Party politicians have been willing to undermine the economy and intimidate the middle class and the poor; the most vulnerable Americans.
The essential terms of the Senate bills included:
- Two month extension of the payroll tax reduction.
- Two month extension of long-term unemployment.
- An agreement to discuss the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Senate passed the extension plan and promptly left town assuming that the House would realize the strong Senate support for the bills and approve them. This is where things get sticky.
Majority Leader Boehner and Tea Party big shot Eric Cantor refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Instead, House members opted to move to conference with the Senate in the hopes of carving out a one-year deal. Of course, the Senate went home understanding that their bill had Boehner’s blessing.
New York first-term Congressman Michael Grimm was interviewed Tuesday morning. During the interview, Grimm voiced the Republican spin on why the bill would not reach the floor. The newest Republican spin is that the House rejects a two-month extension during which time final details of the bill would be negotiated. The extension is called “kicking the can” down the road.
In a midday speech, Boehner called upon the Senate to reconvene and conference with House members to finalize a one-year bill. Boehner’s premise that the bill that passed the House was more than an extension of the payroll tax cuts.
No matter what you hear, the elephant in the room is the Keystone XL pipeline.
Republicans downplay the addition of this contingency to what should have been an up or down vote on the payroll tax cut and the extension of unemployment benefits. As described by the State Department, the pipeline does not have EPA approval. The State Department’s report indicates that the pipeline will create between 3,500 – 4,000 jobs.
What the pipeline will do, is increase the international export business. It will also diminish the supply of the Canadian tar sand oil to farmers in the midwest. The State Department estimates that the farm belt can expect to pay $0.20 per gallon more than they now pay.
Let’s be clear. Most of the oil provided under the Keystone XL pipeline will be shipped abroad and not used to reduce American energy costs. So, if the environment is to be endangered and there are very few jobs connected to the pipeline and if American fuel prices will increase, not decrease, why are Republicans pushing to accelerate the Keystone XL?
You know, don’t you? Of course, the Republicans are pushing for passage of the Pipeline at an accelerated pace because big oil will reap big profits; not We The People. Once again, the Republicans have included a project, that will benefit We The Few, to a bill that puts money in the economy right now. Can there be any doubt about the Republican agenda? House Republicans are shown their immoral persona one more time. They take huge amounts of money from big oil and they refuse tax breaks for working Americans. Congress pads their pockets with insider trading and charge taxpayers for their time. Seems like a good job, don’t you think? Of course, Congress passed legislation banning insider trading but it does not apply to Congress.
It is Republicans that have caused the country’s credit rating to fall. It is Republicans that held American workers hostage by only agreeing to extend the unemployment benefits if the Bush Tax Cuts were extended in 2009. The Tea Party has vowed to oppose all tax increases. But, when an extension of the payroll tax cut was on the table, Republicans suddenly changed direction. They opposed the Payroll Tax Cut for two reasons.
- The payroll tax cut was working.
- Extended unemployment benefits pump money into the economy.
Republicans added the pipeline to their bill knowing full well that the Senate would not approve. The addition of this proposal has clouded the middle class benefits and small business hiring incentives. House Republicans blocked submitting the bill for an up or down vote. The reason is that Republicans do not want to be on the record for voting against the bill.
A week ago, Speaker Boehner worked with Senate leaders McConnell (R) and Reid (D). Behind closed doors, Boehner agreed to the deal and represented to the Senate leaders that the bill would pass.
It was not that long ago that Boehner and the President ironed out details on a $4.2 spending reduction plan. However, when Boehner took the plan to his caucus, he was forced to change directions. The result was that no plan passed. The end result was that the American credit rating fell. This was the exact outcome that the Tea Party and the Republicans wanted.
Today, the big losers are millions of Americans. There are no winners. Voters must come to realize how dysfunctional the House is. Boehner has no control. He is weak and lacks credibility. He has been the Majority Leader in an arm of Congress that has the lowest approval rating and worst legislation record in the history of the country.
House Whip Eric Cantor looks familiar doesn’t he? He is that elementary school bully; the one that does things behind your back. He is the epitome of the sleazy politician. He stands behind Boehner with his chesire cat grin and nods his head because every time Boehner changes direction, Cantor takes one more step toward the Speaker’s gavel. He wants Boehner’s job and there is no hiding it.
Eric Cantor is a dangerous man. He hides under the cloak of fiscal responsibility in a party that launched two unfunded wars and passed the Bush Tax Cuts at a time when the government needed increased income. These acts, Bush’s push to socialize and deregulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed the economy and the world to the brink. It is Republicans that caused the socialized relief of the banking sector. It is We The People who bailed out the corrupt banking system.
When we look into the black hole that Republicans created, remember that when George Bush took office, he inherited a budget surplus. He set out to fulfill the big spender Texan appetite and placed the country in an unsustainable position.
Every time poor John Boehner takes the podium, viewers suffer the same symptoms as they do when Rick Perry tries to respond to a question. There is a difference. Perry actually believes in his philosophy. Boehner’s political beliefs seem to change after every meeting of his caucus. It is a matter of time before he is replaced and/or has a public tearful breakdown.
NY senior Senator, Chuck Schumer, said that just last week, Boehner attended a meeting with Senate leaders Reid and McConell. He left the meeting giving McConnell his proxy. McConnell and Reid agreed to the revisions and the Senate passed the bill 89-10. This margin rarely happens.
Adding insult to injury, Boehner now says he never liked the Senate bill. Untrue! Perhaps he should stayed at the meeting and saved face. Could he have had a golf date? One look at Boehner tells you where he spends most of his day. The position of the House has now caused a rift between Senate Republicans and House Republicans.
In summary, the losers are the middle class, the elderly, the infirmed, the poor and John Boehner. The Speaker’s integrity has suffered. His credibility in his own party is shattered. Meanwhile, Eric Cantor is several steps closer to the Speakership. If you want to untangle Congress, vote Boehner, Cantor and Tea Party candidates out…
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.
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:
- Healthy Forests Caucus
- Horse Caucus (Co-Chair)
- International Conservation Caucus(Co-Chair)
- Public Broadcasting Caucus (Co-Chair)
- Wildlife Refuge Caucus
Congressman Chandler serves on these important committee:
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
- Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
- 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:
- The Veterans Vision Board endorses Chandler as a champion of Veteran’s rights.
- The Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans of America
- The 11 million member Trade Brigade of Citizens Trade Campaign.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.