Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ol' Deficit Hawk George Does It Again

Today, January 28, 2010, the United States Senate took up the amendment to impose pay- as-you-go requirements on the United States Congress. This requirement, known as PAYGO, was credited by President Obama with helping achieve balanced budgets in Wednesday's State of the Union speech.

It works like this: If you are a Representative or a Senator and you want to propose a new Federal program, you have to come up the way to pay for the program. If you want to propose tax cuts, then you have to come up with spending cuts to balance out the tax cuts. Sounds simple, right? I mean if you were a deficit hawk, which is how George Voinovich describes himself, then you should love this idea.

Except, of course, George, along with the other 39 Republicans voted "Nay." Now why would they do that? Well, here's the situation they are in: They want to propose more and more tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations, but they don't want to cut Federal programs to pay for the tax-cuts. Instead they want to keep running up the Federal deficit.

So once again, we see, just like we saw in 2001 and in 2003 with Bush's reckless tax cuts for the rich, which Ol' Deficit Hawk supported, that George Voinovich's claims to want a balanced budget are just so much Deficit Hawk bird poo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Game Over in Massachusetts

Yesterday we published a piece called "Game On in Massachusetts". Well, as you can see from the headline above, the game is over in Massachusetts and we lost. Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley lost by about 2% of the vote. So now the junior Senator from Massachusetts is a Scott Brown who is determined to take America back to the Bush-Cheney years.

Now, part of the blame can be laid on Coakley herself. According to an online article, while Brown conducted 66 campaign events between the primary and election day, she only held 19. She came across as elitist and out of touch. Combine her campaign style with a bad economy, and it is easy to see why she lost.

Part of the problem is the way the Democrats handled health care. The Senate took way too long to pass the legislation; the need to get all 60 Senators who caucus with the Democrats to vote in favor of cutting off debate meant that conservative Dems like Nelson, Landrieu, and Lieberman had an enormous influence on the final product. This led to a dropping of the public option and pork-barrel politics that wasn't pretty to watch.

So was the refusal of the Obama administration to put the argument for the health-care reform issue in moral terms. For some reason, Democrats are reluctant to do that, while no such reluctance hinders their opponents. This is rather amazing because the moral argument is easy to make.

Studies from respected institutions like the Harvard Medical School put the number of Americans who die because of a lack of health insurance at 18,000 to 44,000 per year. This means that at least six times the number of people who died on 9-11 die each year because of how we structure medical care in this country.

So, this is what Republicans who oppose the Democrats on health care are for:

-Thousands of people needlessly dying
-Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions
-Medical bankruptcies
-Families devastated by uninsured illnesses

They recognize the political vulnerability of their position. You can tell it from the mantra they keep repeating, "We aren't against health care reform, we are just against this health care reform. We want to do it right." Which was exactly what Brown said last night during his victory speech. Only, guess what, he never tells you what that health care reform would look like because they don't have a plan. The shock isn't that Republicans campaign by being nihilists, the problem is that we don't call them on it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Time to Get Rid of the Filibuster

The reason why we are all holding our breaths today about the vote in Massachusetts's special election can be summed up in one word: filibuster If it wasn't for the filibuster and its requirement that motions to stop debate get 60 votes, then we wouldn't care. We wouldn't care because the Dem majority would go from 10 to 9 and, frankly, while it would be embarrassing to lose Ted Kennedy's old seat, it would not be critical. No, it is only critical because the Senate has the filibuster.

Now, the filibuster is not dictated by the United States Constitution, unlike, say the requirement that every state have two Senators. It was contrived by the Senate itself and has been used by reactionaries to make an institution deliberately designed to be conservative even more conservative.

Of course, just as it was used by Dixiecrats to stop civil rights legislation, it is now being used by Republicans to stop progressive legislation, or, in the case of the health-care reform bill, to take liberal legislation and turn it into conservative mush.

So, how do we get rid of it? Well, two Republicans who used to work for Bill Frist when he was Republican Majority Leader wrote an article for the Harvard Law Review on what they referred to as the "constitutional option." Click on the link to read the article. Then, contact Senator Sherrod Brown's office and tell them that you think the filibuster should go.

Game On in Massachusetts

Very early Sunday morning I was watching the Cavaliers play the L.A. Clippers. With about four minutes to go the game was tied. Austin Carr, the color commentator for Fox Sports during the Cavaliers broadcasts, said, "Game's on now."

This is the situation we are now in regarding the Massachusetts Senate race. All the polling, all the political robocalls, all the ads end today and it is in the hands of the voters.

According to a posting at, both sides expect a heavy turnout today. That is good news for the Dems. If you like at the polling done in this race, especially the polling of "likely" voters, the pollsters were expecting a relatively low turnout election. That is the model they used in their polling. If, however, the turnout is closer to a normal election in Massachusetts, then that helps the Democrats.

So, right now, Game is On in Massachusetts.

Monday, January 18, 2010

George Voinovich Is At It Again

Once again, when there is a Democratic President who wants to spend money on people as opposed to giving tax cuts to the wealthy, George Voinovich becomes a "deficit" hawk. We saw this before during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

When Clinton was President, George Voinovich talked about the need for a balanced Federal budget. Although interestingly enough we don't remember a lot of praise for Clinton from Voinovich when the Clinton administration left a surplus for his successor to squander.

But when Bubble-Boy became President and wanted to pass his reckless tax cuts in 2001and then again in 2003, where was Voinovich? Well, ol' deficit hawk George was right there with him, agreeing to his cuts in 2001 and 2003. Now in 2003 the deficit hawk is given credit for helping to cut Bush's tax cuts in half, although half of budget busting tax cuts is still half too many. Ol' deficit hawk George, however, then voted to extend the expiration date of tax cuts which had the effect of undoing his work in 2003.

By this time you may be wondering why in the world we are ranting about George Voinovich on Martin Luther King Day. Let's face we could be ranting about the Massachusetts special election or talking about what King meant to America, why are we ranting about George?

Well, it is because we read this article in the Plain Dealer about how George is trying to cap off his career by helping create a budget commission to control Federal spending. Once again the PD is acting like the public relations officer for George's Senate office and telling us how great George is for caring about deficit and the Federal budget.

Although, come to think about it, at least in this article the reporter does point out how Voinovich supported Bush's tax cuts. That is something new for the PD, acknowledging, however obliquely, the hypocrisy of Voinovich on budget deficits when Republicans are in power.

Hey, no matter what happens in the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio, at least we won't be treated to the PD creaming their jeans for Voinovich anymore. (See, and you probably thought this article was going to end on an angry note.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Was Bobby Kennedy Right About Liberals?

Years ago I read a biography of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy in which the author wrote about Kennedy attending a liberal Democratic meeting on the West Side of Manhatten. After listening to them bicker among themselves for a long time, Kennedy, who had been invited there to talk about supporting a reform candidate for Judge of the Surrogate's Court, told one of his aides that he thought that his father had been right about liberals all along. What he meant by that was that his father believed that liberals demand too much perfection from candidates they support, and when they don't get it, they stop supporting them.

Flash forward to the 2010 special election in Massachusetts for the seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. On the political blogs there is a lot of talk about whether liberals such as Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake would rather have Martha Coakely lose then win. The reasoning goes that a victory by Brown, who is a very conservative Republican, and who is dedicated to stopping the health care bill, would actually be beneficial. Their thinking goes that the defeat of a bill they see as too corporate friendly would then lead the Democrats to somehow get together and pass a much more liberal bill, say, one that had a public option.

Here's my take on this issue. The defeat of the health care bill won't result in a better bill, it will result in no bill. Democrats like Nelson, Lincoln, and Bayh won't come for a more liberal bill, they will take the position that the status quo is what they should support. Why? Because they are not going to be persuaded that the loss of a Senate seat in Mass. means that people want a more liberal bill. They are going to think to themselves, "If freaking Mass. voters don't want a health care bill, then the residents of my state, which is far more conservative, don't want a health care bill."

I saw this in 1980, when liberal friends of mine supported first Kennedy over Carter and then John Anderson over Carter. What did that get them? Eight years of Reagan. Then in 2000, people like Nader said there was no difference between Gore and Bush. What did that get us? Eight years of Bush. Now, the same types are saying that there is no difference between Obama's health care bill and the status quo? What will that get us? More of the status quo.

If you are against this health care bill, and there is plenty of things I don't like about it, then this is what you are for:

1. Continued discrimination based on pre-existing conditions;
2. Continued caps on medical insurance benefits, which will result in more Americans going bankrupt;
3. The unavailability of medical insurance to the approximately 31 million people who would be covered by this plan; and
4. The continued deaths of 44,000 Americans per year because they don't have health insurance, according to a study from the Harvard Medical School.

That's your choice. The choice is not between some hypothetical health insurance bill that is never going to get passed, the choice is between the current bill and the status quo. That is what is at stake on Tuesday in Massachusetts.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tell Us Who You Are Backing for United States Senate

We are taking a completely unscientific poll as to who our readers are supporting for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat being vacated by George Voinovich. Tell us if you are supporting Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher or Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner. You can take the poll by clicking on the answer in the box on the right hand side of this page. You can also leave us a comment on why you are supporting one or the other.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

When a Democratic Congressman Votes Like a Republican, Dems Apparently Shouldn't Get Mad

This is one of the comments to a previous post about John Boccieri possibly getting a primary opponent from the left over the issue of health care reform:

Isn't it nice that a supposed democratic blog/website is being used to undercut our democratic congressman in one of the most highly competitive districts in the country. I'm sure Jim Renacci will be much more aligned with MCDAC's health care positions than John Boccieri.....

So let's see if have this right: Boccieri can come to Medina County, assure Medina County Democrats he supports health care reform, accept campaign contributions from Medina County Dems, have us work for him by canvassing for him, putting up yard signs, etc., but, when he turns around and votes like a Republican on health care reform, we aren't supposed to be upset with him?

Hey, here's a question for the anonymous person who posted the above comment: Why aren't you upset with Boccieri for voting against the health care reform bill? Why is your anger directed at this blog and not at Boccieri?

Since we have noticed that everytime we post a story on Boccieri, there are people who read it through the United States House of Representatives' servers, could it be it is because you work for the Congressman?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Will John Boccieri Get Primary Opponent?

There is a rumor going around Medina County political circles that a prominent local Democrat may take out petitions to run against Representative John Boccieri in the 16TH Congressional District primary. Supposedly there was a recent meeting on the west side
of Cleveland with some labor leaders in which he told them of this possibility. Apparently a number of local labor leaders in the Cleveland area aren't happy with Boccieri's vote on health care reform. Stay tuned for further details.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Republican Definition of Hypocrisy

This is the American Heritage Dictionary definition of hypocrisy:

hy·poc·ri·sy (h-pkr-s)
n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies
1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
2. An act or instance of such falseness.
[Middle English ipocrisie, from Old French, from Late Latin hypocrisis, play-acting, pretense, from Greek hupokrisis, from hupokrnesthai, to play a part, pretend : hupo-, hypo- + krnesthai, to explain, middle voice of krnein, to decide, judge; see krei- in Indo-European roots.]

This is the Republican definition of hypocrisy:

hy·poc·ri·sy (h-pkr-s)
n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies
1. The practice by a Democrat of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
2. An act or instance of such falseness.
[Middle English ipocrisie, from Old French, from Late Latin hypocrisis, play-acting, pretense, from Greek hupokrisis, from hupokrnesthai, to play a part, pretend : hupo-, hypo- + krnesthai, to explain, middle voice of krnein, to decide, judge; see krei- in Indo-European roots.]

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Republic Reports Dems Are Going to Avoid Conference Committee on Health Care Reform

Jonathon Cohn of The New Republic is reporting on the magazine's website that Senate and House Democrats are going to avoid a formal conference committee to merge the two versions of the health care reform bill. Instead of convening a separate conference committee, they are going to negotiate informally, merge the two bills, and then vote on a final bill in each chamber.

If this report is true, this is very good news for a lot of reasons. One is that it will speed up the process and allow the Congress to pass health care reform and then move on to other pressing business. Another reason is that it will show Republican Senators that their obstructionism won't stop the Dems from passing health care reform. A third reason is that this will greatly encourage the Democratic base voters that the Senate and House aren't going to let Republicans set the legislative agenda by obstruction.

Of course, this is only one report on one website, and it will be interesting to see if other news organizations start to report the same thing. All in all, though, a very good sign.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Medina Dems Go After Boccieri on Health Care Vote on Talking Points Memo

Two Medina county Democrats who go by the initials "DB" and "JK" reported to Josh Marshall at about the recent meeting that Congressman John Boccieri held to discuss his "no" vote on the House health care reform bill. You can read their report here.

What has to be understood is the sense of betrayal that is evident in the article that the two Medina County Dems sent to Marshall. In 2008 then State Senator John Boccieri assured Medina County Dems that he was for health care reform. Yet, when the vote went down, he backed the GOP and voted against the Democratic bill. This vote has cost Boccieri much support in Medina County.

Just to make it clear, we are not talking about casual supporters. These are people who threw fund raisers for him; who canvassed for him; and who helped him take Medina County while the county was voting for John McCain over Obama. There is a very simple way for Boccieri to get this support back and that is to vote for the health care bill when it comes out of conference committee.

Comparing Bubble-Boy's First Year vs Obama's First Year on Terror Attacks

Okay, so let's get this straight: During Bubble-Boy's first year of being President, his administration ignored a warning regarding al-Qaeda's plans to attack America and approximately 3000 Americans died. In Obama's first year of being President, according to the right-wing pundits, his administration ignored warnings about the Nigerian who attempted to destroy an American airliner and no Americans died. Yet, amazingly, according to the right-wing pundits, it is the Obama administration and not the Bubble-boy administration that failed the national security test in its first year.

Here's what Democrats need to start saying: In Bush's first year of being president we lost 3,000 Americans to organized terrorism. In Obama's first year of being President, we lost zero Americans to organized terrorism. That simple fact, repeated over and over, says everything that needs to be said about which administration did a better job of protecting the American people.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

What Would Be Republican Response to a 9-11 Attack Today?

On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered a horrible attack under George W. Bush's presidency. Over 3000 Americans died. Democratic politicians in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate publicly supported President Bush. They didn't criticize him for the hours it took him to respond; for the fact that he flew around in Air Force One most of the day before returning to Washington, D.C.; they didn't call for investigations into what his administration knew before the attack; and they certainly didn't send out fund-raising letters in an attempt to raise campaign contributions from the death of thousands of Americans.

Nor did former Vice-President Al Gore issue denunciations of the Bush Administration's strategy for dealing with terrorists. Vice-President Gore did not emerge from some dark lair to say that all that mattered to the Bush Administration was getting tax cuts for their rich contributors and that this preoccupation had led to lax security for Americans. Indeed, given the fact that Al Gore had lost a presidential election because of a United States Supreme Court that was dominated by Republican appointees, two of which were appointed by his opponent's father, Gore's response was incredibly generous, at least by today's standards.

Now, contrast the Democratic response to 9-11 with the Republican response to the attempted attack on the airliner over Detroit. We have heard Republicans use the attack to try and score cheap political points at the President's expense and we have seen the sickening sight of Republicans using the attempted attack to raise campaign funds. We have seen the propaganda arm of the GOP, otherwise known as Fox News, criticize Obama for using words like "allegedly", as if using that word was somehow in itself a weakness.

And, of course, we have seen former Vice-President Cheney give at least one interview in which he claimed that Obama's pre-occupation with "transforming" American society had somehow led to the Detroit attack.

So here is my conclusion, and it was difficult for me to come to, but I believe that if a 9-11 attack took place under Obama, we would see a much different reaction from the GOP than we saw from the Democrats on that fateful day. We wouldn't see statements invoking national unity or calling for support for President Obama. We wouldn't see former Bush administration officials calling on Americans to support President Obama. Instead we would see Republicans Representatives and Senators rush to the studios of Fox News to denounce Obama. We would see campaign consulting firms grinding out fund-raising letters for Republicans even as Americans were burying their dead.

It pains me to come to this conclusion. I hope that we never have to find out if I am right, and if such a horrible tragedy occurs again, I hope that I am wrong about the Republican response. But given their actions over the last week or so, what other conclusion can I come to?