The tea partiers -- primarily Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) -- are blocking the Senate from appointing conferees to a conference committee with the House to work out the radical differences between the two budgets each side has passed. That is often done in the Senate by unanimous consent.
It's quite obvious ColoradoPols doesn't give a crap what most D's do as long as there's a (D) behind their name. Maybe it's because they use the "don't get caught with a live girl or a dead boy" standard. Maybe it's that they're mostly insiders, the Professional Left of Colorado, and don't want embarrass the boss - even if he or she embarrasses the Brand.
I expect our side to uphold the ideals laid down by their Democratic forebears who made history: FDR, Harry Truman, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter even Progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt. If you dare to think you can lead, it should be with a purpose beyond your family's welfare and your own checking brokerage account.
That being said, I shall praise Colorado's Senator Mikey* Bennet for one act, and condemn him for 2 others.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is a Democrat's Democrat and it is very clear she will hold bankers and regulators feet to the fire for the profound responsibility the have in causing our current economic mess.
Here is some of what Mikey Bennet could have done if he gave a crap about what bankers did to you and me:
Now I condemn Bennet's egregious acts, committed in a way to curry more favor from bankers and further distance himself from ordinary citizens:
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today welcomed Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who will join the committee for the 113th Congress starting in January. Senators Brown and Bennet will replace outgoing Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), both retiring this year.
"Michael Bennet brings a wealth of practical, real-world experience to the Finance Committee. He has proven himself to be an up-and-coming leader who is always willing to reach across party lines," Senator Baucus said. "As a fellow Westerner, I know Michael has a top-notch work ethic and will deliver common-sense solutions."
This is a case of political malpractice on the part of state and national Democrats.
(Michael Bennet is Chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. It is his job to find a candidate that will defeat the man whose only goal was to defeat Barack Obama. -z)
McConnell is a leading symbol of the GOP and of what Democrats loathe about the GOP. And he is, on paper, the most vulnerable Senate incumbent.
In his fifth term now, McConnell has an approval rating in Kentucky of 36 percent. Silent but sullen, most of his own party doesn't really like him. The state's Democrats, who still control the governorship and the lower house, positively despise the man.
Yet out of a toxic mix of fear, self-interest and timidity, no credible candidate has stepped forward to challenge him.
So I thank Bennet for stepping down from a committee on which he did not care to perform his most basic responsibility as a senator. He could've stayed and gummed up the works.
I derisively call Bennet "Mikey" because this is just how he treats his constituents: as his lessers who should be seen and not heard.
I criticize his continued transformation into the Ultimate DC Insider: a man who'll use committee seats to boost his campaign accounts and as an employment agent for his staffers. Senator Bennet has been transformed from a green politico who saw the how broken DC was to an insider who makes every move political and who only sees how his own future can benefit fro his days ahead as one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, DC.
In essence he spells this out in great detail, with graphics and charts:
[Social Security] is not generous enough to counteract the sorry state of retirement savings nationwide. In a report for the New American Foundation, Michael Lind, Steven Hill, Robert Hiltonsmith and Joshua Holland survey this data and conclude that the ongoing debate over how to cut Social Security is all wrong:
We need to make Social Security much more generous.
And then this --- problematic in some respects, but really radical by establishment discourse standards:
Medicare uses its massive market power to negotiate much lower prices than private insurers. For that reason, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2011 that "average spending in traditional Medicare will be 89 percent of (that is, 11 percent less than) the spending that would occur if that same package of benefits was purchased from a private insurer." Back during the health-care debate, the CBO estimated that a public option able to use Medicare's pricing power could save more than $100 billion over 10 years.
In a policy paper for the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Robert Berenson, John Holahan and Stephen Zuckerman propose a package of changes that would save more than $700 billion over 10 years. One of the changes they propose is raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. But in order to blunt the impact of that change, they propose letting people between the ages of 65 and 67 buy in to Medicare on their own - that way, they can take advantage of Medicare's lower prices, even if they're paying for them out-of-pocket. "Buying into Medicare gives them as good a deal as they're going to get," Berenson says.
If it's such a good deal for the 65-to-67 crowd, then why not let 55-year-olds buy into Medicare, or even let everybody buy into Medicare? "I've always assumed it was just political opposition from Republicans," Berenson replied. I asked him to put aside the politics and just assess whether it would work. "Conceptually, I don't see a problem," he said.
The problem is if Udall proposed expanding Social Security then Kudlow would never stop calling him names, and he'd never again get his ego stroked on national basic cable again.
And if Bennet ever stopped listening to, let alone greasing the skids for, his Bankster friends they would never invite him to drinks at the Ritz again.
Senior elected Democrats in Washinton, DC, have a serious choice ahead of them in the very near future. And there is absolutely no evidence they will make the truly difficult and moral choice to support the elderly, veteran's and their families, the retired, and the disabled over their Big-Time, Big-Money Friends who have them on speed dial.
Now that Obama has fully embraced the cuts, no amount of White House spin is going to be able to permanently pin the chained CPI on Republicans, as the administration official is trying to do. Republicans have been demanding for months that Obama specifically spell out the cuts to social insurance programs he would accept; now he's done so, they will make sure he owns them.
The White House seems to believe that this will show the American public that he is Very Serious about both deficit reduction and working with Republicans, that "he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit," in the words of a senior administration official. Because of course a willingness to compromise is all that it takes to make the Republicans come around. That and his charm offensive.
Republicans aren't going to come around, and now have a weapon.
And what the American people will probably remember is that in 2008 candidate Obama promised that as president, he would not cut Social Security, a promise reiterated by Vice President Biden in 2012.
In fact, we're probably not going to be allowed to forget that, once the Republicans get their ads running in congressional districts around the country saying that Barack Obama broke his promise and wants to cut your Social Security.
Besides the fact that Obama and his henchmen Polis, Udall, Bennet are determined to cut the most successful and popular social welfare (check the Constitution for use of that word) program in human history, we also know that
You will pat each other on the back at the "tough" decision to cut Grandma's Social Security, keep those damned lazy slacker kids off Head Start, and continue to let the unemployed starve and our infrastructure crumble.
You will lie to yourself that it "had to be done" and you,yes You, were the adult in the room.
As an emailer said of Polis, Udall and Bennet et al.:
Making seniors have to decide between food, medicine or rent in exchange for the lint in the pockets of millionaires and billionaires is NOT courageous.
Betraying the principles of his party, betraying fundamental humane values, betraying people who voted for you, people who just can't believe you would do this, is the opposite of courage.
Being the handmaiden of plutocrats is not the sign of bold leadership.
P.P.S. Administration Hacks telling us "the American people want a solution that is halfway between R's and D's". Hacks forget that Republicans are Sociopathic Racists and Democrats are thisclose to enacting Eisenhower-era conservative policies.
I have said that part of getting our economy going and creating jobs means setting our budget on a sustainable footing and reducing the deficit. I supported President Obama's work in 2009 to create a bipartisan commission focused on reducing the deficit. And since then, I have called on Congress to embrace its balanced and bipartisan final recommendations. Confronting sequestration is just the latest challenge in the process to responsibly reduce government spending.
That's "Bowles-Simpson" that Udall still thinks is relevant and has a reasonable approach to our budget issues. Shame on him for thinking we could be so ignorant.
"Washington needs to have a broad and serious conversation about our nation's deficits and debt. We need a bipartisan and comprehensive deficit solution that builds on the work done by the President's Fiscal Commission that materially addresses the problem, ensures we're all in it together and is bipartisan."
-Michael F. Bennet
Sweet Jesus, that is just friggin' stoopid.
I think we can safely say "bipartisanship" is a higher goal than good policy and/or listening to voters for both Udall and Bennet.
Man, Ted Cruz is a real piece of work isn't he? This interview shows him to be a very nimble liar. For instance:
"The Democrats' budget does nothing to solve the enormous challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. Every one of us would like to see those critical bulwarks of our society strengthened, and right now those programs are careening toward bankruptcy."
1. Republicans do not want them "strengthened. This is not just a matter of semantics. You only have to look at what these people have been saying since these programs were enacted to understand that they do not believe that the government should administer these programs at all.
2. These programs are not careening towards bankruptcy. Social Security is funded as long as there are people working in this country. The only question is whether there is enough money in the dedicated funding stream to pay out the benefits that are currently mandated.
Like everyone else who makes this specious claim, he's saying that the only way to deal with a projected shortfall in the dedicated funding stream is to make it official immediately and prepare everyone but the well-off to live in penury in their old age.
He's not whining like Michael Bennet would. Nor is he just writing a letter as Mark Udall is prone to do. The power of the sternly worded letter written by a U.S. Senator is immeasurable. Way to go, Mark!
"I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court."
Now that Obama is on course to reject virtually the entire scope Democratic and Progressive principles in his presidency it should be more than just the Tea Party whackjob Paul who has the guts to question America's use of drones throughout the world and on our own soil.
Unfortunately, I wouldn't expect either of our senators to bother.
Ever since Republicans were clobbered at the polls in 2004, giving Democrats control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in 44 years, it has been clear the GOP is out of step with much of Colorado. That drubbing was no small feat since there were more registered Republicans in the state in 2004 than either unaffiliateds or Democrats.
...conveniently forgetting many unaffiliated voters actually thought Bush the Lesser wasn't conservative enough.
We hope the apparent softening on this tuition issue will be followed by similar action on the civil unions bill, killed by Republicans last year, and a more middle-of-the-road GOP in general.
In short, it would be good for Colorado to have diversified representation that reflects the broad middle of Colorado sentiment, not its far left and right.
The truth is that the far-right in Colorado is firmly placed in office by an electorate that believes it has succeeded only because of its unique determination and Galtian view on life. They hate government and want people in office who also hate it and work fervently to make sure it doesn't work.
The far-left can only dream of having a few office holders who actually represent their views.
I think both sides can agree: that'll never be how the Denver Post sees it.
Tax Code Termination Act - Terminates the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 after December 31, 2017, except for self-employment taxes, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, and railroad retirement taxes.
Requires a two-thirds majority vote in Congress to change such termination date.
In addition to cutting off about 60 percent of federal revenues, the bill includes an unconstitutional provision providing that the end of the tax code cannot be delayed except by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. The Constitution does not permit a past Congress to tie the hands of a future Congress, so this provision making it functionally impossible for future congresses to delay the end of most federal revenue is unconstitutional.
The introduction of this bill shows that Republicans could not care less what voters said - and post-election polls confirm - about the policies our nation should be implementing the next 4 years. This bill shows the political radicalism of someone drunk on tea, and it shows the monumental ignorance of people who claim to love the Constitution while undermining it by the day.
Here's as good a reason as any to just go over the damned fiscal cliff curb: waiting until we have a new Congress to resolve it would mean retiring Sen. Kent Conrad won't be around to screw it up.
Here's what he proposed on Fox News Sunday.
"My own belief," Conrad said, "is what we ought to do is take Speaker Boehner's last offer, the president's last offer, split the difference, and that would be a package of about $2.6 trillion."
As Ezra Klein points out, Conrad is one of a handful of Democrats whose response to Republican intransigence is to reward their temper tantrums with more concessions. And the response from Republicans? No compromise. To which these Senate Democrats will say, "okay, here's just a little bit more of a tax cut."
Conrad isn't the only problem Democrat, just the most vocal and annoying one. They would give up all the leverage the White House has in this fight, and Republicans know it.
I'm glad Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson and the like are leaving the US Senate. Republicans never seem to back down, but our guys always do.
It's time to take the mantle of the mandate give by voters this last November. Republicans policies were tried to their fullest extent over the last 12 years. They do not work. It's time to return to tried and true Democratic/Progressive policies that are common sense and supported by majorities of Americans.
At times it seems President Obama is still in the senate. Despite never-ending lies and rank partisanship and obstruction by Repubs he maintains an irrational desire for bipartisanship and a fondness for the techniques of the "sternly worded letter" (SWL). The SWL is an oft used tool of legislators who want to look like they are doing something while actually doing nothing.
"The bottom line is that President Obama has already revealed himself to be unchanged by the election and by the last two years of stonewalling by the Republicans. He still appears to believe, at best, in a milder version of orthodox Republican fiscal conservatism - an approach that would be a fitting starting position for a right-wing politician in negotiations with an actual Democrat. Moreover, he still seems to believe that the Republicans are willing to negotiate in good faith."
President Barack Obama was reportedly so frustrated with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) during fiscal cliff negotiations this week that he threatened to tell the country in his State of the Union speech that Republicans were at fault.
Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age. I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it's a VSP fantasy about how we're going to resolve this in a bipartisan way.
Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay.
(I'll second that motion. - z)
First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy. It would be terrible policy even if the Affordable Care Act were going to be there in full force for 65 and 66 year olds, because it would cost the public $2 for every dollar in federal funds saved. And in case you haven't noticed, Republican governors are still fighting the ACA tooth and nail which will pitch lower-income seniors into the abyss.
Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing? And no, vague promises about closing loopholes won't do it: a rate rise is the real deal, no questions, and should not be traded away for who knows what.
I think the answer to the second question is the vanity of bipartisanship, which is close to being pathological in Democrats, and says that because they can get a few less crazy Republicans to vote on a bill, even if everyone else around says it's bad, then it is by the very definition of bipartisanship a good bill and must be praised.
The full package of reforms Merkley laid out yesterday add up to a very serious proposal that would curb many of the current minority's worst abuses of the Senate rules, remove most of the blockade facing judicial and executive branch nominees, and transfer some of the pain of filibustering onto the people responsible for the filibuster. (Hey Republicans, that's called "personal resonsibility". - z)
And Merkley appeared quite optimistic that filibuster reform will pass this year.
Two years ago, a package that included several of Merkley's proposals received 44 of the 51 votes necessary to amend the Senate rules at the opening of a new Senate. That time, Merkley explains, "we didn't have the support of leadership." Merkley explains. This time, however, the most powerful man in the Senate has already taken to the floor to apologize for opposing Merkley's first effort, and Merkley and the Senate leadership are working together closely to design the final package.
I urge you to read the whole thing and call our senators if you endorse these common sense changes that will make our United States Senate more Democratic - under any definition of the word - for All.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed having a vote on a proposal he first raised back in 2011 to allow the president to unilaterally increase the debt ceiling.
Sen. Harry Reid moved to bring that proposal to the Senate floor this afternoon for a simple majority vote, and McConnell blocked it.
Reid said McConnell's objection was a "case of Republicans refusing to take yes for an answer."
"This morning the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on this proposal. Now I told everyone that we are willing to have that vote, up-or-down vote," Reid said. "Now the Republican leader objects to his own idea. So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill."
James Shelton, my local Democratic candidate for Colorado House District 49 (primarily rural Larimer Countyplus a slice of western Weld County), is in a very tough race against Perry Buck, wife of the notorious failed Tea Party Senate candidate Ken Buck. James Shelton deserves support from progressives throughout Colorado. The Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in the Colorado House, need I say more? The Weld County/ALEC Republican Tea Party machine is backing the Bucks and James Shelton can be their undoing. Please contribute at www.sheltonforcolorado.com .
President Obama wants to "criminalize" free speech, according to a leading GOP congressmen.
Trent Franks (R-AZ) (Dang, I was going to guess Texas - Z) discussed the President's response after an anti-Muslim video provoked widespread riots in Libya and elsewhere, telling radio host Mike Huckabee that Obama "has a general trend of subordinating the constitutional rights." Obama had released a statement the morning after the violence that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens saying, "While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants."
Both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the importance of free speech in their responses to the violence.
Franks went on to argue that Obama is taking aim at the First Amendment: "I really believe that this administration is moving towards being willing to criminalize certain things that we hold as free speech in America."
FRANKS: I believe that there is ubiquitous evidence that this administration has a general trend of subordinating the constitutional rights that we hold very dearly as Americans to placate sometimes our enemies who have nothing but derision toward us, and I'm convinced that it is playing out even in the events of recent days. I really believe that this administration is moving towards being willing to criminalize certain things that we hold as free speech in America. [...] When we begin to say that we're going to potentially criminalize people criticizing a religion, then we are stepping away from the First Amendment and one of the foundations that made America the greatest country in the world.
First, I don't think ubiquitous means what this guy thinks it means. Maybe he's just proud he can pronounce it. Second, criticizing Islam is okey-dokee with these guys, so there goes that point. Third, it would actually have to be the morons in congress who pass a law against free speech, and the politicians on the Supreme Court to uphold it.
Both are now firmly in the grasp of Republicans like Trent Franks.
I may have to start grading these this, this was hardly an impressive lie.
"Like the pro-slavery forces who invaded Kansas, the pro-abortion forces in Washington and elsewhere want us to believe that abortion is not murder -- that being born is worse than death, that the unborn baby is property, not a person.
"I am incensed that this president pays money to an entity that was created for the sole purpose of killing children that look like mine -- a racist organization, and it continues specifically to target minorities for abortion destruction. Shame on this president and shame on that party."
The number of lies in that thing is hard to count. The amount of stupidity might be able to be measured.
The source is as usual: An Elected Republican pandering to its Tea Party base.
Spending records for the 112th Congress show seven GOP freshmen - Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Bill Flores (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Steve Womack (R-AR) - spent an average of $15,000 on cars for themselves.
All together, their taxpayer bill totaled $106,643.
What's the lease on a nice Mercedes going for these days?
Here's what the seven Republican freshmen's congressional offices have spent on cars in the past year and a half:
Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN): $25,580.84
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI): $24,525.00
Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX): $10,997.45
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO): $20,978.07
The Tea Party was compromised in its first days by Corporate Republicans with superior strategies (it's hard not to outthink and outplan Democrats) and the blank checks of Bill and David Koch. Cory Gardner is just another lying Republican hack who gives away the lie each and every time: his mouth is moving.