Voting to let the country fall off the cliff was an audacious, even precocious, move by the Democratic golden boy and presidential pet - one that, oddly, put him on the side of Marco Rubio and Rand Paul rather than Obama and Joe Biden. "It is an interesting group," he deadpanned about the naysayers.
He also had to go against Majority Leader Harry Reid, who anointed the freshman to be the new leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Contrary to the highly successful Patty Murray, and, ummmm voters, who got more Progressives and Women elected last year, Bennet like the comfort of the Old Boys Club-style senate and is strangely trying revive Blue Dog Democrats from their slow-motion extintion.
I'm sure he still wants to banish true progressives, like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Al Franken, from the Democratic Caucus in the senate. At the least he'll be happy to oppose them:
Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, are part of a self-described centrist group of 15 Democrats meeting regularly "seeking to restrain the influence of party liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill," according to an account in Roll Call (subscription required).
The group has a "shared commitment to pursue moderate, mainstream and fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, and energy policy."
Not many ideas in those areas coming from Bennet lately.
Bennet, the future of his party, comes from the fertile territory of the Mountain West. Asked if his vote was a way to stake out some centrist and independent territory for a future White House run, he demurred, "No, no, no."
I think the Senate is much more amenable to Bennet's goals, especially now the he's following in Max Baucus' footsteps and joined the highly corrupting Finance Committee.
Appointed in 2009 (By Bill Ritter, whom I will NEVER forgive. -z) and little known in his state, he managed to survive the conservative wave that swept out so many Democrats in 2010 and his coalition of Hispanics and women became the model for the Obama campaign in Colorado in 2012. Democrats are counting on Bennet to recruit a new generation of candidates who will broaden the appeal and geographic reach of the party.
I don't have much hope for Bennet and think Triangulation is a dead strategy and the Blue Dogs are a dead caucus.
Unfortunately, this article virtually guarantees Bennet will continue what he's doing, Colorado's citizens be damned. Getting the blessing from Dowd can only be the beginning of stuff like that.
Each year, about one million infants around the world die on the same day they're born. That figure includes about 11,300 U.S. babies - the highest first-day infant mortality rate of any other country in the industrialized world, according to a new report from Save the Children. In fact, the United States' rate of first-day infant death is 50 percent more than all the other industrialized countries in the report combined.
Many babies who die at birth were born too early, and others suffer infections or complications at birth. Many of those infants could be actually be saved with fairly cheap medical interventions, the advocacy group says. The first day of life is the most dangerous day for mothers and babies, but expanding access to several products that cost under $6 each - bag-and-mask devices to help babies breathe, antiseptic to prevent umbilical cord infections, antibiotics to treat infections, and steroids to delay pre-term labor - could help save an estimated one million infants around the world.
Obama won with 54% and 1,288,576 votes.
Udall won with 53% and 1,230,994 votes.
(You'll note who got more votes than Mark Udall. This might be a standard occurrence in state votes, but it should not be disregarded in my humble opinion. A vote for Udall was mere millimeters away from a vote for Obama.)
Despite voters' clear mandate in 2008, and the obvious disgust with which they regarded Republicans nationally, our very wise Senator and his partner, both Udall and Michael Bennet, chose to use a tired, old strategy from the 90s: triangulation.
Triangulation has some logic behind it. And when wielded by the greatest politician of his generation, Bill Clinton, it seemed to work like magic. Democrats have been enamored of it since.
But there's a big "but" here that current Democrats in elected office haven't fully taken into account:
Triangulation presumes the resulting policy will be halfway between what conservatives want and what liberals want and will de facto make the policy palatable to most Americans, including and especially those in the middle. That assumption is patently false and most progressives, and even some convervatives reject the formulation.
Just to remind ppl, especially the most powerful among us (who can be the most forgetful) that our last Democratic president ran budget surpluses the last few years of his presidency.
America was on track to pay the Debt down to $0.00.
Then Republicans got into office and suddenly the Fed Chairman, Republican Alan Greenspan, became worried about the negative effects of paying the debt down to zero. Other Republicans like Dick Cheney said "deficits didn't matter."
So, we did not pay the debt down, and that Republican administration commenced to running it up again and gave us most of our current debt during their time in office.
Even if we remove Social Security from the equation, there was a surplus of $1.9 billion in fiscal 1999 and $86.4 billion in fiscal 2000. So any way you count it, the federal budget was balanced and the deficit was erased, if only for a while.
During this same time Republicans like Alan Greenspan worried what would happen if we paid down the natonal debt to $0. Zero!! Here's the "Maestro" himself:
The government faces the real possibility that a wave of surpluses will wipe out the $3.4 trillion national debt held by the public within a decade and then leave Washington with hundreds of billions of dollars a year in excess revenue on its hands.
It's hard to imagine now that the Federal Reserve Chairman predicted we'd pay off the national debt and have billion-dollar surpluses thanks to the common-sense economic policies of Democratic President Bill Clinton. Of course he was a sly partisan, so Greenspan became suddenly incapable of seeing the wisdom of Zero Dollar in National Debt:
"I never expected to see the day where I would be talking about anything other than reducing the debt. I am running into the tyranny of zero, which is where you can't reduce it any more. And so, have my views changed? Yes, they've changed; they have to change."
Mark Udall was in congress then and spoke about the destructive economic policies Republicans used under Bush to blow out the deficit, cripple the nation with debt, and use that situation to strangle the Middle Class and social safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
The Do-Nothing Congress is currently in the process of creating a phony budget crisis and calling it a "fiscal cliff" to drive up fear among you and me. On this particular issue both sides do "do it": Republicans because they hate Barack Obama and are willing to tank the economy for political gain, and Democrats - mostly in the Senate - because they are too cowardly to be proactive on taxes and because they value bipartisanship over principle at almost every turn.
After two years and two failed attempts to gin up public support for their horrific austerity agenda known as the Simpson-Bowles plan (aka the Catfood Commission plan here and elsewhere), the deficit scolds are coming out of the woodwork to form an astroturf supergroup called Fix the Debt.
The Social Security proposal from the co-chairs of President Obama's fiscal commission is not a suitable starting point, let alone a reasonable outcome, for Social Security reform because it relies far too much on deep benefit cuts to restore solvency to the program and makes a number of harmful changes.
Recently, he had a public presentation in his district that purported to allow his constituents to provide their input to the budget process. From a Polis campaign letter:
I recently convened town hall budget workshops in Erie, Westminster and Boulder that focused on balancing the federal budget. On a Saturday afternoon, hundreds of Coloradans showed up ready to help restore fiscal integrity, create jobs, and get our economy going. In group exercises conducted by the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan national organization that supports fixing the federal budget, your friends and neighbors voted on a series of proposals aimed at restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C. I thought you might be interested in the results.
It seems like a good idea until the Concord Coalition is unveiled. In The Nation, Nov 21, 2011, an article by Ari Berman paints them as "penny pinching, anti-government and pro-corporate ideologues with board filled with K street lobbyists and corporate executives." Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe wrote, "As for Social Security and Medicare, the Concord Coalition is an ideological attack on social insurance masquerading as concern for the common good."
Here's a spreadsheet that gives further details on the budget discussions Polis had.
Jared obviously wanted the job as representative in the second district. Though local input is very important, by facilitating this exercise, and allowing the Concord Coalition - a decidedly conservative and debt-focused organization - to significantly affect the parameters of the discussion, Jared, like his senate co-workers Mark Udall and Michael Bennet is ignoring the proposals of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is deferring responsibility for tough budget decisions to his constituents and outside lobbying organizations, and worst of all, is allowing the Conventional Wisdom with regards to the economy, the budget and taxation to exercise its will over what should have been a free-ranging discussion of our country's current economic policies.
All this makes me ask just one thing of the Congressman:
If you didn't want to make the decisions, Congressman, why did you want the job?
House negotiators are considering delaying the [agreed to budget] cuts until at least March 2013 as part of a larger package that would fund the federal government and temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts and other expiring tax laws...
Dummycrats is a right-wing slur. Is DAFT-o-crats too mean to describe how our reps get snookered at almost every turn by the Republicans in congress?
The current Republican view of tax collection is that this is a hostile taking by government against the liberty and free-market wealth creation of each and every individual. They also say, with a straight face, that "50% of Americans don't pay any taxes." The tenets of Jesus Christ Himself can't get Republicans to waver on these. Praise be to the Apostate Paul Ryan.
Democrats in the Colorado House, including bill sponsors Dan Pabon and Joe Mikloski, are proposing a tax holiday for school supplies and such to help middle class families during that frantic time before school starts. The Post poo-poos it. Chris Howes, of the Colorado Retail Council, likes the tax holiday idea and gets his say in the Post, too.
What this minor tax debate ignores is the Gorilla in the Room: fair and equitable taxation that would relieve these pressures, would support Colorado-based businesses, and would more than fill the void of a 3-day tax holiday. A prime example of this is Amazon.com's hostility to taxes and its ruthless response to local businesses when Colorado made noise about collecting sales tax from the book-selling beast. Their guilt, or a persistent policy, has resulted in Amazon pitching in $200 million in Texas:
This is the best test of their theory, because Democrats are too cowardly and inept to make the case that everyone benefits from a fair tax system and that almost everyone benefits from the institutions built up in our society over the yearsdecadescenturies.
With all taxes at 0% we can test how the functions of society and government work within that Republican worldview.
We are writing to ask you to do the right thing for our country and REJECT ANY Super Committee deal that does not raise tax rates on incomes over $1 million to AT LEAST 39.6%, REGARDLESS of how many deductions are eliminated.
Private jets shouldn't have been tax deductible in the first place.
Patriotic Millionaires and Patriotic Americans
Love it. Poll after poll after poll shows Americans - even Indys and Republicans - agree. The politics of the day say Democrats should pound this message home hourly. But our congressional millionaires, Jared Polis and Michael Bennet have been clearly corrupted by the air in DC and are faint examples of what a Colorado Democrat can be.
Shame on both of them. They are shamed by their Peers in the One Percent: Millionaires who urgently want to preserve the Middle Class, Millionaires who can afford and want to pay more taxes so everyone in America can participate and thrive within a democracy that could be the most wealthy nation in history.
According to exclusive reporting from Reuters the Democrats on the Super Committee are offering to cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits as part of a roughly $3 trillion grand bargain, which would well exceed the $1.2 trillion minimum goal the committee is tasked with meeting. From Reuters:
It calls for between $200 billion and $300 billion in new economic stimulus spending that would be paid for with lower interest payments from reducing deficits.
It also seeks around $400 billion in Medicare savings, with half coming in benefit cuts and the other half in cuts to healthcare providers. Details of that proposal were scant but tackling the popular Medicare program is always politically risky for politicians.
It is unlikely this specific deal being offered by the Democrats on the committee will be accepted by Republicans, because it calls for tax increases and more stimulus, but it still puts our social safety net in danger. It is another instance of the Democratic party steadily moving towards the official position of saying Medicare benefits can and should be cut.
Both our senators are still afraid to do that's truly needed to fulfill their oaths and fix our budget mess. They are in mortal electoral fear of Grover Norquist's idiotic pledge and its adherents and the constant rhetorical war Republicans wage on common sense. And they do almost nothing to fight either.
WASHINGTON-House Republicans have announced plans to cut heating subsidies for the poor, job training and President Barack Obama's "Race to the Top" program providing grants to better-performing schools, as they unveil a massive spending bill for labor, health and education programs.
The controversial GOP measure also seeks to block implementation of Obama's signature health care law, cut off National Public Radio from federal grants and reduce eligibility for Pell Grants to low-income college students.
The policy needs are beyond obvious. Though they've failed this basic test before, it would be politically brain-dead for Democrats, especially Colorado's Wimpy Senators Udall and Bennet, to not fully support the goals behind this speech. (I'm looking at you too, me!)
Republicans will bitch and moan about every fine point, but cannot refudiate the President's challenge that America's greatest leaders have never hesitated to invest in a future that would help their progeny at every turn. Republicans will not and cannot do what's right in today's environment. Democrats will hesitate to do what's right and might fritter away the opportunity while the economy continues to suffer. That is truly the most disconcerting part of this drama.
But I have been waiting for this President Obama for three years. I hope his team in DC sees the light and supports him in this critical plan for our economy. If they don't, then once again his eloquent words will be the narration to an empty dream. This is the dream that was expected by the millions who voted for him in November, 2008. They will never see it without unwavering support from those citizens and leaders who also said "Yes, we can" that election day.
That's the day I voted for President Barack Obama, the president we saw flashes of again last night.
(If Sen. Udall votes to "spread the pain" to the Big Three, will Democrats re-elect him? - promoted by WeatherDem)
Colorado Senator Mark Udall complained on the senate floor late last year about the nation's short-term memory loss wrt our budget situation. This was about the time Bush's tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires were extended at the behest of a hostage-taking Republican Tea Party:
"We are suffering from the worst possible case of collective short-term memory loss. During the past decade, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans didn't lead to job creation and instead helped cause a skyrocketing deficit. Why would we believe it will be any different this time around? As I've said many times, instead of borrowing more money to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, we should focus our attention on reducing our national debt, stabilizing Social Security for the long term, and finding common-sense ways to create jobs."
That's real purty, and the fact this statement was meant for public consumption goes with the inclusion of contacts for Udall's spokes-ghost* Tara Trujillo at (303) 650-7820.
I'm thinking Udall is counting on our memory loss to have us forget he actually had the proper answer for our budget problem. By now the Esteemed Senator has changed his tune on Social Security and is prescribing "pain" for all of us that will come in varying forms: the pain for Udall would be undoing the Udall legacy while having to read some nasty blog posts about how he has lied to Colorado's citizens; the pain for us would be in the cuts to Social Security and Medicare that he now feels are absolutely necessary but which will won't fix a thing but how Lawrence Kudlow thinks of Mark Udall. I would describe the pain as more like a medieval treatment with leeches.
President Obama is asking the CEOs of Time Warner, AT&T, and other major companies in a meeting today to funnel money into the nation's public schools, which are facing steep budget cuts on the state level this year.
The Wall Street Journal's Stephanie Banchero writes that both Bank of America and Microsoft will announce new investments in K-12 education after the meeting: $50 million for programs to prepare low-income students for college and a $15 million investment in video-game technology for the classroom, respectively.
According to data from the National Association of State Budget Officers, 18 states cut spending for K-12 instruction in fiscal year 2011 by $1.8 billion. Proposed cuts for the next fiscal year are much steeper: They total $2.5 billion for K-12 schools.
He may get some slight investments from corporations who hope to eventually earn a profit from their minor good will. He may even replace the horrible multi-billion-dollar cuts, but it's doubtful. Most CEO's would choke at the thought of a no-strings-attached disbursement from their corporate coffers into the public domain.
Republicans will attack this idea and accuse the man as they've done since before Day 1 of his presidency. Obama's been playing nice while others have taken advantage of his naivaté. They have expressed their hatred of him, and by extension us, in a multitude of ways. As of last night Obama was still praising the ideal of bipartisanship with those who are working non-stop to make him fail. At some point he needs to take up their challenge and take them on with the facts and the backing of the American people.
He should welcome the hatred of the CEO, the Oligarch, the Reactionary and the Radical. He'd have Joe Sixpack on his side. He'd have me on his side, for what it's worth. It might be uncomfortable at first, but he would warm to it, and he could easily win re-election from a public still yearning for his leadership.
Many, including I, had projected a bit of FDR onto Obama as he came into office. I'm beyond hoping for that much at this point. I hope we're not all beyond such feelings.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pulled out of bipartisan negotiations to raise the nation's debt limit, according to multiple reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Cantor indicated an impasse over taxes prompted his exit from the budget discussions for now. A GOP aide close to the talks told The Huffington Post that the disagreement could only be settled by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
The aide said that Cantor was open to returning to the table, but that they've come to an impasse over "not so small tax increases" that Democrats are insisting on. "We can't go there, so until Boehner and Obama resolve that, it doesn't make much sense for Eric to keep going to the meetings."
Here again Democrats have demurred on making the case for fairly taxing the rich and corporations to resolve current budget and deficit issues. Cowards like Michael Bennet continue to neglect the fact that taxes are the lowest in generations, and those who aren't paying their fair share are banking trillions of dollars as our economy continues to piddle.
Democrats had better go on the offense, had better figure out how to make tax increases an inevitable occurrence and prepare themselves for the onslaught of lies until the economy turns around.
President Obama could lead the way to sound progressive policies on the budget "crisis". He will certainly have to change some of his assumptions and tactics. Senator Bennet might have the nerve to follow. But now the issue is being kicked down the road again thanks to another strategic win by Republicans and the continuing inability of Democrats to propose common-sense solutions that the public wants and needs. In order to truly kill this ongoing recession - a recession and debt that Republicans are mostly responsible for - Democrats will have to take the heat during the next election cycle and do what's right, maybe even fight for some "not so small" tax increases........something they've been unwilling to do even after given a clear mandate in 2008.