Archive for category congress
What’s the problem with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, other than being a sociopath? He’s running ads advocating the Keystone XL pipeline and more drilling and oil spills in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook’s Zuckerberg, NationBuilder’s co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US.
Mark Zuckerberg group launches TV blitz
As it’s written, CISPA won’t protect us from cyber attacks, but it will violate our 4th Amendment right to privacy.
- It lets the government spy on you without a warrant. (read more)
- It makes it so you can’t even find out about it after the fact. (read more)
- It makes it so companies can’t be sued when they do illegal things with your data. (read more)
- It allows corporations to cyber-attack each other and individuals outside of the law. (read more)
We’ve had to listen to a lot of wailing from the Gun Lobby about imagined attacks on the Bill of Rights. This is what a real one looks like.
“I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that the climate is changing. I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all-in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence. I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change, and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”
—Republican Congressman from Texas Joe Barton, during today’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing on the Northern Route Approval Act, legislation which would authorize Congress to approve the Keystone pipeline.
Yeah. New rule, if you think talking about 4000plus year old myths borrowed from a culture that in turn borrowed them from another that borrowed them from still another culture should be sited as scientific evidence to use against something that pretty much every peer reviewed climate work has found actual evidence for, you are too god damn stupid to be allowed to open your slobbering slack jawed maw in public. You are certainly the last person who should be allowed to vote on legislation that demands at least a sixth grade level of science comprehension. In fact, you should likely have your legal status as an adult human being taken away to protect yourself and others.
In short, you might be a Texas republican.
Hell, at least Idaho and Texas keep doing their level best to make sure Utah isn’t the national embarrassment.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget promises to create 7 million new jobs in one year, and includes $4.4 trillion in deficit reduction and $112 billion in infrastructure investment. That beats any other budget proposal in Washington, by far – including the Obama administration’s yet-to-be-released budget. And it won’t cut Medicare benefits to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
[T]alk of a fiscal crisis has subsided. Yet the deficit scolds haven’t given up on their determination to bully the nation into slashing Social Security and Medicare. So they have a new line: We must bring down the deficit right away because it’s “generational warfare,” imposing a crippling burden on the next generation. …
…Yet there is, as I said, a lot of truth to the charge that we’re cheating our children. How? By neglecting public investment and failing to provide jobs.
Today’s Senate committee hearing on gun safety began with a surprise appearance by Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), grievously wounded during an assassination attempt two years ago that left six others dead.
“Thank you for inviting me here today,” she said. “This is an important conversation for our children, for our community, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important.”
She continued: “Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
But later in the hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) bragged about having an AR-15 at home.
“You could find yourself in this country in a lawless environment from a natural disaster or a riot,” he said… The Republican senator added that he would carry his assault rifle around his neighborhood in the event of “a law and order breakdown.”
And then it got weirder.
One of the witnesses at the hearing, Daily Caller writer Gayle Trotter, head of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, argued that limiting magazine capacity would particularly affect women, who she claimed believe the AR-15 to be their “weapon of choice.”
“An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon, and the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals,” she said.
I’m almost 60 years old. I never had even one “hardened, violent criminal” attack me at home. Not one time. Do these people know how crazy they sound to most Americans?
Gun advocate tells Senate: AR-15 is the ‘weapon of choice’ for women with crying babies
Lindsey Graham: GOP-Forced Budget Cuts Will Mean Fewer Cops, So People Need To Arm Themselves
Senator Catches NRA Head In Epic Flip Flop
The fact of the matter is that more guns put women in danger. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has found that states with more guns have more female violent deaths. Their research also found that batterers who owned guns liked to use them to scare and control their victims, and would often use the gun to threaten the victim, threaten her pets or loved ones, clean them menacingly during arguments, or even fire them to scare her.
Trotter’s organization, the Independent Women’s Forum, opposes legislation aimed at curbing domestic violence including the Violence Against Women Act.
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“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939)
I am still wondering why the Democrats didn’t rewrite the Senate rules in 2009 or 2011. But now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he wants to end what amounts to a Republican minority veto power via the “silent filibuster” or the “60-vote rule” that isn’t really a rule. Under our Constitution, all it takes is a 51-vote majority to change the rulebook, and Reid says he has the votes.
“I hope that within the next 24 to 36 hours we can get something we agree on. If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done,” Reid told reporters. “The caucus will support me on that,” he added.
There is a package of reforms on the table that will make the Senate able to legislate again. Those reforms are:
- Eliminate the ability to filibuster the motion to proceed;
- Require that those wishing to block legislation or nominations take the floor and actually filibuster— i.e., mandating “talking filibusters”;
- Assert that 41 Senators must affirmatively vote to continue debate rather than forcing 60 Senators to vote to end debate; and,
- Streamline the nomination process so that nominees will get a yes or no vote on the Senate floor, including a reduction of the required 30 hours of post cloture debate on a nominee to 2 hours.
In the last Congress, only 3 percent of the bills introduced in the Senate made it to final passage. This was the most dysfunctional Senate anyone can remember.
UPDATE: No talking filibuster, no 41-vote rule. To say Harry Reid and the Dems folded like a cheap suit is an insult to cheap suits.
Minority rules: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will continue to control the Senate after so-called Majority Leader Harry Reid agrees to a deal that does almost nothing to restrain the abuse of the filibuster.
UPDATE: HuffPo nails it with their headline (see continuation)
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Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. The House has adjourned until after Christmas without taking a vote on “Plan B.”
It was a tax increase on working Americans, coupled with a massive extension of the Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich on the first $1 million of income. Boehner couldn’t find the votes for it, but this didn’t matter because the Senate Majority Leader said the Senate would not consider it, and President Obama said he would veto it if somehow it got to his desk.
Because right-wing Tea-GOP House members oppose even a token income tax rate hike on multimillionaires, Boehner added a series of sweeteners from the right-wing wish list – like Christmas stockings hung by the fire (OK, not like that at all).
- Cuts to food stamps that would hurt millions of low-income Americans
- Cuts to Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to seniors
- Cuts funding to health exchanges and Medicaid
- Cuts to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that will yield no cost savings
Nobody in Washington seems to know why Boehner was wasting everyone’s time with this proposal, when all the House has to do is vote on the Senate-passed bill that makes tax cuts for the rich on the first $250,000 of income permanent. President Obama has said he would sign it.
Does it matter to average Americans if they get a tax cut on their first $250,000 or their first $1 million? I don’t even know anybody who makes $250,000 a year.
Just not a good moment. The Senate reached the height of dysfunction today when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered his own bill.
Today, the United States Senate hit a new low. This morning, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a bill to reform the debt limit charade so that the president could spend money authorized and appropriated by Congress as long as the Congress didn’t vote by two-thirds to prohibit him from borrowing the money necessary to conduct United States operations at home and abroad. This would eliminate the absurdity — and economic damage — done last summer when the Congress held the debt limit hostage in budget negotiations.
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader then decided to let the bill come to a vote this afternoon. To which Senator McConnell objected, calling for a 60-vote threshold to pass the bill.
He filibustered his own bill.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked the parliamentarian to determine if this has ever happened before, but it couldn’t happen at a better time as the Senate prepares to reform (or eliminate!) the filibuster. This craziness, as demonstrated by McConnell’s absurd pretzel logic on the floor today, must end.
House Republicans are privately contemplating a quiet surrender in the fight over Bush tax rates for top earners, and a quick pivot to a new fight over raising the debt limit, in which they’d demand steep cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security.
The White House’s official position on this plan is: cram it. Officials say they will not negotiate, or pay a ransom. Congress has to raise the debt limit, period.
“I will not play that game,” Obama told the Business Roundtable on Wednesday. “We are not going to play that game next year. We’ve got to break that habit before it starts.”
The ransom that the GOP congressional leadership is demanding is that any new borrowing authority must be accompanied by larger cuts to federal spending – which Dems will have to propose, because Republicans can never name a single program they want to cut except for PBS. This would mean austerity budgeting at a time when it’s a really bad idea for the U.S. economy — risking a repeat of Europe’s self-inflicted crisis.
Speaker John Boehner seems ready to once again threaten us all with total economic collapse. However, according to the Constitution, the Congress does not have the option of refusing to pay for government expenses that have already been authorized by Congress. The 14th Amendment states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned.”
The debt ceiling is unconstitutional. The GOP cannot use it to shut down the government.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall: “We’re headed for the Mother of All Government Shutdowns.”
From the Department of Duh, via TPM:
“The Republican leader thinks things are going well here. He’s in a distinct minority because things aren’t going well around here,” Reid said. “Lyndon Johnson: one cloture. Reid: 386. That says it all.”
Only 3 percent of bills introduced in the U.S. Senate ever get passed. The Senate is dysfunctional, because of Republican abuse of the filibuster to impose a de facto supermajority requirement for nearly all legislation.
Two years ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked filibuster reform. Now he says he’s willing to consider either a “talking filibuster,” which makes senators stand up and take responsibility for obstructing legislation, or a plan to make the “motion to proceed” non-debatable, which would eliminate the minority’s power to keep bills from reaching the Senate floor.
If Senator Mitch McConnell were the majority leader, he would immediately get rid of the filibuster. It only takes 51 votes to change the Senate rules.
Yet another prominent Republican has added his name to the list of those for whom the allure of the Grover Norquist “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” has lost its luster.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has announced that he will no longer honor his commitment to the Norquist pledge wherein he promised not to raise taxes under any circumstances whatsoever. Appearing on a local Georgia television program, Chambliss said, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
While Chambliss expects Norquist to push back on his defection by supporting a primary challenge to Senator Chambliss when he stands for re-election in 2014, Chambliss has decided to take his chances, noting, “But I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist.”
While Saxby Chambliss’ sentiment is admirable, is it possible that he has done the math and concluded that the Norquist modus operandi of going after any Republican that dare defy him just doesn’t pack the punch it once possessed?
Judging from the 2012 election results, there is reason to believe that Grover Norquist’s days of bullying candidates into doing his bidding may be a thing of the past.
Going into the elections, 279 Congressional incumbents—along with 286 challengers—had signed the anti-tax pledge. However, at a time when the polls point to an overwhelming number of Americans favoring a rise in the tax rates for the nation’s very wealthiest, some 57 Republican House incumbents or challengers who signed the pledge went down to defeat while 24 GOP sitting Senators or those seeking a seat lost in their race.
Included among the high profile, pledge-signing losers were Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), former Wisconsin Governor and cabinet member Tommy Thompson (R-WI) and two-time loser Linda McMahon (R-CT). Over in the House, long time Congressmen Dan Lungren got beat after a constituent publically challenged him for signing the pledge while two GOP incumbents who had received direct funding from Norquist’s organization, Americans For Tax Reform, in an effort to save their seats, were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, GOP Senate leaders such as Bob Corker (R-TN), John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), have become more vocal in their opposition to Grover Norquist and his tactics as has leading conservative voice, Bill Kristol.
Adding what might be the final nail in the coffin for Mr. Norquist’s brand of political blackmail is the fact that the likely GOP frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination in 2016, Gov. Jeb Bush—while highly supportive of keeping taxes low—has steadfastly refused to sign the tax pledge saying, “I don’t believe you outsource your convictions and principles to people.” The younger Bush follows in the footsteps of his father, President George H.W. Bush, who earlier this year made his own feelings completely clear when he remarked, “The rigidity of those pledges is something I don’t like. The circumstances change and you can’t be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It’s – who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?”
Good question—who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?
While he has managed to become more famous than most, at the end of the day, Grover Norquist is a lobbyist.
In fact, according to Jack Abramoff—the disgraced lobbyist who went to jail after entering a guilty plea to three criminal felonies involving defrauding American Indian tribes and corrupting public officials—Mr. Norquist’s organization served as a conduit for funds that flowed from Abramoff’s clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns.
It makes sense that the GOP is now breaking their promise on tax hikes. As of now, refusing to do so could cost them their seat in 2014.