Archive for category Jim Matheson
Jim Matheson – Yellow Bellied faux Democrat – voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. In doing so, he validated Darrell Issa’s partisan witch hunt, gave Republicans ammunition to fire against Democrats and worst of all betrayed every voter who voted for him.
More than a 100 house Dems walked out rather than vote. 65 voted against. 17 useless Dems voted in favor.
I’ve always suspected Jim Matheson was spineless and unprincipled but this vote is truly shameful.
Finally, there were the 17 Democratic “aye” votes. What a fine crew that is. Our plague. Yes, yes, they are mostly in reddish districts and more liberal candidates could never get elected there, so we have to put up with them because better they than a Republican, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Even if one agrees that Blue Dogs and their ilk are the price of a Big Tent party, what good are they when they can’t be counted upon to have the backs of fellow Democrats under a rancid assault whose only foundation is raw partisanship?
What good are they if they won’t stand up against even the most extreme efforts of the National Rifle Association? That organization’s grip on gun policy in Arizona and elsewhere lubricates the trafficking of tens of thousands of firearms into Mexico and makes the job of interdicting this lethal flow next to impossible. An organization whose string-pulling and budget-obstructing has frustrated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives so much that it led to experiments like “Fast and Furious” in the first place.
These 17 Democrats didn’t just suck up to the NRA. They didn’t just turn their backs on colleagues. They provided the GOP the okay to say that even-some-Democrats agree Eric Holder is involved in a cover-up of a program that led to the death of a brave U.S. Border Patrol agent. By unspoken implication, of course, Obama is also involved. Providing Republicans with that kind of campaign ammo goes waaaay beyond any apologies that can be made for trying to make oneself a viable incumbent Democrat in a reddish district. Being that kind of turncoat screws other Democrats by helping to mobilize the nut-jobs to turn out in greater numbers at the polls.
Despicable, pathetic, myopic.
While the spotlight is on the 99 Percent Movement and our demands for justice and democracy, we might have lost track of what our friends the Blue Dog “Dems” are up to. Think Progress has an update. Rep. Jim Matheson and his fellow Blue Dogs are endorsing a Republican plan for a radical Balanced Budget Amendment, a plan that according to recent analyses would actually cost America 15 million jobs.
It’s hard to overestimate the negative effects such an amendment would have on the country’s economy. In addition to destroying millions of jobs, it would force such massive spending cuts that House Republicans’ own budget would be unconstitutional. According to a recent study by Macroeconomic Advisers, enacting a BBA now would double the nation’s unemployment rate and cause the economy to shrink by 17 percent — a far cry from the 2 percent projected growth that would occur with no such amendment.
Unfortunately, according to another analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the consequences get worse. The draconian budget cuts caused by a Balanced Budget Amendment would force lawmakers to gut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), among other programs…
Given that this incredibly bad constitutional amendment is never going to be enacted, why is Rep. Matheson backing it? It’s an empty gesture, a loud “screw you” to the American middle class and nothing more. Is Matheson tired of asking Utahns to vote for him? Did he decide to campaign against the 99 Percent and see if that works? I can’t explain it.
House Republicans this week brought to the floor a Tea Party-inspired message bill that would have gutted the Energy Independence and Security Act, which requires light bulbs of all types to be at least 25 percent more energy efficient by 2012. The light bulb efficiency language passed the House in 2007 by a vote of 314-100, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) BULB Act — which failed under a suspension-of-the-rules procedure that required a two-thirds vote — is another example of Republicans pushing really hard on a symbolic button that doesn’t do anything. The bill bypassed the normal legislative process, including hearings.
What’s surprising is that our very own Rep. Jim Matheson (D?) voted with the Republicans to raise your electricity costs. Climate Progress points out that the current law will save consumers $12 billion a year.
Rep. Matheson hardly ever talks to the media, so we are left to guess what he was thinking. Maybe he’s been listening to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Perhaps he owes Rep. Michele Bachmann a favor. Maybe he’s just happy to support anti-consumer legislation no matter who sponsors it. Otherwise, I’m at a loss to explain why he wasted his vote on a Tea-GOP attack on a practical energy policy that used to have bipartisan support.
UPDATE: Jon Stewart had the last word on this idiotic bill.
UPDATE: This is sad. Fred Upton Pushes Vote to Kill His Own Light Bulb Efficiency Standards
UPDATE: House Passes Tea Party Light Bulb Joke By Voice Vote.
Democrats on Capitol Hill normally imitate harmless, invertebrate life forms, but sometimes they at least pretend to fight. Rep. Jim Matheson deserves credit for saying what Americans are thinking. Via TPM:
“Given the fact that a shutdown will cause real harm to millions of Americans, Congress must accept the same consequences if it fails to keep the government functioning,” reads a letter from Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), cosigned by over two dozen Dems, to Boehner. “The House must be given an opportunity to vote on clean bill that leaves no doubt that Members of Congress cannot receive a paycheck while the rest of the nation suffers from inaction on government funding for this year.”
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Rep. Matheson’s idea turns out to be unconstitutional.
Previous One Utah posts:
Government Shutdown Update (March 26, 2011)
Read Speaker Boehner’s Lips: Government Shutdown on March 5 (February 20, 2011)
Republicans Threaten Government Shutdown and Economic Catastrophe (November 1, 2010)
Washington politicians seem to have forgotten about doing anything to turn around our nation’s desperate economic situation, and given up attempting to control runaway federal deficits. Instead they are all talking about permanent income tax cuts. The only disagreement is whether or not to cut taxes for people who make more than $250,000 a year, the top two percent of households.
What nobody seems to mention is that lowering the rate for the first $250,000 of income means EVERYONE who pays income taxes gets a break — with the lion’s share going to upper-income people. Median household income in 2008 was $52,029. Obama’s proposed tax cut is a tax cut for the rich.
Alleged Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson doesn’t think the Obama tax cuts are enough. He prefers the even more irresponsible Bush tax cuts:
The median household income in Matheson’s district is $55,000, while the median male full-time worker makes $46,000. Matheson’s favored extension would give a millionaire an annual tax cut of $128,832, or nearly three times what the median worker in his district earns in total.
If Congress extends the Bush tax cuts for the rich, they will be borrowing $830 billion from China to spend on the wealthiest people in America. That’s pretty much the opposite of fiscal responsibility.
h/t The World, According To Me
UPDATE: Via FDL: In case anyone thinks the Democratic Party is utterly incapable of delivering change, you are wrong. They just changed their logo to a “D” in a hole. I am not making this up!
Did you know Jim Matheson used to hold actual town meetings. I have proof because I recorded one of them on September 1st 2005. It was a pretty good turn out too; I estimate between 150 to 200 people showed up. In retrospect, I think the recording of my question to Matheson is revealing. The recording is not of great quality, but you can hear what was said here:matheson and me.
I hated to even post this because I know congresspeople have to deal with things I could never imagine in relation to the harm, political or otherwise, which could be thrown at somebody who gave the wrong answer to a hot question like this one.
To exclaim that illegal wiretapping or invasion of other countries was planned before 911 is simply something that is not talked about. Period; exclamation point!
I just have a couple of points here.
An inaudible portion of the audio was after I congratulated congressman Matheson for voting against what became known as the “Patriot Act II.” He got more applause for that then anything in the first 30 minutes of the meeting and jokingly said something like: “OK, good day! We’re done here, we’re going home now!” Here’s what makes me angry about this. This was an open meeting in “red state” Utah where Matheson always says he has to vote with his constituents. I’ve always believed that Utahn’s of any stripe never liked the “Patriot Act” and this is the best proof of that I can offer, but here’s the kicker: although Matheson voted against THAT particular bill, shortly after that meeting he voted FOR another bill which included some of the worst provisions of the first one AND eventually voted for the terribly unconstitutional bill called “The Military Commissions Act of 2006.”
Concerning my question which Matheson didn’t and couldn’t answer, he did actually bring up a very good point about the phony “weapons of mass destruction” ploy which got us into the war. What makes me angry about that answer was Matheson’s saying the democrats don’t have any power in congress and gave that as the reason why nothing could be done about it.
Which party has been in power for years now Mr. Matheson? When is the “party of the people” going to let up on pushing the little guy around and get tough on the REAL crimes happening in the “greatest democracy on the face of the earth.”
I say it’s time for a change!
I’m sure Jim Matheson figured he could oppose health care reform and immunize himself against Republican attacks and thereby save his seat. In that, he’s made a fundamental miscalculation.
As we’ve seen over the last year, the Republican party – individually and corporately – have no compunctions concerning lying about health care reform. Matheson is going to have to defend the bill whether it passes or not; if it passes, as seems likely, his defense of “I didn’t vote for it” isn’t going to carry much weight with Utah voters. The efforts of Matheson and other Blue Dogs in the House and conservadems in the Senate were largely responsible for the publicly awful process and long delays. All of which has created the impression of a party in chaos struggling to govern; the delay has also guaranteed that people won’t see many of the positive effects of health care reform anytime soon.
The Blue Dogs wanted Republican cover for their votes – to protect themselves on the right. The Blue Dog strategy has generally been to focus their concern to the right – afraid the Republicans will beat them by being more conservative; the Republican-lite strategy is ultimately flawed because it’s difficult to imagine a Democrat actually moving far enough to the right to actually win right wing votes (even the most conservative Dems are to the left of the most liberal Republicans). It sounds like a good strategy but it’s actually flawed. The actual reform proposals that passed are very modest and moderate – close in fact to what Republicans proposed in 1993. Consider the really liberal idea – a national single payer plan – was never debated. Blue Dogs, no doubt, were happy at the time. But they missed a prime opportunity to actually be smart.
Look at it this way: Single payer wasn’t going to happen in 2009 or 2010. Blue Dogs should have insisted single payer be debated; it would have kept the base motivated, and the base would have been able to accept losing on single payer since almost everybody involved knew it was not going to pass this time around. While the single payer debate was going on up front on TV, behind the scenes the Democratic caucus would have been working out details of a bill that Blue Dogs could vote for (and which could have implemented all the Republican proposals they wanted and given everyone the bipartisan points they wanted). The single payer debate would have been show – it would also have been focus of right wing rage. Let’s be honest, from day one, the right was going to pitch and unholy shit-fit and laungh an equally unholy shit storm no matter was proposed. By giving single payer on which to focus their rage, the Blue Dogs would have moved the debate to the left.
Blue Dogs could have scored easy points by voting against single payer. The dynamic would have shifted from “health care reform or not” to “single payer or reform”. Matheson and the other Blue Dogs could have campaigned on voting against single payer while championing a bill that “saved private insurance.” After watching the right work itself into a predictable frothing at the mouth frenzy over single payer, a more modest and moderate proposal would been an easy sell to the public as the sensible compromise. Imagine the ease with which Blue Dogs could have said, “I had to fight to preserve private insurance that is working for you. What we’ve implemented are sensible proposals to make the system better and stronger without turning it over to a government payer plan.”
Matheson, like many Blue Dogs, has fought hard to water down the health care reform proposals but he’s still going to get lambasted for whatever passes. Saying, “I voted against it” will make him sound foolish. And he hasn’t left himself any space to defend his stance – he’s alienated Democratic activists, pissed off the right, and will appear ineffective to everyone else. He got himself into this mess.
Via the Salt Lake Tribune: On Feb. 22, the long-standing ban on guns in national parks and wildlife refuges will end, thanks to an amendment the Gun Lobby attached last year to a credit-card reform bill. The carrying of firearms in parks and refuges will be subject to a patchwork of state laws.
The Gun Lobby won a victory from a Democratic-controlled Congress and a Democratic president that they couldn’t achieve under a Republican Congress and president. Rep. Jim Matheson voted for the bill.
Bill Wade of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees called the reversal “a politically driven effort to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The patchwork of new rules will be far more difficult to enforce than the old rule. Which is ironic, because in debates here on One Utah the advocates of guns-everywhere-all-the-time complained that the old rule was too hard for them to understand and comply with.
- Gun owners entering national parks must unload, take apart, or case their firearms in a way “that will prevent their ready use.”
- You can bring a loaded firearm into a national park, except where prohibited by state law. Bows, swords, pellet guns and BB guns are still banned. Automatic weapons are banned.
- A permit is required to carry concealed weapons. Some permits are recognized in multiple states, but many are not. It is the gun owner’s responsibility to know which laws apply.
- Shooting is still against the law in national parks, except hunting with a special permit. Target practice is banned.
- Guns cannot be carried into federal facilities that are part of the National Park System, for example the White House, visitor centers, concessions such as park lodges and restaurants, and administration buildings.
- Guns are prohibited on shuttle buses, ferries or boats within parks, depending on the state.
- Visitors to Death Valley National Park can tote a gun in the Nevada portion of the park, but not on the California side.
- In Yellowstone, armed visitors have to determine whether they are in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho to stay within the law.
- It is illegal in most states to carry a gun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Possession of a firearm by persons under age 18 is illegal in most states. In Utah, you must be 21 to obtain a concealed weapon permit.
Yep, the new rules will be much simpler and easier to understand, as the gun rights people promised!
To sum up, you can carry a loaded firearm (or a concealed weapon with a permit valid for the state you are in) in a national park unless state law says you can’t, and you’re over 18, sober, not on a shuttle bus or a boat, and outside any federal facility. But no shooting, please!
Not an exact likeness of Rep. Jim Matheson
It’s time to let Rep. Jim Matheson know what we think of his votes for the poison-pill Stupak Amendment and against the House health insurance reform bill, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. We are paying his South Salt Lake district office a visit on Friday, November 13, at 4:30 pm. See the MoveOn.org website for details.
The House bill isn’t flawless. It includes a compromise version of the public option and an ugly anti-choice amendment. But it’s a huge step forward: it would expand coverage to 96% of Americans, offer more choice through a national public option, and help end Big Insurance’s stranglehold on our health care system.
And the only way we’ll get anything like it through the Senate is if we all come out right now and demand it.
Less than a month ago, conservatives and Big Insurance were gloating that health care reform with a public option was dead. But millions of us showed up and spoke out, and we proved them wrong.
Congressman Matheson voted with the Republicans, in committee and on the House floor, to kill reform. That is not acceptable. What would be a short, pithy message that can fit on a small protest sign?
UPDATE: The rally was well worth going to, KSL was there, but Matheson’s staff closed the office early and fled (see continuation).
UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune has a very good article about the rally.
Richard Lafon, a regional coordinator with the liberal MoveOn.org, said the event was one of 133 taking place across the nation.
“As you all know, the public option has been declared dead so many tmes,” Lafon said. “But here we are again and the public option is still alive.”
When the final legislation does come up, Lafon said he hopes Matheson reconsiders and votes for “real health care reform.”
At Open Left, Paul Rosenberg is discussing the idea of strong, progressive primary challenges to the crappy Dems who voted for the Stupak or who voted against the health care reform bill. Utah’s Jim Matheson is one such craptacular Democrat. From Democracy for Utah, we get this provocative passage:
Matheson’s amendments were virtual copies of elements of the Senate Healthcare reform bill, and as such were a transparent maneuver to look like he was actually doing something besides following the interests of IHC, who has donated handsomely to the campaign to get their boy Jim re-elected next year. To hear what real constituents think, listen to the podcast of KCPW’s Politics Up Close for Friday Nov. 6. Judi Hilman, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project, nailed the destructiveness of Matheson’s tactics as anti-Progressive.
Anyone want to join me in a Dump Matheson movement?
Here’s my thing:
Matheson has terrible policy judgment. His votes have been consistently and disastrously bad – he voted for the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and against Health Care. He was one of the key players in watering down the stimulus package. He claims to be a fiscal conservative but somehow has managed to support almost every bad fiscal policy he has come across – favoring exactly the kind of budget busting policies that have saddled the US with generations of debt in 8 short years. Matheon’s version of “fiscal conservatism” is so blatantly wrong-headed it’s difficult to take him seriously. His vote on the Stupak Amendment will hurt Utah women. His vote against health care reform will hurt poor and rural Utahns.
The Democratic party doesn’t always get it right, but at the core the Democratic party is about good policy (consider that the Clinton administration effectively ran the government). Jim Matheson’s bad policy judgment is what makes him a bad Democrat. The voters in Utah’s 2nd deserve a good Democrat – someone who believes in fiscal responsibility, in effective government, in responsive and responsible government.
Matheson is an effective fundraiser and has a sizable campaign warchest. If I had to guess, a primary challenger would bring out Matheson’s worst political instincts – I’d guess he would use the primary as an opportunity to bash progressives and other Democrats.
Utah’s 2nd is a tough district for a Democrat. It’s a Republican leaning district. Matheson has survived by milking every advantage he can from his incumbency, including the ability to rake in serious corporate donations.
The biggest risk of challenging Matheson is obvious; the challenger beats him in the primary and loses in the general – handing Matheson’s seat to the Republicans. A secondary risk is the Lieberman scenario – Matheson loses the primary and runs as an independent and wins, which frees him from the necessity of even his current minimal level of party loyalty. He becomes another Lieberman – working with Dems just enough to keep committee assignments but stabbing the party in the back on a regular basis just because he can.
That said, I’m not convinced a primary challenge to Matheson is actually a terrible idea. A populist Democratic challenger could run a non-ideological campaign based on opposition to corporate power and its undue influence in government. The challenger would face some serious obstacles – including a huge fundraising disadvantage but even if we could pull Matheson closer to the political center from his current center right stance, it would be a success.
Why exactly did voters in my district vote for a Democrat if we keep getting votes that would make a Republican proud?
Oh yeah! Jim Matheson is a really crappy Democrat.
Yesterday, Matheson added his support to the Stupak Amendment. Let’s go to Ezra Klein to explain what that means.
First, what does the amendment do:
The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.
Sounds innocuous right? Wrong. It’s a giant “screw you” to you women who aren’t rich.
That means most will be ineligible for abortion coverage. The idea that people are going to go out and purchase separate “abortion plans” is both cruel and laughable. If this amendment passes, it will mean that virtually all women with insurance through the exchange who find themselves in the unwanted and unexpected position of needing to terminate a pregnancy will not have coverage for the procedure. Abortion coverage will not be outlawed in this country. It will simply be tiered, reserved for those rich enough to afford insurance themselves or lucky enough to receive from their employers.
And Jim Matheson thinks this is a good idea.
UPDATE: This was Congressman Matheson’s 17th telephone town hall of 2009. He started out with a brief statement that health care “is an exceptionally complicated issue with a lot of moving parts,” and saying he’s worried that costs are growing faster than inflation. His other big concern right now is the possibility that Governor Herbert and the legislature might approve the importation of foreign nuclear waste into Utah.
I did my due diligence as a constituent, but of course the calls were screened and I was not given the opportunity to ask my question (see below). Rep. Matheson did take 13 questions: nine about health care reform, and one each on energy policy, nuclear waste, the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act (aka stimulus), and the National Debt.
Most of the callers were big fans of Matheson and said so up front. Then they tossed nerf-ball questions such as: “Why is health care being pushed through when polls show the majority of people are against it?” That’s not what the polls say, but Matheson proudly said he voted against H.R. 3200 in committee in the hope of stalling reform, and that he supports the co-op plan of Senator Max Baucus. Someone else came out in favor of denying health insurance for pre-existing conditions because of the free-rider problem of people trying to get covered after they need help.
The last question was polite but pointed, and came from a lady who said she had ended up paying over $100,000 to have an appendix removed. Why not support a public option? Matheson replied that the public option “is clearly part of the debate,” but he’s afraid of a “one-size-fits-all national plan” when the needs of each state are different.
My screened-out question, which I gave to moderator Alyson Heyrend ahead of time:
“As you know, the right of habeas corpus is guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress suspended habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act. Do you think we can restore habeas corpus?”
I’m guessing the answer is no, habeas corpus is gone forever along with the Fourth Amendment and whatever pieces of the Constitution they decide to shred next. But I wish Matheson could muster the courage to say it, even on the phone.