Is Ann Kirkpatrick The Blanche Lincoln Of The House?
The updated 2009 CQPolitics party unity scores are out. No surprises for DWT readers as to which Democrats have been the least supportive of Obama's change agenda and which ones have found a home across the aisle voting with the enemies of working families. The 10 worst Democrats:
Walt Minnick (ID)- 40%
Bobby Bright (AL)- 52%
Gene Taylor (MS)- 65%
Heath Shuler (NC)- 68%
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)- 75%
Baron Hill (IN)- 75%
Parker Griffith (AL)- 77%
Jim Marshall (GA)- 77%
Jason Altmire (PA)- 78%
Joe Donnelly (IN)- 78%
This morning friends in Flagstaff sent me a report by Cyndy Cole in yesterday's Arizona Daily Sun that indicates that reactionary Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick could be angering enough people to attract a primary opponent. She represents one of the nation's poorest districts, the Navajo Nation, but her votes show no concern whatsoever for working families, only for powerful CEOs. Unlike almost all Democrats, for example, she voted with the GOP to oppose limits on executive pay at banks receiving federal bailout funds and she voted against the mortgage lending reform bill, something sorely needed in hard hit Arizona. Not all of her Republican-oriented votes are about economics. She vehemently opposes restrictions on automatic weapons, a popular position in individualistic Arizona, just as she opposed the FDA regulating tobacco marketing to children, which she termed "unneeded government interference," straight from the Republican Party talking points handed out by tobacco lobbyist John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Some of her constituents were surprised, however, when she also joined Boehner and Cantor to oppose capping greenhouse gas emissions, because of a repeated pledge during her 2008 campaign to support renewable energy development in her district. At the time she campaigned on adding "green" jobs to the district's struggling economy and calling climate change America's biggest environmental challenge and a likely contributor to drought in Arizona.
Last year, Blue America, sensing how terrible Kirkpatrick would be for working families and for the environment, endorsed her progressive Democratic opponent Howard Shanker, who she buried with help from the perfidious DCCC and with huge amounts of Establishment cash. We were horrified when the Sierra Club, for whom Shanker had been winning cases as an attorney, went along with the Inside-the-Beltway crowd and endorsed Big Business friendly Kirkpatrick. Now it's the Sierra Club's chance to be horrified.
Between a vote to swap federal lands to allow mining near Superior, and the vote against the climate bill, the Sierra Club is not pleased... "Her district will feel the effects of climate change significantly, especially in the greater Grand Canyon area," said Grand Canyon Chapter Director Sandy Bahr. "Reduced flows in our rivers and streams is only one of many issues. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the higher temperatures will result in even more dead trees and more significant forest fires."
..."There are certainly a lot of progressive Democrats who are disappointed by her votes at this point," said Democrat Avtar Khalsa. But those sentiments appear to stop somewhere near the city limits, with farther-flung Democrats more supportive.
..."I basically think that Ann Kirkpatrick should return to her Republican roots," said Democrat Debbie Leavitt, referencing Kirkpatrick's childhood in a home that was politically divided. "I don't think she should be allowed to continue pretending to be a Democrat."
Others spoke on parallel tracks, including one of her more generous donors in Flagstaff.
"I am very disappointed in her promise versus performance on environmental issues," said William Putnam of Lowell Observatory.
Perhaps some local Democrats didn't fully understand who they were electing, said city councilwoman Karla Brewster.
"The people I've talked to are angry ... and believed she would be more liberal than she has been voting," Brewster said. "In talking to Ann myself, I've believed she would be more moderate."
...Democrat Bill Breed supported Kirkpatrick and congressional candidate Howard Shanker last year, before siding with Shanker. "She doesn't vote like a Democrat," he said of Kirkpatrick... The vote against the greenhouse-gas-capping bill might have landed roughly with some in Flagstaff, but it's a non-issue in much of the rest of the district, said Flagstaff political scientist Fred Solop.
"It's not a highly salient issue within the district as a whole," he said, adding that her overall record on environmental issues is "pretty good." Sometimes party members get a pass from their party leadership and are granted permission to not back a major party bill that's going to pass anyway, Solop said. Perhaps that has been the case with Kirkpatrick on the climate bill.
"If your district's in conflict with the governing party, vote the district," he said. He's looking ahead to the next election, as competitors emerge.
"This is going to be a very tough race for her," Solop said. "And if she can win this next election, she'll be in Congress for the next decade."
Its something we should work to prevent for the sake of the country. The Sun presented a neat list direct quotes from the duplicitous Kirkpatrick when she was desperate to win over Democrats in 2008. At the time she committed herself, in writing, to progressive positions she has since jettisoned sure she could keep Democratic voters in her camp-- where else can they go-- while winning over some Republicans. These quotes sound like they were given by a real Democrat, not Ann Kirkpatrick:
"Like Senator McCain, I support bipartisan efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a free market cap-and-trade system." -- Sept. 2008 Arizona Daily Sun questionnaire
"America's greatest environmental challenge is climate change, which is likely contributing to drought conditions here in the district. Our government must work with business to find economically viable solutions to this common problem. America should be a leader in the global community on this issue." -- June, 2008 Arizona Daily Sun questionnaire
"We need to work to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable medical services. While we move towards that goal, we must prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, make sure every child in this country can see a doctor by expanding S-CHIP, and allow the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices for Medicare just as the V.A. does." -- Sept. 2008 Arizona Daily Sun questionnaire
(Regarding background checks on guns sold at gun shows) "I will support laws that promote responsible gun ownership and use." -- June, 2008 Arizona Daily Sun questionnaire
"I support a permanent tax cut for 86 million middle-class families, fixing the alternative minimum tax so it does not target middle-class families, and preserving the estate tax as it stood under the Clinton Administration while exempting most small businesses and farms." -- Sept. 2008 Arizona Daily Sun questionnaire
As today's Hill pointed out yesterday, Obama is having a far worse problem in the House of Lords, were a handful of very conservative would-be mini-presidents have been working to water down Obama's agenda to make it more palatable to their corporate campaign donors. There are 6 who have consistently sided with the GOP in their obstructionist agenda against Obama's attempts to rescue the country from decades of right-wing misrule. The half dozen worst Democrats, according to the CQPolitics 2009 Senate scorecard, with their party unity scores:
Arlen Specter (PA)- 49%
Ben Nelson (NE)- 56%
Evan Bayh (IN)- 70%
Blanche Lincoln (AR)- 85%
Mary Landrieu (LA)- 87%
Kay Hagan (NC)- 88%
Miss McConnell and Jon Kyl have been reaching out to these reactionary anti-family Democrats, hoping to get them to help block Obama’s two biggest initiatives: healthcare reform and climate change legislation. They are confident that enough of them-- particularly Lincoln, Bayh, Landrieu and Nelson (plus Lieberman)-- will join the Republican efforts to filibuster change that at the very minimum they will succeed in watering down whatever Obama proposes so that ultimately his plans fail.
Writing about Lieberman, Nelson and Landrieu, The Hill concludes that "all three have expressed concerns about the core element in Obama’s healthcare proposal: a government-run insurance program that would compete with the private sector. The three also worked together this year to successfully cut more than $100 billion from Obama’s economic stimulus package." Their assessment is that the 3 others most likely to join the GOP obstructionism are Bayh, Lincoln and Arkansas doofus Mark Pryor.
“The Democratic Conference has 60 votes, if they’re all here, and if they are straight party-line that means that Republicans cannot stop legislation,” said Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.).
“[But] it is not all that common to have total party-line votes. If a couple of Democrats don’t vote with their party, then it doesn’t matter that they have 60 votes.”
Lieberman, who opposed Obama in the general election and then needed Obama’s support to hang onto his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has indicated he may vote against Obama’s healthcare reform initiative. [Lieberman is, and has long been, one of the most heavily bribed members of Congress when it comes to the Medical Industrial Complex and Big Insurance.]
“If we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it,” Lieberman told a home-state newspaper last week. “That’s a cost we can’t take on.”
Blanche Lincoln is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and has been working diligently behind the scenes to put roadblocks in the way of an effective and robust public option, a cat's paw of the Insurance CEOs inside the health care subcommittee. Her bad faith performance-- plus the fact that, along with Arlen Specter, she is the only one of the really bad Democrats up for re-election next year-- has inspired Blue America to launch an informational campaign about Lincoln's activities against health care reform starting tomorrow in all Arkansas media markets. Meanwhile, her Louisiana evil twin, Mary Landrieu, who doesn't have to face voters for another five-and-a-half years, "has angered liberal activists by seeming to go out of her way to express opposition to the public option, while other arch reactionaries and egregiously corrupt Democrats like Max Baucus and Tom Carper have stayed in the shadows on the issue, reassuring lobbyists and donors while not angering the public. "Lincoln teamed up with Senate Republicans during debate over the budget resolution to pass an amendment raising the exemption and lowering the rate for the estate tax. Both Pryor and Lincoln have expressed concern with the Employee Free Choice Act, a major priority of labor unions backed by most Democrats... Anna Aurilio, a lobbyist for Environment America, a liberal group, ranked Nelson, Landrieu, Bayh, Lincoln and Pryor as the toughest Democrats to persuade to join Democratic leaders on environmental votes... Lieberman, Nelson and other centrist Democrats give Republican leaders hope they can stop healthcare and climate proposals favored by Obama and most Democrats, even though they control only 40 seats, not enough to sustain a filibuster."