Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Streams Of Consciousness, Dec. 1


This evening the Congressional Progressive Caucus met to elect its leadership for the 112th Congress. Donna Edwards, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison were the nominees and it was widely believed Edwards had the inside track. The only problem was that she was only interested in the chair if it was a solo deal-- no co-chair. But the Caucus first voted to keep the co-chair structure, which pretty much sealed the deal, despite the back biting from outgoing co-chair Lynn Woolsey who has been badmouthing Grijalva, claiming that he was impossible to work with. She's suffering from a back injury and is presumed to be seriously impaired from painkillers, almost on a Rush Limbaugh level. Wow, I just realized I can use that fantastic new Limbaugh masterpiece that WMXDesign worked up for us today.

Before the caucus meeting, Grijalva and John Conyers sent a letter to the Cat Food Commissioners urging protection for Social Security benefits, similar to the one they sent President Obama, who ignored it; apparently he only listens to reactionaries, not progressives.
“The prolonged and unnecessary debate about whether to slash Social Security benefits and yank the financial rug out from under millions of Americans should end now, and it can end as soon as members of the Commission announce they will not support any cuts,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Social Security has never contributed a dime to the national debt and should never have been part of the Commission’s conversation. The American people have spoken loudly and clearly about their wish not to see Social Security tinkered with, reduced or privatized. All the Commission has to do is catch up with reality. Announcing that it will not recommend any Social Security reductions would send a strong message about the importance of this fundamental program and give families the financial security they need and deserve, especially in this struggling economy.”

The letter was co-signed by 137 Members of Congress, not that Obama cares, since none of them were Republicans. Obama seems more attentive to letters like the one from Miss McConnell, threatening to prevent Congress from functioning until millionaires and billionaires get their tax breaks. As my friend Kagro X said today: "Irresistible force meets movable object!" Newsweek's Ben Adler did a good job this afternoon putting the whole GOP ransom attempt into context. The "compromise: the Republicans are "offering" is simple: "in exchange for giving the Republicans' the tax cuts for the wealthy they desire, Republicans would stop threatening us all with nuclear annihilation. If you care about the national security of the United States, as Obama apparently does, then passing a budget-busting inequality-increasing tax cut is a small price to pay. But what does a tax cut have to do with nuclear security?"

Greg Sargent was even more to the point:
With House Dems set to vote tomorrow on extending just the middle class tax cuts, Republicans are fanning out to denounce the move as a tax hike. The idea is that a plan to extend just the low end tax cuts would mean that the high end ones would expire at the end of the year. Presto: Tomorrow's vote is a vote for a tax hike.

But Dems have their pushback at the ready: They will point out that some House Republicans themselves said a few months ago that they would vote to extend just the middle class tax cuts, if given just that option.

Meanwhile House Ways and Means Committee Chair Sander Levin pushed forward with the Middle Class Tax Act (H.R. 6467) to extend tax cuts for the first $250,000 every family in America makes. It'll be voted on tomorrow. Levin:
“These tax cuts offer critical relief to middle-class families looking to rebuild their economic security as our nation continues to recover from the recession. Provisions in this bill represent a view that Democrats and Republicans share-- we must give these middle-class families certainty by extending this expiring relief. We must not let Congressional Republicans hold these families hostage while they insist on extending expensive tax cuts for the wealthiest few. So let us stand up and vote now to extend middle class tax cuts, extend AMT relief, extend the child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, extend the EITC, and extend critical education incentives to help more families afford higher education for their children.”

To The Victors, The Spoils... Only The Whole Planet Will Be Spoiled By This One

The shady Americans for Prosperity PAC was set up and funded largely by billionaire reactionary David Koch to kill climate change efforts. The PAC enforced a No Climate Tax pledge on candidates looking for financial assistance and among the winning Republicans, whose elections guaranteed the ascendancy of John Boehner to the Speakers chair, were dozens of pledge signers including radical right fanatics Bill Huizenga (MI), Daniel Webster (FL), Justin Amash (MI), Charlie Bass (NH), Frank Guinta (NH), Sean Duffy (WI), Rick Crawford (AR), Reid Ribble (WI), Morgan Griffin (VA), Tim Walberg (MI), Bob Gibbs (OH) and Dan Benishek (MI).

Koch got his reward today when Boehner announced he would be abolishing the Select Committee on Global Warming
At a hearing Wednesday, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the ranking GOP member on the committee who had argued against its disbanding, announced that it would be their final meeting.

"This hearing will be the last of the select committee," he said. "And while I was initially skeptical of the select committee's mission, it ultimately provided a forum for bipartisan debate, and an opportunity for House Republicans to share a different view on the pressing energy and environment issues that we currently face."

Well worth the few million dollars oil billionaire poured into the effort.

Progressives Want Obama To Stop Caving In To Republicans... And Ponies For Everyone

Our pal Ari Berman, author of Herding Donkeys appeared on MSNBC last week to talk about Obama needlessly caving in to reactionaries again. What has to be remembered is that Obama is now and has always been-- at least for as long as he's held federal office-- a conservative. He wears a blue t-shirt but he seems more comfortable working with red-shirted conservatives, even though they have mostly moved so far to the right that they are reactionaries rather than conservatives. Obama utterly ignores progressives. That explains why millions of Democrats and left-leaning independents didn't bother coming out to the polls last month. Ignore corporate shill Susan Molinari in this clip but listen to Ari's explanation of what's going on in Washington:

And remember, Obama will get blamed for crap like this while he running around making kissy-face with Eric Cantor instead of standing up and fighting for the people who put him in office.
Unemployment benefits expired for millions of jobless Americans at midnight, marking the first time in four decades that Congress has failed to provide benefits with so many Americans out of work. Republican lawmakers who blocked an extension of benefits maintain that the country simply cannot afford to spend $12 billion on the unemployed, even as they fight to secure permanent tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans, which will heap hundreds of billions on to the deficit.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said that while he is "deeply sympathetic" to the plight of the unemployed, "we've got to make the cuts necessary to offset those costs." During the interview, Pence claimed that Republicans are "anxious to support" struggling Americans, "particularly in the holiday season." However, asked whether he would accept a compromise that paid for unemployment benefits by allowing tax cuts to expire only on income over $1 million, Pence insisted that the jobless are better off swallowing tax cuts for the very rich than receiving immediate relief.

Pressed further on his priorities by Time's Mark Halperin, Pence awkwardly joked that he's "not good at chess," before falling back on his talking points. "I think the minimum that we have to do right now for Americans that are struggling in unemployment in this economy is make sure that no American sees a tax increase," he said.

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