Thursday, March 07, 2013

Which Incumbents Does Steve Israel Give DCCC Money To-- And Why?


Israel, recovering from a pounding in Illinois last week

This week, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced the 26 Frontline candidates upon whom most of the money the DCCC collects this year will be lavished. With just a few exceptions, most of these vulnerable Democrats are conservatives. Several of these conservative Dems-- like Suzan DelBene (WA), Patrick Murphy (FL), Elizabeth Esty (CT) and Scott Peters (CA), for example, are multimillionaires who can bankroll their own campaigns without sucking money from hardworking grassroots Democrats.

Even worse, some of them have been the most supportive of the Republican agenda this year. With just a few exceptions, the list largely a collection of Blue Dogs and New Dems. This session, so far, there are just a handful of Democrats who have voted more frequently with Boehner and Cantor on crucial roll calls than they have with Nancy Pelosi and the progressives. Just today, when Pelosi offered a Motion to Recommit the Republican's phony-baloney Continuing Resolution by striking the language that says sequestration will apply to all funding in the bill, only 3 Democrats opposed it: Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA) and Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT). Barrow and Matheson are both on the list and both can expect as much as a million of more dollars spent by the DCCC on their reelection bids in 2014. (If you're wondering why Mike McIntyre didn't vote against the motion, it's because he was absent. He certainly would have.)

The two worst voters this session, Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), are both on Israel's Frontline list. Matheson has supported the Democrats 12.50% of the time and Kirkpatrick has 14.29%. Most of the Israeli list are in the 50/50 category... they vote with the Democrats half the time and with the Republicans half the time-- and this is in the crucial vote category, not in the naming post offices category. Each of these Democrats on the Frontline list fits in there-- half and half:
Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)
Raul Ruiz (CA)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Bill Owens (New Dem-NY)
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog/New Dem-NC)
Sean Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY)
Ann Kuster (NH)
Cheri Bustos (IL)
Ron Barber (New Dem-AZ)
And speaking of 50/50, another Steve Israel announcement this week was that Connecticut New Dem vice-chair, Jim Himes (CT) is the new National Finance Chair, replacing another New Dem vice chair, Alysson Schwartz, who can't raise money for the DCCC because she's using every contact she knows to raise money for her gubernatorial race against Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania. Himes has been a shady character on the House Financial Services Committee, routinely voting with the GOP to undermine Wall Street bankster reforms. I was dismayed when I learned that his chief of staff, Jason Cole, is a former UBS lobbyist. Remember when Blanche Lincoln-- now a lobbyist, then a U.S. Senator being primaried intensely-- introduced an anti-bankster derivatives amendment to try to get progressives to stop donating to her opponent? Himes teamed up with a GOP bankster shill, Randy Hultgren to introduce a bill to repeal it. Himes tried the same thing last year at this time (with Republican Nan Hayworth, who was subsequently defeated by the voters in her district. I bet that makes Steve Israel and Joe Crowley dance for joy-- as well as the entire GOP.
The U.S. House Financial Services Committee approved legislation that would let banks keep commodity and equity derivatives in federally-insured units by removing part of the Dodd-Frank Act’s so-called push-out rule.

The bipartisan measure, approved today by voice vote, calls for altering the 2010 law’s requirement that banks with access to deposit insurance and the Federal Reserve’s discount window move some derivatives trades to separate affiliates.

Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat who led the Senate Agriculture Committee during talks leading to the regulatory overhaul, sponsored the original provision as a way to limit taxpayer support for risky derivatives trades. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Sheila Bair, the former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman, opposed the provision and argued that it would drive derivatives trading to less-regulated entities.
This week, a Himes staffer proudly anounced that "Reps. Hultgren and Himes will introduce a bill Wednesday-- with bipartisan co-sponsors on the Agriculture Committee-- to modify the swaps 'push out' provision in Dodd-Frank. The bill will mirror the final version that the committee reported last Congress (as amended by Mr. Himes)." Companion legislation is expected in the Senate. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was supportive of the change, which would allow banks to keep commodity and equity derivatives in federally insured units, during testimony to the Senate last week."

And, by the way, Himes hasn't signed the Grayson-Takano letter that pledges “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.” Neither has anyone on Steve Israel's list of Frontline candidates. If you were thinking of making a political contribution, please consider making it here, not to the DCCC. As Grayson explained, "With the Norquist pledge, the Republicans have lined up on the side of millionaires, billionaires and multinational corporations. With our No Cuts pledge, we are lined up on the side of seniors, sick people, and poor people. We are comforting the afflicted, and they are comforting the comfortable." I wish there weren't so many Democrats spending so much time comforting the comfortable along with them.

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