Thursday, July 11, 2013

In The Bag-- Most Of Congress... But Not Bernie Sanders


When Boehner and Cantor offer a motion to suspend the rules and pass a bill, requiring a 2/3's vote for passage, it doesn't mean the bill isn't controversial; it does mean there's huge bipartisan support for the bill though. And, more often than not, it means lobbyists have greased the way for passage. When Congress got back in session Monday, they kicked off the proceedings with 3 such bills-- H.R. 1341, H.R. 1564 and H.R. 1171. The last of the three really was a nonpartisan vote that everyone-- except bizarre sexual predator Mark Sanford of South Carolina-- agreed to. It passed 387-1 and authorizes "the transfer of federal surplus property to a state agency for distribution through donation within the state for purposes of education or public health for organizations whose membership comprises substantially veterans and whose representatives are recognized by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims under laws administered by the Secretary." In other words, it gives veterans service organizations access to Federal surplus personal property. Don't ask me why Sanford voted "no;" he's a very sick man and should be in a mental hospital, not Congress.

It was the other two bills, however, that drew my attention to the voting Monday. Both passed overwhelmingly and with bipartisan support. But a quick look at who was pushing the bills and who voted against them, set off some serious alarms here at DWT. Both are Wall Street bills written by bankster lobbyists and both bills were opposed by the few honest Members of Congress who aren't in the pockets of the banksters. In the words of the NY Times this morning, Congress and "the Securities and Exchange Commission has all but invited hucksters, rip-off artists and other bad actors to prey on individual investors. The new rules are another disturbing sign that under the leadership of the new chairwoman, Mary Jo White, the S.E.C. will pursue deregulation at the expense of investor protection."

The first of the two, H.R. 1341 passed 353-24, all 24 being progressives Democrats-- Xavier Becerra (CA), Steve Cohen (TN), John Conyers (MI), Pete DeFazio (OR), Donna Edwards (MD), Keith Ellison (MN), Sam Farr (CA), Alan Grayson (CA), Gene Green (TX), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Mike Honda (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Alan Lowenthal (CA), Ben Ray Luján (NM), Ed Markey (MA), Jim McDermott (WA), Jim McGovern (MA), Jerry Nadler (NY), Rick Nolan (MN), Chellie Pingree (ME), Jan Schakowsky (IL), José Serrano (NY) and Louise Slaughter (NY). The bill was sponsored by 4 crooked Republicans-- Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R-Mafia), and Bill Huizenga (R-MI) plus one corrupt Blue Dog/New Dem, David Scott (GA). The purpose of the bill is to allow even smaller margin requirements for Wall Street derivatives bets, a blueprint for calamity.

The second, H.R. 1564, amends the Sarbane-Oxley Act and attracted a lot more opposition, again all from Democrats. It passed 321-62, Democratic leaders Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Israel, and Jim Clyburn pushing the caucus to vote for what Wall Street wanted but with the Progressive Caucus leaders plus Nancy Pelosi and Xavier Beccera pulling in the other direction. Joining some of Wall Street's favorite shills like Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Ed Royce (R-CA) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) in sponsoring this were two of the most corrupt Democrats in the House, again Blue Dog/New Dem David Scott (GA) and, of course, New Dem Patrick Murphy (FL). All the crooked Democrats who have been working in the House Financial Services Committee to dismantle Dodd-Frank and allow the banksters to tank the economy again-- Jim Himes (New Dem-CT), David Scott (New Dem-GA), Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY), Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL), Gary Peters (New Dem-MI), John Carney (New Dem-DE), Denny Heck (New Dem-WA), Bill Foster (New Dem-IL) and John Delaney (New Dem-MD); Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ), one of the most odious of this lot, was stuck on a plane and couldn't vote and her hideous doppelganger from Florida, Patrick Murphy, ducked out of the proceedings and hid instead of voting-- joined the Republicans to pass this.

Bernie Sanders is a senator now, but he used to be in the House and was one of the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This kind of legislation is the antithesis of what his whole career has been about and there's no doubt that he'll be fighting these two bills when they come over to the Senate. He is still demanding-- tirelessly-- that "Congress and the White House start responding to the needs of ordinary Americans-- not the big money interests." More from Bernie:
You know as well as I what’s going on in our country today. The rich get richer while the middle-class continues to disappear. The multi-national corporations enjoy record-breaking profits, while unemployment remains sky-high and more and more Americans slip into poverty. And, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision the billionaire class has gained even more political power while, at the same time, right-wing governors are making it harder for low-income people to vote.

...I am also a co-sponsor of legislation that would impose a Wall Street financial transaction tax on the sale of derivatives, credit default swaps and large amounts of stock. Wall Street greed, illegal behavior and speculation helped drive this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. With Wall Street speculators today making huge profits, while continuing to endanger the stability of the world’s financial system, they must begin paying their fair share of taxes. With the six major Wall Street financial institutions larger today than they were before they were bailed out, having assets equivalent to two-thirds of our GDP, I have also introduced legislation to break up these huge financial entities.

...As you know the Republican Party, once a moderate-conservative party, has become a right-wing extremist party. With the help of the Koch brothers and their other corporate sponsors, Republicans in Congress are now trying to roll back virtually every piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protects the needs of working families. Whether it is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition, child care, tax policy, women’s rights or workers’ rights, the main function of Congressional Republicans is to protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful against the middle class. They have also become an anti-science party-- rejecting the research of virtually the entire scientific community regarding the planetary crisis of global warming.

Poll after poll tells us that today’s Republican ideology-- tax breaks for billionaires and massive cuts to important social programs-- is way out of touch with what the American people want. And yet, Republicans stand likely to retain control over the U.S. House in 2014, have a chance to become a majority in the U.S. Senate and are doing well in state elections. Why is that? How is it that a party with such an extremist ideology has not been relegated to marginal status in American political life?

All of which brings me to the Democrats. While the Republicans have moved from a center-right party to a right-wing extremist party, the Democrats have also moved to the right-- going from being a center-left party to a centrist party. This means that while they attempt to address the needs of trade unions, seniors, low income Americans, environmentalists, women, students, minorities and the gay community, they also pay a great deal of attention to Wall Street, the wealthy, corporate America and their big campaign contributors. Needless to say, these competing forces have irreconcilable differences.

In my view, the great crisis of American politics today is the demoralization of the American people and their belief that virtually no one in Washington is fighting for the collapsing middle-class. In 2009, after eight disastrous years of George W. Bush as president, the Democrats controlled the White House and had large majorities in the House and Senate. Where was the simple, straight-forward legislation that took on the insurance companies and provided health care to all, that ended Wall Street domination of our economy, that created the many millions of jobs we desperately needed, that made college affordable, that allowed America to become the world leader in reversing global warming? Where was the political offensive which made clear to all Americans that the Democrats were fighting for working families while the Republicans were the party of Wall Street and the big money interests?

Now, in 2013, the Democrats control the White House and the Senate but it appears to many Americans that the Republicans determine the agenda. Why hasn’t there been a major effort to overturn Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections? Why has almost all of the recent emphasis been on deficit reduction, rather than creating the millions of jobs we desperately need? Why is anybody in the Democratic Party (least of all the President) talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans? Where is the outrage regarding the massive NSA surveillance practices recently revealed?

Clearly, what is needed right now is a massive grass-roots movement which fights for the needs of working families and which elects progressives at the national, state and local level. We should not accept the conventional wisdom of a red state/blue state America. There is no state in this country which is not heavily populated by working families. And they all need strong and effective representation to stand up to the billionaire class which dominates our economic and political life.

Rush Holt is a progressive congressman from New Jersey running an uphill race against Wall Street's top pick for 2013, shameless corporate whore Coy Booker, a so-called Democrat who once tried to privatize the Newark Water System and is the darling of the worst Big Money interests that normally back Republicans. Do you think someone like Booker could ever get behind anything like the Wall Street Speculation Tax?

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At 7:10 AM, Anonymous me said...

99% of the time, "bipartisan" means "republican".

That's because the Democratic Party is a worthless piece of shit.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Now that's an idea that's time has come!!!!


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