Thursday, October 28, 2010

Washington DC... What A Place! Somebody Should Clean It Up, Don't You Think?


Unlike the DCCC, we'll forgo the second clause

When John Amato was getting ready for his meeting with President Obama at the White House yesterday, I gave him some advice. I suggested he ask the President why he keeps giving dangerous Wall Street Paul Ryan public blowjobs (but to figure out a less colloquial way of putting it). He says he would have if he had one more question. And I told him he look up Dan Pfeiffer, one guy in the White House who always seems to have his head screwed on right, while everyone else was trying to kiss up to bigger name players like Axelrod. And, I'm happy to say that Amato did bond with Pfeiffer and even gave him an autographed copy of his new book, Over The Cliff. Just before he sat down with Amato, Pfeiffer blogged at HuffPo about the motivation of the billionaires who are pouring money into the Republican campaign coffers.
Last week, as special interest billionaires continued to pour secret donations of millions of dollars each into front groups supporting Republicans, we asked the obvious question: "What do they expect in return?"

Today we found out they're already drawing up the plans. Washington lobbyists are lining up cash to help Republicans in Congress repeal Wall Street reform, repeal health care reform and go back to the same policies that led to this mess. The New York Times describes the blitz of meetings between Republicans in Congress and Washington lobbyists.

...This should come as no surprise given the track record of Congressional Republicans over the past two years. Rather than listen to the American people, Congressional Republicans have repeatedly shown their loyalty to these special interests by retreating behind closed doors to strategize with their lobbyists on the most critical issues for the American people.

On Wall Street reform, Congressional Republicans didn't listen to the millions of Americans who lost their homes and savings as a result of the financial crisis. Instead, House Republicans teamed up with Wall Street lobbyists to try to defeat the bill, and Senate Republicans leaders traveled to New York City to meet with Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers to discuss their opposition to the legislation and solicit campaign contributions. In fact, right after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got back from that trip, he announced that Senate Republicans would not support the bill providing the toughest consumer financial protections in history.

On health insurance reform, Congressional Republicans didn't listen to the stories of Americans who cannot afford insurance or have been denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Instead, House Republicans introduced an "alternative" bill that borrowed proposals from health insurance companies, and before any of the Senate committees had even begun working on health reform legislation, Senate Republican leaders met with health care lobbyists in an effort to "recruit stakeholders to oppose" important Democratic proposals.

See why I wanted Amato to get to know Pfeiffer. Still, I bet Pfeiffer wouldn't appreciate a little tangent I need to take. I'm setting up a story for right after the election. And this piece of the story stands on it's own even before I tie the ends together and weave it into a narrative. Pfeiffer-- and his bosses at the White House-- want us to think about the big corporate money flowing into the GOP. So do I. It's repulsive and makes our democracy into an auction and a shame. This morning Thom Hartmann was on the radio talking about the original Supreme Court case (and the slimy right-wing Supreme Court clerk) from which this whole farce about corporate personhood was foisted on the country. It was at the root of the hundreds of millions of dollars a handful of billionaires, corporations and foreign powers are buying this year's elections for the Republican Party. However, it isn't-- and what ever is?-- all one-sided. The Democrats, alas, can be nearly as corrupt as the Republicans given half a chance. More about that after the election. Now let's take a little look at Arkansas' two viable House races.

The two seats are open, AR-1 and AR-2, because alcoholic reactionary Blue Dog Marion Berry and moderate Vic Snyder are both retiring. AR-1 gave Obama just 38% of its vote in 2008, the worst among the 3-Democratic-held House seats in Arkansas. AR-2 was the best-performing district in the state for Obama-- 44%. Neither incumbent had been challenged by the GOP in 2008 but in 2006 both incumbents won landslide victories. That was the background. Now to the meat of the matter.

Both Democratic candidates, conservative Chad Causey (AR-1) and progressive Joyce Elliott (AR-2) had tough primaries and both are on the DCCC Red to Blue list. Causey is a DC inside player, the chief of staff for Berry (who has been drunk for a decade-- which accounts for why all the other insider players know him so well; Causey has been running the show for Berry). Like Berry, Causey is an ultra-conservative Democrat, the right fringe of the Blue Dogs. Should he be elected, he can be expected to oppose anything that is in the slightest but helpful to working families and to vote as much with Boehner and the GOP as with the Republicans... in fact, it's likely that on key contested matters he will vote far more freuqnetly with the GOP. The Democrat in the other district, Joyce Elliott, is an actual Democrat, motivated by the values and ideals elucidated by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She's the Arkansas Senate Majority Leader-- running against slimy Karl Rove protégé Tim Griffin-- with a distinguished career of service on behalf of ordinary Arkansas families. If she wins this election she will make history as the first African-American woman to ever be elected to a federal office in the state of Arkansas.

Like I said, both were added to the DCCC's once vaunted, lately moribund, Red to Blue program. Causey has benefited mightily. In fact, his campaign has gotten more financial support, as of today, than any Democrat-- more than any incumbent and more than any challenger. So far the DCCC has put $1,760,297.20 in I.E.s into his race. And Joyce Elliott? Nothing-- not a dime, not a nickel... nothing.

Recently Nancy Pelosi sent word to the DCCC that they shouldn't spend all their money on supporting candidates who don't support the Democratic agenda and that they should use at least some of it to support candidates who do support the agenda. That comes from several progressive campaigns. The DCCC-- whose ineffectual chairman, Chris Van Hollen is also Pelosi's "Special Assistant"-- essentially ignored the Speaker. Why? That's the story I want to tell after the election. But keep the Arkansas piece of the puzzle in mind, ok? Oh-- and if you want to help Joyce Elliott, you'll find her at the Blue America '10 page.

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