Friday, September 21, 2012

Republican Obstructionism Doesn't Just Harm Obama-- Let's Look At What They're Doing To Veterans And To Farm Communities


 Rachel was uncharacteristically mean when introducing four clownish Republican senators to her viewers Wednesday evening-- which you can watch in the video above-- John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). None of them are running for reelection this November so none of them were worried about filibustering-- to death-- the Veterans Jobs Corps Bill. The bipartisan bill was meant to deal with the fact that the unemployment rate for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a 35% higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country. Rachel was so mean to Boozman, Johanns. Burr and Toomney because they helped to write the bill-- because this was one the Democrats were determined would be a true bipartisan bill that wouldn't be filibustered by the odious Miss McConnell for the sole purpose of dealing President Obama a defeat regardless of content. But The odious Miss McConnell led a filibuster anyway and co-authors Boozman, Johanns. Burr and Toomney voted against it. Rachel has often expressed-- sometimes pretty emotionally-- a special sense of gratitude for the men and women who are sent to fight our foreign wars-- not for those wars themselves-- but for the young people fighting on the battlefields. She's made it clear that it offends her greatly when they return home and get tossed on the garbage pile of Mitt Romney's and the Republican Party's 47%. So that's why she was mean to Boozman, Johanns. Burr and Toomney.

 But Boozman, Johanns. Burr and Toomney, like I said, aren't up for reelection. Toomey, the one from Pennsylvania, would never have voted against the bill-- not in a billion years-- if he had been up for reelection. And, although I'm not a clairvoyant, I would bet that Republicans like Scott Brown and Dean Heller-- who did cross the aisle to vote with the Democrats in favor of vets and who are fighting for their political lives-- would not have hesitated for one second to back the odious Miss McConnell's filibuster if not for the impending tight election. (The latest polls show both Brown and Heller losing, Brown to the fabulous Elizabeth Warren, Heller to the decidedly mediocre and corrupt New Dem, Shelley Berkley. Brown and Heller were also the only incumbent Republican senators who took public issue with Romney's divisive tactic of portraying 47% of Americans as freeloaders and moochers. Trying to distance himself from the self-entitled aristocrats Willard and Ayn Romney, Heller ran to the Nevada media to tell them to "Keep in mind, I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic. My mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world and as United States senator, I think I represent everyone.")

 Republican obstructionism was probably fatal-- literally-- for some returning veterans. As Patrick Murphy, an Iraq War vet himself, points out in the clip above, another returning vet commits suicide every 80 minutes. Murphy seemed even more emotional-- and seething-- than Maddow. But it wasn't just Miss McConnell and the Senate Republicans throwing the vets under the bus that has contributed to Congress' 12% approval rating-- the lowest ever in an election year. Unlike senators who face the voters every 6 years-- and whose bad votes are soon forgotten-- House members all face the voters every two years. So every single one of them is up for reelection this November. And the Republicans from farming districts-- of, let's take Tom Latham in Iowa as an example-- are freaking out because another bit of mindless Republican Party obstructionism was to trashcan the Farm Bill. Farms are furious-- and will pay the consequences. Latham didn't mince words; he blamed Eric Cantor for bottling the bill up.
Iowa Rep. Tom Latham says Speaker John Boehner wants to bring the farm bill to the floor, but is being stifled by his leadership colleagues.

Latham, a close ally of Boehner’s (R-Ohio), said on Simon Conway’s radio show in Iowa Tuesday that “Eric Cantor is the one who controls floor activity” and the Virginia Republican “honestly believe(s) that they cannot pass it.”

“John Boehner is not the problem,” Latham said.
The farm bill has passed the House Agriculture Committee, and has been hanging in limbo ever since. The Senate passed a bill, and rural farm states have been up in arms at Republican leadership, which refuses to bring it to the floor. The Wall Street Journal editorial page gave leadership reinforcement Tuesday, when they said leadership shouldn’t bring it to the floor because it spends too much money. But Latham’s party is in power, and he is in a tight member-on-member race against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa). He wants the bill brought to the floor, and hashed out there.

Latham is hardly the only one representing a farm state who's furious at Cantor, the House Republican Majority Leader. Dick Durbin is kind of the Cantor of the Senate, at least so far as being the #2 guy in the leadership. Yesterday he wrote a letter to the editor of the Morris Daily Herald back in Illinois, Congress Must Pass Farm Bill.
To the Editor:
Since we can’t make it rain, the single most important thing Congress can do to assist producers impacted by this year’s drought is pass a farm bill. Most farmers will tell you they can survive one bad year, but right now farmers can’t plan for future years. Nearly three months ago the Senate passed a full five-year farm bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. It would reauthorize several expired disaster programs, extend several other programs to assist fruit and vegetable growers and dairy producers and expand crop insurance coverage. The Senate farm bill would also provide farmers with long term certainty in farm policy that will allow to plan out their recovery from this drought while still reducing the deficit by $23 billion. Unfortunately, the House won’t even bring a farm bill measure to the floor for debate. Instead, they offered an extension of a few disaster programs that do little to help Illinois farmers and producers that have struggled through this drought. Nearly 63 percent of the country is experiencing some level of drought. Every county in Illinois has been declared a disaster by USDA. 
And while our first thought during a drought is the impact to crop farmers, these conditions have a serious impact on businesses and economic growth throughout the state. 
About 1.5 million Illinois workers are employed in agribusiness industry which contributes more than $8.85 billion to the Illinois’ economy annually. It’s time for the House to take up and pass a farm bill with robust disaster assistance and the long term policy farmers need.  If the House can’t write a bill, they should at least call the bipartisan Senate bill for a vote as soon as possible.
And Dr. David Gill, a progressive Democrat running in Illinois' farm belt agrees with Durbin that the House Republicans need to stop blocking the farm bill. "We haven't just had a historic drought in Illinois and across the Midwest," he told us this morning, "we've had a drought of leadership in Congress. House Republicans have refused to step forward and pass a bi-partisan Farm Bill to help keep our Heartland alive. It's Tea Party politics at its very worst."

Instead, much to the chagrin of Democrats, Boehner and Cantor adjourned Congress until after the November election. I hope Wayne Powell can communicate Cantor's obstructionism to Virginia farmers. "This is just another example of the supposed 'leader' not leading," he told us today. "Whether there is an up or down vote, he should bring the act to the floor for the vote, before he recesses a month before the election. He again personifies the dysfunctional obstructionist title which he earns every day. This is yet another reason why he should be retired from Congress, instead of leading the Congress to the fiscal cliff which may occur. Kicking issues down the road is one of his many dysfunctional habits." Other Democrats running in agricultural districts certainly are.

Aryanna Strader is opposing Joe Pitts in southeast Pennsylvania's Lancaster and Chester counties. Even if he's sitting on his hands and babbling about abortions and gays, she's talking directly to the regions farming families. "Too often, members of Congress like Joe Pitts talk about having political courage. Well Joe Pitts has been in Washington long enough that he should be able to demonstrate some leadership to get his Republican colleagues to pass the Farm Bill... but he hasn't. As an Iraq War veteran I have seen true courage and it means standing up and taking real action, not just standing at a microphone and giving speeches. The Farm Bill means jobs and economic security in Pennsylvania and Congressman Pitts just sits there waiting for the recess gavel to come down." 

Another Blue America-endorsed progressive, Nate Shinagawa, is seeking to represent one of New York State's most productive farming areas, the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. He held a press conference to distance himself from Rep. Tom Reed's blasé attitude about the GOP blocking the bill and the resultant hardship for area farmers. “Congressman Tom Reed and the Republicans seem to neglect the fact that Congress has significant responsibility, whether it’s with the livelihood of our farmers or promoting job growth, and as the party in power, should be taking immediate steps to compromise on a full 5-year renewal.” Shinagawa noted the importance of a 5-year renewal after conversations with local farmers, saying it was critical to be able to “plan accordingly to develop a business plan. They need the long term stability to remain profitable.” He supports the Senate version of the bill, which has passed with bi-partisan support, because it “sustains critical subsidies for farmers, and also limits cuts to food stamp programs used by 1 in 7 Americans.” Boehner is an asshole too:


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