Saturday, October 29, 2016

Leaked Document (Not From Russia): What Does Patrick Murphy Think The Weakest Parts Of His Record Are?


Trump didn't, but most serious political campaigns do an opposition research look at their own candidate in order to be ready for likely attacks. At the end of 2013, as his campaign was preparing for re-election, they took a look at Patrick Murphy from how they thought his opponents might see him. The report leaked-- and, if you know anyone as stupid as Rachel Maddow yelling about saving the seat for Team Blue, please make sure they see it. Keep in mind, it was primarily written from the point of view of defending against an attack from the right, not much from the left, which is where Murphy is most vulnerable, since he's far more conservative (and corrupt) than should be acceptable to informed voters. For example, the paper accuses him of voting against offshore drilling, although he eventually wound up voting right along with the Republicans for offshore drilling. Similarly, the paper accuses Murphy of voting to approve Keystone XL when in reality he voted with the Republicans to back it and even voted with them to unconstitutionally take Obama out of the decision-making process.

Same Old Story: Outsider To Insider Quickly

Patrick Murphy’s story is a familiar one: a political outsider was elected on promises of cleaning up Washington’s finances and working together in practical ways to find commonsense solutions. However, as soon as he took office, and particularly as soon as he took his seat on a powerful House committee and the money started flowing in, he began to look like any other politician, quietly doing the bidding of rich and powerful corporations behind the scenes at the expense of the people who elected him, while raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars from PACs and party bosses.

Millions of Dollars from Outside Liberal PACs Elected A Wealthy Carpetbagger

The PAC contributions were nothing new, however, as Murphy owes his slim margin of victory in 2012 to the millions of dollars in outside super PAC money that funded his ad campaigns and lent boots on the ground and logistical support, even as he campaigned on getting the “gross” super PACs and their millions out of elections (and thanking the liberal House Majority PAC for its $2.4 million in assistance in a January 2013 testimonial video). Those outside millions, including more than half a million given to them by Murphy’s own wealthy father, elected an outside candidate, a carpetbagger who did not live in the district until the year he was elected.

...And It’s Starting Again

Given that Murphy has been targeted by the DCCC for priority support in 2014 and is already taking tens of thousands of dollars from them and from party bosses such as Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steny Hoyer, and Democratic budget author Chris van Hollen, and that his seat is considered vulnerable, voters in the 18th District can expect another flood of outside liberal PAC money and additional appearances by top Democrats such as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who stumped and raised money for him last time.

Token Bipartisanism

The millions of dollars from liberal PACs and party bosses speaks for itself, but Murphy’s campaign promise of bipartisanship also begins to look like typical candidate lip service given that it does not extend to the big ticket items that must be addressed to rescue the nation’s finances and pay down the debt. His colleagues across the aisle have noted that his bipartisan votes have been only “soft votes,” not “bellwether votes.”

Typical Liberal Tax-And-Spender

Murphy said on the campaign trail that he would have voted for President Obama’s 2009 stimulus, and that posture has extended to his votes and calls for all of the typical kinds of tax-and-spend liberal big ticket items such as tax hikes to Clinton-era levels, an endlessly-rising debt ceiling, a trillion dollar farm bill, billions for food stamps, disregarding sequester spending limits, and ever-increasing Medicare benefits and votes against reforming it. He has also embraced other heavy handed liberal standards such as co-sponsoring a gun control bill with over 100 other Democrats. He also voted to let the government keep collecting the phone records of every American even when they’re not under suspicion or investigation.

Team Obama: Obamacare

Additionally Murphy has sung the praises of Obamacare for its alleged savings and efficiencies and has defended it since before taking office, making only minor critiques while endorsing it overall. On multiple occasions he waived the opportunity to reach across the aisle to repeal or defund it, even as the rollout went off the rails and even as the president’s lie about letting covered Americans keep their preferred plans under Obamacare was revealed, even when bipartisan compromise on the matter could have ended the harmful government shutdown. As a fan of food stamps and other chronic forms of government handouts and entitlements, his vote to allow Obama’s plan to hand out Obamacare subsidies to plan applicants claiming low-income status without verifying their income can be seen as consistent.

Team Obama: Death by EPA and the War on Affordable Energy

Murphy has also walked in lockstep with Obama on his extreme environmental agenda and has waved the flag of global warming. By voting against offshore drilling, he voted to block the country from finding and tapping its own vast oil resources to achieve energy independence. He sponsored legislation to rescind the price supports in the oil & gas industry that allow his constituents to pay reasonable prices at the pump, among the cheapest in the world, and has attempted to redirect that money to renewable energy technologies that can’t yet meet a fraction of the nation’s energy needs.

He has voted to use the blunt instrument of the EPA to attempt to regulate the coal industry and others out of business with a stream of punishing billion-dollar rules that kill jobs. He has rejected proposals to route EPA and other government agency regulations through Congress for commonsense impact analysis on jobs and the economy before dropping them on industry. And he has voted not to make use of the nation’s vast forest reserves to rob forest fires of extra fuel and provide benefit to local communities, and to block mining for minerals of strategic importance to the country.

Got Nothing Done in Washington

District 18 voters should compare what Candidate Murphy said he was going to do in Washington and what Congressman Murphy’s record to date actually shows to see if they got someone who has made any difference. He has sponsored only six bills to date and not one has made it to the House floor for a vote. Of the 160 bills he had co-sponsored by the middle of November, only 13 passed the House, and only four of those became law. Three of those were commemorative gestures and one has to do with people lying about combat medals. Nothing on the deficit and nothing on any of the other problems he pledged to solve in Washington. Should the 18th District return a junior Congressman in the minority party to Washington? Or would they be better served by sending a Republican who can actually get things passed in a Republican-controlled House?

Too Generous to Fail

Perhaps the most alarming thing about Murphy’s brief tenure in office is the way he has quietly sold out regular working Americans to the same financial industries whose irresponsible and predatory behavior sparked the global financial collapse of the late 2000s. He has raked in piles of money from financial sector in the first three quarters of 2013 and it shows in his systematic attempts to undermine the reforms that were put in place to prevent the industry from doing it to us again.

The collapse exposed systemic weaknesses and reckless standards in the financial industry that left banks and other financial institutions large and small unable to cope with the backlash from the housing crash and credit crisis and the toxic assets, evaporated equity, and unmet obligations it left behind. Regular Americans and small businesses were left to bail out the financial industry while themselves having to endure skyrocketing unemployment, plunging home values, decimated retirement funds, shuttered banks, frozen capital, and an economy on life support.

Politicians were on the hook to explain how they and the nation’s laws could have let this happen, and particularly why banks and other financial institutions that were able to reap such immense profits during the bubble were somehow too big to fail and had to be paid even more money out of Main Street’s pocketbook, including $140 billion in bonuses. In response, legislators put forward numerous reforms, primarily the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act. Many of the regulations stemming from the Act are still being finalized in federal regulatory agencies, yet they have been under attack by legislators, lobbyists, and paid Congressional allies of the financial industry since before the reform bill even passed.

Campaign Cash for Watering Down Dodd-Frank Reforms

Regrettably, Murphy has proven to be one of those paid attackers, and more acutely so from his perch on the powerful House Financial Services Committee. In addition to taking more money from the banking and investment industry than any other freshman Member of Congress, at least $77,000 in the first three quarters of 2013, and at least $135,000 from the financial sector as a whole, he has repeatedly voted to water down the Dodd-Frank reforms by exempting one group or industry or financial instrument after another from regulations designed to fix the specific things that allowed the financial collapse to happen in the first place. These industries will not rest until they have exempted themselves entirely from as many of the new regulations as possible. Murphy appears to be an eager partner in this regard as his sponsorships, co-sponsorships, votes, and committee votes demonstrate.

Helping Citibank Write Laws for Itself

Murphy voted, for example, both in committee and on the House floor, for a bill known to have been written by Citigroup to exempt broad swaths of swap derivatives from Dodd-Frank regulations, allowing bailed-out banking giants to hedge their risk with derivatives at the same levels as before the collapse. And since they are not any smaller than they were before, they will need to be bailed out by regular taxpayers once again if the same practices leave them exposed to some future economic shock equivalent to the credit crisis and burst housing bubble. He also voted to exempt foreign branches of banks from swap regulation, allowing them to shift their riskier investments to less regulated countries, but with all the same risks to the parent company and the economy as if the branches were domestic.

Helping Securities Brokers Masquerade as Impartial Investment Advisers

Murphy has also co-sponsored, voted in committee and voted in the full House for a bill to hamstring proposed requirements emerging from Dodd-Frank that securities broker- dealers be regulated as fiduciaries-- that is, as people legally bound to give their clients financial advice based on the client’ best interests and ahead of their own or any others’. Currently brokers and dealers operate as salespeople. Their job is to push investment products that make them and their companies the most money possible, even if those products have high costs and poor performance relative to better performing products. So there is a conflict of interest in regard to giving impartial investment advice, yet most regular Americans of middle income are not financially savvy enough realize that people calling themselves “financial advisers” would give them advice pursuant to anything other than their best interests. It has been estimated that this conflict of interest costs retirement investors $1 billion per month.

Putting the Nation’s Retirement Savings at Risk

At stake in the broker-dealer fiduciary debate is the $10.5 trillion in IRA and 401(k) retirement funds that these securities brokers control, and from which they extract their fees. This is the nation’s retirement savings and it has a steady leak. The industry has issued ominous warnings that the requirements and expenses of maintaining fiduciary status (for example carrying fiduciary insurance) will cost so much that it will cause companies to exit the individual advice market, leaving Americans stranded with little access to personalized investment advice. Then again, they have a similar story for every other regulation. Always these stories make the claim that the industry is only acting in the best interest of their clients, which is ironic given the particular nature of the regulation they’re trying to avoid in this case.

No Fiduciary Requirement for Private Equity Funds Either

Murphy also co-sponsored legislation to exempt private equity fund advisers from this fiduciary standard for the same reasons and with possibly even greater risks given that their entire business model is based on leverage...

Allowing Same Overleveraging & Undercapitalization as in the Financial Collapse

Leverage is important because it was not only one of the key culprits in the financial collapse, and one of the key targets of reform afterwards, but is another of the areas of reform and regulation Murphy is taking money from the financial industry to hamstring and undermine. Prior to and during the financial collapse, banks and other financial institutions were so highly leveraged and so undercapitalized that they were unable to absorb the shock of the credit crisis when the chickens of the housing bubble came home to roost. Many of the bad subprime mortgages lenders made irresponsibly to people who could never pay them back, many of the collateralized debt obligations built on those toxic assets and on good mortgages gone underwater, and many of the opaque, under collateralized credit default swap derivatives insuring them went south, leaving overleveraged, undercapitalized banks unable to cover the defaults, and unable to lend to anyone else in the economy who depended on them for capital. When credit froze in this manner and money couldn’t move, the country and world entered financial crisis.

The Dodd-Frank reforms and other global voluntary standards such as the Basel Accords targeted this problem of leverage thresholds, capital adequacy, and market liquidity risk, creating safer thresholds for financial institutions, more ability to withstand financial shock, and better monitoring capability so that collectively these institutions and industries would present less risk to clients and investors and less risk of systemwide collapse as they had done before.

Murphy has co-sponsored multiple bills to exempt industries from these new regulations and thresholds designed to protect ordinary individuals, the institutions themselves, and the entire economy. He co-sponsored a bill that would let more and larger financial institution holding companies carry higher levels of debt and maintain less capital than Dodd-Frank and other reforms had set. He co-sponsored two bills that would bog down federal regulators’ attempts to implement Basel III capital requirements and rules concerning liquidity, risk management, governance, transparency, and disclosure.

Allowing Riskier Mortgages By Degrees

Other tweaks to Dodd-Frank are smaller but the issue is always the same. Financial industries do not want to be regulated because it interferes with their ability to reap maximum profit. Murphy co-sponsored a bill to “not count” escrowed home insurance payments when calculating points and fees on a mortgage for the purposes of disclosing points and fees to the customer and staying under the maximum 3% point- and-fee threshold to qualify as a “Qualified Mortgage” under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Qualified Mortgage Rule.

This rule aligns with the Ability-to-Repay rule in the Dodd-Frank reforms. Its purpose is to avoid one of the major causes of both the housing bubble and its bursting, namely the reckless extension of mortgage credit to people who were in poor position to ever pay it back, often with predatory terms that came back to bite the borrower. The Qualified Mortgage rule prohibits high-risk products and features such as balloon payments and higher points and fees in exchange for a degree of protection against borrower lawsuits. By “not counting” escrowed home insurance payments when calculating points and fees, it is like the opposite of placing one’s thumb on the scale-- it misrepresents the true cost of the mortgage, meaning that mortgages with higher effective points and fees than intended can still qualify.

Allowing Cozy Relationships Between Big Public Companies And Their Auditors

Murphy also co-sponsored a bill to preemptively block the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board from ever issuing a rule that would require that audits for a particular public company be conducted by a specific auditing firm or that public companies must rotate auditing firms. The average relationship between an auditing firm and a top 100 US public company is 28 years. Some have lasted much longer, such as KPMG’s engagement as GE’s auditing firm.

Regulators are concerned that such lucrative long term relationships may compromise auditing firms’ willingness to issue anything other than a clean audit opinion, as major collapses and associated accounting scandals in the new century have suggested. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers gave MF Global a clean audit opinion in 2011 five months before the company entered the eighth largest bankruptcy in US history after segregating hundreds of millions of dollars of its customers’ assets.

Major accounting firms have been similarly exposed as compromised and as complicit in other major financial scandals, such as the former Arthur Andersen in the 2001 Enron scandal, and other scandals involving Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems, and WorldCom. These abuses prompted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that Murphy voted to weaken in this case to ensure continued cover for major public corporations and major accounting firms like his former employer and current campaign benefactor, Deloitte, which contributed to his nearly $45,000 haul from the accounting firms and other financial industry corporations who lobbied on this bill.

This might be less of an issue except that the companies concerned are public. And when accounting trickery, rubber stamped by complicit auditors, gives a false impression of the health of a public company to boost share value, and then leads to share price collapse once exposed, it is the shareholders - the public - that gets hurt, such as when Enron’s stock dropped from $90 to nearly nothing over the course of its scandal. The Sarbanes-Oxley reforms were put in place for those and other reasons and Murphy voted to weaken them as he has voted to weaken other regulations that chafe large corporations but protect average Americans.

Payday Lender Payday

Murphy also took money from the payday lending industry and co-sponsored a bill to regulate online payday lenders separately and less rigorously than brick and mortar payday lenders. On the other side of the lobbying table were groups that advocate for consumers and underserved populations that are often the target of predatory payday lenders.

A Little Sugar From Big Sugar Goes A Long Way

Another industry that has given Murphy money is the sugar industry. The sugar industry’s role in the restorations efforts in the Everglades has been a complicating one. Sugar is farmed in the agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee, where water used to flow south naturally. Since it can no longer do that, excess water from the lake must drain somewhere else when high volumes threaten the integrity of the dike around the lake, since failure would put area homeowners at risk (think New Orleans). So the water is released to the west and to the east via canals. The C-44 canal drains east into District 18 and empties into the south fork of the St. Lucie River, which then flows into its estuary, which flows into the Indian River Lagoon, which stretches 156 miles north along the coast.

Water in Lake Okeechobee and the surrounding area is polluted with septic tank seepage, fertilizer runoff, and pesticides. When this dirty water is released into the St. Lucie river, it not only brings its pollutants, but also its nitrogen-rich nutrients and low salinity. The combination kills everything in the river, the estuary, and beyond, either due to the salinity, the toxic algae blooms it fosters, or the poisons. Tens of thousands of acres of sea grass have been lost, oyster beds have been destroyed, massive fish kills have occurred, dolphins and manatees have died in large numbers, and the water has become so polluted with visible and invisible pollutants and bacteria that residents were warned to keep away from it.

Murphy has been working with local, state and federal officials to find funding to better manage the releases and clean up the pollution. But while environmentalists and activists continue to point the finger at Big Sugar for its role in this ongoing problem, not only to the east, but farther south into the Everglades where the industry adds pollutants of its own to the Everglades system, Murphy has been what one journalist described as “wishy washy” in taking the industry on.

When given the opportunity to get rid of the Depression-era price supports for the sugar industry, for example, something he campaigned on doing across all industries, he balked. He voted for the 2013 farm bill, which left the subsidies in place and which the CBO said would cost American consumers an extra $374 million over the next decade. All told, because the price support program artificially sets the price higher than the actual market price, the program costs Americans $3.5 billion per year. He also voted against an amendment to that same farm bill that would have specifically cut the sugar price supports. Murphy said of his support for sugar, "I don't want to single out one crop, especially one that is in my district.”

And when the DSCC forces this kind of garbage candidate on Democrats, this is what the Republicans can run against him
All Talk, No Action On Passing A Budget

From his first month in office in January 2013 through to the October government shutdown, Murphy issued repeated calls for solutions to the budget crisis and shutdown, pleading for bipartisan cooperation, even attaching the consequence of shutting off Congressional pay if Congress did not pass a budget. Yet when it came time to vote on budgets, he voted against every one that was proposed. He voted against two Republican budgets that would save trillions, bring entitlements under control, and cut and simplify taxes. And he voted against three Democratic budgets that would invest in infrastructure, replace the harmful sequester with smarter cuts, reduce the deficit, grow jobs, and protect society’s most vulnerable. Additionally when Murphy’s ostensible partners across the aisle proposed a bipartisan and bicameral fiscal working group to negotiate an end to the shutdown, he voted against it.

Bad for Business (from the right)

Murphy campaigned as a pro-business moderate, and a businessman himself, who would work across the aisle to create jobs to get the economy moving. But in his third month in office, he voted to raise the minimum wage almost three dollars, which any business owner would say would cost jobs. When given the opportunity to freeze the National Labor Relations Board until it could fill enough seats to form a quorum, and to overturn decisions it has made without a quorum, he stayed firmly on his side of the aisle and voted with every Democrat not to. He also campaigned as someone who would attack the deficit by finding and eliminating duplicative and wasteful programs. Yet when a bill came up to streamline Workforce Investment efforts by eliminating and consolidating 35 programs, including 26 that the GAO had found to be ineffective or duplicative, he again stood with Democrats to vote against it.

Bad For Workers (from the left)

Murphy has twice targeted overtime pay, part of 75 year-old protections in the Fair Labor Standards act. First he wrote to the OMB to protest the Department of Labor’s attempt to apply the maximum weekly hours protections (overtime) in the FLSA to caregivers who provide home care to the elderly and disabled. Then he co-sponsored legislation to exempt from FLSA overtime protections for two years any insurance adjuster who evaluates claims resulting from or relating to a major disaster.

Republicans have a special hatred for federal employees, many of whom belong to public sector unions that support Democrats, and have effectively declared war on them, targeting them with bill after bill to erode their job quality and job security. Despite having promised federal workers on the campaign trail that he would not demonize them in that way or freeze or cap their pay or benefits, Murphy joined Republicans in several of these bills in the first three quarters of 2013. He voted keep their pay frozen, to limit bonuses due during sequestration, allow citizens to record their phone calls with them, putting confidential information at risk, to allow them to be terminated immediately for misconduct instead of allowing them their right to due process, and to bar the hiring or continued federal employment of anyone who had a seriously delinquent tax lien.

Bad For Workers (from the right)

Murphy voted against the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would have given workers the option of paid time off in lieu of overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.

Billions More For Wealthy Farmers, Billions Cut For The Poor And Hungry

Murphy voted for the nearly $1 trillion 2013 farm bill, which among many other provisions would pour billions into subsidized insurance programs and other giveaways to wealthy farmers and milk processors (and also voted specifically to retain those insurance programs), while cutting $20.5 million from funding for food stamps for people who can’t otherwise get enough to eat. It also replaced a dairy safety net with an insurance program that gives milk processors cheap, subsidized milk at the expense of dairies with no drop in prices on store shelves.

Preserving His Congressional Perks

Murphy also voted to hold on to his own perks. By hanging his party out to dry by voting with only 27 other Democrats against the House Democratic alternative budget for FY2014, Murphy also voted to retain the many special perks that members of Congress are afforded, including the House gym and spa, the House barber shop, the House salon, the House dining room, and authorization to use taxpayer dollars to buy first class air travel and to lease corporate jets. He also voted to retain a special perk for Congress and its staff that no other American will get. Irrespective of income levels, the federal government will subsidize the cost of Obamacare health insurance for members of Congress and their staff. In a vote in which could either hold on to this subsidy and to Obamacare or end the government shutdown, he chose Obamacare and his Obamacare subsidy.

Broken Promises: Keystone, Medicare, DREAM, Abortion, Overtime, Workers

Murphy said on the campaign trail that he did not support the Keystone XL pipeline but then voted to bypass the president and approve it.

Murphy said on the campaign trail that he would leave Medicare untouched, but once elected, he said it was on the table to negotiate in exchange for tax concessions from Republicans.

Murphy said on the campaign trail that he supported a path to citizenship DREAMers, but voted instead to start deporting them again.

Murphy said on the campaign trail numerous times that he firmly supported a woman’s right to choose but then voted to block funding for abortions for detained immigrant women.

Murphy said on the campaign trail that he would work to protect overtime pay but instead went out of his way to try to exempt home care workers from FLSA overtime/maximum hours protections and also to exempt insurance adjusters working on disaster areas for two years after the disaster.

Murphy said on the campaign trail that he would not demonize federal workers or try to manage them by capping or freezing their wages and benefits. But then he voted to freeze and cap their wages, erode their rights to due process, and target ones that were having financial problems.

Consultant Jailed For 2012 Election Fraud Worked For Murphy’s 2012 Campaign

Murphy’s 2012 campaign hired consultant Jeffrey Garcia, who pled guilty, was convicted, and was jailed for election fraud involving submitting phony and illegal absentee ballot requests for another campaign in 2012. He is also under investigation for possibly having funded a fake Tea Party candidate in 2010 to siphon conservative voters away from his client’s opponent.

Working To Keep Carcinogens Unregulated

Murphy co-sponsored an amendment to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. Cigars are as harmful as any other form of tobacco. The lobbying picture for this bill was the tobacco industry on one side and doctors and major public health and cancer organizations on the other.

Don't vote for Murphy and don't vote for Rubio-- just say no

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At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, extremely well-documented and true about Murphy's horribleness, but you're saying vote for Rubio because a Democratic (even nominal) Senate majority or 50+1(VP) majority isn't important enough to defeat Rubio? And/or that one's progressive ideological purity is more important than the overall somewhat better greater good? Just because the much better Dem got defeated, do we have to have a rinse and repeat of the primary litany of how bad Murphy is? Couldn't you wait till after the election? What good besides you getting to vent does it do?

At 5:19 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I never said vote for Rubio and I would never say vote for Rubio. I always say vote for neither.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the one reason to vote for Murphy is to help Dems take the majority in the Senate and thus chair the committees. That is a worthy cause, I think. The fact is either Murphy or Rubio will get in and surely Rubio is a horror anyway. I do get how awful Murphy is and I was plugging for Alan Grayson, but oh well. This lesser of two evils voting is making me ill.


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