House Speaker John Boehner

Many Problems We Have in this Country Can Be Fixed if We Get Money Out of Politics

Money in Politics Photo by www.theprogressivesinfluence.com

Money in Politics
Photo by http://www.theprogressivesinfluence.com

The Day Money In Politics Took Our Republic Away

On January 21, 2010 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) said that section 203 of H.R. 2356 (107th) the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was “Unconstitutional.” Section 203 imposed limits on what corporations, unions, and organizations, could contribute to political campaigns to elect or defeat candidates running for public office. This ruling came in a decision on Citizens United v FEC (Federal Election Commission.) At least 3 things happened that day:

1) States lost their ability to control their own elections

Take a look at what happened in WI where Governor Scott Walker was “Recalled” by the people of Wisconsin after he took away the right of Public Employees to negotiate through “Collective Bargaining”. Outside money, $63 million dollars of it, was spent to help Walker win the recall election, the previous record for outside money was $37M. That $67M flooded into the state, from people who don’t live there, it came from people like Charles and David Koch, better known as the Koch Brothers, (who are also better known for paying fines for illegally funneling “Dark Money” but that’s a whole other story,) and SuperPACS (who desperately wanted to keep Scott Walker in place,) to support Walker for the recall election after citizens in Wisconsin were so angry that they actually gathered 1,000,000 signatures to force the recall election.Read more about Scott Walkers Recall election here: “Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin Recall Election” by CBS News.

The egregious levels of outside spending on the federal level are well documented. In the 2010 Congressional elections, spending by corporations and wealthy individuals totaled almost $300M.(i) In the 2012 election, the largest SuperPAC spent an astounding $142M. (ii) Altogether SuperPACS spent $609M in the 2012 election cycle. Overall outside spending topped $1.29 Billion. (iii) In comparison to these mammoth sums of money, it only takes a modest amount of money to have a transformative impact on a local election. If multi-million dollar SuperPACS can buy the victory of even Presidential candidates, then what’s stopping them from influencing local political elections? This paragraph and some other information is from Democracy is For People , we thank them for the material and their efforts in trying to get the U.S. Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.

2) Limits on campaign contributions from corporations, unions, and organizations (SuperPACS) were lifted, allowing widespread corruption of our politicians and allowing elections to be bought.

McCutcheon v FEC (Federal Election Commission) is being called "Citizens United on Steroids Thanks to Oil Change for America

McCutcheon v FEC (Federal Election Commission) is being called “Citizens United on Steroids
Thanks to Oil Change for America

 

There is actually a Trans-Partisan opposition to Citizens United. This is NOT a partisan issue. Money in politics is hurting this country in many different ways, and EVERYONE is noticing. Campaign finance reform – including efforts to limit political spending by corporations, unions, and the super-wealthy, has been part of the conservative legacy. The court’s decision rolled back nearly a century of laws passed by both sides of the aisle who, agreed that reasonable restrictions can and should be placed on campaign spending by powerful special interest in order to preserve our democracy.

Stalwart conservative statesmen have fought for campaign finance reform. No less a conservative movement icon than Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona uttered these words in support of bipartisan campaign finance reform in 1983: “Our nation is facing a crisis of liberty if we do not control campaign expenditures. We must prove that elective office is not for sale. We must convince the people that elected officials are what James Madison intended us to be, agents of the sovereign people, not the hired hands of the rich givers, or what James Madison called factions,”

 Arizona Senator John McCain, Goldwater’s successor and the 2008 Republican Presidential nominee, called the Supreme Court’s ruling “a combination of arrogance, naivete and stupidity, the likes of which I have never seen.”

Most Republicans, including Tea Party supporters, think steps should be taken to curb this corrosive campaign spending. A March 2012 poll conducted by ABCNews/Washington Post, showed that over two-thirds of Americans (69%) felt SuperPACS should be illegal. Among Tea Party supporters, the numbers were the same: 69% of Tea Party supporters felt that SuperPACS should be outlawed.(iv)

Most Republicans think big campaign spenders, including corporations, can influence how a member of Congress votes. More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) to an April 2012 Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) including 71% of Republicans — also agreed that, “if a company spent $100,000 to help elect a member of Congress, it could successfully pressure him or her to change a vote on proposed legislation.” Only one in five disagreed. (v)

3) Americans Were Outraged By the Court’s Decision

Nearly nine in ten Americans (88%) say that big companies have too much power in Washington D.C. (vi).

Eight in ten respondents oppose the court’s decision in Citizens United. (vii)

Republicans, Democrats , and Independents who have heard about Citizens United believe by an almost 4-to-1 margin that the ruling is having a negative effect. (viii)

83% of Americans (85% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 78% of Independents) think there should be limits on how much money corporations can give in elections. And 90% of those with incomes over $100,000 support such limits. (ix)

By a 5-to-1 margin, Americans agree that “there would be less corruption if there were limits on how much could be given to SuperPACS.” Only 14% disagree with this proposition. 75% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats agree. (x)

What is it Going to Take Take To Change The Way Things Are Going?

In short, it’s going to take people like YOU to get involved. Above you will notice I have a “Page” button entitled “Find/Track Politicians, Bills, Voting Records,” Click on that page button and it will explain the links that are on the page and how to use them to find, track and contact YOUR Representatives. Using, for example, GovTrack to find who your U.S. Senators (2) are, and who your U.S.. Congressman or woman is, if you don’t already know, is very easy to do. Click on GovTrack and register at the site. Once registered it will be easy to search for a specific legislative bill, Track your politicians votes, and contact your Congressmen/women and U.S. Senators. If you would also like to contact YOUR State Representatives you can click on the “Vote Smart” link to help you locate your State Senators, Assemblymen/women, and other local politicians that are supposed to be representing you. Look, right now only the Super-rich and corporations have any real influence over our elections and politicians. The only time regular people gain influence on politicians that spend more than half their time raising money to keep their job in the next election, is when we show up in numbers. When enough people flood the offices of the U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen/women, State Senators, Assemblymen/women, and right on down the line with enough phone calls and e-mails, they don’t have a choice but to listen. The sites that I’ve provided links for on my “Find/Track Politicians, Bills, voting Records” page will walk you through the process of calling or e-mailing YOUR Representatives, and will send you an e-mail whenever they take action like sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or voting on a bill.   In short, please Get Involved For A Better America. Follow my Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/StoptheObstructionistTeaParty, Subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address on the home page, or on Twitter @Medic3569, for up to date news on legislative action and information on upcoming issues that may effect you. McCutcheon v FEC is due to be announced by the SCOTUS and could very likely be decided by the same “Conservative-5” Justices the way that Citizens United was, in favor of the ultra-rich and corporations. Look at the meme above, do we really want to see those top donors from the fossil fuel industry contributing over $300M when we know that they can change how a congressman/woman will vote on proposed legislation?   Join the “Rapid Response” team that will take action the day the SCOTUS decision is announced at  “Money Out – Voters In” to check out and join the Rapid Response to McCutcheon v FEC the day it is announced.

Other interesting reading:

Bill Moyers – Seven Initiatives to Get Money Out of Politics

McCutcheon v FEC  and “Money out – Voters In” explained by the The Amendment Gazette,

Victor Tiffany is a Senior Columnist at The Amendment Gazette and the Acting State-Wide Coordinator for Move to Amend  one of the organizations working hard to get congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United        

(i) Public Citizen’s analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data. See Congress Watch (January 2011). “12 Months After: The Effects of Citizens United on Elections and the Integrity of the Legislative Process.”Retrieved 15 Sept. 2011, from http://www.citizen.org/documents/Citizens-United–20110113.pdf

(ii) Center for Responsive Politics, “Restore Our Future” Retrieved 22 April 2013 from: http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte#C00490045&cycle#2012
(iii) Center for Responsive Politics, “Outside Spending.” Retrieved 22 April 2013 from: http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/index.php.
(iv) Eggen, D (17 Feb. 2010, 15 Sept. 2011). “Poll: Large majority opposes Supreme Court’s decision on campaign financing.” Washington Post. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2011, from http://washingtonpost.com/wp:dyn/content/article/2010/02/17/AR2010021701151.html
(v) Brennen Center lbid.
(vi) New York City Public Advocate Bill De Blasio “New Report: Election Spending by Out-Of-State Non-Profits Surges 1500% in New York;

 

(vii) U.S. PIRG education Fund and People For the American Way Foundation. “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence: Big and Secret Money in New York In the 2012 Elections.” Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://www.pfaw.org/sites/default/files/outsize_spending_NY.pdf

(viii) Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (March, 2013). “From Social Welfare to Political Welfare: The Evolving Role of Nonprofits in Our Elections and Urgent Need for State Regulatory Action.” Retrieved July 8, 2013, fromhttp://politicalspending.org/501c4-Report.pdf

[ix] Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (March, 2013). “From Social Welfare to Political Welfare: The Evolving Role of Nonprofits in Our Elections and Urgent Need for State Regulatory Action.” Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://politicalspending.org/501c4 -Report.pdf

[x] Resolutions Week, “Resolutions Passed and Current Efforts” “http://www.resolutionsweek.org/?page_id=86

Note: Information provided here with footnotes was compiled by www.democracyisforpeople.org , please visit their site to view their material and to Get Involved For A Better America. We thank them for the resources, material, and for their efforts in trying to overturn Citizens United. Also involved, along with over 120 organizations  working on this task is www.united4thepeople.org which is a great site to see where the effort is, and how you can become involved in your area. Contact me at jasmith3569@gmail.com with any questions you may have, I’ll be glad to assist you.

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What is the Republicans/TeaPuplicans Plan for Jobs Since they are Blocking Every Jobs Bill the President Endorses?

Similar to Healthcare – We don’t Have a Plan; But We’ll Block Any Plan You Have For Jobs Mr. President

Bobblehead S. E. Cupp, on CNN’s Crossfire this week, had Former Labor Secretary, (under President Clinton,) Robert Reich (who helped create a net 22 million job increase) and Governor Tim Pawlenty. and what she had was Republican talking points, typical of right-wing media and talking heads. She kept spewing prepared Republican/Teapublican talking points, not listening, or even hearing what her guests were saying. What is the Republican’s plan for creating jobs? They don’t know, but they know their willing to obstruct any ideas the President has, sound familiar? What’s their plan for healthcare for 40 million Americans that didn’t have it, and/or couldn’t afford it? OH! That’s right, they don’t have one, but they spent taxpayer money to the tune of over $60M voting 48 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Here’s just a snippet from the conversation on CNN’s Crossfire where Governor Pawlenty says what he thinks business is saying, and what Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said to set him straight:
   
PAWLENTY: “Guess what? There’s a consistent answer from those folks about what they want. And they basically say to government, do things to encourage me, not discourage me. Make the load lighter, not heavier. And that includes things like taxation, like energy policy, like health-care policy and more. But they’re basically saying don’t do things to make my life more difficult, more expensive, more bureaucratic, more inefficient.”
CUTTER: “Well, Governor…”
REICH: “Actually, it’s…”
CUTTER: “Go ahead.”
REICH: “Stephanie, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I just want to say that — that I’m very proud to be part of an administration that presided over the creation of 22 million net new jobs. That was the Clinton administration.”

 See the interview from CNN’s Crossfire Here

Original meme by http://www.Facebook.com/StoptheObstructionistTeaParty and http://www.Medic3569.blogspot.com

What Does Raising the Minimum Wage Do? Help or Hurt Job Creation?

Republicans and Tea Party members say that government wants to force employers to raise wages, raise taxes on “top job creators,” (which we absolutely know has been proven not to be true that the “trickle down theory” by cutting taxes on the rich creates jobs,) and force employers to cut-off hiring at 50 employees to avoid the Affordable Care Act mandates, is not a recipe for creating jobs. Robert Reich speaking on raising the minimum wage says: “Raising the minimum wage, we’ve been raising the minimum wage in this country since 1935. Raising the minimum wage is good for the country. It puts more money in the pockets of people. Sixty-five percent of Americans want to raise the minimum wage. Most minimum- wage workers these days are not teenagers. They are breadwinners. If you help them, you are helping the economy overall.”

“And a lot of employers will benefit from a higher minimum wage. We know empirical studies show that. This is not a matter of government planning. This is a matter of doing what we have done in this country — in fact, if we had a minimum wage today that was as high as it was in 1968, adjusted for inflation, it would be $10.40 an hour. And if you add in productivity improvements, minimum wage actually would be $15 an hour.”

 A large swath of economists agree, raising the minimum wage is a good idea. 

 In a letter released Tuesday, January 14, 2014 through the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, 75 economists, including seven Nobel Laureates, argue that the government should hike the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016 and then peg future increases to inflation. A proposal from Senate Democrats, backed by President Obama, to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is currently stalled in Congress. Read More from The Huffington Post. Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Larry Summers, argue that the “weight” of the evidence indicates past minimum wage hikes haven’t hurt the job market.  

 “Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.”

Original meme by http://www.Facebook.com/StoptheObstructionistTeaParty and http://www.Medic3569.blogspot.com

 Republicans Say President Holding Up  “All There Jobs Bills”

 The problem with that statement is that they don’t have ANY jobs bills. So how do they get around that? Call every bill a “Jobs Bill.” On Speaker John Boehner’s Blog page he says that the White House is “pivoting” back to jobs and the House doesn’t have to pivot because they have always been about jobs. He offers a list of “Jobs Bills,” the problem? He lists numerous bills, but in the description of the bills offers misleading or straight out false information. He lists bills that favor the oil & gas industry by more deregulation (remember, after 300,000 people in West Virginia had their drinking water contaminated by a Koch Brothers affiliated chemical company he said “there are plenty of regulations in effect.”) and bills that help the ultra-rich with more tax relief, etc., but none of the bills actually create a significant number of jobs. Check the Speaker’s page and then check the actual bills at www.GovTrack.us.

But for Boehner, the best course of action is to cut off those struggling most, while asking the Senate to pass the “jobs bills” already approved by the House.
What “jobs bills”? As it turns out, Boehner has decided that every time House Republicans pass a bill that advances House Republican priorities, the party gets to label that a “jobs bill.” The GOP approved more oil drilling? That’s a “jobs bill.” The GOP voted to take away health care benefits from millions of Americans? That’s a “jobs bill,” too. The GOP disapproves of clean-air regulations? “Jobs bill.” The GOP wants more “transparency” in federal spending? “Jobs bill.” Republicans cut food stamps? “Jobs bill.”
I’m not exaggerating in the slightest; this is all from the list of “jobs bills” the Speaker of the House has pulled together and presented to the public. How many actual jobs would be created if these bills became law? No one knows because Republicans never submitted them for independent economic scrutiny, but GOP leaders are confident the answer is, at a minimum, some.

Photo by legalinsurrection.com

  What the Republicans “Say” and “Do” are Different, as Usual

Republicans came out this year saying they have a “Jobs Agenda,” and it’s not just the same old “cut taxes to the rich job creators” and “remove all those pesky regulations that tie the hands of industry.” 

Nationwide, many our lifeline systems are approaching a different kind of catastrophe. One trillion dollars is the price tag on the U.S. infrastructure deficit, an issue President Obama knows well.

“We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy,” Obama said.
Quietly and consistently, infrastructure is emerging as one of the three key elements of Obama’s clarion call to returning to the domestic agenda.

Second only to jobs—above even energy—infrastructure, that critical and unsexy topic has come to the fore of the president’s mind and message.

Back in June, 2011 The U.S. Conference of Mayors, put forward a resolution to Congress that the $126 billion dollars going annually to pay for America’s wars abroad be spent at home instead.

The mayors set an agenda that mirrored the presidents: jobs, sustainable energy, and rebuilding America—roads, dams, water and sewer systems, among others.

“That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind,” L.A.’s flamboyant and outspoken Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. Read More from The Daily Beast June 23, 2011 article.

Michael Tomasky in an article The GOP’s “Jobs” Hypocrisy for The Daily Beast on January 3, 2014 writes about a piece by Michael R. Strain of National Affairs “A Jobs Agenda for the Right” whereas Michael makes some suggestions to the Republicans. It includes, ready? wait for it, INFRASTRUCTURE! Where did we hear that before? One particular part of Michael’s work is this: 

 “This employment crisis is one of the most important and immediate social and economic problems facing the country today, and none of our elected leaders can afford to ignore it. Yet both parties are more or less doing just that. The Democrats talk about jobs policies, but their approach to the problem — with its emphasis on massive short-term fiscal stimulus and inefficient public spending — has proven neither popular nor (at least in the form attempted at the beginning of the Obama years) up to the challenge. It consists of the timeworn economic mantras of the left and is not equipped to address the problems we now have.
 Republicans are, if anything, worse off. They often refuse to even acknowledge the problem, or to acknowledge the fact that it requires ambitious policy solutions. They, too, mostly repeat familiar formulas from their party’s glory days which offer proposals that do not seem well connected to today’s economic realities. Some of their ideas — fostering a more stable business climate and financing lower tax rates by shrinking a few tax loopholes, for example — could help, but they are not nearly adequate for the challenge America confronts. To offer the public a plausible agenda for a true recovery of the labor market, Republicans will have to dig deeper.”
  
 He continued “Anyone who has driven on a highway in Missouri or has taken an escalator in a Washington, D.C., Metro station knows that the United States could use some infrastructure investment. And expanding public-transportation options from poor neighborhoods to commercial centers could increase economic mobility and the incomes of the poor — a goal conservatives should certainly support. Today’s low interest rates only increase the desirability of a multi-year program of high-social-value infrastructure spending.
 The 2009 stimulus bill failed to direct funds effectively to such projects, but that does not mean that infrastructure spending, if properly conceived and directed, cannot do a great deal of good. And, of course, to ensure that federal debt is on a stable trajectory, any large increase in spending should be coupled with restraints on the future path of middle-class entitlement spending and a reining in of tax expenditures.
 Carefully targeted infrastructure spending should also be coupled with a more pro-growth monetary policy. Monetary policy surely offers the best way to boost aggregate demand in the short term. By keeping the federal funds rate at zero and pursuing its long-term asset purchase program (known as quantitative easing or QE), the Federal Reserve has done much to support the economy during the Great Recession. But growth is still slow and the labor market is still very weak. Is there more the Fed could do?”

 Back to Michael Tomasky “UM, O.K. There are people who’ve been trying to do just that. And not only Barack Obama. John Kerry led this effort in the Senate, and he was joined by Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison (who’s since retired). Their attempts to fund a modest infrastructure bank were supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But it could never get anywhere because of rock-solid GOP opposition. Does Strain not even know this? Or is he pretending it never existed so he doesn’t have to deal with the political reality of Republican obduracy?

I think, of course, it’s the latter, and there’s further evidence for my guess in the way Strain talks about recent history. The 2009 stimulus was not a failure in infrastructure terms at all (has he read Michael Grunwald?). But even if you believe it was an infrastructure failure, or have to say so for political reasons, should you not acknowledge in fairness that it was Democrats and liberals who wanted it to have more infrastructure spending, and that nearly 40 percent of bill took the form of tax cuts because that’s what Republicans demanded (before they decided en masse to vote against it anyway)?”

Meme by waliberals.org

President Obama’s Proposed Jobs Bills

First there’s  The American Jobs Act which calls for:
1. TAX CUTS TO HELP AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES HIRE AND GROW.
2. PUTTING WORKERS BACK ON THE JOB WHILE REBUILDING AND MODERNIZING
    AMERICA.
3. PATHWAYS BACK TO WORK FOR AMERICANS LOOKING FOR JOBS.
4. TAX RELIEF FOR EVERY AMERICAN WORKER AND FAMILY.

5. FULLY PAID FOR AS PART OF THE PRESIDENT’S LONG-TERM DEFICIT REDUCTION
    PLAN. 
Learn more at www.WHITEHOUSE.gov
 80% of our infrastructure is deemed “obsolete” or “in need of immediate repair.” Infrastructure bills in the past have gone through the House and Senate with ease, but that’s before the day after our current President’s first inauguration where Senator Mitch McConnell laid out the 1st priority of the Republican Party, which was to “make the President a one-term President.” That was their first priority, not the wars, not the great recession created by President George W. Bush, who came into office with a $500M surplus and left with a $10B deficit, with two unpaid wars going on, one of which President Bush out right lied about to get us into. Or the unpaid “Prescription Drug Bill” that cost us over $720B that they said would only cost us $320B and gave drug companies a windfall by not allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negoiate the prices of prescription drugs, not the 700,000 jobs per month being lost when President Obama took office, no, first priority was to make the President a one-term President. The Republican Party then started to have other problems, the ultra-rich backed Tea Party started to challenge Conservatives and blocked anything that didn’t fit into their absurd agenda. The Republican Party became broken and produced the “Worse Productive Congress in the History of the United States,” the 113th Congress. Obstruction was to put it lightly. Closing down the government to try to repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare,) after already spending $59M to have 47 votes to repeal the law may have been the beginning of the fall of the Tea Party, but we’ll just have to hope and see in the 2014 elections. House Speaker John Boehner finally stood up to some of the “groups” like Freedom Works, The Club for Growth, and Heritage Action, when the House passed the Ryan-Murray budget. But came right back and said there was no way they were going to raise the minimum wage, extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and said, after Freedom Industries, a chemical company affiliated with the Koch Brothers, contaminated the drinking water for over 300,000 people in West Virginia, that “there are plenty of regulations in place.”
 We need jobs, not deregulation, not blocking of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill, not Voter ID Laws, not blocking raising the Minimum Wage, not cutting Food Stamps by $40B, not easier permitting processes for drilling and Fracking, not a Keystone XL pipeline that will bring tar sands oil through our country only to go to a refinery in the Gulf owned by a Saudi Arabian oil company and Shell oil, to be exported to China and other nations, that will raise gas prices 25-40 a gallon here in the U.S., not stalling immigration legislation, not spending more than $70B of taxpayer money voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare,) not giving $154B in tax subsidies to corporations like we did last year, WE NEED JOBS!

Congratulations 113th Congress – You’ve made the Guiness Book of World Records as "The Least Productive Congress in U.S. History"

Congratulations Indeed – Obstructing Legislation, Spending Over $60M in Taxpayer Money Voting to Repeal  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare,) and Not Passing a Farm Bill, Unemployment Extension, Immigration, Minimum Wage and So Much More

Chart by http://www.msnbc.com

A Budget Bill was Passed, But Not Much More

Thanks to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwomen Patty Murray (D-WA) a budget bill was passed so we won’t have another government shutdown for two years. It was encouraging to see House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stand up to outside groups like Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and Freedom Works See December 13, 2013 Get Involved for a Better America Post but, he’s back, saying he won’t put up any bill to raise the Minimum Wage, even a dime.
The House TeaPublicans spent over $60M on 46 votes to repeal “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” aka “Obamacare.” Some say the definition of “insane” is to repeatedly do the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome, well the TeaPublicans definitely fit that definition in this instant.
Meme by thejennerjahnreport.blogspot.com

 In a Think Progress article from May 15, 2013 when they were about to take the 43rd vote Think Progress said:

 To put that in perspective, they have held votes on only 281 days since taking power in January 2011. (The House and Senate have pretty light legislative loads these days, typically voting only three or four days a week.)

 That means that since 2011, Republicans have spent no less than 15 percent of their time on the House floor on repeal in some way. […] Michael Steel, [Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman], said that spending 15 percent of their time on the issue was hardly a waste for Republicans. “Given that the bill amounts to a takeover of roughly 15 percent of the American economy,” he said, “that sounds about right.”

 By some earlier estimations, Republicans in the 112th Congress wasted about 90 hours and $50 million dollars on their multiple failed efforts to get rid of the health reform law. This new Congress is shaping up to be no different. Even though Republicans have admitted they have lost on Obamacare, and are even acknowledging that their future repeal efforts will fail, they have continued to block legislative efforts to amend the health reform law in favor of stubbornly opposing it altogether.

 Now that the 113th Congress has completed 46 votes it is estimated to be over $60M of taxpayer money doing something over and over again expecting a different outcome.

Picture by www.newsofinterest.tv

Some Things That Didn’t Get Done

 Annual appropriations bills are normally passed with little discussion, but not in the “least productive Congress in history.” In defending his Congress House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said “more than half of the annual appropriations bills and the Senate hasn’t passed any of them.” First of all, “passing” only little more than half of the annual appropriations bills is not acceptable. Secondly, when you write absurd things into bills, no matter how much the bill might have started out sensible, it won’t be passed because of what had been attached to it.

 Appropriations bills always originate in the House and they require both chambers to work on them to get them signed into law. Beyond that, the House won’t take up several major bills that have cleared the Senate, including immigration reform and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

 The handful of key bills that have passed the House, such as re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act and disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims, were accompanied by intense partisanship.

Photo by http://www.capitalisminstitute.org

The Farm Bill and Food Stamps

 The House also didn’t give itself much time to work this month, despite not having passed a Farm Bill, an Immigration Reform Bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, a Jobs Bill, an extension to Unemployment, and much, much more As of Tuesday, the House is scheduled to work only seven days between now and Jan. 7, when members return for the second session of the 113th Congress. The Senate is currently scheduled to be in for most of the month. In recent months August, and December, Congress will work 9 days each month and get paid $29,000, that’s more than $3,000/day, not bad, especially when they want to cut another $39B out of Food Stamps. A family eligible for food stamps, including those working full-time at places like McDonald’s and Wal*Mart, were getting $1.50 per meal per person. The cut that recently took effect cut about $5B out of food stamps, that’s $36 less for a family of 4 receiving $600/mo. Remembering that the $600 works out to $1.50 a meal for each person, on top of the money already taken out of food stamps the TeaPublican Congress wants to take another $39B from the program. That would be another $216 taken from that family if 4. That’s the main reason a Farm Bill wasn’t passed as food stamps are administered through the Dept. of Agriculture, and therefore part of the Farm Bill.

Photo of Infrastructure by wfrc.org

 Infrastructure

Our infrastructure is deteriorating at an alarming rate, bridges that we drive over everyday have already failed multiple inspections. According to Global Research www.globalresearch.ca “America’s Failing Infrastructure” as of 2010 America is not even in the Top 10 in infrastructure competitiveness. Even with higher household earnings we spend more on transportation than other developing nations. Americans spend 17.6% of their household earnings, that’s $8,810 per family, with an average income of $50,054/yr, with 4.8 billions hours wasted in traffic jams in 2008 to the tune of 3.9 billion gallon s of gas. 210 daily trips are taken across deficient bridges in our 102 largest cities. 1/4 of U.S. Bridges are “Functionally Obsolete” or “Structurally Deficient.” including 77% of the bridges in Washington, D.C. The U.S. has fallen to 22nd for quality of port infrastructure.

Photo by www.newsofinterest.tv

Immigration

 In an article from The Hill on December 19, 2013, Time is Now for Immigration Reform it is reported that:

“Wide acknowledgement from Republican House leadership — and support among Republican constituents — shows that immigration reform is definitely not a “dead” issue, but one with great opportunity in 2014.

 Every member of the House leadership team has expressed commitment to move reform forward in 2014, and each week the number of rank and file Republicans in favor of reform grows.

 In 2013 we made great strides toward a successful 2014 for immigration. Considering that just over a year ago this issue was on the sidelines, the fact that the home stretch is in sight is no small accomplishment.
2014 stands to be that blockbuster year that finally takes reform across the finish line.”

 The Latino Post asks Will Congress Pass a Reform Bill During the 2014 Election Year?  At a recent immigration reform debate held at Rio Salado College in Temple, Ariz., nationally known immigration experts and advocates weighed in on the issue. 

“I would be a crazy person to bet my house that it was gonna happen – I’m not foolish, but I also would not bet my house that it won’t happen,” said Tamar Jacoby, the CEO of Immigration Works USA, a federation of business groups that support reform, to the Fronteras Desk.

He continued, saying that House Republicans may be more willing to vote for immigration legislation once they know whether or not they will be challenged by another Republican in a primary during mid-term elections next year.
 

Meme by blog.atrinternational.com

Optimism for 2014

 This writer  likes to be optimistic, I’d like to think that Since John Boehner finally stood up to the extreme right-wing groups once, that he’ll do it again. I’d like to think that the Tea Party is on it’s way out, in part thanks to their stupidity of shutting down the government over repealing Obamacare, especially since they had already voted over 40 times to repeal it to n o avail. I’d like to think that the brainwashed, low-information voters will see the light and vote out the politicians (who themselves have golden healthcare plans through their employer, the government, the taxpayers,) that are telling them that their not going to extend Medicaid, at no cost to the state for three years, so they can receive healthcare. I’d like to see them approve work on our infrastructure, creating jobs. I’d like to see the war on women come to an end. I’d like to see all the Republican Governors stop passing laws to disenfranchise voters. I’d like to see all the gerrymandering stop, so that Democrats don’t have to win an election in a given state by a margin of 7-1 to be victorious like in Pennsylvania. I’d like to see a comprehensive jobs bill passed. In the immediate future I’d like to see unemployment benefits extended, and minimum wage raised. I’d like to see the trend of income inequality start to turn around.

Chart by currydemocrats.org

The 2014 calendar for the House shows members will work 113 days, down from 126 days in 2013. In 2012, 107 days were scheduled. I hope that things start to turn around in 2014. There are some things that we can do. We can contact our Congressmen/women https://www.govtrack.us/, U.S. Senators through http://www.senate.gov/, and our State Senators and Assemblymen/women at http://votesmart.org/login?next=/user#.UrN4zSccNht. 

The biggest problem in our government right now is that our elections and our politicians are corrupt. This corruption was cemented into place when on January 21, 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United in Citizens United v FEC. This landmark case removed limits on how much corporations could contribute to campaigns. The amount of money spent by the ultra-rich, corporations, and Super PACS skyrocketed. An example would be that top donors from the fossil fuel industry donated over $11M in the 2012 election cycle. On October 8, 2013 the Supreme Court heard another case, yet to be decided, but will probably go the same way, 5-4, because the same people are in the Supreme Court, McCutcheon v FEC. If this case is decided for the Alabama businessman, individual aggregate limits will be removed for individuals. That means that those same top donors from the fossil fuel industry that donated $11M will be able to donate 27x that, or $312M. There is a nationwide effort for states to produce resolutions to get the U.S. Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United, go to United 4 The People to find what local organization you can work with toward this effort.

House Passes Budget 332-94 — Groups (Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and Freedom Works) Attack Boehner, Ryan

Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan Denounce “Outside Groups”

Photo by abcnews.go.com
 WASHINGTON: Thursday the House of Representatives passed a 2-year budget deal worked out by House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA,) Chairwomen of the Senate Budget Committee. The vote was 332-94 with 162 Republicans voting “Aye” and only 62 Republicans defecting, which surprised Congressman Paul Ryan because of all the the flack he has been taking over the last few days. Democrats voting for the bill were 163, and against were 32. When Speaker John Boehner was asked about the “outside groups” denouncing the bill, he responded “what, the groups that were against it before they knew what was in it?”

 Boehner this week said conservative groups had “lost all credibility” by opposing the budget pact before it was even released. He said the activist organizations are “using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals.”

 The bill is now in the Senate and to it, all 55 Democrats and 5 Republicans have to vote “Aye.” Not having to worry about government shutdowns for the next 2 years doesn’t sit well with the ultra-rich and Super PACS that like to use shutting down the government as a tactic.

 Kudos to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH,) House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI,) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA.) $62B in sequester cuts stopped, $1.012 Trillion in spending, Federal Employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014 will have to contribute 1.03% more to their healthcare costs. The deal doesn’t make either side very happy (which is a good sign that it is a good compromise,) and it doesn’t cut the deficit a great deal. But, it’s start, and at .least there won’t be another government shutdown for the next two years. Perhaps they can get something else done, like immigration reform, income inequality, minimum wage, woman’s rights, Voter ID/disenfranchisement of Voters, financial reform, JOBS, and so much more.

 The rebuke was a clear shot at Heritage Action for America, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other conservative groups that have proven adept at drumming up conservative opposition to legislation.

Heritage Action (for America), Club For Growth, Freedom Works

Photo by prwatch.org
Heritage Foundation by globalastrology.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Heritage Action (for America)

Photo by southflorida912.org

 Heritage Action (for America) CEO Michael Needham said on Thursday, “The Speaker is trying to turn this into a boring fight between outside groups and himself so we are not having a policy debate about whether or not this is a good deal.” The House approved the budget deal 332-94 on Thursday. On Friday, Needham said “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is picking a fight with outside conservative groups to clear the way for immigration reform.”

 In October of 2013, Needham admitted “under intense questioning” that Heritage Action was “not being transparent” with their donors as they have generally declined to disclose who their donors are. [25] One exception to this is a donation from conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch: they donated half a million dollars in October of 2013. [26]

 “Heritage Action,” is a conservative policy advocacy organization, founded in 2010. It works with citizen activists nationwide to generate support for legislation in the U.S. Congress.[1] The organization is a sister organization of the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation.[2][3] Heritage Action has been called a “powerhouse in a new generation of conservative groups”[4] and “perhaps now the most influential lobby group among Congressional Republicans.”[5] The Heritage Foundation is not allowed to back pieces of legislation due to its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Heritage Action fulfills this role and provides a link between the think tank and grassroots conservative activists.[7]  The organization played an instrumental role in the government shutdown of October 2013.[17][18] While the shutdown was ongoing Heritage Action continued to urge lawmakers not to negotiate a measure to fully fund the government without dismantling the ACA.[16] The strategy of Heritage Action in tying the ACA to the shutdown, according to Needham, was to make President Obama “feel pain” because of the shutdown. [19] Senator Orrin Hatch criticized Heritage for warning legislators not to vote for the Senate budget compromise during the government shutdown of 2013:

Club for Growth

Photo by bergetoons.blogspot.com

 “Club For Growth,” Club President Chris Chocola said “Apparently, there are some Republicans who don’t have the stomach for even relatively small spending reductions that are devoid of budgetary smoke and mirrors.” The conservative Club for Growth on Wednesday came out against the budget deal struck by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), before the deal was even made public or voted on. This is what Speaker John Boehner was talking about when he was a question by a reporter about “outside groups” opposing the measure and said “what, the groups that were against it before they knew what was in it?”

The Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative 501(c)4 organization active in the United States of America, with an agenda focused on cutting taxes and other economic issues.[2] In 2010, the Club’s political arms spent about $8.6 million directly on candidates and bundled another $6 million from Club members and directed those funds to candidates.[6] In 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Club members donated at least $4 million and the Club’s political arms spent nearly $18 million on elections.[7]

The Club has two political arms: an affiliated traditional Political Action Committee called the Club for Growth PAC and Club for Growth Action, an independent-expenditure only committee or Super-PAC. According to its website, the Club for Growth’s policy goals include cutting income tax rates, repealing the estate tax, limited government and a Balanced Budget Amendment, entitlement reform, free trade, tort reform, school choice, and deregulation.[3] The Club for Growth PAC endorses and raises money for fiscally conservative candidates.

The Club said it would key vote against the agreement, meaning votes in favor of the agreement would be counted against lawmakers on the group’s annual scorecard.

Freedom Works

Photo by freedomworks.org

“Freedom Works” originated from a conservative political group funded by David H. Koch called Citizens for a Sound Economy, which in 2004 split into Americans for Prosperity, led by President Nancy Pfotenhauer, and a remainder group which merged with Empower America and was renamed FreedomWorks, led by President and CEO Matt Kibbe.[4] 

In 2009, FreedomWorks responded to the growing number of Tea party protests across the United States, and became one of several groups active in the “Tea Party” tax protests.[19] Among other activities, FreedomWorks runs boot camps for supporters of Republican candidates. FreedomWorks spent over $10 million on the 2010 elections on campaign paraphernalia alone. The required reading list for new employees includes Saul Alinsky,[20] Frédéric Bastiat and Ayn Rand.[21] Rolling Stone and Talking Points Memo allege that FreedomWorks helps run the Tea Party Patriots.[22][23] Tea Party Patriots denies this claim.[24] According to a 2010 article in the New York Times, FreedomWorks “has done more than any other organization to build the Tea Party movement.”[21]

In the 2010 congressional elections, FreedomWorks endorsed a number of candidates, including Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul.[25] In addition to the aforementioned United States Senate candidates, FreedomWorks endorsed 114 candidates for federal office, of whom seventy won election,[26] an independent study performed by Brigham Young University showed that only FreedomWorks’s endorsement had a statistically significant impact on the success of a candidate in the General Election (U.S.).

These Groups Speaking Out Against This Budget are the Reason We All Need To Join The Effort To Get Citizens United Overturned

Photo by occupyventura805.wordpress.com

 

 

Photo by theblogismine.com

Sixteen states have already passed resolutions to get the Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Supreme Courts 2010 decision regarding Citizens United. To find an organization or join the effort to overturn the 2010 Citizen United Supreme Court decision go to United For The People . Citizens United allows corporations, the ultra-rich, and Super PACS, like the organizations above have formed. if you noticed the organizations set up 501c4’s, non-profit organizations to allow donors to contribute and not pay taxes on their contributions.  Non-profit organizations can not be political and back political candidates, so they submit that they are for “causes,” not specific politicians. They obviously all have political agendas. ALEC is losing major sponsors and has been lying to the public, the press, and even it’s own members. See  PRWatch – Don’t Believe The Spin From ALEC and PRWatch – New Guardian Docs Show ALEC Misled Press, Public where a spokesperson for ALEC said they had no intentions of forming a 501c4 in “near future,” guess “near future” must mean one week, because 8 days later they formed a 501 c4 be4cause the one they had is under investigation for improprieties. 

The budget bill H. Con. Res. 472 that House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty (D-WA) Murray agreed on passed the House Thursday, December 12, 2013. Now it must pass the Senate. To pass the Senate all 55 Democrats, and 5 Republicans would have to “Aye” for the bill. Now is the time to CALL YOUR SENATOR.  Use this link GovTrack.us to “Call Congress” (Senator)

Group Bios obtained from Wikipedia

References for Heritage Action (for America)

  1. Jump up ^ May, Caroline (17 June 2010). “Heritage spin-off targets ObamaCare in first grassroots campaign”. The Daily Caller. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b Rob Christensen (January 11, 2011). “Heritage Foundation sinks its roots in N.C.”. The News & Observer. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  3. Jump up ^ Weber, Joseph. “Hybrid groups using freedom, cash clout; Conservatives purchase ads,start petitions”. The Washington Times.
  4. Jump up ^ Fineman, Howard (October 9, 2013). “Heritage Action Bails On Debt Ceiling Fight”. The Huffington Post.
  5. Jump up ^ Martin, Jonathan; Rutenberg, Jim; Peters, Jeremy W. (October 19, 2013). “Fiscal Crisis Sounds the Charge in G.O.P.’s ‘Civil War’”. The New York Times.
  6. Jump up ^ Hopkins, Christopher Snow; Khan, Naureen (9 October 2010). “People; Interest Groups”. The National Journal.
  7. ^ Jump up to: a b Smithwick, Benjamin (5 July 2010). “The Fight to Repeal Obamacare”. Human Events.com. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  8. Jump up ^ Ed Feulner (9 April 2010). “Morning Bell: Heritage Action for America”. Morning Bell. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  9. Jump up ^ Gizzi, John (27 August 2010). “Sen. Chuck Hagel Strikes Again”. Human Events.com. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  10. Jump up ^ Arsenault, Mark (11 September 2010). “GOP focus is jobs, not health care; Candidates mostly avoid issue party pledged to hammer”. The Boston Globe.
  11. Jump up ^ Budoff-Brown, Carrie (7 January 2011). “Anti-Reform Dems Cool to Repeal Vote”. The News & Observer.
  12. Jump up ^ “Right wing group uses fear to fight New START”. RT.com. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  13. Jump up ^ Theobald, Bill (12 December 2010). “Corker Faces Political Dilemma on Nuclear Treaty”. The Tennessean.
  14. Jump up ^ “Tuesday, July 10,2012”. Talkers. July 10, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  15. Jump up ^ “Heritage Action for America Launches ‘Istook Live!’ Radio Show”. Entertainment Close-Up. July 13, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  16. ^ Jump up to: a b Moody, Chris (October 9, 2013). “Meet one of the conservative advocacy groups behind the GOP’s government shutdown strategy”. Yahoo! News.
  17. Jump up ^ Joseph, Cameron (October 9, 2013). “Heritage Action leader: Paul Ryan’s shutdown offer off-target”. The Hill.
  18. Jump up ^ Miller, Zeke J (September 30, 2013). “Hidden Hand: How Heritage Action Drove DC To Shut Down”. Time.
  19. Jump up ^ McCormack, John (October 9, 2013). “Heritage Action’s Shutdown Strategy”. The Weekly Standard.
  20. Jump up ^ Taylor, Jessica (October 17, 2013). “GOP senator: Heritage in danger of not amounting to ‘anything anymore’”. MSNBC.
  21. Jump up ^ DeSantis, Ron (14 Feb 2013). “Federal pay freeze bill paves way for reduced spending”. The Hill. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  22. Jump up ^ Lunney, Kellie. “House to Vote on Fed Pay Freeze”. goveexec.com. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  23. Jump up ^ “H.R. 273 – Congress.gov”. United States Congress. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  24. Jump up ^ http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/10/more-than-kochs-small-donors-fueled.html
  25. Jump up ^ http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/koch-brothers-heritage-action-donation-98054.html
  26. Jump up ^ http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/koch-brothers-heritage-action-donation-98054.html

References for Club for Growth

  1. Jump up ^ “Our Mission is Economic Freedom”. Club for Growth.
  2. Jump up ^ Drew, Elizabeth (3-21-2013). “Are the Republicans Beyond Saving?”. New York Review of Books. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  3. Jump up ^ “About the Club for Growth” http://www.ClubforGrowth.org
  4. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e O’Connor, Patrick. “Conservative unrest fuels Club fundraising: Toomey”. The Hill. Retrieved 4-3-2006.
  5. Jump up ^ Running on empty: how the Democratic and Republican Parties are bankrupting our future By Peter G. Peterson
  6. ^ Jump up to: a b c d Lengell, Sean. “Club for Growth targeting ‘establishment’ GOP candidates”. Washington Times. Retrieved 5-3-2012.
  7. Jump up ^ “Organization Profiles: Club for Growth”. OpenSecrets.org. Center for Resonsive Politics. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  8. ^ Jump up to: a b Catanese, David (5-10-2010). “How Bennett got Clubbed”. Politico. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  9. Jump up ^ Heller, Marc (4-24-2010). “Club for Growth on fence”. Watertown Daily Times. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  10. Jump up ^ “Medicare reform The biggest turkey of all?”. The Economist. 2003-11-27. Retrieved 13 February 2013.

References for Freedom Works

 

  1. Jump up ^ [1] FreedomWorks. Retrieved: 19 June 2012.
  2. Jump up ^ “SourceWatch Founding”.
  3. ^ Jump up to: a b c Clabough, Raven (August 1, 2010). Beck Closely Examines Tea Party Movement. The New American.
  4. Jump up ^ Ed Pilkington, Republicans steal Barack Obama’s internet campaigning tricks, The Guardian, September 18, 2009
  5. Jump up ^ Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) and Empower America Merge to Form FreedomWorks FreedomWorks press release
  6. Jump up ^ Board of Directors, FreedomWorks
  7. Jump up ^ Empower America RightWeb, April 17, 2008
  8. Jump up ^ FreedomWorks Board of Directors
  9. Jump up ^ ‘’Wall Street Journal’’, Citizen Armey, 1/8/2003
  10. Jump up ^ Corn, David; Kroll, Andy (12-3-2012). “Exclusive: Dick Armey Quits Tea Party Group in Split Over Direction”. Mother Jones. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  11. Jump up ^ Gillum, Jack; Braun, Stephen (12-4-2012). “Tea Party group chief quits, cites internal split”. Associated Press. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  12. Jump up ^ FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard
  13. Jump up ^ Marcus, Rachel (4-19-2012). “Tea party leader Dick Armey gets first-class treatment”. Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  14. Jump up ^ CHAIRMAN DICK ARMEY SPEAKS ABOUT THE FALL OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AT THE CATO INSTITUTE
  15. Jump up ^ WISCONSIN CSE IS NOW FREEDOMWORKS
  16. Jump up ^ Freedomworks Issues School Choice
  17. Jump up ^ Freedomworks’ Issues
  18. Jump up ^ Issues: Health Care Reform FreedomWorks. Accessed: 21 June 2012.
  19. Jump up ^ “The Tea Party Movement: Who’s In Charge?”
  20. Jump up ^ David Weigel (August 11, 2009). “Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text”. The Washington Independent. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  21. ^ Jump up to: a b Shaping Tea Party Passion Into Campaign Force, Kate Zernike, The New York Times, August 25, 2010
  22. Jump up ^ FreedomWorks Says Jump, Tea Partiers Ask How High | TPMMuckraker
  23. Jump up ^ The Lie Machine : Rolling Stone
  24. Jump up ^ Fang, Lee. “Pressed On 
  25. FreedomWorks’ Connections To Tea Parties, Dick Armey Lashes Out At TP As ‘Juvenile Delinquents’”. Think Progress. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  26. Jump up ^ “A Tea-Party Target List? FreedomWorks Releases Its Races For 2010 – Politics – The Atlantic”. Politics.theatlantic.com. 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2010-08-29.