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Constitution?

What Constitution?

If you needed any more proof that the GOP reading the Constitution aloud in Congress is merely political theater, well, here you go:

Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.

The Republicans, incumbent Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Mike Fitzpatrick, missed the swearing-in because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center. The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.

And yes, beyond the obvious problems with this, you read that correctly:

The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.

There is no provision in the Constitution for a remote swearing-in by television. On Thursday, Fitzpatrick was one of the members who read the Constitution from the dais.

You can read more of the stupidity and hypocrisy of these two here from the Huffington Post.

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UPDATE WITH VIDEO BELOW

Here is another reason I will miss Alan Grayson (D-FL).

This is some of what Rep. Grayson had to say about the Bush tax cuts yesterday on the House floor:

Mr. Grayson asserted that Republicans wanted to preserve the lower Bush-era income tax rates in part to benefit talk-show celebrities, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who generally support the Republican Party. Mr. Grayson showed posters of each man, with their estimated annual income and the amount of tax savings that they supposedly get from the lower rates.

But Mr. Grayson also had another target: Former President George W. Bush, who Mr. Grayson said, continues to benefit personally from his namesake tax cuts and would also benefit from their continuation.

“George W. Bush makes a cool $4.2 million a year, according to Newsweek,” Mr. Grayson said in his speech. “That means that extending the Bush tax cuts for George Bush means an extra $187,000 in his pocket every single year.”

“I have a better idea,” Mr. Grayson proclaimed. “Instead of placating these people and letting them spew out onto the airwaves their lies about the Bush tax cuts without ever revealing the fact that they stand to gain millions, millions of dollars each year from their selfish desire to take advantage of the rest of America, let’s do this: let’s take that money and create jobs.”

He added, “I think that’s a better idea than stuffing even more money into the pockets of the rich. Because the problem in America today is not that the poor have too much money. That’s not the problem at all. It’s that they need jobs.”

Thank you Rep, Grayson.

You will be missed.

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Yesterday in the U. S. House, 234 members voted in favor of tax cuts for the middle class only, while 188 voted against middle class tax cuts because they didn’t include those with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Below is the breakdown of votes:

 

Democrats who voted against (Florida members in bold):

 

Rep. Brian Baird [D, WA-3]

Rep. Dan Boren [D, OK-2]

Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper [D, PA-3]

Rep. Artur Davis [D, AL-7]

Rep. Lloyd Doggett [D, TX-25]

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin [D, SD-0]

Rep. Ron Klein [D, FL-22]

Rep. Jim Matheson [D, UT-2]

Rep. Mike McIntyre [D, NC-7]

Rep. Michael McMahon [D, NY-13]

Rep. Jerry McNerney [D, CA-11]

Rep. Walter Minnick [D, ID-1]

Rep. Gwen Moore [D, WI-4]

Rep. James Moran [D, VA-8]

Rep. Collin Peterson [D, MN-7]

Rep. Earl Pomeroy [D, ND-0]

Rep. Robert Scott [D, VA-3]

Rep. Gene Taylor [D, MS-4]

Rep. Michael Thompson [D, CA-1]

Rep. Peter Visclosky [D, IN-1]

Republicans who voted against (Florida in bold):

Rep. Robert Aderholt [R, AL-4]

Rep. Todd Akin [R, MO-2]

Rep. Rodney Alexander [R, LA-5]

Rep. Steve Austria [R, OH-7]

Rep. Spencer Bachus [R, AL-6]

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett [R, MD-6]

Rep. Joe Barton [R, TX-6]

Rep. Judy Biggert [R, IL-13]

Rep. Brian Bilbray [R, CA-50]

Rep. Gus Bilirakis [R, FL-9]

Rep. Rob Bishop [R, UT-1]

Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R, TN-7]

Rep. Roy Blunt [R, MO-7]

Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8]

Rep. Jo Bonner [R, AL-1]

Rep. Mary Bono Mack [R, CA-45]

Rep. John Boozman [R, AR-3]

Rep. Charles Boustany [R, LA-7]

Rep. Kevin Brady [R, TX-8]

Rep. Paul Broun [R, GA-10]

Rep. Henry Brown [R, SC-1]

Rep. Vern Buchanan [R, FL-13]

Rep. Michael Burgess [R, TX-26]

Rep. Dan Burton [R, IN-5]

Rep. Ken Calvert [R, CA-44]

Rep. David Camp [R, MI-4]

Rep. John Campbell [R, CA-48]

Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7]

Rep. Anh Cao [R, LA-2]

Rep. Shelley Capito [R, WV-2]

Rep. John Carter [R, TX-31]

Rep. Bill Cassidy [R, LA-6]

Rep. Michael Castle [R, DE-0]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz [R, UT-3]

Rep. Howard Coble [R, NC-6]

Rep. Mike Coffman [R, CO-6]

Rep. Tom Cole [R, OK-4]

Rep. Michael Conaway [R, TX-11]

Rep. Ander Crenshaw [R, FL-4]

Rep. John Culberson [R, TX-7]

Rep. Geoff Davis [R, KY-4]

Rep. Charles Dent [R, PA-15]

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart [R, FL-21]

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart [R, FL-25]

Rep. Charles Djou [R, HI-1]

Rep. David Dreier [R, CA-26]

Rep. Vernon Ehlers [R, MI-3]

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson [R, MO-8]

Rep. Jeff Flake [R, AZ-6]

Rep. John Fleming [R, LA-4]

Rep. Randy Forbes [R, VA-4]

Rep. Jeffrey Fortenberry [R, NE-1]

Rep. Virginia Foxx [R, NC-5]

Rep. Trent Franks [R, AZ-2]

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen [R, NJ-11]

Rep. Elton Gallegly [R, CA-24]

Rep. Scott Garrett [R, NJ-5]

Rep. Jim Gerlach [R, PA-6]

Rep. John Gingrey [R, GA-11]

Rep. Louis Gohmert [R, TX-1]

Rep. Robert Goodlatte [R, VA-6]

Rep. Kay Granger [R, TX-12]

Rep. Samuel Graves [R, MO-6]

Rep. Tom Graves [R, GA-9]

Rep. Parker Griffith [R, AL-5]

Rep. Brett Guthrie [R, KY-2]

Rep. Ralph Hall [R, TX-4]

Rep. Gregg Harper [R, MS-3]

Rep. Doc Hastings [R, WA-4]

Rep. Dean Heller [R, NV-2]

Rep. Jeb Hensarling [R, TX-5]

Rep. Walter Herger [R, CA-2]

Rep. Peter Hoekstra [R, MI-2]

Rep. Duncan Hunter [R, CA-52]

Rep. Bob Inglis [R, SC-4]

Rep. Darrell Issa [R, CA-49]

Rep. Lynn Jenkins [R, KS-2]

Rep. Samuel Johnson [R, TX-3]

Rep. Timothy Johnson [R, IL-15]

Rep. Jim Jordan [R, OH-4]

Rep. Steve King [R, IA-5]

Rep. Peter King [R, NY-3]

Rep. Jack Kingston [R, GA-1]

Rep. John Kline [R, MN-2]

Rep. Doug Lamborn [R, CO-5]

Rep. Leonard Lance [R, NJ-7]

Rep. Thomas Latham [R, IA-4]

Rep. Steven LaTourette [R, OH-14]

Rep. Robert Latta [R, OH-5]

Rep. Christopher Lee [R, NY-26]

Rep. Jerry Lewis [R, CA-41]

Rep. John Linder [R, GA-7]

Rep. Frank LoBiondo [R, NJ-2]

Rep. Frank Lucas [R, OK-3]

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer [R, MO-9]

Rep. Cynthia Lummis [R, WY-0]

Rep. Daniel Lungren [R, CA-3]

Rep. Connie Mack [R, FL-14]

Rep. Donald Manzullo [R, IL-16]

Rep. Kevin McCarthy [R, CA-22]

Rep. Michael McCaul [R, TX-10]

Rep. Tom McClintock [R, CA-4]

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter [R, MI-11]

Rep. Patrick McHenry [R, NC-10]

Rep. Howard McKeon [R, CA-25]

Rep. John Mica [R, FL-7]

Rep. Jeff Miller [R, FL-1]

Rep. Candice Miller [R, MI-10]

Rep. Gary Miller [R, CA-42]

Rep. Jerry Moran [R, KS-1]

Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18]

Rep. Sue Myrick [R, NC-9]

Rep. Randy Neugebauer [R, TX-19]

Rep. Devin Nunes [R, CA-21]

Rep. Pete Olson [R, TX-22]

Rep. Erik Paulsen [R, MN-3]

Rep. Mike Pence [R, IN-6]

Rep. Thomas Petri [R, WI-6]

Rep. Joseph Pitts [R, PA-16]

Rep. Todd Platts [R, PA-19]

Rep. Ted Poe [R, TX-2]

Rep. Bill Posey [R, FL-15]

Rep. Tom Price [R, GA-6]

Rep. George Radanovich [R, CA-19]

Rep. Tom Reed [R, NY-29]

Rep. Dennis Rehberg [R, MT-0]

Rep. Dave Reichert [R, WA-8]

Rep. Phil Roe [R, TN-1]

Rep. Michael Rogers [R, AL-3]

Rep. Michael Rogers [R, MI-8]

Rep. Harold Rogers [R, KY-5]

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher [R, CA-46]

Rep. Thomas Rooney [R, FL-16]

Rep. Peter Roskam [R, IL-6]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R, FL-18]

Rep. Edward Royce [R, CA-40]

Rep. Paul Ryan [R, WI-1]

Rep. Steve Scalise [R, LA-1]

Rep. Jean Schmidt [R, OH-2]

Rep. Aaron Schock [R, IL-18]

Rep. James Sensenbrenner [R, WI-5]

Rep. Peter Sessions [R, TX-32]

Rep. John Shadegg [R, AZ-3]

Rep. John Shimkus [R, IL-19]

Rep. William Shuster [R, PA-9]

Rep. Michael Simpson [R, ID-2]

Rep. Adrian Smith [R, NE-3]

Rep. Lamar Smith [R, TX-21]

Rep. Christopher Smith [R, NJ-4]

Rep. Clifford Stearns [R, FL-6]

Rep. Marlin Stutzman [R, IN-3]

Rep. John Sullivan [R, OK-1]

Rep. Lee Terry [R, NE-2]

Rep. Glenn Thompson [R, PA-5]

Rep. William Thornberry [R, TX-13]

Rep. Todd Tiahrt [R, KS-4]

Rep. Patrick Tiberi [R, OH-12]

Rep. Michael Turner [R, OH-3]

Rep. Frederick Upton [R, MI-6]

Rep. Greg Walden [R, OR-2]

Rep. Zach Wamp [R, TN-3]

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland [R, GA-3]

Rep. Edward Whitfield [R, KY-1]

Rep. Addison Wilson [R, SC-2]

Rep. Rob Wittman [R, VA-1]

Rep. Frank Wolf [R, VA-10]

Rep. Donald Young [R, AK-0]

Rep. Bill Young [R, FL-10]


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A report from the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center shows that the United States is now ranked 12th internationally in the number of college graduates. Canada is ranked number one. We’re actually outranked by South Korea.

Florida is ranked 47th in average graduation rates for public high schools, and 32 in the estimated rate of high school graduates entering college.

Republicans in Congress, including those from Florida, apparently think those numbers are just fine. They consider passing a bill to save jobs for teachers a “bailout.” They say there’s no money and that we can’t afford to “spend, spend, spend” for things like education. Never mind that they bailed out Wall Street without batting an eye, and for good reason. Sizable contributions to the GOP from Wall Street are growing every day. But Republicans blame THAT bailout on the “people over-spending on homes they couldn’t afford,” NOT the banks. People like, oh I don’t know, maybe teachers or emergency workers who’ve lost their jobs? Maybe even you or someone you know?

One explains the Republican logic this way:

“Spending another $10 billion we do not have will not improve public education or protect the very best teachers.”

While you’re scratching your head over that one, remember Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)? He’s the guy who apologized to poor old BP when President Obama’s proposed cleanup bill got in the way of their perfectly good oil disaster that threatens Florida’s economy along with several other states. Before he voted against the bill he apologized yet again for more ungrateful victims:

“I’m sorry that we have to be here today to spend money that the taxpayers don’t have and Congress can’t afford for an economic stimulus program that doesn’t work.”

Barton and his colleagues could solve some of the problem by putting people back to work right away. They could use a little economics tutoring. Maybe hiring an acting coach while they’re at it? To pass this bill, they say we’re spending another $10 billion the taxpayer doesn’t have!

They’re lying.

They think you’ll believe all this just because they say so, loudly in front of cameras from C-Span (Watch here for some of the highlights, from Media Matters.) They think you’re stupid. They voted against you AND that bill, perhaps hoping to keep it that way: Stupid.

On Tuesday, House Democrats passed the bill that will save over 300,000 jobs for teachers and emergency workers. A bill that will bring more than $700 million to Florida to prevent cuts in Medicaid and will save 9,200 teaching jobs. A bill that is paid for by closing tax loopholes for multinational corporations. No wonder Joe Barton is so indignant!

The bill passed by a vote of 247-161 and split on party lines. Republicans from Florida naturally joined the rest of their party and voted no. Four of the Republicans didn’t even bother to show up to vote.

No to those “bailouts” for teachers and their students. The GOP now defines education as a “special interest.” Unfortunately that’s one “special interest” that just can’t compete with Wall Street.

Republicans ARE however in favor of extending those Bush tax cuts for incomes of $250,000 or more a year. The ones that add a hefty chunk to the deficit and aren’t paid for. Not to worry though. They plan to let the middle class foot the bill, problem solved! Now there’s a bailout they can get behind!

Try to see it from a Republican millionaire’s point of view: any money that comes out of his/her pocket from those tax cuts they so desperately want to keep, and instead goes to funding things like health care, police departments, fire departments, emergency first responders, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, social security before age 70, just to name a few, well that’s just simply unaffordable! Even the smallest fraction taken from the paycheck of, say a GOP House member who can’t even bother to show up and physically vote against a bill to do so. Any amount of that expired tax cut that could put a teacher back to work, a student back in school five days a week instead of four, or maybe just give us a shot of catching up to college graduates in South Korea. In a perfect GOP world money spent on education would be a terrible thing to waste!

In Florida all “yes” votes for the bill came from Democrats. All Republicans listed below voted “no” or didn’t bother to vote, period. Maybe we should be asking THEM why anyone in Florida should bother to vote for them next time around?

Voted No:

Not Voting:

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While everyone waits for April 30,  the deadline for Charlie Crist to make his move to either bail on the Grand Obstructionist Party and become an Independent, or (sputter) a Democrat, the Republican Party seems to have already bailed on him. They are quick to purge those who don’t comply with their strict sets of rules like “In Jeb We Trust,” the big one, among others, and Charlie’s purging began almost days before he even hinted that he would veto the recent teacher tenure bill in Florida, SB 6. After the veto, they really came out swinging, not only in Florida but nationally. In other words, they won’t let Charlie play in any of their reindeer games. Sniffle.

That’s been the conventional wisdom. But there seems to be something else rumbling just below the surface in Florida, kind of like our ever-present silent threats of sinkholes. It’s fear.

GOP Are Furious, But Fear Charlie

The GOP in Florida are furious with Crist for boldly jumping OFF the third rail of Florida politics. That would be the “Jeb Bush Express” to gutting education in Florida, for starters. With that veto, Crist kind of became a version of that “Cow On The Tracks” that the GOP wingnut in chief Michael Steele talked about a while back. Only difference is that the national Steele version was meant as an obstruction tactic against the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular. Charlie’s version is a little different. With that veto, he started what could be the beginnings of a derailment of the GOP in Florida. You don’t have to do too much digging to find evidence of that. Just listen to what GOP members have said about Charlie in the past few days. He’s “erratic”, “dishonest,” “poll driven,” “he can’t be trusted” and his “veto was politically motivated.” All qualities that the GOP normally embrace. Sure, they may all be true. The big problem for the GOP is Charlie is no longer “one of them,” and as the law of hypocrisy goes, those qualities in a candidate suddenly become “outrageous” when a sheep has left the flock. Not only has Crist left the flock behind, but he’s now hanging out AND siding with the villagers, or in this case teachers and students, and there are signals that they aren’t the only ones who may benefit from Charlie’s newfound independence.

Just yesterday the “smell of fear” was evident when the Office Of Insurance Regulation chief suddenly all but pulled the plug on the state insurance and deregulation reform bill. Why? Because GOP leaders feared another veto. The last thing they want now is a repeat of the wake left from last week’s veto. Newfound popularity for Crist among some voters in Florida.

Witness another case in point: the withdrawn endorsement from another member of the legislature who is championing his own Medicaid overhaul, Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park). Why? Could it be because Crist has compared Medicaid reform to the education reform bill? Crist has said he has concerns that under HMO’s, that bill could put the care of the disabled and nursing homes at a disadvantage. Perhaps the fear of another veto in favor of the people and not the flock?

There’s also evidence that the GOP is pushing back. At the moment the Senate is stalling the confirmation of two appointees of Crist’s to the Public Service Commission. Why? Because they’ve helped block rate increases from Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy. The Grand Obstructionist Party of Florida sure doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of power companies who can increase rates, when those power companies could easily turn around and cut off the “power supply” of the GOP in the form of big campaign donations. Who would benefit from those appointees being confirmed? You don’t have to look any further than your last electric bill to find the answer to that question. The “villagers” can’t just shrug those bills off by saying “charge it” or “just put it on my tab” the way the Republican Party of Florida has with expenses on their American Express Cards. The voters in Florida whether they still have jobs or not can’t do that. Even if they wanted to, is there a bank out there who would even extend them the credit at the moment? Nope. The banks have reversed that process in the form of bailouts courtesy of taxpayers.

Bipartisanship Comes At A Cost

That brings me to another point. Partisan politics in Washington right now are about as bad as it gets. The Grand Obstructionist Party has all but brought President Obama’s and the Democrats efforts to right the last eight years of wrongs brought to us by the Bush Administration and the GOP controlled congress to a halt. Look what happened with health care reform. By the time we got a bill passed into law, it was watered down thanks to the GOP’s obstruction tactics. President Obama and Democrats bent over backwards to try to take the bipartisan approach. We got a bill that was unpopular for some only in that it didn’t cover enough, and we have the GOP to thank for it. What did we get in return from the GOP? Nothing.

Now we’re on the verge of more of the same. Ahead of us is financial reform, immigration, and picking a new Supreme Court Justice, just to name a few. There’s also all those Obama appointees which have secret holds placed on them, mostly by republicans. (Sound familiar Florida?) You would think after an entire year of uphill battles for health care reform and the result, we could come away with many lessons learned.

Not so much. Even with bailouts at the taxpayers expense, there are still all those hefty bonuses the boys on Wall Street are getting, a couple so far this year both in January and another this month (how many bonuses have you received lately?). Common sense would dictate that we do some pretty fast reform to prevent another economic disaster. Well, sorry. Common sense isn’t part of the GOP plan. They recently had meetings with Wall Street and, no surprises here, beat a direct path from the boardrooms to the lectern, Frank Luntz talking points on notes in their hands, to announce they were firmly against financial reform. Their alternative plan? Why, the very same plan they had for health care reform. Say it with me:

“IT’S TIME TO START OVER!”

Perhaps after giving it some thought, today we hear the vague hint of possible cooperation from a handful of Republicans. Call me a skeptic, but this appears to be another stall tactic disguised as an olive branch. I don’t think they mean it anymore than when they formed their “Gangs of Eight”, and “Gangs of Six” busily looking like they were putting together a health care reform bill instead of working towards gaming the system against any democratic accomplishment. They can come out tomorrow happily announcing a new “Gang of 20,” or a “Gang of 100″ who promise feats of magic to disappear all the woes of the banking industry like fairies who turn pixie dust into giant bags of money and I wouldn’t buy it. I would bet my money on the fact that they will remain nothing more than a “Gang of We Got Nothin.’ If they get away with gaming the system for the banks, then get ready for the next nightmare. In the wake of the SCOTUS ruling turning giant corporations with larger bags of money than you or I will ever see into “people” who can donate endless campaign contributions, than you ain’t seen nothin’yet.

Take A Lesson From The GOP Fear Of Crist

Rather than trying to do the same thing as they did with health care reform, and by that I mean another “try” at bipartisanship if that’s what they still want to call it, perhaps President Obama and the Democrats in Congress might instead take a lesson from what’s happened with Charlie Crist and the Republicans in Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Charlie’s. What I’m saying is take a look at what he’s doing and learn from it.

Fear of losing the U.S. Senate election has turned Crist towards desperate measures. He’s in partisan limbo now, and last week that helped the teachers, students and education in our state. Some of us have kids in the system right now, and we know education is far from it’s best. Jeb Bush took a crack at it for years, but in the wrong direction, and not in favor of students and teachers. He blew it big time, and you could compare it to how his brother George blew a national surplus. It went “poof!” (Jeb is still rumored to be at the helm, with more educational fallout to come, and Crist dealt that a blow lat week. Soon our legislature will be taking a swing at changes in standardized testing, and shifting more money for private and religious schools.) Crist has suddenly taken a turn away from partisan politics towards doing what’s right for the people in Florida, and big shock, they like that.

Shove Aside “The Party Of No” And Go Around Them

Instead of going backwards to try to win over the GOP with the upcoming battles on Capitol Hcapill, I would suggest to Democrats and President Obama that they just forget about bipartisanship. It’s not going to happen. This is no surprise to many, but it still sounds as if it is in Washington. Take a lesson from Florida.

If the GOP continue to stand in the way, shove them aside and go around them. Their ignorant methods for shutting things down for several years until they get back in power is a disaster in the making. After the eight years of the Bush Administration, we don’t have that kind of time.

What do you suppose the country will look like in four years, or eight years after the big GOP stonewall? What would happen if they win the White House and Congress back? Can we look forward to a future where GOP lawmakers suggest that we pay for our medical expenses with poultry, or say goats? How about living in a police state, or dealing with lives lost due to offshore drilling and oil slicks so we can send what’s left of our natural resources elsewhere? Or what about fearing an arrest in certain states just because you look different from, say your average white Tea Bagger, or that you can’t take your kids to visit a National Park, or even send them to school for fear of armed visitors, teachers or students? How does living under rules dictated by corporations while the company logo is displayed on The White House, The Capitol and The Supreme Court sound? This kind of thing might be the dream of a minority of the GOP, but to many more of us this looks like a nightmare.

The White House and Democrats in Congress should take a lesson from our current GOP Crist-ophobia. Dial back to the promises made during the Presidential election. Do what’s right for the people instead of what’s right for the Party. When you come out on the side of the people you won’t have reason to fear an election. The votes will be there.

Trust us.

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I really don’t like to resurrect bad, old jokes, but I’m afraid in this instance, it’s fitting. That being said, here goes:

How can you tell when a Republican is lying?

His lips are moving.

Some of those lips are moving so fast these days they’re breaking records. It’s been a little over a year now, but Democrats are FINALLY on the verge of getting health care reform passed through the Senate. It’s also been a little over five months since Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted “You lie!” interrupting President Obama during his health care address to Congress last September while referring to Obama’s denial that his health care plan would cover illegal immigrants. The comment was somewhat ironic, coming from Republicans, who have lied about almost everything involving health care reform. From the silly: “death panels,” where apparently elderly grandparents would be lined up, checked off lists from clipboards and put to death immediately, to the procedural: “reconciliation will destroy democracy” or “reconciliation will end the Senate!” or “what Democrats want to do with reconciliation has never been done before!”

Except that it has been done before, by Republicans, and democracy, and the Senate are still with us. In fact, this feigned outrage by the Republicans is absurd and they know it is because Republicans were quite fond of reconciliation back when they used it for the Bush tax cuts. And that wasn’t all.

Between 1990 and 2007, there were 13 key reconciliation votes in the Senate. This chart by the Sunlight Foundation shows how senators in both parties voted, and how sitting senators voted in the past, on a variety of reconciliation bills:

(Click to enlarge.)

The voting record shows that reconciliation is often used as a way to pass otherwise contentious legislation that could not receive sufficient bipartisan support to reach the 60 vote supermajority necessary to clear a cloture vote. Seven of the thirteen reconciliation measures examined here passed between 1990 and 2007 were almost universally opposed by the minority party while gaining almost total unity in support from the majority using the reconciliation process.

There are a couple of these reconciliation bills that stand out in particular. See if you recall any of these?

  • The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, commonly known as the Bush tax cuts. The vote split 58-34 with twelve Democrats supporting the bill with 46 Republicans and two Republicans defecting to oppose the bill with 31 Democrats.
  • The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, further tax cuts. The vote split 50-50 with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote. Two Democrats defected to support the bill with 48 Republicans and three Republicans defected to oppose the bill with 47 Democrats.
  • The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which included cuts in Medicaid and Medicare. The vote split 50-50 with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote. Four Republicans defected to oppose the bill with 46 Democrats. No Democrats voted for the bill.
  • The Tax Increase Prevention and Reduction Act of 2005, an extension of tax cuts. The vote split 54-43 with three Democrats defecting to support the bill with 51 Republicans and three Republicans defecting to oppose the bill with 41 Democrats.

The Sunlight Foundation website has more details on the bills and the voting records here.

So the next time a Republican claims reconciliation has never been used this way before, wouldn’t it be great if, just once someone in the media would look them straight in the eye and say “You Lie!”

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Today CREW (Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics In Washington) released some data analyzing donations from health care special interests to House and Senate leaders, chairs, and ranking members who are supposed to attend tomorrows Health Care Reform Summit in Washington. The data concerns donations since 2005, and involves amounts of nearly $28 million. From the CREW website:

  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), has received over $2.5 million in contributions, $777,113 from the pharmaceutical/health products sector alone;
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has received over $2.2 million, $802,500 of which came from doctors, other medical professionals and their trade associations;
  • Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), has received nearly $2 million, $483,750 of which came from the insurance, HMO and health services industries;
  • Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), has received almost $1.9 million, $572,237 of which was contributed by hospitals and nursing homes; and
  • Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), has received over $1.8 million, and like Sen. McConnell, received a large portion of that — $709,261 — from health professionals.

Other members of Congress attending the White House summit rely overwhelmingly on the health sector for their fundraising. More than one-fifth of the money raised by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI), Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Dingell (D-MI) came from the health care sector.

This is CREW’s list ranking from highest to lowest what the invitees received as contributions to their campaign committees and leadership PAC’s since 2005:

• Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) received at least $2,557,930.

• Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) received at least $2,223,985.

• Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) received at least $1,982,904.

• Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) received at least $1,897,093.

• Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) received at least $1,842,311.

• Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) received at least $1,646,218.

• Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) received at least $1,645,025.

• Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) received at least $1,640,375.

• Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) received at least $1,638,722.

• Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) received at least $1,384,520.

• Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) received at least $1,262,787.

• Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) received at least $1,225,900.

• Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) received at least $1,149,165.

• Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) received at least $1,088,360.

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) received at least $1,055,600.

• Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) received at least $1,033,079.

• Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) received at least $817,961.

• Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) received at least $726,434.

• Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) received at least $706,051.

• Rep. George Miller (D-CA) received at least $222,784.

• Rep. John Kline (R-MN) received at least $197,250.

CREW also lists contributions by Industry and by Party for each member as well. You see the entire list here.

It’s quite an eye opener.

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(Update below)

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is a disaster in the making and a threat to Democracy itself. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations are now “persons” and entitled by the U.S. Constitution, for all intents and purposes, to pour unlimited amounts of cash into the political process to buy elections and run our government. They are free to pour their profits into ads and back any political candidate they choose, and to advertise against any they oppose.

Think about that. ANY CORPORATION CAN NOW BUY ELECTIONS. The coming 2010 elections? Bought and sold. Presidential election in 2012? Just use your imagination. If anyone thinks this is no cause for alarm, they’re wrong. Think about what’s been happening over the last few administrations. Think back to the last eight years of the Bush Administration. Look at the aftermath of 9/11 and the war in Iraq and go from there. Civil liberties, regulations and the rule of law have been chipped away little by little and now with this ruling, all bets are off.

You’ve probably heard a lot over the past 24 hours how this decision is about free speech, and it’s good for “the people to have a voice in the electoral process.” But the “free speech” and “the people” they are speaking of are not you or me. It’s the big corporations, the banks, the insurance companies, big oil. You name it, the list goes on and on.

The majority of those saying this is a good thing are those on the right. The GOP are cheering, and that alone on a good day would be suspect. But what they’re not yet beginning to grasp is the big picture. They’re either thinking about the near future and what this means for them, especially if they’re beholden to one of those corporations with billions in profits. Salivating would probably not be an exaggeration. But they’re either blinded by the almighty buck, or they are woefully ignorant of what happened yesterday. Because they don’t realize that they are just as vulnerable to this as any of the rest of us are. Their rights and so-called “job security” by way of legal bribery will mean nothing more than anyone else’s when this “hostile corporate takeover” of our democracy plays out and swallows them whole. Someone else will always be there to sell the last one out to the highest bidder. Those bidders will have deep pockets, and (spoiler alert) they won’t just be from this country. No, no, foreign corporations will be able to cash in on America as well. The Supreme Court Of The United States (thanks to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and their appointed, so-called “conservative justices”) has now officially and legally made it possible to “outsource” our Democracy.

To learn more about the decision and find out what you can do and how to take action, I’ve put together a few links below. It’s a somewhat short list because this is the first chance I’ve had to actually sit down and start writing and put it together. Over the next few days I’ll have more and I’ll put them up as I go along. But in the meantime, educate yourself as much as you can and spread the word, because as usual the media (with a few exceptions, like Rachel Maddow, and Countdown) aren’t covering this like they should, and there is a LOT of misinformation coming out both intentionally and otherwise. We need to fight back on this, or we all lose.

Read the entire decision: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

A couple of good articles from The Nation, and Open Secrets Capital Eye

Move To Amend a project of the Campaign To Legalize Democracy, Resources and to sign the Motion To Amend

Use OpenSecrets to Monitor Any Increased Appetites for Independent Expenditures in the Wake of the Supreme Court Ruling

To learn more about the legislation introduced by Alan Grayson (D-FL).

Updated:

To send a letter asking your members of Congress to take action to ensure fair elections.

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