Category Archives: Obama

Two recent cases provide clear evidence that the Federal Elections Commission is broken

Two recent decisions by the Federal Elections Commission provide clear evidence that the Commission is broken and nonfunctional just like Congress. On split partisan votes it took no action on two separate cases.

As the Washington Post reported in an article entitled, “FEC deadlocked on allegations that Gingrich used 2012 campaign to sell books“:

“Former House speaker Newt Gingrich will not face a Federal Election Commission investigation into allegations that he broke federal law by using his 2012 presidential campaign to promote books that he and his wife wrote, documents released Friday show.

…The FEC’s top attorney recommended in 2013 that the agency investigate Gingrich, but the case languished and the six-member commission eventually deadlocked along partisan lines in June, with the three Republican commissioners voting against an inquiry.

The general counsel’s initial review found evidence of seven violations of campaign finance laws, the FEC documents show. Among the findings: Gingrich’s campaign staff and the employees of his production company at times swapped duties as the then-candidate was holding concurrent campaign rallies and book-signing events….

The general counsel also found evidence that the campaign’s resources benefited Gingrich personally, noting that his campaign website included more than 80 links to the Gingrich Productions website, along with blog entries promoting book signings and movie screenings. Many of the links went to pages urging supporters to buy books written by Newt and Callista Gingrich.”

The second case also was decided on a split partisan vote, meaning no action was taken on what clearly appeared to be political action and avoidance of reporting of campaign donations. As the Washington Post reported “How a film about Obama’s communist ‘real father’ won at the FEC “ was also won because of a partisan split. It is a revisit of the Hillary Clinton case that was decided in the so called “Citizens United” decision by the US Supreme Court which opened the floodgates on money in elections since then. The film in that case mailed also right before the election was  “Hillary:  the movie”

As the Washington Post post reported:

“Four years ago, voters in Ohio and a few other swing states opened their mailboxes to discover a documentary they’d never ordered. “Dreams From My Real Father” posited that the president of the United States was not the son of Barack Obama Sr., but of Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist activist and poet who moved to Hawaii late in life ….

In 2014, a progressive activist named Loren Collins filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Gilbert, arguing that the filmmaker had a responsibility to disclose his donors. The FEC finally weighed in last month, and in a typical 3-3 split decision — by law, the FEC is perpetually split between Democratic and Republican commissioners — Gilbert’s DVD mailing was considered “press,” not subject to donor disclosure, comparable to any political documentary.

“With the right framing, even the most dishonest, smear-mongering attacks can skirt FEC regulations under our current regulations,” said Collins. “His mailing cost at least $1 million, and that could’ve been paid for by Mitt Romney or Donald Trump, and there’s no way to know. Taken together with [the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision], this could have very serious negative ramifications. The general counsel’s report might as well be an instruction manual on how to avoid the transparency that comes with public disclosure of financiers.”

Asking a Commission composed of partisan politicians divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats in a clearly highly charged partisan Washington DC atmosphere is a sure way to have more gridlock. If anything the decisions need to be made by those without a direct stake in a partisan outcome. Time to restructure the FEC to  enable it to make decisions. The simplest  solution is to add a fifth member chosen by the other four members. Another alternative is to remove partisan politicians  and to have the issues decided by a panel of judges. Clearly the current  system is broken.


Most Americans Don’t Share in Growing Economy

The main reason voters gave for their voting as they did in the Nov 2014 election was the economy as it affected them. Despite job growth going up and unemployment going down and the stock market going up and GDP increasing, most Americans were not sharing in the economy doing better.

As Steve Rattner points out in a New York Times article entitled “Inequality Unbelievably, Gets Worse” :

 “Inflation-adjusted earnings of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell between 2010 and 2013, with those near the bottom dropping the most. Meanwhile, incomes in the top decile rose.”

Democrats got blamed for the impacts of this growing income inequality in the US. Ironically conservative Republican policies rather than progressive Democratic  policies have exacerbated this inequality. Republicans did a better job of blaming people’s economic woes on Obama and deflected their own culpability and contribution in opposing things like repealing tax loopholes on big oil and other profitable corporations  and pushing for lowering taxes on the rich.

In charts presented in Rattner’s piece, he notes that because of the US’s relative low tax rate compared to that of other developed countries, less funds are available to help people in need of government assistance. The result is that the US ranks at the top as having the most inequality. Rattner says:

“That’s because our taxes, while progressive, are low by international standards and our social welfare programs — ranging from unemployment benefits to disability insurance to retirement payments — are consequently less generous.

Conservatives may bemoan the size of our government; in reality, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, total tax revenues in the United States this year will be smaller on a relative basis than those of any other member country.”

Democrats unfortunately did not talk about what they and Obama had been doing to help working families despite Republican opposition.  Again Rattner noted:

To his credit, President Obama has succeeded in keeping income disparities from growing even wider, by such measures as by forcing tax rates on the wealthiest Americans up toward fair levels.

Majority of Public Supports the Affordable Care Act

Polls can be manipulated to get the results you want. It all depends on the questions you ask. And often its a matter of asking incomplete questions or not clarifying what it is that people are actually saying.  Such is the case with support for the Affordable Care Act. Republicans love to call it Obamacare so that Republicans who don’t like Obama will be against it, even through it was the US Congress not President Obama who passed the legislation. But their strategy is not working as a close analysis of polling shows.

Charles M Blow in the New York Times in an article entitled Kamikaze Congress points out how right wing Tea Party Republicans in the US House continue their relentless drive to try to undo the Affordable Care Act as if a majority of Americans oppose it.This is their strategy:

Delay and defund. And default.

That is the House Republicans’ brilliant plan in their last-ditch effort to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is a plan that threatens to grind the government to a halt and wreak havoc on the economy.

If they can’t take over Washington, they’ll shut it down. It’s their way or no way. All or nothing.

This is what has become of a party hijacked by zealots.

The problem is that the majority of Americans do not support what they are trying to do. Republicans seriously misread the polling data and the American public. And it all has to do with understanding the actual polling data.

Tea Party Republicans in the House are blinded by their hatred of President Obama and thus continue their unrelenting drive to try to deny him any victory – having voted some 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The problem is as Blow points out:

Some of them twist poll results to buttress their bitterness. They point to polls showing that most Americans opposed the law as fuel for their fight. What they neglect to reveal is that a sizable portion of those who opposed the law do so because they don’t think it goes far enough, not because it goes too far. A May CNN/ORC poll found that 43 percent of Americans favored the law while 54 percent opposed it. But it also found that of those polled, 16 percent opposed the law because they thought that it wasn’t liberal enough. Put another way, 59 percent of Americans support the law or want it to be more liberal.

Furthermore, a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center found that of the 53 percent of Americans who said they disapproved of the law, the percentage who want elected officials who oppose the law to try to make it work as well as possible was larger than the percentage who wanted them to try to make it fail.

The American people are not on the far right’s side in battle. House Republicans are on a quixotic mission.

These results are significant and point out how polling can be used to manipulate and misinterpret what it is the public actually believes. There are many of us, including me, who believe the law does not go far enough. That should not be falsely interpreted as our wanting to see the Affordable Care Act repealed. Instead we are pushing for a better system, like a single payer system or expanding Medicare to cover everyone, so that we can remove the money that goes to pay corporate healthcare executives and billing companies and others, and put it toward actually providing healthcare at a much cheaper cost, like many other European Countries currently do.

As PBS points out in “Health Costs: How the US Compares to Other Countries”

$8,233 per year? That’s how much the U.S. spends per person.

Worth it?

That figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of GDP.

We can do better. Going backward like Tea Party zealots in the US House of Representatives propose is a losing proposition.


Miss Bush as President?

The Center for American Progress has put out a list of some of the things that President George Bush did while President. It’s entitled “13 Reasons to be Glad George W Bush is no Longer President“. I’m summarizing the list below based on their list but it is pretty obvious that there are a lot of reasons not to miss Bush as President. Most of the things he did are still causing us problems today, like increasing income inequality and deregulating business and investment activity and politicizing the issue of climate change. It seems some people are already forgetting, so I think it’s a great idea to review his” legacy”. It reminds us that there is a world of difference between how President Obama and President Bush and their respective Parties view the future of America and the priorities they chose.

Here’s the list from the Center for American Progress. Go to their original post to see more details.

  • Authorized the use of torture
  • Politicized climate science
  • Ignored Afghanistan to launch a war in Iraq
  • Botched the response to Hurricane Katrina
  • Defunded stem cell research
  • Required Muslim men to register with the government
  • Reinstated the global gag rule
  • Supported anti-gay discrimination
  • Further deregulated Wall Street
  • Widened income inequality
  • Undermined worker protections
  • Ideological court appointments
  • Presided over a dysfunctional executive branch



Koch Brothers Enter Washington State Governor’s Race

The infamous Koch Brothers have entered the 2012 Washington State Governor’s race.  Surprise – they are supporting Republican Rob McKenna. McKenna is running against former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee.

On Thursday, October 18, 2012, Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington filed a C6 with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission that they were spending $27, 985 on a radio ad supporting Rob McKenna.

Americans for Prosperity  was founded by the oilmen Koch Brothers –  David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, both of Koch Industries.

Wikipedia notes that:

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an American conservative political advocacy group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. AFP’s stated mission is “educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing citizens as advocates in the public policy process.” The group played a major role in the Republicans’ 2010 takeover of the House of Representatives, and has been called “one of the most powerful conservative organizations in electoral politics.”

Sourcewatch writes that:

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the “Tea Party” efforts.  AFP’s messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Koch Family Foundations and the Koch’s other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks.

So far the spending by Americans for Prosperity is small potatoes in this state but this could quickly change. Kirby Wilbur, the Washington State  Republican Party Chair, was the state coordinator for Americans for Prosperity in 2010 and they successfully dumped money into last minute mailers against Democratic legislators who did not have sufficient time to respond to the last minute mailers. They are spending lots of money nationally and are doing it without disclosing their donors. This needs to change in disclosure laws.

As the Guardian in a just released articles states:

Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-aligned group part-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, is building a state-of-the-art digital ground operation in Ohio and other vital battleground states to spread its anti-Obama message to voters who could decide the outcome of the presidential election.

The group hopes that by creating a local army of activists equipped with sophisticated online micro-targeting tools it will increase its impact on moderate voters, nudging them towards a staunchly conservative position opposed to President Obama’s economic and healthcare policies. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is spending tens of millions of dollars developing its local strategy, already employing more than 200 permanent staff in 32 states. …

AFP has already spent $30m so far this election cycle in opposing President Obama and other prominent Democratic candidates and their policies. It says it aims to reach up to 9 million targeted voters in crucial swing states, through the efforts of its 2 million activists.


Beware the Romney Business Plan to Take Over America!

Under the Romney Business plan to grow our economy,  expect the rich to suck taxpayer money out of our government as they get richer. That’s his “successful” business model that he used at Bain Capital. Now he and the Republicans are touting this successful business experience  as a reason to vote for Romney and spread his plan  across America.
Under Romney we can expect more corporate control  of public services and investment in areas like health care, increased privatization of public schools,  and banks and investment companies running social security. Free enterprise to Romney and the conservatives under the Bain capital model would mean putting profit over public good.
For many Government is there to protect the public good over private gain, that is unless you are a conservative in America. The Bain Capital model of business was the accumulation of wealth by it’s investors, regardless of the consequences to its workers and the community it was in.
To see the real life consequences of this business model one just needs to looks at how Romney made his fortune. As detailed in the New York Times article entitled, “Companies’ Ills Did Not Harm Romney’s Firm
Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain is at the heart of his case for the presidency. He has repeatedly promoted his years working in the “real economy,” arguing that his success turning around troubled companies and helping to start new ones, producing jobs in the process, has prepared him to revive the country’s economy. He has fended off attacks about job losses at companies Bain owned, saying, “Sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful.” But an examination of what happened when companies Bain controlled wound up in bankruptcy highlights just how different Bain and other private equity firms are from typical denizens of the real economy, from mom-and-pop stores to bootstrapping entrepreneurial ventures.       Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.”
So what does Romney propose to do for the takeover of America under this business model.  Well he and his conservative right wing friends propose to take over the US Government and run it like a business.  In his mind, his friends and mega-contributors are his investors . His goal is basically a  takeover of our Public Government and turning over the profits to his wealthy friends and corporate America. Their goal is to privatize most services now provided by Government to help its citizens.
The profits of course are whatever taxes are still paid by the so called workers of America.  Romney’s corporate and wealthy individual investors see our Government as another opportunity to take from the people and transfer more wealth to themselves. The so called investors  will put the minimum in taxes into the government to give the appearance that they are participating but their goal is to figure out how to maximize what they can withdraw from the Government for themselves..
Do you think I am joking?  Look at what he is proposing to do in Public Education.  It a profit maker for his investors if he can privatize it by Charter Schools and vouchers guaranteed by the government.  They are already getting tax dollars via on line schools where they sign up as many people as possible for paying tuition by advancing them loans and getting federal guarantees for payment, regardless of the qualifications of the students to complete the courses. It is similar to what the banks and mortgage companies did to homeowners, ignoring their ability to qualify for repayment and then reselling the so called qualified loans to others for a profit.
 Diane Ravitch in the New York Times Review of Books writes about Romney’s recently released education plan in an article entitled “The Miseducation of Mitt Romney”. His main focus is that turning public education over to the private for profit sector is the answer to our education future:
The central themes of the Romney plan are a rehash of Republican education ideas from the past thirty years, namely, subsidizing parents who want to send their child to a private or religious school, encouraging the private sector to operate schools, putting commercial banks in charge of the federal student loan program, holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ test scores, and lowering entrance requirements for new teachers. These policies reflect the experience of his advisers, who include half a dozen senior officials from the Bush administration and several prominent conservative academics, among them former Secretary of Education Rod Paige and former Deputy Secretary of Education Bill Hansen, and school choice advocates John Chubb and Paul Peterson.
Romney offers full-throated support for using taxpayer money to pay for private-school vouchers, privately-managed charters, for-profit online schools, and almost every other alternative to public schools.”
As to public colleges and the for profit free enterprise opportunities  they represent to Romney’s investment partners in America, Ravitch says that:
 “Romney will encourage private sector involvement in higher education, by having commercial banks again serve as the intermediary for federal student loans, an approach Obama had eliminated 2010 as too costly. (Until 2010, banks received guaranteed subsidies from the federal government to make student loans, while the government assumed nearly all the risk. When the program was overhauled by the Obama Administration, billions of dollars in bank profits were redirected to support Pell Grants for needy students.)  To cut costs, Romney encourages the proliferation of for-profit online universities.”
We have seen this turn the taxpayer dollars over to the private sector in other areas of Government and it would be accelerated under Romney. Privately run health care in the US is the most expensive in the world.  Romney wants to repeal and defund the Affordable Health Care Act and keep health care in the for profit private sector.  Costs continue to escalate. The Affordable Health Care Act limited the profit part of health care to 20% and even that is too little for Romney’s private sector business model.  The goal of corporate America is to maximize profits, not maximize the health of America’s citizens.  That model allowed private health care insurance companies to deny insurance to people, including children with pre-existing conditions.  It allowed insurance companies to drop people’s health care insurance when they got sick.  It allowed them to write policies that were woefully inadequate in covering major illnesses.
There is a reason for government involvement in health care and it is an ethical one.  Someone needs to put the health and welfare of our citizens over the profits of the corporate health care insurance system.  When Sara Palin said there were death panels she was right.  But it wasn’t the Government, it was private insurance companies denying coverage or cancelling coverage for health care for Americans.  Romney wants to abolish the Affordable Healthcare Act and put private for profit corporations in control of your health care.
In March in USA Today Romney  wrote:
“…It is past time to abolish the program, root and branch. …
… the case against ObamaCare extends far beyond questions about its constitutionality. President Obama‘s program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives.It is precisely for those reasons that I’ve opposed a one-size-fits-all health care plan for the entire nation. What we need is a free market, federalist approach to making quality, affordable health insurance available to every American. Each state should be allowed to pursue its own solution in this regard, instead of being dictated to by Washington.”
What he’s really saying is that his investors backing him do not want the Federal Government limiting their profits or regulating how they do business. But our system is broken and continuing it as it is would be  a tragic mistake for America. Heath care run for profit as we’ve seen with the Bain Capital business model would put profit over people’s lives and quality of health care.
An article in the Huffington Post last year reported that:
“The nation’s health care tab is on track to hit $4.6 trillion in 2020, accounting for about $1 of every $5 in the economy, government number crunchers estimate in a report …

How much is that? Including government and private money, health care spending in 2020 will average $13,710 for every man, woman and child, says Medicare’s Office of the Actuary.

Compare it to this year, when U.S. health care spending is projected to top $2.7 trillion, about $8,650 per capita, or roughly $1 of $6 in the economy. Most of those dollars go to provide care for the sickest people.

Along with rising costs, the report found that the share of the health care tab paid by the government keeps growing, approaching half the total. …

…the United States continues to spend far more on health care than other economically developed countries. The study by the Commonwealth Fund found that U.S. health care spending per person in 2008 was more than double the median – or midpoint_ for other leading economies. ” 

If you followed Romney’s business practices to maximize profit to his private investors, expect that the same way he putting maximizing profit of his investors over retaining or creating jobs, he would as president let insurance companies once again drop patients that were costing too much and also allow insurance companies to pick and choose who they decide to insure in the first place.  There is nothing inherently ethical about creating profit but there is about caring or not caring for and helping America’s sick.  That is why keeping  health care protection as a public good is necessary. The Romney Business Takeover Model to maximize profit for the few regardless of the cost and pain to the many needs to be rejected.

America can not afford to elect Romney and adopt the Romney Business Model of maximizing profits for the wealthy few. They are  pushing what is essentially a hostile takeover of public education and  health care and other services now provided by our Federal Government and want to privatize as much as possible for private gain. Creating wealth for a few at the expense of the many is a recipe for disaster for our country.

A Republican Campaign Joke or a Deception?

Last night my answering machine recorded a Republican robo-call. The call said that “A lot of people are upset with Washington DC because nothing gets done. Patty Murray is part of the problem” The joke/deception of course is that they expect the public to believe it. Republicans by obstructing and stopping  a lot of legislation from being passed by the US Senate through their threat of the filibuster, prevented many things from getting done. The joke/lie is that the Republicans expect  us to believe it is the Democrat’s and Patty Murray’s fault. Is enough of the public really gullible enough to believe it’s the Democrats fault? And when one looks at what Democrats accomplished in Congress over the last two year’s (see below) it’s obvious the Republicans are lying about what Congress did.

Unfortunately with the country still fairly evenly divided politically it doesn’t take a lot of voters to change the makeup of Congress. The answer in the current political climate is that enough people will believe the Republican joke/deception/lie such that Republicans will be even more able to obstruct Democrats from moving the country forward with needed reform.

The right wing free market and corporate deluging of the media has been intense. The public is being fooled by the Republican storyline because voters are looking for a scapegoat for the country’s problems.  It is a lot easier to blame someone – like the Democrats- because they are in power, than it is to work for solutions. And the Republicans have been more intent on demonizing the Democrats for political gain than they have been on advocating for solutions that will benefit the majority of Americans that are not wealthy.

Democrats inherited a colossal problem  It  is for multiple reasons they are not faring well in this election. There will be endless discussions of this over the next few days.  Reasons listed will include the Democrats not boasting about their accomplishments enough, Obama not providing a clear vision of his future for America, the question whether the Government is responsible for the state of the economy or whether it is private enterprise and Wall Street greed driving things, the issue of  the news media preferring to cover conflict rather than resolution, the huge influx of hidden corporate and special intererest money and a Republican noise and propaganda machine that set the agenda for what this election was about rather than the Democrats.

Obama’s role in the Democrat’s plight can somewhat be explained  when he publicly said he was concentrating on getting things done rather than  dealing with politics and outreach to the public. The deactivating after his election of his grassroots organization that helped him get elected was obviously a serious mistake. It’s re-activation in this Election season comes too little and too late for many Democrats.

There are many candidates and elected officials that have had good ideas but who did not see them come to fruition. It is not enough to be “right”. You must also bring the people along with you. And you must keep them with you. It is not enough to win a legislative battle if you do not win the public perception battle that this is progress and is good for them.

A few reports by the news media note that both Congress and the President have accomplished a lot in the last two years. But it is too little recognition too late. The reports are true but the Republican death song has been going on too long to really get people’s to stop and look.

If some people perceive that Congress couldn’t act these last two years, they certainly will see much more inaction with more Republicans in Congress. And you will see the Republicans continue to blame the Democrats of course for any inaction, regardless of  Republican inaction or their obvious intent to do as little as possible to pass anything the Democrats or Obama wants..

The Republican plan of action will be to obstruct most everytihing unless they get exactly what they want.  The reality is it doesn’t matter what Obama does as long as the Republican goal is power and not solving our nation’s problems. Their goal as Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said is to make Obama a one term President. And they will not give or do anything that they think will make Obama look good.

While much was watered down that Obama and the Democrats passed, like financial reform and health care, a lot else did get done from a Democratic perspective. Two female Supreme Court Justices The Lily Ledbetter Act for equal pay for women.  More student loan money. Withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.  But so much is in what people think, not the reality. The reality is that Congress did get a lot done, despite what the majority of the voting  public may believe.  If people perceived that Congress couldn’t act, they certainly will see much more inaction with more Republicans in Congress.

Actually here’s a list of 42 things Democrats and Obama accomplished. It’s unfortunate that the Republicans have been able to spin a false picture to the American voters.  Regardless of the vote today, this list stands. It remains to be seen what will get done with more Republicans in Washington. This will be the record to compare with two years from now. Thanks to rescue truth. for this list of “Democratic Accomplishments you may not Know About”.

25 Tax Cuts Passed By Obama & Democrats


1.“Making Work Pay” tax credit

2.Earned Income Tax Credit increased

3.Increased Eligibility for Refundable Portion of Child Credit

4.“American Opportunity” Education Tax Credit

5.First-time Home Buyer Credit

6.Temp. Suspension of Taxation of Unemployment Benefits

7.Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Improvements to Existing Homes

8.Sales Tax Deduction for Vehicle Purchases

9.Premium Credits for COBRA Continuation Coverage for Unemployed Workers

10.Economic Recovery Credits to Recipients of Social Security, SSI, RR Retirement, and Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits

11.Computers as Qualified Education Expenses in 529 Education Plans

12.Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle Credit

13.Tax Parity for Transit Benefits

14.Health Coverage Tax Credit Expansion

Small Business

1.Extension of Enhanced Small Business Expensing

2.5-Year Carryback of Net Operating Losses for Small Businesses

3.Extension of Bonus Depreciation

4.Exclusion of 75% of Small Business Capital Gains from Taxes

5.Temporary Small Business Estimated Tax Payment Relief

6.Temporary Reduction of S Corporation Built-In Gains Holding Period from 10 Years to 7 Years

Other Business

1.Advanced Energy Investment Credit

2.Tax Credits for Alternative Refueling Property

3.Work Opportunity Tax Credits for Hiring Unemployed Veterans and Disconnected Youth

4.Delayed Recognition of Certain Cancellation of Debt Income

5.Election to Accelerate Recognition of Historic AMT/R&D Credits

Fun Fact: 1/3 of the $862 billion stimulus was for tax cuts, something Republicans claim to support … although they still stand against stimulus. I suppose it depends on who gets the tax cuts.

Women’s Rights

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Protection against pay discrimination

Restores interpretation of Title VII of Civil Rights Act that protected women and other workers

Financial Rights

Credit CARD Act

Prevents retroactive rate increases

Requires companies to provide 45 days notice before changing rates and other contract provisions

Additional restrictions placed on fees

Prevents companies from taking advantage of students

Ends unfair double-cycle billing practices

Financial reform bill

Establishes Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which seeks solely to ensure financial institutions are being fair to consumers, and improvement in the simplicity in contracts

Prevents taxpayer bail out of financial institutions

Allows the GAO to audit the Federal Reserve

Various mortgage and derivatives reform, etc.


Student loans[1]

Ends “socialistic” federal subsidies to banks and other financial institutions (Interestingly, Republicans are okay with the kind of socialism that redirects taxpayer money to banks and other financial institutions.)

Eliminates unnecessary “middle-man” in student loan process, which placed financial burden on taxpayers while banks took in profits

Annual student loan payment capped at 10% of income

Saves an estimated $61 billion over 10 years

Health Care

Children’s health insurance bill[2]

CBO said bill will allow states to cover more than four million uninsured children by 2013, in addition to seven million already covered

Requires states to provide dental and mental illness coverage to children

Tobacco regulation

Provides graphic warnings on tobacco use risks

Restricts advertising to prevent marketing to minors

Health care reform

Insurers cannot cancel coverage when a person gets sick

Requires health insurance corporations to cover preexisting conditions

Eliminates lifetime limits

Allows insurance purchase across state lines

Allows young adults to stay on parents’ health insurance policy until 26

Crime & Civil Rights

Hate crime legislation[4]

Provides protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people

Tribal Law and Order Act

Provide additional means to reduce high rates of violent crime, including rape & sexual assualt within Native American reservations

View the post on the Tribal Law and Order Act


The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Expands service and voluteer opportunites

Benefits education, health care, energy, etc.


Cash for Clunkers successfully contributed to 680,000+ vehicle sales in summer 2009

Largest clean energy investment ever made

Reduced deficit by $122 billion[5]

Reduced federal spending by 2%[5]

What didn’t get passed because of Republican obstructionism?

Health Care for 9/11 Emergency Responders

DISCLOSE Act (transparency in elections, specifically campaign financing)

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal

Removal of $75 million cap on oil spill payouts

Elimination of tax incentives for companies shipping American jobs overseas, and creation of tax incentives to businesses bringing jobs home

Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels Get Obama Appointment

The White House announced today that Greg Nickels has been appointed by President Obama as the  Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The White House bio for Greg Nickels notes that:

Greg Nickels is currently a Distinguished Urban Fellow for Living Cities, a collaboration of 22 of the largest philanthropies and financial institutions in America.  In the spring of 2010, Nickels was appointed as a fellow-in residence at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.  Prior to that, he served as the 51st Mayor of the City of Seattle from January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2009 and as an elected member of the King County Council for 14 years.  From 1978 to 1987, he served as legislative assistant to then-City Councilmember Norm Rice.   In 2009 Nickels was elected the 67th President of the United States Conference of Mayors.

Greg Nickels on his Facebook page comments on his new position.

Tuesday, when the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly was gaveled to order, I was sitting “behind the flag”, i.e. behind the placard that read “United States”. That seat is reserved for the country’s senior person in attendance. As I looked around the massive chambers and the huge UN logo behind the rostrum, it was… surreal to think I was representing our country to the world.

A once in a lifetime honor!

Yes, It is an honor and we are fortunate to have one of our own from Washington State and Seattle representing us to the World.

Obama, Democrats Score Another Victory with Passage of Financial Reform Bill

President Obama and the Democrats in Congress (with the help of a few Republicans) passed another piece of major legislation. Give credit where credit is due. Despite the never ending negativity of the Republican leadership, Democrats prevailed in passing a major bill to reform financial practices in America. The legislation is a significant reversal from past  policy decisions pushed by free market Republicans to deregulate the financial industry. These policies failed as demonstrated by our current depressed economy and loss of jobs.
 By a Senate vote of 60 to 39, Democrats overcame a continuing filibuster threat by the Republican leadership intent on trying to stop Congress from passing any reform legislation and then blaming Obama for not getting anything done. Voters this November need to keep in mind that it is the Democrats who are working to clear up the messes left by the last Republican Administration and that Republicans continue to obstruct needed change.

As the New York Times notes:

The vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fierce lobbying and intense debate over the appropriate response to the financial excesses that dragged the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

The result is a catalog of repairs and additions to the rusted infrastructure of a regulatory system that has failed to keep up with the expanding scope and complexity of modern finance.

The bill subjects more financial companies to federal oversight, regulates many derivatives contracts, and creates a panel to detect risks to the financial system along with a consumer protection regulator.

A more detailed analysis of some of the provisions of the legislation and comments by some NW Senators can be found on the NPI Advocate.

There’s a great column in today’s Seattle Times by Froma Harrop entitled “Don’t forget who created this mess”. I highly recommend people read it. (Unfortunately the column is not on the Seattle Times website yet).
Too much attention has been given to vocal strident anti-government protesters on the right. They are aligned with and being promoted by conservative Republicans who want back in power. As Harrop says:

But when they ask whether I want Republicans to take back Washington, I’ll respond: “Are you out of your mind? We’re still recovering from their last round of debauchery – their fiscal irresponsibility, servility toward wall Street, disrespect for science, contempt for the environment”. …
Dear readers, I’m a reasonable woman. I don’t care much about ideology.  My bottom line is what’s good for the country.  While the country is on a bad path, Republican voodoo is what put us on it.  Surely, many voters agree with me.

Public Support Growing for Obama’s Health Care Law

An article published in today’s Seattle Times states that supporters of the the health care legislation supported by President Obama and passed by Democrats in Congress now outnumber opponents The Associated Press-GfK poll showed 45% in favor of the legislation to 42% opposed.

The poll found support increased since May among men (from 36 percent to 46 percent), people in their prime working years (from 35 percent to 49 percent among 30- to 49-year-olds) and Republicans (from 8 percent to 17 percent.) The uptick among Republicans comes even as party leaders are calling for the law’s repeal.

The article credits the increased support on the public supporting a number of key provisions of the bill including:

“…coverage for young adults on their parents’ plan until they turn 26; a $250 rebate check for older people with high prescription costs; tax credits for some small businesses that cover their employees; and federal money to train more primary-care doctors and nurses”

Significantly the poll found that the public trusts the Democrats to do a better job of handling health care than Republicans by a margin of 51% to 39% That’s not surprising considering that no Republicans supported the legislation and they made every effort they could to obstruct reform of health care to try to prevent Obama from passing the legislation and having a significant legislative victory.

Republican obstructionist tactics failed and are a sign of the lack of new ideas or an agenda that appeals to Americans interested in solving our countries problems rather than engaging in partisan politics Obama is developing a track record despite the childish tactics of the Republicans who are more intent on trying to get back into power than on dealing with our problems.  Electing naysayers and do nothings just isn’t going to happen. The obstructionist tactics of the Republicans are destined to come back and bite the Republicans at the polls.