Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates VI.

October 28, 2013

justin kuhnle, indiana's 3rd congressional district, marlin stutzman, republicans, democrats, house of representatives 2014, midterms 2014, indiana

There seem to be two conflicting camps of thought on the House elections for 2014. On the one hand, 17 seats is a big majority to overturn. As noted previously, to do so would represent a post-World War II record for the President’s Party. On the other hand, history teaches us that if a Party moves too far to the left or right – as the Republicans most certainly have this year – they will be punished at the mid-terms. Support for House Republicans is at its lowest in decades, and lower than the 1998 House Republicans who lost five House seats and forced the resignation of the Speaker after self-destructively moving to the right over the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. So whilst it remains a very difficult feat in 2014, it isn’t impossible.

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District:
The government shutdown may have provided Democrats with an opportunity to retake the House in 2014, but the battle is still to be fought uphill.

Indiana’s 3rd is currently home to Rep. Marlin Stutzman, and considered a pretty safe Republican seat for 2014. Though that needn’t be the case, if we shine a light on Stutzman’s antics as Representative.

Stutzman was right at the heart of the government shutdown, for which the public in general blame his rather nihilistic approach. When asked by the Washington Examiner about the Republican led shutdown and what demands the Republicans wanted in order to reopen government, Stutzman replied:

“We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

– So, whilst voting to ensure the US wipe out at least 0.6% growth to the tune of $24bn (more than the annual GDP of Trinidad and Tobago)…. Rep. Marlin Stutzman had absolutely no idea what it is his Party wanted to gain from such a destructive course. The American people and the people of Indiana’s 3rd were not a concern or priority for Stutzman during the shutdown, the concern was purely Party political and incredibly opportunistic.

This anti-Affordable Care Act stance from Stutzman, despite the fact that key Affordable Care Act findings for Indiana’s households show that every household income bracket, other than those earning over $250,000 a year, will be better off in five years time due to the Affordable Care Act, than under the old system.

affordable care act, affordable care act indiana, indiana's 3rd congressional district, obamacare, marlin stutzman

– It seems the only reason to so viciously oppose the ACA in Indiana, is because it works, and running an election campaign on the back of two years worth of scare tactics in order to repeal a law that benefits the majority of the citizens of Indiana, other than the very wealthy, isn’t going to impress too many voters.

Neither is the fact that whilst Stutzman expressed his desire to see SNAP cut by an eye watering $30bn over the next ten years, he was receiving farm subsidies to the tune of $998,000 since 1995. Almost $1,000,000.
Stutzman then tried to plead innocence by suggesting that the Federal government is actually forcing him to take almost $1,000,000 in subsidies that he doesn’t need:

“we can’t say no.”

– The US Department of Agriculture disagrees:

“It’s a voluntary program, You can refuse payment on the farm.”

– So, instead of working to end welfare for the wealthy – including himself – Stutzman is spending his time trying to ensure that Indiana’s residents pay more in health costs, and that the most vulnerable are hit devastatingly hard by horrifying cuts to SNAP. It is no surprise that Stutzman was absolutely fine with splitting SNAP from the farm subsidy program.

Marlin Stutzman isn’t too keen on the Constitution. Introduced by Louie Gohmert (currently worried about cross dressing Satan worshippers invading Church’s as a result of gay marriage), Marlin Stutzman co-sponsored a H.RES.211 in 2011. The Bill states:

“Expressing support for designation of the first weekend of May as Ten Commandments Weekend to recognize the significant contributions the Ten Commandments have made in shaping the principles, institutions, and national character of the United States.”

– The text of the Bill goes on to recognise:

“Whereas the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, declared the Ten Commandments to be `laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws'”

– Unsurprisingly, the quote by John Quincy Adams was manipulated by the Gohmert Bill. Adams actually wrote:

“The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes adapted to that time only, and to the particular circumstances of the nation to whom it was given; they could of course be binding upon them, and only upon them, until abrogated by the same authority which enacted them, as they afterward were by the Christian dispensation; but many others were of universal application — laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws.”

– Quite clearly, Quincy Adams was suggesting that many of the ‘laws’ of the OT including those given to Moses, were for the time in which they were given only. Gohmert’s Bill omitted that part of the quote. Strangely, the Bill doesn’t note that John Quincy’s father – the 2nd President of the United States – had written that:

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

– Equally as strangely, the Bill doesn’t note that the Constitution quite clearly states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..”

– And yet, here we are, in the 21st Century, witnessing far-right Republicans attempting to pass into law the establishment of one particular religion. The same far-right Republicans, who, in an apparent spirit of Christianity, vote against the reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act (Stutzman was the only Indiana member of Congress to vote No on reauthorising VAWA), and vote to cut Federal help for the most vulnerable.

Stutzman voted against Amendment 3 of the Back to Work Budget that would have eliminated tax loopholes, raised taxes on billionaires, brought education investment up, funded jobs programs for poorer areas, and cut defense spending to 2006 levels. Stutzman voted against all of those.

Stutzman is anti-women, anti-jobs, Theocratic, anti-education, and works to further enrich the wealthiest few. He wastes an inexplicable amount of time and effort attempting to defund an established law – a law that actually helps the people in his State – and then announces that he has no idea what his side expects out of the damage they caused.

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District can do better.

Opposing Rep. Marlin Stutzman for Indiana’s 3rd in 2014, is Democrat challenger Justin Kuhnle. And his website makes a very bold pledge:

“If the unemployment rate of northeast Indiana on average holds at 7.25% or higher for the 13 counties represented in Indiana’s 3rd district, I will withhold accepting 50% of my salary and instead refer these wages to local community development projects.”

– In one declaration of intent, Kuhnle has made the wellbeing of the people of Indiana’s 3rd, his key concern. This is how you put the people at the front and centre of a campaign.

Whilst Stutzman is busy abusing the Constitution, and the democratic process through Theocratic ventures, and government shutdown… Kuhnle is promising to fight for the fundamentals of a market democracy; education, and collective bargaining. On education, Kuhnle says:

” To be successful, we need to invest in our children’s future and invest in our teachers that given their all day in and day out. We need to invest in our education system and the teachers that have dedicated their lives to educating our children. Too often they end up being the scapegoat for what is wrong in education, when it’s the politicians and corporate greed that are to blame. As an elected politician, I will devote all my energy to give our children and parents the choices they deserve to give our next generations of children the fighting chances that they deserve as well as skills necessary to compete on a local and global scale without doing any further cutting to education’s already thinned budget.”

– Kuhnle rightly notes that state funded education, is the most important investment a generation can make in the future. Education is a key ingredient in lifting people from poverty, and providing them with the critical faculties a democracy requires. It seems that whilst Republicans work to reduce spending on education (currently stands at 6% of the Federal Budget, whilst Defense spending stands at a staggering 57%), Kuhnle notices just how important it is to invest in the future of the United States; its children.

Kuhnle also neatly summarises the failings of a fundamentalist approach to free market economics, by stating exactly whose side he stands on:

“I will stand with our workers, both unionized and independent, to ensure that their rights of working a living wage, a safe working environment that is not just physically safe but mentally and emotionally safe, and productivity standards are not skewed to extremes that put workers at a disadvantage.”

– He isn’t dedicated to those earning over $250,000 a year – like Stutzman is seemingly dedicated to – Kuhnle is promising the huge task of working to rectify the deficiencies of the system. The increasing cost of living, the erosion of worker rights, a lack of consideration for those suffering psychologically, and safety in the workplace.

Kuhnle is right to point out that low wages are an issue for Indiana, that Stutzman is failing miserably to address whilst busy trying to defund a healthcare law that actually lower living costs for families in his own district. Kuhnle notes:

“To grow our families stronger, we need to focus on increasing the opportunities of earning a living wages”.

– Kuhnle appears to be more in-tune with real people, and their real concerns about education, fairness in the workplace, and healthcare costs, than his Republican counterpart. The Indiana Institute for Working Families echoes Kuhnle’s concerns:

“Given the new economic reality that families across Indiana face, including stagnating wages and the increasing costs of supporting a family, targeted work supports are more important than ever.”

– Indeed, only Democrats have so far co-sponsored the ‘Fair Minimum Wage Act’. Whilst Kuhnle appears ready to govern for Indiana, Stutzman appears to me to be a Tea Party opportunist whose concern is not for his district, but for his ideology. If the people of Indiana want a Congress that works, it is useless to elect a candidate whose ideology is more important to him than they are. It is useless to elect a candidate who will throw a stick into the wheels of government unless that government does exactly as his small group of extremists demand. Indiana’s 3rd can do far better than that.

It will be a tough campaign for Kuhnle, but it is most certainly possible. He is a much needed voice in Congress. Click here if you wish to help the Kuhnle campaign, and help to paint Congress blue in 2014.

Vote Justin Kuhnle for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in 2014.

See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 2nd, and Illinois’ 13th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on West Virginia’s 2nd, and Colorado’s 6th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on California’s 1st, and California’s 25th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District.
See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 19th Congressional District.


The Throne of King Cantor: How House Republicans changed the rules.

October 11, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Mjw23.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Mjw23.

It seems democracy isn’t an obstacle, the Constitution isn’t an obstacle, the judiciary isn’t an obstacle, and now House rules aren’t an obstacle to the Tea Party juggernaut steaming its way across the American political landscape, flattening everything its path.

As we’re all aware, the Bill for a Continuing Resolution complete with defunding Obamacare attached to it passed the House, and was subsequently rejected by the Senate, thus ending up back at the House on the evening of September 30th. At this point, under House procedures, any member of the House can bring forward a vote on the Senate’s amended Bill in order to end the impasse:

“When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.”

– This exists to prevent the minority extorting the majority with threat of shutdown, for policy they weren’t able to achieve through regular democratic process.

But that rule was soon to change. Late on September 30th – with only two hours remaining until the government shut down began – an Amendment was quickly passed – H.J. Res. 59: Continuing Appropriations Resolution – by House Republicans, to the procedural rules of the House. The Amendment ensures:

“Section 2 of the rule provides that any motion pursuant to clause 4 of rule XXII relating to H.J. Res. 59 may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.”

– Meaning that the only person who can now bring a vote to the House floor on a clean resolution during an impasse in Congress, is Eric Cantor. Eric Cantor has assumed powers traditionally assigned to all members of the House. They have all lost a right that has guaranteed to them, and transferred to the Republican Minority Leader. This not only disenfranchises House Democrats, it does so for moderate House Republicans too. It is as if Tea Party House Republicans have voted to bestow ’emergency’ powers on the Majority leader, to ensure continued shutdown.

When pressed on this in the House by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD 8th District), the Speaker pro tempore didn’t seem to want to answer:

Van Hollen: “Mr. Speaker, under the regular order of the House, would any Member of the House, including myself, be able to call up a motion to immediately send the CR to fund the government to the President of the United States, to immediately call up and have a vote on that?”
Speaker: “The Chair will not respond to a hypothetical.”

Van Hollen: “Mr. Speaker, the rule that has now been placed over the House in substitute for the standing rules of the House gives only the majority leader or his designee the ability to move up and ask for a vote on the clean Senate bill that would go to the White House; is that correct?
Speaker: “The Chair will not respond to a political characterization and will state again: Under section 2 of House Resolution 368, that motion may be offered only by the majority leader or his designee.”

Van Hollen: “Mr. Speaker, it seems pretty clear that we have taken the normal rules of the House, Mr. Speaker, and substitute in its place a provision that says, ‘only the Republican leader can make a decision’…”
Speaker: “The gentleman has not stated a proper parliamentary inquiry.”

– Van Hollen is quite right, House Republicans have wilfully rigged House rules to prevent anyone from opening the government, other than the Majority Leader. House Republicans have vested more power over the running of the US Government in Eric Cantor, than the President, the public, the entire legislature, and the judiciary.

So, since 2010 Republicans have been beating the drum of shutdown to win major policy concessions that they were not able to win electorally. Since early 2013 at the very least, a memo circulates from Freedom Works, signed by major Tea Party donors that reads:

“Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare. This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty.”

– And when that plot was doomed to fail due to the lack of moderate Republican support in the House for such a dangerous tactic, the extreme wing of the Republican Party resorted to changing the rules of the democracy that they live, in order to force a shutdown that would have been prevented under regular House rules.

It is quite horrifying the lengths the far right of the Republican Party are willing to go to circumvent the democratic process when it provides results that they don’t like. For Republicans, the American people, the ballot box, and the law of the land, are simply obstacles that the Elephant has every right to trample.


Obamacare: The new myths in town!

October 10, 2013

Understanding the Affordable Care Act

As it slowly becomes evident that death panels – with President Obama dressed as the grim reaper in a Che Guevara t-shirt – just aren’t going to happen; as it slowly becomes clear that there will be no ‘forced home inspections’; when all evidence points to full time work not at all destroyed in socialist flames by the Affordable Care Act… then it becomes predictable that new myths begin to take shape. New poorly constructed, desperate myths that nonetheless go unanswered attach themselves to the general ‘understanding’ of the Affordable Care Act, and so are given time to fester in the collective mind of the United States. There are two new myths in particular that are so easy to discredit, that this will likely be my shortest article in a very long time.

Healthcare.gov costs the taxpayer $634mn!!
One new myth that has sprung up and instantly perpetuated by Tea Party writers this week, is that Healthcare.gov has cost $634 million to build. $634,320,919 to be exact. In fact, it’s been reported by news agencies around the World. News Max reported it as fact. The Daily Mail here in the UK reported it, and the story also appears on the ironically named “Examiner”. If they’d have lived up to their name, they’d soon realise that the story is in fact, false.

According to usaspending, the figure of $634,320,919 to CGI, Inc, was paid over a period of five years – between 2008 and 2013 – for 114 different transactions. One of those contracts was Healthcare.gov worth $93.7 million when originally won. There is no mention on whether the cost was over or under budget on that one transaction. But the fact remains, Healthcare.gov did not cost $634,320,919.

The Tea Party website referenced above perhaps gives us a glimpse of just why they’re beginning to invent new rumours, backed by weak research, in order to undermine a law that – coupled with the shutdown and an ever decreasing Republican polling number (they are now polling 1% lower than the percentage of Americans who believe in Bigfoot) – could very well lead to a Democrat House elected in 2014. It is desperation:

“Unlike some Americans, I actually want the Obamacare exchanges to succeed. I’ve given the state-specific options a try (there are 15 of them, including Washington D.C.’s) and they seem to greatly simplify the process of buying healthcare. And the rates do appear to come in far lower than what many people without health insurance from an employer have had to bear until now. It’s not government-run healthcare. There are no death panels. And, from what I can tell, the world will not end if more people have health insurance – quite the opposite, in fact.
What I cannot stand is a nation that has vast technological resources in its citizenry spending $600 million of our collective money to slap together a product that, thus far, has only managed to waste people’s precious minutes.”

– Here, they admit that under the Affordable Care Act rates are far lower, it isn’t government-run, there are no death panels, and it is working to help people. All of a sudden, they’re fine with all of that, and they laugh the myths off as almost whimsical (despite spending three years insisting that those Obamacare myths would burn America to the ground), but now it’s the cost of the website that they’re truly opposed to, having spent….. no time whatsoever concerned about it until yesterday.

Less than 10 people have signed up for Obamacare!
Yesterday, Buck McKeon (R-CALIF) told CNN that he’d heard rumours (always good to be thorough in your research) that fewer than 10 people had signed up for Obamacare. He’d read it somewhere. And so on that basis, he thought he’d tell the entire Nation, regardless of how true that claim was. Predictably, much like the Healthcare.gov cost rumour, this one is also completely false.

As of Wednesday, Kentucky, Maryland and Washington State released data showing that over 16,000 had so far signed up. Connecticut has 1,426 applications, New York officials report 40,000 have signed up. 16,311 had completed applications, and another 27,305 have partially completed applications in McKeon’s own state of California.

In fact, Washington State, despite having a lot of glitches on roll out day for its Washington Health Plan Finder marketplace, the state had 9,452 sign up rather quickly, with a further 10,497 submitted applications but not yet enrolled. 20,000 in less than a week.

Now, maths has never been a particularly strong point of mine, but I am quite sure, after conducting lengthy sums, that we can conclude that more than 9 people have signed up on the healthcare exchanges so far. And they still have five months and three weeks to sign up. Republicans appears to be shocked that 30,000,000 didn’t all sign up on day one. It’s an odd planet they inhabit.

So you see, whenever a new Obamacare myth surfaces, instantly posted on ‘reputable’ media outlets, and is left unchallenged, it grows misplaced anger and fear which inevitably leads to genuine concern among certain sections of the US population who simply do not see any reason to doubt six or seven media outlets seemingly confirming what their Representatives are saying, and suddenly, Ted Cruz is elected and the government is shut down. It stems entirely, from misrepresentations and completely invented logic. The shutdown is therefore a product of misplaced fear, constructed by a constant stream of right winged opportunists. And with polls showing a Republican slide into oblivion, there is only one thing to say: Congratulations GOP… you built that.


The US Government Shutdown: A coup in all but name.

October 9, 2013

Closed Lincoln Memorial. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Emw (Own work).

Closed Lincoln Memorial.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Emw (Own work).


“I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
– Thomas Jefferson.

In an interview on ‘Face The Nation’ with Republican Senator for Texas John Cornyn, host Bob Schieffer asked:

“How is it that you wind up with a freshman Senator, who’s been in office less than a year, becomes the architect of this thing that has the two sides so gridlocked that nobody seems to know a way out of it? How did that happen?”

– Whilst it’s a fair question, it makes one critical mistake. Senator Cruz wasn’t the architect of the shutdown. Of course one freshman Senator doesn’t have the power or influence to shut down and gridlock the entire US government. But his wealthy contributors and backers certainly do.

When President Obama was reelected in 2012, democracy had spoken. A government of the people, for the people, and by the people had been chosen, with Obamacare a key policy in the minds of voters as they had their rightful say in voting booths across the country. Recently, Republican Senator John McCain accepted and reiterated this:

“We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost. One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation.”

– But notoriously, democracy and people are never equipped to be able to compete with vast amounts of money from very wealthy backers. Knowing this, “Freedom Works”, a major donor to the ‘Freedom Works For America’ super pac and affiliated with the Koch empire produced a memo on a strategy to disregard the democratic process, and defund the Affordable Care Act by any means necessary. The memo read:


“Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare. This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty.”

– The memo goes on to suggest strategy (identical to the tactics used during this shutdown):

“A mere “date-change CR” is unacceptable. Although the Obama administration and others will argue the CR is not the appropriate legislative vehicle to defund Obamacare, it is easily done through a series of appropriation riders. Because the CR represents one of the best vehicles possible to delay the implementation of Obamacare, it must not be used to bargain on the upcoming sequester.”

– This was shortly after President Obama’s re-election. The plan was always to use the threat of government shutdown, to defund a law that had just been ratified by the American people via an election, for the sake of the policy of one organisation rather than the votes of millions of American people. There was to be no backing down. The authority of the voting public and the Supreme Court of the United States were to be overridden. Democracy hadn’t worked for them, so they produced a solution to completely disregard the democratic process. For this sickening, entirely anti-democratic goal, they needed a candidate. Well, during the 2011 primary for the Texas Senate race, Freedom Works said:

“After evaluating the candidates in this race, we believe that Ted Cruz will best serve the interests of hardworking Texas taxpayers by advocating the principles of lower taxes, less government and more individual freedom”

– They chose a candidate likely to run at the White House in 2016. One of “Freedom Works For America’s” main financers is Crow Holdings, LLC. Crow Holdings has contributed $20,000 to Senator Cruz so far for 2014. This, on top of the $25,000 from Koch industries. One of the those who signed the Freedom Works memo above was Chris Chocola, President of “Club for Growth”. “Club for Growth” has contributed the most of all Cruz’s campaign contributors at a staggering $705,657. Another signee was David Bossie, President of Citizen’s United. Citizen’s United have so far contributed $15,000 to Cruz.

Of course, it helps that alongside campaign finance, those wealthy backers can afford to produce widespread and misleading ads in order to convince people to vote for their bought candidate. Generation Opportunity is a legally “nonpartisan” organisation funded by the Koch brothers, that produced the despicably misleading ‘creepy Uncle Sam’ anti-Obamacare ads in which Uncle Sam pops up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam. On a related side note… Ted Cruz voted no on reauthorising the Violence Against Women Act.

So if you were wondering what constituency Ted Cruz is in the Senate to represent…it isn’t a ‘grass roots movement’, it’s the extremely wealthy Freedom Works For America & associates. Big business bought their candidate at the primary stage of the Texas Senate race, a candidate willing to do the bidding of ‘Freedom Works For America’ and its associates; a candidate who would not worry about the Speaker of his own Party; a candidate willing to disregard the will of the American people, and represent good value for money by ensuring that he use the CR to infect the entire country with the policy of a very small fringe movement.

Polls across America show that the public blame the Republicans for the government shutdown, far more than they blame Senate Democrats & President Obama. And that reflects reality. It is difficult to blame any group other than the Republican Party, when even Republicans blame their own Party for the shutdown. Fox News analyst Dick Morris before the shutdown joyfully insisted:

“Now there’s gonna be, there’s going to be a government shutdown, just like in ’95 and ’96 but we’re going to win it this time!”

– The same Dick Morris that predicted a landslide Romney Presidential win in 2012 appears not to have noticed that the prediction he made, was so wildly off mark. On his website, he acknowledges that Speaker Boehner is the one who is responsible for the continued shutdown. Morris says:

“The dye is now cast. The battle lines are drawn. Boehner has refused to reopen the government or raise the debt limit without concessions from Obama. What began as a foolish government shutdown to try to end ObamaCare is now morphing into a serious, and likely successful, attempt to rein in the ObamaCare cost, cut government entitlements, and hold the line on taxes.
Finally, the Republicans in the House have gotten it right.
They deserve our full support.”

– Yes. The Republicans have chosen to disregard the legislative process, and the public’s rejection of their 2012 platform, by just choosing to pretend 2012 didn’t happen, and relying on candidates wholly owned by big business. Dick Morris fully acknowledges that there would be a forced GOP shutdown, and that Speaker Boehner is the one who could end it.

In 2010 – three years ago – Senator Mike Lee of Utah was asked if he would endorse a government shutdown over the debt limit. Lee replied:

“It’s an inconvenience, it would be frustrating to many, many people and it’s not a great thing, and yet at the same time, it’s not something that we can rule out, it may be absolutely necessary.”

– This is how very wealthy members of Tea Party sect of the Republican Party view a shut down. As simply an ‘inconvenience’ for those furloughed. Here, Lee accepts responsibility for the government shutdown that is happening right now, three years ago.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King has been a vocal opponent of his Republican colleagues shut down tactic. A day after a House Republican private strategy meeting, King appeared on MSNBCs Hardball and said:

“This was a fool’s errand that was started by Ted Cruz. But we can’t just blame him. We have to also blame his acolytes in the Republican Conference—30 or 40 of them who stood with him, who were willing to undo what John Boehner wanted to do, which was to pass the CR, move this along. They insisted on going this route of attempting to defund Obamacare and threatening to shut down the government if it wasn’t done, we got locked into this. Let me just say we are where we are, and I blame Ted Cruz and his supporters for doing that.”

– King’s point here has two important features. Firstly, Ted Cruz and a small group of Tea Partiers are entirely to blame for the government shutdown. Secondly, Speaker Boehner didn’t plan on taking this route. Which suggests, he is now just a puppet on a Tea Party string. The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war.

King is adamant that there are a lot of moderate Republicans willing to vote on a clean CR, and who oppose the Cruz tactic bought by the Koch Empire. 21 House Republicans so far. But most aren’t willing to go public with how they disapprove of the Koch-led tactics to bring government to a close, for the simple reason that they will get primaried. They are willing to admit it too. Greg Walden (R-OR) said:

“We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”

– And he’s right. It isn’t just the President, Democrats, and the American people in general under attack at the moment. It’s Republicans themselves. The ‘Freedom Works For America’ website openly targets Republicans who they do not consider Tea Party enough:

“The 2014 race for control of the Senate has already begun. Establishment Republicans are beginning to recruit moderate Big Government candidates in races across the country in a typical top-down approach. This approach has led to moderate losing candidates like Tommy Thompson (WI), Rick Berg (ND), and Danny Rehberg (MT) in 2012. We can’t let these opponents of fiscal conservatism win!”

Another Tea Party favourite, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert (who is no stranger to ridiculous remarks) said in 2010:

“Listen, if it takes a shutdown of government to stop the runaway spending, we owe that to our children and our grandchildren. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but if we don’t stop the runaway spending – even if it means showing how serious we are –okay, government is going to have to shut down until you runaway-spending people get it under control. And if you can’t get it under control, then we just stop government until you realize, you know, yes we can.”

– Gohmert sees no alternative but to shut down the government unless Republicans get their way. He fully acknowledges that this is a viable Republican tactic.

They acknowledge the tactic in 2010, they acknowledge it again in 2013, they threaten Republican colleagues not tied to wealthy far-right backers and who privately (and some publicly) blame this small sect of Tea Party Republicans for the shutdown. There is no debate over who is to blame for government shutdown. A framework for shutdown was articulated by Republicans – sometimes excitedly – in 2010, and codified by a wealthy conservative fringe group and their associates in 2013. It is a coup in all but name.


21 House Republicans willing to vote for clean CR.

October 4, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Diliff (Uploaded by Diliff).

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Diliff (Uploaded by Diliff).

As the US Dollar continues to fall due to the continued shutdown of the US Government, Speaker Boehner has the power to put a stop to it all today if he chooses to abandon Tea Party demands, and sides with Republicans willing to accept defeat.

It now appears that the government would re-open if a vote was put to the House today to pass a clean funding bill without attaching legislative ransoms to the back of it. Along with House Democrats, a full 21 House Republicans are now willing to vote to re-open government, which is four more than necessary to end the shutdown. Speaker Boehner still refuses to let a vote come before the House.

Those 21 Republicans are:

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ.), Rep. Peter King (R-NY.), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ.), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY.), Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa) released a statement on his website in which he attempts to deflect blame for the catastrophic mishandling of the situation by House Republicans, onto the Senate and the President for not caving to unjustifiable Republican demands:

“It is time for Congress to vote on a budget bill that gets the government back to work providing all of the services already paid for by the hard-working taxpayers in my District and across the country. If a bill comes to the floor to accomplish that goal, I will vote for it.

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open while defunding or delaying ObamaCare. Each attempt to eliminate funding for the law, repeal the $30 billion medical device tax driving jobs overseas or treat all Americans equally by giving them the same one-year reprieve from the law’s mandates that the President gave big businesses has been rejected by the President and Senate Democrat leaders. The President and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid seem perfectly content keeping the “Closed” sign on the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge National Park and Gettysburg National Battlefield. I am not, and I look forward to voting to put government back to work serving the taxpayers very soon.”

– Through all the weak, self serving justifications for House GOP actions over the past seven days in attempting to defund an established Constitutional law that they lost the 2012 Presidential Election on, and a Supreme Court Case on, and the popular vote for both the House on, Gerlach signaled his intent to end the government shutdown as soon as a vote is called.

Another House Republican who has wasted significant legislative time and money voting 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act is Mario Diaz-Balart. He appears to have been lied to in order to secure his support for a Federal shut down, and now he’s come to his senses:

“When they brought the idea of defunding Obamacare, House Republicans were told we could get Democratic votes. So I voted for it. But it didn’t happen. Then we tried again. And it didn’t work. The third time, it was like: Look, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”

– The implication being that a clean bill would have passed and government kept open, had leading Republicans not lied about the level of support they had for attaching a legislative proposal onto a budget. A further implication being that Diaz-Balart blames House Republicans for a shutdown that in his own words, isn’t working.

On the subject of being lied to in order to support a Federal shut down, Ted Cruz met with Republican Senators at a private lunch to discuss strategy yesterday. One Republican Senator told Politico:

“It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy—it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.”

– The rest of us knew this before the shutdown. Republicans are now coming to terms with just how badly this has turned out for them, and the dangers of letting a small group of extremists dictate Party tactics.

As early as the 28th September, Charlie Dent (R-Pa) said:

“I’m prepared to vote for a clean CR. I don’t want the government to shut down.”

– Again, the implication being that to vote for anything but a clean CR, would mean you are responsible for government shut down. Charlie Dent is subtly blaming the Republicans for a shut down. He joins House Republicans in 2010, who said:

“it is simply unacceptable to use a must-pass CR as a legislative vehicle ”

– So that’s 21 in 2013 prepared to pass a clean Continuing Resolution, as well as 2010 House Republicans.

Most surprisingly, Peter King (R.NY) told The National Review that two thirds of House Republicans would vote for a clear CR if the vote was allowed to take place:

“If it was on the floor, they would do it. Put it this way, two thirds want a clean CR.
Including some of the people who got elected as tea-party candidates from the South. You talk to them, they think this is crazy.”

– Another Republican Congressman implying that House Republicans are to blame for the shut down. They believe it is crazy to ransom the entire government, for the sake of a battle over an established law that they don’t like.

So with 21 House Republicans all willing to vote for a clean CR, with Democrats proposing a clear CR, and with the President happy to sign a clean CR, what’s stopping a vote in the House on a clean CR? It isn’t Harry Reid. It isn’t the President. It isn’t the 21 Republicans all wishing to reopen government. It’s a Tea Party led group ensuring that Speaker Boehner does not allow the Representatives of the people of the United States – within his own Party – to vote to keep Federal workers in their jobs. For every hour that inches closer to economic meltdown, Speaker Boehner becomes more and more culpable for this entire miserable episode.


Ashamed to be a Republican.

October 3, 2013

“We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”
– Greg Walden (R-OR) on the government shutdown.

The BBC’s Washington Correspondent told BBC News yesterday that having spoken to a Republican Senator it is clear that at least 100 Republican Representatives believe their Party has is being held hostage by a Tea Party sect of extremists. As the Republican shutdown of government continues, and places heavy strain on a fragile economy, more and more Republicans in Congress are unhappy at the direction and the hostage tactics of their Tea Party colleagues. But it isn’t just in Congress that an incredibly undemocratic Tea Party is alienating Republicans. Their base support is also becoming increasingly angry with the direction of their Party, and they are taking to Twitter to register their disapproval:

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– The Republican Party’s share of the vote in the Senate & the House dropped in 2012, so much so that they managed to hold the House because of gerrymandering after losing the popular vote. So when proud Republicans in 2013 begin not only to note their disapproval at a particular shift in Party mentality, but are actually ashamed and embarrassed by the tactics of their Party, that drop in the share of the vote could prove to be the nail in the coffin come 2014.