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All Six Democrats Advance In Wisconsin Recall Election

The first in a series of recall elections, spurred by a contentious labor  fight, got under way in Wisconsin Tuesday.

Six Democrats easily cruised to primary wins as expected, and will face  Republican state senators who supported Gov. Scott Walker’s push to strip most  public employees of collective bargaining rights in a general election match-up  on Aug. 9. At stake is control of the narrowly divided, GOP-controlled  chamber.

The unusual primaries Tuesday pitted Democratic candidates  supported by the party against what news reports came to describe as “fake  Democrats” — six candidates put forward by the GOP because recall races with  only one challenger each would have bypassed the primary stage. Republicans  therefore backed what they called “protest candidates,” allowing the incumbent  GOP senators more time to campaign for the general election.

While outside groups campaigned on behalf of some of the Republican-sponsored  challengers, those candidates themselves did not seriously campaign. The  party-supported Democrats all won with comfortable margins — one as large as 40  percentage points — and only one race ended in single-digit margins. The recall  contests set up by Tuesday’s results include Democratic state Rep. Jennifer  Shilling vs. Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke; Democratic state Rep. Fred Clark  vs. state Republican Sen. Luther Olsen and Democratic state Rep. Sandy Pasch vs.  Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling.

Wisconsin voters will go the polls again next Tuesday, when Green Bay  Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen will be the first legislator to face a recall  general election since the state exploded in political protest in February.  Republicans in two Democratic-held Senate districts will also face off that day  in primaries, the winners of which will take on incumbents on Aug. 16. Unlike  State Democrats are not running “fake Republicans” in an effort to push back  recall dates.

By Aug. 16, nine state senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — will  have faced recall elections.

Walker’s fight against public employees unions prompted Senate Democrats to  flee the state in an effort to block a vote; protestors on both sides flooded  the Capitol and a fiercely competitive state Supreme Court race shortly  afterward snared national headlines. Republicans eventually managed to pass the  law, and it was upheld by the state Supreme Court — but not before Wisconsin  spent weeks at the center of a national political firestorm.

By: Dan Hirschhorn, Politico, July 12, 2011

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Governors, Ideologues, Middle East, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

Ruling: No Corporate Donations For Russell Pearce In Arizona Recall Election

Senate President Russell Pearce will not be able to get financial help from corporations to keep him in office, at least not directly.

In a formal legal opinion, state Solicitor General David Cole rejected the contention of Lisa Hauser, an attorney who represents Pearce, that the prohibition on those donations that applies in regular candidate races is inapplicable in recall elections.

Cole said the law is clear that neither corporations nor unions can make contributions designed to “influence an election.’’ And he said a bid to oust a sitting legislator from office fits that definition.

Cole wrote the decision rather than Attorney General Tom Horne, who had recused himself because of his political ties to Pearce.

Under Arizona law, a formal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office can be cited as legal precedent, much like a court ruling. The fact that this opinion was signed by Cole and not Horne does not change that.

Hauser said a campaign committee formed to aid Pearce had accepted a small corporate check — she said it was about $1,200 —but returned it when state Elections Director Amy Bjelland questioned the legality of the move. It was Hauser who then sought the formal opinion.

“If that’s the AG’s opinion, unless we go to court to change it, it is what it is,’’ she said. But Hauser said that is unlikely to happen.

If nothing else, she said, the opinion clarifies that corporate and union money will be off limits not only to Pearce but to anyone who decides to run against him.

“We just want to make sure everybody’s playing by the same set of rules,’’ Hauser said.

But Cole pointed out there is a loophole of sorts in the law.

He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that corporations and unions have some of the same free-speech rights as individuals. While that does not disturb state or federal laws prohibiting contributions directly to candidates, there can be no laws which bar either type of organizations from forming or contributing to separate efforts to elect or defeat any particular candidate.

The only requirement is that these committees be completely independent of — and have no connection of any sort to — the candidate.

Randy Parraz, one of the recall organizers, said his committee has not accepted either corporate or union money. But Parraz will not disclose who paid for the successful petition drive, at least not yet.

“A lot of this has to do with people’s fear,’’ he said, intimating that those who helped with the recall might be the subject of some sort of unspecified retaliation. He said some people gave just $25 because the sources of contributions at that level and below do not need to be detailed.

“We’re going to comply,’’ he said. “We don’t feel compelled to have to disclose at this point.’’

Bjelland confirmed that for this unusual election — the first ever for a statewide or legislative office — the first campaign finance reports do not have to be filed until Oct. 27. That is only two weeks before the vote.

In a separate event Monday, Parraz attempted to deliver a letter to Pearce at his Senate office asking him to resign.

That is one option he has under state recall laws. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors would then choose a replacement.

But Pearce said he has no intention of quitting and believes he will win the recall and be able to serve out the balance of his two-year term.

By: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, Published in East Valley Tribune.com, July 12, 2011

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Arizona, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ideology Trumps Economics: Republicans’ Refusal To Raise Revenues Is Threatening The Economy With A Chaotic Default

There is a huge gap in logic at the heart of the Republican intransigence on a debt-ceiling deal, and President Obama helped to illuminate it on Monday.

The party claims, as an article of faith, if not evidence, that the government’s growing debt is the reason for persistent unemployment and economic stagnation. And yet Republicans are spurning the president’s compromise offers to reduce that debt by trillions over the next decade because he is sensibly insisting that any deal include some increase in tax revenue.

“Where are they?” Mr. Obama asked at his news conference. “I mean, this is what they claim would be the single biggest boost to business certainty and confidence. So what’s the holdup?”

The holdup, of course, is that Republicans are far more committed to the ideological goals of cutting government and taxes than they are committed to cutting the deficit. They rejected several compromise offers by the White House, even though any revenue increases would be far outweighed by spending cuts.

Republican rejectionism was on clear display Saturday night when John Boehner, the House speaker, was forced to abandon a plan he and the president had discussed to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years.

The plan would have gone much too far in cutting discretionary spending and entitlements, taking too much money from the economy at a time when it desperately needs government investment. But it would have been better than the slashing and burning the Republicans have been demanding because it would have raised from $700 billion to $1 trillion in additional revenue beginning in 2013 by ending tax breaks and deductions for corporations and the rich, or by ending the Bush tax cuts for families making $250,000 or more.

The House Republican leader, Eric Cantor, insisted to Mr. Boehner that his members, shackled to antitax pledges, could not accept it, or anything similar. Now negotiators are trying to reach agreement on a deal to lower the deficit by $2 trillion or so over a decade. But the consequences for the economy and Americans’ lives would be just as disastrous if all of those “savings” come out of essential government programs, with no additional revenue.

Mr. Boehner’s refusal to push back against his party’s ideologues is only feeding their worst impulses. Many House Republicans have gone even further than Mr. Cantor and have rejected any deal that raises the debt ceiling, whether it contains revenue increases or not.

Representative Michele Bachmann and Reince Priebus, the Republican national chairman, airily and irresponsibly insist that the government will find some other way to pay its bills. That’s dangerous nonsense. And as the president forcefully noted, a default could propel interest rates skyward, throw millions more Americans out of work, and create another recession.

It was good to see Mr. Obama challenging the Republicans’ illogic and pushing them to make a deal before it’s too late. But we fear the sort of deal he is willing to consider, based overwhelmingly on spending cuts, could still consign the country to more years of economic stagnation.

The president spoke about the need to create an infrastructure bank, to maintain unemployment benefits, and to protect the elderly and the poor. But keeping those goals will be nearly impossible with a debt deal that cuts three times as much spending as it raises revenue. A balanced plan, like the one Senator Kent Conrad is circulating among Senate Democrats, would cut spending and raise revenue equally, and would make it possible to pay for programs that kick-start the economy.

Americans need to hear the hard economic truth that there is no way to both cut the deficit and revive the economy without finding additional sources of revenue. As the president himself said on Monday, “If not now, when?”

By: Editorial, The New York Times, July 11, 2011

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Tea Party, Unemployed | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Economic Illiteracy: GOP Catering To Tea Party Ignorance On Debt Ceiling

What happens when you take the certainty of an ideologue, mix in an unhealthy dose of economic illiteracy, shameless demagoguery, and bring the combustible mix to a boil on the national stage? Quite possibly national default and a new recession.

The nature of this mix—and the corner into which GOP leaders have  painted themselves—is neatly illustrated in the latest poll numbers from The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center.

As the Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake note today:

The data suggests that those who identify as Republicans who are supportive of the tea party not only view themselves as far more educated than the average person on the current debt debate, but are also far more worried about the impact if the debt limit is increased.

More than eight in 10 tea party supporters (81 percent) said they understand “what would happen if the government does not raise the federal debt limit” — far more than the 55 percent of all respondents who said the same thing.

Three quarters of tea party supporters said that they were more concerned that raising the debt ceiling would “lead to higher government spending and make the national debt bigger,” while just 19 percent said they were more worried that “not raising the debt limit would force the government into default and hurt the nation’s economy.”

The message from the numbers? Tea party backers simply don’t believe that not raising the debt limit by Aug. 2 is all that big a deal — and they feel that way because they believe they understand the issue inside and out.

If a significant chunk of his House members don’t fear the consequences of a default, it’s very difficult for Boehner to make the case for the fierce urgency of now in the debt debate.

While the overwhelming number of economists—and even prominent non-economists like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who have both stated that not raising the debt ceiling is unthinkable—say that failure to raise the debt ceiling could have a host of nasty consequences for the economy, like a global financial crisis, downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, and a second recession … the Tea Party crowd has anointed itself a group of experts who know better.

This is why Eric Cantor could with a (presumably) straight face argue yesterday that the GOP’s great concession in this debate was considering a debt ceiling increase at all. But sorry, our base is too wound up in its own misconceptions to allow us to do the slam dunk right thing for the county is the politics of cowardice. And it’s a brand that Cantor, who has referred to the debt ceiling crisis as a “leverage moment”—an opportunity for the GOP to extract concessions in order to be forced to do the right thing—has played with either cold cynicism or reckless stupidity.

Then there’s Boehner, who acknowledges the debt ceiling must be raised but cloaks it in the language of Obama getting “his” rise in the debt ceiling—as if keeping the country from an economic disaster is some parochial, partisan, hobby.

No less a publication than The Economist, hardly a hotbed of socialist foment, recently called the GOP position “economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical.” I think that’s about right.

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, July 12, 2011

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caged And Clawless: John Boehner’s Bind

John Boehner is in a box.

The House speaker’s Republican caucus doesn’t entirely trust him. His understudy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has set him up for a fall with the Tea Party set. Worst of all, his political arch rival is now praising him.

“Speaker Boehner and myself had been in a series of conversations about doing the biggest possible deal,”

President Obama announced at a news conference Monday morning, confirming reports of their clandestine meetings. “I want to say I appreciate Speaker Boehner’s good-faith efforts.”

If this weren’t damaging enough for Boehner, Obama added that “I have a stake in John Boehner successfully persuading his caucus that this is the right thing to do.” Obama further vouched that “Speaker Boehner has been very sincere,” adding: “I think he’s a good man who wants to do right by the country.”

It was possibly the biggest interparty kiss since Joe Lieberman planted one on President George W. Bush — and an hour later the speaker called his own news conference in the Capitol so he could wipe the presidential lipstick from his cheek. “I appreciate what the president said today,” a somber Boehner replied. “But the gulf between the two parties now is about policy.”

Boehner is right. The gulf is about policy: the policy of his Tea Party backbenchers not to compromise on anything. This has put Boehner, a dealmaker, in the impossible position of leading a House Republican caucus that is inherently ungovernable.

As The Post’s Paul Kane expertly documented, it was largely Boehner’s idea to use the debt-limit vote as a way to strike a “grand bargain” that would restore the nation’s finances. Surprisingly, Obama went along with it, offering some $4 trillion in spending cuts and putting on the table reforms to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the tax code.

All Obama sought in exchange for these concessions was a tax increase equal to about a third of the size of the spending cuts. But when Boehner took that sweet deal to Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, they told him the caucus would balk. Over the weekend, Boehner shut down the grand-bargain talks.

A puffy-eyed Obama, appearing with his top advisers in the White House briefing room Monday morning, voiced sympathy for Boehner. Asked by CBS’s Chip Reid whether the real obstacle was the “Tea Partyers on the Hill,” Obama concurred: “His politics within his caucus are very difficult.”

Asked by National Journal’s George Condon whether Boehner could deliver the votes of his caucus, Obama replied that “the politics that swept him into the speakership were good for a midterm election; they’re tough for governing. And you know, part of what the Republican caucus generally needs to recognize is that American democracy works when people . . . are willing to make some sensible compromises to solve big problems. And I think that there are members of that caucus who haven’t fully arrived at that realization yet.”

Cantor clearly has not. Minutes after Obama finished his news conference, the majority leader sat with reporters at a table on the third floor of the Capitol to offer his response. “We are not going to raise taxes — that’s all,” he proclaimed. As for Boehner, Cantor maintained that they are “on the same page” and that any suggestion to the contrary was mere “soap opera.”

The star of this soap opera, meanwhile, was scrambling to reassure his restive caucus that he would never even think about suggesting a tax increase. “Anyone that knows me and knows my record knows I’m not going to agree to a tax hike,” he told radio host Laura Ingraham.

Boehner gave a weak smile as he approached the lectern for his hastily arranged news conference Wednesday afternoon. He did not dispute an estimate presented to him by Fox News’s Chad Pergram that 80 to 120 House Republicans — a third to half his caucus — would oppose an increase in the debt limit with or without a tax increase. And he declined a request to name a concession his own side could support.

“I agree with the president that we cannot allow our nation to default on our debt,” he said. “But to prevent a default, a bill must pass the Congress, and a bill that doesn’t meet these tests” — that is, a bill with a tax increase — “can’t pass the House of Representatives.”

Normally, a speaker would twist arms until he won support for the grand bargain he had negotiated. But in this House Republican caucus, leaders are followers.

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 11, 2011

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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