Category Archives: Congress

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Gorsuch – No, Not Today

No. I am sorry. I cannot support Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court of the United States. It is not that he is unqualified. This guy is plenty qualified. He is the Peyton Manning of law. He has the pedigree. He has clerked for all the right people in all the right places. He went to the right schools – high school, college, law school, and postgraduate education. The point is not whether or not he is qualified. Neither is the point whether I agree with his ideology. I do not. Instead, we should be focusing on the fact that Neil Gorsuch is all about process.

President, let me underscore this, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Mister Garland is eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. Yet, empowered by purely partisan politics, the GOP-led Senate decided to make up their own criteria about whom they are going to vet and whom they are not. This is all about the Democrats’ deciding that it is time to grow a backbone. Sometimes, you need to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is about principle.”

We can go into all the ins and outs behind why the Republicans were 100% wrong about not even granting a hearing to Merrick Garland. They were wrong. They knew that, were they actually hold hearings, Merrick Garland would come off as someone who was thoughtful, intelligent; and, God forbid, Supreme Court material. So they decided to obstruct and thwart Garland in every way. Now, if we allow Neil Gorsuch to move forward, we have rewarded the Republicans for obstructionism. This cannot happen.

Every now and then, you must stand up for what you believe. Do you believe in the Constitution? Do you believe that we are a land of laws? If so, you must admit that we have no choice but to force the Republicans, and Donald Trump, to nominate Merrick Garland, even if they decide to vote him down. He must go through the process. It is the right thing to do. It is the American way.

The Fall of Dennis Hastert

There was a time in the not so distance past when Dennis Hastert was just a few steps away from the presidency. Now, the former Speaker of the House is in a world of badness and hurt.

First, remember Congressman Mark Foley and Dennis Hastert? I covered the issue pretty well – here, here and here. Talking Points Memo has a nice summary – Ever since yesterday’s shocking revelations, it seemed like news like this would come out as the underlying bad act behind Denny Hastert’s public downfall. Because of that, the almost decade old Mark Foley scandal has rushed back into the minds of everyone who covered that story at the time. To review, if you weren’t around at the time, in September 2006, in the death throes of the old Republican majority, it emerged that Congressman Mark Foley had had sexual interactions with male members of the Congressional page program, i.e. high school age students. Foley was not out as a gay man, though I think it was widely known or at least assumed that he was gay.

It now appears that the former Congressman paid $3.5 million in hush money to have some of his old sexual misconduct swept under the rug.

Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges of structuring bank withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements and lying to the FBI about those withdrawals. The former speaker allegedly had withdrawn $1.7 million in cash out of $3.5 million he agreed to pay an unidentified individual in compensation for “prior misconduct” on Hastert’s part that had occurred years earlier.

I really will not be posting much on this story. This is a personal tragedy.

The deeply dishonest Republican Budget

I’m  currently making my way to a trauma conference. I have internet access – sort of. Currently, I’m “enjoying” in-flight internet access which is kind of like getting access to the internet and kinda not. What makes the internet great is access to content – videos, original documents and the like. With this in-flight thing, I really can’t download big files and uploading smaller files to Dropbox has proven problematic. So, I’m not going to be able to get the work done that I had planned on doing. This means that I can (should be able to), I hope, post to my blog. 

The House and Senate Republican budget plans are so deeply dishonest that they are laughable. Sure, Democrats have pushed “pie in the sky” budgets but anyone could look at the budget and understand the nuts and bolts of the budget. The GOP has decided that we need more mystery in our lives. So, this budget, like several before, doesn’t spell out where a lot of the budget cuts are coming from. One of the most laughable items in the budget has to do with repealing ObamaCare. It seems that Republicans not only want to kill ObamaCare, but they want to cut Medicare on top of that. All of the revenue generators that were added to ObamaCare in order to control costs would be cut, of course.

More from CBPP:

  • Balance the budget in ten years through massive cuts in domestic programs, with no revenue contribution;
  • Hit programs for low- and moderate-income Americans exceptionally hard, with about two-thirds of its budget cuts likely coming from programs for the less fortunate, thereby exacerbating poverty and inequality;
  • Repeal health reform and cut Medicaid deeply on top of that, likely causing tens of millions of people to become uninsured or underinsured;
  • Essentially balance the budget only on paper, with the help of two huge “magic asterisks” that are as large as Chairman Price’s — about $1.2 trillion in entitlement cuts over ten years that are left essentially unspecified, and about $1 trillion from the repeal of health reform’s revenue-raising measures without any identified replacement (as explained below);
  • Cut funding below the already-damaging sequestration levels in the years after 2016 for non-defense discretionary programs — the part of the budget that funds education, job training, early intervention programs for children, basic scientific and medical research, and transportation, all of which are important to increasing opportunity, raising productivity, and boosting long-term economic growth;
  • Shrink federal spending to stunningly low levels, measured as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), that are unprecedented in modern America and far below the levels in recent decades, including the Reagan years; and
  • Eliminate a 2007 Senate rule that creates a point of order against budget reconciliation bills that increase deficits over the coming ten years, such as the 2001 and 2003 reconciliation bills that included huge tax cuts without any measures to offset the costs.

Come on. I’m happy to debate conservatives on supply-side economics. This is not debateable. This is a half-budget or maybe not even that much. Oh, this kind of craziness is new. This isn’t a “they all do it” kind of thing. If you take our democracy seriously then this can’t be tolerated. (Dear GOP, please complete this budget. Insert the magic numbers and tell us what you are planning on doing. If you can’t do that, can you simply admit that you hate the poor and most of the middle class and be done with it?)