Nel's New Day

November 20, 2018

Make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: , , ,

A group of conservative Democrats elected to the 116th Congress—some of them new to the House—seem determined to sabotage the possibility of success for their party in a hard-won election. Their goal is to keep Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from taking the gavel for Speaker of the House; some of them even ran on that promise.

Sixteen House Democrats signed a letter that stated:

“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise. Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House floor.”

These are the people who signed the letter. Please note that Ben McAdams is ahead of GOP Mia Love, but the race has not yet been declared.

  • Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
  • Jim Cooper (D-TN)
  • Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • Bill Foster (D-IL)
  • Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  • Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  • Seth Moulton (D-MA)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Max Rose (D-NY)
  • Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
  • Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
  • Ben McAdams (D-UT)

The media touts these signatories as “moderate Democrats,” but they are conservative. Those already in the House voted at least 20 percent of the time with the wishes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and one of them supported DDT over 38 percent of the time. At least four of the eleven sitting representatives are listed as “Blue Dogs,” a caucus of conservative Democrats.

The letter from 16 people, primarily men, shows that they have no alternative for leadership and no goals other than “change.” DDT was elected because people wanted “change.” If Democrats are going to save the nation from the “Trump Party,” they need to operate as a unit. Keeping leadership from a person who has shown great skill at unity and success can guarantee that DDT and his base will destroy democracy.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who was suggested as a candidate for Speaker, announced today that she is supporting Pelosi.

Joe Conason wrote the following piece about Pelosi that expresses my feelings. If you agree with Conason’s position below and one of the dissenters is your representative, please contact him or her to give your opinion. I certainly am.

The tiny faction of Democrats who aim to block Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s election as House speaker are only missing two things: a candidate of their own and a rationale that makes sense.

The easier problem is the absence of a candidate, even though the members who have been mentioned so far seem small when measured against Pelosi, who is often described with superlatives such as “formidable” and even “legendary.” And most of her declared opponents within the Democratic caucus are white men, so they may have trouble persuading colleagues that ousting history’s first female speaker to install one of them would be an uplifting change.

Presumably, that is why they have seized upon Rep. Marcia Fudge, a disgruntled Ohio Democrat who has suggested she might challenge Pelosi. But at age 66, Fudge hardly represents “generational change,” as one of her promoters claimed, and she may have trouble explaining why, as a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, its members have shot down her trial balloon. The heroic Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., for instance, says that Pelosi is “a great leader” whom he supports “more than 100 percent.”

Nor has Fudge articulated an inspiring charter for revolution. She calls Pelosi “an elitist,” whatever that may mean, and “a very wealthy person who raises lots of money from other wealthy people.” At the same time, she concedes that Pelosi “has been a very good leader,” and says, “I just think it’s time for a new one.”

But if Pelosi is a very good leader, then why do they need a new one, exactly? The hollow sound of Fudge’s critique echoes in the remarks of her fellow complainants. They say that Democratic leadership needs “new blood” or “new leadership.” They note their pledges to constituents to oppose Pelosi, although the reason behind those pledges has never been made clear either. Is it because Republicans keep smearing her?

The putative leader of the anti-Pelosi faction, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., used to say that Pelosi had to go because the Democrats were losing elections. (That was sometime after he wrote a gushing letter in June 2016 thanking her for his appointment to the House Armed Services Committee.) Now he grumbles that she is “arrogant” for thinking “she’s the only person who can do this.”

She may not be the only one who can do this — lead the House Democrats against a would-be authoritarian president and his senatorial rubber stamps — but there is no evidence that anyone else available can do it nearly as well.

Forget the obvious fact that against the predictions of critics like Moulton, she led the caucus to a smashing midterm victory. Her qualifications are personal. She is seasoned, cool and not intimidated by any of her avowed adversaries in either party. She knows how to craft legislation and count votes, as she has proved repeatedly since President Trump entered the White House — most notably during last year’s budget negotiations, when she ate the Republicans’ lunch. Any Democrat who thinks replacing Pelosi will advance progressive goals should take a closer look at Moulton and his buddies. Deposing her would most likely deliver the gavel to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the resolutely centrist minority whip. (He is a year older than she is and not half the leader.)

It is remarkable that in this hour of constitutional confrontation, fomented by a president who violates his oath and endangers national security every day, a rump group of House Democrats insists its most important mission is to overthrow the woman who returned them to power. It is astonishing that this group plans to carry the grudge onto the House floor come Jan. 3, even knowing that it will lose a vote within the caucus by an overwhelming majority. (So far the group has 16 votes out of roughly 235, depending how a few lingering races are resolved.) And it is disturbing that they would ignore their duty to hinder Trump’s depredations, instead rupturing the only institution with the will and authority to oppose him.

There is a good reason that Republicans have sought to demonize this highly effective and determined woman. Unlike most Democrats, she has shown the ability to beat them. And that is the best reason to elect her.

Women were a strong movement behind electing the House majority of Democrats, and UnidosUS, a leading Latinx civil rights organization, has endorsed her as has the International Association of Fire Fighters and nine military veterans serving in the House. Pelosi managed to get the Affordable Care Act passed eight years ago, the issue that may have put the Democrats back into House leadership. Yet 14 men have decided to sign a letter that sends the message that a woman is not good enough for the position. These men should understand that their opposition to Pelosi with no justification may not keep the electorate that they need for the future.

January 2, 2013

GOP Passes Tax Cuts, Otherwise Fails

After stalling for two months, the House finally decided late last night to support the Senate version of the fiscal cliff bill one day before the end of the 112th Congress. Although the end vote was bipartisan, the Republicans were badly split: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) voted in favor; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R- CA) opposed.

Grover Norquist can’t complain about the tax increase on the top 2 percent because it wasn’t really an increase. According to the GOP, the taxes went up on midnight of 12/31/12; the new bill lowered the taxes on the bottom 98 percent and left the top 2 percent the same. They think like children do.

Provisions of the new law:

  • Tax rates will revert to the ones in 2001 for families making over $450,000 and individuals over $400,000. All income below these amounts, basically the bottom 98 percent of the people in the United States, will permanently remain at the current level.
  • Taxes on capital gains and dividends are permanently set at 20 percent for the top 2 percent and stay at 15 percent for everyone else. [Clinton-era taxes were 20 percent for capital gains with dividends taxed as ordinary income, topping out at 39.6 percent.]
  • The estate tax is permanently 40 percent for the top 2 percent ($450,000/$400,000), indexed to inflation, with a $5 million exemption.
  • The pay freeze for Congress, lifted by President Obama this week, has been re-imposed.
  • The 2009 expansion of tax breaks for low-income Americans: the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit ($2,500 tax credit to help college students and their families pay for tuition and related expenses) will be extended for five years.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax, which sometimes raised taxes for the middle class, has been fixed.
  • Two limits on tax exemptions and deductions for higher-income Americans will be reimposed: Personal Exemption Phaseout (PEP) will be set at $250,000 and the itemized deduction limitation (Pease) kicks in at $300,000.
  • Extended for the coming year are the full package of temporary business tax breaks, federal unemployment insurance that benefits those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks, and avoidance of Medicare cuts to doctors.
  • A farm bill fix is good for nine months, probably keeping the price of milk the same.

After two months of wallowing in the possible disaster of the tax-cut situation, the climate of antagonism and fear will continue for the next two months.  That’s when the debt ceiling expires, and Congress has to approve its increase. The Republicans will spend most of their time claiming that raising the debt ceiling costs us money. It doesn’t. Raising the debt ceiling just allows the United States to pay their bills; it doesn’t spend any additional money.

The sequester, the across-the-board spending cuts of $110 million both domestic and military, has not been settled, just delayed for two months. And the payroll tax “holiday” has expired, raising taxes 2 percent for Social Security on the first $113,700 of wages.

Thus the GOP will rattle their sabers for two months about raising the age for Social Security, lowering the payments, and screaming about how “entitlements”—that people have already paid for—are the reason for the deficit instead of the Bush tax cuts and wars that cost the country over $4 trillion.

The fiscal cliff bill did provide bonuses to corporations in the form of subsidies.

  • NASCAR – Sec 312 extended the “seven year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex property.” That means the tax breaks for anyone who builds a racetrack and related facilities to the tune of $43 million during the next two years.
  • Railroads – Sec. 306 provides tax credits to certain railroads, private businesses, for maintaining their tracks which costs taxpayers about $165 million a year.
  • Movies – Sec. 317 costs about $150 million for two years by providing a subsidy to Hollywood studios.
  • Mining Companies – Sec. 307 and Sec. 316 offer tax incentives for miners to buy safety equipment and train their employees on mine safety because laws can’t make companies protect their workers.
  • Goldman Sachs Headquarters – Sec. 328 extends “tax exempt financing” an extension of post-9/11 recovery funds that pretty much goes to “fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp,” according to Bloomberg. That paid Goldman $1.6 billion in tax-free financing for its new headquarters through Liberty Bonds.
  • Off-shore Loophole for banks – Sec. 322 allows American corporations such as banks and manufacturers to avoid taxes on certain lending practices. Those benefiting from the $9 billion include GE, Caterpillar, and JP Morgan.
  • Foreign Subsidiaries – Sec. 323 extends the “Look-through treatment of payments between related CFCs under foreign personal holding company income rules.” This provision cost $1.5 billion from 2010 and 2011 and allows U.S. multinationals to not pay taxes on income earned by companies they own abroad.
  • Bonus Depreciation, R&D Tax Credit was projected to cost $8 billion for 2010 and 2011, and the depreciation provisions were projected to cost about $110 billion for those two years, with some of that made up in later years.

The Joint Committee on Taxation in 2010 did an analysis of what many of these extenders cost, more than the over $100 billion per year listed above.

While the Republicans were stalling on the fiscal cliff bill, they refused to address the issue of the money needed after Superstorm Sandy. After the House adjourned on Tuesday night without passing the $60.4 billion Sandy relief package that the Senate approved last week, many GOP members affected by the storm became livid. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told people in New York and New Jersey to not donate one cent to congressional Republicans.

Boehner felt so threatened that he promised to address the bill on Friday. That’s after the 112th Congress ends, meaning that both House and Senate have to restart the entire legislative process. Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, used much stronger language when he charged that the GOP put politics “before our oaths to serve our citizens”:

 “Our people were played last night as a pawn. Last night, the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service and they did so with callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state. There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker John Boehner. [Historically] disaster relief was something that you didn’t play games with, but now in this current atmosphere everything is a subject of one-upmanship. It is why the American people hate Congress.”

Christie finished by emphatically saying, “Shame on you, shame on Congress.”

Boehner may back down on the Sandy relief bill, but it appears that after 18 years, the Violence against Women Act is gone.  Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the Democratic point person on VAWA, said:

“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

If proponents succeed in reviving the bill in the 113th Congress, there will still be far fewer resources available for state and local governments to combat domestic violence until they succeed. The original VAWA was drafted in the office of then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) in 1994; maybe the vice-president can resurrect his creation.

At this time, no one knows if Boehner will even continue as Speaker of the House. Conservatives claim that they have enough votes to oust him. Again, they are behaving like children. No one has come out for Boehner’s job because they are afraid, and no one will try a coup if they aren’t 100 percent positive that they will succeed. Boehner has already taken retribution against his opposition, and he’ll continue to do that.

So Boehner stays, the House GOP will cause Congress to be the same failure for the next two years, and the bottom 98 percent won’t have to pay more taxes.

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