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Political Animal

April 09, 2012 8:45 AM

Buffet Rule Tax Day Push

By Ed Kilgore

Usually the week leading up to April 15, the federal income tax filing day, belongs to conservatives who have the change to score uncontested goal after goal against an unloved and unlovable tax system, and more broadly, the public commitments that make it necessary.

But this year, it looks like Democrats will for once try to take the initiative with a “tax fairness” campaign that will have the added benefit of directing public attention to Mitt Romney’s balance sheet. Here’s Jonathan Wiesman’s description:

President Obama and Senate Democrats will kick off a coordinated pressure campaign on Republicans next week ahead of a tax day vote on legislation to enact the president’s “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that the rich pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Mr. Obama will travel to Florida on Tuesday for a speech on the Buffett Rule, named after the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, who has made a point of saying that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The Obama campaign will hold Buffett Rule events in other swing states that day, and Senate Democratic leaders have encouraged Democratic senators to get involved with those campaign efforts….

The push comes ahead of a procedural vote on April 16 that will decide whether the Senate will even debate the bill, and Democrats give it little chance of reaching the necessary 60-vote threshold.

Wiesman’s article goes on to debate whether the Buffet Rule specifically, or “fairness” generally, is a winning election-year economic message.

I think this sort of argument falls prey to the amazingly persistent and pernicious idea that whole issue areas “belong” to one party of the other. No, it doesn’t make much sense for tax fairness to become an overriding issue for Democrats this year. But it makes even less sense for Democrats to fall mute or try to change the subject every time Republicans talk about taxes.

SOURCE

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During Bush Presidency, Current GOP Leaders Voted 19 Times To Increase Debt Limit By $4 Trillion

Think Progress- By Travis Waldron at 11:49 am

After pushing the government to brink of shutdown last week, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation’s debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts.

But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt limit increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion.

At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:

June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.

Database searches revealed no demands from the four legislators that debt increases come accompanied by drastic spending cuts, as there are now. In fact, the May 2003 debt limit increase passed the Senate the same day as the $350 billion Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

When Bush was in office, the current Republican leaders viewed increasing the debt limit as vital to keeping America’s economy running. But with Obama in the White House, it’s nothing more than a political pawn.

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By Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy In Focus, June 10, 2010

Sen. Harry Reid

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in the streets of Tel Aviv last weekend against their right-wing government’s attack on an unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla sailing in international waters. International condemnation of the raids continued in foreign capitals. Meanwhile, in Washington, Democratic congressional leaders were lining up alongside their Republican colleagues to defend the Israeli assault. Countering the broad consensus of international legal scholars who recognize that the attack was in flagrant violation of international norms, prominent Democrats embraced the Orwellian notion that Israel’s raid, which killed at least nine activists and wounded scores of others, was somehow an act of self-defense.

Continues >>

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New Poll: Restless Voters Prefer Democrats Again, But Still Hate Incumbents

ALAN FRAM | 05/15/10 08:14 PM | AP

WASHINGTON — People want Democrats to control Congress after this fall’s elections, a shift from April, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Saturday. But the margin is thin and there’s a flashing yellow light for incumbents of both parties: Only about one-third want their own lawmakers re-elected.

The tenuous 45 percent to 40 percent preference for a Democratic Congress reverses the finding a month ago on the same question: 44 percent for Republicans and 41 percent for Democrats. The new readout came as the economy continued showing signs of improvement and the tumultuous battle over the health care law that President Barack Obama finally signed in March faded into the background.

“To the extent that Democrats can focus on job creation rather than health care, they tend to do better,” said Jack Pitney, a political scientist at California’s Claremont McKenna College.

Democrats hold a 254-177 majority over Republicans in the House, with four vacancies, while Democrats control 59 of the Senate’s 100 seats, counting support from two independents. Despite those disadvantages, the GOP has gained political momentum in recent months and its leaders hope to win control of at least one chamber of Congress this November.

Compared with the last AP-GfK poll in April, the survey showed Republicans losing some support among married women, a key component of many GOP victories. Democrats picked up ground among young and rural voters.

“I’m a new Democrat,” said Harley Smithson, 51, of Baltimore, who said he had recently switched from the GOP. “I want to be with a party that’s for something instead of against everything.”

Even so, the poll underscores that the political environment remains ominous for Democrats.

Just 35 percent say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest measured by the AP-GfK survey since a week before Obama took office in January 2009. His approval rating remains at 49 percent, as low as it’s been since he become president.

Congressional Democrats win approval from only 37 percent, though congressional Republicans score an even drearier 31 percent. Democrats and Republicans are about evenly trusted to handle the economy, an issue Democrats once dominated and one that is crucial at a time when the country’s job situation, though brightening, remains grim.

MORE HERE

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Two weeks ago in this space, I wrote about how the Democrats appear to be totally incompetent at ballyhooing their own successes. And make no mistake, there have been numerous legislative triumphs over the last year.

Really. No, seriously. Stop laughing. There have been.

They rescued the economy. They set new emissions standards. They protected two million acres of national forest. They passed legislation to help unemployed Americans to afford COBRA health insurance. They expanded affordable health insurance for children. They passed historic hate crimes legislation. They passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history. They’re tantalizingly close to passing health care reform. All of this despite a record number of Republican filibusters by the crackpot minority party.

So I have to ask: H-H-Hello? Anyone home?

Two events this week have served to illustrate my point about the ongoing failure of the Democrats to self-promote.

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 went into effect. Major Democratic triumph. At long last, some of the most predatory and nefarious scams orchestrated by one of the most predatory and nefarious industries have been officially banned. Of course the credit card companies will come up with new, cruel and unusual ways to screw us hard, but this was a major victory in the effort to reform the financial sector. No more random interest rate hikes. No retroactive rate hikes. Fair warning. Transparency.

But you’d never know it based upon the silence from Capitol Hill and the White House. It’s truly confounding. Where are the Democrats? They ought to be bumrushing everyone with a camera and a fake law library backdrop — thumping their chests about how this bill will make our lives just a little bit less complicated and costly. And holy hell, it was a totally bipartisan vote in the Senate, too. 90 to 5. The lawmakers who are scrambling to prove they’re “reaching across the aisle” and all that happy crappy glad-handing — all of the pandering to the voters who tell pollsters there’s too much partisan bickering, then turn around and vote along straight party lines — these Democrats ought to be the loudest and proudest of the bunch.

Hear that? Crickets chirping.

It gets worse.

(more…)

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In the 1998 midterms, Democrats actually gained seats. A rare thing for the president’s party to pick up congressional seats in a second midterm election. Nevertheless, the Democrats won the day and Republicans lost a net five seats.

Take a guess how the Republicans responded. Naturally, they freaked out like infants and demanded that the party shift to the center, you know, where it’s safe — abandoning their congressional agenda in lieu of safe, small beans policy. Then they waited for all of the Democrats to be seated before they moved any votes to the floor. You know, just to be fair.

Wait, no. That’s what the Democrats are doing in the aftermath of the Massachusetts special election.

The Republicans, in the days immediately after being “thumped” in the midterms, didn’t make pee-pee in their big boy pants. They didn’t freak out and reevaluate their agenda or crawl back to moderate Democrats for additional support.

The Republicans impeached the president.

Before anyone was sworn in, the Republican House of Representatives voted to impeach President William Jefferson Clinton on December 19, 1998.

Hey, Democrats. Do you like apples?

Now, I’m not suggesting that the Democrats should suddenly race around trying to quickly remove Republicans who have engaged in nefarious underpants parties. (I’m looking at you, John Ensign — who voted for impeachment, by the way.)

I’m just suggesting that the Democrats find their mysteriously vanishing spines, and right quick.

(more…)

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Kerry: ‘The only thing Republicans say yes to are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, tea partiers, and Fox News.’

Think Progress- By Faiz Shakir at 8:15 am

Campaigning for Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley on Friday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) took a shot [at] the “party of no.” Kerry argued that while Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration focused on governing for the past year, “the Republicans did nothing but say no.” After ticking off a list of items the Republicans have opposed, Kerry concluded:

They made a calculated political decision that they would say no to governance, create anger, and then let the anger fall on those who are struggling to make the choices and these tough decisions. And now, they have the gall to want to receive a bonus for doing it.

Well my friends, the only things the Republicans say yes to are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, tea partiers, and Fox News.

Watch it:

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