Blog

Just now Speaker Boehner pointed his finger at President Obama for the Congress’ lack of legislative action:

“We see more and more that the President has no interest in doing the big things he was elected to do…”

This is a sad and pathetic attempt to shift the blame from House Republicans for nothing getting done in Congress.

California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes recently told The Washington Post House Republicans have no intention of legislative action:

“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?”

And Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp explained to the National Journal, Republican leaders told the GOP conference they were finished after they passed the debt ceiling bill:

“That’s what our leadership said—if we get past this one, we’re done until the election.”

Here’s how Congressional scholars describe the GOP-led House:

Norm Ornstein:

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor early in the year scheduled a pitifully small number of days in session before the November elections, now amounting to about 80, and many of those will be pro forma or abbreviated sessions. The early strategy, reflected in the majority leader’s memo to his troops, was to keep the focus on the failures of Obamacare and avoid distractions that would come with actually pushing to enact laws—which, after all, could be signed by the president and presented as evidence that things were working.”

Ross Baker, Rutgers University:

“It’s going to be all finger food and no main course…We’re seeing a new, hibernating Congress. It sounds like they’re going into their dens for the winter. It’s really kind of interesting, because I think from the point of view of the Republicans in the House, their approach is to ‘do no harm,’ which of course is hardly a rallying cry.”

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Americans need a government that is willing to work overtime to address the nation’s priorities – not the Republican ‘hibernating Congress.’

More than 1.9 million long-term unemployed Americans have lost the critical benefits that allow them to make ends meet while they look for work.

Tens of millions of low wage workers and their families would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Instead of standing up and working with Democrats to address these issues, House Republicans are too busy strategizing their political future to worry about the needs and priorities of American workers and their families.

From POLITICO:

Republicans think they will expand their majority in the House — and perhaps take the Senate — by spending the remainder of 2014 concentrating on a still struggling-economy, cutting a raft of regulations and Obamacare’s woes. Many senior figures see no need to open up a new policy discussion in February of an election year without a partner in the Senate and White House. [2/25]

California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes recently told The Washington Post:

“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?”

And Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp explained to the National Journal, Republican leaders told the GOP conference they were finished after they passed the debt ceiling bill:

“That’s what our leadership said—if we get past this one, we’re done until the election.”

Rutgers’ congressional scholar Ross Baker put it bluntly:

“It’s going to be all finger food and no main course…We’re seeing a new, hibernating Congress. It sounds like they’re going into their dens for the winter. It’s really kind of interesting, because I think from the point of view of the Republicans in the House, their approach is to ‘do no harm,’ which of course is hardly a rallying cry.”

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Yesterday, the CBO released a report highlighting the clear economic benefits of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour including lifting nearly one million Americans out of poverty, giving a pay raise to almost 25 million people and helping build an economy that works for everyone.  But most of the attention has been focused on what the report concludes might be the impact of increasing the minimum wage on employment.  In fact, its conclusions contradict the consensus among hundreds of America’s top economists, who predict that a wage hike would actually stimulate the economy, raise demand and job growth, and provide help in job creation.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning economist and professor at Columbia University

“The CBO analysis underestimated the benefits and overestimated the costs in several respects” said Stiglitz said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Michael Reich, Economics professor and director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California Berkeley

The method used by the CBO to estimate job loss is never clearly explained. According to the Appendix, the figure appears to come almost entirely from its “synthesis” of the research literature…It thus appears to have counted the studies equally without making any adjustments for their quality. This is especially surprising since the economic research literature has been divided on how to measure employment effects. [ 

Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington and a former chief economist to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

To derive the job-loss effects, the report does not do any original research.  It just uses estimates from a wide range of studies on the impact of past minimum-wage increases… It is important to recognize that there is a very wide range of estimates from which the budget agency can choose…This wide range does not imply that the budget office made a mistake, though it looks to me as if it applied a higher job-loss estimate than is the current consensus among economists who’ve closely studied the issue.

From The New York Times:

Several top labor economists said on Tuesday that the budget office was overstating the proposal’s effect on the job market. Lawrence Katz of Harvard, for instance, said that the budget office had used “a lot of off-the-shelf estimates” of the jobs effect, and that if it had emphasized findings from higher-quality studies, it would have found a smaller or negligible impact on total employment.

And The New Republic:

This estimate involves no original research by the CBO. What they did is a survey of the various economic research that already exist, picking an impact that the office’s staffers thought was appropriate.

It’s time to put more money in the pockets of millions consumers, to strengthen the economic security of working families, and close the opportunity gap for those struggling most to make ends meet.  It’s time to give America a raise.

Posted in Economic News, General, Labor and American Jobs | Leave a comment

A little over a week ago, Speaker Boehner and the House Republican Conference released their so-called ‘principles’ for immigration reform.  Just days later, however, Boehner showed the emptiness of the Republican commitment to reform by blaming President Obama and his Administration for the GOP’s failure:

There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws…and it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.

How did the Speaker’s lame excuse play out on the editorial page?

The Tampa Bay Times Editorial: Boehner’s failure to lead on immigration

It’s not the president’s fault that Boehner can’t persuade the most conservative Republican House members to do the right thing. Instead of giving up, the speaker ought to bring up for a vote the bipartisan immigration bill passed last year by the Senate and allow sensible Republicans to vote with Democrats and approve changes that would benefit Florida and the nation.

In fact, Boehner’s latest attack on the president is an attempt to shift attention and blame from his own failure to bring together House Republicans on immigration.

The problem, of course, is that Boehner could not sell even these broad outlines to the conservative House members from his own party. Those conservatives said this week they want to wait until next year to tackle the issue and hope Republicans can take control of the Senate. But what they want is not really reform.

Arizona Republic Editorial: Pass an immigration bill now: We reject your excuses

No, John Boehner, you don’t get a pass. We will not accept bait-and-switch. We will not be stuck with the status quo. We will not let you off the hook. The excuses aren’t new either. Just unacceptable. So get tough, Mr. Boehner. There is no safe, easy way. Do the hard work. Get this done.

Washington Post Editorial: Mr. Boehner’s weak immigration excuses

The suggestion that the president doesn’t or wouldn’t enforce immigration laws is transparently false…the speaker’s assertion is a smoke screen designed to obscure the fact that rank-and-file Republicans refuse to tackle immigration reform.

Chicago Tribune Editorial: GOP spoke too soon on immigration

Let’s be clear: If the House refuses to take up immigration reform this year, it’s not on Obama. It’s on Boehner.

La Opinion Editorial: The Immigration farce

Using an excuse like that one to avoid working on immigration reform shows monumental insensitivity on the part of the Republican caucus…the journey of the House majority when it comes to immigration so far has been a farce.

The Miami Herald Editorial: Boehner blocks immigration reform at the GOP’s peril

…Mr. Boehner slammed on the brakes, offering the weakest of excuses.  The Republican leader said it would be difficult to convince his caucus that President Obama would enforce any immigration bill…

That excuse doesn’t pass the credibility test.  Why pass any law at all, if that’s the case? Why not just pack up and go home?

The Denver Post Editorial Board: GOP is in denial on immigration

The speaker blamed his reversal on the president, saying “there’s widespread doubt whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.” But this excuse doesn’t pass the laugh test. Boehner had been pounded by critics worried about primary challenges from the right to Republican incumbents.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial: More than self-interest

There’s an easy way to describe House Republicans’ continued reluctance to pass an immigration overhaul that provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people residing in this country illegally: selfish.

Rather than cooperate, House Republicans apparently find it more appealing to attack Democrats by demonizing Obama…If they don’t care about cultivating new voters, they should care that many of the businesspeople among their most reliable financial supporters want immigration reform, too.

The Kansas City Star Editorial: GOP punts on immigration reform

After a Republican issues retreat and an apparent tea party uprising, which is threatening Boehner’s speakership, the GOP has only one thing to say: Blame it on Obama. This position would be laughable if it weren’t so transparently cynical.

…blaming the president is a far cry from solving a real problem.

Las Cruces Sun-News Editorial: House position of immigration disingenuous

That’s disingenuous. The real issue is that there is nothing approaching consensus in the House Republican caucus about what should be in an immigration reform plan, particularly when it comes to dealing with the millions of people who are in the country illegally. House Republicans had a chance to fix a flawed immigration system, shrink the deficit and expand the economy. And they took a pass.

Desert News Editorial: In our opinion: Immigration reform is needed now, not next election cycle

This is short-sighted political gamesmanship, and is not worthy of our nation’s representatives.

Immigration reform is a matter of compassion. It is the right thing to do for U.S. citizens and for those law-abiding individuals who wish to be citizens. And for the millions of hard-working people whose lives are in limbo, reform of the nation’s immigration laws are needed now, not in a political campaign cycle that is convenient for Republicans.

The American people have had enough of the GOP’s games and excuses.  Speaker Boehner, stand up to the “dark vein of intolerance” within your party and listen to the American people.  The time to pass comprehensive immigration reform is now.

Posted in Immigration, In the News | Leave a comment

In the shadow of the House Republican fixation with women’s health, their endless votes to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act, and their refusal to advance any economic agenda that would benefit America’s working women and their families – is anyone surprised by this poll or these headlines?

CNN: CNN Poll: Majority say GOP out of touch with women

UPI: Majority of Americans perceive GOP as out of touch with women

KRMG: Poll: GOP out of touch with women

Huffington Post: Most Women Say The GOP Doesn’t Understand Their Problems, Poll Finds

From the CNN/ORC poll:

55 percent of Americans do not think the Republican party understands the problems and concerns of women.

This finding holds across all age groups:

And regions of the country:

And income levels:

51 percent of 18 – 34 year olds

57 percent of those in the Northeast

60 percent of those making less than $50,000 a year

54 percent of 35 – 49 year olds

56 percent of those in the Midwest

53 percent of those making $50,000 or more a year

60 percent of 50 – 64 year olds

55 percent of those in the South

56 percent of those 65 years old and older

51 percent of those in the West

 

How can House Republicans show they care about the problems and concerns of women?  They can act like it and pass the When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families which will enable women to achieve greater economic security, raise wages for working women and their families and allow working parents to support and care for their families.  Among the policies included in this agenda:

  • Paycheck Fairness
  • Raising the Minimum Wage
  • Supporting Women Entrepreneurs and Women-Owned Small Businesses
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • The President’s Preschool and Early Head Start & Child Care Initiative
  • Promoting Access to Affordable and High Quality Child Care

 

 

Posted in Affordable Health Care, General | Leave a comment

In the wake of a new CNN Poll showing Americans overwhelmingly support a pathway to citizenship, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell – a top Republican – had this to say about passing comprehensive immigration reform on MSNBC today:

“If not now, when?  We keep putting it off…sufficient time has passed.  We really have to buckle down and do something about immigration reform and do it as quickly as we can.”

It has been 225 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill.   In the House, H.R 15 has 196 bipartisan co-sponsors.  The time to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote for the American people is now.

Speaker Boehner, enough with the excuses.

Posted in Immigration | Leave a comment

House Republicans have invested so much effort and time attempting to undermine and repeal the patient protections and budget savings included in the Affordable Care Act, they don’t even recognize GOP-supported goals when face-to-face with them.

Yesterday, the CBO projected that by 2021 the Affordable Care Act will enable more than 2 million workers to escape “job-lock” – the situation where workers remain tied to employers for access to health insurance benefits.  Predictably, House Republicans deliberately turned this on its head and started shouting about the ACA “killing jobs.” False.

In addition to being just plain wrong on the facts of the CBO report, the GOP seems to have forgotten that ending “job-lock” has been an avowed Republican goal for years – even a highlight in the Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 Presidential race.

Republican Presidential Candidate Sen. John McCain:

One of the biggest limitations of our current health care system is that leaving a job often means leaving your health care plan…’job lock’ reduces opportunities for American workers because they often pass up new jobs for fear of losing their health care coverage. Under my plan, there will options for coverage that will follow the family from ‘job to job’ or ‘job to home.’

Heritage Foundation on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 Health Care plan:

Today, leaving a job or changing jobs means leav­ing behind the health insurance provided at the place of work. Individuals who wish to take a better job, change careers, or leave the workforce to raise a family or to retire early take substantial risks. They may find themselves going without coverage, pur­chasing non-group insurance with substantial tax penalties, or giving up a well-developed relation­ship with a physician or medical specialist. This health insurance obstacle to labor mobility is some­times called ‘job lock.’

Under the McCain plan, … individuals would no longer feel obligated to stay with their employers simply because they need to keep their employer-based health insurance. If the worker lost a job, changed jobs, or retired early, he or she could buy an insurance policy and offset its cost with the McCain health care tax credit.

House GOP Budget Chairman & 2012 Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan:

We want to address job lock. So, the key question that ought to be addressed in any health care reform legislation, is are we going to continue job lock, or are we going to allow individuals more choice, and portability to fit the 21st century workforce?

Posted in Affordable Health Care, Correcting the Record, In the News | Leave a comment

What we know: GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers misled the American people in the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union on Tuesday with a scare story about Bette from Spokane.

What we don’t know: Did McMorris Rodgers do anything to help Bette, her constituent, navigate the options made available to her through the Affordable Care Act and encourage her to find an affordable alternative on Washington State’s individual marketplace?  Or did McMorris Rodgers choose instead to turn her “into a poster woman for Obamacare victimization”?

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:

So what really happened here is that this woman contacted Rep. McMorris Rodgers to complain about the health law — and there’s no indication her Congresswoman’s aides pointed her to the exchange or indicated she could have gotten a better deal from it. Perhaps they did; this makes for a good follow-up question. But it’s certainly possible they didn’t. After all, some Republicans have openly said they won’t be helping constituents with the law. Obamacare foes like to say that’s fair game for Republican lawmakers, but even if that were true, the point is that this tactic may be harming their own constituents.

Bette from Spokane, to be sure, might not have used the exchange even if her Congresswoman’s office had pointed her to it. As Bette put it in the local report, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website.” There’s no denying this woman was adversely impacted. But it’s at least possible if she’d been told there were better deals there, she’d have taken advantage of them — and if so, the outcome would have been better for her than what did happen, which is that she’s gone without coverage…

One other point: While McMorris Rodgers’ office claims “hundreds” from the region got in touch with concerns about the law, Timothy Egan reports that in her district, signups for coverage on the exchange are well above the national average. This, even though McMorris Rodgers “has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law.”

The case of Bette fits into this very neatly. Even though the exchange could have gotten her a better deal, it was a better political outcome for Republicans that she didn’t avail herself of that option. And precisely because she didn’t, she was turned into a poster woman for Obamacare victimization.

 

 

Posted in Affordable Health Care, Correcting the Record, In the News | Leave a comment

In the GOP Response to the President’s State of the Union Address, House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers told a story about Bette from Spokane who was facing sharply higher health insurance costs supposedly as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

But McMorris Rodgers left out a few critical parts of Bette’s story – the replacement plan she was referring to was one of the more expensive choices offered and Bette refused to shop for less expensive options on Washington State’s Individual Marketplace.

From The Spokesman-Review:

But the “nearly $700 per month” increase in her premium that McMorris Rodgers cited in Tuesday night’s GOP response to the State of the Union address was based on one of the pricier options, a $1,200-a-month replacement plan that was pitched by Asuris Northwest to Grenier and her husband, Don.

The carrier also offered a less expensive, $1,052-per-month option in lieu of their soon-to-be-discontinued catastrophic coverage plan. And, Grenier acknowledged the couple probably could have shaved another $100 a month off the replacement policy costs by purchasing them from the state’s online portal, the Health Plan Finder website, but they chose to avoid the government health exchanges.

“I wouldn’t go on that Obama website at all,” said Grenier, 58, who lives in the Chattaroy area and owns a roofing company with her husband…

McMorris Rodgers’ office provided no explanation Wednesday on what steps were taken to verify the figures…

“I know some people seem to be getting good deals, but we’re not,” Grenier said. “I have a friend – she and I fight about this stuff all the time – and she got a great deal: $129 a month.”

In fact, people in McMorris Rodgers’ district are “flocking” to options offered through the Affordable Care Act – “well beyond the national average.”

Imagine how the people in her district would benefit if they had a Representative who was interested in helping them understand their options under the law instead of one actively working to undermine their access to health coverage.

From Timothy Egan at The New York Times:

And yet, in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare — well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions.

In Spokane County, the most populous in the Fifth Congressional District with nearly half a million people, the rate of participation in the new health care law is even well above the state average. At the end of December, signups were 102 percent of the state target. That’s saying something, because Washington, with a big range of insurance choices and a well-run exchange, has been one of the nation’s success stories for the Affordable Care Act.

Ignoring what her own neighbors are doing, McMorris Rodgers said on Tuesday that new health care law “is not working.” But if that’s the case, why have nearly one in 12 people in her home county signed up for expanded Medicaid coverage or new private health insurance? It could be, as the state noted, because the average time it takes a poor person to apply for health care here has now been cut from 45 days to 45 minutes.

House Republicans should stop trying to scare and mislead the American people about the Affordable Care Act and stop wasting taxpayer dollars trying to undermine and repeal the law.  Let it be and let it work.

Posted in Affordable Health Care, Correcting the Record, In the News | Leave a comment

While House Republicans are going about their annual retreat – a new poll released this morning by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the American people are tired of the endless attempts to repeal the patient protections and budget savings in the Affordable Care Act:

From The Hill – Poll: Voters tired of O-Care repeal efforts

…a strong majority – 55 percent – said they accept ObamaCare as settled law that should be improved, rather than repealed. Only 38 percent said they support continued efforts to repeal it…

President Obama needled Republicans over their repeal efforts at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

He acknowledged that he would never “convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law,” but urged them to stop with their repeal efforts and “tell America what you’d do differently.”

“Let’s see if the numbers add up, but let’s not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda,” Obama said. “The first 40 were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.”

As Senior GOP Congressman Tom Cole joked, not all House Republicans see the writing on the wall:

From ThinkProgress:

[NPR’s] SIEGEL: He appealed for an end to votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Do you think that’s behind us now, that indeed Republicans might be better with the Affordable Care Act in place to run against in November?

COLE: [Laughter] I think Republicans are never going to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Look, that’s something that’s not popular, no Republican voted for it. Frankly all the polling suggests it’s become progressively less popular over the last several months so I doubt that that’s going to disappear but I also think you have to recognize political reality. There’s a Democratic senate, the president’s not likely to accept the repeal of his signature issue.

Indeed, just last night, several House Republicans went on FOX News to reiterate their intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  As GOP Congresswoman and former Presidential candidate summed up:

“I just want to give the American people hope that there are members of Congress that aren’t going to give up,” Bachmann said. “We’re going to stay on the repeal train because that’s hurting Americans. We want health care to be better and we want people’s lives to be better.”

It’s time for House Republicans to stop wasting taxpayer dollars and time on unpopular, dead-end measures to take away Americans health coverage.

 

 

Posted in Affordable Health Care, In the News | Leave a comment