GOP Overreach

GOP’s Obamacare Nightmare Is Coming True: It’s Working

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AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster

TPMDC

The politics of the health care law have undergone a sea change since its disastrous rollout last fall, when many conservative operatives were salivating at the prospect of a GOP wave in the midterm elections due to an Obamacare “train wreck.”

But the train never wrecked. The law rebounded, surpassing its signups goal and withstanding a flurry of attacks. The issue seems to have mostly lost its power as a weapon against Democrats, and a growing number of Republican governors — even in conservative states — are warming to a core component of Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion.

To get a sense of why this is worrying for Republicans in the long run, look no further than conservative strategist Bill Kristol’s 1993 memo — “Defeating President Clinton’s Health Care Proposal” — warning that reform would paint Democrats as “the generous protector of middle-class interests” and strike a “punishing blow” to the GOP’s anti-government ideology.

“But the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse — much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government,” Kristol wrote.

In other words, the real fear back then was that health care reform would succeed.

Two decades later, Kristol’s prophecy is haunting Republicans. Obamacare has provided a lifeline by providing coverage to 8 million people on the exchanges, 7 million under Medicaid expansion and 5 million who bought insurance outside the exchanges but benefit from new regulations like the coverage guarantee for individuals with preexisting conditions. Even Republicans in deeply conservative states are suggesting that the popular new benefits cannot be taken away, even if the Obamacare brand still struggles.

The shift has been crystallized in contentious Senate races this fall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently signaled that Kentuckians benefiting from the state’sObamacare exchange and Medicaid expansion should be able to keep their coverage. Senate GOP candidates Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Scott Brown of New Hampshire and Terri Lynn Land of Michigan have all refused to call for rolling back Medicaid expansion in their states. The number of television ads attacking the law have plummeted in key battleground states since April, and now even vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is touting his vote for protecting Americans with preexisting conditions under Obamacare.

But even if the Obamacare attacks are fading, Republicans remain poised to make gains in the midterms due to a variety of structural advantages. They continue to oppose Obamacare as a whole, and point out that Americans still react negatively when asked about the law.

“Ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to coverage has long been a popular policy, and one where there is bipartisan agreement. It’s the the entirety of ObamaCare that remains EXTREMELY unpopular,” Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, told TPM in an email.

Conservative health-policy experts have argued that Obamacare cannot be repealed without a viable alternative to fix broken parts of the system, but Republicans have failed to come up with one that the party can unite behind.

These are signs that Obamacare is weaving into the fabric of American culture and that the dream of repealing or unwinding it is fading. The massive health care industry is adapting to the post-Obamacare world and fears of double-digit hikes in premiums are fading: early datasuggest the prices for benchmark “silver” plans in 2015 are poised to decline slightly.

“We don’t yet have data for all states, but from these 15 states plus DC I think we can start to see a pattern emerging,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an email. “In general, changes in premiums for the low-cost plans in the marketplaces are quite modest, and actually decreasing in many places.”

Stability in premiums means “government costs for premium subsidies … are under control, which is good news for taxpayers,” Levitt said.

In the courts, an ongoing conservative lawsuit to cripple Obamacare suffered a major setbacklast week when a federal appeals court vacated a ruling that would have blocked subsidies in 36 states. Legal experts say the full court is likely to uphold the subsidies when a panel with a majority of Democratic-appointed judges re-hears the case.

For Democrats, the dream scenario was that Obamacare would eventually join Social Security and Medicare as an unassailable feature of the American safety net. Like those other major programs, Obamacare won’t be without its share of problems — cost uncertainties for automatically-renewed plans among them. But after more than 50 House votes to repeal or dismantle the law, few could have predicted that Republicans would start warming up to central pieces of the law within a year of its rollout.

(Photos by the Associated Press)

The right’s unhinged Bergdahl hypocrisy: The ultimate way to savage Obama

The right’s unhinged Bergdahl hypocrisy: The ultimate way to savage Obama

Bill Kristol, Bowe Bergdahl (Credit: AP/Janet Van Ham/Reuters)

Salon – Joan Walsh

Of course Republicans are going to compare the prisoner swap that won the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to Benghazi. They both start with B. It leads to their favorite words that start with I: investigation, and possibly impeachment.

The ridiculous Andrew McCarthy, flacking his new book making the case for Obama’s impeachment, of course finds more fodder in the prisoner transfer. Tuesday morning he was joined by Fox News “legal analyst” Andrew Napolitano and a man who couldn’t even hold on to a Congressional seat for a second term, Allen West. The shift to Bergdahl reflects growing concern that the right’s Benghazi dishonesty isn’t working with voters. Even conservative analysts have chided colleagues for Benghazi over-reach. Sure, Trey Gowdy will continue with his election year partisan witch hunt, but the right is wagering the Bergdahl story might hurt Obama more.

The anti-Bergdahl hysteria plays into six years of scurrilous insinuation that Obama is a secret Muslim who either supports or sympathizes with our enemies. Even “moderate” Mitt Romney, you’ll recall, claimed the president’s “first response” to the 2012 Benghazi attack “was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” This is just the latest chapter.

The partisan opportunism over the Bergdahl deal shouldn’t be surprising, but it is, a little bit. This wasn’t some wild radical idea of the Obama administration; it was driven by the Defense Department and signed on to by intelligence agencies. Although Congress is claiming it wasn’t given the requisite 30 days notice of a prisoner transfer (more on that later), this deal or something very much like it has been in the works for at least two years, with plenty of Congressional consultation.

And plenty of partisan demagoguery: in 2012 the late Michael Hastings reported that the White House was warned by Congressional Republicans that a possible deal for the five Taliban fighters would be political suicide in an election year – a “Willie Horton moment,” in the words of an official responsible for working with Congress on the deal. In the end, though, Hastings reported that even Sen. John McCain ultimately approved the deal; it fell apart when the Taliban balked.

Two years later, the right’s official talking points are mixed: Some critics focus on rumors (buttressed by Hastings’ own sympathetic reporting on Bergdahl) that he was a soldier disillusioned by the Afghan war who deserted his post. Wrong-way Bill Kristol has dismissed him as a deserter not worth rescuing, while Kristol’s most prominent contribution to politics, Sarah Palin, has been screeching on her Facebook wall about Bergdahl’s “horrid anti-American beliefs.”

But missing and captured soldiers have never had to undergo a character check before being rescued by their government. Should they now face trial by Bill Kristol before we decide whether to rescue them? Is Sarah Palin going to preside over a military death panel for captured soldiers suspected of inadequate dedication to the war effort?

Other Republicans accuse the president of breaking the long-standing rule against “negotiating with terrorists” to free hostages. They’re wrong on two counts: The U.S. has frequently negotiated with “terrorists,” to free hostages and for other reasons. President Carter negotiated with the Iranians who held Americans in the Tehran embassy in 1979, unsuccessfully. President Reagan famously traded arms to Iran for hostages. The entire surge in Iraq was predicated on negotiating with Sunni “terrorists” who had killed American soldiers to bring them into the government and stop sectarian violence.

Besides, this isn’t a terrorist-hostage situation, it’s a prisoner of war swap, and those are even more common: President Nixon freed some North Vietnamese prisoners at the same time former POW Sen. John McCain came home from Hanoi. Even hawkish Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu traded more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit last year. Such prisoner exchanges are particularly frequent when wars are winding down, as Ken Gude explains on Think Progress.

It’s true that Bergdahl was never officially categorized as a “prisoner of war,” since the Pentagon apparently stopped using that designation years ago. But he was defined as “missing/captured,” which is essentially the same thing. And while the Taliban fighters who were released were likewise not formally designated prisoners of war, either, because of the odd, formally undeclared status of the war with Afghanistan, that’s what they were. As President Obama said Tuesday morning, “This is what happens at the end of wars.” Imagine the outrage if the president brought the troops home from Afghanistan but left Bergdahl behind.

It’s shocking to see conservatives argue that the Taliban should have the final word on an American soldier’s fate, even if he’s accused of desertion. There’s already an Army inquiry into the conditions of Bergdahl’s disappearance. “Our army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred,” the Joint Chiefs chair Martin Dempsey said Monday night. Would John McCain, for instance, deny Bergdahl the right to military justice and leave his punishment to the Taliban?

Even some Democrats who had doubts about the 2012 Bergdahl release deal, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, support the exchange executed last weekend. “I support the president’s decision, particularly in light of Sgt. Bergdahl’s declining health. It demonstrates that America leaves no soldier behind,” she said in a statement. Former CIA director Leon Panetta opposed the earlier deal because he felt it didn’t do enough to prevent the five Taliban leaders from returning to combat; this deal holds them in Qatar for at least a year. Panetta also lauded the deal Monday night because of Bergdahl’s use to intelligence agencies.

It may be that the terms of the Bergdahl deal merit Congressional investigation, particularly about whether Congress was sufficiently consulted on the deal. Partly because of the ongoing efforts to free Bergdahl, Congress agreed to reduce its own requirements for notification of Guantanamo releases. But Obama, in a signing statement, signaled he believed even the relaxed law tied his hands, arguing that the president needed the flexibility to act quickly in certain situations when negotiating a transfer of Guantanamo prisoners. Yes it’s true that Obama and other Democrats criticized George W. Bush’s wanton use of signing statements. This one can be debated. But Republicans didn’t wail en masse over Bush’s signing statements or his national security secrecy the way they are doing now.

Congressional investigations are one thing; shrill partisan hackery is another. “There’s little that’s actually new here,” says Mitchell Reiss, a State Department official under President George W. Bush who also served as national security adviser to Mitt Romney. Reiss is right about the Bergdahl deal, but he’s wrong about the larger political atmosphere. What’s “new” here is a president who’s had his competence, his patriotism, even his very eligibility for office questioned from the outset.

President Obama’s Message To House Republicans Talking Impeachment: Bring It On

obama-cnn

Ha!  Harvard Law School grad v Tea Party knuckle-draggers.  I’m with the POTUS…bring it on!

PoliticusUSA

During his CNN interview President Obama not only shrugged off Republican claims of an imperial presidency, but he appeared to challenge the Republicans who are talking lawsuits and impeachment to bring it on.

Video:

Transcript:

TAPPER: And let’s talk about House Republicans, because – and – and Senate Republicans. There has been a large contingency of Republicans critical of your new approach. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who might run for president, calls this the imperial presidency. And in the House, there is this thing, as you know, called The Stop Act. They want to rein in what you’re trying to do.
How do you respond to that?

OBAMA: Well, I don’t think that’s very serious. I mean, the truth of the matter is, is that every president engages in executive actions. In fact, we’ve been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we have taken. We make sure that we’re doing it within the authority that we have under statute. But I am not going to make an apology for saying that if I can help middle class families and folks who are working hard to try to get in the middle class do a little bit better, then I’m going to do it.

And, you know, I think it’s – it’s a tough argument for the other side to make that not only are they willing to do an – not do anything, but they also want me not to do anything in which case I think the American people who’s, right now, estimation of Congress is already pretty low might might have an even lower opinion.

TAPPER: The Stop Act is not something you take seriously?

OBAMA: I – I am not particularly worried about it.

Yesterday, Paul Ryan appeared to be laying the groundwork for impeachment by claiming that President Obama routinely violates the Constitution by exercising powers that he doesn’t have.

The president’s point was that House Republicans can pass their little legislation. They can cry about imperial powers all they want, but he is not going to apologize or back off because he is trying to help people who are working hard and getting the short end of the economic stick.

President Obama is calling the GOP’s bluff. He seems to be coming from a belief that that this is all just election year hot air from the GOP, but if they want to sue him, pass legislation to stop him for helping the American people, or talk impeachment, he isn’t afraid. This president isn’t going to fall for the Republican bully routine and back down.

Obama is treating the Republicans like they are irrelevant, because that is what they have earned through their obstructionist behavior. The president knows that they aren’t going to pass anything, or lift a finger to help the American people, so he is doing what he can by himself.

If Republicans don’t like it, they should do something about it. If they are too scared to do something about it, then they need to shut up and get out of the way.

Wendy Davis’ Ex-Husband Admirably Refuses To Play GOP’s Gotcha Game

wendydavis-texas

Wendy Davis – Texas State Senator

Good for him…

PoliticusUSA

On Tuesday, Jeff Davis declined CNN’s request to appear in an on-camera interview regarding Wendy Davis’ personal life story. Instead, he gave them an email response stating that he feels that Wendy Davis “would make a very capable governor.” This was not only an instance of Mr. Davis showing the utmost respect for his ex-wife and her current situation, but also his refusal to play the media ‘gotcha’ game that the GOP was hoping for. He is not allowing himself to get caught up in a non-story that is only out there in an attempt to bring down a person that scares the crap out of the Republican Party and Texas conservatives.

This all stems from supposed ‘discrepancies’ in Wendy Davis’ past comments about her life. Basically, Republicans are trying to discredit her story that she went from being a young, single mother who lived in a trailer and that she was able to work her way up through Harvard Law School and is now on the verge up being Governor of Texas. Since conservatives in Texas see her as a huge threat to the political status quo there, recently they’ve decided to play semantics with the details and question her honesty.

Due to an article that was published on Sunday in the Dallas Morning News, Republicans, and especially her gubernatorial opponent Greg Abbott’s campaign, have grabbed hold of the narrative that Davis did not have it nearly as hard as she’s stated and that she is a liar. And since she is a liar and a fake, she cannot be trusted. Essentially, they are making it seem like she had an easy road to get where she is now and that things were never tough for her. That she made it all up. In fact, conservatives made #MoreFakeThanWendyDavis trend on Twitter earlier this week.

Davis herself decided to address this ‘controversy’ head on, andreleased a bullet-point, detailed history of her adult life. While she didn’t technically get divorced until she was 21, she was separated from her first husband when she was 19 and lived in a trailer at that point with her daughter. Therefore, her saying she was a single mother living in a trailer when she was 19 may not be ‘technically’ correct, but only an obtuse a-hole would make an issue of it.

Apparently, another issue for the Republicans is that Wendy Davis hasn’t given enough credit to her second husband regarding the assistance he gave towards her getting her law degree at Harvard. While this is completely false, as she has on many times in interviews stated that Jeff Davis was pivotal in helping her achieve her current position, it shouldn’t be surprising that a husband assists his wife financially and vice versa. That is what marriage is. The family finances go towards all of the family members. Why was it necessary for Wendy Davis to have to explain that they used money form her husband’s 401(k) loan to help pay for tuition?

Thankfully, Jeff Davis isn’t playing along with the narrative that the media and Republicans want to play out. In his email to CNN, he even stated that while the 401(k) loan was used partially to help pay for Wendy’s tuition, he did it for other reasons. Because, you know, those are decisions that families have to make when it comes to finances. It almost seems like there was a hope by Republicans and their willing media lackeys that Jeff Davis was going to joyfully roll over on his ex-wife and give them a juicy story that they could use to shred her. Instead, he basically told them all to shove off.

The fear that Texas, and national, Republicans feel of Wendy Davis is palpable. With the Texas gubernatorial election fast approaching, Abbott and his cohorts can sense that Davis is just going to keep building on her growing popularity and possibly turn Texas blue. They will do anything they can to tear her down, make her seem disingenuous and fake. However, the more they go after her with sexist and specious attacks like this, the more it will backfire on them. The fact is, Wendy Davis isn’t going away anytime soon, and that scares the hell out of them.

How Republicans Fit The Classic Profile Of An Abuser

This is an interesting analysis of  the Republican party…

Addicting Info

A domestic violence survivor and crisis hotline counselor explains how today’s Republican party matches the classic profile of an abuser. The Republican party fits the classic personality profile of an abuser. Photo montage by Elisabeth Parker for Addicting Info.

As a former victim of domestic violence, in another lifetime, I learned a lot about the abusive personality. When it was over, and I was out, I became a domestic violence hotline counselor. The classes I took to train me for this job taught me two things: One, abusers aren’t psychotic, but instead have character disorders; and two, abusive behavior isn’t uncontrollable – it’s a learned social behavior.

Enter stage left, Republicans and what used to be their “fringe” faction, the tea baggers. The “fringe” faction, though, has of late become “non-fringe” enough to take over the House, lead John Boehner around by the nose, shut down the federal government and gleefully high-five each other as our country teeters on the edge of default – all, ostensibly, to wage war against Obamacare, a law that was passed by the House and Senate, signed by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court and that has withstood 42 Republican-driven repeal attempts.

Like abusers, Republicans always make things someone else’s fault.
The behavior of Republicans – most recently around their government shutdown, and as they dig in their heels and rationalize – by making it someone else’s fault – driving the country into default, it reminds me vividly of the abusive personality that I engaged with daily, for years, until my divorce. No compromise was ever allowed, it was his way or his other way. He never talked about the many ways in which he was wrong, it was “look what you made me do.” In his mind, the only one whose behavior needed changing was mine. Any abusive behavior of his was justified because, in his warped thinking, I provoked him. He used bullying, fear tactics, threats and intimidation to get his way. In the end, although never abusive to them directly, he used my kids as pawns in his abusive game. He refused to share responsibility in any part of our relationship breakdown. I owned it, lock, stock and barrel.

Like abusers, Republicans do not negotiate in good faith.
If you break it down, how different is the behavior of a classic abuser than the behavior we are now seeing within the Republican Party, most notably, and startlingly, the tea baggers, beginning with the mastermind of the Republican government shutdown, Ted Cruz, and moving on through the ranks of Mike Lee and Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan and Louie Gohmert, and about 30 others? As a domestic violence survivor, I know that the President and Harry Reid are utterly correct to hold the line at negotiation. Abusers – such as the House tea baggers, along with John Boehner, their puppet – do not negotiate in good faith. Regardless of what “deals” they offer up today, they will renege when it comes time to uphold their end of the bargain. When Republicans say they want a short-term “deal” to re-open the government and avoid a default, I know what that means: Just as abusive personalities are generally incapable of rehabilitation, neither are Republicans. Rehabilitation implies that there is a point of normalcy in the past to which one can return. I have yet to see that point for Republicans; they’re beyond redemption. A year ago, Paul Krugman aptly pointed out that the debt ceiling debacle demonstrates that “raw extortion works and carries no political cost,” and that “irresponsible brinksmanship” is now “a proven effective negotiating tactic.” Mr. Krugman, meet your classic abuser.

Like abusers, Republicans must win at all costs.
An abusive personality really doesn’t care who is caught in the crossfire. His desire for control, his low self-esteem and irrational, desperate need to be the winner at any cost trumps any scrap of humanity. Despite the fact that Republicans raised the debt ceiling more than 25 times under Republican presidents (and five times, without batting an eye, under Bush), their classically abusive personalities have risen to the fore under this President. At any cost, regardless of any harm to others, they will win. So what if the U.S. defaults? According to some Republicans, for the President to allow a default would be an “impeachable offense;” on the other hand, if the President were to invoke the 14th Amendment and direct the Treasury to pay its bills regardless of the House’s inactivity, that, too, in the minds of Republicans, would no doubt rise to the level of an impeachable offense. As in all abusive relationships, it’s a Catch 22. Listening to the screaming rage of Republicans, it’s clear that no cost is too great to make President Obama look bad. If the measures Republicans implement increase the chance that this President’s success story will be on pause, they’ll make a pact with any devil. So what if their newly-discovered “fiscal conservatism” trashes a still fragile economy, tanking the markets, and driving unemployment numbers up? If that’s what’s required to be the victors in the game of chicken they’ve been playing with our lives, that’s what they’ll do. Their lack of humanity, and lack of a moral center, is truly breathtaking.

Like abusers, Republicans will invalidate you.
I remember, during the days when I was on the receiving end of such bullying tactics, how my heart would pound and adrenaline would flow, how my stomach would knot up. I’ve felt that way any number of times during these past terrible weeks as progressives have fought for a toehold in the battle of integrity against a foe who has none. My gut has kept score. A classic abusive personality generally uses sexually derogatory slurs against his victim, but in this case, Republicans continue to press the case that this President is not legitimate. Their use of coded and un-coded racial slurs against our President are not dissimilar to the derogatory terms like “slut” and “whore” that classic abusers use to refer to their women; it’s how they engage. And it is, sadly, how the Republicans have engaged politically ever since President Obama was elected, and continue to engage.

Continue reading here…

MSNBC Anchors Laugh As Michigan Governor Claims Union-Busting Is Good For Workers

 

I saw this on Morning Joe today. It was indeed unintentionally hilarious…

Think Progress

On Wednesday, the hosts MSNBC’s Morning Joe laughed off Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R-MI) claims that the state’s recently-enacted right-to-work law could protect and strengthen unions by encouraging them to show more value to workers, interrupting the governor in bewilderment as he explained his argument.

Snyder appeared on the show less than 12 hours after signing two separate bills allowing public and private union members to opt out of paying union dues, while benefiting from union contracts, and defended the controversial measures. He characterized the law as benefiting workers and unions become more valuable.

The answer shocked the Morning Joe crew and led MSNBC contributor Richard Wolffe to interrupt the governor in mid-answer. Even Joe Scarborough grew incredulous and the Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein sighed heavily as Snyder spoke:

SNYDER: I’ve never said that unions are bad for business. And I don’t believe this is actually anti-union. If you look at it, I believe this is pro-worker, because the way I view it is, is workers now have freedom to choose …

WOLFFE: Hang on. Hang on a second. Are you serious? Are you serious? This is not anti-unions? This actually, at its core undermines the ability for unions to organize. So you can make any argument you like, but saying it’s not …

SNYDER: Unions have to be in a position to present a good value proposition… And if they don’t provide value, people shouldn’t be forced to pay for something they don’t see any value in. So again, this should make unions more effective in terms of having to put a value proposition to workers.

SCARBOROUGH: Governor, while I made a similar argument earlier that workers shouldn’t be compelled to have to pay from their salary to a union with whom they disagree, I would not go so far as to say what you’ve just said, which is that this helps unions. I mean, it undermines unions’ ability to stay vibrant, right?

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely!

SNYDER: It really leaves it up to the union to decide and innovate as to what their value proposition is….

BERNSTEIN: Come on!

Watch it:

Indeed, economic studies of right-to-work states show that workers tend to receive lower wages and smaller benefits than those in states with stronger unions.

What You Need To Know About The Michigan GOP’s ‘Right-To-Work’ Assault On Workers

Apparently there were no lessons learned from the past general election by over-reaching Republican legislators.

Think Progress

On Thursday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) backtracked on his commitment to avoid so-called “right-to-work” legislation and by the end of the day, both the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan state Senate had introduced and passed separate bills aimed at the state’s union workforce.

Michigan Republicans claim the state needs the measure to stay competitive with Indiana, where lawmakers passed “right-to-work” last year. In reality, though, such laws have negative effects on workers and little effect on economic growth. Here is what you need to know about the state GOP’s campaign:

THE LEGISLATION: Both the state House and state Senate passed legislation on Thursday that prohibits private sector unions from requiring members to pay dues. The Senate followed suit and passed a different but similar measure that extends the same prohibition for public sector unions, though firefighters and police officers are exempt. The state House included a budget appropriations provision that is intended to prevent the state’s voters from being able to legally challenge the law through a ballot referendum. Due to state law, both houses are prevented from voting on legislation passed by the other for five days, so neither will be able to fully pass the legislation until Tuesday at the earliest.

THE PROCESS: Union leaders and Democrats claim that Republicans are pushing the legislation through in the lame-duck session to hide the intent of the measures from citizens, and because the legislation would face more trouble after the new House convenes in January. Michigan Republicans hold a 63-47 advantage in the state House, but Democrats narrowed the GOP majority to just eight seats in November. Six Republicans opposed the House measure; five of them won re-election in 2012 (the sixth retired). And Michigan Republicans have good reason to pursue the laws without public debate. Though the state’s voters are evenly split on whether it should become a right-to-work state, 78 percent of voters said the legislature “should focus on issues like creating jobs and improving education, and not changing state laws or rules that would impact unions or make further changes in collective bargaining.”

THE CONSEQUENCES: While Snyder and Republicans pitched “right-to-work” as a pro-worker move aimed at improving the economy, studies show such legislation can cost workers money. The Economic Policy Institute found that right-to-work laws cost all workers, union and otherwise, $1,500 a year in wages and that they make it harder for workers to obtain pensions and health coverage. “If benefits coverage in non-right-to-work states were lowered to the levels of states with these laws, 2 million fewer workers would receive health insurance and 3.8 million fewer workers would receive pensions nationwide,” David Madland and Karla Walter from the Center for American Progress wrote earlier this year. The decreases in union membership that result from right-to-work laws have a significant impact on the middle class and research “shows that there is no relationship between right-to-work laws and state unemployment rates, state per capita income, or state job growth,” EPI wrote in a recent report about Michigan. “Right-to-work” laws also decrease worker safety and can hurt small businesses.

Union leaders are, of course, aghast at Snyder and the GOP’s right-to-work push. “In a state that gave birth to the modern U.S. labor movement, it is unconscionable that Michigan legislators would seek to drive down living standards for Michigan workers and families with a law that will do nothing to improve either the state’s economic climate or the quality of life for Michigan residents,” RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of National Nurses United, said in a statement.

This is how elections are bought…Putting the Mega in Mega-Donor

I’m a day late on this one, but it’s seriously worth posting, anyway.

The Progress Report

August 27, 2012

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is by far the GOP’s biggest donor. He has already plowed more than $35 MILLION into the presidential race and says he’ll spend a “limitless” amount to defeat President Obama, perhaps more than $100 MILLION.

Adelson also has his eye on the House of Representatives. He is almost single-handedly bankrolling a Super PAC associated with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), having given the group $5 MILLION. And just last week, Adelson is reported to have contributed $500,000 to a Super PAC backing a single House candidate. That’s right, half a million dollars to influence a single House race.

While these numbers are huge — and pose a huge threat to our democracy — they are actually small potatoes for right-wing billionaires like Adelson.

This handy infographic puts it all into perspective.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

The GOP’s new women’s outreach strategy: free hair and make-up touch ups.

Pennsylvania GOP senate candidate: getting pregnant from rape is “similar” to having a baby out of wedlock.

Texas GOP senate candidate: Hurricane Isaac is a “blessing” that we should be “thankful” for.

Better know an anti-LGBT senate candidate: Scott Brown (R-MA).

Mitt Romney kicked the overt race-baiting of his campaign up a few notches.

Chris Matthews goes after the RNC Chairman for the GOP’s race-baiting on the campaign trail.

Men defining rape, a history.

GOP platform chair: rape is just a “detail” in the abortion debate.

Republicans held disaster relief funding hostage several times last year.

 

GOP House Rep To Megyn Kelly: We Could Have Eric Holder Arrested

Mediaite

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) appeared on Fox News Channel’s America Live with Megyn Kelly on Friday where he discussed the ongoing House Republican efforts to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder’s involvement into the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal. There he revealed that the House GOP could move to have Holder arrested following a House vote on Thursday that found him in contempt of Congress.

Chaffetz began the interview noting that he had received information that suggests a Washington D.C. attorney has been instructed to not pursue the charges of contempt against Holder that the House of Representatives approved on Thursday.

“The statute does say that you shall do this,” said Chaffetz. “The precedent is that it hasn’t been one in the past. Again, we’ve got to get past this so-called precedent and do what the law says.”

Kelly says that she is aware of another option – that the Sargent at Arms of the House can be instructed to arrest Holder. “Are you going to do that,” asked Kelly.

“That would be fairly dramatic, but yes,” said Chaffetz. “Three options: going through the U.S. attorney, going into civil court or have the Sargent at Arms take control of the situation — which I think some people are going to say we ought to do — but we’re going to exhaust the other ones first.”

“Really,” replied Kelly.

“I find it hard and dramatic to do, but we want to get to the bottom of this,” said Chaffetz. “We’re serious about this.”

GOP Votes for Contempt as “Fast and Furious” Blows Up in Its Face

How are tons of US guns getting to Mexico? Ask conservatives Flickr/Brian.ch

I really don’t like the GOP leadership in The House…

Mother Jones

The “Fast and Furious” imbroglio may have just gone sideways on House Republicans. Just prior to them leading a House vote for contempt against Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, a far-reaching investigation published by Fortune magazine poked major holes in the conservative storyline about the alleged gun operation. Claims that law enforcement engaged in a deadly plot to let Mexican outlaws smuggle US guns, the magazine reports, are based on allegations by a lone whistleblower who may in fact be the only person who did any illegal gun-smuggling. The real cause of violence and crime south of the border, it reports, is lax gun laws in Arizona and elsewhere pushed by Republicans and their friends at the National Rifle Association.

To review the allegations in brief: Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) supposedly recruited local sellers in Arizona to hawk guns to known smugglers, then monitored the flow of those guns to criminal gangs in Mexico in the hopes of catching “big fish,” in a tactic known as “gunwalking” (as opposed to “gun-running”). Two of these ATF-monitored assault weapons ended up at the crime scene where Brian Terry, a US Border Patrol agent, was shot and killed in December 2010. An ATF agent with a crisis of conscience blew the whistle on the operation, dubbed Fast and Furious, and Republicans in Congress began asking questions.

Now, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House government oversight committee, suspects the White House of involvement in the affair, and has demanded the administration turn over scores of internal communications. The White House has acknowledged that mistakes were made and turned over more than 7,600 pages of documents related to the case. But Issa demanded another 100,000 pages of internal administration communications, and President Obama invoked executive privilege to keep the documents confidential. Issa responded by pursuing the contempt-of-Congress vote against Holder—the first ever against a sitting attorney general—on the notion that DOJ screwed up on Holder’s watch.

According to Fortune, though, almost everything about the story that Republicans have been flogging is wrong. And the magazine makes the case that the GOP’s allegations against Holder and the Obama administration aren’t just inaccurate—rather, they distract from the possibility that GOP’s politics are actually to blame for the deluge of three-quarters of a million American guns per year into Mexico. “Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal,” the report states.

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