CNBC’s Becky Quick asked Walker on Thursday morning to respond to a report that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) dissed the President at a private dinner, which the governor also attended.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said, as quoted by Politico. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
“The mayor can speak for himself,” Walker said on “Squawk Box.” “I’m not going to comment on what the President thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well.”
“I’ll tell you, I love America,” he continued. “There are plenty of people, Democrat, Republican, independent, and in between who love this country. I think we should talk about ways we love this country and that we feel passionately about America.”
Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin wasn’t going to let Walker evade the question.
“But did you agree with those comments? Were you offended? What was your reaction when you heard them?” he pressed.
“I’m in New York. I’m used to people saying things that are aggressive out there,” the governor responded.
Co-host Joe Kernen then turned back to Sorkin, sparing Walker the pressure of the hot seat. Kernen asked Sorkin whether he thought America was exceptional, then chided him for answering that he’d “like to think America is exceptional” instead of simply stating “yes I think America is exceptional.”
“That might be one of the reasons certain people might think — you know, that may play into that perception,” Kernen said before throwing his hands up. “I’m not going to touch this hot potato either.”
Best of The Week
That Scott Walker speech was great? It was shallow, tedious, and wrong. In other words, it struck the perfect chord for today’s GOP voters.
I’ve just been reading through their “books.” Yes, I know. You’re welcome. They’re ridiculous. I can’t say this with 100 percent certainty, but I may not have seen the word “wages” once. I certainly didn’t see a discussion of wage stagnation anywhere. That’s just one of a hundred examples I could cite.
It’s not so much that they come up short in terms of personal resumes. God knows, the current incumbent had a short one. Being a sitting or former governor, or a sitting senator—those are qualification enough. And I don’t doubt that they’re intelligent people.
But the problem in the first instance isn’t them. Let me put it this way. The greatest cardiologist in the world could move to town. But if everybody wants to eat chili-cheese fries all day and nobody wants to have bypass surgery, there’s still going to be a lot of heart disease.
You follow me? There could be a man in this presidential field who is the political equivalent of that cardiologist—Lincoln and TR and Reagan all rolled into one, with a little bit of Thatcher on the side and what the hell, a tiny dash of Clinton, just for crossover appeal. And it wouldn’t matter. He wouldn’t be able to demonstrate the breadth of his vision, because that isn’t what the GOP base of today wants.
I finally sat myself down and watched that Scott Walker speech from last week that everyone is raving about. If this was the standout speech, I sure made the right decision in not subjecting myself to the rest of them. It was little more than a series of red-meat appetizers and entrees: Wisconsin defunded Planned Parenthood, said no to Obamacare, passed some kind of law against “frivolous” lawsuits, and moved to crack down on voter “fraud””—all of that besides, of course, his big move, busting the public-employee unions. There wasn’t a single concrete idea about addressing any of the major problems the country faces.
Walker’s blandishments toward the base were bland enough to get under the skin even of James Pethokoukis, the conservative economics writer who laid into the Wisconsin Governor for one particular bit of surreality:
Opportunity is equal? The data, unfortunately, do not seem to support Walker’s optimistic claim. First, there are other countries, such as Sweden and Canada, where the chances of escaping the bottom are just as good as in the United States. Second, American mobility rates have been stagnant over the past 40 years. Third, mobility rates vary greatly by race with 74 percent of white sons making it out of the bottom fifth versus 49 percent of African-American sons. Fourth, even the smartest kids have only a 1-in-4 chance of making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth.
That’s a conservative writer, remember. And he’s right, obviously. But try to imagine Walker or any GOP candidate acknowledging these complications. That opportunity is not equal in America! That Sweden and Canada are our equals! That it’s harder on black people! That candidate would be hooted out of Republican Party faster than you can say Charles Murray.
Walker, I see, has surged in a new Iowa poll, while the only one who at least looks like president, John Ellis Bush, has taken a tumble and is viewed more negatively by potential caucus-goers than he once was (46 favorable, 43 unfavorable). We can’t say for sure why Bush has fallen, but it seems clear that Walker has gained on the strength, so to speak, of his empty-calorie bromides.
He’s gained because those items— kicking Planned Parenthood, denying your own citizens subsidized health-care coverage, pretending that voter fraud is a thing—are what pass for ideas in today’s GOP. Walker is even more vacuous on foreign policy, as Martha Raddatz revealed yesterday, twisting him around like a pretzel with a couple of mildly tough questions on Syria. The Democratic Party has its problems, but at least Democrats are talking about middle-class wage stagnation, which is the country’s core economic quandary. Rick Santorum is, in fairness, but a) his solutions are the same ones conservatives have been advertising for years (lower taxes, less regulation, more two-parent families) and b) he’s not going anywhere in the polls so far, undoubtedly precisely because he’s trying to drop the homosexuality-is-bestiality shtick and talk about actual economic problems.
But you can’t really discuss economic problems as a Republican presidential candidate, because in the pond of voters where you’ll be fishing, “America” has no such problems. Some people—roughly 47 percent of them—have economic problems, but that’s all their fault, you see. So these candidates are about to spend a year pandering to that. That will make them weak in more ways than one.
The New York Times calls it $900 million. The Washington Post“nearly $1 billion.” CNN simply calls it “staggering.” Ben Ray, spokesperson for Democratic-aligned American Bridge put it best, telling USAToday: “What an obscene amount of money.”
The actual amount announced Monday at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton is $889 million, and that is what the Koch brothers’ political network (17 Koch-funded organizations) plans to spend buying the 2016 elections for corporate America and the 1 percent.
It is, as CNN informs us, “[M]ore money than any private network has ever spent on an election cycle.” It is also as much as either the Republicans or Democrats spend: Compare this to the $675 million spent by the Republican Party in 2012. And the Kochs can spend the money however they want, unlike the RNC.
How much money is that? With a budget of $20 per person you could feed nearly 50 million people better meals than most of them have ever had for one day.
If you go by the approximately $3 the USDA reimburses schoolsfor free student lunches, that $889 million would feed 296 million children. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service said 21 million kids received free or reduced-price lunches in 2013. You do the math.
Oxfam has already announced to the world that the “Richest 1 percent will own more than the rest by 2016.” Apparently, that isn’t enough for the Kochs. They’ve got to have their own country, too.
The massive financial goal was revealed to donors during an annual winter meeting here hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were all on hand at the Koch’s retreat for seminars and strategy sessions, greedily rubbing their fingers in anticipation. Not coincidentally, Newsmax tells us that,
Most of the 450 who attended the weekend event weren’t interested in another Mitt Romney run. They leaned more toward Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
What we can take from Charles Koch’s welcome speechSaturday, is that the Big Lie is alive and well in the Koch family: “Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” he said. Of course, collectivism is not a threat and the Kochs are huge corporate welfare queens, more than happy to take our tax dollars from the federal government they excoriate.
Like his bought men, Walker, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz, Charles Koch is simply inventing threats out of whole cloth, and reassured guests and employees both,
But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it! In fact, the work never really ends. Because the struggle for freedom never ends.
He claimed that,
Much of our efforts to date have been largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive – causing our culture to deteriorate. Making this vision a reality will require more than a financial commitment. It requires making it a central part of their lives.
So the Kochs are presenting themselves as defenders of American culture now. This, from a man so far removed from American culture he cannot begin to imagine an average American’s life. Yet he claims to be defending our culture. This is the point of Koch’s speech at which the Greek gods would begin casting lightning bolts, for hubris was always mankind’s greatest sin.
Just keep in mind, that freedom he is talking about is serfdom for you and me.
The impact of this amount of money cannot be ignored. As Ben Ray of American Bridge put it, “If they are spending more than the RNC, I know exactly who the (Republican) presidential candidates will listen to.”
And even Grover Norquist told The Washington Post that, “It’s not like a Chicago political boss where Charles would say, ‘We’re all for this guy.’ But if he said, ‘I really like this guy’ and did an op-ed, it would matter.”
Which means Mother Jones is not engaging in mere hyperbole when they say, “It’s official: The Kochs and their rich friends are the new third party.”
Democrats, who have neither a plethora of corporations nor a bevy of 1 percenters to fund their campaigns, will have to work a lot harder to find that kind of cash. Of course, Democrat money will reflect the views of actual Americans rather than the insatiable appetites of the 1 percent.
According to the Post, “The $889 million goal reflects the budget goals of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new technology and policy work, among other projects.”
The one thing a billion dollars can’t buy are a viable platform or likeable candidates. It remains to be seen whether it is enough to convince blacks, Latinos, women and others that the Republican Party actually cares about them.
But make no mistake: this represents a full-scale assault on American democracy. Ted Cruz was quoted as saying Sunday night that, “There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking points that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world.” He said that thinking is “grotesque and offensive.”
While you have to respect Cruz’s loyalty to his owners, he is wrong. What is grotesque and offensive is what he and his fellow employees of Koch Industries have been up to at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton: plotting the murder of American democracy.
Defending his fellow Republican governors’ decision to block Medicaid expansion in their states, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday suggested that denying health coverage to additional low-income Americans helps more people “live the American Dream” because they won’t be “dependent on the American government.”
Walker has recently leveled some criticism at other GOP leaders for accepting Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, saying they shouldn’t necessarily trust the government to come through with the federal funds to cover the policy. During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Walker was asked whether his position stemmed from an “ideological criticism,” and if he believes the handful of Republican governors implementing this provision of the health law are not “genuine conservatives.”
The governor didn’t explicitly answer that question, pointing out that every state has different needs. But he did offer a broader criticism of the public health program.
“Beyond that, I just ask the basic question: Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” he said. “I’d rather find a way, particularly for able-bodied adults without children, I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce. I think ideologically, that’s a better approach, not just as a conservative, but as an American. Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.”
In reality, however, the majority of people who stand to benefit from the Medicaid expansion are already in the workforce. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been closely tracking the policy effect of states’ decisions on this Obamacare provision, most of the people in this coverage gap are part of a demographic group known as the “working poor.” Two thirds of them are part of a family where someone is working, and more than half of them are working themselves — often in sectors like the agricultural and service industries, which have a history of failing to provide insurance benefits to their workers.
Last fall, the New York Times analyzed the data about the coverage gap and confirmed that the Americans being denied Medicaid are cashiers, cooks, nurses’ aides, waiters and waitresses, and janitors. Most of them are people of color, and many are single mothers. They don’t fit the conservative trope of the lazy individual who is overly dependent on the government programs — and, as the New York Times reported at the time, they are actually “the very kinds of people that the [Medicaid] program was intended to help.”
Nonetheless, 20 states have refused to move forward with the expansion. According to Kaiser’s latest estimates, about four million low-income people across the country currently fall into the coverage gap. If every state accepted the Medicaid expansion, the national uninsurance rate would be two percentage points lower.
Although Walker has maintained his resistance to Obamacare’s traditional Medicaid expansion, there isn’t a coverage gap in his state. Even before the passage of the health reform law, Wisconsin had a generous Medicaid program that allowed people with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line to qualify. But the threshold varies for each state, and low-income people living in other places aren’t so lucky. In Louisiana and Texas, for instance, a family of three with an annual income over $5,000 makes too much money to receive any Medicaid assistance.
Wendy Davis with help from groups that support her is leading the way in the people’s fight against vote suppression.
While Greg Abbott dedicates his efforts to disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in Texas, Wendy Davis is encouraging voters to exercise their franchise and Davis’ efforts are paying off.
Monday was the first day of early voting in Texas and according to figures released by the Secretary of State, voter turnout in the six largest counties were higher than the first day of early voting in 2010.
This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication by groups who support Wendy Davis. Led by Battleground Texas voter registration groups rolled up their sleeves and got to work registering millions of voters, many of whom are minorities. While Greg Abbott decided it better served his interests to disenfranchise these voters, Texans with the help of voter registration groups had a different idea.
So far, there have been no reports of problems at the polls.
No doubt, supporters of vote suppression laws will argue this proves that the laws in question do not and never were intended to suppress the vote. The fact is, people will be disenfranchised be it under the strictest voter ID law in the United States for reasons I and others have stated on numerous occasions. While some states may offer “free voter ID” the costs involved in getting the documents needed to get that “free ID” still amount to an unaffordable poll tax. Often Republicans will say the ID is “free” for people who can’t afford it, but fail to mention the costs that go with getting the ID needed to get the “free voter ID.” Aside from the costs of those documents, it means taking time off work. That means aside from the costs, voters are hit with the additional financial penalty of losing income.
The fact is, Republicans know it and some, are saying it. Chris Christie said categorically that Republicans have to win gubernatorial elections so that they can control “voting mechanisms.”
Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?
Rick Scott, Scott Walker and John Kasich have all been before the courts defending “laws” that amount to perpetrating a fraud on the public under the pretense that they care about stopping election fraud.
Republicans like to muddy the waters by suggesting that being a Republic and having honest, fair and open elections are mutually exclusive. The truth is that Republicans they are willing to throw free and fair elections under the bus because they can’t win by honest means.
It’s up to us to send Republicans a loud and clear message that rigging elections has consequences. Stealing people’s votes will not be tolerated.
The groups led by Battleground Texas are showing us how it’s done.
Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this similar to KKK tactics of the 50’s?
A militia group in Wisconsin is planning to target African-American Democrats at polling places in order to suppress the vote and keep Republican governor Scott Walker in office.
Here is a Twitter exchange where the group details their plan:
A visit to the group’s Facebook page features makes it clear exactly who they are targeting. All of the pictures on the page feature African-Americans. The group is trying to get African-Americans who may have outstanding warrants arrested in order to keep them from voting. The group wants people to report those they suspect of having warrants out on them to the police on election day, “Do the community a favor and keep an eye out for people wanted on warrants and report them to the police on election day.”
The “poll watchers” also plan on harassing and following people who they suspect of being wanted on warrants to their homes. The plan seems to be to use the police to intimidate African-Americans into not voting in November’s election.
The group admits that they are targeting Democrats. They aren’t exactly subtle in making it clear that they are targeting African-American voters. The scheme is an attempt to intimidate African-American voters while getting around the Voting Rights Act. The point of this campaign isn’t to get felons off the streets. The “poll watchers” are trying to keep African-Americans away from the polls.
The fact that they are targeting a specific group of individuals based on race and perceived political affiliation means that their operation is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. According to the Justice Department, “The administration of elections is chiefly a function of state government. However, federal authorities may become involved where there are possible violations of federal law. In cases where intimidation, coercion, or threats are made or attempts to intimidate, threaten or coerce are made to any person for voting or attempting to vote, the Department of Justice can consider whether there is federal jurisdiction to bring civil claims or criminal charges under federal law. Depending on the nature of the allegations, they may fall into the jurisdiction of different parts of the Department. If you have information about allegations of intimidation, please contact us.”
Wisconsin Republicans are desperate to keep Scott Walker in office, Currently, Gov. Walker is tied with Democrat Mary Burke in the polls. A voter intimidation effort that could prevent African-Americans from voting might be enough to get Walker reelected. The right-wing Wisconsin poll watching group is planning on engaging in illegal activity. The group is just getting started, which is why it is a perfect time to send the message that these tactics will not be tolerated.
You can contact the Justice Department here, and request that the election be monitored.
The right to vote must be protected, and those who attempt to intimidate voters need to be held accountable.
When Gogebic Taconite LLC began moving in November 2010—the same month Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin—to develop an open-pit iron mine in one of the most environmentally sensitive regions of northern Wisconsin, the Florida-based mining firm got a lot of pushback. Residents of the region objected, along with Native American tribes. So, too, did citizens from across Wisconsin, a state that has long treasured the wild beauty of the Penokee Range. Environmental and conservation groups voiced their concerns, as did local and state officials from across the political spectrum.
The outcry heightened as Gogebic Taconite and its allies promoted a radical rewrite of existing mining regulations in order to promote a project that could grow to be four miles long, more than a mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. Democratic and Republican legislators began to ask tough questions. Yet Governor Scott Walker remained “eager to advance a mining bill,” according to Wisconsin media that reported extensively on the governor’s determination to overrule objections to the grand schemes of an out-of-state corporation that newly released documents show secretly steered $700,000 to “independent” efforts to provide political cover for the embattled governor.
The documents, released as part of legal wrangling over a “John Doe” investigation into alleged fund-raising abuses during the recall elections of 2011 and 2012, have revealed both big contributions and the big concerns of a key investigator about “an appearance of corruption.”
Walker, of course, denies any wrongdoing, as does Gogebic and the group that managed the money.
Yet there is no question that the governor provided substantial support for the mining company. During a long, high-profile battle, he dismissed and denied a broad array of objections to Gogebic’s plans.
The Nature Conservancy argued that the proposed changes to Wisconsin mining regulations would “pose serious risks to the rivers, lakes, wetlands, groundwater and other natural resources.”
The Sierra Club announced that “the largest ever mine proposed in Wisconsin presents unacceptable risks to Lake Superior and the sensitive and exceptional Bad River Watershed which includes…the largest freshwater estuary on Lake Superior.”
“It’s devastating,” said Annie Maday, a member of the tribal council of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, which argued that the mine could destroy wild rice beds and pollute waters on its nearby reservation. “They’re going to destroy my home.”
When the state Senate took up the bill, it was opposed by Bob Jauch, the Poplar Democrat who represents northwest Wisconsin. “Our job is not to be Santa Claus to the mining company and Scrooge to the taxpayers,” Jauch said. “This is a bill that offers a sweetheart deal for the mining company and shortchanges the taxpayer.”
State Senator Dale Schultz, a Republican who broke with his party to oppose the mining legislation at several key points, said, “My conscience simply won’t allow me to surrender the existing environmental protections without a full and open debate.”
When the controversial rule changes were approved by the legislature in 2013, Walkerannounced that he was “thrilled” to sign the bill.
What went unmentioned at the time was the extent to which Gogebic Taconite was “thrilled” with Walker.
The documents that were briefly unsealed last week by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit—which is weighing whether to permit the continuation of the “John Doe” probe into alleged illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and so-called “independent” groups that supported the governor—shined light on the shadowy political networks that developed to aid Walker. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that the “hundreds of pages of documents that… showed Walker’s team sought to solicit funds for the Wisconsin Club for Growth from an array of nationally known donors to fend off his 2012 recall. Real estate developer Donald Trump, industrialist billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson were all targets.”
The documents reinforce the image of the governor, who is seeking re-election this fall and preparing a 2016 Republican presidential run, as a master political operative who worked every angle to secure record amounts of money for his own campaign and for “independent” groups that were supportive of it. In one of the unsealed documents, a fund-raising aide consulting with Walker before he met with wealthy donors advised: “Let them know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported.”
The documents reveal details of a number of huge and previously unreported donations. Yet the one that raised the most eyebrows had to do with the mine project.
As the recall fights heated up, Gogebic Taconite moved $700,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which in turn steered resources to other groups that cheered on Walker and his Republican allies.
“Because Wisconsin Club for Growth’s fundraising and expenditures were being coordinated with Scott Walker’s agents at the time of Gogebic’s donation, there is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited,” argued Dean Nickel, the former head of the state Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Unit who investigated the fund-raising scheme for the state Government Accountability Board.
Walker has admitted that he helped steer money to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, but when asked whether he knew of the Gogebic money, he answered vaguely, “Not to my knowledge.” Pressed by reporters on whether “the previously undisclosed funds and subsequent legislation were part of some pay-to-play scheme,” the governor replied, “That’s a ridiculous argument.”
The governor has every right to make that claim, as do his most ardent apologists.
But in Wisconsin, a state that historically took great pride in its clean elections and high ethical standards, voters have a right to ask, based on records and revelations, whether it really is all that ridiculous to find in them “an appearance of corruption.”