Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, more commonly known as “Joe The Plumber” for his role in the 2008 presidential campaign, won the endorsement of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) in his bid for Congress in Ohio.
In a campaign video posted Thursday by Wurzelbacher, West says, “One of the great things about Joe is that he represents the genuineness of the American people. Someone who has served in the military, and now is trying to answer the call to serve at a greater level.”
He adds, “I look forward to Joe being a colleague of mine in Washington, D.C.”
Wurzelbacher is running in a heavily Democratic district against longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who beat Rep. Dennis Kucinich after the two were forced to run against each other because of GOP-led redistricting.
West recently alleged that members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — which Kaptur is a member of — were communists.
“I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus,” he said at a recent town hall event.
I suggest you don’t eat for at least an hour after you view the following video. <Barf>
It turns out calling Democratic lawmakers “Communists” has some consequences.
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was supposed to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for his district chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) this past Saturday. But days before the event, the group canceled the gathering and asked West not to come back when they rescheduled. Why?
“There’s a certain statement he made about Communists,” Jerry Gore, president of the Martin County NAACP, told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. “That statement alone … we do not represent that type of atmosphere.”
The NAACP chapter is rescheduling its banquet for Sept. 15, with a new keynote speaker. Gore told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers that a spokesman for West said he “understood” why the organization didn’t want West to speak anymore.
West landed in hot water earlier this month after telling constituents at a town hall meeting that some 80 House Democrats “are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” His remarks sparked outrage among Democrats — Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said “not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid” — but West later said he had no regrets about the ordeal.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on Wednesday tore into Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) for saying that members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are communists.
“Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid and dissociated from reality,” Frank said in a call with The Huffington Post. “It’s an indication of the significant deterioration of the Republican Party as a responsible entity that an ignorant, mean guy like Allen West is considered one of their stars.”
The Massachusetts Democrat, who is retiring this year after 16 terms in Congress, said he is proud of his record over the years in cooperating with even the most conservative of Republicans. But West’s remarks — he told constituents on Tuesday that as many as 80 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are members of the Communist Party — show that the current flank of House Republicans leaves little room for bipartisanship, Frank said.
“I ask people, when you hear something so breathtakingly dumb and vicious as that, how do people expect us to be able to work out some compromise with him?” Frank said. Asked why he felt West’s comments were “vicious,” Frank said it is because communism has historically been a doctrine of repressing people’s rights.
“It is exactly the opposite of those of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus who are in support of freedom, in support of democracy, in support of people’s basic rights and civil liberties,” he said. “Communism is really a reference to some of the worst human rights abuses of our time … It is meant to delegitimize people and allow no basis for debate. It’s a very nasty label.”
He added, “I very much object to being associated with Stalin or Khrushchev.”
Frank contacted The Huffington Post while in Hawaii, where he said he was campaigning for Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and meeting with Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), a former House colleague. Frank said his partner, James Ready, was also with him and getting in some surfing, an activity Frank said he preferred to “just watch.”
This just goes to show that there is no such thing as a boring town hall when Republican Congressman Allen West is speaking. At a town hall in Jensen Beach Tuesday covered by TCPalm, a man asked West this question (this is the best we could make out in the video) “what percentage of the American Legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists (something garbled) Socialists?”
West’s reply: “That’s a good question. I believe its about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party are members of the Communist Party.”
PolitiFact asked West’s spkeswoman Angela Melvin for an explanation today: “The Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies. The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself. These individuals certainly aren’t proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom.”
We read that response to Jennifer Gore, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep.Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota who co-chairs the caucus. Here’s a snapshot of what she said: “all of that is false.”
We also contacted the Communist Party USA. Vice president Libero Della Piana said that none of the less than 5,000 members are members of Congress.
“Trust me — if a member of Congress applied to join the Communist Party we would know about it. It would set up some red flags — pardon the pun.”
PolitiFact will be fact-checking West’s claim about how many — if any — Democrats in Congress are Communists.
This morning, the House debated the budget proposal put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a response to the budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). During the debate, CPC member Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) asked Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) when the Ryan budget would balance and create a surplus. After hemming and hawing for a few seconds, Rokita ultimately couldn’t come up with an answer:
ELLISON: When does the Ryan budget create a surplus?
ROKITA: The budget proposed and voted on by the committee — […]
ROKITA: With responsible, gradual reforms to the drivers of our debt, like Medicare and Social Security, this budget will balance –
ELLISON: I asked the gentlemen when the Ryan budget created a surplus. He could have given me a year. He didn’t. That’s because he’s probably embarrassed about when that is. Let me tell you when the Progressive Caucus comes to surplus: 2021. That is known as a responsible budget.
The answer to the question is that the “courageous” and “innovative” Ryan budget would create a surplus for the first time in 2040, according to the Congressional Budget Office. An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, meanwhile, determined that the CPC budget would indeed turn a $30.7 billion surplus in 2021, nearly two full decades ahead of Ryan’s “bold” plan.
Republicans campaigned on a promise to create jobs. Now they are turning their back on the middle class with measures that destroy jobs for America’s heroes, while giving more handouts to special interests.
One of the mantras of congressional Republicans over the past two years has been to ask, “Where are the jobs?” House GOP leader John Boehner (OH) made this into a theme of the campaign last fall. As then-GOP chairman Michael Steele summarized the argument: “Americans are still asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ … Washington Democrats still have no answers.”
This afternoon, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and other progressives took to the floor of the House of Representatives to turn this question back on their Republican colleagues. Ellison and the others asked where all the jobs-creation legislation was, excoriating their conservative colleagues for focusing on legislation like terminating the HAMP program, which would do nothing to create jobs:
– Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN): “The Republicans’ no-jobs agenda has been exposed, Mr. Chair. The majority has done nothing to create jobs or protect homes. All they do is criticize programs that could use some improvement. Rather, they would get rid of them altogether.”
– Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): “[The Republicans] have no plans of their own to address the foreclosure crisis that is hurting neighborhoods and disrupting lives throughout their country. Like the jobs bills they said they would have. We have yet to see them.”
– Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX): “Your cities have been impacted positively by the HAMP program. Job growth is picking up. Investing and growing jobs should be the mindset of the American Congress for that’s what we were sent back to Washington to do.”
At one point, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) took to the floor to respond to the progressives. She attacked the HAMP program, urging her colleagues to end it, and signaled that she would oppose progressive amendments to the GOP’s bill for ending the mortgage modification program. Then, she incredulously told her colleagues to stop talking about jobs and focus rather on the substance of the amendments:
BIGGERT: I would urge my colleagues to support — oppose this amendment. And stop talking about jobs, let’s focus on the substance of these amendments.
One would have to wonder what a certain congresswoman who asked at a hearing — on February 25, 2010 — “Where are the jobs?” would think about Biggert’s statement. That congresswoman was Biggert herself. Watch it: