Stuff to Read

Timothy Egan has a profile of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who gave the English-language official Republican SOTU response. It turns out she represents a very poor district that is way above the national average in poverty and unemployment.

Given that picture, it would seem surprising that McMorris Rodgers voted to drastically cut food aid last year, and joined her party in resisting emergency benefits to the unemployed. She has been a leading strategist in the unrelenting Republican attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act.

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.

Also in the New York Times, David Firestone compares what Republicans say against what Republicans mean.

Joan Walsh looks at this New York Times story about last year’s gubernatorial race in New Jersey. You might remember that the Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono, accused her fellow Dems of making deals with Christie to not support her. The Times is saying that exactly what happened, and that Christie’s team was pulling every trick in the book to run up Christie’s margin of victory to make him the front runner for 2016.

17 thoughts on “Stuff to Read

  1. Let’s hope that the Democratic Party in that state can find a credible candidate to run against Rep. McMorris Rodgers in this years election!

    S/he can start of pointing out her votes on PPACA and SNAP – and especially put in the campaign ads her post-SOTU response, where she continued to vilify PPACA.

    “Cathy McMorris Rodgers has already screwed you and your family out the food you get from SNAP. Now, she wants to go after the health care you just got!”

    Whatever happened to “The 50 State Strategy?”

  2. The LAT ran an article on Rodgers’ response, Another Bogus Obamacare Story: The GOP’s “Bette”. One of the comments was by someone from Rodgers’ district:

    I live in her Congressional district. This is not the first time she has played loose with the facts.

    I think she was the GOP’s face trying to gin up some support for women. Women should not be fooled. She has one of the most anti-woman voting records in Congress. She voted against Family Leave (while using it after the recent birth of her third child), voted against the Childrens Health Insurance Plan three times, voted against the stimulus but tried to take credit for the jobs it provided, voted against a raise in the Federal minimum wage even though the Washington State minimum wage is substantially higher than the Feds, and voted to shut down the government.

    She also failed to mention in her long bio, of the time she lived in Canada as a youth. Do you suppose she might have used some of that socialized Canadian health care?

  3. CUND GULAG – “Let’s hope that the Democratic Party in that state can find a credible candidate to run against…”

    You fill in the blank name. Democrats have a system for nominating candidates to Congress – political patronage. The Democrat party machine is having a fit because Sandra Fluke is considering a run for Congress and (though the article did not say it in these words) it’s not her turn. I’ve been building a database in the members of Congress for a project. Only a relative handful of the members of Congress are younger than I am – and I’m 60. Of the youngsters, many, if not most, are Tea Party – who cut in line beating the establishment candidate in the primary.

    The 2-party system concentrates power in the parties by allowing them too much authority in who gets to run (with money) awarding the nomination to Congress to reliable hacks who have been in the machine for decades and can be relied on to never operate outside the lines drawn by the party. The democrats won’t select a contender who can challenge Rogers – they will take whoever is next in line, no mater how unexciting and bereft of charisma and ideas.

  4. “the finishing touches on Christie’s presidential aspirations”

    Oh Swami, this is chickenfeed corruption for GOP. The Bush crime family has wasted ten something trillion dollars, US soldiers we all know the story yet Jeb is gonna run. Think about it, Donald Trump is going to run? This no big deal, nothing Mikey Chertoff can’t handle!

  5. uncledad – I agree with Swami. In the last presidential runoff there were – at different times – half a dozen different GOP frontrunners. None of them came back after they crashed. (They tried.) There’s a mentality among GOP voters – they want to deify their leader(s) and can’t forgive them if they have feet of clay.

    I like Obama – I don’t worship the man. I objectively disagree with many of his decisions, but I like others and I’m sure he’s better than the options we’ve had. I don’t think the GOP can be that objective – they want a hero and Christie is badly tarnished if he is indeed caught lying bald faced about a fiasco that indiscriminately crippled transit for regular folks.. If he’s caught, he’s toast.

  6. “None of them came back after they crashed”

    Right but the campaign has not started. Christy has worded his responses carefully, he has enough money around him to buy favors and favorable media. Of all the impossible clowns in the GOP, the money will be on the Fat Man until it’s over, I mean really over like caught with a dead fish over, it aint over yet. As much as the republicants want to sound all libertarian and radical the real money is behind the gov that can deliver the goods. I still say that is Christy. Who else do they have Huckabuck?

  7. c u n d gulag:
    So where is the problem? She is taking away their health care, food stamps, and unemployment, but she is letting them keep their guns. That is good enough for them, no?

  8. Actually, I read the letter from Wildstein’s lawyer and realized it was just a shakedown attempt for legal fees. Saying that Wildstein was “acting on orders from Christie’s administration” would hold true to information that is already known. Namely his deputy chief of staff, whatever her name is.
    He didn’t furnish any big revelations, but he strongly implied that Wildstein was ready to roll over if Christie threw him to the wolves without compensation. Lawyers don’t come cheap.. I hear that Zimmerman is into his Lawyer for over a million bucks. He’s gonna have to sell a lot of artwork to pay that bill down.

  9. “I hear that Zimmerman is into his Lawyer for over a million bucks”

    Yes but there is always Tonya Harding! If I was a cop I would keep Zimmer as far away from the money as possible. He might take up boxing?

  10. From Digby’s site – a true American speaks:
    Even the top 1% is disgusted by Tom Perkins.
    By digby

    This is a guest post by investor and technology consultant, John Forbes:

    The recent WSJ letter to the editor “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?”, written by Tom Perkins, has already drawn many comments, including those posted by Digby a few days ago. But I think a somewhat deeper examination of his letter is called for, particularly in regards to the emerging dialog regarding the direction our capitalist system is now taking, and the corrosive effect it is having on the social, political and physical infrastructure of the United States.

    First, let me say that I have a somewhat different background than the typical contributor to this blog. I have been a serial entrepreneur for over 25 years, and I’ve served as a CEO and senior executive at numerous technology companies. Kleiner Perkins was a significant investor in one of those companies, and I spent many years working with venture capital partners at the firm Mr. Perkins co-founded, as well as with many others in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street. So I have more than a passing familiarity with how our current system of capitalism works, and particular insight into how it’s rewards are typically allocated to technology executives and venture capitalists like Mr. Perkins.

    By writing his letter to the editor, Mr. Perkins has taken it upon himself to speak for the 1%. While nowhere near as financially successful as Mr. Perkins, I have been successful enough to be a member of this group. However, on the issue of economic equality in particular, I must part ways with Mr. Perkins as well as some of my other colleagues in the business community who subscribe to his simplistic, almost childlike point of view regarding the factors that are driving the emerging debate on inequality.

    Mr. Perkin’s statements are part of a trend by wealthy investors and corporate executives to try and paint the people who are advocating more sensible and equitable economic policies in this country as a bunch of ignorant villagers waving torches and pitchforks, desperate to demonize those that they see as more successful than themselves. Perkins is not the first to take this position, with Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone having made a similarly tone-deaf statement equating closing tax loopholes with the Nazi invasion of Poland. I assume in the coming days that we will see more of these breathless condemnations of those who dare to challenge the privileges that many of these people now enjoy, many of which are completely unearned and actually deeply damaging to our society.

    The simple fact is that many high net worth individuals and large corporations in this country are no longer paying their fair share of taxes, and the critical infrastructure of our country including core priorities like transportation and public education are being severely damaged by these policies. As with many issues affecting public policy, it has taken some time for the trends and underlying numbers to become clear. I would argue that we have now reached a turning point where the damage that inequality is doing (and the ongoing corruption of our legal and tax system that is enabling it) is no longer a fringe opinion; it is now substantiated by economic statistics and recognized as fact by many economists, investors and financial analysts.

    Corporations and wealthy individuals have always lobbied for their own best interests, as is their right. But not since the Age of the Robber Barons in the late 1800’s have we seen the balance of power swing so far towards business interests and the wealthy. Our legal and tax systems have now been seriously corrupted by corporate lobbying, with business interests drafting hundreds of new laws that favor high net worth individuals and corporations over the interests of the overwhelming majority of ordinary Americans.

    To illustrate this, let me get specific about some current policies that favor wealthy investors like Mr. Perkins at the expense of regular taxpayers. It is important to state that the current members of Congress, including both Democrats and Republicans, permit many of these inequitable policies to continue, and they bear shared responsibility for the damage that these policies are doing.

    The first is the absurd tax break that allows venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, and other wealthy individuals like Mr. Perkins to pretend that the salaries they receive to manage investment funds are not regular taxable income. The general public is easily misled by arcane terms like “carried interest”, but let me assure you as somebody who has worked in this industry for a quarter of a century that this loophole has no justification, and no relation to what capital gains tax rates were originally created for. It should be an embarrassment to every taxpayer and elected official in the United States that this loophole continues to exist. I should note that I am joined in this opinion by such well-known financial commentators as Jim Cramer, who is hardly an enemy of Wall Street. This tax break alone is costing the country billions of dollars every year in lost tax revenue.

    The second policy is the institutionalized tax dodging of America’s largest corporations, which has now risen to a truly pathological level. When I sold one of my recent startups to a large technology company, one of their first priorities was outlined to me in a memorable conference call with the company’s CFO. He explained to me how they were going to use the “Double Irish” structure to avoid paying taxes on any revenues generated by our technology. This involves setting up a corporation in Bermuda, which is in turn owned by a corporation in Ireland. The end result is that little or no corporate taxes are paid, even if the revenues generated are in the billions of dollars.

    It is important to understand that large US-based corporations are now using these artificial structures to pay tax rates that are so low that they are effectively destroying the corporate tax base of this country. These strategies are well known to executives and institutional investors. Understandably, they would much prefer that these facts not be brought to the attention of the American public and discussed as part of the emerging dialog about inequality.

    The end result is that tax revenues have been falling, and the burden has been shifting away from high net worth individuals and corporations and onto the regular taxpayer. While everybody loves low tax rates, it’s obvious that if you have continuously falling tax revenues they will eventually result in the underfunding of the critical infrastructure that we rely on to stay competitive in the global marketplace. In addition, many of these funding shortfalls are then shifted to ordinary taxpayers in the form of things like rising tuition costs at state colleges, which no longer receive the subsidies from tax revenues that used to make a college education affordable for middle class students. Having come from a middle class family, I am acutely aware of the key role that my college education played in my subsequent success in the technology industry, and feel it is essential that our children continue to have the same access to a quality education that we did.

    When you combine these issues with the fact that many highly profitable corporations are paying their employees wages that are so low that they have to rely on welfare and food stamps (the costs for which are then shifted to taxpayers and local municipalities), you have the makings of a perfect storm. What we are seeing now are the gathering clouds of a second financial crisis, driven by many of the same people who helped create the first one. This time, however, they are determined to be more proactive, and to try and discourage any dialog that might expose their role in creating these problems.

    The growing resentment that Mr. Perkins and many other wealthy investors in Silicon Valley and Wall Street are now feeling has its real roots not in envy or class warfare, but in the emerging realization by the majority of taxpayers that they are being forced to shoulder an unequal share of the burden that is required to preserve our countries most fundamental institutions.

    If wealthy commentators like Mr. Perkins would like to be taken seriously on these issues, they can start by advocating for the repeal of the carried interest tax break, permanently eliminating offshore tax structures like the Double Irish, and encouraging corporate CEO’s to pay a living wage that doesn’t force people into state and federal welfare programs that have to be paid for by the American taxpayer.

    We can be sure that we will see continued attempts to hide these facts from the American public, and we can anticipate that the stakeholders in the current system will mount increasingly sophisticated marketing campaigns designed to convince the American public that these unbalanced policies favoring the wealthy are key to our shared success. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth, and Americans from all economic classes need to join together and apply their best efforts to reform the regressive economic and tax policies that are currently doing so much damage to our country.

    A non-religious, “AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  11. Too bad the US doesn’t confer Knighthood on deserving individuals. I would nominate ‘Sir’ John Forbes for speaking truth to power, all the more courageously because he IS one of the 1%.

  12. I have come to realize there are two types of people; “us” and “them”, until one of “us”becomes one of “them”.

  13. erinyes… If finances are the separation criterion between us and looks like I’ll always be one of us. Poverty is now my closest friend.

  14. But on TownSquare Media’s “Ask the Governor” on Monday, Christie acknowledged for the first time that he may have been aware of the closures at the time. But he said that if he was, they did not get his attention.

    Looks like he’s trying to soften the impact. I think we can safely scratch Christie’s name off the list for the 2016 presidential contenders. Well, maybe not. Considering that Herman Cain is still held in high regard as a possible contender among the GOP for 2016 after he’s had 5 accusations of sexual harassment lodged against him, two of which were resolved by undisclosed financial settlements. The GOP doesn’t seem to have a threshold of minimal acceptability to represent their party.

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