Reference: Issues concerning past Obama Nominees
By David Nakamura and Ylan Q. Mui, Published: December 8
An agitated President Obama accused congressional Republicans on Thursday of not standing up for ordinary Americans after the Senate derailed his nominee to head a new federal consumer protection agency.
At a brief news conference, the president charged that his Republican adversaries were not acting “on the level” after they blocked, by filibuster, his appointment of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“This makes no sense,” Obama declared. “Consumers across the country understand part of the reason we got into the financial mess we did is because regulators are not doing their jobs.”
Two days after signaling that he would make economic inequality a central pillar of his reelection effort, Obama seized the opportunity Thursday to restate his argument that Republicans were not acting in the interest of middle-class Americans.
By Jerry Markon, Published: December 8
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. clashed with congressional Republicans on Thursday, defending the Justice Department in the face of criticism of its “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking sting and its refusal to turn over documents on the health-care law adopted last year.
Under exhaustive questioning from the House Judiciary Committee, Holder reiterated that his department would not provide Congress with more information about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s health-care-related role when she was President Obama’s solicitor general. Republicans are seeking internal e-mails and other documents, arguing that Kagan might have to recuse herself from the court’s decision on the health-care law if she was involved in the legislation.
Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s inexcusable for the bureau to use a controversial tactic known as “gun-walking” in its effort to identify and prosecute major arms trafficking networks along the Southwest border. (Dec.
Holder also was grilled over the Phoenix-based Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents targeting drug cartels allowed guns to flow illegally onto U.S. streets and into Mexico. The operation led to a storm of criticism from Republicans, many of whom have urged Holder to resign.
The attorney general, who has resisted calls to step down, said the controversial Fast and Furious tactic known as “gun walking,’’ was “wholly unacceptable” and “must never happen again.” But he also condemned his accusers, saying the congressional investigation of the gun sting has been political and calling for cooperation in fighting firearms trafficking along the southwest border.
“Each of us have a duty to act, and to rise above partisan divisions and politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games,’’ Holder said. “The American people deserve better.’’
Tags: Stacking the Deck
By Jon Kyl, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Jeb Hensarling, Fred Upton and Dave Camp, Published: November 25
We do not choose to add more to the blame game for failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction , but one Democratic talking point needs debunking: that the talks failed because of Republicans’ attachment to the Bush tax cuts.
The untold story of the negotiations is the significance of the Republican offer of fundamental tax reform. It is critical to understand the interplay between the proposal (dubbed the “Toomey plan”) and existing tax law.
First, a bit of history. The 2001 and 2003 changes to the tax code reduced marginal rates for all taxpayers as well as the rates for capital gains, dividends and the death tax. For technical reasons, all of these provisions expire at the end of next year — meaning that if Congress does not act, Americans will face the largest tax increase in our history.
This prospect has put a wet blanket over job creation and economic recovery. It would be the wrong medicine for our ailing economy. As President Obama has famously said, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Partially to avoid this result, but also to try to meet the Democrats partway — given their absolute insistence on big, new tax increases — Republicans offered a proposal that would have both reformed the current code and produced significant new tax revenue.
A special congressional committee created to try to curb the national debt abandoned its work and conceded failure Monday, the latest setback in a long effort by Washington to overcome ideological differences and stem the rising tide of red ink.
In a joint statement issued hours before a midnight deadline, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the panel said that they were “deeply disappointed” by their inability to reach an agreement and that they hope for progress in the months ahead.
supercommittee conceded defeat Monday in its quest to conquer a government debt that stands at a staggering $15 trillion, unable to overcome deep and enduring political divisions over taxes and spending. (Nov. 21)
“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve,” said the statement from Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.”
At least Kagen stood by his District. You lost my Vote for re-election!
SHERWOOD — U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble confirmed reports Tuesday that he recently moved out of the 8th Congressional District and returned to his family’s three-bedroom home on Lake Winnebago in Sherwood, a house he left more than a year ago to challenge incumbent Democrat Steve Kagen in last fall’s midterm election.
Consequently, Ribble is no longer a voter in the district he represents in Congress. Ribble’s Sherwood home is in the 6th Congressional District, where Republican Tom Petri is the incumbent.
Ribble defended the move by asserting, “Northeast Wisconsin is my home and always will be.”
“I have a long and personal tie to the 8th District and assertions to challenge this are just ridiculous,” the Republican congressman wrote in a statement. “I grew up in Appleton, went to Appleton East High School and coached volleyball at Appleton East High School for over 20 years. My roofing business was located in Kaukauna and my wife’s longtime bookstore was also in Appleton.”
Amid reports he recently moved out of an apartment he had been renting in Lawrence in the 8th District, Ribble confirmed he intends to take his Sherwood residence off the sluggish housing market, where it had been on sale for nearly $600,000 as recently as last week, according to online real estate postings.
“My wife and I initially put our Sherwood house up for sale last year,” Ribble wrote. “With the listing contract coming to an end soon, the house is coming off the market until the housing market turns around. We are not immune to the negative effects of the unsteady housing market and just like many Americans across the country, we have had to change our plans.”
Ribble said he had planned to move to a smaller home in the 8th District that “requires less maintenance” given his frequent travel between Washington, D.C., and the Fox River Valley.
“We wish the home would have sold, but unfortunately the tough housing market prevented this from happening,” Ribble wrote.
Ribble’s spokeswoman did not clarify when the move back to Sherwood occurred or whether Ribble intends to transfer his voter registration.
A lame-duck session with unexpected victories
By Perry Bacon Jr. Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 4:34 PM
When the lame-duck session of Congress started more than a month ago, President Obama looked defeated and deflated, publicly acknowledging the “shellacking” his party had taken in the November midterm elections.
Now, a six-week session that was expected to reflect a weakened president has turned into a surprising success. On Wednesday, Obama signed into law the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members, and the Senate approved a new nuclear treaty with Russia that the president had declared a top priority.
Those accomplishments come after Obama successfully negotiated a free-trade agreement with South Korea, reached a deal with Republicans that extended unemployment benefits and prevented a tax hike for millions of Americans and signed a bill that will make school lunches healthier.
This blitz of bill signings completes a dramatic first two years for the nation’s first black president that included the enactment of arguably the most major liberal policies since the Johnson administration but also the Democrats’ biggest loss of House seats in 72 years.
After the election defeats and bitter battles over the health care and financial regulation legislation, the next two years were widely expected to be tied up by gridlock between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic president. But the past month suggests the future could be different.
Obama and his team reinvented their political approach over the past several weeks to win key Republican votes, no longer relying mainly on the huge Democratic majorities in Congress that they won’t have in the new year.
By John Fund
The Federal Communications Commission’s new “net neutrality” rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote yesterday, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.
There’s little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.
The FCC has approved rules that would give the federal government authority to regulate Internet traffic and prevent broadband providers from selectively blocking web traffic. WSJ’s Amy Schatz explains what the new rules really mean.
Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn’t have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he’s had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.
The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney’s agenda? “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”
By Cecilia Kang
update: 3:23 p.m. with statement of support from President Obama, plans for Congressional hearings from House Republicans.
The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to approve its first ever Internet access regulation, which ensures unimpeded access to any legal Web content for home Internet users.
The FCC’s three Democratic members made up a majority of votes in favor of the so-called net neutrality regulation, which was introduced more than a year ago by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The rules have sparked intense debate and lobbying over whether such legislation is needed, and are likely to face a legal challenge. Genachowski has argued that Internet access rules would protect companies just starting out on the Web, as well as consumers who are increasingly relying on the Internet for news, entertainment and communications.
The agency’s two Republican members voted against the rules, showing support for Internet service providers who say the regulations will impede their ability to create new business plans to expand their broadband networks and boost speed.
Genachowski said the measure represents a compromise between industry and consumer interests.
“I reject both extremes in favor of a strong and sensible framework — one that protects Internet freedom and openness and promotes robust innovation and investment,” Genachowski said.
Bluto Blutarsky must have been an Appropriator.
The 111th Congress began with an $814 billion stimulus that blew out the federal balance sheet, so we suppose it’s only fitting that the Members want to exit by passing a 1,924-page, $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill. The worst Congress in modern history is true to its essence to the bitter end.
Think of this as a political version of the final scene in “Animal House,” when the boys from the Delta frat react to their expulsion by busting up the local town parade for the sheer mayhem of it. Bluto Blutarsky (John Belushi) did go on to be a U.S. Senator in the film, and a man of his vision must have earned a seat on Appropriations.
Democrats have had 11 months to write a budget for fiscal 2011, which began on October 1. But Majority Leader Harry Reid and Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye have dumped this trillion-dollar baby on Senators at the very last minute, when everyone is busy and wants to go home for the holidays. No doubt that was the plan. The continuing resolution to fund the government expires on Saturday, so Mr. Reid wants to squeeze Senators against the deadline. And with the press corps preoccupied by the tax debate, the spending bill is greased to slide through with little or no public scrutiny.
Defenders argue that the bill is restrained because it freezes overall spending for federal agencies at 2010 levels. But 2010 was an inflated budget with a $1.3 trillion deficit. Paul Ryan, soon to be House Budget Chairman, notes that nondefense discretionary spending rose 24% over those two years. Add stimulus funding and federal agency spending soared to $796 billion in 2010 from $434 billion, an 84% spending increase. (See nearby table.) Republicans have promised to return to 2008 spending levels, and the omnibus will make that much harder.
Then there are the pork and policy riders, such as a food safety bill with new authority for the Food and Drug Administration. The bill’s 6,630 earmarks will cost more than $8.1 billion, according to Citizens Against Government Waste. While that’s fewer than in 2009, what happened to the earmark ban promised by Republicans and supported by President Obama?
The late John Murtha of Pennsylvania is so powerful he’s still getting pork from his grave: $10 million for the John Murtha Foundation. Ted Kennedy also scored a legacy earmark. The omnibus includes $8 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute secured by Congressman Ed Markey (D., Mass.). Thad Cochran of Mississippi, one of the GOP Senators who may vote for the bill, secured $6 million for the Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi. [View Complete Article →]