Tag Archives: food stamps

From DC to Texas: Men Behaving Badly (video)


Texas-flagby Pamela Powers Hannley

From the failure of the Farm Bill to the ups and downs of Immigration Reform to last-minute,late night anti-abortion bills– it’s been a wild ride lately. And, the craziness is not likely to stop any time soon.

After the jump, check out several news stories and two videos which highlight [Republican] men behaving badly in the Congress and multiple state legislatures. Heavy sigh. Will this strategy of "subtraction" work for them in 2014 or 2016? I personally don't see how it can.

All Eyes on Battle Between Texas Legislature and Pro-Choice Protesters

The Texas House approved the draconian anti-abortion bill that was stopped a few weeks ago by State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster. The performances of three women are worth note. (Quotes form MS. Magazine Blog.)

A Republican who dared to vote “No” with the Democrats and said…

Now is not the time to play political football with women’s health. Abortion … is a constitutionally protected right.

A Democrat railed against the Republicans who would not allow even rape or incest victims to get abortions after 20 weeks and said…

When a person is raped, a woman is raped, they don’t go and see whether or not it’s a Republican woman or a Democratic woman or an independent woman, the rapist just rapes a woman. And I don’t want to force them to have to use a coat hanger [in a] back alley or use a knitting needle or use a feather or take turpentine. I want to make sure that the law allows them that option.

A citizen who was removed from the Legislative Chambers but managed to say this first…

Thank you for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us. And no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you.

You can see her whole testimony here before the Texas Rangers forcibly removed her.

Now that both chambers of the Texas Legislature have passed this anti-choice Legislation, it goes to Governor Rick “protect-the-fetus” Perry’s desk for a signature. From the Arizona Daily Star

“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” said Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days. “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health.” [Emphasis added.]

The Decline of North Carolina

In 2013, Republicans took control over the state government of North Carolina. This editorial in the New York Times chronicles North Carolina’s dramatic decline after just a few months under total Republican control. Here is a taste of the “grotesque damage” that Republicans have created in a few short months. From the New York Times

In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.

The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.

The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.

At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools…

We’ve seen this “blame the poor” meme repeated by Republicans at all levels– from the US House of Representatives to the Arizona Legislature. Instead of starting jobs programs or boosting the economy, what does the NC Legislature do? Take money out of the pockets of people who can least afford it– the poor and the unemployed.

On the abortion front, NC legislators have been infamously attaching anti-abortion measures onto totally unrelated bills– like the one outlawing Sharia Law and another one on motorcycle safety. (Oh, yeah, that makes sense.)

Food Stamps Cut from Farm Bill

Like petulant children offering a middle finger salute, Republicans in the US House of Representatives took food stamps and other supplemental nutrition programs out of the Farm Bill and passed it.  You’ll remember that a few weeks ago the Farm Bill was defeated in the House because the bill included dramatic cuts to food stamps a

nd schools lunches– while increasing subsidies to agribusiness. Well, just to show us (and those uppity poor people), they eliminated the supplemental food programs but kept the pork barrel spending for agribusiness. From the New York Times

Democrats denounced the bill as a naked attempt to make draconian cuts in the food stamp program.

“A vote for this bill is a vote to end nutrition in America,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, called the House measure “an insult to rural America.”

Anti-hunger groups called passage of the farm bill without the food stamp program a disgrace.

“Today’s vote is the latest smoking gun that the House majority isn’t truly interested in deficit reduction,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. “They’re interested in supporting special interest groups over hungry Americans.”

The House got so out of control during this “debate” that Republicans booed Congresswoman Corrine Brown when she dared to quote the Bible to them. (Kind of embarrassing when one of those heathen Democrats quotes the Bible to Bible-thumpers behaving badly.) From The Raw Story…

Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday threatened to strike a Democratic representative’s words from the record and then booed her after she shamed them for cutting food stamp funding from the farm bill.

“The Bible says, to whom much is given, much is required,” Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) observed during debate over whether funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be stripped from the farm bill. “And this is a sad day in the House of Representatives. Shame on the Republicans! Shame on the House of Representatives!”

After an objection from Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), Speaker pro tempore Kevin Yoder (R-KS) ordered Brown to “suspend” and “be seated.”

“Excuse me,” Brown replied, glaring at Yoder. “What did I say that was incorrect?” [Emphasis added. Watch the fiasco here.]

Does Anyone See a Pattern Here?

Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he didn’t care about the 47% of Americans who were just moochers, people who feel entitled to government assistance. Although it has been obvious for many years that the Republican Party stands with 1% (and not the 99%), it was shocking to hear Romney’s crass take on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the wounded, the hungry, the young. Blinded by ideology and religiosity, Republicans in the Congress and in State Legislatures  across the country are unapologetically goose-stepping to the same marching orders. If you’re not a straight, white man, you’re not only unimportant, you are worthy of scorn and ridicule– and not worthy of governmental assistance, even for basic food needs.

In closing, I offer this provocative article from the Huffington Post: Why the GOP Is Running Into a Political Box Canyon — And Political Marginality. The author lays out one issue after another in which the Republican Party is marginalizing itself by being out of touch with the majority of Americans– choice, gun control, immigration, climate change, voter suppression. From the Huffington Post

Despite warnings of some of its wisest strategists, the GOP is racing headlong into a political box canyon — and potential political marginality.

On issue after issue, the GOP has veered far from the mainstream of the American electorate. Worse, they are swimming upstream against a tide of changing demographics — and an electorate with ever-increasing numbers of young voters from the “millennial generation” that polls show is the most progressive generation in half a century.

So far, at least, efforts to “rebrand” the GOP have simply collapsed. And even though most Americans are primarily concerned with jobs and the future of the economy, the GOP leadership in Congress insists on focusing on cultural issues that pander to a narrow segment of the electorate — and are downright unpopular.

They seem to be practicing the politics of “subtraction” — which is not a good plan if you want to achieve an electoral majority.

Will the Republican strategy of “subtraction” prevail? Can they knock enough Americans off the voter rolls to keep their gerrymandered stranglehold on state legislatures and the Congress?

[Photo Credit: Texas our Texas by jmtimages, Creative Commons License.]

How Progressives Stopped the Farm Bill

SNAP-springfield-massby Pamela Powers Hannley

When Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) rallied its membership and asked them to take to the streets, their computers, and their telephones to oppose food stamp cuts in the farm bill, stopping the multi-year, behemoth looked bleak.

Both versions of the bill had cuts to food stamps and school lunches; the House of Representatives version, which was defeated on Thursday, had $20 billion in cuts to food stamps + increased subsidies to agribusiness, and the Senate version has $4 billion in cuts. This is immoral– feeding the military industrial complex but not the children.

PDA mobilized nationally to stop this– hundreds of letter drops at Congressional offices around the country and in Washington DC, thousands of phone calls and e-mails to Congressional representatives. And it worked– for now. Details of the mobilization after the jump.

From PDA…

PDA National Board Member Rep. Jim McGovern just called me to thank everyone in PDA for our help defeating the House Farm Bill by a 195 to 234 vote today. He shared with us that last week–even last night–this bill looked unstoppable. A few days ago, Democratic Leadership was silent. But we went from trying to make a statement of conscience to a clear victory on behalf of the millions of working people, retirees, veterans, and children who would have been devastated by $20.4 Billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps).

This result delighted us, even as it infuriated the right wing. As The Hill reported, “Immediately after the vote, Republicans were apoplectic at what they characterized as a betrayal by Democratic leaders, who did not deliver the votes they promised.”

Our pressure helped to turn the tide. We visited leaders including Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Richard Neal, and Henry Waxman in Emergency Actions at their offices on Monday. The PDA Phone Team generated hundreds of calls into key offices this week. PDA organized 225 letter drops at Congressional offices around the country, and 72 offices on Capitol Hill–more than 300 personal face-to-face contacts–yesterday.PDAers sent 22,054 email messages to 527 members of the House and Senate using our advocacy alert since this battle began. All of these efforts paid off…for now.

Sadly, the battle isn’t over. The other side is already planning another vote to slash Nutritional Programs. Soon, we’ll have to gear up again, but for now, let’s celebrate. We’ve never been more proud of PDA and what we do to stand up for our progressive values.

Thank you for everything you did–from all of us and from Congressman Jim McGovern!

Tim Carpenter on behalf of the PDA Team: Conor, Kim, Andrea, Judy, Mike H, Janis, Mike F, Kurt, Jeanne, and Deb

P.S. Please contribute whatever you can to keep PDA strong, standing up for peace, equality and essential help for people in need.

Breaking News: Farm Bill Defeated 234-195, AZ Dems Split

by Pamela Powers Hannley

The Farm Bill– which included $20 Billion in cuts to food stamps– went down in flames in the US House of Representatives this morning. The vote was 234-195, with 62 Republicans voting "no", and 24 Democrats voting for it, according to the Huffington Post.

The roll call vote (after the jump) reveals that Arizona Congressional Democraic Representatives Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema voted "yes" (with the Republicans), while Representatives Ann Kirkpatirck, Raul Grijalva, and Ed Pastor voted "no". (On the Arizona Republican side, Paul Gosar voted the party line, while Matt Salmon, Trent Franks, and David Schweikert voted "no".)

More details and the roll call after the jump.

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) launched a nationwide push to defeat the Farm Bill because of the food stamp cuts. Demonstrations were held at influential Democrats' offices on Monday, and on Wednesday, more than 200 letters were hand-delivered to Congressional representatives urging them to vote "no" on any Farm Bill that included cuts to food stamps. 

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 286(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)
      H R 1947      RECORDED VOTE      20-Jun-2013      1:54 PM
      QUESTION:  On Passage
      BILL TITLE: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act

  AYES NOES PRES NV
REPUBLICAN 171 62   1
DEMOCRATIC 24 172   5
INDEPENDENT        
TOTALS 195 234   6


—- AYES    195 —

Aderholt
Alexander
Amodei
Bachus
Barber
Barletta
Barr
Barrow (GA)
Barton
Benishek
Bentivolio
Bera (CA)
Bishop (UT)
Black
Blackburn
Boehner
Bonner
Boustany
Braley (IA)
Brooks (AL)
Brooks (IN)
Brownley (CA)
Buchanan
Bucshon
Burgess
Bustos
Calvert
Camp
Campbell
Cantor
Capito
Carter
Cassidy
Chaffetz
Coble
Cole
Collins (NY)
Conaway
Costa
Cramer
Crawford
Crenshaw
Cuellar
Daines
Davis, Rodney
Denham
Dent
DesJarlais
Diaz-Balart
Duffy
Ellmers
Enyart
Farenthold
Farr
Fincher
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foxx
Frelinghuysen
Garamendi
Garcia
Gardner
Gerlach
Gibbs
Gibson
Gosar
Granger
Graves (MO)
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Grimm
Guthrie
Hall
Hanna
Harper
Harris
Hartzler
Hastings (WA)
Herrera Beutler
Holding
Hudson
Huizenga (MI)
Hultgren
Hunter
Issa
Jenkins
Johnson (OH)
Johnson, Sam
Joyce
Kelly (PA)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kingston
Kinzinger (IL)
Kline
LaMalfa
Lankford
Latham
Latta
Loebsack
Long
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lummis
Marchant
Marino
McCarthy (CA)
McCaul
McHenry
McIntyre
McKeon
McKinley
McMorris Rodgers
McNerney
Meadows
Messer
Mica
Miller (MI)
Mullin
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Neugebauer
Noem
Nugent
Nunes
Nunnelee
Olson
Owens
Palazzo
Paulsen
Pearce
Peters (MI)
Peterson
Petri
Poe (TX)
Rahall
Reed
Reichert
Renacci
Ribble
Rice (SC)
Roby
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rokita
Rooney
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Ross
Runyan
Schock
Schrader
Scott, Austin
Sessions
Shimkus
Simpson
Sinema
Smith (MO)
Smith (NE)
Smith (TX)
Southerland
Stewart
Stivers
Terry
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Tipton
Turner
Upton
Valadao
Vela
Wagner
Walberg
Walden
Walorski
Walz
Weber (TX)
Webster (FL)
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Williams
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Womack
Woodall
Yoder
Yoho
Young (AK)
Young (IN)


—- NOES    234 —

Amash
Andrews
Bachmann
Bass
Beatty
Becerra
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Blumenauer
Bonamici
Brady (PA)
Brady (TX)
Bridenstine
Broun (GA)
Brown (FL)
Butterfield
Capps
Capuano
Cárdenas
Carney
Carson (IN)
Cartwright
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Chabot
Chu
Cicilline
Clarke
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coffman
Cohen
Collins (GA)
Connolly
Conyers
Cook
Cooper
Cotton
Courtney
Crowley
Culberson
Cummings
Davis (CA)
Davis, Danny
DeFazio
DeGette
Delaney
DeLauro
DelBene
DeSantis
Deutch
Dingell
Doggett
Doyle
Duckworth
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Edwards
Ellison
Engel
Eshoo
Esty
Fattah
Fleming
Foster
Frankel (FL)
Franks (AZ)
Fudge
Gabbard
Gallego
Garrett
Gingrey (GA)
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Gowdy
Graves (GA)
Grayson
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Grijalva
Gutiérrez
Hahn
Hanabusa
Hastings (FL)
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Hensarling
Higgins
Himes
Hinojosa
Holt
Horsford
Hoyer
Huelskamp
Huffman
Hurt
Israel
Jackson Lee
Jeffries
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Jones
Jordan
Kaptur
Keating
Kelly (IL)
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilmer
Kind
Kirkpatrick
Kuster
Labrador
Lamborn
Lance
Langevin
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Levin
Lewis
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Lofgren
Lowenthal
Lowey
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Lynch
Maffei
Maloney, Carolyn
Maloney, Sean
Massie
Matheson
Matsui
McClintock
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
Meehan
Meeks
Meng
Michaud
Miller (FL)
Miller, George
Moore
Moran
Mulvaney
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal
Negrete McLeod
Nolan
O'Rourke
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor (AZ)
Payne
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Perry
Peters (CA)
Pingree (ME)
Pittenger
Pitts
Pocan
Polis
Pompeo
Posey
Price (GA)
Price (NC)
Quigley
Radel
Rangel
Richmond
Rigell
Rohrabacher
Rothfus
Roybal-Allard
Royce
Ruiz
Ruppersberger
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Salmon
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sanford
Sarbanes
Scalise
Schakowsky
Schiff
Schneider
Schwartz
Schweikert
Scott (VA)
Scott, David
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Sewell (AL)
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Shuster
Sires
Smith (NJ)
Smith (WA)
Speier
Stockman
Stutzman
Swalwell (CA)
Takano
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Tierney
Titus
Tonko
Tsongas
Van Hollen
Vargas
Veasey
Velázquez
Visclosky
Wasserman Schultz
Waters
Watt
Waxman
Welch
Wenstrup
Wilson (FL)
Wolf
Yarmuth
Young (FL)


—- NOT VOTING    6 —

Honda
Larsen (WA)
Markey
McCarthy (NY)
Miller, Gary
Slaughter

 

Street Heat: Progressives Protest Against Food Stamp Cuts Nationwide

SNAP-Waxmanby Pamela Powers Hannley

For weeks, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has been turning up the heat on Congressional Democrats in an effort to stop the proposed $20 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, AKA food stamps).

On Monday, June 17, PDA members nationwide protested athigh-profile Congressional officesfrom California to Florida to Illinois to Massachusetts.  (At right is the PDA protest outside of Congressman Henry Waxman's office. PDA Advisory Board Chair Mimi Kennedy is in the middle Other photos here.) PDA activists demonstrated at the offices of influential members of Congress, like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Here is the list:

  • Rep Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, CA-12: (415) 556-4862
  • Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, DNC Chair, FL-23 954-437-3936
  • Rep Steny Hoyer, House Minority Whip, MD-05 (301) 474-0119
  • Rep Henry Waxman CA-33 310-652-3095
  • Rep Richard Neal, MA-05 (413) 785-0325

On Wednesday, June 19, PDA members visited the offices of more than 200 members of Congress and urged them to vote against the food stamp cuts. In Arizona,PDA activists delivered letters to the offices of Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Kyrsten Sinema.

Read the letter delivered to Congressional offices after the jump.

Here is the text of PDA’s letter to Congress about the proposed food stamp cuts:

Re: Public Policy Should Eliminate Hunger, Not Increase It
June 19, 2013

Dear Congressman Barber,

We are voters in your Congressional District writing to urge you to oppose cuts to Food Stamps—also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP). The House Farm Bill would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP, and any cuts to would increase hunger for millions of vulnerable Americans. We strongly urge you to Oppose any Farm Bill that contains cuts to Food Stamps / SNAP.

Average benefits provided under SNAP are only $133.41 per person per month. Not even $1.50 per meal. After the amendment Rep. Jim McGovern (MA) offered to prevent the cuts failed on a party-line vote, the House Agriculture Committee passed the Farm Bill. We strongly oppose the $20.5 billion cuts that would devastate millions of Americans and inflict costs upon taxpayers far in excess of any supposed “savings.”

Spending for nutrition delivers a huge return on investment. SNAP spending is among the most powerful economic stimuli, with benefits that flow directly and immediately into the economy, enriching domestic farmers and retailers, and creating jobs. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack confirmed, “Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy.” Conversely, decreasing SNAP would cause increased health care costs and incite crime, diminish productivity, stunt childhood development, and impose other collateral damage on innocent American families.

Please oppose any Farm Bill that contains cuts to Food Stamps / SNAP.

We invite continued engagement with you. Please provide us with the name and contact information for your staffer(s) responsible for this issue.

Thank you for your time and attention,

PDA Tucson Steering Comittee

Related articles:

House debates $20.5 billion cuts to food stamps

Activists protest possible cuts to food stamps

Organizations in LA protest possible food stamp cuts

Mayor Bloomberg outlines importance of maintaining funding for SNAP program

Obama opposes food stamp cuts, threatens veto of farm bill

Obama Opposes Food Stamp Cuts, Threatens Veto of Farm Bill

by Pamela Powers Hannley

President Barack Obama has issued an official statement saying that he opposes the current form of HR1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (AKA the Farm Bill).

Specifically, he opposes the deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP– food stamps) and the spending increases in the form of subsidies. Cutting food subsidies (in the form of food stamps) to the poor while increasing subsidies to agribusiness is immoral. (You’ll remember that, in public, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is all “we gotta tighten out belts and reduce spending”, but in reality, they love spending money on pet projects– like war and corporate welfare. They passed the $640 Billion Pentagon Pork Bill last week. )

Will Obama’s statement and threatened veto give weak-kneed Blue Dog Democratsthe back-up to stand up for what’s right? I hope so. (The House of Representatives is still working on this bill; there is still time to call your representative and urge him/her topreserve funding for food stamps.) Read the President's full statement after the jump.

Here is the President’s statement

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 1947 – Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013
(Rep. Lucas, R-OK, and Rep. Peterson, D-MN)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bill would reduce access to food assistance for struggling families and their children, does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms, and does not provide funding for renewable energy, which is an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country.

The Administration strongly opposes the harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a cornerstone of our Nation’s food assistance safety net. The bill makes unacceptable deep cuts in SNAP, which could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including families with children and senior citizens. The Administration believes that Congress should achieve significant budgetary savings to help reduce the deficit without creating hardship for vulnerable families – for example, by reducing crop insurance subsidies. Rather than reducing crop insurance subsidies by $11.7 billion over 10 years, as proposed in the President’s Budget, H.R. 1947 would increase reference prices for farmers by roughly 45 percent and increase already generous crop insurance subsidies at a cost of nearly $9 billion over 10 years to the Nation’s taxpayers.

The Administration supports enactment of a multi-year Farm Bill that includes a long-term extension of disaster programs and promotes rural development, preserves a farm safety net, maintains strong nutrition programs, encourages the development of local and regional markets, enhances conservation, supports environmental stewardship, complies with our World Trade Organization commitments, advances agricultural research, and provides funding for renewable energy. In addition, the Administration believes that crop insurance payments should be tied to the Nation’s soil conservation and wetland protection goals. The legislation should also contribute significantly to deficit reduction, with savings from reforms proposed in the President’s Budget.

Consistent with the President’s Budget, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings not contained in H.R. 1947, while at the same time strengthening the farm safety net in times of need and supporting the next generation of farmers. The Administration also looks forward to working with the Congress to structure reporting requirements to maximize and facilitate agricultural research without creating undue burdens. The Administration believes that provisions that would create unneeded barriers for agencies with regulatory responsibilities in executing their missions should not be included in a final bill.

Finally, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reform the P.L. 480 Title II food aid program in order to provide food aid to starving people faster and feed millions of additional people per year at current funding levels.

If the President were presented with H.R. 1947, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill. [Emphasis added.]

Sinema Touts Bipartisanship: Is It Really a Good Strategy for Democrats? (video)


United-solutions-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Bipartisanship is a popular buzz word in some political circles. Republicans use the call for “bipartisan solutions” to strong-arm Democrats into voting for bad ideas (like increased militarization and drone surveillance on the border in exchange for a long and complicated path to citizenship).

Democrats tout the quest for bipartisanship as code for “I’m a Democrat who votes with Republicans when it’s politically expedient.”

When the vast majority of American voters want higher taxes on the 1%, universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, good jobs, relief from crushing student and credit card debt, safe roads and bridges, regulatory controls on Wall Street, safe guards on Social Security, legalization of marijuana, and the right to vote, Congress devolves into inaction and gamesmanship.

When real action is needed, but no action is taken, the “bipartisan solutions” rallying cry is revealed as a sham. The threatened filibuster that stopped the universal background check bill is the quintessential example of something that 90% of Americans wanted, but 40 men stopped.

Is bipartisanship a good strategy or just a trap to get Democrats to “punt on the first down”? More details and the video after the jump.

In her speech to the State Committee of the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP), Freshman Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema strongly promoted bipartisanship and told precinct committee members and ADP officers about the caucus that she “organized”– the bipartisanUnited Solutions Caucus. (Arizona Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is also a member. Both are in the above photo of the caucus.)

The United Solutions Caucus is made up of Democrats and Republicans who “meet weekly to find shared solutions to our nation’s problems,” Sinema told the Arizona Democrats. Caucus members “put partisanship aside and solve problems.”

If you watch the votes that Sinema, Kirkpatrick, and fellow Congressman Ron Barber make, “bipartisan” means often voting with the Republicans. Last week all three voted to give the Pentagon $640 billion dollars more than the military asked for. All three of them voted against the Back to Work Budget. Is that fiscally responsible in tight budget times? No! In committee,Sinema voted to relax regulatory controls on Wall Street and allow some types of Wall Street trades to be exempt from regulation. Kirkpatrick and Barber are among the Democrats most like to vote Republican.

Perhaps, Sinema, Kirkpatrick, and Barber are fence-sitters because they won their Congressional races with the lowest percentages in Arizona– 48.7%, 48.8%, and 50.4%, respectively. The conventional wisdom is that since these three are in swing districts they have to act like Republicans (at least some of the time) to win re-election. Unfortunately, when Democratic candidates vote like Republicans, they lose support from the Democratic donors and the foot soldiers who helped them win the offices in the first place. When the choice is Republican vs an uninspiring and not-to-be-counted-on Republican-lite “Democrat”, the voter response is: “Phhht…Who cares?” In 2010, when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the Tea Party revolt, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was one of the few Blue Dog Democrats to win re-election. (It was a squeaker, and some of the credit for Giffords' win goes to the spoiler Libertarian candidate.)

Important votes are coming up on cuts to food stamps, on increases in the interest rates on student loans, and on immigration reform, will these three stand as strong Democrats on these issues? All we can do is hope.

 

P.S. In the above video Sinema clearly states that she organized the United Solutions Caucus. A bit of stretch? The United Solutions Flickr site and web site both say this about the group’s founder:

The United Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group of freshman Congressman Patrick E. Murphy organized with co-chair Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-OH) who are dedicated to finding common ground and addressing the nation’s fiscal issues with bipartisan, long-term solutions. [Oops.]