"This is prima facie admission that it's a failure."
-- Wayne Rogers of Wayne Rogers and Co.
WASHINGTON—The fight over who should lead the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee is importing some of the nastiness of the midterm elections to an internecine struggle between a pair of Republicans.In one corner is Rep. Joe Barton, an unpredictable Texan who was scorned by leaders of both parties earlier this year for apologizing to BP PLC executives during a hearing on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.Mr. Barton is pitted against Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, who conservatives regard as too soft because of his support for expanding a state-run health-care program for children and energy-conservation measures like phasing out the 100-watt incandescent light bulb.Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh told listeners last week it would be a "tone-deaf disaster" if Republicans let Mr. Upton have the chairmanship, calling it "exactly the kind of nannyism, statism" that was rejected by voters earlier this month.Mr. Barton is also carrying political baggage beyond the BP gaffe. He requires a waiver from party rules just to seek the chairmanship, since he was the Energy and Commerce panel's chairman when Republicans last controlled the House in 2006, and party rules prohibit any GOP lawmaker from holding the top slot on a committee for more than six years. Mr. Barton and his staff have also clashed with Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the likely next House speaker and one of the GOP leaders who will select the panel's next chairman.The Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over critical sectors of the economy, including health care and telecommunications. With Republicans in control, it is expected to be a launching pad for efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, a top priority for many conservative voters, and for challenges to administration regulatory and energy policies, including efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb greenhouse gases.Mr. Boehner hasn't tipped his hand on how he and other GOP leaders will resolve the Energy and Commerce contest. But if Mr. Barton fails to secure a waiver, Mr. Upton, 57 years old, is next in line to take over the committee.
Rep. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze.
Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola.
Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City.
Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville.
Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville.
Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala.
Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha.
Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach.
Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Cocoa.
Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford.
Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness.
Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity.
Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa
Rep. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg
Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg
Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa.
Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Temple Terrace.
Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton
Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton
Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota
Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Fort Myers
Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples
Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton.
Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart
Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach
Rep. Lori Berman, D-Boca Raton
Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton
Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth
Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton
Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale
Rep. John Patrick Julien, D-North Miami Beach
Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami
Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami
Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami
Rep. Ana Rivas Logan, R-Miami
Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami
Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami
Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami
Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami
The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports.It's a booth you can step into that will not X-ray you but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you. They see this as a win-win for everyone, with none of the whining about racial profiling. It also would eliminate the costs of long and expensive trials. Justice would be swift. Case closed!You're in the airport terminal, and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter, an announcement comes over the PA system: "Attention standby passengers — we now have a seat available on flight number ____. Shalom."
During the peak of the election season, the state's largest teachers union quietly channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the re-election bids of three Senate Democrats who had been targeted by the charter-school movement.To counter a surge in independent expenditures and donations from charter advocates, New York State United Teachers created a new committee that was less restricted by campaign-finance limits than the union's political arm.Spending more than $360,000 to help three incumbent Democrats, including Sen. Bill Perkins, defeat primary opponents, the committee didn't file its first disclosure statement until 10 days after the September primaries.In September and October, the committee received three lump-sum contributions totaling about $370,000, according to the most recent campaign filings. Nearly all of the money went to Red Horse Strategies, a Democratic consulting firm that works closely with Senate Democrats, and was earmarked for three races. The money paid for phone-banking, mailings, fliers and other services provided by Red Horse leading up to the primary.No one is accusing the union of violating election law. But NYSUT's maneuver is the latest indication of how independent expenditures are shaping state politics following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent Citizens United ruling, which struck down restrictions on such political spending by corporations and unions."NYSUT proceeded very carefully based on the record that was before us from the court, which we are confident allowed us to set up an unauthorized committee to make independent expenditures. And that's exactly what we did," said Richard Iannuzzi, the president of the union.Still, it isn't clear how the union, which didn't publicize any major fund-raising effort, was able to generate so much money so quickly.
Virginia Thomas, political activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has decided to relinquish control of Liberty Central, the conservative group she founded less than a year ago, so that the organization can escape the "distractions" of her media celebrity, a spokeswoman said."She'll take a back seat so that Liberty Central can continue with its mission without any of the distractions," said spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll of CRC Public Relations in Alexandria. "After discussing it with the board, Mrs. Thomas determined that it was best for the organization."Carroll declined to elaborate, but a source not authorized to speak publicly about the details said Liberty Central will be merging with the Patrick Henry Center, a Manassas-based conservative organization founded by Gary Aldrich, a former FBI agent who wrote a tell-all book about life inside the Clinton White House.But late Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Liberty Central disputed the report. "There are many opportunities being presented to Liberty Central, but there is no agreement at this time," Sarah Field, chief operating officer and general counsel for Liberty Central, said in an e-mail. "The sources of this story appear to be people without full understanding of the facts." She declined to elaborate.
How do you say you're sorry for calling someone illiterate—and then ask them for $7.4 billion? That will be Mayor Michael Bloomberg's assignment as he tries to help get a health bill through the U.S. Senate for sick Ground Zero workers and others in Lower Manhattan exposed to toxic dust from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.The mayor plans to join New York's congressional delegation in Washington Tuesday as part of the final effort to get the bill passed before a new group of Republican legislators who have vowed to slash spending take office.The legislation would provide $3.2 billion for long-term health care for rescue workers and construction workers at Ground Zero and another $4.2 billion in compensation for those exposed to the toxic dust.The trip may require some delicate diplomacy. It will be Mr. Bloomberg's first visit to Washington since he claimed in China that some members of Congress don't understand the global economy, and can't even read.The House of Representatives already approved the bill. To pass it in the Senate, Democrats must convince one or two Republicans to vote for the bill, at a time when the GOP is talking about cutting, not growing, federal spending."I'm talking to Republicans every day about the merits of this legislation,'' Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement as she travels this week in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
WASHINGTON—A House ethics panel sitting in judgment of Rep. Charles Rangel agreed Monday to all of the prosecution evidence against him, despite his attempt to delay the case by walking out for lack of a lawyer.In retreating from the trial on its first day, the New York Democrat said he could no longer afford a lawyer and that it was unfair to make him proceed without one.The panel's finding to accept as fact the case's details doesn't by itself represent a guilty verdict, but it strongly suggests the panel will find he violated House ethics rules. Lawmakers will reconvene Tuesday morning.The hearing is a rarity and represents a public test of Congress's ability to police itself; Mr. Rangel's case is the first to be heard under tougher rules adopted two years ago. Almost as soon as it closes the Rangel file, the committee will take up the ethics trial of another lawmaker, Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.).
Dear Member of Congress,The Lame Duck session is upon us, and though there are lawmakers who might still try to push their big government agenda in a last-hurrah before they leave town, I urge you to respect the will of the people as expressed in the recent election.The Bush-era tax cuts are about to expire and taxes could shoot up for millions of Americans already struggling in the current economic downturn. The election was clear: Washington has a spending problem, not a funding problem and tax hikes would hurt the economy even further.As your constituent, I urge you to vote against any tax hikes.I also know that dealing with the Bush tax cuts, aren't the only potential issue during this lame duck session. I urge you to oppose any efforts to pass a cap and trade energy tax, any stimulus payments, additional bailouts, other tax hikes, and allowing the death tax to come back at 55%.These would go directly against the will of the people - having had their say in the November Elections - and I urge you to oppose them as the worst kind of political, dirty-trick. The people have spoken and the people said “We want less - less taxes, less spending, less government.”I will be watching your vote very closely on cap and trade, additional taxpayer-funded bailouts, any attempts to increase taxes, and any other policy proposals that erode more of our freedoms and expand the reach of government.
The United States has just witnessed its third straight rubber band election. Once again, Americans had their patience stretched, fired a Washington run amok and now want their new leaders to snap back to attention. The government Americans seek is simpler, more efficient and more accountable; one that takes on less but does better; one that executes the essential and eschews the excessive.
For two election cycles, the winners overpromised and underdelivered. So, will a newly divided Washington finally learn how to govern effectively in dire times?
First, a warning to both sides. Republicans, for their part, must realize that the voters have given them a reprieve, not an endorsement. In my polling last week, GOP voters agreed with this statement by more than two to one: "I am willing to give the Republicans another chance, but if they mess up again, I'll vote them out again, too." That's hardly a cause for GOP celebration.
Similarly, Democrats must grasp that their defeats were not about deficient personalities or insufficient communication, but about their philosophy and substance. Roughly two out of three voters agreed with the statements that President Obama "has failed to deliver hope and change" and that in the midst of an economic crisis, Democrats "had their priorities wrong."
The post-midterm realities are simple: If the Republicans don't deliver on their promises, they're finished. If the Democrats continue doing what they're doing, they're finished.
Both sides are promising to fulfill the will of the people, but people aren't asking for promises. They're asking for new priorities - their priorities.
Republicans' consolidation of power in state capitols is likely to expand the number of states that employ a far more limited, free-market-oriented approach to implementing the nation's new health-care law than the robust regulatory model favored by its supporters.Although the law is a federal statute, it tasks states with administering many of its most important provisions and grants them considerable leeway.It is up to states to run markets, known as "exchanges," through which individuals and small businesses will be able to buy health insurance plans, often with federal subsidies, beginning in 2014. States will also oversee a mostly federally funded expansion of Medicaid to cover a far larger share of the poor.
ORLANDO - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called on Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Monday to accept $2.05 billion in federal funds that have been authorized for the Tampa-Lakeland-Orlando high-speed rail project, which Nelson said has fallen "under a cloud of uncertainty."Speaking to more than 1,800 representatives from small businesses to international companies at the opening day of a two-day high-speed rail forum, Nelson said the project represents a crucial opportunity to put Floridians back to work."Let's ask the governor-elect not to return the $2 billion in federal funds the state so desperately needs," Nelson said.U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said the project would be "an economic shot in the arm for Tampa. Then we have to figure out how to connect to Pinellas County and the beaches," Castor said.Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin last week indicated they wanted to return federal high-speed rail money that the Obama administration designated for their states.U.S. Rep John Mica, R-Winter Park, said last week he was disappointed Hillsborough County voters had failed to pass a sales tax increase to pay for a light-rail connection to the Tampa high-speed rail station planned to go into operation in 2015 at the western end of the line that runs to Lakeland and Orlando.State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, who is on Scott's pre-inaugural advisory group and who also spoke at the Orlando forum, said in an interview that she has not heard Scott speak of rejecting the funds."I can't speak for the governor-elect, but he is a businessman and he is interested in creating jobs," Dockery said. "He said during the gubernatorial campaign he wanted to see the private sector 'put some skin into the game.' "Florida Department of Transportation officials have said the rail line will create 20,000 jobs between 2012 and 2015 and 1,000 permanent jobs when the 88-mile high-speed route goes into operation.
We'll name a hit TV show, and you guess if it's more popular among Republicans or Democrats.Now things get tough: CBS's geeky, atheist-friendly "The Big Bang Theory," Fox's megarated "American Idol," ABC's progressive Emmy winner "Modern Family."Which of these shows is favored more by Republicans?All of them.According to months of data from leading media-research company Experian Simmons, viewers who vote Republican and identify themselves as conservative are more likely than Democrats to love the biggest hits on TV. Of the top 10 broadcast shows on TV in the spring, nine were ranked more favorably by viewers who identify themselves as Republican.(Click to enlarge.)
SEOUL—The presidents of the U.S. and South Korea were unable to overcome disputes over cars, cattle and domestic politics, potentially killing the biggest bilateral trade deal the U.S. has taken up in more than a decade.The failure to resolve issues by Barack Obama's self-imposed deadline was a blow to the president, who has put export growth at the center of his jobs agenda and had invested political capital in getting a deal by the Group of 20 summit in Seoul.A U.S. trade official said working-level staff from both sides will meet Friday. But chances for a deal look dim given opposition Mr. Obama faces from Ford Motor Co., labor unions and Democratic lawmakers.Labor leaders and some powerful politicians from both parties praised Mr. Obama for not going ahead with a deal they characterized as bad for U.S. workers. "President Obama is exactly right in holding out for a deal that puts working people's interests first," said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.Polls suggest U.S. political support for trade-opening deals is weakening amid high unemployment. While Republican congressional leaders have suggested they would support moving forward on such deals, some newly elected GOP lawmakers have expressed doubts.Without presidential pressure, trade experts say the South Korea agreement, which has languished in Congress since 2007, could return to limbo along with pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and the dormant Doha round of global trade talks. In addition, Mr. Obama hasn't moved to resolve a festering trade dispute with Mexico because of pressure from Democratic lawmakers and unions.
A Message from President George W. BushPresident of the United States of America, Veterans Day 2008On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn the uniform of the United States.From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our Nation's ideals, rescued millions from tyranny, and helped spread freedom around the globe. America's veterans answered the call when asked to protect our Nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists, and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our Nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom's defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty, and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.
In Baltimore on Thursday, former House majority leader Richard K. Armey, the chairman of tea party backer FreedomWorks, exhorted a roomful of incoming members of Congress not to stray from the small-government principles that propelled them to power. Don't be dazzled by plum committee assignments or other enticements from Republican leaders, he cautioned, if they come at an ideological price.In Washington, those same Republican leaders continued to make overtures to the new class of conservatives by offering them unprecedented roles to shape the debate in the coming legislative session.Everyone, it seems, is positioning to lay claim to the Republican Class of 2010, providing an early glimpse of the tension that emerges when a movement based entirely on its outsider status is suddenly on the inside.Are the freshmen selling out if they partner with the very establishment they derided on the campaign trail? Or have they already won by capturing the attention of leaders and gaining a seat at the table?
"Don't Tread On Me" soon may become an oft-used expression on Virginia roads.A state lawmaker is proposing a bill to create a license plate for Virginians to express solidarity with the spirit of the Tea Party movement.At the request of constituents, Henrico County Republican Del. John O'Bannon has filed legislation to establish a "Don't Tread On Me" license plate.The plate features the rattlesnake emblem and yellow background of the historic Gadsden Flag, which has become a symbol for the Tea Party movement.
Washington can be a really rough town for people who are even a little bit, uh, unusual.Apparently realizing this, conservative South Florida radio personality Joyce Kaufman said on her radio show Thursday she would not be coming to Washington, D.C., after all to be chief of staff to incoming Florida Republican Rep. Allen West. Her resignations follows a flurry of negative attention from blogs and cable stations after announced Thursday that she'd be taking up the chief post.“I will not be used in an electronic lynching by proxy,” Kaufman said Thursday.“You guys can do all the things you want to me, but I will not participate in you trying to destroy him,” she said on her WFTL-850 AM radio show of West, whom she has called a “distinguished, monumental man.”
Some interesting findings buried in the new Pew poll suggest Republicans and Democrats have starkly different expectations of their leaders: Republicans want their leaders to be less moderate and less compromising, while Dems want precisely the opposite.I'm not kidding. The poll finds that 60 percent of Republicans and GOP leaners want their leaders to move in a more "conservative direction," versus only 35 percent who want them to be "more moderate." By contrast, only 33 percent of Dems and Dem leaners want their leaders to be "more liberal," versus 57 percent who want them to be "more moderate."Meanwhile, a big majority of Republicans, 66 percent, want their leaders to "stand up to Obama," versus only 29 percent who want them to work with him. But Dems, by contrast, are divided on this point, with fewer saying Obama should stand up to GOP leaders (43 percent) than say he should work with them (46 percent).
You might think that after November 3rd, politicians … especially Republicans … would have gotten the message.But just a little more than a week since the historic tidal wave of GOP victories in the House and Senate, the old-guard, establishment Republicans in Congress are already backpedaling on a key conservative issue and an important plank in the Contract From America: Earmark Reform.Senator Jim DeMint has proposed that all Republican Senators commit to a moratorium on all federal earmarks. The issue is set to be decided early next week, during a special meeting that Senate Republicans have scheduled, but some are already balking at the proposal.To you and me, last week's elections were a clear message that the culture of bloated federal spending and business-as-usual Washington politics will no longer stand.Unfortunately, some Republicans in the Senate don't seem to be getting the message … at least not yet.We need to TAKE ACTION NOW -- if you are represented by a Republican Senator CLICK HERE to use FreedomWorks interactive call center that will directly connect you with your Senator's office. Call them, and find out whether they intend to support Mr. DeMint's conference-wide moratorium on earmarked spending. Then encourage your friends and family to do likewise.This is the first test of the Tea Party movement's resolve. We must apply the same energy we unleashed in the elections to holding these soon-to-be promise-breakers to their word.Earmarks represent the worst of Beltway politics -- nothing but wasteful spending to grease the wheels for bigger and badder legislation. That's why a logical first step for Republicans who rode to resurgence should be the banning of all pork-laden earmarks -- emblems of wasteful spending and backroom deal-cutting.TAKE ACTION NOW and help reinforce the fact that Republicans can't take tea party support for granted.Politely, but firmly, tell their staff that if any politician -- of any party -- hopes to win the support of grassroots Tea Party activists, it's vital they begin IMMEDIATELY showing their support for important reforms of broken Beltway politics.Their opposition to earmarks will be remembered. Their support of business-as-usual will not be forgotten.
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