Tag Archives: Senate

Episode 106 – Lame Duck Session – Taxes, Treaties…or just Lame?

This show covers a lot of ground…maybe more than Congress has done in its Lame Duck Session! The show starts with an interesting discussion on the Bush Tax Cuts and the rich. Jeff points out that the wealthiest Americans used to pay taxes at a 94% rate, cut down to 77% under Lyndon Johnson, and then to 28% under Ronald Reagan. With Congress not cutting spending, and loopholes and breaks geared to special interests and the wealthy, Jeff and Glenn wonder how the tax cuts for the Lower and Middle Class Americans, and Small Businesses, will be paid for if not through higher taxes on the wealthy? Glenn points out the Warren Buffet came out this week and asked to pay higher taxes. Jeff pointed out that a study showed that in 2007, the 400 wealthiest Americans, due to tax breaks and loopholes, had an effective tax rate of 16.5%. They then talk about the prospects for the Start Treaty, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, now that the Pentagon has released a comprehensive 9-month study showing that the vast majority of those serving in the military do not care about gays serving along side them. They close the show with an interesting discussion of the WikiLeaks issue, pointing out that the one thing not being discussed enough is the actual technological breach of security — and how something like this can be prevented from happening again.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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Arrogance Brought to you by Senator Harry Reid

In a stunning start to the lame duck session of the US Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid takes part of his opening remarks to congratulate the University of Nevada Football Team. Is this unprecedented? Certainly not, however, it shows the Senator’s arrogance and ignorance in a time when “time” is of the essence. Republicans are balking over the legislative agenda that Senator Reid has put forth include the tax cut extension, DADT, START treaty and the Dream Act.

The Republicans have already balked that there will not be enough time to do this all (and they are probably right given Senator Reid’s approach to leading by example).

Senator Reid’s arrogance is shown by deciding to put a decidedly politically patronizing message that plays to his constituents in front of the pressing nation’s business at a time when the clock is ticking down with less than a month to go with a entrenched Republican opposition.

Democrats voters often wonder why after having an unprecedented 2008 election sweeping in majorities of both houses and the presidency, they still could not get what they wanted. It is due in part to how their political leaders, well, lead.

I am not a Democrat. But, I have to believe that there are Democrats and Republicans who are just as infuriated about this as I am. Or maybe its just me.

What do you think?

— Glenn

Over-Reaching Government?

Few media outlets are discussing a bill that is currently gaining traction in the US Senate. It is S. 3804:Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. The desciption of this bill is:

Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act – Amends the federal criminal code to authorize the Attorney General (AG) to commence an action for injunctive relief against a domain name used by an Internet site that is “dedicated to infringing activities,” even where such a domain name is not located in the United States. Defines an Internet site that “dedicated to infringing activities” as a site that is: (1) subject to civil forfeiture; (2) designed primarily to offer goods or services in violation of federal copyright law; or (3) selling counterfeit goods. Requires the AG to maintain a public listing of domain names that the Department of Justice (DOJ) determines are dedicated to infringing activities but for which the AG has not filed an action. Allows parties to petition the AG to remove such a domain name from the list and obtain judicial review of the final determination in a civil action.

Why should you be concerned? According the The Raw Story,

Critics say the bill is both a giveaway to the movie and recording industries and a step towards widespread and unaccountable censorship of the Internet.

Opponents note that the powers given the government under the bill are very broad. Because the bill targets domain names and not specific materials, an entire Web site can be shut down. So for example, if the US determines that there are copyright-infringing materials on YouTube, it could theoretically block access to all of YouTube, whether or not particular material being accessed infringes copyright.

Activist group DemandProgress, which is running a petition against the bill, argues the powers in the bill could be used for political purposes. If the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks is found to be hosting copyrighted material, for instance, access to WikiLeaks could be blocked for all US Internet users.

This appears to be a shut down the site and make the owner prove their innocence approach rather than making the government prove guilt.

The Senate’s Waterloo

Senator Jim Demint was quoted in 2009 as saying that the healthcare will be the President’s Waterloo. This reference was to the historical defeat at Waterloo that put an end to Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French. Well, he may have been right if the Senate did not overplay its hand. About two hours ago, the Associated Press reported on what I believe to be the Senate’s potential Waterloo. The article stated:

The Senate Tuesday rejected a plan backed by President Barack Obama to create a bipartisan task force to tackle the federal deficit this year despite glaring new figures showing the enormity of the red-ink threat.

The special deficit panel would have attempted to produce a plan combining tax cuts and spending curbs that would have been voted on after the midterm elections. The measure went down because anti-tax Republicans joined with Democrats who were wary of being railroaded into cutting Social Security and Medicare.

With Congressional public approval hovering in the teens, the President would do well by taking the bipartisan task force and hitting the Senate over the head with it until they submit. Even Republican co-sponsor of the plan Senator Judd Gregg voiced his disdain for the defeat:

Yet another indication that Congress is more concerned with the next election than the next generation.

Congress has been punch drunk on spending to excess over the past nine years. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Both sides are party to the spending frenzy. At a time when some level of spending curtailment and reform is paramount to this country’s financial survival, the Senate balks.

The President would do well to use this issue and attack an institution that has approval ratings far lower than his own. If the President does not stand up to the Senate on this issue, he clearly lacks the leadership necessary to bring about real “change” to this country.



Episode 65 – Brown MASSacres Coakley, But it’s About Change, Not Health Care or the GOP

Counter to the conventional wisdom, Glenn and Jeff explain why Sen. Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate Race is about understanding the dynamics of change in the 2008 election and how that relates to the economy. Seeing this race as a victory for the GOP and a rejection of the President’s Health Care plan would be a tragic mistake, and Jeff explains why Democrats should run and embrace health care reform (real health care reform) while Republicans should reach to the middle politically and focus on jobs. Glenn, a Massachusetts resident, also explains the dynamics and idiosyncrasies of Massachusetts politics and how that impacted the Senate Special Election. Jeff takes on the Coakley campaign, based on his personal experiences working with them and drawing on his experience running a Senate campaign, for how it unknowingly positioned itself as the institutional candidate and defined itself as the heir apparent to Sen. Kennedy, and did not engage in Rule 1 of politics: define or be defined. The also explain why Steve Pagliuca or Alan Khezi would have been better candidates and more likely to win a race against Scott Brown. Finally, before Brown becomes the new brand of the Republican Party, Jeff explains why he shouldn’t get too far away from his pickup truck and he should reject all offers to become the GOP’s Poster Boy, and bear down to quietly work on behalf of the people of Massachusetts, or find himself out of a job in 2012, when he has to run again…with a presidential candidate on the top of the ticket. Always engaging and informative, it’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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Scott Brown Wins Senate Seat

Senator-elect Scott Brown

Tune into this week’s PoliTalk for all the details! Show should be up by Thursday.

I think John Stewart nicely summed up what is going on …

“See it’s not that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are playing checkers. No. It’s that the Republicans are playing chess, and the Democrats are in the nurses office because they glued their balls to their thigh. Again.”


Dems Running Scared on Mass Senate Race

As if the Democrats did not have too much to worry about with a weak 60 votes in the Senate, Massachusetts may be delivering the final blow to any further passage of the Healthcare bill by electing a Republican Senator… the first in a very long time. The President is even concerned about this. In the waning days of the election, President Obama gave the okay for his campaign machine to support the embattled Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley in what may be too little too late. Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown’s poll numbers have surged in the past few weeks and momentum is on his side.

In a hope to rally the Obama organizing machine, Obama’s political organization, Organizing for America has already tapped its massive technology assets to blast text messages to cell phones of their legions.

Here are the two messages sent so far:

Sent on January 14, 2010 – Help Obama elect Martha Coakley. Reply MC to volunteer, or visit http://bit.ly/MA_Vol -Organizing for America
Sent on January 15, 2010 – Scott Brown would put big banks first–we must speak out. Join other concerned Bostonians at a rally on the corner of Cambridge St & New Sudbury St at 5pm today

Will the Obama machine make it in time to save the day? Time will tell. However, the last time the Obama machine stepped in to help a failing Georgia Senate Race, it was too little, too late. It’s funny how history has a way of repeating itself.