Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reconciliation and Lamar Alexander's Memory Loss, Take 2

Reconciliation is a procedure that's been around since the early to mid-70's.  The orignial pupose of it was to balance budget bills, as linked to in this post.  A reconciliation bill can be passed by a simple majority.  That is why some Democrats have wanted to use the procedure to pass Health Care Reform.  It would not require a filibuster-proof majority to get the bill passed.  It would only require 51 votes in the Senate.  The reconciliation process being discussed by Democrats for use with Health Care Reform is exactly the same reconciliation procedure used for passing budget bills.

Lamar Alexander spoke out vehemently this week in opposition to using reconciliation to pass Health Care Reform (see ...Did You Eat Memory Loss for Breakfast?).  One of the many complaints of Republicans about Health Care Reform is the potential costs of the program.

Lamar Alexander has frequently voted in reconciliation process for budget bills that were unpopular with Democrats and many Americans, and had no problem doing so.  One example is the Bush tax cuts, which is why they expire in 10 years.  Any reconciliation bill expires in 10 years.  The cost of these tax cuts?  $1.8 trillion in those 10 years.  Another is the deficit reduction bill that cut Medicaid spending, again wildly unpopular with many Americans (especially children whose benefits were cut, but that's another soapbox).  The reason these bills have the word reconciliation in their title is that the reconciliation procedure was used to get them through.

The Republicans tried to use reconcilation to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the federal budget resolution in 2006, which Lamar Alexander supported, but failed.

Lamar Alexander also voted for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, a recoconciliation measure, and certainly a less controversial vote.

So you see, Lamar Alexander only opposes reconciliation when it is used by Democrats for something he doesn't support.  He's full of crap when he says otherwise.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Obama Fail?

Why I Stopped Blogging

Those of you who used to hang out at The Corner know this isn't my first time around the blogging block.  I used to have a blog that was a nice mix of personal and political.  Some of you were regular readers.  We were linked in to Blog Net News, we and even got ranked once or twice.

After the 2008 election, I decided to delete the blog and take a break.  This was for two reasons in equal part.

1.  Time.  I work a full time job. I have two beautiful children, two dogs, a husband.  I'm busy.  I have a life.  It takes a lot of work to keep up with a blog, if you want it to be well-written and relevant.  I haven't had this blog up more than a few weeks and already it's slipping in the quality I would like it to have.

2.  Negative, nasty, rude bloggers.  Seriously.  There are people out there who think that because conversations or discussions are taking place in the blogosphere, it's ok to insult people's intelligence, call them names, send them nasty emails, and be generally hostile.  This attitude started to piss me off more and more, and I finally decided it just wasn't worth the negative energy.

I tell you this because although Reversing the Handbasket is only an infant, it's days may be short.  The things I found dreary in the last days of Corner of the Sky are already dragging me down.  I'm tired.  I don't have enough time.  And the attitudes?  Well, some people just got no clue how to address their fellow human beings.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hey, Brainless! Did You Eat Memory Loss For Breakfast?

So Mr. Alexander isn't for reconciliation, huh?  Let's see what his voting record says:

2003, Mr. Alexander votes for the Bush tax cuts (Measure title:  To provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 201 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2004).

2005, Mr. Alexander votes for the deficit reduction act, which cut money from the Medicaid budget (Measure title: An original bill to provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 202(a) of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2006 (H. Con. Res. 95).

And those are just two examples.  He also voted for the Tax Increase and Reconciliation Act of 2005, providing for tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. 

Perhaps he was right when he said reconciliation has never been used for something like this.  He only likes to use reconciliation when it helps his rich Republican friends, not regular Americans like us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Activism Wednesday!

How do you feel about Health Care Reform?  What have you done about it?  Let us know. 

Writting any Strongly Worded Letters?  Posted them where we can read them?  Link us up.

It's Activism Wednesday.  Let's get busy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Climate Change Denial Crock of the Week: "It's Cold, So There's No Climate Change"

Good Job, Bond; As Expected, Blunt

Republican Senator Kit Bond (Missouri) doesn't do much that I support, but yesterday he was one of 5 Republican Senators who crossed the isle to support President Obama's job's bill.  I hit people pretty hard when I think they are being idiots, so here is a shout-out to Senator Bond for doing something right for once.

And speaking of being an idiot, my current Congressman, Roy Blunt (Missouri 7th District) is running for Senator Bond's seat as the Senator is retiring this year.  In his true support-nothing-the-President-or-any-liberal-suggested form, Rep. Blunt has stated he disagrees with Senator Bond's vote and would not have voted for the bill.

I wonder if it brings more jobs to Missouri, we can expect Mr. Blunt to be running around taking the credit, as he has for the stiumuls money he didn't vote for over and over and over?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Claire McCaskill Responds (Well, I Mean, She Sent An Email)

Here is a response from Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri) to my Strongly Worded Letter.  It would be nice to at some point get a response from a politican that actually addresses my expressed concerns, but here is what she said:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the way things are run in Washington. I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the chance to respond.

Missourians do not want a rubber-stamp for any President or party leader. They want their representatives in Washington to represent their interests. We are the Show-Me State, after all. As your Senator, I have worked to be an independent voice for Missouri. I think my record bears that out; I vote against my party more often than almost any other Senator.

I know that Missourians are especially concerned about the size of the federal government and the size of our national debt. I share these concerns. We do spend too much in Washington, and our deficit is dangerously high. I want you to know that I have consistently voted to hold down spending. I routinely vote to reject any spending increases and force spending to be held at last year's levels. I also vote against spending bills when they spend too much or contain too many earmarks (funding for specific projects selected by legislators). For instance, I voted against the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 because it contained a spending increase of 8% and had millions of dollars of earmarks. This year, I have thus far voted against the FY2010 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, the FY 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, and the FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill because of their high spending levels and the large number of earmarks contained in the bills. Spending in Washington simply cannot keep going up in these fiscally difficult times. I will continue to seek to hold down spending.

If we are going to live within our means, I also believe we need to cut waste out of federal spending. I have taken a hard line against all kinds of waste, from earmarks to no-bid contracts. I am one of five Senators who do not request earmarks, and I vote routinely to strike earmarks from spending bills. I have also been working to reform government contracting, which is rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. I lead the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight that investigates abuses in federal contracting, and I have been active in fighting against no-bid contracts. (I cannot think of anything more "socialist" than giving public money to private companies without any competitive process or oversight). I have supported other anti-waste initiatives as well, such as co-sponsoring a bill to create a line item veto and voting to establish "sunset commissions" to identify and eliminate government programs that are no longer effective.

Fundamentally, we need to use common sense when we are dealing with the budget. We need serious, comprehensive reforms. I am working with my colleagues to make those reforms. I introduced a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) bill (S. 1600) that would trigger across the board spending cuts unless all new direct spending or tax cuts are deficit-neutral. This is similar to the laws that helped create budget surpluses in the 1990s.

We do need to realize, however, that we cannot close the deficit by cutting non-defense discretionary spending alone (it makes up less than one-fifth of the annual budget). We are facing serious deficits and mounting debt, we are also facing an economic crisis, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, rising health care costs, and more. Thus, we need to walk a fine line between spending too much and investing too little. I am doing my best to walk that line. I voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, to provide a vital boost to the economy during the worst economic crisis in generations. However, I will continue to vote against bills like the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, discussed above, that contain too many earmarks and increase spending too much.

As your Senator, I am working to make sure that we manage taxpayer dollars wisely. I will continue to fight wasteful spending, and I am committed to reducing deficits while providing resources for important priorities. I appreciate your input, and I will keep your thoughts in mind when considering budget and spending bills going forward.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Claire McCaskill

United States Senator

P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reality Bites

A National Emergency

Despite claims of an economic recovery, millions of American remain unemployed with their benefits about to run out, and no jobs in sight.

Economists say the recovery may fail to create enough jobs to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Large companies are increasingly owned by institutional investors who crave swift profits, a feat often achieved by cutting payroll. The declining influence of unions has made it easier for employers to shift work to part-time and temporary employees. Factory work and even white-collar jobs have moved in recent years to low-cost countries in Asia and Latin America. Automation has helped manufacturing cut 5.6 million jobs since 2000 — the sort of jobs that once provided lower-skilled workers with middle-class paychecks.


Some poverty experts say the broader social safety net is not up to cushioning the impact of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Social services are less extensive than during the last period of double-digit unemployment, in the early 1980s.

On average, only two-thirds of unemployed people received state-provided unemployment checks last year, according to the Labor Department. The rest either exhausted their benefits, fell short of requirements or did not apply.

“You have very large sets of people who have no social protections,” said Randy Albelda, an economist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. “They are landing in this netherworld.”

For anyone to find this acceptable, rather than a national emergency, is a travesty.