Ten days ago, we reported on Open Left that bankruptcy “cram-down” mortgage relief would not appear in the stimulus, but would appear in a different piece of legislation later this year. Despite our reports, the fight over bankruptcy “cram-down” legislation in the stimulus did not actually end ten days ago. As recently as Thursday, House Democrats will still fighting in to include the measure in the stimulus, and Senator Dick Durbin, the leading proponent of the measure in the Senate, was denying that President Obama was opposed to including the measure in the stimulus.
However, any lingering doubt about the fate of bankruptcy “cram-down” reform in the stimulus can now be put to rest. Senator Durbin has confirmed that President Obama opposes including the measure in the stimulus, and favors including it in later legislation instead (more in the extended entry):
The key to passage of the bankruptcy bill is the Senate, where Democrats need 60 votes to stop a possible filibuster. Ten Democrats — all still in the Senate — would not back the plan in a vote a year ago.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chief Senate sponsor of the bill, said Obama persuaded him in a White House meeting Friday to remove the bankruptcy proposal from an economic recovery package — to ensure it doesn’t jeopardize the stimulus bill. But Obama pledged his support for the bankruptcy solution, Durbin said.
Obama said he would work with Durbin to attach the proposal to other ”must pass” legislation — with the hope that supporters of the overall bill would not vote against it because of the bankruptcy provisions.
There will definitely be no cram-down in the stimulus now. Further, with ten Senate Democrats opposed to the measure last year, we can also expect a big fight over the measure when the home foreclosure mitigation bill comes up later this year. In fact, The ten Democrats in question are actually eleven, now that Lieberman is back in the caucus. Baucus (MT), Byrd (WV), Carper (DE), Johnson (SD), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR) and Tester (MT). Without a single Republican defector, this will be a difficult bill to pass at any point.
However, there are rays of hope. First, the economic crisis might actually be changing votes. For example, Mike Thompson, one of the sixteen House Blue Dogs who in 2007 sent out a letter opposing cram-down legislation, offered a promising response to Open Left commenter kaleidescope when s/he called Thompson’s office about cram-down legislation in the stimulus:
I called my Representative, Mike Thompson (CA-1), a blue dog, about HR 225. My experience is that you get better results if you call the local (as opposed to the D.C.) office. You get to talk to a career staffer instead of an intern. Thompson’s Eureka staffer told me Thompson is starting to edge away from his blue dog affiliations. She noted that he is fiscally conservative, but that “everything has changed in the economy” since 2007.
Second, there is always the hope of working a deal where the Democrats who are opposed agree to not filibuster, but then vote “no” on an up-or-down, simple majority vote for the legislation.
It is pretty sad that, even with the Democratic trifecta and even with the collapse of the credibility of the banking industry, that the banking lobby can still delay, and possibly even stop, good legislation like this. They can twist Congressional arms into forking over trillions of dollars on their behalf, all the while twisting those arms to make sure homeowners facing foreclosure get nothing. At least it makes it clear who is actually running the country.
Politico and other media sources are reporting that governor David Paterson has chosen Kristen Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat.
Gillibrand is a Blue Dog Democrat, which is the name moderate Democrats gave themselves so people stopped confusing them with Republicans. Gillibrand is a pro-gun, fiscally conservative “Democrat.” Blue Dog Democrats are the people who cower at the word “liberal,” and fail to acknowledge that the only gains we — as a country — have made regarding civil rights were because of those dreaded, damn liberals.
I have previously criticized the nomination of Caroline Kennedy because she was clearly a legacy selection. Let’s pretend her name was Caroline Smith, or Caroline Martinez, and she boasted of zero legislative experience, and could only incoherently mutter something about her daddy when asked why she wanted to fill one of two coveted Senate seats. No one would have considered such an applicant. Hence, why I hated the idea of Caroline Kennedy in the Senate. I’ve heard just enough about Camelot, thanks very much.
But Gillibrand is part of the same politically incestual community. During the Clinton years, she serves as Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Andrew Cuomo, another nominee for Clinton’s seat. She too hosts lavish fundraising parties (out of state, an accusation she ironically used against one of her former political opponents, John Sweeney). Kennedy, no doubt, was seriously considered for the Senate role specifically for her fundraising abilities (the name Kennedy brings in a hefty chunk of change,) so it’s to be expected that cash cows are always at the forefront of these kinds of nominations.
I was really hoping Paterson would go for a fresh political name like Nydia Velasquez, who has served in the House for 15 years, and was the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress. She has dealt primarily with small businesses, and is largely unknown in the political community, but I think that’s a good thing. Kennedy is very well known, has less experience than Velasquez, and I was supposed to take her seriously as a candidate, so why not Nydia? Oh, right, she’s not a legacy, or a Blue Dog.
At least Caroline was unapologetically liberal, a privilege only afforded to Kennedys, it seems. If you have a yacht, you get to look your fellow Democrats square in the eyes and say, “I believe in equal rights and not torturing foreigners. Fuck you.” But if you’re a middle-rank Democrat, you have to pathetically triangulate and apologize until you don’t even look like a Democrat anymore, and -BAM!- you wake up and your name is Kristen Gillibrand and you’re in the Senate.
Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn from consideration for the vacant Senate seat in New York, according to a person told of her decision.
On Wednesday she called the governor, David Paterson, who is making the selection of who should succeed Senator Hillary Clinton. Her concerns about Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s deteriorating health (he was hospitalized after a seizure during the inaugural lunch on Tuesday ) prompted her decision to withdraw, this person said. Coping with the health issues of her uncle, with whom she enjoys an extraordinarily close bond, was her most important priority; a situation not conducive to starting a high profile public job.
She was planning to issue a statement on Wednesday evening.
Ms. Kennedy’s decision comes nearly two months after she, along with several members of Congress and leading political officials, began auditioning to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the coveted position.
The decision is certain to startle the political world.Ms. Kennedy had gained the support of some powerful backers in the state, including several labor officials and a top aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Kevin Sheekey.
But her pursuit of the seat also set off resistance, with some local Democratic officials suggesting it smacked of entitlement, and polls showing voters preferring Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo for the position. Ms. Kennedy, 51, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and a resident of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has never served in public office.
Gov. David A. Paterson plans to announce on Saturday whom he has selected. The governor has been coy about his decision, and while he has praised Ms. Kennedy, he has also spoken approvingly of other candidates, including Mr. Cuomo and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is beginning her second term as a congresswoman from the Albany area.
Mrs. Clinton resigned from the Senate late Wednesday, immediately after being sworn in as secretary of state.
Well, Blago got impeached.
I love how Rod Blagojevich read his resume at the press conference immediately following his impeachment. As if this is supposed to erase the fact that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a politician is a Megalomaniac, but holy crap — how can a person legitimize breaking the law because he did his JOB, once upon a time, and cared for his constituents. This is like saying I can rob Fort Knox because I once helped an old lady across the street.
Anyway, Rod’s bizarre performance reminded me of another Megalomaniac in a little show called The Wire.
Did you know Blago cured breast cancer? I’m kidding, he didn’t, but I think HE thinks he did. I’m also 90% sure Blago is keeping those black people hostage until he gets his job back. I have nothing more to say…other than sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.
CHICAGO — Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has scheduled an afternoon news conference amid reports that he plans to name someone to Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Blagojevich was arrested earlier this month on charges that he tried to sell or trade the seat to the highest bidder.
Citing unnamed sources, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that Blagojevich plans to appoint 71-year-old former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris. Senate leaders have said they will not seat anyone Blagojevich names.
Blagojevich has scheduled a 3 p.m. EST news conference. His spokesman Lucio Guerrero declined to say what the Democratic governor plans to discuss.
The governor has denied wrongdoing and has vowed to remain in office.
The media has been focusing on the Rod Blagojevich scandal with all the zeal of a torch-wielding mob, but they fail to acknowledge that the dirty pay to play model demonstrated in Chicago is a microcosm of the political world. Everyone pays for everything, and only the wealthy can buy access to power.
New York can offer two other example of paying to play with Senator Chuck Schumer, and the legacy candidate gunning to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacated seat, Caroline Kennedy.
Blagojevich’s swear-laced scheming was crude, super illegal, and what ultimately led to his public demise, unsubtle. The governor never learned how to delicately press the boundaries of acceptability, and instead charged through them with all the nuanced skill of a rabid bull.
The fallen governor should have looked to Chuck Schumer, who demonstrates how to us pay to play the acceptable way. Schumer is the official beneficiary, advocate and overseer for Wall Street. A Democrat, he fully embraced the free market principles that have led to the current financial turmoil. Since Chuck’s largest contributors are from Wall Street, he votes to please his corporate masters, and in doing so, he continues to buy access to power. It doesn’t matter if deregulation is bad for his state, and the country, as long as those fat Wall Street checks continue to roll in.
Blago should take note: at no point did Chuck get on the phone and demand, “his fucking money.” Instead, he quietly and assertively raised Wall Street contributions by 50 percent. Then he used that money to hold onto his power, and vote in the interest of Wall Street, and not New Yorkers. The contributions keep rolling in, and Chuck does it all over again. That’s the acceptable way of paying to play.
Caroline Kennedy is also subtly pressing her bony elbow into the back of David Paterson, demanding what is rightfully hers. I write “rightfully” because…ya’ know…she’s a Kennedy, and we’re supposed to live under their rule until Jesus comes back, I think. That’s written in the Constitution, or something.
But seriously, no one can offer a compelling argument for why Caroline is particularly well-suited for the job other than her ability to raise a ton of money for the Democratic party. That Kennedy money is another tricky way of paying to play. If Caroline can cough up around $70 million, she gets to play, but if she was a poor gal named Smith or Gonzalez with an impressive resume, winning smile, and a noble spirit, she’d get her little ass booted to the curb.
To all the future, corrupt politicians out there, here are some parting words of advice: deceive wisely. Politics is a dirty, foul game for the rich and unscrupulous, so lie, but lie wisely. Steal, but steal subtly. Pay to play, but for God’s sake, do it in the most quiet, underhanded way possible to spare us all the embarrassment of having to acknowledge what a morally bankrupt system we vote to uphold.
Just a reminder that Stevens was recently convicted on seven felony charges. A court found him guilty of making false statements by failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts from Bill Allen, the former head of Veco Corp., and other friends.
Oh, but of course, his motto is (he reminds us): “My motto has always been ‘to hell with politics, just do what’s right for Alaska.”
As long as you make a shit load of money, hoard lots of favors, and perpetuate cronyism, right?
Good riddance. May you awake every night in a cold sweat.
Velvet Revolution (“VR”), a non-profit dedicated to clean and honest elections, today offers a $100,000 reward for hard information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons who helped to rig the 2002 Senate race in Georgia in favor of Saxby Chambliss. That election pitted the war hero Max Cleland, a popular incumbent, against far-right novice Saxby Chambliss. The pre-election polls showed Cleland with a comfortable lead–and yet Chambliss “won” by a wide margin.
To date, the truth behind that upset “victory” (and the equally surprising win by Sonny Perdue, the rightist candidate for governor) has been confirmed by three different whistle-blowers–including Chris Hood, who worked for Diebold in 2002.