After two female legislators were banned from the Michigan House floor last week after saying “vagina” during a debate about an anti-abortion measure, a massive crowd has gathered at the state capitol for a reading of “The Vagina Monologues.” There are an estimated 5,000 people in attendance.
Two years after Senate Republicans defeated the bipartisan DREAM Act by claiming that Congress must “secure the borders first,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) floated the idea of introducing a GOP alternative to DREAM. Rubio spent three months talking up the concept on cable news, but failed to offer a bill before President Obama announced an administrative directive to protect DREAM Act-eligible students from deportation.
In unveiling the initiative on Friday, Obama cited Congress’ inability to “fix our broken immigration system” as a reason for issuing the Department of Homeland Security directive. What he didn’t expect, however, is that Republicans would respond to the news by reinforcing his message and abandoning their reform efforts.
Republicans accused Obama of politicizing immigration and the party’s new spokesperson on the issue announced that he is closing shop on any efforts to tackle the immigration question. Rubio told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that he thinks Obama’s announcement “sets back our efforts to arrive at a balanced and responsible approach to this issue. It poisons the well. It leads to mistrust.”
But the truth is that Republicans had never seriously considered comprehensive immigration reform or any new solutions for helping young people stay in the country:
– House Judiciary Committee Chairman Refused To Hold DREAM Act Hearing: Even if Rubio had introduced a bill and if the Senate had approved it, a version of the DREAM Act would have immediately stalled in the House because of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). The congressman chairs the Judiciary Committee and said he would not hold a hearing on the DREAM Act, which he called an “American nightmare.”
– Original Republican Sponsor Of DREAM Act Didn’t Vote For It In 2010: In 2003, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sponsored the DREAM Act when it was first introduced. But when the Senate voted on a more conservative version of the bill in 2010, Hatch skipped the vote and dismissed it as a “cynical exercise in political charades” by Senate Democrats.
– Republican Claimed Democrats Used DREAM Act To Make Republicans ‘Look Bad’: After 41 mostly Republican senators stopped the DREAM Act from passing in 2010, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed that Democrats had pushed the DREAM Act to hurt the GOP’s reputation among Latinos. The bill “passed without the ability to amend to try to make Republicans look bad with Hispanics,” he said. But Graham ignored the number of Republican senators from Latino-heavy states who previously supported the DREAM Act and voted against in 2010, and he failed to mention his own floor comments telling young undocumented immigrants who visited his office that they were “wasting their time.”
Republicans can claim that President Obama went around Congress to give protection to undocumented students, but it was the failure of congressional Republicans that forced him to act.
Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party favorite who ousted Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) in Indiana’s Republican Senate primary last month, told a local Indiana newspaper that, contra Obamacare’s protections, employers ought to be able to deny health insurance to people with cancer.
During a freewheeling interview with the News and Tribune, Mourdock said health care will be the “biggest issue” this election. The Indiana Republican, who opposes the Affordable Care Act, argued that businesses should be permitted to deny coverage to employees with cancer “if they want to keep their health care costs down.” “Does that employer have the right to do it?” Mourdock asked. “I would say yes they do”
Of particular interest to the candidate is a mandate that requires an employer to pay for certain services they may be morally opposed to — such as birth control — which Mourdock said he opposes.
Mourdock’s example was an employer who decided to cover everything but cancer.
“Does that employer have the right to do it? I would say yes they do if they want to keep their health care costs down but it also means it’s less likely you’re going to want to work here. If that employer wants to get the best employees coming in the door he’s going to offer the best insurance possible.”
Among Obamacare’s most popular provisions are protections for people who are sick or have pre-existing conditions to make sure they can’t be denied health insurance (beginning in 2014). In Mourdock’s America, businesses would continue to have the right to deny insurance for 1 in 7 Americans because of a pre-existing condition.
If Mourdock ultimately wins his election in November, don’t expect him to compromise on his opposition to businesses being required to insure cancer patients. The day after Mourdock won the Republican nomination, he announced on MSNBC that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
The Mourdock campaign has issued a clarification to TPM: “Simply put, Richard was making the point that a company that discontinued insurance coverage of life-threatening ailments would immediately become an unattractive place to work. In no way, shape or form does Richard support companies discontinuing such insurance coverage, and any attempt to say otherwise is a complete falsehood.”
When President Obama announced on Friday relief from deportation for undocumented people who came to the country as children, he noted, “They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license or a college scholarship.”
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) disagrees. During an appearance on CNN’s Starting Point this morning, Farenthold told Soledad O’Brien that he believes that 16-year-old kids can make their own decisions about immigrating to the United States, claiming that his own 16-year-old daughter argues about “pretty much everything the family wants to do”:
FARENTHOLD: Well, you are also talking about people that came over at 16 years of age. At that point, you had a say in it, and that looks kind of more like amnesty. [...]
OBRIEN: You think a 16 year old whose parents are coming across the border has a say in whether or not they’re just going to stay behind in their country?
FARENTHOLD: They’re certainly in a position to have a conversation with their parents about it.
OBRIEN: A sixteen year old is in a position to have a conversation with their parents about coming across the border, you think?
FARENTHOLD: Believe me, my sixteen year old daughter has given me some input on pretty much everything the family wants to do.
Most 16-year-old children are, of course, reliant on their parents for financial support, and do not actually get a say in where their families move. And the President is right that many children don’t know their immigration status until much later — when they apply for a job or a drivers’ license.
A long-term transportation package that would re-authorize current spending on highway construction projects and lock-in infrastructure spending for future projects appears all but dead thanks to Republican obstruction in the House of Representatives. With time running out before current authorization ends at the end of the month, House Republicans are demanding the Senate add approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a transportation bill that already passed with widespread bipartisan support.
House and Senate negotiators have been meeting for weeks — since the Senate passed its bill, 74-22 — to work out a compromise, but the House GOP has repeatedly threatened to walk away unless the pipeline is attached. Now, the legislation is all but dead, an industry source told The Hill:
“I think the bill’s dead,” a transportation industry source said to The Hill on Friday. “I don’t think they can fix what they have in front of them. Kicking it up to the leadership probably gives it a chance…but every time they get to the five-yard line, they move the goal posts back.”
Lawmakers have until June 30 to reach a deal on transportation spending before the current funding mechanism for road and transit projects runs out. [...]
Boxer said that the House lacked “urgency” and “leadership” in the highway negotiations. [House Transportation Committee Chairman John] Mica countered that the Senate “appears unwilling to compromise at all” on House provisions, like mandating the approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
This isn’t the first time House Republicans have jeopardized millions of transportation jobs by demanding approval of the pipeline. They threatened to walk away from negotiations early this month for that reason, and in March nearly caused a transportation shutdown before passing a short-term re-authorization. The implications aren’t small: 1.9 million workers will have to walk off the job without re-authorization of highway funds. Senate Democrats estimate that the long-term authorization package will create an additional one million jobs on top of that.
House Republicans have pitched the pipeline as a job creator, but the State Department estimates it will lead to only 6,000 temporary jobs — a far cry from the nearly three million created or saved by the long-term highway bill the GOP is blocking.
In March, Mitt Romney demanded “President Obama needs to level with the American public about his real agenda.” But on numerous topics, Romney has refused to answer basic questions about his views, leaving voters to guess at where he stands on important issues. Romney’s ambiguity appears to be a calculated strategy to avoid alienating the conservative base or moderate swing voters. If he’s successful in avoiding articulating policy positions, he can market himself as the “generic Republican” alternative to President Obama.
Here are seven major issues on which Romney has refused to take a stand:
1. Romney won’t say whether he would undo Obama’s decision to end deportations of DREAM-eligible immigrants. Romney and his campaign passed up numerous opportunities over the weekend to say whether he agreed with the substance of the Obama administration’s order to stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants and whether a President Romney would rescind the order, saying only, “We’ll look at that — we’ll look at that setting as we– as we reach that.”
2. Romney won’t say whether he’d support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Romney repeatedly dodged questions about whether he’d support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill to crack down on wage discrimination and close the wage gap between men and women. His campaign didn’t respond to five requests by the conservative Washington Times seeking his stance on the bill.
3. Romney won’t specify which tax loopholes he’d close. Asked yesterday which tax deductions he would eliminate to offset his massive proposed tax-cuts for the rich, Romney refused to offer any specifics on a plan that he has admitted is so vague it cannot even be scored, saying only, “We’ll go through that process with Congress.”
4. Romney won’t say which federal agencies he’d eliminate. At a private fundraiser, Romney reportedly told donors he would eliminate or combine “a lot of departments in Washington,” but that he was “probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go.” Why? Because he feared telling the voters his plans before the election might hurt his political chances, just as it did in his 1994 Senate race.
5. Romney won’t say whether he supports the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Romney’s campaign refused to say whether he would have signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that helps women hold employers accountable for discriminating in the pay practices based on gender. Romney said, “I’m not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed.”
6. Romney won’t say whether he’d support full reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Offering only general support for renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, Romney would not specify whether he supported the bipartisan Senate version or the GOP House rolllback bill. His spokeswoman said only that he “hopes [the bill] can be reauthorized without turning it into a political football.”
7. Romney won’t say whether say whether he’d eliminate the “carried interest” tax break for private equity partners. Romney’s campaign has refused to answer questions about whether he supports eliminating the “carried interest” tax break for private equity partners, even when asked directly, saying only that we should probably “take a close look at to see if we’re treating capital gains as capital gains or are we treating, in some cases, carried interest as capital gains when it’s more like ordinary income.”
Whether or not Romney can continue to campaign while avoiding taking a position on so many important issues depends on the how the media reacts. There are dozens of reporters following Romney every day. They can choose to either give him a pass on these important policy issues or continue asking him until he provides an answer.
Florida Secretary Of State Says Purging Voters Is His ‘Passion’ |
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has played a key role in implementing the state’s highly-flawed voter purge, which could remove thousands of eligible voters, predominantly Democrats and Latinos, from the rolls. If the vote in Florida is as close as it was in 2000, the voter purge could tip the state (and possibly the presidency) to Mitt Romney. Sunshine State News asked Detzner about these concerns earlier this month and posted his response on YouTube. Detzner maintained that the continuing the voter purge is his “passion” and he has a “moral duty” to continue “moving forward.” Watch it (relevant clip begins at 0:55):
Following President Obama’s announcement on Friday that immigration officials would stop deporting DREAM Act-eligible students, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Obama for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but has repeatedly refused to say if he would repeal the measure.
On Monday morning, Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty tried to create additional breathing room for the former Massachusetts governor. During an appearance on CNN’s Starting Point, Pawlenty sought to dismiss Romney’s promise to veto DREAM, suggesting that he may ultimately sign the measure if elected president:
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN (HOST): As I’m sure you know, Mitt Romney said that if he were elected he would veto the DREAM Act, right?
PAWLENTY: There are a lot of things labeled the DREAM Act, Soledad, so we have to be careful. What Governor Romney has said is when it comes to Senator Rubio’s ideas about the DREAM Act that he would be open to that. That legislation hasn’t been put in final form yet but he said he would consider it or at least look at it. He has said in other settings and times he would be willing to allow a pathway to legal status for children no are in this situation. For example, if they serve in the military and are honorably discharged. As it relates to the issue of children and through no fault of their own are under that circumstance, he said I’m open to try to explore or consider a permanent solution and I think these a reasonable gesture on his part.
In reality, Romney was far more dismissive of efforts to help undocumented students during the GOP presidential primary. “For those who come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law,” Romney told a crowd in Iowa in December and flatly promised to veto DREAM.
His views shifted in April, however, when he expressed support for the DREAM Act, saying the Republicans need to propose a GOP version of the bill and other initiatives to win support from Hispanic voters.
But given Obama’s announcement last week, that GOP alternative — which is supposedly being drafted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and is remarkably similar to the White House policy — may fail to materialize, leaving Romney floundering for a position on the issue.
A shotgun, an outhouse, and a birth certificate stamped “bullshit” all made appearances at Montana’s GOP convention over the weekend.
At Saturday’s convention in Missoula, Montana, a few convention-goers set up outside with an outhouse labeled “Obama’s Presidential Library.” But that wasn’t the most outrageous part. According to the Missoulian, the outhouse was also decorated in sexism, birtherism, and implicit threats:
The outhouse was painted to look as though it had been riddled by bullets.
Inside, a fake birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama made reference to the disproven controversy over the president’s origins. It was stamped “Bull––.” A graffito advised “For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)”
State GOP Chairman Will Deschamps of Missoula said he didn’t know who’d brought the outhouse, but dismissed it as “a sideshow.”
The Billings Gazette also reported that Newt Gingrich, “the convention’s featured speaker on Saturday, got a raffle ticket for what might in any other part of the country seem an unusual combo — a 12-gauge shotgun, a shovel and a roll of duct tape” — apparently a reference to wolf hunting in the area.