Previously, the website for the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit 2009 featured a picture of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, advertising that he was a potential speaker. But Pam Spaulding points out that following Sanford’s announcement of an affair, his picture was quickly removed from the website.
“Why did Rick Boucher vote to kill Virginia jobs?” Newt Gingrich’s coal-powered front group, American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), asked this incendiary question of the coal-district Democrat in a full-page advertisement in the Roanoke Times. The ad, acquired by the Wonk Room, claims Boucher voted “for new energy taxes on every Virginian” when he supported the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) in the House energy committee last month. ASWF goes on to cite terrorizing statistics about “Boucher’s new energy tax”:
Boucher’s new energy tax would:
1. Kill 1,105,000 American jobs per year on average
2. Increase electricity rates 90%
3. Increase gas prices 74%
4. Increase an average family’s annual energy bill by $1,500
5. Send U.S. jobs to China and India
These figures are drawn from a repeatedly discreditedstudy by the Heritage Foundation, who used an unrealistic economic model to examine the effects of a cap-and-trade system that does not resemble the comprehensive clean energy provisions of Waxman-Markey. In reality, independent experts from the Congressional Budget Office and the Environmental Protection Agency have found that the clean energy legislation will:
And these studies didn’t even take into account the economic benefit of averting catastrophic climate change. Furthermore, creating powerful standards for global warming pollution and clean energy create good American jobs, not kill them. Boucher’s vote was a down payment on a national investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency that would dramatically reduce U.S. global warming pollution would create 45,000 jobs in Virginia and create 1.7 million jobs every year.
ASWF’s attack exposes the conflict occuring within the American energy industry. From his perch in the energy committee, Boucher won significant concessions on behalf of the coal industry in the legislation. Some companies — like the coal-powered utilities Dominion Resources, American Electric Power, and Duke Energy — recognize that the United States must pass comprehensive climate legislation now, and have heralded Boucher as a champion of their interests. However, Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company, is bankrolling the dishonest attacks of Gingrich’s group and the National Mining Association.
Managers and traders are, however, where I would focus most of my attention. I believe we need compensation reform: compensation schemes that make it a complete personal catastrophe for the CEO and all other employees if their bank fails. If managers and traders are, personally, wiped out–reduced in assets to their last two cars and their last four-bedroom house–if any financial institution they worked for goes bankrupt anytime in the next two years, then we have a chance of creating sufficient caution. Otherwise, I don’t see how we do it.
This seems to me like something that would be pretty feasible to implement. You could create special liability rules for the employees of what will in the future be classified as Tier-One Financial Holding Companies establishing something along the lines of what DeLong suggests. In the event that the government needs to intervene with a bailout, everyone will have their personal assets above $X wiped out as recompense. This would both create an incentive for Tier-One Financial Holding Companies to be cautious and also create an incentive for managers to consider whether they don’t want to downside (or streamline or simplify or whatever it may take) their operation so as to avoid attaining that lofty regulatory status.
In light of the tremendous importance of this legislation, LCV has made the unprecedented decision that we will not endorse any member of the House of Representatives in 2010 election cycle who votes against final passage of this historic bill.
At the same time, 29 nonprofit groups, including the one I work for, have sent a separate letter to House members that opens:
On behalf of the millions of members and volunteers that our organizations represent, we write to urge you to support final passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).
We also urge you to do everything possible to strengthen the bill between now and final
passage, and along its journey to the President’s desk.
After days of speculation and misinformation, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) today admitted that he had spent the past week in Argentina — not on the Appalachian trail, as his staff originally told the press — with a woman with whom he has been having an affair.
As the New York Times notes, the press conference “began rather oddly, with Mr. Sanford rambling about his love for the Appalachian trail, his exhaustion from a legislative battle over the federal stimulus and a need to get away from the public eye.” Sanford, who is married and has four children, eventually admitted that he has been having an affair with an Argentine woman. He also announced that he would be resigning as head of the Republican Governors Association. Watch it:
While serving as a U.S. congressman, Sanford was incredibly critical of his colleagues’ marital misdeeds, including the affairs of former congressman Bob Livingston and President Bill Clinton:
“The bottom line, though, is I am sure there will be a lot of legalistic explanations pointing out that the president lied under oath. His situation was not under oath. The bottom line, though, is he still lied. He lied under a different oath, and that is the oath to his wife. So it’s got to be taken very, very seriously.” [Sanford on Livingston, CNN, 12/18/98]
“We ought to ask questions…rather than circle the wagons for one of our tribe.” [Sanford on how the GOP reacts to affairs, New York Post, 12/20/98]
“I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign). I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.” [Sanford on Clinton, The Post and Courier, 9/12/98]
“The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government, representatives government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything.” [Sanford on Clinton, CNN, 2/16/99]
Sanford has also been an opponent of same-sex marriage, saying in 2004, “As Jenny and I are the parents of four little boys, we’ve always taught our kids that marriage was something between a man and a woman.” [The Post and Courier, 2/11/04]
There will be an effort to impeach Sanford, a Republican strategist with ties to South Carolina tells me. “He’s going to have to resign. It’s South Carolina.”
His rivals in the state legislature were among those fanning the flames of “Where the hell is he?”questions yesterday.
,Former South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson today said that there will likely be heavy pressure on Sanford to resign. “That call will come at a fevered pitch shortly,” he said, adding, “It’s important to hold our leaders accountable, and Gov. Sanford has flunked that test.”
,The State posted excerpts from the e-mails between Sanford and Maria.
I think you rarely see a sitting Senator be as reflective about the legislative process as Max Baucus is here when he says he regrets that the idea of a single-payer health care system was left out of the mix:
He conceded that it was a mistake to rule out a fully government-run health system, or a “single-payer plan,” not because he supports it but because doing so alienated a large, vocal constituency and left Mr. Obama’s proposal of a public health plan to compete with private insurers as the most liberal position.
I thin that’s right. Framing effects are important in politics. The public-private competition is supposed to be a compromise between the pristine vision of single-payer and the desire of private insurers not to be put out of business. It creates a situation in which insurers are challenged to prove that single-payer advocates are wrong, rather than simply assert it. But with no single-payer plan in the mix, this gets lost, and the compromise becomes the leftmost anchor of the debate. A single-payer plan couldn’t possibly have passed, but I think having hearings on single-payer and having one committee draft a serious single-payer bill that gets a serious CBO score would have been a useful exercise. In particular, it would have focused the mind on the costs involved in rejecting this option.
Meanwhile, it would be nice if David Herszenhorn, who wrote the article, understood the difference between a “single-payer plan” for health insurance and “a fully government-run health system.” The concepts are quite distinct and correspond to the difference between a health-insurance company and a hospital. Single-payer means the government is the insurance company, government-run health system means that the government would actually run the health system. Both exist abroad (Canada is single-payer, the UK is government-run) and at home (Medicare is single-payer, the VHA is government-run) and they’re very different.
I suppose I should have a post up about this. That press conference sure was odd.
At any rate, marital infidelity is a bad thing but it’s also fairly common and honestly not the greatest crime in human history. Sanford’s stimulus antics were, in my opinion, a lot worse. Still, the sheer hypocrisy of conservative “family values” talk always does rankle.
In 2006, it would have been a great deal. But as the legislation winds its way through the Senate, there will be unpleasant compromises, and unconscionable omissions, and the constant knowledge that though this is progress, it is not sufficient, and the people who stand in the way of a better bill are frequently incoherent or disingenuous. And that will be terribly frustrating for supports of the effort. The result will probably be a historic win when compared to the status quo, but I doubt it’s going to feel like that for supporters of the initiative.
This is a pretty good generic description of how congress works, but I think it may be wrong. I think the dynamics of the health care issue—particularly the financial dynamics—lend themselves to a strongly bivalent outcome. That’s because to the extent you crack down on private sector interests (progressive!) you free up money that can be used for subsidies and Medicaid expansion and the like, which is also progressive. And if it looks like a comprehensive health reform is likely to pass, I think two or three or six Republicans will want to hop on board, since there’s no use getting on the wrong side of history. At the same time, if you lose the momentum I think the coalition for reform could very quickly start rolling downhill. If Republicans think there’s any chance of blocking anything from passing, then their interest in a compromise will dry up instantly. If you have a weak-or-nonexistent public plan, then you can’t afford to provide much in the way of new benefits to people. And if you have a plan that doesn’t provide dramatic new benefits, but does piss off union leaders and Democrats from high-cost states (this is the Dianne Feinstein issue), then suddenly it’s not clear who the constituency for your bill is. The piranas will circle, and the whole thing can collapse.
Consequently, my take is that we’ll either get a very strong progressive bill or we’ll get a real legislative train wreck. Ezra’s analogy was to the stimulus bill, but my analogy would be to comprehensive immigration reform—tons of moving pieces mean you can lurch from dramatic change to hopeless coalition breakdown and back again very rapidly.
Today, the House Financial Services committee held the first in a series of hearings regarding financial regulatory reform and restructuring. Today’s topic was the new consumer protection agency that the Obama administration has proposed. During the hearing, House Republicans were adamant about their belief that the agency is intended to make us “yield our freedom” to “philosopher kings” who will dictate what consumers can and cannot buy, while forcing banks to lend to poor people. Some examples:
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX): An unelected bureaucrat will now decide for us what mortgages we can have. They will decide what bank accounts we can open. They may even decide whether or not we can be trusted with a credit card.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ): I don’t believe that creating more government agencies, perhaps those even with an Orwellian, heavy handed, government bureaucrat knows best mentality…is an appropriate solution.
Watch a compilation:
Incidentally, this is exactly how the mortgage and banking industries want the new agency to be characterized. When the administration’s plan was first released, the American Bankers Association (ABA) immediately claimed that it “needlessly rips apart all the existing regulatory agencies, eliminates charter choices and creates a new agency with powers to mandate loans and services that go well beyond consumer protection.” And today, ABA President and CEO Edward Yingling was on Capitol Hill, singing the same song:
[The agency] imposes government designed one-size-fits-all products – so-called plain vanilla products – over services that are designed for an increasingly diverse customer base…ABA believes the answer is not to have the government design products, mandate that they be offered, and give them an advantage over private sector products.
The new agency is actually meant to ensure that financial disclosure forms are clear and fair, that there are no gaps in the regulatory framework when it comes to existing consumer protections, and most importantly, to have an agency that is solely focused on consumer protection, instead of making it something that a bunch of agencies devote some of their time to. With their stance, House Republicans are endorsing the view of the banking and mortgage lobbyists, who want to maintain the same haphazard, almost non-existent regulation that led us down the subprime road the first time.
Ellen Harnick, a senior policy counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending, writes:
Some lenders have misused the banner phrase “free market” over the last 10 years to press for what in many ways has been a lawless market, with no commonsense effort to restrain excess, recklessness and in too many cases downright deception…This loosening of oversight did not promote competition but instead unleashed a race to the lowest standards possible, making it impossible for responsible lenders to compete.
The Senate has yet to confirm a number of President Obama’s nominees to various State Department posts. One of those nominees, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) — a champion of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — has had a hold placed on her nomination to become Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. But the hold on her nomination is not anonymous, as Foreign Policy’s Laura Rozen reports:
A blanket hold placed late last week by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on all State Department nominees appears to have been lifted on Saturday, administration sources tell The Cable. Kyl’s only remaining hold, The Cable was told, is on Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), President Obama’s nominee to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security.
Kyl’s office confirmed his remaining hold on Tauscher’s nomination. “He honestly has made no guise of his hold on her nomination,” spokesman Ryan Patmintra told The Cable Monday.
When asked why Kyl is placing a hold on Tauscher, a spokesperson said, “He expressed privately to the administration his concerns. He has chosen not to discuss them publicly.” Indeed, Kyl’s office did not respond to an inquiry from ThinkProgress.
But last week, Rozen reported that Capitol Hill sources said Kyl “is not satisified with the information he has been receiving from the administration on the progress of arms control negotiations with Russia”:
“Kyl’s beef and the general Republican argument now emerging against the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy is that they are rushing to conclude a new agreement with Russia on strategic arms levels before their Nuclear Posture Review [NPR] is complete,” a Democratic congressional source said.
However, the Obama administration has to move quickly because the arms control agreement with Russia — the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a verification regime signed in 1991 — expires on Dec. 5. The Obama administration has made no secret of wanting warmer relations with Russia. In recent negotiations, both nations have expressed interest in “much deeper cuts in strategic arsenals than those achieved by START when it came into force.”
Nuclear non-proliferation expert Joseph Cirincione told ThinkProgress, “Senator Kyl wants to delay any arms reductions until the Nuclear Posture Review, then work the process so the NPR makes only minor changes to the existing nuclear arsenal.”
Indeed, if Obama makes a deal with Russian President Medvedev to drastically reduce nuclear stockpiles, Kyl — who is against reducing America’s nuclear weapons — won’t have much of an opportunity to challenge it. Kyl would rather play domestic politics with the NPR and have a chance at limiting nuclear reductions before any U.S.-Russia binding agreement. Thus, it appears Kyl is using the NPR as an excuse to block U.S. negotiations with Russia, and is holding up Tauscher’s nomination as blackmail.
Yale Law School dean Harold Koh’s nomination to become the State Department’s legal advisor was also put on hold anonymously. However Rozen reports today that a cloture vote on his nomination passed this morning on a 65-31 vote.