Second Obama Re-Elect Co-Chair Backs Including Marriage Equality In Democratic Platform |
A second co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), has come out in favor of including marriage equality in the Democratic Party platform, the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel reports. A spokesman for Feingold, who has supported same-sex marriage since 2006, says the former senator supports Freedom To Marry’s Democrats: Say I Do campaign. This morning, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who is also co-chairing the re-elect, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in backing the effort. At least 13 of Obama’s announced co-chairs have publicly endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage.
McCain, Feingold Issue Statement On Two-Year Anniversary Of Citizens United |
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) issued a joint statement today on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. The co-sponsors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as Mccain-Feingold and which was partially overturned by Citizens United, called the decision “one of the worst, and most radically activist decisions in the Court’s history,” and urged both parties “to work together to remedy the obvious damage to our political system caused by the Citizens United decision.”
Feingold Calls On Democrats To Embrace 99 Percent Movement: ‘This Is No Time To Hang Back’ |
Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D), who founded Progressives United after leaving the Senate last year, weighed in on the 99 Percent Movement protests that began on Wall Street and have spread across the nation in the last two weeks. Appearing on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, Feingold called on Democratic politicians, some of whom he said are guilty of being “a part of this money system,” to abandon “cautious politics” and join the movement. “This is no time to hang back,” Feingold said. “One of the biggest problems Democrats have is they forget the power and the passion that the base of the party has. … To not understand the power of that type of populism, to not encourage it, to not embrace it, is a huge mistake. This is not a time for cautious politics.” Watch it:
Former Sen. Russ Feingold Endorses Protest Movement |
In an interview with Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, progressive former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) offered strong praise for the protests, saying, “I’m really encouraged by what I’m seeing.” “People around the country are finally organizing to stand up to the huge influence of corporations on government and our lives,” he said. Feingold, who has formed a new group to counter corporate influence over politics, said, “This kind of citizen reaction to corporate power and corporate greed is long overdue,”and rejected the notion that the protests don’t have a coherent message:
“The American people are saying, wait, we have the boot of corporations on our necks, and we’re sick of it. This is a significantly coherent message at the beginning of something like this.” [...] “This is a populist movement based on genuine suffering and fear,” he said. “Anyone who really lives out in working America knows that people are feeling very scared. This movement would probably not have this fuel if not for that reality.”
Towleroad’s Andrew Belonsky points to this Public Policy Polling: “If Feingold sits it out Tammy Baldwin is looking like the early favorite. In a three way race with Ron Kind and Steve Kagen she leads with 37% to 21% for Kind and 15% for Kagen. And in just a two way race with Kagen she leads 48-19.”
The Justices also reached the fairly obvious conclusion that a woman who is imprisoned can challenge her conviction under any constitutional amendment she likes — although they said nothing about whether her claims are likely to win.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) has joined his fellow Kansan Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in throwing a tantrum because judicial nominee Steve Six refused to conduct anti-Planned Parenthood witch hunts when he was Kansas’ attorney general.
Democrats in at least three tightly contested campaigns defended their votes for the Affordable Care Act last night, touting the most popular provisions of the law and insisting that the law represented a step in the right direction. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been the most vocal supporter of the law on the campaign trail, but Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) — who is running for Evan Bayh’s seat — are also using their votes for the law’s consumer protections to distinguish themselves from their Republican opponents.
During a series of rapid fire questions about health care in the Colorado senate debate, Bennet’s challenger Ken Buck said he supported some of the popular provisions in the law, to which Bennet retorted, “until the very end, Ken Buck was for the health care reform bill.” Some other highlights:
ELLSWORTH: “I’m proud that we took it on. I think it does some great things. I think that it eliminates pre-existing conditions for children and then eventually for adults. It finally closes the doughnut hole for seniors… And I think that’s a very important step. Is the bill perfect? Absolutely not. Will it be added to and deleted from, it will? But it was a good first step and we should do it.”
FEINGOLD: “It’s really a compromise that’s sort of in the Wisconsin tradition…the bill is a good compromise that I think brings the country forward on the number one issue that’s been brought up to me over the years….I want this bill because I think it was the right solution. Yes, I would have preferred a public option because I think it would have made it even stronger.”
Watch a compilation:
Responding to Feingold’s strong defense of the health law, challenger Ron Johnson has softened his rhetoric on repeal, while Buck has conceded that the claim that the law would cut $500 billion from Medicare benefits is false.
After a debate with Feingold on Friday, however, Johnson had second thoughts about this strategy. He first embraced repeal and replace, but then backed away from immediate repeal, telling reporters that he supports provisions that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions:
REPORTER: Is there anything in the bill that you like that needs to stay?
JOHNSON: Well certainly provisions that we can, again, there that we can repeal the whole thing and replace it with modest bills. Incremental, a modular type of system. What I’ve been talking about is not repeal and then replace. I would suggest we replace and then repeal. Let’s face it. We’re not going to repeal it in the first two years. So what I suggest is if the Republicans take over one of the houses of Congress, they start writing the replacement bill from day 1 so that we can show the American people this is what we intend to do and then we can show exactly how we’re going to solve the health care system in this country.
REPORTER: So health care for people with pre-existing conditions?
JOHNSON: My daughter’s heart is backwards. I think every voter in Wisconsin can be sure that I protect people with pre-existing conditions — that they’ll be able to maintain coverage.
Under the GOP’s replacement Pledge in the House, however, individuals with pre-existing conditions who are currently uninsured could have a hard time finding affordable insurance since issuers would still be able to deny them coverage.
Johnson’s attempt to temper expectations for what Republican will be able to achieve if they do win back the House after the mid-term elections was also recently echoed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who told PBS’ The News Hour: “Even if we controlled the House, unless we controlled the Senate and got 60 votes, we wouldn’t be able to pass any corresponding legislation in the Senate. So I think, we need to keep expectations, again, fairly modest as far as what we can do over the next two years.”
In July, Johnson was certain that Republicans must instantly repeal the health law. “The U.S. should rip up the recently passed health reform law and emphasize free-market principles such as health savings accounts and out-of-pocket charges – for as big a chunk of the country’s medical care as possible,” Johnson told the Journal Sentinel, insisting that the uninsurance crisis was overblown and that some people could find care at retail clinics like Walmart and Walgreens.
Since ThinkProgress issued a report two days ago about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s foreign funding, there has been a considerable reaction. The New York Times published an editorial yesterday, saying that the report “raises fresh questions about whether they [the Chamber] are violating both the letter and spirit of the campaign finance laws.” Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has called on the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the Chamber is in fact using foreign funds to pay for political attacks in the United States. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) called on his Republican opponent to denounce a Chamber ad that attacks Feingold.
Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, former FEC chairman Scott Thomas — who was appointed by Ronald Reagan and re-appointed to the commission by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton — said “if it turns out that any money in fact is being knowingly put into the process from foreign companies or from foreign government sources, that would be a serious problem.” Watch it:
Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, went further. He told ThinkProgress that there was “absolutely no doubt” that there is a potential for the Chamber to violate election law, and called for much tougher enforcement of campaign finance regulations:
To me there is absolutely no doubt that this is a back-door way to get around what are long-standing and legitimate restrictions. This is happening not just because of Citizen’s United, it’s also happening because we have an utterly worthless and feckless Federal Election Commission and an IRS code that needs serious toughening and revamping. We also have a very serious need to have the IRS look at the regulations involving 527s and especially 501(c)(4)s — regulations that are being flouted and abused even as we speak.
Good government groups are weighing in as well. Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan organization that works on democracy and governance issues, said that the ThinkProgress report “raises a series of very important questions that must be addressed”:
The CAP article shows that we need an immediate investigation to determine whether the Chamber of Commerce is using foreign money to fund its $75 million campaign to influence the 2010 federal elections, since that would be illegal. If the Chamber wants to make the case that they are keeping their foreign funds away from being spent on campaign activities, they ought to do so publicly and disclose how they are accomplishing this since money is fungible.
The Chamber opposes transparency in political spending. They support outsourcing jobs overseas. They’re taking foreign money. And now they basically say, “trust us” when there’s mounting evidence they’re outsourcing the funding of their political attacks ads? Yeah, right. They should immediately pull any ads they’re running, and any candidate benefiting from their spending ought to join us in demanding the Chamber come clean.
Not all groups agree, of course. The conservative Center for Competitive Politics asserted in a memo that the Chamber should simply be trusted. “[I]n America, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work. Individuals and groups are not presumed to have violated the law based on a bogus blog post from a political opponent which cites tenuous evidence to show ‘likely’ violations of the law.” When pressed during a phone interview with ThinkProgress, Jeff Patch, the group’s communications director and author of the memo, reiterated that the Chamber should simply be trusted. “It doesn’t seem to be that there’s any evidence they’ve used the funds for political activity,” he said. “I think the answer is generally, yeah, we do trust organizations unless there’s a clear indication they violated the law.” It’s hard to consider evidence, however, when the Chamber refuses to release any evidence whatsoever of their accounting methods. Patch acknowledged this, but said “I don’t know what they would do besides releasing a forensic audit of their funds.” If the outcry continues and the FEC does begin a serious investigation, perhaps that’s exactly what will happen.