Legislative and Political Update: In Major Policy Shift, Democrats Will Extend Bush Tax Cuts

 

Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Joe Lieberman (CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) were among lawmakers discussing merits of extending the Bush tax cuts. Lieberman advocates it for the middle class, but Bayh, Nelson and Kent Conrad (D-ND) want all of the tax cuts extended. The liberal website Daily Kos said “Conrad, Bayh, and Nelson are whores for the wealthy.” If Democrats “extend those tax cuts for the wealthy, unions will be gone, progressives will be gone.”

IN THIS REPORT JournoList Scandal, Inside The RNC, Estate Taxes, Anti-War Conservatives, Netroots Nation, Abolishing the Republican Party, and reports from Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota and West Virginia.
JOURNOLIST SCANDAL: The JournoList story remained at the top of the news all week. The importance for the right wing is the confirmation it provides of liberal bias in the news media. There would be few complaints if the JournoList participants were all editorial writers. However, members of this group were reporters who supposedly were providing an unbiased accounting of events.
Sarah Palin called them “sick puppies” after it was revealed they were trying to generate attacks on her in the summer of 2008. They were sharing ideas on how to damage her candidacy before she gave her first speech.
Now these journalists admit their goal was to attack her, and their ideas dominated the media in the Fall of 2008. In the past these “progressive journalists” claimed they did not let their political allegiances influence their reporting, but that will be hard to claim in the future.
Tucker Carlson of Daily Caller writes:

We discovered members of JournoList working to coordinate talking points on behalf of Democratic politicians, principally Barack Obama. That is not journalism, and those who engage in it are not journalists. They should stop pretending to be. The news organizations they work for should stop pretending, too.

HUFFINGTON POST: David Bourgeois’ current article is entitled “Why The Republican Party Must be Abolished.” Bourgeois is a contributor to New York magazine and the Village Voice, and says:

The GOP has not just become the Party of No, it’s become an example of how a party shouldn’t run the country. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have worked dubiously in the past two years to keep Americans unemployed and the economy stagnant. This isn’t pundit bloviating, simply a fact. . . Obama, in the eyes of Congressional Republicans, can do nothing right. It doesn’t deserve to lead. The GOP should implode, become a marginal party on the fringes of American society like the Libertarian Party or the LaRouche movement.

Another Bourgeois article is entitled: “Democrats on Track to Increase Congressional Majority Come November: Sean Hannity on Suicide Watch.”
WORLD NET DAILY: This popular website is best known for the attention it devotes to President Obama’s birth certificate. WND readers describe themselves as “very conservative,” but editor Joseph Farah is now advocating foreign policy views which are usually heard on the left.
He wants the United States to pull out of both Iraq and Afghanistan. In his current column, Farah says:

For the life of me, I cannot begin to understand our objectives in either Iraq or Afghanistan any more. Because I appreciate the sacrifice our men and women are making over there, it is with a heavy heart that I make this proclamation. But enough is enough. . . I’m just stunned by how little debate is raging in America over these quagmires. Where is the anti-war movement when we really need them? I admit I was a supporter of both of these campaigns. I was obviously wrong. The Taliban is as active today as it was in 2001. . . I know most of the U.S. troops in Iraq are scheduled to leave at the end of August. But will they come home? Will they go to Afghanistan, where the war is escalating? Will they leave as scheduled at all? No one seems to know. No one seems to care. I care. I say bring the troops home now.

REINSTATEMENT OF ESTATE TAXES: A major initiative for liberals in the months ahead will be reinstatement of the estate tax. The primary sponsors of this effort are Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). The tax disappeared during the Bush administration but it is set to return at its pre-2001 level of 55%.
Sen. Sanders has an article in the current issue of The Nation entitled “No To Oligarchy.”
It is about his recently introduced “Responsible Estate Tax Act” (S.3533) which he claims will raise $318 billion from the wealthy. Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist, and is the first person elected in Senate history to identify as a socialist.
Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) amendment to permanently repeal it failed last week by a 59 to 39 vote. DeMint says reinstatement will cost 500,000 jobs. He made that claim based on a study by the former director of the Congressional Budget Office.
DeMint also discussed a study demonstrating that permanently repealing the death tax could create 1.5 million jobs. Sen. Sanders neglects to mention that the death tax often forces families to sell businesses, DeMint claims.
Many of these families do not have enough cash to pay the tax, and studies described how the owners of small business such as gas stations are forced to sell. These businesses provide them with a middle class living, but their wealth is tied up in the assets that generate their annual income.
NETROOTS NATION: This annual convention of liberal bloggers is now meeting in Las Vegas and 2,100 activists are in attendance. In discussing their strategy for this year, Netroots founder Markos Moulitsas said:

My motto in 2002 when I first started was “More Democrats” because we were in the minority. Now we have big majorities and we’re realizing that big majorities aren’t really the solution to the lack of effective governance in this country. So we’ve evolved from “More Democrats” to “Better Democrats.”
We’ve realized that we can upgrade. We can either take out incumbents in primaries and push some of them in to early retirement, or if they know they’re going to have a primary, get them to alter their behavior. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is an example of someone who was terrible, but when she got a primary challenge that was half-way credible, she got a lot better. And that’s what he want to see. Even Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) got a lot better.

INSIDE THE RNC: Several publications are reporting that former Sen. Norm Coleman (MN) is planning to challenge Michael Steele’s re-election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee next January. On CNN yesterday with Wolf Blitzer and James Carville, Coleman said “We’re not going to talk about that now.” He then proceeded to talk about it.
Steele defeated incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan on sixth ballot in January of 2009 by a vote of 91 to 77. Steele is in hot water for suggesting U.S. troops should not be in Afghanistan. Bush political adviser Karl Rove called Steele’s comment “boneheaded,” and Liz Cheney said he should resign.
Coleman was a frequent target of anti-war activists in liberal Minnesota. He was one of three GOP Senators who opposed the Bush surge in Iraq, and lost to Sen. Al Franken (D) by only 312 votes. If a third party libertarian candidate had not been in the race, Coleman would have been re-elected in 2008.
Republican National Committeeman David Norcross, 73, is stepping down at the RNC meeting next month. In 1976 he was the GOP nominee who unsuccessfully challenged the fourth term of liberal Sen. Harrison Williams (D).
Williams later wished Norcross had defeated him because he became the first Senator in 80 years to be sent to federal prison. Norcross is Chairman of the RNC’s Rules Committee, and previously served as NJ GOP Chairman, RNC General Counsel and head of the Arrangements Committee at the 2004 Convention.
FLORIDA: PPP today has a survey on Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) 2012 re-election race. Nelson has 46% compared to former Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) 44%. Nelson has a huge 49% to 28% lead over appointed Sen. George LeMieux (R). Jeb Bush has never expressed an interest in a Senate race, and LeMieux hasd high negatives among Republicans because of his association with Gov. Charlie Crist.
ILLINOIS: Former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D) of Chicago, who served from 1958 to 1994, is seriously ill with cancer. For 14 years he was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. On September 26, 1960, Rostenkowski was in the CBS studio in Chicago to view in person the first ever televised Presidential debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
Unaware of the stark differences on camera, Rostenkowski later said “I was under the impression Kennedy lost the debate.”
The book Chicago and the American Century describes how he secured billions of dollars for his city and state. In 1996, Rostenkowski, 82, pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and was sentenced to 17 months in prison.
KENTUCKY: In a Braun Research poll out yesterday, Rand Paul (R) has a 41% to 38% lead over liberal Attorney General Jack Conway (D). Conway defeated moderate Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D) in the primary, and the GOP should be grateful Conway won.
Mongiardo came within 1% of winning this seat six years ago, and according to the Braun Poll, Conway is being supported by only 55% of Democrats. Rand Paul has reversed himself on several issues, and has now endorsed Mitch McConnell (KY) to continue as the Senate Republican Leader.
MISSOURI: The St. Louis Post Dispatch poll for the open U.S. Senate seat gives the GOP a small lead. The survey was conducted between July 19-21 , and it gives Rep. Roy Blunt (R) a 48% to 42% lead over Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).
Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has a difficult re-election campaign against State Sen. Bill Stouffer (R). Skelton, 78, has a large cash advantage and is a 17 term incumbent. He avoided President Obama’s recent visit to Kansas City. Chuck Todd of NBC says if Skelton loses it means Republicans will take control of the House.
NEW JERSEY: The national outlook for Republicans is excellent, but a few of the districts they once emphasized have now been removed from their target list. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) carried the 6th district last November, and various rating agencies had listed it as “Leans Democratic.”
That has now been shifted to “Solid Democrat” because there was an upset in the GOP primary. Tea Party endorsed candidate Anna Little won by just 84 votes, but has not been successful in raising money. Little has $16,000 in cash on hand compared to the $4.1 million held by Rep. Frank Pallone (D).
NORTH DAKOTA: The election is four months away, but Republicans have already scored a big win. Liberal Sen. Byron Dorgan (R) and his seat will easily be captured by Gov. John Hoeven (R). For the past six months Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D) has been trailing State Rep. Rick Berg (R), who has a 7 percent led in the most recent survey.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D), the Chairman of the Budget Committee, is not up for re-election until 2012, but he has already significantly shifted his views. He now wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000. ”
Conrad says Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing. Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) agree with him. The Daily Kos says “Conrad, Bayh, and Nelson are whores for the wealthy.” If Democrats “extend those tax cuts for the wealthy, unions will be gone, progressives will be gone.”
WEST VIRGINIA: Former GOP State Chairman John Raese has entered the Senate race. He spent $2.2 million of his own money on his 2006 challenge to the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D). Raese admitted he has a “quirky sense of humor,” and referred to appointed Sen. Carte Goodwin (D) as “Carte Blanche.”
Raese is a mining company operator (Greer Industries) who also owns local radio stations. Former Secretary of State Betty Ireland will not be a candidate, but Raese will be challenged in the primary by State Sen. Clark Barnes. A Rasmussen Poll out yesterday gives Manchin a 51% to 35% lead over Raese.

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