Weekly Pulse: What Do GOP Gains Mean for Health Care? Abortion Rights?

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The Republicans gained ground in last night’s midterm elections, recapturing the House and gaining seats in the Senate. The future House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) wasted no time in affirming that the GOP will try to repeal health care reform.

A full-scale repeal is unlikely in the next two years because the Democrats have retained control of the White House and the Senate. However, Republicans are already making noises about shutting down the government to force the issue. The House controls the nation’s purse strings, which confers significant leverage if the majority is willing to bring the government to a screeching halt to make a point.

Don’t assume they’ll blink. The GOP shut down government in 1995, albeit to its own political detriment. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his allies have sworn a “blood oath” to shut down the government, regardless of the consequences. The Republicans may actually succeed in modifying minor aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the controversial 1099 reporting requirement for small business.

The most significant threat to the implementation of health care reform may be at the state level.  Republicans picked up several governorships, and the Affordable Care Act requires the cooperation of states to set up their own insurance exchanges. Hostile governors could seriously impede things.

Mixed results for radical, anti-choice senate candidates

As a group, the eight ultra-radical, anti-choice Republican Senate candidates had mixed results last night. Three wins, two sure losses, and three likely losses that haven’t been definitively called. Voters didn’t seem thrilled about electing senators who oppose a woman’s right to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

Two cruised to victory: Rand Paul easily defeated Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky.  Paul is one of the most extreme the of a radical cohort. As Amie Newman reported in RH Reality Check, Paul doesn’t even believe in a woman’s right to abort to save her own life. In Florida, anti-choice standard bearer Marco Rubio defeated Independent Charlie Christ.

Another radical anti-choicer, Pat Toomey, who favors jailing abortion providers, narrowly edged out Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

Two were soundly defeated. Evangelical code-talker Sharron Angle lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and anti-masturbation crusader Christine O’Donnell lost to Chris Coons in Delaware.

The last three radical anti-choice senate candidates were down, but not, out as of this morning. Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett leads Republican Ken Buck by just 15,000 votes out of over 1.5 million ballots cast, according to TPMDC. Planned Parenthood launched an 11th hour offensive against Buckbecause of his retrograde stances on abortion, sexual assault, and other women’s issues, as Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent.

This morning, Tea Party Republican Joe Miller was trailing behind incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who challenged him as an Independent, but no winner had been declared. In Washington State, Democrat Sen. Patti Murray maintains a 1% lead over radical anti-choicer Republican Dino Rossi.

Are fertilized eggs people in Colorado?

Coloradans won a decisive victory for reproductive rights last night. Fertilized eggs are still not peoplein Colorado, as Jodi Jacobson reports for RH Reality Check.

Amendment 62, which would have conferred full person status from the moment of conception, thereby outlawing abortion and in vitro fertilization. It also called into question the legality of many forms of birth control, including an array of medical procedures for pregnant women that might harm their fetuses. The proposed amendment was resoundingly defeated: 72% against to 28% in favor. This is the second time Colorado voters have rejected an egg-as-person amendment.

Blue Dogs and anti-choice Dems feel the pain

Last night was brutal for corporatist Democrats who fought the more progressive options for health care reform and Democrats who put their anti-choice ideology ahead passing health care. In AlterNet, Sarah Seltzer reports only 12 of the 34 Democrats who voted against health care reform hung on to their seats. The Blue Dog caucus was halved overnight from 56 to 24. Nick Baumann of Mother Jonesspeculated that the midterms would mark the end of the Stupak bloc, the coalition of anti-choice Democrats whose last-minute brinksmanship could have derailed health care reform.

Did foot-dragging on health care hurt Democrats?

Jamelle Bouie suggests at TAPPED that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by passing a health care reform bill that won’t provide tangible benefits to most people for years. The exchanges that are supposed to provide affordable insurance for millions of Americans won’t be up and running until 2014.

In Summer 2009, Former DNC chair Howard Dean predicted that the Democrats would be penalized at the polls if they failed to deliver tangible benefits from health care reform before the midterm elections. That’s why Dean suggested expanding the public health insurance programs we already have, rather than creating insurance exchanges from scratch.

Sink, sunk by Scott

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones profiles Rick Scott, the billionaire health clinic mogul, corporate fraudster, and enemy of health care reform who spent over $50 million of his own money to eke out a very narrow victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida governor’s race.

Apparently, many Floridians were willing to overlook the fact that Scott had to pay a $1.7 billion fine for defrauding Medicare, the largest fine of its kind in history. Scott also spent $5 million of his own money to found Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, one of the leading independent groups opposing health care reform.

Pot isn’t legalized in California

California defeated Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for personal use. David Borden of DRCnet, a pro-legalization group, writes in AlterNet that the fight over Prop 19 brought legalization into the political mainstream, even if the measure didn’t prevail at the polls. The initiative won the backing of the California NAACP, SEIU California, the National Black Police Association, and the National Latino Officers Association and other established groups.

So, what’s next for health care reform? The question everyone is asking is whether John Boehner will cave to the extremists in his own party and attempt a full-scale government shutdown, or whether the Republicans will content themselves with extracting piecemeal modifications of the health care law.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by membersof The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The AuditThe Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Will the Real Enthusiasm Gap-Please Stand Up!

 

 

With the mid-term elections just around the corner, Republican poll numbers are cresting, as Democrats are making their way back to their ideological home.

With the DNC raising a record 16 million in September, it is very clear that the Democratic Pary is alive and well and the voters are gearing up for the November election. 

According to The Fix, “The Democratic National Committee raised $16 million in September alone, a startlingly strong month of fundraising that party operatives insist is a sign of momentum for their side with roughly one month remaining before the November midterms.”

The DNC record haul was not only their best month of 2010, but also their best year since 2002. What is even more encouraging for Democrats is that 80% of the record total came from the Internet and direct mailings, not fundraisers featuring wealthy individual donors.

On the GOP side, the RNC has not, and probably will not release their fundraising numbers. Michael Steele has crushed all Republican confidence in the organization, and the RNC has been struggling to raise money since he became chairman. The RNC and Republican organizers such as Karl Rove, have been relying on outside groups such as the Koch brothers to fund their slate of candidates around the country. It is becoming apparanet that big time money will not guarantee an election victory, as Republicans were betting on after recruiting a handful of wealthy contributers.

The media loves to drum up expectations of the election results,even before the voters cast their votes. They use generic poll questions to measure voter enthusiasm, and then use the unreliable results of their pretenious poll, to predict in their words the beginning of a "Republican Tsunami".  However, as Democrats wake up from their Summer slumber and begin to focurs on the election and determine what's at stake in the midterms, voter apathy is being replaced by voter enthusiam. The tidal wave of the GOP, may yet become a myth as the election draws near.

It isn’t a coincidence that as President Obama has hit the road and started to campaign for Democrats and define the message of the 2010 election, Democratic voters are engaging. They are beginning to understand and realize that a Republican 'Tea Party' takeover is not an alternative that the country can afford to make . Contrary to the media narrative, Democrats are far from dead. In fact they may not only survive, but retain their majorities in what was supposed to be the so called year of the Republican.

 

 

 

 

GOP Senate Candidate Suggests Abolishing Dept. Of Energy, Education

I mentioned John Raese in a post just a few days back.  He is the GOP Candidate for the US Senate special election in West Virginia.  Robert C. Byrd's vacated seat is up for grabs.  Raese is running against Current West Virginia Governor, Joe Manchin.  

Raese hasn't been shy about his staunchly conservative background, and made it known even more in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier this week.  

Raese would advocate paying for tax cuts by eliminating the federal departments of Education and Energy and the Internal Revenue Service, along with such other cuts as freezing federal workers' salaries for a year. In place of the IRS — whose agents he said would be of better use guarding the U.S.-Mexico border — he supports either a flat income tax or a national sales tax.

(Source:  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

 

Raese coins the token position of Conservative "Almost-Jesus" Ronald Reagan when posting his views on the aforementioned departments. Reagan apparently wanted to abolish the department of Education as Raese claims.  In the interview, he is quoted as saying:

"What does the Department of Energy do?  I don't know.  Does it drill any wells?  Does it mine any coal? ... do we need it? No."

It might be helpful, Mr. Raese, to know a little bit about the Departments of the Federal Government that you want to get rid of.   Raese is currently trailing Joe Manchin (D) by a slim margin of a -2 spread, according to polling compiled on RCP.  Manchin had previously held a sizable lead, but in the last few months that lead has dwindled and the Governor is now having to play catch-up.

 

GOP: When Stereotypes Come Home to Roost

As a party, Republicans have moved from mainstream conservatism toward the outer fringes of their tent.  In getting cozy with their ideological outer edge  they’ve ended up with some unsavory candidates, like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Sarah Palin. In essence, the GOP has been out-righted by the far right.

The party spends a lot of time defending itself from charges of supporting only rich people or Big Business. But they complicate their defense by drafting a new Contract on America™ that’s heavy on tax cuts they can’t explain and inviting de facto lobbyists to help author it.

Huzzah for the GOP
Another charge leveled against the party is racism. While you can no more profile a Republican’s race relations philosophy than you can profile an illegal immigrant, sometimes stereotypes are true. This time the GOP stereotype is NY congressional Candidate, Jim Russell.

Russell became the party nominee after previous candidate, Paul Wasserman, dropped out. Now the party wants to sue to remove him from the ballot over charges that Russell is a racist.

Judging from his public statements about minorities – like his support for eugenics – his racism seems to show as plainly and unequivocally as a southern belle’s antebellum skirt. But, Republicans shouldn’t be  surprised since Russell has run as a Republican – and lost his primaries – no fewer than three times and they’ve never objected to him before.

The GOP frequently argues against the race card charge by pointing out they’re “the party of Lincoln”. The problem is Lincoln died 145 years ago and the GOP of today bears little resemblance to the GOP circa 1860. The not your great-great grandfather’s GOP often discriminates against all manner of people they don’t like – Muslims, gays, and Mexicans alike.  With a record like that and Russell’s, its little wonder why racial stereotypes of Republicans die about as readily as their stereotypes of race.

A Breath of Fresh Air
But in the Russell case, I’ll give Westchester GOP chair, Doug Colety, props. Not only did he denounce Russell, but said, “We’re not supporting him. We’ve withdrawn funds, volunteers, all resources. This is not the way Republicans think.” Although he also used the party of Lincoln gambit, he did take strong and positive action against a virulent racist. A breath of fresh air, someone who actually does hold people – including himself – accountable.

More’s the pity more GOPers don’t do the same. Instead of praising a Governor promoting unfair – and possibly illegal – legislation against immigrants it would be nice if they actually tried to help find a rational response to the very real problem of illegal immigration instead of spreading rumors of fictional headless corpses along the border. Or, instead of attacking Muslim’s freedom of religion and Constitutional rights, they might listen to some of their saner Christian brethren who call for religious harmony.

Although I don’t think I’d ever be one – but I’d also say, “never say never” – there’s nothing wrong with Republicanism or conservatism, it’s the people, like Russell and Angle & Co., who sometimes give it a bad name. It’s admirable that leaders like Colety accept that the buck stops with them. However, if you bolster your own stereotypes, don’t bitch when they’re used against you.

You’ll be better off as will the nation.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Trouble Brewing For Joe Manchin in WV Senate Race

(Crossposted on FDL Seminal)

Hello again MyDD community, it has been awhile since I've posted on here.

Up until now, Governor Joe Manchin (WV) has been riding the tide. He’s had 50%+ approval ratings for the majority of his gubernatorial stint (with an astounding 80% in January of 2006), is a recognizable name in West Virginia, and has made his name known on the national scene by being the leader that carried the Mountain State through the coal mining tragedies in the past years.

Manchin declared his candidacy for the United States Senate shortly after long-time serving West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd passed away. Most saw this as a clear victory for Manchin. His primary foes didn’t amount to much of a competition (despite a candidate solely running on Mountaintop Removal-Related Issues) and Governor Joe seemed slated to keep the Senate seat for the Democrats for the midterm elections.

However according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) Poll released earlier this week, Manchin was down 3 points to the GOP contender John Raese. (Albeit, a Rasmussen Poll has Manchin up 7 points). This is leaving the West Virginia Republican Party salivating at the prospects of an upset.  . . .

"Our folks are jacked up," said Jim Dornan, Raese’s campaign manager.

Rasmussen Reports, based on its findings from a survey on Sunday, said the race went from the Toss Up to again in the Leans Democrat category in its Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings. Manchin has a 50 percent to 43 percent lead over Raese, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen polled 750 likely voters on Sunday. Two weeks ago Rasmussen called the race a toss-up with Manchin favored by 50 percent to Raese’s 45 percent.

(Source: Parkersburg News)

This isn’t Raese’s first attempt at Electoral glory in the Mountain State. Raese has attempted, a number of times, to unseat West Virginia notables like Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and even Former Republican Governor Arch Moore. All of these attempts have left Raese unsuccessful at gaining office. This looks to be Raese’s best chance yet at getting elected.

Raese has made his name known across the mountains and valleys of West Virginia by running an ad stating that he will not be "a rubber-stamp to Barack Obama." As cheesy and lame as it sounds, it will most likely have an effect on voters in West Virginia given that the state voted overwhelmingly for McCain in 2008.

All Obama, All The Time: Raese may be running against Manchin, but his campaign will be focused on Pres. Obama. Obama’s poll numbers in West Virginia are among his worst in the country. As one West Virginia Republican put it, "he’s despised here." Republican polling has found that Obama’s disapproval is climbing toward 70% and support for health care reform isn’t much better.

Raese will nationalize the race and Republicans believe he stands to benefit from the strategy in a big way. To do this, he’ll seek to tie Manchin to Obama with steel ties. Raese will particularly target health care reform and cap and trade legislation — two issues that West Virginians strongly oppose. This strategy is apparent in one of his latest ads.

"Joe Manchin’s been supporting Barack Obama’s liberal agenda for years," the narrator says. "Manchin supports Obama’s government run health care and its $400 billion in Medicare cuts…We can’t afford Joe Manchin in the Senate as a rubber stamp for Obama." Expect to see plenty more like that.

(Source: Hotline On Call)

Years?  It makes it sound like Obama has been in office longer than 20 months.  Oh well, that Raese sure is a strange one!

Manchin’s lead in the race has been slowly dwindling. West Virginia is a peculiar state. In the past 3 Presidential elections, West Virginia has voted (mostly by a decent margin) for the Republican candidate. However, only one GOP member is currently seated in Congress from the state (Shelley Moore Capito). It will be interesting to see how this Senate race plays out.

Manchin is highly regarded across the state, but as of late has taken some controversial positions on hot-button issues like the Bush Tax Cuts. The West Virginia AFL-CIO was disappointed and "taken aback" by Joe Manchin’s support for the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.

On Wednesday, Manchin said he believes Bush-era tax breaks should be extended for all Americans, including the wealthiest. The governor said the federal government should seek ways to be more efficient before asking people of any income level to pay higher taxes in a recession.

Matheney (WV AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer) on Thursday said those statements are disappointing.

"When there’s a tremendous outcry about deficit spending, to continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest in the belief that it’s somehow going to stimulate our economy, it defies logic," Matheney said. "I think anyone supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest is disappointing, and it was surprising."

(Source: Charleston Gazette)

This will most likely not sit well with Democrats in the state. West Virginia is by no means rich. In fact, it is one of the poorest states in the Union (I believe Mississippi is the only state to have a lower income level). Manchin’s argument has a foundation on the age-old belief that you shouldn’t raise taxes during a recession. What is ironic about this stance, which most GOP members of Congress support, is that we can’t afford to extend the Bush Tax Cuts. This would increase the deficit even more, something Republicans have been harping about for months now. It would make more sense to give tax breaks to the Middle-Class, especially in West Virginia’s case, so that people can start spending again.

Anyway, enough Bush Tax Cut rants.

The Raese-Manchin matchup slated for November will be a defining race in West Virginia’s history. Will the state choose to stick with tradition and keep a Democrat they’ve had good feelings about for the past 8 years or will voters be swept up in the GOP tide and vote in Businessman Raese.

Raese is the typical Republican. Need proof? Just visit his website and click on his bio tab. The first thing you see after you click on it is a picture of Raese decked out in a flashy suit clutching a rifle with the all too familiar tagline that reads "NRA Lifetime Member." Nothing like guns to court the West Virginia vote.

This shake-up could be a defining moment, not only for West Virginia, but the United States Senate as a whole.

Hold on to your hats, this one is going to get interesting.

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