Archive for ‘Washington’

May 26, 2011

Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on …

Dems rejoice over NY; will Medicare redo 2012?
May 26, 2011, 2:59 a.m. EDT
Associated Press
Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Hello Reader, What Party Do You Want Running The US Government 2013? Selection Poll B.O.Page!WASHINGTON (AP) — Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on Wednesday after casting a House race in upstate New York as a referendum on the popular program and emerging victorious.

“The top three reasons for the election of a Democrat in one of the most conservative Republican districts in America are Medicare, Medicare and Medicare,” declared New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the party’s congressional campaign committee.

House Republicans made little if any attempt to demonstrate widespread support for their controversial proposal during the day. And the National Republican Congressional Committee offered no explanation for having let hundreds of thousands of dollars in Democratic-funded attacks on the proposed Medicare overhaul go unchallenged in its own television advertising.

GOP officials said the presence of a third-party contender and other factors contributed to their unexpected defeat in New York.

They accused Democrats of campaign scare tactics, while the Medicare plan’s author, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a five-minute video defending his work.

Under Ryan’s plan, for anyone younger than 55 the basic Medicare program for medical and hospital care would be replaced by a system in which insurance companies would offer coverage while the government contributed toward the cost of premiums. The program would remain unchanged for anyone 55 or older, including millions who currently receive benefits.

Kathy Hochul’s victory over Republican Jane Corwin in a multi-candidate race was the best political news in months for Democrats, who were voted out of power in the House and lost seats in the Senate last year in what President Barack Obama memorably dubbed a shellacking. She gained 47 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for her rival and 9 percent for Jack Davis, a former Democrat who ran as a tea party contender.

At the same time, Democrats stressed they did not view the race as a reason to walk away from high-profile bipartisan deficit-reduction talks being led by Vice President Joe Biden.

For Republicans, the New York race provided fresh evidence of turbulence for a Medicare remake they tout as a long-term answer to the program’s financing. In the weeks since they unveiled it, the proposal has been less than enthusiastically received by the public, judging from polls.

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich criticized it, and while he later apologized to Ryan he has not recanted his opposition. A second contender, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said during the day he will have an alternative that differs in unspecified areas from the one in the party’s budget in the House.

Israel and other Democrats said Hochul’s victory showed that the Medicare-overhaul proposal would prove a political dead weight for Republicans in dozens of races in the 2012 congressional elections.

It also is likely to embolden liberals who are not generally supportive of deficit cuts now under negotiation on the order of trillions of dollars.

Yet public opinion polls show strong support for reining in deficits, particularly among independent voters. And Obama, readying for his own re-election campaign, has dispatched Biden and other top officials to negotiations aimed at reaching a compromise with Republicans.

“Budget talks are proceeding in good faith and will continue,” said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The party’s second-in-command in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, has said repeatedly that changes to Medicare should be on the table as part of deficit reduction talks, although he and others in his party remain implacably opposed to the Republicans proposal.

In an interview, Israel said Democrats would work with Republicans to strengthen Medicare “but not to do away with it.”

Republicans want “to end Medicare as we know it,” the president told an audience of invited guests last month, Ryan and other GOP lawmakers among them.

Democratic strategists have privately urged the party’s leaders to criticize the overhaul plan, in part to try and regain the allegiance of older and independent voters who helped Republicans in the 2010 elections.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chair of the Senate Democratic campaign organization, said she, too, intended to make use of the issue in the fall.

“I’m confident that Senate Democrats will be able to play offense in races across the country by remaining focused on the Republican effort to end Medicare in order to” cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, she said.

In the race in New York, Hochul injected the GOP Medicare plan into the campaign weeks ago. Running in a conservative district, she aired ads saying she wanted to reduce government spending while accusing Corwin of favoring Medicare cuts to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Corwin quickly counterattacked, accusing Hochul of wanting to cut Social Security as well as Medicare.

Both the Democratic campaign committee and the House Majority PAC, an outside group aligned with the Democrats, also aired ads critical of the GOP Medicare plan.

But the National Republican Congressional Committee did not mention the issue in running as much as $400,000 worth of television advertising in the district around Buffalo and Rochester. Instead, the group ran a commercial linking Hochul to Pelosi, an echo of the type of ad that proved effective in the 2010 campaigns.

Paul Lindsay, a spokesman, declined to say whether the organization wished it had acted differently. But in the future, he said, “Republicans will take this result as a call to action to challenge Democrats at every turn on their irresponsible plan to bankrupt Medicare.”

American Crossroads, an organization aligned with Republicans, spent more than $600,000 on television ads without seeking to counter the Democratic attacks.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman, said polling showed Medicare was the largest policy issue in the campaign “by a superslim and superlow plurality of 21 percent.”

He said one out of five voters said it was the most important issue, yet five out of ten voted for Hochul. “When you look at it that way, it’s really not the big deal that everyone made it out to be.”

Hochul will be sworn in within days, the first Democrat to represent the district in four decades. She replaces Chris Lee, who resigned after shirtless photos he sent to a woman he’d flirted with on Craigslist surfaced online.

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May 19, 2011

President Barack Obama: Pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration system …

Obama puts immigration in Congress’ court
May 19, 2011, 3:22 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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WASHINGTON (AP) — With a re-election campaign looming, President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration system, but lawmakers seems to have little appetite to take on the issue.

In recent speeches at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, and the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Obama said his administration has followed through on demands to secure the border, and now it’s time for Congress to put revamping immigration back on the agenda and make something happen.

“Comprehensive immigration reform is not only an economic imperative or a security imperative, it is also a moral imperative,” Obama told the prayer breakfast.

But Republicans say any effort to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country or any effort that doesn’t address the inadequacies they see in border security is doomed to fail.

Although legislation has yet to be introduced, many lawmakers agree the most likely first step toward immigration legislation is a requirement that all businesses use E-Verify. The E-Verify program lets businesses know whether employees have the necessary papers to work in the U.S. Such legislation could give Democrats political cover by addressing immigration requirements that preclude tough crackdowns on immigrants, and give Republicans an opportunity to say they provided a new enforcement tool to stop illegal immigration.

The president’s recent push, which started in April with a White House meeting on immigration issues and other events involving Latino celebrities, prompted Senate Democrats this month to reintroduce the DREAM Act. The bill would give a path to legal status for law-abiding young people who were brought into the United States without documents as children and who either plan to attend college or join the military.

“Our immigration laws prevent thousands of young people from fully contributing to our nation’s future,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement announcing the bill he drafted. “These are honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists and valedictorians. These children are tomorrow’s doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, soldiers and senators, and we should give them the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., has introduced a similar bill in the House.

Republicans, who control the House, insist the DREAM Act will never pass.

“It’s amnesty for up to 2 million people,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has some jurisdiction over immigration legislation. “I just don’t see it when you are still talking about amnesty.” Smith said the bill rewards the undocumented parents and is “an open invitation to fraud.”

But GOP House members have pledged to introduce an E-Verify bill for employers.

Some Democrats have suggested a compromise bill incorporating elements of both DREAM and E-Verify, even as they acknowledge the prospects for such a deal are dim.

“We are at a stalemate, but I am willing to sit down and work through issues to accomplish something in the interest of the country,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. “But it takes two to do that.”

Smith said there is no room for compromise with any bill that includes a path to legalization.

The DREAM Act passed the House last year before falling five votes short in the Senate in December. While three Republicans supported it, five Democrats opposed it.

What support it had among Republicans has eroded as some face primary challenges from the right. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, dropped his support of the DREAM Act last year because he said Americans are more concerned with border security. And Indiana’s Sen. Richard Lugar backed away from the most recent version because the president’s speeches turned immigration into a “divisive election issue,” said his spokesman, Andy Fisher. Lugar is facing a Tea Party primary challenge.

Smith said the reintroduction of failed legislation doesn’t seem like a serious effort and chided Obama for focusing on the issue again in hopes of scoring campaign points with Hispanic voters.

Winning the Hispanic vote is thought to be critical in Obama’s bid for re-election. In 2008, Latinos made up more than 7 percent of voters, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and their numbers are greater in swing states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

The Obama administration has made a point of highlighting enforcement efforts, though they differ dramatically from those of former President George W. Bush’s administration.

The current administration has shied away from the high-profile immigration raids at businesses that routinely yielded large numbers of arrests of illegal workers. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shifted strategies, focusing instead on audits of the documents employers must maintain that show their workers are eligible to work in the United States. The audits, officials have said, put the focus on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.

Speaking in El Paso, Obama said his administration had done what Republicans in Congress have asked by adding Border Patrol agents, intelligence analysts and unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We’ve gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement,” Obama said from a national park not far from the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. “All the stuff they’ve asked for, we’ve done.”

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Alicia A. Caldwell can be reached at http://twitter.com/acaldwellap

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: 

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April 25, 2011

Past House GOP killed Democratic priorities using obscure parliamentary maneuvers

Past House GOP tactic proves useless to Democrats

Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

Hello Reader, What Party Do You Want Running The US Government 2013? Poll Below!

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year ago, when Republicans were in the minority on Capitol Hill, they drove Democrats crazy by using an obscure parliamentary maneuver to change, delay and even kill Democratic priorities.

Now that Republicans are running the House, Democrats have tried to stymie the GOP agenda by relying on the tactic, known as the motion to recommit. But they’ve failed on every one of their 23 attempts this year.

That motion is almost always the last step just before the final vote on a bill. It gives the minority party, which has little voice and few rights in the House, a last chance to amend a bill, or in a more traditional sense, return it to the committee level for further work.

Often, the maneuver is aimed at forcing members of the majority into an untenable choice between opposing their party’s position or casting a vote that opponents could use against them in election campaigns.

For a recommit motion to work, the minority party must pick off at least some members of the majority. Thus Democrats would need at least a few dozen of the House’s 241 Republicans to vote with them this year. Their best showing so far on any motion: two GOP votes.

Republican leaders may have a hard time keeping their troops in line on the budget and social issues, but there’s near ironclad unity when it comes to keeping Democrats in their place.

A Democratic motion on a recent bill to cut off federal dollars for National Public Radio would have continued money for Amber alerts on NPR regarding abducted children. The motion didn’t get a single Republican vote. Nor did Democrats get a nibble when they called for federal air marshals on high-risk flights as part of aviation legislation.

On a highway spending bill, Democrats were shut out when they tried to cut off federal aid for “bridge to nowhere” projects in Alaska. They drew a single vote on a motion to the last short-term spending bill stating that there would be no cuts to Social Security or Medicare. “That is simply a fog screen,” GOP Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in opposing it.

Such motions rarely succeed for either party. But Republicans in the recent past have managed to entice conservative and vulnerable Democrats with motions on sensitive subjects such as guns, abortion and immigration.

Republicans nearly succeeded in derailing the health care act last year with a motion to recommit that contained anti-abortion provisions. Democratic leaders had to appease their own anti-abortion wing to secure their votes against the GOP motion.

In 2007 Democrats had to withdraw a bill giving residents in the District of Columbia a vote in the House because of a motion to repeal the city’s tough gun laws.

Last spring Republicans succeeded in changing a bill to subsidize people who buy energy-efficient products for their homes. GOP lawmakers made the changes part of a recommit motion barring contractors from hiring child molesters.

A week later they watered down a science and technology bill by attaching their version to a proposal to fire government works who view pornography on the job. Many Democrats, envisioning election-year attack ads claiming they supported pornography, had to go along.

In December, Republicans used a similar tactic to force Democrats to withdraw temporarily a bill expanding child nutrition programs. By voting against the Republican alternative, a lawmaker could be portrayed as supporting federal food money for institutions that hire convicted sex offenders.

Norm Ornstein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Republicans have developed the procedure as “a potent weapon of embarrassment.” They focused, he said, not so much on offering alternatives as entrapping Democrats with “gotcha” proposals.

“The Democrats have not been as relentless or adept as Republicans as far as crafting” the motions, Ornstein said.

Democrats predict they’ll have more success as the 2012 election approaches. “It depends on whether the Republican rank and file come to listen to their constituencies,” said Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for the House Democratic campaign committee. “Right now they are listening to their leadership.”

Republican leaders have explained to their members that Democrats are given opportunities to offer amendments, and that the motions are merely procedural votes on issues where Democrats are trying to score political points.

It wasn’t always that way.

In 1909, opponents of autocratic Speaker Joe Cannon, R-Ill., forced a rule change giving priority to an opponent to offer an alternative before a final vote. In 1932 that was changed to give the minority party a last shot.

Democrats increasingly squelched that right in their many decades of controlling the House. When Republicans took over in 1995, they promised that the right to offer a motion to recommit would be honored even as they united in defeating Democratic proposals.

The Democratic return to power in 2007 was accompanied by the continued trend, starting under the Republicans, of limiting the minority’s right to offer amendments. The motion to recommit was often the only chance to affect legislation.

“In recent years, and not just under the current majority, the minority has been forced to use the motion to recommit, often in ways that are painful for the majority, to ensure the minority’s voice is heard,” Ohio Rep. John Boehner, then the minority leader, told the American Enterprise Institute in a speech last September. “And in turn, the majority has responded by conjuring up new ways to shut the minority out even further. It’s a cycle of gridlock.”

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Online:

Congressional Research Service: http://tinyurl.com/3zstryw

Congressional Glossary: http://tinyurl.com/3rftfwh

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

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 Thank you for visiting, do come back for more news…

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April 5, 2011

No longer the fresh voice of change, President Barack Obama embarked on a bid for re-election Monday

Obama opens bid for new term, no longer outsider
Posted by

Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.

WASHINGTON (AP) — No longer the fresh voice of change, President Barack Obama embarked on a bid for re-election Monday by asking a divided, anxious electorate to let him finish the job he won in 2008. He’s getting an early start against a Republican field that’s still undefined, but he’s saddled with an ailing economy that still isn’t working for millions of voters.

Obama began with an effort to recapture his outsider’s touch of 2008, bypassing a public statement from the White House in favor of an email sent to millions of supporters.

He offered a kickoff video in which official Washington is ignored and even Obama himself only makes a fleeting appearance. What the campaign wanted voters to see instead were people like them speaking of real-life concerns and their faith in Obama, against wholesome backdrops in every clip: a church, a farm, a family in a kitchen, an American flag.

He told supporters later in the day he needs their help again, perhaps more than he did four years ago, because “we may not have the exact same newness that we had in 2008.”

“But that core spirit … is still there and it’s still in you and so I hope that even though we’re a little older and a little wiser now than we were back in 2007 and 2008, I hope everybody is ready to run that race one more time,” Obama said in a conference call with backers.

This time around, Obama carries both the benefits and baggage of being the establishment candidate.

The president now owns an economy that is adding jobs but still leaving millions of people without help or work. As the incumbent, he can blow into town on Air Force One, draw unparalleled free media coverage and command all the other perks of the presidency. But he must also remobilize his coalition and reenergize it, too, including getting back the independent voters who swung Republican in last year’s midterm elections.

Obama ran once on hope. This time he will run on his record as well. That means voters will evaluate him on what he has gotten done, including laws to reshape health insurance and Wall Street behavior, and the promises he has not delivered upon, including immigration reform and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A huge part of his challenge will be to spark the voter inspiration that often got lost in the slog of governing. His new campaign video gave a nod to the challenge. A woman named Alice from Michigan said: “We’re paying him to do a job. So we can’t say, ‘Hey, could you just take some time off and come and get us all energized?’ So we better figure it out.”

Obama filed his candidacy paperwork Monday, about 20 months from Election Day, so he can begin raising money in earnest for a potential campaign fund of $1 billion or more. More than a dozen Republicans are seriously considering trying to unseat him, but none has declared yet.

What comes next is a loud, undefined, unpredictable White House contest. The early party primary voting is not set to begin until next year.

Obama, as both president and candidate, is trying to keep those two roles separate. “Even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today,” he said in the email to backers.

His campaign this time will not have the foil of George W. Bush, an unpopular incumbent who helped define the mood of 2008 without being on the ballot. The White House is eager to portray the election as a choice, but the look and feel of that contrast will not become evident until a competitor emerges from a wide-open Republican field.

Regardless, what the White House expects is that the economy will drive the election. The race could well pivot on whether voters buy into Obama’s arguments about progress on his watch — that an economy on the brink of disaster is steadily adding jobs again, and he has a vision for more. Or whether voters vent their displeasure that change hasn’t happened faster.

Here, as in many cases, incumbency can cut both ways.

The nation’s unemployment rate just dropped to 8.8 percent, its lowest level in two years. The private sector is starting to add sizable numbers of jobs again, and such trend lines always tend to attach themselves to how a president is viewed. The more the economic situation improves, the better Obama can argue he is the right steward of the recovery.

However, perceptions of the economy have not improved over the course of Obama’s presidency, and that lag can amount to a major vulnerability.

Overall, 35 percent of people in an Associated PressGfK poll say the nation is heading in the right direction. That’s the same share that said so in January 2009 before he took office.

“I think it starts with the economy. I don’t think anybody could tell you for sure how it’s going to end, especially with all the tumult around the world right now,” said Stephen Craig, a political science professor at the University of Florida.

Indeed, Obama is contending with an exploding world. The violent upheaval across the Middle East and Africa has consumed attention in 2011 and drawn the United States into a military conflict in Libya on top of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the domestic front, Obama is grappling with a budget fight and the potential for a government shutdown.

The president must be sensitive to how and when he campaigns or risk appearing to put his political gain above the country’s.

How he responds to domestic and foreign challenges, however, will give him chances to shape public thinking in ways no other candidates have.

Obama’s path to the required 270 electoral votes could well be tougher this time. In 2008, he reached it by aggressively turning out new and infrequent voters across the country, and making a play for states that aren’t usually contested by Democrats.

The effort paved the way for victories in GOP-leaning states such as Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. But Obama’s standing has suffered in those states since then, putting into question whether he can engineer repeat victories. He also dominated the Midwest in 2008, the home of electoral-rich states such as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. But the region took a beating during the recession, and Obama’s poll numbers did, too, complicating his path to re-election.

On the flip side: Obama may have new support in other states because of the explosive growth of Democratic-leaning Hispanics in the Southwest and the migration of blacks to the South.

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AP National Political Writer Liz Sidoti, Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and Holly Ramer in Portsmouth, N.H., contributed to this story.

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of:

Thank you for visiting, do come back for more news…
Warmest regards,