Bill Scher

Failure of Energy Policy. Failure of Foreign Policy.

New York Times, June 28, 2000: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude. “I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush … told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.” … “Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you’d think we’d have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies,” he said. Asked why the Clinton administration had not been able to use the power of personal persuasion, Mr.

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Bill Scher

Failure of Energy Policy. Failure of Foreign Policy.

New York Times, June 28, 2000: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude. “I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush … told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.” … “Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you’d think we’d have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies,” he said. Asked why the Clinton administration had not been able to use the power of personal persuasion, Mr.

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Bill Scher

Do These 12 Republicans Want At Least 10 More Years In Iraq?

Wednesday’s New York Times bottom-lines the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker: “[They] conceded Tuesday that the Bush administration’s overall strategy in Iraq would remain largely unchanged after the temporary increase in American forces is over next summer, and made clear their view that the United States would need a major troop presence in Iraq for years to come.” This is no surprise. Petraeus’ team has consistently said — in February, June, July and August — that the “average” counterinsurgency effort takes about 10 years, clearly indicating that’s his expectation for his current mission.

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Bill Scher

Obstructing Clean Energy

Last week, conservatives blocked the House and Senate from taking the routine step of convening a conference to work out differences in their children’s health insurance bills, obstructing Congress’ ability to do the people’s business and pass a single bill on to the president. Now, it looks like conservatives are playing the same underhanded game to block Congress’ desire to move towards energy independence. Conservatives couldn’t stop the House and Senate from passing their own energy bills, but Environment & Energy Daily (sub. req’d) reports: Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said getting to conference would require “unanimous consent” agreements and predicted these would not be secured.

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Bill Scher

Do Conservatives Want Gabrial To Breathe?

Last week, Florida’s Brevard County met Lukas, who is alive thanks to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the program congressional conservatives want Bush to veto. This week, Buffalo, N.Y., met Gabrial. From the Buffalo News: Brian and Kelly Scozzaro were paying upwards of $500 a month for medication to keep their young son Gabrial’s allergies and asthma under control. As a result, even though both Scozzaros have good jobs, the South Buffalo family was feeling squeezed. “We were practically on the brink of bankruptcy,” Kelly Scozzaro said. But that was before she and her husband got promotions and before the family enrolled its children in Child Health Plus, the state-federal children’s health insurance program that’s aimed at helping working families. “It was pretty much a godsend,” Kelly Scozzaro said.

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Bill Scher

Breaking the Law to Keep Kids Sick?

Last month, the Bush administration issued state government new restrictions on providing children’s health insurance via threatening emails sent on a late Friday evening. And this past Friday, the Bushies used those restrictions to deny New York State the ability to cover more of its uninsured kids. Sorry kids. No doctors for you. Except for one thing. It appears the Bush administration, once again, was ignoring the law.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

After a rare week when a Watchdog question was actually asked, the Sunday shows return to form, going 0-for-3. Not only did Fox News Sunday fail to ask Sen. Lindsey Graham if his support for the surge was based on stats from cooked books, none of the Sunday shows even mentioned the evidence from the Washington Post that the military leadership is “cherry-picking positive indicators” and “selectively ignor[ing] negative trends.” (On Fox, Sen. Dianne Feinstein did bring up the issue when asked about Gen. David Petreaus.) On ABC’s This Week, Sen. John McCain was not asked about Joe Klein blistering assessment, calling McCain remarks on Iraq “demagogic” and a “willful misleading of the American public.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up. For Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (ABC’s This Week): Time’s Joe Klein, who does not support a date certain for ending the Iraq occupation, said of your debate performance: His granite-skulled insistence that the surge is working, “absolutely” working … was nothing short of demagogic.

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Robert Borosage

A Time To Lead

It is time for decision on the Iraq debacle. The White House is demanding more money to keep the troops in Iraq. The Bush folks have shown their public relations mastery by rolling out a disingenuous campaign to claim “progress” on the ground in Iraq. General David Petraeus, the political general with a notorious record of trumpeting mythical success in Iraq, will seek to retain as many troops in action as he thinks the Army can sustain without disintegrating. For the moment, Republicans appear to have made the political calculation that they have no choice but to stand with the purblind president and his general. Their leading presidential candidates have toed the line. Their vulnerable senators are keeping their heads down. Their zealots have been effusive about the supposed progress wrought by the “surge” in Iraq. Democrats in the Congress are signaling pre-emptive retreat.

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Bill Scher

Do Conservatives Want Lukas To Breathe?

Brevard County newspaper Florida Today explains who SCHIP helps, and helpfully notes who voted against it: Lukas Richmond started wheezing again this week. The boisterous Titusville 8-year-old missed 52 days of school last year because of severe asthma and allergies — he fell ill with pneumonia four times. Wednesday, his mother, Leigh Richmond, took Lukas back to the Children’s Medical Services clinic in Rockledge for another round of respiratory testing. The result? More expensive drugs for Lukas, though “he’s on enough medicine to make a person’s head spin,” Richmond said. Like 5,805 other Brevard County children, Lukas relies on Florida KidCare for medical coverage, an initiative funded by the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program “It’s been a lifesaver for Lucas,” Leigh said.

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Eric Lotke

The Cost of College: Relief is in Sight

At last we get a little good news. The new Congress is presenting to the President a package of legislation designed to help working families afford the skyrocketing cost of college. He’s threatened to veto it but we’ll get to that later. Start with the good news. Help is needed • Last week’s Census data showed that median household incomes fell 2 percent between 2000 and 2006. • The National Center on Education Statistics shows that public college tuition rose 37 percent over the same period. (The details are in our latest college affordability report.) The stats show why families are scrambling so hard for college. Use our spreadsheet to push the numbers around to your heart’s content. My favorite finding: The cost of private college is 57 percent of a median household income.

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Bill Scher

When Bushes Care

The message: I care. We’re trying. — President George H.W. Bush, responding to a town hall question about the worsening economy, 1/15/92 I know some say, well, since he’s against Kyoto he doesn’t care about the climate change. That’s urban legend that is preposterous. — President George W. Bush, pre-emptively responding to criticism at the APEC Summit, 9/4/07 When Bushes care, watch out. Lil’ Bush is on the Australia leg of his worldwide “I Care” global warming tour. The last stop was Germany and the G8 summit, where he cared us to a worthless and toothless “compromise” statement. In both stops, he deployed the China Dodge, insisting that he won’t move on cutting greenhouse bases without China doing the same.

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Bill Scher

There’s Always Obstruction

Conservatives aren’t getting anywhere with their misinformation campaign against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. But there’s always the ol’ reliable: obstruction. CQ reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a routine move (requiring unanimous consent) to appoint members to a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile differences between the two SCHIP bills. Open KY notes that McConnell’s obstruction followed a floor speech “decry[ing] partisanship.” Of course, the bill he’s obstruction passed with significant bipartisan support.

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Bill Scher

Conservative SCHIP Plan Going Ka-Bluey

Conservatives spent their August recess trying to explain (using copious misinformation) how they could be against covering more kids with health insurance. It doesn’t seem to have gone well, with polls and editorials squarely in support of congressional bills expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. So now it’s desperation time. Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey, in a Town Hall column, instructs his fellow conservatives that Democrats “just might be in the mood to compromise to avoid a veto” — ignoring that the Senate bill already is a bipartisan compromise and passed by a veto-proof margin.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

The Sunday shows break their three-week losing streak, and actually ask a Watchdog question. On ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John Ensign if the GOP had a double standard by pressuring Sen. Larry Craig to resign but rallying around Sen. David Vitter: …Vitter openly admits he broke the law and solicited prostitutes. Others serving in Congress have at the moment have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of more import than disorderly conduct without being forced to resign. If morality and credibility are at issue, why isn’t Vitter being held to that standard? What’s the answer? Ensign held on to the slim reed that Craig entered a guilty plea and Vitter had not.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up. For National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Ensign, R-Nev. (ABC’s This Week): When Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was snared by a sex scandal, senate Republicans moved to launch investigations, strip him of committee assignments and (successfully it appears) pressure him to resign. But when Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was snared by a sex scandal, Senate Republicans rallied around and showered him with applause.

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Bill Scher

How I Spent My August Recess: 2nd Rep. Fossella Edition

When we last checked in on Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., he was trying to keep quiet about his vote against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Now he’s taking it a step further. After the Bush administration issued new rules cracking down on states trying to cover more kids under the present law, Rep. Fossella is posturing as a Bush critic and defender of kids.

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Eric Lotke

Working through the Obstruction on Labor Day

It’s Labor Day and Congress is coming back into session. Time to step back to see where things stand, and what Congress can do about it. Start with the state of working America. It’s Labor Day after all, a holiday earned by organized labor and dedicated to working people. The Census Bureau just published new figures for 2006 that explain why working people feel so stressed. Productivity continues to rise and corporate profits along with it. But working people aren’t sharing the gains. • Poverty ticked down a hair last year. That’s good news but it’s the first decline on President Bush’s watch. Poverty rates are higher than when he took office(12.3% in 2006, up from 11.3% in 2000). • The number of people without health insurance continues to rise, up to 15.8% last year. 47 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2006, an increase of 8 million since Bush took office.

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Bill Scher

More Healthy Kids or More Failed Occupation

On CNN a few minutes ago, Democratic political consultant Paul Begala noted that President Bush is going to have difficult time pushing for $50 billion more for occupying Iraq, while pledging to veto House and Senate bills for children’s health insurance (the SCHIP program), which total $50 billion and $35 billion respectively. Expect more and more people to make that connection next month as Congress deals with both issues. But keep this mind. The SCHIP bills provide funding for five years of covering kids. Let’s make the comparison clear. Bush is fighting against investing $7 to $10 billion a year (money that is paid for with revenue offsets) into a children’s health program that is a proven success. At the same time, he is calling for another $50 billion this year for Iraq, adding to our debt, on top of the $450 billion we have already sunk in a proven failure.

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Bill Scher

Dubya Discovers Poverty Data

Yesterday, after the Census released it’s annual poverty report, with the poverty rate down from 12.6% of Amerians to 12.3%, President Bush released a triumphant statement: President Bush Pleased With Lowered Poverty Rate When we keep taxes low, spending in check, and our economy open – conditions that empower businesses to create new jobs – all Americans benefit. Census Bureau data released today confirms that more of our citizens are doing better in this economy, with continued rising incomes and more Americans pulling themselves out of poverty. This might be a more compelling argument, if Bush had ever released a statement after all the other Census poverty reports during his presidency.

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