Bill Scher

Classy Conservatives on Katrina

When Newt Gingrich blamed the victims of Hurricane Katrina for their “failure of citizenship,” he wasn’t just speaking for himself. Many other conservatives share his contempt for the displaced. Yesterday on the House Financial Services Committee, according to CQ Today, conservatives tried to make it harder for victims to secure housing, return home and get back on their feet. In particular, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a featured speaker at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, sought to limit funds for repairing and rebuilding public housing. His amendment was just barely defeated 30-35. More unpopular was his amendment forcing victims to work 20 hours a week before receiving housing assistance. Apparently, it’s also a “failure of citizenship” when you can’t land a job while you lack a roof over your head.

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Bill Scher

How About Some Energy Responsibility?

At last week’s Apollo Summit, there was a clear consensus: businesses interested in renewable energy can’t risk long-term commitments unless our government makes long-term commitments. In turn, many supported long-term tax credits to spur investment. Right now, there are tax credits for the production of renewable energy. But they almost expired in December, when at the last minute, Congress extended them for another year. That year-to-year uncertainty stunts long-term investment. Advocates are pushing for a five-year or ten-year extension, and leaders in Congress are supportive.

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Bill Scher

AFL-CIO Healthcare Move Impacts Prez Race

Today’s Daily Labor Report has big news from the AFL-CIO Executive Council annual winter meeting: The AFL-CIO … abandoned its support for the current employer-based health care system and instead is calling for comprehensive health care reform through the expansion of Medicare. … Gerald Shea, assistant to the AFL-CIO president for government affairs, said the AFL-CIO for years has advocated for universal coverage but also has supported employer-based insurance until a universal plan can be adopted. Although that is still the case, he said the federation now is saying that “employer-based coverage is so expensive it can’t last.” … Shea said the federation would be evaluating the health proposals of all the presidential candidates in 2008 based on the tests outlined in the proposal.

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Bill Scher

Wanna Save $30 Billion a Year?

$30 billion. A year. That’s the potential savings if we empower Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drugs. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy and Research released his findings today in a report, “Celebrating Pork: The Dubious Success of the Medicare Drug Benefit.” In addition to laying out the cost savings, Baker debunks claims from the Bush Administration, Big Pharma and several corners of the media that the current drug program is holding down costs. Baker finds that part of the reason why the program hasn’t spent as much as expected is: …fewer people are expected to enroll in the program than had previously been projected…because fewer people believe that they will benefit from the program than [the Congressional Budget Office] had originally anticipated.

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Bill Scher

Iowa Stepping Up on Energy Independence

After the Apollo Summit, I noted that “America’s governors have begun to throw down over who can become the most energy independent and bring in the most jobs.” Looks like Iowa is joining the fray. From the Des Moines Register: Iowa lawmakers are trying to put together the pieces for an ambitious plan to help Iowa fully wean itself off foreign oil by 2025, possibly becoming the first state to do so. “The biomass capabilities of Iowa’s soil are the best in the world, and the wind that blows in our state is the best in the world,” Rep. Nathan Reichert, a Democrat from Muscatine, said Tuesday.

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Bill Scher

Bush Administration Pushes Pessimism on Clean Coal

There’s wide public support for Congress to tackle global warming, but Congress has work to do to sift through the details and forge consensus around a specific plan. At a House hearing yesterday, Bush Administration energy official Thomas Shope sought to push a pessimistic view on when we’ll be able to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants, and store it underground, out of the atmosphere. CQ.com reports: Thomas D. Shope … said that technology is unlikely to be available at an affordable cost before 2025, under funding levels for research and development recommended by the administration … By 2025, a power plant using carbon sequestration technology would be about 10 percent more expensive than a standard pulverized-coal plant [and] by 2045, the costs would be roughly equivalent.

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Bill Scher

Hiding From Plain Oversight

Last month, the Bush administration began to spin, with the help of The Washington Post, that the Medicare prescription drug plan—which does not allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices—was doing great because the private insurers were already negotiating for lower prices. And in a Blog For Our Future entry, I noted how the Change America Now! Campaign knocked down that spin. This week, after the House Oversight and Government Reform committee requested the data from Bush’s Medicare officials so it could find out how helpful those negotiations actually were for consumers, guess what? They won’t release the data. Kaiser Network’s Daily Health Care Report says committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking member Rep.

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Bill Scher

Oversight, Shmoversight

Last month, the Bush Administration began to spin that the Medicare prescription drug plan — which does not allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices — was doing great because the private insurers were already negotiating for lower prices. And this blog noted how the Change America Now! Campaign knocked down that spin. This week, after a House committee requested the data from Bush’s Medicare officials so it could find out how helpful those negotiations actually were for consumers, guess what? They won’t release the data. Kaiser Network’s Daily Health Care Report says Dem Rep. Henry Waxman and GOP Rep. Tom Davis requested the price data so they could determine what the discounts were and if the savings went to consumers or corporate bottom lines.

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Bill Scher

Walter Reed: Victim of Underfunding and Privatization

As the Walter Reed scandal sears the public, more attention is being paid to whose heads should roll than what policies need reform. While both are important, if bad policies don’t change, new people can’t do a better job. It’s becoming clear that Walter Reed suffers from the hallmarks of conservatism: underfunding our government and privatizing our government. Retired Army Major General Paul Eaton has a NY Times oped titled, “Casualties of the Budget Wars” which informs us that: Last year, because of spending in Iraq, the Army had a $530 million shortfall in its budget for posts at home and abroad. This forced the Army’s vice chief of staff, Richard Cody, to tighten belts that were already at the last notch. And he argues: The general effort by [former Defense Sec. Donald] Rumsfeld and [recently deposed Army Sec.

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Bill Scher

Newt: One of the “Worst Persons In The World”

Newt Gingrich’s blaming of New Orleans’ 9th Ward residents for a “failure of citizenship” by being unable to “get out of the way of a hurricane” — remarks jointly pushed into the spotlight by this blog and Huffington Post’s Matt Browner Hamlin — won the coveted Bronze award in Keith Olbermann’s daily “Worst Persons In The World” segment. He was beaten out for the Silver and Gold by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and there’s no shame in that. Crooks and Liars has the video.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives Pout and Complain

My Campaign For America’s Future colleague Eric Lotke has his take on CPAC posted at TomPaine.com, “CPAC: Conservatives Pout And Complain.” Here’s an excerpt: The conservatives at central headquarters don’t seem to have learned the lesson of 2006 … Americans want real solutions to real problems. They’re catching on to the bait-and-switch: The first five minutes of every speech are appealing, but the policies that follow are catastrophic. An ideology that disdains government is destined to govern badly. Click here to read the full piece. For more, check out our Conservative Failure page.

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Bill Scher

The Conservative Movement: Stuck on Step 1

The following was initially posted at The Huffington Post. As everyone knows, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Yet during my three days attending the Conservative Political Action Conference, I failed to find much recognition from conservatives that their movement has a “secular problem.” As I wrote here just before CPAC, the conservative “secular problem” is their severe lack of competitiveness with the 40%-43% of voters who don’t regularly attend church. Because of that problem, according to the exit poll data, conservatives no longer control Congress.

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Bill Scher

Newt: The Savior?

The CPAC presidential straw poll was announced today, right before Newt Gingrich delivered the final address of the event. Mitt Romney nominally won, but with a paltry plurality of 21%, and he paid for “scores” of staffers to participate in the poll. Further, there was cool reception from the crowd as the results were announced. Three others were close behind, Rudy Giuliani with 17%, Sam Brownback with 15%, and the unannounced Gingrich with 14%. When first and second choices were combined, Giuliani was first with 34%, with Romney and Gingrich tied with 30%. But any grumbling from the crowd ceased once Newt entered the room. The thunderous reception made it seem like Newt would have come in first, if he was an official candidate.

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Bill Scher

The Conservative Iran Debate: Bombing or Assassination

Two of the conservative movement’s most beloved intellectual leaders, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity, had slightly differing takes on how to approach Iran, though both received jubilant applause by their respective standing-room-only audiences. Coulter, in discussing the prospects for Rudy Giuliani yesterday afternoon, said: My thesis is that right-wingers think that Rudy Giuliani would immediately bomb Iran, and so we kind of like that. But I’d like to get that in writing before you make him our presidential nominee. Whereas Hannity this morning, in rejecting negotiations with Iran to end its nuclear program, offered: The only discussion I want to have with him — I want to say, “Mr.

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Bill Scher

Newt on New Orleans 9th Ward Residents: A “Failure of Citizenship”

There’s more to say about Newt Gingrich (who looks more like a presidential candidate after today) but let me call attention to this from his grand finale address to CPAC: He blamed the residents of New Orleans’ 9th Ward for a “failure of citizenship,” by being “so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn’t get out of the way of a hurricane.” And he called for a “deep investigation” into this “failure of citizenship.” Here’s the full quote: How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn’t get out of the way of a hurricane.

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Bill Scher

“Energy Independence Is Not A Possible Option”

Whoever said “failure is not an option”* hasn’t met the visionaries of the American Petroleum Institute — aka, the lobbyists for Big Oil. Big Oil’s chief economist John Felmy spoke on a CPAC energy panel … and let’s take a moment to reflect on that: The biggest conservative movement event of the year features a presentation by Big Oil. Now that you’re properly disgusted (or, just unsurprised), here is a Cliff Notes version of Felmy’s address: Waaah! Why do they say oil company profits are so huge? We’re barely scraping by! Feeble senior citizens own oil company stock. More renewable energy means more homeless senior citizens. Jimmy Carter wanted renewable energy, so obviously it can’t work.

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Bill Scher

Bizarre Sight Of The Day

A Sam Brownback supporter with a lip ring. The evil grasp Britney Spears has on our youth has even infiltrated CPAC. The terrorists have won. You may go home now.

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Bill Scher

Blogger Ethics Panel Time

Rudy Giuliani was glowingly introduced today by a member of the so-called liberal media, Washington Post columnist George Will. Will assured the audience that Giuliani’s conservatism is “the flavor of Margaret Thatcher’s” and “produced the 8 consectutive years of the most successful conservative government in the 20th century in America.” This is not the first time Will has crossed the journalistic ethics line. Unless anyone can add his well-documented past exploits in the comments, I’ll shoot to add them later on.

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Bill Scher

More Old Ideas Please

I’ve yet to hear any conservatives recognize that they are suffering from a “secular problem”. But the closest anyone has come is US News’ Michael Barone. In a morning panel on the ’08 landscape, he cautioned conservatives not to look in the past for another Reagan, but to find “new ideas” that speak to the concerns of today’s voters. Barone’s advice didn’t take. Minutes later, Human Events editor John Gizzi urged conservatives to keep pushing for “less government,” then turned to Barone and said: New ideas are fine, but isn’t it about time we take some old ideas off the shelf And that received far louder applause.

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Bill Scher

“The Rich Are Getting Screwed”

So that’s what’s wrong with our economy. At an afternoon panel on taxes, Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation, lamented that despite six years of tax cuts mainly for the wealthiest, we haven’t completely destroyed our progressive tax system. After a slide presentation described how the wealthy contribute more in taxes and the poor receive more in benefits, Hodge declared, “the rich are getting screwed.” Now there’s the message that will bring back conservatism. Later, a questioner suggested that that stats of people living under the poverty level aren’t accurate because it doesn’t include their government benefits. In response, Hodge, after claiming that the percent of people in poverty is the same as it was in the 60s (not mentioning that poverty went down under Pres. Clinton and up under Pres.

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