Bill Scher

Grassley Spins W. Post Dizzy

Yesterday, I noted that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is whining that the new minimum wage compromise doesn’t have enough tax favors for business. From CQ Today (subscription required): “The Senate package was barely adequate,” [Grassley] said in a statement. “I called it peanuts. The House package was puny. I called it a peanut shell. Now we have a single shriveled peanut. This package is stripped of a lot of meaningful tax relief.” Yet Grassley managed to spin The Washington Post into reporting that he’s mainly upset that Democrats wouldn’t close more business friendly tax loopholes: …Democrats have stripped out a variety of contentious tax measures that had been tied to the minimum-wage legislation, under pressure from some of the nation’s largest business lobbies.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Conservative Infant Death Syndrome

The rate at which infants are dying has begun to creep upward in several Southern states. This is an entirely predictable—and deadly—outcome of a systematic squeezing of federal and state health programs under conservative rule. The report in The New York Times Sunday  that outlined some of the effects of cuts in federal and state health programs on infant care, particularly in Mississippi under Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, certainly was no surprise to Julie Winokur, an independent filmmaker. She has spent the past few months investigating health care problems in Tennessee, where Democratic governor and former health care executive Phil Bredesen took a page from the conservative playbook and slashed a Medicaid program that had been hailed as one of the most inclusive in the country.

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Bill Scher

New Take Back America 2007 Blog

With our annual Take Back America event less than two months away, we’ve just launched a brand new website, including our initial list of speakers and agenda. And it also features the OurFuture CyberCafe, which you can create an account for whether or not you’ve registered to attend TBA07. Among other things, joining the CyberCafe lets you participate in the new TBA07 blog community.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives Can’t Cap Caps

The maverick image of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has taken a beating, thanks to his support for escalating our military involvement in Iraq, his demonstrably false comments about the security of Baghdad, and a myriad of flip-flops. But he is clinging to one maverick remnant: his support for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech today, he renewed that support, calling global warming “a serious and urgent economic, environmental and national security challenge”. Coupled with last week’s move by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to propose such a cap on power plants, conservatives are finding it difficult to forge a united front to oppose emissions caps. As noted last week, this bipartisan support for caps doesn’t mean all the devils in the details have been ironed out and strong legislation is around the corner.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives Can’t Cap Support For Caps

The maverick image of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has taken a beating, thanks to his support for escalating our military involvement in Iraq, his demonstrably false comments about the security of Baghdad, and a myriad of flip-flops. But he is clinging to one maverick remnant: his support for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech today, he renewed that support, calling global warming “a serious and urgent economic, environmental and national security challenge”. Coupled with last week’s move by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to propose such a cap on power plants, conservatives are finding it difficult to forge a united front to oppose emissions caps. As noted last week, this bipartisan support for caps doesn’t mean all the devils in the details have been ironed out, and strong legislation is around the corner.

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Bill Scher

Minimum Wage Compromise Reached

Congressional leaders took a big step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge late Friday, reconciling House-Senate differences in their minimum wage bills. The two chambers split the difference on the size of business tax breaks, ending up at $4.8 billion. The ideal would have been zero, to reject conservative claims that any raise for low-income workers automatically requires more handouts for business — especially when business have already received hundreds of billions in tax breaks, while the minimum wage has lost value. But Senate leaders feared a continued conservative filibuster if there were no tax breaks. Yet after Friday’s compromise, Sen. Charles Grassely, R-Iowa, who has already tried to obstruct the wage bill, sputtered that the tax breaks still weren’t big enough.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog:Democrats Slow To Charge

None of the Sunday show hosts posed our Weekend Watchdog questions drilling down to the heart of the Prosecutor Purge matter—how names actually got on the purge list. But guests Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked in answers that kept the focus where it belongs. Asked on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file) if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in his post, Leahy noted that wouldn’t necessarily stop the White House from undermining our justice system: I don’t think he can be effective. But who would he be replaced with? If it’s going to be another person who is going to be really run by the White House, and if the White House is continued to be allowed to interfere with the criminal justice system throughout this country—some of the effects, everybody, right down to the officer on the beat—then it does no good.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog:Democrats Slow To Charge

None of the Sunday show hosts posed our Weekend Watchdog questions drilling down to the heart of the Prosecutor Purge matter—how names actually got on the purge list. But guests Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked in answers that kept the focus where it belongs. Asked on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file) if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in his post, Leahy noted that wouldn’t necessarily stop the White House from undermining our justice system: I don’t think he can be effective. But who would he be replaced with? If it’s going to be another person who is going to be really run by the White House, and if the White House is continued to be allowed to interfere with the criminal justice system throughout this country—some of the effects, everybody, right down to the officer on the beat—then it does no good.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog:Democrats Slow To Charge

None of the Sunday show hosts posed our Weekend Watchdog questions drilling down to the heart of the Prosecutor Purge matter—how names actually got on the purge list. But guests Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked in answers that kept the focus where it belongs. Asked on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file) if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in his post, Leahy noted that wouldn’t necessarily stop the White House from undermining our justice system: I don’t think he can be effective. But who would he be replaced with? If it’s going to be another person who is going to be really run by the White House, and if the White House is continued to be allowed to interfere with the criminal justice system throughout this country—some of the effects, everybody, right down to the officer on the beat—then it does no good.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog:Democrats Slow To Charge

None of the Sunday show hosts posed our Weekend Watchdog questions drilling down to the heart of the Prosecutor Purge matter—how names actually got on the purge list. But guests Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked in answers that kept the focus where it belongs. Asked on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file) if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in his post, Leahy noted that wouldn’t necessarily stop the White House from undermining our justice system: I don’t think he can be effective. But who would he be replaced with? If it’s going to be another person who is going to be really run by the White House, and if the White House is continued to be allowed to interfere with the criminal justice system throughout this country—some of the effects, everybody, right down to the officer on the beat—then it does no good.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-up

None of the Sunday shows hosts posed our Weekend Watchdog questions drilling down to the heart of the Prosecutor Purge matter — how names actually got on the purge list. But guests Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked in answers that kept the focus where it belongs. Asked on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file) if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in his post, Leahy noted that wouldn’t necessarily stop the White House from undermining our justice system: I don’t think he can be effective.

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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. Then on Monday, we’ll circle back and see if our questions were asked, and if they were answered. Let’s take back our media! Three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be on the main Sunday shows: Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. (CBS’ Face The Nation), Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn. and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (Fox News Sunday). Here’s a few suggested queries: 1. Neither Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, nor his right-hand man Kyle Sampson, could tell your committee how prosecutors ended up on the purge list. What does that say about the reasons for the forced resignations? 2.

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Bill Scher

Blogger Roundup of Gonzales Hearing

Video highlights of today’s Senate hearing with Attorney General Gonzales is up at PoliticsTV and TPMmuckaker. Thorough liveblogging is up at Firedoglake and The Gun Toting Liberal. McJoan at DailyKos says Gonzales “decided that claiming incompetence is the way to go”. Bark Bark Woof Woof: “If I told my boss ‘I don’t recall’ as many times as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did this morning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’d be fired, and rightly so.” Under the LobsterScope: “Is everyone noticing what a weak defender of his own position Gonzales is?” The Carpetbagger Report gives some color: Leahy, looking incredulous, asked if Gonzales remembered deciding to fire the prosecutors. The AG, annoyed, said, “I remember making the decision.” When, Leahy asked. “I don’t recall,” Gonzales said.

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Bill Scher

Is Gonzales “Going Down In Flames”?

As noted below, several Republican Senators have been not willing to provide political cover for Gonzales. And this afternoon, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called for Gonzales’ resignation at the end of his questioning.

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Bill Scher

Feingold Cuts To The Chase

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., nailed Gonzales with a basic disconnect in his story, telling him, “You can’t really say with certainty” that no one was purged for “improper reasons” if “you didn’t know then, and you don’t know today, how each of these people actually made it onto that list”. Of course, Feingold’s comments presume Gonzales is telling the truth when he says he had “limited involvement” in the purge process.

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Bill Scher

So, Bad Management Can Get You Fired, Eh?

Asked what he would have done differently, Attorney General Gonzales said when delegating to Kyle Sampson the compilation of the prosecutor purge list, he would have told Sampson who exactly to consult with and what criteria he should use.

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Bill Scher

“I Don’t Recall” Lots of Stuff

I can’t keep up with all of Alberto Gonzales’ “I don’t recall”s, in defiance of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s attempt at prevention. But he just made a couple of big ones. Under questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Gonzales said he doesn’t recall the origins of the provision, slipped into the Patriot Act without the knowledge of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to allow U.S. Attorneys to be installed by the Bush administration without Senate confirmation. And, in talking about The List, he said he doesn’t recall directly putting any names on it himself.

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Bill Scher

The List

After Kyle Sampson’s testimony, Talking Points Memo noted that Sampson was very murky about how prosecutor’s names got onto the purge list. Today, Gonzales is generally characterizing the list as something he asked Sampson to compile and put before him. That still leaves murky, in the Bush administration’s telling, how exactly names made the list — such as, if White House officials or Senators put them on the list for partisan reasons.

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Bill Scher

Dancing As Fast As He Can

In advance of today’s Gonzales hearing, ABC News had flagged a contradiction in his prepared testimony and the recently released emails: Gonzales said that during the months that his senior staff was evaluating U.S. attorneys, including [Carol] Lam, “I did not make the decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.” But the recently released e-mail from [now-former Justice Dept. chief of staff Kyle] Sampson, dated June 1, 2006, indicated that Gonzales was actively involved in discussions about Lam and had decided to fire her if she did not improve. How did Gonzales try to dance around this? Under questioning from Sen.

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Bill Scher

‘Breakthrough’ on Carbon Caps

Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., delivered a speech on global warming Wednesday, and announced a key development that she deemed a “breakthrough”: I have been informed … by Senators [Tom] Carper [D-Del.], [Lamar] Alexander [R-Tenn.] and [Bernie] Sanders [I-Vt.] … that they will soon introduce [separate] bills, meaning in a matter of days, to cap pollution from power plants, including global warming pollution … Now, I have a consensus developing on my committee, across the party lines, that we will in fact look at bills that do cap carbon [emissions]. As noted here earlier, the global warming debate is shifting.

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