Robert Borosage

Alberto Gonzales: Why Conservatives Can’t Govern

Donald Rumsfeld has been axed. Tom DeLay cut and ran. “Scooter” Libby stands convicted. Michael “you’re doing a heck of a job” Brown was tossed. Newt Gingrich disgraced himself. And now, the clueless attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, is surely the next to go. Why this confederacy of dunces? The conservative National Review cover asks plaintively, “Can’t Anyone Here Play this Game?” Time Magazine puts conservative icon Ronald Reagan on its cover, a tear rolling down his face, reporting on “How the Right Went Wrong.” But it’s not incompetence or corruption-although both abound-that fostered the misrule of this conservative administration. And Reagan would feel not dismayed, but right at home with the follies and crimes. Remember, Reagan’s attorney general, Edwin Meese, was disgraced.

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Bill Scher

Dems Go Lukewarm on Global Warming

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reported Friday. Pelosi, D-Calif., prompted concerns last week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline. Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.” To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with no cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming but has a shot of being signed into law.

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Bill Scher

Dems Go Lukewarm on Global Warming

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reported Friday. Pelosi, D-Calif., prompted concerns last week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline. Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.” To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with no cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming but has a shot of being signed into law.

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Bill Scher

Strength of Global Warming Legislation in Doubt

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation: Speaker Pelosi prompted concerns this week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline. Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.” To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with not cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming, but has a shot of being signed into law.

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Bill Scher

Bush Delcares: No Health Care For All On My Watch

In 2003, President Bush signed a law creating a Citizens’ Health Care Working Group to offer health care reform solutions. This week, he dismissed their work. The working group was a bipartisan effort, originating from GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch and Dem Sen. Ron Wyden. The group’s members included Bush’s Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt. The group’s first recommendation was “Establish public policy that all Americans have affordable health care.” It concluded: A clear majority of participants in community meetings, as well as those who responded to a variety of national polls conducted over the past few years, are in favor of a national system that provides universal coverage. However, “universal coverage” means different things to different people.

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Bill Scher

Now The Global Warming Debate Is Really Over

The conservative global warming denial community may still be kicking, but it is getting smaller. Last year, conservative evangelical Pat Robertson dropped out. This week, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith joins him: Global warming. We know the cause. It’s all the cars and power plants spewing dangerous greenhouse gases in the air. The scientists are just as sure as they can be … Those who would doubt global warming need to read up. The Gristmill has the video, including an interview with Joseph Romm on becoming carbon-neutral.

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Bill Scher

Mistakes Were Made … In Defending My Glorious Purge

At today’s Mexico press conference, President Bush further carried Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ messages from yesterday, in blunt fashion: [Gonzales was] right. Mistakes were made. And I’m, frankly, not happy about it, because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the Presidents. U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the President. Past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys; they’re right to do so. The Justice Department recommended a list of U.S. attorneys. I believe the reasons why were entirely appropriate. And yet this issue was mishandled to the point now where you’re asking me questions about it in Mexico… In other words, the mistake wasn’t that prosecutors were purged for partisan reasons.

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Bill Scher

White House Runs Scandal Script

Recognizing that its political purge of eight U.S. attorneys was about to reach critical mass—particularly because of the appearance that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress about it—the White House is now running its script to beat back the media interest. That effort climaxed Wednesday with President Bush’s comments on the firings, which combined a rhetorical slap on Gonzales’ wrist for misleading Congress with a no-big-deal dismissal of the underlying controversy. The bottom line, he said, was that the attorney firings were “entirely appropriate” and that “past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys.

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Bill Scher

Bush Threatens Veto of 9/11 Bill to Stop Unions

Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill implementing many homeland security recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. But President Bush is threatening to veto it because — horrors — it allows Transportation Security Administration workers to join unions, like most of our civil servants. The Washington Post reports: White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said that [the labor provision] would endanger American travelers by eliminating the Transportation Security Administration’s authority to deploy workers to meet changing threats. Hmm. The executive branch can’t fight terrorism without more unchecked power. That argument sounds familiar… …the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act last year [lets the White House] appoint interim federal prosecutors indefinitely, without Senate confirmation.

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Bill Scher

White House Runs Scandal Script

Recognizing that its political purge of eight U.S. Attorneys was about to reach critical mass — particularly because of the appearance that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress about it — the White House is now running its script to beat back the media interest. Yesterday, it selectively leaked info to the New York Times and Washington Post, both which ran articles this morning. The articles shed some light on the White House involvement in the purge, and the attempt to circumvent the Senate’s traditional confirmation process. Nevertheless the creative leaks, by design, set-up Gonzales for his press conference today. At the conference, Gonzales’ main messages were: 1. I Didn’t Do It: Kyle Sampson, who was my chief of staff until yesterday, didn’t tell me he tried to install new attorneys without Senate confirmation.

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Bill Scher

NYT Attempted Hit on Gore Fails

The “liberal” New York Times (with the help of the Drudge Report) carried conservative water today, paradoxically attacking Al Gore for global warming “hype.” In fact, it’s NYT reporter William Broad that’s trafficking in hype.

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Bill Scher

Kiley Ousted From Walter Reed

Amry Surgeon General Kevin Kiley, the guy recently bumped up to head Walter Reed even though he was directly implicated in the scandal, was belatedly forced to resign today. On one hand, good. On the other, doesn’t do much lasting good if the names change and the policies stay the same. Little has been said about the conservative policies of underfunding and privatization that contributed to the shocking poor conditions at Walter Reed. That’s where our attention should turn. UPDATE: Think Progress reports that Kiley’s replacement “seems to be cut from the same cloth”.

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Bill Scher

Big Pharma’s Lying Ads

Last week, the pharmaceutical lobby launched a second round of TV ads in its campaign to block the House bill empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The ad begins: Newspapers across America are speaking out against changes to Medicare Wow. Sounds like a grassroots revolt. Guess those polls showing 85% of the country wanting Medicare to be able to negotiate are off the mark. So how many newspapers “across America” are “speaking out against changes”? In addition to the three national newspapers the first Big Pharma ad leans on (two with conservative-leaning editorial boards, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post), the new ad cites three local papers from “across America” — The Indianapolis Star, The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives Elevate Climate Change Deniers

Yesterday, the House formally approved the new select committee on global warming discussed here several weeks ago as an important step towards quick passage of a strong plan. The panel was created with bipartisan support, including 44 Republican votes. But conservative leaders in the House didn’t want people to get the wrong idea, and think that Republicans are able to recognize reality and are serious about solving pressing problems. So when naming members to the panel, as The Gristmill reports, they only picked one of the 50 people who actually voted for the panel. And they named their biggest climate change denier, James Sensenbrenner, to be the lead minority member.

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Bill Scher

Borosage on EcoTalk: No More Candidate Caution

Last night, Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage appeared on Air America’s EcoTalk, to discuss his recent column in The Nation, “When’s The Idea Primary?”, challenging the presidential candidates to offer “bold ideas” and lamenting that so far “caution is the order of the day.” During the interview, Borosage laid down a marker regarding global warming: The real question for these candidates is … do you treat [climate change] as “business as usual” within the constraints of the current budget process? Which, given its deficits, are very constraining.

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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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