Bill Scher

Recesspool

The abuse of the recess appointment perhaps isn’t President Bush’s most egregious attack on our Founders’ carefully crafted system of checks and balances, since others before him have exploited this constitutional loophole. But the implicit reasons behind each of the three significant recess appointments he made this week —installing the officials without Senate confirmation during the congressional recess—are quite egregious, and each in their own way. The one that’s gotten the most attention is Sam Fox, our new ambassador to Belgium.  It’s typical, if still highly inappropriate, for cronies of the president to get cushy ambassador gigs. But Sam Fox wasn’t just a big donor of Bush. He gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat liars that smeared Sen. John Kerry’s war record during his 2004 presidential bid.

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Bill Scher

Recesspool

Yesterday, President Bush made three significant recess appointments, installing officials without Senate confirmation during the congressional recess. The abuse of the recess appointment perhaps isn’t Bush’s most egregious attack on our Founders’ carefully crafted system of checks and balances, since others before him have exploited this constitutional loophole. But the implicit reasons behind each appointment are quite egregious, and each in their own way. The one that’s gotten the most attention is Sam Fox, our new Ambassador to Belgium. It’s typical, if still highly inappropriate, for cronies of the President to get cushy Ambassador gigs. But Sam Fox wasn’t just a big donor of Bush. He gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat liars that smeared John Kerry’s war record.

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Bill Scher

Sen. Stabenow: “Negotiating the Best Price Is the American Way”

This afternoon, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) joined the authors of the new Institute for America’s Future report, “The Waste and Inefficiency of the Bush Prescription Drug Plan” for a news conference urging the Senate to empower Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. As Sen. Stabenow declared, “negotiating the best price is the American way.” Reporters peppered the Senator with one of Big Pharma’s arguments: that the House bill as written wouldn’t give Medicare enough leverage to negotiate well. The Senator replied, “We have two arguments that are used on this,” that “it’s really not going to make any difference” and it’s going to cut into the drug industry’s enormous profits. Both can’t be true.

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Bill Scher

Putting Corporations First

The free market is the engine of our economy, conservatives like to say, so be quiet and let corporations take us for a ride. But the reminders are piling up that blind reliance on the private sector doesn’t lead to a strong economy that works for everyone. Today, NY Times business columnist David Leonhardt puts last week’s Circuit City layoff in perspective: …the company dismissed 3,400 people, or about 8 percent of its work force, not because they were doing a bad job and not because the company was eliminating their positions. Instead, executives said the workers were being paid too much and that the company would replace them with new employees who would earn less. It was the second such layoff at Circuit City in the last five years, and it offered an unusually clear window on the ruthlessness of corporate efficiency.

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Bill Scher

Putting Corporations First

The free market is the engine of our economy, conservatives like to say, so be quiet and let corporations take us for a ride. But the reminders are piling up that blind reliance on the private sector doesn’t lead to a strong economy that works for everyone. Today, NY Times business columnist David Leonhardt puts last week’s Circuit City layoff in perspective: …the company dismissed 3,400 people, or about 8 percent of its work force, not because they were doing a bad job and not because the company was eliminating their positions. Instead, executives said the workers were being paid too much and that the company would replace them with new employees who would earn less. It was the second such layoff at Circuit City in the last five years, and it offered an unusually clear window on the ruthlessness of corporate efficiency.

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Bill Scher

Bush’s Drug Plan Wasteful, Inefficient

A report released today concludes: “Allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices would bring around $30 billion in savings that can help American seniors and taxpayers.” That finding was in a new report released today by Roger Hickey and Jeff Cruz of Institute for America’s Future, in cooperation with economist Dean Baker, entitled, ”The Waste and Inefficiency of the Bush Prescription Drug Plan.” This is critical information as the Senate considers scrapping the current ban on negotiation, which already cleared the House. (See this Common Sense post on the “army” of drug company lobbyists mobilized to kill the bill.) The Executive Summary of the report is below. Click here for the full report.

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Bill Scher

Bush’s Drug Plan Wasteful, Inefficient

A report released today concludes: “Allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices would bring around $30 billion in savings that can help American seniors and taxpayers.” That finding was in a new report released today by Roger Hickey and Jeff Cruz of Institute for America’s Future, in cooperation with economist Dean Baker, entitled, ”The Waste and Inefficiency of the Bush Prescription Drug Plan.” This is critical information as the Senate considers scrapping the current ban on negotiation, which already cleared the House. (See this Common Sense post on the “army” of drug company lobbyists mobilized to kill the bill.) The Executive Summary of the report is below. Click here for the full report.

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Bill Scher

Putting Corporations First

The free market is the engine of our economy, conservatives like to say, so be quiet and let corporations take us for a ride. But the reminders are piling up that blind reliance on the private sector doesn’t lead to a strong economy that works for everyone. Today, NY Times business columnist David Leonhardt puts last week’s Circuit City layoff in perspective: …the company dismissed 3,400 people, or about 8 percent of its work force, not because they were doing a bad job and not because the company was eliminating their positions. Instead, executives said the workers were being paid too much and that the company would replace them with new employees who would earn less. It was the second such layoff at Circuit City in the last five years, and it offered an unusually clear window on the ruthlessness of corporate efficiency.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Iraq Enablers In The Crosshairs

A coalition of activists leading the opposition to the war in Iraq is refusing to give an inch to President Bush, who today unleashed more venom at Democrats for doing what a majority of voters want: a responsible withdrawal from Iraq. One member of that coalition, Americans United for Change, announced a campaign targeting two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and John Sununu of New Hampshire. Both voted against a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq last week even though they have made statements critical of the administration’s war policy. Both are up for re-election in 2008.

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Bill Scher

“You look at the number of lobbyists — we are up against an army.”

On Sunday, the Center for Public Integrity released a new report finding the pharmaceutical lobby flooded Washington with $155 million from January 2005 to June 2006, employing a stunning 1,100 lobbyists. One public health advocate rightly said, “we are up against an army.” That’s what they had, not what they have now. Back in January, we noted here that pharmaceuticals were “scrambling to hire lobbyists with Democratic ties”, after the new Congress was sworn in.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Iraq Enablers In The Crosshairs

A coalition of activists leading the opposition to the war in Iraq is refusing to give an inch to President Bush, who today unleashed more venom at Democrats for doing what a majority of voters want: a responsible withdrawal from Iraq. One member of that coalition, Americans United for Change, announced a campaign targeting two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and John Sununu of New Hampshire. Both voted against a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq last week even though they have made statements critical of the administration’s war policy. Both are up for re-election in 2008.

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Bill Scher

There Oughta Be a Law

In the wake of yesterday’s important Supreme Court ruling on climate change, we can’t forget that the global warming deniers still have friends in the White House. Remember that last year, the Supreme Court told the White House to respect the Geneva Conventions. The White House responded by passing the Torture Bill, thumbing its nose at the slow-moving judicial process. The Supreme Court majority, not being activists like the conservative minority, didn’t tell the EPA exactly what to do about global warming, if anything. It told the EPA to follow the Clean Air law. It told them CO2 is a pollutant under the law. And if they’re not to going combat it, their reasons have to adhere to the law, not be random and made-up. But the ball is in the EPA’s court. And like with the Torture Bill, Bush and his EPA can still be expected to act in bad-faith.

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Bill Scher

Bush: Too Many Kids With Health Insurance

Since President Bush has made it clear he will not sign any universal health insurance plan into law, the short-term goal of congressional leaders is to get coverage to more of the 8-9 million children uninsured in America. But Mr. Compassionate Conservative will “strenuously resist” even that, so reported the NY Times Sunday. Furthermore, the Bushies are complaining that our present programs are covering too many children. From the NY Times: [Bush] Administration officials … expressed concern about a sharp increase in the proportion of children covered by public programs in the last decade… …“The original intent of the Children’s Health Insurance Program was to cover low-income children who were uninsured,” [Bush official Dennis] Smith said in an interview.

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Bill Scher

Kennedy Swings, Roberts Strikes Out, Bush Loses, Earth Wins

President Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency claimed that, despite the Clean Air Act, it didn’t have the authority to combat the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. And even it did, it didn’t feel like it. Bush’s Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Sam Alito agreed, along with veteran conservative activist judges Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. But the conservative movement has not yet fully taken over the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court ruled against Bush’s EPA, finding it does have the authority, and its excuses not to do anything about greenhouse gases don’t relate to the Clean Air Act (aka, the law).

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Bill Scher

Bush Loses, Earth Wins

Presidemt Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency claimed   that, despite the Clean Air Act, it didn’t have the authority to combat the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. And even it did, it didn’t feel like it. Bush’s Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Sam Alito agreed, along with veteran conservative activist judges Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. But the conservative movement has not yet fully taken over the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court ruled against Bush’s EPA, finding it does have the authority, and its excuses not to do anything about greenhouse gases don’t relate to the Clean Air Act (a k a, the law).

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Bill Scher

Bush Loses, Earth Wins

Presidemt Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency claimed   that, despite the Clean Air Act, it didn’t have the authority to combat the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. And even it did, it didn’t feel like it. Bush’s Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Sam Alito agreed, along with veteran conservative activist judges Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. But the conservative movement has not yet fully taken over the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court ruled against Bush’s EPA, finding it does have the authority, and its excuses not to do anything about greenhouse gases don’t relate to the Clean Air Act (a k a, the law).

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-up

On Friday, we introduced “Weekend Watchdogs,” raising the questions the Sunday talk show hosts should ask their scheduled guests. So, how’d they do? On NBC’s Meet The Press, host Tim Russert did not ask Sen. Orrin Hatch how he could say there is “no evidence” of interference of prosecutors’ cases by the Justice Department, only “conjecture on the part of Democrats,” when the prosecutors themselves have made the allegations. Instead, Russert asked Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy, “Let me ask about a comment that Senator Hatch made. Do you have any shred of evidence that any case was interfered with by the dismissal of these eight U.S.

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Bill Scher

Introducing “Weekend Watchdogs”

Do you ever find yourself watching the Sunday morning talk shows, tearing your hair out because the host isn’t asking the most pertinent questions? Let’s see what we can do about that. Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, Common Sense will 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! For Sen.

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