Democratic Allies Leave President Obama As Adrift As The Gulf Oil Slick Over Spill

Many Democrats are offering President Obama tepid support at best over the future of offshore oil drilling after the ongoing environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a usually staunch Obama ally, is noncommittal over the future of at-sea oil extraction in the face of a massive oil slick caused by the explosion of a BP oil rig. The oil spill, which threatened to come ashore Friday, further angered Democrats who just a month ago expressed their displeasure at Obama’s decision to open new offshore areas to oil and natural gas drilling. Obama announced Friday that policy was on hold pending an investigation into the BP accident, but that wasn’t enough for some … Continue reading

Campaign Spending Bill Pleases Watchdogs

Democrats won applause Thursday from a variety of public interest groups for a bill they brought forward designed to counter the effects of corporate spending in elections. As expected, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mike Castle (R-Del.), introduced their legislation, called the DISCLOSE Act, would create a new disclosure system that would let the public — including corporate shareowners — learn which corporations are promoting or attacking which candidates, even when corporate money is laundered through front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, an influential-but-shadowy ardently anti-regulation lobby, has strongly opposed the transparency the new legislation would provide. The Chamber reportedly plans to spend $50 million in a campaign this year … Continue reading

Here’s A Thought For Filibuster Reform: Make Them Actually Filibuster Something

Senate Republicans apparently plan to drop their objection and allow a vote on long-hoped-for financial reform legislation — but not before they blocked the bill for a third straight day. This is not the first time the GOP’s pulled such a stunt. You might recall how its senators twice in recent months blocked the Senate from even voting on emergency extensions of unemployment and healthcare benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans. Once a rarely used parliamentary maneuver, Republicans have elevated the filibuster to routine business in the modern Senate. Anything more than the most routine business requires 60 senators — not just a simply majority of 51 — to overcome a filibuster. From 1971 through 1993, an average of just … Continue reading

Dems Turn Bank Reform Into 2010 Tool

Stymied from actually passing financial reform legislation in the Senate, Democrats have decided to turn the issue into a fundraising and campaign tool for the 2010 elections. Unified Republicans blocked further consideration of the regulatory overhaul bill for a third time Wednesday, although GOP senators later signaled they will eventually allow a vote on what would be the largest overhaul of rules governing the financial industry since the Great Depression. Democrats, including President Obama, have wanted to pass the legislation to offer consumers greater protection, and to prevent another economic meltdown, such as occurred in 2008. The House approved its version of financial reform last year, but with Wall Street executives strongly opposed to new regulation, Senate Republicans thus far … Continue reading

House Moves Toward Justice Reform

Following the Senate’s lead, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced legislation to create a commission to complete a comprehensive review of the U.S. justice system, and make recommendations for reform. Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) on Tuesday announced the introduction of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010. The bill tracks a similar measure introduced earlier in the Senate by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), and was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January. The Senate legislation awaits action by the full Senate. The legislation would create a blue-ribbon bipartisan commission charged with undertaking an 18-month study of the nation’s criminal justice system, according to a statement released by … Continue reading

Hammering Out a Contract: Worker Exploitation at a Vo-Tech School

Art Welch, the in-school suspension supervisor at the Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School (Vo-Tech) in Bloomsburg, Pa., earns $8 an hour, only 75 cents above minimum wage. In the six years he has been at Vo-Tech, he has never had a raise. Mary Avery, who has worked in the cafeteria for 28 years, earns $9 an hour; some years, she only received a nickel an hour increase. Wendy Zajac, who also works in the cafeteria, has been employed at Vo-Tech seven years; she is the only one of a bargaining unit of 25 workers who received a raise in four years. She now earns $7.25 an hour. The school’s management had no choice except to raise her salary so it … Continue reading

In Defeat, Financial Reform Supporters Offer Angry Words — But Little Else

Supporters of the Senate financial reform legislation lashed out at Republicans, as GOP senators held together to block further action on the bill. But other than urging the 41 Senate Republicans to “reconsider” their filibuster, advocates offered little else to suggest Democrats and their allies might overcome GOP obstruction of what would be the largest overhaul of regulation of the financial industry since the Great Depression. In separate votes Monday and again Tuesday, the Senate GOP, along with conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, blocked further consideration of financial reform after more than a week of harshly criticizing those proposed rules. “The American people also demand that their leaders discuss these details and improve on these ideas,” Senate Majority … Continue reading

Capitol Idea: Scott Brown Hides Behind Discredited Talking Points As He Sells Massachusetts Out To Big Banks

Scott Brown joined every other Republican senator Monday to block financial reform legislation from even coming up from a vote. And, like every other Senate Republican who sold out their constituents while protecting big-bank greed, Brown did so while hiding behind discredited talking points cooked up by a longtime GOP hack. It was another attack of a mental condition that has often seemed to plague the freshman senator since he came to Congress, in which Brown mistakenly thinks that he’s the junior senator from South Carolina, or perhaps this time, he thought he represented the good folks back in Mississippi. Brown apparently forgot that he’s no Red State good ol’ boy. Rather, he’s the first Republican to represent that bluest … Continue reading