Tenaj's Blog

The Republicans Jobs Plan: Fire the President

The Republicans Jobs Plan: Fire the President

Published - Aug 10 2012 02:05AM EST

Adam Poltrack (Age 25, Young Liberal) City University of New York - Graduate

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by fellow GOP leaders meets with reporters at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill in...

(Associated Press)

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by fellow GOP leaders meets with reporters at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012.

Young Voters Speak Out: Each day, RR.com will spotlight politically minded youth writers from throughout the U.S. speaking their minds on Election 2012. First-time voters, student journalists and new graduates will debate the Obama vs. Romney race to the White House. Young Democrats, Republicans and ‘Undecided’ Americans are eager to play politics and choose the next Commander & Chief.

Read Adam Poltrack's thoughts from a left-leaning perspective:

Trying not to roll my eyes when House Republicans talk about putting America back to work, would be like trying not to extend my leg when the doctor taps my knee with his reflex hammer. Why? Republicans don't have the slightest interest in putting America back to work. How do I know? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told me.

Back in 2010 McConnell said the following at a Heritage Foundation event: ?Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.? Since none of the Republican Congressional leadership publicly repudiated that statement, you can pretty much assume that they're complicit.

If Republicans' top priority is to make sure that Obama is one and done, job creation should be the last thing on their agenda. If Obama were to take the historically impotent economy he inherited and leave something stable and solid in its wake, the entire electoral map would look like Smurfville.

In his early days as Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner promised that Republicans would have a ?relentless focus on creating jobs.? There goes that compulsory eye roll again. Let's give Speaker Boehner some credit though, maybe he misspoke. You know, like Sen. Scott Brown did when he said that he frequently, and secretly, met with kings and queens. Maybe what Boehner meant to say was ?We're going to have a relentless focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and rolling back reproductive rights.? He's certainly delivered on those fronts.

On 33 separate occasions, House Republicans have passed bills repealing the Affordable Care Act. In total they've spent roughly 88 hours passing bills that won't pass the senate, unless and until hell has frozen over. House Republicans have also made anti-abortion legislation a priority, offering dozens of bills that would roll back the rights afforded by Roe vs. Wade.

It's plain to see that, not only are Republicans not interested in creating jobs, they're interested in eliminating them. Back in June, an ABC news article entitled ?Government Job Loss: President Obama's Catch 22,? identified the hemorrhaging of government jobs as a key component of the continued recession. ?It was actually the public, not the private, sector that shed thousands of jobs in May. While private businesses hired 82,000 people last month, federal, state and local governments wiped 13,000 employees from the payroll, according to Labor Department data.? The article goes on to cite an assertion made by Scott Brown, Chief Economist at Raymond James & Associates. ?Were not for the ?drag? of this public sector job loss, the economy would likely be growing a full percentage point faster.? Republicans have made eliminating government jobs is a key component of their jobs plan.

Take Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker for example. The architect of a union-busting, corporation-coddling budget repair bill, is now a fiscal messiah to a huge swath of the GOP. But Walker's austere budget cripples the state's public sector and is lethal to any effort to increase employment. Now House Republicans' plan is to apply the governor's strategy federally, a move that will only kill more jobs.

House Republicans voted down 10 Democratic jobs bills in their first 200 days as the majority party. When they finally did offer a jobs bill, in October 2011, The Washington Post called it "mostly a mish-mash of previous offered bills, such as that hardy perennial -- a balanced budget amendment to the constitution," and called Republicans' claim that the bill would create 5 million jobs ?ludicrous.? The article added, ?even if one accepts the studies that came up with the figures, in most cases they indicate the GOP proposals would do little to create jobs in the near future.?

Not only do House Republicans waste time with futile legislation, when they finally do offer a jobs bill, it's a bill that will do nothing until AFTER the election. Their backs against the wall, Republicans essentially said 'alright you can have your jobs -- we just have one guy we need to fire first.' Are we really going to let our government put vendettas ahead of the interests of its people?

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Entry #291

Paul Ryan: The Anti-Romney Who'll Hurt Him

Paul Ryan: The Anti-Romney Who'll Hurt Him

Published - Aug 12 2012 02:05AM EST

By Samantha Schoenfeld (Age 22, Young Democrat) Syracuse University - Graduate

Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan R-Wis., reacts to audience applause during a campaign event at the Waukesha county expo...


Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan R-Wis., reacts to audience applause during a campaign event at the Waukesha county expo center, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wis. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Young Voters Speak Out: Each day, RR.com will spotlight politically minded youth writers from throughout the U.S. speaking their minds on Election 2012. First-time voters, student journalists and new graduates will debate the Obama vs. Romney race to the White House. Young Democrats, Republicans and ‘Undecided’ Americans are eager to play politics and choose the next Commander & Chief.

Read Samantha Schoenfeld's thoughts from a left-leaning perspective:

Paul Ryan's an interesting choice for Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate, as he's essentially an anti-Romney. While Romney has flip-flopped his point-of-view on almost every possible issue over the years, Ryan has remained consistently steadfast.

But who is Paul Ryan? That seems to be a question that 56 percent of Americans are clamoring to know, according to a CNN poll from June. Well, he's the Republican Obama; he's young, fit, and well spoken (he was a speechwriter for vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp in 1996). He's an economics guru, with a degree from Miami University in Ohio in economics and political science (his highest level of education), and he's the Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Ryan's a lifetime Congressman, having first been elected to the House of Representatives at the ripe age of 28, and never having left. He has a blue-collar background -- he worked as a waiter and fitness trainer during his early days in Washington, D.C. -- and, unlike Romney, has no business experience.

As for his policies, he never agreed with Romneycare or Obamacare, and supports a voucher system for Medicare to encourage private sector competition. He was one of few Republicans who voted with Obama on the auto and bank bailouts, partly because his district has many factory workers, and partly by reasoning that without a bailout both industries would have collapsed and subsequently required even more government handholding than the bailout did.

But his signature is his budget plan. Optimistically dubbed "The Roadmap For America's Future," it hopes to overhaul the tax system and to decrease the top income bracket to 25 percent, eliminate capital gains and corporate income taxes, and privatize social security.

This is more absurd than that time President Ronald Reagan changed modern economics by asserting that reducing taxes on the rich would somehow boost the economy because rich people would spend more, and the money would trickle down to the poor. That was stupid. Ryan's plan is ridiculous. At least President George Bush's tax cuts were for all classes, not just the wealthy, but Ryan wants to eliminate capital gains and corporate taxes (the reason Romney pays only a 14 percent tax rate), while hurting the middle class by revamping (a.k.a. ruining) Medicare.

Romney's pick will have some interesting results. Obama has been shying away from talk about the economic recovery by criticizing Romney's tax returns, his time at Bain Capital, and trouble trimming spending as Massachusetts Governor, but with Ryan, Obama's arguments will be blunted. Also, eliminating Medicare remains nationally unfavorable, which may hurt Romney in Florida, where he's already trailing. In addition, neither Romney nor Ryan's religion fits into one of the standard Christian sects normally seen in the White House, which may be a problem since Romney was already struggling to overcome America's view of Mormons.

And finally, one of the biggest issues for the Romney-Ryan ticket to overcome will be their invisible foreign policy record, as neither has had much experience dealing with issues abroad while Obama and Biden have spent four years in office dealing with other countries on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, I can respect Ryan because he sticks to his beliefs and votes on his own convictions. But not only do his economics and entitlement programs separate him from most Americans, he is also furthering the gender gap Romney was suffering from because of his strong opposition to women's health (he co-sponsored a bill banning in-vitro fertilization, birth control, and abortions) and opposition to women getting equal pay for equal work.

Paul Ryan is an extremist, and hopefully that will spell disaster for Team Double R on November 6.

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Entry #290

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Against Mitt Romney

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Against Mitt Romney

Out of Touch!

Romney, on one of his so-called "work" days, stepped onto the boat of a tired fisherman, who had just finished an exhasting day, and said, "This is more of a fun day than a work day! How did you do today?" The poor fisherman replied, "Not too good." MORE>>

#10: Romney's main success stories are Staples and Dominos. These companies pay very poorly and are not a model for the economy as a whole -- at least, not an economy most of us would want to live in. Would you want to try to raise a family delivering pizzas for Dominos? To Romney, the plight of low wage workers is a theoretical one. His response to earning less that a hundred grand a year would probably be to take out a huge loan —but unlike Paul Cellucci, he could pay it off by cashing in a CD!

#9: One of the reasons Romney lost his bid for the Senate was the embarrassing revelations about how Bain treated employees at Ampad (also known as American Pad & Paper Co.), and in the wake of Enron, Worldcom, and Global Crossing, this may be just as embarrassing: Romney's company, Bain Capital, is being sued over possible defrauding of investors. Despite Ampad's bankruptcy, Bain walked out with a $50 million profit. Romney did not own stock in Ampad personally, but as vice president of Bain, he was surely aware of the overly rosy financial projections used to sell the stock to small investors. The 1996 stock offering sparked charges of insider trading and accounting fraud. Sound familiar?

#8: Speaking od fraud, remember all the scandals over the Salt Lake Olympics? They didn't end when Romney took over! Not only are the central figures in the Salt Lake Olympics bidding scandal likely to get off scot-free, the organizers paid them handsomely to go away. Tom Welch got a $1 million severance fee from SLOC and Dave Johnson reported $200,000. And unless a federal appeals court allows prosecutors to bring bribery, fraud, and racketeering charges against them, Welch and Johnson won't even stand trial. This "severance pay," several times what a typical Massachusetts worker earns in a year, came out of the small "profit" Romney and the SLOC eked out of the Olympics thanks to all the private donations and government handouts ("corporate welfare").

#7: Romney was only able to "save" the Olympics because of huge giveaways. The Utah congressional delegation strong-armed the Parks service to give pristine parkland to a multimillionaire to develop the skiing venue for free, despite the fact that he will make millions off it in the future. Most of the workers at the event forked for free, so the Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC) didn't even have to pay the minimum wage most employees of Romney companies make. Maybe Romney thinks if he adks nicely, state troopers, garbage collectors, and teachers will work for free to make him look good!

#6: Romney said he "didn't notice" that Utah had him listed as a resident and gave him a $38,000 break on his property taxes. Anyone think he would have noticed a $38,000 increase? Did he illegally try to claim both states as his residence in order to maintain eligibility to run for office both places? We'll never know, because he refuses to release his income tax statements.

#5: Romney has no governmental experience at all. Zero. He had a message on his web site saying, "Romney to Legislature: Get Back in Session Now!" Like his confusion in the debates over the duties of a treasurer, he doesn't seem to understand the duties of governor or the legislature, He seems to think the governor is a CEO that can order the legislature around and fire them. Earth to Romney: the legislature is an elected body that doesn't answer to you. As for lowering taxes without cutting services, Romney thinks all you have to do to pay for something is go to the federal government and ask for a handout. After all, it worked for the Olympics!

#4: Romney's lack of experience doesn't make him an outsider. though. He is surrounded by advisors and other insiders from the Weld and Bush camps. Remember "the mess on Beacon Hill" and "we need change on Beacon Hill"? Well, we've had 12 years of Republican governors. If it's time for a change, vote for someone else!

#3: Romney thinks he is too important to pay dues. His only campaigns have been for U.S. Senate and Governor of Massachusetts. Considering his ties to the Bush white house, it's very possible that he only views the governor's office in Massachusetts as a stepping stone to the 2008 presidential race.

#2: Romney lied. He said he would not run against Swift, then he did, forcing her out of the race. Then he said he would not choose a running mate, but would let the Republican party choose one. Then he chose Kerry Healey and spend millions of dollars selling her to the public, capsizing Jim Rappaport's campaign with massive spending. And we're supposed to believe him when he says he's "not in this race for the rich"?

And the #1 reason not to vote for Mitt Romney is:

Romney is making a big deal of "not being in this race for the rich," but where have you seen Romney bumper stickers and yard signs? Mostly on luxury cars and SUVs and in the yards of mansions, high-priced condos, and big businesses. And who does he think he's fooling with his "made for the press" tries at pumping gas or selling hot dogs? How many of you have such perfectly coiffed hair and impeccably tailored blue jeans without a stain, tear, or patch? Romney is just plain out of touch!

red alert politics

Entry #289

Steel mill polluted town as Romney firm profited

Steel mill polluted town as Romney firm profited

Published - Aug 11 2012 03:42AM EST

JACK GILLUM, Associated Press

Paul Skoko stands outside his rust-stained house in Georgetown, S.C., in this photograph taken on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. He was one of a group of...

(The Associated Press)

Paul Skoko stands outside his rust-stained house in Georgetown, S.C., in this photograph taken on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. He was one of a group of local residents who brought a pollution suit against GS Industries, operator of a nearby steel mill, back in 1998 when the company was owned by the company Mitt Romney co-founded, Bain Capital. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) — The rusty stains on Shirley Carter's home are a permanent reminder of her fight with the local steel mill, just down U.S. Highway 17 near the boat docks. No matter how many cans of industrial-strength acid she went through, the red tint on her property never seemed to go away.

In 1998, Carter and her neighbors sued Georgetown Steel, then owned by the company Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney co-founded, Bain Capital. They sought millions in cleanup costs and accused the mill's owners of leaving their historic Southern neighborhood looking like it had been hit by a "chemical bomb."

State officials determined the mill was largely to blame for the pollution. As the lawsuit dragged on for years, the steel mill filed for bankruptcy and the plant ultimately settled with the residents.

In the end, Bain walked away with more than $30 million in profits. Carter got $800.

"That wasn't even enough to paint the house," said Carter, who is a Romney supporter this election.

As a presidential candidate, Romney has pledged to roll back environmental regulations as a way to spur growth. Under President Barack Obama, he recently quipped, "a regulator would have shut down the Wright Brothers for their 'dust pollution.'"

But the story of Georgetown Steel shows how Romney's company thrived under conditions that largely allowed the emissions to continue for years, leaving locals to clean up the mess after Bain left town.

Asked to comment on the Bain legacy in Georgetown, the Romney campaign instead criticized Obama on unemployment and green energy projects. A Bain spokeswoman did not directly address the impact of the plant's emissions but instead said the firm "undertook an ambitious plan" to turn around GS Industries and invested millions of dollars into the company.

The Georgetown saga surfaced in the mid-1990s, when South Carolina environmental officials received complaints from a local resident asking why his boat kept turning red-orange. The phenomenon was more than a nuisance, like ash from a fire, as dust aggressively stained not only nearby boats but cars and homes as well.

The Georgetown residents' complaints came a few years after Bain Capital purchased the Georgetown mill and its sister plant in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a $24.5 million buyout deal. The parent company was later called GS Industries and became one of the largest producers of wire rods.

Bain Capital, a private-equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984, had an impressive track record by then. It would eventually buy dozens of troubled companies and help make them profitable, a skill Romney has trumpeted on the campaign trail as making him more suited to lead the country than Obama.

But amid Bain's profitable ownership of GS Industries, the plant's production had created unsightly byproducts. By the late 1990s, the red dust was so was so ubiquitous that those who lived in rustic, two-story homes near Georgetown's waterfront took to calling it "The Stuff" — a mineral called goethite that's used to make steel.

"Everybody talked about the red dust, The Stuff," said Marilyn Burkhardt, who owned a seven-room bed and breakfast with her husband before leaving town in 2000.

"My husband scrubbed the house probably every other week with a pressure hose," Burkhardt said. It was often difficult for guests to eat breakfast on the deck. "We had to work like crazy. And for what? Just to keep the outsides of our houses clean."

South Carolina regulators placed monitoring sensors around town and compared air-quality results with similar sites in the state capital, Columbia, and in Alabama. In turn, officials wanted to see improvements at the mill and at times cited the plant during Bain's ownership for environmental violations, records show.

They also asked that the mill's emissions "be minimized" and that management review its steel-making process to reduce staining. Indeed, the plant paved its dirt roadways, installed a truck wash and sealed gaps in its buildings to prevent The Stuff from leaking out.

The state report, made available to The Associated Press through a public-records request, said the mill was largely responsible for goethite emissions. Yet the staining continued.

So Georgetown neighbors took the mill to court, with the case growing into a class-action lawsuit covering those who lived within a few miles of the steel mill. At one point, the plaintiffs sought millions of dollars in at least three civil cases, civil filings show.

The federal government has declared goethite a hazardous substance for workers exposed to large quantities each day. It's generally not toxic like arsenic and it doesn't cause cancer like benzene, two pollutants that are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1999, just as the mill's lawyers asked a local judge to force the plaintiffs to turn over more documents, Romney announced he was leaving Bain to organize the Salt Lake City Olympics. Romney's federal presidential financial disclosures report that he had no active role in Bain after 1999. Several Romney associates recently told the AP that Romney made no managerial decisions after that date, but they also said he kept his formal CEO position and continued to meet with Bain partners. And an AP analysis of regulatory documents between 1999 and 2001 also showed Romney kept up an active role in overseeing Bain-related investments.

Romney stood to benefit financially from his company's investments. And his departure from Bain also came as the balance sheets at GS Industries began to look bleak. Despite Bain's reputation for turning around troubled companies like Staples and Domino's Pizza, the Georgetown plant was in trouble.

In February 2001, the company filed for bankruptcy protection with more than $500 million in debt. Romney has blamed cheap steel from China for the plant's demise, telling Fox News in December that he remembered a few dozen steel mills also foundered.

But as soon as the bankruptcy documents were filed, company lawyers told the Georgetown neighbors that the settlement was on hold. To see any money, they'd have to get in line behind everyone else — including Bain, with its majority ownership share. The steel mill offered to settle the case for $870,000.

By September 2003, as GS Industries was emerging from bankruptcy and after Bain sold the company, a local judge ordered that Georgetown homeowners in the lawsuit receive their money. After attorney's fees, that came to about $113,000, split dozens of ways.

And it certainly wasn't enough to repair the damage, some residents said.

"I had the house cleaned and pressure-washed all the time," said Paul Skoko, who was among those who sued. "Within two years, it needed to be done again. That's when I said, 'That's it. I'm not doing this anymore. It simply costs too much."

Skoko opted to let his house turn a hue of burnt orange-red.

Entry #284

Romney murdered a woman in 2006

Woman mentioned in Priorities ad died in '06


8/7/12 12:07 PM EDT

The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action lobbed a heavy-duty attack at Mitt Romney this morning, airing an ad that links the closure of a GST Steel plant in Kansas City to the loss of a family’s health insurance — and the death of a woman some time later.

The man speaking in the ad, Joe Soptic, says, “Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care and my family lost their health care. And a short time after that my wife became ill.” Soptic explains he’s not exactly sure when his wife became sick, but that when he took her to the hospital she had undetected, advanced cancer and died 22 days later.

The Romney campaign has pushed back on other GST Steel-related attacks by arguing that the plant in Kansas City closed after he stepped away from his management job at Bain. (Democrats counter that Romney was still listed as a top executive at Bain through 2002, and that he built up the private equity firm during the time it invested in GST Steel.)

In the case of this particularly jarring super PAC ad, it may also be relevant that Soptic’s wife died in 2006, years after the GST factory closed down.

A 2006 story in the Kansas City Star reported the death of Ranae Soptic, a former champion roller skater: “Soptic went to the hospital for pneumonia, but doctors found signs of very advanced cancer, and she died two weeks later on June 22.”

I asked Priorities USA strategist Bill Burton to explain the connection between Romney, Bain and a cancer fatality that happened near the end of Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts. The lapse in time between the plant closing and Soptic’s death doesn’t mean the ad is invalid, but it raises questions about the cause and effect relationship here.

“We’re illustrating how long it took for communities and individuals to recover from the closing of these businesses,” Burton responded. “Families and individuals had to find new jobs, new sources of health insurance and a way to make up for the pensions they lost. Mitt Romney has had an enduring impact on the lives of thousands of men and women and for many of them, that impact has been devastating.”

Like most of the outside-group ads in the 2012 race, the fairness of this one is open to interpretation. But both the Priorities attack and the new welfare-themed hit on Obama from the Romney campaign are provoking more intense outrage — both publicly and privately — than most of the other spots we’ve seen this summer.

Entry #283