Cigarette and Coffee Breakfast, 2/27/2014

– More on yesterday’s tax plan released by GOP Rep Dave Camp of Michigan. One of the many loopholes that was eliminated in the plan allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes from their federal return. Seeing as more liberal, blue states tend to have higher state and local taxes, this is a policy that seems to have been designed specifically to hurt consumers in blue states like California and New York. “The provision would eliminate a tax benefit that effectively subsidizes higher State and local taxes and increased spending at the State and local level,” says a summary released of Camp’s proposal. It’s interesting that Camp would say that, because I have a feeling he’s not in favor of replacing that state and local spending with more federal spending. I also wonder if  a member of the Federal Government like Dave Camp making decisions that will effect every single state’s budget is part of Conservatives’ state’s rights campaign.

The invective for Camp’s plan wasn’t just coming from liberals last night, though. Tony Fratto, a former Treasury official turned lobbyist echoed the sentiments of almost every other slime ball lobbyist on K street, “It will restrict growth, add complexity, and create new distortions”. And this, Republicans who have forgotten because it’s been so long since they were in power will be sad to find out, is the problem with governing. Every problem may have a solution, but every solution has it’s winners and losers.

– Nice write-up for TPM this morning on the Scott Walker scandal, which seems to have gotten mostly glossed over in a news cycle filled with Chris Christie, the violence in Ukraine, and the end of the Sochi Winter Olympics. We shouldn’t just let the story fade away though:

These emails don’t reveal that one taxpayer-funded staffer returned a few campaign phone calls on their work phone. They show a pervasive, intentional blurring of the lines between governing and the campaign. His “inner circle” of closest advisors were constantly engaged in campaign activities on county time, using a secret email system and router to cover their tracks. Six of his aides faced criminal charges as a result.


Walker’s top priorities are basically unrelated to his promise to add jobs. Instead, he and his allies in the legislature have concentrated on right-wing dream projects like limiting access to abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood. They’ve resisted both federal infrastructure money and any effort to make the Affordable Care Act work for Wisconsin. And they’ve moved to maintain their hold on the state government in the longer term through redistricting and restrictions on the right to vote.

– Big campaign news out of Colorado this morning, where Republican Cory Gardner is said to be considering a very late entrance into the state’s U.S. Senate competition. Gardner, who was the GOP’s top recruiting choice in 2010, demurred from the race against incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Udall. If Gardner does get into the race this time, there seems to be a good chance a chunk of the Republican field will clear the way for him, with Tea Partier Ken Buck and state Sen. Amy Stephens saying they would get out of the race. State Sen. Owen Hill said that Gardner,””tried to push me out of the race” and accused him of corruption, so it seems he’s staying in. Lastly state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who Google has pictured in a cowboy hat and American flag button-down shirt when you search, also likely will not drop out of the race. It should be very interesting to see if another mainstream Republican like Gardner, who many had seen as having a future in the House leadership, will be able to survive what is sure to be a Tea Party infused primary season in Colorado. If he does not survive, he has already given up his house seat, so going after the Democrat Udall’s seat is a risk for the up-and-coming Gardner.

– Bill Clinton held a fundraiser for aspiring U.S. Senator, Allison Lundergan Grimes, who will take on Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. Clinton raised 700k for Grimes, who is obviously hurting in the money department against the well-connected and well-funded McConnell.

Joe Sestak, who many will remember as the former Navy Admiral and U.S. Congressman that nearly beat U.S. Senator Pat Toomey for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania in 2010, seems to have an uphill climb if he really does want to take Toomey on in a rematch in 2016. There is, of course, a couple of years before the hypothetical Democratic primary for that race, but currently, Sestak trails fellow Democrat, State Attorney General Kathleen Kane 47-24. Of course, Kane just won office in 2012, whereas Sestak has not been in the news much in the state since losing to Toomey in 2010, so name recognition is a major factor.

– Democrats in the house today will officially begin pressuring House Majority Leader John Boehner to allow a vote on the party’s number one agenda item, a raise on the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The raise, which is broadly popular with the American people, has not received a vote because majority Republicans in the House do not want to be seen to be voting against such a popular item in an election year. But with a “discharge petition”, or tyranny, as i joked earlier, Democrats can force a vote on any bill, as long as they have a majority of members signed on to the petition. With 199 Democrats in the house, even if they were to get every one of their members to sign the petition, which is always a difficult task in a party as disparate as theirs, Democrats would need to find 20 moderate Republicans willing to buck leadership for individual political gain. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Democrats gathered in a Capitol Hill basement, “To not have this vote is to abdicate our responsibility to the middle class”.

At the very least, assuming there are not 20+ Republicans willing to declare open war on the party’s congressional leadership, the discharge petition should be a powerful tool to show that Democrats are fighting to give minimum wage workers a raise. Expect those moderate Republicans who refuse to sign, especially in high unemployment areas like Illinois or  Nevada to get several visits to their home district this election season, both from national and local Democrats, excoriating them for playing politics instead of helping the struggling working-poor in that congressional district.


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