Brown has new ad attacking Whitman for tax plans

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has come out with a new ad today, and he takes a big populist swing at Meg Whitman, his Republican opponent.

Brown takes aim at Whitman’s wealth, saying her economic plan would not only help her wealthy friends but herself, too. He has made it a point in previous comments that he believes her plan to eliminate the capital gains tax is the “worst case” of conflict interest in a campaign that he’s ever seen.

He effectively uses experts and media reports in the ad to show that her plan would blow a hole through the state deficit, already at $19 billion. Eliminating the capital gains tax, he has said, will cost $5 billion in a bad year and $10 billion in a good year.

The most effective line, courtesy of a Los Angeles Times analysis, is that her plan is a “pure handout to the rich.”

The ad, by the way, comes less than a week away from the first debate between Brown and Whitman. It’s an attempt to take ahold of the narrative after the infamous Bill Clinton ad (still on the air) drove the campaign chatter for a couple weeks.

It also comes on the same day the Whitman campaign released a new positive ad. It will presumably (checking) run concurrently with the Clinton ad, though it is doubtful it will get the same run.

Interestingly, in Whitman’s new ad, which touts her plan to restore California’s economy, there is no mention of her plan to eliminate the capital gains tax.


CD11: McNerney fires back at Harmer

In the latest television ad in the 11th Congressional District race, Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney is hitting GOP opponent David Harmer on the challenger’s occupation as a former lawyer in the banking industry.

The Democrat hopes to paint Harmer as shady lawyer who engaged in unscrupulous predatory lending practices and benefited from federal bailout program that the Republican now opposes.

While many may view a lawyer who worked for a credit card company as unworthy of admiration or a vote, McNerney’s claims fall considerably short of the truth. Here’s fact-check.

What it says: “The file on David Harmer isn’t pretty.
A corporate lawyer for a credit card company fined millions
Even deceiving seniors. An executive for predatory lenders.”

Is it true? Yes, Harmer’s employer engaged in nefarious practices for which it paid fines but Harmer had nothing to do with them. Harmer did not join Providian until September 2001, a year after the company paid a $305 million fine related to charges that it tricked customers into buying products they did not want. For example, Providian approved credit cards for poor people and subsequently imposed fees and limits that trapped them into debts they could never repay.

Harmer says he was part of the clean-up team hired to whip the company into shape. “It was unconscionable what (prior Providian managers) did,” Harmer said. “The entire top management tier was fired and replaced. But I was part of the solution.”

Undeniably, media and regulatory investigations into the entire credit card industry in recent years has revealed a number of predatory practices such as excessive interest rates and a failure to disclose to customers that making minimum payments would never allow retirement of the debt.

But blaming Harmer for an entire industry’s failings is at least as questionable as blaming McNerney for every one of Congress’ shortcomings.

What it says: “…  Harmer’s bank got billions from the Wall Street bank bail out.”

Is it true? Yes, JPMorgan Chase received federal bailout money but there is no evidence that Harmer benefited from it.

Providian was sold to Washington Mutual, where Harmer continued to work as a vice president and associate lawyer in its credit card division. When Washington Mutual’s home lending division bankrupted the company, federal regulators orchestrated a purchase by JPMorgan Chase in September 2008, Within a few months, JPMorgan closed down the credit card division and Harmer was laid off in January 2009. He was paid $485,779 between Jan. 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009, in salary, severance and bonuses.

JPMorgan received received $25 billion from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program roughly two weeks after the FDIC conducted the sale of Washington Mutual. But there is no evidence that JPMorgan Chase, which had just bought Bear Stearns, needed or used the TARP funds to buy Washington Mutual or pay the salaries or severance packages of Harmer and the other employees the new owner sent packing.

JPMorgan Chase repaid the TARP money with interest as soon as federal authorities allowed it.

Here is the ad:


Meg: Jerry’s damned if he does or doesn’t

The Associated Press reports that state Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is demanding that a federal judge allow executions to resume in California now that new lethal injection regulations have been put in place.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman quickly issued a statement saying that, “Even on matters of life and death, Jerry Brown is willing to play politics. Brown’s newfound support for the death penalty after three decades of opposing it is as preposterous as his newfound appreciation for fiscal conservatism. None of this squares with Jerry Brown’s record and must have his supporters scratching their heads.”

But although Brown does indeed have a long history of opposition to the death penalty, he did vow while running for Attorney General in 2006 that he would uphold California law regardless of his personal beliefs; his current argument to the federal judge seems to honor that vow.

In fact, Whitman herself blasted Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today – while talking to the San Jose Mercury News’ editorial board – for not adequately upholding the law of the land regarding Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage; they said they believe the ban to be unconstitutional and have declined to defend it in court. “I don’t think you can have elected officials deciding what’s constitutional and what’s not,” Whitman said this morning.

So, hours later, news breaks that Brown is putting the law of the land (the death penalty) above his own beliefs – and Whitman blasts him for that, too. Is she trying to have it both ways? That is, wouldn’t she also be criticizing him if he didn’t demand that executions resume?


Boxer and Fiorina on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The U.S. Senate couldn’t find the 60 votes it needed today to open debate on a defense authorization bill that includes an amendment to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay and lesbian servicemembers, the Washington Post reports.

The vote on the cloture motion was 56-43. No Republican senator voted for cloture; Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP against cloture, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did so as well as a parliamentary tactic so he can bring a cloture motion back to the floor later. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, didn’t vote.

Republicans faulted Reid for blocking other amendments to the defense authorization bill.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said today on the Senate floor that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is hurting our military and costing our nation.

Barbara Boxer“Fourteen thousand servicemen and women have been discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It has cost taxpayers about $290 million at least, maybe up to half a billion dollars to replace soldiers who were discharged under this policy,” she said. “And I know many Americans have seen in their living rooms, coming on the TV, men and women who are our neighbors’ kids and our neighbors who have been kicked out of the military even though they were stellar – stellar – servicemen and women.”

Most of our military allies allow gays and lesbians to serve in their military without discrimination, Boxer said.

“And so for us to stand with Iran, for us to stand with Cuba, for us to stand with North Korea, Pakistan and Turkey over Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Germany, etc., it just doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “And the point is, because we’re part of this coalition of 22 other nations (with troops in Afghanistan), our fighting men and women are already fighting side-by-side with those who may well be gays and lesbians.”

Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina has said she supports repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if military leaders say that’s the right thing to do; at a meeting with veterans in Oakland in February, she said it seems a shame that patriots can’t serve without lying about who they are, especially in time of war.

Fiorina 6-17-10 in Sacramento (AP Photo)“As Carly has stated on the campaign trail, she very much supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and looks forward to the pending review of the policy by the military’s top officials, but she thinks it is extremely disappointing that career politician Barbara Boxer and her fellow Democrats keep playing election year politics with such important military issues,” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said this afternoon. “Instead of maneuvering to try and save the only job she cares about – her own – Barbara Boxer should actually work to represent the people of California in a forthright way, which is exactly why Carly Fiorina wants to go to Washington and stop the politics of old.”

Lots of outrage from gay-rights advocates, after the jump…
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Dueling ads launched for, against Prop. 25

The campaign for Proposition 25 – the measure on November’s ballot that would reduce the legislative vote threshold for passing a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority – released its first television ad today:

The proponents also launched a radio ad:

But Proposition 25’s opponents launched their first statewide radio ad today, too:

“We all want an on-time, balanced budget, but Prop 25 isn’t the answer. It’s just the latest attempt by Sacramento politicians and their special interest supporters to give themselves more power and perks,” No on 25 co-chair Allen Zaremberg, the California Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO, said in a news release. “The politicians behind Prop 25 say it will take away their pay if the budget is late, but all Prop 25 requires is that politicians submit a budget – any budget – to the Governor, even one that is out of balance, and full of borrowing and gimmickry. Even worse, buried in the measure is language that makes it easier for Legislators to raise taxes.”

UPDATE @ 10:37 A.M. WEDNESDAY: The “Yes on 25” committee has sent a letter to California radio stations demanding that the measure’s opponents’ ad be pulled because it “contains demonstrably false statements about the effects of the ballot measure – statements which have been refuted by a California Court of Appeals in a very recent court decision. We ask that you stop broadcasting this completely discredited ad.”


First Lady coming to help Boxer, Pelosi

First Lady Michelle Obama will make campaign fundraising visits across the nation next month, including a stops in California on behalf of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

The White House announced today that the First Lady will be in San Francisco on Monday, Oct. 25 for a fundraising event for Pelosi; she’ll then head for Los Angeles to do a fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 26, and then fundraising events with Boxer on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

“We’re thrilled that in the closing days of the campaign, the First Lady will be coming to California to campaign with us and urge Californians to go to the polls,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said in a news release.

The First Lady’s other fundraising stops earlier in October will benefit U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc.; U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. She’ll also be raising money for Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois, and will do an event for Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill.; Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill.; and Illinois congressional candidate Dan Seals.

President Barack Obama came to California to raise funds for Boxer in April and May; Vice President Joe Biden helped her raise money in July.