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One House Republican’s epic fail

The “Tone-Deaf Politician of the Year” award might go to Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who – during BP CEO Tony Hayward’s testimony to Congress today – apologized for the Obama Administration’s “shakedown” of the oil giant for a $20 billion escrow account to cover some of the costs of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Joe BartonAn apology. For a “shakedown.” Of a company that caused the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history. Which also is wrecking an entire region’s already-fragile economy. Riiiiiiight.

This from a guy the Wall Street Journal once called the “House GOP’s leading expert on energy policy.” But, hey, can you guess what industry he worked in before his election to Congress? Oh, I just KNEW you could.

Even his own party’s House leadership wasted no time in hanging Barton out to dry today. Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va.; and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., issued this statement:

“The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation’s largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority. Congressman Barton’s statements this morning were wrong. BP itself has acknowledged that responsibility for the economic damages lies with them and has offered an initial pledge of $20 billion dollars for that purpose.

“The families and businesspeople in the Gulf region want leadership, accountability and action from BP and the Administration. It is unacceptable that, 59 days after this crisis began, no solution is forthcoming. Simply put, the American people want all of our resources, time and focus to be directed toward stopping the spill and cleaning up the mess.”

Fine, but… wait a minute. “Natural disaster?” Seriously? Perhaps they meant “disaster for nature,” but that’s not what “natural disaster” means. This is a man-made disaster, one very likely born of negligence and greed, and nobody should forget it.

UPDATE @ 4:26 P.M.: Well, THAT was quick. Unfazed by the GOP leadership’s disapproval of Barton’s comment, the liberals are on the warpath:

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Watch Miller-Garamendi love fest

No, not that kind of love fest. Get a grip.

This is my FlipVideo of last night’s fete of reps. George Miller and John Garamendi and their role in the passage of the health care reform legislation. East Bay labor, minority and Democratic party leaders hosted the event at the IBEW Local 302 Hall in Martinez.

Click here to read my story.

But you can watch the speeches yourself at the link below. (Don’t mind the backsides of the people who kept standing in front of my little camera. They eventually moved.)

Toward the end of the video (about 39 minutes or so) watch closely and you will see Miller approach Martinez Rob Schroder and playfully place a stethoscope cup on the mayor’s chest. Miller told Schroder, “I’m trying to find your heartbeat! Oh, I forgot, you’re a Republican!” But Schroder is no longer a Republican, which came as news to Miller. Schroder re-registered as an independent more than a year ago.

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McNerney introduces jobs bill

McNerney

McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has introduced  a small business hiring bill he says will encourage the formation of new jobs.

Read on for his press release:

MCNERNEY PROMOTES JOB CREATION WITH SMALL BUSINESS HIRING BILL

Legislation offers job incentives to areas of high unemployment and has backing of local Chambers of Commerce

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11) yesterday introduced legislation aimed at creating jobs and growing our country’s small businesses, particularly in areas with high unemployment like California. H.R. 4620, the Small Business Job Creation Act of 2010, provides tax credits for small businesses to hire people who were previously unemployed. The bill also includes additional tax credits for small businesses located in high unemployment areas, such as Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara Counties. Continue Reading

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Garamendi hires chief of staff

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has hired as his chief of staff Scott Fay, former senior adviser to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

According to Garamendi’s office, Fay held various positions during his nine years on Kennedy’s staff including constituent outreach advisor, scheduler, operations director and most recently as his senior adviser and national political director. As political director, Faw oversaw outreach to various national organizations to promote Kennedy’s  national agenda across the country and at home in Massachusetts.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Scott Fay will be joining my team,” Garamendi said in a prepared release. ” Because of his many years of service to Senator Kennedy, Scott comes with a wealth of political experience and a deep understanding of how Congress and government works.”

Fay holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston University and a master’s degree in public communication from American University in Washington, D.C. He will start his new post in January.

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Obama and Lee on the public option, Afghanistan

President Barack Obama met yesterday afternoon at the White House with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, trying to allay their fears about the public option included in the newly revamped House health care reform bill. They’ve wanted a public plan with rates based on Medicare, but the new bill would let providers negotiated directly with the federal government.

Here’s what Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee had to say about the meeting:

“This is a truly historic time in our country. Today, we are closer to comprehensive health care reform than we have ever been in the past 70 years.

“I applaud our leadership for their efforts to unveil the current bill. While I have worked with my colleagues consistently to include a public option in this bill there is still work to do. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that the final package has the strongest public option and health equity provisions possible.

“A public option is essential to ensuring coverage of as many uninsured Americans as possible, as well as cost containment provisions to limit increased premiums for the 85 percent of Americans who currently have health insurance.

“In our meeting with President Obama I emphasized the importance of having the public option remain in the final bill to come out of conference. Additionally, it is important to keep every existing health equity provision intact. The Office of Minority Health should receive the same prioritization that the Office of Women’s Health is set to receive, especially given the data on racial and ethnic health disparities.

“More than 70 percent of Americans support health care reform with a public option, therefore we have a moral obligation to provide them with the choice and accountability that a public plan would provide.”

Also, check out this Huffington Post interview with Lee about her bill, H.R. 3699, that would bar federal funding to send more troops to Afghanistan.

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What they’re saying about the rise in GDP

From President’s Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer:

“Data released today by the Commerce Department show that real GDP [Gross Domestic Product] grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of the year. This is in stark contrast to the decline of 6.4 percent annual rate just two quarters ago. Indeed, the two-quarter swing in the rate of growth of 9.9 percentage points was the largest since 1980. Analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter. This suggests that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter.”

“After four consecutive quarters of decline, positive GDP growth is an encouraging sign that the U.S. economy is moving in the right direction. However, this welcome milestone is just another step, and we still have a long road to travel until the economy is fully recovered. The turnaround in crucial labor market indicators, such as employment and the unemployment rate, typically occurs after the turnaround in GDP. And it will take sustained, robust GDP growth to bring the unemployment rate down substantially. Such a decline in unemployment is, of course, what we are all working to achieve.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Any positive signs for our economy are welcome, but a jobless recovery is not what the American people were promised. President Obama and his economic team said the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ would create jobs immediately and keep the unemployment rate below eight percent. Since then, roughly three million jobs have been lost and unemployment has risen to near 10 percent.

“For millions of out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet, this recession feels far from over. Yet even now, after the Obama Administration’s top economist has stated that the ‘stimulus’ already had its greatest impact on the economy, Washington Democrats are intent on staying the course and trying to spend, tax, and borrow their way to prosperity. Republicans have proposed fiscally responsible solutions to help small businesses create good-paying jobs and get our economy moving again.”

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Today’s news is another important indicator that the Recovery Act is beginning to repair our economy and get our nation back on its feet. While it will take time for all these investments to kick in, we know that the Recovery Act has already helped to stave off hundreds of thousands of pink slips being planned.

“While saving and creating jobs must be a central concern, we also must ensure that Americans still looking for work have the temporary support they need to get by and that displaced workers have access to the education and training they need to succeed in the jobs of the future. We won’t rest until the millions who lost their jobs during this economic crisis have an opportunity to work and are ready to help shape a new era of economic growth and innovation.”