George Miller rips into Jeb Bush

Former Rep. George Miller, often known for his fiery House-floor oratory in defense of liberal policy, lit into Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday.

Bush on Wednesday told the Manchester, N.H. Union Leader – in an interview live-streamed on the Periscope app – that Americans need to work longer hours.

“My aspiration for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” Bush said. “Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Bush’s campaign claims this was a reference to underemployed, part-time workers, but Democrats see it as a Mitt Romney-esque “47 percent” kind of moment.

Americans United for Change, a labor-funded liberal advocacy group, organized a conference call with reporters Thursday with Miller, Economic Policy Institute President Larry Mishel, and author and former low-wage worker Linda Tirado. They noted that a 2014 Gallup Poll found many Americans employed full-time report working 47 hours a week on average, while nearly 4 in 10 say they work at least 50 hours a week.

Bush’s comment “shows just such an incredible lack of understanding of what the American families and American workers have been going through since the recession,” said Miller, of Martinez, who retired this year after 40 years in the House. “People who have had their livelihoods put at great risk, people who have had their homeownership put at great risk. These very same workers and families have been searching for more hours and better pay since the beginning of the recession.”


Don’t argue politics in front of your mother

The Woodhouse boys got taken to the woodshed by their mother on national television.

Brad Woodhouse is president of the progressive advocacy group Americans United for Change and of the Democratic super PAC American Bridge, and a former Democratic National Committee communications director. His brother, Dallas Woodhouse, is a longtime conservative political operative who currently serves as founder and president of Carolina Rising.

The two often go on the air together to engage in some Crossfire-style punditry, but they and host Steve Scully of CSPAN’s Washington Journal got a shock this time:

Watching Dallas drop his head into his hands is priceless; Brad just looks stunned.

Maybe Joy Woodhouse has a future in punditry herself, epitomizing the nation’s need to overcome our differences and come together as one big family. In this deeply divided time, America might need some straight-talking Joy.


Liberal group deems House GOPers ‘Tea Stained’

A liberal group is launching a campaign tomorrow against almost four dozen House Republicans – including four Californians – whose voting records it says are “Tea Stained” from kowtowing to Tea Party conservatism.

Americans United For Change – a labor-funded issue advocacy organization – is singling out Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto; David Valadao, R-Hanford; Ed Royce, R-Brea; and Gary Miller, R-Rancho Cucamonga, for scrutiny.

The campaign’s scorecard rates these and other Republicans on 48 votes they cast last year. Nationally, the 47 swing-district Republicans reviewed voted with the Tea Party 81 percent of the time, AUC says; Royce came in at 87 percent, Miller at 81 percent, Denham at 79 percent and Valadao at 75 percent.

Votes scored include several featured in the official scorecards of major Tea Party-affiliated groups Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, including votes to slash food stamps, reduce regulations, dismantle the health insurance law, and shut down the government.

It’s part of AUC’s (and other liberal groups’) effort this year to make Tea Party loyalty a central part of their messaging, and a liability for the targets. AUC started the project following last October’s government shutdown.

“The American people were furious and disgusted, and Republican members of Congress in all but the reddest districts knew they had to somehow differentiate themselves from the Tea Party extremists who were being – rightly – blamed for this mess,” Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse said in a news release. “And so they … talked. They didn’t vote against the Tea Party ideologues who had masterminded this disaster. They didn’t take a stand where it really matters, on the floor of the House. But in the press and on TV, they made every effort to sound rational and moderate, as if they were making a real effort to buck the Tea Party.”

But lawmakers who vote the Tea Party line will be held responsible for their votes, said Woodhouse, who used to be the Democratic National Committee’s communications director.

“Voters deserve better. Whether they embrace the Tea Party ideology or despise it or fall anywhere in between, they have a right to know where their elected representatives fall on the Tea Party spectrum – not where they say they fall, but how they actually vote,” he said. “What it proves, unfortunately for non-extremists who are represented by Republicans, is that there is no longer a meaningful distinction between the Tea Party and the Republican Party in American politics today.”


Liberal ad dings Jeff Denham for shutdown

A Northern California congressman is one of 10 House Republicans being hammered with a new TV ad over the federal government shutdown.

The liberal/labor-backed Americans United for Change told Politico it’s a six-figure ad buy for the 10 swing districts across the nation, but wouldn’t provide a breakdown showing how much of that is for the ad against Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.

“Make no mistake: Congressman Denham and fellow Republicans’ refusal to support clean legislation to keep the government open at the 11th hour was the act of politicians that that welcomed a shutdown,” AUFC President Brad Woodhouse, who formerly was the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, said in a news release.

“Denham joined with the extortionist Tea Party crowd in Congress who demanded a ransom they knew they would never get: killing the Affordable Care Act,” Woodhouse said. “With local stories pouring in each day of the very real ways the Tea Party shutdown is hurting the middle class, it’s time Denham and fellow Republicans in Congress come to grips with reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, that it was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it’s working.”

Denham’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato insisted this shutdown is Democrats’ fault.

“Voters in these districts aren’t going to buy these laughable attacks from an extremist group,” he said via email. “Republicans have passed bipartisan resolutions to keep the government open, but President Obama and Harry Reid won’t compromise one inch. It’s time to end the political games and stop putting families, seniors and our economy at risk.”

The House Republicans’ continuing resolutions were predicated upon defunding or delaying the nation’s new health insurance law; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to allow a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution, even though a bipartisan majority of the House now seems to support one.

UPDATE @ 1:37 P.M.: “We are not surprised that a liberal special interest group would decide to start negative campaigning so early and to exploit the situation in Washington. The ad is factually wrong,” said Dave Gilliard, Denham’s campaign consultant. “Rep. Denham did not vote to shut down the government. In fact, he voted numerous times to keep the government open; he requested his own pay be withheld during the shutdown; and he is working hard to find a compromise that will resolve the situation, protect taxpayers and get the government working again.”


Financial probe panel’s GOP members go rogue

Republican members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission – a supposedly bipartisan panel that’s been probing the causes of the financial crisis that precipitated our recession – went rogue today and issued their own report (now posted at House Minority Leader John Boehner’s website), well before the entire commission is expected to issue its official report next month.

The commission, chaired by former California Treasurer and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides, has spent this past year holding hearings at sites across the country, subpoenaing documents and otherwise gathering evidence. It voted last month to delay its report from Dec. 15 until January.

The Republican commissioners – former Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Atascadero; Bush economic advisor Keith Hennessey; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the top economic adviser to 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain; and Reagan White House Counsel Peter Wallison – decided not to wait, and Boehner immediately trumpeted the result.

“This eye-opening report details how government mortgage companies played a pivotal role in the financial meltdown by handing out high-risk loans to families who couldn’t afford them,” Boehner said in a statement issued this morning. “After years of being coddled and enabled by Washington politicians, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now on life support, kept afloat by taxpayers fed up with unending bailouts.”

Boehner said Congressional Republicans’ “Pledge to America” proposes “saving billions for taxpayers by ending government control of Fannie and Freddie, shrinking their portfolios, and establishing minimum capital standards. I appreciate the Republican commissioners’ efforts to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure the American people have the full story about the financial crisis. This is a report every taxpayer should read.”

But Tom McMahon, executive director of the union-backed liberal group Americans United for Change, issued a scathing reply saying the Republican commissioners’ report whitewashes Wall Street’s role in the financial collapse.

“I know the Republicans are just trying to protect their big banker buddies, but let’s give a little credit where credit is due. It was Wall Street that made bad bets with our money in the shadow banking system, which led to the lost of 8 million jobs and billions in retirement savings. No amount of revisionist history can change the enormous roll Wall Street played in this crisis,” McMahon said.

“Once again, it’s good to see these poor, helpless big banks have friends like Thomas and Holtz-Eakin on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and in Congress like Boehner and incoming House Financial Services chair Spencer Bachus,” he added. “The notion that these Republicans are still blinded by the sheen of Wall Street proves how little interest they have in getting to the real source of the economic meltdown, preferring instead to rewrite history.”

FCIC spokesman Tucker Warren e-mailed out a statement later today saying the commission’s real report will be delivered next month to the President, Congress and public, as had been announced in November.

“The report will contain facts and evidence from the Commission’s more than year-long investigation – including 19 days of public hearings, an analysis of hundreds of thousands of documents and interviews with more than 700 witnesses. The report will also include the Commission’s findings and conclusions as to the causes of the financial crisis based on this inquiry,” the statement said.

“Today some members of the Commission made public their personal views on the financial crisis. The Commission had not previously seen or had an opportunity to review what was released today. But, as it does with the views of any of its members, the Commission will review and take them into consideration.”


What they’re saying about financial reform

The U.S. Senate today voted 60-39 to approve the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, the Dodd-Frank legislation aimed at reforming financial-sector practices; it now goes to President Barack Obama for him to sign into law.

Three Republicans – Scott Brown, D-Mass.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine – crossed the aisle to vote with most Democrats in supporting the bill, while Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., voted with most Republicans against it.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“The reckless actions of Wall Street cost us millions of jobs and brought our economy to the brink of collapse. The landmark legislation we approved today will rein in casino-style gambling on Wall Street, create a new watchdog agency to protect consumers and safeguard taxpayers by holding financial firms responsible for their own costly mistakes.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

“This bill is a bad for Utah and our nation. Our financial system needs to be fixed, but this so-called cure will cause more harm than good to our struggling families, businesses, farmers, ranchers and economy. This massive legislation is a job killer – it will hurt Main Street America’s ability to access much-needed credit. It will send American jobs overseas. And it will add layer upon layer of burdensome regulations on to the backs of struggling job creators.

“This tremendous government overreach punishes those who had nothing to do with the financial meltdown and can’t afford an army of lobbyists and attorneys to get around these new regulations. What could be the most offensive part of this bill is what it’s missing: reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored agencies that were largely responsible for the financial meltdown and that taxpayers have been forced to shell out of $200 billion to support. That is outrageous.

“The added burden of regulation and uncertainty brought by this legislation are more examples of why our economy is not producing the number of jobs we need. The Obama Administration and its allies in Congress are doing everything possible to create a business unfriendly climate that is anti job creation and anti growth, and then they wonder where the new jobs are.”

Other perspectives, after the jump…
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