Student reporter's questions are too hot for Newt. [...]
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?I?m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I?m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,? Romney said. ?Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I?m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we?ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.? – Wall Street Journal
Oh, how perfect. April is Fair Housing Month.
Obviously, team Romney couldn’t care less.
They don’t care that every year HUD gets 10,000 complaints about housing discrimination.
Soldiers without a roof over their heads, it’s not our problem it’s theirs.
Team Romney doesn’t take enforcing anti-discrimination in high poverty neighborhoods seriously.
As for housing discrimination against LGBT individuals and families, it’s a reality Mitt Romney evidently ignores.
For a man who once considered an elevator for his cars, affordable housing doesn’t mean much. Unlike his dad, who worked his way up, Mitt Romney simply can’t relate to the concept of The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968.
Unlike Bill Clinton, as well as Republican administrations going back to 1965, increasing home ownership of minorities is not his priority.
Unlike Barack Obama, community development doesn’t seem to grab the Mittster either.
Presidents of both political parties have supported HUD and the work the agency does going back decades into the 20th century. Supporting HUD has been a bipartisan event, because it’s about helping people who need it.
The campaign was quick to say these weren’t specific details, because he’s running for President for Pete’s sake!
“Gov. Romney is discussing some of the ideas he has to tackle the big issues facing America. Gov. Romney has also laid out a bold set of policy proposals that will grow our economy, cut spending and get our massive debt under control,” spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said, emphasizing that the proposals were just discussions. – Los Angeles Times
What would closing HUD mean? Maybe a better way to understand this is to focus on the over 24 million people who became homeowners because of HUD and the Federal Housing Administration.
Here are a few links on what HUD does for people, with much of the focus on those who are the most vulnerable in our society. You know, part of the 99% that are rarely counted and many of whom don’t vote, with those above poverty certainly not the wheel house of team Romney.
I'm reminded once again just how nasty and cruel the US healthcare system is. On Friday, my mother in law was rushed to the hospital here in Paris following a stroke. It's been a rough weekend for the family because her condition is so serious. Fortunately she was sent to the top hospital in Paris for this condition so she is in the best possible hands.
My father in law is a mathematician and generally the most logical and calm person that I know. Under these circumstances though, he's been struggling with the pain of wanting to help his wife of nearly 50 years. It's been difficult to say the least. What's noticeably absent from this process is worrying about fighting with his insurance company. The focus is completely on the patient and trying to make her comfortable and healthy. A few years ago when Jojo and I were taking care of an elderly friend here, it was the same.
I then compare this to what I witnessed in the US when my father was dying from poor cancer treatment. (I wrote this post comparing the two systems back in 2007.) My mother was a complete emotional disaster from both worrying about her husband and also trying to navigate the insurance coverage. As exhausting as it was trying to care for my father and hoping that his condition would improve, it was even more exhausting fighting over payment coverage. Both my mother and father always worried that his cancer treatment would bankrupt them.
Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir with this but really, the US healthcare system is about as mean spirited and nasty as I've ever seen. We allow the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to get away with almost whatever they want. We have too many people in the political class - mostly Republicans, but too many Democrats - that accept and allow this. It's all about campaign money and few people in Washington are willing to make the hard choices to stand up for regular Americans.
For the Dick Cheney's of the US, the healthcare system is fantastic. There's no question that the US is full of great doctors and world class medical care. The problem is, we don't call them the 1% for nothing and most of us are not part of that world. For the 99%, it's a struggle. How is it that in such a great and rich country like the US, we can't just focus on patients, but have to be so stressed about how badly we're going to be shafted by our insurance company?
Will Obamacare help make this problem less stressful? Like everyone else I don't know but keeping the system as it stands today is not an acceptable option. We have to start improving the healthcare system and start treating our own people with compassion - real compassion, not GOP compassion - if we're to remain a serious country. Americans deserve better than what exists today.
Short-tempered people with guns get permission to kill anyone who annoys them, thanks to the "stand your ground" laws pushed by the NRA. But even Second Amendment-worshipping conservatives should have a problem with a law that makes it okay to waste another citizen, because we all have our off days. Who wants to spend their life looking over their shoulder, worrying that the guy at the bar giving you dirty looks might be packing?
Here's another sad tale, and it involves another hyper vigilant security guard with a gun:
This isn't a post meant to highlight that "it happens to white people too, and why isn't CNN covering their story?". Not at all. Trayvon Martin was a child, out on a candy run and on the phone with his young girlfriend, a child that was brutally executed by an animal who will hopefully someday get what he deserves. Brandon was a fully-grown adult who had been driving erratically (I'm told he too was on the phone with his girlfriend, with whom he just had a fight and who was riding closely behind him, and that that was the source of his erratic driving, but it's possible he had been drinking, which makes his situation much more serious than Trayvon's, but never worthy enough of him losing his life) and as far as I can tell, the police did not cover anything up or lied to the press or Brandon's family.
No, this is a post to highlight the insane brutality of the stand-your-ground law, which turns every yahoo with a gun into a potential vigilante, all he (or she, but let's face it: he) has to do is claim he "felt threatened" (a claim as subjective as "it's cold outside" or "purple is my favorite color") and then he can commit murder with impunity. That this law was wholly owned and pushed for by the NRA is so obvious that it barely needs telling.
If you think that these two murders are not enough, check out this other horrifying story, in which a man was shot and killed in front of his eight-year old daughter. Find out why he was killed, by reading the first three paragraphs, and if the reason doesn't send chills up your spine, you are not human. Just like the other two killers, this man waited for police next to the corpse of his executed victim, and was questioned and released.
There cannot be hope for this country while its citizens are being openly slaughtered with impunity and their murderers sheltered by laws passed by pusillanimous cowards wholly owned by the NRA. It's just not possible.
Today, the Senate is scheduled to hold a vote on the Buffett Rule, the Obama administration’s proposed minimum 30 percent tax on millionaires. Prior to the vote, several wealthy Americans have come forward to offer their support for the rule — and for raising tax rates on the wealthy in general — effectively asking Congress to increase their taxes.
Case in point, former investment banker Eric Schoenberg told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing today that he feels “it is ridiculous” that he’s able to pay a much lower effective tax rate than middle class families:
SCHOENBERG: I think my taxes are too low. In 2009, for example, I paid 1 percent of my income in federal income taxes.
JANSING: Legally, I presume.
SCHOENBERG: Completely legally. I put my tax return online. I wouldn’t have done that if I’d done anything improper…For 2010, I calculated my tax rate at about 16 percent…The fact is, the people who have benefited most from the economic policies of the last 30 years have also received substantially lower taxes as a result. It is ridiculous that I pay substantially lower taxes than the average working American. I really can’t fathom the logic that allows that to take place.
Schoenberg inherited some of his fortune from his father, who Schoenberg said, “was only able to accumulate the wealth that he did because he was doing it in a society that functioned. A society that provided security in the form of police, army, firepeople. A society that provided education so that those workers were capable of filling those jobs. A society that provided national transportation infrastructure that allowed him to address a national market.”
Meanwhile, as the Senate votes on the Buffett rule, the House will be voting on a bill authored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) that, while called a “small business” tax cut, would actually just be another windfall for millionaires.
During the primary, when he only needed to appeal to hard right Republican voters, Mitt Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act, which provides young people who have lived much of their lives in the United States a path to citizenship. Now that Romney needs to appeal to Latinos in order to win the general election, however, he’s already breaking out his Etch-a-Sketch. This weekend he told a crowd at a private (but very audible) fundraiser that he would support a version of the DREAM Act.
This is a huge turnaround for Romney, who was extremely anti-immigrant for the bulk of the primary season. Indeed, Romney even campaigned with an anti-immigrant leader who has ties to hate groups and helped pen Arizona’s “show us your papers” bill — on Martin Luther King Day. But now, facing abysmal poll numbers among Latinos, Romney is changing his tune. “We’re going to be able to get Hispanic voters,” he said, “We’re going to overcome the issue of immigration”:
Mr. Romney was frank in both his policy prescriptions and his obstacles as he addressed donors. He said he expected Mr. Obama to use the immigration issue against him as both sides of the aisle pursue Hispanic voters, a key demographic group in 2012. Mr. Romney said he and other Republicans will have to make the case that they are the party of “opportunity.”
He said the GOP will have to propose its own initiatives to win support from Hispanic voters, such as a Republican version of the Dream Act. As offered by Democrats, the act offers a path to permanent residency for those illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors and serve in the military or earn a college degree.
In a sense, Romney is taking the right approach if he comes out in favor of DREAM: 91 percent of Latinos support the DREAM Act. It is likely, however, that Romney will only support a pale shadow of the real DREAM Act that enjoys such widespread support.
The leading Republican alternative to DREAM is currently being crafted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). While real DREAM provides an eventual path to citizenship to students who were brought to this country and either attended college or joined the military, Rubio says that his watered-down DREAM Act will not, in fact, provide a path to citizenship.
If the Republicans rally behind a DREAM Act that does lead to eventual citizenship, it would prove an etch-a-sketch moment not just for Romney, but for Rubio, who has said that he would not vote for a full path-to-citizenship bill. If Romney’s proposal does not include a path to citizenship, then the half-hearted appeal for the Latino vote likely won’t suffice: Latino groups have deemed the watered-down bill the “DREAM Act without a dream.”
BuzzFeed found a press release from 2006 on the letterhead of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announcing that year’s Youth Pride celebration, which transformed Boston Common into a “Rainbow City” for a “There’s No Place Like Youth Pride!” Wizard of Oz theme. This is the same Romney who largely opposes LGBT equality:
A new poll finds that 62 percent of Colorado voters support proposed legislation that would create same-sex civil unions with only 32 percent opposed. Such a measure failed last year and though it was projected to fare much better this year, there are less than four weeks left in the legislative session for it to advance. The Public Policy Polling survey also found that a 53 percent majority supports full marriage equality, while only 40 percent believe it should be illegal. Independents and voters under the age of 30 supported marriage equality by very wide margins.
Last Friday, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) challenged his Democratic opponent — Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth — to a debate. Walsh posted an announcement on his campaign website which stated that the congressman would be hosting a town hall on Sunday, and that he ?has invited his opponent Tammy Duckworth to join him because he believes the voters deserve to have the ability to directly compare their competing views on the issues.?
Unfortunately, she was unable to attend. Why? Because Duckworth, who serves in the Army National Guard, was on duty this past weekend. As VoteVets told ThinkProgress, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Duckworth was legally prohibited from appearing at any campaign events while on duty. VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz issued the following statement:
Joe Walsh just cannot stop trying to use Tammy Duckworth?s service against her, and he needs to stop, now. Whether or not his campaign was aware of her Army obligations, he now is, and should immediately apologize for this stunt. We should be thankful for the service of all of our troops, not use their time in uniform as an opportunity to play a political stunt.
The Duckworth campaign has made clear that it would like to hold a series of debates with Walsh.
Walsh?s denigration of Duckworth?s service seems to be a recurring theme. In a recent interview with Politico, Walsh diminished Duckworth?s sacrifice for her nation (she lost both of her legs and has a damaged right arm because her helicopter was gunned down in Iraq in 2004) by saying, ?What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh…. She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat.? Walsh refuses to apologize for those remarks and has instead doubled down. ?Wearing the uniform should immediately earn everyone?s respect. It should not, however, earn everyone?s vote,? he said earlier this month.
Since 2006, Duckworth has been serving our nation?s veterans, first by directing the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, and more recently by serving as an Assistant Secretary in the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. But Walsh has been ?trying to pretend that [Duckworth?s] service ended when she came home from war.?
House Republicans are seething after it was revealed that their Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA), made a $25,000 contribution to an anti-incumbent PAC that has targeted numerous GOP congressmen.
The Campaign for Primary Accountability, which goes after incumbents from both parties, has already played a major role in ousting two Republican congressmen, Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Don Manzullo (R-IL). It also unsuccessfully went after Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Jo Bonner (R-AL). Next up on its radar are Texas Reps. Joe Barton (R) and Ralph Hall (R), as well as Tim Murphy (R-PA).
Some Republican congressmen, who did not divulge their names, said that Cantor’s donation, which came via his ERIC PAC, “raises questions about the majority leader?s political judgment.” The Hill has more:
More than a half dozen Republican lawmakers, stunned by the news of Cantor?s donation, agreed to speak with The Hill on the condition of anonymity to vent their frustration without fear of retribution. The lawmakers interviewed included both younger and senior members of the GOP conference.
One veteran lawmaker, upset with the majority leader?s perceived aggression toward members of his own party, said House GOP members will now fear payback when they speak out or vote against leadership.
?It is a serious breach of trust,? the lawmaker said. ?It sends a signal to the rest of us that if we don?t fall 100 percent in line?they will come after you.?
The matter may come up in the House this week as lawmakers return to Congress for the first time since Cantor’s donation became public. Though Cantor claims that his donation was only meant to support freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who ultimately prevailed in his primary race against Manzullo, the money could have been used at the PAC’s discretion. For those incumbents currently being targeted, their anger at Cantor is understandable.
Some Republicans see a more ulterior motive behind Cantor’s decision. “I think it [was] designed to show Boehner the door after this election,” said one lawmaker. However, with his donation now public, the ensuing backlash this week and beyond could outpace any positive feelings Cantor is able to engender among freshmen.