Thursday, June 6, 2013

Last Call For Red (State) Handed

Republicans do love bringing home the bacon no matter how much they complain in public about public dollars.  And man, do they ever love tasty, tasty Obamacare bacon for constituents.  Lee Fang catches Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman and others in flagrante deporko:

Now letters produced by a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that many of these same anti-Obamacare Republicans have solicited grants from the very program they claim to despise. This is evidence not merely of shameless hypocrisy but of the fact that the ACA bestows tangible benefits that even Congress’s most extreme right-wing ideologues are hard-pressed to deny to their constituents.

As I reported here last September, Congressman Paul Ryan, who as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012 called for its repeal, sent a letter requesting ACA money for health clinics in his district two years earlier. The Nation has obtained documents revealing that at least twenty other Obamacare-bashing GOP lawmakers have similarly pleaded for ACA funds on behalf of constituents. Among them are Kristi Noem, a Republican lawmaker from South Dakota likely to run for the Senate next year, as well as Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who has been touted as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

In one of two letters sent by Portman to the Department of Health and Human Services, the senator requested ACA funds to help a federal health center in Cleveland, where the money could help “an additional 8,966 uninsured individuals” to receive
”essential services,” in his words. In Noem’s case, the congresswoman requested ACA funds to construct a community health center in Rapid City to provide primary services to the uninsured. Both Noem and Portman won office in 2010 campaigning vigorously against the law and have since worked to repeal it.

Sound familiar?  It should.  Republicans pulled the same crap to get millions in stimulus money during President Obama's first term.  Now they're doing the same with Obamacare grants.

Texas Senator John Cornyn, the Republican whip, wrote to the Centers for Disease Control to recommend a grant for Houston and Harris County. Congressman Michael McCaul, a Republican and the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, wrote a letter praising the same grant request, calling the effort a “crucial initiative to achieve a healthier Houston/Harris County.” Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Thad Cochran of Mississippi also recommended grant request approval for public health or health clinic funding.

House Republicans and the Senate Republican Policy Committee have trashed the ACA’s Community Transformation grants as an Obamacare “slush fund.” In the letters seeking these grants, however, GOP lawmakers have heaped praise on their potential. Cornyn writes in his letter that the grant would help “improve the health and quality of life of area residents.” Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, congratulated a local nonprofit for winning a Community Transformation grant, noting that the program will give “people the tools to live healthier and longer lives.”

In public, it's "repeal Obamacare!"  In private, it's "Take the money and run."

The "We're Perfectly Okay With Death Penalty Racial Bias" State

And that would be my home state of North Carolina, where Republicans with complete control over the government have decided that a law that would allow somebody to do something about the overwhelming racial bias of the death penalty needs to go.

A law that allowed death-row inmates to challenge their sentences based on racial bias claims was repealed by the North Carolina legislature on Wednesday, paving the way for executions to resume in a state that has 152 people on death row. 

The law, the only one of its kind in the country, allowed inmates to use state and county statistics and other material to claim that race played a role in their sentencing. Since the law took effect in 2009, nearly everyone facing execution — not all of them black — has used it in hopes of reducing sentences to life in prison. 

In the weeks before the State House of Representatives took up the Racial Justice Act, most lawmakers acknowledged it was headed for repeal. Still, the legislative debate stretched over two days and was noteworthy for both its emotion and its ideology. 

Those who voted to rescind it recited the names of people whose killers were on death row and said the law had clogged the courts and denied justice to victims. 

It was also called a deeply flawed piece of legislation. 

“It tries to put a carte blanche solution on the problem,” said Representative Tim Moore, a Republican. “A white supremacist who murdered an African-American could argue he was a victim of racism if blacks were on the jury.” 

Sure, we can't this law, because it might help white supremacists.  Meanwhile, let's put people to death because we were able to railroad a case through a jury and sentence the felon to death because he's black.

Now the ultimate fate of the prisoners rests with a court system, where these same Republican "purveyors of justice" have slashed $80 million from state courtroom budgets and law enforcement forensics labs over the last four years.

And so it goes back home.  Republicans can't punish minorities fast enough.

Department Of The Obvious

Greg Sargent discovers that Sen. Marco Rubio might not be as honest and forthright about immigration reform as previously thought.

The fate of immigration reform comes down to this simple question: Can Republicans accept a pathway to citizenship that cannot be undermined by border security “triggers” that are deliberately designed for the very purpose of undercutting the prospects for real reform?

GOP Senator John Cornyn has been pushing a new immigration compromise that would dramatically strengthen the border security “triggers” that would have to be met to make a path to citizenship operative. The argument is that this is the only way enough Republicans can be enticed to support reform to enable it to pass the Senate in broad numbers. Senate Democratic aides are rejecting Cornyn’s proposal, arguing that it is deliberately designed to make the pathway to citizenship unattainable — in other words, to undermine the core of reform.

This has put Marco Rubio in a box, and it needs to be acknowledged that Cornyn’s move really does threaten the prospects for reform.

Or it could be, much more likely in fact, that Cornyn is working with him and is really giving Rubio the out he needs.  Now he can say that his own bill no longer meets his security criteria, and gosh, those nasty Dems are the ones who will force the bill to die.

Rubio gets to eat his cake and yours too.

It's almost like that was the plan all along.


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