Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Last Call For Coats For Senate

The latest Senate retirement headed into 2016 is Indiana Republican Dan Coats, setting off a Hoosier state shuffle for his seat.

"Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the United States Senate," Coats said in a statement. "This was not an easy decision. While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders.

Coats's decision to retire may set off a Republican scramble for the open seat. While the GOP would seem to have the early edge, it is now another state they must defend in a presidential year where they're almost entirely playing defense to protect their new Senate majority.

Potential Republican candidates include Reps. Todd Young and Susan Brooks, both of whom have long been viewed as having statewide ambitions, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Reps. Todd Rokita, Jackie Walorski and Marlin Stutzman.
An aide to Rep. Luke Messer told The Hill he wouldn't seek the Senate seat.

Coats's chief of staff, Eric Holcomb, is also taking a look at the race and is seen as a top candidate by by Indiana observers. He is close to kingmaker and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), has been traveling the state extensively building connections with the GOP grassroots. 
“Eric has taken a leave of absence from Senator Coats’ office as he considers a run for the open U.S. Senate seat in 2016. He’s grateful for the immediate outpouring of support from every corner of Indiana and will make a decision soon,” Pete Seat, a spokesperson for Eric Holcomb, said in a statement.

Well that's the GOP side, plenty of people salivating over that prize.  But Indiana's other senator is Democrat Joe Donnelly who won because Republican Richard Mourdock was a tea party nutcase that Indiana didn't want to touch..  Could the Dems take both seats in a similar way?

That would mean finding another Blue Dog in Indiana with the cash to run for Senate.  And you know who that means.

Their best recruit would likely be former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who chose to retire rather than facing a tough race in 2010 and still has close to $10 million in the bank for a potential return to politics. Bayh has ruled out a run for governor but hasn't closed the door on a Senate run
National Democrats immediately expressed optimism over the newly open seat, pointing back to their 2012 victory.

“Indiana's Senate race is now one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, and Democrats are ready to put together a strong campaign just like we did in 2012. We're confident that we will find a great candidate who will put Indiana first and win this seat in 2016," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester (Mont.) said in a statement.

If Bayh doesn't run, former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott (D) are potential candidates on the Democratic side.

Oh hooray Evan F'ckin Bayh might be back!  I'm sooooooo haaaaaaaappy.

Cut Until You Can't Bleed Anymore

The House GOP budget proposal is not only lunacy, but dangerous.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have crunched the numbers and found that Republicans want a budget that cuts more than $3 trillion from programs for working and middle class over ten years, and the biggest victim would be health care:

  • More than $2.9 trillion in health care reductions for low- and moderate-income people. The plan would convert Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program into a single block grant with drastically reduced funding levels. It also would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including health reform’s subsidies to make coverage affordable for people with low or modest incomes and its Medicaid expansion. To date, the ACA coverage expansions have extended coverage to 16.4 million previously uninsured people and strengthened coverage for millions of others.
  • $125 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps). The House plan block-grants SNAP starting in 2021 and cuts SNAP funds by $125 billion, or more than a third, over 2021 to 2025. States would be left to decide whose benefits to reduce or terminate, but cuts of this magnitude would end food assistance for millions of low-income families, cut benefits for millions of such households, or do some combination of the two, according to a new CBPP analysis.[3]
  • $159 billion[4] in cuts to tax credits for low- and modest-income working families. The House Budget Committee plan would allow critical provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to expire at the end of 2017, which would increase the number of people in poverty by an estimated 1.8 million, including 1.0 million children — and deepen poverty for another 14.6 million people, including 6.7 million children, in 2018. The House plan would also allow the American Opportunity Tax Credit to expire at the end of 2017, which would cause millions of low- and moderate-income families to lose some or all of the tax credits they receive to help offset college costs.[5]
  • Roughly $300 billion in cuts in other mandatory (i.e. entitlement) programs serving low-income Americans, much of which is unspecified. Aside from the cuts in SNAP and refundable tax credits discussed above, the House plan cuts more than $550 billion from mandatory programs just in the education and income security categories of the budget. The Budget Committee provided few specifics here, but we conservatively estimate that about $300 billion would come from low-income programs in these areas. The Budget Committee made clear that the plan eliminates the mandatory portion of funding for Pell Grants, which help students from families with modest incomes afford college. The reduced Pell Grant funding would necessitate cuts in the program. Despite the fact that Pell Grants already cover a much lower share of college costs than they used to, the Budget Committee said its plan would freeze the maximum grant level for ten years, even as tuition and room and board costs continued to rise. Other mandatory programs in these areas that would also be candidates for significant cuts under this vague part of the plan include child nutrition programs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the elderly and disabled poor, and possibly the underlying refundable portion of the EITC and the underlying low-income (or refundable) component of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). In calculating the size of the cuts in programs targeted on people of modest means, we assumed that low-income program (other than SNAP) would bear their proportionate share of the remaining $550 billion in cuts in mandatory programs that the budget plan makes in the education and income security categories.
  • About $160 billion, and maybe more, in cuts to low-income non-defense discretionary programs. On top of the significant cuts already enacted as a result of the BCA’s discretionary caps and sequestration, the House Budget Committee cuts non-defense discretionary programs about $970 billion[6] below their post-sequestration levels. About two-thirds of these cuts are located in portions of the budget that have little or no low-income programs, such as scientific research, natural resources, and transportation infrastructure. But the rest are essentially unspecified or occur in areas where low-income programs reside. Here, too, we make the conservative assumption that low-income programs would bear a proportionate share of the cuts, which is how we derive our estimate of $160 billion in reductions.

The Senate GOP version cuts slightly less from health care (only $2.5 trillion in cuts!) but would keep intact pretty much everything else as far as cuts.  These are brutal cuts too, and where would the $3 trillion in savings go?


Here's a hint: if you have to guess, you most likely won't see a dime of it.

Every Breath You Take (I'll Be Blocking You)

The GOP House is responding to President Obama's EPA regulations on coal plant emissions with Kentucky Rep Ed Whitfield (R-Bituminous) introducing legislation to stop the regulations from ever taking effect.

Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky unveiled a draft bill that would allow governors to veto compliance with the federal rule if the governor determines it would cause significant rate increases for electricity or harm reliability in the state. 
The bill also would delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rule until all court challenges are completed. 
Whitfield, chairman of the energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce panel, said the EPA’s proposed rule to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants is riddled with problems and faces an uphill battle in the courts. 
Whitfield and other Republicans cited testimony from an unlikely ally, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, an Obama mentor who has said the proposed EPA rule is unconstitutional. 
“Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy,” Tribe told Whitfield’s subcommittee last week. 
Tribe said the EPA was attempting what he called “an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the states, Congress and the federal courts — all at once.” 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also cited Tribe’s comments in a letter urging the nation’s 50 governors to defy Obama’s rules for power plants by refusing to submit compliance plans to Washington. 
“Some have suggested recently that failing to comply with the EPA’s requirements would be to disregard the law,” McConnell wrote in a letter to all 50 governors. “But the fact is, it is the EPA that is failing to comply with the law.”

Larry Tribe selling out to the GOP aside, Whitfield's bill most likely won't even make it past the Senate.  But Mitch the Turtle openly calling for states to break federal regulations and refuse to submit emissions reduction plans is cute.  That of course means the EPA will do it for them, and I'm betting they'll be a lat more harsh about it.

That is of course if the regulations aren't tied up in the courts until the Obama administration ends, which is a distinct possibility.  After that, who knows?

We should probably do something as voters to make sure we have a continuation of these EPA policies if we want clean air and to do something about climate change, or at least try to do something.

Or at least the rest of you should.  Kentucky will never comply until forced to by the Feds.
Read more here:


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