Monday, December 1, 2014

CPI Buzz for 12-1-14

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~Richard Armour

Nothing classy about Elizabeth Lauten’s criticism of the Obama girls...

Legislators get less than $2 daily increase in base pay, $10 bump in per diem...

Congress Raises Tax on Working Americans, Cuts it for Corporations...

In the 108th General Assembly, legislators received a base salary of $20,203 per year. That amount will increase to $20,884 for the 109th General Assembly under state law that raises lawmakers’ pay in line with a formula tied to increases in state employee compensation over the past two years, Ridley said.
State employees got no general pay raise this year, but a 2013 bump upward in their compensation triggered the $681 annual base salary increase for legislators.
Also during the 2014 session of the 108th General Assembly, all legislators received a “per diem” expense allowance of $188 for each day spent on legislative duties, a figure revised annually. That amount will increase to $198 per day during the 109th General Assembly, Ridley said. LINK

Nothing classy about Elizabeth Lauten’s criticism of the Obama girls

I know from experience — and I haven’t had to do it under the watchful eye of the White House press corps. Or the hyper-critical eye of Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Tennessee.
If you haven’t heard yet — and to be honest, my attention was focused on a Thanksgiving turkey that didn’t get pardoned — Lauten blasted President Obama’s daughters, Sasha, 13, and Malia, 16, for their facial expressions, body language and outfits during the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony.
Then she made things worse with what sounded like a half-hearted attempt at an apology that tried to show what a good person Lauten must be since she realized “how hurtful” her words were “after many hours of prayer.”
If Lauten were a mom, particularly of teen girls, she’d have a lot more empathy, I suspect, and she’d probably agree with me that kids in the White House should be off-limits to media scrutiny. If you don’t like the president, fine. Criticize his policies, his actions, his decisions.
But don’t pick on his kids or say he’s a bad dad because his girls rolled their eyes at his jokes. LINK

Harwell holding more campaign cash ($1.3M) than any other legislator

House Speaker Beth Harwell’s campaign cash holdings of about $1.3 million, criticized by Rep. Rick Womick, are more than the amounts held by any other legislator, a review of disclosures indicates.
Womick, who is challenging Harwell for re-election as speaker, contended in a letter to Republican legislators that Harwell “compromised our trust and has abused the prestige of her office” by amassing the “personal political wealth.” The House Republican Caucus meets Dec. 10 to choose its nominee for speaker with Harwell heavily favored. The GOP nominee is virtually assured of being elected speaker when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 13, since Republicans hold a 73-26 House majority. LINK

Populism Alone Won't Save Democratic Politics

Here’s what they’re saying in Arizona about their state party structure.
“There’s got to be a serious autopsy. And I say autopsy because I think we’re dead at this point. The infrastructure is dead, the party structure is dead….
It’s not just money, we have a much bigger problem than that. I can’t blame anybody. I’m part of the problem, too.”
– Arizona House Minority Leader Rep. Chad Campbell
If this refrain sounds familiar, it should. I’ve been saying something similar to this since 2008.
I suggest you go and read the whole thing, because there’s a glimmer of hope in the statement from AZ House Minority Leader Chad Campbell…recognition.
Unlike Democratic leaders in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and other deep south states, Campbell actually understands two critical problems:
  1. That the state political structure is dead.
  2. That he is at least somewhat responsible for killing it.
That kind of recognition is absent from far too many of the discussions being had around here.
But this post isn’t about blame…because that’s not productive. In fact, I have no interest in calling names or anything like that, because we’re all responsible on one level or another.
This post is about the transformative power of recognizing the problem. LINK

History repeats as Obama, GOP face off

Radicals in the Republican Party are calling for the impeachment of the president. And congressional Republicans are refusing to compromise on amnesty.
But the president is Andrew Johnson from Tennessee, and the year is 1868.
Before he was assassinated, President Lincoln had devised a plan to grant general amnesty to virtually all Southerners who would pledge allegiance to the United States and respect federal laws on slavery, and when one-tenth of the voters of any state took that pledge, that state would be allowed to send representatives back to Congress.
President Johnson was determined to follow through with Lincoln's amnesty plan, but the radical Republicans refused to compromise. Congress tried to tie Johnson's hands by passing the Tenure of Office Act, which decreed that Johnson could not dismiss any cabinet member without Congress' approval. Johnson vetoed the law as unconstitutional and fired radical Republican Secretary of War Edwin Stanton; instead of suing Johnson and letting the Supreme Court settle the issue, Congress impeached Johnson. LINK

Outnumbered in state Senate, Harris hopes Dems can start with common ground

Lee Harris knows there are conflicts ahead. And he’s no fool when it comes to the state Senate’s cold, hard math: There are five Democrats and 28 Republicans.
But if the Senate can start with common ground on certain fronts, he believes, there’s a chance his thin caucus might have a way to get something done.
“We’re all against wasteful spending, unwanted pregnancies, failing schools,” Harris said. “That’s at least a starting point. It’s just a question of ‘What do we do about it?’”
That’s where strategies will diverge, of course. But in the meantime, Harris, who represents Shelby County’s District 29, can start with the foundational elements, one of which came Tuesday: He was elected by his peers as the new Senate minority leader. At the Democrats’ General Assembly nadir, Harris pitched the path forward — with three new members among the quintet — as a “hard reboot.” The Democratic contingent is the smallest of either party in the Senate since 1959, when Republicans had five.
Harris, 36, is believed to be the first African-American caucus leader in the history of either house of the General Assembly, according to Matt Anderson, a spokesman for the Democratic caucus. LINK (Subscription)

Congress on the brink

December was supposed to be a sleepy month for Congress — a chance to finish up a productive lame-duck session and leave the decks clear for the new Republican majority that takes control in January.
Instead, the next two weeks have morphed into a minefield. Government funding is suddenly in peril, as conservatives fume over President Barack Obama’s decision to end the deportation threat for millions of undocumented immigrants. Republicans and Democrats and the White House are locked in battle over extending lapsed tax provisions popular with corporate America. Congress had already punted a few issues into the new year, such as a broader debate about the president’s war powers and voting on important executive-branch nominees. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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