Sunday, August 28, 2011

GOP-Tea Party Attaches Strings to Hurricane Irene Assistance

Taylor Jones - - Cantor points the way Color - English - cantor,eric cantor,congress,republicans,tea party,debt crisis,debt ceiling, caricature

The GOP-Tea Party Republicans have developed a new procedure, a new approach, a new policy for responding to disasters. When money is needed as a remedy for a potential disaster, the GOP-Tea Party Republicans will not lend support for the needed money or assistance unless the agenda that they want is also attached. This tactic was used during the debt-ceiling crisis. Eric Cantor has now says that "the GOP approach would break from how U.S. policymakers have operated." AlterNet has the story of GOP's Callous, Money-Oriented Response to Storm Damage: "It is Sinful"
Hurricane Irene made landfall this morning, hitting North Carolina with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. Irene was downgraded overnight to a Category 1 hurricane, but it remains a powerful storm capable of doing serious harm.

Obviously, we can all hope the severity of the damage is limited. Regrettably, though, the line on federal disaster aid from congressional Republicans has not changed.

This week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the GOP approach would break from how U.S. policymakers have operated. Whereas Congress used to provide emergency funds after a disaster, without regard for budget caps or offsets, Republicans have said they will no longer accept such an approach -- if Democrats want emergency assistance in the wake of a natural disaster, Republicans will insist on attaching some strings to the relief funds.

In this case, the strings are cuts elsewhere in the budget. Or as Cantor's spokesperson put it, GOP leaders expect "additional funds for federal disaster relief" to be "offset with spending cuts."

The Republican position is already drawing fire.

"It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere ... in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told The Huffington Post on Friday.

The Louisiana Democrat pointed out that this weekend is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his district and cost the federal government more than $100 billion. That recovery effort would have been delayed "by years" if Congress had required the same kind of spending cuts to offset aid, he said.

"I have been one who has been preparing for the hurricane, trying to give people some comfort. One thing they need to know is the federal government can come to their aid," Richmond said. "I don't think we're in a position, given the rules set up by the majority, that we're going to be able to come to their aid quickly."

Perhaps realizing the potential for a political nightmare -- Republicans are already unpopular; just wait until they hold hostage relief funds for communities hit by a hurricane -- GOP leaders weren't eager to talk about their position yesterday.

But they didn't disavow it, either. Cantor's office rejected questions about "hypothetical federal aid caused by hypothetical damage," despite the fact that the Majority Leader and his spokesperson were more than willing to discuss the position 24 hours earlier.

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office was also cagey, saying policymakers will "discuss costs when and if they occur."

Neither Republican leader offered the correct response, which is, "Of course we'll do whatever it takes to help the affected communities."

With any luck, this will be a moot point. If the damage isn't severe, Congress won't have to approve emergency relief. At this point, we just don't know.

But in the event of extensive damage, there's a real possibility that the first question from congressional Republicans won't be, "How can we help?" but rather, "What will Democrats give us in exchange for disaster aid?
Paul Krugman has astutely observed that this behavior is analogous to a hostage situation.
Six months ago President Obama faced a hostage situation. Republicans threatened to block an extension of middle-class tax cuts unless Mr. Obama gave in and extended tax cuts for the rich too. And the president essentially folded, giving the G.O.P. everything it wanted.

Now, predictably, the hostage-takers are back: blackmail worked well last December, so why not try it again? This time House Republicans say they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling — a step that could inflict major economic damage — unless Mr. Obama agrees to large spending cuts, even as they rule out any tax increase whatsoever.
Legislators have historically been willing to compromise. Krugman notes what has changed?
The answer is the radicalization of the Republican Party. Normally, a party controlling neither the White House nor the Senate would acknowledge that it isn’t in a position to impose its agenda on the nation. But the modern G.O.P. doesn’t believe in following normal rules. [...] At some point — and sooner rather than later — the president has to draw a line. Otherwise, he might as well move out of the White House, and hand the keys over to the Tea Party.
The President did give in to the GOP-Tea Party agenda with tax cuts and the debt-ceiling. Now, there are catastrophic costs for disaster relief. The response of the GOP-Tea Party is to have another hissy fit, hold their breath till they turn blue and claim there will be no money unless their strings are attached.

I hear conservatives continually criticism liberals for a negative attitude toward them. But sometimes, truth is merely truth. And if negativity stems from the truth, then one should look at the behavior emanating from the actor or participant of the action rather than the observer of the facts.
It is time to put the children to bed without their supper and just say NO to being held hostage. Yell as loud as you can, "Right back at you Cantor!!!!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deception Time and Tme Again

Peter Haller, the former Goldman Sachs VP-turned Darrell Issa staffer,
sits behind Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) listening to Elizabeth Warren

This article is about deception, distortion, manipulation, misstatement and fabrication. Here's what we know:
1. In May, GOP members on the Oversight Committee invited Professor Elizabeth Warren, then a special advisor working on the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to testify about the new agency.
Peter Haller, a top aide to Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), oversaw the scheduling of the Warren testimony.
3. Haller,
was a former Goldman Sachs vice president.
4, Haller had sent a
letter to regulators demanding that they justify new Dodd-Frank rules impacting investment banks like his old employer, Goldman Sachs. Haller has admitted to helping the congressman draft a letter to bank regulators, asking them to back off new rules for banks like Goldman Sachs.
5. Haller oversaw the scheduling of the Warren testimony.
6. Haller reportedly changed the time of the hearing at the last minute, then misled Warren staffers by promising to end the testimony by 2:15 pm that day because Warren had a prior commitment.
7. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), then accused Warren of lying about her scheduling with the committee.
8. Ms Warren stated that she had to leave the room at 2:15 pm for a scheduled meeting.
9. McHenry: stated: "You're making this up, Ms. Warren. This is not the case; this is not the case."
Here's the story:
Last week, ThinkProgress revealed that Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) hired Peter Haller, a former Goldman Sachs vice president, as one of his top aides. Haller, who adopted his mother’s maiden name in 2008 and had escaped public scrutiny until now, coordinated an Oversight Committee letter to regulators demanding that they justify new Dodd-Frank rules impacting investment banks like his old employer, Goldman Sachs. After publication of our story, the Project on Government Oversight discovered more of Haller’s Oversight Committee letters, again on issues directly related to Goldman Sachs. ThinkProgress has now obtained more evidence that suggests that Haller’s employment under Issa is more akin to a bank lobbyist than a public servant entrusted with protecting the public interest.

In May, GOP members on the Oversight Committee invited Professor Elizabeth Warren, then a special advisor working on the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to testify about the new agency. The hearing quickly became a media sideshow, with Republican lawmakers trying to trip Warren up and embarrass her. One congressman, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), became infamous overnight for berating Warren and accusing her of lying about her scheduling with the committee. It turns out that Haller, again carrying water for financial corporations afraid of new regulations, was behind the scheduling controversy at the heart of the McHenry confrontation with Warren.

According to e-mail correspondence obtained from Judicial Watch, Haller oversaw the scheduling of the Warren testimony. According to Flavio Cumpiano, a congressional liaison for the CFPB, Haller reportedly changed the time of the hearing at the last minute, then misled Warren staffers by promising to end the testimony by 2:15 pm that day. In the emails, Haller denies ever agreeing to 2:15. But, Haller had been informed that Warren could not go beyond 2:15:

Monday May 23 8:43pm: Haller writes to Flavio Cumpiano, a congressional liaison for the CFPB, the night before the hearing to make “an [sic] late change to 1:00.” At 11:00pm, Cumpiano responds to figure out a better time.

Tuesday May 24 morning: After Haller and Cumpiano go back and forth with e-mails about which time would be best, a phone conversation occurs between Haller and Adewale Adeyemo, chief of staff to the CFBP implementation team, and a schedule is set. At 10:11am, Cumpiano e-mails Haller: “Hi Peter. I understand from Wally -copied here- that you both spoke and she’ll [Elizabeth Warren] testify from 1:15pm to 2:15pm. Thanks, Flavio.”

Tuesday May 24 afternoon around 2:15pm: McHenry, with Haller sitting behind him, accuses Warren of trying to evading the committee by trying to leave at the agreed-upon time. When Warren noted that McHenry’s aides had agreed upon the schedule, McHenry elicited audible gasps in the room by declaring Warren a liar: “You’re making this up, Ms. Warren. This is not the case.”

Tuesday May 24 2:32pm: As Warren leaves the hearing room, Haller fires off an e-mail to Cumpiano demanding that he “please confirm” that he did not “confirm the end time.” Later that afternoon, Cumpiano responds by reiterating that Haller had confirmed the 2:15pm end time, and had even told Adeyemo that he would inform McHenry of the schedule during the call.

McHenry seemed to have a mission that day. As Crooks and Liars blogger Karoli pointed out, before the hearing started, McHenry appeared on CNBC and accused Warren of lying about the nature of her advice to the consumer protection agency. The scheduling controversy at the hearing appears to be little more than a cover for McHenry to smear Warren as untrustworthy.

Haller, who is visible to the C-SPAN camera in a seat near McHenry, shakes his head at Warren when she said “we had an agreement for the time this hearing” (time stamp 00:55). Watch here:

ThinkProgress reached out to Haller for comment on this story, but the Oversight Committee refused our request.

Goldman Sachs has spent millions this year lobbying on new Dodd-Frank mandates, and has sent its representatives to private meetings about the implementation of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules.

The Warren incident provides more fodder to critics who say Issa has turned his Oversight Committee over to lobbyists. In comments to the press, Issa’s spokeswoman did not deny that Haller worked previously Goldman Sachs or that he covers financial issues for the committee.

Public Citizen’s Bart Naylor commented on ThinkProgress’ story last Friday, noting “Chairman Issa must take every step to ensure that his investigations are unclouded by any appearance of conflict. The next time Chairman Issa sends a scolding letter to regulators and asks that they contact Peter Haller, he should disclose that Mr. Haller worked at Goldman Sachs.”

Why isn't this front-page news? Part of the reason might be that Haller’s background had not been noticed by the press for months because he changed his name from Peter Simonyi to Peter Haller after working for Goldman Sachs. TalkingPointsMemo notes that Haller says he changed his name in 2008 to honor a last request of his grandfather, a Transylvanian who passed away in 1944 and had worked for Mikl√≥s Horthy. It is just an interesting side note that Horthy was a conservative who guided Hungary through the years between the two world wars and into an alliance with Nazi Germany.

This event is just the tip of the iceberg highlighting fabrication to manipulate news. It makes it clear that it is time to expose deceptive behavior, arranged deception and engineered manipulation on behalf of lobbyists and politicians.