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In the early hours of the new year, the U.S. Senate voted and approved the fiscal cliff deal 89 to 8. This is a much wider margin than most could have even predicted, which really puts the pressure on the House of Representatives to pass the bill. The problem is, it’s the House of Representatives, led by Speaker John Boehner who has no control over the ultra-conservative (radical actually) tea party Republicans.
Since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, Republicans have used the filibuster at an unprecedented rate. Take a look at this chart over at The Atlantic. There is no question filibuster reform is needed as both Democrats and Republicans have increasingly relied upon it when in the minority. But Republicans have taken reckless use of the filibuster to new heights since becoming the minority in the Senate in 2006.
Elizabeth Warren is a financial expert, particularly in bankruptcy law. She is also a consumer advocate and a Senate candidate for the state of Massachusetts. But most importantly, Elizabeth Warren is a champion for the average low and middle-income American. She is right to say the system is rigged. Rich and powerful interests have greater access to our elected officials and that leads to legislation that favors narrow agendas. The people who already have everything get even more and the people who have little or nothing continue to be overlooked. As Jon Stewart put it, “Poor people have shitty lobbyists.” — Here are two resonating quotes from Elizabeth Warren’s Democratic National Convention speech:
This story has been widely reported, but I thought I’d write about it because I like to call out nonsense, left or right. In case you missed it, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) revealed to the Huffington Post that a Bain Capital investor told him that Mitt Romney “didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.” Reid added, “Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain.” Not certain? Seems to me if you are the majority leader in the Senate you might want to be sure before throwing around charges like that. Reid also said, “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son.” Really Reid? Bringing Romney’s father into your bullshit story? Even if your story is true, saying that his dad would be embarrassed is really a low blow. Jon Stewart called out Reid’s bullshit on last night’s Daily Show segment titled, You, Harry Reid, Are Terrible:
Today Chris Hayes made a great point about the difference between cheating and performance, or that there isn’t really a difference at all, at least not anymore. The problem is that we assume people who have made a lot of money did the right things in life to earn that money, but we know that isn’t always the case. We know there are people who get into positions where they are able to rig the system. We know there are people who once they taste success are not satisfied and then begin to cheat their way to the top. At this moment, a serious problem in our society is that we look up to people who have earned a lot of money. We want to emulate them because we believe they have done well in life because they made all the right and morally correct decisions. This is very dangerous if enough people buy into it. It’s what allows the 2008 financial disaster to go on 4 years without anyone being held accountable.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) apparently believes the poverty problem in this country is overblown. At least that is what I interpret from his statement that Americans “who really need help” are only a “small segment of our society.” Toomey made these statements while unveiling the Senate Republican budget plan for 2013. Toomey and his budget cohorts have concluded that the current assistance programs “encourage dependency.” This is nothing new, many Republicans have made similar statements for years and decades. Every time I hear a Republican make a claim like this I ask, “where’s your proof?” Well OK, I haven’t asked them personally, but you know what I mean.