Friday, August 14, 2009

Shurtleff is shameless

So if you are a politician, and you took money from and appeared to give favorable treatment to a ponzi schemer like Utah outgoing AG Mark Shurtleff, one would think that you wouldn't criticize your opponent for his choice of contributors, lest people be reminded of said lax prosecution of ponzi schemer (although to be fair, Rick Koerber had friends in the legislature too) But if you are Shurtleff, such naked displays of hypocrisy are not troubling.
Shurtleff's campaign, in a news release, said that Bennett's top five donors received $178 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.

The attorney general is "using TARP to demagogue without understanding the issue," said Jim Bennett, the Senator's son and campaign spokesman. He referred additional questions to Utah Bankers Association President Howard Headlee.

The American Bankers Association was Bennett's fifth-highest donor, Shurtleff's campaign said, although the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics lists the association as Bennett's ninth-biggest contributor.

Headlee said those donations came well before TARP.

"Unfortunately we find ourselves in the middle of a fierce campaign," Headlee said, "and we're concerned about any attempt by any candidate to tie our financial support to specific issues."
So Shurtleff is going to pitch his campaign tent with TARP (sorry, couldn't resist a pun)...let's look at their contributors in detail:
Shurtleff received much of his money through huge donations (much larger than allowed by federal law in Senate races) from corporations, which by law cannot give directly to federal candidates. The cash usually came from local groups interested in his local work as attorney general, ranging from local law firms to payday lenders.

Bennett, meanwhile, received the lion's share of his donations from national political action committees interested in national issues, with donations coming in the smaller amounts authorized by federal law.
EnergySolutions. Its PAC gave Bennett $6,000, and the corporation gave Shurtleff $10,000.

CitiGroup (banking and securities). Its PAC gave Bennett $5,000 and gave Shurtleff $1,000.

JP Morgan Chase (banking and securities). Its PAC gave Bennett $2,000 and gave Shurtleff $1,000.

Reagan Outdoor Advertising. The company gave Shurtleff $5,000. Corporations cannot directly give to federal candidates. But the company's principals, William and Julia Reagan, individually gave Bennett a combined $4,800.

Union Pacific Railroad. Its PAC gave Bennett $2,300, and the corporation gave Shurtleff $5,000.

Frank Madsen (former top aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch) gave Bennett $500 and gave Shurtleff $400.

Former U.S. Rep. Howard Nielsen gave $2,000 to Bennett and $100 to Shurtleff.

Hy Saunders (a developer) gave $2,300 to Bennett and $100 to Shurtleff.
So Shurtleff attacks Bennett for taking money from TARP recipients like CitiGroup and JP Morgan Chase...which also gave money for Shertleff. I guess he is mad that they gave him less money than they gave Bennett?

Next time, I hope a reporter doesn't just copy and paste a press release, then go on to, and then call the other side and call it a day. I pieced this together with google in a manner of minutes.

And they wonder why journalism is not as respected as it once was.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What to focus on during the health care "debate"

The August break, which could be the make-or-break period for health care, is almost half over. And while it is fun to watch the crazies turn out and get in Congresscritters' faces, it is all a big distraction. My sense is that the behavior of these "grassroots protesters" may be great theater for the press to cover, but all it is doing is annoying the members of Congress that are holding town halls. It isn't changing minds of the members of Congress whom they are protesting. Congresscritters are more scared of the TV ads being run in their states/districts.

Rather than go over plowed ground, let's talk about what people that care about health care should be focusing on.
  1. What does the House bill look like?
  2. Right now, there are three house bills that made it out of committee that make up the health care reform bill. It will be up to those committee chairs, the Rules Committee, and the Speaker and other Democratic House leaders to merge the bill. This bill will not tell us what the final bill will look like, but it will be a sense of what the most liberal version of the bill possible will likely be.

  3. When does the Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" finish its bill?
  4. If it is before October, there will be enough time to merge that bill with the HELP Committee bill and vote on it in the Senate. If it continues to dither, who knows what will happen.

  5. Who sits on the Conference Committee?
  6. That is, will strong liberal policy makers, like Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Waxman, be named to that merge the differences between the House and Senate bill (and create a new bill all together)? Or will a milquetoast "bipartisan" Democrat be named like Sen. Baucus? How many "gang members" will be on the committee?

These pieces of information will tell us what health care reform will actually look like, and whether it stands a chance of happening this year. Personally, I think something will get passed. It might not be like the Clinton or Edwards plans, or really like the Obama plan during the primaries, but it will be a hell of a lot better than the do-nothing plan.

Here's an NYT chart that explains it all:
Here are the possible areas of compromise, according to that article: