Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen went to the House floor to get clarification about a dead-of-night rule change that ensured only one Member – the Majority Leader or his designee – could bring up any version of transportation trust fund bill for a vote. The same tactic was used by House Republicans last October to shut down the government and keep it closed. The Speaker’s designee repeatedly refused to answer his simple question, and Congressman Van Hollen then spoke about how democracy has once again been suspended in the House of Representatives. Below is a transcript of his remarks, and the full video of the exchange is above.
“Yesterday we were on the floor of the House, Mr. Speaker, and our Republican colleagues passed a measure to sue the President of the United States – waste millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to sue the President of the United States – and the claim was the President has exceeded his authority. That’s a specious claim, but what’s incredible is the very next day our Republican colleagues are here suspending democracy in the House, changing the standing rules of the House to take away from any Member of the House the opportunity to offer a motion with respect to the transportation bill, which is what the standing rules of the House provide. And they want to say, no, we’re going to take that right away from a Member and we’re going to give it exclusively to the Republican Leader or the Republican Leader’s designee.
“You know, Mr. Speaker, the last time we saw this happen? On the government shutdown. Our Republican colleagues used the same measure to refuse to take up the Senate bill which would have ended the government shutdown. They didn’t want to end it, so they kept it going. That cost the American taxpayer $24 billion – $24 billion in damage to the economy. Let’s not play games with the rule. This rule allows every Member their rights. The Speaker is not the king, and we should make sure every Member has an opportunity. Thank you Mr. Speaker.”
ZOMG! A complete list of the President’s executive orders issued this year that are so tyrannical that it forces John Boehner to SUE him
#MemeGOP #UniteBlue #FireBoehner http://ow.ly/yRiOE
Following Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, conservatives have been out in force defending the decision, using either empty semi-intelligent rhetoric or just outright stupidity. Most of their claims are dubious assertions about access to contraceptives, often on unfounded opinion they masquerade as fact. MSNBC took five of these myths to task today, debunking each one in kind:
Contraceptives are Cheap
As MSNBC points out, the most effective ones are decidedly not cheap, since they save money over time but have a high cost upfront. IUDs can cost between $500 and $1,000, which includes installation. While the cost of the pill itself is low, not all women can use the pill, and some experience side effects. Citing from an American College of obstetricians and Gynecologists, MSNBC says that:
“Lack of insurance coverage deters many women from choosing a high-cost contraceptive, even if that method is best for her health and lifestyle, and may result in her resorting to a method that places her more at risk for medical complications or improper or inconsistent use.”
Women are already saving money under the contraceptive coverage requirement, which began going into effect in August 2012; an average of $269 per woman, according to a recent report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, or $483 million total in 2013.
There are Only Four Forms of Contraception Affected:
While it’s true that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood only objected to four forms, there are dozens of other plaintiffs in pending cases who object to all birth control. Here’s a list of all the for-profit companies that object to the mandate and who have cases pending; according to the Supreme Court, all they have to do is show sincerity of their beliefs to win. And if Hobby Lobby itself is any kind of guiding example, they can just lie about it.
What’s more, contraceptives are not like diet pills; as mentioned above, different women react in different ways to the different methods. What happens to a woman who can only use one of the four forms that Hobby Lobby no longer offers without side effect?
The Forms of Contraceptive are Actually Abortifacient:
According to MSNBC, preventing egg fertilization isn’t the medical definition of abortion:
The baseline question here is whether potentially and intentionally preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg constitutes abortion. That’s not the medical definition of abortion, which is ending a pregnancy. But let’s say your sincerely held belief is that interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg is tantamount to abortion, as it is for the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood owners. There is very little evidence showing that the objected-to methods – two forms of intrauterine devices and two forms of emergency contraception – even work that way, with the exception of the copper IUD.
According to the amicus brief filed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and several other medical associations, “there is no scientific evidence that emergency contraceptives available in the United States and approved by the FDA affect an existing pregnancy.” Instead, they prevent ovulation, so there is no egg to fertilize. That includes the longer-acting Ella: “There is no evidence that [Ella] affects implantation.”
One form of the IUD, known on the market at the Mirena, includes hormones that prevent ovulation. The other, preferred by women who experience side effects from artificial hormones, doesn’t. “When used as emergency contraception” – i.e., after unprotected sexual activity – “the [non-hormonal IUD] could also act to prevent implantation,” according to the amicus.
If you’re keeping count, that’s one out of four that maybe does what the plaintiffs say it does, in the rare instances it’s inserted after unprotected sex – and that’s still not the medical definition of abortion.
The Government Shouldn’t Pay for Contraception:
As MSNBC points out, under the current political realities, this is a laughable suggestion. The Senate Democrats have said that they’ll introduce legislation to fix the gaps left by the ruling, but the odds of it passing are the same odds as Ted Cruz and the Tea Party realizing they’re the butt of our national joke. Alito added that the government can “just add female employees of religious objectors to the same accommodation the objecting non-profits got, where coverage comes directly from the insurer.”
Alito is apparently unaware that 122 religiously affiliated non-profits are suing over that very accommodation. One of the non-profit attorneys called the opt-out form a “permission slip for abortions.” MNSBC points out that Mark Rienzi, the lawyer for the Massachusetts clinic case, wrote yesterday “the court’s reasoning in Hobby Lobby paves the way for the nonprofits to win the same full exemption churches got – in other words, the employee gets no insurance coverage at all.”
As an example of the unlikelihood that the government will offer up a solution anytime soon, MSNBC cites the situation with Title X:
There is an existing family planning funding program for low-income women, Title X, and nearly all House Republicans have already voted to gut it. In the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney promised he would kill the program altogether.
Title X funding has gone down more than two-thirds since 1980, after adjusting for inflation,” said the Guttmacher Institute’s Adam Sonfield. “It is far less funded than it needs to be to fully meet the needs of low-income, uninsured people in this county,” he added. “Adding all of these privately insured people would overload it even more and make it even more vulnerable to political attacks.”
Some commentators have argued that contraception is cheaply available at Planned Parenthood. That would be largely due to the same federal funding that’s under attack, or state administration of it. In numerous states, most notoriously Texas, access to contraception has been sharply curtailed by politicians looking to punish Planned Parenthood for separately provided abortion.
Finally, even if private employers do agree to the accommodation non-profits get, it’s based exclusively on administrative regulation that can change when the occupant of the White House changes. Meaning a one Republican president and it’s all over.
Contraception is Not Vital Healthcare:
Like the previous myth, this one also comes from the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, although more implicitly.
Alito holds at arms’ length the government’s claims that “public health” and “gender equality” are compelling interests, because, he says, they’re too broad. Whether the law serves a “compelling government interest” is part of the test under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was the crucial law in the case. But it’s sufficiently unclear that Alito believes contraceptive access matters at all that Justice Anthony Kennedy felt the need to write separately to “confirm” it.
Contraceptive health benefits are inarguable, according to the leading group for obstetricians and gynecologists, who wrote a brief stating that “pregnancies that are too frequent and too closely spaced, which are more likely when those pregnancies are unintended, put women at significantly greater risk for permanent physical health damage.” Longer intervals, the group asserts, “contribute to better health of infants, children, and women, as well as improving the social and economic roles of women.” Contraceptive can do all those things, and they can help protect the health of women for whom pregnancy can be hazardous or life-threatening.
The group also points out unrelated benefits, such as help controlling “several menstrual disorders, preventing menstrual migraines, treating pelvic pain from endometriosis, and bleeding from uterine fibroids.”
Of course, none of that matters to men like Alito, or the Greens, or the conservatives defending them. It’s not about women, it’s not about babies, and it’s not even the government telling them they have to act like decent human beings. It’s the fact that women are having sex, and nothing more.
This would probably be much funnier if it weren’t 100% true
Looks like Republicans are in need of a History Lesson. Again. Especially former prisoner of war John McCain, who now “has concerns” over how Bowe Bergdahl was released. If that isn’t emblematic of GOP hypocrisy then I don’t know what is
More GOP failure at work.
When Republicans talk about low-wage workers, they use the language of bigots. Republicans call fast food cashiers, home health aides and hotel maids stupid and unskilled and lazy. Also, the GOP contends, minimum wage workers are teenagers, not whole humans, merely children. Republicans believe such subhumans deserve paltry wages.
Source: The Huffington Post
This Republican Bill Would Require People To Get Court Approval To Date Or Have Sex
This GOP bill would legislate the private lives of consenting adults, both men and women, and forces them to ask a court if they can have sex with someone or date them. Image: Seth Dickens
Once again, Republicans have topped themselves. In the race for introducing legislation that restricts personal freedom the most in America, the Massachusetts GOP has reached a new low.
A GOP bill would force people to seek court approval to date and have sex.
For years, Republicans across the country have sought to police what citizens do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. They’ve tried to outlaw anal and oral sex, even for married couples. And they certainly want to ban gay sex. But now, they want to force people to seek permission from a judge before they can engage in sexual relations.
S787 is slippery slope that could be a model for legislation in red states in their war on women.
The bill is bad enough as it is. It legislates the private lives of consenting adults, both men and women, and forces them to ask a court if they can have sex with someone or date them. It’s a clear violation of personal liberty and privacy. But it’s also a slippery slope that could give Republicans a new idea to push in their war on women.
Republicans already want to make it harder for women to obtain a divorce. And the GOP isn’t a fan of women having sex outside of marriage. The right-wing has been totally obsessed with restricting the sex lives of women. And now they have a brand new tactic they can use to make women’s lives even more hellish.
In states where Republicans control all branches of government, they could easily craft a bill that bars any woman from dating or having sex with other partners during a pending divorce. And even if such bills are also applied to men to make them seem more fair, the bottom line is that sex lives would be decided on the whims of a judge. And if that judge is a sexist conservative male, he could simply give men permission to pursue other relationships and deny women from doing the same. After all, women’s sex lives are often more criticized then those of men, and are therefore most likely to be affected by such a law.
In short, this Massachusetts bill is a dangerous one that could lead to worse versions in other states. It’s a way for sexist conservatives to punish women for seeking a divorce and a way for them to legislate what women do in their bedrooms.
This week, the Michigan House of Representatives took up HB 4643, legislation which was introduced by Republican Tom McMillin, that imposes massive fines against citizens who exercise their basic first amendment rights.
Under this law, citizens can be fined up to $1,000 per day for picketing.
Michigan’s extreme right wing Governor, Rick Snyder, along with the state’s predominately GOP/tea party legislature, have passed some of the most controversial laws in the country. From the state’s insane Emergency Manager law, which grants the governor power to remove any elected official and replace that official with a hand picked lackey of the governor himself, to the much hated Right To Work legislation that was passed by the legislature only after the voters were locked out of the capital, to the state’s extreme anti-abortion legislation and it’s widely condemned ‘rape insurance‘ bill, the fanatical right wing politicians that have seized hold of Michigan have made it all too clear that what the voters want is of no consequence to them.
As if all of that were not enough, however, this week the Michigan House of Representatives took up a bill that will require judges to impose a fine of up to $1,000 a day for picketing workers. An additional fine of up to $10,000 a day is also to be levied against any labor organization found to be leading or organizing a strike.
Not only is this law a direct attack on labor, but a direct attack on rights guaranteed to all citizens under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Here’s a video from the House Floor. Representative Jim Towsend (D) introduced three amendments to the proposed house bill, in order to protect citizen’s constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly. At the end of the video the Speaker of the House can be heard to say “Amendments not adopted.”
Are Michigan workers making too much money?
What’s up with all of these anti-worker bills in Michigan? Why would the state’s representatives be launching attacks against workers? Are Michigan’s super high wages keeping employers from opening businesses in the state? Not hardly. In fact, Michigan workers are not earning anything close to super high wages.
In 2012 Michigan average income ranked 35th in the nation. What’s even more telling, however, is that between 1980 and 2000 (the last year figures were available) the income of the poorest families in Michigan increased $1,465, or 8.9 percent, and the income of Michigan’s middle class citizens increased $4,186 or 8,8 percent. During the same time period, however, the income of Michigan’s wealthiest citizens increased $66,799, or 48 percent.
Between 2000 and 2010, Michigan personal income increased 18.5 percent, while the personal income for people living in the rest of the country increased 45.2 percent. And most telling of all, Michigan personal income growth ranked 50th out of 50 states and Puerto Rico, over a thirty year period.
Who is writing the laws in Michigan?
So while the statistics tell us that Michigan wages are not keeping pace with the rest of the country, that the rate of inequality between the rich and the poor is steadfastly growing for the past several decades, and the average income for Michigan’s working class citizens is all but stagnant, Michigan republicans keep crying that high wages are keeping businesses out of the state. Still, the facts say something very different.
A 73 page report from Progress Michigan asks the all important question “Who Is Writing Our Laws In Michigan?” The answer is not surprising. The detailed report shows the extent of ALEC’s activity within the state. Michigan is also home to the right wing think tank known as the Mackinaw Center For Public Policy. Both organizations are deeply entrenched in the state’s legislative and policy making decisions.
It’s obvious the policies being herded the Michigan legislature have little to do with helping the people of the state or even of addressing problems that actually exist in Michigan. Instead the legislation is being written by right wing think tanks and pushed through by the state’s right wing legislature, who are all too happy to do the bidding of their corporate benefactors, at the expense of citizens and workers.
HB 4643 which is now in its third reading before the House, must also be signed by Michigan’s right wing governor, before it becomes a law. There is little chance that a bill given this much attention by the state’s legislature will not pass the House. Given Rick Snyder’s track record on signing extreme right wing bills into law, my guess is that the citizen’s of the state will yet again be suing their government in federal court, over a clear violation of constitutional rights.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has set up a number of websites that look like they could be a Democratic candidate’s campaign page, unless you read the fine print. They may even violate a Federal Election Commission regulation, Campaign Legal Center expert Paul S. Ryan explained to ThinkProgress.
The NRCC has set up these pages for various congressional opponents, including Amanda Renteria (CA), Martha Roberston (NY), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Alex Sink (FL), and John Tierney (MA). Each follow a similar format; they list the candidate’s name “for Congress” to ask for donations.
This is so embarrassing for Republicans, who’ve taken to attacking Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis (TX) on whether or not she was technically divorced at the age of 19 when living alone in a trailer with her daughter.
Apparently the Texas Republicans haven’t met Wendy Davis yet. Wendy Davis is a fighter for all people, and she isn’t about to let a few cheap shots at her family or her personal struggles take her down. State Senator Wendy Davis issued a statement today, saying in part, “The truth is that at age 19, I was a teenage mother living alone with my daughter in a trailer and struggling to keep us afloat on my way to a divorce… I am proud of where I came from and I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. And I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.”
Conservatives were claiming that Davis lied about her status at the age of 19, but as I explained earlier, before the divorce one gets the separation and before the separation, one gets the unraveling of the relationship which often impacts the living situation. Then there is the time spent after filing for divorce. Welcome to reality.
But since Republicans don’t seem to live in reality, Senator Davis felt compelled to offer her biography to clear things up:
Wendy Davis Early Biography
- Wendy Davis’ parents separated for the final time when she was 11, and they were divorced by the time she was 13 years old. Even though the divorce settlement called for child support, Wendy’s father was not able to provide significant income for the family.
- Wendy and her siblings were raised primarily by her mother, who had attended school only into the ninth grade, and whose own father had only a sixth grade education.
- Wendy’s mother worked at a Braum’s ice cream store to support the family. Wendy started working at age 14 to join her siblings in the support of the family.
- Despite the financial struggles at home, Wendy was a good student and attempted to attend to college after graduating high school. She was unable, however, to make ends meet economically, and left believing that a college education was just not available to her.
- Wendy left home at 17, married when she was 18 and had her first daughter Amber when she was 19. She and her husband lived in a trailer, and Wendy continued to live there with Amber after they were separated. As a single mother at age 19, she often struggled to make ends meet. Wendy filed for divorce when she was 20 and she and Amber lived for a short time with her mother. The divorce became final when she was 21.
- After learning about flexible class options from a Tarrant County College brochure, Wendy discovered that she could get back into college. She moved into an apartment with Amber and began attending classes while working multiple jobs.
- Tarrant County College gave her a gateway to higher education. She excelled in classes as she worked hard. She did well enough to get into Texas Christian University, which she attended with the help of financial aid and scholarships.
- While working at her father’s dinner theater during college, Wendy met and later married Jeff Davis, a Fort Worth attorney. While married to Jeff Davis, Wendy had her second daughter Dru and continued to excel academically. She graduated first in her class from TCU. Wendy applied and was accepted to Harvard Law School. As Wendy has said before, Jeff helped her fulfill her dream of attending Harvard by cashing in a 401k and later they took out loans.
- While at Harvard, Wendy and Jeff arranged her schedule and that of her daughters, Amber and Dru, so that they could be together often. The girls lived in Boston during Wendy’s first year. In subsequent semesters, Wendy commuted weekly and Wendy’s mother played a daily caretaking role to assist the family.
- Following her graduation from Harvard, Wendy came home to Texas, completed a judicial clerkship, worked as a successful attorney at the law firm Haynes and Boone and later worked as an officer in their family’s title company.
- Ultimately, Wendy’s marriage to Jeff failed. The couple separated and shared custody of Dru who was still a minor. Dru lived in the family home with Jeff. After sometimes contentious proceedings, the divorce from Jeff became final and the two parents shared custody of their daughters Amber and Dru. Wendy was constantly present and sharing in the support and raising of her daughters as they grew up, attended college and have taken on jobs of their own.
- Wendy and her daughters remain very close. She and Jeff Davis have a healthy and respectful relationship based on their mutual love of their daughters.
In their efforts to avoid discussing policy, Republicans went for the jugular attacking Wendy Davis, her family, her history as a single mother, her time spent in a trailer, and the relationship between her and her now ex husband. They did this based on the idea that she could not be a single mother if she were technically still married, even if she were living alone with her daughter.
This is patently absurd and pathetic.
Republicans have done nothing but embarrass themselves, especially now that Wendy Davis has set the record straight with a truth bomb.
Republicans want to blame Pres. Obama for the weak economy, but we’ve seen them block proposals that could help improve it time and time again.
This is only just the latest example: http://on.msnbc.com/1eUTH6S
Why do you think this happens?
23 “small government” Republicans set on controlling women through the very government they say is too big and controlling. Where are the women?
By Heather January 1, 2014 8:48 pm I thought Rush Limbaugh was the head of the Republican party? Who knew it was actually Fox’s Sean Hannity? We all already know that right-wing hate radio talkers and the pundits on Fox “news” are leading Republicans…
In Less Than a Minute Bernie Sanders Destroys GOP Opposition to Raising the Minimum Wage - politicususa.com
It took Sen. Bernie Sanders less than a minute on MSNBC to completely destroy the Republican arguments against raising the minimum wage.
Sen. Sanders said,
Look. Here’s the story. The story is that the national minimum wage is seven and a quarter an hour. I think most people understand that’s a starvation wage. Individuals can’t live on it. Families can’t live on it. If we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which to my mind doesn’t go as far as it should, that would be a raise for 30 million Americans, vast majority of them are adults. And that’s just not people making seven and a quarter an hour. It’s people making eight bucks an hour, nine dollars an hour.
And at a time when almost all new income is going to the top 1%, it is time that working people, lower income workers get a raise, and we have got to do that. Now if the Republicans refuse to go along with that, and I very much hope that they will go along with it. I hope they understand that the overwhelming majority of the American people across the political spectrum understand that we have got to raise the minimum wage, so I hope that we can get this done.
Sen. Sanders (I-VT) took apart the major myths that form the backbone of the Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage. The Vermont senator pointed out that most minimum wage workers are adults. There are families who are trying to live off of the minimum wage. These people can’t live off of $7.25 an hour, and that minimum wage earners are working are the working poor.
Americans who are earning the minimum wage aren’t students who are working after school jobs. They aren’t living with mom and dad. These are adults who are working in mostly service industries to support themselves, and/or their families. Raising the minimum wage would be a huge step towards lifting millions of people out of poverty.
If Republicans want to lessen the need for food stamps and other assistance programs, the best way to do this would be to reward work by increasing the minimum wage.
It took Bernie Sanders about a minute to destroy the Republican rationale for not raising the minimum wage, and if Republicans try to argue this issue they will face a similar kind of humiliation as political leaders on the left will easily dismantle their conservatives myths and old wives’ tales surrounding the economic damage that is caused by increasing the minimum wage.
As Sen. Sanders demonstrated, Republicans don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to the minimum wage. House Republicans never met an unpopular position that they couldn’t embrace, but if they choose to fight this losing battle it could cost them their seats in 2014.
America’s low wage workers have had enough, and Senators like Bernie Sanders are leading the charge against income inequality born out of starvation wages.
From the 12.30.2013 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Live: