Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bipartisanship Finally???

Well, the Senate finally found something they could agree on and pass with a bipartisan vote.

A measure to give some 57 million elderly people, veterans and persons with disabilities a $250 check was rejected by the Senate on Wednesday, a setback for the powerful seniors' lobby.

President Barack Obama has called for Congress to approve the payments to make up for their benefits not increasing this year, but the Senate defeated it 50 to 47.

The payments would have added $13 billion to a $108 billion job-creation package pending in the Senate.

Congress approved payments last year as part of the $862 billion stimulus package.

Social Security payments for the elderly and disabled will stay flat this year for the first time since 1975 because they are tied to consumer prices, which decreased amid the worst economic recession in 70 years.

That follows a year in which payments rose by 5.8 percent, largely due to a spike in gasoline prices.

"It is wrong to turn our backs on seniors in this moment of economic difficulty," said Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who sponsored the amendment.

But Republican Senator Judd Gregg pointed out that the bill would defeat the purpose of indexing Social Security payments to inflation.

"The law says it shouldn't be given," Gregg said.

At least 10 Democrats agreed with Gregg and joined 40 Republicans to defeat the proposal.

57 Million seniors thank you!

Source: Yahoo News; Reuters(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Xavier Briand)

The Politics of Fear

The RNC strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO. The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said. The presentation explains the Republican fundraising in simple terms.

"What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House, or the Senate...?" it asks.

The answer: "Save the country from trending toward Socialism!”

What’s clear is that the committee's strategy for raising money this election cycle will be fear-mongering, manipulating donors with crude caricatures and playing on their fears. One page from the presentation is "The Evil Empire." On it, President Obama is made to look like the Joker from Batman, Nancy Pelosi is depicted as Cruella DeVille, and Harry Reid as Scooby-Doo.

The 72-page document was provided to POLITICO by a Democrat, who said a hard copy had been left in the hotel hosting the $2,500-a-head retreat, the Gasparilla Inn & Club. Sources at the event said the presentation was delivered by Bickhart and by the RNC Finance Chairman, Peter Terpeluk, a former ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush.

The RNC reacted with alarm to a question about it Wednesday, emailing major donors to warn them of a reporter’s question. RNC Chairman Michael Steele's office has already distanced itself from the pitch. "Obviously, the chairman disagrees with the language and finds the use of such imagery to be unacceptable," committee communications director Doug Heye told Politico.

Let’s not forget that the politics of hate is hardly unique to Republicans or to the RNC. Democrats raised millions off George W. Bush in similar terms.

The most unusual section of the presentation is a set of six slides headed “RNC Marketing 101.” The presentation divides fundraising into two traditional categories, direct marketing and major donors, and lays out the details of how to approach each group.

The small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading “Visceral Giving.” Their motivations are listed as “fear;” “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;” and “Reactionary.” Major donors, by contrast, are treated in a column headed “Calculated Giving.”
Their motivations include: “Peer to Peer Pressure”; “access”; and “Ego-Driven.”
The slide also allows that donors may have more honorable motives, including “Patriotic Duty.”

Don't pretend to be shocked. The worst part about all of this from where I sit is that the tactics seem to work and both political parties use it.