Sunday, April 28, 2013

Charlotte Mayor Foxx: Nominated to Join Obama's Cabinet

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will be nominated Monday by President Obama to become the new Secretary of Transportation, according to a White House official. Obama will make the formal announcement, citing Foxx’s work in expanding Charlotte’s airport and light rail system in explaining the selection.

Foxx, 41, will replace former congressman Ray Lahood (R-Ill.), who was one of a handful of Republicans President Obama picked for his first-term cabinet. Foxx will be the first African-American to be selected for a cabinet post in Obama’s second term, although Susan Rice (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) and Eric Holder (Attorney General) are remaining in their current roles.

Foxx, an attorney who has worked in several positions with the federal government, was first elected mayor in 2009 and won reelection in 2011. He was a top ally of the president in a key swing state in 2012 and helped organize the Democratic National Convention, which was held in Charlotte last summer.

Foxx has led efforts to improve his city's transit infrastructure to expand economic opportunity for businesses and workers. During Foxx's term as mayor, Charlotte has broken ground on several important transportation projects, including the Charlotte Streetcar Project to bring modern electric tram service to the city as well as a third parallel runway at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. The city has also moved to extend the LYNX light rail system to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Foxx could be confirmed easily by the Senate, as transportation issues are traditionally not as partisan as others. He will manage an agency of more than 50,000 employees, with a budget of more than $70 billion. It should be noted that the transportation secretary manages agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, which drew headlines this week for delayed flights which the agency attributed to furloughs of air-traffic controllers caused by the sequester.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The “New” Face of the G.O.P.-Part 1

The 97-page Growth and Opportunity Project report was commissioned in the wake of the 2012 election debacle by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. In his N Y Times op-ed Tom Edsall sums the report as follows:

“The G.O.P. report is an extraordinary public acknowledgment of internal discord and vulnerability, which has intensified the battle between the deeply committed conservative wing and the more pragmatic, pro-business wing for control of the Republican Party. With just a few exceptions, it does not mince words.
At the federal level, it says, the party is “marginalizing itself,” and, in the absence of major change, “it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win a presidential election in the near future.” Young voters are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents.” Voters’ belief that “the G.O.P. does not care about them is doing great harm.” Formerly loyal voters gathered in focus groups describe Republicans as “ ‘scary,’ ‘narrow-minded’ and ‘out of touch’ and that we were a party of ‘stuffy old men.’ ”

 After the report was released, strange sounds were heard from many different quarters within the party. The message came from different sources, but the substance was the same. The autopsy called for a “new face” for the G.O.P.  The Republican National Committee spent weeks trying to figure out what they did wrong in 2012, but Politico Playbook tells the story in 90 seconds in just a few buzzwords: stale, moss-covered, and anti-everything?

The R.N.C. report calls for abandonment of the party’s anti-immigration stance, flatly declaring that “we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” In an equally radical challenge to Republican orthodoxy, the Priebus report states:

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when C.E.O.s receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.

The report also warns that Republicans need to mute, if not silence, anti-gay rhetoric if they are to have any chance of regaining support among voters under the age of 30. Accordingly, the issue of same-sex marriage is on course to become a source of significant division within the Republican Party. At the same time, the Republican Party risked alienating a large block of loyal voters if it moved to the left on same-sex marriage.

Many within the G.O.P believe that the party’s message is not the problem, but rather the party’s messengers. Prime examples were Todd Adkins of Missouri and Richard Murdock of Indiana. Some say they need to look at candidate selection and the influence of super-pacs on primary voters. Since the American business community has the most to lose in continued election losses, they argue for moderation. But, it’s obvious that there’s “a significant escalation in the battle between the center and the right over the soul of the Republican Party”.
In a future post, I'll take a look at how the party is responding to the items in the report. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Senate Gun Vote: We Can Talk About It

The Senate voted Thursday to begin formal debate of gun legislation, beginning what is expected to be several weeks of argument on the most consequential congressional action on firearm regulations since the 1990s. The vote was 68 to 31.

The vote comes nearly four months after 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were killed by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. I can still hear President Obama telling Congress that the families deserve a vote.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MHP Blasted For "Caring for Kids" Remarks

What Melissa Harris Perry says in an MSNBC Lean Forward ad is not new. Hillary Clinton said it this way: "It takes a village to raise a child". In fact, she wrote a book about it.

In her new "Lean Forward" ad, the MSNBC host argues that the U.S. should invest more in public education. "We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we've always had kind of a private notion of children ... We haven't had a very collective notion of 'these are our children,'" she says in the ad. "So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that 'kids belong to their parents,' or 'kids belong to their families,' and recognize that kids belong to whole communities."