The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives defied a White House veto threat on Friday and voted to take money from President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul to pay for an extension of low-interest federal student loans.
Democrats and Republicans have until July to find an election-year compromise. That’s when the rate is set to double on Stafford loans to 6.8 percent for more 7 million students, who represent an important voting bloc.
On a mostly party-line vote of 215-195, the House sent the measure to the Senate where Obama’s Democrats are certain to reject it.
Like Obama, Senate Democrats want to renew the low interest rate for students, but favor covering the $6 billion cost for one year by ending a tax break for the rich.
I am so sick of the republicans pulling this kind of hostage bullshit. Why do the democrats keep allowing them to do this? It makes both parties look ridiculous and incompetent.
Amount spent on all state races in 2010: $3.75 million. Amount spent on recall elections targeting eight state senators: $31 million. Need we say more?
Take a minute and really look at those numbers. Digest that. These recall elections are not just about Wisconsin.
Since the end of the Bush presidency, shadowy right-wing groups, many of them formed for this very purpose, have primed the public with a sophisticated public relations campaign to shift the national discourse to a focus on debt reduction. Many of these groups do not appear partisan, and have figured out ways around registering their activity with the Federal Elections Commission (so the true extent to their ad-buying is rarely recorded):– Founded in 2010 by former Bush admin flak Gretchen Hamel, the group Public Notice has quietly pumped millions into advertising about debt reduction: Public Notice sponsored at least $3 million on a debt ad called “Shovel” that falsely claims the spending doesn’t create jobs, an undisclosed amount for online ads promoting a highly produced web series on the evils of government spending, a debt pledge that features pop singer Justin Bieber, and what is believed to be another multimillion dollar ad buy recently for a commercial, appearing like a PSA, that warns that government spending is akin to cocaine addiction. To warp elite opinion, the group sponsored billboard ads at Reagan National Airport and on buses and bus shelters near Capitol Hill. Although Hamel does not reveal her donors, she is connected closely with the Koch network of billionaire and investors. Last year at a right-wing donor conference attended by top hedge fund manager Steve Schwarzman and Charles Koch, Hamel gave a presentationon “Framing the Debate on Spending.”
– Retired investor Pete Peterson has dedicated $1 billion of his personal wealth to reducing government spending; much of that money has gone to a multifaceted marketing campaign: The Peterson Institute has spent $1 million underwriting a movie about the debt, at least $1,010,232 developing a children’s debt sports game that also directs users to a Econ4U, a front group created by infamous lobbyist Rick Berman, and millions more for a TV ad campaign called “Hugh Jidette,” an MTV-U cable television series that misleadingly conflates personal debt with the national debt, a newspaper partnered with the Washington Post, and even a program at Columbia University to develop a national debt-related K-12 curriculum.
– Corporate astroturf lobbyist Rick Berman has spent large amounts orchestrating a scare-mongering campaign over the national debt. Along with his connections to the Peterson network mentioned above, Berman has set up a campaign called “Defeat the Debt” to push the public into believing the national debt is the country’s top priority. He has run ads on television, purchased billboards throughout the Washington D.C. metro area, and aggressively marketed his campaign to Capitol Hill staffers. Last year, Berman purchased an ad during the Super Bowl — spending approximately $3 million — that showed schoolchildren pledging allegiance “to America’s debt, and to the Chinese government that lends us money.”
– A network of other right-wing groups have used a series of public relations gimmicks — like barnstorming bus tours filled with highly paid GOP operatives posing as Tea Party activists — to orchestrate an astroturf effort to build support for cutting spending over creating jobs. Groups like Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Tax Reform sponsored a group called Spending Revolt that toured the country organizing debt-related rallies with Republican candidates last year. The group, which has organized events with the Ohio Coal Association, gained countless local press hits appearing as a genuine citizens groups, despite the fact its sponsors are corporate lobbyists. This year, Americans for Prosperity has continued a separate effort to organize debt-themed rallies. American Majority, a group founded after Obama’s election by two GOP operatives, has quietly provided training efforts across the country to mobilize around the issue of the national debt.
This is only a snapshot of the debt-related public relations campaign; millions more have been spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, and other big business advocacy groups.
The incredible resources the right has amassed for its debt campaign are unmatched by progressives. Moreover, at a time when solving the unemployment crisis should be our national priority, only the very wealthy and privileged have the money to direct national ad campaigns of any real impact. In an era of unlimited corporate money in politics, the unemployed and the Middle Class have a quickly disappearing voice in public life.
Democrats need to pick up three Republican seats to take control of the state Senate, and they lead in three seats. What’s more, Democrats are way ahead in one of the six campaigns. This means they only need to win two of the five campaigns that are actually competitive, while Republicans have to win four of those five. That is a significant Democratic edge.
Republicans may publicly scoff at these polls, but advertising expenditures by their corporate buddies show their true feelings are more akin to fear and panic
To be sure, the campaign is still close. A shift of just three points toward Republicans in one district, and they recapture the lead. With an almost unlimited supply of right-wing corporate money at their disposal, Republicans may well be able to make that comeback.
It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen. Please, contribute $9 to the Wisconsin recall campaign.