Our Common Good

tartantambourine:

The Obama administration gave conditional approval on Monday to health insurance marketplaces being set up by six states led by Democratic governors eager to carry out President Obama’s health care overhaul. The six are Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

OK, these states are now my favorites as the best in the U.S. They actually care about their citizens.

By the way, I’ve only lived in one of them but have had happy moments in each of them. I encourage everyone to visit and enjoy and also to stay away from states that are dragging their feet or not willing to participate in increased access to health care for all.

  • Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, the Sheriff of Wall Street who could seriously become President of the United States someday if she is able to pull out a victory on Tuesday;
  • U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, a member of Congressional Progressive Caucus who is looking to become the first openly LGBT candidate ever elected to the U.S. Senate;
  • U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio, who is running the largest Democratic campaign that operates exclusively in the uber-swing state of Ohio, and who was also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus during his time in the House of Representatives;
  • U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy in Connecticut, the real Democrat who can finally replace Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Senate and finish the job the progressive grassroots started nearly seven years ago.

Please click here to contribute $3 to each of these excellent Democratic candidates. Act Blue can wire them the money overnight so it can be spent turning out Democratic voters on Election Day. [h/t Chris Bowers]

A new Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts finds Elizabeth Warren (D) leading Sen. Scott Brown (R) by seven points, 53% to 46%.

In a September poll, Warren led Brown by four points.

stoneagechronicles:

Romney would leave disaster relief to the states, he said … and I’m pretty sure we can complete that statement with a “to say no.”

stoneagechronicles:

Romney would leave disaster relief to the states, he said … and I’m pretty sure we can complete that statement with a “to say no.”

climateadaptation:

Senator John Kerry, volunteering at local disaster office here in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Romney holds a ‘Victory Rally’ in Ohio with a NASCAR race car driver.

climateadaptation:

Senator John Kerry, volunteering at local disaster office here in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Romney holds a ‘Victory Rally’ in Ohio with a NASCAR race car driver.

A meningitis epidemic that has killed 25 is linked to a Mass. company Romney’s administration failed to regulate

From the state Romney governed:

Barack Obama is running up against a lot of unrealistic expectations in 2012, from the starry visions of his most fervid supporters to the myth that any president can, through persuasiveness or fiat, produce exactly the economic results that he desires. He’s also battling an opponent who’s creating unrealistic expectations of his own, remaking himself to satisfy whichever opportunity arises.

In such an atmosphere, Obama can’t argue too strongly for himself; he mustn’t sound as if he’s telling Americans to be satisfied with where the country is now. And his supporters must acknowledge that the economic recovery is coming slowly. But such a mixed assessment isn’t the proper verdict on a presidency that began with the nation on the verge of a depression. Nor does it capture the promise of his second term.

A fresh mandate in November would help to free Obama from a congressional Republican leadership that made his destruction its top priority. It would open the door to a balanced solution to the nation’s fiscal problems. It would clear the way for desperately needed improvements in education and infrastructure. It would give new impetus to a president whose thoughtful engagement with the world has ended wars, disrupted terrorist networks, and rebuilt alliances. It would put America on a sustainable path, with an economy built on human capital, not financial engineering.

[…]

Identifying the real Romney on any major issue — social, economic, or foreign — is impossible. But a president this vulnerable within his party, needing to satisfy a conservative Congress, could never make good on his moderate commitments. Whichever Romney shows up, the Romney years would end up looking a lot like the Bush years.

It shouldn’t happen. Obama set a trap for himself with his “hope and change” campaign of 2008, allowing supporters to look beyond his actual promises — which have been mostly fulfilled — and project their own gauzy expectations onto him. Obama hasn’t been the Moses-like character some imagined. Instead, he’s worked tirelessly to undo a series of disasters that preceded him, while pushing forward on health and education. If he’s reelected, amid signs of new life in the job and housing markets, Obama can again be the transformative figure that Washington so desperately needs.

"Romney raised taxes and fees on the MA middle class "to the tune of $750 million a year"

"He raised fees to get a birth certificate which would have been expensive for me."

President Obama on Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts Fees - Nashua, NH 10/27/2012 (by BarackObamadotcom)

Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts just six years ago. Today he’s so unpopular here he’s barely bothering to campaign in the state. There are reasons for that—and they could spell doom for his presidential campaign.

…Romney made such a mess of things in Massachusetts that he’s not even trying to campaign in the state where he was chief executive just six years ago. Actually, it’s fitting that he isn’t sending volunteers fanning out across Massachusetts, since, as governor, he lost interest in traveling around the state as well. According to his daily schedules, Romney’s number of official visits to cities and towns steadily declined over his first two years in office, dropping from 55 the first six months of 2003 to 40 in the six months after that, and from 38 to 28 in the first and second halves of 2004. By contrast, according to numbers provided by his office, Governor Patrick made more than 400 trips to cities and towns outside Boston in his first two years in office, more than twice as many as Romney. Perhaps the two administrations tallied their events differently, but there’s little doubt that Patrick has been far more active in engaging communities across the state.

After those first two years, Romney basically checked out of Massachusetts. He planned 78 town visits in 2005, and just 25 in the first 10 months of 2006 (the final two months of his 2006 schedules were missing from the records in the state archives). That year he spent all or part of 219 days outside the state, building his national profile.

A failure to connect in local communities seems to be characterizing Romney’s current run for president as well. During the primaries, he managed to dispatch his weak opposition mainly by carpet-bombing them with negative ads. The plan worked well enough for clearing out the likes of Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, but it may have left Romney somewhat challenged in the much tougher general election. In the crucial swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, Obama has a total of 404 field offices listed on his website. Romney, who’s been effectively running for president since 2004, lists 176.

Romney’s inability to grasp the nuances of local politics and the power of more than surface-level connections was also behind perhaps his biggest failure in Massachusetts: the botched state legislature elections of 2004.

Eager that year to prove himself the kind of leader capable of uniting reasonable people of all political stripes, Romney and the Massachusetts GOP set about building a massive slate of 131 Republican candidates for the State House, pushing some $3 million behind them. The plan was to get enough of them elected to inject a good dose of red into this bluest of states, loosening the Democratic vise grip on the House and Senate, and in the process establishing Romney as a worthy presidential candidate. Building his case, Romney attended 66 events for 42 legislative candidates in the months leading up to election day. It didn’t work. Nearly all of his candidates went down to defeat. The Republicans actually lost three seats in the legislature, leaving them with their fewest since 1867.

The Globe was blunt in its assessment: “Legislative Losses Are Also a Major Blow to Romney’s Prestige,” blared one headline. It’s true that Romney’s plan was hampered by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry being on the presidential ballot that year, but the real problem was that Romney didn’t seem to grasp that legislative races are, above all, local. For years, Republicans in Massachusetts had focused on electing headliners like Romney, Weld, and Cellucci at the expense of developing “bench depth” with bottom-of-the-ticket candidates—selectmen, sheriffs, and the like. So while Romney and the Massachusetts GOP found plenty of people with impressive private-sector backgrounds to run for office, few of them were familiar to voters. Asking them to begin their political careers with a run for state legislature was too big a leap. “It’s hard to start from doing nothing and then run for Senate,” just-reelected state Senator Scott Brown—one of the few Republicans who did win that year—told the Globe at the time.

Someone truly interested in bringing more balance to Massachusetts’ political landscape would have been better off developing a smaller, more-seasoned slate, one that might have resulted in enough new Republican lawmakers to prevent the House and Senatefrom overriding all of a Republican governor’s vetoes. It would have been slow, unglamorous work—and you don’t get much national publicity for slow, unglamorous work.

[…]

As governor, Romney showed Massachusetts that—pragmatic to the core—he was willing to say whatever was needed to advance his political career. Facing an emboldened Democratic majority in the legislature after his 2004 election debacle, Romney began to turn his attention away from Beacon Hill and toward Washington, DC. In the process, the former self-described “progressive” shifted his views on gay rights, abortion, and stem cell research to appeal to a more conservative audience.

In 2005 Romney vetoed a bill that would have expanded embryonic stem cell research even though his wife, Ann, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, had recently said she hoped that same research could help cure MS. The legislature ultimately overrode the veto. Romney would later veto an emergency contraception bill as well, only to see that one overridden, too. The growing sense that Romney viewed Massachusetts as merely a steppingstone did not go over well. By November 2005, a Suffolk University/7 News poll found that his favorability rating—47 percent a year earlier—had plummeted to 33 percent, while his unfavorability rating had rocketed up to 49 percent.

When he finally left office, even the conservative Herald editorial page was happy to see him go. “We can only imagine how much more he might have managed if he held the day job in higher esteem than as a convenient springboard for a presidential campaign,” the tabloid editorialized. Tellingly, when Romney ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, several prominent local Republicans, including three of the five GOP state senators, endorsed other candidates.

To explain his sudden conservative turn as governor, Romney tells a story of meeting with Douglas Melton, a Harvard stem cell researcher, and becoming sickened when he learned of the casual way human embryos are killed for science. Melton has refuted Romney’s story, saying the conversation didn’t happen at all like that—that the killing of anything never even came up. While it’s impossible to know who’s telling the truth in this instance, bending reality to fit his narrative is something Romney’s made a habit of while running for president. Just as it’s difficult to recall another governor who shifted his views so much to appeal to a bloc of voters, it’s difficult to recall a presidential candidate who has relied so much on falsehoods and out-of-context quotes.

The first sign of trouble came in an ad Romney’s campaign ran last fall, quoting Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” In reality, the clip came from the 2008 election, and Obama was actually referring to something said by a John McCain aide. A small controversy over the ad erupted, after which Fehrnstrom, Romney’s top adviser, affirmed to the press that the outright distortion was part of a calculated strategy.

It seemed like a minor adjustment. To comply with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2003, the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics said it needed to revise its birth certificate forms for babies born to same-sex couples. The box for “father” would be relabeled “father or second parent,’’ reflecting the new law.

But to then-Governor Mitt Romney, who opposed child-rearing by gay couples, the proposal symbolized unacceptable changes in traditional family structures.

He rejected the Registry of Vital Records plan and insisted that his top legal staff individually review the circumstances of every birth to same-sex parents. Only after winning approval from Romney’s lawyers could hospital officials and town clerks across the state be permitted to cross out by hand the word “father’’ on individual birth certificates, and then write in “second parent,’’ in ink.

Divisions between the governor’s office and state bureaucrats over the language on the forms and details about the extraordinary effort by the Republican governor to prevent routine recording of births to gay parents are contained in state records obtained by the Globe this month.

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is hitting 50 percent in a poll released Wednesday, topping Republican Sen. Scott Brown by 6 percentage points.
stoneagechronicles:


Scott Brown bankrolling black voter group to support him and paying them $8 an hour

The Republican Party in Massachusetts has found a way to get black voters to campaign for Sen. Scott Brown — pay them $8 an hour.
The state GOP’s MassVictory program is funding a group called “Obama Supporters for Brown” to campaign for Brown in an inner city Boston neighborhood that strongly backs his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren.
And that report comes courtesy of the conservative Boston Herald, not the liberal Boston Globe.
Benjamin Thompson, a black former city elections commissioner, told The Herald he pays about 20 campaign workers a per diem that “works out to” about $8 an hour.
At least four of the 20 or so volunteers are homeless, Thompson admitted.

I know Scott Brown is desperate and all, but holy hell … if his most recent debate against Elizabeth Warren (in which he got mopped) didn’t already dispel his “moderate” and “nice guy” images, this certainly does.

stoneagechronicles:

Scott Brown bankrolling black voter group to support him and paying them $8 an hour

The Republican Party in Massachusetts has found a way to get black voters to campaign for Sen. Scott Brown — pay them $8 an hour.

The state GOP’s MassVictory program is funding a group called “Obama Supporters for Brown” to campaign for Brown in an inner city Boston neighborhood that strongly backs his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren.

And that report comes courtesy of the conservative Boston Herald, not the liberal Boston Globe.

Benjamin Thompson, a black former city elections commissioner, told The Herald he pays about 20 campaign workers a per diem that “works out to” about $8 an hour.

At least four of the 20 or so volunteers are homeless, Thompson admitted.

I know Scott Brown is desperate and all, but holy hell … if his most recent debate against Elizabeth Warren (in which he got mopped) didn’t already dispel his “moderate” and “nice guy” images, this certainly does.

Like the Affordable Care Act, Romney’s Massachusetts law relies on adequate federal funding to provide subsidies, and an individual mandate — to pull younger, healthier people into the insurance risk pool and hold premiums down. Romney’s promised reforms as President — specifically his support for deep cuts to Medicaid and his call to allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines — threaten that foundation.

“If Romney block grants Medicaid, the question with our Commonwealth Care system is just the money question. Would he give us the money we need to make that work?” says Jonathan Gruber, an MIT health care expert who helped design the Massachusetts law.”[For] the rest of our market, it essentially would unravel what the mandate would do. We’d be back to where we were before the mandate.”

Unlike the ACA, the Massachusetts law has two separate markets — one for people living under 300 percent of the poverty level and thus qualify for insurance subsidies; one for people above that threshold.

The subsidized pool is called Commonwealth Care. For that market to work, Massachusetts relies on the federal government, via Medicaid, to cover half the cost of the generous subsidies it provides to lower income individuals. If Romney were to block grant Medicaid and cut its spending as dramatically as he’s signaled he would, Massachusetts would slowly lose those dollars.

“[I[n the long run we would lose the federal money that makes this program possible,” Gruber said. “Remember that the feds pay for half of our program. It isn’t clear if the state would be willing to pay 100% of the costs if the feds pull this funding.”

Hey, I know about that binder! And guess what — Mitt Romney was lying about it.

From the rush transcript

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort.

Not a true story.

What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I’ve checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I’ve just presented it is correct — and that Romney’s claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.

I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn’t care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.

Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)

Third, note that in Romney’s story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn’t know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?