Repudiating the Bush Era

Last Night in St. Paul: Déjà Vu

Déjà vu. In 1992, while managing economic policy for Bill Clinton's campaign, I recall watching the Republican Convention in happy disbelief. For days, the gabfest had veered sharply and angrily to the right; and then, when George H.W. Bush accepted his renomination, it took him 26 minutes to get to the economy, the central issue of that campaign, which he talked about for perhaps five minutes. He didn't get it, and neither did John McCain last night. It took him even longer to get to the deep, economic concerns of a majority of Americans, and then devoted about three minutes to jobs, wages, the housing bust, globalization, trade, debt, and the rest. He doesn't get it either.

Another aging, career politician out of touch is hardly news. But another president who doesn't understand or much care about what's happening to most people in our economy would have serious long-term consequences for the real prospects of tens of millions of American families. And deteriorating conditions for most could well undermine public support for the measures that a responsible president will have to take over the next generation - including broad based IT training for all workers; universal access to post-secondary education; a major national commitment to 21st century infrastructure, including universal broadband and climate-friendly light rail system in most major metropolitan areas; a national commitment to aggressively support and promote R&D in climate friendly technologies and fuels, and support to broadly deploy the new technologies and alternative fuels; new cost-control provisions to slow rising health care costs as we provide universal access to health care insurance; and more.

Somehow, none of this made its way into John McCain's acceptance speech, which is only the most recent evidence that he doesn't have what we need in our next president.

RNC Convention - Straight Stalk, or Straight Up Lies?

Always fact-check - I appreciate the AP's efforts in correcting the "errors" in several RNC speeches:

Attacks, praise stretch truth at GOP convention

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press WriterWed Sep 3, 11:48 PM ET

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families. He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 Presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

Following on Simon's post, it's clear that the RNC not only has a flare for drama, but will straight up lie if necessary. Throughout the RNC Convention we have heard eloquent stories, partisan attacks, but no real solutions. The RNC is doing exactly what they criticized Barack Obama for doing: giving nice speeches with no substance. While during the DNC Convention, not a single speaker focused on the RNC - they might have made differences known on issues, but at no time were speakers condescending or snide about Senator McCain.  Instead, they focused on presenting their candidate and on Barack Obama's specific proposals in the areas of Energy Reform, Immigration, the Economy, and Health Care. Stories can be entertaining for awhile, but in the end, voters will ask for substance. As Gov. Sebelius stated in the Huffington Post, hockey moms may be moved by speeches, but in the end they want to know exactly how the next President will make health care affordable, increase their wages, or improve schools. As Barack Obama pointed out at Mile-High Stadium, "it's not about me" - this election should be about the American people, but the GOP strategy is precisely to make it about stories and characters. Rep. Wasserman-Shultz put it best: "Where is the beef? Where is the evidence? Sarah Palin is not a reformer...If her best example of being a reformer was trying to sell a plane on E-Bay, that is not my definition of reform." Reform is not found in the usual stretching of the truth in politics. To be successful tonight, John McCain will have to shift from this strategy of making it about Barack Obama and instead focus on how he proposes to pay for the pipelines, nuclear power, solar, and expensive alternative energy sources that Gov. Palin spoke about. He will have to explain the incentives to businesses to conserve energy, to have acessible health care for employees, and how he will make the U.S. competitive in a global, 21st century, marketplace.

What World Does The Republican Party Live In?

I have watched the coverage of the Republican Convention for three days now and I have two main observations: 1) they have not presented a single proposal, just snide remarks (clever ones, but merely snide remarks all the same) and 2) the crowd is older and all white. Such a homogenous crowd is simply not reflective of the reality of the United States of America - watching and listening to the Convention makes one thing abundantly clear: the Republican Party is so very, very out of touch with the country they claim to put first.

The Washington Post's Eli Saslow and Robert Barnes note in a piece published today:

Only 36 of the 2,380 delegates seated on the convention floor are black [which is 1.5 percent of those present, while blacks make up over 12% of the U.S. population], the lowest number since the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies began tracking diversity at political conventions 40 years ago. Each night, the overwhelmingly white audience watches a series of white politicians step to the lectern -- a visual reminder that no black Republican has served as a governor, U.S. senator or U.S. House member in the past six years.

The lack of diversity is out of sync with the demographic changes in the United States. Twenty-four state delegations at the Xcel Energy Center have no black members at all. A few weeks ago Simon wrote about the Census Bureau reporting that racial and ethnic minorities will make up a majority of the country's population by 2042 -- almost a decade earlier than what the bureau predicted just four years ago. Two-thirds of Americans are non-Hispanic whites, 12.4 percent are black and 14.8 percent are Hispanic,according to 2006 census numbers. Not only is the party out of sync - it appears Republicans are making a concerted effort to ignore the multiplicity of nationalities and races in the United States, as they propose to eliminate all non-citizens from being counted in the next Census.

Only a few years ago, Republicans talked publicly about the party's aspirations to diversify -- So what happened? As in so many other areas, the Republican Party has no record and no proposals to offer any particular demographic. The party made a concerted effort to court Hispanics in 2004, but NDN has tracked how the GOP's electoral gains under George W. Bush have been diminished by the hard-line stance many Republicans have taken on immigration.

A black Republican delegate from Texas, Tony Leatherman agreed, "You see what Obama has done, and it's a reminder of what's possible." But the Republicans have proven that they are too cynical to consider what's possible, they're too busy trying to glorify the past in order to avoid dealing with the reality of today and the very real challenges of tomorrow. They demonstrate this by focusing on putting down their opponent - a product of the bi-racial, multi-cultural society in which most of America lives - instead of developing solutions that can appeal to the wide array of Americans. As Sally Quinn wrote, describing how the two parties are worlds apart: some people might want to live in McCain's or Sarah Palin's world, "but I believe that we live in Obama's world."

Very Different Party Platforms on Immigration

I am disheartened to read the Republican platform, presented yesterday at their Convention. In the area of immigration, once again, the party has shown their temperment, short-sightedness, and intolerance. I am even sorrier to see that the man who was once a champion of Immigration Reform, John McCain, is either not strong enough to stand up to the radical party base, or doesn't want to. It is telling that the section on immigration in the RNC platform is under "Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace" - again implying that 1) all immigrants are undocumented, and 2) all immigrants inherently pose some sort of danger, grasping at the irrational fear that's intended to move everday Americans to hate immigrants of all colors and creeds and to support the conservative base. But I shouldn't be surprised by the offensive nature of the RNC platform, after all, just today, in trying to "appeal" to Hispanic voters, Sen. McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis said that Republicans had to offer this demographic something "other than a deportation center" - but if he's appealing to Hispanic voters, his comment is pretty offensive - equating all the undocumented with Hispanics, and all Hispanic voters with the undocumented.

By contrast, the DNC platform includes immigration under the section entitled "Renewing the American Community," and is more concerned with modernizing and correcting the underlying flawed immigration system than with demonizing immigrants; more concerned with working with the countries of origin of immigrants and dealing with the causes of immigration than with building porous walls. The RNC platform tries to argue that Americans favor a mass deportation - that is not at all the case. Polling data consistently shows that American's favor a solution to the immigration issue at a federal level in the form of smarter laws, legalization for the undocumented, and smarter enforcement, not in the form of intolerance.


"Defending Our Nation,

Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace

Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law

Immigration policy is a national security issue, for which we have one test: Does it serve the national interest? By that standard, Republicans know America can have a strong immigration system without sacrificing the rule of law. Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country. Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration. Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist. But we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that the EVerify system-which is an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and identity of employees-must be reauthorized. A phased-in requirement that employers use the E-Verify system must be enacted.

The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay - and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult. It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry. It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S., both for their lawbreaking and for their cruel exploitation. It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities, which stand in open defiance of the federal and state statutes that expressly prohibit such sanctuary policies, and which endanger the lives of U.S. citizens. It does not mean driver's licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, nor does it mean that illegal aliens should receive social security benefits, or other public benefits, except as povided by federal aw. We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people's rejection of enmasse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government's past failures to enforce the law.

Embracing Immigrant Communities

Today's immigrants are walking in the steps of most other Americans' ancestors, seeking the American dream and contributing culturally and economically to our nation. We celebrate the industry and love of liberty of hese fellow Americans. Both government and the private sector must do more to foster legally present immigrants' integration into American life to advance respect for the rule of law and a common American identity. It is a national disgrace that the first experience most new Americans have is with a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy defined by delay and confusion; we will no longer tolerate those failures. In our multiethnic nation, everyone - immigrants and native-born alike - must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women. One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories,including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum. We are grateful to the thousands of new immigrants, many of them not yet citizens, who are serving in the Armed Forces. Their patriotism is inspiring; it should remind the institutions of civil society of the need to embrace newcomers, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities void patterns of isolation.

Welcoming Refugees
Our country continues to accept refugees from troubled lands all over the world. In some cases, these are people who stood with America in dangerous times, and they have first call on our hospitality. We oppose, however, the ranting of refugee status on the basis of lifestyle or other non-political factors."


Renewing the American Community


America has always been a nation of immigrants. Over the years, millions of people have come here in the hope that in America, you can make it if you try. Each successive wave of immigrants has contributed to our country's rich culture, economy and spirit. Like the immigrants that came before them, today's immigrants will shape their own destinies and enrich our country.

Nonetheless,our current immigration system has been broken for far too long. We need comprehensive immigration reform, not just piecemeal efforts. We just work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites this country not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears. We are committed to pursuing tough, practical, and humane immigration reform immigration reform in the first year of the next administration. For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax paying, law-abiding, productive members of society.

Atthe same time, we cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. The American people are welcoming and generous people, but those who enter our country's borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law. We need to secure our borders, and support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry. We need additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence. We need to dismantle human smuggling organizations, combating the crime associated with this trade. We also need to do more to promote economic development in migrant-sending nations, to reduce incentives to come to the United States illegally. And we need to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, especially those who pay their workers less than the minimum wage. It's a problem when we only enforce our laws against the immigrants themselves, with raids that are ineffective, tear apart families and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel. We realize that employers need a method to verify whether their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S., and will ensure that our system is accurate, fair to legal workers, safeguards people's privacy, and cannot be used to discriminate against workers.

We must also improve the legal immigration system, and make our nation's naturalization process fair and accessible to the thousands of legal permanent residents who are eager to become full Americans. We should fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy that hampers family reunification, the cornerstone of our immigration policy for years. Given the importance of both keeping families together and supporting American businesses, we will increase the number of immigration visas for family members of people living here and for immigrants who meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill, as long as appropriate labor market protections and standards are in place. We will fight discrimination against Americans who have always played by our immigration rules but are sometimes treated as if they had not.

The "Nuevo Dia" Continues

As we have noted on this blog many times, the views of South Florida's Cuban American community are changing, giving the area's GOP incumbents their most serious challenge in nearly 20 years. (You may recall that one of the Democratic challengers is former NDNer, Joe Garcia.) What is allowing this to happen? As Time recently wrote in its article, Big Trouble in Little Havana, there are two reasons: More younger Cuban Americans are becoming eligible to vote, and the Cuba issue is viewed in relation to other issues like the economy, all of which affect South Florida and are believed to have been mishandled by the GOP.

On the New Generation of Cubans and related issues:

But the Miami challenges have caught the GOP off guard. Democratic voter registration in Miami-Dade County, as in other places, is up, and Republican registration is down. Some of the shift stems from elderly voters like Coto, but younger Cuban Americans are restless too. Like their elders, they want to liberate Cuba, but they also want to get by in Miami, where the middle class is shriveling and home foreclosures are soaring. "I'm not running for President of Cuba," says Martinez. "Cuban Americans finally see themselves as part of the wider U.S.A., and they care about other issues." 

On Cuba:

Still, a likely decisive issue in these races involves Cuba. In 2004, as a gift to conservatives, President Bush tightened restrictions on travel and remittances to the island. Cuban Americans--only those who have immediate family members in Cuba--can now visit just once every three years and send only $300 each quarter. The move backfired: most Miami Cubans oppose the new rules, according to an FIU poll, and they have been particularly unpopular among younger Cuban Americans. That was a big reason Miami computer programmer and lifelong Republican Joe Infante, 47, who has relatives in Cuba he can no longer visit, is now a registered Democrat. The regulations, he says, "have kept Cuban families separated but haven't put a dent in the Cuban regime." The move suggests that leaders of Florida's anti-Castro movement may have lost touch with the region's changing demographics. What would have worked in 1985 to deepen GOP support had the opposite effect in today's more diverse Miami. Says Garcia, sipping a café cubano in Little Havana: "Bush succeeded in dividing what was once a monolithic vote for his party." 

All of this will make sense to those familiar with NDN's work on Cuba. In fact, the views represented above are consistent with what we found in our poll from October of 2006. They are also consistent with U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's stance on Cuba, which Fareed Zakaria wrote about a few months ago. (You can see two examples of our coverage of Obama's position here and here.)

For more, check out a forum we held in February of 2007 where we discussed what a Post-Castro Cuba could look like.

Making the Struggle of Every Day People the Central Focus of the National Debate

In today's New York Times Week in Review, Bill Keller has a thoughtful look at recent events in China and Russia, and what might be called the end of the end of history. I thought Fareed Zakaria captured this sentiment best in his recent book when he described this new era of geopolitics with a simple powerful phrase - Americans are witnessing what he calls "the rise of the rest."

Perhaps after eight years of talk of Basra, Kabul and tax cuts, we will look back at this month as the month that Rip Van Winkle-like Americans woke from their conservative-induced slumber and began to see the 21st century as it is, not as portrayed by the Rovian/Chenesian fantasy of the last eight years.

Perhaps in no area is this new pragmatism more important than on what it means for our people here at home. The next President faces one domestic challenge more important than all the others - how to get wages and incomes rising again.

For most of the Bush era, the American economy performed well by traditional metrics. GDP, productivity, corporate profits and the stock market were strong. But despite this period of growth and strong productivity gains, the typical American family saw its annual income drop by about a $1,000 a year and the rate at which new jobs were created has been slower than any other recovery since the Depression. According to the laws of economics, it was not supposed to be possible to see robust growth in GDP and productivity and see incomes drop. In fact. it has never happened before in the modern economic history of the United States.

Every day Americans figured all this out long before coastal elites did. Our 2007 analysis of public opinion and the 2006 exit polls shows that it was the economy that drove the GOP from office much more than the war. As has been reported in many places, the American people are more unhappy with the state of the nation than anytime since the 1930s. The American people have understood for years that the people running their government has not turned their attention to the most important challenge they face in their own lives - making ends meet in a much more competitive globalized world. And small-bore solutions to this enormous challenge - off shore drilling, children's health insurance, raising the minimum wage, middle class tax cuts - will be treated as they have been treated by the American people these last few years - "that's nice, but where is the long-term, sustained, comprehensive plan big enough to actually improve our lives and the lives of our families?"

Led by Dr. Rob Shapiro, figuring all this out has been the primary focus of NDN's Globalization Initiative these last four years. I won't repeat the major recommendations from our project now, but offer three general observations:

1) It is critical that our political leaders explain to the American people that if we want to maintain our place in the world, and our standard of living, that we will have to "try harder." The rest of the world is rising, catching up, learning our game - as was the goal of foreign policy these last 60 years - and no longer can be seen as characters from an Indiana Jones movie. To compete in this world, this emerging world of the 21st century, we will have do more; invest more; modernize our infrastructure; lessen our dependence on expensive and dirty energy sources; make pensions and health care more portable and accessible; do more to equip our workers and kids with the modern skills they need to compete; accelerate innovation and the formation of "new businesses;" make our global economic liberalization strategies smarter and more modern...this new era must be seen as one of "investment" in a better future, and calls for an anachronistic politics of austerity must be rejected....

2) This economic and public opinion dynamic developed before the recent slowdown, credit crunch, housing crisis and energy/commodity price surge, and thus will not be solved by focusing on these recent developments in the economy. Because incomes went down during a period of sustained growth, the solutions offered by our leaders in the next few years must recognize that the traditional way we help Americans get ahead - by creating macroeconomic growth - is no longer guarenteed to improve the lives of every day people BECAUSE IT DID NOT WORK SO FAR IN THIS DECADE.

3) Given the enormity of this challenge, we here at NDN hope that helping Americans get ahead in this much more competitive world becomes the central focus of the elections this year. In several recent interviews, Senator Obama has said that his three priorities are Iraq, health care and climate change. Not so sure this is the best answer. He needs to be able say that he wants to be judged on whether he can raise Americans' standard of living, and then make doing so the central organizing principle of his campaign and Administration. I think a better response would be "I want to improve the lives of every day Americans who have worked so hard and gotten so little these last few years, and bring the troops home from Iraq." Or something like that.

A risky strategy some might say. For what happens if incomes don't rise? I think we already know the answer to that, as the GOP has shown us in recent years. If the standard of living of Americans don't improve in the next few years, the Democrats should expect to suffer the same fate as the GOP in this decade, and find themselves out of power. Unlike China and Russia, we still are a democracy, and as such, must make the fate of the people of the United States the central focus of our politics...

SHOCKER: Offshore Drilling Push from McCain and his Republican Party is Political Posturing

In the surprise of the 110th Congress, it turns out that the pro-drilling position taken by many Congressional Republicans and their presumptive nominee for President may actually have been – gasp – election year politics. The 'Gang of 10,' a group of five Democrat and five Republican Senators, has offered a compromise proposal that would contain both incentives for energy efficiency provisions and a limited expansion of offshore drilling. Barack Obama has said that he would support such an expansion as part of a broader energy bill, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she may allow a vote as long as a bill includes renewable energy and environmental safeguard provisions, but many Congressional Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are opposed to the bill.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Republicans have used the offshore-drilling issue to paint Democrats as out of touch with ordinary Americans and beholden to environmental groups that oppose any relaxation of the current drilling ban. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican's likely presidential nominee, has made Sen. Obama's opposition to offshore drilling a feature in recent ads critical of his Democratic rival.

But the drilling issue could lose its power as an electoral wedge if both parties agree to the concept put forward by a group of Republicans and Democrats. Their proposal would open additional acreage in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida's western coast to drilling, and also allow Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to "opt in" to drilling off their shores if their legislatures approve.

The plan would also raise billions of dollars for conservation and energy-efficiency programs partly by making oil companies no longer eligible for a manufacturing tax credit and repealing other tax breaks. Some estimates have put the potential savings from such a move at $13 billion over 10 years.

Some conservatives worry that a deal would remove party differences on what they otherwise see as one of the Republicans' best issues for winning over voters in the November election. Conservative radio-show host Rush Limbaugh has accused the Republicans who favor the compromise of giving a "gift" to Sen. Obama and other Democrats seeking election this fall.

Among many Republicans, "there's a desire to not solve this problem" of gridlock over energy policy, said one of the Republicans supporting the compromise, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. Sen. Corker added that "many people in the Republican Party are missing the point that this is a strong pro-[oil] production bill" and that Republican leaders "made a mistake" by not immediately endorsing it.

This proposal epitomizes the 'all of the above' solution that John McCain and his Republican allies in the Senate claim they support – expanding drilling and investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Sadly, only five have actually acted.

McConnell’s line about "objections to the proposal to eliminate the oil companies' eligibility for a tax credit" is part of his growing charade of election year intransigence. The oil industry receives tremendous direct and indirect subsidies from the federal government; meanwhile McConnell refuses to allow for a straight up or down vote for much smaller tax credits on renewables.

McCain, too, has said that he could not support the bill because it "would raise taxes;" he has since changed to a more 'wait and see' approach. For someone running for president on a supposed record of bucking his party on energy policy, this is certainly not the type of proactive leadership one would expect. (Thomas Freidman calls out McCain today for his lack of action on energy and quotes Suntech America President Roger Efird, one of NDN's panelists from our August 1 event on "Energy and the American Way of Life.")

There is only one conclusion to draw: McCain and Republican opposition to this proposal – which should serve as an important bipartisan step toward some sort of action on energy policy – is nothing more than an attempt to maintain a loosening grasp on drilling as a wedge issue in an election year. By refusing to lend his support to this compromise, McCain and his Republican Party owe America an explanation of what energy reform they are actually for, because behind the pretty windmills in McCain’s ads, there’s no substance.

McCain Don't Know Much About Geography

As Simon has commented, U.S. Sen. John McCain's ads exceedingly reflect a new Rovian approach to this election, and he's not limiting himself to attacking in one language...this latest ad in Spanish, called "The World According to Barack Obama" intends to promote the notion among Hispanic voters that according to Barack Obama, Latin American countries somehow "don't count" in the world because he didn't discuss Latin America during his trip to EUROPE ("but entire nations were forgotten.."), by asking voters: "and where is Latin America?", "and what about Latinos?", "Did he forget about us?" The ad is flawed in that Barack Obama's trip through Europe, and his speech in Berlin, was intended to discuss issues related to joint U.S. and EU policy.  As Jake and I were discussing, there's this thing called the Monroe Doctrine that would make it unseemingly to say the least for the U.S. to invite European nations to strategize over Latin American policy. But since when have Rovian tactics had any regard for honesty and accuracy?  

McCain Disappears into a Rovian Fog

As readers of this blog are aware, we've been disapointed by John McCain's serial lies and misstatements about the two candidates respective energy policies. These lies popped up in his recent TV ads, which were replaced by a "troop" ad the McCain campaign pulled down after admitting it was untrue.

As Jake points out, the new McCain ad lies again - this time making the case that Barack Obama has called for directly taxing electricity. I'm going to leave it Michael and Jake to tackle in greater detail why this claim is - we have to say it again - just not true and politically irresponsible. Paul Krugman does a good job today in the New York Times explaining just how irresponsible the new McCain position on our energy future is.

The McCain campaign has become an incredible and wild disapointment. At one point in time, McCain was the great maverick, challenging the worst politics and policies of this disasterous Bush era. But on issue after issue - immigration, a national economic strategy, torture, climate change, being a straight talker - McCain has gone from responsible challenger of a failed Republican path to an irresponsible and craven champion of a Republican politics that has done so much harm to the national interests of the United States. Inrcreasingly, it will be McCain's embrace of the politics of the Bush and Rove era that will become a central focus of the national campaign.

NDN believes that there are few greater challenges to our national interest than the challenge of high energy prices and climate change. Which is why we've been so aggressive these last few months in this "green" space, and why we are hosting a very important event on Energy and the American Way of Life with U.S. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin and other thought leaders later this morning here in DC (for info on how to watch live or attend click here). And look for a paper later this morning from NDN Green Project Director Michael Moynihan on the tremendous promise of solar.

I remain confused about why John McCain would surround himself with Bush people who would always have divided loyalities, torn between buffing up the "legacy" of our current President versus offering a new and better path. Inrcreasingly it will be McCain's embrace of the politics of the Bush and Rove era that will become one of the defining issues of this national campaign.

Will Rove Go to Jail Someday?

Kagro X over at Daily Kos has a good backgrounder on the legal troubles ahead for Mr. Rove.

Somehow the concept of "contempt" feels like a fitting one for the grandwizard behind one of the worst governments in American history, one that did so little for every day people and our national interest. 

I don't think this is where his legal troubles will end.

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