Pete Hoekstra: Money First, National Security Second

Let’s say you’re a United States Representative. You sit on the House Intelligence Committee and are running for Governor of your state in 2010.

On Christmas Day, an attempted terrorist attack aboard an airplane is thwarted. What’s the first thing you do?

Do you call for an investigation into what security failures occurred?

Do you call for increased funding for transportation security programs?

Do you call for greater screenings of incoming airline passengers or other higher security standards?

Do you excoriate your Senate colleague, Jim DeMint, for blocking President Obama’s nominee to head the TSA for purely political reasons?

Well, if you’re Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), the first thing you do in response to a thwarted terrorist attack is send out a fundraising email.

He’s asking for your money so that, next time there’s a terrorist attack, he can…ask you for more money, I guess, since he’s not doing anything  to combat terrorism.

Republicans have some pretty twisted priorities these days–Jim DeMint is blocking President Obama’s appointee to head the TSA because he hates labor unions and Pete Hoekstra puts fattening his campaign coffers ahead of combating terrorism.

And these guys want us to make them the majority again? Are they kidding?

Nobody Is Running The TSA

That’s right–in the wake of a thwarted terrorist attack we learn that the top spot at the Transportation Security Administration is empty.

And it’s all thanks to Republican Senator Jim DeMint:

An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — if there were one.

The post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has held up President Barack Obama’s nominee in opposition to the prospect of TSA workers joining a labor union.

As al Qaida claimed responsibility Monday for the thwarted attack and President Barack Obama made a public statement about it, Democrats urged DeMint to drop his objection and allow quick confirmation of nominee Erroll Southers, a counterterrorism expert, when the Senate reconvenes in three weeks.

[…]

Southers, a former FBI special agent, is the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence. He also is the associate director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, and he served as a deputy director of homeland security for California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Two Senate committees have given Southers their bipartisan blessing.

[Emphasis mine]

So a Republican Senator is blocking the appointment of someone to head the TSA for purely partisan political purposes.

We almost had a deadly terrorist attack–one that wold have killed an airplane full of people–but the GOP is leaving the TSA headless because they hate labor unions and don’t want a government agency to unionize.

Why is the GOP putting politics ahead of American lives?

‘Will You Repeal It?’ (UPDATED x2)

That’s the question that should be asked of every single Republican who tries to run against health care reform in 2010.

Demagoging against the bill is one thing but actually pledging to repeal it is another; no Republican should be allowed to do the former without being asked whether or not they will do the latter.

The health care reform bill isn’t perfect, but it has a number of fundamentally good policies that will help tens of millions of Americans.

Health care reform will stop insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?

Health care reform will reduce the deficit by more than $130 billion in the first decade and even more in subsequent decades. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?

Health care reform will provide middle class individuals and families with subsidies to help them buy health insurance. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?

Health care reform will provide coverage to 31 million Americans who currently lack it. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?

Will any Republican actually stand up and say they want to do so much damage to America’s middle class by repealing health care reform?

I think that ‘will you repeal it?’ puts the GOP between a rock and a hard place–the rock of wanting to oppose the Democratic health care reform plan but the hard place of not wanting to scrap policies that will help so many middle class Americans.

So any Democrat who worries that their support for health care reform may hurt hem in 2010 should just keep four words on the tip of their tongue: ‘will you repeal it?’

UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports on the perils Republicans will face if they run on repealing the bill:

Read More

Should The Filibuster Be Eliminated?

Definitely not.

But should the Senate rules be changed in order to end the Republican minority’s rampant filibuster abuse?

Definitely, yes.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the Senate is the world’s most deliberative body for a reason–unlike the House, the Senate has significant protections for the rights of the minority. And I do believe that the minority should have those rights and should be able to prevent the Senate from becoming majoritarian.

So while I do support the filibuster, the current Republican majority has utterly and completely abused it. They’ve made the country almost ungovernable by requiring an unrealistic 60-vote supermajority to pass  every piece of worthwhile legislation.

Even though the Democrats do have a 60-member caucus, the GOP’s constant filibustering means that Democrats can’t afford to lose a single member on any important bill. And considering how geographically and ideologically diverse the Democratic caucus is, it’s nearly impossible to hold them all together for nearly every vote.

And what the Republicans are doing is unprecedented–they’ve repeatedly set and broken records for filibustering. Just look at the huge spike in filibustering during the 110th Congress, when the GOP became the minority:

Read More