The GOP’s Twisted Priorities

The Daily Caller has a jaw-dropping exclusive about how the RNC is spending its money:

According to two knowledgeable sources, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele once raised the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet for his travel.

[…]

Steele’s spokesman, Doug Heye, did not deny that such discussions took place, responding that the RNC never had a “plan” to buy a plane. “I don’t know what somebody might have discussed or might not have discussed.”

While Steele has not purchased a plane, he continues to charter them. According to federal disclosure records, the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft in the month of February alone (as well as $12,691 on limousines during the same period). There are no readily identifiable private plane expenses for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine in the DNC’s last three months of filings.

[…]

Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

RNC trips to other cities produced bills from a long list of chic and costly hotels such as the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas, and the W (for a total of $19,443) in Washington. A midwinter trip to Hawaii cost the RNC $43,828, not including airfare.

[All emphasis mine]

Private planes, fancy hotels, expensive Hawaii junkets, lesbian bondage cubs…does that sound like the kind of folks you want running the country?

Health care reform may not be perfect, but I’d take the folks who gave us that over the folks who spend other people’s money to go to kinky sex clubs any day.

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Also…

Adding to what  I wrote earlier today, can we please stop treating reconciliation like some kind of unprecedented democracy-ending apocalypse?

The Republicans used reconciliation 7 times between 1995 and 2007–the latest time they used it was to pass a health care reform bill.  At no point was the GOP’s use of reconciliation ever portrayed in any way as scandalous or controversial.

Nor should it have been, since reconciliation is part of the Senate rules–it’s a perfectly legitimate procedure that has been around for decades. If the GOP opposed reconciliation then they should have tried to change the standing rules of the Senate when the 111th Congress began.

There’s something inherently dishonest and shameful about complaining when someone else uses a rule that you had taken advantage of and that you let stand without objection.

The GOP’s sudden opposition to reconciliation is dishonest and hypocritical, and nobody should talk about the reconciliation process without bringing that fact up.

Another Day, Another RNC Fail: RNC To Hold Fundraiser At Blackwater Compound

That’s the same Blackwater which has been accused of murder, illegal weapons smuggling, bribery, fraud (including using taxpayer money to buy strippers and prostitutes) and stealing weapons from the US military, among many other serious crimes.

You know that if the DNC held a fundraiser at, say, an ACORN office then heads would roll, careers would end and the right-wing media would launch a massive weeks-long national outcry.

And yet, almost nobody in the media is making a fuss over the RNC getting into bed with Blackwater.

And to think, ACORN was only accused of was giving bad tax advice.

Double standards much?

GOP To Unemployed: ‘Tough Sh*t’

So says GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who is blocking an extension of unemployment benefits that would serve to benefit 1.2 million Americans:

Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month.

As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.

And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: “Tough shit.”

Not only did Bunning kneecap America’s unemployed, he then had the gall to complain that his obstructionism caused him to miss–wait for it–a basketball game:

And at one point during the debate, which dragged on till nearly midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game.

“I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00,” he said, “and it’s the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they’re the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.

That’s the GOP for you–they got theirs, so they don’t care about anyone else.

Jim Bunning has a massive, taxpayer-funded salary, so he cares more about his basketball game than the 10.7% of Kentuckians who are unemployed.

Unemployed? Tough. Uninsured? Tough. Sorry, Republicans have basketball games to go to, they don’t have time for you and your problems.

But there is hope–Jim Bunning’s retiring. And, this year, we have a chance to replace him with someone who really cares about the people–Dr. Dan Mongiardo.

Michael Steele Demonstrates Republican Priorities

The RNC Chair is living the high life using other people’s money:

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers – expenses that are infuriating the party’s major donors who say Republicans need every penny they can get for the fight to win back Congress.

Most recently, donors grumbled when Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck’s local crew to cater the RNC’s Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

[…]

A POLITICO analysis of expenses found that compared with 2005, the last comparable year preceding a midterm election, the committee’s payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.

“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”

[…]

When Steele took over the chairmanship last winter, he inherited a $23 million surplus. Since then, the former Maryland lieutenant governor has raised $10 million less than the party collected in 2005 and has spent $10 million more. By the end of 2009, the committee’s surplus had shrunk to $8.4 million, according to campaign finance reports.

[Emphasis mine]

The RNC tries to justify this mess by saying that, since there isn’t a Republican in the White House, Steele has to travel a lot more to fundraise than some of his predecessors.

But, again, Steele is spending more and raising less–it certainly doesn’t look like the exorbitant travel, lodging, food and floral (really?) expenditures are profitable investments.

Personally, if I were a Republican donor, I’d be angry that my hard-earned money was going to pamper the RNC Chairman rather than win elections.  Without enough funding, the pool of potential GOP pickups will shrink–and for what? Fancy food, private jets and all of the pretty flowers Michael Steele desires.

(Not to mention the hypocrisy of complaining about Democratic spending policies when the Chair of the GOP is using other people’s money to keep himself knee-deep in Hawaiian junkets and gourmet food. At least we’re creating jobs and improving health care.)

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:

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The Right Gives Up On Consistency

Remember how Republicans complained that the health care reform bill was too long?

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) griped that it was “longer than War and Peace.”

House Minority Leader John Boehnert (R-OH) said “[a]ll you need to know is there are 1,990 pages. That should tell you everything.”

In an op-ed on the bill, Boehnert decried “[m]assive bills unveiled in the dark of night and rushed to a vote before anyone in America could possibly know the details.”

Well, now Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) is complaining that the health care reform bill isn’t long enough:

And we talk about 2,074 pages, which seem like a lot, and it would be for a normal bill that you could debate in a limited period of time, which is what we’re being asked to do. But 2,074 pages isn’t nearly enough to cover health care for America. So why is it only 2,074 pages?

So, which is it? Is the health care reform bill too long, or not long enough? And why did the GOP change their tune?

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