The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee confirmed yesterday that Representative Bruce Braley will co-chair the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program this year. Red to Blue candidates are Democratic challengers seeking to win Republican-held House districts. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen noted this week that even in a "tough cycle for Democrats,"
The DCCC is focused on not only protecting our threatened incumbents, but also staying aggressively on offense. The talented leadership of our battle-tested Red to Blue chairs Bruce Braley, Allyson Schwartz, Patrick Murphy, and Donna Edwards will ensure Democratic candidates have the infrastructure and support they need to be successful.
The Republican Party of Iowa responded with a boilerplate statement accusing Braley of being loyal to "San Franciscan Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi" instead of the citizens of Iowa's first Congressional district. Their attacks on Braley's record could hardly be more misleading.
Iowa GOP Executive Director Jim Anderson said, "First, Speaker Pelosi awards Braley's loyalty with a plum committee assignment, which Braley promptly repays with votes in favor of the nearly $800 billion failed stimulus, a cap-and-trade energy tax that would devastate Iowa's farmers, and a federal health insurance takeover. Now, Braley is eagerly serving as Pelosi's lieutenant in recruiting more liberals to support their out-of-touch agenda."
"Iowans need a congressman who is focused on creating jobs here at home, not angling for his next one in Washington, DC," said Anderson, noting that nearly 110,000 Iowans remain out of work. "Iowans didn't send Bruce Braley to Congress to serve as point-man for Nancy Pelosi's pet projects, they sent him to represent Iowa's interests. It is clear from Braley's continued actions that Iowans in the First District need a new congressman who puts Iowans' needs ahead of his own."
First, do Republicans expect us to believe it's bad that Braley got a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee? Here's the truth:
"Every state wants someone from their delegation on the committee, and having Congressman Braley on this committee is a positive thing for the state so that the state's interests are reflected in the deliberations of the committee," said Tom Tauke, a former Republican congressman who served on the committee prior to leaving office in 1991. [...]
The committee is the first stop in the House for such nationally significant legislation as the comprehensive health care reform that Obama discussed Thursday. It will also be the entry point for the new administration's priority of increasing renewable energy and reducing global warming.
The committee will consider the wind-energy tax credit next year. The tax credit, expected to be renewed for seven years, has been a boon to Iowa, one of the nation's leaders in wind-generated electricity.
Guess what? The federal stimulus bill approved in February 2009 extended the wind energy Production Tax Credit through 2012 and lifted the cap on the Small Wind Systems Tax Credit.
Speaking of what Republicans call the "failed stimulus," the Congressional Budget Office and several private sector analysts have concluded that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved or created more than a million jobs (more than 2 million by some estimates). Unemployment is still way too high, but the U.S. was losing 600,000 to 700,000 jobs a month immediately before the stimulus passed, and without the stimulus, the unemployment rate would be significantly higher. The "Cash for Clunkers" program that Braley championed contributed significantly to GDP growth in the third quarter of 2009.
Moving on, the Iowa GOP claims the climate change bill Braley supported would "devastate Iowa's farmers." Wrong again: conventional farming advocates won lots of concessions before the House approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act last June. In any case, Braley was fighting for a stronger renewable electricity standard in the bill, which would boost Iowa's economy. Republicans may not have noticed, but wind energy production has been booming the past few years and has huge potential for future growth.
The Iowa GOP's scaremongering about a "federal health insurance takeover" is ludicrous. Congress didn't do enough to provide government competition to private insurers who deny coverage to many sick people, interfere with medical care recommended by doctors and jack up premiums by many times the rate of inflation.
Braley has done plenty to help create jobs and support his constituents in IA-01. The stimulus bill prevented deep cuts in state budgets that would have deepened the recession. Braley has advocated for many policies that would support the middle class and has introduced legislation to give tax credits to businesses hiring new employees. When the House considered a jobs bill, Braley pushed for "Buy American" language that would support U.S. manufacturers. He also supported crucial funding for infrastructure projects, hiring teachers and first responders, and extending unemployment and COBRA benefits. In fact, Braley has fought for unemployment benefits to be extended to jobless Americans everywhere, not just in states with a very high unemployment rate.
I could go on, but you get the point. Braley has been representing his constituents well while also holding a senior position in the DCCC since early 2009. Did I mention he also created and led the House Populist Caucus? The man can multitask.
The Iowa GOP has been taking cheap shots at Braley for months. My theory is that they know they can't beat him this year, because of his strong record and IA-01's partisan lean toward Democrats. Nevertheless, they want to rough him up before he runs for statewide office someday (probably when Chuck Grassley or Tom Harkin retires). Expect many more stale attacks on Nancy Pelosi and distortions of Braley's record from statewide Republicans as well as his challengers in the first district.