# John Boehner

Joaquin Castro will headline the Iowa Democratic Party's "2016 Gala"

Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas will be the “special guest speaker” at the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2016 Gala, formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, according to invitations that arrived in many Democrats’ mailboxes today. Tickets for the October 14 event at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines (formerly Veterans Auditorium) are available online as well.

Castro represented a San Antonio district for five terms in the Texas legislature before being elected to the U.S. House for the first time in 2012. The Progressive Punch database rates his voting record as the 112th most progressive among current House members. The same database ranks Iowa’s Representative Dave Loebsack 152nd.

Castro spoke about his family’s immigration story and Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. I enclose below parts of that speech, background on Castro’s career, and excerpts from his entertaining essay for the Texas Monthly about his first year in Congress. That piece went viral mainly because the author recounted that in 2013, he heard then-House Speaker John Boehner refer to Iowa’s own Representative Steve King as an “asshole.”

This summer, Castro confirmed he will consider running against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in 2018.

His identical twin brother, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, is a former mayor of San Antonio and delivered the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (transcript here). He was on Hillary Clinton’s short list for vice president.

P.S.-I’m still not happy Iowa Democratic Party leaders turned the Jefferson-Jackson dinner into a generic “gala,” which could refer to any fancy fundraiser. They could have honored any number of inspiring Democratic figures with a name more appropriate for what should be a celebration of shared political values.

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Iowa reaction to John Boehner stepping down as House speaker (updated)

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner surprised most politics-watchers yesterday by announcing that he will step down as speaker and retire from Congress at the end of October. As Jennifer Steinhauer noted in the New York Times, Boehner’s move “lessened the chance of a government shutdown because Republican leaders joined by Democrats will almost certainly go forward with a short-term funding measure to keep the government operating [after September 30], and the speaker will no longer be deterred by those who threatened his job.” Boehner was a frequent target of right-wing talk radio hosts and occasionally at war with the most conservative House Republicans, who now insist on ending all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Remarkably, a nationwide NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday indicated that 72 percent of Republican primary voters are dissatisfied with the work of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 44 percent are “very” dissatisfied, and 36 percent want Boehner and McConnell replaced immediately.

I sought comment from all four Iowans in the House on Boehner stepping down and asked the three Republicans whether they would be inclined to support House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker. McCarthy has been the front-runner for the job ever since Boehner’s heir apparent, Eric Cantor, lost his GOP primary last year. Other credible candidates for House speaker include Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Jeb Hensarling; Josh Israel profiled them and McCarthy for Think Progress.

I enclose below statements provided by Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04), and well as reaction from Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02). None of the Republicans directly answered the question about supporting McCarthy. Neither King nor Blum mentioned that they were among the 25 House Republicans who did not vote to re-elect Boehner as speaker in January.

I also included former Representative Tom Latham’s reaction to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s comments about Boehner stepping down. Rubio drew cheers from the audience at the Values Voters Summit in Washington when he told them the news, adding, “The time has come to turn the page. The time has come to turn the page and allow a new generation of leadership in this country.” Latham and Boehner were smoking buddies and close friends during Latham’s 20-year career in the House.

UPDATE: Added below excerpts from King’s guest column, “What We Need in Our Next Speaker of the House,” published in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal on September 28. This sentence is ironic: “And legislation should pass or fail on the floor of Congress on its merits instead of being blocked in backroom deals because of personal politics.” Surely King knows that the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill would have passed the House easily (mostly with Democratic votes), had it ever been brought to the floor. King and his allies successfully pressured Boehner not to put that bill to a vote of the full House.

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John Boehner re-elected House Speaker: How the Iowans voted

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives re-elected John Boehner as speaker a few minutes ago, as Republican insurgents fell short of forcing a second ballot. Before the vote, fifteen House Republicans including Iowa’s own Steve King (IA-04) had publicly said they would not support Boehner. In the end, 25 Republicans voted either “present” or for other speaker candidates. If all 435 House members had been at the Capitol, Boehner could have afforded to lose up to 28 Republican votes and still be elected on the first ballot. But the speaker only needs a majority of those present in the chamber, and according to Pete Kasperowicz of The Blaze, “a dozen or more” Democrats were expected to be absent while attending former New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s funeral.

The more Democrats who don’t show up, the harder it will be to stop Boehner from getting a majority, and GOP defections will likely have to get to the mid-30s to force a second vote.


I was surprised to when King nominated Florida Republican Dan Webster for speaker this morning. I had assumed he would support his longtime ally Louis Gohmert of Texas. I was also surprised when newly-elected Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) voted for Webster. Freshmen have more to lose if they get on leadership’s bad side, and Blum has incentive to act like a moderate, since he represents a Democratic-leaning district.

I give King and Blum credit for standing up to be counted. Various reports estimated that as many as 50 House Republicans might have voted against Boehner if House rules had allowed a secret ballot instead of a roll call in alphabetical order. If you don’t have the courage to say you’re unhappy with your party’s leader, you don’t belong in Congress.

As expected, newly-elected Iowa Republican David Young (IA-03) voted for Boehner. He got tons of help from the National Republican Congressional Committee in last year’s general election campaign, and he landed a seat on the House Appropriations Committee (not common for a freshman). Young has repeatedly promised to be a “voice at the table” for Iowa, not an uncompromising conservative. I’m already seeing some right-wingers complain on social media about today’s vote. Pottawattamie County GOP leaders had urged Young not to support Boehner for speaker. This is just the first of several high-profile votes that will likely fuel a 2016 primary challenge from the right in IA-03.

The lone Iowa Democrat in Congress, Dave Loebsack (IA-02), voted for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, as did most of the House Democratic caucus.

I will update this post as needed with comments from the Iowans in Congress. Excerpts from King’s case against Boehner are after the jump. The two men have long clashed over the way King talks about undocumented immigrants, but immigration policy wasn’t King’s only beef with Boehner.

UPDATE: Added comments from Blum, Loebsack, and the Iowa Democratic Party below.

SECOND UPDATE: Chris Moody of CNN quoted Blum as saying, “I didn’t sleep much last night. Did a lot of soul searching. I’m at peace with myself.” I hope so, because Boehner is already punishing Republicans who voted against him as speaker. Today’s vote probably will not help Blum deliver for his district.

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Who's right about impeachment prospects: John Boehner or Steve King?

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want to impeach President Barack Obama. His plan to sue the president is a gambit to appease Republicans bent on fighting the president’s alleged failure “to faithfully execute the laws.” At this week’s meeting of the House GOP caucus, both Boehner and Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged colleagues not to talk about impeachment, saying such talk only helps Democrats. Today, Boehner assured a roomful of reporters, “We have no plans to impeach the president,” claiming that such speculation was “all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”

There’s no question Democrats have been hyping the impeachment speculation, to remarkably successful effect. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in $2 million over four days from e-mail appeals warning of Republican plans to oust the president.

But it’s a stretch for Boehner to claim Democrats dreamed up the impeachment “scam.” Dave Weigel posted a good overview of Republicans inside and outside Congress calling for impeachment within the past year, and especially within the past month.

Just a few days ago, Iowa’s own Representative Steve King predicted House Republicans will be motivated to launch impeachment proceedings if President Obama uses executive orders to give “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants. After the jump I’ve posted excerpts from those comments, as well as King’s latest op-ed piece on immigration policy (which does not mention impeachment).  

To put it mildly, King and Boehner don’t always see eye to eye on political messaging. With House leadership strongly opposed, I’m skeptical Republicans aligned with King would be able to force a vote on articles of impeachment, let alone pass such a measure. Too many people remember how calls to impeach President Bill Clinton backfired during the 1998 midterm elections. But it’s worth noting that House Republicans proceeded with efforts to remove Clinton despite the verdict voters delivered in 1998. A recent national poll indicated that even as Obama’s approval ratings remain low, two-thirds of Americans oppose impeaching him. The same poll suggested that a majority of Republican respondents favor impeachment.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. – Great piece by Lynda Waddington on King saying, in effect, that Obama can’t feel true patriotism because “he was not raised with an American experience.”

UPDATE: Added new comments from King below. He isn’t currently pushing for impeachment but thinks the president might want to be impeached because of a narcissistic personality and “messiah complex.”

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Self-awareness is not Steve King's strong suit

Via Bret Hayworth’s blog at the Sioux City Journal, I see that Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) took offense at a report that House Speaker John Boehner used an unprintable word to refer to him. The incident allegedly happened at the height of last summer’s furor over King’s views on the children of undocumented immigrants. Hayworth writes that King responded to the report with a statement:

“There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that,” King said. “I want to be clear. There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party, and we all need to do our work in a constructive, open and respectful way.”

You read that right: Steve King sees “no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials.”

This from the guy who made “cantaloupe calves” a national symbol of the GOP’s hostility to undocumented immigrants.

This from the guy who created a visual aid re-naming the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) “Socialized Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents.”

For the record, I don’t care what Boehner called King in an angry moment. I do care that King’s faction of the House GOP caucus seems to have successfully blocked comprehensive immigration reform during this Congress. President Barack Obama thinks an immigration bill will pass this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE: King’s statement may have been crafted for humorous effect, as his phrasing mirrored Boehner’s comments about King last summer. But get real: calling someone an expletive is not as “hateful” and “offensive” as saying DREAMers are 100 times more likely to be drug mules than valedictorians.

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Victory for Steve King faction of GOP on immigration reform

The writing was on the wall this summer, but U.S. House Speaker John Boehner made it official yesterday: the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will not take up the bipartisan Senate-passed immigration reform bill, nor will the House ever go to conference committee negotiations on that bill.

It’s a triumph for Representative Steve King (IA-04), who has made it his mission to stop any effort to grant legal status or citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

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More fallout from Steve King's comments on DREAMers

Representative Steve King’s assertion that there are 100 drug mules for every “DREAMer” who’s a valedictorian continues to reverberate across the country. National television networks and blogs have chewed over the story, and many politicians have condemned King’s statement, including House Speaker John Boehner.

King stands by his comments and claims that the intense criticism proves he has “won the debate” over immigration policy. Yet a new poll of residents in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district suggests that King is out of step even with his own constituents.

Follow me after the jump for details on that poll and a roundup of reaction to King’s words about undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children.

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New thread on the debt ceiling sellout

President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders announced a deal on raising the debt ceiling in exchange for at least $2 trillion in domestic spending cuts. The agreement is complicated in many respects, but the gist is that Republicans will get almost everything they have demanded throughout this process (if they are smart enough to accept total victory).

After the jump I’ve posted the ludicrous White House talking points on why this deal is “a win for the economy and budget discipline.” They brag about putting the U.S. “on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President,” as if that’s a good thing. No economist would endorse big domestic spending cuts, given the current state of the economy. The deal calls for many of those cuts to happen in 2013 or later, but unemployment is not going down in any significant way before 2013–more likely, it will increase. Some Democrats claim the president will hold the line on extending the Bush tax cuts in late 2012, but that is a sick joke. Obama has no credibility on these issues. Only two weeks ago he said he would reject a $2.4 trillion spending cut plan that did not include any tax increases. Look where he is now, serving up a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich” and thanking Republican leaders for doing their part.

House Speaker John Boehner is trying to sell the deal to the House Republican caucus with this slide show (pdf file). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hasn’t committed to supporting the deal, but I assume a significant number of House Democrats will be stupid enough to go along. Any Democrat who votes for this deal deserves to lose.

I will update this post with comments from the Iowans in Congress as those become available. Recent statements from most of the Iowa delegation are here, along with details on how our representatives in the U.S. House and Senate voted on the debt ceiling proposals offered since Friday.

UPDATE: The deal passed the House easily on August 1, but all of Iowa’s representatives voted against it.

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Congress still far from deal on 2011 spending

With about a week left before the latest continuing resolution on federal government spending expires, Congress is nowhere near a budget deal for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. Yesterday the U.S. Senate rejected both a House bill that would cut about $61 billion in spending and an alternative favored by most Democratic senators, which would cut only a few billion in spending before September 30. H.R. 1, the House Republicans’ bill, received 44 yes votes and 56 no votes (roll call). All Democrats voted against the House proposal; the three Republicans who joined them rejected it because in their view, it did not cut federal spending deeply enough. A Democratic amendment offered by Senator Daniel Inouye failed by a wider margin, 42 to 58 (roll call). Eleven Democrats joined all Senate Republicans in rejecting that proposal.

After the jump I’ve posted statements on yesterday’s votes from Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin. Grassley voted for the House Republican proposal and against Inouye’s amendment, while Harkin voted the opposite way.

Today Senate Democratic leaders called on House Republicans to compromise:

“The lesson that Sen. Reid was referring to, the lesson that we’re all referring to, is that H.R. 1 can’t pass, and if you insist on H.R. 1 we’re going to be gridlocked, so give us some alternatives,” [Senator Chuck Schumer] added, in reference to the package of House-passed spending cuts.

Schumer accused Republicans of intransigence and said Boehner must come forward with a new proposal for fiscal 2011 spending levels to avert a government shutdown.

“We are now asking Speaker Boehner to go talk to his 89 freshmen who seem to say they just want H.R. 1 or nothing, show them that that can’t happened and come back and say ‘what are you willing to put on the table,’ ” he said.

Schumer later corrected himself to note there are 87 Republican freshmen in the House.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters today,

“I think it’s time for them to get serious – and they’re not serious, and it’s time to get serious about cutting spending, and the talks are going to continue but they aren’t going to get very far if they don’t get serious about doing what the American people expect them to do,” Boehner told reporters.

House Republicans are now working on a new three-week continuing resolution, which would cut about $6 billion in current-year spending. It needs to pass by March 18 to avoid a federal government shutdown. Four of Iowa’s five House representatives voted for the last continuing resolution; Steve King rejected it “because some of ObamaCare is funded by it and the Pence amendment to block Planned Parenthood is not in.”

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I don't think "meritocracy" means what Steve King thinks it means

When Representative Steve King got passed over for the chairman’s post on the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration last Friday, he suggested that House Speaker John Boehner made the call. In an interview with the National Journal this week, King made clear that he isn’t happy with Boehner (hat tip to the America’s Voice blog):

   “I’m going to be OK with it. I’m going to be OK,” King told National Journal in a 40-minute interview. Even in the wake of the “unbelievably tragic” news of the Arizona massacre, King was obviously still smarting from the subcommittee rebuff. He didn’t mince words in placing the blame directly at House Speaker John Boehner. “The speaker holds the big gavel, and he decides who gets the other gavels,” King said. “It makes it very clear that it’s not a meritocracy.” […]

   “John Boehner isn’t very aggressive on immigration,” King said, noting that the GOP “Pledge to America” barely mentions immigration or border security. “It’s the tiniest section,” he said.

Not a meritocracy?

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Did Boehner demote King to help "buddy Latham"?

Representative Steve King’s surprise appointment as vice chair rather than chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee was big news in the beltway yesterday. Tom Latham’s main committee assignment slipped under the radar, as usual for the member representing Iowa’s fourth district. Latham is sitting pretty: he’ll chair the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, and he’ll be the number two republican on the Appropriations agriculture subcommittee.

Speaking to the Des Moines Register’s Thomas Beaumont Friday, King tried to put a positive spin on his new role (“I’m a member with fewer limitations than I might have had otherwise”). His other comment intrigued me:

King declined to say why he was not selected, except that [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar] Smith likely received guidance from new House Speaker John Boehner. […]

“There’s an agenda that’s true of all committees that is driven by the chairman of the overall committee, and the chairman of the overall committee takes his marching orders from the top leader,” King said in an telephone interview.

King’s habit of saying offensive things about immigrants gives Boehner ample reason to put him in a less visible role. Latinos are an important voting bloc in many House seats Republicans need to hold to stay in the majority. Then again, knocking King down a peg also serves Boehner’s “buddy Latham” quite well. The speaker and Latham have been close friends for many years.

I expect Latham to run in the redrawn third district in 2012 against Leonard Boswell or some other Democrat. But our state’s new map might create unfavorable conditions for a Republican in IA-03 (say, including Polk, Story, Marshall and Jasper counties but not Madison, Dallas or others to the west). In that case, Latham might be tempted to duke it out with King in a primary in the new IA-04. Latham represented most of northwestern Iowa during the 1990s and could move from Ames back to Franklin County if necessary. A typical GOP primary would favor “loud and proud” King over the low-profile Latham, whose voting record is a tiny bit less conservative. But now Latham has a powerful post on one of the top House committees, while King got left out in the cold.

Any relevant speculation is welcome in this thread.

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Top Republican: Make Social Security recipients pay for endless war

House Republican leader John Boehner gave a revealing interview to the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this week. He dismissed the need for more financial regulations, saying the draft Wall Street reform bill is like “killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.” Boehner also dabbled in Steve King-style rhetoric, accusing Democrats of “snuffing out out the America that I grew up in.” Then he spoke frankly about Republican priorities:

Boehner had praise, however, for Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan and stepped-up drone attacks in Pakistan. He declined to list any benchmarks he has for measuring progress in the nine-year war, at a time of increasing violence and Obama’s replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus.

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system, Boehner said. He’d favor increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation and limiting payments to those who need them.

“We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke,” Boehner said. “If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you’re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we’re broke? We just need to be honest with people.”

Boehner handed our president the opportunity to highlight the differences between Republicans and Democrats. Last year Boehner advocated a federal spending freeze, which would have made a severe recession much worse. Now this guy still doesn’t understand how serious the 2008 financial crash was. President Barack Obama plans to slam Boehner’s comments about financial reform at a town-hall event today.

Ideally, Obama would also bash Boehner’s plans for entitlement reform. The top House Republican wants to reduce Social Security benefits for future recipients in order to keep us on a war footing indefinitely. In other words, make working Americans pay the bills for endless war.

Unfortunately, our president seems less and less committed to a timeline for ending the war in Afghanistan. David Dayen predicts, probably correctly, that the July 2011 deadline for drawing down troops in Afghanistan will disappear now that General David Petraeus has replaced General Stanley McChrystal as commander in the theater.

Obama’s unlikely to go to the mat to preserve Social Security either, having just appointed Republican Alan Simpson to co-chair a deficit commission. Simpson wasn’t serious about addressing the budget deficit as a U.S. senator, and his “zombie lies” about Social Security are notorious.

I never expected Obama to be a partisan warrior, but if he can’t be bothered to help build the Democratic brand, could he at least protect Social Security, one of the greatest programs the Democratic Party ever created?

UPDATE: The president shouldn’t count on Americans supporting endless war in Afghanistan.

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A lot of Republicans owe Pelosi an apology

In May a chorus of Republicans inside and outside Congress made hay out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the Central Intelligence Agency had not revealed its waterboarding policy during a 2002 briefing. Many demanded an investigation into the allegations. Minority leader John Boehner said of Pelosi,

“She made this claim and it’s her responsibility to either put forward evidence that they did in fact lie to her, which would be a crime, or she needs to retract her statements and apologize.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was among the Republican talking heads who demanded Pelosi’s resignation. According to Gingrich’s, Pelosi’s assertion was “stunning” and “dishonest.”

Representative Steve “10 Worst” King (IA-05) accused Pelosi of “actively undermining our national security” and called for suspending the speaker’s security clearance:

Speaker Pelosi has accused the CIA of committing a federal crime – lying to Congress. The CIA and other American defense and intelligence agencies cannot trust Nancy Pelosi with our national secrets, let alone our national security, until this matter is resolved. If true, there has been a serious violation of federal law. If false, American national security requires a new Speaker of the House. The severity of Speaker Pelosi’s accusations leaves no middle ground, and her security clearance should be suspended pending investigation.

Now we have learned that

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday. […]

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

So not only was Congress misled, CIA staff did not even inform Panetta about the program until four months after he was sworn in. Charles Lemos is absolutely right that it’s time for a special prosecutor to investigate this matter.

Republicans who trashed Pelosi in May and June owe her an apology, but like Rude Pundit, I’m not holding my breath. They’ve always been easygoing about Bush administration law-breaking while throwing fits about Democrats who criticized it.

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Ten answers to Boehner's question on health care

House Republican leader John Boehner was on CNN Sunday morning:

“We’ve got the greatest health care delivery system in the world,” he added. “Why do we want to jeopardize that with a big government run health care system?”

Because our health care delivery system directs about 31 percent of total health spending to administrative costs.

Because our health care delivery system makes Americans more likely to go without certain medical procedures despite astronomical per capita spending on health care.

Because our health care delivery system leads to overuse of emergency rooms by insured as well as uninsured Americans.

Because our health care delivery system leaves uninsured trauma patients 50 percent more likely to die than trauma patients covered by insurance.

Because our health care delivery system causes uninsured people to be denied organ transplants on the grounds that they will lack the capacity to pay for anti-rejection medications.

Because our health care delivery system prompts insured as well as uninsured Americans to delay medical treatment for chronic illnesses.

Because our health care delivery system makes uninsured people much more likely than insured people to be diagnosed with “advanced cancers […] that could have been detected early through proper screening.”

Because our health care delivery system puts paperwork from insurance companies rather than a doctor’s recommendation in charge of the timetable for cancer surgery.

Because our health care delivery system can force cancer patients to forgo radiation or chemotherapy if they lose their insurance.

Because our health care delivery system can leave insured as well as uninsured people with crushing debts after completing cancer treatment or care for a medical emergency.

Feel free to add your own answers in the comments.

UPDATE: MyDD user Trey Rentz adds that medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.

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How Iowans voted on the bonus tax for bailout recipients

The U.S. House of Representatives approved by 328 to 93 a bill that would put a 90 percent tax on bonuses over $250,000 that any financial institution receiving bailout money pays to employees. The bill is not limited to AIG, which sparked public outcry by paying at least 73 employees bonuses of more than $1 million.

Here is the roll call. All three Democrats representing Iowa in the U.S. House (Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, and Leonard Boswell) voted yes on retrieving most of the taxpayer dollars being squandered on excessive Wall Street bonuses.

Steve King was among the 87 House Republicans who voted no. It would be interesting to hear his reasoning. House Republican leader John Boehner claimed to be against the bill because the excessive bonuses were to be taxed at 90 percent rather than 100 percent. Riiiight.

Tom Latham, who voted against the Wall Street bailouts last fall, was one of 85 Republicans who joined the Democratic majority in voting yes today. I am curious to know when Latham cast his vote. According to Chris Bowers, “Republicans were running 2-1 against the bill for a while, but are now changing their votes in the face of overwhelming passage.”

UPDATE: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out a press release slamming King for this vote. I’ve posted it after the jump.

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How to turn a severe recession into a depression

Freeze federal spending in response to a huge spike in unemployment.

No, seriously, House Republican leader John Boehner is now proposing a federal spending freeze. Like Josh Marshall says,

I’m not even sure it’s fair to say that this is a replay of the disastrous decisions the magnified the Great Depression between 1929 and 1933. It’s more a parody of it. When the crisis is a rapid and catastrophic drop off in demand, you handcuff the one force that can create demand (i.e., the federal government) in the throes of the contraction. That’s insane. Levels of stimulus are a decent question. Intensifying the contraction is just insane and frankly a joke.

Paul Rosenberg has some good comments and a Rachel Maddow clip on this topic.

Republicans have long advocated dumb ideas on economic policy, like Congressman Steve King’s proposal to boost investment by eliminating capital gains taxes. To state the obvious, investors are not staying away from stocks because they’re worried about paying taxes on huge capital gains. On the contrary, investors fear that they will lose money because the market has not hit bottom yet and the recession will bring down more companies.

Similarly, fear of taxes on corporate profits has little to do with why businesses are not investing in production now. Business owners are not worried about finding money to pay taxes on profits. They are worried about losing money because skyrocketing unemployment reduces consumer demand for the goods or services that businesses sell.

In fairness, if we followed bad Republican advice on cutting corporate and capital gains taxes, we’d only be giving wealthy Americans tax breaks with a very small economic stimulus “bang for the buck” (see this data compiled by the chief economist for Moody’s). If we followed Boehner’s “new and improved” Republican advice to freeze federal spending, we would send the economy into a meltdown.

I have to wonder whether Republicans even believe in their own talking points. A spending freeze, really? That’s not what George W. Bush and the Republican majority in Congress did during the previous recession.

I think they may be beating the drum on spending to scare some Democrats out of supporting Obama’s budget proposal. What worries me is the scenario outlined by Open Left user Master Jack:

1. Obama submits a budget with the spending necessary to avoid a depression.

  2. Blue Dogs bitch and bleat and whine.

  3. Obama caves to the blue dogs and waters down his budget.

  4. Depression ensues.

  5. Democrats get clobbered in 2010.

  6. Liberals get blamed.

  This is what the Republicans are trying to make happen. And it wouldn’t stand a prayer of working of not for their blue dog enablers.

Democrats from President Obama on down need to push back hard against the Republicans’ idiotic new line.  

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