Right to target SEIU in war against ACORN

The Congressional Democrats’ stampede to join Republican efforts to defund ACORN was stupid on many levels, as Paul Rosenberg explained in this post. Among other things, Rosenberg argued, Democrats empowered and validated the GOP’s strategy of demonization. They may have thought cutting off ACORN’s funding would cause Republicans to stop exploiting the issue, but of course, the opposite is true.

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Two ways of looking at today's health care reform news

The White House is making a huge deal out of a commitment to introduce cost-saving measures from “the presidents of Pharma, Advamed (device manufacturers), the American Medical Association (doctors), the American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and SEIU’s Health Care project.”

The White House arranged an urgent Sunday-afternoon conference call with reporters to break the news, and President Obama went on tv on Monday to talk about it. (Click here for the transcript of Obama’s televised remarks.)

Unlike the 1970s, when stakeholders’ promises to hold down costs derailed legislative action on health care, Obama made clear today that the current agreement on savings is “complementary to and is going to be completely compatible with a strong, aggressive effort to move health care reform through here in Washington [….]”

It’s too early to know how significant today’s announcement will be, so I’m laying out the cases for optimism and pessimism after the jump.

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Events coming up this week

Happy Spring, Bleeding Heartland readers! There’s a lot happening this week, and I’ve posted the events after the jump.

Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something good happening that I’ve left out.

If you live within striking distance of Iowa City, there’s a benefit for the Iowa Renewable Energy Association tonight at the Mill (details below).

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New PAC vows to hold Democratic incumbents accountable

That’s the mission of the Accountability Now PAC:

“We need members of Congress to leave the bubble of Washington, D.C. and stand with their constituents,” said Jane Hamsher, founder of Firedoglake.com and co-founder of Accountability Now. “We need members of Congress to ask the tough questions about continued Wall Street bailouts that reward the donor class, two wars without seeming end, the ceaseless assault on our civil liberties, and other issues that separate the citizenry from the DC cocoon.”

“Accountability Now is an organization built around a single guiding principle: challenging the institutional power structures that make it so easy, so consequence-free for Congress to open up the government coffers for looting by corporate America while people across the country are losing their jobs and their basic constitutional rights while unable to afford basic health care,” said Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com and co-founder of Accountability Now. “Accountability Now believes that members of Congress in both parties need to hear from their constituents, and that nothing focuses the mind of a politician on listening to citizens better than a primary.”

“Accountability Now PAC will recruit, coordinate, and support primary challenges against vulnerable Congressional incumbents who have become more responsive to corporate America than to their constituents,” said Accountability Now’s new Executive Director, Jeff Hauser. “By empowering the grassroots, Accountability Now will help create the political space needed to enable President Obama to make good on the many progressive policies he campaigned on – such as getting out of Iraq, ensuring access to affordable health care for every man, woman and child, restoring our constitutional liberties and ending torture.”

In 2007, grassroots activists banded together to oust Al Wynn out of office, and it shook House Democrats to their core. Similarly, we learned in 2006 how even a primary challenge that does not win could change behavior, as Jane Harman has been more accountable to the concerns of her constituents after a tough primary race against Marcy Winograd.

Out of these recent lessons, diverse and politically powerful groups have decided to support Accountability Now’s efforts, such as MoveOn, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), DailyKos, ColorOfChange.org, and Democracy for America, 21st Century Democrats and BlogPAC.

On principle, I agree with the goals of this PAC. Like some guy once said, “the system in Washington is rigged and our government is broken. It’s rigged by greedy corporate powers to protect corporate profits. […] We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats […]”

However, I won’t get excited about the Accountability Now PAC until I learn more about the criteria it will use to determine which Democratic incumbents are “bad enough” to be primaried, and which primary challengers are “good enough” to be endorsed.

To my knowledge, Democracy for America was the only organization in the Accountability Now PAC that helped Ed Fallon in last year’s primary in Iowa’s third district (a D+1 district represented by Blue Dog Leonard Boswell).

How would someone thinking about a primary challenge know whether he or she is likely to get full support, like Donna Edwards in MD-04, or almost nothing, like Fallon?

Speaking of Democracy for America, it’s not too late to RSVP for their training academy in Des Moines on February 28 and March 1. Come meet noneed4thneed while you learn to be a more effective grassroots activist.

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Latham - Unions

In looking over Latham's latest FEC Report, there is a $5,000 contribution from the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union.  WTF?  That is the max a PAC can give in the Primary.  Why are they supporting him over any of the DEMS running?  Is he that pro union?

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