Tag Archives: Steven Horsford

Republican Disintegration

GOP Elephant BrokenFor years now those of us on the left hand side of the political spectrum have endured the “Democrats in Disarray” narrative.  Every spat, from the serious to the silly, was described by the platitudinous pundits as yet another example of the Democratic Party being unable to organize all the critters inside the tent.  “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line,” we’ve been told.  However, at least we didn’t tear up the tent.

Nothing illustrates the disarray and mixed messaging quite so thoroughly, if inelegantly, as the current news in regard to the unaccompanied children showing up from Central America who may be seeking asylum or refugee status.

Where is the Pro-Family Party?  Good luck locating it at the moment.  On one hand, we have Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) telling us that ‘Children are the Future,’ and the little fetus in the womb is entitled to life, liberty, and property [C&L] but, if the zygote grows and gets born then evidently all bets are off.  On the other, a  sheriff in Arizona was only too happy to tip off angry protestors to the possibility that some of the “actuated zygotes” were on their way to a boys’ ranch. [C&L] There’s nothing that says “Pro-Family” quite like facilitating the activities of screaming xenophobes who want to block  buses loaded with children, and shake misspelled signs in their faces.

Why do children come here?  Maria’s story is compelling and chilling.  It’s very easy to sling generalities such as “illegal immigration is illegal,” but takes more intellectual effort to comprehend why an environment in which a youngster is forced to sell contraband drugs, is raped for the amusement of drug gang members, who has been threatened with death, [C&L] or has seen a sibling shot and killed, [NYT] is analogous to a war zone in which the police can’t be expected to help. [DoS]  Exactly how is it “Pro-Family” or “Pro-Life” to demand that (1) children be separated from their parents or (2) children be immediately shipped back into the violent chaos without a hearing?

Republicans have pulled every excuse from every page of the book to absolve themselves from the responsibility for delaying comprehensive immigration reform.  Remember when they wanted to “secure the border first?”  That would be the border with Mexico, Canada not so much.  Then the statistics came in:

“U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions totaled 420,789 nationwide in FY 2013, 16 percent above FY2012, but 42 percent below FY 2008 levels. While Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexicans in FY 2013 remained largely unchanged from FY2012, apprehensions of individuals from countries other than Mexico, predominately individuals from Central America, increased by 55 percent. ” [DHS]

That’s APPREHENSIONS, stopping migration at the border.  While immigration from Mexico declined, migration from Central America increased.

Then there’s the matter of Border Patrol staffing, which at the present numbers some 21,000 BP agents, who are engaged in “line watch and sign cutting,” “traffic checkpoints,” “marine patrols,” horse and bicycle patrols,” and anti-drug trafficking operations.  [DHS] This is enhanced by funding from Operation Stonegarden

“In FY 2013, $55 million in Operation Stonegarden funding was provided to states to enhance border security cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies. States that received funding in FY 2013 included Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas on the southern border; Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington on the northern border, and Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico on the coastal borders.” [DHS]

Increasing apprehensions, increasing the number of Border Patrol Agents, declining numbers from Mexico. Increased assistance to state, local, and tribal governments — and “IT” still is insufficient for the xenophobic bigot brigade.

We could build a fence? A bigger fence. A taller fence? A stronger fence.  Just about a week ago one Pastor told us that Jesus of Nazareth would have wanted a fence.

“What we are doing by having these unsecured borders is we are enticing children and mothers to make this dangerous journey,” the Christian leader added. “Yes, we want to show compassion to the children who are here, but the most compassionate thing we can do is secure the borders.”

Because in the analogical world of this mega-church reverend not having a Really Really Strong Fence is like not having one at all around your backyard swimming pool, in other words the Pastor is telling us that the United States is reduced to being one giant Attractive Nuisance?

It seems not to have occurred to some people that for every 40 foot fence there can be manufactured a 41 foot ladder.   So, what exactly IS an “unsecured border?”

The Administration increased border patrol operations — that wasn’t enough to secure the border, the Administration increased surveillance operations to secure the border, and that wasn’t enough.  Perhaps the Photo-Op from the right wing, compliments of a tweet from Fox News personality Sean Hannity is the image of a secure border?

Hannity Border Patrol

Of course the image hints at a pertinent question, the one raised by the Kansas City Star:  “Is this really the image we want to portray to the rest of the country — and the rest of the world — about how we handle humanitarian crises in other parts of the world?

No, the Pro-Life, Pro-Family Party will not be satisfied until the southern border is militarized — the bigger the guns the better, and mobilized — the more agents, Guardsmen, and members of the Armed Forces the better; except, that is, for the urging of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to get the ball rolling.  Until then — more excuses.

The “security” topic is getting to be dangerous territory for the absolutists and exclusionists so it’s time to change the excuse. The latest rationalization is “we can’t trust the President.”

Speaker John Boehner trotted out this line back in February to excuse Republican intransigence on Comprehensive Immigration Policy reform. [TP]  So, illegal entry is at a 40 year low, and we have more Border Patrol Agents than ever, but now…. There comes a point where the old saw become a truism: Those people who are good at making excuses usually aren’t good at anything else.

The Nevada Representatives from the GOP side are exemplars of the disarray in the Republican Party when it comes to immigration reform.

From Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2): “Amodei, R-Carson City., said he still believes that the House should take up reform that includes a way for many undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship by learning English and American civics, paying back taxes and fines and waiting more than a decade.” [RGJ]  That said, you will not find Rep. Amodei’s name on the discharge petition for H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill.  In short, the Congressman appears to be all for immigration policy reform — except when he isn’t.

Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) pitched his version of an immigration reform bill back in December 2013.  Back home with the zealots he faced the crowd, one member of which said we don’t have a broken immigration system, “We just need to enforce the law.” [WaPo]   Heck’s bill went nowhere, and we don’t see his signature on the discharge petition for H.R. 15 either.  Representatives Titus (D-NV1) and Horsford (D-NV4) have both signed the discharge petition for H.R. 15.

Nothing says disarray like politicians declaring their support for immigration policy reform, in line with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, [TP] [WaPo] while steadfastly refusing to bring the bill to do so to the floor of the House; and, offering one excuse after another to avoid the prospect of a real live vote on the legislation. It’s ironic that the two Democratic Party Representatives in Congress from Nevada are the two supporting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce call for immigration policy reform, while the two Republicans are still in stall mode.

Meanwhile, back in the not-so-family-friendly environment in Honduras, 500 who attempted to reach the U.S. came back as deportees, the reaction from Honduras:

“This is the first time in Honduras we serve such deportation” told the media the first lady, Ana García Hernández; who was present during the arrival of the deportados. For his part, the Executive Director of Private Institutions Coordinator for Girls, Boys, Teens, Youth and Their Rights (COIPRODEN) Wilmer Velasquez explained that the newcomers “show feelings among including impotence, frustration and despair and who traveled to fulfill a dream and returned with nothing.” [Lainfo.Es]

What is Pro-Family? Pro-Life? Or, even Pro-American, about leaving people feeling impotent, frustrated, and full of despair?

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Filed under House of Representatives, Human Rights, Immigration, Politics

Not So Safe, Not So Sound: Amodei, Heck and H.R. 3193

Occupy Wall Street bankersRepublicans have never liked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Nor have the members of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives stopped trying to find ways to gut the powers of the Bureau.  A voted taken on February 11, 2014 is an indication of that opposition.

H.Res. 475: “Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3193) to amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to strengthen the review authority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council of regulations issued by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, providing for proceedings from Feb. 13, 2014 – Feb. 24, 2014.” [rc 59] (223-193) Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) voting in favor of the bill; Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV) and Stephen Horsford (D-NV) voting in opposition.

And what would H.R. 3193 do?

(1) “Amends the Consumer Financial Protection Act to authorize the Chairperson of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to issue a stay of, or set aside, any regulation issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) upon the affirmative vote of the majority of Council members (currently, two-thirds), excluding the Director of the Bureau.”

In short, any and all regulations issued by the CFPB could be “stayed,” or dismissed on the vote of only a simple majority of the FSOC.  Nothing like making it easier for the banking lobby to get pesky consumer protection rules set aside by reducing the number of votes on the FSOC from 2/3rds to a simple majority?

(2) “Requires the Council, upon the petition of a member agency of the Council, to set aside a final regulation prescribed by the CFPB if the Council decides that such regulation is inconsistent with the safe and sound operations of U.S. financial institutions. (Currently the Council is merely authorized, upon petition, to set aside a final regulation if it would put the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system or the stability of the U.S. financial system at risk.)” (emphasis added)

Now we get to the meat of the matter. What is “safe and sound” and why is it not so safe and not so sound?  First and foremost — “safe and sound” is a shorthand term for PROFITABILITY.

In short, what the House Republicans are proposing is that any regulation issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which impinges on the PROFITABILITY of a lending institutions can be dismissed upon the “petition” (read ‘gripe’) of a member agency of the council — including the Comptroller of the Currency, an agency which did not exactly cover itself in glory during the time prior to the collapse of the financial markets in 2008.   But wait… H.R. 3193 is even a greater boon to the bankers.

(3) “Repeals: (1) the prohibition against Council set-aside of a regulation after expiration of a specified time period, and (2) mandatory dismissal of a petition if the Council has not issued a decision within such time period. Requires the CFPB Director, when prescribing a rule under federal consumer financial laws, to consider its impact upon the financial safety or soundness of an insured depository institution.”

There’s no time limit.  There’s no ‘statute of limitations’ after which the FSOC can declare a regulation made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau null and void?  Again, the old profitability test comes to the fore.

So, once more with feeling — Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) has voted in favor of a bill which would allow the banking sector to put the kibosh on any CFPB rule which might jeopardize the PROFITABILITY of a bank.   This, from a Representative of a state with the second highest foreclosure rate in the country — 1 in every 533 homes — where the national average is 1 in every 1,058. [LVRJ]  Not to mention the fact that the Nevada Attorney General just settled with Lender Processing Inc. over the ‘robo-signing’ mess created in our mortgage market. [News4]

Nothing says “I love you” to the financial sector more than saying, “Don’t worry about that pesky CFPB, the FSOC can overturn, dismiss, or stay any regulation which puts a crimp in your Safety and Soundness Profitability.

But Wait the GOP isn’t Quite Finished!

“H.R. 3193 makes necessary reforms to an unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Specifically, the bill replaces the existing director who has sole responsibility for carrying out the CFPB’s mission with a Commission comprised of the Fed’s Vice Chair for Supervision and four members appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.” [GOP HR 3193]

So, we would have an agency without a director — instead ‘governed’ by a committee, the members of which are subject to filibusters by the U.S. Senate.   It took ‘only’ two years to get the Senate Republicans to stop blocking the appointment of one director [HuffPo], imagine how much time could be consumed trying to get four commissioners selected, nominated, and confirmed?

“The bill eliminates the CFPB’s current exemption from the budgetary process and subjects the CFPB to the regular authorization and appropriations process.[2]  It also reins in CFPB salaries by requiring the CFPB to pay its employees according to the GS pay scale like other federal agencies.”

That second part is a nice touch, however it translates to putting the funding of the CFPB under Congressional control.  The CFPB is outside the Congressional claws and inside the protection of the Federal Reserve so that its education and enforcement missions are NOT subject to the whims of Congressional winds.

Once again, nothing says “I Love Bankers” more succinctly than allowing their allies in Congress to jam up the leadership of a regulatory agency and to let Congress bring enforcement to a halt by chopping the agency’s budget.

And… Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) are  all for this?

On February 27, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.  Representatives Amodei (R-NV) and Heck (R-NV) voted in favor of the passage of H.R. 3193 [rc 85]  Representatives Horsford (D-NV) and Titus (D-NV) voted against this latest assault on the Dodd Frank Act provisions.

Background Information: Apuzzo, Bush Administration Weakened Lending Regulations, HuffPo, December 2008.   “Speed Kills,” Desert Beacon, December 16, 2011.  CFPB not out of the woods yet, WaPo, February 27, 2014.  “Cordray Confirmed,” HuffPo, July, 2013.   CFPB, Mission and Budget, 2014.

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Filed under banking, consumers, Economy, financial regulation, Politics

Branding Women

BrandThat GOP rebranding effort is made all the more difficult by Republicans at various levels of government who are getting in their own way.  The problems are visible in economic issues, as well as social ones.

Home Economics

H.R. 377, the Paycheck Fairness Act, is currently stalled in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and there’s a discharge petition to blast it back into consideration on the House Floor.  Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1) and Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV4) have signed the petition, as have another 191 members of Congress as of Thursday, April 25, 2013.  Noticeably absent are the signatures of Nevada Representatives Heck and Amodei, both Republicans.

The bill simply states that wage rate differentials are to be based on experience, education, and training — not merely on gender.  It also provides for collecting statistics on employment and the publication of the data.   The part which usually causes groans, moans, and predictable grimaces from Republicans might be:

Revises the prohibition against employer retaliation for employee complaints. Prohibits retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee in response to a complaint or charge, or in furtherance of a sex discrimination investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, or an investigation conducted by the employer.

Makes employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions liable in a civil action for either compensatory or (except for the federal government) punitive damages.  [CRS]

The standard GOP response to these kinds of provisions is (1) The Trial Lawyers are Coming, The Trial Lawyers are Coming; and, (2) Onerous Government Infringements on Your Liberty! Your Freedom! Both are nonsense.

The problem isn’t anything new; consider this from 2010:

Women earned less than men in all 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the Census Bureau in 2007 — even in fields in which their numbers are overwhelming. Female secretaries, for instance, earn just 83.4% as much as male ones.

This has economic implications for 50.8% of the American population, or 49.5% of the Nevada population — women.  It also has evident connections to Nevada’s median household income ($55,553) in which the female’s contribution to household revenue is, on average, worth about 75 cents of every dollar contributed by the male partner.   IF members of the Republican Party are serious about improving the micro-economics of the average Nevada home, then insuring pay equity would be a good place to start.  The Discharge Petition needs 218 signatures to reach the floor — the ‘John Hancocks’ of Congressmen Heck and Amodei would be helpful.

Home Not-S0-Sweet-Home

Under the convenient rhetoric of “Liberty” and “Big Government,” lie some inconvenient attitudes on display from various levels of Republican leadership.

It’s Big Government if gender pay equity solutions are under discussion. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to allow government intrusion into private family decisions like contraception and birth control.  Heaven Forefend, a family should debate abortion options in private!   The Republican Party seems to have no problems at all when it comes to calling in the Big Government to prohibit abortion procedures.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a Fetal Personhood Bill, S. 583, on March 14, 2013, under the terms of which a fetus would have 14th Amendment rights.  As noted previously, could a fetus decide that the economic circumstances of the family to which it was about to be born were insufficient for its grand plans and sue for emancipation?  Personally, I would like to see a fetus challenge Citizens United.

Anti-Choice bills have also been introduced by Representative Diane Black (R-TN) HR 940 and HR 217;  by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) HR 447;  Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) HR 732; Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) HR 61; Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) HR 1091; Senator David Vitter (R-LA) S. 138;  Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) HR 1122;  Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) HR 23; Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK) S. 154; Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) S. 356;  and the list goes on.

Anyone operating on the comforting delusion that the newly formed 113th Congress will be less focused on anti-choice legislation and more intent on JOBS and bills to improve the economic situation of American families will be sorely disappointed.

The GOP still hasn’t quite found its footing on Women’s Issues.  Perhaps this could be because it hasn’t quieted those voices within it ranks for whom women are variously mobile wombs, ranting radicals, or irresponsible sows at the public trough.

Leading GOP spokesperson Rush Limbaugh’s memorable misogynistic rants in regard to Sandra Fluke’s testimony on behalf of women who need contraceptive medication to avoid complications of ovarian disorders are echoed by an Albuquerque Republican who called a minimum wage increase advocate “names” on social media — and who later said (a lá Limbaugh) he was “just joking.” [ABJ] [TP]

Opposed to sexual violence, and want to “Take Back The Night?” Then expect some moron, such as the notable example in Arizona, who preaches that “Women Are Asking For It.” [TP] At Dartmouth sexual assault protesters were threatened with rape.  [TP] Or, call for police assistance too often to report domestic violence?  You could be facing a police department pressuring your landlord to evict you.  [TP]  Had enough of hearing about Steubenville, OH? There’s a new example from Michigan. [TP]  There’s a thread running through all these unfortunate incidents.

Women are undeserving of full consideration as human beings.  They are responsible for the exercise of male transgressions.  They are prey for the predators and it’s the woman’s fault if…if almost anything.  It’s a woman’s fault if a man is unsatisfied…in nearly all realms of human endeavor.   Can’t establish a meaningful long term relationship with the fair sex? Blame the Femi-Nazis?  Can’t get and hold a job? Blame the radical feminists for demanding employment?  Can’t understand the point a person is making about medical conditions or employment situations?  Call names! Like, “Radical Bitch.”  Want a simplistic solution to the complex personal issues involved in family planning? Just rail about abortion.

So long as Congress turns its attention to abortion more often than it does to women’s health, as long as radio ranters validate the misogyny of the disgruntled, so long as corporate interests can insert their anti-labor message into the parlance of economic discussions of wage rate equity — we will have trouble addressing the problems facing American families.  The GOP is still branding women, instead of rebranding their own party.

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Filed under Economy, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights