Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday Line: Ohio is "GOP's Biggest Success Story" Because of Dem Primary

From Chris Cilliza's Blog "The Fix" on Friday
6. Ohio (R): To date, the Ohio race may be Republicans' biggest success story this cycle. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R) got into the race early and managed to clear the primary field. Since then he has stayed below the radar, presumably to focus on fundraising in order to show a huge amount of money raised in his first quarter report. Democrats, meanwhile, seem headed to a primary between Lt. Gov.Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner -- among others -- that will deplete the eventual winner's resources and allow Portman to define himself in the absence of a Democratic opponent. Democratic strategists argue that the primary isn't a sure thing -- noting that a primary fight dissolved in 2006 in Ohio -- but we don't see either Fisher or Brunner blinking in the near future especially with polling that shows the primary to be a total jump ball. (Previous ranking: 4)

Friday, March 27, 2009

GOP Budget Without Numbers Draws Scorn

UFCW Endorses Brunner for Senate

Whoa! Ohio's largest private union, UFCW, endorses Jennifer Brunner for U.S. Senate instead of Lee Fisher. I had heard that Fisher wasn't the favorite of Ohio's unions, but I'm not sure why. Something that dates back to the 90s is all I heard.

In any case, congrats to the Brunner camp for the endorsement! And H/T Dave at Progress Ohio for the tip.

GOP "Alternate" Budget Contains No Numbers

First we had a lunchtime thought, now we have a lunchtime laugh: House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio's own!) introduced the GOP's "alternate" budget yesterday, and promised it would balance the budget and pay down the national debt while simultaneously cutting taxes even more. How would it do this? No one knows. Because it doesn't contain any numbers. No numbers! At all! How can you have a budget with no numbers? 
Reporters -- mainstream, liberal and conservative -- greeted the Republican document with a collective scoff.

"Are you going to have any further details on this today?" the first asked.

"On what?" asked Boehner.

"There's no detail in here," noted the reporter.

Answered Boehner: "This is a blueprint for where we're going. Are you asking about some other document?"

A second reporter followed up: "What about some numbers? What about the out-year deficit? What about balancing the budget? How are you going to do it?"

"We'll have the alternative budget details next week," promised Boehner. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had wisely departed the room after offering his opening remarks. ("Today's Republican road-to-recovery is the latest in a series of GOP initiatives, solutions and plans," he had offered.)
Predictably, the scorn has been coming down from both left and right. However, decided to take the satrical approach. Have a look. It's hilarious.

Lunchtime Thought: Tim Ryan as Lt. Governor? Seriously?

Over at Ohio Daily Blog, Anthony has just posted a weekend straw poll: who should Gov. Strickland pick as his 2010 running mate? One of the choices is U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-17th).

Seriously? I've heard this rumor before, and I have a hard time buying it. Tim Ryan is widely regarded in Washington as one of the rising stars of the Democratic caucus. He holds a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Why in the world would he leave that behind in order to become Lieutenant Governor?

So he can run for governor in 2014? He can do that without leaving the house...Gov. Strickland himself demonstrated that in 2006. 

Because he's worried about his seat being redistricted out from under him? Well, that is a consideration. Ohio is going to lose two congressional seats in the 2010 reapportionment (according to Election Data Services, Ohio's 17th would be the 432nd seat in Congress based on 2007 census estimates. By the time 2010 rolls around, the Ohio 17th will be long gone) and with John Boicceri, Zack Space and Charlie Wilson currently holding down eastern Ohio congressional seats, chances are pretty good that there will be more Congressman than there are seats in eastern Ohio come 2012. 

So that's a possible scenario, Tim Ryan runs for Lt. Gov. and clears the way for Boicceri to represent the Youngstown area come 2012, and perfectly positions himself for running for governor in 2014. However, it'd be a shame for Ohio to lose that seat on apporpriations. Ohio has had a lot of turnover in its congressional delegation over the last two cycles, and with that comes lose of seniority and influence. When it comes to DC, we need all the help we can get. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

State Stimulus Transportation Projects Announced: Two Projects Absorb Nearly Half of Funds

Gov. Strickland announced today the transportation projects that will receive funds from the stimulus bill. The $775 million allocated for highway projects was spread out to projects in all 12 ODOT districts and 87 of Ohio's 88 counties (Noble County did not submit an eligible project). However, I couldn't help but notice that $370 million of the total will be heading to fund just two projects: $150 million will fund construction of the US 33 Nelsonville Bypass in Hocking and Athens counties in Southeast Ohio, while some $220 million will be funding the desperately needed reconstruction of the I-90 Innerbelt bridge in downtown Cleveland. 

For those who are unaware, the Innerbelt bridge carries I-90 across the Cuyahoga River and into downtown Cleveland. The current bridge is of the same design as the I-35W bridge which collapsed in Minneapolis during the summer of 2007. ODOT structural engineers have said that key cross members of the bridge are at 62% of full strength, and as a result one lane in each direction of the bridge has been closed and trucks have been detoured around it. 

BREAKING: Marilyn Brown Will Announce for SOS This Afternoon

I have just received an anonymous tip that Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown will announce her candidacy for Secretary of State this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One Dude Who Knew What He Was Talking About

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) looks like a freaking claravoyant when you read this quote (H/T Upper Arlington Progressive Action)

Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota,made this prediction in 1999 in a NYTimes article is titled, "Congress Passes Wide-Ranging Bill Easing Bank Laws" about the repeal of Glass-Steagall a Depression-Era law to separate bankers and brokers:

"I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010. I wasn't around during the 1930's or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980's when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness,"

- Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, November 5, 1999.

Byron was one of only 8 Senators to vote against the bill. He was joined by six Democrats: Barbara Boxer of California, Richard H. Bryan of Nevada, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, and Paul Wellstone, and one Republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama,

Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota, said that Congress had ''seemed determined to unlearn the lessons from our past mistakes.''

''Scores of banks failed in the Great Depression as a result of unsound banking practices, and their failure only deepened the crisis,'' Mr. Wellstone said. ''Glass-Steagall was intended to protect our financial system by insulating commercial banking from other forms of risk. It was one of several stabilizers designed to keep a similar tragedy from recurring. Now Congress is about to repeal that economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place.''

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Resigns

What was it I said yesterday about "Bad Boys"?

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul resigned Wednesday afternoon, hours after The Plain Dealer asked him about thousands of dollars of cash given to him by employees.

McFaul's last day will be April 1.

McFaul served as sheriff for 32 years and was reelected to a ninth term in November. He ran into trouble months later, when budget cuts forced him to lay off deputies. But McFaul promoted friends and relatives while laying off others.

Since January, The Plain Dealer has published several stories about how McFaul operates his office. The stories documented his hiring and promoting practices, illegal fundraising, favoritism for friends and political allies. Pay records show he only comes to the office about one day a week.

Tax Cuts Don't Boost Revenues

From Time Magazine, December 6, 2007:

If there's one thing that Republican politicians agree on, it's that slashing taxes brings the government more money. "You cut taxes, and the tax revenues increase," President Bush said in a speech last year. Keeping taxes low, Vice President Dick Cheney explained in a recent interview, "does produce more revenue for the Federal Government." Presidential candidate John McCain declared in March that "tax cuts ... as we all know, increase revenues." His rival Rudy Giuliani couldn't agree more. "I know that reducing taxes produces more revenues," he intones in a new TV ad.

If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to. Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, even devotes a section of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues.

Americans United for Change New Ad Targets Moderate Dems. Will Ohio's Space, Boicceri, Wilson Get Hit?

Americans United for Change has a new ad campaign that will be targeting moderate Democrats who might waiver in their support of President Obama's proposed budget. Looking at Ohio Democrats who might be targeted, the names that jump to the top of the list are Dems who represent congressional districts that voted for John McCain last fall: Zack Space, Charlie Wilson, and John Boicceri. Take a look at the new ad, courtesy of Politico:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cuyahoga County Indictments Coming Soon?

Well we now have two blogs reporting imminent indictments stemming from Operation Air Ball, the FBI corruption probe that surrounds Jimmy Dimora and other Cuyahoga County elected officials. Over at Ohio Daily Blog, Anthony encourages us to "not fear the reaper" by posting a video of the Blue Oyster Cult's classic song. 

I personally am not afraid of the reaper at all. Let's let the FBI clear these guys out. Then the citizens of Cuyahoga County need to do the rest and demand county government reform once and for all. Clearly our current system of county government is inadequate to the challenges of the time. We need the accountability that comes from having an elected representative be responsible for a specific district. We need ONE CEO, not three or more, to truly take executive control of the county government. And most of all, we need resource sharing to reduce the cost of governing a declining population. 

Don't fear the reaper? This seems like a more appropriate song to me...

Is Paula Brooks Our SOS Candidate? If So, I'm Happy

So over at BSB David says that Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks may be the woman Jennifer Brunner is recruiting to replace her as Secretary of State. If this report is correct, it would make me feel much better about Brunner running for the U.S. Senate.

Paula Brooks was elected County Commissioner in 2004 after 8 years of serving on Upper Arlington City Council. That's right, Brooks was a Democrat on the city council of Columbus' iconic old-money, pretentious, tradtionally GOP subrub. Translation: she knows how to get GOP votes.

Her term on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners saw Democrats complete a take over of the board. Franklin County remains one of only a handful of Ohio governments to retain a AAA bond rating - the highest possible - which speaks to the counties' financial management under not only Brooks' leadership, but also under the leadership of now Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy.

In 2004, when I was just starting as a Democratic activist, Brooks gave me a view into how she approaches campaiging for office. "You have to earn each and every vote" I remember her telling me... and I can't think of a more perfect motto for a SOS candidate who will be protecting those votes once in office. 

Ten Trillion and Counting

Tonight on PBS' Frontline, a segment will be aired titled Ten Trillion and Counting. Here is one editorial review of the program (H/T Dave at Progress Ohio). If anyone out there is wondering why it pisses me off so much to only NOW hear GOPers talk about deficit spending as "generational theft" after 8 years of standing by and signing blank checks to George W. Bush, this program will illustrate why:

The makers of “Ten Trillion and Counting,” Tuesday’s “Frontline” onPBS, want to make really, really, really sure that you know that George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, put the country in the economic mess it’s in now. More than half the program is devoted to cataloging the Bush administration’s economic policies, which, as portrayed here, come across as appallingly reckless, a burden that will grind us down for generations to come.

Though it may be accurate, it’s an emphasis that is unfortunate for two reasons. One is that it leaves the smart-sounding commentators assembled here not much time to talk about what matters now: how we get out of the mire. The other is that it could cause anyone who still has any regard for Mr. Bush to tune out the program as just another exercise in Bush-bashing. This is a program everyone needs to watch if the search for solutions is ever going to get beyond the simplistic, accusatory catchphrases that sometimes seem to pass for economic-policy debate in Washington.

The title, of course, refers to the national debt, and the program does a fine job of spelling out just what a daunting situation Mr. Obama has inherited: the federal government was already borrowing huge amounts, and now, as the only entity big enough to revive the gasping economy, it has to borrow more.

There is a succinct history lesson on how the Republican “starve the beast” economic philosophy — if you keep taxes low, government spending will automatically be kept low for lack of money — ran off the rails. And then, the program says, Mr. Bush took things a step further by cutting taxes while starting a war.

“We borrowed money from China to give tax cuts to the best-off people in our society and leave our kids paying the bill for a war that we chose to fight,” says Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning research group. “That was really unprecedented.”

Perhaps Mr. Bush’s main economic failure, based on the evidence here, was that he did not use the attacks of 9/11 to call on Americans to sacrifice, as other wartime presidents had. Instead he expanded spending — on the Iraq war, on prescriptions for the aging — without a template of how to pay for it.

Now it is Mr. Obama who will have to make the case for sacrifice, though the Iraq war is winding down, and the one in Afghanistan is somewhat murky in the public mind. Good luck.

“It’s hard to sell a message of pain to Americans,” says David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal. “It’s hard to tell them that we have lived beyond our means and we’re going to have to spend less money on benefits that you enjoy, and we’re going to have to collect more taxes from you than we do now because we overpromised in the past. That’s a very hard message to deliver when unemployment is low and everybody’s feeling good. It’s an impossible message to deliver when people are frightened that they’re going to lose their houses, lose their jobs and their kids are going to be out of work.”

Monday, March 23, 2009

Brunner: Fisher Can't Win

As David has ably pointed out over at BSB, The Licking County Pro-Active Citizens' Blog has some interesting quotes attributed to Secretary of State, and 2010 U.S. Senate candidate, Jennifer Brunner. 

Some Democrats, including Governor Ted Strickland, have indicated they'd prefer that Brunner stand down so that Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher can be the Democratic nominee without a contested primary.

"Take one for the team?," Brunner responded.  "Even if the other guy can't win?  I don't think that makes sense."

And as for party leaders who worry that her Senate ambitions put in jeopardy Democratic control of the remapping of state legislative districts after 2010, Brunner also thinks such fears are unfounded.

She's already at work recruiting a strong woman candidate to replace her as Secretary of State if she moves on to the U.S. Senate, Brunner said.

"I have no doubt we'll hold on to that seat," she said.

Couple of interesting points here. One, I don't see a basis for Brunner to say that Fisher can't win the seat. The polls from Quinnipiac bear out that Fisher and Brunner are in equal position against Rob Portman at this time. If anything, Fisher polls slightly better. 

Two, I think Brunner owes it to Ohio Democrats everywhere to seek the best possible candidate for SOS, no matter their gender, since her candidacy does put at risk Democratic control of the apportionment board. Obviously, Brunner would have the advantage of incumbency if she were to run for SOS in 2010, and her replacement won't have that luxury in a race against Slick Jonny Husted.

Third, I understand things are heating up quickly, but I had hoped we could wait a little longer before lobbing pot shots. This primary has already caused a major dislocation in Ohio's progressive blogosphere, and we don't need it to spread to our party structure at a time when we are still trying to heal from the Clinton-Obama primary of a year ago (yes, it was only one year ago),

The Obama Generation

From Political Wire:
A new Democracy Corps poll shows the Republican Party is "growing more and more irrelevant to America's young people. In marked contrast, young people's support for the President has expanded beyond the 66 percent support they gave him last November."

"Republicans struggle among young people for a very specific reason. At a time when young people are paying close attention to politics and when so many are struggling economically, even more so than older generations, the Republicans simply do not speak to the reality of their lives or to the issues important to them. This perception stands in marked contrast to their reaction to Barack Obama."

Wall Street Loves Obama Plan For Bad Assets. GOPers Run for Exits

Since President Obama was sworn in on January 20th, he has maintained approval ratings between 60-70 percent. So, the GOP fringe, led by Faux News, turned to the performance of the stock market as a way to insist that President Obama was doing a bad job. Remember this?
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
The Dow Knows All
Daily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things w/ Demetri MartinPolitical Humor

Well, how do you think the GOP feels about this? "Stocks spike on bank plan" is the headline on CNN Money right now. Can anyone else hear the footsteps of the GOP running scared?

Signs of GOP Sanity Part II: Cuyahoga Falls City Council Supports HB 3

Maybe I need to go have another cup of coffee. This is the second sign of GOP sanity I've seen this morning.

In the Akron suburb of Cuyahoga Falls, home to longtime GOP mayor Don Robart, the city council will today consider a resolution, introduced by a GOPer, in support of House Bill 3, which would declare a six month moratorium on foreclousres in the State of Ohio, and provide Ohio courts authority to modify mortgage terms. A quick scan by my trained eyes reveals not a single GOP co-sponsor of this bill. 

Is the GOP being shocked to sanity by Democratic control in Columbus and Washington DC? That would be great victory for our country.

WSJ Columnist: Obama's No Socialist

Signs of sanity in the GOP: a columnist for the Murdock Wall Street Journal states the obvious: President Obama is no socialist. 

Ever since President Barack Obama released the budget last month, we have been hearing a fusillade of criticism claiming that the president, contrary to previous advertising, is not a centrist, but a "leftie" intent on leading the country down the path of socialism.

Let's see. Socialism means public ownership and control of businesses, right? So which industries does the president propose to nationalize?

Banking? Well, no. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner has made it clear that he opposes nationalizing banks, despite much outcry from the political left -- and even some from the right -- to do just that. Yes, it's a valid criticism that we are still waiting for Mr. Geithner's banking plan. But the budget commits an outrageous act of accounting honesty by including a $750 billion allowance as "a reserve for further efforts to stabilize the financial system." Given the popularity of bank bailouts, that was a courageous thing to do.

What about health care? Doesn't Mr. Obama want "socialized medicine"? No. He wants to reform the current system so that it costs less and covers more people. Disgracefully, the United States is the only advanced nation in the world that fails to cover every citizen -- even though we spend vastly more on health care than other nations.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NOW GOP Wants Redistricting Reform

After doing nothing during 16 years of complete control over Ohio's state government, Ohio GOP leaders now are all about the cause of redistricting reform. Why? Do you think maybe it might have a little something to do with the fact that Democratic control of the apportionment board that will redraw our state legislative districts after the 2010 census is a distinct possiblity?

GOP State Senators "Slick Jonny" Husted and Kevin Coughlin have introduced their own redistricting reform measures. Since Ohio's current apportionment board makeup is written into our state constitution, any proposal to reform or change the makeup of the apportionment board would require a vote at the ballot box in either November 2009 or 2010.

However, I just can't help but ask: where were these reform proposals in 1999, when the GOP was assured of controlling the apprtionmnet board? If redistricting reform was of such an importance to you, why didn't you support the Reform Ohio Now proposals back in 2005? 

I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning. Anyone who thinks these proposals are anything except ways to gear up for a run for Secretary of State, and a run against Jennifer Brunner's work in that office, is crazy.