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The GOP vs. the Middle and Lower Class

This is a personal guest post by AV Communications Intern John Phillips

This is clearly another Republican overreach to attempt to "save" us all from the so-called "Nanny-state." Governor LePage through Schneider's assistance are seeking to eliminate Medicaid coverage for those aged 19 to 20 years old, tighten income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scale back Medicaid access for elderly residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits.

Do these people not know anyone who has benefited from this program? Or are they just completely heartless and uncaring about the plight of the poor and elderly? What do they propose these people do to make up for the lost assistance? Perhaps they would like to offer the same advice the the GOP presidential nominee offered: "Borrow  money from your parents..." If only life could be that easy for all of us.

Having personally been unemployed at the age of 20 and in need of a life or death surgery, I know all too well the benefits of having access to this assistance program. I had just moved to a new city and was in the process of transferring jobs (a job without paid benefits) when my appendix ruptured. I had no money saved up. It was used for moving. I had no insurance nor made enough money to be able to pay for my own. But this surgery was needed or else I would have died. The hospital provided the necessary surgery for me and enrolled me in North Carolina's Medicaid program to help me get back on my feet as I started my new job. Without such assistance, where would I have ended up?

The bottom line is that people who seek to consistantly take away assistance programs from those less fortunate simply do not care about the needs and struggles of the lower and middle class. Cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other government assistance programs is what the GOP of 2012 want to impose on us all. You have to ask yourself, do you really want to vote for a party that will leave you with nothing and nowhere to turn to when you absolutely need it?

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The GOP: A collection of broken campaign promises and obstruction to any real progress.

Politifact gives the best quick run down as to which party is moving the country forward and which party is holding us back.

Currently, the GOP has kept 11 of their campaign promises. Ironically enough, that is the same number of promises that they have broken to their constituents. Conversely, President Obama has kept over 190 promises that he campaigned on and still has over 100 campaign pledges in the works.

Taking a look at which promises the Republicans have been so keen on keeping, one can easily realize that they have held true to Senator Mitch McConnell's pledge that "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction. Obama promised to close Guantanomo Bay and Republicans promised to keep it open. Republcians won. Obama campaigned on passing cap and trade legislation and again Republicans put up their scare tactics and their road blocks. And we wonder why this is the biggest "Do Nothing Congress" since 1948.

It's clear that the lack of bipartisanship from both sides of the aisle contributes to the lack of progress, but Republicans continue to be unyielding and uncompromising on almost everything. In fact, since taking control of the House the GOP majority has only come to the center to work with the Democrats on 4 issues while President Obama has worked with Republicans on over 70 issues since 2008.

This election shouldn't be about socialists vs. birthers or even tea partiers vs. progressives. It should be about getting this country moving in the right direction again. Having a Democratic majority in both houses moved the country forward. Now, all we have is gridlock.

Which way will you vote in November? Moving America forward or constant stagnation? 


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The King Maker

Does Maine hold the key to who controls the Senate?

As both political parties battle it out for control of the U.S. Senate, one man may be the deciding factor in tipping the balance of power one way or the other: Angus King, the former governor of Maine now running as an Independent. King is running to replace retiring Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME).  With Republicans trying to take over the Senate, a 50-50 split is not outside the realm of possibility. If King wins, his choice of which party to back could decide who controls the upper house.

King, with his high name recognition, high approval ratings, and double digit lead in the polls, is nearly a shoo-in to win the upcoming election. But the question remains, which party will he caucus with? Unfortunately, only King knows the answer to this question as he repeatedly refuses to answer it to reporters and voters alike. Even his own political history does not reveal enough to us, as he voted for George W. Bush in 2004 but then voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

Should King decide to caucus with the Democrats and the number of seats between the parties is split 50-50, the vice president will then have the deciding vote within the chamber. This race not only highlights the importance of keeping the power of the Senate, but also keeping the Executive Branch as well.

Republicans will be funneling huge sums of money into the state of Maine to attempt to keep control of the seat. Their candidate, Charlie Summers, is the current Secretary of State. He and the Republican establishment are attempting to portray King as a “closet liberal.” National leaders on the Democratic side show practically no interest in their candidate, civil rights lawyer Cynthia Dill, so they are expected to spend very little in this race.

Angus King

Independent Senate Candidate Angus King.

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Wisconsin and the Ryan Bounce

The race appears to be tightening for the Presidential election in Wisconsin. Or does it?

In the latest Marquette poll done in the state, Obama was only leading Romney 49%-46%, down from the 5-point lead he held in the same poll before the announcement of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate. At first glance, it would appear that the Badger State holds quite a bit of love for their hometown boy. Ryan starts off his honeymoon phase with a 41% favorability rating.

However, what’s more interesting to note is the extremely high percentage of those who hold an unfavorable view of the Congressman: 34%. This is the highest unfavorable rating for a running mate since the selection of Dan Quayle. And as all political analysts know this number always climbs higher as we get closer to Election Day.

How long will the brief Ryan bounce help Romney in the end? Our guess is not very.

Polling Data

Related State: 
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Post-Election State Summit -- It's Coming!

It's almost that time of year, again -- the America Votes State Summit will be held December 11 and 12 in Washington D.C.

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"Nuns on the Bus" Discussion with Sister Simone Campbell

Last week, America Votes was extremely proud to welcome Sister Simone Campbell, who joined us for discussion of the much-publicized "Nuns on the Bus" movement and national tour. Formed in the aftermath of the House's passage of the "Ryan Budget," "Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness" began a 15-day national bus tour that featured stops in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia - before concluding in Washington D.C. earlier this month.

In recent weeks, Sister Campbell has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs to further the movement's cause, including The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, CBS Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, Current TV, and NPR.

The Nuns on the Bus have made it their mission to highlight the harmful cuts in the "Ryan Budget," cuts that would primarily affect those struggling at the economic margins throughout our nation. Sister Simone compassionately promoted what she refers to as the "Faithful Budget," a fair, moral alternative.

Explaining the debilitating program cuts of the "Ryan Budget," Sister Simone reasoned, "It would take churches, temples, synagogues and other places of worship, who facilitate to the poor, about $50,000 worth of fundraising every year for 10 years to make up what the "Ryan Budget" cuts would eliminate in one year."

As such, the Nuns on the Bus not only visited ministries to highlight the critical work of catholic sisters, but also congressional offices, where Sister Simone periodically "scolded" Congressmen and -women for supporting Congressman Ryan's proposed budget. She also hosted what she calls "friendraisers." Similar to fundraisers, "friendraisers" build support by bringing together people of like minds and passions, specifically with respect to the "Ryan Budget."

Ultimately, Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus encountered much success and warm support all around. Sister Simone even had the opportunity to privately meet with Congressman Ryan, a meeting which left her feeling quite positive about the movement's efforts.

Looking ahead, the work of the Nuns on the Bus is far from complete. While they had to turn in the bus, car magnets are being created to sustain the momentum. Sister Campbell is also planning to attend the Democratic National Convention in September, where she plans to lead several workshops at St. Peters Church. The workshops promise to keep attention squarely on Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus. One series promises a general overview of the movement, while another offers the more specific "Mind the Gap, Mend the Gap" presentation.

Once again, America Votes would like to thank Sister Simone Campbell for her participation in yesterday's conference call. In a political world often defined by partisanship and gamesmanship, her compassion is not only refreshing, but also much-needed as we weigh the real consequences of various bills and policies.


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Supreme Court Delivers Healthcare Victory

A surprise Healthcare victory pushes the November election in a new direction for both sides.


Last Thursday was a great day for healthcare as the Supreme Court ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is constitutional. A huge victory for the President, Democrats, and the American people.

The Supreme Court ruled that under the commerce clause the individual healthcare mandate could be upheld as a tax. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. delivered the deciding vote in 5-4 ruling. Stating that, “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” he wrote. “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.”

The mandate puts in place guidelines that help all Americans obtain access to healthcare by 2014, which will finally provide people access to the affordable coverage and preventative care measures that they deserve, and rights they should have.

The coming months will be very important as Democrats will face a battle against a conservative base that will be motivated to turn out at the polls for Mitt Romney, who is running on an anti-Affordable Care Act position, that if you elect him he will kill the entire law. Additionally, the federal government will also face opposition from certain Republican Governors who are reluctant to start putting in place initiates for the healthcare law until after November.

As opposition still remains, the road ahead will be sure to have some bumps as the details are put into place. But, today we can celebrate because 30 million people will now have access to healthcare, and that victory is a proud one.

America Votes and our partner organizations are very proud to celebrate this victory.

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A Win for the American People!

The Supreme Court today ruled the entire Affordable Care Act constitutional.

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Senate Hearing Takes on Deceptive Voting Practices

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard arguments on legislation that hopes to limit deceptive voter practices in federal elections.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on S. 1994 which deals with the use of deceptive practices and voter intimidation tactics in federal elections. The hearing presented testimony on whether this bill would help limit deceptive voting practices and voter disenfranchisement, or effectively limit constitutional free speech and political speech.

The hearing brought up many issues of voter intimidation and deceptive practice that have plagued elections for years, and notably highlighted some of the most surprising and sickening voter deception practices since 2008. Some of these practices included robo calls telling voters to stay home, that the election date was changed, that there polling location has changed, and text messages saying the election had been postponed. In some instances calls were made that told students that if they voted then their parents would not be able to claim them as dependents, as well as threats of arrest to voters at the polls if they tried to vote and had outstanding parking tickets. Practices like this are becoming more widespread and often target youth voters, minority voters, and naturalized citizen voters.

S. 1994 would help to prevent some of these premeditated and intentionally deceptive voter disenfranchisement tactics that confuse an already-frustrated electorate. Access to the vote should not be met with deceptive practice, because there is an exception to malicious intent in free speech, something the Supreme Court has argued time and again.

Civic participation should not be hindered by fear tactics and deceptive practice, hidden behind the argument of free speech. People need to have trust in the electorial system again, and one way to do that is by preventing these practices.

Hopefully the Senate will take S. 1994 up for a vote, and these disenfranchisement tactics will be stopped in future elections.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Montana's Challenge to Citizens United

The U.S. Supreme Court asserts Citizens United applies to federal, state, and local elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Montana's resistance to Citizens United in a 5-4 ruling and expanded the ruling to include state and local elections.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a 2010 decision that struck down federal limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions. The decision stated, "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruptions," and therefore, "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations."

However, the Montana Supreme Court disagreed. American Trade Parternship v. Bullock (2011) considered the scope of the Citizens United ruling. Montana State Attorney General Steve Bullock argued that Citizens United applied only to federal elections, not state or local elections. Montana, supported by 22 states, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) argued that Montana Corrupt Practices Act, the law in question, should be upheld due to Montana's history and the belief that independent political expenditures lead to corruption.

As of Monday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court officialy struck down Montana's challenge to Citizens United by a 5-4 majority. The majority wrote, "[t]here can be no serious doubt" that Citizens United applied to Montana's law. Further, "Montana's arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case."

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld its decision that corporations and unions - in every state - can spend limitlessly in the upcoming elections.

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