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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:40 AM

No, this is not how you "Fix Congress."

It's bad enough when I get RW memes from my clueless Teabagger relatives. But to read them here on DU is both depressing and frustrating.

First off, despite the popularity of a graphic meme recently posted here and on every RW page on facebook, congresspersons do not "get paid" FOR LIFE. Nor, is that effectively true as a result of their supposedly outrageous pensions.

Debunking on Snopes

Congressional Pay and Perks

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

There is a discussion to be had about the relatively crappy pay of soldiers deployed in war zones and the pittance the average senior dependent on Social security receives in comparison to the pay members of congress get. But that argument is not served by headlining it with blatantly false claims.

This ties in with an email that's been circulating since at least 2009, most recently entitled This is How You Fix Congress, or similar, that now even tries to legitimize itself by claiming to be by Warren Buffet It too is filled with misinformation and is a favorite of the RW.

The email is clearly meant feed the flames of (often quite justified toward certain members) anger at Congress, but, more importantly imho,to reassert the "both sides are to blame" meme that keeps the Rs from accruing their full share of blame for the dysfunction caused in large part by their obstructionism (Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem.)

It also, perhaps more importantly, tries to divert our anger away from the massive amounts of money going to corporations and Wall Street profiteers and focus it on a relatively small amount of money paid to a group of private sector employees.

The email rants about how we must put and end to various abuses by congresscritters related to pay raises, tenure, health care, etc., and insists that we must institute the proposed "Congressional Reform Act of 2011" to do so.

As with most RW propaganda emails, it's filled with inaccuracies. Yet, I've seen it or parts of it posted and promoted here on DU.

Here are links to a few sources which debunk much of what the email claims needs fixing:

Fact Check.org's debunking of the "Congressional Reform Act"

USNews.com's article, Warren Buffett and the Mythical "Congressional Reform Act"

I can't post the articles in full here on DU due to copyright, but you can in a response to anyone who sends you that ridiculous teamail. Here are a few excerpts:

-Congressmen do not have "tenure." They run for re-election. If you don't like your congressman, vote him or her out.

-Currently members of Congress have the same health insurance options as millions of other federal employees and retirees and their families. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program gives them a wide choice of private insurance plans. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 51 million persons in the U.S. had no health insurance at all in 2009 — just under 17 percent of the population. (The author may have been laboring under the false impression that Congress somehow "exempted" itself from the new health care law, a bit of nonsense that was based on a number of misrepresentations that we addressed last year.

-Congress has not been voting pay raises for itself. Since 1994, Congress has gone without a pay raise nine times (four of those times occurring in the past six years.) ~the article is from March 2012~

Sorry to those of you who've already read my rants about this in a previous thread, but most haven't and I, obviously, believe it's an issue that deserves attention regarding these particular points as well as in general. Let's do our best not to buy into and spread misinformation, especially when it comes in the form of a Tea Party meme.

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Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply No, this is not how you "Fix Congress." (Original post)
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 OP
gtar100 Jan 2013 #1
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #7
October Jan 2013 #2
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #8
Richardo Jan 2013 #3
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #9
LisaLynne Jan 2013 #4
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #11
LisaLynne Jan 2013 #12
denvine Jan 2013 #5
tonybgood Jan 2013 #6
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #10
progree Jan 2013 #15
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #16
progree Jan 2013 #17
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #18
progree Jan 2013 #19
progree Jan 2013 #20
Sirveri Jan 2013 #13
Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #14

Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:40 AM

1. Thank you. Information like this is what sets DU apart

and keeps it sane.

I've been seeing these memes coming from teabaggers and it's perpetuating their destructive hatred of government. They have a very different idea about the role of government than do progressives, including support for austerity measures and the destruction of regulatory agencies. Yet they are trying desperately to sound non-partisan in their rhetoric. We need to be on the lookout for it.

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Response to gtar100 (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:00 PM

7. You're welcome. It was, in fact, my reasonably-liberal-Democrat mom who sent that nonsense to me.

When I sent out the correction info and links, she apologized and said she was duped because it had Buffett's name attached and she believes him to be "for the little guy." (Not sure how "for the little guy he is, but certainly he's shown himself to be more on our side than most of his boom-mates. Him resorting to a chain mail to get out his message? Not feeling that.)

I had another, equally full-of-crap teamail sent to me by an acquaintance. That one said it had been checked out on Snopes, with a link even. I asked, "Did you click the link to see what Snopes said?" No, she replied, "but it said Snopes had verified it!"



Mom has gone from ignoring and deleting those teamails, to responding with a polite, "We obviously disagree, so please stop sending political mail," to researching the facts and responding with contrary evidence. So, I know she did feel bad about it.

Her sister, who was the one who sent it to her (yeah, I did Reply All, on purpose) did not take the correction so well. Auntie emailed me to defend the BS. After I wouldn't agree with her that it was stll a good idea," (What exactly was a good idea, I asked--taking away things like tenure that congress doesn't have?) she wrote back saying she would no longer "contact me" because she didn't need my "lectures." Oh well, never liked her all that much anyway.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:03 AM

2. Now THIS sounds like the ol' DU

Informative. Non-inflammatory. Researched. Thoughtful.

Thank you.

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Response to October (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:05 PM

8. Glad I could contribute and appear thoughtful even. Often I'm too annoyed for that to show. ; )

i don't have time to thoroughly research every topic, but I do my best t olook into the teamails. They're almost always covered on Snopes or a similar site. I usually try to find another source or two, just to be a little more sure.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:50 AM

3. "teamail" = Excellent

Great post.

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Response to Richardo (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:25 PM

9. Glad you liked that. : ) It just came to me a couple of months ago when I was arguing with my aunt

who occasionally sends them out.

It's a shame, too, because she's not a stupid person. And she's not a teabagger, at least not officially. She does, however, like drama, so this trumped up RW invented crisis stuff naturally appeals to her.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:57 AM

4. Thank you for the informative post.

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Response to LisaLynne (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:43 PM

11. Certainly. See my post #10 below for more on why such debunking strikes me as so important.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:26 PM

12. I agree that it is VERY important.

I think we are at a disadvantage for several reasons, one of which being that it's fast to lie, but time-consuming to debunk because actual facts take time to gather and distill. There are some organizations that try (such as Media Matters), but I would love to see a well-funded progressive org that could work on getting the word out.

Good article that you linked to, also.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:13 AM

5. Great info! Thanks

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:40 AM

6. How do you vote someone out when they run unopposed?

I'd love to be able to vote out my representative to Congress. The problem? No one ran against him. Who is my Congressman, you ask? John Boehner. The Speaker of the House, the top Republican in the 112th "do-nothing" Congress and he got a "walkover"!!! Don't feed me this bulls*** about voting someone out; the congressional districts in Ohio are so gerrymandered you can't get rid of anyone! How does Boehner not even get a Democratic challenger?

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Response to tonybgood (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:39 PM

10. You're talking to a Pennsylvanian here, so I hear ya.

There have been a lot of good candidates for the "gerrymander of the decade" award this cycle. North Carolina, Illinois and Texas have all dreamed up district lines that have gone well beyond what many pundits believed could be pulled off in those states. Honorable mentions go to Massachusetts and Maryland, whose districts combine to allow for the election of one Republican out of 17 districts.

But the legislators in all those states were making heavily Democratic/Republican delegations in states that were likewise heavily Democratic/Republican. That isn’t a tremendous job.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/12/14/in_pennsylvania_the_gerrymander_of_the_decade_112404.html

This is just another reason to be vigilant about calling out RW propaganda wherever and whenever we can. They gained the power to put all those teabaggers in Congress in 2010 in large part due to their very well-funded, very successful propaganda campaign.

I read an article once (really annoyed that I can't find it again) saying how, unlike RWers with money to spare, our Democratic rich folk are generally unwilling to donate toward a general campaign to convince people that progressive ideas and ideals are good. They will support individual issues, but the deep pockets, and the the small donors, on the Right are more than willing to part with their cash to promote the "liberals are evil" message.

Here is a good article, though a few years old now, that discusses a related issue: Why the Left Has No Answer to the Right-Wing Lie Machine

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 04:11 PM

15. Pennsylvania - uh oh, GASP!! You may be about to effectively lose almost all your electoral votes

if the greed-bangers have their way.

A couple of excerpts from: http://news.yahoo.com/gop-eyes-election-laws-091633484.html

GOP Eyes New Election Laws, ABC Otus News, 1/18/13

GOP lawmakers in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are already lining up behind proposals that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district or something similar.

In at least seven {{swing}} states — Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina — Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor's office.

Already, Maine and Nebraska have moved away from a winner-take-all system to one that allocates electoral votes based on congressional district.


So take Pennsylvania -- a blue state in recent presidential elections with 20 electoral votes. In all states but Maine and Nebraska, all electoral votes of the state goes to the winner of the state-wide popular vote (aka winner takes all). So Obama got Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes. But under proposed new rules if it is done by Congressional district, oh, I haven't researched the presidential vote in Pennsylvania by Congressional district, but maybe (particularly with gerrymandered districts), say very optimistically 5/8 of them went for Obama and 3/8 went for Romney -- that would mean then that about 12 electoral votes would have gone to Obama and 8 electoral votes would have gone to Romney under such a scheme -- a net of only 4 electoral votes for Obama. So it would change Pennsylvania's electoral contribution from a net of 20 electoral votes for Obama to just 4.

Note, per Church & State magazine 1/2013 p. 14 there is a trifecta in 37 states in 2013 -- the most in 60 years. 24 states have Republican trifectas and 13 states have Democratic trifectas. Trifecta means one party has the governorship and both houses of the legislature.

So what this indicates is that Democrats can't retaliate in equal force by turning the red states (in presidential elections) that they control (are there any?) into states that split their electoral votes by congressional district.

On edit -- I see way too much smugness about winning the 2012 presidential election, and about how all the wonderful demographic changes in the country will soon relegate the Republicans to Whig Party status. And how all that Citizens United money "obviously" made no difference.

Well, call me a "concern troll" if you want, but the 2010 midterm elections were not that demographically so long ago, and we all (hopefully) know what happened then -- the House went RepubliCON and so did a dozen or so more state legislatures (I don't know the exact number there). And that gave them the power to bust unions (the biggest contingent of actual GOTV foot solders of the Democratic Party and a major source of funding).

The capture of so many state houses and governorships also allowed them to do the gerrymandering of the congressional districts. It is well-known that Democratic House candidates collectively got more votes than Republican ones (while only winning a minority of the House seats). I read one article that because of the Republican gerrymandering advantage, Democratic congressional candidates would have to collectively draw about 7.5% more votes than Republicans in order to overcome their gerrymandering disadvantage and win back the House majority.

As for Citizens United money not making any difference, what a bunch of crap -- the corporados own most congressmen of both parties. And looking at it all -- presidency, House, Senate, governorships, and state legislatures -- the RepubliCONs did pretty darn well considering the head of the ticket was a human relations disaster whose economic plan was a 20% across the board tax rate cut and $2 trillion more "core defense spending" to all be paid for by closing some unspecified tax loopholes, magically resulting in a balanced budget. And a breath-taking flip-flopper that put even McCain to shame in that category. So I'm not sure its true that Citizens United money made no difference. To me it kept it from being a rout for the Republicans -- after all the end result is only slightly better for the Dems than in 2011 after the disastrous 2010 midterms.

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Response to progree (Reply #15)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 06:30 PM

16. Exaxtly! I was just working on a OP about this. So, who is working against this? What organization

I join?

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #16)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 08:40 PM

17. Wish I knew, I'm new to this issue

Exaxtly! I was just working on a OP about this.

Feel free to use anything I wrote (or copied and pasted) in an OP. It is definitely worth an OP, maybe with a catchy scary edgy title that everyone will look at...

Certainly better than writing more about it in this thread. I didn't realize this thread was in General Discussion with a last reply date of January 3 before I replied with my #15. That puts it in the archives (since the first 30 pages sorted by Last Reply goes only back to Monday 1/13, and anything that isn't in the most recent 30 pages gets archived automatically) which means any new replies don't kick it to the top or kick it anywhere for that matter (something I read in the Help Forum - anything that lands in the archives stays in the archives forever). So probably only you have seen my #15.

So, who is working against this? What organization I join?

I don't know, I haven't looked into it. I heard a little bit about this issue before the election (and now and again once in a long while in the past decade or so) but this is the first time I've heard of it moving towards the front burner. (I first got alerted to the looming front burner status by Thom Hartmann about 4 days ago). Considering all the damage these Republican trifectas have done in the states they control (union-busting, gerrymandering, voting restrictions) I take this quite seriously and am glad you do too. 59% of my political contributions in 2012 went to one cause -- defeating voter photo ID in Minnesota (which we did, something that was thought impossible to do until a month before the election when it started to look close). The other 41% went to (unsuccessfully) try to recall Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin -- since I think what happens at the state government level is so important but gets relatively too little funding compared to federal government races (president, Senate, House).

By the way, thanks for your excellent OP on Congressional pay and benefits -- to add to my little library of postings that cover a topic in a thorough comprehensive way.

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Response to progree (Reply #17)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 11:29 PM

18. Thanks, Pro.

I didn't know that about the archiving. Good info to have. Along with the many informational posts you've made here on DU.

I guess I only learned about this very serious threat to extend the reach of these gerrymandered districts to the federal level on the Rachel Maddow show recently. Republicans are such cheaters and thieves. It's disgusting. And, as you say, the damage they are doing in the states in which they've seized, and I do mean seized, power is and will continue to be devastating.

I'm glad you found my post on Congressional pay and benefits informative. Kinda frustrating how little attention it garnered here. Sadly typical, as you and I have discussed.

I guess I'll save the OP in question until the inauguration hoopla dies down. Despite the distressing realities, I guess it won't hurt to celebrate a little and count out blessings, few as they may be. I shudder to imagine my mood, not to mention the effects on the country, if tomorrow were to be the start of a Romney-Ryan term!!

Cheers. : )

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #18)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 04:46 AM

19. You're welcome, glad you found the stuff about the archiving / kickability informative.

Good to hear that Maddow is covering it too (along with Thom Hartmann).

On the archiving/kickability -- I once made a long heavily researched magnus opus posting reply to someone in an old thread in General Discussion and was horrified that it didn't show up at the top of the index (or indeed anywhere in the index) -- after lots of experimenting I figured maybe each forum had a certain length of time before it became "unkickable", set by each forum or somesuch. But my various experiments and theories didn't work out as expected and was fortunate enough to finally stumble on something in the Welcome and Help forum about the 30 pages - then - archive thing.

Just for curiousity I looked at four forums that I think of as busy ones -- and checked what was at the bottom of page 30 of each one as far as Last Reply -- in other words the Last Reply dates that are about to become archived. Here is what I found:

General Discussion - Jan 14 (7 days ago)
DU Lounge - Dec 21 (1 month ago)
Late Breaking News - Dec 7 (1 1/2 months ago)
Politics 2013 - Nov 17 (2 months 4 days ago)

So they all hang around pretty long before going to the archives except General Discussion -- that's the one with a rather short life.


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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 12:30 PM

20. In case you haven't seen - How Republicans Plan To Rig The Next Presidential Election, In Six Pictur

How Republicans Plan To Rig The Next Presidential Election, In Six Pictures, Assign electoral votes by congressional district - shows 6 blue states in the 2012 election and how they all have many more Republican congressional seats than Democratic seats -- so its more than roughly neutralizing the electoral vote, the Repubs would actually net out a large number of electoral votes from these states,
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022250921

(Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia. Only Wisconsin is it close -- the Repub advanatage is only 2 seats.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:48 AM

13. Great, another facebook meme to debunk. I really wish they'd stop.

My favorite was that one idiot posing in front of a school in his fatigues, when a cursory google search would show that almost every bit of text under that picture was a total fabrication. 'sgt' whatever who 'was in the reserves' is 'getting fined'. It's like a non-stop job to knock that trash down on a regular basis.

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Response to Sirveri (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:10 PM

14. I'd be surprised if there's not a paid team making those RW memes. They are giving their paranoid,

fact-allergic teabaggin' followers just what they want. The debunking does nothing to sway that crowd, but we can hope those not yet brainwashed by Fox can be shown the truth and kept from turning into one of the lost.

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