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Member since: 2002
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Luckovich: Our Founding Fathers

The Kochs Are Already Getting What They Paid for in Congress: What the Keystone debate is really about

Ask progressives what the last three weeks of Senate debate on a Keystone XL bill was really about, and they might mention the Koch brothers. “The Republican's Keystone XL obsession is about one thing and one thing only—a direct payback to Big Oil, specifically to the Koch brothers,” Credo’s Senior Campaign Manager Elijah Zarlin said in response to the Senate passing a Keystone XL bill, 62-36, on Thursday.

It's not just a talking point. Just one month into the new Congress, and already the Kochs' fossil fuel interests—which include oil pipelines and refineries—have neatly aligned with Republican priorities. The Koch network's campaign for and against Keystone amendments not only offers a preview of future energy battles, but demonstrate their difficult-to-quantify political influence.

In January, three conservative groups—Heritage Action, American Energy Alliance (AEA), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP)—combined for a total of seven key vote alerts on amendments that would count in their congressional scorecards. The alerts serve as a warning: If a senator votes against the group's interest, he or she risks future attacks from the right. All three groups are tied to the Kochs: AFP is considered the brothers' "main political arm," and they have contributed to Heritage and AEA.

The groups helped defeat an amendment from Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, that would have reinstated the wind production tax credit for five years. Heitkamp couldn't even scrape together a majority of senators for what historically has been a popular, bipartisan policy. Wind energy happens to be big in red states, so it has the support from Republicans like Iowa's Chuck Grassley, but it has long been a target for conservative, fossil-fuel-aligned groups. AEA, AFP, and Heritage all recommended a "no" vote on the amendment, in line with the Koch network's years-long campaign to eliminate renewable tax credits (while oil's tax breaks remain politically untouchable).



Michael Tomasky: The Most Powerful Democrat in America

Michael Tomasky

The Most Powerful Democrat in America
Elizabeth Warren’s weekend heroics have endeared her even more to the Democratic base, and it’s time Hillary started getting worried.

Are future historians going to look back on the past weekend as the one in which Elizabeth Warren took over the Democratic Party? She didn’t win the fight she led over the weekend to have the provision weakening the Dodd-Frank law stripped out of the spending bill, but she was never going to win that vote. What she did win, though, was the ever-more intense ardor of her growing number of liberal fans. They’d march with her over hot coals. There’s no other Democrat in the country with that kind of following.

So it’s hardly impossible that Warren could come to be the leader of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton, who hasn’t been cutting an inspiring figure across the landscape of late, makes a few more “dead broke” missteps. Warren decides to run after all. The two go head to head through the primaries, but somehow Warren taps into Democrats’ emotional nerve-endings in a way Clinton simply can’t, and she becomes the nominee. And then...

As I said, that’s hardly an insane scenario, and it’s one Clinton should heed, and heed pretty quickly. The general assumption has been that Warren won’t challenge Clinton, and that’s probably correct. But Warren is well aware of how adoring and numerous her followers are and how much leverage that gives her in the party, and what she wants is to push the party to embrace her economic views. I doubt she really expects that she can be elected president, and I wonder if she even would really want the gig (she’s shown practically no interest in foreign policy, and that is destined to be by far the hardest and most hair-graying part of the job). But if she becomes convinced that challenging Clinton is the best—or only—way for her to maximize her leverage, then she might just do it.

Surely, after this last week, she can’t be blamed if she’s feeling a bit more intoxicated. After watching her astounding call to break up Citigroup, her admirers have been rushing forth with pleas and petitions for her to run. Referring to Citi’s role in the lobbying effort to get that anti Dodd-Frank provision put in the spending bill Congress just passed, Warren said on the Senate floor last Friday: “If a financial institution has become so big and so powerful that it can hold the entire country hostage, that alone is reason enough to break them up. Enough is enough. Enough is enough, with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position, and the kind of cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch. Enough is enough, with Citigroup passing eleventh-hour deregulatory provisions that nobody takes ownership over but everybody will come to regret.”



Political Wire: Jeb Bush Has a Mitt Romney Problem

Jeb Bush Has a Mitt Romney Problem

December 11, 2014By Taegan Goddard

Businessweek reports that Jeb Bush’s recent business ventures “reveal that he shares a number of liabilities with the last nominee, Mitt Romney, whose career in private equity proved so politically damaging that it sunk his candidacy.”

“Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 27 list Bush as chairman and manager of a new offshore private equity fund, BH Global Aviation, which raised $61 million in September, largely from foreign investors. In November the fund ­incorporated in the United Kingdom and Wales­—a ­structure, several independent finance lawyers say, that operates like a tax haven by allowing overseas investors to avoid U.S. taxes and regulations.”


Luckovich: Blowout

Luckovich: Polar Bare

Luckovich: Law of the Land

Luckovich: Money Talks

Luckovich: It's a lock

This is what 'bipartisanship' will look like if the Republicans take control of the Senate

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