Tuesday, January 02, 2007

110th Congress Open Thread


  • Congresspedia's page on the 110th Congress can be found here.

  • The Connecticut Post has an article on the agenda of the 110th Congress, and what roles the the CT delegation will have.

  • An AP News poll finds strong support for three of Democrats' key issues.

  • Tim Tagaris has posted a Diary with information about CT Inaugural events in DC on Thursday. Gabe and I plan to attend some of these events for CTLP. If you're going to be in DC too, let me know.



Post any articles and posts I've missed, as well as your thoughts on the 110th Congress here.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I qonder how this poll question would go "Do you favor outsourcing the pharmaceutical industry to foreign countries"?
If we buy our drugs from overseas, won;t they be produced there too...or are American jobs expendable to placate retirees?

cgg said...

Genghis Conn was on Colin's show today.

MikeCT said...

The J-I reports on the final fundraising figures by the federal candidates. There was one race in which grassroots organizing decided the outcome, rather than money:

In the 5th District, the longtime Republican incumbent, former Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, spent $5,010,466 - slightly more than twice as much as her successful challenger, Cheshire Democrat Christopher Murphy, who spent $2,414,769.

And an argument for public financing:

The nine candidates in the state's four most closely watched congressional races together spent a whopping $58.6 million on their midterm election campaigns... That's the equivalent of $30.24 for every registered voter in Connecticut.

Here's the correct link to Genghis' interview. Previous link didn't work for me. He talked about libraries running out of space.

cgg said...

One of these days I will learn how to post a link correctly.

GMR said...

And an argument for public financing:

The nine candidates in the state's four most closely watched congressional races together spent a whopping $58.6 million on their midterm election campaigns... That's the equivalent of $30.24 for every registered voter in Connecticut.


So why is this an argument for public financing of campaigns?

Do you think the state should fund campaigns? Is that a good use of tax dollars? Would the state have a limit of how much each candidate could spend? If there were a spending limit, wouldn't that give more power to an incumbent, and to the Hartford Courant, and other media outlets?

lamontcranston said...

Cheshire Democrat...LOL

MikeCT said...

GMR,

A couple fact sheets on public financing from CT and nationally.

There already is public financing of CT state elections in the election cycle that has just started. It's a done deal, and one of the best uses of public funds that I can think of. Now we need to expand that to federal elections, requiring federal legislation.

Public financing puts candidates on a level playing field. This obviously does not favor incumbents, who almost always outraise challengers and almost always win. As to the power of the Courant or any media outlet - I don't know anyone who thinks editorial endorsements are decisive, and media spin will continue under any financing system. But most news coverage is banal horse race crap focused on how much the candidates raised and labelling those who raised less as unviable. Taking private money out of the equation and putting candidates on a level playing field could only elevate media coverage and public discourse.

RedRidden said...

Amen, GMR. It is not the business of the state to advance political activity -- that is a freedom reserved solely to the individual citizen. ANY government-sponsored promotion of politics, REGARDLESS of equity in said promotion, smacks of First Amendment violations.

In fact, this is more or less the same argument for why prayer is banned in public schools. (Engel v. Vitale, 1962)

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice on the news tonight that the newly elected Democrats have decided to no longer fully include the Republican members of congress in decisions (well more like debate and offer alternative ideas), but rather, will "steamroll" to get what they want.

Now, is it me or isn't that one of the things that they campaigned against Republicans on - "steamrolling" and not allowing debate. I voted for Murphy for this reason - the lack of debate from both sides of the aisle. I thought this could be a new beginning but its shaping up to be the same thing with different people.

Ah the Pelsoi years - a total hackjob on democracy! And if this attitude keeps up, a short reign it will be.

Anonymous said...

WHAT?! Chris Murphy saying something just to get elected and not delivering on it once he does? I'm shocked!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Murphy we all know and love up the LOB, suck up to your face, then stab you in the back 5 minutes later to suck up to someone more powerful.

Anon1216 said...

While I wish Murphy would be more vocal on this, I was referring to the Democrats as a whole. It just seems like the pot calling the kettle black to me.

RedRidden said...

MikeCT,

Those "fact sheets" look more like talking points for a group that advocates for public financing of campaigns -- they are arguments, they are subjective...nothing really "factual" about them.

But I will play along. Looking at the CT sheet, a few things kinda jumped out at me, so please indulge me as I address a few quick excerpts:

"...Citizen-funded election reform will cost less than $3 per person [sic] year. This is a reasonable amount to pay to eliminate the influence of money on politics."
--We have got a BIG problem if we are allowing the state to determine what is "reasonable" -- a word that is not only very vague, but incredibly arbitrary. The government has no place legislating whims.
--Or, if one were so inclined to compare this $3 to any other tax that's out there, there is one clear difference: taxes and whatever their rates may be are NOT levied upon the citizenry based upon what's considered "reasonable"...the SOLE purpose of taxes is simply to cover the operating costs of the government -- or at least that's how it's supposed to be. Given that you did mention before that public financing is a "done deal," I can only assume that there must be a government program somewhere out there set up to implement this policy, which means my taxes probably are going towards running it. I do, however, remain by my argument that it's not the state's business to advance politics on any front or in any capacity -- and I sincerely feel that the constitutionality of such a program/policy is VERY questionable at the least. Besides, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that are upset with knowing that their $3 not only is going towards a candidate for whom they have no intention of voting, but will actually be used for the purpose of opposing the candidate for whom that "contributor" IS going to vote.

"Under our current system, few candidates want to run for office because they cannot afford the price of admission."
--The magic of this country is that a dream, an idea, a vision can go as far as the people who believe in it are willing to take it. In politics, the candidate that garners the most support and has the most "followers" -- that is, people that agree with said dream/idea/vision -- comes out on top while those with lesser support drop off (you'll see this in '08 as the R and D presidential nominee fields get smaller and smaller and more people line up behind fewer and fewer candidates). If a candidate's message and appeal are good enough, then the support will naturally follow...and if they ain't, then it's back to the drawing board to find what works. Whatever happened to "where there's a will, there's a way?"

"The first hurdle is to get candidates interested in serving the public."
--So you're saying that people need to be ENTICED to engage in a civic privilege and duty that sadly is not available to every human being around the globe? I think the vast majority of people would join me in saying that the opportunity to serve the public is reward enough. Again, those that have the strong enough desire to run will figure out a way to do so...those that don't have "it" in them can -- and do -- find something else.

"Democracy means choices, and we have too few of them under the current system."
--Again, I REALLY hope the government isn't telling me what degree of variety is "just right" for me. This country has successfully operated under a two-party system (not in names, I know, but in ideas and the capacity for people to rally around them) for over 200 years...the American people are CONTENT with picking either Row A or Row B for their elected officials. If they weren't, we would be emulating some European nation where over 5 different parties hold seats in the parliament, where operational (and boy is that a loose term...) governments come into existence only when coalitions are formed to make a majority, and where said governments fall apart every 6 months because these coalitions break up as a result of in-fighting within the concocted majority.
--And this is just a technical note: this nation is NOT a democracy as defined in the Constitution -- we have representative government which makes us a "republic"...we just HAPPEN to elect our officials democratically. Key difference: republicanism (lowercase "r") is the institutional structure, democracy is the process by which we place individuals in said institutional structure.

"Right now our tax dollars go to all sorts of things with which we do not agree."
--Well geez, then I guess that makes it right. Rather than fix this, let's compound the problem and tick even MORE people off.

"And our tax dollars pay for parts of the electoral process, from the hiring of staff at various state agencies for oversight, to the printing of ballots and set up of voting booths."
--Again, our tax dollars pay for the STRUCTURE of our government and the operation of the system -- the electoral process -- that preserves that structure...NOT the promotion of individuals and/or policies we would like to see implanted in it. My tax dollars go towards supporting the Presidency, the OFFICE of the President...NOT President George W. Bush -- or (again) at least that's how it should be.

Corruption in our government is a big problem -- there is no doubt about that, I will whole-heartedly agree with that statement -- and advocates of public financing of campaigns claim that such a policy would reduce the level of this corruption. But again, while I do agree that corruption runs rampant among our elected officials, I don't think public financing of political campaigns is the answer. This nation was founded on "checks and balances": among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; among the federal, state, and local levels of government; but most importantly, between the government and its people. In this country, the PEOPLE are the ultimate source of power and legitimacy, and therefore the ultimate check on those officials who are not keeping up their end of the bargain. Our Founding Fathers entrusted the American people with the responsibility of preserving this "great experiment" of theirs, with being the final say on the direction in which the country would move. If an elected official is corrupt, then it is the electorate's right and responsibility to remove him/her from office...and ultimately, THAT -- and not some regulatory program -- will be the means through which corruption is weeded out of the government.

It just seems to me that, no matter how you cut it, public financing of political campaigns is inherently "un-American" -- it not only infringes on one's freedom to express agreement (or disagreement, or even indifference) with/to an idea...but it also impedes the ability of that individual to see that idea through to fruition, placing an enormous shackle on the enterprising spirit that made this country great.

Hell, it's ALMOST as "un-American" as term limits...but we'll leave that for another day. :-)

Anonymous said...

MikeCT, grasroots organizing my keester

The press had it in for Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons and got their way.

Both Democrats got millions worth of press coverage. All public financing does is keep one special interest group (the media) in charge of the agenda.

Hmm, maybe Rupert Murdoch will buy the Courant and suddenly liberals will change their mind on this, like they have on bipartisan government in DC this week.

Anonymous said...

RedRidden,

In case you hadn't noticed, elections are part of the "operating cost" of government. Who do you think pays for election day? Who regulates them? It is the role of government to run them, and it should be the role of government and the public to finance the campaigns, not the wealthiest Americans and lobbyists. There are no facts behind your arguments, just empty ideology and name calling.

Anonymous said...

MikeCT--

I like Murphy and I voted for Murphy, but the grassroots organizing didn't really win this election. Nancy ran a terrible campaign. It was hers to lose. If you know anything about the northwest corner, it's an anomaly that so many towns went blue. A lot of people were voting against Nancy. I think Murphy will have his seat for a while, but he needs to realize that a lot of the same towns that voted from him this time around could easily turn back to red in '08.

RedRidden said...

Anon 8:12a:

I'm actually not going to refute a lot of what you're saying...because it's simply a restating of what I said in the first place.

Of course elections are part of the operating costs of government -- again, I explicitly said that in my post -- but that's not where public campaign finance funds go. Whether or not such a system is in place and whether or not a candidate participates in such a program has no bearing on the fact that a Constitutionally-mandated election is going to take place every year and that it is the government's job to ensure that this election does in fact take place. So yes -- again, like I already said and can't believe have to say a second time -- the government does pay for ballots, voting machines, and other instruments that guarantee that the electoral process takes place every 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November. But that's not the argument -- in fact, there's nothing about this with which to argue.

Public financing of campaigns (not counting the little check-box on tax returns) is the monetary support of political candidates and their ideas collected through means that are neither voluntary nor negotiable. That's an enormous problem -- not only should your money not go towards advancing a political cause with which you strongly disagree, but the government's money (which used to be yours) should not be used AT ALL to advance ANY political cause, even if you agree with it. The government's job is to make sure an election happens and nothing more -- NOT provide Johnny Third-Party with legitimacy and viablity as a candidate.

Of course there are no facts behind my arguments -- I guess that's what makes them ARGUMENTS and not STATISTICS. I never claimed even the slightest degree of "truth" to anything I wrote, those were all my opinion and nothing more. "Empty ideology"...that sounds kinda closed-minded, hmm? And who did I call a name?

I choose my words very carefully before I write them so as to minimize confusion over the message I intend to convey -- I'm doing my part. If you misinterpret that message because you're not paying close enough attention to the wording (so much so that you think I'm actually insulting people and calling them names), that's not exactly my fault.

AnonAndOnAndOn said...

Murphy has always put up a "FOR SALE" sign and he's not even sworn in yet.

For only $5000, you can have breakfast with him and Joe Courtney... the newest members of something called "NewPac." It's a fundraising arm for House Ds.

Way to go, Chrissie. I don't know who on this string had Minus One Day in the pool as to when he'd go back on his own rhetoric... I thought he'd at least make it through the first 100 hours.

Anonymous said...

Did Chris say he wouldn't raise money while in Congress? I find it hard to believe that he'd say that...Also, I don't know Chris, but I do typically enjoy this blog, except when it turns into a hatchet job. So, if you are going to rail about Chris "backstabbing" or "sucking up to someone more powerful" give some examples, otherwise quit sucking on sour grapes and wait to see how he does...He isn't sworn in yet, let him get settled. Or is this Nancy since she has nothing else to do right now?

AnonAndOnAndOn said...

No, Chris didn't say he wouldn't raise money. He said that raising money from "special interests" was bad; that NJ had raised money from special interests; and that was the reason "for a change."

If Chris is going to settle in, he'd just better do it without the piety cloak he wore through the campaign, that's all.

Sour grapes? Nah. I thought it would make sense to point that out, albeit in a snarky fashion, but it's a far cry from the crap that's been thrown at Nancy lately.

GMR said...

"...Citizen-funded election reform will cost less than $3 per person [sic] year. This is a reasonable amount to pay to eliminate the influence of money on politics."
--We have got a BIG problem if we are allowing the state to determine what is "reasonable" -- a word that is not only very vague, but incredibly arbitrary. The government has no place legislating whims.


I think it's also interesting to see what big companies spend on advertising in comparison. According to the US Census Bureau there are slightly over 300 million people in the United States.

Microsoft spent $9.8 billion on sales and marketing in its most recent fiscal year. That works out to $32.66 for every American. Of course, a significant portion of that was spent overseas, but still, even if you assume only half was spent in the United States, that's $16, or about 5 times what someone claims is reasonable to spend on political advertising during an election year.

Oracle spent $3.2 billion. A little over half of its sales are in the Americas, so say that 40% of its marketing was spent in the US. That's still more than $3 for every person in the country, and most people of course have no use for their software.

Yahoo spent $1.02 billion, which is more than $3 per person, but probably goes to less than $3 per person after factoring out international expenses. But still, it's one company, in one fairly narrow space.

Many companies combine their sales and marketing expenses with their administrative expenses, but the above reported these items separately. In any event, it's quite apparent that $3 per person is an arbitrary number: many companies spend considerably more than this per person. It's a little difficult to determine exactly what these companies spend on this in the US vs. abroad.

Advertising and marketing is expensive. There are a limited number of advertising slots on television, printing signs costs money, as does printing brochures, bumper stickers, and renting offices, and so on.

I fail to see why the government should be funding political candidates and political parties that I am opposed to. We can find out who the major donors are to any campaign (geez, we can even find out who the minor donors are too: if you give $10 to some candidate, your name will be forever listed on the CT SoS website).

By setting a ceiling on what people can spend (and let's face it, if you did have government sponsored financing, you'd have to set a limit, otherwise campaigns would find a way to use the money), you are giving more power to incumbents, and to the media. And media outlets can and do get bought all the time.

Liberals: would you like it if the owners of the Waterbury newspaper became the owners of the Hartford Courant (and thus the Greenwich and Stamford papers) and we had public financing? Conservatives: would you like it if the Village Voice bought the Hartford Courant and we had public financing?

Anonymous said...

Tha Hartford Courant and the main Stamford/Greenwich/Norwalk newspapers are already owned by the same company!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say hi before I read more of the past threads. Looks like there are some crazy people here. ;0) lol


Bye