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Posts tagged ‘Democratic Party’

Obama, Hillary Join Forces to Raise Money for Democrats.


President Barack Obama is bolstering his party’s campaign coffers, joining an ally of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help the Democratic National Committee climb out of a worrisome deficit. It’s the latest alignment of the Obama and Clinton orbits, as the former first lady considers a White House bid in 2016.

Obama is traveling to New York Tuesday to raise money for the party at two events, including a high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Alan Patricof, the founder of a New York venture capital fund. Patricof is a longtime Clinton friend and financial bundler for her Senate and presidential campaigns.

The event illustrates the overlapping fundraising draw that Obama and the former first lady, senator and secretary of state represent for the party at a crucial time for the cash-strapped DNC. It also helps bridge some internal party tensions between donors who are merely interested in presidential politics and the Democrats’ needs during this year’s midterm elections.

Patricof wrote in a February email to contributors that he and his wife, Susan, had been “relatively quiet on the political front” following Clinton’s loss to Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary.

“The most effective way that we all can be helpful to Hillary, and the Democratic Party in general, is to make sure that the Democratic National Committee is as strong as possible if Hillary should decide to run in 2016 and, for that matter, if any other good candidate appears on the scene if she decides not to be in the race,” Patricof wrote in the email, first reported by Politico.

He called the fundraiser with Obama a “fireside chat” that would include 13 couples — 26 people — paying $32,500 per person.

The DNC has been trying to pare down millions of dollars in debt accumulated during Obama’s re-election campaign; through the end of January the DNC owed more than $15 million.

Obama, who will also raise money at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser while in New York, has been making a sober fundraising pitch of late, warning that Democrats run the risk of losing control of the Senate if the party doesn’t have the resources to motivate voters this November.

The president’s cash-raising comes amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine and a fast-approaching health care sign-up deadline that have been preoccupying the White House, underscoring the competing demands on Obama. It also comes as Obama is struggling with tepid approval ratings. Recent Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research polls place his job approval at 45 and 43 percent respectively. Over the past year, Obama’s approval ratings as measured by Gallup have fluctuated between a high of 51 percent last April and 39 percent in January.

If Clinton runs and wins the party’s nomination in 2016, the DNC would serve as a platform of continuity between the Obama White House and a future Clinton campaign. Party leaders recently outlined plans to build upon its technological advantage over Republicans and expand its voter registration and protection work in key states, steps that will help Obama’s successor.

The DNC already has plenty of Clinton connections. Committee members include Harold Ickes and Minyon Moore, both longtime advisers to Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. One of its top fundraisers is Michael Kempner, a New Jersey public relations executive who served as co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 national finance committee and was a top bundler for Obama in 2012.

For many Clinton backers, the DNC is a natural place to offer help while the former New York senator mulls her future.

“It’s a clear signal that the Clinton faction of the party is seeking to help the president any way possible,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic strategist who advised Bill Clinton’s campaigns. “Money is still the mother’s milk of American politics.”

The fundraiser is the latest in a series of steps that have helped bring together the Obama and Clinton camps after the bitterness of the 2008 primary fight.

Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action recently brought on board Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, to lead the group. It made clear that it will back Clinton if she seeks the nomination. The super PAC’s executive director is Buffy Wicks, a former top Obama campaign staffer.

Ready for Hillary, a grassroots group aiming to lay the groundwork for a Clinton campaign, is advised by former Obama campaign aides Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart. In Iowa, which traditionally holds the nation’s first presidential caucus, the super PAC dispatched 250 volunteers last weekend to sign up new members at county Democratic conventions. The group covered 84 of the state’s 99 counties.

Patricof is managing director of Greycroft LLC, a venture capital firm he founded in 2006. In November, Obama appointed him to the President’s Global Development Council.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Christie Has History of Bullying, Petty Attacks.


Image: Christie Has History of Bullying, Petty Attacks

By Drew MacKenzie and Greg Richter

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie often takes petty revenge against people who he believes have slighted him, enhancing his bullying image, The New York Times reports.

Christie has most recently angered many over George Washington Bridge lane closures in September. Two of his close allies ordered lanes closed for four days leaving Fort Lee and going into New York City, causing traffic snarls.

Editor’s Note: Obama’s Budget Takes Aim at Retired Americans 

Critics have charged the lane closures were retribution against Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s re-election. Christie has denied any such motive.

“Every organization takes its cues from the leadership as to what’s acceptable and what’s not, and this governor, in his public appearances, has made thuggery acceptable,” said Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is heading an investigation into the lane closings. “For the governor to say, ‘I knew nothing about this’? He created the atmosphere in which this is acceptable.”

Democrats and Republicans alike point to other instances where Christie’s foes have been dealt swift retaliation.

In 2011, Christie accused State Senator Richard J. Codey of being “combative and difficult” in blocking two nominees. Codey responded that he had not blocked the nominations at all, but had agreed to them and held a meeting to speed them up.

Shortly thereafter, Codey, a former governor, was informed he would no longer be granted the occasional state trooper for protection that had guarded him at public events. On the same day, his cousin was fired from his job with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as was a friend working in the state Office of Consumer Affairs.

“I understand politics, that a new administration comes in, Codey told The Times. “But this wasn’t about the usual ‘he brings his own people in.’ This was all about sending a message.”

The same year, Christie urged Rutgers political scientist Alan Rosenthal to side with Republicans on a redistricting map, as Rosenthal was the tie-breaking vote. Rosenthal voted with the Democrats, and Christie cut $169,000 for two programs at Rutgers.

In 2010, Republican state Senator Sean T. Kean criticized Christie for not being quick enough to call a state of emergency during a blizzard. Christie held a press conference in Kean’s district, sending word for him not to attend. During redistricting, Kean’s seat was eliminated.

Also in 2010, New Jersey state assemblyman John F. McKeon rebuked Christie during a radio interview for attacking public employee who had been some of the governor’s biggest supporters. Later he was sent a handwritten note from Christie, saying he didn’t appreciate the comments.

“I thought it was a joke,” McKeon said. “What governor would take the time to write a personal note over a relatively innocuous comment?”

Christie has denied taking retaliation against political foes, but he has made news and won some fans by taking on challengers rather than giving typical politician answers.

Christie, considered to be a 2016 presidential hopeful, is an early front-runner in opinion polls, showing a three-point lead over Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton in a recentPublic Policy Polling survey. 

Editor’s Note: Obama’s Budget Takes Aim at Retired Americans 
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Harry Reid in Hospital ‘As A Precaution’.


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went to a hospital today after feeling ill, his office said. Tests showed that “everything is normal” though he will remain in the hospital for observation, his office said.

“Senator Reid called me thing morning,” second-ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor. “He sounded good, and we look forward to his speedy recovery.”

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement that the majority leader, 74, felt ill early this morning “and as a precaution decided to go to the hospital.”

“Tests have been conducted and everything is normal,” Jentleson said. “He is alert, resting and feeling better.”

Jentleson added, “Doctors have asked that he remain in the hospital for observation so he will not be working today.”

Durbin of Illinois said he will act in Reid’s place as the Senate conducts a number of votes today. Reid is a Nevada Democrat

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Rasmussen Poll: Most Americans Oppose ACA’s Individual Mandate.


Image: Rasmussen Poll: Most Americans Oppose ACA's Individual Mandate

By Cathy Burke

A majority of Americans are dead-set against Obamacare‘s individual mandate requiring everyone to obtain health insurance, a Rasmussen poll shows.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed opposed the individual mandate, the highest level of opposition yet, said the poll, which was released Monday.

The telephone poll found that 33 percent support the mandate.

Republicans registered the strongest opposition: 84 percent oppose the individual mandate; 57 percent of Democrats favor it.

Most people have bucked the individual mandate from the start, the pollsters noted, with 60 percent of those surveyed saying in November 2011 that the government doesn’t have the authority to force the mandate.

In June 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the law’s constitutionality.

The poll also found strongly negative opinions of the law itself.

Thirty-five percent favor a single-payer healthcare system in which the federal government provides coverage for everyone; 47 percent oppose a government-run healthcare system, down from 51 percent in November.

The survey was conducted Dec. 14-15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In another recent survey, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that just 24 percent of uninsured people thought Obamacare was a good thing; half said they thought it was a bad idea, an 11 point drop in support for the law since September among the very population the law is intended to help.

The same poll also found that 56 percent of the uninsured say the law will have a negative effect on the healthcare system.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Three Congressman Announce Retirement on Same Day.


Image: Three Congressman Announce Retirement on Same DayFrom left: Reps. Tom Latham, Frank Wolf and Jim Matheson

By Cynthia Fagen

Iowa Republican Tom Latham has become the third House member to announce his retirement on Tuesday, The Hill reported.  He joins Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, and Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah.

“It is never a perfect time or a right time to step aside. But for me, this is the time,” said the 10-term congressman, who is a close friend of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Latham said in an email, “I want to share with you my decision that I will not be a candidate for any office in November of 2014.”

Democrats think they can win the seats held by Latham and Wolf. In the 2012 presidential race Obama won Latham’s district by four percentage points. Matheson’s vacancy could go to a Republican.

Latham’s retirement comes as a surprise, according to The Hill. A year ago he’d defeated Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) in a hotly-contested race, and had turned down national Republicans’ pleas to run for an open Senate seat, according to The Hill. Democrats had been rallying around former state Sen. Staci Appel to run against Latham. It’s unclear who might run on the GOP ticket.

House veteran Wolf said that he planned to continue his work as an advocate of worldwide human rights and religious freedom.

“As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Wolf, who was the first member of Congress to visit the troubled Darfur region of Sudan and has spoken out in defense of oppressed groups such as Tibetans and Kurds.

Matheson was expected to face a tough repeat challenge in 2014 from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a Republican who he narrowly defeated in 2012.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Deportations Plunge as Obama Immigration Law Push Stalls.


Image: Deportations Plunge as Obama Immigration Law Push Stalls

Protesters rally at an immigrant detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Dec. 10.

The Obama administration has cut back on deporting undocumented immigrants, with forced departures on track to drop more than 10 percent from last year, the first annual decline in more than a decade.

In his first term, President Barack Obama highlighted record deportations to show he was getting tough on immigration enforcement, which Republicans and even some Democrats have demanded as a condition for overhauling existing laws.

The last fiscal year was different. The U.S. deported 343,020 people in the U.S. illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show. If that pace continued through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, removals would reach a six-year low.

The drop, which comes as Obama faces growing criticism from Hispanics over deportations, is a result of a new policy of focusing limited enforcement resources “on public safety, national security and border security,” ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said. “ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration-enforcement strategy,” she said. “Our removal numbers illustrate this.”

Legislation to revamp the U.S. immigration system is stalled because of resistance from Republicans in the House of Representatives. Republican lawmakers opposed to changes backed by both Obama and former President George W. Bush, including offering a path to citizenship to the country’s estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, have demanded tougher enforcement before considering new legislation.

Pushing Back

Yet as deportations climbed to a record 409,900 last year, Obama has faced pushback from the Democratic Party’s Hispanic backers, who helped provide his victory margin in two elections. There have also been protests from immigration activists, most recently at a speech he gave last month in San Francisco.

“He’s going to continue to be confronted,” Representative Luis Gutierrez said of Obama, a fellow Illinois Democrat. “You can’t say you’re going to protect the undocumented and give them a pathway to citizenship, and then deport them in unprecedented numbers.”

Even with the decline this year, about 1.93 million people have been deported during Obama’s five years in office. That approaches Bush’s eight-year total and is almost as many as in the 108 years between the administrations of Presidents Benjamin Harrison, when Department of Homeland Security records begin, and Bill Clinton.

Contractors Benefit

What’s more, a decline in deportations doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people will be locked up.

In 2009, a Democratic-controlled Congress set a minimum on how many undocumented immigrants should be detained each day pending hearings. It’s now 34,000, up from about 20,000 in 2005.

Even a broad immigration bill approved by the Senate this year — which creates a road to citizenship for undocumented workers — would “increase the prison population by about 14,000 inmates annually by 2018” due to more spending on enforcement, a congressional cost-estimate projected.

That may have a positive effect on companies that the government increasingly relies on to detain those being held for deportation hearings, if it becomes law, said Kevin Campbell, who tracks private prison companies for Avondale Partners, a Nashville-based financial-services company.

“You think about immigration reform and you intuitively think that means less people prosecuted for immigration offenses, but it seems like it will be just the opposite,” Campbell said.

The surge in deportations has benefited companies such as Boca Raton, Florida-based GEO Group Inc., which runs prisons in five countries. ICE accounted for 17 percent of the company’s $1.48 billion in revenue last year, up from 11 percent of $1.04 billion in revenue in 2008, according to company filings.

Policy Changes

Campbell and ICE officials said the drop in deportations stems from changes the administration started making in 2011.

In a departure from Bush’s policies, which emphasized raids on businesses suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants, then- ICE Director John Morton said deportations should focus on “national security, public safety and border security.”

Morton discouraged agents from detaining young immigrants, crime victims and “individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints.”

This “prosecutorial discretion” accounted for 16,300 immigration court cases being closed in 2013, according to data compiled for Bloomberg by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. That’s up from 9,700 last year.

About 58 percent of deportations in 2013 were of “criminals,” ICE data show. In 2008, it was 31 percent.

More Exemptions

The list of exemptions has continued to grow.

In June 2012, five months before his re-election, Obama exempted from deportation certain undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security halted deportations for families of U.S. military members because of the “stress and anxiety” that possible forced removals puts on those in the Armed Services.

The change has provoked administration critics.

“These are policies that severely restrict ICE agents from arresting and charging illegal aliens,” said Jessica Vaughn, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, which opposes increased immigration.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said during a Dec. 3 hearing that the changes “push executive power beyond all limits.”

“President Obama is the first president since Richard Nixon to ignore a duly enacted law simply because he disagrees with it,” he said.

‘Prosecutorial Discretion’

The president isn’t ignoring the law, White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday.

“We have to enforce the law,” he said. “There is prosecutorial discretion, and that is applied. The focus is on those who’ve committed felonies.”

That approach, he said, is “not a replacement for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Advocates for the Senate bill want Obama to do more. This month, 29 House Democrats, including Gutierrez, signed a letter calling on Obama to suspend deportations.

That has backing from the AFL-CIO. The federation of labor unions with 13 million members spent at least $6.4 million supporting Obama in his 2012 re-election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“The president has the authority and the ability to ease this crisis,” said Ana Avendano, director of immigration and community action at the AFL-CIO.

Facing Protests

Obama was interrupted at an immigration rally on Nov. 25 in San Francisco when Ju Hong, a college student standing on the riser behind him, yelled that the president has “power to stop deportations for all.”

“Actually, I don’t,” Obama replied. “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws.”

The bill that the Senate passed in June with bipartisan support has stalled in the House, where Republican Speaker John Boehner said on Nov. 13 that he has “no intention” of considering it.

That doesn’t mean attempts to change the law are dead. Boehner said he prefers passing parts of the legislation separately, and Obama has said he’s willing to support that approach.

New Hire

Boehner this month hired Rebecca Tallent, who as the Bipartisan Policy Center’s director of immigration policy helped on immigration bills as a staff member for Senator John McCain and former Representative Jim Kolbe. The two Republicans supported easing immigration laws.

With an average of about 1,000 deportations a day this year, that means more than 165,000 immigrants have been removed from the country since the Senate bill passed.

“We just want the chance to be able to work,” said Rebeca Nolasco, a 21-year-old who received deferred action and whose mother, Diana Ramos, is in an Arizona detention center facing deportation. “It doesn’t harm anyone.”
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Newsday’s Ellis Henican: Obama’s Right to Talk to America’s Enemies.


The Obama administration is right to reach out to America’s enemies, including Iran and Cuba, according to Newsday columnist Ellis Henican.

“There are 190 countries in the world, probably half of them, say, are run by dreadful people who do awful things to their citizens, who don’t have our Bill of Rights and our level of freedom. And so you’re left with a choice,” Henican told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

Story continues below video.

“You can insult them and turn your back and poke your finger in the eye or you can try to engage them,” Henican said.

In recent weeks, the United States hammered out a controversial nuclear disarmament deal with Iran and revealed it has had informal talks with Cuba.

Henican — co-author with former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist of the upcoming book, “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat” — admitted the strategy doesn’t always work.

“Engaging is always frustrating. It’s never perfect, and the other side uses it for propaganda,” he said.

“But in the long run, haven’t we learned that by and large [to try] to engage people even when we don’t like the way they run their country?”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Bill Hoffmann

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