Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

By: Dan Froomkin
The Huffington Post

Poll watchers from groups ostensibly targeting voter fraud are headed primarily to minority voting precincts on Election Day, lending support to the argument that their real goal is to suppress the African-American and Latino vote.

A partial list of precincts targeted by a Pittsburgh Tea Party group working on behalf of the Republican Party shows that nearly 80 percent of the voters in those precincts are African-American, compared to 13 percent countywide, according to civil rights and union groups who on Monday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

An Ohio political blog is reporting that forms submitted to election officials by Tea Party spin-off group True the Vote in Franklin County — which includes Columbus — show poll watchers heading to 28 precincts, where most voters are African-American. Overall, the county electorate is 20 percent African-American.

“We’ve been concerned from the beginning that the efforts of True the Vote and aligned groups were going to be targeted largely in communities of color,” said Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We’ve seen in the past where these kinds of tactics can lead to intimidation and harassment of voters.”

A potentially even greater concern now is that the groups will use the voter challenge process “for the express purpose of creating lines and confusion,” Marshall said.

Prohibitively long lines, particularly where Democrats are in the majority, are a net plus for Republicans; extraordinarily long lines for early voting in South Florida resulted from Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s rollback of early voting days there.

Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement founder Patti Weaver, whose group trained the would-be poll watchers there, said her volunteers wouldn’t interfere with anyone. “We are not harassing voters. We won’t be talking to voters. We’re just there to observe,” she told HuffPost.

As for the list of precincts, she said: “Nobody’s targeting African-Americans anywhere in the country, that I know of. We’re sending volunteers to precincts which have had irregularities in the past or statistical issues.”

Weaver said the list was provided by fellow activist Bob Howard, but Howard told HuffPost he didn’t make the list himself. “I was not involved in the selection process. I don’t know the details,” he said.

He was told that many of the precincts were on the list because in previous elections, reports were sent in to the local Republican Party or to specific GOP candidates “that there was something at the poll that was a problem.” Others were there because of unusual swings in voting activity, he said.

He said the reasons were explained to him by the man who gave him the list: Chris Metz, executive director of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.

Metz, however, would not answer questions about how the list was created. “That I cannot speak upon,” he told HuffPost. “That is the state party that put that together.”

He had no further comment. The spokesperson for the Pennyslvania Republican Party did not return phone messages.

But Nicole Berner, a lawyer with the Service Employees International Union — the group that obtained the list of precincts — said the only strong statistical correlation among them is race. The list was obtained by an independent community organizer who attended one of the poll watcher-training sessions and was able to jot down information about 59 of the 111 precincts that the group was asking people to sign up for, according to Berner.

Berner and others have requested that the Department of Justice ask the Republican Party for the complete list. “On the basis of the data that we ran, we can’t find any other single factor that would tie these precincts together, so how did you get this list?” said Berner.

A spokesperson for True the Vote, which vowed to send a million poll watchers out to hunt down voter fraud, did not respond to an email inquiry. Its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, told The New York Times that she suddenly became concerned with voter fraud after President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. “I don’t know, something clicked,” she told the Times.

Marshall pointed out that none of the groups has provided evidence of in-person voter fraud anywhere — and groups have not provided evidence “to back up exactly why they should send all their poll watchers to African-American neighborhoods.” Lacking that evidence, he said, “we have concerns as to why they’re sending them to those locations.

“I’m not going to describe motivation,” he said. “I think the targeting of where they’re sending people speaks volumes.”

Marshall said that anyone witnessing any kind of voter intimidation on Election Day should call the voter protection hotline at (866) OUR-VOTE, or 866ourvote.org. “Then we’ll try to work through the laws and procedures in that county to get those people to either stop or be removed.”

President Obama and congressional Democrats finally found a fight they wanted to pick with Republicans. And it’s a policy fight they thought they could win. They were fighting for a tax CUT for the working people, also known as the Middle Class… or what the Republicans call, The Ones Who Need to Pay Their Fair Share.  Republicans do not want that tax cut.

            This payroll tax is going to expire at the end of December, just around Christmas time…perfect right?  If the Dems allowed that to happen, or if the Almighty Congress continues to be that Lame Duck, the Middle Class (the spoiled children), are going to get a nice tax hike for Christmas.  The average family would have to worry about $1,000 tax increase on top of bills, Christmas spending, other taxes, etc.  It’s found that a single person making $50,000 a year would have to pay $1,000 more next year if Congress didn’t extend the cuts.  This is politics folks, not just basic math.  Herein lies the problem, Dems don’t work well in politics and Republicans don’t work well in MATH.  Mind you, the Republicans have already voted NO on the President’s job bill and the tax cuts included in the bill.  But the dastardly Democrats decided to make them do it again.  The Republicans were forced to vote a second time against tax cuts.  As of yesterday evening, the Republicans caved for once… and in an intelligent manner.

            On December 1st, Senator Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell ofKentucky, gave a little statement at the end of the day, saying, “In all likelihood, we will agree to continue the current payroll tax relief for another year. I think at the end of the day, there’s a lot of sentiment in our conference. Clearly, a majority of sentiment for continuing the payroll tax relief that we enacted a year ago in these tough times.”  Awww, thanks Mr. McConnell, that’s mighty white of you.  But once again, you LIED!

On December 2nd, the Senate blocked the vote with a filibuster and the bill to extend the payroll tax died a 51-49 death.  The last time I checked 51 over 49 is a majority, but that’s a different argument for a different day.  Obama is now trying to get the American public involved in the fight, as they should already be, “Let your members of Congress know where you stand, Obama said. “Tell them not to vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays.  Tell them to put country before party.  Put money back in the pockets of working Americans. Pass these tax cuts.”  The whole “Pass these tax cuts” sounds awfully close to the “Pass this bill” mantra the administration adopted during its push of their American Jobs Act.  We all saw how well the Republicans in Congress listen to chants.

This shows how the obstructive Republicans in Congress actually are.  One cannot believe how intelligent, center-leaning Republicans can still vote their party line during elections.  The obstructionist Right Wing voted AGAINST keeping teachers in the classrooms, cops on the street, firefighters on the job, and construction workers on site rebuilding our roads and bridges.  So there, Republicans have STOPPED job creation and halted REAL job creators, the people they say they are looking out for.  Also, the Republicans in Congress decided against helping to solve the nation’s deficit by promoting policies that protect tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires (Republican Job Creators), while cutting funds for children’s education…you know, our future…medical research, and Medicare.

But they believe increasing the tax on the Middle Class of 160 million people by a thousand dollars or more. That’s more than half of this nation’s population!  How do tax cuts on the rich pay for themselves, while tax cuts on 160 million people need to be made up by further spending cuts?  Not only do the Dems want the Payroll Tax Cut to be extended, but expanded to $1,500 to the typical family who make $50,000 a year.  Additionally, the Democrats wants new incentives given to six million small businesses to expand and hire…AMERICANS!  Independent economists, you know, the guys that do the research for A LIVING, agree that the Middle Class and the American economy cannot risk being at risk.  Republicans are playing politics with 160 million people’s lives, like Wall Street played games with millions of people’s mortgages.  These are people, real live breathing human beings…NOT CHIPS ON A TABLE.

During the previous administration, the Republicans in Congress had no problem initiating AND extending the Payroll Tax Cut.  Here are some examples:

Sen. Alexander

12/9/10:  ”QUESTION: And if you look at the proportions, though, of the top, top sector of earners in this country getting the bulk of the benefits, why does that help?

ALEXANDER: Well, if you’re a small business person in Tennessee, what this means is that you won’t be paying tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps more, in taxes and you can use that to create a job. It also means that your employees who work there will get a one-third reduction in their payroll tax payments every two weeks. And maybe they’ll spend some more money creating more jobs. So it’s a combination of policies that all together are focused on jobs.” [NPR, 12/9/10]

Sen. Kyl

11/20/09: MR. KUDLOW: All right. Let me go to a couple of other things. We had Senator Thune on last night about ending TARP, putting a stake in TARP by the end of the year. But Mr. Kyl, let me just ask you. Suppose you got $300 billion from ending TARP. Wouldn’t it be better to give it back to the taxpayers in the form of lower tax rates? Wouldn’t that be a terrific thing with 10.2 percent unemployment, kind of “we, the people,” the government works for us, and they could use the extra cash right now and maybe some incentives on lower rates for payroll taxes?

SEN. KYL: Yeah. As a matter of fact, the original intent here was that when the money was paid back by the banks, you didn’t create a revolving account there, you lowered the debt. That is to say, you simply retired that aspect of the debt. Remember, this is all borrowed money from the Chinese and elsewhere. So you can do one of two things with it. You can either retire the debt, or what you’re suggesting here is that you can do some things to stimulate job creation and certainly something like reducing the payroll tax, which has been written about recently, would accomplish that. There are other ways you can do it as well.”  [CNBC, Kudlow Report, 11/20/09]

Sen. DeMint

11/29/11: “Republican leaders said Tuesday they would join Democrats in supporting an extension of the 2011 payroll-tax cut despite some reluctance within the GOP, virtually assuring that American wage-earners will continue to receive the benefit next year. Republicans still oppose Democrats’ plan to pay for the tax break with a tax on people earning more than $1 million a year. GOP leaders said they would find another way to pay for the tax break and predicted it would pass. ‘I think at the end of the day, there’s a lot of sentiment in our conference—clearly a majority sentiment—for continuing the payroll-tax relief that we enacted a year ago in these tough times,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said. Republicans and some economists have questioned the value of the payroll-tax break, saying its economic impact is limited by its temporary nature and the fact that some people use the spare cash to pay down debt, rather than buy things. Some argue Congress should revamp the whole tax code rather than temporarily reducing individual taxes. ‘I think it’s a mistake to do this little tax and that little tax,’ said Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.). ‘We need to reform our tax code if we’re going to be competitive internationally.’ Nonetheless, Mr. DeMint said he would support the extension because ‘I just don’t think it’s a good time to increase any taxes.’” [Wall Street Journal, 11/30/11]

Sen. Kirk

9/10/11: AP: Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said Obama’s proposals to cut the payroll tax and approve trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama should receive quick, bipartisan action.” [AP, 9/10/11]

Sen. Blunt

7/8/10: “Blunt agreed that a payroll tax holiday, a 100 percent depreciation of capital expenses, and other ideas could have worked to stimulate the economy, but said the $800 billion federal spending plan happened in 2009 because President Barack Obama has a fundamentally different view of how to help the economy than most Republicans and many rural Americans.” [Pulaski County Daily, 7/8/10]

Sen. Johanns

11/30/11: New York Times: “Another Republican senator has opened the door to tax increases on high earners as a way to pay for a payroll tax cut, showing more movement in the party ranks after resistance all year to tax increases. ‘I sense a change in mood,’ Senator Mike Johanns, Republican of Nebraska, said Wednesday. ‘It’s a little more bipartisan. My position has always been, ‘Let’s not raise taxes,’ but on the other hand, I don’t want our country to collapses under a mountain of debt. If that means compromise, I am going to do everything to get that done.’…Democrats are seeking to reduce the Social Security payroll tax paid by employees by half, to 3.1. percent of wages, a position many Republicans support.” [New York Times, 11/30/11]

2009 Republican Stimulus Proposal Included a Payroll Tax Cut

2/5/09: 40 Republican Senators Voted For The Republican Substitute Stimulus Which Included A Payroll Tax Cut.  On February 2, 2009, 40 Republican senators voted for a McCain motion to consider an alternative Republican stimulus bill that “would have cut income and payroll taxes….” according to the Associated Press.  The motion was rejected 40-57. [Senate Roll Call Vote #45, 2/5/09; AP, 2/5/09]

  • 18 Republican Senators Voted Against Both Payroll Tax Cut Extension Bills On December 2, 2011 But Voted For A Payroll Tax Cut On February 5, 2009: Alexander, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Corker, Cornyn, DeMint, Graham, Hatch, Inhofe, Isakson, Johanns, Kyl, Roberts, Sessions, Shelby, And Thune.  [Senate Roll Call Vote #45, 2/5/09; Senate Roll Call Vote #219, 12/1/11; Senate Roll Call Vote #220, 12/1/11]
  • 10/15/09: Sen. McCain: “Mr. President, earlier this year I put forward a proposal to eliminate the 3.1 percent payroll tax for one year for all employees in order to put more money in every working American’s pocket during these difficult economic times.  This would have been a real stimulus to our economy.  Unfortunately, every Democrat in this chamber voted against this common sense proposal. ‘The regressive payroll tax oppresses all Americans, especially young men and women, and burdens small businesses that must match the tax that their employees pay.  About 41 percent of Americans have no income tax liability.  But every wage-earner is hit by the payroll tax no matter how much or how little one earns.  For 86 percent of all working Americans, the payroll tax they pay is more than their income tax liability.” [Sen. John McCain – Floor Statement, 10/15/09– video available via C-SPAN]
  • 3/26/09: Sen. McCain: “Our proposal would have helped fix the housing crisis, invested in our nation’s infrastructure through effective and restrained spending, put money immediately back into the hands of all Americans through a payroll tax holiday, and allowed businesses to keep more of their profits to hire new employees, invest in capital and expand their businesses.” [Sen. John McCain – Remarks to the Heritage Foundation, 3/26/09

According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, Florida Governor Rick Scott is cutting $1.5 Billion in Corporate Tax Cuts while reducing spending to the state’s education budget by $3.3 Billion.  So Gov. Scott and his Florida state legislature believe it is beneficial to the state to cut funding to education and give the money to corporations in the forms of subsidies and tax breaks.

The Arizona Republic/Newsweek reports that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is giving a $538 Million tax-break over the next ten years while cutting $541 Million in Medicaid funding for her constituents.

Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder is cutting $1.67 Billion on the poor and elderly while dolling out $1.73 Billion to corporate fat-cats.

Wisconsin’s own Scott Walker, in addition to trying to strip away the rights of the working person, he is cutting taxes by $140 Million to corporations while legislating tax hikes on the poor and elderly to the tune of $490 Million.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, a super-secret tax haven “house” has been discovered that is supposed to represent 2000+ corporations. This link takes you to a report that sheds some light on this shady home.  Wyoming LLC Services is the company that is providing this haven for all sorts of corporations using one employee, “Rhoda,” along with the occasional mail carrier.