Morning coffee: 2014


Happy New Year everyone!

Kind of embarrassed? Why aren’t Minnesota voters MORTIFIED at this point?

“People are tired of her antagonistic, propagating gridlock. A lot of people come up to me and say we’re kind of embarrassed by our representation in Washington.” — Democrat Jim Graves, announcing his plans to challenge Michele Bachmann for her seat in Congress again in 2014.

Last year Bachmann beat Graves by only a little over 4,000 votes — in a recently gerrymandered district (making it the most conservative district in the state) — by outspending him 12-to-1 in the one of the cycle’s most expensive congressional campaigns.

Michele Bachmann is just one person. Granted, she’s one crazy, weird, extremely strange person… but! the only reason she’s in Congress with power and influence and a national stage is because thousands of people in Minnesota’s 6th District actually, deliberately chose HER to represent them. Unbelievably these people looked into her glassy eyes, held her thousand-yard stare, and listened to her batshit ideas, garbled facts, and general tinfoilhattery. Then (then!) they marched into a voting booth and decided she was the person who best reflected their beliefs and values. Think about that.

50-49: Senate narrowly passes Democratic budget for 2014

U.S. Senate approves its first budget since 2009
By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, March 23, 2013 6:38 EDT

The US Senate reached a milestone early Saturday when it overcame partisan gridlock to approve its first budget resolution in four years, setting up a political duel with the Republican-held House.

The sweeping plan for fiscal year 2014, the first budget blueprint passed by the Democrat-led Senate under President Barack Obama since 2009, squeaked by by the narrowest of margins, 50-49. [...]

The plan, shepherded by Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray, seeks nearly $1 trillion in new revenue over the next decade, mostly through the closure of tax loopholes that favor the wealthy, and an equal amount in reductions to government spending.

The House of Representatives on Thursday adopted its own budget resolution, which seeks to reach balance within 10 years through significant reductions in federal spending, the overhaul of entitlements like Medicare and the repeal of Obama’s health care law.

The glaring partisanship of Congress ensures that neither plan will be enacted into law. Instead they will serve as the starting points for a broader debate this year over budget policy.


  • 100 amendments were voted on in a marathon, 13-hour session known in the Senate as a “vote-a-rama.
  • The parties’ leaders contended with more than 560 filed amendments. Most fell by the wayside and were not voted on, but there were key amendments that were approved, including a repeal of an unpopular tax on medical devices that was enacted as part of “Obamacare.”
  • Senators also went on record in support of the Keystone Pipeline.


  • Joining all Republicans voting no were four Democrats who face re-election next year in potentially difficult races: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., did not vote.
  • The Senate’s budget would shrink annual federal shortfalls over the next decade to nearly $400 billion, raise unspecified taxes by $975 billion and cull modest savings from domestic programs.
  • They also voiced support for eliminating the $2,500 annual cap on flexible spending account contributions imposed by Obama’s health care overhaul.
  • [They voted] for charging regular postal rates for mailings by political parties, which currently qualify for the lower prices paid by non-profits.
  • In a rebuke to one of the Senate’s most conservative members, they overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to cut even deeper than the House GOP budget and eliminate deficits in just five years.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget claims $4 trillion more in savings… by digging deeply into Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs for the needy. It would also transform the Medicare health care program for seniors into a voucher-like system for future recipients.
  • They voted in favor of giving states more powers to collect sales taxes on online purchases their citizens make from out-of-state Internet companies.
  • Shoehorned into the package is $100 billion for public works projects and other programs aimed at creating jobs.

NEXT UP: this summer’s hostage crisis

Jon Stewart: “It’s really a ‘right to work’ … around the union for the corporation.”

“It’s really a ‘right to work’… around the union for the corporation. It’s one of those things that are actually named for the opposite of the thing they do, like strip bars call themselves ‘gentlemen’s clubs.’ Or the TV network, dedicated to making us stupider, is called ‘The Learning Channel.’ Or a TV show that airs four days a week calls itself The Daily Show.

— JON STEWART, The Daily Show (via inothernews)

What’s next for labor in Michigan? Organizing a backlash…

Political Wire reports on what’s next for labor in Michigan:

Organized labor and its allies essentially have two options to overturn the state’s new “right-to-work” law signed yesterday by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

First Read: “First, they have filed legal actions charging that the process violated the state’s Open Meetings Act… Second, critics say they could overturn it by passing a voter-initiated law, which would require getting 258,000 signatures to get on the ballot. And, of course, there’s 2014, when Snyder is up for re-election.”

Fox News: Snyder braces for union backlash.


TPM: Whatever happens, the labor groups say, expect union attempts to exact political vengeance in 2014 when Snyder and other Republican members of the legislature who pushed the legislation are up for reelection. The likely first decision for pro-labor groups is whether to try and overturn the new right-to-work law at the ballot box. [...] The new law won’t take effect for 90 days after the end of the legislative session. It may take longer than that for the law to have a real effect — existing worker contracts are exempted from the new law. So labor and its allies has some time to figure out what to do next in Michigan. But labor groups are determined that Snyder’s signature was just the beginning of a new fight over worker’s rights in Michigan, not the end.

13 things that would have passed the Senate without the Republican filibuster

From The Denver Post:

  1. Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases
  2. Confirm Goodwin Liu as a U.S. Circuit Court Judge
  3. End tax breaks for oil companies
  4. President Obama’s 2011 jobs proposal
  5. Hire more teachers and police officers
  6. Spend $60 billion improving transportation infrastructure
  7. Approve Richard Cordray as head of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection
  8. Overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service
  9. Repeal tax breaks for oil companies
  10. Raise tax rates on millionaires
  11. Allow victims of gender discrimination to sue for punitive damages
  12. Requiring more disclosure of election spending
  13. End tax deduction for moving jobs overseas

Let’s all work to make this Mitch McConnell’s — the Senate Minority Leader’s — last term. What has he contributed towards the good of the country or to the American people? Nothing — he had only one goal in four years:

This is a man who CLEARLY needs a new career. He’s obviously not in it for public service, even though he’s been parked in the Senate since 1985.

He comes up for re-election again in 2014.