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Wednesday, March 4, 2015
615 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Wednesday, March 4, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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From the Editor's Desk
- Last week, something happened that, amid all the national political news going on, I didn’t cover much, although it had a large effect on my state and me personally.
- Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich’s death last Thursday, an apparent suicide, was shocking and tragic; Schweich was a candidate for governor, who had just announced his campaign last month; a public servant; a father; and husband to his seventh-grade sweetheart.
- Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth delivered the eulogy at Schweich’s funeral yesterday, addressing head-on the “whispering campaign” that the gubernatorial candidate was Jewish, which Schweich had been “upset about” in the final weeks of his life.
- The eulogy is very powerful and moving, a correct and sad assessment of politics in Missouri and around the nation today, and a call to action to stop the bullying that has made its way into the business of government.
- “Tom called this [whispering campaign that he was Jewish] anti-Semitism, and of course it was,” Danforth said. “The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry. Someone said this was no different than saying a person is a Presbyterian. Here’s how to test the credibility of that remark: When was the last time anyone sidled up to you and whispered into your ear that such and such a person is a Presbyterian?”
- “Tom said that the press would only run with the story if he went public, and that if he didn’t make an issue out of anti-Semitism, no one would.”
- “What haunts me [is that] I had always told him to take the high ground and never give it up, and he believed that, and it had become his life. Now I had advised him that to win election he should hope someone else would take up the cause.”
- “The message for the rest of us reflects my own emotion after learning of Tom’s death, which has been overwhelming anger that politics has gone so hideously wrong, and that the death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become. I believe deep in my heart that it’s now our duty, yours and mine, to turn politics into something much better than its now so miserable state.”
- “As for the radio commercial, making fun of someone’s physical appearance, calling him a ‘little bug’, there is one word to describe it: ‘bullying.’ And there is one word to describe the person behind it: ‘bully.’”
- “We read stories about cyberbullying, and hear of young girls who killed themselves because of it. But what should we expect from children when grown ups are their examples of how bullies behave?”
- “This will be our memorial to Tom: that politics as it now exists must end, and we will end it. And we will get in the face of our politicians, and we will tell them that we are fed up, and that we are not going to take this anymore.”
- Those were just some excerpts from Danforth’s brilliant eulogy. I encourage you all to read the complete text, as well as this moving editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Wake Up To Politics
Capitol Hill News
- Congress Funds DHS Through Fiscal Year The House voted Tuesday to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the fiscal year (until September 30), sending the bill to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
- The funding bill passed the lower chamber 257-167, with 75 Republicans joining all 182 Democrats voting in favor of the measure, which was a “clean bill” that did nothing beyond fund the agency. This is exactly what Democrats have been calling for, and the measure represents a huge win for the party and a loss for conservative Republicans, who tried to tie DHS funding to the blocking of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
- The Senate had voted 58-31 on Monday to send the “clean” bill to the House. All present Democrats voted united behind the measure, while Republicans were divided – 16 Republicans voted “yea,” including the top two Senate GOPers, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (TX).
- In both chambers, Republican leaders (who control the majorities) voted for the “clean” bill, bucking conservative members of their caucuses, and relying on Democratic minorities to fund the DHS.
- With President Obama expected to sign the bill soon, the DHS funding crisis has been averted – until September, at least.
- ---LINK: Netanyahu Address I wrote at length about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a Joint Meeting of Congress yesterday, unpacking the controversy behind the speech. If you missed that – I encourage you to read it.
- For some analysis on the address itself, read more in Vox’s five telling moments from Netnayhau’s speech.
- Senate Schedule The Senate holds a cloture vote today on overriding President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL bill.
- While the final vote to override will require 67 votes, the procedural vote today will require 60.
- 62 senators voted for the Keystone bill when it passed the chamber originally.
- Obamacare Returns to the Supreme Court The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell today, a case that could threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
- King v. Burwell is a lawsuit by four Virginians, led by David M. King, objecting to subsidies providing through the health insurance exchanges that Obamacare set up for people to shop for insurance. These subsidies are given to people meeting income requirements, but the plaintiffs argue that the subsidies can only be provided through the state exchanges and not through the federal exchange (states were given the opportunity to set up their own exchange, which 16 did; citizens in the rest of the states rely on a federal exchange).
- If there were no subsidies, the plaintiffs argue, they would not have to buy health insurance that they don’t want.
- The argument in this case is over one small passage in the Affordable Care Act – providing subsidies through exchanges “established by the State” – and whether that should be interpreted as the individual states or as inclusive to the federal government. While the case hinges on three words, it could have a huge effect on the future of Obamacare.
- Subsidies were a main part of the health care law: it is how the government sought to make care affordable, to live up to the legislation’s name. Without the subsidies in place (if the Supreme Court rules for King and the other plaintiffs), an estimated 8 million Americans would lose health insurance.
- The Affordable Care Act has been challenged at the Supreme Court twice already – in one case, the individual mandate was upheld, while in the other, the law’s requirement for business to offer contraceptive coverage was overturned.
- The individual mandate was another large part of the law, and that was upheld – but that doesn’t the subsidies will too. These are very different cases: the individual mandate case focused on the law’s constitutionality, while King v. Burwell hinges on an interpretation.
- Oral arguments are this morning – and what justices say could give a hint as to their feelings on the case, but other than that, it’s hard to know which way they’ll go.
Justice Department to Release Ferguson Report
- Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce today that a Justice Department report found the Ferguson police department violated the Constitution by disproportionately stopping and using force against African-Americans.
- The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown following his shooting by police offer Darren Wilson vaulted the suburb Brown lived in, Ferguson, to national attention, and jumpstarted investigations into the practices of the city’s police department.
- The review compiles practices by the Ferguson police and municipal courts violating numerous federal laws, as well as the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments.
- While African-Americans make up 67% of Ferguson’s population, 93% of arrests in the town are of black residents.
- In addition, at the municipal courts – cases against whites were much more likely to be dismisses, and impoverished blacks were more likely to be sent to jail and fined.
- Not only that, but the Justice Department uncovered two racist emails written by Ferguson police and court officials. One was written in November 2008, and said Barack Obama would not be president for four years because “what black man holds a steady job for four years”.
- The DOJ report spells trouble for the Ferguson police department, and shows the issues first brought up at Michael Brown’s shooting are not likely to go away.
- Ben Carson Forms Presidential Exploratory Committee Neurosurgeon Ben Carson launched a committee Tuesday to explore a presidential campaign in 2016.
- According to CNN, “The move indicates Carson is right on track with stated plans to formally announce his bid in May. He's made a number of staff hires in recent weeks, including a national fundraising director, that suggest he's ramping up in preparation for an announcement this spring.”
- While Carson has no political experience, he is popular among conservatives for his 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he criticized President Obama, who was just steps away from him.
- ---LINK: Ben Carson is no sure bet as the GOP nominee, but he’s already looking past the primaries to the general election. Politico details his strategy: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/ben-carson-general-election-strategy-115713.html?ml=tl_5
Question of the Day
- Yesterday’s Answer Tuesday, as Hillary Clinton spoke at the EMILY’s List gala, the trivia question was – EMILY is an acronoym for what in the pro-abortion PAC’s name?
- The answer: Early Money Is Like Yeast. How, you might ask? It raises the dough.
- GREAT JOB…@IQ_KC and @jacobhsmith (who answered via Twitter), Brad Chotiner, Janice Goodman, Steve Gitnik, Rick Isserman, Terry Bloomberg, Deb Dubin, Tobias Gibson, and Sheryl Sharp!!!