John Koster, the Republican challenger in Washington’s 2nd Congressional District doesn’t like to talk about Social Security “privatization,” unless, you know, he’s convinced he’s talking to a room full of fellow Republicans.
And that was exactly the situation on February 16, 2010, when Koster not only explained how confident he was that privatization would work, but even boasted about advocating for it a decade early:
“Individual retirement accounts will work. I advocated for those ten years ago, and you look at where Medicare and Social Security and those entitlement programs are going to soon consume nearly twenty percent of our annual federal budget. Twenty percent. And phasing those individual retirement accounts in will work.”
Of course, that’s total bullshit. Social Security ran a $180 billion surplus last year—the only federal program to run a surplus—and has an accumulated reserve of over $2.4 trillion. If we do absolutely nothing at all to “fix” Social Security it can continue to pay full benefits through 2037, and benefits at only a slightly reduced level indefinitely thereafter. So when Republicans like Koster talk about Social Security being a drain on the federal budget, they’re really talking about the federal government’s obligation to pay back the money it borrowed from the Social Security trust fund.
Koster’s solution? Privatize Social Security and then gradually eliminate federal benefits for retirees. That’s what he means by “phasing in” individual retirement accounts. In other words, he’d rather push retirees into the maws of Wall Street so that he can extend the Bush tax cuts to Wall Street billionaires and the rest of the top two percent of American households.
Meaning this isn’t just class warfare, but intergenerational warfare. Something WA-02 voters of all ages might want to consider as they mark their ballots in the race between Koster and Democratic incumbent Rep. Rick Larsen
In talking up his odds of defeating incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray despite having lost two statewide races himself over the past six years, Republican challenger Dino Rossi likes to point out that he’d previously been handicapped by running in a presidential year. Republicans tend to do better in non-presidential years, when turnout is lower.
(I’ve always found this a curiously revealing assertion for a Republican to make, as it implicitly acknowledges that Republican candidates and their policies are markedly less popular with the general public than the results at the polls might indicate, and that Republicans thus benefit from lower voter participation. You’d think Republicans might be a little embarrassed by this admission, but oddly, no. But then, that’s a subject for another post.)
To some extent Rossi is right. About 25% fewer voters cast ballots in WA’s 2006 U.S. Senate race between Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick than they did in the 2004 race between Murray and George Nethercutt, and the turnout drop-off between 2008 and 2010 is likely to be even greater. This should favor Rossi regardless of the political climate, as Democrats as a whole tend to be less reliable voters than Republicans, so when turnout drops, it almost always disproportionately hurts Democratic candidates.
But the question is, by how much?
For turnout is only one of many factors in an election, and while presidential year turnout certainly worked against WA Republicans in both 2004 and 2008, Rossi himself enjoyed the unique advantage of running against Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has never proven to be particularly popular, even amongst Democrats.
Patty Murray, on the other hand… well… folks just seem to like her.
For example, take a look at the 2004 race, a presidential year when both Murray and Gregoire were on the ballot. Murray actually outpolled John Kerry at the top of the ticket, receiving about 3% more votes than his 1,510,201 total. But Gregoire pulled in about 9% fewer votes than Kerry, and almost 12% fewer than Murray, only 1,373,361 total once all the recounts and court challenges were done.
And in 2008, even though she went on to defeat Rossi by a comfortable 6.5% margin, Gregoire once again tallied only about 91% as many votes as the Democrat at the top of the ticket, President Barack Obama.
That’s a pretty substantial drop-off, suggesting that Gregoire’s relative lack of likability made Rossi look more competitive than he otherwise might have against somebody like, say, Patty Murray. Who, you know, he’s actually facing off against this time around.
So yeah, turnout is going to be substantially lower in 2010 than it was in 2008, and that favors Rossi. But Murray is simply better liked by Democrats and independents than Gregoire ever was, and that’s a factor that by comparison, works strongly to Rossi’s disadvantage. And it’s a disadvantage I’ve never believed he could overcome.
It’s the Tuesday before the election. And that make for an excellent excuse to enjoy an evening of politics under the influence. Please join us at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning at about 8:00 pm. Some of us will be there early for dinner.
Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 250 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.
Um, here’s the thing Piper… you may think you’ve somehow stuck it to Rep. Geoff Simpson by reprinting his allegedly “profanity-laden” response to your email thread with Sound Transit’s Geoff Patrick, but the truth is, you are “a paid shill of the right-wing,” you are a “prostitute,” and judging from the “sick voyeurism” of your inquiries, you most certainly are a “piece of shit” and an “asshole.”
And in fact, that’s one of the traits that so endears Rep. Simpson to many of his supporters: his willingness to discard politics as usual, and speak the plain truth to right-wing, paid-shill, piece-of-shit assholes like you.
Oh. And by the way. If you’re going to reprint Geoff’s email, for the sake of full disclosure, shouldn’t you also reprint the entire email thread that ultimately prompted his response, so that your handful of readers on the EFF blog can judge for themselves what kind of right-wing, paid-shill, piece-of-shit asshole you really are? I mean you wouldn’t want to look like a hypocrite, would you?
So as a public service I’ve reprinted it for you after the break. I mean, the EFF is all about full disclosure, right?
If you thought the brutal head stomping of a MoveOn activist outside last night’s U.S. Senate debate in Lexington KY was some sort of random act of mob violence, well, think again. It turns out that the assailant was Tim Profitt, Paul’s now-former Bourbon County Coordinator. And, according to the victim, it appears to have been premeditated as well.
“The Rand Paul campaign knows me and they have expressed their distaste for my work before,” Lauren Valle, 23, told TPM and two other reporters on a conference call this afternoon.
According to Valle, several men surrounded her before Paul arrived at the event in Lexington last night.
“They surrounded me,” she said. “There were about five of them, they started motioning to each other, and they got behind me.”
Valle says her partner, whom she identified as Alex, overheard the men threaten, “we’re here to do crowd control and we might have to take someone out…”
“Rand Paul’s car arrived, and as soon as it did, a couple of them stepped right in front of me and so I stepped off the curb to get around them, back out to the front, and at that point they started grabbing for me and I ran all the way around the car with them in pursuit, and the point at which they see the footage is after I’ve run all the way around the car and am in front of the car and that is when they take me down,” Valle said.
I’m not sure what’s more disturbing, the thought that this might have been an unprovoked, premeditated act of physical violence, or the thought that assailants actually believed that a 23-year-old, female MoveOn activist presented enough of a clear and present physical threat to Paul, that they chased her around car, tackled her to the ground, and stomped on her head in self-defense?
Because if they really believe that our mere presence is so dangerous, absolutely anything could happen next.
Attention 41st LD voters: in the state Senate race between Democrat Randy Gordon and Republican Steve Litzow, only one of the two candidates is Jewish. And despite his Jewishy sounding name, it’s not Steve Litzow. Just in case that kinda stuff is important to you.
Now be a mensch, and vote.
If voter fraud is as rampant in Washington state as Republicans like to say it is, then Secretary of State Sam Reed might want to rethink his enforcement priorities.
From: Ammons, Dave
Subject: `Voting service’
Cc: “Blinn, Katie”, “Handy, Nick”, “Zylstra, Brian”
Date: Monday, October 25, 2010, 11:06 AM
Please take down your blog post on Voting Service. I assume this is satire, but our Elections Division reminds that you could be charged with a crime:
This is illegal:
RCW 29A.84.610 Deceptive, incorrect vote recording.
A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who knowingly:
(1) Deceives any voter in recording his or her vote by providing incorrect or misleading recording information or by providing faulty election equipment or records; or
(2) Records the vote of any voter in a manner other than as designated by the voter.
Such a gross misdemeanor is punishable to the same extent as a gross misdemeanor that is punishable under RCW 9A.20.021.
We are pretty sensitive about talk of ballot selling, etc. And of course the ballot would never be counted, because the signature would not match the one on file for the voter. But attempted vote fraud can be penalized by a prison sentence and a big fine.
If you have any questions, please contact Katie Blinn, assistant director of elections and an attorney, 360-902-4168.
Office of Secretary of State
Um… really Dave? The most pressing threat of voter fraud in Washington state is a satirical blog post lampooning Republicans’ hyperbolic claims of voter fraud in Washington state? For this you send an email threatening legal action?
I don’t doubt Ammons when he writes that his office is “pretty sensitive about talk of ballot selling, etc.,” but he should remember that most if not all of this talk has come in the form of bogus charges from Republicans… charges that can only stem from either a genuine (if loony) belief in massive, endemic, Democratic voter fraud, or from the fact that the accusers are a bunch of cynical, democracy-hating liars. So if Ammons and Reed really believe that intimidating bloggers is the best means of protecting the integrity of our elections system, rather than harassing BlatherWatch, perhaps they should focus their lawyers’ attentions on the vicious, hate-spewing, voter-fraud-conspiracy-spinning, paranoid propagandists at Sound Politics and Orbusmax?
(And again… really Dave? You’re gonna take your cues from a sociopathic, delusional, wingnut who calls himself “The Orb”…? … A proto-fascist, shooting-spree-waiting-to-happen, who Michael aptly describes as “a rightie blogger whose political agenda requires he not get the joke,” and who ironically considers me “frightening,” “treasonous” and “a danger”…? Really?)
The truth is, elections in Washington state are extraordinarily clean, resulting in only a handful of voter fraud prosecutions, even in the wake of the hotly disputed 2004 gubernatorial election contest. In fact I asked Ammons for an actual count of recent voter fraud cases, and he responded, “None that I’m aware of…”
We do want to be hypervigilant about potential fraud. There is a lot of misinformation out there – urban myths, if you will – that keep roiling in some quarters, including some media outlets. It’s something our Elections folks take seriously, to the point about not joking about it. Too many people don’t get the humor and think it’s really possible to do such shenanigans, or worse.
No doubt. But I’m not convinced that pandering to the baseless fears of humorless conspiracy theorists is the best communications strategy.
Indeed, as a sometimes-satirist myself, I’d argue that the best remedy against the slanderous ravings of the likes of Stefan Sharkansky and Jim “The Orb” Walker, is to heap even further ridicule upon them. And in that noble public service, BlatherWatch deserves an official thank you from the Secretary of State for a job well done.
There are two separate court dates tomorrow – one in Thurston County (8:45am) and one in Kitsap County (1:30pm) – where controversial medical marijuana prosecutions are occurring. The one in Thurston County involves a wheelchair-bound man with hereditary spastic paraplegia who didn’t get an authorization from a doctor until after his arrest. The one in Kitsap County involves a caregiver whose patient re-sold marijuana to an undercover cop. I know little more about these cases, but will update this post tomorrow with any further updates.
One of the biggest issues in the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Brian Baird in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, is not Social Security privatization per se, but rather, where Republican nominee Jaime Herrera stands on it.
Like most Americans, the vast majority of WA-03 voters oppose Social Security privatization, because they understand the role this crucial program has played over the past 75 years in raising our nation’s elderly out of poverty, and they understand that, if Republican privatization proposals had prevailed, many retirees would have been wiped out by the Bush recession and its resulting stock market collapse. That’s not really up for debate.
But whether Herrera would be a reliable vote for privatization—or whatever Republicans choose to call it next time around—that’s an issue that should weigh heavily on WA-03 voters as they struggle to fill out their ballots during these tough economic times.
Of course, after being pounded on the issue by her Democratic opponent Denny Heck, Herrera now claims that she opposes “privatization.” But that wasn’t her position at a Republican candidate forum in Lewis County last May, when the moderator bluntly asked the panel: ”Do you believe that Americans should be able to use all or a portion of their Social Security taxes to invest in individually owned retirement accounts, such as a 401-K or an IRA?”
As you can see in the video above, Herrera joins her fellow Republicans in answering “Yes.”
That’s the sorta answer Herrera needed to give to win a primary against an insurgent Tea Party challenger… though now her campaign claims that she merely “misunderstood” the question.
“Private accounts” and “privatization” are two ways of describing the same thing, and if Herrera doesn’t understand that, how can voters really trust her to protect Social Security from Wall Street backed “reforms?” Of course, they can’t, which perhaps explains why New York billionaire investor David Koch and his Social-Security-privatization-shilling Americans for Prosperity have already invested big in electing Jaime Herrera?
Anybody else notice a pattern here?
On October 14, a man was arrested for threatening Patty Murray supporters with a meat cleaver outside a debate in Spokane. Four days later, a man was arrested outside Walla Walla County Republican headquarters for assaulting a young woman who was protesting Dino Rossi, hitting her with “force.” And just a few days ago, a man was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for threatening to kill Sen. Murray.
On the one hand, you gotta give the Seattle Times credit for withdrawing their endorsement of Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders. That’s a tough thing to do.
On the other hand, Sanders has always been a notorious whack-job, so I gotta think the Times editorial board might not have found itself in this unusual and embarrassing situation if it had only based its original endorsement on the candidates’ legal qualifications rather than Sanders’ reliable record of writing anti-government, anti-labor, pro-business opinions.
I’m just sayin’.
When the Republican nominee can’t even draw the endorsement of Eastern Washington’s largest daily, that says something about the candidates.
… the Senate is composed of individual senators, who represent their separate states and the voters who live there. And even a leaner, more efficiently focused federal government will have work to do, and Congress must decide where and how that work gets done.
With her 18 years of seniority, Sen. Patty Murray would be better positioned than Rossi to make sure her constituents are treated fairly in that process.
Shorter Spokesman-Review endorsement: “We like Dino Rossi’s talking points, but we trust Patty Murray to serve the needs of our region.”
So far, Rossi has been endorsed by the Columbian and the Yakima Herald-Republic, while Murray has garnered the endorsement of everybody else. Again, I think that says something.