“BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!” posted Cummings on her facebook page. “I just received a call to go on the Glenn Beck show!!!!!!!!!!!!OMG, OMG,OMG….CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! Okay so here is the thing, I want to bring someone with me and they have room for me to bring one other mom/dad that is just as concerned about what our kids are being taught as I am. Soooo who wants to come with me? I need to know ASAP.”
“Our Tea Party has been working with all the local school districts in regards to reading their history and science books to see exactly what our children are learning, and we’re finding a lot of inconsistencies,” Cummings told PoliticsPA in a brief interview.
“So, Glenn is having a show on that subject tomorrow and he called to ask if we’d be in his audience.”
She says she is still intent on challenging Senator Casey, but her focus now is on local races.
“Right now what we’re concentrating on is education and school boards and also I’m trying to help some of our candidates who are currently running. We have a lot of members who are running for office, and we’re working to help them out.”
Two freshmen GOP Congressman from Pennsylvania, Lou Barletta and Pat Meehan, have been in the national news spotlight over the last week after they were challenged aggressively by constituents at town hall meetings. Lou Barletta’s picture was in the headline story on Politico over the weekend after he was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Moveon.org following his vote on the Ryan budget. Meehan was also featured in the same story.
Democrats in D.C. are well aware that they lost the communications battle with the GOP after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – more commonly known as ObamaCare – was passed in March of last year. It would seem Democratic groups are determined not to let that happen again by going on the offensive against Republican members in swing districts like Barletta’s seat in the Northeast and Meehan’s in suburban Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, a town hall conducted Tuesday by Freshman Dan Webster (R-FL) quickly spiraled out of control with constituents interrupting the Congressman and shouting after his remarks. It was picked up by Politico and will certainly receive more national news. (The video posted by Politico was edited by the liberal group Think Progress and it is also difficult to hear some of Webster’s responses).
No Keystone State town halls have been that disruptive, though Chris Matthews had some fun with a clip from Meehan’s event on Hardball (begins at 5:46) last Monday. In the section of the clip broadcast on MSNBC, Meehan tells a constituent that the Ryan budget did not “abolish” Medicare. The clip cuts away before Meehan is seen explaining what the budget does do – perhaps an early incarnation of the approach that Democrats and left-leaning organizations will take over the next 18 months in campaign commercials dealing with GOP support for the Ryan plan.
Already, the DCCC has also put together this commercial in which Meehan, speaking during a debate with Bryan Lentz last fall, promises he would not vote for privatizing social security and turning Medicare into a voucher program. “Pat Meehan voted to end Medicare” reads a caption emblazoned with a red “x.”
US News does a good job of outlining the basics of the changes to Medicare, which Ryan argues is not a voucher program and would not affect Americans over the age of 55. Democrats insist the plan effectively shuts down Medicare.
Corbett maintains positive ratings from Republicans (64 – 18 percent), independents (40 – 31 percent) and men (43 – 30 percent), but gets a 55 – 20 percent negative rating from Democrats and 43 – 36 rating from women.
Voter opinions of Corbett’s budget are more difficult to read.
Pennsylvania voters say 50 – 39 percent that Gov. Corbett’s budget-cutting proposals are unfair to “people like them,” and disapprove 52 – 35 percent of the way Corbett is handling the state budget. However, by 55 – 40 percent voters agree with his position that a tax hike is not necessary and believe by a margin of 55 – 39 percent that balancing the state budget should be done by spending cuts only and not by a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts.
In a sense, it reflects the argument Corbett has made since unveiling his budget proposal: voters elected him to make tough decisions, some of which are bound to be unpopular.
Indeed, while a drop from February, Corbett’s numbers are fairly decent by comparison to other governors in the country.
“Although Gov. Tom Corbett’s numbers are not impressive by traditional standards, they are a good deal better than many of the new Republican governors around the country who are offering a similar approach of no new taxes and large spending cuts,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Here are some of the specific budget issues and how they polled: Oppose 50 – 43 percent state worker layoffs; Oppose 53 – 36 percent selling or leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike; Support 64 – 28 percent selling state liquor stores; Oppose 64 – 32 percent cutting state funding for state and state-related universities; Support 68 – 27 percent freezing the wages of state employees; Support 69 – 22 percent instituting a new tax on companies drilling for natural gas in the
state’s Marcellus Shale region.
From April 19 – 25, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,366 registered voters. The poll has margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones were used.
Fresh this morning, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Tom Corbett’s negatives are on the rise, though he still enjoys a net favorable approval rating. Voters are sending mixed messages about the budget and specific ways to decrease the deficit; they disapprove of the way Corbett is handling the process, but support his no-tax approach (except on Marcellus). At the end of the day, its probably a wash for the Governor.
The buzz in Harrisburg this week is all about Marcellus. PA Senate Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, whose district will be deeply affected by the development of gas drilling, is introducing a bill to institute an impact fee. People on every side of the issue will be watching closely. How flexible will the plan be? Will the bill seek to bring any revenue to Harrisburg? What will Governor Corbett say?
Those of you hoping to have a quiet campaign off-year will likely be disappointed. Both parties’ congressional campaign committees launched robocalls this this week targeting
And Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle is about to get a colorful new faculty member. P.J. Crawly, the former spokesman to Hillary Clinton who recently (and unceremoniously) departed the State Department, will join the school this semester.
Good morning politicos, and welcome to the buzz.
Poll: Mixed Numbers for Governor Corbett A Quinnipiac poll released this morning showed a jump in Tom Corbett’s disapproval, however the Governor’s approval rating remains net positive. In a sense, the numbers reflect the argument Corbett has made since unveiling his budget proposal: voters elected him to make tough decisions, some of which are bound to be unpopular.
Headlines Tribune Review: Anticipation builds for Scarnati Marcellus impact fee bill AP: Hillary Clinton’s Former Spokesman Takes Job at Penn State Law School WHYY Newsworks: Nationwide Protests Bring Rallies For Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare To The Local Front WHYY Newsworks: Sens. Casey and Toomey Take A Tour of the Navy Yard in Philly Marketwatch: Report: Pa.’s Emergency Mortgage Program Cheaper Times-Leader: Hearing set for Ciavarella Pension ABC Pittsburgh: Gov. Corbett Tells Drillers In Pittsburgh He Opposes ‘Forced Pooling’ Capitol Ideas: Senate GOP To Unveil Impact Fee Proposal On Thursday Capitol Ideas: Voucher Supporters Begin Direct Mail Campaign Capitol Ideas: House Panel Moves EITC Legislation Patriot-News: Education Rally Held On The Steps Of The State Capitol In Harrisburg AP: Pa. Budget Proposal Would Hurt Court System, Judge Says WHYY Newsworks: Pa. House Committee Approves Felony Charges For Teacher Sexual Assault Cases Inquirer: Study: Pa. energy firms paid less in taxes than they said they did Times-Tribune: State Geologists Mapping Deep Aquifiers AP: Pa. Utility Regulator Cheers On Shale Drilling Patriot-News: Act 47 team: No “magic bullets” for Harrisburg PhillyNow: City’s Largest Union Endorses Mayor Nutter PhillyClout: City white collar workers won’t endorse for Mayor Inquirer: For once, Philadelphia Republicans Mount A Lively Council Race Times-Leader: Wilkes-Barre Jobless Rate Falls to 8.7% CBS Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Finds $6 Million to Pave Roads Citizens’ Voice: Work continues at gas well blowout site Citizens’ Voice: Casey, Toomey strike agreement on filling judge seats Citizens’ Voice: Ciavarella won’t fight for $250K pension Daily News: District 8 race draws pool of 7 Democratic challengers Daily News: Sanchez gets Nutter backing AP: Altoona changes its name to “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” Post-Gazette: Married pairs decide to run for same office Post-Gazette: Panel discusses transportation funding crisis
Opinions Baer Growls: Beaver Power! Fox Philadelphia: Is Philly Content With Political Corruption? Jonathan Storm, Inquirer: Sam Katz’s Documentary On Philadelphia To Preempt Wheel of Fortune Citizens’ Voice: To cut costs, look no further than bloated legislature Tribune Review: Obama’s lack of Easter message is noteworthy
To those who argue that new media and increasing partisanship are moving the country toward a permanent campaign, we submit the following.
The campaign arms of both U.S. House caucuses have launched automated phone messages against several members of the Pennsylvania delegation.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) are targeting members of Congress from swing districts. For Dems, that means a far longer list: Reps. Lou Barletta, Charlie Dent, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach, Mike Kelly, Tom Marino and Pat Meehan. Republicans are targeting Rep. Jason Altmire.
Dems are focusing on Medicare, and their argument that the budget that recently passed the House (by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan) will end Medicare. The DCCC wouldn’t specify the exact size of the call, part of their “Drive to 25” campaign to flip 25 seats from red to blue, but confirmed that thousands of voters will receive the call per district.
Republicans are taking aim at Altmire’s budget votes. Specifically, the fact that he voted against each of the five major budget proposals from each party and caucus. According to the NRCC, about a thousand of the calls will go out to voters in the 4th district.
“These calls will remind voters of Rep. Altmire’s failure to help pay down our nation’s massive debt. By refusing to support any budget, Jason Altmire continues to give the Obama Administration a blank check to spend recklessly and borrow more from China,” said NRCC spokesman Tory Mazzola.
Here is the call script for Rep. Dent’s district (chosen at random, the scripts for all seven Reps are identical).
Hi, this is Claire from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calling about Congressman Charlie Dent’s vote to end Medicare.
Everyone agrees we must cut spending and tighten our belt, but Congressman Dent has made all the wrong choices. Heactually voted to end Medicare, rather than end taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil making record profits or tax breaks for the ultra rich!
Seniors who pay a lifetime into Medicare deserve the benefits they’ve earned. Under the Dent-Republican plan Medicare ends, benefits to seniors are less, and costs to seniors increase – in order to pay for Big Oil taxpayer giveaways and the ultra rich’s tax breaks.
America is built on shared sacrifice. Charlie Dent is choosing to place the burden on seniors. That’s not right.
Please call Congressman Dent at (610) 861-9734 and tell him to keep his hands off our Medicare!
And here is the script against Rep. Altmire.
Hello, I’m calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee, 320 FRIST STREET NE, WASHINGTON, DC 20003, 202.479.7000 with an important recorded message about your Congressman, Jason Altmire.
Last year, while families were tightening their belts, Jason Altmire and Nancy Pelosi failed to pass a budget, and Washington Democrats continued to spend your money recklessly.
Last week, Altmire refused to vote for ANY of the five budget proposals that cut spending. Some plans cut a little, some plans cut a lot – Altmire rejected all of them. Keeping us deeper in debt to China.
Call Congressman Altmire at 202-225-2565 and tell him to get serious. Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. 202.479.7000.
Republican lawmakers continue to warm to a tax/impact fee on Marcellus shale. The AP reports that there is now majority support in the PA House and likely Senate for some kind of revenue generator from PA’s largest new industry.
Donald Trump Gave $32K to Rendell Salon’s Steve Kornacki notes that Donald Trump donated $32,000 to Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell during his 2002 campaign for Governor, yet one more Democrat on Trump’s long list.
Donald Trump has come under fire for his large donations to Democrats, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Charlie Rangel. He gave to Dems, Trump has said, in races where Republicans have no chance.
Well Salon’s Steve Kornacki has poked a hole in that argument, noting that Trump donated $27,000 to Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell during his 2002 campaign for Governor well before Rendell was certain to win, and $5,000 in 2003 after he became Governor.
To sum it up, Kornacki suggests (probably accurately) that it was a business decision for Trump. Rendell was the pro-casino candidate, and Trump had an interest in competing for some of PA’s gaming licenses (he was later shut out).
Nonetheless, it’s another name in a long list that Trump will need to live down.
After PA Senate Republicans showed they weren’t yet sold on a school vouchers program, the conservative organization Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) today vowed to recruit and fund primary challengers to any Republican who votes against the bill.
According to CAP, Senate Bill 1, would improve education without increasing taxes by providing vouchers to allow low- and middle-income parents to send children to private, parochial and out-of-district public schools.
“CAP will target for defeat in the 2012 primary election any Republican Senator or Representative who bows to Pennsylvania’s entrenched teachers’ union and opposes Senate Bill 1,” the group announced. “CAP will actively recruit and fund candidates to challenge Republican opponents of SB 1. To date, CAP has raised $1 million for this purpose, and this figure grows steadily each day.”
Joe Sterns, CAP’s Executive Director, says CAP won’t reveal its donors. However, lest anyone doubt the heavy campaign money on the issue, the Tribune Review reports that voucher proponents contributed $6.4 million to campaigns in 2010 (including $3.4 million to SB1 sponsor Sen. Anthony Williams).
“The long and short of it is that you have some career politicians who believe that appeasing the labor union bosses is the surest path to re-election, which is their top concern, not the taxpayers or children. So CAP is here to change the paradigm by recruiting and funding primary opposition to these career politicians,” Sterns said.
While CAP points the finger at career politicians kowtowing to unions, the bill is a bit more complicated for Republicans representing rural areas. With few private schools to choose from and a majority of students attending public schools in rural districts, those Republicans are being asked to vote for a bill that would ultimately serve little benefit for their constituents.
CAP says the act wouldn’t change anything for parents satisfied with their children’s current education, but would end “the costly death grip that unionized government schools have on our education system.”
“CAP is optimistic that SB 1 will be enacted into law,” Sterns said. “We recognize that the votes in both chambers are potentially close, closer than they should ultimately be with Republicans having their largest majorities in several decades, coupled with an electorate thirsting for an end to the labor union’s costly grip on our tax dollars, our schools, and our children.”
Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, has joined Congressional Republicans seeking to repeal a key element of the law.
At issue is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel charged with keeping down the costs of federal health programs.
Republicans have IPAB in their sights. Of the 81 cosponsors to the bill to repeal the IPAB, just four are Democrats including Schwartz. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), this bill’s sponsor, boasts a 97 percent party loyalty score according to the Washington Post.
During the debate over health care, Republicans argued that Congress would never have the political will to cut Medicare spending. The IPAB was an important part of Democrats’ counterargument that the health care law would reduce the deficit.
Schwartz (D-Montgomery/Phila) voted for the health care law, but says the IPAB is an illegitimate cession of Congress’s oversight role to unelected bureaucrats.
“Congress is a representative body and must assume responsibility for legislating sound health care policy for Medicare beneficiaries, including those policies related to payment systems,” the Congresswoman wrote in her announcement of cosponsorship. “Abdicating this responsibility, whether to insurance companies or an unelected commission, would undermine our ability to represent the needs of the seniors and disabled in our communities.”
The IPAB is a fifteen member, bi-partisan panel charged with recommending changes to the payment structure of federal health programs. If costs grow faster than certain benchmarks, and Congress fails to implement its own payment plan, the board’s recommendations would take effect without direct Congressional approval.
“Ordinarily, we cheer the increasingly rare occasions when Republicans and Democrats join forces to push legislation. Not this time. The concept behind the IPAB is to bring some intelligent cost-cutting discipline to Medicare reimbursement and insulate payment decisions from politics.”
In either case, cosponsoring H.R. 452 seems like an odd marriage for Schwartz. She was a vocal supporter of the health care reform law, and she has accused the GOP of seeking to end Medicare as we know it. Her position seemed so unlikely to one liberal writer that he suggested the Congresswoman could have a conflict of interest due to her campaign contributions from the health care industry.
“It’s the health care industry (hospitals, drug makers, insurers) that would feel the brunt of IPAB cost-cutting efforts, since the law prohibits the commission from altering benefits directly or imposing higher financial costs on beneficiaries. Of course, I have no way of knowing how, if at all, donations from such groups influence Schwartz on this matter.”
Rep. Schwartz flatly rejects the suggestion that her position on the issue is a conflict of interest.
“I have strong relationships with the teaching hospital, the community hospital, researchers, that whole community,” she said.
“I’ve always been absolutely clear that I support legislation based on the issues and the substance. That being said, there are people who support me who agree with me, and there are people who support me who don’t agree with me.”
Schwartz also disagrees that IPAB is an essential element of health care reform. Rather, she says, it is a poorly constructed fail safe that comes last in line among reforms.
“The innovations [of the health care law] themselves will improve quality and outcomes, and reduce costs significantly in Medicare. It is far preferable to reduce costs by improve quality of care and reducing errors rather than reducing reimbursements for providers and hospitals. We’ve been trying that for ten years and it hasn’t worked.”
Finally, have you wondered about the free-for-all in Luzerne County? The Times Leader takes a look at some of the candidates in the race for County Council (see below).
Good morning politicos, and welcome to the buzz.
Headlines The Big Tent: Rick Santorum Supports The Ryan/House Republican Budget The Hill: Rep. Meehan & Rep. Barletta Targets of Democrats and Allies Hoping To Flip The Script On Town-Hall Rage Politico: Freshman Republicans Feel The Heat Back Home (with quotes from the Barletta town hall) Politico: Santorum: I made Medicare ‘mistake’ AP: Gov. Corbett Names Pa. Transportation Funding Advisers AP: Pa. Legislature Might Find Savings Close To Home AP: Pa. Legislature’s size, cost are criticized Tribune-Review: The Conservative Wave Seems To Have Missed Pa. Post-Gazette: State Takes Latest Stab In Trying To Fix State’s Transportation Woes With A Transportation Funding Commission Created By The Governor AP: Report: No Alert Before Water Main Broke In Harrisburg Times-Tribune: Education Supporters Gather In Scranton To Protest State Cuts Citizens Voice: Senate To Debut Impact Fee Proposal Post-Gazette: State Ponders Penalties After Well Blowout Inquirer: Phila. Airport Heralded As Retail Hub Daily News: GOP Facing Stiff Competition For At-Large City Council Seat Inquirer: Mayor Nutter’s Council Choices Say There’s No Tasco Deal Inquirer: Judge Orders Convicted Felon Matos To Give Up Ward Leader Post Delaware County Times: District Judge’s Race Features Newcomers To The Political Scene Delaware County Times: Liquor Referendum On Ballot In Swarthmore Times Leader: House Republicans facing backlash at home over federal budget plan Times Leader: Social media have rewritten political rules Times Leader: Gorko vows to fight corruption Times Leader: McGinley says county in crisis Times Leader: Giamber familiar with home rule Times Leader: Fiorucci promises to inform public Times Leader: Sorokas eager to become involved Times Leader: Rovinski hopes to restore faith Times Leader: Padavan looks at spending cuts Post-Gazette: McCullough faces challenges in Allegheny County executive race Post-Gazette: State takes newest stab at healing transit woes Post-Gazette: Corbett names commission on transportation funding Post-Gazette: House members say shale legislation needed