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It’s now official. Blue Dog Democrats officially stated that they oppose middle class tax cuts and tax simplification. They officially stated “We simply cannot support a bill that, by every kind of measurement, has been determined to add over $2 trillion to the deficit at the expense of middle-class Americans. It’s a fact that some middle-class Americans will see their taxes go up and small business owners will face a more complex tax system under this bill.”

Their statement went further, saying “Unrealistic, rosy economic growth projections should not be used to offset the costs of tax reform or tax relief.”

During the Obama administration, Blue Dog Democrats sat silent. They didn’t offer plans to simplify the tax code or provide middle class tax relief. They especially didn’t criticize President Obama’s super-sized deficits. Simply put, they acted like spineless eunuchs. Now that there’s a Republican president that’s pushing major improvements to the tax code, though, Blue Dogs are suddenly criticizing plans that will strengthen the economy, create jobs and grow families’ 401(k)s.

Their position paper supports corporate tax reduction, income tax simplification, and emphasizes deficit reduction.

That’s nice-sounding but it’s totally BS. They were nowhere to be found for 8 long yeas on the topic of deficit reduction. Had they stood up to President Obama and Nancy Pelosi back then, they’d have some credibility.

Legitimate conservatives have a different idea:

Thanks to Republicans, tax relief will soon become reality. During her interview with Kevin Brady, Harris Faulkner asked him if they’d done a whip count. Chairman Brady said that they’d done a whip count and that they had the 218 votes needed to pass the House Bill:

The Senate bill includes the repeal of the individual mandate, which isn’t part of the House’s legislation. Last night during his townhall, however, Speaker Ryan said that House Republicans didn’t have a problem with repealing the individual mandate. Chairman Brady said that they wouldn’t add it to the House bill but said that they wouldn’t have a problem agreeing to it in the conference committee negotiations.

UPDATE: Ron Johnson just announced that he won’t vote for the Tax Bill in its current form:

“We have an opportunity to enact paradigm-shifting tax reform that makes American businesses globally competitive, helps our economy reach its full potential, and creates greater opportunity and bigger paychecks for every American. In doing so, it is important to maintain the domestic competitive position and balance between large publicly traded C corporations and ‘pass-through entities’ (subchapter S corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships). These businesses truly are the engines of innovation and job creation throughout our economy, and they should not be left behind. Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions. I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.”

The key part of Sen. Johnson’s statement is where he said “I do not support either in their current versions. I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.” That isn’t slamming the door shut. It’s leaving the door wide open. Frankly, this sounds more like the opening of negotiations rather than a rejection.

When I wrote this post about President-Elect Trump’s drain-the-swamp initiative, one of the things I wrote about was the Tomah VA hospital. This article provides more detail on the things that allegedly happened there.

The biggest thing that the Wisconsin Watchdog article talks about is the dentist that infected people with HIV and hepatitis C. What specifically caught my attention is the part where it says “the dentist in question knowingly did not follow VA standards for a year, between October 2015 and this October. A dental assistant blew the whistle on the misconduct. ‘He had a replacement dental assistant, and she noted this particular piece of instrument being used … He brought in his own burs and cleaned them with Virex solution, salt and a wipe, which is nothing we endorse,’ Brahm told the news site. ‘She reported it the next day, Oct. 20, to the dental chief who reported it to senior leadership. We took action Oct. 21.'”

Actually, it isn’t just that the Tomah VA doesn’t endorse what this dentist did. This article gives a more detailed account:

Earlier this week, officials said a dentist at the Tomah VA Medical Center improperly re-used his own dental equipment instead of using the sterilized, disposable tools as VA rules require.

“It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations,” said Victoria Brahm, acting medical director at the Tomah VA Center in a press briefing earlier this week.

“During all of the orientation, he used our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure.”

It’s clear that the VA hospital system is one of the biggest swamps of corruption that needs to be drained. Then there’s this:

A current employee who asked not be identified said Brahm “puts on a good face,” but the hospital is “still bad and full of drug abuse and employee abuse.”

“I have even spoken with the director about this and how veterans are harassed in Tomah due to the VA. All that has been said is, ‘There’s still work to be done.’ The same tag line that is always used,” the source said.

Hopefully, the Trump administration takes the VA corruption seriously. This needs to stop ASAP.

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According to this article, Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), just put together an ad that mocks ousted US Sen. Russ Feingold. The ad is appropriately titled ‘Skeletons’. According to the article, then-State Sen. Feingold was “low on name identification and cash – did a two-minute ad where he portrayed himself as a quirky, folksy, ‘Man of the People.’ In it, he compared his modest home in Middleton to the luxury mansions of his Democratic opponents, former Congressman Jim Moody and Joe Checota. The ad helped turn Feingold from an also-ran with support in the single-digits, into the front-runner.”

In the ad, Feingold gives “a tour of his own home, in which one of the first things he does is open a nearby broom closet, turn sheepishly to the camera, and say, ‘Look No Skeletons.'” This time, that scene repeatedly shows the skeletons that’ve accumulated in Feingold’s closet. One of the skeletons in Feingold’s closet is a headline that reads “Russ Feingold’s PAC funded fees, salaries for former staffers, himself.”

Another headlining ‘skeleton’ reads “Majority of Feingold campaign contributions coming from outside Wisconsin.” Still another headlining skeleton reads “Russ Feingold, critic of speaking fees as senator, cashed in out of office.”

The race in Wisconsin is tied. That sentence seemed improbable 6 months ago. Back then, most people thought Sen. Johnson was history. With Feingold’s skeletons multiplying, don’t count Sen. Johnson out. That would be a monumental mistake.

Democrats don’t hesitate in lying if they think it helps win elections. It isn’t debatable whether the Democratic Party is a reprehensible, morally repugnant political party. The Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t bear a striking resemblance to JFK’s Profiles in Courage Democratic Party.

Russ Feingold is a frequent practitioner of dishonest messaging, deploying fearmongering frequently to scare people into voting for him. Lately, his fearmongering vocabulary has included the term creative destruction. Kevin Binversie’s article slaps Feingold around pretty good, starting with Binversie saying “Once all that done, they’ll kindly tell Feingold he’s got the definition of ‘Creative Destruction’ all wrong; which is something I’m fairly certain he and his campaign know very well. He clearly loves the talking point because it sounds spooky and makes Johnson look uncaring; even a former Rhodes scholar like Russ Feingold couldn’t get something like that wrong time and time again. He’s just banking on an economically ignorant public and media to never call him out on it.”

Feingold is deploying what I’d call the ‘Jonathan Gruber economic illiteracy strategy.’ Gruber, it’s important to remember, frequently talked down about the American people in terms of their understanding of the economy.

This might be Binversie’s hardest slap against Feingold:

The best example showcasing “Creative Destruction” at work is how we’ve changed the way we listen to music. For years, we bought vinyl records, then 8-tracks. After 8-tracks came cassette tapes, followed by compact discs, until they too were replaced with digital music files like mp3s.

Are jobs lost as a result of “Creative Destruction?” Yes, but they often are replaced by jobs in the industries connected to the newer technologies. This tends to be a good thing, unless Feingold and his staff mourn to end of the buggy whip industry.

Perhaps an uppity reporter, if such people still exist, should ask Feingold how he’d prevent creative destruction from happening. After he finished stammering through that, I’d personally ask him if it’s wise to stand in the way of creating the jobs of the future.

Like much of this week’s theme at the Republican National Convention, Ron Johnson’s speech was about national security mistakes made by liberals.

Sen. Johnsons started his speech by highlighting Hillary Clinton’s infamous line where Mrs. Clinton said “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Then Sen. Johnson explained what difference it makes, saying “It makes a difference to the young Yazidi woman I met who was captured and brutalized by ISIS barbarians, the joy of life hauntingly absent in her eyes.
It makes a difference to the travelers, passing through airports in Brussels and Istanbul, who just wanted to get home to their family and friends. It makes a difference to the ordinary Americans sharing holiday cheer at a Christmas party in San Bernardino.”

Having delivered some tough body blows to Mrs. Clinton, Sen. Johnson turned his fire towards his own opponent this November, saying “In Wisconsin, I’m running against Russ Feingold, who, even after 9/11, voted against giving law enforcement the tools they need to help stop international terror. During his eighteen-year Senate career, he also voted against authorizing our military eleven separate times.” It isn’t coincidence that Sen. Johnson just released this video:

Sen. Feingold isn’t hawkish, though he’s trying to sound more hawkish now. Feingold’s attempt to sound more hawkish sounds rather feeble:

At the time, he said, while he did not oppose everything contained within the bill, he did not believe it struck “the right balance between empowering law enforcement and protecting civil liberties.”

Feingold said Friday he stands by his vote, reiterating that the bill didn’t contain enough standards to protect Americans’ civil liberties. He added that he would support increasing resources for U.S. intelligence programs and the FBI.

Feingold didn’t worry about Americans’ civil liberties when he co-sponsored McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform that gutted Americans’ right to political free speech. I suspect that Feingold’s answer is just a dodge to avoid looking pathetic.

This makes Feingold sound totally wimpy:

He’s been basically trying to highlight any terrorist attack for political gain throughout this campaign. So it’s no surprise that this ad would have been produced, and that’s the problem with politicizing something that shouldn’t be politicized — is you might run into a situation where there’s a terrorist attack, and it’s a little embarrassing to have an ad up that really isn’t appropriate at this time.

The truth is that we can’t tolerate politicians that won’t fight terrorists with everything in the United States’ arsenal. That’s apparently what Mr. Feingold is attempting to do.

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Since the start of 2016 or earlier, pundits have predicted that Democrats would retake their majority in the US Senate. That’s been the conventional wisdom pretty much the entire year. According to this article, those predictions might be greatly exaggerated.

This article isn’t the only thing that points to a contrary outcome in November. The latest Quinnipiac Swing State Poll brought smiles to the NRSC leadership team. Quinnipiac’s poll starts by saying “Republican incumbent U.S. Senators in three critical swing states fare better today as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida leads either of two Democratic challengers, while Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey outpoints his Democratic challenger and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with a well-known challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.”

It then highlights the fact that “Sen. Rubio leads U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy 47-40 percent and tops U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson 48-40 percent.” Amelia Chasse talked about the Florida race in a rather unflattering light towards Democrats:

Another DSCC primary pick, Florida’s Patrick Murphy, has had his inflated resume methodically torn apart by a series of investigative reports, to the point where Salon called him a “disaster candidate.”

Prior to that, Chasse spoke about Katie McGinty, the Democrats’ candidate in Pennsylvania in an unflattering light:

Establishment groups spent nearly $5 million to drag Katie McGinty, a bureaucrat with a revolving door problem, through another contentious primary, only to have her claim to be the first in her family to attend college immediately exposed as a lie.

According to Quinnipiac’s Swing State Poll, McGinty trails incumbent Pat Toomey “49%-40%.” That isn’t the type of margin that’s likely to produce a November nailbiter. In Ohio, pundits predicted Rob Portman’s demise. That might not happen:

Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that is an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as 9 points.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that Republicans are leading in the 2 biggest swing states and that they’re in much better shape in Ohio than they were a couple months ago.

Then there’s Ron Johnson. Though that race is tight, Wisconsin’s GOP GOTV operation is a powerful machine. Further, Feingold is running into difficulty explaining why he did nothing to fix the VA hospital in Tomah after getting notified about its difficulties.

That’s before talking about some potential GOP pickups. This video shows why Darryl Glenn has positioned himself well in Colorado:

Talking about a recent case of black-on-black violence in San Bernardino, CA, Glenn said that BLM wasn’t part of the solution before saying that what’s required is for policy leaders, community leaders and law enforcement to get together in a room and have a substantive conversation about the things that need to happen to end the distrust between law enforcement and minority communities. Couple the fact that he’s endorsed by Ted Cruz and that much of Cruz’s GOTV operation is now working for Glenn. That’s a powerful combination in Colorado.

Finally, don’t think that Harry Reid’s seat isn’t in play, too. If these things come together, it isn’t impossible to see Republicans holding a similar margin in 2017 as they have right now.

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This article by CNN’s Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson is a worthwhile read. That doesn’t mean they don’t get some important things wrong, though.

It’s apparent that they think anyone calling themselves a TEA Party conservative agrees with Ted Cruz’s strategies 100% of the time. That’s apparent when they said “Despite the constitutional constraints on action in Washington and the presence of a Democratic President with a veto in the White House, they are furious that the GOP has failed to overturn Obamacare.”

Actually, I’m not upset with the GOP Congress for “fail[ing] to overturn Obamacare.” I’m furious with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner for not pushing the conservatives’ reform agenda. There’s no excuse for why they haven’t pushed Tom Price’s health care reforms. It’s filled with popular features that are infinitely more popular than the mandates in the ACA. There’s no excuse for not pushing Paul Ryan’s tax simplification legislation. Republicans and Democrats alike support tax simplification. Most importantly, it’s supported enthusiastically by small business entrepreneurs.

There’s no excuse for Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell haven’t pushed cutting government based on the GAO’s reports of duplicative programs. I’d love hearing Democrats defend programmatic duplication that runs into the tens of billions of dollars. (That isn’t a typo. It’s billions with a B.)

Finally, and I’m especially passionate about this, there’s no justification for not pushing Ron Johnson’s regulation reform. Sen. Johnson’s reforms aim to neuter something he calls “weaponized government.” When the EPA insists that a couple in Idaho can’t build their dream home on land they purchased because there’s a low spot somewhere on the property, that’s weaponized government. There’s nothing about that that lives up to “of, by and for the people.”

Though I’m upset with CNN, that’s nothing compared with how pissed off I am with Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell.

In typical progressive do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do fashion, Russ Feingold has exposed himself as just another typical career politician:

According to a report earlier this week by the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice, Feingold’s political action committee, Progressives United PAC, bought 100 leather-bound copies of the ex-senator’s 2013 book, along with 1,000 hardcover copies. Feingold also received $77,000 in salary from both the PAC and its nonprofit companion.

Of course, Feingold’s act for years has been not having an act. As a champion of campaign finance reform, he has consistently condemned the pernicious effects of money in politics. But evidently his distaste for campaign cash wasn’t enough to keep him from bathing his cronies in greenbacks.

The PAC was created with the stated goal of “directly and indirectly supporting candidates who stand up for our progressive ideals.” But instead, it appears it existed almost solely to support salaries for Feingold loyalists who lost their jobs after his 2010 loss to businessman Ron Johnson. Bice calculated that nearly 90% of the $7.1 million raised between January of 2011 and March of 2015 went to fundraising or staff salaries, including $317,823 to Feingold’s former chief of staff, Mary Irvine. All told, Feingold, Irvine and eight former staffers drew salaries or consulting fees from the fund.

We’re talking about the same principles as the Clinton Foundation except on a significantly smaller scale. The Clinton Foundation was essentially a holding spot for Hillary’s campaign-in-waiting:

The media’s focus is on Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and whether she took official actions to benefit her family’s global charity. But the mistake is starting from the premise that the Clinton Foundation is a “charity.” What’s clear by now is that this family enterprise was set up as a global shakedown operation, designed to finance and nurture the Clintons’ continued political ambitions. It’s a Hillary super PAC that throws in the occasional good deed.

Other than in scale and the Foundation’s “occasional good deed”, how is Feigold’s PAC different than the Clinton Foundation?

This is a big deal. It isn’t that progressives will abandon Feingold. It’s that independents that thought of him as a straight shooter will abandon him. This will still be a featured race in 2016 but this Journal-Sentinel article will definitely hurt Feingold.

It’s clear that the DSCC will do everything possible to defeat Ron Johnson, (R-WI). Unfortunately for them, Russ Feingold is known for just one thing: the BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold. Russ Feingold is half of the dimwitted duo that wanted to restrict people’s ability to voice their worries about politicians during an election cycle. Let’s highlight that.

Russ Feingold thinks that government should have the right to restrict what citizens say and when they can say things. That’s because Russ Feingold is one of those politicians that think they know what’s best and that citizens have to be told what to do for their own benefit.

That’s the epitome of elitism. It’s breathtaking that elitists want to protect us uppity peasants from ourselves.

We need straight shooters like Ron Johnson in the Senate. Follow this link to contribute to Sen. Johnson’s campaign. Re-electing Sen. Johnson should be one of the Republicans’ highest priorities in 2016.

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Britta Arendt’s article tells the story of a fantastic candidate making an impressive closing argument:

With his signature spark of energy, McFadden lit up the room during his stop at the Sawmill Inn as he raced in for a brief visit. “I love to be here in Grand Rapids where there’s the convergence of mining and timber,” said McFadden.

A vote for Mike McFadden is a vote for building pipelines and opening mines. A vote for Al Franken is a vote for more IRS investigations and being the environmental activists’ friend.

It’s a vote against mining and logging jobs. It’s a vote against farmers getting their crops to market.

Most importantly, a vote for Mike McFadden is a vote for the most qualified candidate in the race. Al Franken knows government’s nooks and crannies. Mike McFadden understands health care policy, energy policy, regulatory policy and foreign policy.

It isn’t just that we can do better. It’s that we can’t afford 6 more years of Sen. Franken’s partisanship and not getting important things done. Sen. Franken hasn’t done anything constructive to make PolyMet a reality. He’s done nothing to grow Minnesota’s companies.

That’s because he’s spent too much time doing what he’s told by President Obama, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. That trio don’t have Minnesota’s best interests at heart. They definitely don’t have the Iron Range’s best interests at heart.

If he’s elected, Mike McFadden will hit the ground running in DC. It’s apparent that he’ll find natural allies in the Senate in Ron Johnson, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst and Cory Gardner.

When asked of his thoughts regarding the proposed federal listing of the long-eared bat as an endangered species because of the threat of the white-nose syndrome which could potentially shut down summer logging and timber operations, McFadden said “It’s a false choice, environment or jobs. I reject that.”

Continuing on the environment topic, McFadden addressed the proposed PolyMet mining project and said, “Science needs to be based on facts not emotions. Extreme environmentalists can cause decisions to be caught up for years in regulatory review and, in the meantime, people lose hundreds of jobs. I am running against someone who has done nothing to expedite the PolyMet project.”

Al Franken is one of the Environmental Left’s best allies. He’s repeatedly gone to bat for them, albeit quietly so he can pretend to be the miners’ friend.

Al Franken won’t fight against environmental extremists because he’s one of them. Mike McFadden will fight against the environmental extremist base of the DFL because he doesn’t owe them anything and because he he’d rather see all Minnesotans prosper than pander for special interest contributions for his next campaign.

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