Not Quite the Energy Task Force

I get the feeling today’s installment of Cheney started out as a story about the Energy Task Force. It also tells the story of the Klamath fish kill and snowmobiles in Yellowstone. The big news, though, is Christine Todd Whitman’s side of several issues, where Cheney blindly put business issues ahead of environmental requirements. In some ways, last week’s Rolling Stone article on Cheney’s involvement in climate change–which relies heavily on FOIAed documents–provides a valuable complement to the WaPo story, so I’m going to read them in conjunction. Doing so, I believe, closes the circle, shows how Cheney’s unwavering ties to the energy industry drive the rest of his actions.

The WaPo describes the Energy Task Force as an unquestioning affirmation of business assertions that environmental regulations hamper business and energy development.

Sitting through Cheney’s task force meetings, Whitman had beenstunned by what she viewed as an unquestioned belief that EPA’sregulations were primarily to blame for keeping companies from buildingnew power plants. "I was upset, mad, offended that there seemed to beso much head-nodding around the table," she said.

Whitman said she had to fight "tooth and nail" to prevent Cheney’stask force from handing over the job of reforming the New Source Reviewto the Energy Department, a battle she said she won only afterappealing to White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.This was an environmental issue with major implications for air qualityand health, she believed, and it shouldn’t be driven by a task forceprimarily concerned with increasing production.

Directly out of that effort, Rolling Stone suggests, arose the propaganda campaign that served to undercut EPA itself.

Lamont's "Single Issue" Voters

The Q-Poll shows that 44% of Lamont’s supporters support him mainly because of Lieberman’s stance on the Iraq war. And Markos anticipates a bunch of pundits frowning on the large number of "Single Issue" voters.

For a pundit to suggest the Iraq war is a "Single Issue" simply betrays their ignorance of the impact that war has and will continue to have on this country and the rest of the world.

Some are opposed to the war because they’re opposed to 2,500 Americans dead, 18,000 Americans wounded, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis dead, untold wounded. Some oppose the war simply because it uses violence to solve problems that should be solved using other means.

Some are opposed to the war because it has ruined our military. Two-thirds of our active army and three-quarters of our National Guard face readiness problems because it needs to replace equipment used in Iraq. Extended deployments and lowered recruiting standards are having bad effects on the military, their families, and our mission. The Iraq war–sold as a way to make our country safer–has only exposed it defensively.

Some are opposed to the war because it has thoroughly destabilized Iraq, and threatens to destabilize the entire region. By almost every standard, Iraqi quality of life is worse today than it was under Saddam.

Some are opposed to the war because it has created precisely the problem that it was cynically sold as a way to prevent. Iraq is creating terrorists, at a time when the threat of terrorism remains very real.

Some are opposed to the war because it has turned us into an international pariah. Some countries no longer trust us. Others want nothing to do with our aggressive ways.

Bolten’s 5-Point Plan, 75 Days Later

It’s a testament to how messy my desk is that I just came across Mike Allen’s article, from a week after Josh Bolten ascended to the Chief of Staff role, describing Bolten’s plan to right the sinking ship of the Bush Administration. But the benefit of rediscovering it now is that what once appeared as an earnest plan now reads like humor.

Buggy732600bmpSo how has Bolten’s five-point plan fared?

1 DEPLOY GUNS AND BADGES. This is an unabashed play to members of theconservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under thebanner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more fundingfor an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border,including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrainvehicles (ATVs).

A great idea, Bolten, if only the National Guard weren’t already so taxed as a result of long deployments in Iraq. As of last week, Bush was far short of his goal to have 2500 Guardsmen and women deployed by now (though Fox News says they’re not). It seems a bunch of Governors saw the devastation of Katrina last year, and want to make sure their Guard is available for any summertime disasters in their own states.

Bolten's 5-Point Plan, 75 Days Later

It’s a testament to how messy my desk is that I just came across Mike Allen’s article, from a week after Josh Bolten ascended to the Chief of Staff role, describing Bolten’s plan to right the sinking ship of the Bush Administration. But the benefit of rediscovering it now is that what once appeared as an earnest plan now reads like humor.

Buggy732600bmpSo how has Bolten’s five-point plan fared?

1 DEPLOY GUNS AND BADGES. This is an unabashed play to members of theconservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under thebanner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more fundingfor an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border,including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrainvehicles (ATVs).

A great idea, Bolten, if only the National Guard weren’t already so taxed as a result of long deployments in Iraq. As of last week, Bush was far short of his goal to have 2500 Guardsmen and women deployed by now (though Fox News says they’re not). It seems a bunch of Governors saw the devastation of Katrina last year, and want to make sure their Guard is available for any summertime disasters in their own states.

Wired Calls Abu Gonzales' Bluff

Child Support Is a Pro-Life Issue

Mark Schmitt has an important post up about Republican cuts in child support enforcement in the Budget bill. I agree with him that cutting enforcement funds for child support is about the most churlish short-sighted thing you can do.

And it worked. In 2004, 51% of child support was paid. From 18% to51% is a huge transformation. I doubt that anyone in the mid-1990swould have predicted that. One study showed that improved child supportenforcement was responsible for a quarter of the reduction in welfarecaseloads. See this report from the Center on Law and Social Policy for a summary of the success.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cuts in theincentive payments to states will cost families $8.4 billion in childsupport. Even that estimate assumes that states will make up half ofthe federal money they will lose; if they don"t, children will losetwice as much in child support.

The era of bipartisan collaboration on basic problems like childsupport or health care is long gone. I"ve gotten used to that. What Ican"t grasp is why this Republican majority wants to take some of thebasic accomplishments of that era, accomplishments that took a decadeor more of serious work, and casually toss them aside.

I’m no expert about this issue. But I remember clearly friends’ stories about how impossible it was to collect child support across state lines in the early 1990s. Men basically could leave the state, go to a lax enforcement state (I lived in UT at the time and everyone seemed to head for TX), and basically hide from any and all responsibility for the children they had fathered.

I’m not just disgusted with Republican attempts to turn back the clock to the deadbeat dad days. I’m disappointed Democrats haven’t more clearly demonstrated the hypocrisy of dedicating your political energy to eliminating access to choice, while at the same time effectively absolving men of all responsibility for the fetus-people they father.

The clock is ticking on Bush's SS reform

Via Steve Gilliard I found yet another article spelling doom for Bush’s Social Security plan. This article has a couple of nice bits I haven’t seen in the other doom-spelling articles. But it also made me realize something important about the timing of this.

Social Security almost certainly isn’t going to happen this year.

But with just 49 legislative days left before Congress’splanned adjournment, the odds are still against Bush securing thecenterpiece of his domestic agenda, Republican lawmakers concede.

"I don’t know if we can get it donethis year," said Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.), a member of the Waysand Means Committee. "I don’t think you could get a third of theCongress to vote for any one plan at this point."

Which means they’re going to have to try to pitch it again next year. And aside from being an election year, there’s another reason why it’s going to be a lot harder to sell this stinky fish next year: Bush’s Prescription Drug Plan will be coming online, demonstrating to millions of seniors that Bush doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

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