Why Isn’t This Already Illegal?

Right now, members of Congress can make personal investment decisions based on confidential information they get in the course of regulating industries and doing their work.

It’s kind of unbelievable that this isn’t already illegal. President Obama wants to make it illegal once and for all—no one should profit from inside information about the very businesses they’re supposed to be regulating.

Today, the Democratic leadership in the Senate voted to move forward on a bill to extend to Congress the same strict rules that apply to anyone else whose job gives them access to sensitive information about businesses. This legislation is expected to pass the Senate with bipartisan support this week.

But Republicans in the House have yet to move on it.

There aren’t a lot of good reasons to disagree with this bill. So the question here isn’t how many people we have to persuade, but simply how loudly we can speak up to prevent the House Republicans from dodging this issue.

Say you support the President on banning insider trading in Congress.

Warren Buffett’s Secretary

Loopholes in the tax code mean that most millionaires pay a lower tax rate than the typical rate paid by middle-class families earning less than $100,000. That means Warren Buffett—a millionaire many times over who does not need and isn’t even asking for a tax break—pays a lower rate in taxes than his secretary. And our country is about to spend another $700 billion on an extended tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent.

Here’s what the President said about our tax code in his State of the Union last week:

“We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference—like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know that’s not right.”

The President is calling on Congress to make the tax code fairer and simpler by immediately passing a permanent payroll tax extension for middle-class families while asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

If you think this should be a priority during this campaign, it’s up to you to speak out. Support the President and spread the word.

January 31: News Roundup

Democratic Senators push “Buffett Rule.” There’s more at the New York Times.

Senate votes to crack down on Congressional insider trading. There’s more at Politico.

House Democrats unify behind President Obama. There’s more at The Hill.

Congressional Democrats rally behind tax fairness. There’s more at the Los Angeles Times.

Over 5.6 million Americans have moved their money out of big national banks in the last 90 days. There’s more at Business Insider.

Clock runs out on another Republican candidate entering the primaries and caucuses in 2012. There’s more at the Daily Kos.

How hard is it to open a Swiss bank account like Mitt Romney’s? Average depositors need not apply! There’s more at Slate.

Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist says Republicans will impeach President Obama if he allows Bush tax cuts to expire. There’s more ThinkProgress.

Newt Gingrich ad says America could become Cuba. There’s more at the Washington Post.

Gingrich and Santorum pledge to stay in the campaign for the long haul. The Washington Post has “The Fix.”

“Reagan mantle” talk in Florida turning off independents. There’s more at TPM.

Trump is at it again, exploring third party run. There’s more at ABC News.

How Romney’s 13.9% tax rate compares to recent nominees. There’s more at TPM.

Tea Party electoral strength fades in Florida. There’s more at Real Clear Politics.

National poll says “President Obama best understands average Americans.There’s more at Politico.

Republican voters sour on GOP presidential contenders. There’s more at PEW Research.

Poll shows Americans back the DREAM Act. There’s more at The Hill.

Poll shows Romney holds 15% Florida Republican Primary lead heading into today’s vote. There’s more at Reuters.

Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State goes on trial for vote fraud. There’s more at ThinkProgress.

South Carolina bills taxpayers at $520 per hour to defend voter suppression. There’s more at ThinkProgress.

The Miami Herald’s Carl Hiaasen says the Republican primary reveals a party of basket cases. There’s more at the Miami Herald.

ABC’s Rick Klein predicts lasting rift in GOP after Romney-Gingrich fight. There’s more at ABC News.

Romney’s Extremism on Immigration is Taking a Toll in GOP

Why haven’t we seen former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the most influential Republican voices in Florida, make an endorsement for the GOP presidential nomination? It may be because he recognizes that Mitt Romney is farther to the right on immigration than any of the other extreme Republican candidates.

The New York Times reported yesterday:

“Mr. Bush has made clear in television interviews and in conversations with friends that he is troubled by the sharpening tenor of the race, particularly on immigration. He voiced his concern directly to Mr. Romney, two people close to him said, urging him to moderate his oratory and views to avoid a collapse of support among Hispanic voters in the general election.”

His concern is justified. Romney has called the popular DREAM Act—which creates a pathway to citizenship for hardworking young people—a “handout” that he would veto. He has said he would deport all undocumented workers no matter how long they’ve been here or what they’ve contributed to American society.

Romney can’t hide from his record on immigration when it comes to seeking Republican Party endorsements or the votes of the American people.

Lilly Ledbetter: In her own words

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary since President Obama signed the historic fair pay legislation that bears her name. It was the first bill that President Obama signed into law. Lilly Ledbetter tells the story of why she stepped up to fight for equal pay for equal work. Watch the video to hear from the inspiration behind that law, then share her story with your friends.

Equal pay for equal work: Three years of Lilly Ledbetter

Three years ago today, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. It was the first act he signed as president.

In reflecting on the moment, he told the story of his grandmother and his mother, both hardworking women who faced glass ceilings as they tried to provide for their families and build their careers.

“I signed this law because I want young women like my own daughters to have chances and opportunities my mom and grandmother never could have dreamed of.

“Thanks to the relentless efforts of people like Lilly Ledbetter, those opportunities are already in reach. And thanks to this law, we’re one step closer to fair pay for all Americans, but there’s still more work to do” President Obama said.

Watch and share President Obama’s video.

Mitt Romney’s Medicare Lies

At Monday’s debate, and again on Thursday, Mitt Romney claimed Bain Capital never worked with any company that worked with the government—like Medicare or Medicaid. Even when asked directly by Newt Gingrich, Romney responded, “We didn’t do any work with the government. I didn’t have an office on K Street. I wasn`t a lobbyist. I didn’t—had never worked—I’ve never worked in Washington.”

Once again, Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he will say anything to get elected— regardless of whether or not it’s true. Romney served on the board of, and personally pocketed more than $500,000 from, Damon Corporation—a company that was later found to have fraudulently swindled Medicare out of millions of dollars. Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a memo today outlining Romney’s involvement in Damon Corporation’s medicare fraud:

“On behalf of my constituents in Florida’s 20th District, many of whom have already paid the price for Medicare fraud, I believe that Mitt Romney must provide answers to his involvement in the Damon Corporation case—what he knew about the fraud being carried out, why he falsely claimed to have stopped it, and why he failed to notify federal investigators and shareholders about the company’s illegal activities.”

Let’s look at the facts: while serving on the board at Damon Corporation, Romney and Bain Capital “made large profits … whose robust revenues were generated in part on a criminal scheme to fraudulenty bill the federal medicare system for unecessary blood tests.” Years later, Damon corporation pled guilty to $25 million in Medicare fraud and paid a record $119 million fine. [Boston Globe, 10/10/02]

In addition to his lies at this week’s debates, Romney previously claimed he tried to blow the whistle on Damon. His exact words? “We put in place a program to stop that immediately.” Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that this claim is false as well:

“Romney’s comments are contradicted by federal court records and Damon’s SEC filings. Prosecutors in the case said the fraud at Damon was cleaned up by Corning, after it purchased the firm from Bain and other owners and revised the billing process. Other court records, including Damon’s blood testing records, show that the practice that was found to be criminal continued until August 1993, many months after Romney said he and the board put an end to it.” [Boston Globe, 10/11/02]

So why would Mitt Romney lie? He’s running for office, for Pete’s sake.