A new poll out from the liberal-leaning firm Public Policy Polling shows just how much dislike Congress. While polls typically simply show lawmakers’ low approval ratings, PPP decided to take a different route and poll approval ratings for Congress compared to other wildly unpopular things. Amazingly, Congress polled even lower than a slew of them including lice, traffic jams, root canals, colonoscopies, cockroaches and the ancient Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan.
“When you’re less popular than cockroaches, Genghis Khan, traffic jams, and yes even Nickelback, well, it might be time to reevaluate,” Tom Jensen, PPP’s director, said in a statement accompanying the poll.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously declined to slam House Speaker John Boehner over Congress’ stalled Hurricane Sandy aid, took his argument to the next level this morning and suggested federal lawmakers are partially to blame for the delay in the vote on the package because they insert “things that are totally extraneous” into bills such as this. Although Mr. Bloomberg didn’t specify the extraneous problem items, the legislation has been criticized by Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan for being “packed with funding for unrelated items, such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C.”
“There’s this ‘Christmas Tree effect’ where legislators put in their favorite bills and tack them onto something. The [Obama] administration does that, that’s why you have an omnibus bill–to force everybody to vote for things that would never stand up in the light of day if they were individual,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “I’m sympathetic. Yelling and screaming at [Mr. Boehner] is just not my style. It may be effective, it may not be. Everybody’s got to make their own decisions. I think the legislative leaders who criticize and those in the Legislature should stop and think, they do exactly the same thing in terms of ladling on things that are totally extraneous but it’s the only way they get them through.”
Governor Chris Christie is angry.
In addition to a statement blasted out earlier today, New Jersey’s outspoken governor held a press conference this afternoon where he said Speaker John Boehner’s sudden decision to halt a vote on the Hurricane Sandy relief package exemplifies “why the American people hate Congress.”
“Thirty-one days for Andrew victims. Seventeen days for victims of Gustav and Ike. Ten days for victims of Katrina,” Mr. Christie said, ticking off how long it took for Congress to pass relief after other natural disasters. “For the victims of Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, there’s been sixty-six days and the wait continues. There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House Majority and their speaker, John Boehner….Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”
Since last Friday’s massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, President Barack Obama has used vague phrases like “meaningful action” to express his administration’s response to the slaying, while avoiding delving too far into specific plans. At a media briefing earlier today, however, White House press secretary Jay Carney listed some of the gun control measures Mr. Obama would actually support.
“He is actively supportive of, for example, Senator Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban,” Mr. Carney said. “He supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called ‘gun show loophole,’ and there are other elements of gun legislation that he could support. People have talked about [restricting] high capacity ammunition clips, for example. That is certainly something he would be interested in looking at. My point is that it goes beyond that.”
Earlier this morning, Speaker John Boehner and the U.S. House Republican leadership held a press conference to announce a new proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” or the steep set of spending cuts and tax increases that will arrive by the end of the year if a deficit deal is not reached. Specifically, Mr. Boehner’s plan would extend the current tax rates on everyone making less than $1 million a year, a sharp jump from President Barack Obama’s own counteroffer yesterday, which conceded a $400,000 ceiling. Mr. Obama had previously stood firm on allowing the tax cuts to expire for everyone making more than $250,000, a number that GOP lawmakers apparently found unacceptable.
“Our hope continues to be to reach an agreement with the president on a balanced approach that averts the fiscal cliff. What we’ve offered meets the definition of balance, but the President is not there yet,” Mr. Boehner began. “What the White House offered yesterday was essentially $1.3 million in new revenues, for only $850 billion in net spending reductions. That’s not balanced in my opinion. So, at the same time that we’re going to talk to the President, we’re going to also move ‘plan B.’”
big in d.c.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg just released his public schedule for tomorrow, and it’s a doozy. Throughout the day, the mayor is set to meet with over a half-dozen members of the country’s congressional leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Also on the list is former presidential candidate John McCain, a couple moderate Republicans and a press conference with New York’s two senators on the city’s request for billions of dollars in federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Earlier today, President Barack Obama gathered with the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress to move forward in avoiding automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to occur at the end of the year. Although Democrats and Republicans have, at times, seemed to have irreconcilable differences in the process, the various elected officials walked out of the Roosevelt Room with an optimistic outlook that a compromise would be reached.
“I can only echo the observations of the other leaders that it was a constructive meeting. We all understand where we are….We are prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, according to a White House pool report. “Most of my members, I think without exception, believe that we’re in the dilemma we’re in not because we taxed too little but because we spent too much.”
A number of key New York congressional seats were at stake election day last week. When all the votes were counted, though there were over a half-dozen competitive races only three districts changed partisan hands. One of those belonged to Hudson Valley Rep. Nan Hayworth, a freshman Republican who came in on the Tea Party wave two years ago and narrowly lost her seat this time around to Democratic attorney Sean Patrick Maloney. On Friday, Ms. Hayworth went on Richard French Live to look back on her unsuccessful election, as well as the broader national race.
“Look, Hurricane Sandy did have an effect on the public discourse,” she contended. “There are issues of momentum that affected races like mine. The President had a substantial percentage margin over Governor Romney and we had known if there were a really large margin for the president, above say 5 points, that that would be very hard for us to overcome structurally in the new district that I was running in.”
New York State started off as a key battleground in the Democrats’ battle to retake control of the U.S. House, especially after the courts intervened in the redistricting plan and shook up a lot of traditional boundaries. However, most of these races were focused in areas further Upstate and the suburbs, leaving the heavily Democratic New York City with just two congressional elections of note.
In Queens, Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng faced off against GOP Councilman Dan Halloran for a seat crafted from the district remnants of outgoing Congressmen Bob Turner and Gary Ackerman. Despite Mr. Halloran’s polling showing the race a tie, those numbers did not pan out and Ms. Meng is currently ahead by roughly 2-to-1, which matches how Democrats have historically performed within the area.
braving the storm
On Sunday afternoon, Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s congressional campaign held a “unity rally” with a plethora of local elected officials, including Senator Chuck Schumer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and outgoing Congressman Gary Ackerman. But Hurricane Sandy’s gusts of wind were already bombarding the rally as the officials gathered, making life just a tad more difficult. Volunteers kept having campaign signs blown out of their hands, for example.
“Good afternoon everyone, thank you so much for coming out here today,” Ms. Meng said to begin her speech, standing in the plaza in front of the Queens Crossing Mall in Flushing. “Days ago, when we planned this rally, we really did think it was a good idea. And in light of the fact of the weather, we thought, ‘What better way than to make sure elected officials keep their speeches under 2 minutes than to hold it in the middle of a hurricane?’”