Saturday, July 23, 2011

President Obama: Go 'big' on debt deal

By President Obama

For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation's credit card — debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.

Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That's what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can't afford, and budget only for what's truly important. It's time for Washington to do the same.

Why cuts are necessary

In the short term, my No. 1 focus is getting our economy back to a place where businesses can grow and hire. That's why I want to take a number of steps right away, like extending tax relief for middle-class families and putting construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and highways.

But over the last few months, I've also said that I'm willing to cut historic amounts of spending in order to reduce our long-term deficits. I'm willing to cut spending on domestic programs to the lowest level in half a century. I'm willing to cut defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. I'm willing to take on the rising costs of health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, so we can meet our obligations to an aging population.

Some of these cuts would eliminate wasteful spending, weapons we don't need, or fraud and abuse in our health care system. Still, some of the cuts would target worthwhile programs that do a lot of good for our country. They're cuts that some people in my own party aren't too happy about, and frankly, I wouldn't make them if we didn't have so much debt.

But the American people deserve the truth from their leaders. And the truth is, you can't get rid of the deficit by simply eliminating waste and fraud, or getting rid of pet projects and foreign aid, like some have suggested. Those things represent only a tiny fraction of what we spend our money on.

At the same time, it's also true that if we tackle our deficit with spending cuts alone, it will likely end up costing seniors and middle-class families a great deal. Retired Americans will have to pay a lot more for their health care. Students will have to pay a lot more for college. A worker who gets laid off might not have any temporary help or job training to fall back on. At a time of high gas prices, we'll have to stop much of the clean energy research that will help free us from our dependence on oil.

That's why people in both parties have suggested that the best way to take on our deficit is with a more balanced approach. Yes, we should make serious spending cuts. But we should also ask the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations to pay their fair share through fundamental tax reform. Before we stop funding clean energy research, we should ask oil companies and corporate jet owners to give up the tax breaks that other companies don't get. Before we ask college students to pay more, we should ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. Before we ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, we should ask people like me to give up tax breaks they don't need and never asked for.

The middle class hasn't just borne the brunt of this recession; they've been dealing with higher costs and stagnant wages for more than a decade now. It's just not right to ask them to pay the whole tab — especially when they're not the ones who caused this mess in the first place.

Raising revenues: a bipartisan position

A balanced deficit deal that includes some new revenues isn't just a Democratic position. It's a position that has been taken by everyone from Warren Buffett to Bill O'Reilly. It's a position that was taken this week by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, who worked together on a promising plan of their own. And it's been the position of every Democratic and Republican leader who has worked to reduce the deficit in their time, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton.

There will be plenty of haggling over the details of all these plans in the days ahead. But right now, we have the opportunity to do something big and meaningful. This debate shouldn't just be about avoiding the catastrophe of not paying our bills and defaulting on our debt. That's the least we should do. This debate offers the chance to put our economy on stronger footing, restore a sense of fairness in our country, and secure a better future for our children. I want to seize that opportunity, and ask Americans of both parties and no party to join me in that effort.

President Obama wrote this column exclusively for USA TODAY.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Charlie White, Statehouse Republicans... all behaving badly

The Republicans at the Indiana Statehouse have been behaving badly when it comes to Charlie White.

The Democratic Party contested the candidacy of Charlie White prior to the general election when the discrepancies of illegal voting practices and acceptance of tax dollars for a job that he was ineligible for came to light.

Republican Charlie White was behaving badly.

When then Secretary of State, Todd Rokita, certified the results of the General Election, his argument was that the law said that candidates had to be “registered voters”. The law did NOT say that candidates had to be “legally registered voters”. The Democratic Party then filed a legal case against Charlie White. In the interim, Charlie White has been sworn into office. He is Indiana’s Secretary of State. Todd Rokita is now a U.S. Congressman.

Republican Todd Rokita was behaving badly.

Republican Secretary of State, Charlie White, was indicted in March on seven felony counts including voter fraud, perjury, and theft. Keep in mind that a core part of the job of the Secretary of State is “Chief Elections Officer”.

The court agrees that Republican Charlie White is behaving badly.

On April 7, Marion County Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg ordered the current Recount Commission to quickly resolve the Democratic challenge to White’s eligibility. But between Recount Commission Director Bradley Skolnik and Republican State Party Chair Eric Holcomb, no one has been appointed to replace Charlie White on the Recount Commission to start proceedings. On April 25, Judge Rosenberg gave Skolnik and Holcomb two days to appoint a replacement and to appear on Thursday in court to “show good cause, if any there be, why the Commission should not be held in contempt”.

Republican State Party Chair Eric Holcomb and Recount Commission Director Bradley Skolnik have been behaving badly.

Last week, the Indiana Senate on a strong Republican majority, voted to change the rules on what happens if the Secretary of State is removed from office. Under current law and the law that was in effect when the alleged crimes were committed, the second highest vote getter becomes Secretary of State. In this case, Democrat Vop Osili becomes Indiana’s Secretary of State. Because all of the Republican votes for Secretary of State get wiped out, the Indiana Republican Party also loses major party status. The loss of major party status means that all Republican candidates in Indiana would need to collect petition signatures to get on the ballot. The Democratic candidates would appear first on all ballots across the State of Indiana. The Libertarian Party would appear second on all ballots across the State of Indiana, and the Democrats would gain all precinct inspectors at polling locations. The Senate’s amendment to HB1242 allows Mitch Daniels to appoint Charlie White’s replacement, and everything else goes away. The Republicans voted the party line to approve the amendment, except our own Sue Glick.

Indiana’s Republican Senators are behaving badly.

HB1242 is now back over in the House. Could it be that the Recount Commission and the Republican State Party Chair are waiting for a House approval and a governor’s signature prior to ruling on Charlie White? I am calling on our Republican State Representatives to follow Sue Glick’s lead. Charlie White broke the law, and there are consequences. Do the right thing. Vote down the revised version of HB1242.

Tell your Republican State Representatives not to behave badly too.

Carmen Darland
Third District Democratic Party Chair
Albion, Indiana

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Judge denies White's request to halt Dems' challenge

A Marion County judge has denied Charlie White’s request to halt Democrats’ challenge to his eligibility to hold office.

The Democrats claim White wasn't legally registered to vote at the time he declared his candidacy, so he wasn't eligible to run.

White had asked the judge to delay the challenge until criminal charges pending against him in Hamilton County are resolved. He is accused of deliberately voting in the wrong precinct in the May primary and lying about his address to cover up the fact that he had moved out of the district he represented on the Fishers Town Council. He faces seven felony charges.

His attorney argued during a hearing this afternoon that if White defends himself in the civil case, he might incriminate himself in the criminal case.

But Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg said that there’s no guarantee White’s criminal trial will be held Aug. 8 as scheduled, so the civil challenge could be drawn out indefinitely if it hinges on the resolution of the criminal case.

“The public interest is in resolving this matter,” Rosenberg said, noting that the “uncertainty” of White’s eligibility is “impairing” the operation of his office.

James Bopp, who’s representing White in the civil challenge, said he will appeal the judge’s ruling.

White already is appealing Rosenberg’s April 7 ruling that the Democrats’ challenge is valid and should be heard by the Indiana Recount Commission, which had previously dismissed it.

White had asked that if Rosenberg denied his motion to halt the case until the conclusion of the criminal case, that he at least delay it until the Indiana Court of Appeals hears his appeal of the April 7 ruling.

White’s request to stall the case came Tuesday, just a day after Democrats asked Rosenberg to take over the case or order the commission to move faster to proceed with the complaint.

Rosenberg declined to take over the case, but he did agree to set a schedule the commission must follow for resolving the complaint.

He’s expected to issue that schedule by the end of Friday

Monday, March 28, 2011

Update from House Leader Pat Bauer

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer of
South Bend issued the following statement today on a compromise reached at
the Indiana Statehouse and the return of House Democrats after a month-long

"Today we can announce compromises that are great steps forward for
working Hoosiers. The principled stand by House Democrats forced concessions
by the House Republicans that reflected the concerns expressed by so many
people who came to the Statehouse in recent weeks.

"The timeout forced by Democrats gave Hoosiers an opportunity to examine the
radical agenda being attempted in Indiana and to speak out. We've protected
working people from a march to the minimum wage. We've protected collective
bargaining rights for Hoosier workers and teachers. We've softened the blow
to public schools and prevented passage of a bill for the private takeover
of public schools. This timeout gave millions of Hoosiers a real voice in
their state government.

"We are appreciative that the Speaker was willing to reach out to us and
make compromises that address the most serious concerns. We are hopeful that
we can continue to work and find common ground.

"These compromises are not perfect. Democrats aren't bound to vote for them,
and we will make an effort to continue to amend the proposals before us.
But, this is something to work with and we are headed back to Indianapolis
to do just that."

The provisions of the compromise include:

right-to-work legislation is off the table, preserving collective bargaining

the permanent ban on public employee bargaining is off the table in the

enabling legislation for private takeover of public schools is off the table
in the House;

private school vouchers will be limited to 7,500 students in the first year
and 15,000 in the second year, rather than the largest voucher program in
the nation the Republicans originally wanted;

rather than an outright ban of Project Labor Agreements as Republicans
wanted, PLAs still can be included with projects passed by public
referendum; and

the threshold for applying the common construction wage to projects would be
$250,000 for 2012 and $350,000 for 2013, rather than the job-killing $1
million threshold the Republicans wanted.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Published: February 8, 2011 3:00 a.m.
Steel Dynamics hailed for exports
Wins certificate from Commerce
Paul Wyche | The Journal Gazette

BusseFORT WAYNE – If others followed the lead of Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics Inc., President Obama’s goal of doubling the nation’s exports by 2014 would easily be met, a U.S. Department of Commerce official said.

Ro Khanna, deputy assistant secretary, awarded the Export Achievement Certificate to Steel Dynamics CEO Keith Busse at the company’s headquarters Monday. Figures for 2010 aren’t complete, but through the first nine months of last year the business had $256 million in net export sales, while total annual sales were $6.3 billion.

“We can bring jobs back to this country,” Busse said in front of several employees and government officials assembled for the award announcement. “We’re pleased with our efforts.”

So is the Obama administration. During the president’s State of the Union address last month he stressed the need to help businesses sell more products abroad, “because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home,” he said.

Because Steel Dynamics’ plants primarily are located in the Midwest – where ocean ports are not easily accessible – the firm’s exports mostly have been to Canada and Mexico. Company spokesman Fred Warner said the 2007 acquisition of OmniSource has boosted exports as copper and aluminum extracts flow.

Warner said there has been increasing interest by other foreign buyers in some of the high-value steel products, including special-bar-quality steel, specialty shapes and special grades of flat-rolled steel. Warner said Khanna plans to tour the company’s structural and rail mill today in Columbia City.

Khanna said Steel Dynamics serves as a template for similar companies in United States. The business added about 100 jobs to its more than 6,000-person workforce in 2010.

“It shows that we can compete with other countries,” he said. “Steel Dynamics is a great model of how we can make jobs here in the U.S.”

Friday, February 4, 2011

Message from Rep. Pat Bauer

Statehouse eUpdate
State Rep. Pat Bauer
Feb. 4, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Here is how unemployment insurance "reform" is currently
defined by those in control of the Indiana General Assembly:

If you have lost your job and are trying to support your family
while you're looking for work, your weekly unemployment benefits will be cut
by 25 percent.

If you own a small business, you will see the taxes you are
charged to help finance the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund go up

If you run a large corporation, you'll get to wait before you
pay your share of the freight to pay for the fund, which owes more than $2
billion to the federal government. In some cases, you'll even see your taxes
go down.

These unemployment insurance "reforms" authored by the House
majority are contained in House Bill 1450, which passed out of the chamber
this week. They are expected to move quickly through the Indiana Senate, so
there is a good chance these changes will be law before too much longer.

I opposed House Bill 1450 because these "reforms" will be a
disaster for families with members who are out of work. The average weekly
benefit for workers will be cut from $283 to $212, a drop of about 25

That is the money these families rely upon to pay for food,
utilities, rent and other necessities while parents are trying to find jobs.

The cuts are described by advocates of "reform" as the sacrifice
that unemployed Hoosiers must make to solve the problems facing the benefit
system, but I believe the true impact will be forcing many of these folks to
turn to other government assistance programs for help at a time when the
funding for those programs also is being cut.

This "reform" also will hurt small businesses across Indiana,
which will see the taxes they pay for financing the benefit system go up in
the years to come. Compare their burden with that faced by the larger
businesses and corporations in our state, many of which actually will see
cuts in the unemployment taxes they pay.

But it is the people who are supposed to be helped by this
system that will be hurt the most. These folks are not freeloaders. They
lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and they are trying to find
work so they can take care of their families. Now they are told that they
will have to do more with less, while some employers won't have to make any
sacrifices at all. You tell me if that is right.

Let me make one final point. The best way to fix Indiana's
bankrupt unemployment system is to get Hoosiers back to work. We have been
in session for one month, and those in charge of the Legislature and the
governor's office have yet to make one new proposal to create jobs in

There has been action on other issues at the Statehouse. Here
are some measures the House has passed in recent days.

House Bill 1018 calls for a smoking ban in most public places
across Indiana. There are a number of exceptions to this ban: casinos,
racinos, riverboats, bars and taverns, and designated smoking areas in
nursing homes and private service clubs like the VFW, American Legion and

House Bill 1129 prohibits a person from sending an email or text
message while driving a motor vehicle. The penalty for violation would be a
fine of up to $500.

House Bill 1102 would ban the possession and sale of synthetic
marijuana, which is more commonly known by names like spice or K2. Many
counties across the state have acted to prohibit this substance, which has
caused adverse reactions like heart and breathing problems and been blamed
for contributing to some deaths.

If you want to talk to me about any of the issues being debated
in this session--or if your child would be interested in serving as a page
in the House and you would like to get more information about the
program--here are a few ways to stay in touch.

You can call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of
1-800-382-9842, write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives,
200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204, or send a message to my email
address: . While visiting my website at , you also
can sign up to receive regular email updates from the Legislature.

Thank you for your interest in state legislative matters. Please visit my
website at:
If you have received this Statehouse eUpdate by error or wish to be removed
from the distribution list, simply reply to this email, typing "unsubscribe"
in the subject line. Thank you.
Statehouse eUpdate
State Rep. Pat Bauer

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Times have changed

Dear Friend,
The crossroads of America has officially become the crossroads of the GOP.
Yesterday, we watched as U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, long respected for his moderate views and votes, sided with right-wing Republicans in a party-line drive to overturn President Obama’s unprecedented health care package, which will deliver affordable coverage, cheaper prescription drugs and small business tax breaks to almost one million Hoosiers.

This is the same senior Senator who recently stood with President Obama to support a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia and access to citizenship for young immigrants who pledge to their allegiance to this country through education or military service.

Five years ago, I went on the record to say that “Richard Lugar is beloved not only by Republicans, but by Independents and Democrats.”

Times have changed.

Today, with Tea Party activists recruiting a candidate to challenge him, Lugar has been forced to the right – away from the values we cherish as a state of moderate, logical thinkers.

Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza said this morning that Lugar is rapidly emerging as the top Tea Party target next year. Taking him down in a primary would give their patchwork movement both credibility and momentum.

There’s only one message we can derive from this assault on a venerable public servant: There’s no room for independents or moderates in the new Republican Party.

Hoosiers have long believed that a political system marked by compromise and rational thinking achieves the best results. That’s why the state has embraced Lugar’s brand – alongside Democrats like Evan Bayh and Frank O’Bannon – for decades.

The growing Republican rift gives us an opportunity to showcase what Indiana Democrats have always believed: We are fiscally conservative, moderate on social issues and wholly committed to policies that improve education and create jobs.

For the sake of our state, I hope Richard Lugar sticks to the principles that have won him so many elections – and a place in the hearts of those in the heartland.

Indiana deserves leadership that reflects hard-working Hoosier values, not pandering to a group of fringe activists who are angry at America.

Our party has always fought for those Hoosier values, and we will continue to do so – united in our efforts – as we work hard this year and next year to elect Democrats across Indiana.

Thank you for your commitment to this state, our values and the Democratic Party.
Democratically yours,
Daniel J. Parker