Politics 2012: Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
Oregon’s 5th District Representative Kurt Schrader is a barometer on two political battlefronts:
1 – The current debt limit debate
2 – 2012 Election Politics
If you understand Congressmen Kurt Schrader’s circumstance then you will understand the state of Republican/Democrat politics in the United States today.
Who is Kurt Schrader?
Kurt Schrader is a 2nd term Congressmen representing the liberal southern suburbs of Portland in Oregon’s populous northern Willamette Valley and central coast.
He was elected in 2008 on a great tidal wave of voter discontent with incumbents. He rode on the coattails of Barack Obama; swept into office in what President Bush best described as “an old fashioned whuppin!”
Kurt Schrader campaigned on the promise of bringing fiscal responsibility back to the federal government. He promised, like Obama, to reel in the reckless deficit spending of the Bush Administration.
Its hard to believe now, but in 2008 a major election battle cry of Democrats was that they promised to bring George W’s outrageous deficits under control. Sound familiar?
Back then pretty much every Democrat, including President Obama and Vice President Biden, voted against raising the debt ceiling!
Obama promised to balance the budget by the end of his first term. Speaker Pelosi promised that all new spending programs would be properly funded.
Toward that goal, Kurt Schrader joined the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition caucus.
What is a Blue Dog Democrat?
It sounds like an oxymoron, sorta like saying ‘military intelligence’, but a Blue Dog is a ‘fiscally conservative Democrat’.
In 2008 it was considered a powerful political force for fiscal responsibility in the House of Representatives with 55 members, about the same size as the Tea Party caucus is today.
Yet here we are… $3.7 trillion deeper in debt just two and a half years later.
In his first month in office Schrader voted for two huge, unfunded programs – The “Stimulus” and an expanded SCHIP health care re-authorization. He never looked back after that. Schrader dipped into the pork barrel trough just like everyone else.
The Blue Dogs basically disappeared into the mist after the election until it became apparent that Republicans would win back the House in 2010 and that fiscal responsibility was becoming fashionable again.
Ironically, more than half the Blue Dogs were voted out of office in 2010, devastating their ranks.
Cap, Cut and Balance Act of 2011 – HR 2560
Last night the House passed HR 2560, a bill to raise the federal debt limit ceiling and then begin controlling federal spending.
HR 2560 raises the debt limit ceiling from $14.294 trillion to $16.7 trillion, the exact amount asked for by President Obama.
It reels in federal spending three logical ways:
- Cap federal spending
- Cut federal spending gradually until the federal budget is balanced
- Send a constitutional balanced budget amendment to the states for passage
It exempts Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Benefits and net interest payments on the national debt from cuts.
Its a real plan that includes important Republican compromise positions:
- It raises the debt limit ceiling to the level requested by the President
- It protects cherished Democratic social programs
- It leaves defense spending on the chopping block
It is real legislation that is already 1/3rd the way to becoming law. It is nice, neat and tidy.
Both President Obama’s so-called “grand plan” and the Senate’s “Gang of 6 plan” are not real plans at all. Neither are even close to being written legislation that could be voted on.
It is unlikely either could be written and passed by the Congress before the August 2nd deadline no matter how good they might eventually turn out. We don’t know what they will be at this point.
Even though he is a Blue Dog, Oregon’s Kurt Schrader voted against HR 2560, a fiscally responsible approach to get control of government spending.
What Does Kurt Schrader Teach Us About Democrats?
Fiscal conservative, Democrat Kurt Schrader, voted against HR 2560 because it does not contain any tax increases and cuts to deeply for his liking.
And he did so despite that it specifically protects both Social Security and Medicare, brings federal spending under control and legislates against defaulting on governments debts to avoid an economic meltdown of epic proportions.
If a fiscal conservative like Kurt Schrader cannot support a bill that doesn’t raise taxes then Democrats in general never will.
And therein lies the problem… Democrats are the ones unwilling to compromise, not Republicans!
2012 Election Politics
It’s depressing to say this, but Representative Kurt Schrader and 9 other Democratic colleagues of his in the House are the first victims of personally directed political attack adds on TV for the 2012 election season.
You can watch the Schrader attack add here:
“Rep. Kurt Schrader: No More Blank Checks” – Crossroads GPS, July 2011
One would wish we would not have to put up with garbage like that until next fall, late into the election cycle. But, unfortunately, it’s already here!
Most of the nine other targeted Democrats are also Blue Dog Democrats. They are targeted because Blue Dogs are viewed as already weak since so many of them were voted out of office in 2010 and because they are fiscally conservative which makes them less defensible to the Democratic rank and file.
Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS)
Crossroads GPS is one of those shadowy Republican entities that indignant Democrats have warned us about. It funded the Schrader attack add.
It is organized under the 501(c)(4) tax codes so it can raise unlimited money for political causes yet is not required to disclose its donors or the amount they donate. It can spend as much money as it likes in any way it wants.
Crossroads GPS is spending $1.4 million on its first attack adds against the weak Democrats.
American Bridge 21st Century
But before you Democrats climb on your high horse in righteous indignation, be advised your party is just as bad as the Republicans.
American Bridge 21st Century, an even more shadowy entity than Grassroots GPS, was formed on November 23rd 2010 in response to the huge Republican victories in the 2010 elections earlier that month.
Its web site is still listed “under maintenance” and there is nothing about it on Wikipedia, but its logo looks suspiciously like the Obama campaign logo.
Like Grassroots GPS it is a 501(c)(4) organization.
And like Grassroots GPS it is using its unlimited, anonymous donations for nefarious purposes.
That purpose was revealed in this New York Times article:
“Trailing G.O.P. With Cameras, Seeks Gaffes” – New York Times, 7/8/2011
According to the NY Times, funded by American Bridge, Aaron Fielding and a small army of “trackers” are being paid to trail Republican presidential candidates and video them “looking for gotcha moments that could derail political ambitions or provide fodder for television advertisements by liberal groups next year”.
Look for a Democratic blitz of attack adds against Republican candidates coming soon to a television near you!
Oregon’s Kurt Schrader is an accurate barometer of the state of American politics today… and things ain’t good.
The ideological gulf between Republicans and Democrats is so great that even a ‘fiscally conservative Democrat’ can’t bring himself to support a Republican bill that solves the debt ceiling issue before the August 2nd deadline in a way that accomplishes every major Democratic desire, including shielding social programs.
He and Democrats will only support amorphous “grand plans” that will take months to work out their concrete details while putting the federal government’s precarious credit rating at risk.
It proves, once again, that big government is seriously broken and that Republicans and Democrats are unlikely to come together any time before the 2012 elections.
We already see Republican TV adds personally attacking Kurt Schrader and 9 other Democrats 16 months before the general election! Democrat attack adds are in the making.
That is only the beginning.
Its going to be a long and vicious 2012 electoral cycle. Nothing major will be fixed.
And the American economy will remain at great risk.