Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kerry to Bow Out of '08 Presidential Race - Say It Ain't So John

It's with a very heavy heart that I write here on The Democratic Daily that John Kerry will announce today that he will not run for president in '08. Many of our readers are staunch Kerry supporters who have given their all to the hope that Kerry would run. I respect John Kerry's decision, but simply have to say... Please, say it ain't so John.

The word came a short time ago via Kerry's press office forwarding this article from Rick Klein of the Boston Globe:

Kerry to bow out of '08 presidential race
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | January 24, 2007

WASHINGTON --Senator John F. Kerry plans to announce today that he is bowing out of the 2008 presidential race, and will instead remain in Congress and seek reelection to his Senate seat next year, according to senior Democratic officials.

Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, plans to say he will remain in the Senate to recommit himself to efforts to extricate the United States from the war in Iraq. His decision to stay out of the presidential race reflects a realization that he would have had an uphill climb in capturing the Democratic nomination, given the other party heavyweights who are already in the race, according to the officials, who spoke to the Globe on condition of anonymity.

Kerry plans to make his plans known with a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, and is taping a message to e-mail his supporters to explain his decision.

Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, has been acting like a 2008 candidate virtually since he lost to President Bush -- traveling the country, spreading money to other Democratic candidates, and keeping in place a campaign infrastructure that was ready for another presidential bid.

But according to Kerry associates, the senator's plans changed dramatically in the fallout of his election-eve "botched joke" about the education levels of US troops. The harsh reaction to that incident -- from many Democrats as well as Republicans -- displayed to Kerry the extreme skepticism within his own party about whether he should mount another run.

And, with polls giving front-runner status to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, Kerry realized that he would face formidable adversaries in the quest for the Democratic nomination. Clinton, Obama, and a host of other candidates have been busily hiring campaign operatives and signing up key fund-raisers in recent weeks.

On Iraq, Kerry has emerged as a fierce war critic after initially supporting the invasion of Iraq. He has spoken of his war opposition in a similar vein to his efforts to bring the Vietnam War to a conclusion in the early 1970s.

Kerry's announcement freezes in place the various Democratic aspirants to his Senate seat. Massachusetts hasn't had a vacant Senate seat since 1984 -- when Kerry himself won his first six-year-term -- and several members of the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation have expressed interest in running for the Senate if Kerry retired.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kerry Says Bush Address Ignores America’s Priorities

Our embattled leader, George W. Bush challenged members of Congress tonight to ""show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory" and warned that the consequences of failure in Iraq "would be grievous and far-reaching.""

"I respect you and the arguments you have made," Bush told skeptical lawmakers from both parties in his sixth State of the Union address and the fourth since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. "We went into this largely united -- in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq and I ask you to give it a chance to work."

With new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) sitting behind him in a sign of the power shift on Capitol Hill, Bush congratulated Democrats on their victory in the November midterm elections and reached out to them with ideas to expand health-care coverage, overhaul immigration laws and improve education performance. In his most ambitious new proposal, he laid out a plan to reduce projected gasoline consumption in the United States by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

John Kerry tonight issued the following statement on President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address this evening:

“The President missed a golden opportunity tonight to admit that he made a mistake in Iraq and to share with the American people a plan for gradually removing our troops and allowing the Iraqis to solve the political crisis in Iraq. Instead, he glossed over the disastrous war and its multi-billion-dollar price tag and implied again that our presence in Iraq is somehow improving the situation in that chaotic and turbulent country. The Congress must stand up against Bush’s plan to escalate the war with a new surge of troops and I will be introducing legislation shortly to demand that the Administration set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq. The President’s address came up short in other areas as well – like his idea to tax worker health benefits and his failure to seriously address the challenge of global climate change. Our economy is headed in the wrong way; wages are barely keeping up with inflation and family income is on the way down,” Kerry said.

More specifically, the President missed the mark on several fronts:

  • ENERGY: Once again the President only paid lip service to a meaningful energy agenda that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. His record speaks for itself – we’re more dependent on foreign oil than ever before. Tonight the President failed to embrace bold policies to break our oil dependence. The President says the nation should reduce U.S. gas usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years, but a goal without a roadmap for getting there is useless. The President should have included more funding for hybrids and battery technology.

  • HEALTH CARE: Providing more people with meaningful, affordable health care is a laudable goal, but taxing worker health benefits to get there is a terrible idea. We need to increase the number of insured Americans, not play a shell game that risks coverage for those who have coverage today. As many as 35 million people could face higher taxes under the President’s plan while many millions more will face a choice of higher taxes or inadequate coverage in future. The President’s plan could actually increase the number of uninsured if employers decide to shift the entire premium cost to workers or offer only high-deductible plans.

  • IMMIGRATION: Once again the President called for immigration reform that includes a guest worker program. I support comprehensive immigration reform and I’m disappointed that President Bush walked away from the issue last congress in the heat of the midterm elections. I hope that he’ll work with the Democratic-led congress to make comprehensive reform a reality.

  • *MSNBC graphic

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Ted Kennedy Offers Wise Advice: “Don’t Write Off Kerry, Romney”

    Ted Kennedy was on Meet The Press on Sunday and he offered some wise advice on the '08 presidential election, while repeating "his promise to support Kerry if he runs"...

    Don't Write Off Kerry, Romney

    Kennedy shrugged off polls showing Senator John Kerry in the single digits -- badly trailing likely candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Kennedy said Kerry faced an "uphill battle" before the 2004 campaign for the Democratic nomination, which Kerry won.

    Kennedy said he'll endorse Kerry if he opts to run again.

    On the Republican side, Kennedy said former Governor Mitt Romney is a strong candidate. He said -- quote -- "I wouldn't underestimate Mitt."

    Romney challenged for Kennedy's Senate seat in 1994.

    The transcript of of Kennedy discussing Kerry on Meet The Press is available here.

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    Sen. Kerry and Rep. Hinchey Re-Introduce Measure to Repeal More Than $25 Billion in Wasteful Tax Breaks & Subsidies for Oil Companies

    Yesterday, the House Democrats passed their energy package targeting royalty breaks for big oil -- the Clean Energy Act of 2007 (H-6) -- by a vote of 264 to 163, "with many Republicans joining a bloc of Democrats."

    Passage came despite opposition from the oil industry and the Bush administration, which said the bill singled out the companies for higher taxes and could increase the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

    The bill will rescind $7.6 billion in tax breaks for oil drillers that Congress passed in 2004 and 2005 and will add $6.3 billion in royalties from companies that pump oil and gas in publicly owned waters of the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.

    Today, following up on the House victory, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) re-introduced the Energy Fairness for America Act, which would repeal at least $25 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas companies. The Energy Fairness for America Act is "part of a broader effort on behalf of Kerry, Hinchey, and other Democrats to undo giveaways to oil giants."

    Kerry and Hinchey said the bill would save taxpayer funds and vowed to work aggressively to get the legislation approved this year.

    “With oil companies raking in huge, record-breaking profits, there is no way the U.S. government should be giving away these massive tax breaks at the expense of American families,” Kerry said. “This legislation would go a long way to restoring the public confidence in our government and would help us recoup money that would otherwise go out the window.”

    The Kerry-Hinchey bill repeals provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed by the Republican-controlled Congress last year, which provides $2.6 billion over 10 years in tax breaks for oil and gas companies. These giveaways are on top of the billions in tax breaks and subsidies already available to the oil industry through 2009 -- breaks that have existed for decades, but would be abolished under the Energy Fairness for America Act. Additionally, the bill would end the practice of allowing companies to get a break from paying fees owed to the federal government for oil and gas extracted from public lands.

    "The first 100 hours energy bill in the House provided us with a great first step toward repealing the outrageous subsidies and other giveaways that this administration has green-lighted for the oil and gas industry,” said Rep. Hinchey. “Senator Kerry and I are now taking the next step toward ensuring that the government works even harder on behalf of the American people, not massive energy companies. Congress should be in the business of fighting for the American people instead of fighting to make energy companies ever more profitable at the expense of the American people. This bill shows the wide array of tax cuts and subsidies for Big Oil that should be on the chopping block."

    Kerry and Hinchey said they will explore ways to pass the measure as an independent bill, as well as in the form of an amendment to a larger bill. In the coming days, Kerry will release additional details on his environmental agenda for this Congress.

    The Clean Energy Act of 2007 (H-6) included many of the Kerry-Hinchey provisions. The N.Y. Times reports that "Bush is expected to weigh in with proposals in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, and White House officials have said that new energy programs will have a prominent place in the speech." Perhaps we'll get treated to another round of Bush claiming we're addicted to oil but not offering any solutions. Of course we all know that it's the Bush administration that is addicted to BIG oil and their Big profits. Screw the little people and the environment.

    Kerry Vows to Seek Additional Funding For Disaster Loan Program at SBA

    The N.Y. Times reported yesterday that the biggest program the federal government has in helping "people rebuild after natural disasters" is that the program "verge of running out of operating money because of budgeting problems at the agency that runs it, the Small Business Administration."

    John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said Thursday that he would "immediately work with Senate and House leaders to secure additional funding for the disaster loan program run by the Small Business Administration (SBA)."

    Kerry said that legislation he introduced earlier this year would help prevent the SBA program from running into problems in future years, primarily by pushing the agency to develop a more transparent budget by forcing regular updates on funding levels. Kerry made his remarks following news reports suggesting that the loan program, which is critical in parts of the country that are weathering storms or floods, may run out of funding before the end of the year.

    “There is no excuse for allowing such a vital program to fall into disarray,” said Kerry. “I want to make sure we provide sufficient funding for the disaster loan program to keep it running this year and more importantly, to make sure that we don’t run low on funds in future years.”

    Earlier this month, Kerry reintroduced the bipartisan legislation with Sens. Olympia Snowe (R- Maine), Mary Landrieu (D–La.), and David Vitter (R- La.), which Snowe and Kerry first introduced during the last Congress. It would require the SBA to report to Congress on the fiscal status of its well-worn Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan program. In addition, the Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2007 (S. 163) would require SBA to report to Congress:

      · Monthly on the fiscal status of the disaster loan program, including how long funding for this program will be available

      · Daily on lending activity for any major disaster that is declared by the president

      · By May 1st on the agency’s progress developing a comprehensive hurricane response plan

    The bill would also require the SBA to notify the Small Business Committee whenever the agency is in danger of running out of funding.

    Kerry’s bill follows the SBA’s disclosure that, if left untouched, the disaster loan program has sufficient funding to last only through February. If administrative funding runs dry, the program would have to shut down, leaving victims of disasters without assistance as they look to rebuild their homes and businesses.

    In addition to introducing this bipartisan proposal, Kerry is working with appropriators to identify a way for the disaster loan program to remain funded.

    The N.Y. Times reported that Kerry said in a statement Wednesday on the program, "The administration mismanaged the response to Katrina from Day 1. We need legislation to overhaul the program and make it work efficiently for every business owner and homeowner in the country.”

    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    Governor Patrick Says He Will Support Kerry If He Seeks Presidency Again

    With the news today that Joe Biden intends to "seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008," came the news that Massachusetts' new governor, Deval Patrick said today that "he would have to support Sen. John Kerry over Obama or Mrs. Clinton should the Massachusetts Democrat make a second run for the presidency." Patrick was asked who he would support in '08 during an appearance that aired Sunday on WHDH-TV's "Urban Update." Apparently the list only included Kerry, Clinton and Obama, sorry Joe. Patrick made it very clear where his loyalty runs, to his home Senator who supported his bid for Governor...
    "They are very, very strong people. I will tell you that if my home senator runs, I've got to be with him. I love the other candidates, but we will see. I don't know that he has made a decision yet."

    Back in October, Deval Patrick called "a similar question "premature" after Kerry campaigned for him at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown."
    Obama, an Illinois Democrat still in his first term in Congress, and Clinton, a New York Democrat just sworn into her second term, are weighing campaigns in 2008, as is Kerry.

    Kerry has pledged to announce a decision about a second campaign in the near future, perhaps this month. He is up for re-election in 2008, and some local Democrats are urging him to decide whether he wants to seek re-election or wage a second presidential campaign.

    The senator has suggested the calendar and state election law would allow him to do both, at least until he learned the outcome of early primaries and caucuses.

    Massachusetts' senior Senator Ted Kennedy signaled a little "impatience with his fellow senator in December, saying his support was not guaranteed and he did not want to wait "indefinitely" for a decision."
    Kennedy later declared he would support Kerry should he declare his candidacy "in the near term."

    Around here, Dem Daily readers are waiting patiently for the Senator to make it official. The general consensus is Run, John, Run.

  • Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill: Kennedy Won’t Wait Indefinitely for Kerry to Declare his 08 Intentions

  • '08 Watch: Biden to Run, Will Gore?