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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Nashua, N.H.

Scott Brown equates child tax credits, oil industry subsidies

10/07/14 09:11AM

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) faced off against former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a New Hampshire debate last night, and choosing the most amazing part is surprisingly difficult.
We could, for example, start with Brown's odd boast that he's pro-contraception -- a position he says he's held "since I was 18 years old" -- despite the fact that he agrees with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling. Or maybe we should kick things off with the fact that Brown has now changed his mind, once again, about whether he believes in climate change.
But for my money, the real treat was hearing Scott Brown talk about taxpayer subsidies to the oil industry.
Shaheen argued that the already shrinking deficit could be even smaller by closing some existing tax loopholes, including billions of dollars in tax breaks the extraordinarily profitable oil industry receives but doesn't need. "There's real money there, and if you add it up, you begin to see the impact it would have," the Democrat said.
The Republican, running in a new state two years after being rejected by his previous state, didn't quite see it that way.
Brown wasn't buying it, however, saying that going after "fraud, waste and abuse" was a better idea. He also lumped all loopholes into one great big category, and suggested they should be left alone. [...]
"What's a loophole? Well, the investment tax credit is a loophole. The R&D tax credit is a loophole, the child care tax credit, the homeowner interest deduction," he said.
Wait, did Brown really equate the child care tax credit with oil-industry subsidies? Why, yes, actually he did.
Davis Perdue

GOP Senate candidate 'proud of' career in outsourcing

10/07/14 08:35AM

Last week, Senate hopeful David Perdue, the Republican nominee in Georgia, ran into a little trouble. The candidate had already been damaged by criticisms of his private-sector background, which includes significant job losses through outsourcing, on top of factory closings, consolidations, and reduced work hours at U.S. facilities, but the story returned to front pages at an inopportune time.
In a 2005 deposition, Perdue was asked about his "experience with outsourcing," to which the Republican replied, "Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that."
Perdue and his campaign team have had a few days to come up with a compelling defense. This is what they came up with.
"Defend it? I'm proud of it," he said in a press stop at The White House restaurant in Buckhead. "This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day." [...]
In remarks Monday, he attempted to draw a line between his business decisions and Washington policies. "I think the issue that people get confused about is the loss of jobs," he said. "This is because of bad government policies: tax policy, regulation, even compliance requirements."
Unlike Perdue's 2005 deposition, yesterday's comments were on video -- which means voters in Georgia will be seeing the Republican talk about his outsourcing pride quite a bit in the near future.
As for Perdue blaming government for the job losses he helped orchestrate, Ed Kilgore's reaction rings true: "I dunno, Dave. The stretch run of a U.S. Senate campaign is a pretty bad time to be conducting a public education program in right-wing economics, or telling people they are 'confused' for disliking outsourcing."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Cruz's 'tragic and indefensible' reasoning

10/07/14 08:00AM

By mid-day yesterday, hours after the Supreme Court had tacitly expanded marriage equality to several states, only one Republican U.S. senator, Utah's Mike Lee, had issued a press statement. In the midst of an extraordinary societal shift on civil rights, Republicans - from Capitol Hill to the RNC -- had effectively decided to take a pass on saying much of anything.
But it wasn't long after that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) decided to weigh in. The fact that the far-right senator wasn't pleased didn't come as a surprise, but take a moment to soak in the Texas Republican's incredible reasoning.
"The Supreme Court's decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible," said Sen. Cruz. "By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.
"This is judicial activism at its worst."
It wasn't too long ago that "judicial activism" was a phrase that actually meant something. Folks on the left and right who were outraged when judges made up new legal rationales to justify controversial decisions could credibly use the words as part of a reasonable complaint.
In time, the phrase became diluted. Soon, every judge a partisan disagreed with became a "judicial activist," whether the label made sense or not. Every ruling a partisan objected to became an example of "judicial activism," even if it wasn't.
But leave it to Ted Cruz to render the phrase utterly meaningless in a new and creative way: the Supreme Court, the senator now believes, can be guilty of "judicial activism" even when the justices literally haven't done anything. Yesterday's news was a breakthrough moment for equal-marriage rights, but in a practical sense, all the justices did was announce they wouldn't hear some cases -- something they do all the time, on all kinds of issues and areas of the law.
But that's not all: Cruz then told everyone what he intends to do about this outrage.

Reported strikes in Syria and other headlines

10/07/14 07:57AM

Coalition warplanes reportedly strike ISIS in Syria in support of the Kurds. (NY Times)

"It's Super Tuesday for Senate debates." (NY Times)

GOP Senate races get cash infusion. (Wall Street Journal)

V.A. chief moves to fire two top officials with ties to scandals. (Washington Post)

Turkish police clash with protesters denouncing ISIS. (AP)

Big banks face new round of charges from the Justice Department. (NY Times)

It's Vladimir Putin's birthday. (AP) These guys got him an art show depicting Putin doing the 12 Labors of Hercules. (New York Magazine)

Nobel Prize in Physics celebrates blue light diodes. (NBC News)

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Ahead on the 10/6/14 Maddow show

10/06/14 06:20PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Edith Windsor, plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case argued before the Supreme Court
  • Roberta Kaplan, Edith Windsor’s attorney, who argued the DOMA case before the Supreme Court
  • Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights 
  • Clay Jenkins, Dallas County judge 

Check out a preview from executive producer Cory Gnazzo to see what's ahead tonight:

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Monday's Mini-Report, 10.6.14

10/06/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Ebola: "A nurse in Spain has become the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa in the latest epidemic, authorities said on Monday."
* Related news: "The freelance NBC News cameraman who was diagnosed in Liberia with the Ebola virus is scared but 'enormously relieved' to have arrived at a Nebraska hospital for treatment, his parents said at a Monday news conference."
* ISIS: "Islamic State militants pushed on Monday into the eastern edge of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish border, after sustained shelling that drove back the Kurdish fighters and Syrian insurgents fighting alongside them, killing 16, Kurdish fighters [an] activists said."
* More ISIS: "The Pakistani Taliban declared allegiance to Islamic State on Saturday and ordered militants across the region to help the Middle Eastern jihadist group in its campaign to set up a global Islamic caliphate."
* Hong Kong: "As the protests dwindled and life in Hong Kong increasingly returned to its frenetic routine on Monday, organizers of the biggest pro-democracy political movement in China since the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing said they had moved the needle, however slightly, toward the possibility of a more democratic future for the city's 7.2 million people."
* If this is true, it's amazing: "The Taliban's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid may hate the U.S., but he apparently loves American technology. He tweets several times a day to keep his nearly 6,000 followers updated. On Friday, however, Mujahid posted several Tweets, apparently accidentally turning the social network's geolocation tracking on."
* Afghanistan: "Millions of dollars set aside to pay Afghanistan's police force are unaccounted for, and the UN agency in charge of those funds has been 'disturbingly ambiguous' about where the money went, according to documents released by the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction."
* Kenya: "Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday told the nation in an address before parliament that he would temporarily step down as president while attending a hearing at the International Criminal Court this week."
* Vice President Biden, known for occasional malapropisms, felt the need to apologize more than once over the weekend to Middle Eastern countries for saying something that appears to be true.
Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as she testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

Texas Republican sees ACA as tool to combat Ebola

10/06/14 04:33PM

It's fair to say Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) is not a fan of the White House. In 2011, the far-right Texan suggested Republicans should pursue impeachment against President Obama, not over any high crimes, but because "it would tie things up" in Washington for a while, making governing impossible.
In other words, Burgess isn't exactly a moderate.
It's of interest, then, that the Republican congressman now sees part of the Affordable Care Act as a tool that can help fight Ebola. Igor Volsky reported this morning:
"It's section 4002 in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it's called the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and this is a self-replenishing fund, at the first of the fiscal year every year," Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) explained during an appearance on 660AM's Mark Davis Show.
"Two billion dollars washes into the Secretary's offices of Health and Human Services for her to use, do whatever she wishes," he added, before asking, "But how about we take these $2 billion and we fight this darn disease?"
Obviously, Burgess isn't approaching this as a fan of "Obamacare." Rather, he's saying the ACA system includes a provision called the Prevention Fund, and so long as it exists, perhaps those resources can be used to supplement U.S. efforts to address this virus.
That's a far cry from an endorsement of the law Burgess has voted to repeal several dozen times, but at a practical level, it's nevertheless indicative of progress -- when a far-right congressional Republican envisions using the Affordable Care Act to help people, rather than demanding the complete annihilation of the law itself, it represents a real shift in posture.