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Congress makes 9/11 responders beg for help

9/11 first responders forced to plead for help from Congress

09/30/15 09:38PM

Dan Moynihan, 9/11 first responder, talks with Rachel Maddow about the effort he and other advocates are exerting to convince Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act to provide health benefits for 9/11 first responders who continue to suffer deadly ailments as a result of their exposure to conditions at Ground Zero. Seven first responders have... watch

Benghazi committee 'is a joke': Rep. Smith

Benghazi committee 'is a joke': Congressman Smith

09/30/15 09:22PM

Congressman Adam Smith talks with Rachel Maddow about the admission by Kevin McCarthy that the House Select Committee on Benghazi is a political tool to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy, and whether Democrats, including Clinton, should boycott the committee in protest. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 9.30.15

09/30/15 05:29PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Syria: "Russia began carrying out strategic airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, warning the U.S. to steer clear of the country's airspace as its warplanes joined in the fight against ISIS. But the U.S. State Department said Moscow's request would be ignored, adding that American jets would continue to fly missions as part of a separate air campaign to root out the militants."
* School shooting: "The principal of a South Dakota high school was shot and lightly wounded Wednesday in a shooting at the school, but authorities said a suspect was in custody and no students were reported hurt."
* The Senate voted 78 to 20 today to approve a stop-gap spending bill that keeps the government funded through early December. About an hour ago, House passed the identical bill, 277 to 151, preventing a government shutdown until December.
* Georgia execution: "Even a plea from Pope Francis could not save Kelly Renee Gissendaner. The Georgia woman whose case drew a call for mercy from the pontiff was executed at 12:21 a.m. Wednesday after a flurry of last-minute appeals failed. She sang 'Amazing Grace' before dying, according to witnesses."
* Oklahoma execution: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin halted the execution of Richard Glossip at the last-minute on Wednesday to investigate questions about lethal injection protocols. The announcement came about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution of Glossip, whose case drew a call for mercy from Pope Francis."
* Afghanistan: "The test facing the Afghan government now is not just whether it can quickly mount a counterattack and retake Kunduz, the northern city that fell to the Taliban on Monday, but whether it can prevent a nearby provincial capital from falling as well."
* East coast, take note: "Hurricane Joaquin rapidly intensified overnight and is now a Category 1 tracking west toward the Bahamas. Though there continues to be a high amount of uncertainty in the forecast, Hurricane Joaquin could track toward the East Coast this weekend, which is now in the cone of the National Hurricane Center forecast."
Republican presidential hopefuls listen as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (C) speaks during the Presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2015. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty)

Poll shows 'gang of six' in the running for GOP nomination

09/30/15 04:27PM

For all the assumptions about Donald Trump's stalled support in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the New York developer hasn't relinquished his national lead. On the contrary, the new USA Today/Suffolk poll shows Trump with a double-digit advantage over his next closest rival.
1. Donald Trump: 23% (up six point from July)
2. Ben Carson: 13% (up nine points)
2. Carly Fiorina: 13% (up 12 points)
4. Marco Rubio: 9% (up four points)
5. Jeb Bush: 8% (down six points)
6. Ted Cruz: 6% (unchanged)
7. Mike Huckabee: 2% (down two points)
7. John Kasich: 2% (up one point)
7. Rand Paul: 2% (down two points)
10. Chris Christie: 1% (down two points)
10. Lindsey Graham: 1% (up one point)
10. Bobby Jindal: 1% (unchanged)
Note, to provide the most complete picture possible, I've highlighted whether candidates' support has gone up or down since the last USA Today/Suffolk, but it was taken in July. And I think it's fair to say quite a bit has changed since July.
"It has now come down to the GOP 'gang of six,' " says David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. That would be Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Bush and Cruz. "These six contenders swallow up nearly three-quarters of the Republican vote."
That may yet change, of course, but I'm struck by the fact that, even now, Trump's position atop national polls hasn't changed, despite the fact that his support is no longer soaring higher.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Senator Marco Rubio speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, SC., Sept. 18, 2015. (Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters)

Rubio's rhetoric vs. Rubio's record

09/30/15 03:42PM

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took a very specific message to the Values Voter Summit last week: "the political class" in D.C. seems incapable of getting things done, and it's earned the scorn of the Republican base.
The situation on Capitol Hill has gotten so bad, the GOP candidate argued, that "people cannot help but ask: how can it be that we sent a Republican majority to Congress, and yet they're still not able to stop our country from sliding in the wrong direction?"
It sounded like the sort of message a GOP governor might offer, or perhaps rhetoric from one of the Republican amateurs sitting atop the polls. But instead, it was Rubio -- a member of the congressional majority complaining about Congress. It was a senator with no legislative accomplishments to his name whining about his own party's lack of accomplishments, and making no effort to acknowledge the disjointed nature of the complaint.
There was, in other words, a noticeable disconnect between Rubio's record and his rhetoric. Last night, a similar problem emerged.
Marco Rubio, a career politician, is trying to make the argument that he's not an insider as outsiders Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina generate buzz.
"Yes, I've worked in the Senate for four years. But I'm not of the Senate," Rubio told Sean Hannity last night. Rubio said he went to the Senate because "I didn't like the direction of this country" and that's why he's dumping the Senate and running for president.
It's entirely possible that conservative voters will find this compelling -- Rubio continues to rise steadily in state and national polling -- but his message is increasingly odd for anyone who stops to think about it.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chair of the newly formed select committee to investigate the State Department's handling of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, speaks on his phone as he walks to the Rayburn House Office Building, May 7, 2014.

Some palace intrigue in the House GOP leadership race

09/30/15 12:49PM

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stunned much of the political world with his resignation announcement last week, he wasted no time in signaling his preference in a successor. The GOP leader didn't officially endorse House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), at least not publicly, but Boehner made his wishes clear.
The outgoing Speaker did not, however, send any signals for the rest of the House Republican leadership team. Is Boehner taking a hands-off approach?
Perhaps not. Politico, with a piece that has not been confirmed by MSNBC or NBC News, reports today that Boehner met "secretly" with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) yesterday, in the hopes of convincing the South Carolinian to run for Majority Leader.
The previously undisclosed meeting reveals new behind-the-scenes involvement by Boehner, who has not endorsed any candidates in the leadership race. That the Ohio Republican inserted himself in the contest underscores his concern about who succeeds him in GOP leadership. Boehner requested the meeting after word spread that Gowdy was considering a bid for the post.
Many Republicans close to Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy believe Gowdy could help protect the California Republican’s right flank. McCarthy allies fear hard-line conservatives could block his ascent to the speaker’s chair during the vote on the House floor, throwing the chamber into turmoil.
As it turns out, by late yesterday, Gowdy made clear he intended to stay where he is -- leading the increasingly indefensible Benghazi committee that no longer seems especially interested in Benghazi.
But if these reports are accurate, it's noteworthy that the House GOP will soon end up with a Majority Leader who isn't the one the party really wanted for the job.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.30.15

09/30/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Hillary Clinton now supports scrapping the so-called "Cadillac" tax in the Affordable Care Act -- a policy loved by economists, but hated by labor unions. It's not yet clear how she'd make up the lost revenue.
* As Rachel noted on the show last night, one of the super PACs supporting Rand Paul's presidential campaign is no longer raising money. The super PAC's leader described the campaign as "a futile crusade."
* A striking figure from the conservative Tax Foundation: "Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s tax plan would cost an eye-popping $12 trillion over 10 years."
* Carly Fiorina told an conservative radio host in Iowa yesterday that she never referred to marriage equality as "the law of the land." As it turns out, that wasn't true.
* On a related note, Fiorina said yesterday that failure to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline would cost the United States 1.2 million jobs. That's not true, either.
* In North Carolina, PPP shows Donald Trump leading Ben Carson among Republican presidential hopefuls, 26% to 21%. Fiorina, at 10%, is the only other candidate in double digits. Note, Trump's statewide support is actually up two points from a PPP survey in North Carolina in August.
* On a related note, Hillary Clinton is ahead in North Carolina, but she enjoys a modest lead over Vice President Biden, 37% to 30%. Bernie Sanders is third with 17%.
* In Florida, a GOP poll from the state Chamber of Commerce shows Trump out in front with 25%, well ahead of Marco Rubio, who is second with 14%. Jeb Bush is close behind with 13%.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wait to speak at an event on Sept. 10, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Rand Paul: Ted Cruz is 'pretty much done for'

09/30/15 11:23AM

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) isn't necessarily held in high regard. Many of his colleagues, including Republicans, see him as someone who enjoys grandstanding rather than the unglamorous work of governing. If senators are divided into two broad groups -- work-horses and show-horses -- the Kentucky lawmaker is usually put in the latter category.
Put it this way: Rand Paul is the one the other senators roll their eyes at while he speaks.
And yet, even Paul looks at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as a guy who just isn't good at being a senator. Roll Call reported overnight:
Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday said fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted. Cruz is “done for” in the Senate.
“Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names, which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence, he can’t get anything done legislatively,” Paul told Fox News Radio. “He is pretty much done for and stifled and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem.”
Just to be clear, in context, the Kentucky Republican wasn't talking about their rival presidential campaigns. When Paul said Cruz is "pretty much done for," he was referring to the Texan's ability to be an effective legislator on Capitol Hill, not his shot at their party's 2016 nomination.
The charge is not without irony -- after nearly a half-decade in Congress, Rand Paul has passed nearly zero bills -- but he nevertheless has a point.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks toward Jeb Bush, right, as Scott Walker watches during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena on Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP)

In economic debate, GOP pulling numbers out of thin air

09/30/15 10:47AM

The trouble started in earnest in June. Jeb Bush, relying on nothing but his own hunches, vowed that he'd create 4% GDP growth in his first term as president, thanks to his amazing economic agenda. By his campaign's own admission, the figure wasn't based on any policy analysis whatsoever, but Jeb thought it sounded like a nice, impressive number -- so it became the basis for his entire candidacy.
It was an annoying, post-policy approach to an important issue, but the problem was exacerbated by the bidding war that followed. Chris Christie said his economic plan would also create 4% growth. Scott Walker -- remember him? -- said his plan could create 4.5% growth. Mike Huckabee said he'd create 6% growth.
Bloomberg Politics reported this week that Donald Trump wants in on the game.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump revealed a tax plan on Monday that, like many of the proposals put forth by his GOP rivals, contains a dubious assumption: that tax cuts will generate rapid economic growth. [...]While Bush assumes 4 percent growth under his plan, Trump said his plan could boost it as high as 6 percent.
Leonard Burman, the director of Tax Policy Center in Washington, said a projection of 6 percent growth is “completely implausible.” “It's faith-based revenue scoring,” Burman said in an interview.
And really, that's just the start of what makes this exercise so foolish.
Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to voters at the Heritage Action Presidential Candidate Forum Sept. 18, 2015 in Greenville, SC. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty)

The world is not 'literally on fire'

09/30/15 10:00AM

Chris Christie's presidential campaign hasn't had much to cheer about lately, but as TPM noted yesterday, the scandal-plagued Republican governor has a familiar new talking point.
Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that the world "is literally on fire" because of President Obama during a campaign speech in Iowa.
Christie talked about President Obama's speech to the United Nations during his campaign stop.
The governor described President Obama as "a guy who doesn't understand the world is literally on fire because of his inaction. Libya is on fire. Syria is on fire. Iraq is on fire."
As a factual matter, the Obama administration took action in Libya -- it was U.S. forces that helped end the Gadhafi regime -- and the Obama administration has launched thousands of airstrikes in Syria over the last 14 months. Taking action and "inaction" aren't synonyms.
But there was also something familiar about the Christie talking point.
Ted Cruz in March: “The world is on fire, yes. Your world is on fire.”
John Boehner in April: “The world is on fire."
John McCain in June: “The world is on fire."
At least Republicans have consistency going for them.
A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

Yet another Obamacare repeal vote?

09/30/15 09:20AM

It's hard to say with confidence exactly how many times congressional Republicans have voted to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act. Everyone can agree that it's happened several dozen times, and we know that in each instance the vote served no practical purpose, but these gambits have happened so often, exact tallies vary.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday put the grand total at 60, which is probably about right, though it's apparently now time to update the never-ending list. The Associated Press reported yesterday:
House Republicans advanced legislation Tuesday to dismantle President Barack Obama's health law that could actually reach the president's desk.
The House GOP has voted more than 50 times to repeal all or parts of the health law. Almost all the bills died in the Senate. But this time, Republicans are using a special process that prevents Senate Democrats from blocking the legislation.
The process is called the "budget reconciliation process" -- or just "reconciliation," for short -- that allows budget-related bills to be considered in both chambers while prohibiting Senate filibusters.
In other words, GOP lawmakers have already voted several dozen times to gut the U.S. health care system, but this will likely be the first time they'll force a presidential veto on the matter.
But if Congress knows President Obama will veto Republican efforts to take Americans health benefits away, why bother? The answer isn't necessarily obvious.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy - Jessica Taylor - 08/20/2013

GOP leader accidentally tells the truth about Benghazi committee

09/30/15 08:40AM

Even die-hard GOP partisans sometimes find it difficult to justify the House Republicans' Benghazi committee. The party struggled to explain why it was necessary in the first place -- the deadly 2012 attack was already examined by seven other congressional committees -- and the rationale is even more elusive now that the investigation is the longest in the history of the United States.
Making matters slightly worse, the GOP-led committee has conducted itself in such a way as to raise concerns that the entire endeavor is little more than a taxpayer-funded election scheme.
Keep that in mind when reading about House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) -- the likely next Speaker of the House -- and his interview on Fox News last night. Roll Call reported this morning on the Republican leader's on-air comments:
“What you’re going to see is a conservative Speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?
“But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”
Michael Kinsley once said a political gaffe occurs when a politician accidentally tells the truth. By this measure, the man who's likely to become Speaker of the House next month made an important mistake last night.
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks during a national security forum at The Citadel Sept. 22, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty)

Fiorina ironically blasts politics as 'a fact-free zone'

09/30/15 08:00AM

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina spoke at an event yesterday hosted by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, where she reflected on the difference between the worlds of politics and business. "Politics is a fact-free zone," she said. "People just say things."
Even by 2015 standards, the irony was almost overwhelming. The principal criticism of Fiorina is that she has an unfortunate habit of saying things that aren't true -- and then embracing those falsehoods with unnerving vigor when confronted with reality.
Take Fiorina's Planned Parenthood lie, for example. It started with a bogus claim during a recent debate, which was quickly discredited, but which the GOP candidate falsely claimed was true over and over and over again. When pressed for evidence, Fiorina's campaign staff tried to bolster the falsehood, but the "proof" wasn't true, either.
Yesterday, the story got just a little worse.
The video depicting a live fetus allegedly being kept alive to harvest its organs that Carly Fiorina described during the last Republican presidential debate has been published in full online, according to its creator.
Gregg Cunningham, the founder of the group that collected the footage, called the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, told TIME magazine that the full video was released on Tuesday, as a YouTube clip titled “Carly was right.”
The problem, of course, is that the video doesn't prove that at all. Vox's Sarah Kliff unpacked the key details:


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