Archive for tom harkin

Sen. Tom Harkin: GOP senator from southern state called Pres. Obama “exotic” during closed-door meeting


la cucaracha racism obamaVia Lalo Alcaraz

Senator Tom Harkin has been busy lately. Earlier I posted: Iowa woman breaks down in tears at Harkin event supporting expansion of Social Security. Then he told the Des Moines Register that a GOP senator from a southern state referred to President Obama as "exotic" during a closed-door bipartisan meeting when they were trying to avoid more gridlock over changes to filibuster rules regarding executive branch nominees.

"Exotic," he said.

"Doesn't share our values," he said.

"My people," he said.

President Obama will forever be "the other" to small-minded ignorami.

I'm surprised he didn't call him "That one" and "darky." I'm sure "his people" have.

Via Roll Call:

“I’m not naming any names, but one senator got up from a southern state and said, ‘Well, you’ve got to understand that to my people down here, Obama seems like he’s exotic,’” the Iowa Democrat said. “That he’s just exotic, he doesn’t share our values.” [...]

Asked whether there were other periods in American history with partisan polarization like what Washington’s currently experiencing, Harkin said, “Sure – the Civil War,” the Register reported.

His "Civil War" reference couldn't have been more apt.


VIDEO: Iowa woman breaks down in tears at Harkin event supporting expansion of Social Security


woman pleading for social security

Via, a local NBC affiliate in Des Moines, here is video of a woman at a retirement center during an event held by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, Progress Iowa, The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America,, Social Security Works, and Credo Action.

The topic: Social Security cuts.

Harkin's bill would increase monthly benefits by $65 a month by lifting the cap that taxes income for social security, and expressed his disappointment in President Obama when he said, “I’m sorry to say the president of my own party has advocated this and he’s wrong... I’m so tired of people saying we’ve got to cut social security. No, you can increase social security.”

Sheryl Tenicat, who is retired and now looking for work, broke down in tears while pleading for expanding Social Security benefits-- as opposed to continuing efforts to slash the program. She told her very real, very painful story about what happens when life-saving programs are cut:


I have $624 a month. That’s what I'm living on.

99 of that goes to my Medicare Part ‘A’ and ‘B’. After I get my check in two weeks, it’s gone. I have nothing.

I live on what I eat here [at the senior center]. And I just do not want my cost of living cut because I’ve paid in since I was 16, to the government.

I'm looking for work!... I have property taxes to pay. ... My car just broke down. I can't repair it, so I'm walking and taking the bus...

There is no way for me to eat less. Thank you.

No, thank you, Ms. Tenicat.

Here is a video of the entire news report:


bernie sanders chained cpi social security


Roll Call: Iowa Senate race no longer "likely" Democratic, now "leans" Democratic


heads up

Now that Senator Tom Harkin won’t seek a 6th Senate term, Iowa just went from "likely" to "leans" Democratic. Get your wallets ready.

Via Roll Call:

Sen. Tom Harkin’s retirement makes the Iowa Senate seat more competitive by virtue of the six-term Democrat’s departure. Couple that with the Hawkeye State’s competitive nature, and this race could be one of the most targeted of the 2014 cycle.

Accordingly, CQ Roll Call now characterizes the Iowa Senate race as Leans Democratic, after previously rating the contest as Likely Democratic.

On the Republican side we have the possibility of Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham running.

On the Dem side, four-term Congressman Rep. Bruce Braley is a good bet.


AP NewsBreak: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) won't seek 6th Senate term



Oh oh. Republicans are smiling in Iowa today.

CUMMING, Iowa -- Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says he will not seek re-election in 2014.

The 73-year-old Harkin tells The Associated Press in an interview, "It's just time to step aside," because by the time he would finish a sixth term, he would be 81.

Harkin said it would also allow a new generation of Democrats to seek higher office.

The announcement comes as a surprise, considering he had $2.7 million in his campaign war chest and was planning a fundraiser next month.

Harkin played a lead role in urging the Senate's more liberal members to back the 2010 health care bill.

No Iowa Republicans have taken formal steps toward seeking the seat. Harkin's decision eases the burden on the GOP, who have to gain six seats to win the majority.


Sen. Harkin: Dems will hold majority in Senate, may win back House in 2012


I needed a dose of optimism today. Thank you Tom Harkin, who in the video I link to below, also talks about buyers' remorse (relevant segment at about 23:00).

Via The Hill:

Harkin said, “[W]e’re doing nothing because the Republicans in the Senate block us at every turn.”

Senate Democrats face a challenging election next year, having to defend 23 seats to the GOP’s 10.

Harkin expressed confidence, however: “I don’t think we’re going to lose the Senate. I really don’t. I think the Democrats will continue to keep the Senate. And quite frankly, with some of the dynamics I see out there, I thinks Democrats could actually retake the House of Representatives.”

Wishful thinking? Not if the Dems get out there and vote in droves, if we organize efforts to register voters and provide transportation right now to Voter I.D. locations, and of course, to the polls.

Video here. (C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program will air at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday. )


Filibuster Reform Watch- Harkin: "There could be some fireworks on January 5th."


(via the Rachel Maddow Show)

Fireworks? In January? When it comes to changing the filibuster rules-- and hopefully some of that increasingly frustrating GOP obstruction (see chart)-- the answer is a resounding yes:

"There could be some fireworks. There could be some fireworks on January fifth," Harkin said at a pro-reform event sponsored by several like-minded organizations. "I'm going to be there. I'm armed. I'm armed with a lot of history, and I know the rules, and I know the procedures too, so we will see what happens on the fifth."

"[Former Sen.] Robert Byrd in 1975, the last time that last time that we changed the rules and [brought the filibuster threshold] from 67 [votes] down to 60, actually stated on the floor that a majority, 51 senators, could change the rules. And that's what we intend to do and that is what we are working on right now. We are coming on the fifth to basically send a motion to the vice president ... that will change the rules and there is a procedure to provide 51 votes to do that. Robert Byrd said that in 1975 and that's what we are going to try to do." [...]

Harkin hinted that the GOP is looking to cut a deal with Democrats in an effort to ensure that anything they pushed was not too far-reaching.

Screeeeeching halt. Did I just read that correctly? The GOP wants to c-- com--- cooommmpro--  compromise?

Tell you what, Republicans... when you start, we'll consider it. For a split second. Maybe.

Harkin wants to put an end to minority rule in the worst way:

... Harkin seemed uninterested in incremental changes. And while there may not even be 51 votes to change the rules, let alone any Republicans willing to compromise, Harkin insisted he wouldn't settle for reforms that still allowed the minority party to bring the legislative process to a halt.

Mark your calendars.


VIDEO- Senator: "Mark this date on your calendar. January 5th..." to change the filibuster rules


Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) was on The Rachel Maddow Show to explain his proposal to reform the Senate's rules on the first day of the 112th Congress.

Now Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is jumping in. Via Think Progress:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) laid out a path to fundamentally change the way the filibuster works. Merkeley told [Thom] Hartmann to “mark this date on your calendar: January 5th. That’s the date we’re going to come in for the next Congress, and it’s on that date that a group of us is trying to pass a motion for the Senate to adopt new rules.” [...]

Merkeley writes that he would “require a specific number of Senators — I suggest five for the first 24 hours, 10 for the second 24 hours, and 20 thereafter — to be on the floor to sustain the filibuster. This would be required even during quorum calls. At any point, a member could call for a count of the senators on the floor who stand in opposition to the regular order, and if the count falls below the required level, the regular order prevails and a majority vote is held.”

Tom Harkin has expressed his frustrations about the filibuster previously. I wrote about it back in February in a post called "Restoration of majority rule": Tom Harkin, Jeanne Shaheen eye filibuster reform:

Harkin proposes a new procedural model: the first go-around, the minority could demand a 60-vote majority, as is the case now. But if 60 votes aren’t there to end debate, a week or so later, 57 votes could bring the bill to the floor for a vote. If 57 votes aren’t there, it drops again and again, and after a month or so, a bare majority could approve cloture.

Here is a more recent statement:

"...Get rid of the filibuster once and for all..." (starts at about 3:18)