Braley on AIG bonuses

Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) is calling for a 100 percent tax rate on bonuses being paid to executives at U.S. companies that have received or will receive federal bialout bucks. That's one way to ensure the money would be repaid to the treasury.

Braley's also leading a letter-writing campaign,urging the treasury secretary to specifically address the bonuses being paid at AIG, the company in which American taxpayers hold a majority ownership stake.  Braley and 89 other members of the House (including Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines) co-signed the letter to Geithner.  Read the release below:

Braley Takes Aggressive Action Against AIG Bonuses
Rep. Braley Leads 90 Member Letter Urging Reversal of AIG Bonuses

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Braley (D-Iowa) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) lead a 90 member letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner urging that planned bonuses to AIG executives are stopped and requesting a full accounting of government funds going to AIG.  The letter follows news that AIG plans to pay out $165 million in executive bonuses after receiving over $170 billion in funds from the federal government. 

Today Braley also co-introduced the Bailout Bonus Tax Bracket Act of 2009, a bill to increase the tax rate on any bonuses awarded by businesses receiving government TARP funds, including AIG.  This bill would require that bonuses over $100,000 be taxed at a rate of 100 percent. The IRS currently withholds 25 percent from bonuses less than $1 million and 35 percent for bonuses over $1 million. 

“It is unacceptable that AIG is using taxpayer dollars to pay lavish bonuses to the same executives who asked for a government bailout,” Braley said.  “I support President Obama’s efforts to prevent AIG from awarding these bonuses, but if the bonuses are not stopped then we must take action to ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted by CEOs. 

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Patrick Dillon, another Iowa connection in Obama White House

A man who served as Chet Culver's campaign manager in 2006 will be a key insider in the Obama White House. Patrick Dillon once served as chief of staff political director and press secretary for Congressman Leonard Boswell and he's been Governor Culver's chief of staff for the past year. Dillon, who is 31 years old, resigned from that job in Culver's administration last week and sources confirm he'll be working as deputy director of political affairs in the White House. 

Ronald Reagan was the first president to install a political office inside the Obama White House. Barack Obama has asked Patrick Gaspard, a longtime operative in the labor movement, to be his political director with Dillon, now, as deputy.

Obama also has asked Dillon's wife, Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, to be the executive director of the Democratic National Committee.  She worked as the battleground states coordinator for Obama's presidential campaign.

Patrick Dillon worked on John Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign.  Jen O'Malley Dillon ran Edwards' 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign. Patrick Dillon also has worked for former Senator Tom Daschle and current Senator/former Virginia Governor Mark Warner.  Dillon is from Texas and went to college at Georgetown.

UPDATE:  In 2006, Dillon was not only the campaign manager for Chet Culver's gubernatorial campaign, he served as the primary point man for the press for much of the campaign. The kind of double duty isn't easy. Now, many are waiting to see what the other male spouse of an Obama insider winds up doing.  Jackie Norris is serving as Michelle Obama's chief of staff.  Her husband, John Norris, is another longtime Democratic operative who has yet to resign from his post as chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board. Here's some background on the political power couple.

This is the news release from the Obama Transition Office about Patrick Dillon:

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Reaction to Vilsack as ag sec

A number of statements have been issued from a variety of office-holders and farm groups regarding former Governor Tom Vilsack's nomination to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.  I'll post several below.

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For those who regularly check out the blog, you may have noticed posting has been sporadic lately.  Sorry.  I could list the reasons, but that'd be a waste of time.  Instead, here are six items that could have been posted in the past few weeks.

****The ever-vigilant Cedar Rapids Gazette political team emailed a tip:  Earlier today, Senator Tom Harkin's website advised folks who wanted to attend the Inauguration that Harkin's office was no longer "excepting" ticket applications.  It's been corrected to advise Harkin is no longer "accepting" requests for tickets.

****Former State Representative/unsuccessful 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate/unsuccessful 2008 third district congressional candidate Ed Fallon (D-Des Moines) submitted an application last week, hoping President-elect Barack Obama names him the "White House Farmer."  Fallon, as you may recall, endorsed John Edwards before the Caucuses, then endorsed Obama shortly after Edwards dropped out of the race. Read Fallon's news release below.

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Iowa gave you today’s candidates

Much has been made of Barack Obama's victory in the January 3, 2008 Iowa Caucuses.  The Reader's Digest Condensed Version:  Obama's victory dealt Hillary Clinton a loss that killed the idea she was the "inevitable" nominee.  In an interview with Radio Iowa this summer, Obama described Caucus Night as "lift-off" for his campaign.

While Clinton was focusing on experience, Obama (and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards) focused on the idea of building a movement. On the afternoon of the Iowa Democratic Party's 2007 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Obama outlined that "movement" idea for a crowd of his supporters.

"…It's with your power, it's with your voices that we're going to be able to make a difference," Obama todl the crowd that day in Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines. "…One voice can change a room and if it can change a room, it can change a city and if it can change a city, it can change a state and if it can change a state, it can change a nation.  If it can change a nation, it can change a world.  Your voice can change the world…Let's go change the world."

On to the Republican side. Iowa Republicans tossed aside two party heavyweights in favor of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's populist message.  Huckabee, like Obama, was a "movement" candidate.  Huckabee's victory dealt a blow to the well-financed Mitt Romney who had hoped an opening victory in the Iowa Caucuses would propel him through the contests to come. The Iowa results also confirmed that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was not acceptable to a significant chunk of rank-and-file Republicans. 

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Biden — in Des Moines, Iowa — says McCain health care ideas a “bridge to nowhere”

"Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get serious.  As Barack said, ‘What do they think we are, completely stupid?’  Completely stupid that they’re going to change the way things are when in fact they say nothing, nothing," Joe Biden said of the messages delivered by John McCain and Sarah Palin at the RNC in St. Paul last week.  "…John has this great idea.  He’s going to give every American a $5000 tax credit which is going to encourage every employer to say, ‘Well, now I can drop health insurance,’ but the average cost of every plan is $12,000 and that’s what I call a bridge to nowhere, an absolute bridge to nowhere. That is a bridge too far."

Listen to Biden’s 35 minute speech (mp3 at bottom of page).

What follows is a live blog of Biden’s appearance in DSM, IA:

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden is due in Des Moines at an event on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in about an hour.  It’s his first trip back to Iowa since he was revealed as Obama’s pick for a running mate.  It’s also his first stop back in Iowa since the January 3rd Caucuses.

The venue is a large, barn-like structure in which baby animals are housed during the 11-day run of the State Fair.  An American flag has been suspended along the northern third of the western wall.  About 300 chairs have been set out; all but a few have been occupied an hour before the event is to start.  A long line of folks waited along the outside of the building, in the rain, until they were allowed entry shortly before two o’clock.

The campaign soundtrack includes some of the familiar songs, including the song "Move Along" by the All-American Rejects. "…Move along, move along like I know you do; And even when your hope is gone; Move along, move along just to make it through; Move along; (Go on, go on, go on, go on)’ When everything is wrong we move along; (Go on, go on, go on, go on); When everything is wrong, we move along; Along, along, along."

At 2:30 p.m., the crowd is asked to rise for prayer.  A woman who I don’t think identified herself Reverend Angie Witmer of Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines is at the microphone  "…Be with all those who work, day after day, to change the world, one person, one moment at a time…Remind us that changing the world isn’t something that other people do.  It’s up to all of us…May we all feel your presence…May what we see and hear and experience here today set our hearts on fire…Together, with one another and with you, we can change the world.  May it be so.  Amen."

Next, the crowd rose to recite the Pledge.  A brief interlude of audience kibitzing fills the air with chatter from the crowd, then it’s back to the campaign soundtrack.  "Ain’t no stoppin’ us now," a 1970ss disco hit from McFadden & Whitehead, is next up on the play list.

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Tuesday morning with Iowa Democrats

Culverblog Governor Chet Culver talked for 25 minutes; Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal told a joke about the Cornhuskers (he’s from Council Bluffs); Obama campaign insider Paul Tewes (read about his visit below) stopped by and SEIU president Andy Stern was there to give a stemwinder.  Those are the highlights I can remember on Tuesday afternoon from the Tuesday morning breakfast for the Iowa delegation at the Democratic National Convention, brought to delegates by Culver and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, who bought the breakfast buffet for delegates.

There were other moments, for sure, as when the aforementioned Gronstal ribbed former legislator Dick Myers of Iowa City about his age, suggesting Myers had been around for the "recession of 1890."  Former Iowan Chuck Manatt stopped by to visit. John and Jackie Norris showed up for breakfast wearing identical black t-shirts with words in white on front: "Got Hope?"  Jackie Norris is Obama’s Iowa general election campaign manager.  John Norris,a long-time party person who ran John Kerry’s 2004 Iowa Caucus campaign, is currently chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board.  They were always in motion, so I never got a side-to-side photo of them.  The two are in motion all afternoon and evening, too, as whips on the floor of the convention.

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Edwards’ affair a “betrayal” of his supporters, says Braley

Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrast from Waterloo who is seeking a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, was campaigning on the Iowa State Fairgrounds today and stopped to answer reporters’ questions.

I asked him what his reaction had been when he learned Democcratic presidential candidate John Edwards had admitted to having an extramarital affair.  "Incredible disappointment," Braley began.  "I’ve talked to many other Edwards supporters who gave all thatl they could to help him win the Iowa Caucuses and it’s just very, very disapointing.  I feel very bad for Elizabeth and the children and I know this is a very difficult time in their lives, but I also feel — I think David Bonoir said it best — a sense of betrayal about all of us who put so much of ourselves into that campaign and knowing that now this was lurking in the background, just a great sense of frustration and disappointment."

Braley said he had no hint this kind of a bombshell would drop, nor had he heard before the Caucuses of the National Enquirer story published in December.  "I never heard about the National Enquirer story until probably about three months ago.  It’s not a publication that I read with any regularity."

Braley, a trial lawyer by trade — just like Edwards, backed Edwards for president in 2004 and 2008.  Braley was the first Iowa congressman to endorse a presidential candidate in the ’08 cycle.  Braley isn’t willing to play the "she would have won" game that Clinton folks have started, charging that Clinton could have won the Caucuses had the affair been public knowledge before January 3, 2008 and Edwards was out of the race.  "I’m more interested in focusing on the future than looking back to the Caucuses," Braley told reporters.   "…Speculating on how that could have impacted the Iowa Caucuses is not a productive thing for the party at this time."

Braley spent a lot of time on the campaign trail with Edwards.  "I rode on the campaign bus with the Edwards family and I saw the affection that was shared between then.  I saw, when the kids would come out with sheet music that had Christmas carols on it and the family would be singing while the bus was traveling down Highway 20 — that was the experience that I had with them during the heart of the Iowa Caucuses."

"Now you’re disappointed," William Petroski, a reporter for the Des Moines Register interjected.

"Yes," Braley replied.

UPDATE: here’s the Radio Iowa story.

Clinton aide, in retrospect, draws scenario for HRC win in Iowa

Former Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told ABC Hillary Clinton would have won the 2008 Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucuses — and the party’s 2008 presidential nomination — if John Edwards’ affair had been confirmed in the media before January 3, 2008 — the night the Caucuses were held.

One fly in the ointment of that theory, however, is exit polls which suggest Clinton was not an overwhelming "second choice" for many of those who attended the Caucuses.  As you may recall, the Republic Party of Iowa conducts a straw poll at its caucuses, so the final tally is indicative of how many people who attended the Iowa GOP’s Caucuses supported which candidate.  Iowa Democrats, however, conduct a mathematical exercise.  First, a candidate must have at least 15 percent support in the Caucuse room, or they’re declared a non-viable candidate and that candidates’ supporters must choose another candidate or move to the uncommitted group.  That’s why "second choice" is so important and exit poll data suggests the Edwards supporters in Iowa were not overwhelmingly for Clinton as a second choice but would have gravitated toward Obama or decided to join the ranks of undecided voters in their precinct.     

For you who can’t find your box score at home, Obama won the Iowa Caucuses with 37.6 percent; Edwards came in second with 29.7 percent and Clinton was third with 29.5 percent.

Clinton backers foiled in attempt to ban caucuses

Read the LA Times piece — Clinton backers tried this past weekend to amend the Democratic Party’s platform to ban caucuses, like the Iowa Caucuses, in future presidential nominating seasons.  (As you may recall, Barack Obama finished first; John Edwards second and Hillary Clinton third in the Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucuses on January 3, 2008.)