Jewish Dems Alarmed Robertson at Romney Fundraiser

–by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today expressed concern over the appearance of controversial religious broadcaster Pat Robertson at a fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday. Robertson is known for his offensive and outlandish remarks and the Romney campaign’s decision to host him confirms that Romney is just one of many extremist candidates seeking the GOP nomination. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

“Mitt Romney — the ultimate political chameleon — has strived to be known as one of the more moderate among this field of Republican presidential candidates. Yet by associating with Pat Robertson he has chosen to pander to extremists who refuse to separate church and state, and worse. If associating oneself with Pat Robertson is the Republican Party’s version of ‘moderate,’ let alone a litmus test for Evangelical support, their field of 2012 candidates stands precious little chance of winning the Jewish vote.”

More after the jump.
Politico’s Jonathan Martin put it best:

If Robertson’s name is in the news now, it’s only to recount his latest incendiary comment. Which is why it’s puzzling that Romney — an uber-cautious frontrunner — would appear with the former Christian Coalition chief.

The paper trail of Robertson’s is extensive and, along with his advancing age, is the reason why he’s become marginalized. He blamed Hurricane Katrina on America’s abortion policy, explained the Haiti earthquake by claiming the country had made a ‘pact with the devil,’ the list goes on.

Robertson has written and declared that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. He uses his extreme belief to regularly challenge the First Amendment.

As Newsweek’s Michelle Goldberg wrote, “Republican politics have never been so fully Christianized…. Jews know they can never be full citizens of a Christian nation.”

Romney’s acceptance of Robertson challenges his own efforts to appear as a moderate. While Romney has avoided social issues in the past, his affiliation with Robertson shows that he is willing to bend to the most extreme voices to gain political power. The majority of American Jews are overwhelmingly offended by so many of Robertson’s statements, and this episode helps to illustrate Mitt Romney’s true colors to the Jewish community. It is once again obvious that even the supposedly moderate wing of the Republican Party is far too extreme for the vast majority of American Jews.

NJDC Hits Dim House GOP Effort to Repeal Light Bulb Standards

–by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today hit the dim efforts by the House Republican caucus to overturn light bulb energy efficiency standards found in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act that was signed into law by President George W. Bush with Republican support. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

“The House vote today on lowering efficiency standards for light bulbs is nothing more than the latest instance of the Republicans failing to stay focused on job creation and wrongfully attacking programs and regulations that American Jews support. The bill that contained the increased standards, which was signed into law by a Republican president after receiving bipartisan support, was supported by prominent American Jewish organizations in addition to most of American Jewry. High efficiency light bulb standards are among other common-sense solutions that are roundly supported and used by our community. One need not look further than the average synagogue to see crucial steps towards higher energy efficiency and green living.  

“It seems that the reason for the vote today is that a number of Republicans who initially supported the higher standards caved to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others instead of sticking with a wise public policy. Since taking office, the House Republican caucus has proven that they are not committed to job creation and that they simply cannot be trusted to protect programs and policies that are enthusiastically supported by most American Jews. This effort on light bulbs is just the latest dim idea pursued by the House GOP caucus.”

More after the jump.
The Energy Independence and Security Act received support from the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Orthodox Union, and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. The decision by Republican lawmakers to cave into Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh demonstrates that House Republicans lack the discipline to focus on job creation and that they do not have the political courage to stand up to the extremist radio hosts who have taken over the GOP. With this vote today it is clear that the Republican Party has chosen again to side with extremists rather than the vast majority of American Jews.  

Paul Ryan’s Budget Cuts Would Dismantle Medicare, Medicaid

Planned Reliance on Private Insurance Will Hurt Seniors and Neediest

— Sharon Bender

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) proposed a 2012 Federal budget that would drastically cut-and fundamentally damage-important health programs Medicaid and Medicare.  These are programs on which millions of vulnerable Americans rely for help meeting their most important and least affordable need: health care.  

The proposed budget does not control health costs or encourage efficiencies in the broader health care system; it simply relies on dramatic cuts, with a staggering impact on the elderly. By making Medicaid a block grant while creating a decreasingly valuable Medicare voucher, this bill would deal a devastating double-blow to older adults as well as the disabled.

This proposal would end the guaranteed Medicare coverage as we know it for the next generation of seniors (starting in 2022, which impacts those born since 1957) and replace it with a voucher to buy health care in the private insurance market-a market with a poor track record of providing affordable, quality health insurance to older people.  Even more troubling, these vouchers would not keep pace with the rising cost of all health care, about which this plan does nothing.

In order to reduce deficits, the budget proposal would transform Medicaid into a block grant program while dramatically reducing the federal contribution to the program. This would no longer allow the program to expand based on the number of qualified people in need. Rather, it saves money simply by offering reduced benefits or covering fewer people. “Anyone can cut the budget by arbitrarily capping programs,” said Allan J. Jacobs, B’nai B’rith interim international president. “The real challenge we face is to reduce the deficit without decimating help for the neediest among us, or making retirement impossible for the next generation. This means we must be straightforward with one another about how we are saving money. Unfortunately the savings in this budget seem to come simply from doing less for the people who need the most.”  

More after the jump.
B’nai B’rith is disturbed and frankly surprised by the attempt to privatize Medicare. Past experiments with privatization in Medicare have not saved money. Instead, they have created additional spending and unnecessary confusion without providing better health outcomes.  

“Adding private plans into the mix has already created a highly confusing maze through which the elderly must wade, especially in Medicare Part D, without providing savings to the government or better choices for the consumer,”  B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D., said. “The savings in this budget come not from theoretical-but-never-realized-efficiencies of the private market, but by cutting the amount spent per beneficiary.”

B’nai B’rith is also troubled by the peculiar references to Social Security in this budget proposal, including certain “triggers” that would be created to “force” action on Social Security.  As in 1983 (the last time major reforms of Social Security were made) changes to make Social Security stronger can and should be made by experts and policymakers working together, with Social Security solvency and sufficiency as their goal. These triggers are not an appropriate mechanism to replace responsible actions.

B’nai B’rith is fully aware of the steep deficits this nation faces. But blind cuts that don’t take into account  long-term consequences could lead to greater expenses as more and more people fall through our valued and needed social safety nets.

Anti-Israel Ron Paul Leads Presidential Field in CPAC Straw Poll

Democrats contrast CPAC and SOTU Rhetoric.

— David A. Harris

The victory of Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) in the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll sends a clear message: the Republican Party and the conservative movement continue to grow increasingly out of touch with the values of the American Jewish community. It seems as though Republicans are trying to drive Jewish voters away as quickly as possibly, in fact.

Representative Ron Paul has never missed an opportunity to vote against the U.S.-Israel relationship. And his questionable record goes far beyond this; as we have noted before, “from his unacceptable statements about Gaza to the Ron Paul newsletter wondering aloud if the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was perpetrated by Israel, Paul is beyond the pale.” Like his son, he wants to end all aid to Israel, though Rep. Paul has gone even farther in discussing his bizarre and offensive belief that “AIPAC is in control of things, and they control the votes” regarding the war in Iraq. On the domestic front, Paul is no better — calling global climate change a “hoax” and working to eliminate the Department of Education.

Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) poses with neo-Nazi leader and campaign contributor Don Black. (Photo: Ace of Spades.)

Republicans from around the country descended on Washington in recent days for the most prominent annual conservative conference. And after hearing directly from many 2012 hopefuls, they decided that Ron Paul — miserable record and all — best represents the hearts and minds of conservatives. This speaks volumes about today’s conservative movement, and how diametrically opposed to Jewish interests it is.

Paul embodies a Republican Party that continues to move further and further to the right — and a conservative movement that fails to stand up for the ideals and values that American Jews hold dear.