Gerrymandering Book Author Spoke Against Republican Strategy

Editor’s Note: The Philadelphia Inquirer and Montgomery County have information about today’s election.

Gerrymandering expert and book author David Daley spoke in Plymouth Meeting ahead of the Nov. 7th local elections. Daley is the author of Rat F**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy. In “Rat F**ked” (a colorful slang term for political sabotage), Daley documents the GOP’s insidious strategy to redraw the electoral maps in the United States to guarantee a Republican majority in the House of Representatives through 2020. [Read more…]

Gerrymandering Dooms Dems’ Hopes in House

Democrats’ grief over this year’s election has focused on their losses in the Senate, but their losses in the House of Representatives are much worse. While the Senate could be regained by the Democrats in a couple of years, retaking the House may take a decade or more.

Democrats May Win Senate in 2016

In off-year elections, about 12% of voters are 18-29 years old, 23% are 30-44, and 64% are older. However, in Presidential elections about 18% are 18-29, 28% are 30-44, and 54% are older.

In off-year elections, about 12% of voters are 18-29 years old, 23% are 30-44, and 64% are older. However, in Presidential elections about 18% are 18-29, 28% are 30-44, and 54% are older.

Most of the senators in the third of Senate that was up for election this year were elected in the Democratic wave led by Barack Obama in 2008 as he inspired young voters to come to the polls and defeat John McCain.

However, young voters are not consistent voters. They tend to turn out in much larger number for presidential elections. In this year’s off-year election, the youth failed to come out in great numbers, so most of these swing seats slipped out of Democratic hands giving control of the Senate to the Republicans. Democrats are disappointed by this outcome, but at least for the Senate their setback might only be temporary.

The batch of Senators up for election in 2016 is dominated by the Republicans who benefited from the Republican wave of 2010, so if the Democrats can get their base to turn out to the polls again in a presidential election year they might be able to take back four or five seats and regain control of the Senate.

Gerrymandering Renders House Elections Nearly Irrelevant

All of the attention on the Senate has diverted many people’s attention from the House of Representatives. After the 2010 census, Republicans used their control of numerous state legislatures and governorships, and sophisticated redistricting technology to craft congressional districts to their liking for the 2012 presidential election.

As a result, even though Obama was reelected and more people voted for Democratic congressional candidates than for Republican candidates (59.6 million to 58.2 million), the Republicans actually won more seats than the Democrats (242 to 193), and Republican John Boehner (OH-8) replaced Democrat Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) as Speaker of the House.

Indeed, The Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s analysis of the 2012 election showed that the redistricting gave the Republicans a 7.5% head-start in the House elections. In other words, without a Democratic landslide the Republicans would be able to seize control of the House. If the Democrats need to beat the Republicans by 7.5% just to break even, then we have lost sight of the idea of majority rule.6-3-13-gerrymander[1]

This year we conducted a similar analysis of election results. If we magically sprinkled Democratic voters across the country, this year Democrats would have needed a 10% margin in order to have regained control.

In fact, the Democrats lost the popular vote by an 8% margin, but the game was rigged so efficiently by gerrymandering that even if the shoe had been on the other foot and the Democrats had won the popular vote by 8% that would not have been sufficient for them to win back control of the House.

While the Democrats have high hopes of electing Hillary Clinton or another Democrat as president and perhaps regaining a majority in the Senate, they have virtually no chance of getting control of the House of Representatives until 2022, and even that will require significant gains by the Democrats in local state politics, and popular support for reform in the arcane world of redistricting.

Cartoon courtesy of Mike Stanfill.dyzm21gxkwi4jj0imdnu[1]

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.  

Controversy over Voter ID Bill Hits Pennsylvania

–by Anne Grant

If Pennsylvania signs a contentious new bill into law, the process of voting is about to become very difficult for over 700,000 of the state’s residents.

On June 24, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the controversial voter ID proposition also known as House Bill 934.  

House Republicans had forced the vote on the bill, which, if passed by the Senate, could potentially disenfranchise about 700,000 otherwise eligible Pennsylvanians.

House Bill 934 would require all voters to show a valid, unexpired photo identification to prove citizenship.

While advocates of the voter ID bill assert that it would prevent voter fraud in polling booths, those opposed to the idea point out that, as state Rep. Ron Waters (D. Phila/Delaware) noted, the bill is a “solution without a problem”.

In the same statement, Rep. Waters continued, “The bill’s sponsor claims that it is needed to fight voter fraud. But in the past 10 years, there have been fewer than two dozen voter fraud convictions in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing; and that’s out of 39.4 million ballots cast.”

More after the jump.
House Democrats and others opposed to the bill posit that the bill simply represents a Republican strategy to marginalize voters who do not have sufficient identification and who would otherwise likely vote Democrat.

Among the 700,000 Pennsylvanians whose voting rights could be compromised are young people, college students, the elderly, and poor residents.  The photo requirement must be issued from DMV centers; this kind of identification is unnecessary for the many Pennsylvanians who rely solely on public transportation.

According to a June 24 press release from the office of Rep. Waters, House Republicans have done little to ease the proposed identification requirement.  It stated, “Republicans rejected amendments that would have allowed other forms of identification to be used, such as voter registration cards, college IDs, or hunting licenses. Additionally, they rejected efforts to exempt voters over 65 and victims of domestic violence from the photo ID requirement, as well as attempts to require notification of this new requirement to be published in Spanish as well as English.”

After its passing by the House, the bill has moved to the Senate for consideration.

In other states, voter identification bills have undergone similar bouts of partisan controversy.  Governors in Minnesota, Missouri, and Montana have all vetoed similar voter identification bills.

Recently in North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue vetoed her state’s proposed voter identification bill as well.  In a statement from her office, Perdue commented that nothing should stand in the way of citizens exercising their voting rights.  She commented, “We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it. This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters.”

In Pennsylvania, House Bill 934 is set to be reviewed by the state Senate.

Senate Stands Up for Women’s Health

—  Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

We commend the Senate for standing up for women’s health and rejecting a bill that would have denied all federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a vital health care service provider. Each year, Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly one million cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, affordable birth control for nearly 2.5 million patients, and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV testing. Revoking Planned Parenthood’s federal funding would have disastrous consequences for all of these services and would not change a fact that has endured for decades: that no federal funds, received by Planned Parenthood or any other organization, can be used for abortion services.

The Senate’s action was especially heartening given that the same bill passed the House of Representatives earlier in the day. We have repeatedly condemned such attempts in the House to undermine women’s access to critical health care services, including abortion. These attempts violate the U.S. Constitution and core principles of Jewish tradition, which affirms society’s obligations to ensure access to health care and the rights of women to make moral decisions about their own bodies and their own reproductive health. Women are commanded to care for their health and well-being above all else, and society is commanded to provide health care for its most vulnerable residents. These dual obligations compel us to advocate for broad access to affordable reproductive health care and support Planned Parenthood in its efforts to reach millions of under-served men and women.

We call on the House to stop its relentless attacks on reproductive choice and women’s health, beginning with an end to the campaign to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Statement from Planned Parenthood follows the jump.
— Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania

Yesterday, the US Senate listened to millions of American women and voted, 58-42, to reject H. Con. Res. 36, an extreme proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health service, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI (including HIV) testing to patients who are covered by Medicaid and other federal programs.

Planned Parenthood applauds the members of Congress who stood up for women’s health and voted against this proposal.

This vote is a major victory for women’s health and the millions of women who go to Planned Parenthood for health care.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country made their voices heard in support of Planned Parenthood and opposed this radical proposal by calling Congress, writing and e-mailing their elected officials, and attending rallies. The grassroots support for Planned Parenthood was extensive.

This extreme proposal was rightly rejected by Democrats and Republicans. In addition, members of Congress who support abortion rights, as well as those who oppose abortion rights, voted against this proposal, which would have denied women family planning and would have resulted in an increase in unintended pregnancy.

Even though the House Republican leadership insisted on forcing an up or down vote in the House and Senate on this extreme proposal yesterday, all their political maneuvering accomplished was to show that the House leadership is willing to sacrifice women’s health to advance a narrow ideological agenda.

While we are outraged that the House voted to pass H. Con. Res. 36 by a vote of 241-185, the outcome of that vote was not a surprise.

Any member of Congress who voted for this extreme proposal just cast a vote against women’s access to lifesaving cancer screenings and birth control.

More than 90 percent of the health care Planned Parenthood provides – and 100 percent of the care it provides through federal programs – is preventive. We do not want one woman to be diagnosed with advanced cancer that our health centers could have detected early through screening, and we’re appalled that a fringe element of Congress would continue to put its narrow political agenda ahead of women’s health and safety.

Thankfully, the Senate has made clear this extreme proposal is unacceptable and rejected it.

Did you know you can filibuster the House of Representatives too?

At least that is what former Congressman Pat Toomey thinks.

Here is what he said on CNN’s John King USA:

I opposed many of our spending bills. I personally led a filibuster on the House floor against my own party because I thought they were intending to bust the budget and spend too much money. So the record is very clear I have stood up to my party when I thought they were wrong.  

In reality, filibusters have been forbidden in the House of Representatives since 1842.

Watch the video, where Toomey claims he led a filibuster at the 5:30 mark:

Pat Toomey represented Pennsylvania’s 15th district (Allentown, Bethlehem, Northampton, Easton) from 1999 to 2005. In 2004, he challenged Specter for the Republican Senate nomination and lost. This year, Toomey is the Republican candidate for Senate and is running against Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA 7).