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The NRA is watching

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Mark Critz is leaving nothing to chance.

Trigger the VoteThe Rothenberg Report released its latest House race rankings today and PA-12 is one of four Democratic seats it says are pure toss-ups this fall. Three of the Dems (Critz, Kathy Hochul, Bill Owens) are among the 17 who crossed lines to vote in favor of holding AG Eric Holder in contempt. Critz is a pro-gun Dem who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association before and was likely aware the NRA was scoring the vote.

From Politico:

The NRA has said it was counting the Holder vote in its congressional scorecard. Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the NRA, said he couldn’t say for sure if the congressmen who voted against holding Holder in contempt would lose all future support.

“Votes have consequences,” he said. “That’s all I can tell you at this point.”

Issues about the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry aside, the Holder vote from a Democratic perspective really was just political theater: charges against the Attorney General would have to be brought by the Justice Dept, which he runs, so it ain't happening.

Critz has also been careful on ACA -- saying yesterday that he disagreed with the Supreme Court's ruling and noting he once voted in favor of a motion to dismantle the individual mandate -- and one gets the impression that his breaks with the Democratic party line are frustrating his GOP opponent Keith Rothfus a little bit. Rothfus put out two statements yesterday, one critical of the court and another critical of Critz in which he said he was "personally offended" by the Democrat's moves:

“It is unbelievable the extent at which Congressman Critz will try to fool the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the very people he supposedly represents.  In his own words, Congressman Critz “voted every time to support the bill in its current form...”  He voted explicitly against repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board and voted to protect Obamacare a total of 19 other times.  Politics is one thing, but I am personally offended by Congressman Critz’s blatant and irresponsible attempts at deception.  Shame on him.”

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The Day After

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Good morning.day_after

The P-G's multilayered Supreme Court/ACA coverage is all here on the homepage and here's the paper's noteworthy political folo on the decision, via two quotes from political consultants:

"Everyone who voted for the health care plan voted for the largest tax increase in our planet's history," said Pittsburgh consultant John Brabender, an adviser to former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and a slate of other Republicans nationwide. In federal races, "health care repeal will be front and center this fall. The decision doesn't put a period on it; it puts on a question mark."

. . .If the court had rather overturned some or all of the health care bill, Democrats would have been the ones energized to avenge the move. "I gotta believe while the White House policy makers were elated, the political people are a little depressed," said Democratic consultant Larry Ceisler of Philadelphia.

When I see what [Chief Justice John] Roberts did [in writing the majority opinion], the cynic in me -- the Karl Rove in me -- thinks if the Supreme Court would have knocked down part of health reform, especially the mandate, that would have revved up the Obama base, which up to now has been somewhat dormant."

We know how Republicans feel about the decision. Democrats? "The cautious and measured statements from Democratic House and Senate candidates Thursday reflected the unease about renewing a debate that ended badly for the party in November 2010. The general rule, which seemed to apply to candidates in both parties, was the more competitive the race, the more tempered the response," writes the terrific Charlie Mahtesian at Politico.

You know how Mitt Romney says he'll repeal Obamacare on day 1 if he's elected president? He can't do it, writes Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, since it'll have to be part of talks on $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to come at the end of the year:

But it’s a fantasy. The negotiations would be dead before they started if Republicans demanded repeal as a price for a Grand Bargain on taxes, spending, and entitlements. The fiscal-cliff negotiations will undoubtedly include a great deal of horse-trading that will infuriate and cheer partisans on both sides. But there is literally nothing Republicans could offer Democrats in return for repealing the Party’s greatest achievement since the Johnson Administration.

You want to know what Rick Santorum thinks about the decision? Here's a link anyway.

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AFL-CIO doesn't endorse Maggi

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The state AFL-CIO today endorsed Democrats in every congressional race across the state -- except PA18, where Republican Tim Murphy is facing off against Larry Maggi and PA7 outside Philly, where Republican Pat Meehan faces George Badey. The union group didn't endorse the relatively moderate Republicans, but didn't push their challengers either.

(CORRECTION: They also didn't endorse in the 3rd District battle between GOP incumbent Mike Kelly of Beaver and Dem Missa Eaton, or in the new 4th District.)

The group's endorsements, with incumbents marked:

PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane D
PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale D
PA State Treasurer Rob McCord* D

US Senate Bob Casey* D

U.S. Congress
1 Robert Brady* D
2 Chaka Fattah* D
4 Harry Perkinson D
5 Charles Dumas D
6 Manan Trivedi D
8 Kathy Boockvar D
10 Philip Scollo D
11 Gene Stilp D
12 Mark Critz* D
13 Allyson Schwartz* D
14 Mike Doyle* D
15 Rick Daugherty D
16 Aryanna Strader D
17 Matthew Cartwright D

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Critz, Altmire vote for Holder contempt

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The House just voted 254-66 to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over the Fast and Furious probe. More than 100 Democrats walked out of the chamber together in protest of the vote, but two Western Pa conservative Dems were not among them. (Here's the full roll call.)

From Mark Critz:

“While I disagree with the way House Republicans have handled this entire investigation, we have an obligation to get to the bottom of this serious allegation of federal law enforcement misconduct.  At the end of the day, Congress has the responsibility to provide effective oversight of government programs and taxpayer funds, and it’s time to put this issue behind us and focus on what the American people really care about – creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”

From Jason Altmire, who references 2008 votes against Harriet Miers and John Bolton (triggering a GOP walkout):

"Today, as in 2008, the House of Representatives voted to hold a senior Executive Branch official in contempt of Congress for failure to turn over documents requested by the House as part of an official investigation. I supported today's resolution, just as I did in 2008, because Congress has the constitutional authority to oversee and investigate the Executive Branch of our government. I believe it would be inconsistent for me to vote against today's resolution simply because the political tables are now turned. I continue to believe that Congress has investigative authority and it is clear that the administration did not provide the requested documents. As a member of the House, this left me no other alternative than to vote for the contempt resolution. Our government is based on a system of checks and balances, and regardless of who is in the White House, I believe in the right of Congress to conduct unimpeded investigations on serious issues that arise."

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Corbett's two HCR reax

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Interesting differences in the Affordable Care Act statements from Gov. Tom Corbett released separately by the Romney campaign and the governor's office; guv's version doesn't mention "$2 trillion" or Romney, but does advocate "change in Washington."

Romney version first:

"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama's healthcare law is disappointing. If implemented, we will be saddled with a nearly $2 trillion entitlement. The Supreme Court's decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now the only way to save the country from this massive government takeover of healthcare is to elect a new President and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. We need a leader who understands that free markets and competition lead to better quality, greater access and lower costs for our healthcare. We need a leader who understands that real healthcare reform shouldn't be a burden to taxpayers or come at the cost of American jobs. That leader is Mitt Romney."

Corbett admin version:

Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett today said he was disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal healthcare law, known as Obamacare, but said he will work hard to limit the law's negative impact on Pennsylvanians.

Corbett, when he was attorney general, joined a dozen other states in challenging the federal healthcare reform law. When he became governor, Corbett continued that court challenge, along with 26 other states.

"It appears that the Supreme Court agreed with the lawsuit brought by myself and 12 other Attorneys General finding Obamacare unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, however they did uphold the law under Congress' taxing authority,'' Corbett said.

"Despite the President's repeated assertions that this was not a tax, the Supreme Court today ruled that it is in fact a tax,'' Corbett said. "Not only is it a tax, but it may turn out to be one of the largest tax increases in the history of our nation. It is a tax on our citizens that they cannot afford. It is a tax that hits our small businesses the hardest and will kill job growth.

"This law will raise healthcare costs for our families, our employers and our state,'' Corbett said. "This is a burden to all of us who work every day to recover from the recession.

"While I am disappointed with this ruling, respect for the law and for the process of the law -- even when we disagree -- is part of our democracy. My administration will do all we can to ensure the negative impact of this law affects the lives of Pennsylvanians as little as possible,'' Corbett said.

The law requires individuals who are not covered by an employer or government insurance plan to maintain minimal health insurance coverage. It also increases national medical spending and expands Medicaid to unsustainable levels.

"I think we can all agree there are Pennsylvanians who need our help. However, expanding government bureaucracy, government programs and government spending is not the answer. As governor I will work to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to affordable and quality healthcare,'' Corbett said.

"That is why now more than ever we need change in Washington,'' Corbett said. "We need to elect lawmakers who will put the needs of our families first, leaders that respect our freedoms, respect free enterprise and respect competition.''