Meet John Oceguera—Candidate for US House, NV-CD4

John OcegueraWhen I was out on calls as a firefighter, I saw our community’s needs were not being met – that’s why I ran for the state legislature and took on the tough fights. It’s why I was selected by my peers to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. Every single day I served, I was answering the call – working to make life better for families, seniors, and students.

Now as a husband and father to Jackson, Jillian and Jameson, I’m thinking about the future more than ever. Cresent Hardy isn’t getting the job done protecting that future. I’m a proud Democrat running for Congress, because I’m answering the call for Nevada families – just like I’ve always done.

I want to be clear with you about my priorities, and what my campaign will be talking about between now and November 2016.

  • Priority number one must be creating good-paying jobs that can support a family. I’ll work to create good-paying jobs by rebuilding the American manufacturing base, supporting the entrepreneurs and small businesses that power the engine of our economy, and fighting for investments in infrastructure that create jobs, strengthen our national security, and increase our competitiveness in the global economy for generations to come.
  • I’ll fight to give working families a fair chance. The playing field has been tilted against working families for too long – that’s why we need to put an end to unfair trade deals, raise the minimum wage, and provide tax relief for working families instead of tax breaks for the big guys.
  • We must invest in education and expand opportunity for all of Nevada’s children. I know what a difference education made in my life, and how important it is to the economic future of this state. We’ve got to make sure every school in every neighborhood has the resources needed to make sure every single child gets a good education from the start. We have to find a way to make college more affordable so young people can get the education they need, and aren’t crushed by a mountain of debt.
  • I fully support the Affordable Care Act. I’m glad the Supreme Court kept it intact, and I will defend it against those who continue to try to undo the law and jeopardize the health care coverage of thousands of Nevadans.
  • Our immigration system is badly broken and it’s holding us back. I’m going to defend President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and fight for comprehensive immigration reform until we get it done – it’s time to stop breaking apart families.
  • Being a champion for women and protecting their reproductive freedoms isn’t political for me – It’s personal. I’m Eileen’s son, Janie’s husband and most importantly, Jillian’s dad. I will demand women receive equal pay for equal work. I trust women to make their own healthcare decisions, and I’ll fight tooth and nail against attacks on women’s reproductive rights.
  • We must honor the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made fighting for our country. In Congress, I will fight to make sure all veterans and their families have access to the best health care, including mental health services, and the job opportunities they deserve. No American veteran should ever sleep on the street.
  • I’ll fight to keep the promises we make to America’s seniors. I’ll stand up to the right-wing attacks on Social Security and Medicare and protect those benefits so Nevadans who have worked hard and sacrificed can have the retirement security they deserve.
  • Nevada isn’t a nuclear waste dump. As a first responder, I’m adamantly opposed to Yucca Mountain. I won’t jeopardize the public health and safety of our community.
  • Our democracy shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. The Supreme Court went too far when it struck down our campaign finance laws and unleashed a flood of unregulated dark money into our elections. We need to rein in the corporations and billionaires who are trying to buy our elections by restoring reasonable limits on political spending. That’s why I’m supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United and protect our democracy.

Congressman Cresent Hardy has the wrong priorities. I know I can do a better job for those of you in NV-CD4. I hope you’ll join me in this effort, and I look forward to talking more with you as the campaign unfolds.

And Just Exactly HOW Retroactive Would That Be?

Today, the House voted on immigration. But it wasn’t on an effort to reform our broken system, or on the bipartisan bill the Senate passed more than 500 days ago.  Nope. Instead, House leaders held a vote t​hat would make our broken immigration system worse, not better. ​

Unproductive doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s all part of the Republican House’s pattern of payback politics — lawsuits,​ talks​ of impeachment​ and shutting down the government​, all because the President took common-sense action in the face of congressional gridlock ​to make our nation and families stronger.

The bill they voted on? That would be HR5759.  Roll Call Vote 550:

BILL TITLE: To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief

No provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (of 1965), or other federal law shall be interpreted or applied to authorize the executive branch of the government to exempt, by executive order, regulation, or any other means, categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.

Declares any action by the executive branch with the purpose of circumventing the objectives of this statute null and void and without legal effect.

Makes this Act EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY, applying to any such exemption made AT ANY TIME. (emphasis added)

The vote was 219-197 with 3 Democrats (Barrow, McIntyre and Peterson) voting FOR passage, and only 7 Republicans (Coffman, Denham, Diaz-Belart, Gohmert, Ros-Lehtinen, Stutzman and Valadio) voting against it. And yes of course, our illustrious representative from Nevada Congressional District 2, Mr. Mark Amodei was thrilled to cast his AYE vote as a “symbolic message” that, “that black guy in the oval office has no business doing what every President since ‘Ike’ has done via ‘executive action’.”

ImmigrationEOs

So, they want to retroactively nullify executive action of the President. Really? Did they bother to read the bill they just passed?  What are they nullifying? Actions just this President? Or, for curiosity’s sake, is their intent to nullify immigration-related actions taken by each and every President since 1956?  It does after all say, that it applies RETROACTIVELY, to ANY such exemption made at ANY time.

Talk about hypocrisy.  Apparently, if it’s intent is to apply ONLY to actions by President Obama, it’s okay for them to be ambiguous in bill that they themselves choose to pass, but how dare those heathenish Democrats pass a bill the Republicans claim is ambiguous as to healthcare subsidies! That just cannot be and they’ll make sure it can’t be, by wasting taxpayer money to take >50 votes to kill it, by suing the President for not implementing on a timely bases that same bill they’re trying to kill, and by goading their benefactor buddies into pursuing nullification of various provisions of that bill through all levels of the judiciary up to and including, the Supreme Corporate (oops, I mean Supreme Court).

The outright blatant hypocrisy of their ambiguous actions is immoral, unethical and UNchristian.

 

WHY the 2014 Election is Extremely Important

If Republicans win control of the Senate this November, and the Tea Party increases its power in Congress, they will do absolutely everything within their power to impeach President Obama.

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart is sounding the alarm — and I agree with him:

“I’ve said this before and I’ll keep repeating it until the message sinks in for Democrats inclined to sit out the midterms: Obama is not on the ballot in November, but Obama is on the ballot in November. Democrats have it in their power to keep the Senate and save the Obama presidency from the all-but-certain asterisk of impeachment.”

If there is even a 10% chance that Jonathan Capehart is right, we have to do everything in our power to stop the possibility that the GOP will impeach the president — a media circus that would have disastrous policy consequences for what would have been the final two years of the Obama Administration.

The Republicans are serious.  In 2013 Senator Ted Cruz was asked why Republicans hadn’t impeached the president. His answer was that they did not yet control the Senate. Senator Tom Coburn has said he is “watching whether the president was committing impeachable offenses,” and Senator Lindsay Graham said impeachment was a possibility over the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Really? Over the return of a US Soldier who was a prisoner of war? Now half-term Sarah Palin is calling for the president to be impeached over the humanitarian crisis at the border, arguing that “the many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

So, how would that 2-step procedure for Impeachment work? First, the House of Representatives would need to pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation or allegations. Upon passage, the defendant would be considered “impeached,” but NOT out of office. Second, the Senate would then need to “try” the accused. In the case of the impeachment of a president, the Chief Justice of the United States presides over the proceedings (that would be Chief Partisan Roberts). To convict the accused, a two-thirds majority of the senators present is required. Conviction removes the defendant from office. The Senate could also vote to further punish the individual by barring him from holding future federal office, elected or appointed and to disqualify him from receiving certain emoluments of his prior office (such as a pension or secret service protection).  If there is no charge for which a two-thirds majority of the senators present vote “guilty”, the defendant is acquitted and no punishment is imposed.

If the Republicans win control of the Senate in November, even if they do NOT have a solid super-majority, and if Republican membership within the House remains in control of the Republicans, they will proceed with at attempt to impeach not just President Obama, but most likely Vice President Biden as well.  Their logic will be that he aided and abetted the President in whatever ridiculous “high crimes or misdemeanors” they manage to dream up.

Can you imagine President John Boehner and Vice President Mitch McConnell as the leaders of   our nation?  It would be the end of our nation and everything we’ve worked for throughout our lives.  Sitting this election out is the equivalent of voting for every Republican on the ballot.  We just CANNOT do that.   Not only can we NOT sit this one out, we need to engage others to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket.  We cannot afford to provide Republican candidates with seats of power through which they can achieve name recognition which can be used to fool uneducated members of the electorate into voting for them just because their name is better known (even though their deeds aren’t).

Kristen Spees
Kristen Spees

In Nevada, we can’t do anything about Republican membership in the Senate, be we can improve Democratic membership in the House.  Kristen Spees is running against Republican incumbent Mark Amodei.  We need to engage in every way possible to help Kristen win the race in CD2.  It’s up to us to help our friends and neighbors understand how Mr. Amodei’s attrocious voting record impacts them and how that record predicts how his votes could personally harm them should Republicans take control of both the House and the Senate — and then engineer an impeachment coup to usurp the Presidency and Vice Presidency.  Gone will be many of the programs millions of Americans dependent upon.  Gone will be our national parks and heritage, sold off to the Corporations and Billionaires to pillage.  Gone will be any environmental safeguards to ensure safe drinking water, clean air and the like.

Erin Bilbray
Erin Bilbray

Similarly, Erin Bilbray (Open Secrets) is running against Joe Heck in CD3 which encompasses the southern outreaches of Clark County.  Rural and Urban Democrats throughout CD3 need to engage with both Democrats and independent voters across the district, get folks registered and energize  them to make it to the polls this November to vote for Erin.  Just as those of us in CD2 need to unseat Mark Amodei, those in CD3 need to unseat Joe Heck.  CD3 is a competitive district for Democrats.  We just need to get folks off their couches and out to the polls to vote for our candidate. Make your commitment now, to do just that.

Engage and pay attention.  This could be the election that ends what was our great nation.

If This is What it Means to be “Conservative” — I’m Proudly a Bleeding Heart Liberal

Clearly, members of the GOP in the House are all about looking for ways to handicap ANY organization tasked with performing regulatory actions that might impede their ideological plans for the future of the United States of Republica.  A case in point is this recent  press release from Representative Amodei’s office.  My comments are in blue italics at various points throughout his release.  Some original text has been highlight in RED for emphasis.

Amodei: Appropriations Financial Services bill reins in IRS, ACA and Dodd Frank

Wednesday June 18, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 Contact:    Brian Baluta, 202-225-6155

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee today passed its fiscal year 2015 bill, which would provide annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several other agencies.

The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the president’s request for these programs.The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.

Well now, that makes just a ton of sense.  IRS is tasked with collecting revenue necessary for the operation of various government operations … so let’s under fund them so we can then make a scapegoat of them when they can no longer effectively perform their regulatory and tax-collecting functions.

“Every day, I am asked, ‘Why don’t you do something?’ This bill ‘does something’ by removing funding from executive agencies that have become political tools of the administration,” said Amodei.   

Bill highlights:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)– Included in the bill is $10.95 billion for the IRS – a cut of $341 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $1.5 billion below the President’s budget request. This will bring the agency’s budget below the sequester level and below the level that was in place in fiscal year 2008. This funding level is sufficient for the IRS to perform its core duties, including taxpayer services and the proper collection of funds, but will require the agency to streamline and make better use of its budget.

Interesting! They continually carp about the IRS not providing for an EMAIL BACKUP strategy as part of their business plan. Server BACKUPs are NOT FREE!  How much more will they stop BACKING UP because they no longer have sufficient funding to do their tax collection duties, let alone ancillary functions like BACKUPS, SYSTEM UPDATES, SOFTWARE IMPROVEMENTS, etc.?

In addition, due to the inappropriate actions by the IRS in targeting groups that hold certain political beliefs, as well as its previous improper use of taxpayer funds, the bill includes the following provisions:

Here we go again, perpetuating the falsehood that ONLY right-wing political groups were scrutinized, when it was actually liberal groups that were denied with some that had already been given tax-exempt status seeing that status revoked (e.g., EmergeAmerica affiliated groups).  NO politically-focused groups should be receiving TAX-EXEMPT 501(c)(4) status, PERIOD!

A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many non-profit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech, simply because they may be involved in political activity.

Sorry, but I don’t get to deduct my “freedom of speech” contributions to political endeavors.  Thus, NO politically-focused organizations should be able to have a free of tax right to free speech at the American Taxpayer’s expense!

A prohibition on funds for bonuses or awards unless employee conduct and tax compliance are given consideration.

A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.

Congress passed a law that clearly states that to be considered 501(c)(4) organization, your activities must be EXCLUSIVELY-FOCUSED on “Social Welfare” activities.  Politically-focused activities are NOT social-welfare activities and thus, it IS the IRS’s responsibility to scrutinize and deny tax-exempt status to ANY organization (conservative, liberal or otherwise) not meeting that exclusivity provision.

A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.

More BS related to the previous proviso — the IRS is NOT prohibiting ANYONE from exercising their free speech.  The IRS is merely and rightfully determining whether a group is a group exclusively devoted to providing SOCIAL-WELFARE opportunities/activities and thus, whether that group is entitled to TAX-EXEMPT status!

A prohibition on funding for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

Really?  Oh, please, pray tell, what “inappropriate videos” might it be that the IRS is producing?

A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization.

Again, if you want to allow any organization wanting to conduct EXCLUSIVELY politically focused activities to never have to pay taxes, well then, you need to REPEAL the law that PROHIBITS them from being tax exempt!  You cannot have a LAW on the books that says one thing and then prohibit the IRS, which is responsible for administering that section of the law, from enforcing it!

A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) –The bill also includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing ObamaCare, including a prohibition on any transfers of funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to the IRS for ObamaCare uses, and a prohibition on funding for the IRS to implement an individual insurance mandate on the American people.

Well, let’s see.  We elected President Obama and a Democratic Congress to get health care reform. Then, the Republican propaganda machine bought a Republican House.  Despite their efforts to gerry-rig the system, we still re-elected President Obama. Health care reform is one of the hardest things we’ve ever worked on. But no matter, they just keep trying to either LIE ABOUT REPEAL or DEFUND access to healthcare for the American People despite its need or popularity.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)– Included in the bill is $1.4 billion for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is $50 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $300 million below the President’s budget request. The increase in funds is targeted specifically toward critical information technology initiatives. The legislation also includes a prohibition on the SEC spending any money out of its “reserve fund” – essentially a slush fund for the SEC to use without any congressional oversight.

In addition, the legislation contains requirements for the Administration to report to Congress on the cost and regulatory burdens of the Dodd-Frank Act, and a prohibition on funding to require political donation information in SEC filings.

My my, lookie here — looks like an increase in funding.  But wait, isn’t this the organization that’s supposed to regulate Wall Street?  It’s a shame that the increase in funding is just for a bit of information technology so they can determine how their GOP-Donor base is affected by any sort of regulation.  It’s also despicable that they’ve included a proviso that PROHIBITS any reporting of information as to Corporate political donations.  If you and I donate, our freedom of speech is broadcast for all to see … but the Republican Donor-base has a special privileged secreted freedom of speech.  Apparently the Republicans believe their Donors are free to speak with their Dollars, but the general American public is underserving of being able to speak with their dollars in response.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)– The bill includes a provision to change the funding source for the CFPB from the Federal Reserve to the congressional appropriations process, starting in fiscal year 2016. Currently, funding for this agency is provided by mandatory spending and is not subject to annual congressional review. This change will allow for increased accountability and transparency of the agency’s activities and use of tax dollars. The legislation also requires extensive reporting on CFPB activities.

The Republicans have done EVERYTHING conceivably possible to handicap, repeal, defund and decapitate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  This is yet their latest attempt to defund and cripple any and all Consumer financial protection at the behest of their Donor-base.

What’s Next for Congress

The end of the government shutdown means a return to a somewhat normal schedule as party leaders work toward a fiscal agreement in the next two months.  There’s lots to do. Members have agreed to try again to find a deal on 2014 spending levels. Democrats are hinting that they may seek new revenues, something Republicans will reject. Republicans will likely try again to reform federal entitlement programs, efforts Democrats have resisted before.

But those huge problems are now weeks away, giving Congress a few weeks to take a breather. This will be one of those weeks — the Senate is out, and the House has set up an agenda of bipartisan bills for the week:

The President’s Priorities 

Last week, President Obama outlined his priorities for the rest of the year:

“There are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out. We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system. We still need to pass a farm bill. And with the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country.”

We’d like to spotlight these issues, and some of the bills that have already been introduced by Congress:

Immigration

In January 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed a comprehensive set of immigration reform principles, which include giving immigrants a path to citizenship, strengthening border security, and reforming our legal immigration system to reunite families and strengthen our economy while protecting American workers. This turned into a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (S 744), which was passed by the Senate in June — and had the support of the President. The House has yet to take up immigration reform, but two comprehensive bills have been introduced:

  • Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (HR 15): a comprehensive immigration reform bill. This legislation is based on the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill (S 744). It eliminates the border security language of the Senate-passed bill and replaces it with the bipartisan border security bill, Border Security Results Act (HR 1417).
  • CIR ASAP Act (HR 3163): To provide for comprehensive immigration reform. Increases the number of Customs and Border Protection Officers by not fewer than 5,000 and does not require additional fencing; immigrants who can establish presence in the US on the day of introduction will be eligible for conditional immigrant visa; Those who qualify would receive a conditional non-immigrant visa which is valid for six years and will be able to naturalize under current law (up to 5 years), making the total path to citizenship about an 11-year wait.

The Farm Bill

The House and Senate haven’t been able to agree on a farm bill — and agriculture programs expired on Oct. 1. The House had passed a bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act (HR 2642), which included $39 billion in cuts to food stamps. The Senate’s version (S 954) had $4 billion in cuts to food stamps. On Oct. 12, the House named Members to negotiate with the Senate on the farm bill — and plans to meet soon reconcile differences.

A Federal Budget

As part of the agreement that re-opened the government and raised the debt ceiling, the House and Senate will establish a budget conference committee to come up with a long-term budget plan for tax and spending policies over the next decade. Specifically, the legislation instructs House and Senate leaders to select Members for the committee who “have open minds willing to consider every option, no matter how painful to their own political party,” according to Sen. Harry Reid. Their deadline is Dec. 13, 2013.

Here are some bills related to the federal budget:

  • Consensus Balanced Budget Amendment (SJRes 7): A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to balancing the budget; requires the President to submit to Congress a balanced budget that limits outlays to 18 percent of GDP; establishes a new super-majority requirement for net tax and rate increases and for an increase in the debt limit.
  • Business Cycle Balanced Budget Amendment (HJRes 24): Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
  • HJRes 4: Under this Constitutional amendment, the President must submit, and Congress must pass, an annual budget that is balanced.
  • Business Cycle Balanced Budget Amendment (HR 233): to provide for an orderly process by which the debt ceiling is increased. Would allow Treasury to pay debts unless a super-majority in Congress acts to stop them.
  • Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act (S 554): to provide for a biennial budget process and a biennial appropriations process and to enhance oversight and the performance of the Federal Government.
  • End Government Shutdowns Act (S 29): to provide for automatic continuing resolutions.