Rep. Keith Ellison took Rep. Michele Bachmann to task today via his Blackberry.
Ellison, arguably the most liberal member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, chided his conservative colleague on Twitter for leaving a Financial Services Committee meeting before witnesses had offered their testimony.
The hearing was held to discuss the possible expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act, which encourages lenders to aid low-income areas. Bachmann criticized the CRA and ACORN before leaving, according to Ellison’s tweets (below).
“Michele Bachmann uses her time at financial services to attack CRA, ACORN, and then promptly walks out when experts begin testimony,” Ellison wrote.
In a statement released today about the CRA, Bachmann said the law “encourages low underwriting standards and risky lending behavior” and contributed to this fall’s financial collapse. Bachmann’s problems with ACORN are also no secret.
And though spelling is rarely a priority on Twitter, it’s probably worth noting that Ellison spelled Bachmann’s name wrong – twice. There’s only one “l” in Michele.
Update: Bachmann spokesman Dave Dziok has this response to Ellison’s comments: “Maybe Congressman Ellison should worry less about what Congresswoman Bachmann is doing, and more about what the friends heâ€™s defending like ACORN are doing with his constituentsâ€™ tax dollars.â€
Correction: In an incredibly ironic twist, I misspelled Bachmann’s name myself in the first sentence of this post. It’s since been fixed.
Last night, the House of Representatives passed a bill authored by Rep. Erik Paulsen which requires the TARP program’s oversight body to determine how its funds are affecting small businesses. It is Paulsen’s first standalone bill to make it through the House.
Under the bill, the Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program must factor small businesses into its periodic audits and reports to Congress, looking specifically at whether funds are available to small businesses and if they are having an impact. Paulsen helped co-author legislation earlier this year which granted more authority to the TARP oversight body.
TARP is widely known for aiding large businesses, but Paulsen said in a statement that there should be more focus on smaller institutions.
“Rather than adhering to a ‘too big to fail’ mentality, this bill seeks to strengthen our small businesses by examining their opportunities to access needed credit,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen has faced the obvious obstacles of a Republican freshman in a Democrat-led Congress. Though the House has passed several of Paulsen’s amendments, the TARP legislation marks the first time an individual bill he sponsored has been approved.
Speaking to a supportive crowd in St. Cloud this weekend, Rep. Michele Bachmann praised her colleague Joe Wilson, who last week interrupted president Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress. Wilson said the president was lying when he claimed that health care reform would not benefit illegal immigrants.
“Thank God for Joe Wilson. He looked into the camera – Joe Wilson is my friend. He’s the last person I talked to before I left Washington, D.C. The sweetest, most mild mannered, loving guy you’ve ever seen – such a huge heart. And he apologized for violating the rules of decorum in the House, and that’s right, we don’t do that in the House. But Joe didn’t back down from his assertion because Joe was right.”
[Text taken from this video by liberal blogger Dusty Trice.]
An Associated Press fact check last week said that Wilson was wrong because the House bill specifically excludes illegal immigrants. Bachmann agknowledged this in a town hall this weekend, but asserted that the exclusion is meaningless without a means of enforcement.
Rep. John Kline will once again be the lead message-man for his party this week when he offers the Republican rebuttal to president Barack Obama’s speech in the Twin Cities on Saturday.
Kline, whose profile in the Republican Party has grown significantly in recent weeks, will hold a conference call “prebuttal” with reporters on Saturday morning prior to Obama’s health care speech. Only one week ago, Kline offered the Republican rebuttal to Obama’s weekly Internet and radio address.
Republican National Committee spokesman LeRoy Coleman said Kline would be the primary Republican response to Obama’s address.
“Simply put, Republicans want common sense health care reform, andÂ we are pleased to have Rep. Kline effectively communicate our vision,” Coleman said.
September 11th, 2009 – 12:44 PM by Bob von Sternberg
In a sure sign that the Democratic Party’s establishment has embraced him, Sen. Al Franken will headline Iowa Sen. Tom Harken’s legendary annual steak fry this weekend in Indianola.
The Sunday afternoon steak fry, now in its 32nd year, is a genuinely big deal among Democrats and has served as a high-profile launching pad for many of the party’s rising stars — and, not incidentally, a host of its presidential aspirants.
Among them: President Obama (who set off a frenzy in 2006) and former President Bill Clinton.
Franken told the Des Moines Register he’s doing the event because “Tom is a good friend. I admire him a lot, but, also, I like steak.”
September 11th, 2009 – 11:37 AM by Bob von Sternberg
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars, will headline the DFL’s annual Founder’s Day Dinner on Sept. 26.
The dinner, which will be held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, also will feature the gaggle of DFLers who are running for governor next year.
As a Democratic governor in a traditionally red state, Schweitzer was rumored to be on President Obama’s vice-presidential short list and delivered awarmly-received speech at last year’s Democratic National Convention.
In a press release announcing Schweitzer’s appearance, DFL Chairman Brian Melendez cracked: “After two terms of listening to Governor Pawlenty, it will be a nice change to have a governor in Minnesota that DFLers can be proud of â€” even if itâ€™s only for a day.â€
BETTYPAC, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s political action committee, is donating $1,000 to the Democratic opponent ofÂ the South Carolina congressman who shouted “You lie” to President Obama during Wednesday’s address to Congress.
The Minnesota Democrat, taking aim at instantly-famous Republican Joe Wilson, said his outburst “crossed a line of protocol and decency that may be acceptable for angry ‘tea baggers’ at a rally, but is completely unacceptable for a member of Congress.”
The BETTYPAC funds will go to Democrat and former Marine Rob Miller in South Carolina’s 2nd district.
September 10th, 2009 – 1:51 PM by Bob von Sternberg
As Sam and Sylvia Kaplan head off to his new posting as U.S. ambassador to Morocco, Wellstone Action is holding a cocktail party/fundraiser brimming with DFL luminaries to send them on their way.
The Kaplans are legendary for their prodigious ability to raise and bundle money for the party’s candidates, most recently during President Obama’s campaign last year. They’ve also been de-facto godparents to many DFL candidates, most notably, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was an obscure college professor when he first ran for the Senate.
The party, which will be held Sunday afternoon at the Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis, has a suggested donation of $50 a person (although the invitation states that “all are welcome”). Proceeds will go to Wellstone Action, a political activist organization set up after Wellstone’s death.
Among the hosts are former Vice President Walter Mondale; Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken; Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. PAul Mayor Chris Coleman
September 9th, 2009 – 12:00 PM by Bob von Sternberg
Al Franken has famously tried to be distinctly unfunny in his new role as Minnesota’s junior U.S. Senator. That long career as a comedian/satirist/wiseguy? Ancient history, he says.
Well, an elegantly lacerating essay in the new issue of the Atlantic makes the case that Franken actually was never all that funny, even when he was trying to be. In the essay, Christopher Hitchens takes aim at liberal humorists in general for playing it safe and essentially singing only to their adoring like-minded choirs. But he takes particularly sharp aim at Franken.
Franken very often refers to himself as a â€œsatirist,â€ which is a piece of hubris that comes to him too glibly and naturally. One wants to say, on hearing or reading such a claim, â€œActually, sunshine, weâ€™ll be the judge of that.â€ Swift famously compared satire to a mirror in which people could see every face but their own: if Franken desires to be considered a connoisseur of the satirical, he might want to paste that line into his hat.
For what it’s worth, Hitchens writes that if he were a Minnesotan, he’d have voted for Franken last November “if only because he must be among the best-read and best-informed people to have recently run for the upper chamber, as well as one of the very few with whom one might also expect to pass an amusing evening.”
The latest from Michele Bachmann watchers: The conservative Minnesota Republican tells radio host Mike Gallagher that Democrats fear she could become the first woman president. Here’s the money quote from the Sixth District congresswoman: “They want to make sure no women, no woman becomes president before a Democrat woman, and so they’re doing everything they can to, I think, to sabotage women like Sarah Palin, perhaps women like myself…”
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