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Mary Landrieu Slams “Obama-McConnell Plan”

[1]“I’m going to argue forcefully for the nonsensicalness and the almost, you know, moral corruptness of that particular policy. . . . This is beyond politics. This is about justice and doing what’s right.”

If we had three hats* we’d tip them all to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu [1], who today blasted the Republican–Obama plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years. Levees Not War faxed a letter to Senator Landrieu’s office this morning urging her to oppose the deal; we had no idea she was so passionately opposed to the immorality of the giveaway. We salute her forceful statements and hope she will firmly vote “no” when the time comes. Please join us in phoning Senator Landrieu’s office to thank her for her stand against the unfair and unaffordable “Obama-McConnell plan”:

Phone

WDC:  202-224-5824  |  N.O.:  504-589-2427 |  B.R.:  225-389-0395

Fax

WDC:  202-224-9735  |  N.O.:  504-589-4023  |  B.R.:  225-389-0660

*

“It’s what I’m calling the Obama-McConnell plan. We’re going to borrow $46 billion from the poor, from the middle class, from businesses of all sizes basically to give a tax cut to families in America today, that despite the recession, are making over a million dollars. I mean, this is unprecedented. Unprecedented.”

Senator Landrieu was quoted on MSNBC’s The Ed Show [2] Tuesday night as saying that before Obama met with the Republican leadership to work out the tax extension plan he did not meet with the liberal Democrats, the moderate Democrats, or the conservative Democrats. Her remarks were reported by Ryan Grim [3] in the Huffington Post (and on Dec. 8 by TalkingPointsMemo’s Brian Beutler under the title “Landrieu Blasts ‘Obama-McConnell’ Plan for Selling Out Black Voters [4]”: full text below):

Mary Landrieu: ‘Obama-McConnell Plan’ Is ‘Almost Morally Corrupt’

Huffington Post [3], Dec. 7, 2010 | by Ryan Grim

Sen. Mary Landrieu, a conservative Democratic from Louisiana, lashed out Tuesday at President Obama’s deal with congressional Republicans that allows tax cuts for the wealthy to be extended for two years.

Extending the tax cuts for those making more than a million dollars a year is borderline immoral, Landrieu charged. “I’m going to argue forcefully for the nonsensicalness and the almost, you know, moral corruptness of that particular policy,” said Landrieu, walking into a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats. “This is beyond politics. This is about justice and doing what’s right.”

Landrieu was fuming about the deal. On her way into the meeting, she slammed the tax-cut extension as a needless giveaway, adding, “That’s all I have to say.” But it wasn’t. She emerged from the meeting a few moments later to continue prosecuting her case to reporters.

“It’s what I’m calling the Obama-McConnell plan. We’re going to borrow $46 billion from the poor, from the middle class, from businesses of all sizes basically to give a tax cut to families in America today, that despite the recession, are making over a million dollars. I mean, this is unprecedented. Unprecedented. I want to repeat that,” she said. Landrieu added, however, that she had yet to make a decision on the final package and was speaking strictly about the extension of tax cuts for the wealthy.

In 2001, Landrieu backed the tax cuts when they were initially proposed. “It was the biggest tax cut in two decades, and I felt that we enjoyed surpluses and it was only fair to return some of the money to the taxpayers,” Landrieu said in 2008, defending her vote. She opposed Bush’s 2003 tax cuts, which focused more heavily on capital gains and dividends.

Landrieu put today’s tax-cut debate in the context of the poverty and joblessness facing African Americans across the country. “The median net worth of African-American families—net worth, not income—in this country today, according to our census, is $5,000. You want me to repeat that? $5,000. So we are borrowing money from constituencies, and large segments of the population like this,” said Landrieu. “I want you all to get your heads around this.”

Obama had allies in the Senate who would have fought the extension of the tax cuts, Landrieu said, if only he had relied on them. “Why the president didn’t think there were forty or fifty or sixty of us to defend him on this principle, I don’t know, but he basically didn’t think anybody of us cared much about it. Well, I want him to know I do care.”

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Landrieu Blasts “Obama-McConnell” Plan for Selling Out Black Voters

Talking Points Memo [4], Dec. 8, 2010 | by Brian Beutler

[4]Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) blasted President Obama’s tax cut compromise yesterday. She decried the “moral corruptness” of the idea of giving wealthy Americans a tax cut extension on the backs of poor and middle class workers.

To many, it came out of nowhere. After all, she voted for these tax cuts back in 2001, and, by her own admission, isn’t really known for taking on progressive causes against the center and the right. But check out this portion of her criticisms of the plan, which went unreported.

“I represent a broad constituency of hard-working, poor families, many of whom are African American,” Landrieu said. “The median net worth of African American families—net worth, not income—in this country today according to our Census is $5,000.”

We are borrowing money from constituencies, and large segments of the population like this—now I’ve got many non-African American families that are just as poor…$5,000 is the median net worth of African American families in America, and we’re borrowing money from them—African American and otherwise that might be making over $1,000,000, I think we need to go back to the drawing board.

The recession has hit her constituents hard. But it’s also hit her poll numbers. A June Public Policy Poll [5] found negative approval ratings: 39 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove.

To make matters worse for her, Landrieu’s up for re-election in 2014. And she’s caught in a seemingly impossible position. President Obama is deeply unpopular in her state . . . except among black constituents, whom she’ll need to be re-elected. Part of what’s going on here is that Landrieu’s trying to simultaneously put space between herself and Obama (hence her derision of the “Obama-McConnell” plan) while letting those supporters know that, if anything, she’s more on their side than the president himself.

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* For the record, Levees Not War staff writers buy all their hats at Meyer the Hatter [6] on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans.

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