Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blockage Removed

Hmm. It appears that Sen. Collins has folded like a folding chair on Wall Street reform.

Think this had anything to do with it?

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The fun starts at 2:02. The look on the face of Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) is, at times, priceless.

(As with the Andrea Mitchell shellacking, no tweets from the Collins camp about this TV appearance.)

For the record, I don't think Sen. Collins is schizophrenic. I just think she's a hypocrite.

UPDATE: The junior senator will, of course, want credit here for being a moderate bipartisan centrist filibuster maverick. Or something.

And stenographers in the Maine media will probably give it to her. (If they even notice.)

But caving into the clear will of the people, in the face of public humiliation, doesn't exactly make you a non-ideological team player.

This isn't about moderation. It's about facing reality.

Monday, April 26, 2010


It's too bad there wasn't someone as serious, unflinching and public interest-minded as Susan Collins in a position to get answers out of the Bush administration back when soldiers were literally getting killed by shoddy electrical work by military contractors.

Oh, wait.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Starting Over

Sen. Collins didn't make the highlight reel, but she might as well have.

Via Brad DeLong.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Collins and Deadly Chemicals

Terrorism is such a serious threat that Sen. Collins favors suspending the Constitution when suspects are apprehended.

But more stringent oversight for the manufacturers of deadly chemicals? To prevent a cataclysm? That's a bridge too far:

Although he left his stressful job with the Environmental Protection Agency nearly seven years ago, Bob Bostock says there's one scenario that still keeps him awake at night: A terrorist breaches a chemical plant's chlorine storage tank in, say, northern New Jersey, unleashing a toxic cloud that kills thousands.

"It's not that hard to do," said Bostock, EPA's top homeland security policy adviser from 2001 to 2003. "It doesn't require a high level of sophistication and in some cases doesn't even require access to the facility. It's something that could be done from off site."


Legislation passed by the House last fall would require major manufacturers and users of such deadly gases as chlorine to consider converting to safer alternatives and submit to stricter oversight by the Department of Homeland Security...

The current law, which was enacted in 2006 and expires in October, is weak, according to Rick Hind, legislative director for Greenpeace. "The standards are, for the most part, voluntary," Hind said. "They’re very industry-friendly. The House bill is much more enforceable."

But the chemical lobby is pushing back.

At a March 3 hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, representatives of the American Chemistry Council and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates argued for the status quo, saying they have taken steps to prevent accidental or terrorist-induced releases of dangerous compounds.

If they are forced to stop using such substances as chlorine, they said, there would be job losses and even plant closures. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is sympathetic to their position and has introduced legislation that would extend existing regulations for five years.


The chemical industry has considerable pull in Washington, having spent more than $45 million on lobbying in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The ACC spent the most — $7 million — among individual trade groups and companies. Dow Chemical spent nearly $6 million, and DuPont shelled out $3.75 million.


Only shocking if you haven't been paying attention:

The [left-leaning group Americans for Democratic Action] on Tuesday unveiled a 65 percent rating for both Snowe and Collins. That's a 15-point drop for Snowe, who earned an 80 percent rating in 2008. Collins, who earned a 75 percent rating in 2008, dropped 10 points.

Conservatives, meanwhile, have boosted their assessment of the Maine senators.

The American Conservative Union raised Snowe’s rating by 36 points between 2008 and 2009. Collins's conservative rating surged by 28 points after Obama took office.
Remember when, during the 2008 campaign, Collins told Mainers she would let Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) decide which way she should vote on key issues?

Me neither.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Latest Excuse


Susan Collins, another moderate being courted by the administration, told Reuters she would not side with Democrats unless Dodd and Shelby have come to a deal--a process she thinks could take weeks.
She's not even trying to hide it anymore.


The Hill:

Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins, her fellow Republican from Maine, co-sponsored the historic Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, along with McCain and a handful of other Republicans. But Collins's spokesman Kevin Kelley said this year that Collins would not jump onboard. He did not indicate the reason behind the decision.
Of course, the 2002 bill came up for a vote several months before the junior senator faced the voters.

Anyone else see a pattern here?

Monday, April 19, 2010

There's A Shocker

Sen. Collins is going to filibuster financial reform legislation.

Quote of the Day

From the Collins Watch archives:

When the Republican position on an issue is politically palatable in Maine, Susan Collins has no problem toeing the party line.

But the rest of the time--when the Democratic position is preferred (health care, Iraq) or when partisan divisions get scrambled--Collins resorts to describing the problem instead of offering solutions. She resorts to calls for hard work and hearings. And she resorts to empty calls for less partisanship and more moderation.

And then at the last minute before the vote, she hops off the fence and sides (almost always) with the Republicans, while bemoaning the absence of a non-ideological alternative.

Face Time

She sure does like to meet with important people.

(Flashbacks here and here.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thought of the Day

Sen. Collins on CNN:

I think the American people are really tired of the excessive partisanship that they're seeing in Washington. There are real problems with the economy, most of all, and they want us to get to work in a bipartisan way. So that's what I'm going to continue to advocate, and I hope that there are enough people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle to accomplish some of those goals.
The thing is, I watch Sen. Collins as closely as anyone.

And yet I have absolutely no idea what she would like the federal government to do, that it isn't doing already, to fix the "real problems" in the economy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Soldiering On

It seemed for a brief moment like Sen. Collins might be breaking with her obstructionist GOP colleagues on financial reform. Think again:

"If the letter says I don't support the bill, I am happily going to sign it. I am still talking with my colleagues about whether a letter is the most effective way to send the message, or whether there are better ways, and those discussions are still ongoing. I agree with my colleagues that the Dodd bill is deeply flawed. But, as a former financial regulator, I also feel strongly that the current system is very flawed. We need a financial regulatory bill, just not this one."
When have we heard that kind of empty rhetoric before?


Collins said that she supports some of the provisions in the bill. However, she said she has concerns about Senate Democratic leaders cutting off bipartisan talks after White House officials intervened.

Collins has said that she would like bipartisan talks to continue, but she does not want to box herself in on the issue.
Got that?

Showing Independence?


Republican leaders are struggling to maintain a unified opposition to the White House's financial-regulation revamp, which is emerging as the next big test of the GOP's ability to counter the administration's agenda.

Democrats, assuming they can maintain discipline among the 59 Senate votes they control, need only one Republican to surmount any filibuster. At least one, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, is resisting pressure to sign a letter committing all 41 GOP senators to back such a delaying move, according to a person familiar with the deliberations. Such a strategy would effectively block action on the legislation and push the White House to bend to GOP demands.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Empty Threats?

Sen. Collins then:

Raju reports that "several other GOP senators" said they would jump on board with Coburn blockade if the Democrats try to extend benefits without using the pay-go rules to fund them again. Among the supporters, apparently, is Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who attempted to stop Bunning the last time.

"The last time was an emergency situation--but we can't keep doing one-month extensions that aren't paid for," Collins told Politico.
And yesterday:
The chamber voted 60 to 34 to proceed on a measure that would extend unemployment insurance, subsidies for the COBRA health insurance program and federal flood insurance through May 5. Four Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and George V. Voinovich (Ohio) -- joined every Democrat present in voting to move the bill forward, making it likely that the measure will pass in a final tally this week.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Abbott Watch

Is Steve Abbot a closet Southerner?

[Steve Abbott] said Republican governors must fight the portion of the recently signed federal health care legislation which forces Americans to buy health insurance.

"There comes a point when the federal government is just becoming the government. They're completely usurping the roles of states and local government as well," Abbott said. "From that level, it is important that we push back."
Push back, eh?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Run Abbott, Run

Poor Steve Abbott. After making a doozy of a gaffe, he's decided to double down and keep the story alive for another week:

It is an acceptable campaign function to record an opponent when the candidate is at a forum, such as a speech or a meeting, where he or she is offering remarks, especially policy or political statements, ideas, or opinions...

It is unacceptable to follow or track a candidate when the candidate is at an event where he or she would not typically offer remarks. It is unacceptable to tail a candidate. Likewise, it is unacceptable to record a candidate's conversations.
So a candidate's interactions with voters at public events are fair game. As long as the candidate isn't moving. And is reading from a prepared text. Or something.

Yes, it's pathetic. It would be hilarious, too, if his old boss hadn't won an election using just this formula--so that she could tell different constituents different things and avoid vigorous, on-the-record questioning just about entirely.

Remember, when candidate Collins was tracked briefly--by a New York Times reporter--we learned she was telling voters that the Obama health care reform plan was "pretty good" and that she was open to supporting it.

(Of course, not a single Maine outlet reported on the statement.)

Does anyone really believe that was the only time she made a rhetorical commitment that she hasn't kept? What other sorts of representations was she making in conversations with voters? We'll never know.

Of course, the junior senator has never been one to shy away from hypocrisy.

Apparently, her disciple is similarly unfazed.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Abbott In Flux

This video is making the rounds:

He's totally fine with it now, but back then Abbott thought tracking, "demean[ed] the political process" and had "no place in the type of substantive issues-oriented campaigns that our voters deserve."

Quite a change of heart in less than three years.

Question of the Day

You don't suppose that, during his many years in Washington, Steve Abbott became friendly with anyone who works for the Republican Governors Association, do you?

Abbott Watch

The first flip-flop of the campaign?

An independent candidate for governor complained to a national Republican group this week about a woman it hired to follow him and other opponents with a video camera.


In 2007, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins' staff complained after a tracker for the Maine Democratic Party videotaped her as she walked in a parade and chatted with people along the way.


Steve Abbott, a Republican candidate, seemed to share Cutler's view of trackers when he was Collins' chief of staff in 2007 and wrote a letter to the Maine Democratic Party.

"Tactics such as tracking demean the political process, contribute to voter cynicism and have no place in the type of substantive issues-oriented campaigns that our voters deserve," he wrote.

Abbott's spokeswoman, Felicia Knight, said Wednesday that Abbott's criticism was focused on the intrusive and intimidating nature of the tracker who was then assigned to Collins.

"On the other hand, he has absolutely no objection to people who are going to be videotaping public events and public speeches," Knight said.
Of course, Collins was videotaped only at public events; there's no evidence of her having been tracked in an "intimidating" way; and even Abbott seemed to concede at the time that the tracker never got in his candidate's personal space.

More background here.

UPDATE: Gerald adds a delicious detail that really should have been in the PPH story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Maine Values?

Sure, she's a fiscal conservative--when Democrats are in charge. And when it comes to unemployment benefits.

But when it comes to tax cuts for millionaire, weeding out corrupt military contracts and paying for unnecessary wars? Not so much.

Friday, April 2, 2010

To Recap

President Obama had nice things to say, yesterday, about three members of Maine's four member congressional delegation.

Amen, Sister

Even someone at WaPo gets it:

Overuse of the essentially meaningless word "moderate" has become a blight on American political and religious discourse.


On one level, the promiscuous use of the word "moderate" is nothing more than an abbreviation, born of the need of both print and television media to use one word instead of 10. Thus, moderate becomes a label that makes it unnecessary to spell out what the person in question really thinks.

On a deeper level, though, the mindless moderate label facilitates avoidance of thinking...

The constant use of the word "moderate" begs the fundamental question, "Moderate in relation to whom or what?"...

Are Representatives Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine moderate Republicans--that is what they are always called by the media--because they didn't reject Democratic Obama's health care reform proposals at the outset of the process even though they voted with their party at the end?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obama Stiffs Collins

The President singled out Maine's senior senator during his speech, noting that some of Sen. Snowe's ideas are in the health care reform law. And he called her a "friend."

But of course, provisions authored by Sen. Collins made it into the bill too. So where's the love?

Yes: The dig wasn't exactly explicit. But it's wasn't that far between the lines, either.

Question of the Afternoon

Which Maine media outlet will offer the sloppiest, laziest coverage of the Obama visit?

The Hill: Obama Will Play Nice

Disappointing if true:

A White House official said not to expect any pressure from Obama on Maine's two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.


Both could be swing votes on a variety of issues, and the White House will need Republican senators to join Democrats in order to move things through the Senate.

Their importance will only increase next year if Republicans gain seats in the Senate.
Of course, it depends what "exert pressure" means.

I certainly wouldn't expect the President to castigate Sens. Snowe and Collins, shame them, or advocate against their reelection.

But as I've mentioned, it would make an awful lot of sense for him to push back, gently and respectfully, against the specific lies and distortions that have come out of their mouths. And to do so in a way that punctures the media-created bubble of infallibility that the two women live inside.

Question of the Morning

How long has Sen. Collins' trip to Qatar and western Europe been on the calendar for?

(Just asking.)