As State Faces Real Problems, GOP Focuses On Rigging Future Elections

This is a guest article.

By State Representatives Frank Dermody and Mike Hanna

Here we go again.

Just as we begin deliberations on some of Pennsylvania’s most pressing issues, Republican leaders in the General Assembly have chosen to place their political party above the interests of Pennsylvanians.

Last year, it was the sham voter ID law. This year, we have a brand-new effort to rig presidential elections.

Senate Bill 538, sponsored by a gang of 13 Republican state senators, would distribute 18 of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes proportionally based on how presidential candidates performed statewide. The remaining two electoral votes would be awarded to the overall winner.

Pennsylvania, like most states, has always used a “winner take all” system for presidential electoral votes, where the winner of the most votes receives all 20 electoral votes. Moving to a proportional system would dilute the electoral tally of the winning candidate, eliminate Pennsylvania’s prized status as a swing state, and help Republican candidates gain electoral votes they did not earn.

It’s worth noting that similar schemes in other states – including Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida – failed to gain the support of their Republican governors. It’s clear that Republican leaders in Pennsylvania are out of step with their colleagues nationally.

In fact, the Senate Republican bill stands in stark contrast to the National Popular Vote movement, which would effectively end the Electoral College without the need for a Constitutional amendment.

Under the National Popular Vote plan, Pennsylvania would join a compact of states pledging all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. When enough states join the compact, bringing with them enough electoral votes to be a majority of the Electoral College, all compact states would cast their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote.

The National Popular Vote plan is the only true way of ensuring the winner of the popular vote is guaranteed to win the presidency.

The Senate Republican scheme is more than just sour grapes after President Barack Obama won Pennsylvania by some 300,000 votes. It is a Republican power grab of the highest order.

This gang of 13 senators – the dirty baker’s dozen – is attempting to do nothing less than steal the Office of President of the United States.

Talk about twisted priorities.

While Republican leaders scheme new ways to rig elections, there are real issues facing Pennsylvania that demand immediate attention.

We have a massive funding crisis – to the tune of more than $4 billion – for repairing, maintaining and modernizing our crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems.

We have a stubbornly high unemployment rate – among the highest in the nation – with at least a half-million Pennsylvanians unable to find work.

We have a public school system that is underfunded by nearly $1 billion, thanks to the devastating budget cuts imposed by Gov. Corbett and his Republican allies.

We have an opportunity to take advantage of billions of dollars in federal money to insure more than a half-million Pennsylvanians by expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

We have a thriving state lottery that Corbett is attempting to outsource to the United Kingdom at the expense of older Pennsylvanians who rely on the lottery to fund critical senior programs.

It’s clear that Pennsylvania is not lacking in the crisis department. Yet the Republican Party, which controls the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature, is instead obsessed with stealing the presidential election at any cost.

The people of Pennsylvania deserve better than self-serving partisan scheming from their elected officials.

It’s time for Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders to get their priorities straight.

People should be our priority, not our political party.

State Rep. Frank Dermody serves as Democratic leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He represents the 33th Legislative District in Allegheny County.

State Rep. Mike Hanna serves as Democratic whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He represents the 76th Legislative District in Clinton and Centre counties.


News & Notes December 6, 2011

Sen. Dominic Pileggi won’t be jumping into the U.S. Senate race.

Michele Bachmann reacted stranglely to a simple truth told her by a young boy mature for his years:

On facebook Lehigh County Commissioner Scott Ott described this as “Leftist child abuse by cowardly parent. How Bachmann’s handling of this can be seen as anything but gracious, I’m not sure.”

Ott, who lives on the compound of a fringe religious sect, thinks it’s “lefty child abuse” to live with reality, to deal with reality and expect others to.

Mitt says he was a job creator at Bain Capital but the truth is the opposite.  Bain bought companies to raid the pension funds then gut and destroy them.  He made a fortune throwing hard working middle class workers out of their jobs.

Sarah Palin has been found guilty in yet another ethics conundrum.  Her defense fund must return $386,000.

For all of you expecting to party the entire year of 2012 in anticipation of the Mayans’ prediction of the end of the world might first want to read this.

Jerry Sandusky went to dinner with one of his former victims.  Police gave the young man permission and it appears the alleged child molester sought to influence his victim yet again by taking him to dinner and convince him it was all for his own good.  The creep never quits.

Here’s a bit of raw truth for all the believers out there:  churches use fear to control you:

Republicans passed voter ID laws here and elsewhere seeking to eliminate a problem which doesn’t exist.  The real problem they had was Democrats voting so they passed laws to keep them doing so.  Of course poll taxes are unconstitutional so they said all you need is a state issued ID card they’d pay for.  What they forgot was how some folks don’t have birth certificates required for those ID’s.  Heck, I never had mine until a couple years ago.  Lots of people don’t have theirs and that costs you money, ergo a poll tax.  For this woman in Wisconsin it means $200 in order to vote.  How, for example, are senior citizens living in nursing homes going to get to a DMV for an ID?

Tom Corbett may be engaging in corruption with his privatization task force.  He has hired an investment firm to identify targets.  Any guesses on which investment firm might profit from these activities?

Budget Agreement Reached

Gov. Rendell yesterday announced an agreement on the state budget.  Before getting too excited that a state budget might actually be passed on time I’m reminded of several such announcements last year which then fell apart.   Nothing is official until it is passed and signed into law.  This budget increases spending for economic development but cuts libraries, parks, agriculture and other vital programs.  It does not include taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco and leaves the massive Delaware Loophole so most corporations don’t pay taxes in Pennsylvania.  All in all it seems like a bad deal, again, for Pennsylvanians.  You pay, they don’t.

No Closer to a Budget

As August and the dog days of summer (hopefully) come around our leaders in Harrisburg continue stalemated in the budget process.  The animosity being built through Senate Republicans’ obstinacy in funding education has now caused the Commonwealth to go more than a month without any operating authorization.  This is now getting ridiculous.  It is time for Republicans to realize why they have become a southern, racist Party of obstruction.  The GOP only controls the State Senate and it remains the final legislative body controlled by the GOP in the Northeast.  At this rate this, too, will fall.