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Thursday, October 27, 2016

U.S. Representative and Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley (D-IA) kicked off his general election campaign on Wednesday, with a television ad mocking newly minted Republican nominee Joni Ernst’s infamous promise to cut pork in Washington.

Braley’s ad, titled “Peep,” takes direct aim at the viral campaign spot in which Ernst claimed that her experience castrating hogs on an Iowa farm taught her how to cut pork, and makes her the best candidate to make Washington’s big spenders “squeal.”

“We’ve all heard the one about pigs squealing,” the narrator of Braley’s ad says. “But when Joni Ernst had the chance to do something in Iowa, we didn’t hear a peep. In the state Senate, Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork. Never wrote one measure to slash spending.”

“Joni Ernst ads are hard to forget,” the ad concludes, “but her record just doesn’t cut it.”

Braley’s ad, which began airing just hours after Ernst won Tuesday’s Republican primary with 56 percent of the vote, is the first of many tough attack ads to come in the race to replace retiring senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). Braley, who coasted to the Democratic nomination unopposed, has more than $2 million in cash on hand with which to attack Ernst.

Ernst has struggled to raise money, and spent much of what she has gathered to secure the Republican nomination. She has received significant support from outside groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Senate Conservatives Fund, however, and will continue to rely on their spending to fend off Braley’s attacks.

Braley is also certain to receive some outside help; shortly after Ernst clinched the nomination, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a statement slamming her as “the Sarah Palin of Iowa.”

Braley is favored to win the general election and keep the Senate seat in Democratic hands. Although Ernst has cut into Braley’s lead over the past several weeks, the four-term congressman still holds a 44 to 39 percent lead in The Huffington Post’s polling average of the race.

Screenshot: Bruce Braley/YouTube

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  • charleo1

    As 17 million more previously uninsured Americans have healthcare this year than last, the Nazis have obviously won. Because as all students of Nazi Gr. know. The first thing Hitler, or any such evil regime does, is first make sure medical care is available, and affordable. As every Fascist Fighter knows, nothing portends mass genocide, like more people getting a regular doctor. And nothing says freedom, like taking a two year old with an ear infection to the emergency room in the dead of night, and waiting three hours to get a prescription. So you go, T-Party! You bunch of sold out, lunatic, Sons of Bitches. Just know. The Koch Bros. don’t have your life boat waiting. You’re going down right along with the rest of us.

  • howa4x

    Once again the tea party is long on slogans and short on ideas and action

  • Independent1

    Unfortunately, John McCain’s misguided vendetta about “pork” has given the majority of Americans a totally misguided understanding of earmarks. As someone noted, one legislator’s beneficial earmark is another legislator’s idea of pork barrel spending. Although some earmarks are indeed misguided spending ‘pork’, earmarks are far in away more beneficial to millions of Americans than they are spendthrift spending.

    This seems like a good opportunity to go over a little background on how beneficial earmarks can be: The Huffington Post has a recent article on Harry Reid disagreeing with President Obama about the necessity of a little “pork barrel spending” (according to McCain) -i.e., ear marks.

    See these excerpts (note that the total ear marks for 2014 are 2.7 billion, of which only a small fraction is possibly pork – depending on your opinion):

    But Reid has a point, and many Republicans who spent much of their careers mastering the art of congressional spending agree with him — even though many are scared to say so in public. Indeed, even with the recent “ban”, according to the conservative Citizens against Government Waste, the 2014 budget included almost $2.7 billion in spending for projects requested by individual legislators(much of which went to defense and national security projects). Legislators have found new ways (called lettermarking or phonemarking) to obtain these kinds of appropriations, though in smaller scale than before.

    Congressional earmarks and pork barrel spending have a long history in the United States. They have served important purposes that are too often overlooked.

    Most important, this kind of congressional spending has been vital to successful negotiation on Capitol Hill. Presidents and party leaders have traditionally depended on their influence to insert measures in congressional spending bills to persuade legislators to join them in voting for key legislation that is important to the national interest. Often, earmarked spending has been the most important tool in the effort to persuade legislators to vote against their interests or their traditional position.

    During the battle over the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon Johnson needed as many votes as possible to overcome the Southern filibuster against the bill in the Senate. One of the ways in which Johnson won over a key vote, that of Arizona Democrat Carl Hayden, was to let him know that the administration would throw its support behind a Central Arizona Water Project that the senator’s constituents desperately wanted.

    In exchange Hayden, one of the many Westerners who had traditionally refused to vote to end any filibuster, agreed to vote for cloture if his support was needed in the end. Without a little pork, Johnson would have been unable to obtain his support.

    We can even see how earmarked spending has proved effective at the state and local level. In New York, the state famously littered university campuses in as many legislative districts as possible so that the state system would have broad and durable support. This worked. The outcome was ongoing, bipartisan support for investment in higher education that has been vital to the residents of New York.

    Earmarked spending also fits into our respect for decentralized and localized decision-making. When legislators lobby for spending within their district, they are usually responding to the pressures and demands that emanate from the local level.

    To be sure there are many examples of outrageous earmarks that don’t have much justification or value. Political speeches and newspaper stories are filled with accounts of this kind of useless pork.

    However, for every “bridge to nowhere” there are congressional earmarks that fund university research and public works programs that play a vital role for Americans.

    Peg McGlinch writes in U.S. News and World Report that the Minnesota congressional delegation obtained about $2 million in earmarked funding that was used to provide more services for members of the National Guard who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “Earmarks,” she writes, “have funded hundreds of job training programs, paved roads that reduced traffic, supported the police officers protecting our streets, underwritten research on diseases, revitalized blighted neighborhoods, developed technologies to improve national defense, built libraries and schools and given children opportunities to learn.”