Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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You may want to point out that Gerhard Schroeder is using the Bush-Cheney 2000 playbook in Germany. He knows the fracture point in that coalition is between the CDU and the CSU and he’s playing a Rovian game all the way. He got on national TV at the same table as Merkel and said to her face that he was the only one who could form a government. Even the hosts were shocked. To say that his type of talk makes conservative Bavarians squirm is an understatement. Look for Stoiber to chuck Merkel soon, especially if the SPD wins in Dresden’s election. Irony of ironies.

Interesting observation.

My kingdom ... well, I have no kingdom, but a TPM mug for anyone who will bring me one single Republican member of the House willing to co-sponsor H.R. 3763, the bill to overturn President Bush's Gulf Coast Wage Cut.

Now, if a member of the GOP Caucus is willing to come forward themselves and claim their mug on the basis of changing their vote, that works for me. But of course what I'm thinking is that eventually some Republican has to stand up against President Bush's decision to dock the wages of the folks who are going to rebuild the Gulf Coast. And if you're the first emailer to notify me, the prized mug is yours.

As we told you this morning, Rep. LoBiondo (R-NJ) is apparently circulating a letter calling on the president to rescind the wage cut. And Rep. Walsh (R-NY) is making pretty clear he's likely to sign it. So maybe keep an eye on those two as possible high-potential mug quarry.

I'm focusing on Republicans since H.R. 3763 already has 171 cosponsors. And every single one is a Democrat.

Yet, even in their sadly depleted state, admittedly, there are more than 171 members of the Democratic caucus.

So I thought I'd send along this list of those House Dems who haven't yet signed up. 'FFA' signifies a Fainthearted Faction Alumna/us, a member who was at one point or another a member of the Faction, even if they later achieved Social Security redemption ...

Mr. John Barrow of Georgia Mr. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia Mr. Dan Boren of Oklahoma Mr. Rick Boucher of Virginia Mr. Allen Boyd of Florida (FFA) Mr. James Clyburn of South Carolina Mr. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer Jr. of Alabama (FFA) Mr. Henry Cuellar of Texas Mr. Jim Davis of Florida Mr. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee Mr. Chet Edwards of Texas Mr. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina Mr. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania Mr. Harold E. Ford of Tennessee (FFA) Mr. Charles A. Gonzalez of Texas Mr. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina Ms. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia Mr. Martin Meehan of Massachusetts Mr. Gregory Meeks of New York Mr. Dennis Moore of Kansas (FFA) Mr. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania Mr. Ed Pastor of Arizona Mr. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina Mr. John S. Tanner of Tennessee (FFA) Mr. Melvin L. Watt of North Carolina

Hard to figure where Marty Meehan isn't going to oppose the Wage Cut. But as far as I hear, he's still a hold out.

Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) got <$NoAd$> asked about the Gulf Coast Wage Cut at a townhall meeting last weekend. And Bradley said ... well, not clear what he said precisely.

But here's how the Laconia Citizen recounted the conversation ...

Resident Mike McGuigan said he was angry to hear that Halliburton — a huge construction company with ties to the Bush administration — already has "its hooks in the relief process" despite past problems with how it handled rebuilding in the Middle East.

McGuigan said he takes great issue with possible plans to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act (minimum wage law) to allow companies like Halliburton to provide faster relief.

One woman said the response is already showing a trend toward America becoming a country dominated by the "have and have nots."

Bradley said he supports moves to get construction crews into the area as fast as possible.

"You need to get people on the ground," said the congressman.

However, he noted that he is committed to ensuring that the long-term rebuilding process won't include a "no-bid" process.

Sounds like a Wiggler.

(ed.note: Special thanks to TPM Reader PS for the catch.)

H.R. 3763 is Rep. George Miller's bill to overturn President Bush's Gulf Coast Wage Cut. The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats. So if you want want to know where your member of Congress stands on this issue, that's a good place to start.

Over at Auction House, Ellen Miller explains why that indictment of David Safavian had Rep. Ney's (R-OH) name written all over it.

I heard from a member of Sen. Obama's staff this afternoon. And as you'd expect, the senator does oppose the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut.

I've also gotten more than a few emails from present and former hill staffers, many of them friends, on this matter of calling and trying to find out where your member of Congress stands on a given issue.

So a few words.

First, as many of these folks point out, the folks who field phone calls from the public are often interns or new hires working for more or less dismal wages. They are often under instructions not to get into conversations about what their boss's position on an issue probably is until the press or communications folks have put together a release or some definitive statement.

This doesn't change the essential calculus of the importance or utility of trying to get the person who represents you to tell you where they stand on a key issue. But it is a good reason, as I'm sure you already are, to be polite and courteous with the person on the other end of the phone because their hands are often tied in terms of what they're allowed to say.

So, briefly, be nice.

Having said that, though, members of Congress generally like to keep their options open as much as possible. On many issues, all things being equal, they'd just as soon not take any position at all, certainly not a definitive one.

And it is telling (with all respect to my friends) that on an issue so clear-cut on the substance and so potent on the politics that so many Democratic offices still don't know what the issue is even about when constituents call -- or at least haven't prepared a statement from the member or senator.

Voters have every right to ring up their member of Congress and ask where they stand on a given issue. And they should get answers -- not just have their opinion marked off as for or against on the issue in question.

So yes, a bit of understanding is in order. Maybe your Rep. or Senator is still putting together a statement. And maybe the person answering the phone doesn't know the boss's position or doesn't want to say before they've been given the go-ahead.

But this is a clear-cut issue. You are not a bystander. You're part of the process. And asking your representatives where they stand puts them on notice that you're watching and want answers.

Rep. Charles Taylor (R) of North Carolina tells constituents why he supports the Gulf Coast Wage Cut.

See if you can identify the key points of bamboozlement ...

Thank you for contacting me to inquire about the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act. I always appreciate hearing from constituents and greatly benefit from knowing your views.

Davis-Bacon dates from 1931 and states that workers employed in a project involving a government contract must be paid the local prevailing wage rate. As you are certainly aware, the President issued a proclamation which suspends the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act in the areas of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Davis-Bacon Act has been suspended from time to time in accordance with federal law (40 U.S.C. Section 3147) which states that the President may suspend the act during a national emergency. President Roosevelt suspended the Act in 1934 in order to deal with administrative adjustments with regards to the New Deal, for example. President George H. W. Bush suspended the Act in 1992 to expedite construction contracts in the recovery areas in Florida, Louisiana, and Hawaii in the wake of hurricanes Andrew and Iniki. It should be noted that the provisions of the 1974 Stafford Act, which empowers FEMA to repair and rebuild after a natural disaster, reject the application of Davis-Bacon to repair or reconstruction projects involving state or local public facilities, private nonprofit facilities, and owner-occupied private residences following a major disaster. Simply put, for more than thirty years Congress has held on a bipartisan basis that national recovery from severe natural disasters must take precedence over matters of locally prevailing wages in the construction industry.

Suspension of Davis-Bacon to facilitate the rebuilding of the devastated Gulf Coast was the right judgment call. Hurricane Katrina stands as the worst natural disaster in our nation's history. As public and private resources are marshalled at unprecedented levels to assist its victims, now is the time to put aside matters of political self-interest and instead focus on rebuilding as a nation. No one could rationally argue that the victims of hurricane should be forced to wait for months, if not years, in temporary shelters while the Washington labor union bosses flex their special interest muscles. Congress built into the Davis-Bacon Act the power to set aside its prevailing wage provisions at times of the most dire of national emergencies -- even the most selfish union apologists must agree that the victims of Hurricane Katrina deserve such consideration at this moment.

Although you and I may disagree regarding this matter, I hope that you will continue to write and share your thoughts with me.

Remember, Taylor was the <$NoAd$>guy who couldn't come up with a straight story for his constituents about whether or not he cast a vote on CAFTA.

We'll be having more on this shortly. But as you may know, the wife of yesterday's arrestee, David Safavian, is chief counsel for investigations for Rep. Tom Davis's Committee on Government Reform.

Here's her December 9th, 2003 recusal letter. This was when President Bush appointed Safavian to his job at OMB. Another interesting question is what the plan was when he was at GSA.