Transition Co-director Tim Bannon: Jobs Open In New Malloy Administration; Only Chief Of Staff’s Job Filled

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The jobs are open.

So says Timothy Bannon, the co-transition director of the incoming Malloy administration. Bannon appeared at Malloy’s press conference at the state Capitol on Monday and said later that no commitments had been made to anyone for high-profile positions in the new administration - despite various names being floated in recent weeks.

“The only job that is closed right now - unless I miss the answer to the next question - is mine,” said Bannon, a high-level Democrat who has been named Malloy’s chief of staff. “There are no jobs for which appointments have been made, promises made or anything like that. There have been no commitments made.”

Under Malloy’s plan to cut portions of state government by 15 percent, the current budget for 32 positions in the governor’s office will be reduced to 27, Bannon said.

Capitol Watch

GOP showcases transition team

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) - The House Republican Transition team is busy crafting reforms to House rules for the next session of Congress and emphasizing that the GOP will get to work quickly on reducing spending and fixing an ailing economy.

But it is also making a deliberate effort to show that GOP House leaders are listening to the new members, specifically those with ties to the Tea Party.

Oregon Republican Greg Walden, who was tapped by GOP leader John Boehner to lead the effort, featured some of the new faces at a Tuesday morning photo op on Capitol Hill. Four incoming freshman are serving on the transition team - Rep-elect Cory Gardner, R-Colorado; Rep-elect Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois; Rep-elect Martha Roby, R-Alabama, and Rep-elect Tim Scott, R-South Carolina. Scott, one of the two African American incoming freshmen, was seated right next to Walden at Tuesday’s meeting and other freshmen were close by.

Walden emphasized, “Remember we all stood for election, we were all out in the same atmospherics and environment. But I’ll tell you what, we’ve got some dynamic young leaders that are coming into our conference and you bet we’re listening to them, ’cause they’re bringing the message that we heard from Americans.”

On Monday CNN learned that House GOP leaders are creating a new position at their leadership table for a member of the freshman class, which will be the largest in decades. A source close to South Dakota Rep-elect Kristi Noem says the incoming freshman has expressed interest in the spot. The Republican freshman class is expected to vote on its choice next week.

Roby told reporters Tuesday, “transparency and accountability is the number one focus right now from where we sit.”

Asked about the party’s effort to bring in more minorities, Scott said, “It’s important for us to realize that the best outreach for minorities is to look at the overall construct of America and realize that we all go together. The water is rising, all ships have a better view of the future.”

The transition team also met with former Republican Rep. Jim Nussle of Iowa who handled the last GOP transition to power in 1994. Walden said one important lesson was to pay attention to the details of the legislative process: “Sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day, the small stuff matters. It matters to how this institution operates. It matters to how the public perceives this institution.”

The often messy process of passing health care reform was one of the key issues fueling Tea Party anger at the Democratic-led Congress going into the midterm elections.

Despite predictions from political observers that it will be a contentious atmosphere on Capitol Hill next year, Walden struck a bipartisan note, saying he believed one aim of the transition panel was to “treat others like you want to be treated.”

He reported that he already met with two House Democrats, Massachusetts Rep Mike Capuano, who led the 2006 transition effort, and retiring Washington Rep Brian Baird.

Referring to House Democrats, Walden said, “They came here with brains. They shouldn’t be parked at the door just because they have a different party label.”

Walden deferred questions about the decision to add a leadership position for the new freshman class, but noted there would be over 80 new House Republicans who would have an impact. “We want them at the leadership table and
they will be represented effectively and forcefully by the new Member they choose.”

CNN Political Ticker

GA GOP Governor-Elect Nathan Deal’s Transition Team Is Comprised Of State’s Top Special Interests And Lobbyists

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Few states were impacted by last week’s Republican victories as much as Georgia. In addition to defeating Blue Dog Rep. Jim Marshall (D), Republicans seized control of every single state-wide office and expanded powerful majorities in the legislature, giving them a position of strength they have not had in modern political history.

Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) won the governor’s race 53-43, handily defeating former Gov. Roy Barnes (D). During the campaign, Deal had to overcome numerous serious investigations and allegations of corrupt behavior, including his history of exerting political influence to win no-bid contracts for businesses he had a financial stake in. Many good government watchdogs worried that a Deal governorship would continue to use political means for the private profit of special interests tied to Deal.

This morning, the Deal campaign released a list of staffers who comprise his transition team. The list reads like a who’s who list of some of the state’s top special interests and lobbyists — people who have represented corporate giants ranging from Georgia Power to Goldman Sachs. Here are a few highlights:

- Rogers Wade: Wade is leading the transition team. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF), a far-right local think tank which seats numerous corporate special interests on its board. Before joining GPPF, Wade was a “senior partner in the public affairs firm of Edington, Wade and Associates.” While there, he represented “over half of the Fortune 100 companies from throughout the United States and Europe.” He is also the former vice president of Watkins Associated Industries, a “national company with major holdings in transportation, development, seafood processing, insurance and communications.”

- Pete Robinson: Robinson is the Chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies, a major Atlanta-based lobbying firm. The firm has in the past defended major polluters and employers fending off labor abuse lawsuits.

- Joe Tanner: Tanner is the president of Joe Tanner & Associates, another Atlanta-based firm heavily involved in lobbying. His firm has served such clients such as WellStar Health System and energy giant Georgia Power.

- Monty Veazey: Veazey is what the Center for Public Integrity calls a “hired gun” — a former legislator who was quickly snapped up to be a lobbyist soon after he left office. He has lobbied on behalf of the Georgia Industrial Loan Association and Kraft Foods, among other corporate clients.

- Rob Leebern: Despite the fact that Deal spent much of his campaign attacking Washington, D.C., he has hired a D.C.-based lobbyist to work on his transition team. Leebern, like Robinson, does lobbying work for Troutman Sanders Strategies.

- Dan Lee: Lee, like Veazey, is a “hired gun.” Shortly after leaving office, he lobbied for such clients as the Corrections Corporation of America, United Healthcare, Goldman Sachs, and New South Energy.

The Deal campaign maintains that none of the transition team members will engage in lobbying activities while they are working for the Governor-elect. Yet the fact remains that Deal has chosen some of the state’s most well-connected conduits for corporate influence in government to staff the team that will be moving him into the Governor’s mansion. If anything, it appears that Deal is signaling to the state’s special interests that pay-for-play is well and alive in the state’s capitol.


Democrat Dannel Malloy Still Confident; Transition Team Of Nancy Wyman, Tim Bannon Doing Their Work

November 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Democratic candidate Dannel Malloy, whom many believe has won the governorship, released the following statement about the continuing standoff:

“I appreciate and respect Tom Foley’s perspective, but as Nancy and I have been since early Wednesday morning, we are 100 percent confident that we have been chosen by the voters to be Connecticut’s next governor and lieutenant gvernor.  And chosen by a margin comfortably outside what is required for a recount.

“As is the case with more than a few other races in other states across the country, this race is taking a few extra days to play out.  Nancy and I think it should be allowed to play out in an orderly fashion and we support the process established by law.

“We’re as anxious as everyone else is to get the final numbers.  We’re also continuing our intensive efforts to create an administration that is up and running, and ready for the challenges awaiting us when we take office on January 5. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.”

Capitol Watch

House GOP transition team busy planning for new Congress

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) - In a sign that big changes are coming soon in the House of Representatives, there’s literally a new sign in the Capitol basement that reads “Office of GOP Transition.”

In smaller type is the name of Oregon Republican Greg Walden, who was tapped by Minority Leader John Boehner the day after the election to head up the transition.

Boehner and Walden aren’t wasting any time planning a Republican-led House of Representatives. Walden is busy recruiting members for a 22-person panel that will meet for the first time on Monday night. He wouldn’t release the names but emphasized that the group would be “a nice cross section of our Republican conference and conference-to-be. You’ll see a number of incoming members, you’ll see people who are senior and people who aren’t.”

Meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday in the small office, Walden said the new transition office was set up with desks, computers and phones by 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, just hours after the midterm elections swept out more than 60 House Democrats and turned over control of the House to the GOP.

With few people on the staff so far, his wife has volunteered to answer phones.

The transition chief was quick to point out that the current House Democratic leaders and their senior staff helped set up the office and moved immediately to make the make the transition smooth. “They have been most helpful and most accommodating.”

The Oregon Republican said he is focused on two fronts: taking a look at changes to the Republican conference rules - procedures Republicans would have to abide by, such as how to deal with earmarks - and reviewing the broader rules that govern the House of Representatives. At the start of each new Congress the House votes on a package of rules, and Republicans have already said they plan on series of changes including giving members 72 hours to read bills before they vote on them.

“Our primary goal will be to follow the pledge,” Walden said, as he sat in the office below a blown up poster of the cover of the GOP “Pledge to America,” a governing agenda that was unveiled in September.

He held off giving much detail on specific changes, saying he’s awaiting the work of the new panel. “Our focus right now is what do we do to get this House up and running in a more efficient way in a less costly way that can allow us to get right to work focusing on jobs and the economy and cutting spending.”

Walden said he didn’t see any major changes to the House ethics rules, which Pelosi and the Democrats changed when they took over the House in 2006. “I don’t see that as a lead issue for us at this time.”

But one thing Republicans think needs some revision is the work schedule in the House. Walden complained that short two or three day work weeks under Democratic rule crammed too many floor votes, committee hearings and constituent meetings into long days and made it impossible for members to juggle their responsibilities effectively.

Walden said the public will also have a chance to weigh in on how the House should be run, noting Boehner has already set up a website to solicit input at He also said he’s was also planning to put out a old school “suggestion box” for people who want to anonymously weigh in with ideas and are reluctant to do it online.

In addition to guidance from the new transition panel, Walden said he planned to talk to Republicans who were on the Hill during the 1994 transition when the GOP took control from Democrats after 40 years and to Mike Capuano, who handled the transition for the Democrats in 2006, to ask what lessons they learned. “What did you do that you wouldn’t do again? Where did you overstep, where did you make mistakes? What worked, so what are the pitfalls, what should we watch out for to get it right?”

But he also said Republican changes to House rules would help minority Democrats, giving them input on legislation. Walden pointed to Boehner’s tenure as chairman of the Education Committee and his promise to make Congress more transparent. “He intends to open up this House and have open rules.”

The transition team won’t have much time to do its work. Walden said they plan to deliver their recommendations to the Republican conference by the time the House meets to start organizing for the next Congress later this month.

CNN Political Ticker

Cuba Needs A Swift Transition Towards Capitalism

September 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By Juan Carlos Hidalgo

Confirming Fidel Castro’s recent confession that “the Cuban model doesn’t even works for us anymore” (did it ever work?), Havana has announced the massive layoff of 500,000 state workers in the upcoming months. This is approximately 12 percent of the government workforce (and 10 percent of the total labor force).

The big question is whether the meager non-state sector can absorb such an influx of workers in such a short period of time. My take is that the only way Cuba can accomplish this is by aggressively liberalizing its economy: privatizing most industries and farmland, cutting red tape, freeing prices, lowering taxes (which fall heavily on the tiny private sector), and getting rid of thousands of restrictions on private businesses that currently thwart entrepreneurship. This, of course, means abandoning altogether the current communist model and moving towards a capitalist system. So far, the reforms introduced by Raúl Castro since becoming president three years ago have been far too timid and in some instances even counterproductive.

As Oleh Havrylyshyn, former Ukrainian deputy minister of finance, wrote in a paper published by Cato three years ago on the transformation of post-communist economies, rapid reforms (as opposed to gradual ones) bring about better results in terms of higher growth rates, lower unemployment, higher investment, etc. Interestingly, Havrylyshyn also found that “all of the rapid reformers developed into liberal democracies, whereas in many of the gradual reformers… small groups of super-wealthy oligarchs captured the state and dominated its economic decisionmaking.”

The Cuban ruling elite cannot afford to waste time. Very soon, hundreds of thousands of Cubans will be looking for a job in the dilapidated private sector. Social unrest could easily erupt if their search for a job or occupation goes unfulfilled. In the end, only a swift transition towards capitalism can rescue the Cuban people.

Cato @ Liberty

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