Friday, April 09, 2010

Former U.S. Rep., Law School alum Ford talks policy at campus event

University Law School alum and former United States Rep. Harold E. Ford, Jr. returned to campus yesterday to speak before a crowd of approximately 150 people about a variety of issues, including the economy, the primary voting system and the recently passed health care reform bill.

During his talk in the Ford School of Public Policy’s Annenberg Auditorium, Ford commended President Obama’s resiliency in passing health care reform, but was quick to point out that it should merely be viewed as a first step to a more comprehensive effort to expand health insurance in the country.

“My hope is that over the next few months that we view this moment as really just another starting point around health care, that the fixes that have to come, that some of the test runs in this health care bill will seek to determine the next steps,” Ford said.

Ford, who is also the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, also praised the president for his recent decision to allow offshore drilling along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the north coast of Alaska.

“I think it shows maturity in politics when you can assess a situation one day and assess it another day, and understand that things have changed and require a different set of answers,” Ford said. “I applaud the president for recognizing that the moment today and the set of facts and circumstances require a different set of answers.”

Before he was elected, Obama vehemently opposed offshore drilling, saying it should not be depended on to solve the energy problems in the United States.

Once considered a viable candidate to run for a U.S. Senate seat in New York this fall, Ford dropped out of the race last month, citing pressure from the Democratic Party not to contest the spot currently held by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Ford, who served as congressman for Tennessee’s ninth congressional district from 1997 to 2007, cited potentially detrimental effects for the Democrats as a main reason for deciding not to pursue a bid for the Senate.

“If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary – a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened,” Ford wrote in a March 1 op-ed piece in The New York Times. “I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans.”

But this wasn’t the first time Ford made a play for a Senate seat. Ford ran for Senate in 2006 losing the election to Republican Bob Corker after Corker ran ads against Ford that many criticized as racially charged.

In his speech yesterday, Ford also promoted his desire for an open primary system, in which candidates would be allowed to run for office without having to declare themselves as Democrats or Republicans. He said that oftentimes those who do not affiliate with a party are unable to have their views heard because the majority of audiences tend towards columnists and talk show hosts who express opinions that are either extremely liberal or extremely conservative.

“There is no doubt that those people deserve a voice, but they shouldn’t drown out the rest of the country which I believe find themselves situated somewhere in the middle,” he said.

Ford also spoke directly to current Public Policy students, encouraging them not to be dissuaded by political agendas that have hampered government’s ability to provide meaningful change to its citizens.

“One of the challenges for this generation of public policy school graduates is to not be confined by, or not allow the current dogma or current conversation to limit your thinking about answers to big public policy problems confronting the nation,” Ford said.

Source: The Michigan Daily

Ford to Appear on This Sunday's Meet the Press

Congressman Ford will appear on this Sunday's Meet the Press with David Gregory to discuss the important issues of the week.

Check your local listings for program show times.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Ford: Why I’m Not Running for the Senate


WHEN it was reported two months ago that I was thinking seriously about running for the United States Senate from New York, Democratic Party insiders started their own campaign to bully me out of the race — just as they had done with Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Steve Israel and others.

But as I traveled around New York, I began to understand why the party bosses felt the need to use such heavy-handed tactics: They’re nervous. New Yorkers are clamoring for change. Our political system — so bogged down in partisan fighting — is sapping the morale of New Yorkers and preventing government at every level from fulfilling its duty.

The cruel twist, of course, is that the party bosses who tried to intimidate me so that I wouldn’t even think about running against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been appointed to the seat by Gov. David A. Paterson, are the same people responsible for putting Democratic control of the Senate at risk.

These are tough times, and the New Yorkers I have met are facing economic adversity with grace and dignity. They worry about their future, care about their neighbors and hope this storm will pass so they can focus on better days ahead. And yet too few in the Democratic Party are really willing to break with orthodoxy to meet these challenges. We need leaders as good as the people they represent — leaders focused on creating jobs, keeping taxes low, helping small businesses and restoring faith in government.

Voting for health care legislation that imposes billions in new taxes on New Yorkers and restricts federal financing for abortions is not good for the people of this state. Voting against critical funds necessary to ensure the survival of the financial services industry — the economic backbone of this state — is not good for the people of New York.

I was considered out of touch with mainstream Democrats when I argued against spending more than $200 million a year to hold the Khalid Shaikh Mohammed trial in New York. I was also labeled out of touch for advocating a payroll tax cut for small businesses and for putting a jobs bill before a scaled-down health reform bill. Though much more needs to be done to create jobs, I am pleased that these ideas have now become part of the Democratic mainstream.

Yet the party has been too slow to change. The effects of its lack of flexibility have been clear in a series of worrisome political events: Ted Kennedy’s “safe” Senate seat was lost to a Republican; Evan Bayh of Indiana and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced they weren’t running for re-election; Senate seats held by Democrats in Wisconsin and Delaware now seem to be in jeopardy; New York’s state government faces even more controversy and challenge.

There are compelling reasons for me to run. I believe New Yorkers are hungry for a new direction in government. Our elected officials have spent too much time this past year supporting a national partisan political agenda — and not enough time looking out for their own constituents.

New Yorkers aren’t asking for much. A jobs bill that cuts taxes for the middle class and invests in the future; a health care system that doesn’t bankrupt people when they get sick; and public schools that lay the groundwork for children to take advantage of all the future holds.

I believe raising these issues over the last two months has forced Democrats and Republicans alike to do better. And I will continue holding their feet to the fire. But I will not do so as a candidate for Senator from New York.

I’ve examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary — a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened.

I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans.

I realize this announcement will surprise many people who assumed I was running. I reached this decision only in the last few days — as I considered what a primary campaign, even with the victory I saw as fully achievable, would have done to the Democratic Party.

I am a Democrat. But I am an independent Democrat. I am not going to stop speaking out on behalf of policies that I think are right — regardless of ideology, party or political expediency. I plan to continue taking this message across our state and across our nation.

Harold Ford Jr. was a United States representative from Tennessee from 1997 to 2007.

Source: New York Times

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ford: Patterson Shouldn't Run

Last night, I released a statement asking Governor Paterson not to seek election. In addition, I've called on the Governor to consider stepping down. Here's the statement,
Given the seriousness of the allegations and the urgent need to focus on the state budget and creating jobs, Governor Paterson should not distract the Democratic Party or the State any longer by seeking election.
Finally, the Governor should be honest with the voters about his effectiveness going forward in dealing with the budget and other pressing matters. And if this very serious investigation further erodes his ability to govern out his term, he should immediately step down for the good of the state.


Ex-Stonewall President Praises Ford

From the New York Daily News:

"Apparently not everyone in the room at the Stonewall Democratic Club last night was anti-Harold Ford Jr.

Christopher Lynn, a past Stonewall president and founding member who invited Ford to address the club after a chance encounter with the former Tennessee congressman on the Amtrak to Albany, told me this afternoon that he thought Ford "had nothing to lose" by facing a hostile crowd head-on, and ultimately acquitted himself well.
"He held his own; he was polite and informed and charming," Lynn said. "I told him, 'Other than me, I can't think of anyone else who's going to give you a fair reception. That's the nature of politics - especially in Manhattan. But I was happy for the experience. I thought it was good."
Lynn said he's not formally working for Ford, who has pledged to make a decision about whether to primary Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand by the end of the weekend. Lynn sounded very much like a longtime Ford supporter, but he insisted he hadn't met the man before the two of them sat together on the train.
"I said, 'Wow. I'm a little bit disappointed. When you came and sat down, for a second I thought you were Derek Jeter's older brother,'" Lynn recalled of that meeting. "He laughed."

"...What I like about him is that he doesn't fudge it. He doesn't bullshit when you talk about certain issues. He doesn't try to hide or dress it up."
Lynn expressed surprise about the strength of support Gillibrand is enjoying among the Stonewall crowd.
"She's kind of new to this," he said. "...She sort of came from one perspective and changed to the other. That's fine. That's fine. But I didn't expect she would have that kind of support...It's not her, I believe, it's something else. And I think anything she can do, he can do better."
Lynn said he felt much the same way about Ford as he did upon first meeting former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, (Lynn served as Taxi and Limousine commissioner in the Giuliani administration). This comparison has nothing to do with ideology, Lynn stressed, and everything to do with the way these two "look you in the eye and answer stuff directly."'

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ford: It's About Small Business!

Today's health summit will hopefully produce a breakthrough on a health bill that contains costs and expands coverage for the millions of Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured. Republicans should lay out honest and substantive ideas to cut the nation's health costs and grow insurance coverage for the millions without it, and the President should consider seriously incorporating some of their best ideas - like lawsuit reform and interstate insurance competition - into a final bill.

But I repeat, before passing a large health care bill, I would recommend the President and Congress do two things.

First, pass a real jobs bill that cuts business and personal taxes, that invests in growing the nation's domestic clean energy industry, that incentivizes Americans to buy more U.S. made products and that gives local governments more flexibility in spending stimulus funds on initiatives that will create jobs. The $15 billion jobs package that passed the Senate and is winding its way through the legislative process is a small start. Small business leaders, the real U.S. job creation engine, need much more to stimulate job creation.

Second, any health care bill that the President signs should not punish New York by raising our taxes. The current Senate health bill - the one the President is starting from - would specifically impose almost $5 billion of new health care taxes on New York small businesses and middle class families. Neither of these communities in New York can afford this right now. I would urge our congressional and Senate delegation to work to prevent these new taxes. Any chance we have of creating more and better jobs upstate and downstate in New York depend on a vibrant small business community.

Finally, the new health bill should not impose abortion restrictions on uninsured poor and middle class women in New York. The current Senate bill fundamentally imposes restrictions on a woman's right to choose. Unlike when the original Senate health bill passed, NARAL and Planned Parenthood should advocate constructively against any and all restrictions guaranteed by Roe v. Wade for all women, not just the privileged, and should hold House and Senate leaders accountable for any votes that restrict a woman's right to choose. If a solidly Democratic Congress and Senate can't be trusted to protect a woman's right to choose, who can?

In closing, I hope the summit goes well. But more than that, I hope that New York's small business community isn't taxed out of business.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ford: Protect New York

Apparently, there's a push underway in the Senate to pass health care reform with a public option through reconciliation, which is a unique Senate procedure created largely to ensure passage of necessary budget legislation.

I want the President to sign a good health care bill - and preferably one with a public option - as soon as possible. However, I would urge the Senate to be careful substantively and politically with the reconciliation approach, which would allow for Democrats to pass a reform bill with only 51 votes.

A few suggestions:

First, get the legislation right. Expediency and speed should not drive such an important and massive overhaul. Work with, not capitulate to, Republicans and make the final package bipartisan. The townhall session with Republicans on health care a few weeks ago - and the upcoming one this week - suggest there's a genuine willingness to get a bill done with constructive Republican input that would translate into Republican support. LBJ's landmark legislative successes were all passed with broad support from both political parties. President Obama and Congress may not win health care passage with an LBJ-like majority, but some Republican support is crucial.

Second, the country is rightly focused on and anxious about job creation and economic growth. Consistent with this, before moving to passage of health care, I would recommend Congress do two things.

First, please draft and pass an aggressive jobs bill that cuts personal and business taxes, invests in the growth of domestic clean energy industries and gives local governments more autonomy to invest federal stimulus money. The country won't understand how increasing their taxes by insuring 30 million Americans without health insurance is sound and smart public policy during a recession. Furthermore, ailing New York small business owners need relief now from the high business taxes crippling them right now.

Second, whatever health reform legislation that passes, please ensure that you remove any and all language that restricts a woman's right to choose, which the original Senate bill unfortunately does. NARAL gave Senate Democrats a "pass" on the original health bill that passed the Senate. They should not have done that, and I hope they will correct themselves and apply appropriate pressure to Democrats to remove the anti-choice language from the next health bill.

Finally, the original Senate bill added more than $1 billion in new taxes and fees to New York state's challenged fiscal situation. In fact, the fiscal effect caused by that Senate bill across New York - from New York city to Rochester to Syracuse to Buffalo to Albany - would constrain even more the choices facing the respective local governments across the state.

Please, I ask our Senate and congressional delegation, protect New York!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Ford: Tobbaco and Taxes

Where are the tax returns from New York's unelected Senator from when she worked as a tobacco lawyer?

Did she file and pay her taxes while making big bucks as the cigarette industry's lawyer?

No one knows. The unelected Senator, who shows great hypocrisy on taxes, wants me to release my tax returns, but she won't release hers. I will gladly release my returns when I run for or serve in office again. That's what honest politicians do.

Now, I would respect the unelected Senator's consistency in not releasing her tax returns from her tobacco apologizing days if she didn't ask others - including unannounced candidates for public office - for their tax returns. But the unelected Senator can't help herself. She wants it both ways. However, as I have said, I will release my tax returns if I run, as I have done every time I've run for office, regardless of whether the unelected Senator releases her tax returns from her years as a high-paid tobacco lawyer.

It is important to note, I'm not taking issue with the unelected Senator's work as a lawyer. I hold the profession in high regard, and she evidently was a very good lawyer. That's not the issue. The issue is whether she filed and paid taxes on her work as a lawyer. Unlike the unelected Senator, I'm not demonizing the law profession as she has the financial services sector, which is the largest tax generating industry for New York City and State.

To clear this up, the unelected Senator should immediately release her tax returns from those mystery years and rid the confusion around whether she filed and paid taxes on her tobacco bonuses. Stop attacking the financial services sector and stop lying on me. We aren't your problem.

Instead, the unelected Senator persists in blaming others for her shortcomings - mainly the financial services sector and me. Problem is, I - and I'm pretty certain the financial services sector isn't at fault for the unelected Senator's failure to disclose her tax returns - have nothing to do with whether or not she filed and paid taxes on her tobacco income and bonuses. Still, the unelected Senator believes others are the problem.

Whether I run for Senate or not, New Yorkers deserve to know whether she follows the same rules we all do and files and pays her taxes.

What are you hiding?

Finally, I had a great day in Rochester yesterday. See the news coverage from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the local newspaper.  

Harold Ford, potential Senate candidate, visits
Rochester today

Jill Terreri• Staff writer • February 18, 2010
Harold Ford Jr. today said he supported Mayor Robert Duffy's plans for mayoral control of the City School District.
"I like the ideas behind what he's seeking to do," Ford said after a meeting with Duffy in City Hall.

Ford spoke to reporters after the meeting, Duffy did not.
Ford looked very much like a candidate, eating at Nick Tahou Hots with Democratic leaders and rubbing elbows with the locals.
A Tennessee native, Ford is considering a run for U.S. Senate against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Columbia County, and is making his first visit to Rochester.

In a visit to Rochester on Tuesday, Gillibrand did not take a position on mayoral control when asked about it by reporters.
Also on Ford's agenda today was a meeting with Mayor Robert Duffy, a meet and greet at Democratic headquarters on University Avenue, a meeting at the Rochester Area Community Foundation and a speech at 7 p.m. at the University of Rochester on civil rights.
"The jobs and tax challenges across the state are two familiar concerns that have been expressed over and over again," said Ford, who has made visits to Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo. "It's not uncommon, what I'm hearing here."
Unlike Gillibrand, Ford said he would not have voted for the Senate health reform bill because it would have created more costs for New York.
Ford lives in New York City, was a congressman and ran for U.S. Senate in 2006.
He is on leave from his job as a vice chairman at Merrill Lynch. He said he would disclose any bonus pay and salary information if he becomes a candidate.
Ford ate with Monroe County Democratic Chairman Joseph Morelle, Morelle's staff members and other party activists, and said he expects to make a decision around the end of the month.

Republican Bruce Blakeman of New York City is also running for U.S. Senate. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BREAKING: The Unelected Hypocrite May Not Have Filed or Paid All Her New York Taxes

In a stunning admission today, New York's unelected hypocrite admitted to not releasing her own tax information in 2006 when she ran for Congress from Albany. According to New York press reports today, she NEVER released her tax information regarding income she earned as a high-paid tobacco apologist at a big law firm in New York City.

What a hypocrite!

She will ask of others (who aren't even candidates) and then falsely accuse others of things she is guilty of herself. She should release all of her tax returns from when she was a lawyer in New York City immediately and prove that she paid and filed New York taxes on all her bonuses as a tobacco apologist.

Harold Ford Jr. always released his tax returns for whatever years he was asked to when he was in public office and when he was a candidate. And Harold has paid and filed all taxes on all New York income. The unelected hypocrite owes New York a full explanation. No amount of accusing Harold can obscure the fact that she's a hypocrite. Release your taxes before 2006 so we can all see if you filed and paid.

"You Tell Me" In Rochester Yesterday, Gillibrand Couldn't Name City's Largest Employer

Below is an article from 13WHAM that shows just how little the Un-elected Senator knows about Rochester or New York for that matter:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand explained her views and listed her accomplishments to the Rochester Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon. The speech had very few specific references to Rochester.

This was the Democrat’s fifth visit here since she was appointed by the governor to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton 13 months ago. Gillibrand said she’s been busy in Washington, D.C. and visiting all of the state’s 62 counties.

“I’ve really been spending my time getting to know all of the towns, all of the counties, all of the cities all across New York,” Gillibrand said. “I’ve been here a lot. I’ve been here 25 times.” When told that her staff said she’d only been to Rochester five times, she said, “I’ve done 25 events and we've had really good events…in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region.”

The senator’s staff said she held events in Monroe County on January 31, May 16, August 27, and September 18. She also visited Livingston, Seneca, Wyoming, Schuyler, Yates, Genesee, and Wayne counties in August.

13WHAM News asked Gillibrand what she knows about the state’s third-largest city.

“I know a lot about Rochester,” she said. “I think you have enormous economic development opportunities because of your great universities and great community colleges. You're at the forefront of a number of industries, high tech industries, to biotechnology industries,” she said. “I grew up in Upstate New York. You have to remember I grew up in Albany, and so I understand some of the blessings of Rochester, and some of the challenges of Rochester.”

When asked, Gillibrand could not identify the area’s largest employer.

“I know many of your employers. Who's the largest? You tell me.” (It’s the University of Rochester.)

Polls show Gillibrand is still unknown to a lot of voters and she could face a tough fight to keep her seat. A potential primary challenger, Harold Ford, will speak at the University of Rochester on Thursday.

Gillibrand said she’s spent a lot of time talking to voters, frequently mentioning that she likes to talk to people at supermarkets.

“People are worried. The bottom line is the economy is as bad as it's ever been. Having national 10 percent unemployment doesn't tell the story. It's far higher, closer to 15-20 percent real unemployment, and so I don't really focus on the polls or the pundits who make judgments,” she said.

Source: 13 WHAM

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ford: Leadership Is Wanted

Every incumbent Democrat should be on notice after Senator Bayh's announcement. Voters are distressed by the paralysis and dysfunction of Congress and the Senate. And, are in no mood for the normal score keeping ways of Washington; they want answers and jobs - maybe in reverse order.

But in a shocking response to Bayh's announcement, some senior Washington Democrats are blaming Bayh instead of the sorry governing process they preside over in Washington right now. That is a big mistake.

In a little over a year, my party has lost its way. And unless we get it back, we will forfeit our majorities. The White House bears responsibility for the situation we are in today as well.

My message to all of my Washington friends - simplify the agenda. It is about the economy and jobs. Work with Democrats and Republicans to get a jobs bill done that includes middle class tax cuts and significant help for homeowners on their second mortgages. In short, help the main street consumer. Stop playing class warfare by pitting wall street versus main street - this solves nothing, it only exacerbates our collective problems.

And last, stop playing small-minded politics. Be bigger than Republicans on all the issues, and get things done for the American people. By that I mean, work with them, cooperate with them and find common ground on the economy and national security, where you can . The American people believed President Obama's election would lead to a different atmosphere and political climate in Washington. So far, he and the Democrats haven't proved the voters right. We have several months to get it right. Get on it.

Finally, some in my party - the extreme left - believe that any outreach to Republicans represents betrayal of some sort. Washington Democrats should ignore the extremists and represent the rest of us and get things done. Our country is waiting on us to lead. As a matter of fact, the country needs us to lead.

If we do these things, the politics at the ballot box in November will take care of itself.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Ford: Wake Up Call

With my friend Evan Bayh declaring today he will not seek re-election to the US Senate from Indiana, we Dems now have another challenge to overcome - holding his seat. Indiana Dems will figure it out I hope.

We have 2 additional problems I believe.

First, our Democratic priorities - as noble and visionary as we believe them to be - are out of sync with America's priorities. Americans want job creation, economic growth and a concrete plan to reduce federal spending over the long run. Clearly, we are not doing enough on either. Legislatively, it is time to subordinate health care reform to job creation and long term spending cuts.

Second, we Dems are being blamed for the dysfunction of Washington and the Federal government. With large majorities for Democrats in the House and Senate, it makes sense that we are being blamed. To fix it, we need to focus on getting things done - a jobs bill, a long-term spending cut plan and a pared down health bill are my suggestions.

Third, we better encourage the best candidates to run for office everywhere. Voters are in no mood for mediocre and uninspiring candidates. We must remember: titles don't entitle politicians to elected office. Moreover, Massachusetts reminded us that political seats belong to voters.

We have time to recover. These wake up calls are early enough, fortunately, for us to recover for the fall. We should heed the advice of voters.