Sheldon Whitehouse

Congress is greeting the holidays with visions of the fiscal cliff dancing in its collective psyche. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay has some Cliff Notes as we kick off our week-long series on how spending cuts and tax hikes would affect the Ocean State should Congress fail to reach an agreement.

Americans love to lampoon our lawmakers. From Mark Twain to Jon Stewart, senators and representatives have been juicy targets for pundits and satirists. What student of history can forget Twain’s famous dictum that Congress is the nation’s only native criminal class.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
RIPR File

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) published an op-ed on Politico Tuesday urging President Obama not to agree to any Medicare cuts in the fiscal cliff negotiations. The reason: reforming the health care system, including the way we deliver and pay for health care, will add up to all the savings we need.

Whitehouse writes:

Mindy Myers, chief of staff to RI Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, is leaving the Whitehouse office to become chief of staff in Washington for Massachusetts Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren.

Myers, 36, has proven in the last several election cycles that she is one of the Democratic Party’s top young political operatives. (The next Mary Beth Cahill?) Myers was campaign manager for Whitehouse in his 2006 upset of then-Republican incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee. In 2008, she was head of President Obama’s New Hampshire campaign.

Q: What does James Diossa, a rising political star from hardscrabble Central Falls, have in common with one of Rhode Island’s members in Washington, DC’s “Millionaires Club“?

A. They both act like incumbents when it suits their political interests.

Politico assesses the emerging peer group of Rhode Island’s junior senator:

The Senate is about to become a liberal lion’s den.

After a long, strange trip, Election 2012 is in the books. It’s been a long week, so sit back and relax with my latest edition of TGIF. Your comments are welcome, as always, at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

The federal government is mired in gridlock and it now takes a super-majority to pass legislation in the U.S. Senate. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay considers Rhode Island’s U.S. Senate race as Washington, D.C. slouches toward the fiscal precipice.

That Washington, D.C. is “broken’’ has become the campaign cliché of 2012, shouted across the land by both Democrats and Republicans. The combatants in House and Senate seats from California to Cranston point fingers of blame at each other like school children tattling at recess.

It’s time for the second rendition of my new Friday column. Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to send me tips or thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

Highlights from a just-released Brown University poll:

– Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is the most popular elected official in Rhode Island, with an impressive 65.6 percent approval rating, up from 59.8 percent in February.

– State Treasurer Gina Raimondo placed second with a 58.7 percent approval rating, up from 57.7 percent earlier this year. (Statewide findings are based on results from 496 registered voters; the margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.)

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse appears to be using a modified Rose Garden strategy in his campaign with Republican challenger Barry Hinckley, agreeing to a relatively sparse debate schedule.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Barry Hinckley’s campaign says he has made an advertising buy of about $500,000 in broadcast, radio and cable television time.

Republican Hinckley, of Newport, says the advertising will begin Aug. 29 and run through Election Day, Nov. 6, in his campaign to unseat incumbent Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

In a joint statement, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and his wife, Sandra, are commenting on the arrest today of their son, Alexander, on a charge of operating under the influence, in Middletown:

“We are deeply concerned and upset by our son’s poor judgment. But we love Alexander and we will deal with this as a family.”

1. Republican Senate candidate Barry Hinckley says Rhode Islanders don’t much care about campaign finance reform. “I have been around for 16 months, traveling Rhode Island,” Hinckley said during a press event yesterday. “Not one person has brought up campaign finance reform to me, not one, in 16 months.”

UPDATE: Whitehouse strikes back.

Shortly after the end of Hinckley’s news conference this afternoon, Whitehouse released a statement criticizing the GOP:

Today, for a second day in a row, Senate Republicans blocked debate on the DISCLOSE Act, a bill to end secret spending in elections by corporations and other groups.  The vote failed to overcome a filibuster by a vote of 53 in favor to 45 against.  60 votes were required.  Following the vote, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement:

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