Your Tax Dollars at Work…In Bankruptcy Court

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Don’t you love it when a plan works…and it works so big that the Vice President visits, can’t remember it’s name, then it makes a visit to Federal court because it can’t make it with “free” money????

Electric-Car Firm That Got Biden Visit, $118M in Stimulus, Files for Bankruptcy

By Fred Lucas
January 26, 2012
Ener1, Joe BidenVice President Joe Biden viewed an electric car that used Ener1 batteries as he toured the Ener1 battery factory in Greenfield, Ind., on Jan. 26, 2011. (White House photo/David Lienemann)

(CNSNews.com) – Ener1–a company that manufactures batteries for electric cars, and that received $118.5 million in federal stimulus money, and that Vice President Joe Biden visited last year the day after President Obama’s State of the Union Address—announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In last year’s State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 25, 2011, President Obama set a national goal of having a million electric vehicles on the road in the United States by 2015—a goal that would be achieved, Obama said, by taking money out of the oil industry and “investing” it in new technology.

“With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” said Obama.

“We need to get behind this innovation,” he said. “And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

The next day, Biden visited the Ener1 plant in Greenfield, Ind.—which the White House said at the time had received a $118.5 million grant from the Department of Energy and was the type of investment the president was talking about in his State of the Union.

Brian Levine, deputy domestic policy adviser to Biden, wrote an article about Biden’s visit to Ener1 on the White House webpage for the White House Middle Class Task Force, which Biden leads. The article was headlined “Our Plan to Put One Million Advanced Technology Vehicles on America’s Roads.”

“Last night, President Obama set a goal of making the United States the first country in the world to put one million advanced technology vehicles on the road,” Levine wrote. “This goal is part of the President’s plan to rebuild our economy by investing in innovation to create the jobs and industries of the future.

“Today, Vice President Biden visited Ener1, Inc., a manufacturer of advanced batteries for electric vehicles, in Greenfield, Indiana to announce our plan to reach this one million vehicle goal by 2015,” wrote Levine. “The facility that the Vice President visited would not exist if not for a $118.5 million grant from the Department of Energy, which was part of a $2.4 billion Recovery Act investment in electric vehicles. Ener1 added 120 jobs across the company in 2010 and the future looks bright. They expect to expand the manufacturing and assembly operation in Greenfield from 80 workers today to over a thousand by the start of 2013.”

At the Ener1 plant, Biden made a gaffe, mistakenly referring to Ener1—as Enron1.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, here at Ener1, we’re going to harness electricity and bring it to the world like Edison did more than a century ago,” said Biden. “We’re going to reshape the way Americans drive, the way Americans consume, the way Americans power their lives. And in turn, we’re going to reshape America itself. We may not make battery power so cheap that only the rich can afford to drive their cars on imported oil, but—but–with Enron1 (sic) leading the way, we’re certainly going to come pretty close.”

Ener1 produces advanced lithium-ion battery systems for electric vehicles.

On Thursday, the company put out a statement announcing that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York.

Ener1, the statement said, “announced that it has reached agreement with its primary investors and lenders on a restructuring plan that will significantly reduce its debt and provide up to $81 million to recapitalize the Company to support its long-term business objectives and strategic plan. To implement this restructuring plan, the Company has voluntarily initiated a ‘pre-packaged’ Chapter 11 case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, in which it is requesting that the Court confirm a pre-packaged Plan of Reorganization to implement the restructuring.”

The Ener1 Chapter 11 filing came a year to the day after Vice President Biden visited the companies Greenfield plant—and a year to the day after Biden’s aide wrote on the White House website: “They expect to expand the manufacturing and assembly operation in Greenfield from 80 workers today to over a thousand by the start of 2013.”

The Obama administration has previously come under fire for a $535 million loan the Energy Department made to Solyndra, a California-based solar panel company. Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall.

In his visit to Ener1 last year, Vice President Biden said that in order to reach the president’s goal of one million “advanced-technology vehicles” by 2015, the administration was not only subsidizing companies like Ener1 but wanted to give a $7,500 rebate to people who purchased an electric car like those that would be powered by Ener1 batteries.

“As the president said last night, by 2015 we we will be the first nation in the world to have a million advanced-technology vehicles on the road, a million,” said Biden.

“So, folks, here’s how we’re going to do it. Here’s how we’re going to meet that goal,” said Biden. “It’s not enough just to make these batteries. That alone, all by itself, will not get us there. We have to do three more things. We have to convince people at the threshold of this new automobile breakthrough, the new investment. We’ve got to convince them at the threshold to take a chance, to invest in these vehicles.”

“In order to spur this, to increase the number of people that are using the automobiles run by the batteries you are producing, to increase demand,” said Biden, “we proposed changing what is now an existing tax credit of $7,500 that if you buy an automobile like this to an immediate rebate. You get a check for $7,500–just like the cash for clunkers program. You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to wait till tax time to get the extra money to pay for that vehicle.”

1 in 7 now on Foodstamp relief

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Here’s one the Obamby administration should be proud of…Please don’t get me wrong, there are some on the program that need help. But there are others now that the government have forced there. From the WSJ:

By Sara Murray

Growth in the food stamp program appeared to reach a plateau in February — with 14.3% of the population relying on the safety net program.

The number of food stamp recipients was essentially flat in February, the most recent month available, with 44.2 million Americans receiving benefits, according a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (See a sortable breakdown of the data here.)

The food stamp program ballooned during the recession as workers lost their jobs or saw their hours and income reduced. The rise in recipients has begun to flatten in recent months, which may mean that as the economy is improving fewer Americans are seeking to join the program. Enrollment in the program is still high though, with 11.6% more people tapping benefits in February than the same month a year earlier.

Food stamp numbers aren’t seasonally adjusted though, meaning a variety of factors could influence the monthly tallies and the program could grow again in coming months.

Mississippi and Oregon were among the states with the largest share of the population utilizing food stamps in February: At least one in five residents in each state were receiving benefits.

Wyoming had the lowest rate of recipients with just 6.6% of the state’s residents using food stamps.

Tennessee was 19.9% usage for February at 1,202,604 on food stamps, with a year to year rise of 5.2%

RINO’s at Work (with the Dems)

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I think I found where the terrorists are hiding.  From The Hill.com

Senate Dems unveil $1.1T spending bill

By Alexander Bolton

Senate Democrats have filed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through fiscal year 2011, according to Senate GOP sources.

The 1,924-page bill includes funding to implement the sweeping healthcare reform bill Congress passed earlier this year as well as additional funds for Internal Revenue Service agents, according to a senior GOP aide familiar with the legislation.

The package drew a swift rebuke from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

“The attempt by Democrat leadership to rush through a nearly 2,000-page spending bill in the final days of the lame-duck session ignores the clear will expressed by the voters this past election,” Thune said in a statement. “This bill is loaded up with pork projects and should not get a vote. Congress should listen to the American people and stop this reckless spending.”

Thune has called for a short-term funding measure free of earmarks to keep the government operating beyond Dec. 18, when the current continuing resolution expires.

Despite strong opposition from Thune and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), several Senate Republicans are considering voting for the bill.

“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked if he would support the package.

Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn’t affect his vote.

“It will be tough for some, but not for me,” he said.

GOP Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), George Voinovich (Ohio) and Susan Collins (Maine) also told The Hill on Tuesday they would consider voting for the omnibus but want to review it before making a final decision.  (These folks also need to find their way home.)

“I hope to be able to vote for one,” Bond said of the omnibus. “We’ve got to look what’s in it.

“I’m anxious to see it,” he added.

BREAKING – HEALTH CARE REQUIREMENT UNCONSTITUTIONAL – BREAKING

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From Bloomberg:

 

The Obama administration’s requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the plan.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, said today that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, which was to become effective in 2014, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid.

Hudson, appointed by President George W. Bush, found the minimum essential coverage provision of the act “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

The ruling is the government’s first loss in a series of challenges to the law mounted in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Florida, where 20 states have joined an effort to have the statute thrown out. Constitutional scholars said unless Congress changes the law, its fate on appeal will probably hinge on the views of the U.S. Supreme Court’s more conservative members.

“I am gratified we prevailed,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. “This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution.”

Shares Gain

U.S. health-care stocks extended gains after the ruling. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Health Care Index rose 0.5 percent at 12 p.m. New York time. UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Coventry Health Care Inc. led gains.

Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department, didn’t immediately reply to voicemail and e-mail messages seeking comment on Hudson’s decision. Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman, did not immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment.

“Some prominent conservative justices will go against it, but there is no serious indication that every single one will go against it,”, Mark Hall, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law, who serves on a federal advisory board set up to help implement the law, said ahead of the ruling.

“There’s a lot of activity focused now on alternatives to the mandate,” said Dan Mendelson, chief executive officer of Avalere Health, a Washington-based consulting firm. One option might be to provide access to all people, even ones with pre- existing conditions, to buy insurance, and limit the times they could sign up

Carrot and Stick

“It’s using a carrot instead of a stick,” Mendelson said in a telephone interview last week.

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for health insurers’ Washington lobby group America’s Health Insurance Plans, declined to comment on the record about whether insurers had discussed such an alternative with the administration or whether there was a way to design such a policy in a way that would be sufficient to replace the effects of the individual mandate. Through the individual mandate and expansions of Medicaid and employer-based coverage, the law is estimated to provide 32 million more people with coverage by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The case is Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius, 10-cv- 00188, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

Fed Workers have a Problem with Wage Freeze

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These folks need to understand that their salaries are funded by taxpayers, and they are as well.  If they want raises, then the federal government needs to sharpen up and quit wasting money.  I’ve highlighted a couple of particular comments….a wage level, a complaint about the freeze and a little of extra whining on another.  Guess what, private sector wages in this state average 32K, my company has been on a wage freeze for about 2 years now, and let me point this out…YOU HAVE A JOB, lots of folks don’t….so if the private sector pays more, maybe you should quit and go to work there.  Oh, they don’t have the federal retirement program?  Oh, this is from Federal Times.com. Yeah, that sucks…

———

As a federal worker, I am willing to sacrifice. (Really?) However, I am outraged at having to do so if at the same time those who earn $250,000 receive tax breaks. (Gotta be a Democrat…)

Those opposed to extending the Bush tax cuts to those who earn $250,000 should not give in to those who want to give the country away to the wealthy.

— Joan Gomberg, Seattle

———

The issue with the pay freeze is another ploy to weaken this country — everything else has been attacked in this administration.

If federal employees have to take a pay freeze, why are some exempt? Are they better than us? (Well at least this is a good point…)

I am a Defense Department worker — first-line supervisor. We support our military directly. If we don’t maintain their aircraft and ships — who will?

My base pay is just under $47,000 per year. We are mostly comprised of General Schedule and wage grade earners. The wage grade pay scale is dependent on locality. And the GS pay scale for us is “rest of U.S.,” meaning it is the lowest GS pay scale in the country.

Private industry has a multitude of benefits a government entity could never be able to enjoy. It is almost impossible to compare us.  (Like I said, is private sector employing?)

A Federal Employees Retirement System employee enjoys nothing more than Social Security and a 401(k)-like Thrift Savings Plan — just like private industry — and can’t retire before age 62 either. The Civil Service Retirement System should not be considered in a comparison because most of the people it covers are nearly gone. They have a great retirement, but they can never enjoy a full Social Security benefit because that benefit is offset by two-thirds because of their government retirement benefits. So if they ever worked in private industry before or after working for the government, the Social Security payments they made are forever gone.

Corporations have flexibility to offer other benefits. I have a relative who works for HP — her benefit package is a lot better than mine. I know an engineer in private industry who gets an apartment paid for in the city she works in and comes home on the weekends.  (ahem, do you have a resume in?)

How about other benefits government could never dream of awarding for good performance, like free trips and cars? (I want to know where they get these at? I’ve never had a private sector job that gave free trips and cars for performance…) When was the last time you heard of a private-industry employee paying for their own Christmas party, (we give a dollar a week every week to have one) or having to take leave for it if it is during the workday? (Always generally after hours.) Everything needs to be considered.

I have never heard of government workers doing better than workers in private industry. (How about 9 – 5 workdays, every holiday imaginable, and generally no weekends? I understand not all are…) We are not the ones living in McMansions or buying high-end products.

Most federal employees have worked for the government for more than 20 or 30 years. (Why do you suppose that is…would it be because of the benefits and raises when no one else gets one?) Why aren’t young people coming into government service? Because we are not the best employer out there.

— Joyce Smith, executive secretary, Federal Managers Association Chapter 11, Region 2, Jacksonville, Fla.

———

President Obama’s proposal calling for federal employees to accept a two-year pay freeze should apply to those who work in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.

Obama and Congress should freeze overall spending by adopting 2010 spending levels in 2011 funding bills for all federal agencies.

Any exempted increases in spending or reduction in taxes should be covered by “pay as you go” financing.

The IRS should accelerate the collection of billions of dollars in back taxes owed by deadbeats and corporations, and should suspend billions in future tax refunds to those who continue failing to pay long overdue taxes or student loans.

Everyone needs to do his fair share in bringing the budget deficit under control.

— Larry Penner, Great Neck, N.Y.

———

The salary savings is a drop in the bucket compared to what is wasted by our government on a daily basis.

— Lori A. Blanchard, Denver

———

The president’s idea is like pulling a splinter from your finger while ignoring the tree that’s fallen on your house.

What is so wrong about a national lottery that would generate billions every year? What is so difficult about charging a $10 processing fee for all taxes filed? Actions like these would make a huge difference — if the government doesn’t misuse the money.

— Jigger Jones, Haverhill, Mass.

You mean GM and Chrysler weren’t the only ones?

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So, Ford was bragging about not taking any bailouts, GM was the only bad one…and we were sending US dollars to bail out foreign carmakers too?  Well, why not, we apparently are going to bail out the EU too.  Sure, let the taxpayers suffer, let the unemployed suffer, but by golly, lets help everyone outside this country.  I can’t wait for the progressives to go home..

Ford, BMW, Toyota Took Secret Government Money

Ford, BMW, Toyota Took Secret Government Money In the depths of the financial collapse, the U.S. Federal Reserve pumped $3.3 trillion into keeping credit moving through the economy. It eventually lent $57.9 billion to the auto industry — including $26.8 billion to Ford, Toyota and BMW.

The Fed on Wednesday was forced to reveal the identity of the companies it aided during the crisis, after contending to Congress that keeping their identities and the details of such lending secret was essential. Much of Wall Street, and corporate giants such as General Electric, Harley Davidson and McDonald’s, took advantage of the Fed’s help. We’ve done the math on how the Fed propped up the auto industry.

While Chrysler and General Motors had to go to Congress to beg for cash in 2008, every other automaker’s finance arm was having trouble as well. Typically, once they lend money to a buyer, they sell the loan, get the cash upfront, then pump the proceeds back into the business. They also take out short-term loans called commercial paper that keeps the day-to-day business afloat. The crash cut the circuit, raising the chances the automakers couldn’t make loans to buyers and keep selling new vehicles.

That’s where the Fed stepped in. In normal circumstances, the Fed only lends money to banks, leaving the decisions about who should get credit to them. But when the financial markets started to collapse in late 2008, the Fed set up several programs to lend money directly to corporations, a highly unusual step.

According to the data, from October 2008 through June 2009 the fed bought $45.1 billion in commercial paper from the credit arms of four automakers – Ford, BMW, Chrysler and Toyota – along with GMAC (the former General Motors credit arm). Of those, Ford sold the most, with $15.9 billion.

The Fed also lent $13 billion to investors who bought bonds backed by loans to new car buyers from automakers and banks. The Fed made clear that while investors got the loans, the move was meant to keep the lenders in business; the credit arms of Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda and Hyundai all benefited directly.

Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said the two programs “addressed systemic failure in the credit markets, and that neither program was designed for a particular company, or even a particular industry.” Ford Credit has disclosed through SEC filings and conference calls with media and investors that it was taking part in both programs.

BMW told Bloomberg that the Fed lending “supported our financial profile and offered us an additional funding source, especially at times when the money markets and capital markets did not function properly and efficiently.”

According to the Fed, the commercial paper loans have been paid in full, while some $2 billion remains outstanding on loans for bond investors.

The secrecy surrounding the details of the loans only masked how much aid corporate America and Wall Street needed. While General Motors and Chrysler took the brunt of the blowback for relying on government handouts, the reveal of the Fed numbers show that a far bigger slice of the U.S. auto industry needed help.

Wave Goodbye Soon to Internet Freedom

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This article appeared in the Washington Times. The FCC, under Democratic leadership, now wants its bureaucratic hands on the net.  If it happens, the voices of freedom are on their way to being silenced.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to add the Internet to its portfolio of regulated industries. The agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, announced Wednesday that he circulated draft rules he says will “preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet.” No statement could better reflect the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of Obama administration policies.

With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the “freedom” of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been blocked from tinkering with the Web. Ordinarily, it would be appropriate at this point to supply an example from the proposed regulations illustrating the problem. Mr. Genachowski‘s draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped “non-public, for internal use only” to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for “openness.”

The issue of “net neutrality” is nothing new, but the increasing popularity of online movie streaming services like Netflix have highlighted an area of potential concern. When someone watches a film over the Internet, especially in high definition, the maximum available capacity of the user’s connection is used. Think, for example, of the problems that would arise at the water works if everyone decided to turn on their faucets and take a shower simultaneously. Internet providers are beginning to see the same strain on their networks.

In some cases, heavy use of this sort slows the Web experience for everyone sharing the same lines. That has prompted some cable Internet providers to consider either charging the heavy users more or limiting access to the “problematic” services. Of course, if cinema buffs find themselves cut off from their favorite service, they’re going to be mad. If companies don’t act, they’re just as likely to find irate customers who don’t want their experience bogged down by others.

It’s not clear why the FCC thinks it needs to intervene in a situation with obvious market solutions. Companies that impose draconian tolls or block services will lose customers. Existing laws already offer a number of protections against anti-competitive behavior, but it’s not clear under what law Mr. Genachowski thinks he can stick his nose into the businesses that comprise the Internet. The FCC regulates broadcast television and radio because the government granted each station exclusive access to a slice of the airwaves. Likewise when Ma Bell accepted a monopoly deal from Uncle Sam, it came with regulatory strings attached.

No such rationale applies online, especially because bipartisan majorities in Congress have insisted on maintaining a hands-off policy. A federal appeals court confirmed this in April by striking down the FCC‘s last attempt in this arena. “That was sort of like the quarterback being sacked for a 20-yard loss,” FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell told The Washington Times. “And now the team is about to run the exact same play. … In order for the FCC to do this, it needs for Congress to give it explicit statutory authority to do so.”

Freedom and openness should continue to be the governing principles of the Internet. That’s why Mr. Genachowski‘s proposal should be rejected and Congress should make it even more clear that the FCC should stop trying to expand its regulatory empire

And they don’t know why they were voted out???

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Pelosi planning an “Accomplishments” Party

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Want to send an RSVP?

PELOSI PLANNING PARTY FOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Mon Nov 08 2010 16:34:33 ET

Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the United States House of Representatives requests the pleasure of your company at a reception honoring the Accomplishments of the 111th Congress on Wednesday, the tenth day of November, two thousand ten at three thirty in the afternoon Cannon Caucus Room 345 Cannon House Office Building

Pelosi: We haven’t gotten proper Credit for what we did…

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Queen Nancy doesn’t believe she and the Dem’s got proper credit for what they’ve done in the last 2 years.  Believe me, Madame Speaker, your credit is coming on Nov. 2nd!

Pelosi: ‘We haven’t really gotten the credit for what we have done’

By Michael O’Brien - 10/25/10 07:53 AM ET

Democrats haven’t necessarily gotten the credit they’re due for the work they’ve done the last two years, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

Pelosi, in the middle of a tough campaign to defend Democrats’ majority in the House — as well as her own Speakership — seemed to echo a complaint voiced by other Democrats, that obstacles have made it difficult for the party’s message to get through.

“You have all those forces at work, pouring millions of millions of dollars into the media, and now into the campaigns to mischaracterize everything that we did,” Pelosi said in an interview with Politics Daily, video of which was posted Monday. “So that’s that. It’s up to us to go out there. I’m very confident; our members know why they voted for what they did.

“But you’re right, we haven’t really gotten the credit for what we have done, but we will take it to the voters and have a Democratic majority to follow through on it,” the Speaker added.

Pelosi’s remarks reflect a growing trend of frustration expressed by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that Democrats’ biggest failure in this election has been not to adequately sell their accomplishments to voters, while White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked to The New York Times that he hadn’t “been at a policy-problem meeting in 20 months.”

Republicans retort by noting that the fretting about messaging is especially ridiculous given the number of Democratic candidates who are running away from the party’s legislative accomplishments, from the stimulus bill to healthcare reform to cap-and-trade and so on.

Democrats say that millions in election spending against them has hindered their efforts to get their messaging out. Pelosi said she took the attacks on her and her Democratic lawmakers as a “sign of our effectiveness,” and said it helped her raise money.

Those attacks have also helped frame the election in such a way that the enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters has begun to close, the Speaker said.

“I think the enthusiasm gap is closing,” she said. “I think that as our members go home and people see what the clear choice is… that the energy will be there, as they see what’s at stake in the election.”

Part of that understanding of the base stems from her own identification with the base. “I’m very proud of that,” Pelosi said of when she’s labeled a “San Francisco liberal.”

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