Thursday, June 29, 2006
Susie - You've Got Some 'Splainin' to Do...
Well, Cliff, for one thing, the US government doesn't "pay" for anything - the US taxpayers pay for it (and by the way, we pay your salary too). US taxpayers are made up mostly of US voters - and as voters and citizens we have a strong bias toward accessibility and fairness in our election process.
And second - Sue and her buddy Rep. Stearns probably don't know this, but only US citizens are able to vote, and even those whose native language is English can have trouble reading complex ballot initiatives, much less those who learned English as a second language.
So shame on you, Sue, for taking a cheap shot at all those hard working immigrants who have sought the American Dream by studying and working to become US citizens, only to have someone like you try to take away their full ability to vote in a responsible way.
Optimists that we are, we keep hoping the Republican Congress will wake up one morning and realize it has a responsibility to the nation to honestly debate and deal with the vital issues we face as a country today - healthcare, voting rights, security, education, and so on.
No such luck - instead, they focus on flag burning, repeal of the estate tax, gay marriage, resolutions condemning press "leaks" of a program that the President himself had already publicly discussed, and so on. And now - English-only ballots!
Isn't it time for a change?
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
More Flip Floppin' Sue Kelly
“Every year Congress votes itself a pay raise, a COLA, and I vote against it,” she said.Funny thing though, Sue's opposition to the pay raise didn't last very long. It seems that the next day the pay hike was included in another House bill which Kelly had no problem voting in favor of.
So it seems that Sue Kelly was against the pay raise before she was for it. I just wonder why Flip Floppin' Sue didn't bother to issue a press release to the local news outlets explaining why she voted for the pay raise.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Another Sue Kelly Gift to the Very Wealthy
Some facts about the "Paris Hilton Tax." Under current legislation, only 12,600 estates will be subject to the tax this year (that's less than 1% of those who pass away). Under the new Republican legislation that number will be reduced to only 2,800 and the tax rate on those will be cut from 45% to as low as 15%. These tax cuts for the wealthy will cost the federal government $284 billion over the next ten years. That means less revenues for a federal budget that is suffering from record smashing deficits.
Now you may be wondering just who is behind the multi-million dollar campaign to repeal the "Paris Hilton Tax", well it didn't take long to research that information and no surprise here, the answer is the extremely wealthy families that will benefit directly from the repeal of the Estate Tax. Eighteen families worth a total of $185.5 billion have spent millions in campaign contributions to buy votes as well as funding attack ads against politicians who oppose their efforts. Not surprisingly, our own congresswoman Sue Kelly has decided to side with these 18 incredibly rich families and voted to provide them with billions of dollars in tax cuts.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Sue Kelly Flip Flops: Part III - What Makes Sue Flip-Flop?
In Part II, we looked at the bait-and-switch scheme that had a much weaker bill substitute in the House, under a rule which ensured that even the weaker bill would fail, while preserving the false appearance that many members, including Sue, had been supporting labor.
Now let’s try to figure out: Why Sue would bother in the first place?
This writer suggests that there are three factors at work:
1) Sue gets a lot of campaign cash for being on the Aviation Committee.
2) Some of that campaign cash is, in fact, from the labor union that probably expected her to be at least sympathetic to its cause.
3) It’s an election year, and people are watching, to see if Sue’s been naughty or nice. And, as shown in Part II, she’s figured out how to be naughty while pretending to be nice.
Let’s take a closer look.
First, what is it worth to Sue to be on the Aviation Committee? Looking at the current cycle only, Sue’s received over $17,000 in direct contributions from participants in the civil aviation industry. Indirect contributions are something else again. For example, the Air Transport Association PAC, American Airlines PAC, Delta Airlines PAC and Northwest Airlines PAC all contribute inconspicuously by giving through such imaginatively named intermediaries as the “Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism”, “Keep Our Majority PAC” and “Rely On Your Beliefs Fund”, each of which then contributes to Sue’s re-election fund.
Second, some of that cash came from the very union that cared the most about getting a fair bill to give its bargaining with the FAA some sense of reality: the National Air Traffic Controllers Association Political Action Committee (“NATCAPAC”). In fact, NATCAPAC gave Sue Kelly six separate contributions totaling $10,000. (That’s a magic number, and we’ll come back to it in the next point.)
And so, with great fanfare, Sue Kelly issued one of her self-congratulatory press releases, on February 15, 2006, proclaiming:
“Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-NY-19) and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL-12) today introduced the Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act to correct inequities in the current contract negotiating process between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers’ union.”
Her release further stated that it was very important to do this because:
More than 70 percent of the air traffic controller workforce is scheduled to retire during the next 10 years, the lawmakers noted. It is imperative that efforts to recruit the best new controllers possible are not undermined by an unfair contract negotiation process, they said
But then, Sue sense of political reality intrudes. It’s an election year. This legislation would interfere with the power of a federal agency, and the government belongs to the Republicans. Sue needs all the help her party, and its various campaign funds, and its ability to control the agenda and manipulate the votes in Congress, can give her. On the other hand, her loyalty to her friends at NATCA PAC has already run out. You see, with $10,000 already in Sue’s campaign coffers from NATCA PAC, she can’t get any more money from NATCA PAC this cycle: NATCA PAC has “maxed out.” Poor NATCA PAC.
And so, Sue goes through the pretense of helping organized labor, by offering Kelly-Costello, HR 4755. Then quietly abandoning it, to revert to her real stance, which is generally anti-labor. (What, Sue anti-labor? Yes. When the AFL-CIO rated members of Congress for pro- or anti-labor votes in 2005, Sue earned a miserable 20%: she voted anti-labor on twelve of fifteen key votes. )
But with enough legislative legerdemain, I guess Sue’s been able to fool enough of the people enough of the time.
And now you know why Sue flip-flops.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Sue Kelly Flip Flops: Part II - How to Create a Phony Voting Record
In Part I, we showed how Sue Kelly initially proposed legislation to help the Air Traffic Controllers, and then let it die in her Committee, even though it already had majority support. In this Part II, we look at how she set this up to create the appearance of voting pro-labor, while in fact abandoning a labor union that had been friendly to her.
First, let’s back up. Air traffic controllers are those highly skilled individuals who work in the highest stress job imaginable: keeping America’s aircraft from colliding in our busy skies. Air traffic controllers work in regional control centers around the country. They are employed by the Federal Aviation Administration, a civilian agency. They have the right to negotiate, through their union, for a contract. But under current law, if the FAA is free to declare those negotiations at an impasse and then, after a waiting period, impose its own contract, unilaterally. The union has no recourse, and the members basically have the choice of accepting it, or finding another career.
No wonder, then, that the Air Traffic Controllers Union would want a change in the law so that at least they would have access to arbitration, instead of being just presented with the FAA’s take-it-or-leave. So, in a remarkable show (watch that word, show) of bipartisanship, Sue’s House Aviation Committee fashioned a very balanced bill, HR 4755, which would have provided for arbitration in the event of an impasse in negotiations. That way, both sides would have incentive to be reasonable and bargain in good faith.
Now comes the tricky part: a clear majority of the House signed on as co-sponsors or supporters of this bill, so they can all tell their union friends what a good thing they had done for Organized Labor. But, as we explained in Part I, even though a majority claimed to support HR 4755, Sue took that bill – her own bill!—and bottled it up in Committee to die.
And, in a sleight of hand worthy of the best stage magician, Republican Congressman Tourette introduced a different bill on the floor of the House, HR 5449, which, though on the same subject, provided for an extended period of negotiations, but did not contain the arbitration provision. That way, there was no risk of a real pro-labor bill coming upon the floor of the House.
And, to make matters worse, the substitute Tourette bill was introduced under a special House Rule that required a supermajority for it to pass. It failed, but because of the requirement that it needed a supermajority, it was possibly for lots of folks to vote for it, without any fear that it would actually pass.
And in this way, it was possible for lots of folks, like Sue Kelly, to claim to have been pro-labor, to claim to have supported HR 4755, which Sue let die, and even to claim to have supported the (weaker) substitute Tourette bill (which died). See? Labor gets screwed, and yet everybody can claim to be pro-labor, just by manipulating what actually comes out of committee and what actually comes to a vote and where.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Sue Kelly Flip-Flops on Labor Fairness - Part I
This time, she was for labor fairness….. until she was against it.
Sue is on the House Aviation Subcommittee, so it made some sense when she offered a bi-partisan bill intended to level the playing field in contract negotiations between the FAA and the air traffic controller’s union, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). Until, that is, her Republican puppet-masters told her to back off. At which point, she did a smart about-face, and issued a stony “no comment.” Here’s the story; and follow closely because there will be a quiz:
The FAA announced in April that that it had reached an impasse in contract negotiations with the NATCA. By law, the FAA and the air traffic controllers had until Monday, June 5 to work it out, at which time, the FAA could simply impose its terms on the union, a heck of a good reason not to negotiate realistically with the controllers.
Now the Air Traffic Controllers would have liked to be able to arbitrate. And HR4755, the bipartisan bill offered by Sue Kelly and Jerry Costello (D-Ill), would have provided for binding arbitration in this situation. The bill initially had enough co-sponsors (265) to have easily passed the House. So far so good, right?
Wrong. First, the bill had to get out of Committee. Sue’s Committee. And the Republican majority wouldn’t let the bill out of Committee, even though a majority of the House had already signed up to co-sponsor the bill.
But a bill can be forced out of committee by a discharge petition from a majority of the House members, so with a majority already backing the bill, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Again, wrong. Jerry Costello’s name was first on the discharge petition to bring this bill to the floor, but Sue’s wasn’t second. Or third. Or fourth. In fact it just was not there. Sue was being a good down-the-line Republican: she didn't even support the discharge petition for her own bill. But of course that won’t stop her from touting her sponsorship of this bill when she talks to unions in the 19th CD. Her bill was been replaced by another, much weaker Republican bill (HR 5449), which merely requires the renewal of contract discussions – no binding arbitration. And that failed to pass the House.
So here’s the quiz.
Question 1: Did Sue sponsor this bill and then abandon it because:
a) She cared deeply about the rights of the air traffic controllers, until it became politically inconvenient?
b) She just changed her mind?
c) She didn’t mean it in the first place?
d) She was just following orders?
e) She got her boss’s instructions confused?
f) She is a shameless opportunistic panderer, concerned only about political gain?
Question 2: This episode shows that Sue Kelly can be relied upon to exercise independent judgment whenever:
a) Her right-wing bosses let her.
b) She receives equal campaign contributions from all sides of an issue.
c) It doesn’t make any difference to the outcome.
Question 3: 19th Century political power Simon Cameron, briefly Lincoln’s Secretary of War and then ambassador to Russia, famously said: “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought.” Based on this definition, Sue Kelly’s equivocation on HR4755 tends to show that she is:
a) An honest politician?
b) A dishonest politician?
e) Ready for retirement.
The only answer that matters is yours, on November 7, 2006, when you decide whether the 19th Congressional District gets a real voice for change.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Why you shouldn't believe the Sue Kelly PR machine
You see, Sue Kelly has a history of voting against the best interests of senior citizens. In some instances her votes hurt our senior citizen community quite a bit. Examples of her contempt include voting for budget bills that cut Medicare funding and her support for the atrocious lobbyist written Medicare Part D legislation that have caused widespread consternation and financial difficulties for seniors. Kelly's voting record on senior citizen/retiree issues has been so bad that the Alliance for Retired Americans gave her a ZERO rating for 2005 and overall the ARA gives Kelly a lifetime score of only 8%. How could Kelly, who is a senior citizen herself, casue such harm to her fellow seniors?
Don't be fooled by the Kelly PR efforts to politicize such announcements. The question to Sue Kelly should be: how could you dare pretend to support seniors when you consistently vote against their best interests? Besides, if she was really that effective a legislator, she'd bring home a larger share of the $29 billion in pork barrel projects that were funded by Congress in 2005. Instead, we have an ineffective 'backbencher' as our Representative who has exhibited no leadership and gained very little influence in her six terms in the House of Representatives.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Sue to commuters: Drop dead!
Since Sue has rarely met a piece of pork -- and the corresponding photo-op that comes with it -- that she hasn't embraced, it's hard to believe that fiscal restraint prompted her to vote against the rail safety proposal. That leaves us with the only other alternative: her Republican bosses told Sue how to vote. After all, the measure failed by just seven votes even though 35 Republicans crossed party lines. So instead of sticking up for area commuters who live in her district, Sue essentially told us all to drop dead!
Friday, June 16, 2006
Sue is Mingling with the NRA
Sue Kelly is supporting - and being funded by (to the tune of $1000 per year) - an association which claims it is about preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes, but in fact lobbies against legislation intended to keep arms out of the hands of criminals, stating blandly “our Second Amendment shows profound respect for human freedom, worth, and self-destiny."
Sue Kelly is mingling and mixing at NRA fundraisers and it appears that she is helping to raise a lot of money for them.
Right now, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is very upset with Kofi Annan and the United Nations for holding a Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects” on June 26, 2006.
LaPierre seems to believe that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in defense of self, family, and country is somehow threatened by the goal to eliminate illegal trade in small arms.
The goal of the UN conference is “collecting and destroying illegal weapons, adopting and/or improving national legislations that would help criminalize the illicit trade in small arms, regulating the activities of brokers, setting strict import and export controls, taking action against violators of such laws, and better coordinating international efforts to that end.” Hard to argue that that is an undesirable goal - and few true hunters and gun enthusiasts would feel otherwise.
As soon as Sue sends us a “constituent” letter letting us know that she is four-square behind the UN’s goal to put a lid on illegal arms trade, we’ll be sure to let you know.
Disabled American Veterans also give a ZERO rating to Sue Kelly
The conservative Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has been doggedly working to cut funding for disabled veterans. This report by the D.A.V. clearly shows how the House leadership attacks programs for disabled vets. This is the same Republican House leadership that Sue Kelly supports and enables. The tax cuts for the very wealthy and huge giveaways to big business must be paid for somehow and Kelly and her fellow conservatives in Congress just pass the burden onto the shoulders of disabled veterans, the elderly, the middle class and everyone else who doesn't contribute big bucks and pull their strings.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Sue Kelly's all-expense paid travels
Kelly's special interest adventures included:
- An $8,855 trip to Quatar.
- A $1,638 retreat to a Scottsdale, AZ resort.
- A $1,355 trip to Chicago.
- Travel to Dallas and Philadelphia.
It's clear that the only reason these special interest groups are paying for these trips is to gain influence and it seems that the price of admission in order to gain access to Sue Kelly is providing her with an all expense paid travel itinerary. When you take the huge campaign contributions from big business and now the all expense paid travel provided by these special interest groups and combine that with her voting record, it's easy to see that Sue Kelly represents the pro-big business conservative Republican interests and not her constituents in New York's 19th Congressional District.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Can You Hear Me?
Case in point, her vote against the Markey Amendment to the telecom bill working its way through Congress - a vote against "net neutrality."
Net neutrality means the pipes that carry the Internet through the world and to your home are open and free to all users. Just like the roads, the sidewalks and the public telephone company, no large company can charge you any more or less for access. The big carriers and ISPs are fighting this tooth and nail because they want to extract every penny they can, not only from big players like Google and eBay but from small businesses who rely on the Web for marketing, sales and communication.
I guess you can all figure out who's side Sue is on. Not on the side of the small high-tech and consumer businesses growing up all over the Hudson Valley, creating jobs and opportunities. Not on the side of folks who use the Internet for everything from buying on eBay to sending pictures of the kids to Grandma and Grandpa through Flickr.
Sue, who tries to present herself as a moderate whenever she's in town, couldn't even muster the courage to vote with 11 members of her party who voted with the Democrats on this important issue.
If this bill works its through the Senate in its present form, and next year you can't access Google, Yahoo or Amazon, you'll have Sue to thank.
Sue Kelly, once more out of step with her constituents.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Sue Tackles Corruption
Not moved by the 60 GOP officials who are connected to ubber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the trips funded by Abramoff-related organizations, or even her own connections to disgraced former GOP House Leader Tom "The Bugman" DeLay, Sue has now (finally) found her excuse to do something (well, issue a press release.. but it's something) about the culture of corruption in Washington.
No one is defending Congressman William Jefferson. But isn't it a bit odd that it took a member of the Democratic Party taking a bribe to get Sue to notice something is amiss?
Its wrong to shield members of Congress from thorough investigations when they are valid, Kelly said. Members of Congress must follow the laws when they are making the laws, or they should be held accountable.We agree. Which is why we'll once again call on Sue Kelly to return the dirty money she accepted from Tom Delay.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
More bad poll news for Sue Kelly & the GOP
From the article:
New York State voters today give President George W. Bush his lowest approval in any Quinnipiac University poll of any state or nationwide, 22 - 75 percent. The only lower approval rating for an elected official in 14 years of surveys is 19 - 75 percent for New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli on October 7, 2002. This was one week after Torricelli withdrew from the race for reelection in the wake of an ethics scandal.
While New Yorkers are obviously fed up with the President, it's important to remember that the conservative Republican members of Congress like Sue Kelly enable the Bush administration to do such a horrible job.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Sue Kelly receives a grade of ZERO on seniors/retiree issues
If Kelly had been representing her constituents rather than pushing the conservative Bush/GOP big business agenda, perhaps she'd receive a higher score. The next time she's in the district holding one of her "look how wonderful I am" seminars for seniors, ask her why her voting record on retiree issues is so atrocious. Your actions speak louder than your words Rep. Kelly.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Americans have low opinion of Sue Kelly's GOP
- Only 49% of Republicans approve of the Republican led Congress' performance.
- Pres. Bush's approval rating is now 33%, a new low in the WaPo-ABC polls.
- In the past month Bush's disapproval rating among Republicans has doubled.
- Almost 70% of independents are not happy with Bush's job performance.
- Almost two thirds of Americans believe the Iraq war has not been worth it.
The survey also listed 10 issues and the polling showed that on all 10 issues, Americans favored the Democratic Party to handle those issues over the Republican Party. In 9 of the 10 issues the Democrat's had a double digit advantage.
Sue Kelly has been a lackey for the Bush Administration and the Hastert/Delay (I know he just resigned) House of Representatives for too long, therefore, these dismal poll numbers reflect directly on her. This poll shows that Americans are onto Kelly and the many others like her who fail to represent the overwhelming majority of her constituents. It's time the 19th Congressional District elects new leadership in Congress and puts Kelly on the unemployment rolls.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Recipe for pro-Big Business legislation
- One industry (in this case Banking/Financial Services) eager to further increase already huge profits.
- Hundreds of pro-big business GOP congresspeople like Sue Kelly. (The more the better.)
- Many heeping wheelbarrels full of corporate and special interest PAC campaign contributions. In the case of Sue Kelly, over $530,000 from 2003 to the present.
Combine all ingredients into one big feeding trough. Stir vigorously until the industry, GOP politicians and cash are all mixed into one big indistinguishable mess. Voila, you now have bankruptcy "reform." Do not heat or cook, just vote yes and serve it to the people raw because conservatives like Sue Kelly do not serve them and are of no concern to her. When the middle class is pushed one step closer to extinction, select another industry and mix up another batch.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Students/Parents: are you prepared for July 1?
Our college graduates are now leaving school with enormous debt and it's only going to get worse. However, there is something you can do to at least ease the pain just a bit. Parents and students have until June 30th to consolidate loans and lock in lower rates. On July 1st, the higher rates take effect and let's just hope the dreams of many students don't die on that day.
Every time Sue Kelly and the GOP vote to give unnecessary tax cuts to the very wealthy, it's the middle class that pays for it. It's something to think about the next time Kelly comes to your community and professes to be a moderate who fights for her constituents. Her actions speak louder than words and those actions make it clear that she represents the very wealthy and big business at the expense of the middle class. If you see Kelly, be sure to ask her why the middle class must pay the price of her tax cuts for the wealthy and handouts to big business.
Words, not actions, from Sue
Nice try Sue. Meetings don't protect us one bit. We need a represtentative who believes in action, not empty words and press releases.