Saturday, July 22, 2006
Coming Soon to a Milk Carton in your fridge
The middle-class is disappearing. Overwhelmed by the skyrocketing cost of living, more and more American families are struggling to keep up and many are falling by the wayside. Health care, housing, gasoline, heating oil, interest rates, groceries and other essential items just keep getting more expensive. Income for all, except big business and the very wealthy, just can't keep up with the rising expenses. The evidence of Sue Kelly's complete disregard for middle-class America is overwhelming and well documented in this blog and is further proven in a report card just issued by the Drum Major Institute.
DMI tallied key votes on issues that directly affect the middle class and I'm sure that those familiar with Sue Kelly wouldn't be surprised to hear her report card grade. 13%. Wow. If you ever scored 13% on anything - be it a social studies exam, work evaluation or anything else - would you expect to be rewarded? Well based on her voting record on issues such as bankruptcy, tort reform, estate tax, medicare, student loans, free trade agreements and energy policy, Sue Kelly failed miserably yet expects to be rewarded with re-election.
What do you think? Should Sue Kelly be rewarded for failing the middle class while serving the interests of big business and the wealthy? You'll have your chance to answer these questions come November 7th.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Something to crow about?
Are national Republicans really that worried about Kelly losing that they're already making calls for her? And how does that square with Kelly spokesman Kevin Callahan's repeated comments that the Congresswoman doesn't plan to start focusing on the race until the fall? That must be why Sue was the star of yet another Republican fundraiser on Wednesday night with the catchy name "Retaining our Majority IV". (We missed the invites to ROMPs 1, 2 and 3 now that Sue no longer lists her fundraising events on the NRCC website).
Why not give the fine folks at the NRC a call (202.863.8500) and tell them just how wrong they are on this issue? And while you're at it, tell them that Sue's own lackeys ought to be able to do their own dirty work!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Sue Kelly Desires a Second Class of Citizens
We celebrated Independence Day a couple of weeks ago. It was a holiday created to honor the courage of those who signed the Declaration of Independence and led the American rebellion against tyrannical rule. Republican hucksters like Sue Kelly like to wrap themselves in the American flag and label themselves as patriots. Deriding those who disagree with their rhetoric as traitors, these disengenuous Republicans love to talk about how others in the world "hate us for our freedoms." Well, Sue Kelly and those of her ilk have no clue what freedom really means. Their idea of freedom is to force Americans to abide by their conservative Republican ideals of morality. For Kelly, and those like her, allow me to refer them to an historic document that was written and signed 230 years ago.
Do we remember this sentence from the Declaration of Independence? Sue Kelly doesn't.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Sue Kelly Doesn't Care About Our Children
What merit could Sue Kelly possibly see in permitting gambling by children?
Conyers' motion, which failed by a 167-243 vote essentially along party lines, would have required a “secure and effective customer identity verification system to assure compliance with applicable age and residence requirements.” Rep. Conyers said in support of his motion - "It makes sure that underage kids cannot gamble on the Internet, whether it is connection to interstate or intrastate betting...[T]o me, protecting children from being taken advantage of on the Internet is one of the most important things we can do as Members of the Congress."
You may recall from our recentpostthat Sue Kelly voted to remove the requirement that all handguns be equipped with safety trigger locks. Now she continues her theme of "Let Every Child be Left Unprotected" (is this going to be one of her campaign slogans?) by voting against the Conyers proposal.
Is Sue Kelly dangerous to families?
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Indeed, a quick look at the second quarter numbers shows that Kelly is increasingly relying on big money PACs to fund her campaign. In the latest quarter, Kelly raised nearly $400,000. What's surprising is that nearly $250,000 of it (about 63%) is from PACs. This is up from the 54% that PAC donations previously represented. With very few exceptions, these PACs aren't located here in the 19th, which begs the question: exactly what do these PACs expect from Kelly in return?
Moving on to the indivdual donations, a quick skim shows that only around half of her individual contributions came from people who live in the district. Not that there's anything wrong with collecting money from people who live outside the district. But between the PACs and the people who don't live in the district, you have to wonder exactly who Sue is working for.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
What a Difference A Week Makes...
Said Sue: "Many in Congress who should have been briefed by this administration were not. What else is it that we don't know?". What indeed! As Rep. Barney Frank pointed out neither he nor Sue would have been briefed about this program at all if the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times hadn't been preparing stories on it.
Of course, the hearing on Tuesday was particularly surprising given that only a week earlier, Sue voted to condemn media leaks of what Republican leaders said was classified information -- the very same information Sue appeared to be upset over not knowing about on Tuesday. The pre-vote debate gave Republican hacks a chance to appeal to their conservative base by chastising the New York Times.
What changed from one week to the next? Perhaps Sue got a poll that showed that bashing the New York Times in its own backyard may play well in rural Alabama or other Conservative strongholds, but not in NY-19. How else to explain the sudden about-face?
So, she shuffles a few papers on national TV and makes it look like she's challenging the Bush administration. That might make great theater, but we're betting that people in the district see Sue for the hardcore conservative lackey that she really is.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Voting with the radical fringe...
So what was Sue's big idea? Requiring passports to enter the U.S. from Canada. Never mind that Canada is a top tourist destination for many Americans and that while statistics vary on exactly how many Americans currently have passports (the low is 5%; the high is around 30%), it's pretty clear that requiring someone to spend nearly $100 just to see Niagara Falls (after all, the better view is in Canada), is a pretty stupid idea. So stupid that even a pit bull didn't fall for it!
Friday, July 07, 2006
Sue Kelly Stiffs Small Business
Sue voted against this legislation! Sue Kelly voted to continue the burden of additional up front fees – ranging from $1500 to $50,000 - on Small Business Administration loans. Thank goodness the votes of Democrats, augmented by 17 of Sue’s fellow Republicans, foiled the attempt by Sue and her Republican Leadership to prevent passage of this legislation.
So, over Sue’s objections, the House approved an amendment (214 to 207) to an appropriations bill, HR 5672, vote #327, that lowers the cost of the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program, by restoring $40 million to the program that had been cut by the Bush Administration. The Bush administration eliminated funding for the program two years ago, forcing small businesses to shoulder the cost of the loan program. As a result, entrepreneurs have had to pay additional upfront fees just to use the program – greatly restricting access to capital that small businesses need to remain the main job creators in the nation.
If you are a small business person, wouldn’t you want your member of Congress to help you get access to the capital you need to build your business?
Well, if that’s what you need, Sue Kelly is not your friend. And we think she knows that – maybe that’s why this vote wasn’t announced in one of her almost daily press releases!
Given Sue's political philosophy, it isn't any surprise that The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy found only 17% of Sue's votes favored the middle class.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Sue's run for the border!
While we didn't know that Sue was such a big fan of Tex-Mex cuisine, we do know that she rarely misses a photo-op that makes her look like she's actually doing something other than taking checks from lobbyists. Which is why we should expect to see pictures of Sue looking tough and donning night-vision goggles, no less -- memories of Michael Dukakis in a tank come to mind -- as she travels to Texas and goes out on a border patrol with two other Congressional show-and-tellers, according to this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
As the Post-Dispatch delicately noted, the two-day "fact-finding" trip, which needless to say, we're all footing the bill for, is really just grandstanding and is unlikely to contribute anything substantive to the contentious immigration debate. But since when has that ever stopped Sue?
Monday, July 03, 2006
Sue Kelly Opposes Gun Safety
The subject of guns and gun control is always good for creating controversy. However, reasonable folks will agree that gun safety is important and should be a high priority. Well, based on her vote last week, it looks like Sue Kelly is coming down on the side of the UNreasonable.
There was a vote last week in Congress on an amendment to overturn a previously passed legislation that requires safety trigger locks on all handguns sold in America. Thanks in part to Sue, the amendment passed. This ridiculous proposal was introduced by Republican Representative Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado. Her reasoning for overturning the existing gun safety law is below:
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave a Colorado Republican, argued that the added cost of the trigger locks is passed on to gun owners and that they "do not stop accidental shootings."
Now let me take apart the sheer stupidity of Rep. Musgrave's reasoning. First, a trigger lock costs anywhere between five and ten dollars. I found this trigger lock on sale for $4.95. Considering that handguns generally cost at least a few hundred dollars, a five dollar trigger lock is a miniscule expense, especially considering the fact that it prevents children from discharging the weapon should the owner carelessly leave it laying around the home. Second, trigger safety locks DO prevent accidental shootings. That is what they are made for. They prevent anyone without a key for the lock, CHILDREN especially, from finding the gun, showing it to their friends and accidentally shooting someone. Does this make sense Rep. Musgrave?
So, why would Sue Kelly vote for this insane legislation? (Hint: follow the money) Well, anyone with internet access can easily find the reason by doing just a little searching. However, I saved you the time and did the legwork myself. The National Rifle Association is always a big behind the scenes player when it comes to this type of legislation. Now looking at campaign contributions made to Kelly, we can find that the NRA contributed $2,000 to Kelly in just this election cycle and over the past five election cycles kicked in over $17,000 to Sue's campaign coffers. So again, why would Sue vote for this insane legislation? I'd suggest that the answer has to do with money and lots of it. Namely, over $17,000 in campaign contributions. Sell-Out Sue strikes again.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
When we got back home and spent a few minutes on Google, we realized that Case, a Democrat who represents Hawaii's second district, has a pretty aggressive schedule for these meetings. Which made us wonder -- yet again -- why it's next to impossible for ordinary people to get in contact with Sue Kelly. Do we really need to fork over a big fat check or swear undying loyalty to the Republican party to get some love from Sue? Why can't she hold Talk Story meetings -- or whatever other name she wants to use -- across the 19th district? Why doesn't she provide constituents with a direct email address like Ed Case does? After all, according to this site, she has a "government-issued BlackBerry", which needless to say, we're all footing the bill for.
We're betting that Case is far from the only one doing this sort of thing. So if you happen to find other examples, please post them in the comments section, particularly if they involve New York Reps. After all, don't the people in New York's 19th deserve the same opportunity to talk to their elected officials as the people in Hawaii have?
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.