Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

>Terri Sewell having an impact

January 20, 2011

>It feels good to live in a congressional district where the representative actually cares about the people she (or he) represents.

Terri Sewell is the only member of the Alabama delegation that did not succumb to the lies and pressures from the big insurance companies and their money when they cast their vote on the Health Care Repeal Act.

Her statement:

“The Affordable Health Care Act is a first step towards strengthening our health care system and is already helping to save the lives of many in my district.”

President Obama said yesterday,

“I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can’t go backward. Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap or drop their coverage when they need it the most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs.”

Republicans are more interested in those big checks they get from the insurance companies.

And only about 1 in 4 Americans want to repeal the law.

If the law were repealed, 16,600 young adults in Alabama would no longer be able to stay on their parents health insurance plans through age 26.

Republicans don’t care about the health or feeling of security that Americans have when they are able to be insured.

Also yesterday we learned that Sewell was elected President of the Democratic Freshmen Class of the 112th Congress.

In addition to serving as President of the Democratic Freshman Class, Rep. Sewell was selected to serve as a Senior Whip by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). This position provides Rep. Sewell a strong platform from which to advocate for constituents in the 7th District and families all across the state of Alabama.

She was also selected to to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Science and Technology. Those would be my favorite committees.

The House Committee on Agriculture creates farm policy and drafts legislation to protect the interests of rural America. The committee’s jurisdiction includes rural development, agricultural colleges, farming, nutrition, renewable energy, conservation, bioterrorism, forestry and many others.

The House Committee on Science and Technology is responsible for overseeing research and development programs at many different federal agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and many others.

Here is what she said about her agriculture appointment.

“I will promote innovative legislation that will strengthen our small businesses, our land grant institutions, support both urban and rural economic development and work to improve the nutritional challenges facing our children, seniors and families. This committee assignment will help to ensure that America remains a dominant exporter of agricultural goods, which will create and protect good-paying, cutting-edge jobs in the district and across the country.”

Here is what she said about her science appointment.

“As a member of this committee, I have the ability to promote legislation that will improve economic development in the 7th Congressional District and throughout the State of Alabama. This includes introducing legislation in emerging scientific industries, encouraging the creation of public-private partnerships and investing in education and workforce development. Scientific advancement is one of the keys to U.S. competitiveness in a global marketplace, and this committee assignment will produce innovative opportunities for the advancement of science, technology and education as we move in to the future.”

I anticipate Terri being one of the most influential members of congress, and being a big help to the people of the 7th Congressional district.

>The effects of Health Care repeal

January 6, 2011

>While the House of Representatives is enacting a third grade type reading of the Constitution others in Washington are working, in particular, those in the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO has offered a preliminary estimate of the costs of enacting H. R. 2, the Health Care Repeal Act. The CBO says they will give a more detailed analysis later, but due to the short time period allowed for discussion of this bill (forget openness and transparency and allowing discussion and all that) they went ahead and released this.

Here are key points from the CBO letter, sent to Speaker Boehner, and others, including Nancy Pelosi and Jeff Sessions.

Read the letter here.

The repeal of Health Care would increase the federal deficit by $145 billion. Remember, Health Care reform is expected to reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. Republicans want to add to the deficit.
Some money would actually be saved by repealing Health Care. For example, $39 billion would be saved by taking money from ongoing programs to benefit Native Americans (sorry, even though you were here first, Republicans don’t care about you) and $34 billion would be saved by taking money from federally funded Health Care Centers (sorry minorities, we know these centers mainly serve you, but Republicans don’t care for you either).

Under the repeal of Health Care, 32 million non-elderly people would lose their insurance, leaving a total of 54 million without insurance. 83 percent of legal Americans would have insurance after the repeal. If Health Care is not repealed, 94 percent will be insured.

Keep reading that Constitution. But remember, there are 32 million people right now wondering if you are going to take away their insurance. And there are 310,591,294 (current U. S. population – may be different at the link since population is changing) people wondering if you are going to increase their share of the federal deficit.

>Lame ducks

December 16, 2010

>I usually don’t write the title to my post before I know what I’m going to say, so this could go anywhere.

I mean, I could write a post about the Oregon football team, and from there pile accolades on Auburn and Cam Newton and Nick Fairley and Gene Chizik.

No one expected Auburn to be in the position they are in today; a number one ranking in the BCS and a confirmed date to play for the national championship in January.

But we watched them win their first game against Arkansas State, and felt good. Then we watched them win their second game, an SEC game against Mississippi State, and felt good. Against Clemson, we felt some good fortune was being bestowed on the team, with an overtime win. Against South Carolina, (the first time), we knew there was some magic. And so on.

My point is, our confidence in our team developed over a period of several weeks, until we had no doubt we could win our final regular season game against Alabama, and follow that with a huge win over South Carolina in the SEC championship game.

Now we face the Ducks. But these are not lame ducks, they are fast paced offense, high flying, high scoring ducks. Auburn is favored by 3 points.

So if I am to write about lame ducks, I guess it will be the ones in Washington.

And because Democrat senators, led by majority leader Harry Reid, want to pass several important pieces of legislation before this congress adjourns, they may have to limp right up until Christmas Eve.

Oh horrors, Republicans scream. “Disrespecting” of one of the “holiest holidays” said Republican minority whip Jon Kyl and “sacrilegious” said Republican Senator Jim DeMint.

But our troops can fight for us on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and our loved ones (or ourselves) can work on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day (nurses, doctors, police, firefighters, convenience store attendants and others).

Harry Reid does not take such insults sitting down.

I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Senator Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means. . . . Some of my Republican colleagues have the nerve to whine about having to stay and actually do the work that the American people pay us to do. We make large salaries . . . we could work as most Americans do during the holidays. . . . It’s offensive to me and millions of working Americans across this country for any Senator to suggest that working through the Christmas holidays is somehow sacrilegious or disrespectful.

And remember, it’s because of the Republicans’ purposeful slowdown of the legislative process that these bills have not been passed already.

And because of the Republicans, the American people have not developed a confidence that the lame duck session will pass meaningful legislation. Every day is a surprise.

But look. We’ve given the Republicans every thing they asked for in the Tax bill, (which was not a compromise by any stretch of the imagination). If we don’t at least get the arms control treaty passed, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed, and get the DREAM act passed, Democrats, and most Americans, will be hugely disappointed.

So come on Harry, get moving. Give us something to celebrate this Christmas. Even if we have to wait until Christmas Eve. The rest of America is working. We see nothing wrong with you all continuing your work as well.

>Quiz time

August 8, 2010

>Well here’s a talking points buster from today’s Parade magazine, which comes in our Sunday paper.

There is a quiz regarding government spending, you can take it here.

But here are the highlights.

1. Whose administration oversaw the biggest decrease in defense spending?

Three Republicans and Jimmy Carter are the choices. The truth? Eisenhower, Nixon and the first Bush reduced defense spending more than any of the Dems from 1952 to 2008.

Democrats are not weak on defense.

3. The national debt grew fastest when: Dems controlled both houses? GOP controlled both houses? Control of Congress was mixed? Answer: National Debt as a % of GDP decreased when either party controlled congress and increased when Congress was split.

So we need to maintain Democratic control of both houses to control the debt.

6. This was a question about gross domestic product (GDP) and how today’s GDP compares to 1950’s GDP. Half? Same? 3X? 10X? Answer: We produced three times as much stuff per person in the US in 2008 as we did in 1950.

So all the jobs are not overseas, it seems.

Those are just a few of the questions and answers and you may be surprised at the others as well.

Now, lets go eat some Dreamland ribs.

Here’s Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song, Dreamland:

>A virtual tea bag

July 26, 2010

>I get a little p-o’ed when I receive a tea bag via email. A virtual tea bag.

That is how I refer to the forwarded emails full of lies and propaganda. But usually I use them as a teaching tool and I correct the lies and misinformation and send a response to the person who forwarded it to me, along with every email address in the chain.

So today I sent an email to 90 people who had received an email about congress voting them selves a pay raise and Social Security recipients being denied a cost of living increase and medicare recipients having a premium increase. At the end the email urged the reader to replace all 100 House members and up to a third of Senators.

Here is my response:

Recently I received an email from a friend that urged readers to paste a
reminder on the refrigerator about our congress and what they have done.
Let me respond to each point in the email.

But first a reminder. There is a commandment, number 9 I believe, that says “you shall not bear false witness to your neighbor.” On the Internet, we are all
neighbors, and composing the email that I received and sending it out, or even
forwarding it, is bearing false witness. I urge each of you to do some
research before forwarding emails that you receive.

Here are the facts surrounding each point in the email.

1. U..S. House & Senate have voted themselves $4,700 and $5,300 raises. LIE!
This is a 100% lie, made up, assuming you are talking about the current congress. In May 2010 President Obama signed into law a bill passed by both the house and senate that lawmakers passed to opt out of the automatic cost of living increases that they would have gotten. This is the second year in a row that this congress has passed such a bill.

Source: thehill.com

2.They voted to NOT give you a S.S. Cost of living raise in 2010 and
2011.

By law, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits increase automatically each year if there is an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), from the third quarter of the last year to the corresponding period of the current year. This year there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009.

Thus, by law, no Social Security Cost of Living increase was implemented, and there never is if there is no increase in the CPI.

Source: Social Security Administration


3. Your Medicare premiums will go up $285.60 for the 2-years.

Most Medicare beneficiaries will not see a Part B monthly premium increase as a
result of a “hold harmless” provision in the current law. This allows for
73 percent of beneficiaries to be protected from an increase raising the 2010
Part B monthly premiums from $96.40 to $110.50. The Administration
continues to urge Congressional action that would protect all beneficiaries from
higher Part B premiums and eliminate the inequity of a high premium for the
remaining 27 percent of beneficiaries.

Source: Medicare.org

Items 4 – 7 were just repeats of the first three lies, written in a different
way.

8. Will they have your cost of drugs – doctor fees – local taxes – food, etc., decrease?

This is just a broad condemnation of the congress based on nothing. But, “will they have your cost of drugs decrease? Yes. The Health Care Reform bill is closing the “doughnut hole” that affected many seniors. Many of you have already received a $250 check to help cover the difference until the policy change catches
up.

? Why should they care about you?
? You never did anything about it in the past.
? You obviously are too stupid or don’t care.
? Do you really think that Nancy, Harry, Chris, Charlie, Barney et al care about you?

Ok, you just called the reader of your email “stupid.” But congress does care. They cared about the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people with pre-existing conditions that could not get insurance. Now…already…children cannot be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Adults will be added in a couple of years.

They cared about young adults that could not afford insurance and who could not
remain on their parents policies. Now they can, until age 26. They cared about people who were being dropped from their insurance coverage after being diagnosed with breast cancer or other serious diseases.
Beginning September 23, that practice will be illegal.

They cared about people who have catastrophic diseases and would reach a lifetime cap on insurance coverage. Beginning September 23, that practice will be
illegal.

You can read about all of the provisions of Health care Reform that are going into effect this year – Bessemer Opinions – Health Care Reform Provisions

I don’t mind when people debate policies and base their arguments on the
facts. I do mind when people base their arguments on lies.

>Terri Sewell in 6 minutes

March 11, 2010

>The Birmingham Downtown Democrats met on Friday and at their luncheon all of the candidates for the 7th Congressional district spoke.

Here is Terri Sewell‘s six minute presentation. Thanks, Mooncat.

“I will go to Congress and make sure that health care gets passed. A comprehensive health care legislation that includes a public option. It’s critically important for all of this district. And do know that I will fight for that.”

Now we know that one congressperson cannot “make sure” that any legislation gets passed (although we do know that one congressman can make sure it doesn’t get passed). And hopefully health care legislation will be in place long before she gets there. But what is important, and impressive, is the passion and commitment that she brings.

Terri understands that employment is the main issue in the district and that education is the key to economic development. Listen to what she says.

“Education I believe is the best economic plan ever devised – a good education.”

“I have been working … as a finance attorney working on behalf of local authorities and helping local governments attract industries. Putting together public and private partnerships that actually attract industries which create jobs.”

One of the reasons I am so interested in Terri’s campaign is because I firmly believe that it’s time we sent a woman to Washington. Terri would not only represent the people of the 7th Congressional District, she would represent all of the women of Alabama.

There are other women, good women, in this race, but Terri has received the support and endorsement of an Alabama hero, Lilly Ledbetter.

“There are a lot of choices in the 7th district race, but Terri Sewell stands above the rest. Terri will work with President Obama to promote and pass bills to help working people, create new jobs, pass health care reform and level the playing field for women and minorities in Alabama,” said Ledbetter.

She has also received the endorsements from several advocacy groups for women, among them Emily’s List, the Women’s Campaign Forum, and the National Organization of Women PAC.

If you don’t know Terri, you need to know that she was featured on NBC’s Today Show as one of the “Top Collegian Women” and was chosen as one of the “Top Ten College Women in America ,” by Glamour Magazine.

If we bring Terri to Bessemer would you come to meet her and hear her? We’re working on it.

>Uugghh. Congress. Cows.

September 30, 2008

>The economic crisis reminds me of Foot and Mouth Disease. No, I am not talking about Nancy Pelosi sticking her foot in her mouth, or John McCain sticking both of his feet and Sarah Palin’s in his mouth (that refers to him not allowing her to speak when he was explaining her answer to a voter’s question regarding Pakistan in a Pizza parlor the other day. I mean, muzzling the VP candidate is one thing, but muzzling her when she is sitting there beside you is sort of weird).

No, I am talking about the similarities of the fiscal crisis in America and the Foot and Mouth outbreak in England in 2001. If dollars were cows, well, congress just burned over a trillion dollars similar to the 10 million cattle and sheep that were killed because of the disease. In both cases, there is a big stink.

No one wanted to slaughter 10 million cattle and sheep in 2001 but it was necessary to save the rest of the livestock, keep the disease from spreading beyond the area it was contained in and to save the industry.

So public health officials and veterinarians made the decision to do what was necessary, even though people were screaming about it and protesting and all.

That is a picture of the FMD virus coating protein.

Likewise, no one wants to spend (or borrow, really, since it will probably be returned…with profit) 700 billion dollars to save the financial sector, but to keep the economic meltdown from spreading beyond the area it is contained in and to save the industry it will be necessary.

Ten million dead animals stink, no matter how you dispose of them, and a drop of 777 points in the Dow Jones stinks too. The public health officials dealt with the stink by wearing masks and such. All congress has to do is hold their nose and cast a vote. In some cases, a legislator does not have the luxury of waiting for a “perfect” bill to vote on. Sometimes you have to vote, and fix it later.

Let’s hope the “bench warming” Republicans (as they were referred to this morning) can quit pouting and vote to help the country next time. I say this, because majority whip James Clyburn said this morning that Republican leadership had said they could deliver 100 votes out of the 110 originally agreed upon. Twenty minutes before the vote he saw Roy Blunt, the minority whip and asked him how it stood. Blunt said they didn’t have a hundred, but could deliver 75 or 80. That would have been enough to pass the bill, and Clyburn told Blunt that would do because he had a cushion. They delivered 65 votes, and they blame Pelosi. I agree with Barney Frank, who said that changing you vote because of a speech is putting their hurt feelings above what is best for the country.

Come on children, play nice.

>Western Tribune Column August 6 2008

August 6, 2008

>Here is my column from the Western Tribune today. Be sure to read further and check out Paris Hilton’s response to John McCain, and more.

A small collective sigh of relief was heard last week as Congress adjourned for their summer recess. They did not succumb to the fallacy that reversing the offshore drilling ban would help our energy crisis. Congress has approval ratings in the low teens or single digits, and conventional wisdom (CW) and the media tells us that this is because they are not addressing the energy problem.

CW and the media are often wrong in their assumptions and if one just looks back to the 2006 election it is obvious why Congress is ranked so low.

The number one issue at that time was the unjust war in Iraq and democrats across the nation ran on the premise they would end the war. Here we are almost two years later and the war rages on.

Congress, time and time again, has backed down and kissed George W. Bush’s…uh, boots by continuing to fund the war. This alone is reason enough to disapprove of congress.

“But the surge is working,” one might say, under the mistaken belief that reduced American troop deaths is a measure of success. Certainly, fewer deaths are a good thing, but success was to be measured by Iraq’s willingness to govern itself effectively and provide security for its people. The surge was to provide security while the Iraqi government steadied itself, overcame divisions and prepared to take the reins.

While the pro-war crowd was praising John McCain for his flip flop on the war, the U. S. Government Accounting Office released a report in June of this year after an analysis of the progress in Iraq compared to the goals laid out by the Bush White House in 2007.

If the public (and the media) had actually read the report there would be no debate, as it points out several areas where the surge has not produced the desired effect.

Examples? Only nine of eighteen provinces in Iraq are controlled by the Iraqi government (the goal was for all eighteen to be controlled by the end of 2007).

Another? Iraqi forces were to be able to act independently by the end of 2007, but the GAO found that less than 10 percent of the Iraqi army battalions are rated at the highest readiness level and still must be backed up by the U. S.

If space allowed I could share several other failures pointed out in the GAO report. But you can read the report. And I am sure you will come to the same conclusion: that we have no business in Iraq.