Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Mikey's "TRAIN In Vain" And Other Follies, Part 3

(Part One including the setup is here, and Part Two is here...this may be the last regular post before the hiatus, or at best the next-to-last one.)

So, how about if we move on with Mikey’s mailer from last month…

Serving Our Veterans

HR 2433, Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act of 2011
HR 1392, Introduced the Fairness to Veterans Act of 2011
HR 178, Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act
HR 333, Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act
HR 2534, Ensuring America’s Promises Act of 2011
HR 2349, Veterans Benefits Training Improvement Act of 2011
HR 2074, Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention and Health Care Enhancement Act
I couldn’t find anything controversial about these bills, though, in the matter of our veterans, I would ask once more why Mikey voted against both a combat pay raise and a bill guaranteeing pay to our military in the event of a government shut down, noted here.

Also, though Mikey’s support of the above-noted bills appears to be commendable, it would be nice if he would sign on as a co-sponsor to this also.

The next section of Mikey’s mailer has to do with his efforts to try and repeal health care reform, which, by itself, automatically disqualifies him from serving in Congress as far as I’m concerned.

Protecting The Environment

HR 1964, Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2011
Opposed HR 2018, Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act
I can’t find anything wrong with HR 1964 (Local Repug Jim Gerlach is a co-sponsor with Dem Mike Thompson of California, as noted here). And as noted here, Mikey was wise to oppose HR 2018, which basically is a gift to polluters and guts the Clean Water Act.

Fitzpatrick also voted to ensure that new drilling environmental safety studies are conducted and updated regulations are put in place to protect the Gulf of Mexico (Amendments to HR 1 and HR 2354). That’s nice, but it’s a shame that Mikey didn’t bother to point out that he voted to continue taxpayer subsidies for big oil here. Also, as noted here from last May, Mikey blamed Obama for the rise in oil prices, even though energy experts say such a claim is not credible, partly because oil production increased under Obama, as noted here.

Government Reform

Fitzpatrick co-sponsored Repug U.S. House Rep Mike Coffman’s HR 2913 bill (here), which terminated a member of Congress’s ability to pay into a defined benefit pension plan. That’s a good step, although, as noted here, members of Congress currently pay about 1.3 percent of their salaries into their retirement, described as “puny” by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe (and I agree with that characterization).

Of course (again, noted by Jacoby), if Congress wanted to get serious about their compensation, they could have acted on the bill by former Dem Rep Gabrielle Giffords to flat-out cut congressional salaries by 5 percent. Their response?

Cue the sound of crickets…

Also, HR 187 from Joe “You Lie” Wilson eliminates automatic pay raises, but of course it doesn’t touch COLAs (which, as we know, many of us in that glorious private sector upon which the Repugs heap so much praise aren’t able to receive).

Maximizing Domestic Energy Production

HR 1230, Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
HR 1229, Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
HR 1231, Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act
HR 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
HR 1938, the North American-Made Energy Security Act
HR 3410, the Energy Security and Transportation Jobs Act
(Now we’re going to get back to what the Repugs do best. And I don’t mean that in a good way.)

As noted here in response to HR 1230…
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) opposed the bill: “One year ago today, we were 2 weeks into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We were 2 weeks into what would ultimately become the worst environmental disaster in our Nation's history, with more than 4 million barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf. And since that disaster, we have learned many things about the safety of offshore drilling….We learned that the oil companies had neither the resources nor the ability to stop a deepwater blowout. BP spill response included an attempt to shoot golf balls and bits of rubber into the well. When we were told that the industry was relying on the most sophisticated technologies, we assumed that they meant technologies developed by MIT and not the PGA….And yet here we are debating legislation that would do nothing to improve the safety of offshore drilling and could actually make drilling less safe. The legislation before us represents a return to the pre-spill mentality of speed over safety.”

Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) also opposed the bill: “I rise in strong opposition to this oil spill amnesia bill that threatens our coastal communities….The bill sidesteps safety and environmental reviews, acting as if the Nation's worst oil spill in history never happened. And, it pushes a failed energy plan that pours billions of dollars into already overstuffed oil industry coffers. The only thing it adds up to… is a false promise. The truth is the Republican majority is hoping to delude the public into believing that this rush to new offshore drilling will provide a quick fix to high gas prices, but the harsh reality is this: The U.S. is never going to have control over world oil supplies or gas prices through drilling. We simply don't have the oil reserves, no matter how much we drill. What we do have is the ability to control prices by lowering our consumption, and that's just what we're starting to do.”
And as noted here in response to HR 1229, this is still more overreach by this Congress, trying to tell an executive-branch agency what to do, in this case telling the EPA to review 40 drilling permit applications within 60 days (and what exactly does this have to do with job creation again – I probably could have said more about this last May, but didn’t…my bad).

Continuing, this tells us the following about 1231…
This drill-only bill mandates the most sweeping expansion of offshore drilling in our nation’s history – making broad swaths of the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts open for leasing automatically.
And by the way, as noted here, the BP spill victims (remember them?) continue to suffer (and as noted here, Mikey voted against a Democratic motion to H.R. 1231 to prohibit energy companies from selling abroad the outer continental shelf oil and natural gas they extract under federal leases).

So what of HR 2021? Well, Henry Waxman, ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, tells us the following (here)…
“The legislation is not about creating jobs. It is not about lowering gasoline prices. It is a giveaway to the oil industry that will increase pollution along our coasts….There are many flaws in the legislation. It allows huge increases in air pollution from oil and gas drilling activities by moving the point of measurement from the drill ship to the shore….The legislation eliminates the Environmental Appeals Board from the permitting process, even though it is a cheaper, faster, and more expert substitute for judicial review. And it requires all challenges to air permits to be raised before the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., thousands of miles away from the affected communities. Claims that this legislation will reduce gas prices or the budget deficit are nonsense. They have no substantiation. There are sensible improvements we could make, but we aren't making them. Instead, this bill waives environmental requirements and short-circuits permitting reviews at the expense of public health.”
Further, this is a response to HR 1938, which is basically an attempt to rush through a decision on the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline before an environmental review has been completed.

Oh, and about the supposed job creation associated with this project, I give you the following once more…

Finally, as noted here by Dem U.S. House Rep Ed Markey of MA once more on HR 3410, “(the bill) contains a dangerous provision to share offshore drilling revenues with coastal states, which has the potential to actually increase the deficit over the long term.”

There’s some other ripe stuff in Mikey’s mailer from last month that I probably won’t be able to get to, though I will note his support of HR 140, which would end birthright citizenship in this country (and as noted here, this would involve repealing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution; in addition to the fact that the amendment has pretty much been enshrined in settled law by now, trying to repeal it is really stupid public policy).

I think that the three posts related to our congressman’s 2011 report card, or whatever, provides ample reason to support the Democratic alternative in this fall’s election, who happens to be Kathy Boockvar – to help her out, click here.

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