Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Stuff

(I also posted here.)

Good luck to you two crazy kids – hope she got her “happy ending” (hey now!)…

...and now, time for the penultimate post on the congressional countdown…
#3, John Boehner
#4, Eric Cantor
#5, Michele Bachmann
#6, Paul Ryan
#7, Louie Gohmert
#8, Allen West
#9, Joe Pitts
#10, Jack Kingston
#11, Patrick McHenry
#12, Spencer Bachus
#13, Jim Gerlach
#14, Cliff Stearns
#15, Jean Schmidt
#16, Phil Gingrey
#17, David Schweikert
#18, Virginia Foxx
#19, Pete Sessions
#20, Charlie Dent
#21, Cathy McMorris Rodgers
#22, Chris Smith
#23, Todd Akin
#24, Buck McKeon
#25, Kristi Noem
#26, Hal Rogers
#27, Lou Barletta (Two bonus selections: Boren and Ross)
#28, Paul Broun
#29, Mary Bono Mack
#30, David Dreier
#31, Marsha Blackburn (including backgrounder)
…and that brings us to #2 on the list of U.S. House Republicans opposed to health care reform, and given that, I have a question:
You really didn’t think I was going to forget our own PA-08 rep, did you?

Now you may ask why, aside from reasons of personal pique, I might put “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick so high on the list, above high-profile miscreants like John Boehner or Eric Cantor. After all, Mikey only sits on the House Financial Services Committee, and he isn’t even the chairman (Spencer Bachus has that role, and he’s #12 on the list…speaking of money, it should also be noted that Mikey signed Grover Norquist’s “no tax pledge” in 2004; as far as I know, Norquist doesn’t live in PA-08).

It has to do with the issue of health care in particular, as opposed to, say, energy, foreign policy, the economy, etc.

You see (as noted here), Fitzpatrick is a cancer survivor (colon cancer, to be exact). I give him credit for his recovery and I wish him continued good health (my disagreements with him are political, not personal).

Given that, though, wouldn’t you expect him to have some insight into the whole issue of health care that other politicians don’t have? Wouldn’t you expect him to realize that our system of delivering health care in this country is fundamentally broken, and we need both government and industry working together to make it more equitable for everyone and thus delivering better results for our health care dollar (kind of the way, say, FDR better understood the poor and downtrodden in this country when he was treated for polio at Warm Springs, Georgia, though Heaven forbid that I would even imagine comparing Mikey to either Roosevelt who was elected president)?

I mean, you would expect that, wouldn’t you? However, since we’re talking about Mike Fitzpatrick, I have four words in response.

Na. Ga. Ha. Pen.

So let us begin with this, shall we…
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick claims in his campaign literature and ads to be "leading the fight against Obamacare" in order to "preserve Medicare." There are worse Republicans in Congress than Mike, but on this issue, and too many others, he is lockstep with the tea party, and is leading the wrong fight.

Obamacare does not threaten Medicare. It does not cut the statutory Medicare benefits offered to seniors at all. It merely trims back the "Medicare Advantage" bauble added by President Bush to the Medicare tree so that private insurers could administer benefits to Medicare recipients instead of the government, at what has turned out to be a much higher cost. All of us want to trim the deficit. Cutting a boondoggle like Medicare Advantage is the right place to start.

The real threat to Medicare comes from the infamous Paul Ryan budget, which Fitzpatrick unwisely supported. It would cut the heart out of Medicare as we know it, ending the federal commitment to provide the current statutory Medicare benefits for future Medicare participants who are not yet 55. Ryan offers instead federal "premium support" (essentially a fixed price voucher) for seniors to use to buy private insurance or traditional Medicare, and tosses the program to the states to do with as they will. There would be no guarantee that either the private insurer or what is left of Medicare would continue to provide the same benefits Medicare now provides, or that the federal "premium support" would cover the costs of either program. Seniors might well be stuck paying more for less comprehensive coverage.

Fitzpatrick voted for the Ryan budget, and Mitt Romney says he supports it, too. It is the GOP agenda for gutting Medicare. For all the gory details, read Paul N. Van de Water's March 28 article "Medicare in the Ryan Budget" on the website of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, here.

Ryan argues that cuts in Medicare must be made to reduce the budget deficit and keep Medicare solvent, but then proposes in his budget an increase in military spending, even though we presently spend more on defense than all the rest of the nations of the world combined, and are not more secure for it than Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and a lot of other countries who spend a fraction of what we spend per citizen. They also provide more generous assistance in obtaining medical care to their seniors and to the less fortunate among them. They, and President Obama, have the right priorities. Mike Fitzpatrick, Mitt Romney and the GOP are on the wrong track.

Gregory S. Hill
Richboro, PA
And concerning other matters, I give you the following:

  • Fitzpatrick also voted in support of HR 822, “a bill that would force PA to accept concealed carry permits from every other state, even if a carrier is too dangerous to be granted a permit under our own laws,” as Retired Chief of Police in West Goshen, PA Mike Carroll told us (more is here).

  • He also gets it for holding a “tele” town hall, as noted here, even though he criticized Patrick Murphy relentlessly for it during the 2010 campaign (and during his first congressional break, he held a “town hall” event at a senior center…nothing wrong with that except for the fact that he totally froze out working people from attending...hasn't had any lately either, I don't believe; haven't heard of any - could be wrong).

  • And oh yeah, he did have another “town hall” with the Teahadists, as Think Progress reminds us here (the one in which Mikey accused President Obama of treason from 4:16 to 4:20, even though the “professional” journalists of his house organ, the Bucks County Courier Times, had not one word to say about it).

  • And of course, totally ignoring the maxim that criticism of the Commander-in-Chief stops at the water’s proverbial edge, he visited our troops in Afghanistan here and said that Number 44 “risked mission failure” with force reductions (of course, not a word from Mikey about how Obama’s wretched predecessor continually shortchanged the effort).

  • There’s a whole bunch of stuff on Fitzpatrick and energy here, including votes against funding clean energy and preserving tax breaks for oil companies (and incorrectly blaming President Obama for rising oil prices).

  • This takes you to a three-part series of posts I did earlier this year concerning all of Fitzpatrick’s supposed “accomplishments” in 2011, including supporting the “TRAIN” Act (HR 2401), which, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, would permanently block environmental rules on mercury and other cross-state pollution, possibly leading to as many as 25,000 deaths from heart and asthma attacks; the “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” which amends the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from “(issuing) any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change”; and HR 140, which would end birthright citizenship in this country, thus repealing the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

  • More stuff on Fitzpatrick and health care is here (more evergreen BS - “Obamacare” was supposedly “railroaded” through Congress…a particularly silly lie…and “tort reform” is supposedly needed to keep coverage affordable…also, Fitzpatrick has claimed that “Obamacare” would take about $500 million from Medicare, which is most definitely not true.)

    (And by the way, in the Wordpress post above, Fitzpatrick claimed that the health care reform bill was 2,700 pages. In the previous video, he says the bill was 2,600 pages. Earlier in the countdown, Louie Gohmert claimed that the bill was 2,800 pages. Which is it, Repugs?)
  • And in response to this, Mikey claimed that the Democrats were “playing politics” (how con-vee-nient for Mikey – basically, he messed up by opposing the Democrats yet again; he could have voted to penalize offshoring companies and still kept the spending bill alive)…
    The congressman said he voted against a motion by Democrats because he thought it would have killed the legislation and prevented Republicans from cutting the budget.

    Two weeks ago, while defending his vote not to penalize companies that ship jobs overseas, Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick said the motion defeated in January would have sent the full bill back to committee, where it would have been killed.

    And since it was tied to House Resolution 38, which allowed Republicans to cut federal spending, the GOP would have been prevented from slicing the budget. It turns out, that's not the case.

    Because the term "forthwith" was included in the Democrats' motion, the proposal to "curb the practice of U.S. companies sending jobs overseas" would have been attached to the spending-cuts bill and it could have been voted on immediately.

    That was confirmed by the office of another House Republican and Lara Brown, a political science professor at Villanova.

    "It is true that there are two forms of recommit motions, and yes, the 'forthwith' does matter in terms of whether the bill dies because it gets sent back to the committee or it is voted on with the new language inserted," Brown said.

    Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said this about Fitzpatrick's vote:

    "While Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick talks about cutting spending, he should stop spending taxpayer money on corporations that ship American jobs overseas. The Republicans' plan to reduce federal spending protects tax breaks for companies shipping our jobs overseas, and is funded on the back of middle income families."
    Continuing, I also give you the following
    There’s no question that our election politics are full of extreme rhetoric, which both sides can agree is not helping us have an intelligent debate. But the mud slinging described in “Politics of the extreme” (Aug. 12) does not factor in one thing: actual votes.

    Rep. Fitzpatrick has earned his reputation as a far-right congressman, whether you agree with his votes or not. He voted for the Ryan budget twice, which would turn Medicare into a voucher program while giving tax breaks to the super wealthy. He voted against considering a bill called the Bring Our Jobs Home Act to stop tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas. And recently, he voted to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent.

    These are just a few votes among many Congressman Fitzpatrick has taken that fall in line with the increasingly far-right Republican Party. Mitt Romney took a gamble choosing Paul Ryan because he thinks voters will accept his party’s extreme positions. Congressman Fitzpatrick’s gamble is that he hopes his moderate district won’t notice.

    Lindsay Patterson, President
    USW Local 404
    USW Political Coordinator
    …and if you’re looking for another less-than-illustrious moment from Mikey during his return to Congress, I give you this…

    …though I think this video tells the story pretty much…

    ...and here is yet another example of Mikey's brand of "constituent service" (Gee, "no cameras," huh? Part of the job description is facing those you don't agree with, congressman.)...

    And in conclusion, I should note that a Courier Times story from February 2011 (link expired) quoted attorney Mary Helf, who said after hearing him speak that Fitzpatrick has “got a lot to learn. I just want the enormous challenges our country faces to get fixed, and I hope he's up to it."

    Well, I think we have our answer. And to do something about it, click here.

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