Thursday, January 29, 2009

Overwhelming Support for Lily Except for House GOP Women

Today, President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 ... his first piece of legislation.
Legislation that was driven by a woman, so do women support this legislation ?
Let’s look at the scorecard : Senate 100 % approval (16 yes and Zero No votes) while the House approved 59 to 16 with two not voting.

So who are these House Nay-Sayers ?
Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Judy Biggert (R-IL)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
Mary Fallin (R-OK)
Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)
Candice Miller (R-MI)
Sue Myrick (R-NC)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
Note : Kay Granger (R-TX) did not vote on the initial version ( Roll Call 9 ) but did vote NO on the final version ( Roll Call 37 ).

That’s right, every NO vote in the House came from Republican women !
Yet in the Senate, EVERY Republican Woman voted FOR this legislation.
WHY the difference ?
Congresswoman Bachmann defended her vote on her blog entry .
Time will tell if the Congresswoman’s concerns are valid. She writes ”This would likely increase the number of frivolous pay-discrimination claims in future years, since older claims are more subject to faded memories, missing documents, unfound witnesses, and businesses that have changed hands or no longer exist. In the Fall of 2010, it would be a fair question to ask the Congresswoman how many “ frivolous pay-discrimination claims” have been filed … my gut tells me that she won’t have a significant number to report.
Republicans have not fared well in the past two elections. Women elected under the Democrat banner far exceed the Republican women. Somehow, this vote may not help their future cause.

Of course, this is only the women in Congress. The men had a say in this vote (the House male vote was 186 to 155 in favor). I wonder about some of those men. While I am sure that Hope Walz is proud of her poppa (that would be First District Democrat Tim Walz) for supporting this legislation, I wonder how Sixth District Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) will explain his vote to Cassie, Briana, Tayler, and Liesl Paulsen. That may be a difficult conversation especially when President Obama cited protecting his two daughters from future wage discrimination while recognizing the employment of his maternal grandmother.

Although the 111th Congress is just starting, there is already a too strong partisan bent. There are some issues that should be above party ranker … yet the Republican women in the House would rather follow their Party Managers instructions than stand up as the Republican women in the Senate did.
Change needs to start in the House.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

GOP Not Serious About Earmarks; Dems Not Serious About Reform

Congress is back !
While some things stay the same, other things change … and not for the better.

Oh, sure there are plenty of new faces --- each with unbridled optimism and good intentions. Alas, their first reaction must be … did you guys run last November ?
For those voters that thought that change would be in order, must now be seriously disappointed. In Minnesota, all the House incumbents were re-elected … but what changes will really happen ?

In the House on Republican side, Minnesota has returned John Kline and Michele Bachmann.
Kline’s major theme of his re-election was Stop the Pork while Bachmann is also on a pork-free diet. So, did the Republicans heed their campaign motto ? NO.
Pork can be best controlled through the Appropriations Committee which directs all federal discretionary spending. I have never heard Kline or Bachmann openly campaign for assignment to this committee. With Democrats increasing their overall numbers in the House, the Appropriations Committee ratio changed from 37-29 in the 110th Congress to 37-23 in the 111th, leaving Republicans with only two seats to fill after accounting for retirements and election losses. Of course, they could have re-assigned existing members including dishonored Jerry Lewis (R-CA) but that change is rarely made. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who is an outspoken critic of wasteful government spending openly campaigned for a seat last session and for this new session. IF the Republicans wanted to stop the pork, they would have made sure that Flake got that assignment. Alas, the new members will be Tom Cole (R-OK) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH). Word is that Cole was promised the assignment in exchange for stepping down as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (no Blagojevich buy-out here).
Minnesota’s newly elected Erik Paulsen (MN-06) has been assigned to the House Financial Services Committee where Bachmann has served.
So, on the Republican side, Minnesota has lost its voice in the powerful Ways and Means Committee with the retirement of Jim Ramstad. Republicans filled six slots - Charles Boustany Jr. (LA); Ginny Brown-Waite (FL); Geoff Davis (KY); Dean Heller (NV); Dave Reichert (WA); and Peter Roskam (IL).
Voters were sold a “pig in the poke” with Kline and Bachmann’s ranting … they have started off this session exhibiting their failures to motivate their colleagues … all the while the grandstanding continues for voter’s obfuscation. Kline issues press releases while Bachmann editorializes about limestone sidewalks, skateboard parks and bike lanes. No doubt we will hear about these “earmarks” thoughout the session, yet they have failed to take the necessary action by making real change in committee assignments.
The GOP is playing us for suckers again.

And the Democrats are not starting out well either.
In the House, the Rules have been changed. Term limits on committee chairs have been changed while the “Pay-go” rules which required spending proposals to be balanced with revenue or cuts, have been gutted.

While Kline and Bachmann are pseudo-deficit spending and "anti-pork-barrel" politicians, Minnesotans in the First District remember a true fiscal conservative – Tim Penny. When Penny was in the House, he formed the Democratic Budget Group and when his party failed to reduce the federal deficit, he did not seek re-election. Penny saw the hypocrisy and excessive partisanship first hand. He wrote a book entitled Common Cents: A Retiring Six-Term Congressman Reveals How Congress Really Works--And What We Must Do to Fix it which he denounces the rules that make chairmen too powerful. Penny was right then and the Republicans changed those rules under the guise of the "Contract With America”. After the lessons of Tom Delay, Duke Cunnningham, John Doolittle, Jerry Lewis, and Rick Renzi just to name a few dishonored Republicans, the Democrats are reverting to the old rules just when Charlie Rangel (D-NY) ethics problems are being investigated. Rangel chairs the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. It was a good move when Henry Waxman (D-CA) took over for John Dingell (D-MI) as chairman of the influential Committee on Energy and Commerce. Failure to allow younger members like Tim Walz (D-MN-01) and Keith Ellison (D-MN-05) to assume responsibilities opposes the opportunities for change.

Walz should be angered by the relaxing of Pay-go rules as his votes last session clearly embraced that philosophy, and was a major theme in his election campaigns.

Somehow, I suspect that Penny, who must still be smarting over the over half a million in federal funds that was slipped into the 1991 budget at the last moment to preserve and enshrine Lawrence Welk's boyhood home in Strasburg, N D (pop. 623), must see that nothing has changed has changed in over a decade since he left Congress.

{NOTE : on the Senate side, the major committees that will impact spending include : Appropriations Committee - Minnesota does not currently have a member and the Democrats have a four seat advantage. On the Senate Budge Committee, Minnesota does not currently have a member and the Democrats have a three seat advantage. Franken may be in-line for a seat on the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee where the Democrats have a one seat advantage. The Coleman legal challenge is impacting Minnesotans from having input on shaping our fiscal future.}