Friday, April 30, 2010

Dem Candidate Clark Calls FAIL On Rep. Roe

After I posted on the fact 1st District Congressman (R) Phil Roe made sure his picture was in the public view for a much needed renovation at East High School in Morristown, using funding Roe voted against, many have taken notice.

Rep. Roe went to his go-to PR machine, the Kingsport Times-News and "reporter" Hank Hayes to defend his shameless publicity grab this week, offering a confusing and somewhat lame defense and here are some excerpts:

When asked for a response, Roe refused to admit he was wrong and insisted his appearance was not hypocrisy.

“We’re paying it back,” Roe, R-Tenn., said of the funds for the project. “The taxpayers in this district are paying the money back. It’s not hypocrisy. If we had put half of that (stimulus) money into roads, water, sewer, bridges and schools, I would have supported it. Very little of the stimulus package had anything to do with infrastructure.”


"It’s not that spending money on infrastructure is a bad idea,” Roe said. “I’m an ex-mayor. I absolutely understand infrastructure better than Mr. Forrester, who’s probably never been mayor of anything. I’ve been involved in instituting policies that have invested over $125 million in infrastructure in Johnson City.

“The question is was (the stimulus) the best way to spend the money?"

Meanwhile, the Democrat candidate Mike Clark who aims to unseat Roe (and yes, I'll be supporting Clark's efforts to change the 120-year-plus choke-hold the Republicans have had on this district) offers a response:

"Perhaps he has a perception problem, or perhaps it’s simply that once again, Republican Congressman Phil Roe doesn't understand the concept of what his constituents need and want.

According to a recent story by Hank Hayes in the Kingsport Times News, Dr. Roe is once again arguing - and defending - his 'No' on the stimulus bill.

Roe’s been caught taking credit and making appearances at projects he voted against - and apparently he doesn't feel the need to apologize to his constituents for his misdirection.

Think again, Mr. Congressman. You voted against job creation, and then took credit for that creation. You take credit for improvements in education, new school projects and other things - and you voted against the bill that made them possible. That's plain wrong. If there's anything the constituents of the 1st Congressional district despise it's a politician who attempts to take credit for other people's work.

Dr. Roe said in the recent Times News article: "The question is, was (the stimulus) the best way to spend the money? Could you have gotten more bang for your buck doing it a different way?”

Besides the obvious answer - that the economy needed to be boosted immediately, not at some point after the GOP had 'whittled on it' awhile, one has to wonder if Dr. Roe and his party bosses actually saw any need at all to fix the economy. Time and time again his party's spokesmen - such as Rush Limbaugh - have openly hoped the Obama Administration would fail at its quest to restore this great nation to its pre-Bush era prosperity. Is Dr. Roe in accord with Mr. Limbaugh's desires?

We do know that the way suggested by the Republican Party, as presented by Dr. Roe, is not the answer.

"What we should have done was go ahead and cut taxes for business, and cut capital gains taxes ... so businesses could create jobs and create wealth," he said. Don't be surprised if that sounds familiar; its the same recipe for disaster that created the massive deficit the Obama Administration was handed in January, 2008, the same Republican litany since the Golden Age of Ronald Reagan.

Most economists felt the stimulus package passed by Congress would work - and it has. The bill's passage created a new opportunity for businesses to create more jobs. In fact, many economists feel even more is necessary to keep the economy growing create more jobs and at the same time address our infrastructure needs. But that stands little chance of happening with the lock step Republican Congress and Senate.

According to the New York Times, some of the best-known economic research firms - IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s - all estimate that the stimulus package implemented last year - which Dr. Roe was apparently against until he had to be for it in order to face his constituents - has added 1.6m to 1.8 million jobs so far - and it could ultimately create up to 2.5 million jobs. If that isn't enough, the Times adds that "The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative."

Ask the folks in Morristown - that city received $11.2 million in bonds for school construction, according to the Kingsport Times-News, or ask the folks in Hawkins County - that county received more than $2.6 million for two middle school projects. Johnson City got $8.1 million for a project at Science Hill High School; Kingsport and Sullivan County received $1.2 million for renovations at Dobyns-Bennett High School and $15.4 million to renovate and expand Ketron Intermediate School.

Overall, 56,000 jobs in Tennessee were created through this year’s first quarter, with nearly $6 billion in stimulus money being committed to the state. In a state the size of Tennessee, that's a lot of jobs.

Dr. Roe, if your polling data tells you 87 percent of your constituents think the stimulus bill was a bad idea, perhaps you need to ask your polling company to change its methodology - because its made a lot of people in your district very happy despite your best efforts to paint it otherwise. Besides that, however - it comes down to leadership. A true leader will see the benefits to his constituents and vote for the people who put him in office, not for the Republican hierarchy who tells him how to vote.

As we've said before, it all comes down to what you value. And once again, Dr. Roe and his Republican bosses value politics over people - even while they try to take credit for others' success."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vacationing A 'Human Right' Says Europe

Vacationing is a human right according to the European Union and they are launching a program to make sure those in Europe who might not be able to afford one will still get one.

EU member nations already mandate 4 weeks of vacation per year, and some countries mandate more (6 weeks in France). And the plan proposed by EU Commissioner Antonio Tajani calls for folks in southern Europe to travel North and vice-versa, meaning they are not calling for subsidized vacations to Tahiti or Vegas.

Yes, subsidized:

"The plan -- just who gets to enjoy the travel package has yet to be determined -- would see taxpayers footing some of the vacation bill for seniors, youths between the ages of 18 and 25, disabled people, and families facing "difficult social, financial or personal" circumstances. The disabled and elderly can also be accompanied by one other person. The EU and its taxpayers are slated to fund 30% of the cost of these tours, which could range from youth exploring abandoned factories and power plants in Manchester to retirees taking discount trips to Madrid, all in the name of cultural appreciation.

"The commission is literally considering paying people to go on holiday," Mats Persson, of pro-reform think-tank Open Europe, told Britain's News of the World. "In this economic climate, it's astonishing that the EU wants to bribe people with cheap holidays."

Since the nation of Greece is in financial meltdown, it's unclear if the entire EU will go along with this plan.

I am willing to travel (on a paid basis) to explore this topic further.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona Wants To See Your Papers, Citizen!

Ill-conceived, thoughtless and dangerous, Arizona's new law on targeting illegal aliens is prompting much discussion. I doubt any resolution or repeal will occur short of a lengthy court battle. Still, a couple of blog posts from Washington Monthly raise some critical questions.

Here's one post:

Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, isn't known for writing provocative opinion pieces. But the new, odious immigration measure in Arizona appears to have genuinely outraged Greenhouse. Good for her.

...I'm not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.

What would Arizona's revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made "any lawful contact" and about whom they have "reasonable suspicion" that "the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?" Wasn't the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

Greenhouse's question about Goldwater's reaction to such madness also reminds me that there's another group of small-government-minded folks who claim to be concerned by authoritarian tactics. Reader B.H. emailed this poignant observation last night:

Just a question I haven't heard anybody ask: Shouldn't the tea party crowd be having a cow over this new immigration bill that Arizona just passed? Doesn't that sound like big government tyranny to them? Giving the police the power to demand "papers" from someone just on their own suspicion?

Any chatter from the tea party folk to this effect? I haven't seen any.

Nor have I. It's almost as if the right-wing crowd is only offended by government abuses when they're imaginary."

And more:

As the former Republican congressman [and talk show host Joe Scarborough] put it, '...It does offend me when one out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanics, and you have now put a target on the back of one out of three citizens, who, if they're walking their dog around a neighborhood, if they're walking their child to school, and they're an American citizen, or a legal, legal immigrant -- to now put a target on their back, and make them think that every time they walk out of their door they may have to prove something. I will tell you, that is un-American. It is unacceptable and it is un-American.'

UPDATE: In comments below, Mike Silence points to one "tea party" blogger who speaks out against the Arizona law.