Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roskam's Energy "VISION" Act?

While Peter touts his appointment by his party to the powerful House, Ways and Means committee, he clearly is becoming one of the rising "stars" of the heavily tarnished Republican Party, and being a part of the minority party, it's going to be a lot easier to make hay as an oppositionist than a leader looking for solutions.

At the same time, Peter has developed an Energy "Vision" Act. The quotes are not his, but mine, as there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of visioning to his proposals, just problem solving (you can see a summary of his proposal at, and from there read the whole thing).

The problem with his proposal is that it is entirely made up of changes to the technology, but nothing about the consumption patterns. On his webstie ( his starting point is the high cost of fuel ("$4.09"). Last time I checked, it was at about $1.75. It also seems to be that consumption patterns did not change until prices when up and, as far as I can tell, we Americans consume too much and need to change our patterns and behaviors. In addition to the lack of mention about changing consumption patterns, you are hard pressed to see anything about solar and wind, but plenty about clean nuclear and zero-emission coal development.

This is not to say there are not some valid proposals - in fact they all probably are valid and worthy. What's lacking is the hard message that entire communities need to hear - we all need to look at what we can do to make a difference. It's great that we can get more fuel efficient cars and decrease demand on foreign oil, but fundamentally we also need to rethink our priorities. Ultimately, when we take a step back and look at all the challenges we face, they are connected, and will be asking us to start looking far more closely at needs vs. wants. The wants need to be lessened. But Peter does not mention anything about what we all must do. To my mind, he is completely missing the boat on this, and feeding into a sense of entitlement that is our biggest demon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So it's Peter again

Peter won a second term quite handily. No big surprise, as incumbents always have the upper hand, and in Peter's case, the money sure helped. The question is what kind of effect he can have and how is he going to adapt to the new realities of Washington. He has been so partisan in his messages in the past, it seems there is now the challenge to see how to move forward with a more progressive message. A look at his website ( shows that he is already back on the old message of cut taxes for everyone, make them permanent, and all will be well.

Here are some questions:
If you cut all the taxes, where will the funds for education come from?
Yes, $3000 in increased taxes (if you are to believe Peter's math) is alot for some families, but for many in the district, this is not a lot; it's more a matter of just needing to make changes in consumption and expenses. The lower middle class already knows how to do this; perhaps it's time for some in the higher echelons to make some changes as well. As we saw with $4 gas prices, it seems like the most effective way to bring about societal change in patterns and behavior is through the pocket-book.

The challenges we face are enormous, and not just economic. To only focus on taxes won't do it. Peter is going to need to step up to a larger arena that looks at many issues (healthcare, energy costs, education costs) and get serious about solutions. Otherwise, he will find himself in the shrinking reactionary conservative wing of congress that is fighting the our current challenges with the last generation's tactics.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Roskam to host McCain

Does Peter Roskam have any shame? I received an e-mail announcement inviting people to attend a rally on Friday, February 1, for "the next President of the United States", John McCain.

One of Roskam's campaign and congressional themes has been that we need to close off the borders and stop illegal immigration. On his own website ( he call for opposing what he shamelessly and partisanly calls "Ted Kennedy's Senate Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill". There is a CNN quote that if this bill becomes law "it will legalize millions of illegal aliens in this country, and according to the Congressional Budget Office it will cost taxpayers upwards of 100 billion dollars."

Peter is really showing his partisan colors on this one. The real name of the bill? "The Kennedy-McCain Immigration Reform Bill". So, other than being a Republican, what is Peter basing his support of McCain on, and why does he so blatantly leave McCain's name off the bill as listed on his website (as well as Sen. Graham and many other Republican senators who voted for the bill)? Haven't we had enough of this kind of partisanship?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Roskam the Pork-Reformer?

If Peter Roskam is going to be serious about his stated pledge to do what he can to clean up Washington and pork spending, rather than continually attacking the Democrats on this issue, he should spend this week going after fellow Republican Lewis, and doing all he can to get Republican colleague Rep. Flake from Arizona on the Appropriations Committee. (See Robert Novak's column at Anything less than this, then Roskam's words are hollow and he should be even further exposed as nothing more than a Republican political hack.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Roskam's Annual Review

Peter Roskam's most recent post is his self-evaluation of his first year in office. It contains a reflection of how divided Washington is, and invokes the words of Lincoln ("A house divided cannot stand") to show how sincere and committed to bi-partisanship he is. He gloats about how much he has done to serve all people and transcend the divide of a congress "beleaguered by partisanship". All great words, Mr. Roskam. But, some things you forgot to mention:
  • You talk alot about government accountability, and even serve on oversight, but you have seemed oddly silent on Bush Administration doings ("Scooter" Libby, Attorney General Gonzalez, Halliburton and military mismanagement, torture, etc.), while voting for troop build-up. You mention the need for light and honesty to shine, but not once have you called for this from the house floor.
  • You lamented in your tax-day message government waste of tax-payer money (even going so far as slamming the "bridge to nowhere", a pet project of Republican Stevens), but did you mention this is a non-partisan way? No, you mentioned it as a sign of wasteful Democrats. Hardly a model of bi-partisanship.
  • You also touted that you voted for the recent Energy Bill that "Bush signed", not mentioning that the Democrats in the House and Senate passes. Again, hardly a mark of bi-partisanship.
  • You routinely placed a higher priority on tax cuts and protections for mostly the wealthy and, most shamefully, oil companies, above healthcare and education for children, environmental needs, housing relief during the current housing crisis, and employment protection for gays and lesbians. And, of course, the inconsistency is the "blank check" for the military without calling for oversight.
  • on the ethics front, some of your first votes were to protect lobbyist interests and to protect the government benefits of congressional peers who are convicted of political wrong-doing while in office (in both of these cases, you were on the losing side of the votes).
  • There were many times this past year when your colleagues Kirk and Biggert crossed the aisle, but you did not. Just in general, if you really are committed to 'bi-partisanship', you might want to follow their leads as a start.
  • To read a review of your website, your math seems to be "Bush = good, Pelosi = bad". Hardly the math of a 'uniter' that you seem to self-proclaim to be.

Let's hope 2008 holds better things.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Roskam's vote on Employment Non-discrimination

It's absolutely no surprise, but Peter Roskam voted on Wednesday against ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act). This bill passed in the House, but not with a veto-override margin, and is most likely to be vetoed by President Bush. This bill, if it were to become law, would make it illegal to consider sexual orientation (meaning, gay, lesbian or bisexual; the transgendered community was left out of this bill) for hiring or firing purposes. Many states already have protective laws in place, as do many cities, but Peter, with this vote, is obviously fine with the idea that people can be fired for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

I'm sure some of the arguments will be that this will infringe on the rights of faith-based organizations that have strong statements about homosexuality to have to go against their beliefs. To be honest, if a gay or lesbian person wants to work in that environment anyway, have at it. I worked for 7 years with such an organization - a Catholic organization - that tried to have it both ways. It can be dreadful, patronizing, and dehumanizing; the harm is not to the integrity of the organization, but to the individual.

Once again, Peter is also somewhat alone in our region; Biggert and Kirk voted for the legislation (Hastert, in one of his rare recent votes, voted against it as well).

So, when it comes to issues that have to do with basic rights (the "special rights" argument is really hollow), a big question is whether we will have options in the next election).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Roskam votes against relief for homeowners

Now that congress is back in session, and the more challenging bills will be coming out, it's time to really put the lens on who Roskam truly plans to represent in DC. So far, we know that he will not do anything to help immigrants; he will gladly deny rights to gays and lesbians, and his environmental and energy efforts will move things in the right direction as long as they don't upset big-industry oil and auto manufacturers (meaning, he will do little to promote renewable energy or energy conservation). He will, however, vote to protect the rights of lobbyists, and vote to kep in-tact the government benefits of fellow legislators who are convicted of wrong-doing in the name of public service (both of these bills failed in the house, but were two of his first votes adn set the pattern for what he is really all about). Of course, he says he wants to support the small business owner, but the pattern really reflects support big-business.

His most recent vote: he joined a small minority of Republicans (only 72) in voting against HR 1852 (Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007). As we have seen so often, locally he stands with Hastert, while Biggert and Kirk show a more reasoned vote.

So, Peter, if you really want to support the small business owner, what's up with not supporting some relief for the impending mortgage crisis? You voted against raising minimum wage, which you argued would hurt the business owner (of course, even at the new minimum wage, no one could afford to live in your district); but with the looming housing/mortgage crisis, people need relief otherwise there is going to be an absolute collapse of the middle class in the district.

Perhaps, more to the point, what would your alternative be?

And by the way (completely unrelated), what's up with denying DC voters the right to representation?

Clearly, Peter is only out to represent the "haves" in his district. Thankfully for him, the Democrats don't seem to be able to get their act together to put forth a viable alternative, so his seat is safe. It's a sad state of affairs.