Monday, April 23, 2007

Roskam's Tax Day Message

Last week, Rep. Roskam's "Tax Day" Message leaves one with the perception that all of our tax dollars are wasted. His full message:

Washington, Apr 17 - Tax Day is upon us. That time of year when (normally anyway) the weather starts to get warmer, the flowers start to bloom and the government sticks its greedy hands in your pockets to take your hard-earned money to pay for increasingly bloated public programs. Where does the money go? Bridges to nowhere, rainforests in Iowa and hundreds of programs the federal government has little to no right to finance with your money. It reminds me of an anecdote about Congressman Davy Crockett during his tenure in Congress called Not Yours to Give. In the story, Crockett is influential in defeating legislation in the House that would have spent taxpayer money to help a private citizen because Crockett was told by one of his constituents that taxpayer dollars are not Congress' to give. I take Col. Crockett's words to heart and am in Congress to fight to keep more of those dollars in your pockets so you aren't cutting big checks every April 15 to pay for someone else's spinach farm, shrimp boat or peanut storage device.
In this spirit, I will leave you with a great quote from President Ronald Reagan:
"Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15"
- Congressman Peter J. Roskam

If he didn't sound so serious, this would be laughable. To suggest that the Democrats are at fault is to deny reality. The “Bridge to Nowhere” was a pet project of a powerful Republican Senator (Stevens of Alaska). The "Spinach pork" he is referring to is a supplemental item to help the spinach farmers who were hit hard by the tainted spinach recall that, as we now know, was allowed to get as bad as it did because of a neglectful FDA. This qualifies as "supplemental" more than the defense items as this was truly unplanned for, whereas the war is hardly something we didn't expect (it is shameful that Bush continue to leave the war budget out of its annual budgeting process). Many of the other items added to the budget have to do with veterans benefits (which we now know have been horribly under-funded) and children's health plans (if we can't work to support health for our children, what are we fighting for?). To call for fiscal responsibility in the face of rapidly-emerging tales of fiscal mismanagement on the part of Bush and the Republicans over the past 6 years, and suggest that it is Democrats who have been wasteful is certainly a Bush-type statement - completely disconnected from reality. And to drag out an old Reagan quote that questions the patriotism of Democrats is unacceptable. Many of us are tired of the partisan blame-game, and now more than ever, to blame the Democrats (especially from someone who won with 51% of the vote) suggests that Roskam does not take the challenges we face as a nation seriously.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lonely Guy

Imagine how it must feel to be Peter Roskam right now. During teh campaign for this congressional seat, he brought in President Bush and VP Cheney to help get him over the top (or at least bring the the money to make it happen). And now, his colleagues are running like rats from a sinking ship away from the Bush machine. Yesterday's Gonzalez testimony is just the latest, but certainly not the last of this. Rep. Waxman and his committee on Oversight will surely continue to expose fiscal mismanagement just as Sen. Leahy's Judicial Committee has exposed rather shocking ethical mismanagement that, as we saw yesterday, was not just some lapse in judgment but fairly strategic. Of course, Karl Rove continues to be at the center and sooner or later, he will be exposed for all to see.

So what does one of the few Rookie Republicans do? Join Republican colleagues who are now distancing themselves from the Bush Machine that fully controlled them until the Democrats took charge in Congress? Or does he stay loyal? It looks like, with Roskam's silence on these issues, he stays loyal. It's too bad - of all the Republicans who would be in a position to re-introduce the issue of integrity into the party, it would be someone newly-elected: he or she would not have to explain the inactions and complicitness of a previous term.

At the same time, calls Peter a "moderate Republican" based on the bills he has sponsored/co-sponsored, based on his sponsorship of a sum total of two bills. Of course, Congress really hasn't tackled any of the tough issues yet, so we'll keep tracking this one.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What does Peter do now?

With congress out of session again, it seems like there's not much for Peter to do. A quick look at his .gov website has a new posting about a new hydrogen fuel station opening up in the area, and that some day we will all have a choice to make between gas and hydrogen (although perhaps 15 years too late, and really, how much should it be a choice, given the consequences? And, for those who may look at some of these issues in a partisan manner, the Clinton/Gore years really did not do nearly enough in my book to address energy/environment/climate change).

But, Peter does have some serious problems that I think we need to keep the pressure on, and basically they have to do with how is he going to effectively distance himself from what is becoming the fiasco of the Bush Administration? Thanks to the Democratic Congress, we are seeing an Administration that is third-rate in the Attorney General's office, that tries to hide official White House business in RNC e-mails, that doesn't know how to compromise on important issues like funding for the wars, that rejects hard science on both environment and healthcare (specifically HIV-prevention), and continues to say the war in Iraq is going well despite bombings now taking place in the green zone. Of course, this says nothing about why we are there in the first place (it's amazing how Bush/Cheney/McCain talk about how vital this war is, as if Iraq attacked us).

To date, Peter has done nothing to distinquish himself as a representative of integrity. He seems as much as anything to be a waterboy for Bush.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A Quiet Week, perfect for recess appointments

With Congress taking a break for a week, not much was happening in Washington other than President Bush making a few minor recess appointments (such as appointing a big financial backer as Ambassador to Belgium, despite just removing his name from consideration of congressional approval because of his financial backing of the despicable "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad campaign that assaulted John Kerry's military record, appointing a woman to the Office of Management and Budget despite her record of hostility towards regulations, and the appointment of a new deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration who has been a known champion of partially privatizing social security, the very program he is now in charge of administering).

It really is quite amazing that this administration continues to do so little to try and reverse the downward spiral it is on as it continues to act unilaterally and perhaps even illegally. All of which leads us back to our own elected official - Peter Roskam. Regardless of whether one is Democrat or Republican, all of congress should be outraged at this relentless assault on their powers. "Recess" appointments are meant to give the president powers to put people in vacant positions when congress is on extended leaves (and ideally when the position is unexpectedly vacated). It is not meant to circumvent the powers of congress. Of course, Clinton did the same thing when he appointed an ambassador to a position who was being challenged by congress because of his sexual orientation, and while it would be easy to say that these are not the same thing, really, they are. It is a misuse of the power of the presidency.

Will Peter speak up - not for his party, but on behalf of the autonomy and authority of the House of Representatives? Of course not! Would he have spoken up if this were Clinton and a gay ambassador? Probably. And here is his (Roskam's) own lapse in integrity.

What we need to be looking for in the next election is a candidate who can serve based on some values of integrity, not party loyalty. So far, Peter shows us clearly that he is not up to the task.