Saturday, October 20, 2007

The GOP Head Trip on SCHIP

Michael in Chicago has an excellent diary on Prairie State Blue regarding the facts about the lies Republicans tell when anyone mentions HR 976, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Michael lives in IL-06. His representative is Peter Roskam. Like Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19), Rep. Roskam voted against SCHIP. There were only two Illinois Republicans that voted in favor: Rep. Ray LaHood (IL-18) who is retiring and Rep. Mark Kirk (IL-10) who will lose his seat to Illinois Senator Debbie Halvorson in November 2008 and did not want to lose by the landslide his NAY vote would have caused.

Republicans need to come down from their head trip. Voting against SCHIP meant voting against children and veterans.

Getting down to brass tacks in IL-19, John Shimkus proves once again that he not a representative of the people.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Clean Energy Popularity

On June 21,2007, the Senate passed HR 6, the Clean Energy Act. It establishes provisions for biofuels for the purpose of energy security and transportation, promotes energy efficiency, establishes provisions for carbon capture and storage research, development, and demonstration, promotes cost effective and environmentally sustainable public buildings, prohibits price gouging, and establishes provisions for energy diplomacy and security.

Here are a few of the

  • Increases Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020 (Title 1(Subtitle B(Sec. 502))).
  • Includes a prevention of air quality deterioration regulation
  • Creates more stringent standards for heating and cooling products
  • Requires labels that disclose the energy use of televisions, personal computers, cable or satellite set-top boxes, stand-alone digital video recorder boxes, and personal computer monitors (Title 1(Subtitle B(Sec. 226(a)))).
  • Establishes target goals for the modernization of the electricity grid system, which includes maximizing the capacity and efficiency of electricity networks, enhancing electricity grid reliability, reducing line losses, facilitating the transition to real time electricity pricing, allowing grid incorporation of more onsite renewable energy generators, and enabling electricity to displace a portion of the petroleum used for transportation purposes (Title 1(Subtitle B(Sec. 254))).
  • Prohibits price gouging and market manipulation punishable by a civil penalty up to $1,000,000 fine or a criminal penalty of up to a $5,000,000 fine or up to 5 years in prison (Title 1(Subtitle B(Sec. 609))).
  • Defines price gouging as charging an unconscionably excessive price charged by a supplier. Defines unconscionably excessive price as a price that has a gross disparity from the average price at which the item was offered for sale in the usual course of the supplier’s business prior to the President’s declaration of an energy emergency, a price that grossly exceeds the prices at which similar crude oil gasoline or petroleum that is obtainable from other purchasers, represents an unfair leverage on the part of the supplier, or if the price cannot be attributable to increased wholesale or operational costs (Title 1(Subtitle B(Sec. 602))).

HR 6 is a critical step in the fight to break America of its addiction to fossil fuels and a down payment in combating global warming. The country would become more energy independent, create good jobs, save consumers money, protect our natural resources, and reduce the growth of global warming pollution.

The bill has good language. Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19) should vote for this legislation. It would be a surprise if he did. Although a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he is not even listed as a co-sponsor. Also, Excelon and AT&T are among his top contributors, and he avoids groups that support the bill:

  • Protestants for the Common Good
  • League of Women Voters of Illinois
  • Faith In Place
  • Environment Illinois
  • IL members of Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Alliance for the Great Lakes
  • Illinois Environmental Council
  • Chicago Audubon Society

John Shimkus: a foregone conclusion and lackluster to the bitter end. The people deserve better.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

SCHIP Veto Override

Once again Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19) fails to do the right thing. Once again he voted against the best interests of children of his district.

The bill had bipartisan support but the 273-156 roll call was 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority supporters needed to enact the bill into law despite Bush's objections. The bill had passed the Senate with a bigger than two-thirds majority.

[. . .]

The State Children's Health Insurance Program now subsidizes health care insurance coverage for about 6 million children at a cost of about $5 billion a year. The vetoed bill would have added 4 million more children, most of them from low-income families, to the program at an added cost of $7 billion annually.

HR 976 was good legislation:

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) suggested adding an eligibility cap on families with at least $1 million of family assets, a move that would have virtually no impact on the bill's cost. Four moderate Republicans sent Pelosi a letter outlining what they thought could win passage, including a cap at 300 percent of the poverty level, a phasing out of eligibility for some adults and an expressed prohibition on illegal immigrants.

[. . .]

And that is likely all the GOP will get. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, pointed out that House Democrats had given up plenty already, scaling back their far more ambitious bill to meet the demands of Senate Republicans, such as Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), who virtually dictated the final bill's parameters.

[. . .]

Republicans will not relish the next round of the fight. Swing-district GOP lawmakers have already weathered a barrage of advertisements from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic allies, accusing them of forsaking the nation's children while standing by the president's war in Iraq.

He has provided the usual Republican rhetoric for his failure. Voters should remember this when they see the John Shimkus name on the November 2008 ballot.

Voters should remember that there will be a better choice on the November 2008 ballot:
Joe McMenamin.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

John Shimkus is Against Children

Senator Richard Durbin tried & failed to find Congressman John Shimkus (IL-19) to encourage him to change his vote over the weekend. While other members of the Illinois congressional delegation have had a great many statements regarding HR 976, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, there has been nothing but deafening silence from the IL-19 offices. The latest press releases are filled with the usual photo ops with his near and dear. Nothing more.

Avoiding a high ranking senator is the act of a partisan hack. For IL-19, this is nothing new from John Shimkus. Here are the facts if anyone chooses to
call the Shimkus offices or leave a comment on SJR. From the Gwinnett County, GA, Democratic Party :

  1. Nothing in either the House or Senate bill would force coverage for families earning $83,000 a year. That is already possible under current law, but no state sets its cut-off that high for a family of four and the bill contains no requirement for any such increase. Poor children, defined as those in families below the official federal poverty level, were already covered by Medicaid.
  2. The stated intent of Congress when it established the program in 1997 was to expand coverage beyond those who were poor to uninsured low-income children.
  3. MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber states, I have undertaken a number of analyses to compare the public sector costs of public sector expansions such as SCHIP to alternatives such as tax credits. I find that the public sector provides much more insurance coverage at a much lower cost under SCHIP than these alternatives. Tax subsidies mostly operate to buy out the base of insured without providing much new coverage.
  4. SCHIP funding would come from an increase of the federal tobacco excise tax on all tobacco products. The federal government puts a tax of 39 cents a pack on cigarettes, with all revenue going into the general treasury fund. The House bill would increase that tax by 45 cents, while the Senate would tack on 61 cents, with the revenue specifically funding the SCHIP expansion.
Here is a quote from Senator Representative Hank Johnson D-Georgia, I am sure that the tobacco industry will be pleased because they won’t have to pay the proposed taxes. Tobacco wins. Our children lose.

How can anyone with three children of his own vote against the welfare of children? Because John Shimkus has a nice salary complements of the taxpayers (the level of which he NEVER deserved!). Very few of his constituents will ever see that income in their lives.

John Shimkus (IL-19):
  • no fan of children
  • no fan of animals
  • typical partisan hack
Time for Joe McMenamin to represent IL-19!

Update: At least he made excuses before he scampered off to Iceland:

An aide said Shimkus, R-Collinsville, is willing to work with Durbin and others to reach a new compromise.

Aides referred to previous statements in which Shimkus outlined his objections to the bill now back before Congress.

The bill removes a provision from the law that requires checking the legal status of people receiving the government benefit, Shimkus said previously.

I don't believe my constituents want me spending their hard-earned tax dollars on illegal immigrants' health care when they may not be eligible themselves, Shimkus said.

He said that not enough money is budgeted in the last year of the plan. The cost would be pushed along to subsequent budget years, Shimkus said.

Durbin said the federal government is spending $35 billion per month on the war in Iraq and Congress is being asked for almost $200 billion more.

None of that is paid for, Durbin said.

Shimkus previously said he does not want to expand a government program.

The bill brings children who are currently in private health care insurance plans into a government-run program, he said. I fully support getting every child into an insurance plan; I do not support bringing children who are already covered into a government-run plan.

Durbin said the number of uninsured children has dramatically increased for the first time since 1998. The number of uninsured children rose to 8.7 million in 2006, up from 8 million in 2005, a 9 percent increase.

Shimkus said he believes the increased tobacco tax that the bill would impose to pay for insuring more children would put an unfair burden on the poor, who pay a disproportionate share of tobacco taxes.

Durbin brought a guest to the news conference -- Rebecca Bennett of Belleville, a mother of five, whose husband is a school custodian.

Bennett said her family would be in dire straits were it not for a similar statewide program called All Kids. She said she does not know how her family would get along without it.

We would probably eat less, she said.

Durbin said legislators worked out a compromise that would provide health care coverage to more than 10 million low-income children, compared to the current 6.6 million under the existing program.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Two Intense Days of DFA Training with Dedicated People

Democracy for America (DFA) training is 16 hours of intensive information overload for willing (i.e., rather strange) people traveling several miles when they could spend their invaluable time doing anything else. Yet, attendees take advantage of the opportunity to understand the nuances of building and networking with grassroots activists in the skills and strategies to take back the people's control of the democratic process in a republic. Every activist attending the training has the potential to manage a state senate, city council or U.S. Congressional campaign or even become a candidate.

Springfield, Illinois, during the weekend of September 29 and 30, 2007, was the 22nd DFA training weekend in the U. S. It was also the last session on the schedule for 2007.

The Springfield location originally was not part of the 2007 schedule. Pam Gronemeyer, founder of Downstate Democrats for Change, contacted DFA, encouraged the organization to add one more date, and locate the training at the Internation Union of Operating Engineers - Local 965 in Springfield, IL. Michael Ziri, Springfield Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority (SMEAA), District 1 Member, was the Springfield coordinator.

Anyone can download a bunch of how-to files on communications, building an activist base, fundraising, campaigns organization, voter targeting, and organizing methods and follow them word for word. Wise people attend 2 days of seminars listening to highly experienced trainers as they explain the material, tell their personal stories, and provide the answers to a myriad of questions. They spend that time inside large and small rooms regardless of the beautiful, perfect weather outside and countless community activities.

The DFA trainers use real examples of past campaigns in their lectures. They explain why which campaign methods become success stories, and others do not. Creating a message sounds simple. During the Springfield, IL, DFA training weekend, the trainers used the 2004 Election Cycle to prove how easy messages become distorted – if anyone ever hears them:

  1. Republican incumbent President George Bush’s campaign’s messages used flipflopper, no patriot, wimpy, elitist, etc., to describe Democratic candidate John Kerry. Few people remember what the Kerry campaign said about his opponent.
  2. Strong, trustworthy, moral, patriotic defined George Bush throughout 2004. JHOF (meaning unknown) described John Kerry.
  3. The correct response to the question Will you win the election is a vehement YES! John Kerry chose to answer with a I intend to try.

Activists can apply the DFA training material and lectures to any level of politics they choose. They can

  • calculate Democratic performance for someone running for town clerk;
  • hold any public official accountable;
  • identify and organize Democrats between elections; and
  • recruit, train, and staff enough volunteers in offices to support any campaign.

Scott Harper (IL-13) and Joe McMenamin (IL-19) are 2008 Democratic congressional candidates. They and members of their campaigns attended the seminars both days. They will use everything they learned to defeat Republican incumbents Judy Biggert and John Shimkus respectively. Other notable attendees included 2004 congressional candidate Tim Bagwell, PhD, one of the coordnators, and John Warner from Shelbyville, IL. John is heavily involved in politics and a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

While the two-day event is rather intense, there is room for fun. A Saturday night at a local establishment that serves good pizza and drinks can have creative results. One attendee traveled to the Springfield, IL, training from Independence, MO, the home of famous Democrat Harry S. Truman. Now the state is the home of such infamous Republicans as Congressman Roy Blunt (close ties to another infamous Republican, Tom DeLay), former senator John D. Ashcroft’s protégé and Governor Matt Blunt, his son. In short, the atmosphere was perfect to develop a clear, concise message to describe the unethical business practices of the Blunt Dynasty.

An exhausting 16 hours in 2 days during 1 weekend is all it takes. People learn to

  • understand the realities of politics,
  • empower the people,
  • and organize for the present and the future.

They translate a little knowledge into tangible differences today and tomorrow. The training also continues with Night School and eventually, an advanced training curriculum. Learning never ends.

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