Tag Archives: Chris Collins

Cognitive Dissonance

23 Oct

 

 

October 22, 2013
 
Dear Mr. Bedenko,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent lapse in government funding.  I appreciate hearing from you. 

On October 1, President Obama chose to shutdown the government, despite four different measures by the House to keep the government open and fully funded, which I wholeheartedly supported.  This occurred – as it has 17 times before since 1972 – as a result of the failure to pass a federal budget by the end of the fiscal year. 

The federal budget is made up of 12 appropriations bills that fit within the topline budget number laid out by both the House and Senate.  While the House has passed a budget blueprint along with many of these appropriations bills, the Senate had failed to act.  The only action the Senate has taken has been in passing a topline budget number – and they did this for the first time in four years after the House tied congressional pay to actual results in passing a budget blueprint.

It is the primary responsibility of the President and Congress to pass a budget. This process is critical in ensuring the federal government lives within it means. Instead, however, Congress has continued to kick the can down the road numerous times by passing continuing resolutions that do nothing to get our fiscal house in order. 

With a $700 billion a year spending deficit that is adding to our nearly $17 trillion national debt, we cannot keep relying on continuing resolutions to keep the government funded.  We need to make tough decisions and muster the political courage to avoid adding billions more to a credit card bill our children and grandchildren will be left to pay. That is why I opposed the Continuing Appropriations Act for 2013 (H.R. 2775), because it failed to structurally balance our budget.

I understand the difficult nature of the shutdown and voted to avoid it.  The House voted on four different continuing resolutions that included provisions that would have helped alleviate the enormous tab our government is leaving behind for future generations.  I even supported 16 separate continuing resolutions to reopen certain functions of the federal government that are critical to the welfare of this nation.  However, the President and the Senate on multiple occasions ignored these pieces of legislation and numerous offers to sit down at the table and work out a deal that would end the shutdown and avoid a debt crunch.  They chose not to act for two whole weeks and waited to negotiate until the final days of when the U.S. Treasury needed an extension on its borrowing authority.

During the shutdown, I committed to not taking a salary because it was the right thing to do.  I introduced the Government Shutdown Fairness Act that would withhold the salaries of Members of Congress during any future shutdown.  As a private sector businessman, I know firsthand that running a successful company means leading by example and making sacrifices to keep the company going.  I cannot remember the number of times I had to forego a paycheck to make sure my employees and vendors got paid, and the company stayed afloat. Members of Congress need to do the same.

America has a significant and dangerous spending problem.  The President and the Senate need to recognize this and get serious about finding a long-term solution that will put us on a fiscally responsible track while growing our economy.  I was not elected to Congress to continue the status quo, I was elected to fix serious problems that threaten future generations from obtaining the American Dream. 

I appreciate you contacting my office regarding issues important to you and your family.  I hope you will consider signing up for my newsletter at www.chriscollins.house.gov to stay up to date on the critical issues facing our country.

Sincerely, 
 

 

 

CHRIS COLLINS

Member of Congress

But Chris Collins Voted Nay

18 Oct

The revisionism has started early. Ted Cruz Republican Chris Collins is playing an elaborate game of make-believe, and the only way it will work is if we’re as stupid as he assumes us to be. The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski reports that Collins is attempting to urinate on all our legs, all the while insisting that it’s a meteorological phenomenon. 

Collins is now denying that he supported the disastrous GOP shutdown, and is claiming that tea party underpants gnome Ted Cruz did everyone a disservice. Say what, now?

Both Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence and Rep. Tom Reed of Corning said in response to questioning that it was a mistake for House Republicans to tie the funding of government to defunding of Obamacare – a strategy that they and the GOP leadership had agreed to under pressure from tea party forces.

Collins, in an interview, blamed the failed strategy on Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who goaded several dozen ultra-conservative lawmakers in the House to pursue the shutdown strategy.

“I think Sen. Cruz has done a disservice to the Republican Party,” Collins said. “He is an extremist, and he’s the one that had the rallying cry of repeal Obamacare, defund Obamacare, delay Obamacare.”

This is astonishing. I slow-clap the chutzpah here. Collins’ entire congressional tenure is founded on his denunciations of OBAMAPELOSI and Obamacare. Now he’s saying that he’s not just another irrelevant backbencher, but a useful idiot for the tea party? Even though he voted to shut down the government and risk default unless Obamacare was defunded, he thinks it was a bad idea? Even though, all the while, he voted precisely the way Ted Cruz did, now all of a sudden Ted Cruz is an “extremist” because he holds exactly the same position as Collins vis-a-vis Obamacare? Surely we’re through the looking glass, here. As a reminder, 

While downstate Republican Congressman Peter King was hammering the stupidity and pointlessness of the Ted Cruz/tea party position, Chris Collins blindly got led along

The local congressmen likened the bipartisan agreement to “kicking the can down the road,” and said they could not support it because it does not include long-term budget reforms.

Still, both of them sharply criticized the strategy that started the shutdown in the first place. “Shutting down the government over Obamacare was obviously a mistake,” Collins said. Without the shutdown, “we would have been talking about the failure of Obamacare in starting up on Oct. 1, proving the point it was not ready for prime time. Instead, the shutdown overwhelmed.”

As early as mid-September, Collins voiced concern about tying the defunding of Obamacare to the must-pass continuing resolution to fund the government in the new fiscal year that started Oct. 1. Instead, he said at the time, the House would be better off focusing its energies on the Oct. 17 expiration of the debt ceiling.

Nevertheless, Collins voted for the GOP legislation that tied the funding of government to the defunding of Obamacare, and a follow-up bill to delay the health reforms for a year.

Asked why, Collins said: “Because ultimately that was the bill that was put forward to vote on. And you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good …. There will be things you don’t like but in this case it was a bill to keep the government open. We needed to keep the government open. There was not another bill.”

Collins blamed that fact on Cruz and his acolytes, who pushed the shutdown showdown over the objections of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House GOP leaders.

“I think Ted Cruz and that extremist group, which is focused on something that can’t be done as long as this president is in office, has distracted us from moving forward and working on deficit, entitlements, tax reform and immigration reform,” Collins said.

So, shorter Chris Collins: yes, if my friend jumped off the Empire State Building, I would do that, too. 

But look at the “can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” quote – he applied that to the idiot positions he took because his friends told him to, but he didn’t think it equally applicable to reopening the government and avoiding default on existing sovereign debt?

If you took the time to read through all of Chris Collins’ shutdown-era Tweets yesterday, you’d have noticed that he had voted to restore funding to certain programs. It was as if Republicans like he suddenly discovered that the federal government didn’t exist solely to hand out Cadillacs to welfare queens, but also affected people who may be potential prime Republican voters. 

During the shutdown, Collins voted to restore funding to America’s National Parks, and to the National Institutes of Health. (Roll Call 513, 514). Collins thought linking Obamacare to a shutdown was such a bad idea, he voted to do so no fewer than four times.  The more their poll numbers tanked, the more federal programs Collins suddenly thought were “essential” – WIC, the FDA, Head Start.  Suddenly, they were cherry-picking the affected programs that were making the news.  He tried to tell you that it sort of sucks that cancer kids and tourists were getting shafted because of the tantrum party’s Ted Cruz Pointlesspalooza. Well, a continuing resolution to fund the government without affecting Obamacare would have restored funding to all of them

Wednesday night’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote to re-open the government and avoid default on our sovereign debt restored funding. The National Parks and Smithsonians were open today. The NIH, NASA, and the PandaCam were all back up and running Thursday. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. (Roll Call 550). 

Re-opening the government returned 800 FAA employees – some of them safety inspectors – to work. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is back at work. So are the workers at the National Transportation Safety Board and the United States Department of Agriculture, making sure our skies and food are safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is once again making sure your kids’ tchotchkes are free from lead paint. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is again working to ensure that you breathe clean air and drink clean water. The Food & Drug Administration is once again working to approve new medicines and ensure that your food and medicines are reasonably safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to ensure citizens’ health, and the National Institutes of Health are back at work trying to cure cancer. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is back to work investigating claims of discrimination. The National Labor Relations Board is once again ensuring that workers are not being illegally exploited. Economic data will once again be analyzed, and loans put on hold due to the shutdown at the Federal Housing Authority can be reopened. Low-income people’s housing will once again receive their Housing & Urban Development funding, the National Weather Service will get back to work tracking hurricanes, and the National Geological Survey will monitor the ground for devastating earthquakes. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

CIA personnel are back to work, as are people providing services to veterans. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

All of these essential services that “we the people” have tasked the federal government with providing are being restored. 

But Chris Collins wanted none of it. If it was up to him, they’d all still be closed, their people furloughed. We’d now be threatening default on our sovereign debt. This is good for small business how, exactly? 

The amazing truth is that Chris Collins is not a leader, but a follower. He will take positions that go directly against the best interests of his constituents and the country when his friends tell him to. He will vote for things he thinks are dumb in order to try and get one over on the President, and when it fails miserably, he’ll try to weasel out of it and throw his buddies under the bus. He might feel comfortable calling Ted Cruz an “extremist”, but there is absolutely no sunlight between Cruz’s position and Collins’. They are like-minded in everything – except Cruz led while Collins followed along, blindly and unquestioning, even when he supposedly thought it was dumb.

Chris Collins isn’t just irresponsible, his willingness to keep the government shut down and to risk default and global financial catastrophe is downright dangerous. Never forget that Chris Collins voted “nay” to reopen the government and keep you and your family safe, and that he risked another recession. You can be a Republican and see that this is bad for people and small business. 

The Nihilist Sound and Fury of Chris Collins

17 Oct

There isn’t any way to sugarcoat it. Republican Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) voted last night to maintain the shutdown of the federal government, and to risk the United States’ first-ever default on its sovereign debt. His behavior during this crisis has been striking for its patronizing cynicism, backbencher grandstanding, and nihilist sound & fury. 

Below is a collection of almost every Tweet sent from Collins’ account, starting the week before the shutdown through Wednesday morning. It tracks nicely with the general rudderless cluelessness of the Republican shutdown of 2013. 

When Chris Collins followed along and voted to shut the government and risk default over Obamacare, he and his cohorts effectively stole $24 billion from the U.S. Economy. In the midst of a slow recovery from the 2008 global financial meltdown and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Collins helped to slow GDP growth this quarter from an estimated 2.6% to 2%. For all his concern-trolling about “small business”, this is inexcusably irresponsible. 

And for what? Look at the chart above. As they stumbled and bumbled through this standoff that Senator Ted Cruz orchestrated for them, the Republicans made wild and crazy demands of the Democrats and the President – DO THIS or the shutdown will continue and we’ll flirt with default on debt that the US has already incurred – Iraq War, Bush tax cuts, Afghanistan war, bank bailouts, stimulus – existing debt. They got none of it. 

Frankly, they bought their own bullshit about what a weak negotiator Obama is; what weaklings the Democrats are. They’ll cave. They have no resolve. But instead, cooler heads prevailed and a deal was struck to do everything that Obama wanted and nothing that the tea party wanted – reopen the government, raise the debt ceiling, and then we’ll talk. This was the deal that the Senate passed overwhelmingly last night; that the House passed overwhelmingly last night. That margin, to me, is the difference between realistic representatives who are in Washington to do right by the country – who put people and the good of the nation over partisanship – and the reactionary ideologues who make up the secessionist America-last bloc. The latter is the group to which Collins firmly belongs. 

The tragedy of it is that he would plunge an already weak economy into unprecedented chaos; that he chose to stab the wound more instead of placing a Band-Aid on it. But it gets worse: 

That’s from Facebook, but this is what he told the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski: 

“The bottom line is, I didn’t come here to kick the can,” said Collins, who was elected to Congress last year. “This doesn’t deal with any of our entitlement spending. It doesn’t change the trajectory of our deficit, which is $700 billion a year. And therefore I can’t support it, and I’m going to vote no,” he said before Wednesday night’s 285-144 vote to approve the legislation.

Entitlement spending. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The 27th may be packed with Republicans thanks to gerrymandering, but it’s also packed with seniors who rely on Medicare and Social Security (there’s lots of rural poverty, too, so don’t think there aren’t plenty of Medicaid recipients, as well). When you examine the Tweets below, you’ll note that Collins considers Medicare and Social Security (at least) to be “essential services”. Which ones does he want to cut? By how much? What barriers does he want to place between seniors and their entitlements? Means testing? Changing the age of eligibility? 

The continuing resolution passed Wednesday night is, by the way, a continuing of a Democratic cave to the Republicans – it contains the sequester cuts, which Democrats vehemently oppose. The spending is already significantly lower than the Democrats wanted – even lower than what Paul Ryan originally proposed. It is so spartan that it was supposed to be the fallback position so politically unpalatable to both sides that it would act as an incentive for everyone to work out a compromise. 

So, Chris Collins – this self-appointed champion of small business over people, wants to: 

  • Abolish Obamacare, ensuring the continuation of the third-world insurance status quo we had in 2007, which means medical bankruptcies, lifetime maximums, less coverage for more money, profit motive to prevent people from getting care they need, and coming between people and their doctors; 
  • Reduce spending on “entitlements” on which seniors rely, like Medicare and Social Security; 
  • Risk the country defaulting on already-incurred sovereign debt – something that has never before happened and which every responsible economist has warned would be a catastrophe for people and businesses throughout the world; 
  • Maintain the government shutdown; 
  • Do real, palpable harm to his constituents in order to score political points against the President. 

Collins isn’t one of the moderate Republicans that reflect the New York GOP – he is a nihilist who would just as soon have his district secede from the nation to escape the duly elected clutches of OBAMAPELOSI. He wants to destroy America over a law that Congress passed, the President signed, and the Supreme Court upheld, which helps Americans get affordable, quality health insurance. Whatever harm Collins thinks Obamacare is doing to the country, it pales in comparison to what default would do, and he voted to default, voted to keep the government closed, and voted to slow economic growth. Chris Collins is an utter trainwreck. 

 

 

Ted Cruz, TEDx, and Tea Party

15 Oct

I hope Ted Cruz and all our other Canadian friends enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I hope my American brethren enjoyed being reminded what a genocidal monster / proud Italian explorer Christopher Columbus was. Here are some things. 

1. I posted something last week with specific questions, but although the article racked up 18 comments, no one answered them specifically, so I’ll try again

What do you think our regional priorities should be? How do we sell fundamental, deep regional political, social, educational, and economic change to a conservative and resistant population? How can we sell these big ideas while convincing people (a) that they aren’t going to “lose” while others “win”, and that these changes will benefit them, too?

2. Today is Buffalo TEDx day, and if you can’t be there, you can follow along here

3. The tea party shut down the government over Obamacare. Everything about it has been a disaster for the Republican Party. How many times have you heard these dummies denounce the size and scope of the federal government? How many times have you read how their pledgeholder Grover Norquist wants to shrink the federal government so he can drown it in its bathwater? Yet, when these guys get the government shutdown they want, they hold an unironic protest in Washington, throwing “Barrycades” at the White House? The shutdown and looming default fears have completely supplanted the problems people have had with the Obamacare signup website in the news. A deal is expected to be struck sometime today or tomorrow, and it will be a resounding defeat for Republicans in congress. It’s so bad that some are calling on Democrats to show mercy and help out. When the deal is struck, the government will reopen, the debt limit so our creditors are repaid, and there will be a deal to revisit and soften the harshness of the sequester. But at least Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman will still try to arrest Obama in November, so that’s nice.

Remember: Brian Higgins opposed the government shutdown and wants the government to pay its debts. Chris Collins supported the government shutdown, and wanted to link defunding Obamacare with reopening government and raising the debt ceiling. He held the government hostage to ensure that average people would have a harder time obtaining affordable, quality health insurance, and maintaining the health care status quo. The government has lost billions of dollars during the shutdown, and small businesses would be devastated by the global shock a default would bring. Collins is simply irresponsible – bad for America and bad for New York.  

4. Ideas for what to do with Buffalo’s Outer Harbor are like assholes – everyone’s got one, and they all stink

Chris Collins & Pathology Disguised as Policy

9 Oct

There’s supposedly a group of moderate Republicans who are willing to to vote for a clean Continuing Resolution (CR), which would fund the government and not include some sort of fantastical effort to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Chris Collins is not one of these people. He never was, and he never will be. He is a demagogue of the lowest sort, who feeds of the government teat while positioning himself to be a leader in Congress – his ego won’t tolerate anything less. Collins is a better-spoken Carl Paladino. He’s a wealthier, more polished Rus Thompson. He’s not a leader – he’s a follower; a wealthy tea party parrot. 

As it stands now, this narcissist backbencher has whatever “principles” FreedomWorks and the Heritage Foundation order him to hold. Now the truth is laid bare – Chris Collins cares about Chris Collins, and no one else. This is why he is helping to hold the country hostage over Obamacare

He has health insurance, but doesn’t frankly care if you do or don’t. It’s not important to him, and he believes that he was elected based on his repetition of “Obama”, “Pelosi” and/or “Obamacare” – a law he lies about daily. It’s like the tea party hatred trifecta that he got himself, and the omniphobes love it. 

Collins thinks Obamacare is horrible for the economy. That’s why Zeptometrix and Volland must be readying to accept Euros or Swiss Francs, because – like a lemming –  Collins has followed the rest of the suicide caucus of Republicans who are threatening not just the work of the federal government, but the global economy as a whole. And for what? To ensure that you can’t get affordable private health insurance. That’s it. 

The pinkos over at the Economist believe that the Republicans are in a completely untenable situation. Having manufactured a crisis, they are cornered. The continuing resolution would fund the government at tea party-approved sequestration levels – something the Democrats already detest.

When Mr Obama stops speaking as a partisan advocate of ambitious liberal goals, adopts his mature school-principal voice, and demands simply that political players adhere to reasonable norms of democratic governance, Republicans are left with nothing to oppose except the reasonable norms of democratic governance. At the moment, Republicans need to be reminded that Democrats do not want the government to reopen and the interest on our debt to be paid. They want the government to reopen, double its infrastructure spending and guarantee pre-school from age three to poor Americans; they want to pay the interest on our debt, then borrow more to run larger deficits right now and for the next couple of years, and lock in higher taxes five to ten years down the road to handle the long-term deficit problem. A fight between Democrats and Republicans over whether or not those are good ideas is a fight America can survive and even thrive with. A fight over whether or not to default on our debt isn’t.

Cue Chris Collins, unpatriotic follower of Washington fashion: 

 

There you have it. Collins and the rest of the GOP want to “talk”. This despite their months-long abject refusal to do anything of the sort

Perhaps there’s a silver lining, though. In his partisan blindness, he has discovered the value of big government. 

False. First of all, the federal Amber Alert site doesn’t issue alerts – it merely collects and disseminates statistics. Second of all, he tweeted the wrong link to Michelle Obama’s health initiative. What does Snopes.com have to say about Collins’ asinine allegation

 

Why would a sitting Congressman lie – in public, to his constituents – about something like this? For short-term political gain? Is he just pathological? 

This one is fantastic, really. Obamacare is working because it is a permanent appropriation – mandatory spending specifically budgeted-for in 2010 by an act of Congress. It doesn’t need to be reauthorized. 

National Parks and the National Institutes of Health? Why? Don’t you remember Collins’ declaration that, “people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things“? 

This is all a distraction from the real points: 

1. Chris Collins has a lot invested in the failure of the Affordable Care Act. If it is a success, he’ll be in a spot of trouble. If it’s a success and his constituents come to appreciate it, he’ll be in a lot of trouble, as his words come back to haunt him. 

2. Chris Collins had an opportunity to vote in favor of funding the National Institutes of Health, the Amber Alert website, the National Parks, and all the other federally-run and paid-for programs that have been adversely affected by the government shutdown. He failed and refused to do so, because he is not a leader who is looking out for his constituents’ best interests, but a follower who is concerned only about political expediency and his own congressional tenure. 

3. Chris Collins will say anything – will concoct any lie – to gain a perceived political advantage – it can be as trivial as a claim that the Amber Alert system is shut down, or as serious as a claim that people don’t die from cancers anymore. 

4. Chris Collins is a contented passenger on the tea party-driven bus that is hurtling the United States towards global economic disaster.  

5. The Affordable Care Act was debated and negotiated. Passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President in 2010, and declared Constitutional by a conservative Supreme Court. It is the law of the land, and Collins is acting extra-Constitutionally, attempting to nullify a duly enacted statute. What other statutes would Collins like to see de-funded or repealed? If unsuccessful there, over what other laws would he shut down the government. or risk the full faith and credit of the American treasury? The House has voted over 40 times- unsuccessfully – to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If Republicans want it gone, they should elect themselves a president and a Senate. 

President Obama said he is willing to talk with them about whatever they want to discuss – including the Affordable Care Act. All they have to do is remove the figurative gun from the country’s head, and re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling. Simple. Because ending the shutdown and avoiding default isn’t a win for Democrats and Obama – it’s what the country desperately needs. Is Collins more interested in destroying Obama than in running the government? That’s not policy – that’s pathology. 

Chris Collins, millionaire of Clarence, is a new breed of confederate secessionist – willing to take down the entire country over a law with which he disagrees, because it helps people obtain quality, affordable, private health insurance in a new marketplace. We’ve crossed over from loyal opposition, and we’re deep in lunatic territory. 

I hope Collins and his family like that federal healthcare program. 

Collins: Give me Your Strong, Your Rich

23 Sep

 

Captain Handout

Shorter Krugman

A safety-net program that is designed to help people from going hungry has grown as a result of the worst recession since the Great Depression, is working exactly as it should. Because average benefits amount to $4.45 per day, it’s hardly the malingering incentive Republicans accuse it of being, instead, it’s just proof of Republican mean-spiritedness and class warfare. 

Never forget that Chris Collins was one of only two New York Congressmen to vote for dramatic cuts to a program that works. Collins is someone who knows and cares nothing of the poor – to his mind, they are not his constituents, only “small businesses” are. The other is under investigation for massive, chronic tax evasion. In Collins’ mind, government only works when it’s an IDA, doling out welfare to “small businesses”. (Don’t IDA handouts generate complacent malingering in businesses?) Poor, hungry people might as well go to hell. 

War on Poverty Pivots to War on Poor People (and other things)

18 Sep

1. Congressional Republicans aren’t just satisfied to vote 41+ times to prevent all Americans from having affordable, quality health care. They aren’t just satisfied devising tricky, procedural ways to prevent subsidies for America’s conservative, market-based health insurance scheme from being funded. They are now focusing laser-like on the real culprits in America’s continued slide into Somalian-style libertarianism: working poor people receiving food stamps

Can you imagine? We feed the needy! We used to link farm subsidies with food stamps, because (a) compromise; and (b) food stamps are an indirect farm subsidy themselves. Clearly, this is something that the new plutocracy cannot tolerate. All of society’s ills stem not from, e.g., bank bailouts and corporate welfare, but from the working poor having a little extra help from the government so they can not only pay for rent and supplement all the expenses cut from school budgets, but also eat food!

…the House GOP proposal largely targets a part of the food stamp program that often serves the elderly and the disabled, who would have to resort to seeking food from already overburdened charities if the cuts actually became law.

“The food pantries are already struggling, and that’s where people are going to go,” said Kelly Ann Kowalski, director of Food for All, a Buffalo nonprofit that aims to address hunger in the community, in part by helping people sign up for food stamps.

As for the work requirement in the House bill, other than the seniors and the disabled, “there are few people who call us who aren’t working,” Kowalski said.

Republicans, however, see things very differently.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, noted that the bill’s food stamp cuts are not aimed at the poorest of the poor. Instead, they’re aimed at parts of the food stamp program that allow people to qualify without an asset or income test.

“People are gaming the system,” he said. “People are saying that deserving, eligible people are going to get their food stamps cut. There’s no truth to that.”

Collins also noted that while the old farm bill is set to expire Sept. 30, the real deadline facing Congress is Dec. 31. That’s because farm programs are funded on a seasonal basis, meaning they’re already set for the rest of this year. In addition, he noted that food stamps are funded “on autopilot” and will continue even if the Sept. 30 deadline is breached.

What’s more, Collins said it’s important that the House pass the food stamp bill – which would be combined with a farm bill that it passed separately earlier in the summer – so that the House and Senate can move toward final negotiations on a new five-year farm bill.

Chris Collins, of course. He’s never met a poor he didn’t…. wait, he’s probably never met a poor, full stop.  (When was his last town hall meeting?) The Republicans hate everything except the very rich, now. 

2. Erie County’s Press Releasor-in-Chief Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw gets hit for taking dirty money from criminal Big Cancer, and the loss of staff – including the instigator of GarbageGate Teresa Fraas – leaves him not so much with “best and brightest” but with “nobody”

3. Season 2 finale of HBO’s the Newsroom, Will McAvoy is asked whether he is a Republican so he can maintain credibility when criticizing Republicans. He responds, 

No, I call myself a Republican because I am one.

I believe in market solutions and common sense realities and the necessity to defend ourselves against a dangerous world and that’s about it.

The problem is now I have to be homophobic.  

I have to count the number to times people go to church.

I have to deny facts and think scientific research is a long con.

I have to think poor people are getting a sweet ride.

And I have to have such a stunning inferiority complex that I fear education and intellect…in the 21st century.

But most of all, the biggest new requirement, really the only requirement is that I have to hate Democrats.

And I have to hate Chris Christie for not spitting on the president when he got off of Air Force One.

The two-party system is crucial to the whole operation.  There is honor in being the loyal opposition. And I’m a Republican for the same reasons you are.

I used to be a Republican, and I left the party in 2003, but it left me in 2000 when George W. Bush declared that his most influential political philosopher was “Jesus Christ”. So, when I criticize it relentlessly, it’s because watching its descent into a madness that has literally helped to destroy the middle class, I do so as if I’m watching a relative who’s become a schizophrenic, muttering nonsense to unheard voices, and refuses to get help. 

4. This is a great ad: 

Is the Town of Greece a Christian One?

7 Aug
Here’s a press release that Congressman Chris Collins issued

Congressman Collins and 84 members of the House of Representatives file an Amicus Curiae brief to support religious freedom

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) showed his support for the town of Greece, NY in the upcoming Supreme Court case, Greece v. Galloway today by signing an Amicus Curiae brief in support of Greece.

Greece v. Galloway, which concerns the religious establishment clause in the Constitution, will be argued this fall.

“It is clear that the Town of Greece has not violated the United States Constitution,” said Congressman Collins. “People from all over the world come to this country to escape religious persecution and are entitled to pray together with their communities as they please.”

Starting in 1999, the Greece Town Board began its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.” Town officials invited member of all faiths, and atheists, and welcomed anyone who volunteered to give the opening prayer. Two town residents sued, stating the primarily Christian prayers violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.  

The federal appeals court in New York agreed, because it found that almost all of the chaplains who offered to pray were Christian. Even though people of all faiths were welcome to offer their own prayers, the court found the prayer unconstitutional and the town of Greece was forced to stop.

Today, 85 Members of Congress filed an Amicus Curiae brief stating the history of religious freedom and the importance of legislative prayer as observed daily on a national level.

“Each legislative day, the Senate and House of Representatives open with a prayer from ministers of all faiths, from all over the country,” continued Congressman Collins. “As our federal legislative bodies welcome all, so did the Town of Greece. We must remain a nation that does not force a religion on any person, but is accepting of those who wish to publicly profess their faith and ask for guidance.”

Town of Greece v. Galloway is scheduled for oral arguments in the Supreme Court toward the end of this year.

On cross-motions for summary judgment, a District Court Judge ruled in favor of the town, dismissing the Complaint. The plaintiffs appealed, and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that,  

…the town’s prayer practice must be viewed as an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint. This conclusion is supported by several considerations, including the prayer-giver selection process, the content of the prayers, and the contextual actions (and inactions) of prayer-givers and town officials. We emphasize that, in reaching this conclusion, we do not rely on any single aspect of the town’s prayer practice, but rather on the totality of the circumstances present in this case.

The town’s process for selecting prayer-givers virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint.

adding, 

We do not hold that the town may not open its public meetings with a prayer or invocation. Such legislative prayers, as Marsh holds and as we have repeatedly noted, do not violate the Establishment Clause. Nor do we hold that any prayers offered in this context must be blandly “nonsectarian.” A requirement that town 34*34 officials censor the invocations offered— beyond the limited requirement, recognized in Marsh, that prayer-givers be advised that they may not proselytize for, or disparage, particular religions—is not only not required by the Constitution, but risks establishing a “civic religion” of its own. Occasional prayers recognizing the divinities or beliefs of a particular creed, in a context that makes clear that the town is not endorsing or affiliating itself with that creed or, more broadly, with religion or non-religion, are not offensive to the Constitution. Nor are we adopting a test that permits prayers in theory but makes it impossible for a town in practice to avoid Establishment Clause problems. To the contrary, it seems to us that a practice such as the one to which the town here apparently aspired—one that is inclusive of multiple beliefs and makes clear, in public word and gesture, that the prayers offered are presented by a randomly chosen group of volunteers, who do not express an official town religion, and do not purport to speak on behalf of all the town’s residents or to compel their assent to a particular belief—is fully compatible with the First Amendment.

What we do hold is that a legislative prayer practice that, however well-intentioned, conveys to a reasonable objective observer under the totality of the circumstances an official affiliation with a particular religion violates the clear command of the Establishment Clause. Where the overwhelming predominance of prayers offered are associated, often in an explicitly sectarian way, with a particular creed, and where the town takes no steps to avoid the identification, but rather conveys the impression that town officials themselves identify with the sectarian prayers and that residents in attendance are expected to participate in them, a reasonable objective observer would perceive such an affiliation.

So – the Court didn’t say Greece couldn’t start its town board meetings with an invocation or prayer – it’s just that town hall can’t turn itself into a particular church for that period of time. They must be random, they must be voluntary, and they must be inclusive enough so as to not convey the idea that the town considers itself to be a Christian town. 

Collins’ release is dated August 2nd, and the SCOTUSBlog doesn’t have the specific brief online. I look forward to reading Mr. Collins’ thoughts on what the 2nd Circuit decided. 

 

Chris Collins Plays Dress-Up & Other Things

6 Aug

Welcome to Buffalo: Read it in the style of Droopy Dog

1. I visited the Depew Amshack for the first time yesterday, and was struck by how utilitarian and pedestrian it all seems. Taking Amtrak from Buffalo to New York is time-consuming, given that freight takes precedence over passenger service, but there are definite advantages to taking the train. If we are someday lucky enough to join the 21st century and introduce high-speed rail service, it could feasibly take 2 – 4 hours to get from here to Manhattan at speeds of 150 – 200 MPH, instead of 8 – 9. It’s a crime that the gorgeous Central Terminal hasn’t seen a rail passenger since 1979, and instead we have a dumpy shack unceremoniously plopped off Dick Rd between Broadway and Walden.

Correction: I wrote it was utilitarian. But it’s not.

Well, it is insofar as there exists a platform from which you can access the train, and a person who will sell you a ticket, and even a restroom. But there’s not even so much as a newspaper box at the station to pick up the Buffalo News or USA Today. Older passengers have a tough time climbing up into the train – the platform isn’t at door-level.

You know, Rail travel doesn’t have to suck any more than going through toll booths has to suck

2. Apparently, when it comes to this year’s election for Mayor of Buffalo, people are less concerned with the color of the candidates’ skin, and more interested in what they want to do as candidates. The Buffalo News is ON IT. 

3. While not gleefully voting to withhold health insurance from millions of Americans, millionaire Chris Collins played dress-up on Monday, donning the brown uniform of a UPS deliveryperson, and pretended to be a common working man. No word on whether he added a “Six Sigma” logo to the uniform, as he did when he sold county merch for employees to wear. The picture shown below might even be considered offensive, given the fact that Collins is a consistent defender of the millionaire class, and acting against the interests of anyone who has to wear a nametag to work.  

The Obamacare Trainwreck

18 Jul

While freshman congressmen vote – yet again – to weaken or eliminate Obamacare, the news was actually quite good yesterday.

Good in a “it’s not Medicare-for-all, but it’s a vast improvement over the status quo” sort of way.

Yesterday, New York State revealed that rates for individual health insurance plans will plummet by over 50% next year, thanks to Obamacare. These are the “exchanges” you’ve been hearing about. If you can’t afford a plan, there will be a sliding scale of federal subsidies to help you pay for it. Why? Because it is far cheaper for the government to subsidize health insurance plans than to reimburse municipalities for unpaid bills resulting from uninsured people using the emergency room as a primary care facility. In the long run, prevention is cheaper than dealing with acute problems.

About 40 – 50 million Americans remain uninsured, and caring for their emergencies is something that we all subsidize. Our healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, and gets results that have plenty of room for improvement. For instance, Canada – with its socialized single-payer system – has lower maternal mortality than the US. Canada also spends a bit more than half on health care per capita than the US.

We’ll let Professor Krugman explain why this is going to work – and work spectacularly well.

To understand what’s happening in New York, you have to start with what almost everyone at least pretends to believe: Americans shouldn’t find it impossible to get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions that aren’t their fault. Two decades ago, New York tried to deal with this by imposing community rating: insurance is available to everyone, and the price doesn’t depend on your medical history.

The problem was that this created a death spiral: young, healthy people didn’t buy insurance, worsening the risk pool, driving up premiums, driving out more relatively healthy people, etc., until you were left with a rump of very ill people paying very high rates.

How do you deal with this? Well, ideally, Medicare for all. But since that wasn’t going to happen, you improve the risk pool by requiring everyone to buy insurance — the individual mandate. And since some people won’t be able to afford that, you also offer subsidies. Voila! ObamaRomneycare!

Where does the money for the subsidies come from? Partly by reducing corporate welfare: reducing overpayments for Medicare Advantage, reducing tax breaks for very generous insurance plans; partly with new taxes on the wealthy.

And while a few people will be hurt — young, healthy individuals too affluent to qualify for subsidies, wealthy taxpayers, etc. — a much larger number of people will be helped, some of them enormously.

Does this amount to “redistribution”? Well, yes — not as an end in itself, but yes, a lot of people will be made better off at the expense of an affluent few.

The reason why Obamacare will be popular? People who are happy will stay happy, while people who are uninsured will become happy with their new coverage.

Implementation won’t much affect the 78 percent of Americans currently covered through Medicaid, Medicare, or employer group health plans,” and among the remaining 22 percent, the predominant effect will be to get some subsidized health insurance.

Because the Obama administration decided to postpone the employer mandate for health insurance on businesses with over 50 full time (over 30 hrs/week) workers, congressional Republicans – who have a pathological, partisan, political vested interest in the failure of universal health insurance – voted yesterday to delay the implementation of the individual health insurance mandate, which is Obamacare’s quid for the insurers’ pro quo of guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. That mandate is why rates are going down in New York next year.

Among the people voting to postpone affordable insurance for millions of Americans was Chris Collins (NY-27), who has taken it upon himself as a clout-free congressional freshman to demonize Obamacare at every step.

The failure of Obamacare is a particularly acute need for Collins because he believes that he defeated Kathy Hochul on that issue alone. If the people in the 27th district suddenly have access to cheap, subsidized, quality health insurance, and discover that Obamacare isn’t the Stalinist Kenyan train wreck Collins has sold, they may very well turn on him and demand to know what his problem is.

Collins constantly talks about all the people who write to him, explaining that they will lose their hours at work thanks to Obamcare’s employer mandate. So, if he’s so concerned about these people, why doesn’t he sponsor legislation to protect those workers from that sort of thing? Could you imagine? Chris Collins sponsoring a worker protection law? I know, it’s a ridiculous notion because Collins exists only to protect business owners and the very wealthy. The idea of individual people having the government meet a need that private industry can’t or won’t is anathema to Collins and his conservative cohorts.

So, you’ll see Collins and other congressional Republicans constantly refer to Obamacare as a “trainwreck”, a catchphrase likely forged by Frank Luntz in the fires of Mount Doom. When Obamacare is implemented, and people begin to benefit from it, the conservatives will be exposed for the lying frauds they are.

The best part about this is that Republicans are so short-sighted and beholden to political expediency that they don’t realize that their constant “trainwreck” language is lowering the public’s expectations of Obamacare. If they are made to think it’s a disaster, and it doesn’t become a disaster, they’ll all look like idiot chicken littles.

Medicare Part D and the Children’s Health Insurance Program … got through their rocky implementations in large part because benefits obtained with bureaucratic difficulty are better than no benefits at all. He’s right, and this is why conservatives are “magnanimously” offering to delay implementation of Obamacare. They realize that once people have guaranteed access to health coverage, they won’t want to give it up, even if there are implementation problems.

The political landscape is already dire for those who still hope to repeal Obamacare, and they’re actually making their position worse by talking constantly about what a nightmare implementation is going to be. This fall, as the exchanges come on line, tens of millions of people are going to find they can get health coverage they never could before. They are likely to be quite happy about that, especially if they’ve been hearing for months in advance that it will be a mess.

So, when Obamacare is implemented and people are happy about it, I hope the voters take Collins’ scare tactics and throw them back in his face.

As an aside, I have asked Collins and his people numerous times in various media whether he holds health insurance through the federal government for himself and his family. I will conclude from the deafening silence that he does, and that excellent, federally subsidized health insurance is something to which he and his family are entitled – but you and I are not.

Not only that, but he will work tirelessly to prevent you and me from being guaranteed quality health insurance. Who goes into public service to screw the public?