Tag Archives: Chris Collins

Chris Collins Polls NY-27

17 Jul

Hey, I got mail from my Congresscritter, Chris Collins. I was very happy to receive it, because it made me feel important – like Collins really wanted my opinion!  Brad Riter and I discussed the letter in a podcast we recorded for Trending Buffalo

I Got a Letter from the Government

Anyone who has paid even casual attention to Chris Collins’ political career knows that he’s looking out for only one type of person – the taxpayer. He even started his own minor party line called “Taxpayers First”, and has carefully staked out a position whereby he is perceived to be the grand protector of the tax dollar. 

That’s why our Spaulding Lake millionaire congressional nobleman spent taxpayer money to mail this survey to me! He’s protecting my tax money by spending my tax money! It’s ingenious

The cover letter doubles down on the whole taxpayer theme – “Dear Taxpayer” isn’t just profoundly impersonal, it reduces my identity to a chore. “Dear Laundry-Folder”. “Dear Grocery Shopper”.  

Collins figured he eked out his defeat of incumbent Kathy Hochul by staking out a strong anti-Obamacare position. Indeed, the district isn’t one that’s thrilled with Obama or with health care reform, so there isn’t a breath that leaves Collins’ lungs without denigrating and calling for the complete repeal of Obamacare. He says he’s fought to reduce government regulations, but he’s also voted for massive farm subsidies in an effort to protect your “tax dollars”. 

So, he sent a survey along. Note the registration barcode – more on that below – it all looks so important and official. DO NOT DESTROY. OFFICIAL FEDERAL DOCUMENT. The only thing missing is the imprisonment threat you find on mattress tags. 

But what it really amounts to is a written push-poll. The questions are carefully crafted to mirror GOP talking points, so that Collins can lend himself a smidgen of extra legitimacy as he’s promoting the interests of the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class.  This is a document that represents true class warfare – the wealthy manipulating the aspirations of the poor and middle class to get them to support policies that are against their best interests. 

Is the country on the right or wrong track? Well, gosh, I like Obama, and he’s President, so I’ll put “right track”. But I can’t stand Republican obstructionist nihilism, so I think the country is also on the wrong track. What to do? Some questions were self-explanatory, but then you get to the “vouchers” question, and again – there’s nuance there. I think vouchers should be available to parents of children in failing schools. I do not, however, think that they should be standard for all public school districts. The Republicans are pushing vouchers because they do not believe in public education, and would just as soon pull money out of the system and into vouchers because it would have the joint effect of (a) destroying public education; and (b) busting teachers’ unions. After all, that’s what it’s all about for the millionaire party – making sure the working man and woman know their place and stay quiet; class warfare. 

Then you get to the questions about fundamental changes to Medicare and Social Security.  I’m under 55, and I’ve been paying into both programs towards my retirement since the mid-80s. How on Earth is it fair to anyone currently in the workforce to so fundamentally change a program that people have been paying into? Why is it ok to weaken Social Security and Medicare for someone 54 years old who has been paying into the system for almost 40 years?  

By the way – that important-looking barcode? I scanned it. It’s the barcode for the number 1. 

So, we turn to the second, perhaps stupider, page of this intern-drafted excreta. I don’t agree with private social security accounts because, among other things, I don’t want the government to be called upon to bail out people who do so when the happen to retire during a financial market meltdown such as the one that occurred in late 2008. Do I support Obama’s use of Executive Orders?  Only insofar as they are lawful, which they are. Do I think Congress should expand government, limit government, or keep everything the same? Well, because I’m not a cretin, I think that the issue is far more complicated than that, so I marked “unsure” and annotated my answer. 

Now, admittedly, I mis-read the “energy” question and marked two instead of one, but both of them are ones that I think the government should pursue, and no one’s really looking at this anything, they’re just harvesting email addresses. The United States is drilling more oil now than in 2005, and natural gas exploitation is booming thanks to hydrofracking. Fukushima and BP have shown us that off-shore drilling and nuclear power aren’t perhaps the best solutions to our energy needs, and while it’s important to exploit what we have, it’s also important to find alternatives and use less. 

I annotated another question by adding an answer.  In a question asking what the government should do to help stimulate the economy, there was only a simplistic binary choice – spend more, or reduce taxes on “private businesses and families” as opposed to what, public businesses and single people? So, I said – tax cuts on the middle class. Put more money in regular people’s pockets. 

There are two questions relating to non-scandal scandals. Benghazi and the IRS.  The 27th District is unaffected by either one of those things, and we live in a community with real problems that affect real people. These are partisan distractions by any measure, but to suggest in a push-poll that Congress should do more of that is just sad. 

On immigration, notice the wording – should illegals with no criminal history be allowed to “pay a fine and become a taxpayer?” I annotated that. Everyone on American soil – documented and undocumented – is a “taxpayer” in that they have a legal obligation to pay tax on income. Undocumented aliens are already “taxpayers” – the word he was hunting for was “citizen”. But in the very next question, he uses that term – asking whether undocumented aliens should be able to buy themselves a Green Card, but not citizenship. 

Should the government devote more attention to enforcing immigration law and securing borders? How do you say no to that? Yes, the government should do its job. Hurray. 

I enclosed a note.  

When your Congressman doesn’t have a care in the world, it must be difficult for him to manufacture empathy for people who do. His singular goal is to repeal Obamacare. I have asked him and his staff many times – on Twitter and elsewhere – two things: (a) does Chris Collins believe that every American should have access to affordable, quality health insurance; and (b) if Obamacare is not the good solution to the crisis of uninsurance and underinsurance in this country, what is his solution? What does CollinsCare look like? I have yet to receive an answer to either of these questions.

Furthermore, I don’t know whether Collins and his family are recipients of one of the federally subsidized health insurance plans that exist for the benefit of Congresspeople. I asked it on Twitter, but also placed a call to his Washington office July 11th at 9:38 and left a message for his press person to contact me. It’s now July 16th and I have not been granted the courtesy of a reply.

Is quality, federally subsidized health insurance something to which Collins and his family are entitled, but not us plebes? Does my Congressman think that people should have access to quality health care, and that the cost should be subsidized depending on ability to pay? Does he even think 50 million uninsured Americans who use the emergency room for primary care is a problem? 

Frankly, I don’t think Obamacare is the solution, either, but the status quo is worse. I now think Obamacare was a Democratic sellout to conservatives who turned their backs on their own idea in order to harm the Democratic President and, by extension, the country. Republican obstruction and attempts to kill Obamacare have served to condense my opinion into something different altogether. 

Health insurance in this country should not be tied to employment. Employers should be free from buying private insurance for their employees, and people should not have to choose employment based on whether or not they will receive health insurance. The solution is Medicare expansion to all Americans. Everyone joins, everyone pays. You want to use a private clinic and pay a private insurer for something extra? Knock yourself out – as long as every American has a guarantee of access to health care they need. 

I wish that my Congressman took his office seriously. It’s not just about protecting “taxpayers” from whatever he wants to demean as socialism. It’s about helping people who are in need or powerless. It’s about finding solutions to longstanding problems that the private sector can’t – or won’t – solve. I wish that I had a Congressman who thought that it was important for me and my family to have access to the same quality of healthcare as he. I wish that I had a Congressman who didn’t wage class warfare against the poor and middle class, instead holding onto an anachronistic and unproven “supply side” theory of trickle-down economics. I wish Batavia was as important to him as Benghazi. 

#CollinsCare

25 Jun

Many years ago, the thought was that people in government should seek to help the people. 

Somewhere along the line, that changed. Now, there’s a theory that one helps the people only indirectly, by first helping the rich and powerful. The middle class and the poor must wait for the handouts and subsidies to the very rich and to corporations to “trickle down” to them. 

It’s a long wait, indeed, because 30 years of adherence to that faith, the wealth hasn’t trickled down. It’s been concentrated in a small elite whose wealth keeps growing .

Representative Chris Collins is part of that 1%, and his staff have been very vocal on Twitter lately. Collins is evidently trying to carve out a niche whereby he is the Congressguy who most hates Obamacare. Here, he highlights a Chicago Tribune editorial that wrings its hands over the Affordable Care Act’s coming implementation.  He employs the hashtag “trainwreck” to describe the federal implementation of what had been the conservative solution to universal health insurance coverage – a mandate to purchase insurance through private companies or a government-run exchange. The coming “trainwreck” is merely a nationwide application of Massachusetts’ Romneycare. 

Here, Collins bemoans Washington “dysfunction” over defeat of a Farm Bill. The dysfunction came about because the Republicans demanded a reduction in food stamp spending because government is no longer about helping people down on their luck, but about helping to subsidize private farming. If you’re depending on some Democratic votes to pass the bill, Republicans should keep their members from deliberately provoking Democrats by adding unacceptable last-minute amendments to that bill. 

Here. Collins addresses the right-wing echo chamber. 

Check this survey out:

Did you see this? I looked and looked, but I didn’t see the survey that’s intended for average citizens who also happen to make up Collins’ constituency. After all, we vote for this guy, too. Why is he so concerned about the problems facing businesses? When he goes and talks to Greta Susteren about the poor, beleaguered businesses who are forced to cut people’s hours because of the coming Obamacare “trainwreck”. 

But the translation of that is: people are being deliberately denied health insurance coverage because neither the businesses nor their representative in Congress thinks it’s important. 

What’s Collins’ solution to the health insurance crisis? What is “CollinsCare”? He and his Twitter minions consistently avoid that question, falling back on the argument that NY-27 elected him and not Hochul, and therefore it is his job to demagogue Obamacare in order to ensure his re-election. But given his incessant agitation against the notion that average people should have health insurance coverage, we know what CollinsCare would look like. 

Under CollinsCare, medical bankruptcy is the way to reach universal coverage. 

Under CollinsCare, a vagina should continue to be a pre-existing condition. 

Under CollinsCare, your pre-existing medical conditions should continue to disqualify you from obtaining health insurance coverage. 

Under CollinsCare,  the ER is good enough for you, and preventive care is socialism. 

Under CollinsCare, treatment consists of “Maybe you Shouldn’t Have Gotten Sick”. 

Under CollinsCare, “middle class” is a synonym for “vassal”. 

Under CollinsCare, the best way to treat leukemia and other acute disease is to set up tip jars in convenience stores. 

Under CollinsCare, health insurance is a “trainwreck”, so it’s better to have medical debt you can’t pay. 

Under CollinsCare, a $1 million lifetime cap on insurance payouts is plenty. 

Under CollinsCare, having the 37th best health insurance system in the world is good enough. 

Under CollinsCare, being a citizen means not caring about your fellow citizens. 

Under CollinsCare, 50 million uninsured Americans is too few. 

Under CollinsCare, chemotherapy is for the privileged few. 

Under CollinsCare, your college grad loses coverage. 

Under CollinsCare, medical treatment is a privilege for the well-to-do. 

Under CollinsCare, the slogan is “Fuck People”. 

But in the video shown above, Collins tells Greta Van Susteren that the Affordable Care Act was passed “in the middle of the night” in a “hurry”. 

The Affordable Care Act was debated and negotiated between the Summer of 2009 and its signing in March 2010. It was reported out of committee in July 2009. The Senate vote took place at 7:05 pm on December 24, 2009. The final House vote took place months – on March 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm

No hurry. No “middle of the night”. If Collins would so brazenly lie about silly, easily rebuttable facts, it calls everything else he says or writes into question. 

Standards

7 Jun

In an exercise in facile nonsense, local Republicans Nick Langworthy and Chris Grant criticized Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz today because Poloncarz took to Twitter and Facebook to criticize the fact that JPMorganChase is closing a call center in Albion (Orleans County), eliminating 400 jobs. The Republicans played a bit of “gotcha” with Poloncarz, who accepted campaign cash from JPMorganChase in past races, and demanded that he return it for some unstated, obtuse reason

It only makes sense if these Republicans agree with Poloncarz, that JPMorganChase is a bad corporate citizen for announcing these layoffs – otherwise they wouldn’t be demanding he return anything. 

Yet Collins, who has said nothing in public about the loss of jobs in his district, owns between $100,000 – $250,000 in JPMorganChase stock, according to OpenSecrets. Certainly, he will show solidarity with 400 of his constituents who are about to lose their jobs by divesting himself of these holdings. Right? Yet, oddly, there seems to be an eerie silence on this question. 

I think owning $100 – 250,000 worth of stock in a corporate bad actor is worse than taking $3,160 from them to win some elections. 

Republicans remain silent on the fact that Poloncarz not only accepted over $3,000 in campaign cash from JPMorganChase, yet still felt comfortable criticizing them harshly.  I guess it shows that Poloncarz’s opinions and positions are not necessarily stifled or silenced by campaign contributions.

Isn’t that a good thing

Taking and Mooching

15 Nov

1. Collins Mistakenly Crashes Dem Shindig

From Roll Call’s “Heard on the Hill” column, an entry entitled, “Dude, Where’s My Caucus?”

A Democratic staffer camped out at this morning’s caucus meeting for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s big reveal witnessed a panicky exit by a perplexed newcomer.

“When they welcomed Leader Pelosi and everyone stood up to applaud, a frantic new member got up — breakfast plate in hand — rushed over to me and asked, ‘Wait … what meeting is this?!’ I said, ‘This is the Democratic Caucus.’ He said, ‘Oh s—, I’m in the wrong meeting. Where are the Republicans meeting?’” the anonymous tipster said of the mini-drama.

The confused caucuser? Rep.-elect Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

A Collins aide suggested it was all part of the boss’s master plan.

“Congressman-elect Collins believes very strongly in reaching bipartisan solutions to fix this country’s problems. What better way to accomplish that than introducing himself to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” the budding spinmeister assured HOH.

Ha ha very funny because Collins believes quite the opposite, based on what he said during the campaign. Collins only seeks bipartisanship when he controls the game, and as a freshman 1/435 he won’t be controlling anything.  After months’ worth of his hateful and negative Obamapelosi rhetoric, it’s delightful that he mistakenly crashed Pelosi’s party.  (Image courtesy Tom Dolina from Tommunisms.com).

2. Romney blames the 47% on his loss

Lest you thought that Romney tape wherein he asserts that he doesn’t care about – and can’t rely on – votes from the 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes, and see themselves as entitled welfare queen taker/victims, was a fluke

In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

Mr. Romney’s comments in the 20-minute conference call came after his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, told WISC-TV in Madison on Monday that their loss was a result of Mr. Obama’s strength in “urban areas,” an analysis that did not account for Mr. Obama’s victories in more rural states like Iowa and New Hampshire or the decrease in the number of votes for the president relative to 2008 in critical urban counties in Ohio.

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Talk about class warfare. 

Making sure that every American has access to quality health care isn’t a free gift you find in some government Cracker Jack box. It’s something that literally every other industrialized democracy has had in place for decades. It’s something every other 1st world nation implemented generations ago yet we still struggle with because of stupid rhetoric. But what it actually does is help treat disease, mend broken bodies, fight cancers, helps cure infections. It helps people; being able to obtain treatment without fearing bankruptcy or resorting to the emergency room is a good thing individually and societally. Your county taxes go to pay millions to reimburse the hospitals for unpaid-for ER care. Obamacare is much cheaper and more effective. 

Everything else Romney has to say about why he lost is just as insulting and accusatory as what he said to donors in Florida about the shiftless laziness of the 47% of Americans who “take” and “want stuff”. 

Romney and people like him love it when government gives free stuff to big business and millionaires. When government gives regular folks something that helps them, it’s socialism and negative. Mitt Romney’s election would have been an utter disaster and the American middle class dodged a bullet. 

Thankfully, even some Republican recognize how awful this sort of rhetoric is, and are trying to get people to cut it out

“We have got to stop dividing the American voters,” Jindal, the RGA’s incoming chairman, told reporters here. “If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage, and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly. One, we are fighting for 100% of the votes. And second, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period.”

Part of the American dream would include “not going bankrupt from medical care”, right? 

3. Social Media Fail

If someone leaves a negative (truthful) review of your business on Yelp, don’t threaten to sue them for their opinion. You may run into someone with some search engine optimization experience.

 4. Collins is dictating to President Obama

Reading this article, whereby rich person Chris Collins categorically refuses to raise taxes on himself and his neighbors, (what is proposed is a small hike in the rate on income earned in excess of $250,000) is infuriating mostly because of the dismissive way he refers to the President of the United States. It’s as if we elected a better-dressed, Botoxed Rus Thompson to go to Washington and stick his middle finger up at the President.  

“[T]ax increases and job creation “go together like oil and water.”” says Collins. Well, that’s patently untrue. What do you call someone who slavishly clings to an ideology that’s been proven wrong by empirical evidence? Hell, even Forbes acknowledges that the Bush tax cuts only affected 2.5% of small businesses. Just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you’re a small business or that you in any way hire anyone except the household help. 

Luckily, Tom Reed seems to have gotten a different message from his constituents; that Congress should stop bickering. Also notable is that outgoing representative Kathy Hochul sees a path to compromise. This is why it’s so devastating that she – and her pragmatic work to find common ground – will leave New York’s 27th District. 

Curious Funding of the Chris Collins for Congress Campaign

30 Oct

Here’s a document that congressional candidate for NY-27 Chris Collins (R-Clarence) filed with the FEC. It is his final pre-general election filing, and shows who gave him money, and how much. (Carl Paladino maxed out back in June. So did Robert Stevenson, and in October a whole bunch of PACs, local business figures, companies, and committees paid up

The federal limit for donations in a general election congressional campaign is $2,500. You’ll notice, however, that there are a lot of donations that exceed that amount, and are checked off with “primary” next to them, and are made well after the primary election ended. Collins can only use those donations over $2,500 marked “primary” to pay off his own loans to his campaign, (the primary election took place in June).  Is Collins informing his donors – some of them signing off on $5,000 checks – that their money is just going right back into his pocket?

It’s a tricky way for Collins to, essentially, double-fund his campaign – he loans the campaign money in the primary, raises primary funds to pay himself back, and then re-loan the money he raised in primary funds and paid himself back with the campaign to use in the general.  
 
Over the course of this election cycle, Collins has loaned his campaign $250,000 in the pre-primary filing, $400,000 in the October quarterly filing.  (Why is something called the “Western New York Victory Fund” located in a medical complex in Athens, GA? Also: 
 
 
 
All the while, Bob McCarthy can ooh and ah over Collins’ substantial war-chest. 
 

Collins

Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy

17 Oct

Chris Collins

In March 2007, the Erie County Republican Party unanimously endorsed Chris Collins as its candidate for County Executive. After two Giambra terms, replete with cheap politicking and fiscal disasters, Collins seemed to be a successful guy with novel ideas on how to take the county forward.  He pledged to reform county government, rebuild our economy, and restore jobs. I predicted that he would win as early as April of that year.

During the campaign, it was revealed that Collins had loaned money to an East Side slumlord and the debt went bad. When that happened, Collins could have foreclosed and re-sold the properties, or write it off and let them rot. Collins chose the latter, and it’s indicative of his complete lack of any empathy or engagement on urban issues.

He did win, and within the first 12 hours he pledged to hire a “Six Sigma black belt” at tremendous public expense to implement what average people call “common sense”. He eventually hired six-figure Six Sigma people. He even hired someone at over $100,000 to determine how to use county space. But he was doing good, simple things, too. Things that didn’t need million-dollar consultants.  However, in looking back on his first 100 days, there was a lot of stuff I liked.

By July 2008, top people were leaving his administration.  By August, it was becoming clear that Collins wasn’t one of us. He was one of them.  Let’s call it the dictatorship of the bureaucrats – elected officials and their hangers-on cutting petty deals over petty things, rather than addressing the big picture and providing this region with a vision.

Here, we are run by people like Brown and Casey, who are busy trying to engineer a party-political coup (and failing), or by people like Chris Collins who sweats the small stuff just fine (GPS in cars, running government “like a business”), but doesn’t really have any sort of overall vision for what he wants WNY to become. Brown and Casey are hacky members of a cliquey politburo; Collins is bureaucrat-in-chief.

He managed to do an end run around a sleepy legislature to get rid of Tim Kennedy’s Apprenticeship Law.  Under the law, companies bidding on county-funded construction work over a certain dollar amount had to maintain and participate in a state-certified apprenticeship program to teach young workers a trade.  As a commenter below notes, the program “demonstrates a commitment from a contractor the willingness to invest in our own area’s youth.  Also, the program provides for the base and structure that will allow for a competent, unbiased and impartial approach to ensure that when a graduate of the program earns the title of journeyman that they are indeed schooled in all of the requisite work a person with that title should be able to perform within a specified jurisdiction.  Finally, the law would ensure that New York State and local residents had a better chance of being employed on county projects.  The law was in fact largely passed due the discovery of circa 10 illegal workers being found performing asbestos removal in the Rath Building after the award of a contract to do the work to an out of town contractor.”

People like Chris Collins and Carl Paladino vehemently opposed the law for a reason and a pretext – the reason was that it helped keep private-sector union trades strong, which is anathema to Buffalo’s puny plutocrats. The pretext was that it drove up the cost of this sort of work. Yet as far as anyone can tell, there doesn’t seem to have been some sudden surge in construction since – and due to its – repeal. It’s part of the contemporary Republican ethos to destroy any protection for workers, whether it be good benefits, a living wage, and collective bargaining rights – the right of management and owners to dictate the terms of employment as an adhesion contract with absolutely zero regulation over wages and conditions; a reversion to the days of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

Taxes. Chris Collins pledged to lower them. Even today, he rails against job-killing high taxes. Are you totally incensed by Mark Poloncarz’s proposed 2013 budget, which includes a 3.4% property tax hike? Then Chris Collins’ October 2008 3.6% tax hike proposal must have really made you angry.  You must have been even more outraged with what happened later on, when he ended up demanding a 4.8% tax hike. Collins started cutting programs that help the urban poor and diverting money to fixing up suburban roads, calling them a quality of life issue. It was soon revealed that Collins kept a $16 million Medicaid liability off the books.

In the meantime, there was no explanation why 10 months’ worth of Six Sigma implementation at great public cost had not resulted in any palpable cost savings. The Democratic legislature amended Collins’ proposed budget to change its priorities and decrease the tax hike. Collins claims that Six Sigma saved a couple million dollars. Never has that claim been audited, reviewed, or backed up with any facts or evidence.  By all accounts, it cost taxpayers a couple million dollars, and few people know that Collins isn’t even certified as a Six Sigma anything. It’s as if government was being run by a malevolent, trendy management tome.

In the end, it was a choice between a Collins-backed 4.8% property tax hike, and the Legislature’s 0.0% hike. A Supreme Court Justice ruled that taxes would go up 1.6%. Chris Collins didn’t just raise your taxes, he went to court to make sure he could do it.

Meanwhile, you’ve probably heard Collins rail against the Obama stimulus, a collection of tax cuts and appropriations for public works; Keynesian pump-priming to address a growing crisis of falling economic demand. Back in 2009, however, Collins sang the stimulus’ praises.

“As County Executive, I believe strongly that infrastructure improvements are critical to the growth of Erie County,” said Erie County Executive Chris Collins.  “At a time when county resources are scarce, a possible injection of federal dollars could have a tremendous impact on Erie County’s aging and neglected infrastructure.  Funding for even a fraction of these projects would represent a significant investment in our community, the opportunity to hire thousands of local workers, and reduce our need for capital borrowing in the future.”

Senator Schumer made sure that the county received $750,000 in stimulus funding to balance the budget and offset Medicaid expenses. When all was said and done, Collins has $41 million in Obama stimulus money to thank for padding the county’s coffers. Money that was intended to be used to help spur demand and create jobs was instead shunted – like Giambra’s tobacco settlement money – into one-shot salves for budgetary shortfalls. He was downright cavalier about sitting on a pool of free money that was supposed to be put into the economy.

Unlike in his private business affairs, County Executive Collins was subject to financial oversight. This was not something he enjoyed, and he pushed vindictive cuts to the Comptroller’s office, which would have laid waste to any meaningful accountability for what Collins was doing.

Frankly, someone should ask Collins’ former spokesman, Stefan Mychajliw – who is now himself running for County Comptroller – what he thinks about what Collins tried to do to then-Comptroller Poloncarz’s office’s ability to do its job.

In April 2009, Collins completely disregarded an effort to implement a regional framework for planning and growth in a region where we have sprawl without population growth. Again- a lack of vision in favor of bureaucratic stasis. But his gamesmanship became epic, whereby the Legislature would legally override a Collins veto, and Collins would respond by simply jettisoning democratic procedure aside and declaring the override “null and void”

Throughout his administration, Chris Collins was fighting the Justice Department, which demanded that the county improve conditions in its jails. 2009 brought a legislative election, and Collins was set on jury-rigging the system in order to ensure that the second half of his term would be less litigious. He hired Kathy Konst as part of a ploy to leave the (D) line unoccupied. Collins pick Dino Fudoli went to court to keep his Democratic opponent’s name off the ballot. Fundamentally undemocratic gamesmanship, and it should taint Collins and Fudoli in perpetuity. Hell, Collins used an official Twitter account for electioneering purposes.

Collins’ proposed 2010 budget played with the numbers to keep taxes steady, but no spending was cut. None.

Most of you will remember his horrible thing Collins said, calling Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver the “anti-Christ”. It wasn’t the first time he used it, and it was a theme that Carl Paladino picked up on the following year, with similar electoral effect. Even though Collins had a good 2009 election, it didn’t make him happy; it made him angry. But as 2010 began, Erie County finally settled its disputes over payments to ECMC. Soon after that, Collins conspired with the Mayor’s people and Pigeon’s people to obtain a de facto Republican majority on the Legislature. All it took was Barbara Miller-Williams, Christina Bove, and Tim Kennedy to agree to join a so-called “reform coalition”, which reformed nothing. Except hirings and firings. Tim Kennedy did this in spite of Collins’ destruction of his beloved Apprenticeship Law, in order to secure the Independence Party line and be elevated to the State Senate.

In January 2010, Collins was again caught with his foot in his mouth, having asked Republican fundraiser Laura Montante Zaepfel to give him a “lapdance” before she could get to her seat at the State of the State address. Next on his agenda was to take away day care benefits from the working poor in Buffalo and WNY. But we did finally get rid of the Convention Center’s FailSign.

When not declaring legislative veto overrides “null and void”, Collins decided simply to refuse to fund things he didn’t like. Nevertheless, in running government like a failing, closely-held business, Collins created new jobs for pet projects, didn’t cut spending overall, and was facing a massive 2011 deficit. At least he had a compliant, but horribly run legislature.

Collins then turned his ire towards the culturals, and this teed off the central theme of the 2011 County Executive race. The budget process in late 2010 was uglier than ever, and more shenanigan-laden than usual.

Six Sigma – Collins claims it worked. How did it work? The control board granted the county about $1.1 million in efficiency grants to set the program up. Six Sigma salaries: just over $470,000. Six Sigma fringe (60%): Just over $280,000. Vendors (5 vendors, including UB): Just over $610,000. TOTAL:  Just over $1.37 million. How much did it save? You can hear the crickets chirping.

Debating Kathy Hochul, Collins blasted the Obama administration for “picking winners and losers” by having the government take GM and Chrysler bankrupt and using public money to invest in those companies and effectively bailing them out. By doing so, about a million jobs were directly saved, keeping the economy from going from recession to depressionary spiral. But Collins didn’t have a problem using the Erie County IDA to pick winners and losers, did he? That uses public money to help private business. He even went so far as to reward Paladino crony Rus Thompson with a sweetheart IDA loan for his cement truck business. Must be nice to have friends on the IDA like Chris Collins and his neighbor, Jane Corwin’s husband. At the CVB, Collins withheld funding until he packed it with his hand-picked people – after that, he increased its budget.  For real.  Under Collins, the IDA specialized in granting money and tax breaks to businesses that didn’t create many jobs, moved businesses around from town to town.

When Chris Lee got caught shirtless on Craigslist, soliciting dates from people not his wife, a scramble to replace him ensued. David Bellavia had a deal that he would be next when Lee was done. Lee was done. Yet Chris Collins and Carl Paladino tried to intimidate Bellavia out of the race. It was like something out of Goodfellas.

2011 saw Collins and Poloncarz do battle. As usual, Collins and the Republicans cut a deal with Mayor Brown in an effort to depress city turnout. In July 2011, Collins got caught marching at the front of the July 4th parade in Lancaster – even ahead of the flag and veterans. When polls showed that Collins wasn’t doing well, he called the polls a pack of lies. He went out of his way to say that downstate was no friend of upstate’s. Don’t forget that Collins got caught parking illegally several times – including using a spot reserved for the disabled.

And Collins left a mess. In July 2012, Poloncarz revealed,

In the first six months of my term alone, we have identified more than $50 million in unanticipated expense and declining revenue projections not included in Mr. Collins’ 2012 Budget or Four-Year Financial Plan – many of which he, in all likelihood, knew about but failed to address and chose to hide from me as comptroller, the legislature and even the control board.

After leaving office, Collins was caught using his Rath Building office to hold private business meetings to intimidate investors.  In July 2012, Collins basically said that people don’t die from breast and prostate cancer anymore. Seriously. He disrespectfully refused to debate his primary opponent. He apparently bought Facebook likes. Collins is a big backer of the Ryan budget. Collins has not released any of his tax returns to the voters.

Chris Collins can say “Barack Obama” and “Nancy Pelosi” every minute of every hour. He can pretend to be some conservative Republican who will somehow magically work with people across the aisle – something he only did locally when he could derive some short-term political benefit therefrom; something he only did when he could exert control over them and the legislative process through his proxy, Barbara Miller-Williams. Kathy Hochul’s record stands on its own merits. So does Chris Collins’ record, such as it is.

In the end, Chris Collins did not reform county government – in fact, he resisted and blocked reforms almost routinely (another “r”); he did not rebuild the local economy, but ensured that stimulus funds were hoarded to artificially improve his balance sheet; and he did not reduce – but raised – taxes.

 

The State of NY-27; Collins and Hochul in Thunderdome

8 Oct

October NY-27 Siena Poll

The Siena Research Institute polled NY-27 between October 1 and 4.  It surveyed 633 likely voters; 32% Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 27% independents. The headlines? 

Everyone is ignoring the real story – it’s not just the fact that the race for NY-27 between incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican challenger Chris Collins is a dead heat, but that Hochul was behind in August.  The crosstabs from that August Siena poll are here

    1. Hochul’s favorables are slipping. Outside of Erie County, her fav/unfav/dnk is 42/40/18 – that’s a dramatic drop from August’s 50/38/5, indicating that Collins’ and SuperPAC ads are having an impact, their falsity notwithstanding. In Erie County, her favorable rating is down by 3 and her unfavorable rating is also down, by two, at 54/37/9.    Collins’ numbers outside Erie County are 46/34/29, as compared with 41/30/29 in August. Within Erie County, Collins has also slipped dramatically, from 57/38/5 to 47/47/6.  Collins’ relentlessly negative campaign is working. 
    2. 54% of the survey respondents say they prefer a majority Republican congress. It’s a testament to the good job that Hochul’s doing that 45% would like to re-elect Hochul to Congress, versus 40% who wouldn’t, and 14% who have no clue. 
    3. President Obama is marginally more popular in the district. His fav/unfav/dnk is 44/52/4. Back in August, 56% of respondents had an unfavorable view of him. Mitt Romney’s numbers are 51/44/5 in this solidly Republican district. If the vote was held today, Obama would lose 51 – 42. In August, that number was 53 – 41. 
    4. 44% of respondents would vote to re-elect Hochul. 44% prefer someone else. 12% don’t know.  This question is stronger for Hochul in Erie County (48/44/8) than outside it (41/45/14). 
    5. On the headline question , 47% say they’ll vote for Hochul, 47% say they’ll vote for Collins, 1% aren’t voting (WTF), and 5% don’t know. In Erie County, Hochul leads 51 – 45, but outside Erie County Collins is leading 48-44. Hochul does mildly better with women than men, and with older voters than those younger than 55. 
    6. 11% of the electorate is still reasonably open to change its mind. 

Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (D-NY) (NY-26)

  1. More people think Collins is running the more negative campaign. 
  2. 51% of respondents want to repeal Obamacare. The split outside Erie County is 54/40. 
  3. Hochul and Collins are tied at 43% on the question “whom do you trust to do the right thing when it comes to Medicare”. 15% don’t know, and in Erie County this is Hochul over Collins 48/42; outside Erie it’s Collins over Hochul 43/39. 
  4. When broken down into specific issues like jobs, taxes, health care, the deficit, and “fixing the economy”, Collins is doing better than Hochul. Back in August, Hochul only beat Collins on Afghanistan and education. Not much has changed here.
  5. Back in August, 46% of respondents said Hochul would do a better job than Collins (42%) representing the district’s interests. Now, 47% say Hochul, 42% say Collins, and 11% don’t know. The 1% of August undecideds broke to Hochul, apparently. 
  6. A question from August regarding repealing the Bush tax cuts for high earners was not asked in October. 

With just about a month to go, expect both campaigns to sharpen their attacks. 42% of the sample was from Erie County and 58% from Niagara and parts farther afield. Hochul is underperforming Collins outside of Erie County and will likely address this in the coming weeks. Ultimately, however, it’s amazing that a Democrat is competitive – especially in Erie County – against a man who ran Erie County for 4 years and is purported to be popular with the WBEN crowd, which is practically all anyone ever hears about politically in this region. 

Collins’ Federal Help and “Building That”

John Boehner came to town this past weekend to campaign for Chris Collins. Boehner proudly proclaimed that he had built his small business with no government help. 

I used to run a small business before I ended up in Congress. And you know there were  nights when I would lay in bed worrying about whether the accounts receivable the next day was going to be large enough to meet the payroll. I don’t remember Barack Obama laying there next to me holding my hand. I don’t remember the government offering me some interest-free loan.

The same can’t be said for Chris Collins, however. Collins’ various businesses have benefited from $20 million in federal loans, subsidies, and handouts. In 1983, Collins received a taxpayer funded loan through a $3.5 million bond from Niagara County to move his first business, Nuttall Gear, to that jurisdiction. 

While Chris Collins denounces what Republicans routinely call the “job-killing stimulus”, and refused to spend stimulus money the county applied for and received under his administration, his companies received $442,000 in stimulus awards. Audubon Machinery received the bulk of that through the Department of Health of Human Services, and ZeptoMetrix received a mere $3,000 from that same agency.  Collins’ various companies have been the recipients of a whopping $9.2 million in government loans. 

Collins-owned companies also benefit from $11.5 million in federal contracts. Why a staunch Republican would bid for redistributive socialist work is a question for the ages, but the facts are set forth here

As County Executive, Chris Collins went out of his way to denigrate and demonize the urban poor. Little did we know that he was the biggest welfare queen of all. 

 

Maybe Tuesday Will Be Better, AMIRITE?

25 Sep

Liberty Building in Downtown Buffalo, NY

1. Jeremy Zellner vs. Frank Max. If you care about this in any way, chances are you rely on a government job, are an elected official, or you’re a candidate. The average western New Yorker is completely unaffected by it, and couldn’t care less. I happen to think that Lenihan did a great job as party chairman, and if his successor is half as successful as he, everybody should be pleased. The fact that certain people and factions held grudges over slights – real and perceived – and couldn’t suck it up and be big boys and girls and follow what the majority of the party committee wanted is par for the course. I wish Jeremy and Frank good luck and best wishes.  Everyone should just relax and concentrate on what a party committee is supposed to do – elect Democrats. 

2. “While Kathy Hochul distorts the truth, what do people who work for Chris Collins say?” That’s the actual opening line of an ad for Collins for Congress.  That bitch is such a liar, OMG. Here’s what people whose very livelihood is dependent on me have to say about me. That’s not an ad – that’s an out of control ego. Embarrassing. 

3. Coming back to the “everyone’s horrible” theme – the NFTA Surface Transportation Committee is made up of very wealthy and influential people, none of whom are likely to actually use NFTA surface transportation on any sort of regular basis. Jim Eagan – Democratic money guy who was until recently running to run ECDC, big firm lawyer Adam Perry, and restaurateur Mark Croce are all quoted in this story, all identified as committee members. Meanwhile, the people who use the LaSalle Metro station every day have dealt with a broken escalator for four months with no fix in sight. The NFTA committee members started yelling at each other like children over whether the work should be done by the regular maintenance contractor or sent out to bid. Just fix the escalator, and it’s high time the NFTA was run by people who actually use the service.  

4. The reason Mitt Romney is doing poorly? He’s exactly what the tea party, evangelicals, and very rich Republican benefactors always wanted in a candidate. 

5. Third time’s the charm. Since August, food trucks the Cheesy Chick, the Knight Slider have been chased away from the town of Amherst in the middle of service. Last year, a battle was waged to implement a law allowing and regulating food trucks to work the streets of the city of Buffalo. In reputedly business-friendly Amherst, however, no such regulation has been implemented. Yesterday, the Lloyd Taco Truck boys Tweeted this: 

That’s odd, because the truck was operating with permission on private property. The town has no food truck legislation or regulation, so no one is quite sure what Lloyd is alleged to have violated. The town’s code enforcement officers have been chasing the trucks away, and the town leadership was caught completely unaware.  

The only current regulation that could feasibly apply to food trucks is a transient vendor permit that is costly, only good for 90 days at a time, and specific to a location. If Lloyd wants to operate its north Amherst and Ridge Lea private property regular locations, it would need two licenses, each renewable every 3 months for $100

Just a few weeks ago, the Amherst town board passed a resolution to address and change the local law to specifically update the transient business permitting process to better reflect the current reality including food trucks. 

6. You aren’t a “pet parent”. Please. 

Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo

24 Sep
Cuyahoga at Lake and Rail Buffalo NY

Cuyahoga at Lake and Rail Buffalo NY by tark9, on Flickr

1. Shorter Buffalo News piece on Deputy Mayor Steve Casey: he’s a dick who terrorizes staff and throws Democrats under the bus in favor of Chris Collins, but he’s the Mayor’s dick

2. The Buffalo News calls this Hochul ad misleading. How so? It doesn’t say Collins got rich off of Ingenious’ Balance Buddy. It says he makes more money by outsourcing the manufacturing in China rather than building the device in western New York.

Statement A:

Asked why Ingenious would contract with a manufacturer in China, Collins said that it would be too expensive to make the product in the United States. ’It would not be feasible to have that product made and packaged for $7 in the U.S.,’ Collins said. (Cannot link directly to Buffalo News story because of its wholly unusable web presence). 

Statement B: 

China manipulates its currency, steals intellectual property from American companies, subsidizes government-owned businesses that compete with firms in the United States and closes its markets to foreign products.

“It’s not OK,” he said.

If the trade inequities with China are removed, “those jobs come back,” Collins said.

That’s patently true – by Collins’ own admission – and not at all misleading. In fact, the Buffalo News’ “fact check” is misleading. Also – perhaps more egregiously – he conducted Ingenious business from the 16th floor of the Rath Building, and so badly screwed over the initial investors that they’ve sued him.  

3. If there’s one thing Donn Esmonde loves to do, he loves to pat himself on the back. He loves being the official organ of Buffalo’s development/preservationist intelligentsia. So, he twists and contorts to the conclusion that the Liberty Hound‘s success somehow prove that the “lighter, quicker, cheaper” scam is the best thing ever. What the Liberty Hound’s success – as well as the success of a lot of Canalside’s summertime programming – really establishes is that the waterfront will be a popular place if you give people something to do there. Lighter, quicker, cheaper didn’t give us Liberty Hound – that was a big project done with a state agency,  a partnership of two successful restaurateurs, a museum, and  an assist from big political players. Lighter, quicker, cheaper gave us the Fred Kent “placemaking” sideshow, the snack shack, and brightly colored Adirondack chairs. The ECHDC was bullied into doing it by a supposedly earnest man endlessly pushing solar-powered carousels who wasn’t so quick to disclose that his interests in the matter also involved how Canalside might affect the bar and restaurant business in Black Rock and Allentown.  

Collins and Medicare: Bad Deal for Seniors, Americans

10 Sep

Remember how George W. Bush pushed to privatize Social Security? It failed, because people like Social Security, and because they didn’t want their entire retirement to be subject to the whims of the market. The 2008 quickie depression and the failure of Lehman Brothers was a stark reminder that, sometimes private industry doesn’t have all the answers. 

Paul Ryan’s proposed budget famously proposed to cut $716 billion from Medicare and turn it into a voucher system for Americans not yet benefitting from the wildly popular single-payer program for seniors. 

When Chris Collins hammers Kathy Hochul for voting for Obamacare, which “takes” $716 billion from Medicare and subsidies for Medicare supplemental insurance, remember that he supported a plan that would have done something even worse; that would have fundamentally changed what Medicare is for future generations. 

Hochul’s race against Corwin was about Medicare and how the Ryan budget would change it. Hochul won – and the $716 billion was part of that race. Now, Collins thinks he can fool voters into thinking that Obama and Hochul have weakened Medicare – but nothing could be further from the truth. 

That $716 billion from Medicare

The Affordable Care Act did indeed cut Medicare spending by $716 billion

On July 24, the Congressional Budget Office sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, detailing the budget impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act. If Congress overturned the law, “spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period.”

As to how the Affordable Care Act actually gets to $716 billion in Medicare savings, that’s a bit more complicated. John McDonough did the best job explaining it in his 2011 book, “Inside National Health Reform.” There, he looked at all the various Medicare cuts Democrats made to pay for the Affordable Care Act.

The majority of the cuts, as you can see in this chart below, come from reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies.

But what is the effect of these cuts to seniors and their benefits? Zero. Not a single benefit is cut or reduced in any way. There are no vouchers, no privatization – the $716 billion comes from reducing the cost of the program, not reducing its benefits. Quite the contrary – Obamacare takes that savings and actually adds benefits to Medicare, bringing a new emphasis on preventive care by adding a new annual no-copay wellness visit to the program. From the WaPo’s fact check of last week’s Clinton speech

TRUE: “What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service.”

Clinton appears to be referring to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent body that advises Congress on the program and the changes they have recommended for the program. MedPAC has, for example, repeatedly recommended that private Medicare Advantage plans should not be paid more than the traditional fee for service program. That, among other changes, was incorporated into the Affordable Care Act’s changes.

DOUBLE COUNTED: “Instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the doughnut hole in the Medicare drug program…and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare trust fund so it is solvent till 2024.”

Both of these facts are, independently, true. The health care law did indeed use some of the revenue it generated to pay for seniors who land in the “donut hole,” the gap after normal drug coverage ends and catastrophic coverage kicks in. And it did extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by eight more years, until 2024, per a report earlier this year.

But this represents some of the least-liked math in Washington, because it uses a sort of “double counting” of Medicare savings. The Medicare Trust Fund counts the health law’s $716 billion in savings as going back into its coffers. The Congressional Budget Office counts them as paying for provisions in the Affordable Care Act, like closing the donut hole. In reality, it would be very, very hard for a Medicare dollar saved to achieve both these purposes. In fact, it would be impossible.

This accounting isn’t unique to the Affordable Care Act. Budget wonks have regularly used this double counting for Medicare savings generated by Congress. There are some defenders of this accounting method. But it is one of the points that the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare savings regularly gets attacked.

TRUE: “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that [Ryan] has in his own budget.”

Rep. Paul Ryan’s most recent budget does indeed include the Affordable Care Act’s $716 billion in Medicare savings. Mitt Romney has, however, disavowed those cuts and promised to restore insurers’ and hospitals’ reimbursement rates as part of his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The question, then, is – why do Romney and Chris Collins want to roll back Obamacare’s strengthening of Medicare? Is it because they’re both independently wealthy and what happens to Medicare has no affect on them in any palpable way? Medicare isn’t just some freebie entitlement – like Social Security, it’s something you and I pay into throughout our working lives (check your FICA on your next paystub). Romney and Chris Collins want to fundamentally change Medicare into a voucher program, but that’s not the promise that was made to me and others who have been paying into the system. In contract law, we pay in relying on the promise of a future no-hassles program  that current seniors enjoy. It’s fundamentally unfair to make it one program for one class of people, and something else for another – frankly, I think it’s violative of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. 

Why do Romney and Chris Collins want to violate the Equal Protection Clause by voucherizing Medicare for one class of Americans, while maintaining it as a single-payer plan for another? 

Oh, and in commenting on the proposed voucherization via $716 billion in cuts from Medicare, Chris Collins told the Batavia Daily News that this doesn’t “go far enough”

Collins said he favors the Tea Party push to reduce the federal government. He praised Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, for ‘starting the conversation’ about reducing entitlement programs. But Collins said Ryan doesn’t go far enough. Ryan believes the budget could be balanced in 30 years, Collins said it needs to be done in 10 years. To delay it longer isn’t fair to young Americans who will have to foot the bill.

To Chris Collins, everything is an entitlement program – even programs you pay for. And he has the nerve to blame Hochul for harming Medicare through a cost-savings that actually expands its benefits. 

Even Kathy Hochul is trying to hedge on Medicare Advantage, saying she doesn’t like the cuts to that program. But why? Reductions in Medicare reimbursement rates to Medicare Advantage plans and hospitals were negotiated with those entities. Hospitals know that with universal coverage, they’ll get more patients whose bills are paid. The Advantage Plans’ reimbursement rates are reduced to eliminate waste that does nothing to enhance patient care. In reference to the chart shown above

The blue section represents reductions in how much Medicare reimburses private, Medicare Advantage plans. That program allows seniors to join a private health insurance, with the federal government footing the bill. The whole idea of Medicare Advantage was to drive down the cost of health insurance for the elderly as private insurance companies competing for seniors’ business.

That’s not what happened. By 2010, the average Medicare Advantage per-patient cost was 117 percent of regular fee-for-service. The Affordable Care Act gives those private plans a haircut and tethers reimbursement levels to the quality of care administered, and patient satisfaction.

The Medicare Advantage cut gets the most attention, but it only accounts for about a third of the Affordable Care Act’s spending reduction. Another big chunk comes from the hospitals. The health law changed how Medicare calculates what they get reimbursed for various services, slightly lowering their rates over time. Hospitals agreed to these cuts because they knew, at the same time, they would likely see an influx of paying patients with the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion.

The rest of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts are a lot smaller. Reductions to Medicare’s Disproportionate Share Payments — extra funds doled out the hospitals that see more uninsured patients — account for 5 percent in savings. Lower payments to home health providers make up another 8.8 percent. About a dozen cuts of this magnitude make up the green section above.

It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to. And, as Ezra pointed out earlier today, the Ryan budget would keep these cuts in place.

By the way – if Chris Collins gets his wish and repeals Obamacare, Medicare Part A will be insolvent by 2016 unless something else is done. As we know, that “something else” is turning it into a complicated voucher program, fundamentally changing the very nature of Medicare. 

When officials talk of Medicare insolvency, they’re talking specifically about the trust fund for Medicare’s hospital insurance, or Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital stays, care at a nursing facility, hospice care and some home health care. The other parts of Medicare, though costs are rising, are “adequately financed” for now, the program’s trustees say.

The Part A fund’s overseers — the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds — said back in 2009, before the Affordable Care Act passed, that the banked money used to make up the difference between income (such as taxes) and expenses for Part A would be depleted in 2017.

But then the Affordable Care Act passed. The trustees reported that the act’s lower expenditures (cutting rates to providers) and increased revenues (a payroll tax hike for wealthier people in 2013) “improves the financial outlook for Medicare substantially.”

The trustees reported in 2010 that health care reform would delay the Part A trust fund’s insolvency until 2029. By 2011, the trustees moved that insolvency estimate back to 2024.

So, to sum up: 

Chris Collins supported the Ryan budget, which also assumed a $716 billion reduction in Medicare expenses. When he attacks Kathy Hochul for this, it flies right back in his face, because he says $716 billion doesn’t go far enough, and would like to voucherize Medicare and reduce other “entitlement” programs. Hochul needs to go on the offensive on this point – the Obama/Hochul cuts expand Medicare benefits and ensure the program’s continued solvency, while Collins’ cuts turn Medicare into something resembling the awful system we have today for most Americans, and threatens the solvency of Part A going past 2016.

Chris Collins, therefore, is a disaster for seniors in NY-27.