Tag Archives: Chris Collins

Collins to Voters: 25 Pages Is Too Much For You to Absorb

17 Aug

The Buffalo News really needs to have a chat with its headline writers. The headline accompanying Jerry Zremski’s August 16th piece concerning Chris Collins‘ taxes bore the headline, “Collins discloses three years’ tax returns”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Collins showed his form 1040s for three tax years to Zremski, and no one else in the world. While Hochul has posted three years’ worth of tax returns online for anyone to see – along with the schedules and worksheets to go with it, Collins has repeatedly refused to do the same.  Zremski wrote, 

Those returns did not include any schedules or attachments that would have detailed Collins’ business investments, but they do show the finances of a wealthy businessman-turned-politician and how Collins’ income compares to that of his opponent, Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg.

Did Collins show Zremski his 1040s to show off the fact that he’s wealthy? We know he’s wealthy – that’s hardly the issue. The best Collins can do is to claim that Hochul isn’t being transparent because she refuses to release the details of a blind trust her parents set up for her. A blind trust, the contents of which by definition she isn’t allowed to know. 

The reasons why Collins won’t release his tax returns to the public have changed over time, from the notion it will reveal confidential material about other people to something really quite telling: 

[Hochul spokesman Frank] Thomas said it’s important that Collins do the same so that voters can see in detail his business interests – including those of Ingenious Inc., a Collins company that has contracted with a Chinese manufacturer to make the Balance Buddy, a tool aimed at helping kids learn how to ride their bikes.

Collins says, though, that he can’t release those full tax details without revealing his business partners’ income and without jeopardizing the competitive position of his companies.

“My federal return is probably 25 pages long,” Collins added. “It’s too much for the public to absorb.”


Got that, dummy? By not being “Chris Collins” you’re clearly cursed with diminished cognitive abilities, such that it’s a miracle you have the brain power to put your pants and shirt on in the morning. You know how you stopped reading Harry Potter after the twenty-fourth page, just giving up because your brain couldn’t absorb anymore? You cretins would look at Collins’ tax returns and the ink with which it was printed would run from your drool getting all over it. 

I don’t know whether calling the electorate a bunch of illiterate, innumerate morons is a winning strategy, but I’m willing to see it play out some more. Perhaps the inability or unwillingness to release tax returns should disqualify “run government like a business” types from running (see, Romney, Willard Mitt). 

Collins is also attacking Hochul for her (mostly inherited) wealth. If I recall correctly, Collins bristles when people bring up his wealth, calling it “class warfare”. 

This same Chris Collins – the one who doesn’t like it when people point out that he’s a rich, arrogant, person who is completely, fundamentally, and deliberately out of touch with the issues facing average middle class people – attacks his current opponent for her inherited wealth, calling her a “public sector millionaire”, and suggesting that she made her money in government, and attacked his primary opponent for his lack of wealth. So, in Collins’ deranged world, it’s “class warfare” to bring up his wealth, but everyone else’s is fair game. 

What is going to be an issue in this race is the good job Kathy Hochul’s done over the past year, and the fact that Collins is a big supporter of the Republican plot to voucherize Medicare, but he’ll try to deflect by using the lie that Obamacare cuts $716 billion from Medicare. Obama strengthens and streamlines Medicare, while the Republicans plan to privatize it, harming seniors and, just as significantly, future seniors

Mitt Romney said Obama “robbed Medicare” of $716 billion to pay for “Obamacare.” We found that exaggerated what Obama had done in the health care law.

While the health care law reduces the amount of future spending growth in Medicare, the law doesn’t actually cut Medicare. Savings come from reducing money that goes to private insurers who provide Medicare Advantage programs, among other things. The money wasn’t “robbed.” We rated the statement Mostly False.

Responding to the Romney attack, Obama campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Ryan’s budget relies on the same $700 billion in savings from Medicare that Mitt Romney and other Republicans have been attacking Democrats about.

Ryan has confirmed that, and we rated it True.

But don’t forget – Collins thinks you’re an idiot who can’t absorb 25 pages of a tax return.  What a disgusting thing to say. 


Hochul vs. Corwin 2.0

14 Aug

The only thing missing so far is a kid dressed like Fonzie shoving a camera in an old man’s face. 

Issue: Medicare, Paul Ryan, and what noted Marxist philosopher Newt Gingrich called “right-wing social engineering”

The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski wrote Monday about how Chris Collins refuses to comment on the Ryan Budget, which would fundamentally transform Medicare from the popular single-payer system seniors enjoy – and future seniors pay into throughout their work history – into an expensive voucher-based privatized program.  

Of course he’s keeping mum. This issue did tremendous harm to his neighbor, Jane Corwin’s, campaign in 2011. 

At the heart of the Republicans’ Medicare Privatization Syndrome Because is to replace a reasonably efficient government bureaucracy with a 97% approval rating from users, and replace it with the fragmented, fundamentally broken, redundant, private (oft for-profit) bureaucracy to take money from the patients through premiums, and nickel-and-dime the physicians on payouts, and futz with what is and isn’t covered. Ungrateful looters & moochers

Mitt Romney has now selected the architect of that unfair and likely unconstitutional Medicare voucherization plan to be his running mate, and the fallout is spilling over into the hotly contested NY-27 race. 

Incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul released this Monday morning: 

“Try as he might, Chris Collins cannot run from the fact that he said a budget that ends Medicare as we know it and forces seniors to pay more for their healthcare to fund tax cuts for his millionaire friends ‘doesn’t go far enough,’” said campaign manager Frank Thomas. “Voters deserve to know how much further Chris Collins would go when he already supports decimating Medicare so he can give tax breaks to the rich. How can voters be expected to trust a candidate who will not be candid about his position on an issue that will crush seniors and the middle class.”

Collins told the Batavia Daily News that the Ryan Budget “doesn’t go far enough.” According to the Batavia Daily News, “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.” [Batavia Daily News, 5/9/12]

Collins said his stance on the Ryan Budget is similar to Jane Corwin’s. In March 2012, Collins has admitted that his position does not differ significantly from Jane Corwin’s position. Corwin supported the Ryan Budget, which “would essentially end Medicare.”  [Buffalo News,3/25/12; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

But now Collins refuses to even answer questions on the Ryan budget.  According to the Buffalo News,

Asked in a weekend telephone interview for his reaction to Ryan’s selection, Collins, the former Erie County executive, would not – even when asked again and again – endorse or even comment on Ryan’s budget, which would partly remake Medicare into a voucher program for future seniors while drastically cutting most domestic spending. [Buffalo News, 8/13/2012]

Republican Chris Collins released this, in response: 

“What we are seeing is a desperate public sector millionaire employ every scare tactic under the sun to distract from the issue that matters most to voters – fixing this economy. Of course, with her record of massive tax increases and job killing regulations, it’s no wonder Kathy Hochul wants to talk about anything other than her failed plan to fix the economy. 

With her whole-hearted embrace of ObamaCare, Kathy Hochul has jeopardized the future of Medicare for current seniors. More incredibly, she turned her backs on the seniors she promised to protect when she voted to cut their Medicare and Medicare Advantage by $700 billion. 

The only way we will solve our budget problems is by adopting pro-growth, pro-small business policies that cut our debt, protect Medicare from going bankrupt, and let small businesses thrive. Kathy Hochul’s plan is to cling to ObamaCare, gut $700 billion from Medicare and watch our economy go down the drain. That’s not a leader – that’s a politician. Our region simply deserves better.”

A few quick observations: 1. Hochul’s release is more effective because it takes Collins’ own words and uses them against him. 2. Anyone else find it odd that Collins, of all people, is using “millionaire” as a pejorative against Kathy Hochul? I thought that was “class warfare” or something. 3. Collins’ statement is so much unsupported pablum about tax & spend liberals. 4. Collins is particularly vulnerable when it comes to being consistent and transparent. Whereas he merely spouts off talking points recycled from his last re-election campaign, Hochul provided hyperlinks to the things Collins has said in the past, and merely hoists him by the petard he so carefully constructed. 

From Zremski’s piece, Collins says

All I’m saying is that I’ll never support cuts to Medicare for current seniors or anyone close to retirement age, including Medicare Advantage, which my opponent has actually voted to cut.

But if you’re not “close to retirement age”, yet you’ve been paying into Medicare through your FICA for years and years, relying on the promise of hassle-free Medicare coverage when you retire, you can go pound salt. 

Now – about that $700 billion claim. Collins has been using that for weeks – you should follow his aide Michael Kracker on Twitter, and watch him do battle with Hochul’s campaign manager, Frank Thomas. This claim comes up a lot. 

The claim is that Obamacare rips $700 billion out of Medicare – that it’s a cut, that it steals from Medicare to fund Obamacare, etc. The claim is clumsy, palpably and provably false, and worse – assumes you’re stupid and will accept it as truth. 

Does Obamacare cut $700 billion from Medicare? No. Obamacare saves $700 billion in waste while enhancing and improving seniors’ access to healthcare.  This savings extends Medicare’s solvency by a full eight years. 

A Redditor independently examined the claim and reached the same conclusion – that Chris Collins and other Republicans are criticizing Democrats for saving $700 billion from a socialistic, redistributive, government-run single-payer health care system. 

CBO breaks out the $716 billion that Reibus refers to:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) = $517 billion
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) = $247 billion
  • * Medicare Part D (offset) = ($48 billion)
 = $716 billion 

To make a little more sense of this, I also referred to CBO’s Analysis of the Major Health Care Legislation Enacted in March 2010 – start at page 24 which basically bulleted the reasons, as follows:

  • Changes to Payment Rates in Medicare: “Permanent reductions in the annual updates to Medicare’s payment rates for most services in the fee-for-service sector (other than physicians’ services) and the new mechanism for setting payment rates in the Medicare Advantage Program will reduce Medicare outlays by $507 billion during the 2012-2021 period” I found this very confusing, so I referred to Politifact which states: “The biggest portion of that savings…will come from reducing annual increases in payments to medical providers….The healthcare law does not cut $500 billion from Medicare. It just reduces future growth.” So in essence, it aims to curtail Medicare spending, not outlays to recipients. Ironic how the GOP is attacking Obama for an initiative to save money.

  • Disproportionate Share Hospitals: CBO states that “Both Medicare and Medicaid provide additional payments to hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low income patients. PPACA…modified the formulas use to calculate such payments under Medicare. Projected to reduce direct spending by $57 billion over the 2012-2021 period.” The Urban Institute explains that ” the loss of federal disproportionate share hospital payments and potentially high uncompensated care costs borne by state and local governments on behalf of the uninsured will also motivate states to expand Medicaid under the ACA. On balance, states would experience net budget gains from implementing the Medicaid expansion.” So they are basically phasing out a federal program (disproportionate share hospitals) to expand another (Medicaid) and States would have a net budget gain!

  • Thus far we have accounted for $650 billion of the $716 billion and NONE of these “steal money from Medicare.” They simply attempt to save money, reprogram funding.

As for the remaining $65 billion, CBO says “many of those provisions will reduce spending, whereas others will increase it. The provisions that will reduce spending make a variety of changes to prior law, including establishing a mechanism to reduce the growth rate of Medicare spending if projected growth exceeds a given target, initiating a number of programs intended to modify the health care delivery system, and adjusting payments for prescription drugs in Medicaid….PPACA and the Reconciliation Act include numerous provisions intended to identify opportunities and create incentives for providers to make changes to the health care delivery system that will reduce costs and improve the quality of care.”

So, there you have it. Chris Collins and the Republicans are lying to you about Obamacare, about how it affects Medicare, and about myriad other things. Collins isn’t talking about the Ryan budget and how it effects Medicare because he saw what it did to Jane Corwin. Instead, he’s trying to pivot the debate (by the way, has he agreed to any debates? Will he be releasing any tax information at all?) to lies about how Obamacare is stealing money from Medicare. Are we going to re-litigate the Corwin vs. Hochul debacle of  May 2011? Looks like it, and even with a re-worked district geography and demographic, it’s still got a lot of seniors who don’t appreciate being lied to, and don’t like that Collins supports the partial privatization, decimation, and increased user cost the right wing is proposing for Medicare. 

Chris Collins: Repeal Consumer Protections

11 Jul

This morning, on my way to work, I caught a WBFO interview with Republican candidate for Congress, Chris Collins. The lies and misinformation reveal that Collins is either misinformed, trying to dupe his prospective constituents, or both. 

Collins suggested that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is exactly like the Canadian single-payer Medicare system. While Obamacare is many things, many of which are open to debate and criticism, one thing it decidedly is not is anything resembling what Canadians enjoy*. 

*Yes, enjoy. 82.5% of Canadians in a recent poll indicated that they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their health care system. 86% of them wanted the current system strengthened through public initiative, rather than privatized. American politicians can denigrate a Canadian system that is wildly popular with Canadians.  By contrast, a 2007 Gallup poll found that only 57% of Americans were satisfied with whatever private or public insurance they had.  By contrast, our own domestic single-payer Medicare plan, available only to seniors,  Whereas in 2007 45% of people with expensive private coverage reported problems with access to care, and 35% reported problems with billing, only 18% of Medicare recipients reported access problems, and only 14% reported any billing issues.  A 2010 Suffolk University poll revealed that 94% of American Medicare recipients are satisfied with their socialist, Canadian-style, single-payer plan. 

He went on to say that he hopes that Romney becomes President, and that that Republicans maintain their House majority, and add three Senate seats so that they can “completely” dismantle and repeal Obamacare. In its place, Collins suggested insurer competition across state lines, and minimizing injured patients’ access to the courts to seek redress for medical malpractice. Both of these “solutions” would hardly put a ding in the overwhelming cost of health care in this country, and would do absolutely nothing to guarantee universal coverage, or to shut the emergency room-as-primary care payment budget hole that our taxes fill. 

But the question that wasn’t asked is, what would result from an immediate repeal of Obamacare? Here are the provisions that have already become active

  • Expand the FDA’s ability to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices) ( Citation: An entire section of the bill, called Title VII, is devoted to this, starting on page 766 )

  • An increase in the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less) ( Citation: Page 235, sec. 2501 )

  • Established a non-profit group, that the government doesn’t directly control, PCORI, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money. ( Citation: Page 684, sec. 1181)

  • Requires chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy. ( Citation: Page 518, sec. 4205 )

  • Creates a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them. ( Citation: Page 49, sec. 1101Page 64, sec. 2704, and Page 65, sec. 2702 )

  • Forbids insurance companies from discriminating based on a disability, or because they were the victim of domestic abuse in the past (yes, insurers really did deny coverage for that) ( Citation: Page 66, sec. 2705 )

  • Renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.

  • Creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths. ( Citation: Page 942, sec. 5000B )

  • Forbids health insurance companies from telling customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit”. Basically, if someone has paid for health insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him any more. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2711 )

  • Allows children to continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. ( Citation: Page 34, sec. 2714 )

  • Eliminates “pre-existing conditions” exclusions for kids under the age of 19. ( Citation: Page 64, sec. 2704 and Page 76, sec. 1255 )

  • Limits insurers’ ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans. ( Citation: Page 66, sec. 2794 )

  • Helps close the “Medicare Gap” by paying rebates to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend. ( Citation: Page 398, sec. 3301 )

  • Prohibits insurers from dropping customers once they get sick. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2712 )

  • Requires insurers to be transparent about fees. (Instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific).

  • Requires insurers to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they’re turned down. ( Citation: Page 42, sec. 2719 )

  • Increases anti-fraud funding, and new ways to stop fraud are created. ( Citation: Page 718, sec. 6402 )

  • Medicare extends to smaller hospitals. ( Citation: Starting on page 363, the entire section “Part II” seems to deal with this )

  • Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.

  • Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly. ( Citation: Page 511, sec. 4202 )

  • A new website is made to give people insurance and health information. (http://www.healthcare.gov/ ). ( Citation: Page 55, sec. 1103 )

  • A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness by paying half the cost of the investment. (Note – this program was temporary. It already ended) ( Citation: Page 849, sec. 9023 )

  • A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers. (Citation: Page 41, sec. 1101 )

  • A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover. ( Citation: Page 819, sec. 9003 )

  • Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms. ( Citation: Page 819, sec. 9002 )

  • Any new health plans must provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2713 )

What the ACA really amounts to is a consumer protection act. While Collins and his ilk will call this a job-killing tax on the middle class, or something, it really amounts to a prohibition against insurance companies from engaging in predatory practices against its ratepayers. It provides better protections for consumers.  

The question is – why does Chris Collins want to repeal all of the consumer protections that have gone into effect? 

Collins also suggested that an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended to all Americans, including him and those like him with millions in income. The Obama plan would extend those tax cuts only to the middle class, and revert back to Clinton-era, pre-9/11 rates for those making more than $250,000 per year. 

Under Bill Clinton, unemployment dropped steadily from over 7% in 1993 to 4.4% by the late 90s. To suggest, therefore, that reverting tax rates to what we had in the 90s would stymie employment growth versus the situation we have now – with anemic jobs growth and the Bush tax cuts in place – strains credulity. 

Collins suggested that reverting to the Clinton-era tax rates for those making over $250,000 per year would be a “wet blanket” on job growth. However, only 3.5% of small businesses – mostly professionals like doctors and lawyers – would be affected by this change. An op/ed in the Washington Post goes into more detail here

Chris Collins opens his mouth and finds himself wrong again. Almost like it’s a pattern or something. 

Lancaster July 4th Parade: Question

5 Jul

Did you attend the Lancaster July 4th parade? I ask because of this series of Tweets I saw yesterday: 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/noracmurray/status/220623785638891521″%5D

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/noracmurray/status/220624128716177409″%5D

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/noracmurray/status/220626027544711169″%5D

Can anyone confirm this? Anyone take video or still pictures? Did anyone else see an elderly “Uncle Sam” talking crap about the President on Independence Day? Can anyone confirm whether or not that person was in any way affiliated or volunteering for the Collins campaign?

Political Soothsaying

5 Jul
Chris Collins 2010 Summer Green Series Speaker

Photo by Flickr User KVIS

What I do here is offer my opinion on issues and events. I seldom cover actual news, and on the rare occasion that I do, I still do it from a particular point of view, and will ultimately tell you what I think about it – and what I think you should think about it. 

What the Buffalo News does is report the news, except in clearly defined columns, and on the op-ed pages, where the author’s own opinion is proferred. 

What nobody does is enter psychic mode and extrapolate what an interviewee actually meant to say, and then offer up an amended version of a quote. 

The Batavian is a website that mostly reports the news. It has occasionally delved into opinion writing, but for the most part it reports on goings-on in the courts, sports news, development, entertainment, who got arrested at Darien Lake, and what happens on the scanners. It’s small-town reporting at its purest, and it’s a great resource for Batavians who until recently had only a single local paper. It also covers local, state, and federal political races that are relevant to its readership.  It’s a straight news outlet. 

Earlier this week, I highlighted an interview that the Batavian’s Howard Owens conducted with congressional candidate Chris Collins, where he made some outrageous statements about the survivability of breast and prostate cancers. The quote was as follows: 

The healthcare reforms Collins said he would push would be tort reform and open up competition in insurance by allowing policies across state lines.

Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.

People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things,” Collins said. “The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better,  we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators — they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases.” [Emphasis added].

Later that day, the Erie County Health Commissioner issued a statement challenging Collins’ assertion, and urging people to get tested and to be vigilant for breast and prostate cancers. Almost at the same time, Collins’ opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Kathy Hochul released this

“Chris Collins has demonstrated a stunning lack of sensitivity by saying, ‘people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and some of the other things.’ Tragically, nearly 70,000 people will die this year from these two types of cancer alone.  We can disagree about public policy without making these kinds of outrageous and offensive statements.”

Good statement – concise, pointed, properly angry and scolding. The quotation was verbatim from the Batavian’s piece.  
However, The Batavian’s Howard Owens was not happy, and he expressed his displeasure in a novel way. Without differentiating his post from the straight reporting the Batavian otherwise usually engages in, he posted a pure opinion piece which, I think, crossed a line. After printing Hochul’s statement, Owens opines, 

That’s the statement, with no reference to the source nor the full quote so people could judge the context for themselves.

The original source is The Batavian (both as a courtesy to The Batavian and as a matter of complete transparency, the Hochul campaign should have included this fact in its release).

I’ll be the first to admit that I get pissy when I don’t get proper credit for something, but is this more a fit of pique than anything else?  After all, Collins’ statement about cancer survivability stands on its own, and speaks for itself.  If there exists any doubt about the pure meaning of Collins’ words, then it’s up to Collins to explain them and expand upon them, no? But here, Owens goes on to reproduce the entire paragraph in which Collins’ cancer quip is contained, and continues: 

On its face, the opening part of the quote from Collins sounds outrageous, but in context, clearly, Collins misspoke. More likely, he meant to say. “Fewer people die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.” [emphasis added].

First, Owens supposes that Collins simply misspoke. Well, what Collins said seems outrageous because it is outrageous. Context? The context about which Owens is so concerned is open to interpretation, I suppose. But isn’t that conclusion solely within the province of the utterer of the words, or the reader of the article?

Is Collins grossly misinformed about cancer survivability, or is he just a clumsy politician who was trying to embellish a point about how Obamacare is horrible and health care is expensive, and should be? That’s my call – not Owens’. 

Propriety aside, I don’t see any evidence that Collins “misspoke”. There was no follow-up, and he didn’t correct his statement. Collins didn’t go on to further explain or expand upon what he said about breast and prostate cancers. He just went on to assert that some 40 year-old medical technologies like TENS machines and implanted defibrillators “didn’t exist 10 years ago”. 

The whole paragraph is a load of semi-informed nonsense. The whole paragraph is Collins’ politicization of health care to persuade readers to maintain the status quo. Yet Owens argues that it’s important for voters to consider Collins’ BS about cancer within the context of all the other falsehoods and lies he excreted during that portion of the interview. 

The real outrage, though, is Owens’ second assertion – suggesting what Collins must have meant to say, and completely re-stating what Collins said, in quotation marks.  That’s not how journalism works. What else exists in that paragraph to help reach the conclusion that Collins really meant something different from what he actually said? After that first ridiculous sentence, Collins utters not another word about cancer

If Owens thought Collins “misspoke”, he could have asked a follow-up; for example, “wait, you just said no one dies from breast cancer or prostate cancer, you didn’t really mean that, did you?” But there was no such follow-up. There was no explanation; there is no relevant context to further explain what Collins meant. Owens is playing psychic and ex-post-facto trying to repair a Collins gaffe. Hey, Howard, what did Collins “mean” when he repeatedly called Shelly Silver the “anti-Christ”? What did Collins “mean” when he invited a female Republican bigwig to give him a “lapdance”? 

Allow me to divert from the underlying point by asking, why? 

Why do WNY media and their personalities and writers bend over backwards so regularly and consistently for Chris Collins? Is it because Collins demands that kind of treatment in exchange for access? Is it because they’re enamored of his money and success? Is it because of campaign ads?  I’m asking seriously. This guy gets away with so many lies, so often, and he gets a routine uncritical pass. 

Think I’m kidding? Just this past Sunday, Bob McCarthy wrote the same bunch of brown-nosing BS about Chris Collins that he’s written at least twice before. “[Collins] had done everything he said he would do. His administration was scandal-free. And he lost.”  In November 2011, McCarthy wrote, “How did a county executive who fulfilled all his promises with minimal effects on taxes and no scandals manage to lose?”  Then again in December 2011, McCarthy wrote, “This time, the defeat seems to genuinely hurt. Collins struggles to grasp how he lost after keeping all his campaign promises of 2007 while running Erie County without a hint of scandal.”  I addressed the blatant inaccuracy of the “scandal-free” / “promises kept” assertions here

That’s a lot of identical puffery of one guy, multiple times in one year. The same reporter did a story on this Collins cancer kerfuffle , and Collins basically said he knows people with cancer. Having politicized cancer by suggesting that, thanks to America’s unsustainably expensive health care system, “no one dies from” certain types of the disease, Collins issued this: 

As the brother of a breast cancer survivor, I am grateful for the medical advances that saved my sister’s life, which would not have been possible a generation ago,” he said. “I find it troubling that Kathy Hochul would politicize the seriousness of cancer.

Hey, Chris and Howard – where in that extended Batavian quote did Collins mention a single, solitary medical advance, treatment, or medication that has anything to do with improved breast and prostate cancer survivability over the past generation? I’ll answer for you: nowhere. Perhaps reporters shouldn’t try to play soothsayer and, weeks later, divine what their interviewees “mean” to say, and then create phony “amended” statements, complete with improper quotation marks.  

Owens concludes,  

That’s not what he said (I taped the interview and the original quote as published is accurate), but the rest of the quote clearly explains the larger point he is trying to make, which is that medical advances have driven up the cost of healthcare.

To rip this quote out of context and try to use it to paint Collins as some sort of insensitive boob is the kind of below-the-belt, negative campaign tactic that keeps people from being engaged in the process and casting intelligent votes. Frankly, I think of Kathy Hochul as somebody who is more dignified than this sort of mudslinging.

Well, actually, it is precisely what he said, isn’t it?  I mean, if the original quote as published is accurate, then Collins said exactly what you wrote. Does it “clearly explain” some uninformed point Collins was trying to make about Obamacare-is-bad? Not really.
Is it mudslinging? By whom
Do I think that Chris Collins really believes that breast and prostate cancers don’t kill people anymore? I don’t really know, but I’m willing to accept that he’s a reasonably intelligent, reasonably well-informed person who would know that these cancers remain quite lethal.  So, do I think he “misspoke”? Not really – “misspoke” implies inadvertent error. So, what’s going on? 
I disagree with Owens’ crystal ball about what Collins “meant” to say. I think Collins said exactly what he meant to say; that people, generally, don’t die from prostate and breast cancers as much anymore, thanks to innovation and technology.  But he never properly expressed his point, and certainly didn’t back it up.  He politicized cancer and medical advances in order to make a point that we should maintain the current, unsustainable, unfair, over-expensive and under-performing system of private health insurance we have today, and that Obamacare (and, by extension, Kathy Hochul), are bad.  He was doing what politicians do – embellishing facts to score a political point. To suggest otherwise; to suggest that Hochul’s statement was an egregious horror whilst Collins’ was an earnest mistake, is utter nonsense.
Politicians are engaged in a competitive system and have to differentiate themselves through persuasion. Collins made a factual assertion, and his opponent criticized it. If Hochul crossed some arbitrary Owens line of propriety, so did Collins. 
Owens suggested on Twitter that I was being hypocritical, because I cheered him when he embarrassed Jane Corwin last year.  The facts beg to differ.  In 2011, Owens was doing his job as a reporter – asking Corwin pointed questions about the second videotape that would have shown her staffer Michael Mallia harassing Jack Davis.  He was committing journalism in the first degree – pretending to be a Lily Dale psychic with respect to Collins’ “meaning” isn’t the same thing. 
In 2011, Owens didn’t fire up the Batavian posting machine to specifically fisk a statement that Corwin made, accuse her of a “slur”, and suggest that the verbatim transcription of what someone said wasn’t really what they meant to say, and then create and publish a fictional amended quotation to reflect that “meaning”. 
Owens is entitled to his outrage at Hochul’s rather mild reaction to Collins’ politicization of cancer, but to accuse her of a “slur” for repeating what Collins said, and criticizing it, is ridiculous. To create an opinion piece specifically to call her out for it is silliness. To – without any factual evidence – condescend to the reader by explaining Collins’ meaning and amending his statement, and surrounding it in quotation marks, is outrageous. 
Maybe what Owens misspoke. What he meant to say was, “Hochul’s statement was quite tame, and I’m genuinely upset that she didn’t cite the Batavian.
Sucks, doesn’t it? 

Independence Week: Roundup

2 Jul

Obamacare Roundup

1. Here’s a story from those leftist pinkos at Forbes, explaining that Obamacare is not a huge tax on the middle class, at all. In fact, it goes as far as to call that narrative a “lie”. 

2. In the wake of the Supreme Court holding that Obamacare is constitutional, support for the law has jumped.  Significantly, support among independents went up from 27% to 38% in just the past week. It was just a week ago that Mitt Romney was explaining that Romneycare (the conservative Heritage Foundation’s health insurance scheme on which Obamacare is largely based) was great for Massachusetts, but that its expansion to all 50 states was an improper usurpation of federal power. However, the Supreme Court just held otherwise. Oopsy. By the same token, people who dislike the law are somewhat energized now. 

3. It wasn’t too long ago – at least as far back as the debate over HillaryCare in the early 90s – that universal health care coverage was a bipartisan goal, we just disagreed on how to get there. Now that we have a constitutional statute that gets us about as close to universality as we’re likely to get, the Republicans are signaling that they no longer consider universal coverage as a policy aim. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says, in essence, that the 30 million people whom Obamacare would cover, and who would not be covered were the law to be repealed, can go to hell.  

4. Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans all pledge to repeal Obamacare. Did you know that 30 votes have been held in Congress since 2010 to repeal Obamacare? What’s one more going to accomplish? How many jobs will that create? And pay close attention to what Republicans say when asked, “with what would you replace Obamacare?” The answer is – nothing. They’d just maintain the pre-2010 status quo, with 40 million uninsured, skyrocketing costs, substandard care, and an untenable hodgepodge of private for-profit bureaucracies keeping people from their doctors and needed treatment, and separating them from their money – oftentimes rendering them insolvent. 

5. Paul Ryan, Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee shat the following from his mouth

“I think this at the end of the day is a big philosophy difference. We disagree with the notion that our rights come from government, that the government can now grant us and define our rights. Those are ours, they come from nature and God, according to the Declaration of Independence – a huge difference in philosophy.”

The right to have access to health care is, at its core, a pro-life notion, isn’t it? Any politician who turns to Jesus or God, (and uses the Declaration of Independence, a document that has no legal effect in 2012), as justification to essentially leave millions of Americans with a choice between death or bankruptcy, shouldn’t pontificate about what God would and wouldn’t do. 

Carl Emails, WNY Yawns

6. Did you get emails from Carl Paladino threatening to “expose” former Senator Al D’Amato for being a “predator” because he’s aligned with people like Mark Grisanti and Joel Giambra, and because he supposedly helped Cuomo pass same sex marriage? So did I. I deleted them. Seriously, who cares what that person says? 

Fast & Furious: NRA Flip & Hochul Votes for Contempt

7. Last week, Congress held a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Of course, about 88% of Americans hold Congress in contempt, but that’s beside the point.  Many Democrats walked out during the vote, charging that it was just a witch hunt. Among the few Democrats who not only stayed, but voted in favor of the contempt order was Kathy Hochul (NY-26). I think the Fast & Furious inquiry is a load of nonsense, and a purely political stunt designed to harm the administration; politics as usual. What follows in blockquote below is what Hochul released to explain her vote, but answer me this: a lot of gun enthusiasts link Fast and Furious to 2nd Amendment rights. I don’t really get why, and since I’m not a gun fetishist I don’t particularly care. But the first thing an NRA type will tell someone who is in favor of gun control is that, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Yet, the entire focus of the Fast & Furious inquiry is about the guns that ended up in the possession of Mexican drug cartel members who then used one to murder a Border Patrol Agent in Arizona. A horrible crime, to be sure – but it was committed by a criminal. Is the NRA now standing “guns don’t kill people” on its head because it suits their political aim of attacking Obama? Shall we add an asterisk, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people* [*except in cases where the gun was purchased by the Justice Department in furtherance of an investigation into where Mexican drug cartels get their weapons, and one of those weapons disappears and is used in a particularly horrible crime, in which case the gun killed the agent, not the narco-killer].”

 “We can all agree that the Fast and Furious operation was ill-conceived and the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was an avoidable tragedy. Now, our objective must be to evaluate the facts and work to prevent such an event from ever happening again,” said Hochul. 

“At a time when our country is facing significant economic challenges, it’s disappointing that both parties have, yet again, become distracted by Washington politics.  The people of Western New York deserve a transparent government, regardless of which party is in control.  Congress has a constitutional responsibility to exercise appropriate oversight, and I believe Attorney General Eric Holder should fully disclose the documents requested and allow this issue to be resolved.”

What I see is a conservative Democrat staving off any accusation that she’s weak on the 2nd Amendment – an issue about which her opponent in November has proven himself to be somewhat weak. I also see a Republican congress that continues its singular mission of harming the President at all costs, even if it collaterally does harm to average Americans or the country in general. 


8. On Friday, the Erie County Democratic Committee sent out two press releases. One likened the execrable Chuck Swanick, who is incredibly running to return to elected office, to Mitt Romney, calling the two “peas in a pod”. Swanick’s a lot of things – most of them negative – but he’s nothing like Romney, even remotely. The second release was much, much better. Remember how Chris Collins ran for County Executive re-election by touting how, under his “leadership”, he’d extricated the county from the hospital business? Yeah, about that – 

In 2011, Collins campaigned on the promise that Erie County was out of the hospital business, but clearly he was mistaken. The troubling news that Erie County Medical Center will cost nearly $39 million this year alone, more than double the “fixed” cost that Chris Collins promised taxpayers in 2009, raises serious questions about Collins’ ability as a manager and executive.Erie County deserves a full explanation from Chris Collins over the creation of a deal that has come back to bite taxpayers to the tune of more than $38 million over three years.

That’s 39 million reasons why the county isn’t out of the hospital business, no thanks to the guy now running against Kathy Hochul to essentially gain what passes for a noble title in America, and also to obtain subsidized federal health benefits while denying them to his constituents, and to supplement his already ample income with taxpayer dollars in the form of salary, fringe benefits, and other legacy costs. Conservative!


NY-27 Republican Primary: TODAY

26 Jun

It’s astonishing to me that David Bellavia challenged Chris Collins to a series of 8 debates over 90 days ago, and not a single one took place. The best Collins could do was to get some supporters of his to stage a set-up in Clarence, so he wouldn’t have to go far and he’d have an exceedingly friendly audience and sponsoring organization. 

Collins’ chickenshit refusal to debate his opponent is simply unbelievable to me. Debating issues is, frankly,  the bright, shining light in the otherwise tough slog of campaigning. Going door-to-door and attending chicken dinners is important and all, but the payoff is the ability to use your rhetorical skills, power of persuasion, and debate with your opponent the matters that are important to voters. 

Chris Collins was reluctant to debate Mark Poloncarz in 2011, agreeing only to a single televised debate, and a daytime debate at a high school where his campaign brazenly broke a “no videotaping” rule. He was even less willing to debate Bellavia, to whom the nomination was promised when he stepped aside to give the seat to Chris Lee in 2008. 

The history of the Erie County Republican Committee and David Bellavia has been replete with broken promises and backstabbing. If Bellavia wins today, it would vindicate him and send a message to the ECGOP that sometimes, honor trumps money. 

And that’s sort of shorthand for Bellavia’s appeal. Sometimes, honor trumps money. You don’t have to agree with everything – or anything – for which Bellavia stands. What I do know is that a Bellavia vs. Hochul race will be a better, more honest brawl than Hochul vs. Collins. The latter, however, would be a bigger boon to anyone who makes money off of campaign advertisements. 

I’ve watched this NY-27 race from its inception and I’ve seen Bellavia has done the hard work. He’s talked to voters – but more importantly, he’s listened, too. He is a guy who thinks Washington is broken and wants to change things and make a difference. I have to respect that, and if I was a Republican living in this district, I’d choose that over the chickenshit bully millionaire political hobbyist. 

So, if you live in the district shown below, and you’re a registered Republican or Conservative, please vote for David Bellavia and put Chris Collins out of the politics business. 

Chris Collins’ Internet Inefficiencies

25 Jun

ICYMI on Saturday, the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski wrote a piece about NY-27 detailing some of Chris Collins’ online travails, including the fact that his campaign website appeared absolutely nowhere on Google – something that’s been known for weeks, but not repaired.  

Perhaps he should have set up a Six Sigma inquisition into a more efficient way to set up and promote his web presence. 

What does show up when you Google “Collins for Congress”?  This website, prepared by a Florida Tea Party website, which details a variety of reasons why Collins is horrible. 

The Republican primary to select the candidate who will take on Kathy Hochul in November takes place this Tuesday. There seems to be a wide enthusiasm gap between Bellavia’s and Collins’ supporters, but Collins is out-spending Bellavia, at least as far as mailers are concerned – one political activist in the GLOW counties says it’s a 4:0 split. Collins is relying on money and mailers to get his message out, while Bellavia has been out pounding the pavement and shaking hands. Tuesday, we’ll see which one prevails. 

Collins’ Facebook Page: Curious

13 Jun

Chris Collins, like any semi-competent politician, has a Facebook fan page for his run to represent NY-27 in Congress. It has about 3,500 likes, and 6 people talking about it. 

3,530 is a big number. After all, the Erie County Republican Committee’s Facebook page has only 615 likes, with “11 people talking” about it. 

Where did all of Collins’ likes come from? Could he be using a service to manipulate the number? Did he transfer over his likes from when he was County Executive? The guy who beat him last year has only about 800 likes

It’s unclear when Collins set up this Facebook page – it says “joined Facebook” on April 26th, but there’s a mis-dated entry of April 2011 thanking people for circulating petitions for his Congressional run. 

So, let’s say the Collins for Congress fan page was created sometime in mid-April 2012. Between May 12 and June 12, 2012 – as the campaign against David Bellavia has heated up – only 114 people “liked” Collins’ page. What this means is that he accumulated 3,416 likes between mid-April and mid-May.  The page itself features only about 20 posts, 8 of which were put up in April.  What was so compelling that attracted over 3,000 in April? 

April 19, 2011 (a letter dated April 19, 2012) 1 post
April 26, 2012 5 posts
April 29, 2012 1 post
April 30, 2012 1 post
May 2, 2012    1 post
May 4, 2012    1 post
May 8, 2012    1 post
June 1, 2012    3 posts
June 2, 2012    1 post
June 12, 2012  3 posts

The trajectory of “likes” on the page also fits a particular pattern – a low one.  


 Where did the other 3,000+ likes come from, exactly? 


Enter: Chicken

12 Jun

Michael R. Caputo is an advisor to David Bellavia and his campaign for Congress from NY-27. Many months ago, they proposed a series of debates with primary opponent Chris Collins, and as of this writing Collins has agreed only to two – one with YNN, and one with some Republican women voter organization in Clarence that supports Collins  UPDATE: Collins has agreed to exactly zero debates. Firstly, Collins has not agreed to participate in a YNN televised debate on June 18th.  Collins’ people suggested one, singular debate to take place in Clarence and be hosted by something called the “Erie County Republican Women’s Federation.”  However, the League of Women Voters advised that ECRWF would not have hosted a debate, but instead an ambush – a supposed “debate” on Collins’ home turf, a curated crowd packed with Collins loyalists, and recruiting former “Reform Coalution” Collins loyalist Lynne Dixon to “moderate” it. Collins’ people refused to negotiate changes to make the ECRWF “debate” a fair event. Indeed, the ECRWF is a wholly new creation. It has no online presence, it has no transparency regarding its membership, funding, officers, or directors.  The woman who is sending out press releases on its behalf is an Erie County GOP loyalist and has given thousands to the county committee, local committees, as well as to Dixon and Collins

During Paladino’s primary campaign against Rick Lazio, when the Long Island Republican refused to debate Carl, Caputo sent out a guy in a chicken suit to graphically tease the candidate about his reluctance to debate. If I’m not mistaken, there was also a duck suit utilized against Cuomo regarding “ducking” issues. 

And so it is that a volunteer in a chicken suit set up a roost at the Main Street entrance to the tony, exclusive Spaulding Lake development in Clarence that’s home to doctors, sports figures, and the Collins and Corwin families, to name a few. The chicken taunted Collins for his unwillingness to debate Bellavia – an unwillingness that’s reminiscent of every recent race Collins had run; negotiating debate terms with his campaigns appears sometimes less difficult and circuitous than negotiating a cessation of nuclear activity for food aid with North Korea. 

I don’t get why that is. Collins doesn’t do poorly in debates. After all, he merely has to parrot his campaign themes and generic, crony capitalist, nouveau riche noblesse oblige talking points and denigrate his opponent. Easy peasy. But given Collins’ reluctance to debate, meet, or glad-hand, it could come down to one thing: Collins doesn’t feel comfortable asking for votes to which he thinks he is already entitled. 

Why shouldn’t you vote for – or pay attention to – Collins’ campaign to attain the only type of nobility America offers

Collins is nothing more than an old-fashioned tax & spend liberal. Although Collins likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, he’s raised taxes on us, and gone to court to prevent the legislature from keeping those hikes lower. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he’s spent millions on hisfriends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to seem as if he’s a good government type, he’s in ongoing violation of the county charter in terms of providing monthly budget monitoring reports. Although Collins says he’s trying to create a brighter future, he maintains the tired, failed status-quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York; he eschews the notion of IDA consolidation, and hasn’t set up a one-stop-shop for businesses to use when considering a move to our region.

For someone who promised to run the county like a business, why has he behaved like that?

The chicken? Naturally, it has its own Twitter account, and last night it taunted Collins with this (click on the link to see the picture): 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/ChickenCollins/status/212322054526091265″%5D

 Bellavia’s campaign released this Tuesday morning: 

Two leading Republican County Chairmen in New York’s 27th Congressional District today called upon GOP candidates David Bellavia and Chris Collins to accept a debate invitation from Time Warner Cable’s news affiliate, YNN, for June 18.

Bellavia accepted the YNN debate on June 5 – the same day it was offered. Since he was invited, Collins has ignored e-mails, letters, and telephone calls from YNN executives.

“I think it’s important for both candidates to give Republicans across the entire district an opportunity to hear where they stand on the issues – face to face, in a fair debate, on television,” Orleans County Republican Committee Chairman Ed Morgan said. “David Bellavia and Chris Collins must expose Primary voters to their views under those circumstances or the election will see record low turnout and the 27th District will be poorly served. The only opportunity to accomplish this is the YNN debate on June 18.”

“The Republican voters of the 27th District deserve a televised debate to see the candidates and understand their positions on important issues,” Wyoming County Republican Chairman Gordon Brown said. “I personally call on David and Chris to commit to a televised debate in which the entire district can be reached – including the more than 60 percent of voters living outside Erie County. Mailers and signs are not enough. I have had the opportunity to speak with both candidates on several occasions – let’s afford all Republican voters a similar opportunity to hear from them.”

On May 24, the Erie County Republican Women’s Federation (ECRWF) invited both Mr. Collins and Bellavia to debate in Clarence on June 19. Subsequently, the Bellavia campaign was advised by the League of Women Voters of Buffalo-Niagara that the ECRWF debate was by no mans fair and no candidate should agree to the wholly one-sided terms. Since then, the Bellavia campaign reached out to the Collins campaign to negotiate fair changes in the ECRWF event. The Collins campaign refused this opportunity, choosing instead to insist upon the rules they dictated.

“Seventy seven days ago, I called for a series of eight debates in the eight counties of the 27th District. But Mr. Collins has run out the clock,” Bellavia said.

“The televised YNN debate would allow both of us the opportunity to show Republicans across the entire district what we stand for and what we believe in just one debate. I don’t control it; Mr. Collins doesn’t control it. It’s 100 percent neutral and that’s what the voters deserve,” Bellavia said.