Tag Archives: Massa

Eric Massa

4 Mar

I’m disappointed in his retirement, and saddened by the news that his cancer has re-appeared. Best wishes to him – a principled and honorable guy.

Massa and The Netroots

9 Nov

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A slapfight is developing on regional blogs about Rep. Eric Massa‘s refusal to vote for the Healthcare Reform bill.  You have Phil Anderson, editor of The Albany Project saying that Massa is duplicitous and “full of shit”.

Today is D-Day for health care reform and we’ve still got some waverers here in NY. We already know that Eric Massa is “no” no matter what. (And I’ll have more on that later.  Short version: Massa is full of sh*t and trying to have it both ways.)

This is it, folks. It’s now or never. Too many of these guys got their seats with netroots support. (Rep Massa, I’m looking at you.) It’s time for them to put up or shut up.

To which the guys at Rochester Turning, several of whom live in Massa’s district, retort:

Eric Massa has read the bill. He said he would not vote for a bad bill. It’s a bad bill.  Employers will continue to have to pay for their employees Health Insurance.  If not, they will be committing a crime and fined.

This is an argument that Democrats across America should be having this week, in earnest.

We have establishment Democrats who value party loyalty and getting “anything” passed on healthcare in order to implement further compromised bills on important issues down the road.  They are arguing with real progressives who demand actual progress and good legislation.  It’s the crux of the problem in the national party.

Anderson has been around a long time and was most recently employed as the Director of New Media at the New York State Senate.  He’s a party first kinda guy.  The guys at Rochester Turning are like me, they’re employed in non-party jobs and want their representatives to demand good legislation.  We tend to find ourselves lumped in with the “fringe” of the party, where you find guys like Moore and Kucinich.

So, the argument from Anderson comes down to why won’t a “Progressive” Democrat like Massa act like a compromising corporate centrist Democrat?  Why won’t he get in line like the other advocates of single payer and a robust public option and vote for this watered down bill which doesn’t accomplish a whole lot of reform?

The party guys will tell you it’s because Massa is appeasing the right wing teabaggers in NY-29 and that Massa is a party sellout.  The non party guys will tell you it’s because Massa meant what he said and said what he meant.

In a letter dated July 30, 2009 from the Progressive Caucus to Reps. Pelosi, Waxman, Rangel, and Miller, signed by Rep. Eric Massa and 56 other Representatives:

Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates – not negotiated rates – is unacceptable. It would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of”keeping insurance companies honest,” and their rates down.

To offset the increased costs incurred by adopting the provisions advocated by the Blue Dog members of the Committee, the agreement would reduce subsidies to low-and middle-income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion of their income for insurance premiums, and would impose an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for what were to have been Federal costs.

In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies. We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.

Of the 57 signers of that letter, only Reps. Eric Massa and Dennis Kucinich followed through on their pledge to not vote for a bill without a robust public option.  Most of the signers traded away their pledge in exchange for a floor vote on a single payer amendment to the bill, which Speaker Pelosi subsequently reneged on.  Pelosi did however allow the pro-life Stupak Amendment to come to the floor for a vote, which is an affront to every pro-choice interest group in America.

So, is Massa simply voting “no” on the bill like the Blue Dog Democrats did, to appease the right wingers in their districts?  I’d say the evidence says “no”.  Along with the letter above, Massa has on numerous occasions stated his opposition to a watered down healthcare bill.

In the end, I’m glad someone in the WNY delegation voted against the bill.  While I’m glad some incremental reforms on pre-existing conditions and lifetime maximums were achieved, the sum total of the bill is a general handout to the insurance industry it’s intended to reform.  Pretty par for the course when it comes to DC legislation nowadays.

I was going to write a lengthy treatise on why this bill is generally bad for America and how in the long term it hurts the cause of real reform, but a Huffington Post blogger summed up my sentiments and I’d prefer to link to him in the interest of keeping this post under 2,000 words.

Personally, I supported President Obama in the primaries and the election but do not support him on this corporate giveaway built on broken campaign promises. I voted for the Barack Obama who opposed the individual mandate, who said the negotiations would be televised on C-SPAN and who campaigned against backroom deals with PhARMA.

Conservatives have expressed outrage for months about the way the health care bill was handled. Their anti-government anger is misplaced because the lets the insurances and drug companies who really helped drive this bill off the hook. But I understand their sense that this bill was passed despite the people.

Progressives should be every bit as upset that President Obama lied to us to get his historic health bill. The citizens of this country did not have a seat at the table. Proponents of single payer didn’t have a seat at the table. Under the guise of health care reform, we watched as the insurance industry got a bill passed that entrenches and enriches them.

Don’t let anyone fool you that this bill is a good start. It’s got a poison pill “Public Option” that is designed to fail.

I’m glad Massa said “no” and I’m glad he holds the 29th district seat.  To get a feel for who this guy is, take a look at his statement on the floor of the House last week in opposition to an increase of troops and money to the failed state of Afghanistan.

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Yeah, that’s the kind of guy I can get behind.

Health Care Reform, such as it is, Debated, such as it was

7 Nov

I spent Mia’s naptime and a bit after watching the health care reform “debate” on CSPAN.  Only it wasn’t a debate so much as it was a perverse game of ping-pong that went something like this:

Democrat is yielded one minute of time, declares that the health care reform bill is the culmination of a billion years’ worth of human development, and the very principled pinnacle of good, effective government that will not make sure all Americans are insured, but is the written incarnation of King’s dream come true.

Time is yielded back, and the Republicans get their turn.

Republican is yielded one minute of time and declares that the Pelosi Obamacare health thieving 2,000 page pile of Marxist theivery is the culmination of socialism, the revocation of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, a complete totalitarian takeover of the entire American economy, and also Acorn.  And you know where else they had free universal health care?  Nazi Germany.  Time is then yielded back.

Then I got to argue with downstate progressives about whether or not it was principled for Eric Massa (NY-29) to vote no on this bill, or whether or not he’s a piece of shit who should be ejected from the Democratic Party and voted out of office.  (For the record, Massa is a cancer survivor who attributes his survival to the single-payer military Tricare system, and he has fought tirelessly for a similar single-payer system to cover all Americans.  Given a little time, he will heap scorn and derision on America’s for-profit health “insurance” industry like you never heard. His stand is a principled one, and he deserves progressives’/liberals’ support, not derision).

I hope the health care bill, limp as it is, passes, so we have some fundamental consumer protection for health care consumers and the insured. I also fully expect that the uninsured at least have the option to buy into an affordable, quality health care system so that emergency rooms no longer become primary care facilities.

Lowlights of the “debate” include this shameful, deceitful display of douchery:

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Then there was this, when the Congressional Women’s Caucus attempted to speak, only to be shouted down and talked over by a bunch of Republican males:

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Massa (NY-29) On the Health Care Bill

7 Nov

Congressman Eric Massa, Democrat from NY-29, will be voting against HR 3962, the current iteration of the health care reform bill.  Whether you’re for or against health insurance reform of any kind, you have to hand it to Massa for standing on principle.  At Netroots Nation, Massa said that he thought single-payer healthcare was the best for insuring all people and keeping costs down.  He would vote for a true, vigorous public option, but not anything less than that, regardless of whether or not the White House supported it.

Well, it’s crunch time and Massa is staying true to his word:

“It is exceptionally painful to me to not be able to bring a common sense bill on health care reform to my district, but I will not vote on something that I think will hurt the people who sent me to Washington, regardless of how popular it may be,” Massa said.

He was asked about whether this would make the White House angry,

If I am, it wouldn’t be the first time,” Massa replied. “Everybody loves an independent member of Congress until you’re independent. I have great respect for the chief executive, but I do not work for him. I work for the people of the 29th Congressional District, and in a larger sense, the United States of America. The president is not my boss under any circumstances. And the Constitution says very clearly that the minute I consider him to be my boss, I should no longer hold this office.”

This guy, I like.

Town Hall Wastes of Time

27 Aug

This is what I really have trouble understanding.

What the hell is the point of going to a town hall to be all rude and screamy at a congressman when the things you’re screaming are objectively incorrect?

What the hell is the point of going to a town hall to be all rude and screamy at a congressman who will give you a chance to speak, and will stay there until everyone has had a turn?

I can understand being angry, I can understand being confused, I can understand showing up to ask questions and find out more. But I don’t understand it when people show up to shout talking points, and then try to shout out the congressman when he tells them (truthfully) that they’re wrong. That’s just a dumb waste of everyone’s time.

Who is Lilly Ledbetter, and Why Does She Get an Act?

27 Jan

In 2007, a woman named Lilly Ledbetter saw a lawsuit of hers go to the Supreme Court. According to Congressman Brian Higgins,

Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She sued the company after learning that she was paid less then her male counterparts at the facility, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex.

However, the Supreme Court said that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination.

While Ledbetter filed her charge within 180 days of receiving discriminatory pay, the court ruled that, since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer’s decision to pay her less, she could not receive any relief. Under this Supreme Court decision, employees in Ledbetter’s position would be forced to live with discriminatory paychecks for the rest of their careers.

The Lilly Ledbetter Act would reverse the SCOTUS’s decision, and permit aggrieved, discriminated-against plaintiffs to bring an action such as this within 180 days of any improper paycheck.

Higgins explains,

“This decision merely encouraged employers with discriminatory pay practices to continue such practices and keep them hidden from their workers, thereby running out the clock on a worker’s opportunity to challenge them. What we accomplished today was simply returning to the commonsense rule accepted for decades, that every discriminatory paycheck is a violation of the law that restarts the clock for filing a claim.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would apply to workers who file claims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability.

In a country such as this, with a constitution such as ours, the principle of equal pay for equal work by those with equal qualifications and experience is a pretty fundamental one. The Act passed 250-177. Higgins, Hinchey, Massa, and Slaughter voted in favor. Chris Lee voted against. (In 2007, it had passed 225 – 199).

Massa, Lee Sworn in

7 Jan

Congratulations and best of luck to Congressmen Chris Lee (NY-26) and Eric Massa (NY-29). Both are newbz, and both were sworn in yesterday.

I hope they both remember each day to work hard for their constituents, so that Western New York might begin to reverse its decades-long slide.

Congressman-elect Eric Massa

22 Nov

It’s official (finally). Massa declared victory yesterday in the extremely tight congressional race in NY-29, and incumbent Republican Randy Kuhl conceded.

I get the sense from Kuhl’s statement that he’s relieved not to have to go back to Congress and deal with ZOMG DEPRESSION!@#@!@. Massa, I gather, is pretty excited to deal with that very issue.

As an aside – “Amherst Guy” imagines what will happen to upstate’s Congressional districts after the 2010 Census.

Kuhl-Massa Race Still Pending

14 Nov

The vote in NY-29 was exquisitely close, so the counting of absentee ballots begins, as does the recanvass of the voting machines.

Part of the court’s order is quite amusing:

The campaigns are not to send rabid, bitter, untrained, unsophisticated partisans to participate in this process.

The Albany Project recounts (pun intended) how Kuhl ran an almost paranoid campaign, shunning open forums, debates, and getting belligerent with people he perceived to be against him. Seems to be a sort of local Republican M.O. now.

Buffalo News Endorsements So Far [UPDATED]

29 Oct

President:

Barack Obama (D) (article here)

If Americans want a future where our leaders respond to challenges with judgment and principle, rather than panic and rashness, they will elect Barack Obama president. We recommend they do so.

Our preference for Obama is not based only on matters of character, intelligence and calm. It also flows from his superior positions on such basic issues as war and peace, energy and environment, the economy and taxation, health care and justice.

Fundamentally, Obama does not want us to fear the future, the ever smaller, ever more complicated world, the problems we face and the choices we must make. He most certainly does not want us to be afraid of one another. And Obama does not even want us to be afraid of his rival candidate.

Congress:

NY-26: Alice Kryzan (D) (article here)

Kryzan is having no more of the Bush administration’s nonsense about the solution to every problem being another tax cut for the rich. And she resists the lure of cheap, and environmentally damaging, oil, turning instead to a new, green economy that will not only battle the trends toward climate change but also promise economic benefits to previously troubled areas such as Buffalo and the Great Lakes.

NY-27: Brian Higgins (D)

Higgins is vitally important on those local needs, and he is on the right side of the big issues. He is tired of the United States being played by all sides in the Iraq conflict and upset by what the conduct of the war on terror has done to American values. He favors reasonable regulation for the shattered financial markets and will not be a vote to continue the ruinous Bush tax cuts.

NY-28: Louise Slaughter (D)

As chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, she is in a good spot to see to the needs of all of Western New York. But, more than that, her position on the important issues facing the nation recommend her to the voters.

Slaughter is a strong voice for facing the threat of climate change through limits on greenhouse emissions, alternative energy sources and efficient autos and power plants. She supports a carefully managed withdrawal from Iraq and a restoration of the constitutional balances that have been upset by the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror. She seeks an end to the Bush tax code, which she rightly labels as a blatant redistribution of wealth — from the poor to the rich.

NY-29: Eric Massa (D)

Massa, a Democrat from Corning, favors a tax code that reserves its breaks for those who need them the most, has detailed ideas for a new regulatory system for the financial industry and regrets deeply the damage that has been done to the American military, American security, the American Constitution and American prestige by the misbegotten war in Iraq.

The News really honed in on the Bush-era’s tax cuts for the rich, and how that has practically become the Republican Party’s answer to everything.

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