Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: PA-11

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Originally posted on The Mark Up.

This is the seventh in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.  

Northeast Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District, including Scranton, Wilkes-Barres and the Poconos resorts, flourished in the 19th century after the discovery of anthracite coal – the highest carbon type of coal available. Coal mining drove development in the region until the 1940s, when demand shifted to cheaper alternatives like oil and natural gas. Today, coal mines are more of a tourist attraction than an economic driver, and Scranton is best known as the setting for NBC’s The Office.

For the past 25 years, the 11th district has been represented in the U.S. House by Democrat Paul Kanjorski. Throughout his time in Congress, Rep. Kanjorski has typically voted the right way on environmental issues. Last year, for example, he received a perfect score from the League of Conservation Votes, which means that he voted for the environment at every opportunity. This includes voting for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the first climate bill to pass a chamber in Congress. After the vote he said, “We need to begin the process of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, creating clean energy jobs in America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

In November, Kanjorski will be challenged for the third time by Republican Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton. The Cook Report ranks this race as a “Tossup.” Barletta gained notoriety in 2006 when, as Hazleton’s mayor, he passed one of the nation’s most sweeping anti-immigration laws. He’s had little to say about environmental issues, however, during his multiple Congressional runs, and what he has said is less than encouraging. He wrongly claims that ACES will “stifl[e] the economic recovery and jeopardiz[e] millions of jobs.” The truth is quite the opposite. According to in-depth modeling built on collaborative research by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California, ACES has the potential to boost GDP by more than $100 billion, and create 1.9 million jobs.

Barletta has also been a steadfast proponent of offshore drilling and dirty fuels, like liquid coal. And, after the BP blowout, he posted on his blog that “[a] leaking oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico does not justify the sinking of billions of dollars in a cap-and-tax scheme…” Actually, putting a price on carbon pollution is critical toward breaking our dependence on oil. We need to recognize that it is because we have not engaged in a serious effort to reduce our oil use that we’ve been forced to pursue petroleum products in sensitive areas like the Gulf’s deep waters. Whoever wins this race needs to help lead eastern PA into a new energy future.

The NRDC Action Fund believes that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.

Shaping a Marcellus Shale Tax that is Fair to Pennsylvanians

State lawmakers will return to Harrisburg in a few weeks and one of the major policy issues on their fall agenda is the passage of a severance tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale formation.

In a new report, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) makes several recommendations to ensure that lawmakers enact a severance tax that fairly compensates residents for the removal of this nonrenewable resource. The recommendations include:

        
  • Setting a reasonable tax rate that is comparable to West Virginia's rate in order to remove any incentive or disincentive for drilling in one state or the other;
  •     

  • Limiting unnecessary loopholes and deductions, including a tax break for the recovery of capital investments and an exemption for low-producing wells; and
  •     

  • Creating a sensible plan for sharing revenue between the state, local governments and environmental programs.

The report also recommends that lawmakers reverse a 2002 court decision that has prevented local governments and school districts from assessing property taxes on oil and gas interests. Finally, the center urges lawmakers and state officials to ensure that there is transparency in collecting and reporting drilling production.

Every state with mineral wealth, except Pennsylvania, imposes a severance tax to compensate residents for the removal of nonrenewable resources. The tax is an important source of state revenue to support services such as education, health care, environmental protection, early childhood education, and support for people with disabilities. It also provides revenue to local governments in many states to help pay for the social and public costs of increased drilling.

Check out the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's report today! It's brief, easy to read and lays out the important policy considerations before lawmakers as they shape a Marcellus Shale severance tax.

You can also access other reports and resources at PBPC's Severance Tax Resource Page.

Whores Keep Good Company

(I think people need a reminder of why they shouldn’t vote for Pat Toomey, seeing as how his campaign is on every ad panel of the Reading Eagle among other sites, every damn time I visit those sites. – promoted by Jamoca)

Not since the Valanginian Age has a creature so vile and crooked clawed its way up through the mud and scum to wage war on human intelligence quite like Pat Toomey.  He is evil in a way that only a crustacean can truly understand.  He is a crawler.  He eats shit and piss and his hands are bigger than his brain.

A whore, even at her best, is only as good as her shoes.  The same is true of popes and senators…or, in this case, potential senators.  Pat Toomey stands tall nowhere.  He is a high-heeled loafer with no appreciation for anything that could pass as decent.  He is small and weak and his collar is entirely too tight.

“Es ist ein triump des willens,” the Tea Party people chanted at maximum volume in a frenzied state of anger as they grinned and applauded in between Toomey’s talking points at a campaign stop in northeastern Pennsylvania.

“Pat Toomey eats pieces of shit,” a woman in the back said to her friend.  

It was almost inaudible amongst the raucous crowd, but I heard it and immediately afterward the words that were coming out of his mouth had transmigrated into regurgitated pieces of shit.  The entire crowd, save for me and the two women in the back began crawling around on all fours like wild beasts and began feasting on the shit that had fallen from Pat Toomey’s mouth.  I looked to the women to help make sense of what was going on.  They looked to me to save them from this horrifying situation.  We all three were paralyzed and the beasts had begun their second transmigration.  It had become a shit-show for all ages and soon it would infiltrate the already contaminated water supply.

I awoke in a cold sweat and scanned the room for wild beasts covered in feces.  When the situation seemed safe enough, I immediately logged on to my computer and went directly for the news sites…any one of them that could confirm that this was, in fact, only a nightmare.  

As it turns out, the shit-show was only the personification of a different nightmare.  Toomey is now leading over Sestak in the polls by 40 percent to 31 percent.  

Toomey also (and at long last) weighed in on the Mosque-at-Ground-Zero Debate, as we all hoped he would.  He is all for the First Amendment right of the freedom to practice religion…so long as it isn’t Islam being practiced within an indeterminate radius from a complex of buildings that no longer exist in a state he has never lived in many miles from his home.

I had hoped, though not believed, that the events of 9/11 as they relate to nonsensical, opportunistic, irrelevant, and politically charged rhetorical weaponry would have died with Giuliani’s failed presidential campaign in 2008.  My idealism failed, but my intuition prevailed.  Sooner or later the cockroaches would dig up that old corpse and parade it around the country once more and with the same kind of hypocrisy.  The flag-waving god-fearing good white Christian people who have a two-handed white-knuckled grasp on the ironclad principles of the 2nd Amendment feel the 1st should be loosely applicable within the confines of a racist and bigoted ideology.  

Even Giuliani spoke out against the building of the mosque, although he too is a whore that will take any trick that will get him into a headline…and 9/11 is the one baby he had that he didn’t abandon after it had come of age.  He knew from the start that it was ready for show business and in a way that would appeal to a massive national audience.  Even now, he makes his bread and butter by it.  One could argue, at least Giuliani was there…what right does Toomey have to make these judgments?  A very important one:  the 1st Amendment.  

Of course with freedom, we would hope that responsibility would follow.  It is an infantile hope and Toomey’s viewpoint only fans the flame of a fire that has burned for a thousand years and is burning more brightly these days.  Placing the word “but” at the end of the phrase “I support freedom of religion” isn’t entirely unlike placing the word “except” after the phrase “All men are created equal.”  Even if it weren’t fact that many Muslims were also killed in those attacks, it would remain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists.  

Some bigots and hypocrites attempt to circumvent the rights issue with moral judgment.  Toomey agrees that the backers of the mosque have a legal right to build it, he just feels “that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.”  Toomey, Palin, Giuliani, and every other Democrat or Republican politician seeking to win or retain office is entitled to espouse this position; however, that doesn’t make it any less bigoted, cynical, or opportunistic.  

Toomey also backed the Iraq war, though I doubt he felt it was indecent to build craters on top of innocent peoples’ homes during the wonderfully entertaining television program “Operation Shock and Awe.”  After all, not all Americans are errant cruise missiles dispatched from air sorties during the unprovoked invasion of a country halfway across the world.  Thankfully, however, the people in power understood that it was the necessary sacrifice to make and a good bet to hedge in order to gain more control over the flow of oil in the Middle East.  More importantly, the real God was on our side.

Maybe Toomey really is genuinely against the building of the mosque in a way that affects him emotionally; however, like most opponents of the mosque, there is little doubt that this emotion has anything to do with an intellectual sympathy or empathy for the families of the victims.  If his interest is not entirely disingenuous, then it is purely visceral:  the product of a simple-minded and shortsighted hatred of anything that lies beyond the scope of his knowledge and understanding.

All of this, though, is the trick of a whore-a slight of hand to make you look the other way or to gain the approval of other whores-and I am ashamed that I have followed the distraction as far as I already have.

The second story I latched onto was one from the Philidelphia Inquirer, and it appears Toomey has moved on (for the time being) to the economy.  He and his band of carnies loaded into an RV covered in campaign posters on Tuesday and launched a four-day tour through 21 counties in Pennsylvania.  There was no mention, literal or figurative, of oral defecation in the Inquirer article, but I remain unconvinced.  

“Where is the recovery?” Toomey asked.  

He provided no answers, only the same tired talking points.  Bush tax cuts for the top 1 percent…good.  Federal stimulus…bad.  Healthcare…bad.  After reading this gibberish for the hundred-thousandth time, I have begun to grow tired of the words and voices and pictures and commercials.

I am going back to bed now, and with any bit of luck I will once again find myself in that sweet dream where I am standing in a field full of tall grass and watching these terrible beasts thrust about in the mud while eating one another’s shit.

Bad Customer Service Thread

I’m fed up with businesses who think I’ll keep returning even when they refuse to thank me for my business.  Do you know why these clerks are so poor?  We don’t demand they greet us and act as if we’re welcome in their stores and businesses.  They don’t even feel the need to thank us when we part with our money in return for their goods and services.

I know I’ve been beating this dead horse for some time but I simply won’t allow some snot nosed kid to abuse me in return for giving them my money.  I ran out to do a few errands today and encountered more incompetent sales clerks.  This is really a fairly simple job.  One stands at a cash register and greets the customer, tallies their purchases using a wand then provides the correct change as their machine instructs.  Then they say “thank you” and go to the next customer (the next person in line as opposed to the next one they choose to take regardless of position in line).  If a person cannot perform this simple task then why would anyone consider them qualified for any other job?

This afternoon I stopped at the Sheetz on N. Fifth Street in Reading for a cold soda.  I got my Diet A&W and paid for it at the register.  The young lady told me to have a good day.  How can I have a good day when its apparent I just gave my money to a company which doesn’t deserve my business?  If they don’t appreciate it they don’t deserve it.  I asked for my money back.  The store made me wait five minutes before a manager came out and refunded my purchase.

I then went to the Giant market up the street for a few items (7 in fact).  My last trip to this store was an unmitigated disaster.  I had a $200 order and was in line at the one register open behind three others.  I waited patiently for some time when another register opened.  Instead of taking the next person in line (and we’d been there for more than a few minutes) she took a couple who were bound and determined to cut in line.  Today I had just seven items and got in the express lane to find a lady with many more than the limit.  She was so slow doing her business I almost left.  Then the young female clerk rung me up and said “have  a nice day.”  I’m sorry but how am I to have a nice day when I just gave my money to someone who doesn’t appreciate it?  I asked her straight out for a thank you.  Guess what this imbecile said?  “Why do I have to thank you?”  Honestly, she had no clue.  I explained it is customary for businesses to thank customers who just handed them their money.  She still had no clue to what I referred.  I mentioned it to a manager on my out and asked why I should ever return to their store.

Wawa convenience stores are the absolute worst offenders in my experience.  Their clerks never consider thanking anyone and rarely even greet you.  I’ve taken to buying my gas anywhere but Wawa now though since they’ve driven most other gas stations out of the market it is difficult.  Fortunately I have a Sunoco nearby run by Indians who never fail to thank me.  I drive by a Redner’s Quick Shop manned by arrogant, racist, ignorant people who fill its bathroom walls with KKK graffiti and cannot greet a customer to save their lives.   We get the service we tolerate folks.  Use the comment thread to spread your bad customer service experiences.  Let us not patronize stores with who don’t appreciate our business!

Update:

I saw in our site traffic that three of the aforementioned companies checked the article over the weekend.  All but Redner’s though they were the first to respond to my direct contacts through the stores’ websites.  Here is their response:

Dear John,

   Thank you for writing.  I have shared your letter with Mr. Redner.  As

one of our valued customers, your comments, both positive and negative, are

important to us.  You may be assured that Mr. Redner personally reads every

letter and then passes it on to the appropriate staff person. We will try to

address problems as quickly as possible and we will share all of your

comments with the appropriate employees.

   Please accept our apologies for the negative experience that you had at

our quick shoppe in Fleetwood with regards to the less than desirable level

of service you have experienced from our associates when, through your

transaction dialogue, they did not thank you for your patronage.  Your

satisfaction is paramount to our success and ensuring that we can continue

to be the choice for all your grocery needs.  If this is not occurring we

need to address and rectify the matter before it becomes a persistent issue.

We expect all of our associates to conduct themselves in a professional

manner that reflects upon them and Redner¹s in a positive light so that your

shopping experience is positive and that your patronage of our store is

appreciated.

   The demeanor that you have experienced our associates to have conducted

themselves with is not acceptable and will be addressed on multiple levels.

Our district manager will address this issue with our store director and the

associate involved so that we can bring this matter to a speedy resolution.

We will review the expected service to be given to each customer and also so

that you would not have such an experience in the future.

   I will also share your comments of the condition of our men’s rest room

with our maintenance team.  Our management is to be evaluating the

conditions of our all parts of the store all times throughout the day and

have it cleaned and/or repaired when unsightly and necessary.  If our

management is not following these procedures regularly we will address the

matter.   Our district manager and our risk manager will go over these

procedures with our management and make changes as necessary.

   Should you not be provided with prompt and courteous service from an

associate, please find our store manager Denise Isamoyer and she will

rectify the matter immediately.

   I am confident that with the proper attention to this matter we can work

towards a positive resolution to ensure it does not happen in the future.

We will continue to work hard to provide you with the lowest prices,

freshest product and excellent service we have for over 40 years.  Thank you

again for your comments and shopping with Redner’s.  If you wish to discuss

your concerns further, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Eric B. White

Consumer Communications Specialist

Redner’s Markets, Inc.

Sheetz also responded.  Also recall that Sheetz PAC gave Sen. John Eichelberger $500 to spread his messages of hate in Harrisburg:

John,

I’m writing in regards to your recent email. I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with one of our stores, but appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns. I wanted to pass your comments on to the district manager and manager of the store you were referring to so that they could look into this for you. I was hoping you might be able to tell me which store you visited. This would really help me ensure that your message reaches those best equipped to address the situation. Please, feel free to respond to this email at your convenience. I look forward to hearing from you again. Have a great day.

Sincerely,

Danielle Finnegan

Sheetz Inc.

CF# 234181

Neither Wawa or Giant have responded as yet.

Update II:  Neither Wawa nor Giant ever responded to my comments.

Redner’s still hasn’t learned its lesson.  I stopped at their Quick Shop yesterday in a test and they failed.  Today they failed once more at their Carsonia Avenue store.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan…

I ran a weekly column here for several years called Meanwhile In Iraq… and now it appears we’re having deja vu as the same conditions in Iraq are permeating Afghanistan.  The argument being put forward for endless war is the same:  the Afghans aren’t ready to secure their own country.  This is almost nine years after the onset of this conflict.  How much time will they need?  Forever because Afghanistan has never, in its long history, secured itself under a national government.  This is a splintered nation controlled by regional warlords.  Why we think we’ll change that is anyone’s guess.  I have a few:  profits for the American military-industrial complex, the opportunity to wipe out an entire generation of lower class people, the chance to control vast mineral wealth, the illusion that we can defeat The Taliban.

Liberals I know are upset with Barack Obama on Afghanistan.  They hoped he would change the policies there instead of standing by his campaign promise to escalate.  These well meaning folks hoped he was pandering to voters about the war there, instead he was pandering to the liberals about his progressive credentials.  Barack Obama is no liberal, never has been.  He is controlled by the same corporate elitists who run this country.  No candidate can rise to serious presidential stature without their blessing.  Too many profits are being made on the backs of our young soldiers, airmen and sailors to end this war.  Since most of them are coming from lower socio-economic classes stressed by the Bush Recession this also presents an opportunity to erase much of that social strata.  This is a win win for the elites which control and run America.  With a majority of the Supreme Court now doing its bidding these rich and powerful people are in total control.  The Tea Party is their reminder to us of what revolution could come if we don’t behave.  Intimidation and fear are their weapons to keep us humbled and passive against their policy of endless war.  

The place to slash government spending is the Department of Defense.  Until we stop spending a trillion dollars a year on The Pentagon there will be no real freedom or liberty.  Until we reign in the terror at home created by a massive military industrial complex will we find true liberty.  Meanwhile the working class continues to sit on its arse and take this lying down.  Democracy is a wonderful thing, you deserve what you get and you get what you deserve.  Stay home and don’t vote and you get what you deserve.

News & Notes August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck and his Tea Party anarchists are on the mall in DC again today.  Which historic photo will they alter this time to make it appear more people attended than did?  I sure hope it isn’t of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech which was given on this day at that location.  It is an abomination that these racists would desecrate that memory with today’s rally.  Beck claims he didn’t know the importance of the date.  Sure, just like he says he isn’t a neo Nazi too.

Pat Toomey claims he never supported privatization of Social Security.  Doesn’t the former Congressman understand we live in an age where videos, transcripts and interviews live on in archives?  Does he think no one can find those?  It is time Pat Toomey stopped lying to Pennsylvania voters.

Meanwhile Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska endorsed Joe Sestak for the Senate.  This comes on the heels of independent Mike Bloomberg’s support.  Toomey is so far right that even fellow Republicans can’t tolerate his extremist views.

Speaking of extremist views Beaver County Blue reports a Tea Party candidate who thinks sending poor people to newly created poor houses is the solution to society’s woes.  I suppose this is better than simply killing them in concentration camps?  Carl Paladino, Tea Party candidate for Governor of New York, says the poor should be sent to state prisons where they can work on improving themselves (including their personal hygiene).  I certainly smell something but it isn’t from someone’s personal hygiene.  Can you say “Heil Paladino?”

Sen. Bob Casey met with families in Dimock recently to discuss the water well poisoning done by Marcellus Shale energy companies.  He is sponsoring the FRAC Act in Congress to protect our water supplies from unregulated drilling.  The gas companies create a toxic, poisonous fluid which is forced over a mile underground to shatter the shale formations to produce natural gas.  About a quarter of this fluid comes back up where it is radioactive and being dumped into rivers, streams and public sanitation facilities ill equipped to clean heavy metals and other toxins from the water.  The remainder stays in the ground where it can poison our water supplies.

Sarah Palin returned to our fair state to further pollute our political discourse.  The event in Hershey was billed as non partisan but we know better than that.  Reps Reichley and Gordon were in attendance while Mama Grizzley beared down on a host of Democrats.  According to Tweets from the event she praised parental notification for minors wanting abortions.  Has she ever heard of something called incest?  Sure, those dads always want the authorities to know they impregnated their daughters…  She condemned the deficits at the same time she supports massive tax cuts for the rich.  Typical nonsensical Tea Party bologna.  The rally should have been in Lebanon instead.

Meanwhile Big Brother gets bigger as the western U.S. can now use police GPS tracking devices to see where you go without obtaining search warrants.  I thought we got rid of George W. Bush?  Of course every time you use a cell phone, EZ Pass, a store buyer’s card or other anti-privacy methods you’re voluntarily doing so.

Must reading for your weekend is this New Yorker article on the Koch brothers.  These two men are responsible for the Tea Party and all the right wing propaganda being produced.  They are extremely dangerous to democracy and a healthy civilization and world.  You must know and understand who they are and what they do.  They are the principle financiers behind the Tea Party.

Factory Farms Strike Again

Half a billion eggs have been recalled for possible salmonella poisoning due to conditions at two huge factory farms where eggs are cranked out from over stressed hens kept in inhumane conditions.  The contamination has been traced to chicken feed fed to the birds but experts also note the stressed conditions in which birds are kept in these operations.

It is essential for your health and safety to know from where your food comes.  Is it local, naturally or organically produced?  Your life may be in danger if you aren’t careful.  Of course it isn’t possible to know the source of every bite we take.  A quick trip through a fast food drive through when you’re traveling or in a rush and that Egg McMuffin may wind up putting you in the hospital.  I get my eggs from a csa called Jack’s Farm in Pottstown, PA.  They cost a bit more than at the supermarket but I haven’t had to worry one wit about the safety of my eggs.  CSA is short for community sponsored agriculture.  These are local farms which produce food every week for their subscribers.  You pick up your allotment or pick your own each week and you know exactly how and where your food is produced.  We arrive on Thursday afternoons and pick out our veggies and trek up to the fields to pick beans, beets, arugula, radishes and even fresh flowers.  Chicken, eggs and salmon are also available and I’m quite content knowing where my eggs are from as I witness the concern others have about their supply.

We live in an age of factory farms where eggs, pork, chicken, beef and other foods are produced in mass quantities in inhumane conditions.  On my way to New Mexico in June I passed a factory beef operation in West Texas which was horrible.  You could smell the stench from a mile away and seeing hundreds of cows crowded together in pens instead of being free to roam the range and feed naturally was sickening.  Pigs are raised the same way now and if you buy pork from a major regional meatpacker this is where your ham and bacon is being raised.

Public officials have allowed these factory farms to proliferate and drive family farmers out of the business and/or off their land.  They aren’t safe for the public health or our environment.  Pig farms create hundreds of tons of waste which is kept in pools and lagoons which leach into the ground.  Human and industrial waste called sludge is now being spread on the fields fertilizing our vegetable crops.  Do you wonder how e coli, an animal product, gets into your veggies?  The answer is sludge.

As our society becomes dependent on mass producers using factory farm techniques it is imperative we harass our legislators to regulate and restrict these operations.  Family farms largely use natural farming techniques long associated with producing healthy food.  Find a csa in your area and a local butcher where you know the animals have been raised free range and have been grass fed.  The food is more expensive (unless, of course, you get ill or die from your factory food) but is healthier and safer.  Can you put a price on the health and safety of your family?

Biden Chastises Boehner

Rep. John Boehner wants to be Speaker of the House in the worst way.  So desperately he wants to return to the policies of George W. Bush which helped push the world into a severe economic recession.  The sort of policies which include eliminating Social Security, the policies which got us entangled in two unwinnable wars which have bankrupted our nation, tax cuts for the rich which have indebted us and our children and grandchildren to the Chinese for future generations, policies which deregulated industry so workers can earn less, labor in dangerous conditions and get injured or killed on the job and so on and so on.

Boehner wants to be Speaker in the worst way:  by making things worse for all Americans who failed to be born rich.  Vice President Joe Biden called him out this week:

I want to respond to the remarks made this morning by Mr. Boehner, the Republican leader in the House.

After months of promising a look at his party’s agenda and their plans for America, he made what was billed as a major economic address. And his chief proposal apparently was that the President should fire his economic team.  Very constructive advice, thanks.

So, let’s just review a little history here:  For eight years before we arrived, Mr. Boehner and his party ran this economy and the middle class into the ground.

They took the $237 billion surplus they inherited from the Clinton Administration and left us with a $1.3 trillion deficit, and, in the process, quadrupled the national debt – all before we had turned on the lights in the West Wing.

They gave free rein to the special interests to write their own rules at the expense of everybody else.

And the sum total of it was the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression-a crisis that wreaked havoc on families and businesses across this country–a crisis from which we are still digging out.

The head of their campaign committee, Representative Pete Sessions, said that if they were to take control of Congress this fall-which, by the way, they won’t-that they would go back to “the exact same agenda” they were pushing before President Obama took office.

 

Now let me respond to a few specific points Mr. Boehner raised:

On taxes, let’s be clear on what this debate is all about: the big tax cuts of the last decade are scheduled to expire. This President says the middle class can’t afford higher taxes in the midst of this recession. They’ve borne the brunt of it.

So the President proposes we extend the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.

What Mr. Boehner wants to do is extend the tax cut to the other two percent.  That means we’re going to have to borrow $700 billion we don’t have to give a $100,000 a year tax cut to millionaires.

This is a tax cut they don’t need, and they won’t use to create jobs or economic growth.

So to justify that, he has created this myth that a tax cut for millionaires is actually a tax cut for small business.

There aren’t three percent of small businesses in America that would qualify for that tax cut. It’s a Wall Street tax cut, not a Main Street tax cut.   At the same time, they’re blocking the genuine $12 billion tax cut for small businesses we proposed.

Also, he wants to give U.S. companies that shift jobs and profits overseas a tax credit for taxes they don’t even pay.

We’ve seen this movie before, Mr. Boehner. We know how it turns out.  And the American people deserve something different and something better.

The rest of his so-called plan doesn’t offer any real economic agenda, it merely is a list of things he thinks the President shouldn’t do.

So after all of this buildup and hype, all we know is what John Boehner and his Republican colleagues are against.  We still haven’t heard what they’re for.

So let’s be clear about the kind of change this administration supports.

Let me tell you basic formula:

Government plants the seeds, the private sector makes them grow, and we launch entire industries, create hundreds of thousands jobs, and spark new forms of commerce that were once unimaginable, allowing us to dominate the 21st century like we did in the 20th.

You know, Secretary Chu is really the perfect person to talk about innovation with us today.  From what I understand, you don’t win a Nobel Prize for repeating the formulas of the past.  You win one for doing something that’s never been done before.  You win one for innovating.

And more than ever, America needs to innovate. I’ve been all over this country, and talked to a lot of people, and I’ve not yet found anyone who has said to me:  Just bring us back to where we were.  Just bring the economy back to what it was before the beginning of this recession.

Because not only were families struggling before the beginning of this great recession -America was stagnating.

We were seeing big challenges getting bigger -climate change, our dependence on foreign oil, the erosion of our manufacturing base.

And at the same time, Americans were losing jobs, and losing hope.

So when we passed the Recovery Act, our goals were three-fold:

•          To rescue a rapidly deteriorating economy;

•          To put the country on a path to recovery by getting Americans back to work quickly; and

•          To reinvest in the country’s long-term economic future.

On the first two counts, we’re making progress:  We’ve created 3 million jobs, and we’re adding jobs every month.  The economy has been growing for a full year.

In the last six months of the Bush Administration, we lost 3 million private sector jobs.  In the first seven months of this year, we created 630,000 private sector jobs.

We’re turning this around.

Now, it’s not happening as fast as any of us would like, and certainly not fast enough for the millions of folks who are still out of work.  But there isn’t any doubt – we’re moving in the right direction.

It’s that third part of our strategy that we’re here to report on today.

As I said, it’s not enough just to rebuild the industries of the 20th century.

We knew we had to lay the foundation for a new, more robust American economy, one that was ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century-which are different from the ones we face in the 20th.  And, like those before us, we know we have to innovate.

Since its birth, the United States has been a nation built on discovery and innovation.  In fact, our very roots are in innovation. We’re innovators – that’s who we are.  We’re tinkerers and inventors, explorers and entrepreneurs.

It was in this spirit of taking bold steps forward amid daunting adversity that President Obama signed the Recovery Act.

Today, I am proud to release this report on how the down payments we have made to entrepreneurs and innovators through the Recovery Act are transforming the American economy.

The report has a lot of details, but I can summarize it very briefly:

The first point I want to make is, our investments in innovation are creating jobs, creating new industries, making existing industries more competitive, and, in the process, they’re driving down costs for new technologies that are badly needed, and helping our nation reassert our place as the world’s center for inventors and entrepreneurs.

This report focuses on our investments in four main areas  Think of them as seed money:

1.         Modernizing transportation, including advanced vehicle technology and high-speed rail;

2.         Jumpstarting the renewable energy sector through wind and solar energy;

3.         Investing in groundbreaking medical research; and

4.         Building a platform that will enhance the private sector’s ability to innovate, through investments in broadband and the Smart Grid, by giving them the tools they need to grow.

In each of these areas, we’re seeking game-changing breakthroughs.  And in some cases, entire new American industries are being born-the very industries that are going to allow us to lead the world in the 21st Century.

I’d like to highlight just a bit of what’s happening in each of these areas.

First, modernizing transportation.

I know that we have several electric vehicle manufacturers, battery makers, and people working on charging infrastructure here today.

I was at a Jeep plant yesterday.  Right now, we’re seeing that we did the right thing when we stepped in to give them American auto industry a second chance.

Our goal was not just to rebuild the auto industry of the past-but to create an American auto industry for the next century, that will dominate for decades to come.

I want to see a day when you can pop the hood on your electric car made in Smyrna, Tennessee, to check on your advanced battery made in Holland, Michigan, or Noblesville, Indiana, and an electric motor made in Longmont, Colorado, as you recharge your vehicle at an electric charging station in San Diego.

But we knew that day wasn’t going to come on its own.  In the greatest automobile producing-country on Earth, we were manufacturing less than two percent of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, that’s changing – in a big way.  Because we provided $2 billion in seed money to 30 advanced battery and electric drive component factories, it brought more than $2 billion more in private capital off the sidelines.   And, as a result, America is expected to have the capacity to produce 20 percent of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries by 2012.  By 2015, it could be as much as 40 percent-because the private sector will continue to invest in these changes.

And more importantly, we’re on pace to reduce the cost of batteries for autos by 70% by 2015 – which will make electric vehicles cost-competitive with similar non-electric vehicles.

When you put it all together, it means that America will once again be able to provide “Wheels for the world” –  the most advanced, efficient, competitive cars found anywhere-with a side benefit of not having to rely on foreign oil.

Second, we’re jumpstarting investment in renewable energy.

Three decades ago, the U.S. led the world in another arena – the development of renewable energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal power.  Since that time, because of the failure to invest in these industries, we’ve fallen behind.

President Obama, Secretary Chu, and I set a goal of doubling U.S. renewable energy generation capacity from wind, solar, and geothermal by 2012.

We wanted to install as much renewable capacity in three years as the U.S. had in the previous thirty.

But we’re ahead of pace to meet it.  In Pensacola, Florida, we’ve funded the largest photovoltaic power plant in North America, with over 90,000 solar panels-enough to provide energy for 3,000 homes.

And the Department of Energy is in the process of supporting what will be the world’s largest solar thermal facility – in the Mojave Desert.  It will have 349,000 mirrors.

Because of projects like these, we are on pace to cut the cost of solar energy use in half by 2015 – leading us towards a day when solar power can be as cheap or cheaper than electricity from the grid, meaning that households can save money by using solar.

All told, the new generation capacity supported by the Recovery Act is going to power 16.7 million homes.

But we knew that generating renewable power was only half the story – that we had to reassert ourselves as renewable manufacturing leaders as well.  So President Obama set a goal of doubling U.S. renewable manufacturing capacity by the end of 2011.

And, by the way, that means jobs.

We’re on track to meet that goal, too.  We’re using a tax credit (48C) to increase incentives for renewable energy manufacturers to set up or relocate their businesses here in the US.  Already, for example, it’s paid out $346 million in tax credits for wind alone, resulting in 52 wind manufacturing projects in the US.

And again, it’s not just government.  It’s leveraging private capital:  All in all, $46 billion in clean energy funds we’re providing in seed money alone will generate more than $100 billion in non-federal investment in new energy projects.

As a result, we are on pace to hit our target of doubling America’s renewable energy generation and manufacturing capacity by 2012.

Third, the Recovery Act is investing in groundbreaking medical research, with the goal of finding new ways to treat or prevent some of the world’s most daunting and debilitating diseases, to develop powerful new medicines, and even define strategies that will prevent disease from occurring in the first place-saving lives and saving hundreds of billions of dollars.

This disease prevention work is happening across the board: in human genome sequencing, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autism.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, researchers at our National Institutes of Health will complete the sequencing on 50 times as many human genomes as we’ve sequenced to date – not only increasing our understanding of disease, but also bringing down the cost of doing this work and opening the door to a future of personalized medicine.

Thanks to Recovery Act funds, NIH will be able to sequence the genes of cancers that affect 10 million Americans – again, with the potential to start winning the war on cancer our nation declared in the early 1970s.

The first human genome map cost an estimated $2.7 billion.  Today, a genome map stands at $48,000.  Now, we stand on the verge of bringing the cost of a human genome map below $1,000 – fifty times cheaper than what is currently possible and with the potential to completely transform health care in America.

In the National Institutes of Health, we have one of the greatest assemblages of doctors and scientists in the world.

Through the Recovery Act, we’re giving them the tools to make the most profound innovation of all: improving and extending health and human life, while bringing down the cost in medicine.

The fourth area of investment is in building a platform for private sector innovation.

In all of these areas, the President and I recognize that the federal government’s role is limited.  We provide the seeds, but it’s the private sector that makes them grow.

That’s why we’re investing so heavily in broadband.  Thanks to $7 billion in Recovery Act investments, bringing $3 billion in private capital off the sidelines, approximately 2 million rural American households – and tens of thousands of community institutions – will have better access to broadband.

Farmers will be able to access real-time weather reports, water conditions, and crop prices, helping them be as competitive as possible in a global market.

As I said, we’re also investing more than $4 billion in Smart Grid, bringing more than $5 billion in capital off the sidelines.  Smart grids provide real-time information on electricity use, so that consumers and businesses can make efficient energy choices on a truly reliable network.

A smart utility grid.  Universal broadband.  These are the foundation upon which innovative businesses can be built here in the U.S. – able to open their doors anywhere, and prosper everywhere.

And that’s really what this is about – giving American entrepreneurs the tools to do what they do best.

I know that there are several representatives of ARPA-E here today. The original ARPA was started in response to Sputnik.  The goal of this new agency was to rejuvenate America’s military research and development capabilities.

In 1962, ARPA launched a nationwide effort to build a computer network called ARPA-NET.

By 1975, after spending just $25 million, ARPA researchers had done just that – and they’d created the basic structure of the modern Internet.

In the 1980’s, private industry dove in, and by 2009, the Internet was being used by approximately 27 percent of the world’s population, over 1.8 billion people.  It’s the engine for hundreds of billions of dollars of commerce.

That was a relatively modest federal investment that allowed private industry to completely transform our economy.

That is exactly what we’re doing again.  Our federal investment is bringing money off of the sidelines. For example, in scientific research, $2.9 billion in investment is being doubled by external investors.  Or take clean energy, where a $46 billion investment is supporting more than $3 for every $1 we spent.

In fact, on $100 billion of Recovery Act investments, the private sector is investing $286 billion-three dollars for every dollar we spend

A couple of months ago, I visited a company called Cree, in Durham, North Carolina.  I know we have some folks from Cree here today.

Their CEO, Chuck Swoboda, said: “The Recovery Act funding made it a straightforward decision to continue to invest in the U.S., both at our North Carolina facility and throughout our supply chain partners across the country.”

In his Nobel Prize lecture, Dr. Chu said, “As scientists, we hope that others take note of what we have done and use our work to go in directions we never imagined.”

Both had it exactly right, and it brings me back to where I started:

Government plants the seeds, the private sector makes them grow, and we launch entire industries, create hundreds of thousands jobs, and spark new forms of commerce that were once unimaginable.

That’s how we’ve led the world in the past.  And that’s how we’ll dominate again in the future.   Looking at all of you, I know that we’re already on our way.

News & Notes August 24, 2010

For those who missed my little Facebook announcement earlier today I will be covering three state Congressional races for The Huffington Post this fall.  Gerlach/Trivedi, Lentz/Meehan and Critz/Burns in the 6th, 7th and 12th Districts respectively.

Dan Onorato is hitting Tom Corbett’s no tax increase pledge since his only experience in such a position saw him vote for a 20% tax increase as a township commissioner.  I hate these tax ads.  I’m sorry but sometimes you simply have to raise taxes.  I’ve seen where rampant GOP mismanagement left Dems with no choices but to raise taxes to balance budgets due to accounting smoke and mirror games.  Too much of what government does and provides are essential services and must be financed.  Taxes are the only method and if you don’t want bridges collapsing under your car, your grandparents out on the streets selling pencils, your kids homeless, hungry and uneducated then we must invest in our communities.  Taxes aren’t evil, they aren’t poison and Americans actually pay few taxes.  Taxes are a necessary evil but without them we aren’t a civilized society.

I’m fed up with all the mosque nonsense.  Its a non issue.  Our constitution says we have freedom of and from religion folks, what part of that don’t you understand?  Three months ago you were all screaming that President Obama wasn’t abiding by the constitution and now you aren’t.  Get over it.  This is nothing more than the right wing finding another fear based wedge issue to distract voters from their failings.  Actually it is but one more.

If any Democratic candidate gets questions about it the smart answer is to say “there’s no real issue here, I refuse to be sucked into the right wing’s fear mongering.  Let’s talk about the real issues, jobs, stimulus, jobs, Republican obstructionism and jobs.  Did you see where Republicans have voted against every single jobs bill?  Keep it simple people, its the economy stupid.

20% of Pakistan is under water, a third of Russia’s wheat crop has been burned by wildfires, floods are ravaging China and every day CNN’s severe weather station is reporting more extreme weather.  No global warming though folks, nothing to see here, just stick your head back in the sand and pretend everything is alright.  Just hope when you take it back out you aren’t drowning.

Today’s history lesson is a visit to deja vu.  The right wing fringe, neo Nazis, KKK’ers and assorted bigots have been obstructing progress in our country forever.  The Tea Party movement is simply their newest incarnation.  This great and humorous look back reminds us of their sordid history:

Pat Toomey is now denying he ever said he supported Social Security privatization.  Has he forgotten all the newspaper, video and speeches out there proving otherwise?  Does he think Pennsylvanians are that stupid to forget his past?  Well, some are.

Manan Trivedi has been endorsed by Democracy For America in the 6th Congressional District.  Tomorrow he is rolling out his jobs program and I’ll cover his Pottstown event.

As far as scheduling into next month goes I’ll be in Santa Fe, New Mexico again from September 25 through October 5th.  If I responded “no’ to attending your events during that time period it’s because I’ll be away.  

Lois Herr has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club.  She is running to unseat Joe “The” Pitts in PA-16.

Another Swing and a Miss for Congress

by Walter Brasch

           A federal grand jury last week indicted retired pitcher Roger Clemens on charges he lied to Congress.

           In February 2008, Clemens, a seven time Cy Young winner, voluntarily met with a House committee and testified he didn’t knowingly use steroids or human growth hormones. The only evidence against Clemens appears to be the testimony of his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who claims to have injected Clemens with the drugs about 40 times between 1998 and 2001. Clemens says he was led to believe the injections were Vitamin B-12 and an anesthetic, Lidocaine, both legal under Major League Baseball guidelines. McNamee cut a deal with the Department of Justice to avoid prosecution. Clemens could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

           Probably half the country thinks Clemens took illegal drugs. Probably half the country thinks he didn’t take the drugs and was set up by his trainer. But that’s not the important issue.

           First of all, does anyone know why the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform even held a hearing about steroid usage among baseball players? Was there a dry spell and the Committee couldn’t find anything in the government that needed to be reformed?

           If the committee thought public figures taking illegal drugs was bad, why didn’t it look inside itself first? If it did, there would be a high probability it could easily have found members of Congress and their staffs who also took steroids, snorted coke, or mainlined harder drugs. Stoned and wasted Congressional staffers pose a greater danger to society than any athlete.

           This is the same body of legislators who created the House Unamerican Activities Committee in the early 1950s to strip Americans of their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association. It also ordered contempt of Congress charges and perjury against witnesses who told the truth-but not what Congress wanted to hear.

           This is the Congress that in 1994 didn’t ask for convictions for perjury for any of the seven CEOs of major tobacco companies who testified under oath that nicotine wasn’t addictive. But that, and much more, is history. The present 21st century Congress has much more to answer about its actions.

           This is the Congress that ran in fearful circles, put its tail between its legs and in 2001 passed the PATRIOT Act, which stripped Americans of six Constitutional amendments and the constitutional right of habeas corpus. Four years later, Congress reauthorized the Act to prevent several sections from automatically expiring. The terrorists had done their job well-they put so much fear into Americans that the Americans created their own terrorism.

           This is the Congress that failed to question the Bush-Cheney administration’s claims of why it needed to spend about a trillion dollars and invade Iraq.

           This is a Congress that was slow to respond to well-documented evidence that the U.S. was committing torture-and which, against the professional advice of the CIA and FBI, housed large numbers of elected legislators who saw nothing wrong with torturing those who may or may not have been terrorists, the election year “buzzword.”

           This is a Congress that had provided negligent oversight of companies that provided billions of dollars worth of service in the war zone-and fraudulently overbilled the taxpayers.

           This is the same Congress that allowed the banking and investment industries to make billions by scamming Americans, gave multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses to its senior management, and helped bring about the greatest recession since the 1920s.

           This is the Congress that by negligence allowed lax oversight of environmental regulations.

           This is the same Congress that was blind to the Bush-Cheney administration’s failure to properly regulate the oil industry, and probably should be considered to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the BP oil spill.

           This is the same Congress that has allowed a Republican minority to become the street bully and block needed legislation, including legislation to assist small business. But because of a weak Democratic response and archaic procedures, the entire Congress must suffer a black eye.

           This is the same Congress that did pass health reform, but allowed itself to be sunk by the fear of a Republican filibuster that what was passed was a watered-down version of what was necessary.

           There are so much more important issues than investigating steroid usage among millionaire athletes that it is easy to believe that Congress muffed its responsibility to the American people by its righteous political gesturing to make voters believe their elected officials actually cared about health.

           If Congress is so upset that others lied to them and the American people, maybe it could ask the FBI to investigate and the Department of Justice to bring indictments against not only some of its own members but also some members of the Bush-Cheney administration.