Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lube Job

Well, we must be getting close to an election, since Mr. Rogers is suddenly popping up EVERYWHERE in the Neighborhood with his new plan for energy independence.

Just in time for him to have something to talk about over the Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Rogers has now seen the light on alternative energy, national security and auto efficiency.

He's made a swell webcast, sent out e-mails, and happy-talked with local media.

The last time he showed any interest at all in the energy problem? Hmmm, let's see... during the 2006 election. Remember Ethanol Guy?

Too bad Rogers' actions in Congress over the past 8 years have made it quite clear that he only views energy policy as a handy campaign tool:

He's voted against investment in domestic biofuels, stopping subsidies for oil & gas industry, tougher CAFE standards, and keeping ANWR oil-rig free.

He's voted for the Bush-Cheney national energy policy, making it easier to permit and build new oil refineries.and

He was rated 17% on energy issues by the Campaign for America's Future; he was rated 100% by the American Coalition for Ethanol (from Project VoteSmart)

Oh, don't forget -- one year ago today, the Neighborhood had a post on Rogers' vote against a bill that would have outlawed gasoline price gouging. And over a year ago, Rogers was trotting out a similar pitch for energy independence that went nowhere.

Let's take a look at H.R. 6161, Mr. Rogers' "Energy Independence Day: July 4, 2015" extravaganza.

14. H.R.6161 : To provide for American energy independence by July 4, 2015.Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike J. [MI-8] (introduced 5/22/2008)

Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; House Natural Resources; House Transportation and Infrastructure; House Rules; House Science and Technology Latest Major Action: 5/22/2008 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, Rules, and Science and Technology, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

No co-sponsors. No assignment to subcommittee. No clout to move this along (Rogers fell from 37th most powerful member in 2006 to 274th in 2007). No witnesses, apparently, other than hometown media.

This sounds familiar: you may recall Rogers' 2007 stand "against" the troop surge and the "introduction" of his own alternative bill, apparently in a closet with the light off.

Moving along to Mr. Rogers' website, we find a perky, content-free animated (!) version of The Plan, complete with marching barrels of foreign oil, a green tree snuggled up to an oil derrick, and scary foreign leaders (look out -- it's an Arab!). In the interest of time, we won't discuss the really annoying sound effects or cheap animation.

How about the bill itself? It's 116 pages long, mostly "extensions and modifications" of existing legislation. It's also filled with goodies for Rogers' friends:

OIL & GAS INDUSTRIES: continued tax breaks for the oil & gas industries; they would be able to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; the Secretary of Energy wouldn't need to identify alternatives to ANWR oil leases or analyze the environmental effects of those alternatives; allow directional drilling underneath protected areas; the ban on offshore leasing and permitting drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf would be lifted.

AUTO INDUSTRY: tax credits for buying new cars, whether or not they fit the new CAFE standards (the auto industry is the 4th biggest contributor of Rogers' career).

NUCLEAR POWER: tax credits for the construction and expansion of nuclear plants; federal coverage of debt obligations incurred by project delays and other items; no environmental impact statement required for temporary spent nuclear fuel storage agreements; check out page 64 for a special little treat: once you get your nuclear reactor, treatment facility or storage facility licensed,
no consideration of the public health and safety, common defense and security, or environmental impacts of the storage of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel generated in reactors licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the past, currently, or in the future, is required by the Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in connection with the development, construction, and operation of, or any permit, license, license amendment, or siting approval for, a civilian nuclear power reactor or any facility for the treatment or storage of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste.

Got that?

OTHER TREATS: tax credits for buying energy-efficient computer servers (a little bouquet for his legislative pal Anna Eshoo, D-CA and his friends at Lowry Computers (# 3 donor this cycle:$9,200); tax breaks for energy-efficient new homes, no doubt much appreciated by the Associated Builders & Contractors (#2 donor this cycle: $10,000).

I have a hunch that the dollar value of Rogers' industry tax breaks vs. the taxpayer tax breaks would skew pretty hard toward Exxon Mobil & Co. If there are any number crunchers out there, please let me know what you find...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Livingston Gothic

Mike Rogers may have turned his back on the mothers, veterans and unemployed folks here in MI-08, but he was able to rally himself & vote for this week's Farm Bill despite his misgivings:

"I wish it would have been written differently ... but at the end of the day I just felt it was important to take care of those kids and seniors," said Rogers, R-Brighton, who said even his father had "some serious questions for me" about the bill.
Oh, really?

If Mr. Rogers feels so strongly about taking care of kids and seniors, perhaps he can explain why he repeatedly voted against children's health care this session and supported the overpriced and underperforming Medicare Advantage program.

It's unlikely that he supported the bill because it increases access to food stamps for low-income families. Earlier this year, Rogers opined that Michigan families only needed a few hundred dollars' worth of one-time stimulus checks, instead of expanding food stamps or unemployment benefits.

(Hmmm... could it have anything to do with the campaign contributions he's received from agribusiness over the years?)

It must be one heck of a reason, whatever it may be -- it's the first time in memory that Rogers has supported a bill vetoed by President Bush.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where, Exactly, Is Mike Rogers From?

He says he's from Michigan, but you really have to wonder...

Rogers recently hit a mean-spirited trifecta, topping off a busy week in which he voted against mothers and the military by voting against Michigan's unemployed.

It's not news to anyone that Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate. Since 2000, we've lost 350,000 jobs and our median income for households has fallen by 11.9 percent.

At the beginning of this year, Governor Granholm, Senators Levin & Stabenow and five Michigan representatives asked Congress for help with extended unemployment benefits and health care funding. They were trying to get support for our state at a time when people are really hurting -- and they were doing it in a very sensible way. The Congressional Budget Office has shown that extending unemployment benefits is a more effective economic stimulus than cuts in corporate tax rates or temporary tax reductions.

So what did Mr. Rogers do when his Governor, his Senators and his colleagues tried to help the citizens of Michigan? He turned his back on all of us and publicly stated
that Congress should not spend more on government programs like unemployment compensation, but instead should quickly get the rebate checks into the hands of taxpayers.

"We need to help the American people who are hurting by getting money in their hands," Rogers said, saying it will also improve consumer confidence.
Got that? Mike Rogers thinks that a check for a few hundred dollars is all you need to feel more confident. You don't need a job, or affordable health care for your family or any other frills.

Perhaps if Mr. Rogers visited the Eighth Congressional District as often as he does Iraq, he would have a better idea of what he can do to help us.

This toxic combo of inaction and bad attitude isn't exactly what I would call "representative." And it's certainly not worth $162,000 a year (plus gold-plated health insurance).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rogers Votes Against GI Bill

Last week, we let you know that Mike Rogers voted against honoring the mothers of America.

This week, Mike Rogers voted against the new GI Bill.

Will puppy kicking be next on the Rogers agenda?

Happily, the bill's House supporters carried the day, 256-166; it now moves to the Senate and will likely face a Bush veto after that. Surprise, surprise!

The updated GI bill is sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), a Vietnam vet and former Secretary of the Navy. IAVA has a good summary of why the program needs to be brought into the 21st century:

The current educational benefits offered to veterans are far lower than the original GI Bill. Today, after contributing a nonrefundable $1,200-$1,800 from their first military paychecks, troops can receive a total of roughly $45,000 towards their education. Unfortunately, this covers only 60-70% of the average cost of four years at a public college or university, or less than two years at a typical private college.

In addition, structural problems and bureaucratic delays discourage veterans from using their GI Bill benefits.

Although 95% of veterans pay the nonrefundable $1,200 contribution, only 8% of veterans use their whole benefit and 30% of veterans don’t use their GI Bill at all. These veterans have contributed $230 million to the national treasury, but received nothing in return. [skip]

A 1988 Congressional study proved that every dollar spent on educational benefits under the original GI Bill added seven dollars to the national economy in terms of productivity, consumer spending and tax revenue.
The New GI Bill enjoys the support of the VFW, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Air Force Sergeants Association, AMVETS... the list goes on.

So why isn't it good enough for Mike Rogers? He's happy to explain -- at great length -- how crucial it is for our country to stay in Iraq and fight the Global War on Terror. What's his explanation for voting against a bill that not only provides a direct benefit to our troops, but also will improve retention and recruitment at a time when our armed forces are spread so thinly?

Rogers has made multiple trips to Afghanistan and Iraq on the taxpayer's dime. Each trip brings him back more convinced that things are going well.

Is he spending his time socializing with charming members of the Coalition Provisional Authority and carefully screened active duty personnel?

Whatever he is learning there, it isn't translating to increased support for the men and women of the U.S. military. He's voted against bonuses for active duty troops and housing for military families. He voted to cut veterans' health care by $13.5 billion over five years. He was against extending health care benefits to active duty National Guard and Reserve members. He voted against full retirement and disability benefits for veterans.

Needless to say, national veterans groups aren't too impressed with Mr. Rogers:

* The Disabled American Veterans gave Rogers a zero percent rating in 2004 and 2005

* The Retired Enlisted Association gave Rogers a 33% rating in 2004 and 21% in 2006

* The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association gave Rogers a grade of C in 2006.

Rogers is running for his 5th term this fall. You can bet he'll trot out his "support for the troops" speech any chance he gets, and throw in his "on the ground" experience in Iraq for good measure.

If you happen to hear him, be sure to ask -- loudly, clearly and oh-so-politely -- to explain why he turned his back on our troops once he returned to Washington.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bet There's No Apple Pie, Either!

From our bloggy pals down in Ohio, a post that confirms what you always knew in your heart:
178 Republicans Vote Against Mothers.
First, the Democrats and Republicans voted for HRES 1113 (House Vote 274), which the Washington Post reports was a resolution "Celebrating the Role of Mothers in the United States and Supporting the Goals and Ideals of Mother's Day." This was on May 7, 2008 at 2:19pm. Then, at 2:27pm, a re-vote on the same HRES (Vote 275), 178 Republicans voted against the Mother's Day Resolution.
No kidding.

This is amazing, like a gift from the gods of the internet plopped down in our laps to play with over the summer.

Seriously, though, there is no good way for a politician to answer the question "Why did you vote against mothers?".

An accurate reply might reference some sort of procedural motion ("I voted against tabling it"), but that sounds vaguely like a kid saying he didn't clean his room yet, but he will soon.

Happy Mother's Day from Mr. Rogers & his gang!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Whistle a Happy Tune, or Else

We know that Mike Rogers doesn't really pay much attention to the lives of people living in MI- 08. That much is clear from his voting record, which shows plenty of support for oil companies & not enough for working families. He prefers to stay in Washington, spending his time & energy fundraising on behalf of his fellow Republican pols. When he does come home, it's to raise more money or piggyback onto programs set up and funded by other people.

Well, Mr. Rogers was in town this weekend, rallying the party faithful as the keynote speaker for this year's Lincoln Day Dinner. He manfully held back the tears as he recounted his chat with a group of "dejected" Okemos high school students, who (according to MR) "honestly believed the world was going to combust in 26 minutes." He "was shocked — shocked, and said ‘oh, wow,’ what work do we have to do.’”

Let's leave aside the fact that Mr. Rogers enjoys what could be described as "emotional" anecdotes, which are only tenuously based in reality.

Why, oh why, might high school students be concerned about their country's future?

Could it be the endless war which has claimed 4,000 American lives while enriching no-bid contractors like KBR, whose poor quality work has injured and even killed active-duty service members ?

Or maybe it's the abandonment of our Constitution by Bush and his happy henchmen like Rogers, who have rolled over on FISA, habeas corpus, opposition to torture and other bedrocks of American values.

Perhaps they're concerned about our massive national debt, which has mortgaged their futures and jeopardized our national economic security. How 'bout those record levels of unemployment and home foreclosures, or the skyrocketing prices for food and fuel?

The students at OHS (and their parents) have plenty of reasons to be concerned about our country's future. It's patronizing at best -- and downright idiotic at worst -- for Mike Rogers to natter on about "what work [he has] to do" to get these kids to whistle a happy tune.

Mike Rogers is in the home stretch of his fourth term in Washington. In the majority for the first 3 terms, he agreed to war, torture, debt and corporate welfare. Now in the minority, he's managed to simultaneously whine about (a) how badly the Dems have messed things up and (b) how swell things actually are.

Mr. Rogers certainly DOES have work to do -- he needs to quit with the happy talk, go back to Washington and work to get our country moving in the right direction.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Company's Coming!

The Neighborhood is looking forward to next week's visit by Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Senior Political Analyst. Mr. Lessenberry will be at the Howell Opera House on Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m. The evening is sponsored by two groups that are working to make a difference in Livingston County: Voters' Voice (a nonpartisan organization that organizes and supports local forums to educate and enlighten citizens in Livingston County) and Community Unitarian Universalists of Brighton.

When Ann Coulter came to town last fall, these two groups partnered to do something positive. They invited Jonathan Cohn, the author of Sick, to give a talk about America's health care crisis. The evening raised $1,400 to benefit the new VINA non-profit dental clinic.

Voters' Voice and CUUB are once again working to bring light -- not heat -- to Livingston County. Jack Lessenberry's topic, "Michigan and the election: Are there any surprises in store?" will interest everyone in the Neighborhood.

The added bonus? Enjoy the beautifully restored Howell Opera House!

An Evening with Jack Lessenberry
Thursday, May 8, 2008
7:00 p.m.
Howell Opera House
123 West Grand River
Howell, MI

The public is invited. Admission is free. Donations to defray
costs will be welcomed.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Last week, LivingBlue reported on Mike Rogers' lack of support for the new and much-needed GI Bill (S.22/H.R.5740).

Lo and behold, today the GI Bill website listed Mr. Rogers as a co-sponsor. (Bart Stupak, Pete Hoekstra, Vern Ehlers, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg -- what are you waiting for?)

This is good news. Our troops deserve this support. It's the right thing to do: as a nation, we owe them (and their families) so much for their service. It's also the smart thing to do, as the IAVA website notes:
As our military recovers and resets in the coming years, an expanded GI Bill will play a crucial role in ensuring that our military remains the strongest and most advanced in the world.
Now Mr. Rogers can now turn his attention to more fun things -- like party planning!

The Republican National Congressional Committee wants to raise $7 million at this year's President's Dinner, scheduled for June 18th. The voters of MI-08 will be proud to know that Mr. Rogers has been named a Team Captain for the dinner!

Last year's Team Captains were on the hook to raise $75,000 each... I'm not worried about Mr. Rogers coming up with the cash, though. He's been a champion at raking in the dough since he got to Washington 8 years ago.

He was a record-breaking fundraiser in his 2 terms as NRCC Finance Committee chair. He's consistently raised more than the average House member in each election cycle. His PAC, the "MikeR Fund" ("Majority Initiative --Keep Electing Republicans"), was ranked 17th of 152 Republican leadership PACs in 2006. He founded CHOMP ("Challengers Helping Obtain the Majority Program") after the GOP's losses in 2006. And he's made time to raise money for (and with) all sorts of fellow Congresscritters, including disgraced Congressmen Mark Foley, Tom DeLay and Bob Ney.

See? Mike Rogers is in Washington working really hard! Being busy! Helping people!

Unless of course you are a resident of Michigan's Eighth District, in which case he's too busy to help YOU.