Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

... that's how Emerson defined "foolish consistency."

For an example of hobgoblins right here in MI-08, look no further than Mike Rogers' thoughts about privacy.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote this week on legislation aimed at creating a nationwide system of electronic health records and protecting patient privacy, but the bill's fate remains unclear, CongressDaily reports.
Some legislators think that patients need more protection, especially in terms of security breaches. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) thinks there should be stronger patient consent provisions, given his concerns about the thousands of complaints about HIPAA violations ignored by the Bush administration. Waxman wants to give state attorneys general the right to sue on behalf of patients whose privacy has been violated.

Mike Rogers, on the other hand, thinks that the bill's patient consent provision is too much of a burden. Funny, that's what he thinks about warrants for wiretaps, electronic surveillance and intel collection without civilian oversight.

Hey, at least he's consistent!

(For a full description of patient privacy bills and their effects, visit PatientPrivacyRights.org)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Fiction List

After a few days off (complete with several good volumes of summer fiction), I returned to find an email newsletter from Mr. Rogers. I don't know if there's an award for Boldest Use of Inaccurate Facts, but if there was such a thing I'd be the first to nominate Mr. Rogers!

In the interest of fair play, I'll stick to reviewing the substance of his letter... no comment on the icky earth-tone graphics or run-on sentences found therein.

Each item in the newsletter reflected Rogers' amazing ability to spin the issues. Check out the things he takes credit for when he's back home, and compare it with what he actually did while in Washington:

He's Extending Unemployment Benefits for Michigan Workers!

Despite his repeated insistence that all unemployed folks need is a few hundred dollars' worth of a stimulus check,
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said Friday 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.
Mr. Rogers got a little nervous as spring wore on into summer, since the jobless rate didn't improve with the "stimulus." So he whistled his usual weaselly tune and voted against extending unemployment comp, all the while tossing out a constant stream of excuses to make it sound as though he cared.

He's Fighting Medicare Cuts for Michigan Seniors!

Rogers says that even though he didn't want to see doctors take a 10% cut, he couldn't "support this fix" at seniors' expense.

Well, it wasn't at seniors' expense -- it was a cut to Medicare Advantage, a program that benefits private insurance companies. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 2007 and 2017, spending on MA will total $1.5 trillion -- more than 25% of all spending for benefits under traditional Medicare. (Click here for a previous post on the wasteful Medicare Advantage program.)

He's for Energy Independence by 2015!

Mr. Rogers has been pushing HARD on this one -- he's been on WHMI, the Jack Ebeling Show, WXYZ-Detroit... he's even got a cartoon on his website to help 'splain the tricky parts. According to Rogers, the answer isn't conservation, technological innovation, alternative energy or even more efficient cars. Nope, what we need is to drill for oil in right here in America. Never mind that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (home to official U.S. energy statistics) says we won't see anything from the OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] for quite a while:
The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. [snip] For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
Translation? It's going to take a while to get this out of the ground. When it does come out, it won't give us too much more than we already have. And it will be sold on the world oil market, which means our production is literally a drop in the bucket -- so no downward pressure on prices.

Oh, Mr. Rogers! Everyone enjoys a good work of fiction during the summer, but that doesn't mean we want to pay you $162,000 a year to tell stories.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mr. Rogers' Next Job?

Politico had an interesting article comparing the happy state of the DCCC under Chair Chris VanHollen (D-MD) with the struggles faced by Tom Cole (R-OK) over at the NRCC:
Since assuming the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee last year, Cole has inherited a fundraising scandal and has had to deal with a historic wave of retirements. He has also seen traditional donors flee the party in droves.
The current buzz over who should succeed Cole has expanded to include our very own Mr. Rogers:

GOP House members and staff have complained frequently this year that their party lacks an enforcer to keep the team in line when members are acting out or aren’t raising sufficient funds to keep pace with the other side.

Those concerns have led some to float the name of Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers — a man who has shown a willingness to butt heads with colleagues — as a possible successor to Cole. [snip]

Rogers is a powerhouse fundraiser despite the bad environment, contributing more than $200,000 to 61 GOP candidates through his political action committee, $245,000 to the NRCC as a team captain for both the president’s dinner and the Battleground program, and $600,000 along with Sessions and retiring Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery as part of the fundraising program to help Republicans running against incumbent Democrats or to fill open seats. (emphasis added)

But Rogers’ strength could also be his weakness because many lawmakers resent a colleague who challenges them in public or in private. In addition, his own ambition has centered on the whip post, where bruisers such as former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay have thrived.
Guess that's why Mr. Rogers voted against the GI Bill to help returning combat veterans (and why he didn't show up to vote on the unemployment extension to help Michigan families) -- he was too busy raising $$ to help his fellow GOPers.

Nice to know he's representing somebody in Washington...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Plans

With summer vacation on the horizon, you might think that Mike Rogers was kicking back last week whilst in our nation's capitol.

But no -- Mr. Rogers was really busy. He was voting on some very important bills: things like Medicare improvements, price gouging protection, and AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) relief.

Trouble is, he voted AGAINST these things.

Jeez-o-pete! I'm beginning to think that there's some kind of secret theme park where Rogers and his cronies go for their summer vacations. A place where they can kick back, relax with lobbyist cash and do favors for corporate donors. A place with really good golf courses, shiny flag pins and free shrimp cocktail.

Call it RogersWorld, a place where you can spout about your love of hard-working Americans while blissfully ignoring the needs of actual families.

For some wacky summer fun, let's hop on the RogersWorld shuttle and visit the theme park for out-of-touch members of Congress. Ooh, check out the latest RogersWorld rides!

Medicare Mashup A confusing health care maze, where doctors and hospitals are forced to take a 10.6% cut in payments... but private insurance companies get to keep every Medicare penny (and we all know how Mr. Rogers loooves the boondoggle that is Medicare Advantage). This ride will keep Grammy & Grampy (and you!) busy for hours as they try to navigate the bizarro world of Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and other convoluted retiree health programs.

Tax Tornado You and 20 million middle-class families will spin helplessly in a vortex of zero relief from the outdated and expensive AMT... while hedge fund managers and oil companies float by without paying their fair share of taxes.

Gas-Gouger Gallery Oil and gas companies take aim at scurrying voters while the price per gallon zooms skyward, racking up record-breaking profits. See, in RogersWorld, the Federal Trade Commission doesn't need to protect taxpayers from price-gouging on gasoline and other fuels. (I do give him credit for consistency on this, though: he's voted against crackdowns on gas price gouging pretty regularly...)

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty queasy after visiting this theme park.