Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congressman, Cardinal or Consigliere?

Regular visitors to The Neighborhood know that Mr. Rogers expends most of his time & energy on party politics -- with the emphasis on party.

Since announcing his decision to skip the 2010 Governor's race, Mr. Rogers has turned his focus to fiscal planning and long-term employment projects...
... for GOP members of Congress.

In his role as a member of the NRCC leadership
"We're going to have to make some very tough decisions,” Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who is heading up incumbent retention efforts for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told members, according to a person in the meeting. “We lost members who fell away from the flock."
The flock?  Could it be that the GOP's troubles stem from the fact that they're confusing a political party with a religious movement?

This comment from Mr. Rogers provides another example of such confusion:
"We have very limited resources," said Mike Rogers, chairman of the NRCC's incumbent retention program, to Roll Call. “It’s not right to ask the whole Conference to help those who aren’t willing to help themselves.”
Gee, I always thought it was God helping those who help themselves...

All of this refers to the NRCC's new "Patriot" program for the 2010 elections.  Any members who don't sign a contract outlining specific campaign fundraising goals will get zero assistance from the NRCC. 

In explaining the new program, GOP leaders moved from the pulpit to the alley:
"If you do not participate you will not get help,” Rogers told members. 

"I'm gonna sign this contract,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said in the meeting. “We all need to sign it. When Mike Rogers comes to see you, I'm coming to see you."
Sounds like they're making an offer that GOP candidates can't refuse: "Nice little campaign ya got here. Shame if something happened to it."

Don't you love the smell of doctrinal purity in the morning?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Newspeak, 2009 Style

Well, it's official: Mike Rogers has announced that he will not run for Governor in 2010:
”After thinking about the impact a statewide race would have on my two young children, and the impact I can have in Washington fighting to help the auto industry, lower health-care costs and protect America’s national security, I have decided to not run for governor. I have always thought it is far more important to focus on the jobs of the people I serve, rather than on my own job.”
Coming from the man who voted against 8,000 new jobs for Livingston County, said no to helping the unemployed, has done nothing practical for the auto industry, and ignored the children of working families, this display of logic would fit perfectly in Orwell's 1984.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Best Ammunition Against Lies is the Truth

Hemingway was absolutely right when he said this, and Michigan Liberal is certainly keeping their powder dry. Today they had a post about the amazing lie-filled email Mike Rogers sent to a constituent who had asked about Rogers' no vote on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Filled with horse hockey samples about habitats for San Franciscan mice, high-speed rail lines for Las Vegas, and NEA funding, the email is a classic example of how Mike Rogers trots out the lies when he tries to excuse his actions.

He's done it with S-CHIP, to explain away his vote against children of working families.

He did it with Medicare, unemployment benefits and energy policy, too.

Just imagine what Mike Rogers would do to Michigan if he was Governor...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Misery Wants Company

The stimulus package offers some badly-needed good news for the 8th Congressional District: 

* an estimated 8,000 jobs

* a 33-week extension of unemployment benefits for 162,000 Michiganders

Unfortunately, Mike Rogers thinks ideological purity is more important than helping working families in a devastated economy.  He's taking potshots, whining that the stimulus "will not help families pay for one doctor visit, or one class in college, or meet the daily needs for food, shelter or transportation." 

Mr. Rogers is singing right out of the GOP hymnbook.  If he had bothered to actually read the bill instead of playing follow-the-Boehner,  he would have discovered some interesting facts.

"Not one doctor visit?"  Wrong.  Some 7 million Americans who have lost their jobs will get a 65% tax credit to keep their health insurance through COBRA.

"Not one college class?" Wrong again. The stimulus package created a new $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit which will help  nearly four million students.  In addition, Pell Grants will be fully funded and the maximum award level will be increased by $500. This will help more than 7 million students afford college.

Rogers' crocodile tears continue for "food, shelter and transportation,"  but a quick read of the White House overview of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act shows that Mr. Rogers needs to sit down and shut up.

Ruth Marcus' column in this morning's WaPo confirms the clique mentality that is the hallmark of Republican legislators:
Instead, the vote demonstrated that everything you need to know about Congress you learned in middle school: Peer pressure works wonders. "The reaction against those of us who negotiated and endorsed the package is really harsh, to say the least, so I think that will deter others who are thinking about coming our way," Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins told me last week.
Mr. Rogers is said to be mulling a run for the Governor's seat in 2010.  If that's the case, look for some impressive tap-dancing when he tries to explain why he voted against 8,000 jobs, infrastructure projects and health care for the 8th Congressional District.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Worth $174,000 Plus Benefits?

Mike Rogers recently popped up on a list of about 150 Representatives who have not been serving their constituents very well.

No, it's not the House Republicans who, like a preschool class deprived of naptime, threw a collective hissy fit and voted in a bloc against the stimulus package.  Well, OK -- he's on that list, too.

It's actually a bipartisan list of legislators who have, as of yesterday, not introduced a single House bill or joint resolution to the 111th Congress.
[A caveat: I'm not counting procedural H.Res or S.Res bills noting that a quorum is present or celebrating Bruce Jones' election into the Football Hall of Fame. I'm only counting actual substantive bills here.]
And we know how Mr. Rogers looooves those sort of bills, like H.R. 997 (to declare English the official language of the United States 2/11/09), and H.R. 913 (to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to strengthen mentoring programs, 2/11/09).

I have a really hard time accepting Mr. Rogers' assurances that he's working hard for us in Washington.  The word "crisis" doesn't begin to describe our economic situation, but Mike Rogers chose to introduce pop-tart bills like these instead of voting for $3 million in funding for local roads,  extended unemployment benefits and aid to local schools.

That same week, he also chose to host a lobbyist shakedown party as part of his efforts to retain GOP legislators.

Apparently, Mr. Rogers has a very, ah, flexible idea of what constitutes public service.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Party Time

Did you know that Mr. Rogers is really busy in Washington?

You may think he's working to support the stimulus package, but no -- he's against it, even though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has urged Congress to pass it.

Well, he's a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee -- both topics are pretty crucial right now -- so you probably assume he's focusing on that. 


Turns out that Mr. Rogers is busy planning parties! From Roll Call:

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) is kicking off his tenure as incumbent retention chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee by hosting a “meet and greet” Thursday night for freshman GOP Members and more than 150 political action committees, according to a source familiar with the event.
There's no question that Mr. Rogers is pretty darn talented at this fundraising stuff:
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.

Regular visitors to The Neighborhood also know that 

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.
So if you're worried about the skyrocketing unemployment or home foreclosures here in Michigan's 8th Congressional District, you can rest assured that Mike Rogers is working hard to address the needs and concerns of his political cronies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Back in December, Mr. Rogers loudly bemoaned the scheduled 2009 pay hike for members of Congress.  

Mr. Rogers, who regularly touts the values of fiscal conservatism and personal responsibility, was noticeably quiet about his own plans to forego the raise or donate it to charity.  

Guess who publicly said NO to the pay raise yesterday?  (Hint: it wasn't a Republican.) 

Personal fiscal responsibility came to the Hill yesterday in the person of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Rep. Pelosi formally instructed House Dems that they would have to do without their cost-of-living increases this year. 

Still no word on the official GOP response...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

He's Got Great Health Insurance, Too

As soon as I finished this morning's post ("Hey, He's Got Job Security"), this popped up in the inbox:

From WHMI, "Rogers Splits With Michigan Delegation on S-CHIP
Rogers was one of only two Michigan Republicans to vote against the measure that extends health coverage to 4 million uninsured children.
Got that? Mr. Rogers was opposed to something that Thad McCotter supported. Vern Ehlers, Candace Miller and Fred Upton supported it, too.  

Now, it's hardly a news flash that Mr. Rogers has opposed S-CHIP for quite some time. It's irritating, sure; you could even add wrong-headed and mean-spirited.  What it's not is surprising.

With his recent pay raise, Mr. Rogers now makes $174,000 a year, plus he has gold-plated health care:

According to the website of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the FEHB program offers working Members of Congress, retirees, and their survivors the widest selection of health plans in the country. In addition to health insurance benefits, Members of Congress may also receive dental, vision, as well as long-term care benefits. Generally the federal government (funded by the taxpayer) pays up to 75% of the health insurance premiums, and Members of Congress cover the other 25% out of their (taxpayer-funded) salaries.

In 2008 the standard Blue Cross Blue Shield Plan, for example, costs $448.91 per month for one person.

The government pays $314.25 of that and the federal employee pays $134.66. That’s about what most Medicare beneficiaries pay for their Part B and Part D premiums. But the vast majority of seniors, of course, don’t have anywhere near the incomes to cover their health insurance premiums that Members of Congress do. [skip]

Members of Congress are allowed to allot a portion of their pay to be used to pay their premium. The allotment is made on a pre-tax basis, which means the money is not subject to federal income, Medicare or Social Security taxes, and in most cases, state and local taxes. The allotment reduces their taxable income.

This bears repeating: Mike Rogers has an annual income of $174,000. He pays about one-quarter of the cost of his health insurance coverage, and he pays it in pre-tax dollars which reduces his taxable income. 

Compare this with S-CHIP here in Michigan.  A family earning an annual income of $35,200 (200% of the poverty level) is eligible for the program because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid.  

Now, let's look at the cheapest individual Blue Cross/Blue Shield program in Michigan: ValueBlue/PPO.  A family purchasing this as their first BC/BS will shell out $360.55 a month -- $4,326.60 per year (12.3% of their gross income, and it's paid in after-tax dollars). With this plan, the family will have:

Annual deductible: $2,000 

Co-pays: 30%, with an annual maximum of $2,500 

Out of pocket expenses: $4,500 maximum 

Office visits: Not covered

Medical emergencies - 70% covered

Pre- and post-natal care: Not covered

The average mom (or dad) can tell you in detail about all the prenatal visits to ensure a healthy pregnancy, all the pediatric well visits to keep the kids' vaccinations up to date, as well as the visits for ear infections, strep throats, stitches, broken wrists, allergies... It adds up!

But Mike Rogers still doesn't think that working parents should get any help in keeping their kids healthy.  

Way to promote those family values, Mr. Rogers.

Hey, He's Got Job Security

Mr. Rogers recently talked with RightMichigan about the stimulus package; the folksy interview was divided between blaming the Democrats and yearning for tax cuts.  One of Mr. Rogers' complaints about the stimulus package:
Only 2.7 percent of the cost of this bill would go to tax incentives for small businesses.
Congressional Republicans looooove small business tax cuts (heck, they love all tax cuts),  but do tax cuts actually work?

Martin Feldstein, was President Reagan's chief economic advisor and is president emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Mr. Feldstein has this to say about business tax cuts:

The proposed business tax cuts are also likely to do little to increase business investment and employment. The extended loss "carrybacks" are primarily lump-sum payments to selected companies. The bonus depreciation plan would do little to raise capital spending in the current environment of weak demand because the tax benefits in the early years would be recaptured later.  also dissects the GOP fetish for "small business tax cuts," which includes some rather interesting Republican definitions of "small business."

A Republican committee staff member confirmed to that their report is counting anybody who made even one dollar of profit from a hobby business as a “small business owner” if they reported that income on Schedule C of their federal income-tax returns.

Their method also counts as a "small business owner" any member of an investment club -- someone who put $50 a month into a pool to buy stocks with friends and then reported a few dollars of dividends and capital gains on a K-1 form from the partnership at the end of the year

And that’s not all. Also counted as “small business owners” would be:

--A corporate executive who made $500,000 in salary and bonuses, and who also had $3,000 in income from renting out his yacht.

--A TV anchorwoman making $1 million in salary and reporting $25,000 in speaking fees as Schedule C income.

--A partner in a national accounting firm who has no side business at all, but who gets a big chunk of his income as a share of the giant partnership’s profits.

It’s silly to call any of these “small business owners,” but Gillespie went even beyond what the report said. He said 80% of the tax relief went to “small businesses,” (as opposed to “owners”). Not even the Republican staff report can back that statement.

Econbrowser offers a technical look at the (not so impressive) impact of tax cuts on economic stimulus - a little dry, but worth the read. 

Daniel Gross at has a good post on the GOP's "economic know-nothingism," noting that "Today, Congressional Republicans are taking their advice from Joe the Plumber.

So the next time you hear Rogers & Co.* going on about tax cuts - especially cuts for small business -- ask him for specifics.  Don't be surprised if you get emotion-based anecdotes instead.

* This applies to MI Senate majority leader Mike Bishop, too...