Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By the Numbers: Health care reform in MI-08

From the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a breakdown of why Mike Rogers needs to stop obstructing health care reform:
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 8th Congressional District of Michigan: up to 15,100 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 7,600 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,700 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $53 million in uncompensated care each year; and 49,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Congressman Mike Rogers represents the district.
(Keep in mind that Mr. Rogers sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Whether he actually represents the district is a matter of some debate...)

The Committee offers similar analysis for every House member's district.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bandwagons, Ho!

After watching President Obama's press conference Wednesday evening, I had several thoughts:
  1. I am thrilled to have a president who uses complete sentences AND logic;
  2. the discussion was probably too complex for most people to absorb; and as a result
  3. the final question about Professor Gates would be one of the main media takeaways.
Since the Senate has decided to hold off on a final health care vote until September, it's not much of a surprise that item #3 is getting some traction. Dissection of the President's response to the issue of racial profiling is picking up steam, with everyone from FauxNews to Daily Kos offering an opinion.

And no one loves a bandwagon more than Mr. Mike Rogers, who has weighed with this thoughtful opinion:

Among the strongest criticism of Obama was a complaint that he should know more about the case before commenting.

"It's always dangerous to comment when you don't have the facts," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent.

Oh, really? Mr. Rogers has made rather a habit out of commenting on issues when he doesn't have the facts -- whether the topic is national security, Medicare, energy policy or S-CHIP.

Guess you have to take your press coverage where you can get it, Mr. Rogers. Sadly, no one is covering your efforts to participate in health care reform or -- oh, wait.

You're not doing anything in Washington.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good News/Bad News

The good news?

Mike Rogers is working hard to ensure that people keep good jobs with affordable health insurance. He makes time in his schedule to have weekly meetings on this issue; he even meets one-on-one with people who are worried about losing their jobs. Today, Rogers will expand his efforts to include more people.

The bad news?

The jobs he's protecting belong to sitting Republican Congressmen.

From Roll Call:
NRCC Incumbent Retention Chairman Mike Rogers (Mich.) is scheduled to present the list of Members — all of whom have reached specific fundraising and campaign goals — at the weekly GOP leadership and NRCC meeting Thursday morning.
The Patriot Program is pretty sweet -- if you are selected, Mike Rogers will direct some amazing money towards your campaign.

In all the hustle and bustle of picking new Patriots and recycling stale health care ideas, Mr. Rogers may have missed the news that Michigan's unemployment rate now tops 15% -- 15.2%, to be exact, a 7.1% increase over the previous year. We're the first state to hit this level in 25 years.

It's understandable, though -- Mr. Rogers is really busy with his chairmanship responsibilities! It's just not fair to expect him to spend time on the problems of citizens in Michigan's 8th Congressional District.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stretching the Analogy

Yesterday, Mike Rogers gave his opening statement on health care reform. At 0:54, he asks
Why would we punish the part that's working to cover the part that's not? It's like taking a queen-sized sheet and trying to put it over a king-sized bed. I will guarantee you the corners are gonna come up.
This sounds familiar... Remember his criticisms of updated CAFE standards?
I have long had concerns with the CAFE system. It is old, it is arbitrary, and it has proven time and time again that you really can't make a fat person skinny by mandating smaller pants sizes. (5/3/06)

Mr. Chairman, you know you cannot make a fat guy skinny by mandating smaller pant sizes. (4/20/05)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), saying it would force automakers to make smaller cars, likened the effort to “trying to limit obesity by mandating smaller pants. (April 2003, p. 41)
It's good to see that Mr. Rogers has updated his ill-fitting textile analogy to avoid offending any fat guys.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Common Ground

You may recall that the Neighborhood has called Mike Rogers out on his, ah, creative approach to earmarks and the budget on more than one occasion.

Well, it's not just us Neighborhood liberals who are unimpressed with Rogers' tendency to two-step. The Right Stuff takes an equally dim view of Mr. Rogers and his colleagues on their "creative" approach to the climate bill.
I guess the other ones decided to stuff their earmarks in realizing that they could have it both ways: Satisfy the constituency while voting against cap and trade. BUSTED!!! [skip]

Mike Rogers (R-MI) -- Number of Earmarks: 2 -- Total: $1,500,000
  • *The Consortium for Plant Biotechnical Research, Inc., St. Simon's Island, GA - Consortium for Plant Biotechnical Research -- $1,000,000
  • Lansing Board of Water and Light, Lansing, MI - energy-efficient drinking water system -- $500,000
The asterisk on the biotech research project indicates that Mr. Rogers was a co-sponsor.
Now, The Right Stuff will never, ever be accused of liberal tendencies (it features a countdown of "Days Left in This Socialist Administration" and quite a few posts on President Obama's "fake" birth certificate).

But it's interesting that both left and right can agree: hypocrisy isn't pretty. True conservatives dislike this earmark finagling as much as us libruls here in the Neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Slump

Well, we haven't heard much about Miranda rights for terrorists lately.

The money seems to be coming in OK for Mr. Rogers' NRCC Patriot pals.

There have been a few scary threats about the impact of cap-and-trade legislation, but they're pretty much preaching to the choir. And as Mr. Rogers thunders that cooling the planet will "sink" Michigan's economy, he seems to forget that our state has lost over 600,000 jobs in the last eight years -- pretty much tracking with his tenure in Washington.

What, exactly, HAS Mr. Rogers been doing in D.C.?

The only jobs he's created are for lobbyists and incumbent Republican Congressmen.

The only health care coverage he's supported has been his own.

And the Knowlegis Power Rankings show that no one is paying much attention to his ideas and opinions:

Mike Rogers' Power Score is 16.30

* average score for the Michigan delegation? 25.9
* ranking Republican John Boehner? 56.88

His rank in the House is 214th out of 435.

Don't hold your breath for big things from Mr. Rogers in 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Job Description

Roll Call has dubbed Mike Rogers as the NRCC's "Top Cop," in view of his untiring efforts as Incumbent Retention Chairman for the GOP.

Here in the Neighborhood, we've heard about Mr. Rogers' work as Incumbent Retention Chair -- and we know that this is NOT the kind of job creation program needed in Michigan's 8th Congressional District. A member of the United States House of Representatives is supposed to, well, represent the voters of his or her district.
Rogers began his mission in February, when he started one-on-one meetings with more than 70 of his most vulnerable colleagues to set up individualized campaign goals. [skip]

According to a senior NRCC official, Rogers meets weekly with Boehner, Sessions and Cantor to discuss incumbent retention. [skip]

Rogers meets with NRCC Incumbent Retention Director Bob Honold several times a week. He keeps tabs on every Member’s progress, including political matters such as their call time, volunteer recruitment and local press

Hmmm. I don't recall Mr. Rogers taking the time to meet with more than 70 of the most vulnerable auto industry workers in our district, or sitting down regularly with local business owners.

Let's step back and look at the bigger picture for the first few months of this year:

January 2009:
February 2009:
March 2009:
April 2009:
May 2009:
  • Chrysler entered bankruptcy.
  • The NRCC picked their ten "Patriot" candidates - vulnerable incumbents who need help with fundraising. Mr. Rogers called the fundraising competition "natural and healthy."
  • Michigan's unemployment rate rose to 14.1%.
June 2009:
It will be interesting to see Mr. Rogers' priorities during the next 15 months -- will he focus on fundraising for his Patriots, or jobs and healthcare for his constituents?

Monday, July 6, 2009

2010: Coming up fast

Well, the second quarter of 2009 has closed and we're waiting to see the goodies that were deposited into Mike Rogers' war chest.

In the meantime, Mike Rogers was in great financial shape for 2010 at the end of Q1.

He reported $335,629 in donations for 2009-2010 for his campaign committee and his MIKE-R PAC (Minority Initiative to Keep Electing Republicans).

(Try to contain your surprise when you learn that Abbott Labs, Astra-Zeneca Pharmeceuticals and Pfizer are three of the top 5 contributors to MIKE-R PAC...)

Mr. Rogers had $202, 968 cash on hand.

He hasn't kept it all to himself, though -- he gave the Michigan Republicans a nice chunk of change ($40,000 worth).

Stay tuned for Mr. Rogers' Adventures in PAC-Land, Q2.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sick and Tired

Mike Rogers is a Serious Guy when it comes to health care. He warned us about those liberals who wanted to take Grandma's oxygen tank -- and her "choice" in health care coverage while they're at it.

Well, Mr. Rogers is back with a regurgitated plan for health care reform. He gets points for alliteration ("Costs," "Control," "Choices" and "Cures"), but other than that it's a tired retread of GOP slogans that do nothing to make realistic changes in health care policy.

In a breathtaking reversal (or re-reversal), Mr. Rogers now supports expanding the SCHIP program.
Important safety-net programs - like Medicaid and SCHIP - should be strengthened by expanding premium assistance programs which give low-income families new insurance options.
(You may recall that Mr. Rogers spent most of 2007/2008 fighting tooth and nail against expanding SCHIP, the program which helps working families to pay for their children's health care coverage.)

He also trots out the GOP 85/15 talking point -- that the 85% of Americans who are insured should not have to face higher costs or less choice to cover the 15% who are uninsured.

On the face of it, this sounds reasonable.

It sounds reasonable until you read the recent American Journal of Medicine study which finds that in 2007, 62% of all bankruptcies were linked to medical expenses -- and nearly 80% of the folks who filed had health insurance.

So much for choice and control.

Speaking of control, can you name the two industries which have been the top contributors to Mr. Rogers during his Congressional career? No points for guessing health care and insurance; the pharmaceutical industry is in fifth place for donations to the Rogers cash machine.

Guess we shouldn't expect too much from Mr. Rogers in this summer's health care debates.