Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your Turn, Mr. Rogers

During the recent House Energy & Commerce committee debate on climate change legislation, Mike Rogers energetically offered up an amendment to tie U.S. adoption of cap-and-trade carbon policy to similar action by China and India. 

His amendment would allow the U.S. to get out of the cap-and-trade plan if India and China -- two of the world's biggest sources of greenhouse gases -- did not agree to similar limits.

From Bloomberg:
The provision focusing on China and India, offered by Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, would have allowed greenhouse-gas emission limits in the U.S. only if those two countries adopted standards that were “at least as stringent.” The committee rejected the proposal on a 36-23 party-line vote.
Fred Upton also chimed in:
 "If we don’t demand that they have the same kind of criteria that we do, we’re going to see those jobs go,” Upton said. “We can put a gun to China’s head” to push them to adopt pollution limits, he said."
Well, it looks as though guns won't be necessary.  The lead story in today's NYT Business section?

Yep, China is getting ready for standards even stricter than those proposed by President Obama, including improving fuel economy an additional 18% by 2015.  On top of that, 
Cars with small fuel-sipping engines are now subject to a 1 percent sales tax, while sports cars and sport utility vehicles with the largest engines are subject to a 40 percent sales tax. Stricter fuel economy standards have won support from four interest groups within the Chinese government, said a Chinese government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.
It's clear that we need to seriously address global warming. in addition, there are some pretty compelling economic reasons for the United States to lower its greenhouse gas emissions. It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, an idea that so excited Mr. Rogers that he made an animated video.  Increasing competitiveness for U.S. companies? Ditto.

While Mr. Rogers gets a point or two for actually doing some Congress-type work while he's in Washington (as opposed to enforcing the party line and hosting GOP fundraisers), it would be great if he accomplished something that would help the state of Michigan.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just Plain Wrong

As regular readers may have guessed, I disagree with Mike Rogers on a wide variety of issues. Many of these are differences of opinion on things like government transparency, civil rights, fiscal responsibility and science-based public policy.

In today's Press & Argus, though, I read a letter to the editor that transcended politics. After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer, the writer went to D.C. as a volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. She met with Mr. Rogers (and his health legislative assistant) to urge his support for H.R. 745, the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act.

This should have been a no-brainer for Mr. Rogers, who not only loves the emotional connection of a good story but has also been active in specific health care issues. Alas, it seems as though Mr. Rogers wasn't paying attention:
After many follow up e-mails and phone calls, Congressman Rogers has not yet co-sponsored the bill, and I thought his constituents might be interested in some of the legislation he has felt compelled to co-sponsor, as listed on his Web site:

H.R. 970: Expressing support for designation of June 30 as National Corvette Day.

H.R. 142: Expressing the sense of the Congress that there should be established a National Pet Week.

H.R. 225: Congratulating Tony Dungy, a native of Jackson, for leading the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI.

H.R. 1059: Congratulating the Adrian College Bulldogs men's hockey team for winning the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season title and postseason tournament and for having the best five-year win-loss record in Division III.

HR 325: Commending the Michigan State University Spartans men's hockey team for their victory in the 2007 NCAA championships.
H.R. 745 was introduced by RogersPal Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and has 139 co-sponsors -- both Democrats and Republicans (including fellow GOP Michiganders Candice Miller & Thad McCotter).

Mr. Rogers has worked with Ms. Eshoo on many occasions, including a bill to block a decision by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to control coverage of a specific drug used to treat anemia in cancer patients. To clarify, this bill was actually a Congressional Review Act joint resolution, "a rarely used mechanism for overturning executive branch regulations."

Clearly, Mr. Rogers isn't afraid to micromanage. So why no support for H.R. 745?

Is it because Mr. Rogers has avoided pretty much any sort of legislative effort this term? (He has been rather busy with GOP fundraising and party discipline, though.)

Is the bill just some pork-packed government spending spree?


Among other things, H.R. 745 would require the Secretary of HHS to develop an interdisciplinary committee to establish research objectives, provide a strategic research plan, and evaluate NIH research grants. The bill would also require the NIH and CDC to create a communications toolkit for patients and their families. The Congressional Research Service summary has all the specifics.

The writer's pain and sorrow -- too familiar to all of us who have lost relatives and friends to cancer -- is joined by her frustration. She traveled to Washington as a citizen advocate, a volunteer who hopes to help other families fighting this deadly disease. Her "representative" still hasn't co-sponsored the bill, deciding for whatever reason that it wasn't worth the bother... unlike National Pet Week or National Corvette Day.

Now that her letter has made the local paper, though, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Rogers changes his tune.