Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bad Job, Congressman Cravaack; Allow Me to Explain Why

Dear (redacted):

Thank you for contacting me regarding the proposed federal funding cuts to the international affairs budget proposed in H.R. 1, the Fiscal Year (FY) Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011. Your thoughts on this issue are most welcome and appreciated.
I think that is empty nonsense, Mr. Cravaack; you don't listen honestly to your constituents.  You listen only to the further right of the GOP and the more extreme members of the Tea Party.  The center is tiring of the conservative agenda which has only so far: 1) tried to promote a far right culture war on the citizens of this country; 2)  caused job loss and financial distress without providing a single new, good, constructive idea to resolve our economic problems.  And 3) any policy which does not thoughtfully address revenue income and relies exclusively on budget cuts will only harm what slow economic recovery we have, while further burdening the middle classes on downwards - a majority of the nation. 

Your sham claim, Congressman Cravaack, that thoughts on this issue are welcome only makes sense if you believe corporations are people - people who have greater importance than human beings, as in Orwell's Animal farm where different varieties of animal represented different people,
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
Rather your approach resembles another quote from Orwell,
"All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome."
The course of action of the current Congress represents a complete failure to 'listen to the people' promised by conservatives generally, and tea partiers in particular.  You and your partisan colleagues on the right are NOT LISTENING, and you do NOT genuinely welcome constructive criticism or any input other than your own ideology from anyone.  So, please - spare me the empty platitudes; they only add insult to injury.

Cravaack's response to my contact continues:
The United States currently holds a national debt that is over $14 trillion and the President has requested that we borrow an additional $1.5 trillion. In order to maintain this extreme level of spending, the United States must borrow forty cents out of every dollar that we spend. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the President’s budget is enacted, the total national deficit would be 90% of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020. Most experts agree that this is not sustainable, including the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform established by President Obama.
Mr. Cravaack, you only present the facts which suit you.  President Obama has presented a much better budget, one which does not grossly disfavor the majority of citizens as your party's budget does.  Your budget cuts disfavor those people who you believe to be Democrats or democratic leaning, while grossly giving advantage in the form of tax cuts to the wealthy and other benefits to very few.  The net result is to shift the burden of taxation that should be shared by the wealthy and the corporations with the middle and less affluent classes almost entirely onto the shoulders of the latter. 

I repeat, Mr. Cravaack, (pay attention) we need to increase revenue income to solve our current problems, and the sources that are NOT contributing fairly are the wealthy and corporations.  If you REALLY were welcoming in put, you would acknowledge that an overwhelming majority of this country favors greater taxation of those individuals and corporations.  Here are a few examples, Mr. Cravaack:

Don't you believe that you should be listening to people, not corporations, Mr. Cravaack? Let me help you there as well:
"A campaign to strip corporations of personhood would have a similar populist and popular appeal. A recent Quinnipiac poll reveals a whopping 79 percent public disapproval of the Court’s ruling. A Washington Post-ABC News poll puts the figure even higher at 81 percent. And as Dan Eggen of the Post writes, “The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).”

But win or lose, a campaign against corporate personhood would allow us to regain control of a narrative we lost in 1980 when Ronald Reagan declared in his Inaugural Address, “government is the problem” and initiated a process that has resulted in the greatest concentration of private wealth and power in American history.

People may not know exactly what Goldman Sachs is, but they know it is not a person. A person doesn’t have unlimited life or limited liability. A person is responsible for her decisions. If she makes a decision that kills or maims people she will go to jail. If a CEO makes such a decision she, at worst, receives a golden parachute.

Unlike a real person, a corporation lacks a conscience. It is guided neither by ethics nor morality but rather by laws that required its Boards to elevate the maximization of profits above all other concerns.

A real person is an independent actor, subject to many influences that affect how he votes. Warren Buffett, for example, thinks it is in his and society’s best interest for him to be required to pay more taxes. A corporation that made this decision could be taken to court by its stockholders."
You would be wise, Congressman Cravaack, to pay attention to the reaction among American citizens to the news that is front and center at the moment about how 2/3 of America's corporations do not pay a dime in taxes.  We are not happy.  Instead of relying on a spending-cuts-only solution, you should be addressing a major overhaul of the tax code so that while the base line percentage of taxation is lowered, that is made up for in closing loopholes which allow corporations to off-shore profits for tax purposes, and which discontinue incentives for corporations to out-source American jobs overseas.  THAT would be far more useful, along with ending the disastrous Bush tax cuts, than your current simple-minded course.

In his letter, Congressman Cravaack continues:
In an effort to prevent a government shutdown, the House recently passed H.R. 1, which would provide funding for the government through the remainder of FY 2011. This bill was over $100 billion less than the President’s budget for the rest of the year. I was very proud that the debate surrounding this legislation was the most transparent in recent memory. The House Majority allowed for an “open rule” that allowed any Member of the House to offer any germane amendment to the bill. Over 500 amendments were filed and the House ended up taking a vote on over 100 amendments in the course of over 90 hours of debate.
I agree that global humanitarian aid, funded through the international affairs budget, provides important resources to those in regions where civilian populations are the most vulnerable. However, the current economic climate of our country forces us to consider every budgetary item to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. I am committed to getting people back to work across the country. An important way to create jobs is through cutting the runaway government spending that is currently crowding out our job creators in the private sector.
H.R. 1 is only a first step in putting this nation back on the path towards fiscal responsibility. Any permanent solution to this issue must involve a comprehensive review of all federal spending. Congress is going to have to make many hard decisions and work toward balancing our budget just like every family in Minnesota.
In the coming months, I hope that Congress and the President can come together in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to this problem. Thank you again for contacting me and please feel free to stay in touch if you have further thoughts on this or any other issue. I look forward to hearing from you again.
Chip Cravaack
Member of Congress
Mr. Cravaack, I have no faith in you or the conservative majority.  You do not come together in a bipartisan manner, your conservative-dominated congress has NOT been transparent either.  Your majority in Congress has not created jobs, nor do you offer any suggestions or proposals other than those which have been proven in the past under other Republican administrations to be utter failures. 

I would suggest, Chip, that you remember the lessons of history, before you are doomed to repeat them.  The single phrase which most contributed to Bill Clinton winning office was this one "It's the economy, stupid."  We're not happy.  You're not listening, and you are making stupid mistakes.  Change that or we change who is sitting in your chair.


  1. A good response to Mr. Cravaack’s letter.

    Just curious, did Mr. Cravaack respond directly to a question that you sent … or was this a franked mailing and mass mailing to any constituent that questioned his votes ? In other words, any idea if others received the same “canned” response ?

    Let me comment on a few things.
    Mr. Cravaack states that 100 amendments were voted upon out of over 500 submitted … which leads to the question : Were the most meaningful, and cost impacting amendments voted upon ? I don’t know … but since the Republicans set the Rules (see Rules Committee which controls what gets voted upon and when), it must be questioned. Admittedly, many may have been consolidated into other amendments, but I note that the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste reviewed the first 403 and deemed that only 19 would be considered in their scorecard. Many amendments were attacks on ObamaCare yet I think the number of approved amendments was about 66 or 67. Of the ones that CCAGW wanted to have votes on, only 9 made the cut … so when you hear John Kline cite CCAGW for their PORK REPORT, the question must be asked : Why didn’t all of their amendments get a vote ?

    One would think that if CCAGW said it was wasteful spending then Mr. Cravaack would vote that way … but he voted Against Amt #50 - Betty McCollum (D-MN) which strikes funding for the Department of Defense to sponsor NASCAR race cars.

    If anything, Mr. Cravaack’s votes have a tendency to support military spending regardless if Pentagon leadership wants it. One of CCAGW’s big programs that it wanted terminated was offered as Amendment #2 by Tom Rooney (R-FL) to strike funding for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine. On my blog is a status update on the program and who voted for the taxpayers and who did not (Mr. Cravaack). Additionally, Mr. Cravaack also supported maintaining the U.S. Joint Forces Command as currently structured which Secretary Gates wants to reduce staffing levels (and therefore costs) … once again the Taxpayers lose.


  2. This shows Mr. Cravaack’s priorities … Mr. Cravaack writes “Congress is going to have to make many hard decisions and work toward balancing our budget just like every family in Minnesota." When the question of military spending was either Yes or No … Mr. Cravaack chose to spend … but what about when there is a choice for where to spend monies ? Mr. Cravaack was give a choice NASA or COPS … it was a simple question where to spend monies … Amt #125—Anthony Weiner (D-NY): The amendment would increase by $298,000,000 the Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services and would reduce by $298,000,000 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The key question is, would this cut impact NASA’s mission … well consider that NASA’s Cross-Agency Support account, is an unbelievable catchall slush fund at NASA which has grown in the last 2 years from $550 million to $3 billion and which will actually be increased in this continuing resolution by $36 million …. And the Republicans want to cut COPS … which is more important than defending the American people from common criminals to terrorists, or sending someone to Mars?
    The COPS funding was restored as Congressman Weiner's amendment was approved but Mr. Cravaack voted AGAINST it.

    And when evaluating Mr. Cravaack’s priorities, his vote for the base bill means that he supported a $1.6 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (meaning slowdown on approval of new drugs and medical devices), Food and Drug Administration by $241 million and USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service by $88 million (meaning that there will be delays in inspections of meats … which could result in layoffs at meat producers since meat must be inspected), over $1.6 billion in cuts related to nuclear energy and many more.

    But if I could ask Mr. Cravaack one question, it would be : Why did you vote FOR $300 million to pay private schools (including Baptist, Catholic and Islamic administered schools) without any offset ? Did your attendance at the all-male private Cincinnati St. Xavier High School affect your decision … or was it because the legislation’s chief sponsor was John Boehner – a graduate of all-male private Cincinnati Bishop Moeller High School ?

    How can we ever discuss tax fairness when Mr. Cravaack spends OUR TAXDOLLARS on his priorities ?