Politicians Worth Their Salaries: Quigley and Schakowsky

From press releases on the Climate Change bill.  While a bunch of blue dogs defected–I’m looking at you Bill Foster–Quigley points out one of the most important elements of the entire deal–lower income individuals will end up saving money over time.  While this bill is inadequate, change in the United States is incremental and it’s a start.

 

Quigley:

WASHINGTON, DC This evening, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) voted to pass landmark clean energy legislation that will create millions of new American jobs, limit the pollution that causes climate change, and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Cong. Quigley issued this statement following spirited debate and bipartisan passage of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES):

    This is a great day for all of us, and all of our children, and all of our childrens children. This long-term investment is an investment in our economy, our health, and our future. Going green will save green, because future savings will quickly outpace immediate costs.  This bill will grow our GDP, help clear our air of harmful pollution, create clean energy jobs that will stay in America, and provide us with both environmental and economic hope for tomorrow.”

    With a combination of price spike protections, energy refunds and cost-saving technology, ACES will protect consumers, keep costs low,

    and protect current jobs by helping energy-intensive industries transition to a cleaner, more profitable future. According to the EPA, the legislation would cost a typical American household less than a postage stamp per day, or less than $111 a year. Lower income households will see no new costs; in fact, the Congressional Budget Office found that they would actually save $40 per year with the plan. To maintain the return to fiscal responsibility that has become a hallmark of this Congress, the bill will not increase the deficit.

    “It’s hard to see the road ahead when times are tough; I get that,” said Cong. Quigley.  “But we cant afford not to act. We have to remember, on this issue and others, that the cost of inaction far outweighs today’s price tag. Energy costs are on the rise due to increased demand, and we’re on an unsustainable path that will increase costs much more if we don’t take action now. This is an important legacy, and Im proud to be a part of it.

    Illinois stands to greatly benefit by investments in a clean-energy economy, according to a recent report by the Center for American Progress.  Research finds that Illinois could see a net increase of approximately $6.6 billion in investment revenue and 70,000 jobs based on its share of a total of $150 billion in clean-energy investments annually across the country. Illinois’ unemployment rate is currently more than 10%, a 25-year high for the state and higher than the national average.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act has received broad support from both industry and environmental groups and Members of Congress from across the country. It is backed by a coalition that includes consumer groups, electric utilities, car companies, manufacturers, environmental organizations, agriculture and forestry groups, and labor organizations among many others.

H.R. 2454 passed by a bi-partisan vote of 219-212 earlier this evening. Congressman Quigley voted in support of the bill.

Schakowsky:

Washington, DC (June 26, 2009) – Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, released the following statement regarding the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009:

“For over a century the United States has embraced on energy policy based almost entirely on fossil fuels that have had several dangerous consequences for today. This outdated policy has compromised our national security by making us reliant on foreign oil, has led the United States to lag behind other countries in the research and development of new energy technologies that would have created jobs and has poisoned our planet. Now we have an opportunity to change directions.

“When I was back in my district last recess I could feel the crackling of new innovation. S & C Electric is making our electric grid much smarter and more reliable. Northwestern University is enabling entrepreneurs who are using nanotechnology and applying it to the energy field and using it to the electric window shut down, but those 260 skilled workers were rehired with help from the recovery bill that we passed. These are just a few of the thousands of success stories around the country, and the 1.7 million good jobs that will be created with the passage of this bill.”

Politicians Worth Their Salaries: Giannoulias

Up at Kos:

 

Why I Support Cram-Down Reform.

As a former community banker, I know that there are many good, conscientious lenders who will do whatever they can to make sure families are not kicked out of their homes and onto the street. Good bankers understand that foreclosures don’t help our banks or communities thrive, and they don’t help keep the American dream alive. And frankly, it doesn’t help their bottom line.

Banks renegotiate the terms of mortgages outside of court to give homeowners a second chance all the time. But since the subprime mess, many banks haven’t been as kind. That’s why I supported this amendment; it only applied to lenders that failed to do the right thing by not offering loan modifications outside of court in the first place.

But the power players in the financial industry disagreed, and they certainly didn’t want to cede control of their business decisions to bankruptcy courts. They claimed the amendment would lead to more bankruptcy filings and prompt more homeowners to use bankruptcy as a threat to negotiate lower monthly payments, which would force lenders to raise interest rates.

Those arguments fall short. Homeowners do not want to risk long-term damage to their credit rating. Housing advocates dispute the higher interest rate claim and estimate the amendment would save hundreds of thousands of homeowners from facing foreclosure. In my experience, fewer foreclosures mean fewer bankruptcies.
But the Senate caved to powerful banking lobbyists when it gutted the amendment. And, to make matters even more frustrating, those lobbyists were paid for with money from the same banks that have received billions of dollars in subsidies from taxpayers in order to escape a financial firestorm of their making.
Senator Durbin said it best about banks: “they frankly own the place.”

The debate over the bill and its ultimate failure demonstrate why we need to reduce the influence of corporate interests and their role in shaping policy.

 

Cramdown makes sense for the vast majority of financial institutions.  Foreclosure is expensive and in the short term there are housing gluts in the areas hit hardest by the mortgage finance crisis.  This makes it even hard to sell the properties that are foreclosed upon. Those fighting cramdown legislation are largely institutions that aren’t banks and invested in securitized mortgages and/or made lots of subprime loans.

There are different kinds of borrowers facing problems.  Speculators won’t be helped much by this sort of bill.  They are essentially screwed with a market that evens out or drops.

However, homeowners who bought into bad loan agreements can benefit greatly.  If you look at the Eddy Curry article (not a typical example–just the terms) his variable rate mortgage could go from somewhere around 3 percent to 15 percent.  A millionaire pro-athlete isn’t a problem but a family that bought into a cheap monthly payment and didn’t understand the potential for escalating payments does.  Or a family that might have bought in with a steady two incomes when one has now gone away.

Cramdown still delivers a fair rate of return to the financial insitution and decreases the risk of default to go along with that so that there is compensation for the change in terms.  It keeps people in their homes if there is a reasonable chance for a family to afford the new payments, and it reduces the housing glut in those cities where one exists.

The resistance is there because it will affect the value of those securitized mortgage packages out there and create more accounting problems for some institutions who are staying afloat by largely overvaluing assetts.  That’s probably necessary in the short run, but can also be solved with emergency accounting rules.

The Most Underused Word in Illinois: Cowardice




The House of Representatives is filled with cowards.  Not surprisingly it’s headed by the father of a candidate for something next cycle who can’t be found to take a position on a very basic issue–how to close a huge budget deficit.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjw_jiN7VJ0[/youtube]

Every option the House is offering is inadequate and we are getting more leadership from Cullerton than from anyone in House or the somewhat erratic ramblings of the Gov.  There is a structural deficit in Illinois that has to be dealt with not by one year gimmicks, but by fundamentally changing the tax structure.  Cullerton has put up, the Governor is willing and trying to push the message, but the House continues to run scared.  What good is power if you won’t wield it every once in a while?

No Different Than Roland Burris

So sayeth the base about Mark Kirk and his reality based vote for cap and trade.

 

With Mark Kirk being one of the eight Republican U.S. House members to give Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi the votes they needed to pass the huge tax-increasing Cap and Trade energy bill last Friday night, most say Kirk is no different than the incumbent Roland Burris, and that without base support, Kirk’s a no-go for U.S. Senate.
Okay, Kirk’s done. As one IR commenter noted, though, talk is cheap. The Republicans need a candidate in 2010 that can beat Burris, Alexi Giannoulias or any other Democrat. We’ve been through this candidate-searching trauma before, need we be reminded? For all the criticism of the IL GOP’s State Central Committee, things were tough in 2004 after Jack Ryan dropped out. Dr. Sauerberg’s campaign to take on Dick Durbin never got off the ground in 2008.

 

Purity of Essence Bitches.

Talking to Adults

Not to minimize the gross dereliction of duty, but at least when Sanford got up there he talked to the public like adults and did not try to make excuses or try and hide behind his family.

 

Imagine Rod Blagojevich like that.

 

 

LOL–neither can I.

Are We Worthy?

Hysterical Sneed bit from when I was gone:

 

It’s Chris

The Kennedy beat…

Begorrah! The Merchandise Mart’s Chris Kennedy may not yet have “officially” announced his bid for the U.S. Senate in Illinois — but his cousin, Ted Kennedy Jr., did the “unofficial deed.”

* To wit: “I was told not to talk politics tonight, but…you here in Illinois can have your own Sen. Kennedy — my cousin, Chris, is running,” Ted Kennedy Jr. said at an Access Living dinner at Navy Pier Tuesday night.

* Backshot:  U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s son made the statement while accepting an award on behalf of his ailing father.

* Slipshot:  Chris Kennedy, vice chairman of the event, kept quiet.  Gov. Quinn, who told Sneed recently that Chris Kennedy was one of his heroes, was also there.  And so was first lady Maggie Daley.

 

  • The upshot:  The event raised more than $600,000.

 

We could have our own Kennedy!  What lucky duckies we are!


Oddly, the Sun-Times pulled that though and replaced it with:

 

June 4, 2009

BY MICHAEL SNEED Sun-Times Columnist

Begorrah! The Merchandise Mart’s Chris Kennedy may not yet have “officially” announced his bid for the U.S. Senate in Illinois — but his cousin, Ted Kennedy Jr., did the “unofficial deed.”
The Blago beat . . .

 

I’m sure an honest editorial decision.

Chris Kennedy Has Friends

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6QmgoHsnXw&feature=channel_page[/youtube]

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPKwGhKvqgc&feature=channel_page[/youtube]

 

Other than his name is Kennedy there is no justification for his run for US Senate.   While DC goes all aflutter for Kennedy’s its hard to say why a Kennedy would be a good Senator or candidate even from Illinois.  His background is largely in taxpayer subsidized busines which in itself isn’t bad, but he’s shown a propensity in Cleveland to use the taxpayers as his personal piggybank.

The notion that he can come in and be above the fray is idiotic given he’s a symbol of insider deals.  The Kennedy sense of entitlement just makes it worse.

On the Precipice of Disaster

It’s ugly and it’s going to hurt the public

 

“This is really a complex question, but the wrong answer could be disastrous, and the wrong answer is really major cuts,” said Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a Chicago-based bipartisan think tank that studies the Illinois state budget. “If Illinois were to primarily balance its budget by cutting spending, i.e. cutting jobs, our recession would be significantly worse.”
“For regular public expenditures – things like education, health care, human services – for every dollar the state spends, you get a multiplier of $1.36 rippling through the local economy,” Martire said. “Even better are infrastructure projects, which get a $1.59 multiplier. And maintaining state spending is a significantly higher multiplier than any kind of tax relief.”
At the end of May, faced with an estimated $12 billion budget shortfall and unable to agree on a tax hike to increase state revenue, state lawmakers approved a budget that spends only the money Illinois has coming in over the next year. That means Gov. Pat Quinn will get only about half the money he’s requested for state agencies.
If the governor signs the budget, he’ll have to decide whether he treats it as a six-month budget, keeps most services intact and calls lawmakers back to Springfield around Christmas to figure out where to get the money for the second half. Or, since there’s no guarantee lawmakers will be more likely to compromise in December, Quinn could treat it as a full-year budget and start layoffs soon after the budget year begins July 1.


Rich continues a good list of consequences

It’s not a game.  Where there better budgetary decisions that could have been made decades ago that could have alleviated some of this? Yes and so what?

We are dealing with what will be draconian cuts in public safety and social services.  People use those all over the state and the only way out of the mess is raising taxes.  Screaming about budget cuts is fine—and obviously in this situation cuts need to be made, but real live people are behind these decisions and no one wants to cut off programs like drug treatment and care for those with disabilities mental or physical.

In the category of where the hell do you live:

“I think they should lay off all the state troopers. I think they’re a total waste of taxpayer money,” Tobin said. “We have too many cops and state police have proven time and time again they’re glorified Keystone Kops. We won’t miss them one bit.”

 

Tobin is a moron.  In more rural counties, the State Police are an essential part of the mix. It might seem wasteful if you live in Chicago or the surrounding area or even in the mid sized cities in Central Illinois, but if you go South of Springfield or those rural areas north, the State Police provide vital public safety and they are far more professionalized than county Sheriffs and small town departments.  With the challenges in rural Illinois, crime is fact of life and they are the front line to deal with it.

CPS Instituting Assessment Tools at the Principal Level *UPDATED*

Huberman is announcing the introduction of new assessment tools at the school level to be led by principals:

 

“You’re given the freedom, but you can’t make those decisions based on hunches,” Huberman explained at an editorial board meeting at the Sun-Times before the principals’ meeting Tuesday. “You have to make them based on the analytical framework we’re providing.”
Huberman emphasized that the assessments, now in development, are not “tests” that students will be graded on, but a way to find out what students need. He said he wants to create a “data-driven culture,” so the schools can know “how every student is doing, how is every teacher doing, and how is every school doing, with the goal of constantly improving.”
The assessments will be taken by students online to allow for quick results. Huberman plans a large technology investment for the coming school year.
The assessments would not be like the big annual tests of student progress, like the ISATs, and would be short — 30 minutes to an hour. Some assessments would be universal and given quarterly. Others would be geared to specific curricula, recognizing that schools teach math or science in different ways.

 

I’m generally for this sort of innovation, but the real question is are the principals going to have the time and training to use the assessments effectively.  Too often, pressured principals under current NCLB regulations use these tools to beat faculty over the head leading to faculty viewing them as penalties and not tools to assess students’ abilities.  Changing that sort of usage and ensuring principals can effectively use the tools is a huge challenge of leadership.  It’ll be quite a test for Huberman.

 

Update:  Catalyst has more on the initiative which does include data analysist being available to crunch the numbers. A very good sign.

On Another Bond Note

Metra is whining that he forced them to accept credit cards.

Metra customers will be able to buy their monthly passes or ten-ride tickets online and pay with a credit card starting in September, Metra officials announced today.
Customers will be able to use credit cards at stations with ticket agents and at machines at 14 Metra Electric stations starting in February of next year.
The move to credit cards came after state Sen. Michael Bond (D-Grayslake) introduced legislation in March that would require Metra to start accepting plastic.
The move comes at a high price for Metra — the cost of operating the system and transaction fees is expected to be $3 million to $5 million a year, assuming a 75 percent participation rate, along with $2.2 million in up-front capital costs for Metra to accept credit cards online and install credit card machines and other equipment. Metra had resisted credit cards in the past because of the cost.
“I assume the state legislature didn’t look at what the costs might be,” noted Metra Board member Michael K. Smith.

 

People don’t carry cash much anymore and yes there are fees, but that should be a part of the overall fee structure.  Metra could certainly give a small discount to those not using credit/debit cards (or petition for the right to do so), but whining that your agency has to enter the 21st Century almost 10 years late is one of many reasons why people get annoyed with mass transit agencies.

Daily Dolt: Team America

Team America in comments:

# 2 Team America Says:
June 17th, 2009 at e
Gents, here’s the bottom line. The FEC complaint gudiance says the following:
“Receipt of Complaint
The Office of General Counsel (OGC) reviews each complaint to determine whether it states a violation within the jurisdiction of the Commission and satisfies the above criteria for a proper complaint. If the complaint does not meet these requirements, OGC notifies the complainant of the deficiencies.
Once a complaint is deemed sufficient, OGC assigns it a Matter Under Review (MUR) number, acknowledges receipt of the complaint and informs the complainant that the Commission will notify him or her when the entire case is resolved. Until then, the Commission is required by law to keep its actions regarding the MUR confidential.”
Apparently, the FEC thought the complaint was good enough to assign it a MUR number (and not return it to Venturi for deficiences), and force Michael Bond to respond.
Let’s see how Bond tries to weasel out of it.
Cheers, TA

 

Of course right above that is:

Any person may file a complaint if he or she believes a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Laws or Commission regulations has occurred or is about to occur. The complaint must be made in writing and sent to the Office of General Counsel, Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20463. The original must be submitted along with three copies, if possible. Facsimile or e-mail transmissions are not acceptable. A complaint must comply with certain requirements. It must:
* Provide the full name and address of the person filing the complaint (called the complainant); and
* Be signed, sworn to and notarized. This means that the notary public’s certificate must say “…signed and sworn to before me…,” or words that connote the complaint was affirmed by the complainant, (such as “under penalty of perjury”).
Furthermore, in order for a complaint to be considered complete and proper, it should:
* Clearly recite the facts that show specific violations under the Commission’s jurisdiction (citations to the law and regulations are not necessary);
* Clearly identify each person, committee or group that is alleged to have committed a violation (called the respondent);
* Include any documentation supporting the allegations, if available; and
* Differentiate between statements based on the complainant’s (the person who files the complaint) personal knowledge and those based on information and belief. Statements not based on personal knowledge should identify the source of the information.

 

Essentially, the requirement to be assigned a MUR number by the FEC is providing the full information of the person, notarizing the complaint, and providing some claim that would fall under FEC jurisdiction.  Anyone who has ever dealt with FEC complaints knows they assign numbers and then routinely dismiss complaints for no violation or lack of any evidence after issuing an MUR number.

 

So let’s review.  The Chairman of the Lake County Republicans has filed a complaint against Michael Bond for not forming a campaign committee in a timely fashion, but nothing in the complaint addresses the $5,000 raised by the candidate that sets the 15 day clock.

Dutifully, reporters will cover this and treat it as serious.  That’s too bad because it’s a good story about a fool issuing a complaint to an overworked agency for purely political reasons and that complaint has no basis in the law.  Whether that is due to stupidity or malice is impossible to tell, but it’s an interesting story.  What’s most troubling is that Team America jumps on the story with no regard for the facts. It’s one thing to post a story because someone you know gives you a story that seems reasonable and then find out that some important elements are missing.  That happens pretty often.  However, compounding the error by continuing to push the story is what gives blogs a bad name.

Michael Bond’s 15 Days….

Team America again screws up the facts with his breathless attack on Michael Bond for not forming a campaign committee within 15 days of announcing and links to two different links that are accurate, but not complete.

 

The full context must be understood in with 100.72 (a)

(a) General exemption. Funds received solely for the purpose of determining whether an individual should become a candidate are not contributions. Examples of activities permissible under this exemption if they are conducted to determine whether an individual should become a candidate include, but are not limited to, conducting a poll, telephone calls, and travel. Only funds permissible under the Act may be used for such activities. The individual shall keep records of all such funds received. See 11 CFR 101.3. If the individual subsequently becomes a candidate, the funds received are contributions subject to the reporting requirements of the Act. Such contributions must be reported with the first report filed by the principal campaign committee of the candidate, regardless of the date the funds were received.

And 100.131

 

(a) Definition. Candidate means an individual who seeks nomination for election, or election, to federal office. An individual becomes a candidate for Federal office whenever any of the following events occur:
(1) The individual has received contributions aggregating in excess of $5,000 or made expenditures aggregating in excess of $5,000.
(2) The individual has given his or her consent to another person to receive contributions or make expenditures on behalf of that individual and such person has received contributions aggregating in excess of $5,000 or made expenditures aggregating in excess of $5,000.
(3) After written notification by the Commission that any other person has received contributions aggregating in excess of $5,000 or made expenditures aggregating in excess of $5,000 on the individual’s behalf, the individual fails to disavow such activity by letter to the Commission within 30 days of receipt of the notification.
(4) The aggregate of contributions received under 11 CFR 100.3(a) (1), (2), and (3), in any combination thereof, exceeds $5,000, or the aggregate of expenditures made under 11 CFR 100.3(a) (1), (2), and (3), in any combination thereof, exceeds $5,000.

In fact, if you don’t spend $5,000 and run you don’t have to file at all.  Obviously you aren’t going to win, but there are minor candidates who often don’t file for this very reason.

If you haven’t raised $5,000 yet, you don’t have to file. When you reach that threshold you have 15 days to file from that date.  There is nothing in the complaint that alleges Bond raised more than $5,000 before May 16, 2009 so the Lake County Republican Chairman Dan Venturi is wasting FEC time and money with nothing other than a harassment technique while the FEC can barely keep up with legit complaints.

Read the regulations before you file a complaint. Or even the handy candidate guide the FEC provides that tells you the same information.

 

Small Update:  Actually the Statement of Organization was postmarked May 26, 2009, meaning that Bond could have reached the $5,000 threshold as early as May 11, 2009 and be in full compliance.