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One House Republican’s epic fail

The “Tone-Deaf Politician of the Year” award might go to Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who – during BP CEO Tony Hayward’s testimony to Congress today – apologized for the Obama Administration’s “shakedown” of the oil giant for a $20 billion escrow account to cover some of the costs of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Joe BartonAn apology. For a “shakedown.” Of a company that caused the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history. Which also is wrecking an entire region’s already-fragile economy. Riiiiiiight.

This from a guy the Wall Street Journal once called the “House GOP’s leading expert on energy policy.” But, hey, can you guess what industry he worked in before his election to Congress? Oh, I just KNEW you could.

Even his own party’s House leadership wasted no time in hanging Barton out to dry today. Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va.; and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., issued this statement:

“The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation’s largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority. Congressman Barton’s statements this morning were wrong. BP itself has acknowledged that responsibility for the economic damages lies with them and has offered an initial pledge of $20 billion dollars for that purpose.

“The families and businesspeople in the Gulf region want leadership, accountability and action from BP and the Administration. It is unacceptable that, 59 days after this crisis began, no solution is forthcoming. Simply put, the American people want all of our resources, time and focus to be directed toward stopping the spill and cleaning up the mess.”

Fine, but… wait a minute. “Natural disaster?” Seriously? Perhaps they meant “disaster for nature,” but that’s not what “natural disaster” means. This is a man-made disaster, one very likely born of negligence and greed, and nobody should forget it.

UPDATE @ 4:26 P.M.: Well, THAT was quick. Unfazed by the GOP leadership’s disapproval of Barton’s comment, the liberals are on the warpath:

Posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Under: energy, Environment, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Watch Miller-Garamendi love fest

No, not that kind of love fest. Get a grip.

This is my FlipVideo of last night’s fete of reps. George Miller and John Garamendi and their role in the passage of the health care reform legislation. East Bay labor, minority and Democratic party leaders hosted the event at the IBEW Local 302 Hall in Martinez.

Click here to read my story.

But you can watch the speeches yourself at the link below. (Don’t mind the backsides of the people who kept standing in front of my little camera. They eventually moved.)

Toward the end of the video (about 39 minutes or so) watch closely and you will see Miller approach Martinez Rob Schroder and playfully place a stethoscope cup on the mayor’s chest. Miller told Schroder, “I’m trying to find your heartbeat! Oh, I forgot, you’re a Republican!” But Schroder is no longer a Republican, which came as news to Miller. Schroder re-registered as an independent more than a year ago.

Posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, George Miller, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

McNerney introduces jobs bill



Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has introduced  a small business hiring bill he says will encourage the formation of new jobs.

Read on for his press release:


Legislation offers job incentives to areas of high unemployment and has backing of local Chambers of Commerce

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11) yesterday introduced legislation aimed at creating jobs and growing our country’s small businesses, particularly in areas with high unemployment like California. H.R. 4620, the Small Business Job Creation Act of 2010, provides tax credits for small businesses to hire people who were previously unemployed. The bill also includes additional tax credits for small businesses located in high unemployment areas, such as Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara Counties. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Under: Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Garamendi hires chief of staff

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has hired as his chief of staff Scott Fay, former senior adviser to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

According to Garamendi’s office, Fay held various positions during his nine years on Kennedy’s staff including constituent outreach advisor, scheduler, operations director and most recently as his senior adviser and national political director. As political director, Faw oversaw outreach to various national organizations to promote Kennedy’s  national agenda across the country and at home in Massachusetts.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Scott Fay will be joining my team,” Garamendi said in a prepared release. ” Because of his many years of service to Senator Kennedy, Scott comes with a wealth of political experience and a deep understanding of how Congress and government works.”

Fay holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston University and a master’s degree in public communication from American University in Washington, D.C. He will start his new post in January.

Posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, U.S. House | No Comments »

Obama and Lee on the public option, Afghanistan

President Barack Obama met yesterday afternoon at the White House with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, trying to allay their fears about the public option included in the newly revamped House health care reform bill. They’ve wanted a public plan with rates based on Medicare, but the new bill would let providers negotiated directly with the federal government.

Here’s what Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee had to say about the meeting:

“This is a truly historic time in our country. Today, we are closer to comprehensive health care reform than we have ever been in the past 70 years.

“I applaud our leadership for their efforts to unveil the current bill. While I have worked with my colleagues consistently to include a public option in this bill there is still work to do. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that the final package has the strongest public option and health equity provisions possible.

“A public option is essential to ensuring coverage of as many uninsured Americans as possible, as well as cost containment provisions to limit increased premiums for the 85 percent of Americans who currently have health insurance.

“In our meeting with President Obama I emphasized the importance of having the public option remain in the final bill to come out of conference. Additionally, it is important to keep every existing health equity provision intact. The Office of Minority Health should receive the same prioritization that the Office of Women’s Health is set to receive, especially given the data on racial and ethnic health disparities.

“More than 70 percent of Americans support health care reform with a public option, therefore we have a moral obligation to provide them with the choice and accountability that a public plan would provide.”

Also, check out this Huffington Post interview with Lee about her bill, H.R. 3699, that would bar federal funding to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, healthcare reform, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

What they’re saying about the rise in GDP

From President’s Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer:

“Data released today by the Commerce Department show that real GDP [Gross Domestic Product] grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of the year. This is in stark contrast to the decline of 6.4 percent annual rate just two quarters ago. Indeed, the two-quarter swing in the rate of growth of 9.9 percentage points was the largest since 1980. Analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter. This suggests that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter.”

“After four consecutive quarters of decline, positive GDP growth is an encouraging sign that the U.S. economy is moving in the right direction. However, this welcome milestone is just another step, and we still have a long road to travel until the economy is fully recovered. The turnaround in crucial labor market indicators, such as employment and the unemployment rate, typically occurs after the turnaround in GDP. And it will take sustained, robust GDP growth to bring the unemployment rate down substantially. Such a decline in unemployment is, of course, what we are all working to achieve.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Any positive signs for our economy are welcome, but a jobless recovery is not what the American people were promised. President Obama and his economic team said the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ would create jobs immediately and keep the unemployment rate below eight percent. Since then, roughly three million jobs have been lost and unemployment has risen to near 10 percent.

“For millions of out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet, this recession feels far from over. Yet even now, after the Obama Administration’s top economist has stated that the ‘stimulus’ already had its greatest impact on the economy, Washington Democrats are intent on staying the course and trying to spend, tax, and borrow their way to prosperity. Republicans have proposed fiscally responsible solutions to help small businesses create good-paying jobs and get our economy moving again.”

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Today’s news is another important indicator that the Recovery Act is beginning to repair our economy and get our nation back on its feet. While it will take time for all these investments to kick in, we know that the Recovery Act has already helped to stave off hundreds of thousands of pink slips being planned.

“While saving and creating jobs must be a central concern, we also must ensure that Americans still looking for work have the temporary support they need to get by and that displaced workers have access to the education and training they need to succeed in the jobs of the future. We won’t rest until the millions who lost their jobs during this economic crisis have an opportunity to work and are ready to help shape a new era of economic growth and innovation.”

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: economy, General, George Miller, John Boehner, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Barbara Lee’s statement on Bay Bridge closure

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, just issued this statement on the Bay Bridge closure:

“First, I want to say I am relieved that no one was injured in the incident that forced authorities to shutdown the Bay Bridge. My office has been in constant contact with Caltrans, and I have been closely monitoring the circumstances surrounding the closure of the Bay Bridge and the work that is being done to repair the bridge.

“I have received assurances from Caltrans officials that crews are working as quickly as possible to make the necessary repairs and to be certain that the work is done properly. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) provided funding for the initial repairs that were done during the Labor Day weekend closure of the bridge. The FHA has been contacted again by Caltrans to secure emergency funding for the repairs. These emergency federal funds will assure a speedy response to repair the bridge.

“The Bay Bridge is a vital transportation link between San Francisco and the East Bay, and it is imperative that we all work together to ensure the bridge repairs are done as quickly and safely as possible.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, Transportation, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

House passes Miller’s water recycling bill

The House today passed Rep. George Miller’s H.R.2442, the “Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act of 2009,” on a 241-173 vote, advancing a bill that would help ease the region’s water issues.

The bill provides $38 million for six Bay Area water recycling projects: The CCCSD-Concord Recycled Water Project, the Central Dublin Recycled Water Distribution and Retrofit Project, the Petaluma Recycled Water Project, the Central Redwood City Recycled Water Project, the Palo Alto Recycled Water Pipeline Project and the Ironhouse Sanitary District-Antioch Recycled Water Project.

Together, Miller said, they’ll provide 7.2 million gallons of water per day for landscape irrigation and other uses, meaning that same amount of drinkable water gets freed up for nearly 25,000 households. And the projects are expected to create more than 3,000 jobs, he added.

“Today’s bill responds to the request for assistance from the state of California and local water managers to expand the supply of water in our drought-stricken state,” Miller said in his news release. “This bill is good for our economy – it will create thousands of jobs and it will help reduce stress on our oversubscribed fresh water systems.

House Republicans had fought the bill to a standstill two weeks ago; it was brought up Sept. 30 under suspension of the rules, meaning it needed a 2/3 majority to pass, and it went down on a near-party line, 240-170 vote. Today the bill was brought up under a rule, meaning it needed only a simple majority. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, tried again to have it sent back to committee, but failed.

“This legislation is an insult to the water-starved communities of the San Joaquin Valley,” Nunes raged in a statement issued today. “It is offensive to those of us who have fought for and been denied any legislative relief for the real water crisis in California – the one that has turned half a million acres into desert.”

Nunes has been pushing hard for a waiver to the Endangered Species Act so the water flow to Central Valley agribusiness can be restored regardless of the pumping’s impact on the endangered Delta smelt. “George Miller and his friends on the left supported the ESA waiver for New Mexico in 2003. Now they are telling the people of the San Joaquin Valley ‘no,’” Nunes said. “The hypocrisy of my colleagues on the Democratic side of the isle is very telling. Their actions today do not reflect the values of the American people.”

But Miller said water recycling is supported by the major water coalitions including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Association of California Water Agencies.

“This legislation will not only help my congressional district, which has pioneered water recycling efforts, but is one of a series of water recycling bills that the House has approved this year to expand water supply in communities up and down California, in Republican and Democratic districts alike — without controversy, and without amendment, and without debate on larger California water policy issues,” Miller said. “This year alone, the House has passed five local water bills for Republican members of the House. Those members asked for and received support from the House for their bills, and did not ask for an amendment for any one of those bills.”

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Under: General, George Miller, U.S. House, water | 1 Comment »

Boehner and Stark: Same vote, different reasons

The House today approved the conference report for the fiscal year 2010 Defense Authorization bill on a 281-146 vote. Most of the nays were Republicans who were incensed that House Democratic leaders had attached to the bill an amendment expanding federal hate-crime law so it would be a federal crime to assault people because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

To wit, from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Democrats have done a great disservice to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces today by using them as leverage to pass radical social policy. They engineered this abuse of the legislative process because they had no way other to pass legislation that is unconstitutional and just plain wrong. Our troops – and their families – deserve better.

“All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstance. The Democrats’ ‘thought crimes’ legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance.”

But for Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont – the only Bay Area member to cross the aisle and vote with Republicans against the bill – the hate-crimes language was the only good thing about it. He said:

“Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Defense Authorization bill. As we focus on slowing the rising cost of health care, we should be just as vigilant about ever higher levels of defense spending.

“No one on the international stage comes close to our military spending. The United States accounted for 41.5 percent of the entire world’s military spending in 2008 – the next closest country was China at 5.8 percent. To put this in perspective, if we spent only six times as much as the next closest country, instead of seven times as much, we would have more than enough money to completely pay for health care reform.

“I urge my colleagues to join me in voting against the Defense Authorization bill. That said, there is an important provision in the bill that I support, extending hate crimes laws to cover sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. I have supported hate crimes legislation throughout my career in Congress, including as a co-sponsor of this legislation when it was approved by the House in April, and I am glad that the hate crimes provision in this bill will finally become law.”

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Under: General, John Boehner, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Labor Secretary visits Oakland for stimulus forum

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was in town over the weekend for an hour-long, invitation only roundtable with local civic, community, education, labor and business leaders convened by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

The topics for the forum Saturday at the Airport Hilton were green job creation, the emerging green economy, workforce, education and healthcare reform in Lee’s 9th Congressional District, Lee’s office said. Lee has been trying to hold her district forth as a model for green job development and use American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus funding

“I have long considered my district to be on the cutting-edge in the development of green jobs, which I believe will lead to a pathway out of poverty for many living in underserved communities,” she said in a news release issued after the forum. “I thought it was important that Secretary Solis got a first-hand look at the fine work being done here in my district.”

Solis noted more than half a billion ARRA dollars have been provided for projects involving green job creation. “I was very pleased to join Congresswoman Lee and local leaders, to discuss how these funds are being leveraged and how green jobs can provide economic security for middle-class families and underserved communities.”

Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, economy, General, U.S. House | 1 Comment »