Rep. Reed’s Wood Stove Concerns vs Facts

Rep. Tom Reed, in his weekly “Update” of April 17, tells of his “concerns over an unfair EPA (proposed) Rule”:

We’ve heard from constituents about the EPA’s proposed rule that would increase costs for New Yorkers who heat their wood stovehomes and businesses with wood stoves. That’s why we’re pressing the agency to find an approach that cares for families and doesn’t place an additional hardship on home and business owners. It’s unfair to target families and businesses that rely on wood stoves to heat their homes. For many in our community, this is an affordable, renewable energy source that is a cost-effective alternative to some of the more costly fuels.

I wish he had explained what was “unfair”  about the the rule the Environmental Protection Agency proposed. I assumed that the link would take us to a site that explained the proposal, but it takes the reader to Reed’s Press Release about the EPA Rule. It explains that we had a cold winter, and that the proposed changes are unfair and would increase this cost of heating our houses with wood. That is as far as he went, no facts, no details.  Like Big Brother, he wants us to trust him. 

Here are the facts (from a FOX News article) that Rep. Reed decided not to tell us:

  • The proposed rule will have the manufacturers tighten emission requirements on wood burning stoves and boilers. It will reduce emissions by approximately 80%.
  • The manufacturers will have 5 years to develop the more efficient stoves.
  • The requirements will be on new stoves only. The present stoves will not be changed.
  • No one will be required to replace their present wood stoves, although the new, improved stoves will be the only ones sold beginning in 2020.
  • Presently it is estimated that 13% of our soot pollution comes from inefficient wood  stoves/boilers.
  • The current Wood Stove emission regulations are from 1988—more than 25 years ago. Innovated designers, technology, and new materials can increase the efficiency of the stoves.
  • Benefits: “For every dollar spent to comply with the new standards, the EPA says, Americans will see between $118 and $267 in health benefits — eventually adding up to $1.8 to $2.4 billion in annual health and economic benefits. In other words, for every dollar spent to comply, America will see fewer heart attacks, strokes, and asthma attacks — and less CO2, methane and black carbon emissions.”

One would think that a more efficient wood stove would use less wood, and money, to heat our houses.

This Update, and corresponding Press Release are example of our congressman giving us his conclusions without giving us the facts. He wants to have the us believe he is concerned about our well-being, but in reality he is protecting the manufacturers’ profits.

Would our congressman vote for any regulation? Probably not. Look at  The League of Conservation Voters information about Rep. Reed. They have given him a lifetime rating of 7%, including the lowest rating of any NYS congressperson in 2013.

I need to note that the Friday, April 18 edition of The Lansing Star ( and maybe other district papers) had a “News Article” titled, “Reed Challenges New Wood Stove Requirements“. The careful reader will see that it was “written by the office of Rep. Tom Reed”. The purpose of this article, in the guise of news, is to give the readers self-serving misinformation. It states that this proposal would “drastically change requirements on new wood heaters, causing families who heat their homes with wood stoves to see a significant increase in heating costs.” An obvious attempt to scare the residents of our district. 

You cannot improve the situation if you continuously misrepresent the facts. We need to have a representative who embraces the possibility to improve the lives of the residents of the NY 23rd.  We will have that opportunity in November at the election booths.

Posted in 2014, Constituents, Environmental, Reed's Views | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Reed Risks Our Future on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently issued summaries of two reports that merit the attention of every voter in New York’s 23rd.

The IPCC was set up in 1988 to advise the United Nations on climate change issues.  In 2007, the IPCC and Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace for their work in bringing the dangers of climate change to the world’s attention.

Specifically, the IPCC advises on how to limit the increase in the average global surface temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) over pre-industrial levels. Beyond a 2 degree increase, scientists foresee disastrous consequences, such as the collapse of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Some believe that even a 2 degree increase is dangerous. At any rate, the problem today is that at current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures are expected to rise between 2 and 2.2 degrees Celsius by the middle of this century.

On March 31, the IPCC issued the summary of a report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, laying out the risks of continuing on our current course. These include storm surges causing death, destruction, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal areas;  extreme weather events leading to the breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services; and “the breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes ….”  The report finds that “Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”

On April 13, the IPCC issued the summary of a second report, focused on mitigating climate change. The report states that despite efforts made so far, the rise in greenhouse gas emissions is continuing, driven by population growth and economic activities. Without additional measures, the mean global surface temperature will increase by 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.  But the summary contained some good news — technologies for reducing carbon emissions are becoming more effective and renewable energy alternatives are growing ever more affordable. As Paul Krugman notes in today’s column, the price of solar energy panels has fallen by 75 per cent just since 2008.

What we desperately need here in the United States is a carbon tax or a carbon cap and trade system to put a price on carbon emissions and create an economic incentive for reducing them. The chances of that happening while the Republicans control the House of Representatives, however, are nil.

Our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, has a very discouraging record on climate change. According to the League of Conservation Voters, he has voted against legislation to reduce emissions of methane, one of the worst of the greenhouse gases, during oil and gas drilling operations on public land. He voted for a provision that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from taking into consideration the social costs of carbon,  such as the effects of climate change on human health and agriculture, and the property damage extreme weather events cause.  Reed voted to defund a federal prohibition on government purchases of dirty fuels, such as oil from tar sands. The list goes on.

Rep. Reed in his votes on climate change is risking our future. He is risking the future of the earth.

Clean energy and the environment are at the top of Martha Robertson’s priorities. She is an advocate for wind, solar, and other smart solutions. On climate change as on the other issues, a vote for Martha represents the safe and responsible choice for protecting our future.

 

 

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Image vs. substance

aarpWatch what we do, not what we say — Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell

 

It is astonishing to see the AARP symbol on Tom Reed’s facebook page.  Until now, Tom has mocked and disrespected the AARP. Evidently Tom is moderating his image, presumably to win votes of moderates. Here are some cases in point:

    • NO MORE
    • AARP
    • Visits Meals on Wheels and similar agencies
    • Urges compliance with the SAFE Act.

These changes in image lack substance–Tom is very set in his opinions, and so far changes in image haven’t been reflected in votes. Tom continues to take a hard line on unemployment compensation, minimum wage, immigration reform, and other pressing issues.

How will Tom’s views evolve?  Will he continue to soften his image but still vote with the GOP leadership, or is the softer image a precursor to more moderate votes?

© William Hungerford – April 2014

 

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Corporate Rights #3: The Hobby Lobby Fact Sidestep

pystew:

This is the 3rd and (probably) final isn a series examining the Hobby Lobby Supreme Count Case.

Originally posted on The Old Liberal:

A third aspect of the Hobby Lobby case bears mention. This is covered quite extensively in a March 21, 2014 article from Mother Jones (Are You there God? It’s Me, Hobby Lobby by Stephanie Mencimer). The article points out a couple of problems with the Green family claims. I call them Fact Sidesteps. (Picture a Vaudevillian with a cane shuffling off stage right)

Fact Sidestep 1. Hobby LObby claims as fact that it has longstanding, strong religious objections to covering IUDs and Plan B contraceptives. But, in fact,  Hobby Lobby HAD been covering these two contraceptives BEFORE the ACA was passed and implemented. The questions becomes: How sincere are the religious beliefs of this corporation/family? Did they have a new revelation from god AFTER the ACA was approved? Nice little shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 2: Hobby Lobby wants to deny covering these contraceptives as part of an overall health plan for…

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Is simpler sure to be fairer?

1040In a April 14 press release, “REED SEES SIMPLER, FAIRER FUTURE FOR TAX FILING SEASON” Tom Reed promotes his vision for tax reform. But would a revamped tax code, mean more money, time, and jobs for taxpayers as Tom claims?

Tom writes:

Tom Reed says next year’s tax filing season could look very different if tax reform progresses through Congress. Reed pointed to Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s recent tax reform draft as the type of generational-level reform needed to simplify the code and level the playing field for taxpayers.

This statement is vague. Generational-level reform is undefined; “level the playing field” likely refers to “flat tax,” which is most likely a windfall for the wealthy. Tom likes flat taxes which lower tax rates in his bracket relative to most others.

“Families could be pleasantly surprised during future tax filing seasons when they have more money in their pockets and don’t have to spend as much time wondering how to file correctly,” Reed said. “By simplifying and making the code fairer, the average taxpayer would keep an additional $600 in their pocket and largely avoid the kind of time consuming, tedious paperwork taxpayers face now.”  

This statement is also vague.  It suggests that the reader might save $600 annually on tax preparation, but it isn’t clear how. Taxpayers looking to hire a professional to complete their 2013 tax return can expect to pay an average of $261 for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return, according to the National Society of Accountants (NSA). Fees for non-itemized returns are also low – the average cost to prepare a Form 1040 and state return without itemized deductions is only $152 (NSA). So while someone may save $600 or much more on tax preparation, it probably isn’t anyone we know.

Reed says the average taxpayer spends about 13 hours each year gathering all of the paperwork to file their taxes and 90 percent of taxpayers pay someone to prepare their taxes for them or purchase tax software to help. The tax reform draft would allow about 95 percent of filers to claim the standard deduction, saving time and money otherwise spent on outside tax preparers.

Everyone, with the possible exception of tax accountants, would like to save time and money preparing tax returns, but what is the downside? As usual, Reed doesn’t say.

“At a time when Americans in every part of the country feel like they don’t have a fair shot at getting ahead, tax reform is a huge opportunity for everyone to get ahead,” Reed continued. “We need to take advantage of this opportunity to lower tax rates for every American and in turn, create more private-sector jobs. Chairman Camp’s tax reform draft is estimated to create 1.8 million new jobs – that’s an opportunity we absolutely cannot pass up.”

Trickle down, ’nuff said.

Reed sees broad support and broad agreement that the current tax code is in need of reforming. The U.S. tax code saw its last overhaul in 1986. In the nearly three decades since, the code has grown to 70,000-pages and riddled with loopholes and special exemptions.

Tom doesn’t mention that all those loopholes and exemptions were enacted by Congress, the same foxes who now offer to fix it for us.

“Tax reform is a common thread uniting both ends of the political spectrum,” Reed said. “There is broad agreement that you cannot defend the status quo tax code anymore. We need a carefully considered plan for this type of generational-level reform and we have laid the groundwork. Through the bipartisan working groups, dozens of Congressional hearings and tens of thousands of public comments, this is certainly not a bill we are going to pass to find out what is in it. The open and honest debate will continue.”  

The bottom line ought to be an explanation of who pays more and who pays less. If Camp’s plan were revenue neutral, all taxpayers can’t pay less. The NY Times article cited below emphasizes proposed tax increases that fall on business and the rich, but the subject is complicated and I am unconvinced. Better watch our wallets when Tom talks tax reform.

An article in the Elmira Star-Gazette today by Stephen Ohlemacher noted that IRS enforcement of tax law is seriously underfunded, allowing tax cheats to avoid paying costing the treasury a bundle. Congress could save taxpayer’s money by authorizing more spending for enforcement as President Obama has proposed. This would provide simple, meaningful tax reform, but Republicans are opposed.

Note: Camp proposes to restore a  generation-skipping transfer tax. Possibly, this is what Reed means by generational-level reform.

© William Hungerford – April 2014

http://reed.house.gov/press-release/reed-sees-simpler-fairer-future-tax-filing-season

http://www.nsacct.org/life-and-taxes/life-and-taxes/2013/12/12/taxprepfees2013

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/07/business/economy/from-an-unexpected-source-a-tax-proposal-that-targets-the-rich.html

 

 

 

Posted in Congress, Economics, Reed's Views | Tagged , | 21 Comments

A Call to Action: “We the People”…not “We the Corporations”

One $

When the Supreme Court ruled in January 2010 that Corporations had the same rights as people, many groups organized to fight back. One of those groups, Move To Amend, has been working at local levels to change state election laws (dealing with financing state campaigns, i.e. Governor, Assembly and Senate, and local elections) and and the federal level to amend the United States Constitution to “firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.” Sixteen States have passed resolutions to support this movement to amend the constitution. Twenty-two states, including New York, have resolutions waiting to be voted on.

Move To Amend is collecting signatures on petitions to show support for their cause. Their  goal is to have at least 500,000 signatures by the end of 2014. Currently they have over 340,000.

There is one Move To Amend affiliated group in the NY 23rd congressional district, which is in Ithaca.  There are also ones in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

Besides Move To Amend, People Power Initiatives’s Stamp Stampede  is working creatively to amend the Constitution. Ben Cohen, Ben of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, is the President of the People Power Initiatives. They are also concerned with Money in Politics, and has developed a unique program that really translates into Money is Free Speech, almost literally. They have developed political phases that can be stamped directly on US Currency. (Move To Amend also has similar stamps.)

MOVE TO AMEND Stamps 

“A Corporation Is Not a Person”      “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians”

“The System Isn’t Broken, It’s Fixed”      Price= $12 each or all three for $30

 STAMPSTAMPEDE Stamps

“Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians”     “Stamp Money Out of Politics”

“The System Isn’t Broken, It’s Fixed”           “Corporations are Not People”

“Not To Be Used for Buying Elections”         Prices vary from $7.50-$10.50

StampStampede is quick to point out that stamping these phrases on money is LEGAL—it is not defacing  the bill; the bills are still useable.

While both organizations are concerned with the Citizens United, and now the McCutcheon v FEC Supreme Court decisions, StampStampede focuses mainly on stamping the messages on dollar bills, and organizing sampling parties. MTA has a broader view of amending the constitution, and has videos, readings, webinars and other ways to organize their campaign. The sites compliments each other well.

THIS IS WHERE WE CAN STEP IN:

We can download petitions from Move To Amend which holds nine signatures, and get friends, family members, and other like thinking citizens to sign them. According to the coordinator of Ithaca’s Move To Amend, they will deliver petitions from our district to our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed’s office. If we fill out 150 petitions, that will be 450 signatures from the NY 23rd! If you down load petitions, please let Move To Amend/Ithaca or the New NY 23rd know (by emailing stewartr@roadrunner.com, or via Facebook)  We will let you know how to hand in the petitions.

We can buy Stamps and start stamping our own bills. We will be highlighting the problem by purchasing everyday items with our “adorned” stamped currency.

We can combine petition signing and stamping. We can set a card table up and ask people to sign the petition, and let them stamp their money for free. This can happen at events that might draw a lot of people (Art/Music Festivals, or Parades, for example).  We can set a up a table on public property (Some municipalities may have rules about not blocking walking traffic on the side walk, or obstructing the view of drivers.)  A friendly store owner who believes in the cause might be helpful in finding a location to set up in front of, or, inside their store.

The Move To Amend website has other ideas and a lot of  support material.

Surveys on this topic constantly show more than 67% being against these Supreme Court’s decisions (1), (2), (3), (4)  With that support a little activism can go a long way.

Posted in 2014, Campaign Finance, Constituents, Constitution, Economics, Supreme Court | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

pystew:

The second in analyzing the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case. The first article was Corporate Rights#1:The Sexual Deviants at Hobby Lobby.

Originally posted on The Old Liberal:

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is…

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