The silly things we read

I refused to support the Democrats’ big government funding bill that will make America’s problems even worse.–Rep. Tenney

Some silly things we see in print:

  • Whatever isn’t universally liked is Joe Biden’s fault.
  • Government should resolve one particular issue before considering or acting on anything else.
  • A bill which appropriates $1.7 trillion should be brief.
  • An appropriations bill pointedly, repeatedly and negatively described as a “spending bill as if all spending were unwarranted.”
  • The government should cease operation while Congress struggles over appropriations.
  • Senators who vote to fund the government singled out for criticism.
  • Every loyal Republican (or Democrat) should have the same opinion on every issue.
  • Our Federal budget is the cause of worldwide inflation.
  • We would be better off without a Federal Government.
  • Whatever we don’t like is unconstitutional.
Posted in Congress, Constitution, Economics, Education, Legislation, Political | Tagged | 1 Comment

Mike Pence for Speaker of the House

Congress should consider electing Mike Pence as Speaker of the House. The Speaker need not be a member. Electing Pence, a Republican, would be consistent with a Republican majority. Pence has experience in the House–he was a member from 2001 to 2013. Pence, reputed to be principled, could receive support from Democrats. A Speaker elected with bipartisan support would serve the people better than Kevin McCarthy or another partisan zealot.

Posted in Congress, Political | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Three Small Business Bills

As a longtime small business owner, I understand that family businesses and farms are the lifeblood of our Upstate economy.–Rep. Tenney

The bills:

S. 1617 — “To modify the requirements for the Administrator of the Small Business Administration relating to declaring a disaster in a rural area, and for other purposes.”

S. 1687 — “To amend section 21 of the Small Business Act to require cyber certification for small business development center counselors, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 8844 — “To reauthorize the State Trade Expansion Program of the Small Business Administration, and for other purposes.”

The Votes

The three bills were passed as a package (en bloc) with one vote. As the vote was heavily in favor, one supposes all three would have passed, if voted on individually.

Rep. Tenney’s Explanation

I voted “Yes” on Suspensions En Bloc. This package included bills such as S. 1617, the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, H.R. 8844, the STEP Improvement Act, and S.1687, the Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act. These bills will roll back bureaucratic red tape in disaster response, strengthen the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) to support small business exports, and improve cybersecurity training for small businesses. This En Bloc passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 380-46.

No New York representative voted against the package.

https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/2022504

Posted in Congress, Economics, Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Regarding Rep. Madison Cawthorn

House Ethics Committee Report:

As the ISC (Ethics Committee Investigative Subcommittee) Report notes, Members are widely recognizable public servants, and their participation in commercial endorsements or promotions may create the perception that they are making use of their official position for commercial gain. While cryptocurrency promotion, particularly of a “meme coin,” may be a novel issue before the Committee, whether a Member may promote an asset in which that Member has a financial interest is not a novel question. The Committee’s established guidance provides that Members should not be actively involved in promoting or endorsing any goods or services in which the Member or the Member’s family has a financial interest.

This guidance applies to digital assets. The Committee joins the ISC in its hope that this matter will serve to educate all Members about the laws and rules designed to protect the integrity of the House against conflicts of interest, including as they apply to digital assets. The ISC could not come to a consensus as to whether to recommend the Committee reprove Representative Cawthorn in this matter. However, the ISC intended that its Report serve as an admonishment of Representative Cawthorn’s conduct.

Accordingly, the Committee hereby unanimously adopts the ISC’s Report, which shall serve as an admonishment of Representative Cawthorn, and directs Representative Cawthorn to repay $14,237.49 to an appropriate charitable organization not later than December 31, 2022, remit late fees of $1,000 to the U.S. Department of the Treasury within fourteen days of the release of this Report, and submit a periodic transaction report (PTR) disclosing his January 17, 2022 Let’s Go Brandon Coin (LGB Coin) transaction within fourteen days of the release of this Report.

Read the full report here.

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Rail Strike Averted

The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to impose a labor agreement between rail companies and their workers who have been locked in a stubborn stalemate, moving with uncommon speed to avert a potential holiday season rail strike that would jeopardize shipping across the country.–Emily Cochraine for The New York Times.

The Bills

H.J.Res.100 – To provide for a resolution with respect to the unresolved disputes between certain railroads represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee of the National Railway Labor Conference and certain of their employees.

H.Con.Res.119 – Providing for a correction in the enrollment of H.J. Res. 100. (A measure to add seven days of paid medical leave to the agreement.)

The votes:

https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/2022490

https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/2022491

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_votes/vote1172/vote_117_2_00372.htm

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_votes/vote1172/vote_117_2_00371.htm

Rep. Tenney (NY-22) gives her reasons for her opposing both bills

I voted “No” on H.J.Res. 100, To provide for a resolution with respect to the unresolved disputes between certain railroads represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee of the National Railway Labor Conference and certain of their employees. This resolution would impose the tentative agreement between railroad companies and railway unions, regardless of whether they were ratified or rejected by each union. After President Biden failed to negotiate a new contract between the railroad companies and railway workers, he asked Congress to undermine the rights of these workers and impose his negotiated deal. Rank and file union members rejected this deal, and this resolution ignored their opposition to this deal. While it is important to avoid a rail strike, this should be accomplished by good-faith negotiations, not by Congress imposing a deal supported by union bosses and railroad companies, but opposed by rank-and-file railway union members. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 290-137.

I voted “No” on H.Con.Res. 119, Providing for a correction in the enrollment of H.J. Res. 100. This bill would amend the tentative agreement between railroad companies and railway unions to include seven paid days of sick leave. Instead of allowing the railway unions and companies to return to the negotiating table to amicably negotiate a new contract, Congress chose to impose the agreement rejected by the rank-and-file union members and make this change to the agreement. This is exactly the opposite approach that Congress should have taken. I believe both the rank-and-file railway workers and railroad companies should have continued negotiating a deal that both sides accept. By changing the deal, this disincentivizes dealmaking in future negotiation processes, and instead incentivizes both parties to simply have Congress impose the provisions that they support, the opposite of how the process should work. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 221-207.

Other NYS Officials:

Rep. Joe Sempolinski (NY-23) voted yes on the first measure which would implement the rail agreement but voted no on the measure that would include the additional paid sick days.

Reps. Stefanik (NY-21), Tenney (NY-22) and Zeldin NY-01) voted no on both measures.

Posted in Congress, Economics, Legislation, Political | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Tax Return Saga

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the House W&M committee to obtain TFG’s tax returns after a long fight. Here is a brief history:

  • Early in 2019, Rep. Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked the Trump Administration Treasury Department to provide TFG’s tax returns for study as allowed by law.
  • Nothing happened.
  • In July 2019, the House filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce its request.
  • The case was assigned to judge Trevor N. McFadden, a Trump appointee, who delayed ruling.
  • The case was still pending before him in 2021.
  • In December 2021 Judge McFadden ruled that the committee had a legal right to the records.
  • However, Judge McFadden blocked the Treasury Department from providing the records until the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviewed his decision.
  • In August 2022, a three-judge appeals court panel upheld Judge McFadden’s decision.
  • In October 2022, the full appeals court upheld the decision.
  • On Nov. 22, 2022, the Supreme Court refused block the release of the records.
  • The committee has yet to get the records.

As a result of the delays, the W&M Committee will have little time to act on the information before the GOP takes control of the Committee.

Posted in Supreme Court, Taxes | Tagged | 3 Comments

View your ballot NY-23

County
Allegany https://www.alleganyco.gov/departments/board-of-elections/
Cattaraugushttps://www.cattco.org/board-elections
Chautauquahttps://chqgov.com/board-elections/sample-ballotsboleta-de-muestra
Chemunghttps://www.chemungcountyny.gov/429/Chemung-County-Polling-Places-Sample-Bal
Eriehttps://elections.erie.gov/VSearch2
Schuyler https://www.schuylercounty.us/128/Board-of-Elections
Steuben
https://www.steubencountyny.gov/614/Voter-Information
NYShttps://www.elections.ny.gov/
Boards of Election

Note:

  • Information varies between counties
  • Some ballots depend on where you live; you may need to identify yourself.
  • In some cases, you may need to disable a pop-up blocker to see the sample ballot.
  • The NYS Board of Elections will have information on statewide ballot questions.

Posted in Constituents, Political | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Enrollment by Congressional District in Western NYS

DistrictDemRepBlankTotal
23159198117516
24129205121493
25207130129499
26244107102484
Total739 (37%)640 (32%)469 (24%)1992
Active Voters by District (thousands)

There are more active Democrats than Republicans in the four districts. The districts are configured so that two Republicans and two Democrats are likely to be elected, which is what happened in 2022. The districts could have been configured to make all four districts competitive, but this wasn’t done. In any case, Blank (unaffiliated) voters (24%) are significant in our elections.

The current districts are very safe for incumbents, which is contrary to the stated goal of redistricting. With the districts as they are, Democrats in districts 23 and 24 and Republicans in districts 25 and 26 are effectively silenced. With fairer districts, Blank voters would have more say.

Notes:

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Term Limits for SCOTUS Justices

Most Americans, today, support Supreme Court term limits. Their reasons vary, but one of the more popular ones is that term limits can help lower the temperature of confirmation battles and reduce the nearly existential stakes of any given appointment.

But looking back to early America, I think there is a better reason to want to pull the judiciary, and the Supreme Court, a little closer to the people. As the antifederalist writer Brutus observed in the midst of the battle to ratify the Constitution, an independent judiciary of this strength, power and lack of accountability is “altogether unprecedented in a free country.”

“This power in the judicial,” Brutus warned, “will enable them to mould the government, into almost any shape they please.”–Jamelle Boule

Jamelle Boule, writing for The New York Times, discusses term limits for Supreme Court Justices. I have long believed that lifetime appointments promote impartiality and continuity. Jamelle Boule argues against that idea. He writes:

  • The norm in the United States is for short terms for most government officers.
  • An independent judiciary of this strength and power, lacking accountability, is inconsistent with democracy.
  • Lifetime tenure may isolate Justices from the public.
  • Long tenure, he writes, can go beyond independence to breed a kind of arrogance and contempt for the public.

Jamelle Boule concludes that term limits might “pull the judiciary, and the Supreme Court, a little closer to the people.” This isn’t necessarily true. The problem with the Supreme Court is that those nominated and confirmed are chosen as much on presumed and often concealed biases rather than on impartiality and character. Until we fix that problem by electing a more responsible class of Senators, term limits and similar fixes will prove ineffective.

Lifetime tenure is conservative; it has served us pretty well. We may favor change, but it won’t necessarily be change for the better. Justices proven to have acted improperly can be impeached. If Congress would agree to changes, which I don’t think they will, the terms of current Justices probably wouldn’t be affected. I would not be quick to change Supreme Court tenure based on current events or public distaste for some current Justices.

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NYS Redistricting then and now

2012 NYS Districts
2022 NYS Districts

A brief history of NYS redistricting:

  • After the 2010 census, the NYS legislature failed to agree on Congressional Districts; the 2012 districts were then determined by a Federal Court.
  • The new districts favored Democrats.
  • The voters approved a non-partisan commission for future redistricting.
  • Due to the 2020 census, NYS has one less Representative.
  • In 2022, the redistricting commission failed to agree.
  • The legislature approved new districts.
  • The legislatures districts were rejected by a state court.
  • On appeal, the lower courts decision was upheld.
  • The court appointed a special master to draw up new districts.
  • In 2022, Republicans had 46% of the vote and 42% of the representatives elected.
  • NYS has many unaffiliated voters, which may explain why NYS Democrats are still overrepresented in Congress.

While arbitrary, the new districts are reasonably compact. It is striking that urban districts around Rochester and Buffalo, which lean Democratic, are surrounded by suburban districts leaning Republican. NY-24 in particular has an odd shape.

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