Sen. Jeff Merkley was one of the "no" votes this week on the debt ceiling/budget plan that Congress approved. Fellow congressional Democrats Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer also voted "no." Here's Merkley's statement about his vote:
I’ve got a pretty simple test when I’m considering legislation. Will it help the middle class and small businesses create opportunities and get ahead? It's a test the debt bill couldn't pass, which is why I voted no. All policymakers should use that criteria, but the debt plan we voted on today proves that not to be the case.
After over two years of a devastating recession, and a decade of stagnant wages before that, our number one goal should be creating jobs and making sure our kids have opportunities in the future.
Instead, this deal will cut off jobs and pile burdens on middle class families who are already paying the price for a decade of bad policy choices.
Imagine: Americans who may have lost a job, whose mortgage is under water, who can’t afford their kids’ college anymore and have seen prices skyrocket for food and gas are asked to tighten their belts.
At the same time, the very wealthiest Americans and big, well-connected special interests are 100 percent insulated from any sacrifice. Their lavish tax breaks and sweetheart deals sprinkled throughout the tax code have been conveniently put off limits for any cuts.
The conventional wisdom says we have to swallow this deal. But if we give in to these ransom demands and allow the extremists to continue their assault on the building blocks of middle class prosperity in order to protect the wealthy and well-connected, we’ll be facing more ransom demands soon enough.
I don’t discount the need for tough choices to bring down our unsustainable deficits. But they can’t be only tough choices for those who can least afford the sacrifice, while those in the penthouses and boardrooms continue amassing more and more and more.
This is a fight about more than how we lower the deficit, it’s a fight for our country’s basic values, and our future. Too many in Washington seem to have forgotten that America’s economic strength is inseparable from the well-being of its middle class. If we continue to sacrifice their prosperity to provide more to the well-off and well-connected, we sacrifice America’s greatness. Let’s not let that happen.
A recent hearing in Washington was called “a transparent attempt by lawmakers beholden to industrial agriculture interests to subvert the Clean Water Act,” by environmental groups concerned that the Wednesday, Feb. 16 joint House committee meeting was an attempt to undermine rules protecting waterways from pesticides.
The conclusion reached by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was that aquatic pesticide residues and drift from aerial pesticide spraying are pollutants under the CWA. As pollutants they must be regulated to minimize impacts on human health and the environment. This conclusion was made final in February 2010 when the Supreme Court chose not to review the case National Cotton Council v. EPA.
Under this ruling virtually all commercial pesticide application to, over, and around waterways require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
NPDES permits allow for citizens to comment on plans to apply pesticides and to demand oversight by regulatory agencies. Agencies have to evaluate the effects of individual pesticide applications on fish and wildlife, monitor the amount of pesticide that goes into U.S. waterways and monitor the cumulative impact on aquatic organisms.
Charlie Tebbutt Eugene-based the lead attorney on the case said, “The decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA was a clear victory for clean water and human health.”
But the joint public hearing was being conducted “to consider reducing the regulatory burdens posed by National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009) and to review related draft legislation,” according to the Federal Register.
The meeting was made up of the Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, Committee on Agriculture; and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The hearing was called to discuss H.R. 6273, a bill that amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to exempt the application of pesticides from certain permit requirements under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
No witnesses against the legislation were slated to participate.
Rep. Peter DeFazio said:
I have always been very concerned about our water and have fought for clean water protections. While I serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I do not serve on this subcommittee. The Republicans are in the majority and are in control of the witness lists. I have always attempted to place knowledgeable experts to testify on issues before the subcommittees on which I serve. When Democrats were in the majority, we attempted to balance witness lists and apparently the Republicans do not intend to follow this precedent.
At the hearing, Congressman Timothy H. Bishop, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment said, “Unfortunately, the process used in scheduling this hearing, and on honoring the minority’s request to have witnesses attend the hearing, seem inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of our Committee rules, and with the better traditions of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.”
He continued, “From the title of today’s hearing, it seems apparent that members would like to discuss the implications of exempting pesticide application from the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act — an issue which should fall squarely in the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Yet, the lack of opposing views on the witness panel hinders our ability to even discuss the very issue that members are struggling to understand.”
After concerns of the lack of minority (Democrat) input were voiced, Charlie Tebbutt was given five days to submit a written statement for the record, and the U.S. Geological Survey circular on “Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Ground Water” was made part of the formal hearing record.
This is the man many of you voted for in the governor's race (this statement of course largely excludes most of Lane and Multnomah counties).
Just picture John Kitzhaber's face in the place of Shaquille O'Neal and that is your election results.
To help you picture this, here's Kitz asking his 22,000 Facebook friends to give him some feedback.
He kinda looks like he'd really rather be somewhere other than on the street doing a Facebook video. Luckily, Kitz is apparently up for thankless tasks. Good thing. He's got lots ahead of him.
Want to be his Facebook friend? Go here: http://www.facebook.com/johnkitzhaber
Chris Dudley only has 17,000 Facebook friends. Leading me to wonder: Is the number of Facebook friends politicians have an accurate predictor of elections?
In other news if you haven't seen newly-re-elected Congressman Peter DeFazio's appearance in The Onion , it's a must read:
WASHINGTON—In the wake of what is being called the deadliest midterm election in the nation's history, Washington's sole surviving politician, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon's 4th Congressional District, emerged from the rubble of the Capitol building Wednesday to announce his intention to rebuild the fallen U.S. government.
The events of Tuesday night—which included live televised images of Sen. Harry Reid taking a gavel to the head of Sen. Mitch McConnell while Rep. Barney Frank repeatedly smashed the face of Undersecretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen against a marble column—left most Americans believing their entire government had perished in the post-election bloodbath. But the miraculous survival of DeFazio points to a possible way forward.
After fashioning a splint for his broken leg and treating himself for superficial head wounds, a shaken DeFazio addressed the nation Wednesday.
"If anybody can hear me, my name is Peter DeFazio, and I'm a member of the U.S. Congress," he called out from a makeshift podium atop the ruins of the Lincoln Memorial. "I—I'm not sure exactly what happened here, but I want to assure the American people that we, or rather I, will get to all of your concerns as soon as humanly possible. I promise."
And it just continues from there, with a truly awesome last paragraph.
I love the "photos" but Onion editors, one minor, little detail, and Eugene Weekly mocking another publication for proofreading and factchecking issues does have a bit of a "glass houses and stones" feel to it … but …
DeFazio has long since shaved his mustache. (Check out KVAL's in-depth reporting on Mustache-Gate (clearly inspired by the fact the station was also running mustachioed photos of the clean-shaven congressman.)
The news source went straight to the top, Penny Dodge, DeFazio's chief of staff.
Dodge said the Congressman slashed the 'stach in 2007 "mostly because it had gotten pretty grey and wiry and was harder to maintain."
The Nation magazine this week reports that U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio is "investigating" the prospect of impeaching Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for his role in manipulating deliberations in the Citizens United case that eliminated limits on campaign financing by corporations.
DeFazio has seen his opponent for Congress, Art Robinson, getting huge donations from Wall Street hedge fund managers. DeFazio has been battling Wall Street corporate greed and shady practices for years.
See ?story at http://wkly.ws/vd
So who's behind all those mysterious attack ads against local Congressman Peter DeFazio?
The answer is a reclusive, conservative Wall Street mega-millionaire who installed a $2.7-million toy train set in his mansion and spent $28-million to buy up adjoining Manhattan apartments for his daughter and would get hit by taxes on large Wall Street speculators proposed by DeFazio, according to reports in the Oregonian, Washington Post and Willamette Week.
Just who was behind "Concerned Taxpayers of America," the group funding the attack ads, was a secret until Friday when the group was legally required to report its donors. The report listed just two "concerned taxpayers"— a Maryland concrete baron who has bankrolled opposition to a Maryland congressman and $200,000 in contributions from secretive hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, a major contributor to DeFazio's right-wing opponent Art Robinson.
The ads have helped Robinson—an irascible, fringe chemist who has called for the elimination of public schools, the EPA and social security and claimed global warming is a hoax and radioactive waste has health benefits—pull within six points of DeFazio in a recent Republican poll. The revelation of who funded the ads now comes after many may have already returned their ballots in Oregon's vote-by-mail election.
Republican Art Robinson, Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio and Green Party candidate Mike Bellstein will meet in their first public debate at the City Club of Eugene noon luncheon Friday, Sept. 10, at the Eugene Hilton. The Robinson campaign is reportedly telling Republicans to come early and pack the room.
Bellstein currently serves on the Corvallis City Council and his website is http://www.newmenu.org/mikebeilstein
See our story on Art Robinson at http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2010/08/12/coverstory.html
Congressman Peter DeFazio has changed the location of several of his town hall meetings this week to accommodate increased interest in these events.
The town halls Tuesday, Aug. 18, will begin at 9 am at Oaklea Middle School gymnasium in Junction City. The Eugene meeting will begin 15 minutes earlier, at 5 pm at the Eugene Hilton. The Springfield meeting will begin at 7 pm at the Springfield High School Auditorium, 875 7th St. Rallies in support of reform are being planned a half hour before the Eugene and Springfield meetings.
At 10 am Wednesday, Aug. 19, DeFazio will be at the Washington School gymnasium in Oakland. Later Wednesday, at 5:15 pm he will be in Roseburg at Umpqua Hall in the Community Conference Building at the Douglas County Fair Grounds.
The Lane Bus Projectâ€™s Brewhaha at Cozmic Pizza packed the room with Eugeneans young and old April 7 for an evening of beer, pizza and environmental debate.
The â€œClash of the Climate Titansâ€ was really more of a titan sparring match moderated by WELCâ€™s Dan Galpern, with Congressman Peter DeFazio and former Oregon secretary of state Bill Bradbury agreeing on the issue of climate change, but disagreeing only slightly on how to deal with it. Bradbury in a button-down shirt and tie was (sort of) in the pro-cap and trade corner, and DeFazio, all mavericky in jeans and fleece, drinking a beer, denounced cap and trade as putting Wall Street in control of the climate change issue.
Bradbury kicked off the debate with a slideshow on the effects of warming including a video of scientists lighting methane on fire through a hole in the ice over a lake in Alaska and closer to home, debris flows from a melting glacier near Mt. Hood.
The liberal-leaning audience seemed supportive of both sides of the issue or maybe they were just happy that politicians were acknowledging climate change. As Oregon Wildâ€™s Doug Heiken, who was watching from the back of the room, pointed out, itâ€™s a big change when the politicians arenâ€™t debating whether global warming exists, but instead the argument is over the best way to deal with it.
DeFazio generated the most applause throughout the evening, though it was unclear to me whether that was because people agreed with his stance, or they just liked the laid-back but going against the grain persona he put forth as he denounced Wall Street. He compared a potential unregulated cap-and-trade system to the next subprime mortgage bubble," predicting future concerns about "subprime carbon."
DeFazio's against the political norm stance called to mind his recent interaction with President Barack Obama in which Obama "needled DeFazio for his vote against the stimulus bill, saying, "Don't think we're not keeping score, brother."
Aside from a couple hecklers in the back of room, periodically calling out that the climate change tipping point has already been reached and of course denouncing old-growth logging, the politicians really only lost the crowd towards the end of the evening when both simultaneously advocated for dam removal on some rivers, but also pointed out the clean energy benefits of the dams on the Columbia. While nobody booed, the applause that had been following each of the speakers' remarks was conspicuously muted.
The debate ended with questions from the audience, including an inquiry as to which of the climate titans planned to run for governor. Bradbury announced that he was â€œseriously consideringâ€ a run for governor in 2010.