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Cognitive Dissonance

 

 

October 22, 2013
 
Dear Mr. Bedenko,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent lapse in government funding.  I appreciate hearing from you. 

On October 1, President Obama chose to shutdown the government, despite four different measures by the House to keep the government open and fully funded, which I wholeheartedly supported.  This occurred – as it has 17 times before since 1972 – as a result of the failure to pass a federal budget by the end of the fiscal year. 

The federal budget is made up of 12 appropriations bills that fit within the topline budget number laid out by both the House and Senate.  While the House has passed a budget blueprint along with many of these appropriations bills, the Senate had failed to act.  The only action the Senate has taken has been in passing a topline budget number – and they did this for the first time in four years after the House tied congressional pay to actual results in passing a budget blueprint.

It is the primary responsibility of the President and Congress to pass a budget. This process is critical in ensuring the federal government lives within it means. Instead, however, Congress has continued to kick the can down the road numerous times by passing continuing resolutions that do nothing to get our fiscal house in order. 

With a $700 billion a year spending deficit that is adding to our nearly $17 trillion national debt, we cannot keep relying on continuing resolutions to keep the government funded.  We need to make tough decisions and muster the political courage to avoid adding billions more to a credit card bill our children and grandchildren will be left to pay. That is why I opposed the Continuing Appropriations Act for 2013 (H.R. 2775), because it failed to structurally balance our budget.

I understand the difficult nature of the shutdown and voted to avoid it.  The House voted on four different continuing resolutions that included provisions that would have helped alleviate the enormous tab our government is leaving behind for future generations.  I even supported 16 separate continuing resolutions to reopen certain functions of the federal government that are critical to the welfare of this nation.  However, the President and the Senate on multiple occasions ignored these pieces of legislation and numerous offers to sit down at the table and work out a deal that would end the shutdown and avoid a debt crunch.  They chose not to act for two whole weeks and waited to negotiate until the final days of when the U.S. Treasury needed an extension on its borrowing authority.

During the shutdown, I committed to not taking a salary because it was the right thing to do.  I introduced the Government Shutdown Fairness Act that would withhold the salaries of Members of Congress during any future shutdown.  As a private sector businessman, I know firsthand that running a successful company means leading by example and making sacrifices to keep the company going.  I cannot remember the number of times I had to forego a paycheck to make sure my employees and vendors got paid, and the company stayed afloat. Members of Congress need to do the same.

America has a significant and dangerous spending problem.  The President and the Senate need to recognize this and get serious about finding a long-term solution that will put us on a fiscally responsible track while growing our economy.  I was not elected to Congress to continue the status quo, I was elected to fix serious problems that threaten future generations from obtaining the American Dream. 

I appreciate you contacting my office regarding issues important to you and your family.  I hope you will consider signing up for my newsletter at www.chriscollins.house.gov to stay up to date on the critical issues facing our country.

Sincerely, 
 

 

 

CHRIS COLLINS

Member of Congress

But Chris Collins Voted Nay

The revisionism has started early. Ted Cruz Republican Chris Collins is playing an elaborate game of make-believe, and the only way it will work is if we’re as stupid as he assumes us to be. The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski reports that Collins is attempting to urinate on all our legs, all the while insisting that it’s a meteorological phenomenon. 

Collins is now denying that he supported the disastrous GOP shutdown, and is claiming that tea party underpants gnome Ted Cruz did everyone a disservice. Say what, now?

Both Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence and Rep. Tom Reed of Corning said in response to questioning that it was a mistake for House Republicans to tie the funding of government to defunding of Obamacare – a strategy that they and the GOP leadership had agreed to under pressure from tea party forces.

Collins, in an interview, blamed the failed strategy on Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who goaded several dozen ultra-conservative lawmakers in the House to pursue the shutdown strategy.

“I think Sen. Cruz has done a disservice to the Republican Party,” Collins said. “He is an extremist, and he’s the one that had the rallying cry of repeal Obamacare, defund Obamacare, delay Obamacare.”

This is astonishing. I slow-clap the chutzpah here. Collins’ entire congressional tenure is founded on his denunciations of OBAMAPELOSI and Obamacare. Now he’s saying that he’s not just another irrelevant backbencher, but a useful idiot for the tea party? Even though he voted to shut down the government and risk default unless Obamacare was defunded, he thinks it was a bad idea? Even though, all the while, he voted precisely the way Ted Cruz did, now all of a sudden Ted Cruz is an “extremist” because he holds exactly the same position as Collins vis-a-vis Obamacare? Surely we’re through the looking glass, here. As a reminder, 

While downstate Republican Congressman Peter King was hammering the stupidity and pointlessness of the Ted Cruz/tea party position, Chris Collins blindly got led along

The local congressmen likened the bipartisan agreement to “kicking the can down the road,” and said they could not support it because it does not include long-term budget reforms.

Still, both of them sharply criticized the strategy that started the shutdown in the first place. “Shutting down the government over Obamacare was obviously a mistake,” Collins said. Without the shutdown, “we would have been talking about the failure of Obamacare in starting up on Oct. 1, proving the point it was not ready for prime time. Instead, the shutdown overwhelmed.”

As early as mid-September, Collins voiced concern about tying the defunding of Obamacare to the must-pass continuing resolution to fund the government in the new fiscal year that started Oct. 1. Instead, he said at the time, the House would be better off focusing its energies on the Oct. 17 expiration of the debt ceiling.

Nevertheless, Collins voted for the GOP legislation that tied the funding of government to the defunding of Obamacare, and a follow-up bill to delay the health reforms for a year.

Asked why, Collins said: “Because ultimately that was the bill that was put forward to vote on. And you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good …. There will be things you don’t like but in this case it was a bill to keep the government open. We needed to keep the government open. There was not another bill.”

Collins blamed that fact on Cruz and his acolytes, who pushed the shutdown showdown over the objections of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House GOP leaders.

“I think Ted Cruz and that extremist group, which is focused on something that can’t be done as long as this president is in office, has distracted us from moving forward and working on deficit, entitlements, tax reform and immigration reform,” Collins said.

So, shorter Chris Collins: yes, if my friend jumped off the Empire State Building, I would do that, too. 

But look at the “can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” quote – he applied that to the idiot positions he took because his friends told him to, but he didn’t think it equally applicable to reopening the government and avoiding default on existing sovereign debt?

If you took the time to read through all of Chris Collins’ shutdown-era Tweets yesterday, you’d have noticed that he had voted to restore funding to certain programs. It was as if Republicans like he suddenly discovered that the federal government didn’t exist solely to hand out Cadillacs to welfare queens, but also affected people who may be potential prime Republican voters. 

During the shutdown, Collins voted to restore funding to America’s National Parks, and to the National Institutes of Health. (Roll Call 513, 514). Collins thought linking Obamacare to a shutdown was such a bad idea, he voted to do so no fewer than four times.  The more their poll numbers tanked, the more federal programs Collins suddenly thought were “essential” – WIC, the FDA, Head Start.  Suddenly, they were cherry-picking the affected programs that were making the news.  He tried to tell you that it sort of sucks that cancer kids and tourists were getting shafted because of the tantrum party’s Ted Cruz Pointlesspalooza. Well, a continuing resolution to fund the government without affecting Obamacare would have restored funding to all of them

Wednesday night’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote to re-open the government and avoid default on our sovereign debt restored funding. The National Parks and Smithsonians were open today. The NIH, NASA, and the PandaCam were all back up and running Thursday. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. (Roll Call 550). 

Re-opening the government returned 800 FAA employees – some of them safety inspectors – to work. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is back at work. So are the workers at the National Transportation Safety Board and the United States Department of Agriculture, making sure our skies and food are safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is once again making sure your kids’ tchotchkes are free from lead paint. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is again working to ensure that you breathe clean air and drink clean water. The Food & Drug Administration is once again working to approve new medicines and ensure that your food and medicines are reasonably safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to ensure citizens’ health, and the National Institutes of Health are back at work trying to cure cancer. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is back to work investigating claims of discrimination. The National Labor Relations Board is once again ensuring that workers are not being illegally exploited. Economic data will once again be analyzed, and loans put on hold due to the shutdown at the Federal Housing Authority can be reopened. Low-income people’s housing will once again receive their Housing & Urban Development funding, the National Weather Service will get back to work tracking hurricanes, and the National Geological Survey will monitor the ground for devastating earthquakes. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

CIA personnel are back to work, as are people providing services to veterans. 

But Chris Collins voted nay. 

All of these essential services that “we the people” have tasked the federal government with providing are being restored. 

But Chris Collins wanted none of it. If it was up to him, they’d all still be closed, their people furloughed. We’d now be threatening default on our sovereign debt. This is good for small business how, exactly? 

The amazing truth is that Chris Collins is not a leader, but a follower. He will take positions that go directly against the best interests of his constituents and the country when his friends tell him to. He will vote for things he thinks are dumb in order to try and get one over on the President, and when it fails miserably, he’ll try to weasel out of it and throw his buddies under the bus. He might feel comfortable calling Ted Cruz an “extremist”, but there is absolutely no sunlight between Cruz’s position and Collins’. They are like-minded in everything – except Cruz led while Collins followed along, blindly and unquestioning, even when he supposedly thought it was dumb.

Chris Collins isn’t just irresponsible, his willingness to keep the government shut down and to risk default and global financial catastrophe is downright dangerous. Never forget that Chris Collins voted “nay” to reopen the government and keep you and your family safe, and that he risked another recession. You can be a Republican and see that this is bad for people and small business. 


The Nihilist Sound and Fury of Chris Collins

There isn’t any way to sugarcoat it. Republican Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) voted last night to maintain the shutdown of the federal government, and to risk the United States’ first-ever default on its sovereign debt. His behavior during this crisis has been striking for its patronizing cynicism, backbencher grandstanding, and nihilist sound & fury. 

Below is a collection of almost every Tweet sent from Collins’ account, starting the week before the shutdown through Wednesday morning. It tracks nicely with the general rudderless cluelessness of the Republican shutdown of 2013. 

When Chris Collins followed along and voted to shut the government and risk default over Obamacare, he and his cohorts effectively stole $24 billion from the U.S. Economy. In the midst of a slow recovery from the 2008 global financial meltdown and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Collins helped to slow GDP growth this quarter from an estimated 2.6% to 2%. For all his concern-trolling about “small business”, this is inexcusably irresponsible. 

And for what? Look at the chart above. As they stumbled and bumbled through this standoff that Senator Ted Cruz orchestrated for them, the Republicans made wild and crazy demands of the Democrats and the President – DO THIS or the shutdown will continue and we’ll flirt with default on debt that the US has already incurred – Iraq War, Bush tax cuts, Afghanistan war, bank bailouts, stimulus – existing debt. They got none of it. 

Frankly, they bought their own bullshit about what a weak negotiator Obama is; what weaklings the Democrats are. They’ll cave. They have no resolve. But instead, cooler heads prevailed and a deal was struck to do everything that Obama wanted and nothing that the tea party wanted – reopen the government, raise the debt ceiling, and then we’ll talk. This was the deal that the Senate passed overwhelmingly last night; that the House passed overwhelmingly last night. That margin, to me, is the difference between realistic representatives who are in Washington to do right by the country – who put people and the good of the nation over partisanship – and the reactionary ideologues who make up the secessionist America-last bloc. The latter is the group to which Collins firmly belongs. 

The tragedy of it is that he would plunge an already weak economy into unprecedented chaos; that he chose to stab the wound more instead of placing a Band-Aid on it. But it gets worse: 

That’s from Facebook, but this is what he told the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski: 

“The bottom line is, I didn’t come here to kick the can,” said Collins, who was elected to Congress last year. “This doesn’t deal with any of our entitlement spending. It doesn’t change the trajectory of our deficit, which is $700 billion a year. And therefore I can’t support it, and I’m going to vote no,” he said before Wednesday night’s 285-144 vote to approve the legislation.

Entitlement spending. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The 27th may be packed with Republicans thanks to gerrymandering, but it’s also packed with seniors who rely on Medicare and Social Security (there’s lots of rural poverty, too, so don’t think there aren’t plenty of Medicaid recipients, as well). When you examine the Tweets below, you’ll note that Collins considers Medicare and Social Security (at least) to be “essential services”. Which ones does he want to cut? By how much? What barriers does he want to place between seniors and their entitlements? Means testing? Changing the age of eligibility? 

The continuing resolution passed Wednesday night is, by the way, a continuing of a Democratic cave to the Republicans – it contains the sequester cuts, which Democrats vehemently oppose. The spending is already significantly lower than the Democrats wanted – even lower than what Paul Ryan originally proposed. It is so spartan that it was supposed to be the fallback position so politically unpalatable to both sides that it would act as an incentive for everyone to work out a compromise. 

So, Chris Collins – this self-appointed champion of small business over people, wants to: 

  • Abolish Obamacare, ensuring the continuation of the third-world insurance status quo we had in 2007, which means medical bankruptcies, lifetime maximums, less coverage for more money, profit motive to prevent people from getting care they need, and coming between people and their doctors; 
  • Reduce spending on “entitlements” on which seniors rely, like Medicare and Social Security; 
  • Risk the country defaulting on already-incurred sovereign debt – something that has never before happened and which every responsible economist has warned would be a catastrophe for people and businesses throughout the world; 
  • Maintain the government shutdown; 
  • Do real, palpable harm to his constituents in order to score political points against the President. 

Collins isn’t one of the moderate Republicans that reflect the New York GOP – he is a nihilist who would just as soon have his district secede from the nation to escape the duly elected clutches of OBAMAPELOSI. He wants to destroy America over a law that Congress passed, the President signed, and the Supreme Court upheld, which helps Americans get affordable, quality health insurance. Whatever harm Collins thinks Obamacare is doing to the country, it pales in comparison to what default would do, and he voted to default, voted to keep the government closed, and voted to slow economic growth. Chris Collins is an utter trainwreck. 

 

 


11th Hour Chutzpah & Obamacare Exchange Enrollment Begins Anyway


18 times over the last 6 months, Senate Democrats have asked House Republicans to start a budget conference in order to work out differences and compromise on differences the two bodies have with respect to the federal budget and continuing resolutions to fund the government. 18 times over the last 6 months, House Speaker John Boehner has refused. A conference committee could only lead to compromise, and compromise is strengstens verboten in tea party dogma.

So, yesterday there was a grand theater, mostly orchestrated by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has insisted all week that Obamacare has been a failure,  despite the fact that open enrollment for the health insurance exchanges commences today, whereby the House sent the Senate a continuing resolution that would delay implementation of the individual health insurance mandate for one year. 

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in political science to figure out that the Republicans don’t really want the mandate delayed a year – if they were to secure a delay (which, on its face, sounds reasonable) – they get another year to demagogue what Obamacare is, and another year to sell people on a full repeal. Why, we might even get another 10 – 20 House repeal votes on top of the 40+ that have already taken place. Take Obamacare implementation into 2014, and the Republicans get a whole year to run on Obamacare repeal and get a fourth bite at the apple of undoing a law that was duly and legally enacted in 2010. 

The House refused to send the Senate a “clean” continuing resolution that contained no effort to delay Obamacare, despite the fact that Obamacare is unaffected by a shutdown. It was all for show.

Senator Reid held up a Medicare-related artifact

So, after several attempts to send the Senate an unacceptable continuing resolution, Boehner sought a conference committee with the Senate. If House Republicans were remotely serious about governing, rather than shutting down the government, they could have done this months ago. Weeks ago. Even days ago. 

So, as 800,000 federal workers get furloughed (which will adversely affect the economy), and after all of this utterly needless drama, the Obamacare health exchanges are up and running for open enrollment today for coverage starting January 1st.  If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, nothing changes. If you have coverage through your employer, nothing changes (although you now have more consumer protections and wider mandatory coverage for preventative care). If you have no coverage, you can check healthcare.gov and find out what your options are. More specifically, go to http://healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov/ and find out what is available for you here in New York. 

Happy Obamacare day, everybody. Even the cretins’ shutdown-for-show couldn’t stop it.