Massa Press Conferencing: Housing and (You Guessed It) Energy

Today's Massa press conference talked about the housing crisis, energy and which alter he worships at. Click "read more" to read more.

Massa began by quoting some housing statistics. Housing prices are down 15.3%, which is the largest drop in U.S. history. Massa believes that the reason is that "the mortgage crisis isn't even halfway over yet." He wants to focus on solutions.

Massa listed some bills he thinks are steps in the right direction. The first is HR 1852, which passed in the House last Fall (with Randy Kuhl's support). According to Massa, the bill offers a "series of fair-play rules" which allow the FHA to assist homeowners in ensuring they can stay in their homes. That bill is waiting on Senate action.

Massa also mentioned two other bills, HR 2895 and HR 3609. The first bill, which also passed with Kuhl's support, establishes an affordable housing trust fund. It is in Senate committee. The final bill, which was reported out of committee in the House last December, requires timely notice of additional fees by mortgage holders once a borrower goes into bankruptcy.

Massa contrasted the action on these bills in the House with the current rhetoric in Washington:

Instead we have Washington insiders talking about passing legislation that they promise will lower the price of gas to $2 and change. Everyone knows it is a false political ploy -- it will do nothing to help anybody [and result in] another broken promise.

Massa referenced Randy Kuhl's leadership in the discharge petition on HR 5656 as another example of political ploys. He likened this type of posturing to "fiddling while Rome burns."

Bob Recotta of the Corning Leader, who was on the call along with Brian O'Neill of WLEA and Grievous Angel of Rochesterturning, asked Massa if he knew how his opponent voted on those bills. Massa said he wanted to focus on positive change, not his opponent, unlike Kuhl, who called him a socialist like Nancy Pelosi in a recent press article.

Speaking of Nancy Pelosi, Recotta asked about the FISA compromis, which Massa opposes and Pelosi brokered. Massa said:

It's a shame that vote passed. It had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with ignoring the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The reality is that telecommunications companies spent millions of dollars making contributions to those persons in both parties who voted for it. I'm against it [...] and that puts me at odds with many very powerful people in the Democratic party.

I asked Massa for the specifics of his energy plan's promise to put a hybrid in every middle-class garage.

Massa pointed out that the $2000 tax rebate for SUV buying initiated by the Bush Administration stimulated the manufacture of SUVs, was very good for Detroit, and a catastrophic failure of national policy. He wants to learn from that lesson:

I looked at the difference between the cost of a hybrid sedan and a conventional counterpart. It's about $6,000. I propose $3,000 of immediate tax relief to the consumer, and $3,000 to the American manufacturer of every sedan hybrid built in this country. Within 10 years, we could literally replace an entire fleet of conventional automobiles.

Massa characterized his plan as:

using tax policy not to solve America's problems, but so America can solve its own problems. It's not the responsibility of the US Government to solve all of our problems. We need a government that sets up systems to solve our own. If you incentivize hybrid manufacturers and purchasers, you've created a more realistic stimulus package [than borrowing $150 billion from the Chinese].

I asked Massa if it was U.S.-owned manufacturers. He clarified that it is U.S.-manufactured hybrids.

I also asked him about Boehner's "worshipping at the altar of environmentalism" comment:

I follow the lead of a great Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, perhaps one of the greatest worshippers of the environment in this nation. His whole philosophy [and he took on polluters] was that we owe it to our children to give them a cleaner, healthier and safer environment than we have. I don't put the concerns of my children second to anyone.

Massa noted that the current energy policy is basically architected by big oil and Dick Cheney, and countered by asking "Why does Mr. Boehner worship at the altar of big oil?"

Bob Recotta asked about John McCain's proposal to offer a cash prize to anyone who comes up with a better battery for electric cars and hybrids. Massa said he wasn't sure if it's perfectly appropriate for government, but noted other prizes like the X prize which stimulated civilian space flight, and even the prize that got Lindbergh to cross the Atlantic. "Anything that leads to innovation is a good idea [...] I applaud Senator McCain for thinking outside the box."


Looks like a good energy plan to me. Beohner, calling anyone radical, after the past eight years is a joke. BTW, I've been assuming that speculation is contributing to the oil price rise. Krugman
is arguing pretty convincingly that its effect is minimal.

Yes, and he agrees with the Wall Street Journal, so it has to be true. (A little sarcasm there, but not much.)

To the extent that high price predictions by futures speculators give oil suppliers cover (permission) to continue raising prices, there could be a link. A kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. If so, the incredible profits that companies like Exxon-Mobile are making are based on a purely psychological phenomenon.

From the speculators point of view, with inventories relatively low, reserves dwindling, and demand way up, betting on higher oil prices seems a lot more realist than real estate or technology were, even in the midst of the bubbles.