Archive (2008)

Two Gas Stories

The Olean Times-Herald and the Hornell Evening Tribune both have stories based on yesterday's Massa press conference.

Instead of getting a Kuhl reaction, the Olean paper quotes Republican John Peterson, who represents neighboring PA-5. In an interesting contrast with Randy Kuhl, Peterson is apparently running against everyone this election:

In my home state of Pennsylvania, residential utility shut-offs are up 51 percent because of record high energy prices. Yet, while all this is occurring, President Bush and Speaker Pelosi continue to make it illegal to produce energy offshore on the outer continental shelf.

Kuhl calls Massa's plan to limit oil company profits "socialism" in the Evening Trib.

Massa Press Conference: $2/gallon Gas?

Today's Massa press conference concentrated on oil, and Randy Kuhl's plan for $2/gallon gas.

Most of the press conference was a variation on one theme: what was Kuhl thinking? Massa's response, generally, was "ask Kuhl", and then he would dive into the specifics of each question.

Massa began with a challenge. After noting that Kuhl's promise would require a "miracle", he said:

If he wants to promise and guarantee, I'd ask him to put his personal money on the line, so when this falls through like these empty promises always do, the people in Corning can turn to him for a check. [...] It's irresponsible to claim that if we drill in ANWR we will see an immediate benefit [...] Ask him waht Santa Claus is coming down his chimney to make this happen.

There were a number of reporters on the call (Rob Montana from the Hornell Evening Tribune, Rick Miller of the Olean Times-Herald, Bob Recotta of the Corning Leader, and Brian Somebody from WLEA). A couple of them asked variations on one question: A majority of Americans support offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR. What was Massa's take?

Massa began by agreeing with John McCain. He thinks that the states with oil off their coasts should have the right to allow drilling off their coasts. He noted that two Republican governors, Florida's Jeb Bush and California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, have opposed drilling off of their coasts.

Massa added a second point on coastal drilling: "I don't want a penny of profit to pay for the CEO of Exxon's $400 million golden parachute." He says that any profits from drilling offshore should go to "creating an entirely new future for us". Specifically, he mentioned that we should "take the profits and put a hybrid in the garage of every middle-class family in America."

One reporter asked if this was a reversal of his position on ANWR. Massa pointed out that John McCain had previously opposed drilling in ANWR, and that Massa still opposes it.

Massa also clarified his position on oil company profits, saying that he thought the companies could make 2-3% on drilling offshore, not their current level of profit, which he described as "gouging".

When asked why he thinks that a majority of Americans (over 60%) favor drilling, Massa said it was because "people want a solution."

He added:

As long as the dollar is worth half what it was two years ago, the price of petroleum is not going to go down. You cannot drill your way out of this problem. It will take 8 years to get those wellheads into production.


The problem is old Washington just wants to do business as normal. It's like a broken record, thinking we can drill our way out of this problem. Pretty soon, we'll drill off California, and those oil fields will be gone. In New York State, Pennsylvania, West Texas, Southern California, over and over again we see oil fields depleted and abandoned. We have one more shot to get this right.

I asked Massa about shale, which was mentioned in Kuhl's press release:

I have no dobut that we have a number of carbon-based possibilities in the future. They are not renewable, have a finite timeline for impact, don't address the reality of global climate change, and they don't change the playing field. We need a whole new ballgame -- all we're getting is more of the same. If your oil policy is being driven by Exxon-Mobil, the only people that will benefit are Exxon-Mobil.

Massa will be making a more detailed announcement of his energy strategy at the grand opening of his Corning campaign office on Friday.

Money Stories

Reader Elmer sends a story [pdf] about a new federal grant for the Corning/Elmira airport, which was announced by Randy Kuhl.

Kuhl also makes the Wellsville Daily Reporter story about a state loan to fix the Belfast water system.

It's become a custom for the local Member of Congress to announce every federal grant that hits his district, whether or not his office had anything to do with that grant. But the Wellsville Daily Reporter just established a new standard by quoting Kuhl in a story about a state loan, especially since there's no indication that Kuhl was connected to it in any way.

Vandalism in Corning

Reader Elmer sends a link from today's Corning Leader, reporting the vandalism of Eric Massa's vehicle yesterday morning. A window was broken on his minivan, which was parked in front of the Massa family home in Corning.

Rochesterturning first reported this yesterday.

Gas Robo-Call

I received this robo-call a couple of days ago:

Hello, I'm calling from Working Families Win, with an urgent message about high gas prices. With gas prices on their way to $5 and no end in sight, George Bush has incredibly threatened to veto the Consumer First Energy Act legislation that will punish price gouging and eliminate subsidies for big oil companies. Call Congressman Randy Kuhl at 607-776-9142. Tell Congressman Kuhl to stop rubber-stamping Bush energy policies and taking campaign contributions from big oil. It's time to put consumer interests ahead of the record-breaking profits for oil companies.

Working Families Win is a project of Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal activist group. The Consumer First Energy Act is still sitting in the Senate.

Massa's Petition Effort

Yesterday, at the Pittsford community celebration ("Positively Pittsford"), in addition to a band that played all 70's hits (they definitely brought the funk, let me tell you), there was a little political activity. About a half-dozen Massa volunteers wearing Massa t-shirts were working the crowd handing out glossy information sheets. A couple of the volunteers also had Massa nominating petitions (along with petitions for every candidate on the Democratic ticket).

Other than a couple of judicial candidates, there was no other political activity at this event. I didn't see a single Kuhl sticker, brochure or t-shirt. This was consistent with the Kuhl non-presence at a similar event nearer to the 2006 election.

Morning News: Oil and a Winner Challenger

WENY has a short story on Randy Kuhl and Maurice Hinchey's [D-NY-22] positions on oil speculation. Kuhl supports the Republican bill that would do a study to determine whether there's been speculation. Hinchey supports a bill that would kick speculators out of the market.

The Albany Project reports that Senator George Winner, who holds Randy Kuhl's old seat in the New York State Senate, will have a serious challenger this cycle. Elmira Mayor John Tonello will apparently be Winner's challenger this Fall. Tonello is in his second term as mayor. Winner won the seat by whopping 19 points in 2004 and ran unopposed in 2006.

Tim Russert and CPR/AED Awareness

According to his physician [video], Tim Russert had a left anterior descending myocardial infarction (MI), which is called a "widowmaker" for obvious good reason. Russert's MI caused his heart to go into ventricular fibrillation (v-fib). According to his physician, Russert was given CPR by an intern almost immediately. He might have had a better chance of survival if NBC news had an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), because, as his physician notes at the end of the interview, that's what reverses v-fib (if it's reversible).

Last week was CPR/AED awareness week, due to a bill sponsored by Randy Kuhl. Russert's death should also increase the awareness of the importance of trained responders and widespread deployment of AEDs.

Leader Story on Oil

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader coverage [pdf] (and jump [pdf]) of the Kuhl and Massa press conferences. Kuhl repeats his support of the Republican energy agenda and "what ifs" the decision not to drill in ANWR. If you read this blog regularly, you already know what Massa said.

Lack of Earmarks Makes the Natives Restless

A reader who lives in the Southern Tier and attended a town meeting recently reports that Randy Kuhl's inability to deliver earmarks in the South has not gone unnoticed or unremarked. The mostly-Republican group noticed that Randy's had a number of earmarks for Monroe county, but none for his home county, Steuben.

For those living in the Southern Tier, it's also worth noticing that some of Randy's earmarks were due to help from more senior local Congressmen Tom Reynolds and Jim Walsh. Both are retiring, and it looks pretty certain that Walsh will be replaced by a Democrat. If he's re-elected, Kuhl will be a not-very-senior member of the minority party, and he'll be the most senior Republican in the area. It's hard to see how he'll increase the number of earmarks sent to the Southern Tier from that weak position.

Massa Press Conference: Gas and Iraq

This weeks' Massa press conference was all about the price of gas, and the relationship between gas prices and the Iraq War. Read on to hear about what will probably be this Fall's most important intertwined issue.

Massa began the press conference by noting that "if gas hits $4.50 a gallon, this country is going to have a hard time moving forward economically." He pointed out that, unlike a lot of other Western countries, we rely mainly on cars for passenger transport, especially in rural areas like most of the 29th.

Massa ties the cost of oil to the war in Iraq via our massive borrowing from China:

We borrowed $3 trillion from China to fund the War in Iraq. We devalued the dollar by 50% to repay at a lower valuation. This is a well-known and recognized economic fact. Combine that with the proportion of the price increase due to obscene profiteering and price gouging, and we have a perfect storm.

Massa repeated his solution to the problem: a gas price freeze combined with a stabilization of the dollar. He added a windfall profit tax for big oil companies.

He used the example of the disconnect between the price of gas and the price of oil to show that big oil companies are profiteering:

The price of oil went to $139/barrel one day, and we saw a corresponding jump at the pump. It went down to $131/barrel and we saw no change at the pump. Clearly, big oil is using [the price of oil] to gouge the consumer.

Massa also framed drilling in ANWR as a business decision: "Why drill a commodity that is worth $139/barrel today, when we know it will be worth many times that in the future?" He pointed to the DOE study that showed the impact of ANWR drilling as 75 cents/barrel in 10 years. He also noted the impact of using ANWR oil on our children:

I am tired of a government that steals from my children. ANWR is the last accessible strategic petroleum deposit in the United States. I will not support a policy of bleed and greed that will ultimately make the lives of my children much, much harder.

Bob Recotta of the Corning Leader, the other writer on the call this morning, asked whether the windfall profit tax would cause a price increase. Massa replied that the price freeze would prevent that.

I asked about the recently mentioned McClatchy article that identified more commodity regulation and releasing strategic reserves as two possible remedies for high gas prices.

Massa supports more oversight of the commodity markets, not only in oil, but in markets like those that led to the mortgage crisis and bailouts of Bear Stearns.

Massa opposes releasing petroleum from the strategic oil reserve, mainly for national security reasons, but also because it won't work:

Even if we drain every drop out of the Louisiana salt domes, it would have no effect on price at the pump. The overriding reason is that we borrowed $3 trilling from the Chinese without asking for mobilization or sacrifice in this country. Now we're having to pay for it. The Bush Administration plan was to get of the office and run before the chickens come home to roost, but they've arrived on a cool summer breeze.

Those, like my opponent, who said our troops would be home at Christmas last year, the year before, and the year before, are responsible for prices at the pump.

Bob Recotta asked if Massa had heard back from Kuhl's campaign staff on his proposal for joint town-hall meetings . Massa said no, and contrasted Kuhl's response to McCain's willingness to engage in that type of open forum. Massa said that he might have debates with a paper cutout of Kuhl if Kuhl refuses to debate.

I asked Massa for more specifics on how he thought we should prop up the dollar. He said it's "like a recipe" because it's a combination of a number of factors. These include a 25 basis point increase in interest rates, a buy-back of foreign bonds by the U.S. Treasury, and tightening of our monetary supply. He said he realizes that the latter is difficult because of the current liquidity crisis, but we need to move forward in that direction.

Finally, I asked about the Bush Administration's effort to push through agreements for bases in Iraq before the election. He noted that this was a "blatant effort to create huge, permanent military bases in a country we have no reason to be in." He noted that some of the bases are the "size of Connecticut", adding "How can anyone doubt that our problems are related to the huge spending in Baghdad?"

Afternoon News: Oil and Vets

Evan Dawson has a post on the 13WHAM political blog about Kuhl's ANWR position. Evan mentions another point, which is that ANWR oil might end up going to other countries, since the oil market is an international one.

Exile at Rochesterturning also points out that ANWR reserves are 1/25 of the proved Saudi reserves, and 1/12 of Iraq's.

Finally, the Messenger-Post mentions Randy Kuhl's new Mental Health Caucus in a story on Canandaigua VA Hospital's suicide hotline.

Update: Reader Elmer sends this item [pdf] from the Corning Leader, which contains Kuhl's call for Congressional action on gas prices.