Archive (2008)

Speculation and Facts

The current price tag for the Wall Street bailout is between $500 billion and $1 trillion.

Here are two graphs of wage growth in the 90's and in the Bush years:

Here's a graph of cash flow from home equity lines of credit (HELOC). This is the cash that wasn't used for home renovation:

Those graphs are from a report from the Center for American Progress. The CAP is a progressive think-tank, but both of those graphs are from government data. And most reports I've read agree that the rising housing market allowed homeowners to refinance, take out HELOCs, and spend the cash. That party is over.

More Rangel News

Joe Spector of Gannett has has another blog post on Charlie Rangel. This one includes a "advertisement" by the NRCC, and an accounting of New York Congressional candidates who took Rangel money or got money from Rangel fundraisers.

The ad is over one minute long, so it won't air on TV. It's strictly to drive press coverage.

I view money as the necessary evil of politics, so I'm not easily shocked about who Massa or Kuhl solicit for funds. A competitive race requires far more money than is available from donors in the 29th district, so the usual suspects for each party will be throwing money at this race. Some of them have unsavory backgrounds. So it always has been, so it probably ever will be.

Since I have a pretty jaded view of the role of money in politics, I'm probably the wrong person to evaluate the NRCC and Kuhl campaign strategy of flogging the Rangel story. That said, I don't see a win here for Kuhl. Most of what Rangel has done is venial, not cardinal. Kuhl has taken donations from a cast of characters at least as corrupt that Charlie, probably more (e.g., Tom Delay). Unless Charlie has pocketed a significant haul, I don't think this issue will linger until election day.

Massa, Kuhl on Energy in the Leader

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader story [pdf] (and jump [pdf]) covering yesterday's Massa press conference and Kuhl's response.

Factual Observations of Potential Interest and Relevance

Oil is under $100/barrel. Congress did nothing to cause this to happen.

When you have a war and cut taxes, those actions cause a deficit:

(Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities)

More Requests for Apologies

Joe Spector has coverage of the latest apology request in the campaign. Randy Kuhl wants Eric Massa to apologize for not noting that the reason Kuhl chose not to attend Monday night's WXXI debate was that Congress is in session starting at 6:30 p.m. next Monday.

Massa Press Conference: Abbreviated Version

Today's Massa press conference was well-attended and lengthy. Julie Sherwood at the Messenger-Post has already filed her take on both Massa's and Kuhl's press conference. My abbreviated report continues below.

Massa began by praising the recently-passed energy bill, HR 6899. Massa read the bill that passed and noted that, in addition to opening up drilling 50-150 miles offshore, it included $20 billion in tax incentives towards renewable energy and job creation. "A huge amount of that money could be captured in Western New York."

Massa addressed the question of whether that oil is accessible as follows:

The American People know that when the Good Lord set up the oil reserves, he didn't do it in a 50-mile band. Since 1988, the vast majority of the Continental Shelf has been open to drilling, and the oil companies have not drilled a single well.

Massa also noted that the bill was "incredibly comprehensive". It increases Trans-Alaskan Pipeline capacity, and bars the export of Alaskan crude overseas. It also swaps light sweet crude from the Strategic Oil Reserve, which Massa noted is the easiest to refine, with heavier oil.

In response to Bob Recotta's question whether he believes that this bill neutralizes drilling as a wedge issue, Massa contrasted the compromise inherent in the bill with the demonstrations by the Republicans on the darkened House floor. "It's one thing to stand up and [perform] a political act. It's another to find compromises in a bi-partisan effort."

As for why Kuhl voted for the bill, "Frankly, the only reason my opponent voted against it was to protect big oil tax handouts he voted for in 2005. That's a $14 billion giveaway."

Tim Mancuso from City Newspaper asked about the AIG bailout. Massa said that there's "no more clear example of more of the same or voting for change."

Rick Miller asked a number of questions about where Massa thought the bill was going. Massa was optimistic about Senate action and that there's a majority that wants the bill passed and sent to the President. He noted that Bush may choose to veto it "to protect his big oil cronies."

Miller also asked about debates. Massa pointed out that Kuhl had a fundraiser on the same day as the WXXI debate that he chose not to attend. "I cancel fundraisers when we have an opportunity to speak to the public."

Miller also asked about the Rangel issue.

Here's the bottom line. Charlie Rangel has called for an investigation of his own office, his own campaign, and himself. When there are findings of fact, we will do what is right. What I'm not willing to do is to make wild pronunciations without any basis if fact. If my opponent feels so strongly about this, he should look at who's been giving him money for years -- some are not just under investigation, they are under indictment.

Massa said "if something has to occur, trust me, I give lots of money back."

Drilling News

Reader Elmer sends today's front page [pdf] (and jump [pdf]) coverage of reaction to last night's vote on an oil drilling bill. Randy Kuhl opposed the bill, Eric Massa supported it.

Though it passed the House last night, it looks like that bill won't become law. Instead, the Senate is taking up a similar bill which probably won't make it through the legislative process before the election. But it looks like we're slowly approaching a compromise where the repeal of oil company tax breaks and an increase in funding for alternative energy is traded for more offshore drilling.

For a couple of different takes on the House and Senate bills that goes beyond newspaper coverage, here are a couple of blog posts: The specialist blog Oil Drum has a nice round-up of coverage and information. The non-partisan Red, Green and Blue has more on the Senate compromise.

In other news, the Leader's top story today is the court review of ballots in the Steuben County Sheriff election.

More Debate News

The Democrat and Chronicle has an update to the debate saga. In this installment, we learn that Kuhl will make up his mind in 10 days, and that Massa will attend a WXXI event on Monday while Kuhl will be at a fundraiser in DC.

Another Oil Vote

WENY covers Randy Kuhl's indecision about the oil drilling vote in the House tomorrow Tuesday. The New York Times story on the bill is as good as any to get both parties perspective on the bill. The short summary is that the Republicans are arguing it's not enough, and the Democrats are daring them to vote against a drilling bill.

Update: Kuhl voted against the bill, which passed Tuesday night.

Mystery Solved?

Since the issue of term limits died off around the same time as Kurt Cobain, I wondered what was behind its resurgence in Randy Kuhl's Fix Washington program.

Today's Messenger-Post offers a clue. One of the supporters of the measure, Peter Haidt, is also the host of a weekly talk-radio program. He encouraged his listeners to log on and voice their opinions.

There's nothing wrong with doing that, but it does appear to explain why that old chestnut appeared again.

Update: Meghan Tisinger from Randy Kuhl's office writes to point out that there were two phases to Fix Washington. The first was 8 weeks to submit their ideas. The second was 8 weeks to vote on the five selected ideas.

That doesn't preclude a little lobbying from Mr. Haidt during both phases, which is not a problem, as far as I'm concerned.

S-G on Campaign Finance

Reader Elmer sends a link to today's Star-Gazette story about campaign finance. The subhead notes that Kuhl receives twice as much political action committee (PAC) money than Massa.

There's also a short discussion of Charlie Rangel's money. Rangel has donated to the Massa campaign, and also run group fundraisers where Massa and other candidates received direct donations. The Massa campaign position in this article and in Sunday's Corning Leader is that Rangel has not been charged with any crime, that he has requested an ethics investigation and cooperated fully, and that Kuhl has taken donations from a list of Members of Congress who are also under investigation.

Today's New York Times has the current state of the Rangel affair.

Election Count Going to Court

The Corning Leader reports that the Steuben County Sheriff's race will be the subject of a court hearing today. The initial election count was 2,952-2,794 for David Cole. The current count is 3,089-3,011 for Joel Ordway.