Archive (2009)

Art and Caucus

The Star-Gazette has the news on the winners of this year's Congressional Arts Competition. Two students from Horseheads took the honors, and their work is worth a look.

Massa was able to ask President Obama a question at yesterday's meeting with the Democratic caucus.

Pre-Gaming 2010

Reader Stanley sends last week's Capitol Newspaper article about the prospects for a 2010 race.

Stanley was nice enough to summarize three points from the piece. I don't think the arguments for any of them are great, and I give my reasons below.

1. Kuhl's problems won the race for Massa.

True, in part, but Massa also ran a top-notch campaign, with grassroots organizing, excellent fundraising, and good GOTV. Massa is not the Democratic equivalent of Joseph Cao -- someone who was elected only because of the missteps of his opponent. As an incumbent, Massa's a formidable opponent, no matter who runs against him.

2. Maggie Brooks is the GOP frontrunner.

Maggie's name gets mentioned a lot, but it's not even clear that she lives in the district. Also, I don't see a Monroe County Republican swaying Southern Tier blanks who might be inclined to vote for a Republican. It's hard to overstate the importance of this seat to the Southern Tier, and Maggie's power base is in Rochester, not Elmira or Corning.

3. The Tedisco/Kolb factor. If Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco loses in NY-20 tomorrow, Brian Kolb, a Canandaigua Republican in line for Tedisco's job, might be more likely to run for Congress.

If so, Mr. Kolb should declare his candidacy on Wednesday because he'll need the time to raise money for a Congressional run. His state office warchest is useless in a federal race. Also, if Tedisco does lose, isn't that a bit of a message to Mr Kolb and other Assembly Republicans who are thinking about making the jump to Congress?

The elephant in the room, redistricting, is never mentioned in the article, and it's a big issue. Before the 2012 race, the boundaries for WNY districts are likely to be redrawn to the benefit of Democrats. A Republican elected in 2010 in NY-29 may be a one-term wonder, and I'd expect a lot of smart politicians (like Maggie Brooks) to sit out next year's race and run in 2012 or 2014 after the redistricting dust has settled.

Update: Stanley writes to point out the Massa vs. Slaughter/Morelle comment in the piece. From what I've seen, Slaughter has been pretty cooperative with Massa, holding joint conferences and inviting him to serve in the new upstate caucus. I'm not saying that Louise and Eric are BFFs, but there doesn't seem to be obvious friction.

No Passenger Rail in the Southern Tier

Today's Corning Leader story about passenger rail quotes a number of local officials, including Eric Massa. There's general agreement that passenger rail in the area is not going to dip down into the Southern Tier.

Town Hall

The D&C covers last night's town hall stimulus meeting. According to participants, 30,000 new jobs should be created in the Rochester area.

Morning News: Farm Workers, Stimulus, Geithner

The issue of immigrant farm labor is heating up again, with the Obama administration looking to roll back a Bush administration reform.

Massa is "leery" of the spending involved in the Geithner plan.

Massa, Louise Slaughter and Kirsten Gillibrand will host a forum tomorrow to discuss the impact of stimulus funding.

Israel Visits

Eric Massa and Steve Israel at GMEric Massa and Steve Israel at GM
Eric Massa and Steve Israel [NY-2] toured the GM facility in Honeoye Falls today. Jeremy Moule at City Newspaper has a story on the visit. Photo courtesy Massa's office.

Update: WXXI has a story also.

AIG Is Not the Story

This is the economic story of the day (and, probably, the year, and maybe of our lifetime). Yesterday, Ben Bernacke decided, in the words of one economist, to buy "everything in America that isn’t nailed down".

It's telling that this story has gotten little coverage amid all the fussing and fighting about AIG bonuses. The Fed is putting over a trillion dollars behind a massive and risky effort to force liquidity into our financial system. It could lead to hyper-inflation, and it will probably devalue our currency. Since the Fed is led by people who know the consequences of their actions, I can only assume that the alternative was much, much worse.

That said, everyone can feel free to continue complaining about AIG bonuses.

VA Benefits

Yesterday, Eric Massa had an "emergency" press conference to discuss a Veterans' Administration proposal to have vets private health insurer pay for disability-related health care. Jeremy Moule at City Newspaper reports that Massa said the proposal is "dead on arrival" in Congress.

Massa Video: 100% Back

After the break: Eric Massa at a press conference explaining why he supports a 100% tax on AIG benefits.


Eric Massa has joined the chorus of those complaining about AIG bonuses. While I'm as angry as anyone about this, there are a few reasons to think that the ultimate result will be a lot of noise and not much action.

First, it looks like the derivative technicians at AIG made the delivery of their bonuses a condition of the derivative contracts themselves. Here's one explanation of how that works.

Second, the AIG derivative group is based in London. Taxing AIG trader bonuses at 100% sounds like a clever way to get around contractual obligations, but I wonder if those traders pay US taxes.

The final, and most important point is that the noise over bonuses obscures the real news about AIG: the release of their counterparties list. This is the group of institutions who AIG "insured" and who were paid billions when AIG's credit rating dropped. The list includes a number of foreign banks, and has huge ($12 bln) payments to Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. The AIG bailout was more than just the rescue of a big insurer -- it was also indirect bailout of a list of national and international financial institutions.

Senate Primary?

Eric Massa was one of 10 Democratic Representatives who signed a letter to the state Democratic Party chair, telling her not to promote Senator Kirsten Gillibrand over other possible candidates.

Route 219 and EFCA

The Buffalo News describes how Route 219, which runs through Cattaraugus County, lost funding because of a delay for an environmental study.

Douglas Turner, a News columnist, explains how the Employee Free Choice Act is "Marxist". At some point, there's going to be a corollary to Godwin's Law that covers Marxism and socialism.