Views and votes of members of Congress from Delaware, and when applicable their electoral opponents, on SAFE agenda issues. 201012/24/10, A1/A12, Controls concern energy industry: Del. plants, refineries would be affected: Jeff Montgomery – EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said “her agency” will propose standards next year for releases of “carbon dioxide and similar pollutants” from power plants and refineries. In Delaware, the Delaware River refinery, Indian River power plant, and Calpine’s Edgmoor & Hay Road complex in Wilmington would be affected. The agency had already required states to begin regulating carbon emissions from stationary sources.
A1/A2, Senate pushes tax cuts ahead: Carper, Coons vote in favor, but express
reservations, Nicole Guadiano & Brian Tumulty
– The vote to cut
off debate was 83-15, so their votes did not really matter, but the two senators
from Delaware had the following comments:
Senator Carper cast his vote “without a great deal of enthusiasm.” He was disappointed to see only a 35% estate tax on estates over $5 million ($10 million joint estates), after all his work for a proposal to tax estates over $3.5 million ($7 million joint estates) at 45%. Supports extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax holiday. Would have been more comfortable with Democratic plan to end tax cuts for high earners. Finally: “What bothers me is the two-year nature of this extension and the possibility that we may just delay for two years getting serious about deficit reductions.”
Senator Coons – “Extending tax cuts for millionaires” is irresponsible “when our deficit is spiraling.” Likes extension of the R&D tax credit and green energy subsidies. Disappointed that the package will apparently not include an extension of the Build America Bonds program nor advanced energy manufacturing tax credits. [Looks like Carper and Coons are giving lip service to the deficit problem, but have not grasped the need for major spending cuts and elimination of special tax preferences.]
12/13/10, SAFE message to members re proposed “tax cut” deal - http://www.s-a-f-e.org/contacting_legislators.htm 12/5/10, A33, Delaware’s Energy Future: (a) State is positioned to lead in energy, Collin O’Mara, DNREC Secretary ***(b) Government must be a catalyst, Senator Tom Carper – The lead-in acknowledges that this country faces “many challenges,” including “budget deficits,” a dearth of “new jobs,” and uncertainty in the marketplace that has kept investors and billions of dollars on the sidelines. Somehow, “unhealthy air and a changing climate” do not seem quite as urgent – but Senator Carper swiftly moves to his theme that putting America on a clean energy path is the solution to everything.
(c) Marrying innovation and manufacturing, Governor Jack Markell ***
(d)UD conference is an opportunity to help chart a course, Michael Klein, director of UD’s Energy Institute – In laying out the plan for the conference, the goal is taken as settled: “Environmental, economic, and national security considerations all point to a U.S. energy future with reduced utilization of fossil fuels.” *** Harmful emissions must be avoided or captured, including CO2. [OK, everyone, please stop breathing.] *** the world will need to triple its energy supply [by 2100] while reducing its CO2 emissions to one-third of today’s levels. *** Please join the discussion at the Dec. 13 and 14 conference and help set the basis for action that will propel Delaware on the path to a Clean Energy Economy.” [Note: The conference will take place on Dec. 13 & 14, UD, in Clayton Hall. http://www.udel.edu/partnerships/ Mr., Klein’s views are extreme, and it is disturbing to see the top politicians in the state endorsing the conference.]
12/5/10, E1/E3, Bluewater sees shortened path for wind-energy plan, Aaron
– Above the story is a picture of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a baseball
style cap, flanked by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Delaware Senator Tom
Carper, assembled to announce a wind energy initiative in Baltimore. The
article begins by reminding readers about the federal commitment to speed up
permitting requirements for offshore wind power facilities, a subject amply
covered in an 11/24/10 article.
After a string of glowing comments about this development and the prospects for moving ahead with the Bluewater project, it comes out that there is a potential stumbling block. Wind power is expensive, and can only proceed with government support. And a Treasury grant program is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, with two tax credit programs for wind power to expire at the end of 2012. Bluewater chief Peter Mandelstam predicts that government supports, in some form, will be extended. He notes that these programs have been endorsed by presidents and Congresses of both parties, and says it is not necessarily accurate to characterize this support as a partisan issue. [But with a looming fiscal crisis, it is imperative to cut nonessential government programs – and these programs should be on high on that list.]
11/30/10, Senators Tom Carper and George Voinovich (R-OH) have been awarded CAGW’s “porker of the month” award for November 2010 in recognition of their gas tax increase proposal (see 11/11/10 entries). As explained in the video (1:11), Congress has been guilty of raiding the Highway Trust Fund for all sorts of peripheral programs – so now the proposal is to raise the tax in order to cover needed bridge and highway repairs. http://bit.ly/eVwJA2
11/24/10, US Speeds up process to OK wind farms in the Atlantic: Bluewater welcomes plan for streamlined coordination, Nicole Gaudiano– Interior Secretary Ken Salazar played lead role in announcing the creation of an “interagency wind office to coordinate all federal agencies involved in offshore wind.” See 11/24/10 entry in GW micro-blog for details.
Del. Congressmen weigh earmark ban: Process needs reform, Carper says, Nicole
Gaudiano – With
Republican members of Congress coming out for a moratorium on earmarks, the News
Journal solicited the comments of Democrat members from Delaware on this
practice. The following comments were offered:
Senator Tom Carper: Supports a temporary ban so as to reform the earmark process and end a nonproductive debate on an issue that “frankly has no bearing on [reducing budget deficits].” One reform would end the practice of letting Appropriation Committee members take the largest share of earmark funding. Also, if the president requests rescission of a given earmark or earmarks, Congress should have to vote on the matter. Senator Chris Coons: “So long as senators from other states continue to seek federal resources for critical projects and services, I will continue to do so through an open, accountable process.” Earmarks account for less than 1% of the budget, and eliminating them would not reduce the deficit because that money would still be included [not necessarily] in the budget and spent by federal agencies. Rep- elect John Carney: “I don’t see how we can avoid at least curtailing earmarks.”
11/16/10, A1/A2, Coons takes oath for Biden’s old seat: Nicole Gaudiano – Senator Coons was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, having been elected to serve the remaining four years of Biden’s Senate term (replacing Senator Ted Kaufman, who was appointed on an interim basis.) Coons will retain Kaufman’s Senate staff, committees, and office space through the end of the year, and plans to commute from Delaware via Amtrak. In the lame duck session, Coons said “he’ll support the tax extensions most likely to create jobs,” but he pronounced himself “skeptical” about “permanently extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.” [Congress needs to extend all of the Bush tax cuts without delay, and then get on with the job of redoing the tax code from top to bottom in the new Congress. We recommend the creation of a Tax Simplification Commission, which would report its findings before the 2012 elections.]
11/10/10, A15, Carper and colleague propose raising gasoline tax: Funds would go to deficit reduction and infrastructure, Nicole Gaudiano – The proposal was floated by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and George Voinovich (R-OH) in a letter to the Fiscal Commission. Raise taxes on gasoline by 1¢ a gallon every month for 25 months, after which taxes would be indexed for inflation. Of the total increase, ten cents would be temporarily dedicated to deficit reduction and 15 cents would fund transportation improvements. A CBO estimate is cited that the Highway Trust Fund will require $34 billion to maintain existing spending. “This situation will force Congress to decide between two unacceptable solutions: additional transfers from the General Fund, which will lead to a higher deficit, or a sharp reduction in transportation funding for every state, which will created additional unemployment and continued deterioration of infrastructure.”
11/10/10, A16, Carper’s gas tax proposal recognizes a hard reality – Editorial starts out that political leaders must recognize that “they will actually have to deliver on their promises. Either taxes go up or programs go down.” Therefore welcomes the gas tax increase proposal “to pay for needed road and bridge improvements and to help lower the deficit.” At least “it is specific and it would get something done.” As for Representative John Mica’s (R-FL) statement that the $300 billion needed to revamp the highway system will be raised by streamlining current spending, “we don’t think Congress has the gumption to do it.” [Anyone can raise taxes, it takes courage to cut spending – and Senators Carper and Voinovich should not be praised for their lack of vision and leadership.]
11/8/10, A1/A2, Coons being thrown right into the Washington fray: Nicole Gaudiano – Senator elect Chris Coons was elected to fill the remaining four years of Vice President Joe Biden’s Senate term. He will be sworn in very soon, as a result, and participate in the upcoming “lame duck” session. His mantra is creating jobs, especially in Delaware. He supports a “compromise” on the Bush tax cut standoff, but has not committed himself as to the details. Coons supports R&D tax credit, green manufacturing tax credit, and a broader manufacturing and small business tax credit “that I believe will create jobs in the short term.” Re the Fiscal Commission, he reportedly did not rule out voting for recommendations that include tax increases. “We have a level of deficit and debt that threatens our country’s future. I think all options should be on the table.” And, yes, spending cuts might be needed too, but “he said he’d weigh the potential impact on economically struggling families.”
11/1/10, A8, The candidates on the issue: What is your top recommendation for healthcare reform? – COONS: “I support the president’s landmark healthcare bill – but we need to do more [what?] to improve the system to ensure accessibility and affordability for all Americans and for the business where they work.” O’DONNELL: “To clear the path for real reform, we need to fully repeal Obamacare. Then allow consumers to purchase policies across state lines, portability of policies when they change jobs. Tort reform, yet also make sure that victims of malpractice are protected – “this delicate balance can be achieved if we stop catering to special interests [who?]. URQUHART: Return to the doctor/patient relationship as the core of medicine. One new method is the Health PACT model which networks patients and doctors together without “an insurance company getting in the middle and dictating which care is covered.” 99% of medical needs could be covered for $106 for individuals and $212 for families a month. Combine with health savings accounts funded by tax credits [NO!], and “we could have universal access to healthcare without mandates, government control, or deficit spending.” JOHN CARNEY: Would not repeal GovCare, wants “to make the bill work.” Change some provisions, e.g. the 1099 reporting requirement. Work to implement the cost containment provisions, e.g. implementing an electronic medical records system in states around the country. Great to see high-risk pool to provide insurance for those with serious preexisting conditions, end of lifetime caps on benefits, allowing parents to keep children on their healthcare insurance until they are 26. We can have a regional pool for individuals and small businesses that will reduce the cost of coverage [government-run?] And focus on direct patient-physician care, e.g., patient-centered medical homes that put a primary care doctor in charge of your healthcare team. [Sounds a great deal like how long-term care facilities already work, what is he talking about?] Finally, we need to be more aggressive in rooting out waste and fraud, enlisting the medical and legal communities as partners in that effort.
10/30/10, A13, Coons can handle the demands of the job, Muqtedar Khan (UD professor) – Khan delivers a glowing endorsement of Chris Coons for the Senate, coupled with a jab at Christine O’Donnell for failing to grant him an interview “after 23 attempts.” Re the candidate’s views on the issues: (1) Supports the president’s foreign policy, “especially his attempts to reach out to the Muslim world.” (2) Believes “Islam is a religion of peace” and that terrorists and extremists in the Muslim world “do not reflect Islamic values.” (3) Views current level of US defense spending as “unsustainable.” (4) Wants to “restore our manufacturing,” which has allegedly been exported to emerging markets over the past few decades as a way of generating wealth on Wall Street. How? Incentivize [US] investments and encourage [US] R&D through what Khan characterizes as “a prudent tax and trade policy.” [In effect, domestic subsidies coupled with punitive taxation of international investment. See comments by Coons in the 10/28/10 entry on creating jobs.]10/30/10, Candidates on the issues: Would you vote to help states whose unemployment benefits have run dry? – URQUHART: Maybe. Federal government has already paid for extended benefits and aided the states to the tune of more than $100B. Some states have more generous standards than the federal recommendations and we should not bail them out. I would focus on creating jobs by across-the-board tax cuts, “cutting depreciation [periods] of plants and equipment in half,” and “extending the payroll tax holiday when an unemployed person is hired” [a bad idea in our opinion]. CARNEY: Yes. “It’s critically important to help people who have lost their jobs in this recession.” COONS: “Yes,” although “my first priority in the Senate will be pushing legislation [unspecified] that will get our economy back on track and create jobs.” O’DONNELL: Maybe, but top priority is to get people back to work. “I support new innovative approaches to unemployment that are working at the state level, such as Georgia Works . . . unemployment insurance recipients are placed in real part-time jobs with real employers, with the employer deciding whether to hire them at the end of a six-week trial period.” [State experiments with such approaches seems fine, but the federal government should stay out of it.]
10/28/10, A6, The candidates on the issues: What would you do to create jobs? – Comments extracted from responses of the four Congressional race candidates to News Journal questions on various subjects: Carney and Urquhart basically reiterate the points in their 10/10 columns on this subject. Coons advocates (1) “rewarding companies that create jobs here in America and ending the tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs overseas,” (2) making the R&D tax credit permanent, (3) a clean energy export initiative, (4) new low interest loans and tax incentives for small and medium-sized businesses to “grow new jobs”. O’Donnell’s basic answer is that the government should “get out of the way of small business owners and entrepreneurs.” To this end, (1) extend the Bush tax cuts, (2) permanently end the death tax, and (3) a 2-year holiday on the capital gains tax. Also “roll back regulations that prevent job creation.”
10/28/10, A14, Tough, flexible approach needed in House – News Journal endorses John Carney over Glen Urquhart in the House race. Both candidates are said to “agree that federal spending and the deficit are out of control,” as well as possessing other sterling qualities. But Urquhart wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, while Coons would only extend them for two years due to the economic slump. And the News Journal endorses Carney’s purported recognition that “long-range fiscal problems call for more than tax cuts and “at some point [gasp], federal spending programs will have to be adjusted to face economic reality.” By way of proof, Carney is said to be (like Urquhart) “willing to consider the recommendations of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission.” As for Urquhart’s suggestion of actual spending cuts, he is criticized for considering climate change “a scheme” and advocating “getting rid of the Energy Department.”
10/27/10, A1/A18, Education and the election: Candidates differ on role of federal government, Nichole Dobo – Reportedly, O’Donnell and Urquhart “support limiting the federal government’s role in education, calling it a local issue. [Gasp!] However, “they aren’t calling for the wholesale elimination of the federal department.” The idea would be to “give control of issues such as school prayer to communities and work to limit the department’s role in funding schools.” Thus, Urquhart has reportedly criticized the fact that one-half of the “Race to the top” grant won by Delaware schools would be retained by the State Department of Education rather than distributed to local school boards. Carney “agrees there should be more local controls.” Coons has reportedly criticized the No Child Left Behind program because “there’s not been enough money given to help special-needs students.” He also says the program has “pushed education more toward teaching to the test and not toward developing a rich and relevant curriculum.” [The differences between the candidates in this area seem inconsequential, at least from the standpoint of addressing the fiscal problem.]
10/27/10, Differing views on the future of Social Security: O’Donnell, Coons disagree on what future recipients will get, Ginger Gibson – Reportedly, both candidates would support existing benefits for current beneficiaries of Social Security & Medicare, but they have made differing statements about benefits for future beneficiaries. O’Donnell: “Future benefits for those not [currently] in the system should be reviewed and reduced.” [No details!] Coons: “Steps should be made to ensure that future generations receive the same assistance as previous generations.” [Unrealistic!]
10/27/10, A20, Which candidate will make the hard choices? – News Journal editorial endorses Coons over O’Donnell. The latter is criticized for saying nothing about paying for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Cut taxes and everything will be fine.” On the other hand, Coons “knows it doesn’t work like that . . . has balanced budgets . . . knows what it is like to face hostile crowds and what it’s like to tell supporters that government spending has limits.” [Piffle. No examples are cited of federal government spending cuts that Coons has suggested, and he, like O’Donnell, has supported extending all or most of the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of this year.]
10/27/10, A21, Urquhart vs. Carney columns on energy policy – Herewith a tabular comparison of the policy differences expressed:
“Renewable energy is key to security and prosperity”
“Regulatory scheme will stifle energy innovation”
Meet needs of troops in the field without fuel convoys [how?], reduce oil imports from unfriendly regimes
Develop domestic sources of natural gas and oil, especially on shore.
Great opportunity to convert old manufacturing plants for production of cutting edge products, e.g., Fisker takeover of old GM plant. Extend tax credits, speed regulatory approvals, improve job training
Favors “all of the above” energy policy. Wind energy, etc., will need large-scale power storage. Offer “huge national prizes” for an economically feasible system; let private sector choose lines of research. Revamp federal regulations to encourage cleaner coal power plants. “Tweak” loan guarantee programs for nuclear power plants. Continue Energy Star conservation program.
“Scientific evidence linking human activity to global climate change is more than compelling.” Delaware is particularly at risk, as a low-lying costal state. I strongly oppose oil and natural gas drilling off Delaware’s coast.
No specific comment on manmade global warming theory, but “emission free energy is good for everyone.” Develop domestic sources of natural gas and oil, especially on shore.
A1/A2, Carney underscores role of guest workers, Beth Miller
– Video interview of John Carney with News Journal editors & reporters. Carney
cited his work with Bluewater Wind as “a great opportunity going forward to
create jobs and a whole new industry in the country and the state.” He would
not privatize Social Security, but is looking forward to the December report
from the Fiscal Commission.
The charge of the Commission includes proposals for strengthening Social Security and implementing policies that will reduce the debt in the long term. The only way to achieve these objectives is to develop a comprehensive plan and for Democrats and Republicans to work together. And that’s why I’ve called for a two- or three-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, and to use that time to develop this comprehensive plan to reduce the deficit and bring down the national debt through] a strong and growing economy, and that’s why my highest priority as a member of Congress will be to implement policies that will help small businesses grow and revive manufacturing in the United States. [Well, at least the subject is being talked about.]
A1/A13, News Journal, O’Donnell and Coons hit rewind in debate: Constitution
again topic of contention, Adam Taylor
– One-hour debate on
WHYY touched on the constitutionality of GovCare. “That’s not in the
Constitution,” said O’Donnell, although she does not support abolition of the
U.S. Department of Education [Congress has no enumerated powers with respect to
education either]. Coons says “she truly thinks the Affordable Care Act is not
constitutional because it’s not specifically enumerated in the Constitution,” as
though the constitutionality of GovCare was obvious [not so; a serious legal
challenge is in process].
O’Donnell characterized GovCare as a massive federal takeover that should be repealed, while Coons stated that the new law will improve the healthcare system for many Americans.The candidates reportedly disagreed on every other issue as well, except that both endorsed a four-month moratorium on housing foreclosures. [For shame! There are enough problems with foreclosures already, which are necessary to let the housing slump come to a natural end.]
Health[care] reform package takes wrong approach, Glen Urquhart
– The writer credits
the president with desiring to tackle a tough issue, but unfortunately
delegating the details to career politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid
rather than real world problem solvers.
The result: a tax bill masquerading as a healthcare reform bill [GovCare], which “reduces individual choice, pushes us to rationing, raises premiums, undermines Medicare and unconstitutionally forces you to buy government-approved insurance.” In the end, “we want a healthcare system that leads the world in innovation, promotes individual choice and satisfaction, and has universal access, fewer mandates, and the best healthcare outcomes in the world.”
Specific ideas: (1) Allow purchase of healthcare insurance [HCI] across state lines so as to create more price competition; (2) tax credits to individuals not eligible for employer provided HCI so they could establish their own healthcare savings accounts; (3) Healthcare pact approach forming networks of doctors who deal directly with patients at an affordable flat rate without insurance companies in the middle; (4) Have high risk pools for the uninsurable, but do this at the state level funded with federal block grants; (5) Create incentives for walk-in clinics; (6) Pass a doctor fix for Medicare. (7) Encourage states to experiment with medical malpractice reform by adding bonuses in their block grants.
[SAFE: (A) If Urquhart supports repeal of GovCare, as the tone of his essay suggests, he should say so. (B) Hard to see how his proposals would materially reduce either the overall cost of healthcare or government outlays, and cost is the real problem with the U.S. healthcare system. There is no all gain/ no pain solution: people will have to get less or pay more.]
Doing nothing on healthcare is not the answer , John Carney
– The writer says the U.S.
healthcare system is broken, and indeed “has been broken for a long time.”
Thus, more than 100,000 Delawareans are living without HCI and the premiums for
the people who do have HCI have doubled over the past decade. The healthcare
legislation passed earlier this year represented “an important first step” in
addressing the problems with the system. Now “we need to make sure these reforms
are implemented in a way that improves the quality of care and makes it more
affordable for American businesses and families.”
Specific ideas: (1) “Delaware should partner with neighboring states to create a regional healthcare coverage pool for individuals and small businesses;”(2) Create “Patient Centered Medical Home” groups (PCMH) that puts “your family physician” in charge of your healthcare team” instead of “the managed care model of the primary doctor as a gateway to specialists who might never talk to each other.” (3) Go after Medicare fraud ($62B per year) more aggressively, and make the medial and legal communities partners in that efforts.” [SAFE: (A) Urquhart’s proposals would not represent “doing nothing,” the question is whether they make sense. (B) Carney’s ideas would not significantly improve GovCare. Regional vs. state coverage pools would be a distinction without a difference. Coordinated team treatment have promise, e.g., at the Mayo Clinic and other medical centers, but family doctors should not be put in charge of them. See discussion in The Innovator’s Prescription, Clayton Christensen et al., 2009. http://bit.ly/9ijYGR Why not redesign Medicare so that fraud will not be rampant in the first place?]
Journal, A1/A6&7, Face to face on national TV, Senate hopefuls slug it out:
O’Donnell attacks his tax increases, Coons hammers her inexperience, Ginger
The debate took place at
the University of Delaware. An extended portion was aired nationwide by CNN, a
function of the widespread interest in the matchup between Chris Coons and
Christine O’Donnell for the Senate seat that will be up for grabs. O’Donnell
“stuck to her theme of smaller government and lower taxes,” while Coons attacked
her inexperience and focusing “too little on the issues really matter to
Delawareans, and too much on the issues that make good sound bites.”
Specific statements on fiscal issues were disappointingly vague, revealing little disposition of either candidate to hit the fiscal problem squarely. Thus: (1) Coons reportedly said “he does not completely support President Barrack Obama’s positions on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, but did not say specifically which cuts should be extended.” (2) O’Donnell reportedly said “she would not support eliminating the federal Department of Education,” but “funding should not be added to a ‘broken system’.” [The debate format, with moderator questions and two minute answers, is broken, representing the dumbing down of America. Let’s try something else, like the format used for the Lincoln-Douglas debates.]
10/12/10, News Journal, A9, Debt is the ultimate enemy of job creation, Glen Urquhart– The candidate describes himself as a “proven job creator,” citing his experience as a self-made business man. He also served as a political appointee under Reagan and Clinton, even working with Mayor Marion Barry to make progress in creating jobs in Washington, D.C.
10/10/10, News Journal, A15, Delaware needs real ideas on creating jobs, John Carney– Mr. Carney states that the current unemployment rate is of deep concern. He pledges to make “creating jobs and strengthening our economy” his “top priority in Congress.” He has spent lots of time traveling up and down the state talking to Delawareans, and he understands that “people are struggling.” Ergo, “we need leaders with real ideas about creating jobs, helping small businesses and strengthening our economy.”
10/8/10, News Journal, Letter to the editor– If cap and trade passed, said the president during the 2008 campaign, it would make energy costs “skyrocket.” How true! Gasoline prices could rise to over $8 a gallon, and your home heating, cooling and electric bills could easily double. The price of almost everything would dramatically increase due to the higher cost of producing and shipping goods, thereby destroying jobs and impeding an economic recovery. ”Chris Coons and John Carney support this dangerous legislation, so I ask you, please do not support these men and their flawed policies this coming election. I am a registered Democrat who works in construction, and I am very concerned for my family and fear that this legislation will irreparably harm our future. There are better solutions.” Walter B. Janocha Jr., New Castle
9/15/10 - Changing of the Guard
– It was already
clear that there would be some turnover in the Delaware Congressional delegation
this year; the situation was further scrambled by the victories of two “Tea
Party” candidates in yesterday’s Republican primaries.
The matchups for the two elections to be held on November 2 now stand as Chris Coons (D) v. Christine O’Donnell (R) for the seat to be vacated by Senator Ted Kauffmann (D) after the election, and John Carney (D) v. Glen Urquhart (R) for the seat to be vacated by Representative Mike Castle (R) in January. The only holdover will be Senator Tom Carper (D), whose current term extends through 2012.