Dana Balter and Democrats, Please!

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We need to vote for Dana Balter. Republicans, in their TV election ads, are telling people in New York’s 24thdistrict that Democrats (specifically, Dana Balter) want to raise our taxes. Elections ads are always one-sided, and often skewed ideologically. What these ads are not telling voters is what they will most likely get if they vote for the Republican candidate (John Katko) and what they will most likely get if they vote for Dana, a Democrat.

So far Republicans have not raised anyone’s taxes. Remember that Grover Norquist of Americans for Progress holds Republican pledges which attest that they will not raise taxes ever. I don’t know if each new group of GOP members of Congress signs on to the same pledge, but you must have noticed that no one’s taxes went up. Some went down a little, some went down a lot. In fact, the more money you had the larger the cut in your taxes. Why are government representatives signing a pledge to an organization outside of our government?

What did this tax cut bill, which my Republican Representative voted for, get us. Precious little!. We were told to expect pay raises. How big was your raise?

What we will get is a big deficit.

Republicans were against the stimulus Obama wanted and got, which halted the Great Recession and turned the economy around. But the GOP insisted on budget sequestration (across the board cuts) because of “big spending” Democrats. The GOP constantly complains that we need a balanced budget amendment (a terrible idea given the flexibility needed in a federal budget). Events arise that cannot be predicted.

So how could the GOP pass a tax cut bill that will raise the deficit so much?

They can do this because they have big plans for the 2019 FY Budget (fiscal year), which they don’t plan to bring up formally until after the 2018 election. 2019 is a year when no one is up for reelection. The proposed budget for 2019 has already been written and is out there on the internet, although not finalized.

That 2019 Budget plans to make up for GOP overspending on tax breaks and military spending by making cuts. Guess what they plan to cut – and by quite a lot – Social Security and Medicare. How will that play out for people who survive on Social Security (which they paid for) or because of Medicare (which they paid for).

Here’s what Paul Krugman had to say on the subject:

“Now, Republicans who call for cuts in social spending to balance the budget are showing extraordinary chutzpah, which is traditionally defined as what you exhibit when you kill your parents, then plead for mercy because you’re an orphan. After all, the same Republicans now wringing their hands over budget deficits just blew up that same deficit by enacting a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

So it might seem shocking that only a few months later they’re once again posing as deficit hawks and calling for spending cuts. That is, it might seem shocking if it weren’t for the fact that this has been the G.O.P.’s budget strategy for decades. First, cut taxes. Then, bemoan the deficit created by those tax cuts and demand cuts in social spending. Lather, rinse, repeat.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/opinion/obamacare-medicare-social-security-midterms-republicans.html

If we reelect our Republican representatives, who vote the party line or (same thing) the Trump line 90% of the time or more, we are voting to experience the sadness of watching our parents and grandparents or even us, live lives of financial desperation. Some Americans cannot afford to live if they lose their Social Security payment and/or their Medicare coverage. It will not be pretty. John Katko (NY District 24) votes with Trump 89% of the time.

Dana Balter, Democratic candidate, is, therefore, your best bet if you want to live comfortably in a society that seeks to benefit workers as well as people who are unable to work. Dana Balter is a Progressive Democrat, not far from Bernie Sanders at all, although she is not running as a Democratic Socialist. She is running as a Democrat but she will also run on a Working Families line.

Working people should be paid more. If corporate heads are walking away with such enormous profits, then that makes you really cheap labor. Even if they paid workers higher wages they could still have enough profit to make themselves wealthy. Our taxes should help pay for things working families need like bigger pay checks, paid family leave and universal health care. We might even ask for more vacation time.

Judging by the wealth captured and held by the 1% there is plenty of money around to pay for those things. If so much wealth is pooling at the top something is off-kilter. It may be greed, it may be fear, it may be entitlement, it may be pure hedonism, but it is wrong. We might need to raise taxes on the wealthy because they are unlikely to willingly pass some of their profits back down the line. All evidence suggests that “trickle down” does not work.

Dana doesn’t want to lie and say that taxes definitely won’t go up if we try to give workers better supports that suit the times we live in when both parents usually work and there are so many single parents. But there are other places we might find money besides raising taxes. There is far too much money in our military budget, at least there would be if Trump would stop fomenting hostilities around the globe. What was just added to our military budget would pay for Social Security and Medicare for quite a while.

As far as we the people are concerned we can’t afford John Katko. We need Dana Balter to win!

Vote! Kocpc.com.tw

Appeal to Democrats – New York 24th

 

Meet-Dana-Balter-100

Democrats, we need some star action here in Syracuse, New York. If you don’t have some big name people arrive soon to lavish some support on Dana Balter you will lose this seat in the House of Representatives. Some funding is also desperately needed. Aren’t there any billionaire Democrats in New York?

Dana Balter  wants to replace John Katko as the Representative holding the  New York 24thDistrict seat in the House of Representatives and many of us would like that very much. Dana Balter certainly has the intelligence for the job. There is also evidence, in terms of her take on the issues and her close relationship with her brother who has some hereditary challenges, that she exhibits the compassion for others that seems to be missing in the 115thCongress and, to some degree, in her opponent John Katko, who seems to be a more “tough love” kind of person.

Katko can see that there are people in his district who disapprove of some of the policies coming out of Washington, but he refuses to give them a face-to-face listen. He seems fearful of dissent and unwilling to entertain any views other than those he has arrived at through his own experiences. He has essentially disenfranchised a fairly large share of his constituency. But John Katko is the incumbent and incumbents have an enormous edge against new political candidates.

Clearly, Conservatives in Washington want John Katko to retain his seat in the 116thCongress when it convenes after the election.

That’s why Mike Pence and his wife came to Syracuse in June.

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Mike Pence visits Syracuse today to raise money, tout Trump tax overhaul

By Mark Weiner, , mweiner@syracuse.com. Syracuse.com

“Vice President Mike Pence plans to spend four hours in the Syracuse area today, promoting the Republican tax overhaul and raising money for Rep. John Katko’s reelection campaign.

Mike Pence will be the featured speaker at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser for Katko at noon at the Embassy Suites hotel next to Destiny USA in Syracuse. The White House said the event will be closed to the public, and no press will be allowed inside the banquet facility.”

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/mike_pence_visits_syracuse_today_to_raise_money_tout_trump_tax_overhaul.html

Then Ivanka made her way to Syracuse, not exactly a fashion-forward destination, to announce her father’s new job’s training initiative and to bring three deserving Syracuse student to Washington to sign the bill. I don’t want to be cynical because Syracuse needs these kinds of programs, but the timing also could not hurt in John Katko’s campaign as the incumbent for the 24thDistrict seat.

Ivanka Trump tells execs at White House: Syracuse tech students an inspiration

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President Donald Trump signs an executive order on job training as three Syracuse high school graduates, from left, William DeJesus, Robert Felder and Lilly La, watch in the East Room of the White House. Ivanka Trump, fourth from left, invited the students to the ceremony on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Washington.  (Andrew Harnik | AP Photo)

By Mark Weiner, , mweiner@syracuse.com. Syracuse.com

“Last week in Syracuse, New York, I met several recent high school graduates who join us today,” Ivanka Trump told the executives. “Through the Pathways to Technology Program they each graduated with more than 20 college credits and experienced interning in fields such as science, manufacturing and electrical engineering.”

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/07/ivanka_trump_tells_execs_at_white_house_syracuse_tech_students_an_inspiration.html

Dems please note the large election fund gap between John Katko and your candidate, Dana Balter. If you want to win this seat you need to find some more dollars for Ms. Balter.

John Katko has $1.2M edge over Dana Balter in NY-24 campaign for Congress

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By Mark Weiner, , mweiner@syracuse.com. Syracuse.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Katko begins his reelection bid against Democrat Dana Balter with a $1.2 million advantage over his opponent in available campaign funds, federal records show.

Katko, R-Camillus, had $1.3 million in cash in his campaign account, while Balter had $101,112 as of June 6, according to reports the campaigns filed with the Federal Election Commission in Washington.

Balter had to burn through some of that cash as she battled to win a Democratic primary campaign on Tuesday against Juanita Perez Williams in the 24th Congressional District.

That leaves Katko with a lopsided advantage that will allow him to outspend Balter on campaign advertising.

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/john_katko_has_12m_edge_over_dana_balter_in_ny-24_campaign_for_congress.html

 

Please do not let John Katko represent us again, at least without putting up a fierce though fair fight.

 

 

Reasons Not to Reelect John Katko

John Katko big syracuse.com

They say all elections are local and this time, since we are talking about the midterms in 2018, and since my Senators are not up for reelection, this truly is a local election. Since I live in the 24thdistrict in NYS, my representative, John Katko, is up for reelection.

However, since the Citizen’s United decision, allowing businesses to pour money into elections that were once considered strictly local matters, local elections have come to be dominated by partisan national concerns and by wealthy Conservatives who control GOP politics these days. Because of the atrocious amounts of money being spent by Conservatives to decide who should fill a seat in the House of Representatives, and since Republicans pockets are deep, Democrats must raise huge amounts of money to stay in the race.

The GOP likes having a majority, but that majority is never large enough for their tastes. In the 115thCongress there are 193 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 6 vacant seats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans can pass anything they want to pass through the House right now and have been very productive. As long as you are happy with Conservative ideology it seems quite satisfying.

Laws that will negatively affect Americans are being passed everyday but they are designed to detonate after Trump’s reelection in 2020.This is not the way our contentious, lively government usually operates. Usually we hear more voices on any given issues and decisions have to be hashed out in compromises. Blending of ideas may actually produce best governance. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to have a say in the House and they need to retain the seats they hold right now. Elections have consequences. We have always known this but it has come to have the deeper meaning offered by hard experience since the 2016 election.

So election ads have already begun in my district and people are being told things about John Katko that are patently untrue. They are being told that Mr. Katko gave up a great job as a law and order gang-buster, a job he loved, in order to go to Washington to represent the community that he loves, the 24thDistrict of the State of New York. He acts like representing his district in Congress is a personal sacrifice that he has undertaken on our behalf. This does not sound like the proper spirit in which to approach public service. However Katko has impressive bona fides and the essence of this part of the ad is probably true.

 

The same ad assures us that John Katko is bipartisan, the most bipartisan of all the representatives. He crosses the aisle to vote more than anyone else. It could be true that he crosses the aisle more than others, but he would only have to do that about two times to beat out all the other representatives. John Katko, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, voted with Republicans and Trump 89.3%. That hardly qualifies as bipartisanship. How many people do you think will look this up? Well, I’m guessing, not any people who watch Fox News. But here is the link:

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/john-katko/

I found this summary on the site politicsthatwork.com but it may not be quite accurate. It says Katko supports public health but he voted to have Trump’s very bad health plan replace the Affordable Care Act.

Summary of voting record: Representative Katko opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, foreign and humanitarian aid, labor rights and wages, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, domestic surveillance and supports big business, funding education, public health, taxing the middle class, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, higher spending.

There is a very readable graphic to back up this summary at this link:

http://politicsthatwork.com/voting-record/John-Katko-412649

John Katko is no hero to me. The way he sets about cleaning up gangs is to put them away in jail for a long, long time. He represents the inner city of Syracuse (along with suburban and rural communities). The inner city of Syracuse is consistently on the lists of the poorest cities in America. Locking up people who do the frightening things that gang members are reported to do makes Katko’s constituency feel safer. But it has not solved the problems of gangs in our little city. Don’t you think there is a correlation between being very poor and ganging up? Well I do.

Katko brings money home for our farmers, which is good, but he does not bring home money to create and run programs that would change the dynamics of our inner city. He does not seem to worry that the poorest people have the worst schools and the fewest opportunities. He thinks like Donald Trump. If people are bad, lock them up.

Many of his constituents would fail to see value in money spent to keep children out of gangs. Many would fail to see value in offering to help these kids get to college. And that is directly due to current Conservative messaging which many of Katko’s constituents listen to all day every day. On Fox News it is drummed into people’s heads that college messes up people and society. A college education is not a good thing. Manual training is the way to go. I have no problem with manual training, but I think a liberal college education changes people’s world view forever and in very positive ways. Conservatives think just the opposite.

Clearly it will not be possible to change Katko’s mind set. He is who he is. He is a Conservative and he is an extreme Conservative. He may have voted against the farm bill because it would cut SNAP money for his poorest peeps, but I believe he was allowed to vote against the party on this one issue because they had enough votes without him, and because it would be a huge negative against him in his reelection campaign.

Remember I live in Katko’s district. I have met the folks from the Democratic side of the aisle who would like to meet with Katko. They are good people with valid concerns. He does not do Town Halls unless they are limited to attendees who sign up in advance and unless they are scripted. He does not speak with the resisters who haunt the pavement outside his downtown Syracuse and his Auburn office carrying signs to make their point because it is almost the only way to communicate with him.

John Katko works only for the people who voted for him. He does not have to compromise with the rest of us who are not Conservatives because Conservatives control all parts of our national government and they all delight in denigrating everything Democrats/Liberals/Progressives have to say.

I have sent letters to John Katko and he always answers them on nice official stationery and he is very professional. But it is clear that he places no value on the things I say or feels any need to listen to my point of view. His message is always a variation on “I understand, but…”. I never remember a time in American politics when voting for the party that didn’t win meant that you were totally beside the point, but we are in that time now. Political discussions are difficult and it is easy to win a debate when the other side is not allowed to speak, but, in such a system, if there are policy failures it will be very clear who erred.

Mr. Katko votes constantly. His attendance is good. He loves to vote I guess and it is his job, but if I just read about what is in a bill or House Resolution on Countable.com, I can predict how he will vote and I am always right. The Republicans used to complain about the Democratic “nanny state”, but these Conservatives want to control every little thing and overturn every little regulation. They want to get rid of our National Parks and that is pretty serious, but many of the laws or HR’s that have passed deal with minutiae, which could, however, when combined, create massive changes in our democracy.

I hope everyone will seriously consider voting against this partisan guy, John Katko. He is obviously a ‘nice’ person, civil and with good manners, but he is an inflexible person and arrogant. He has a “daddy complex”. He thinks he rules by ‘divine right’ because he is a Christian man. He believes he knows what is best for all of us and that as long as the people who voted for him are happy then he is certain that he has done his job. Although, that is not even close to his job.

One more bonus link:

https://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/152546/john-katko#.W0Z90i2ZP-Y

 

 

Diabolical Moves to Pass a Flawed AHCA

 

Background

My representative in Washington in the House of Representatives is John Katko who is serving his second term in Congress. He represents a sprawling CNY district which includes an inner city (which has been identified as one of the most stubborn pockets of poverty in the US), suburban areas which are quite affluent, including the one where his family lives, and rural areas where poverty is more the rule than the exception.

He has been elected in an area which has fairly recently been turned red by empty factories and recession. Republicans promise the hardest hit folks that they know the secret to turning the economy around and bringing jobs back. Democrats did not believe that they could promise any such thing. Republicans poured money into Katko’s election. The Democrats never came forth with the level of support that was necessary to help turn the area blue again. Ever since the Citizen’s United decision Republican PACs and donors have poured money into areas where it looked like they had a shot at turning any little dot on the map into a red dot. And their attention to detail has paid off.

So now we have a representative who is basically bought and paid for, who has, so far, voted the party line. And we have the health care bill coming up for a vote, supposedly as early as Thursday, March 23, 2017. In a district with as many poor people as Katko’s,  the number of people who will lose health care if the AHCA passes will be enormous. One of the problems is, of course, that the full impact of this bill will not be felt until 2020 so that these poor unsuspecting folks can vote this guy in again before they get zapped. Isn’t our politics lovely? Anything that can be done will be done.

I sent my Representative in the House the following letter asking him to get in touch with his better self:

Rep. John Katko:

Although I am sorry to write such a long letter I hope you will indulge me and read it in its entirety.

I am thinking that you are not thrilled by everything that is happening in Washington. I know that you are an earnest man who has a serious interest in serving the people in your district, which is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural cultures with diverse needs that few other representatives have to deal with. I suspect that you are a Catholic man, or at least a man of faith. I know that your unshakeable Conservative values include a firm pro-life stance and probably an economic view that fits with the one usually held on the right, one of fewer regulations and possibly even tax breaks to help employers take greater risks.

I don’t believe that someone with your inflexible position on women’s reproductive rights should be in government at all, but there are obviously many people in this district who do not agree with me. So I will leave this issue aside except to say that if you have your way in this matter it will make women’s lives far more difficult and will reset the clock on women’s rights back to my grandmothers’ days.

However, what seems most doubtful to me is that you want to “deconstruct” the American administration as the President’s men and women seem to want to do. It seems doubtful to me that you want to invite Vladimir Putin in to influence American politics. I find it hard to believe that you would like to vote in lower taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class people you represent. You just don’t seem like a person who wants to see our schools with insecure funding which could have profound effects on the quality of education in America and make opportunities unequal across the states.

I also find it hard to fathom why you might want to support the American Health Care Act when so many in your district would lose health insurance and so many seniors would be negatively affected. You don’t seem that extreme to me. I would guess that you are more moderate than some of your colleagues. But I do not know how ambitious you are. I do not know what you owe to the national party and the super PACs and other Conservative organizations. I do not know how courageously you would fight the very powerful pressure brought to bear on Conservatives in Washington by the base and the upper echelons of the party and by big money people.

Well I guess we, as your constituents, will see how extreme you are or how courageous you can be. Will you fight for the needs of your constituents the way a parent fights to meet the needs of their children. Every day I awake to see what new actions of this administration have weakened the foundations of our democracy and every day I am more and more shocked and distressed about what I see. Yet every day I feel more and more helpless to have any way to stop this administration from undoing every single thing I think any modern culture should try to do for the people it governs.

Sincerely,

Mr. Katko knows that the AHCA is not a good replacement for the ACA. He knows that it will create hardships for a large number of his constituents, and that it will please some of his constituents. He is between a rock and hard place but I was hoping that he would take the moral high road instead of the economic low road. I was hoping he would be brave enough to pick people over party in this instance. I am still hoping for that.

Federal Government Sweetens the Pot

The Federal government, however, is quite diabolical when it is determined to get its way. They have added an enticement to the health care bill that is only being offered to Upstate NY because Mr. Katko (and others upstate representatives) was having problems liking this legislation. They have also included some tidbits to tempt other Republican representatives who are less than delighted with this rushed and deeply flawed piece of legislation. The New York Times included a piece about these “carrots” in this morning’s edition.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/house-health-care-new-york-republicans.html

In this article the authors, Thomas Kaplan and Richard Pear (with Jesse McKinley contributing reporting from Albany) tell us the following:

“House Republican leaders, trying to lock down the votes of wavering upstate New York Republicans, inserted a last-minute special provision in their health care bill that would shift Medicaid costs from New York’s counties to its state government”

(While it is true that Medicaid costs are among the mandated budget items that are an enormous burden on county budgets and while it is equally true that relief plans should be in the works, this Federal move to immediately shift the burden of these costs to the State of New York budget is a totally unplanned move that could perhaps bankrupt the state and is at the very least a political ploy strategically designed to get a very bad health care bill to pass, and at the most is something the states should raise an outcry about. Is it even legal?)

The article goes on to say:
“The move – one of a number of changes designed to gain more votes – would affect New York State only. It could save county governments outside of New York City $2.3 billion a year. But it could shift costs to state taxpayers or deny New York the same total in matching federal aid if the state continues to require those counties to contribute to the cost of Medicaid. Upstate New York Republicans, backed by local government officials, pressed for the measure over the angry opposition of New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo.”

“The more we learn about the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the sicker New York gets,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement Monday night.”

While I can see what this measure does for county budgets I cannot, for the life of me, see what if does for poor people who need health care.

“The newly released set of changes does not directly provide more generous tax credits for older Americans as many Republicans had been requesting, but it lays the groundwork for the Senate to enhance those tax credits at a later stage in the legislative process.”

“President Trump and House conservatives already agreed to other changes involving Medicaid, including offering states the option of imposing a work requirement for certain able-bodied beneficiaries. They also agreed to let states choose a lump-sum block grant to fund their Medicaid programs instead of a per-capita allotment originally set in the House Bill.”

The Republicans representative who were wavering are now feeling that they can get back on board. But, although you can patch some tires and drive on them, some tires prove unfixable. Putting patches on this bill does not in any way make it a better health care plan. In fact New York’s governor has more to say:

“This cut is so severe that the majority of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in upstate New York and on Long Island would be devastated, Mr. Cuomo said.”

What do I Say to Mr. Katko Now?

I guess this puts the ball back in his court, although I still believe that he has to legislate in ways that serve the majority of his constituents but, in particular, the poorest of his constituents, since we are talking about something that means life or death in many cases. I also know that he will have a county executive to deal with and that this relief from what she calls “unfunded mandates” will put a great big old smile on her face. And who will win? Supposedly I will win because my taxes will go down or there will be more money to spend locally, but I have never minded that some of my tax dollars help people less fortunate than me. I have little extra money to contribute to the many charitable causes that break my heart, but this, since I am used to it, is a relatively painless way to give back for my many blessing.

John Katko, please stick to your guns and vote down this bill which will hurt many of your constituents and perhaps the entire state of New York, which DT would love to humble because of the Governor’s defiant statements. As I said, diabolical.