Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dean Heller - Friend of Halliburton

Dean Heller, friend of big business, friend of Dick Cheney, friend of Halliburton.

Yep, the company formerly chaired by Dick Cheney, the company getting probably the most bang for the buck out of the Iraq war, the company so infamous that there's an entire website devoted to its shameful practices, that company, Halliburton Energy Services, has contributed $1,000 to Heller for Congress on August 1. And Heller gladly excepted it.

Why? I refer you to the first sentence of this diary. Honestly, though, without the loans he gave to his campaign (his current debts are $365k) and without the big business PAC money his campaign finances wouldn't look so good. In fact, out of the $1.2 million Heller has received this cycle, more than $500k came from PACs or other committees. That's more than 40%. You can view the whole list of PAC money here.

And don't kid yourself about the individual contributions. Doesn't mean they're all ordinary folk. A lot of those are business executives, real estate, development, financial services giving in four figure sums. From casino executives alone Dean Heller received at least $75,500 thus far. That's more than 10% of all his individual contributions.

So, in case you're wondering why we're still in Iraq, why we have a big budget deficit, Heller getting contributions from companies like Halliburton is one of the reasons.

Jill Derby may not have Halliburton. But Jill Derby has ordinary supporters like you. How about giving her ten bucks?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Announcing "Nevada Bloggers for Jill Derby and Dina Titus"

With only three and a half month left before election day, Nevada bloggers have joined forces and today announce the creation of the "Nevada Bloggers for Jill Derby and Dina Titus" ActBlue fundraising page.

Dean Heller and Jon Porter were almost beaten in 2006 in what were the closest races the 2nd and 3rd Nevada Congressional Districts have seen to date. Considering that Democratic voter registration has significantly increased since 2006 and that Nevada will be a battleground state in the presidential contest both Jill Derby and Dina Titus have a big chance of beating the Republican incumbents this fall.

However, both have one disadvantage: they have significantly less cash-on-hand than the incumbents. While they both reported good fundraising numbers in the last quarter it will be hard to make up the time and incumbency advantages of Heller and Porter. Therefore, Jill Derby and Dina Titus need all the help they can get. Whether you can give $5,$20 or $100 - anything helps!

The following blogs have been and will continue to cover one or both of these contests and today we are announcing that we stand together to help elect Jill Derby and Dina Titus: Blue Sage Views, Desert Beacon, Helluva Heller, My Silver State, Nevada Mojo Rising, Nor'Town, Nye - Gateway to Nevada's Rurals, Reno and Its Discontent, and Vote Gibbons Out.

We support Jill Derby and Dina Titus for Congress! Help us in our effort!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Heller's Provincialism Shines Through: Rural NV Rep. votes against public transportation

Cross posted at Desert Beacon

Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) was the only member of the Nevada congressional delegation to vote against H.R. 6052, the “Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act, on June 26th. [vote 467] H.R. 6052 is a straight-forward enough bill, providing funding for public transportation authorities to receive grants for expanding and improving their services, or to reduce fares for their riders.

The Los Angeles Times reported that public transit systems recorded their highest ridership levels in the last 50 years, and during the first quarter of 2008 ridership on light rail increased 10% while vehicle miles traveled decreased 2.3%. The American Public Transport Association reports that Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation – the highest number of trips taken in fifty years. In the first quarter of 2008, public transportation continued to climb and rose by 3.4 percent. [APTA]

“Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) complained that his constituents not only must pay higher gas prices, "but now they have to subsidize people in big cities with the luxury of access to public transportation." [LAT] Evidently, it hasn’t occurred to Rep. Lucas that if more people in urban areas use less gasoline, the demand drops and by the free market standards he claims to uphold – if demand drops so do the prices.

Increasing the use of “the luxury” of public transportation (Perhaps Rep. Lucas hasn’t been on the Metro, MARTA, BART, or the T during rush hour?) also has the salutary effect of diminishing green house gas emissions. But, then, Rep. Lucas is from Oklahoma where global warming is a giant hoax. Unfortunately, it is with this kind of parochial provincialism that Representative Heller has chosen to associate himself. Perhaps it didn’t occur to Representative Heller, as it did to Representatives Berkley (D-NV1) and Porter (R-NV2) that a gallon of gas saved in Las Vegas or Reno (or Boston, New York, Chicago, or Atlanta) might be a gallon of gas just slightly cheaper in Winnemucca, Lovelock, and Elko?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heller says no silver bullets, fires blanks at energy issues

Cross posted at Desert Beacon

The Republican befuddlement over energy policies to address the current spike in gasoline prices and the need to devise a rational nationwide energy policy were never more evident than in Congressman Dean Heller’s (R-NV2) in a conference call with reporters. [EDFP]

Attempts to solve the overall problem included in the recently passed Energy and Job Creation Act met with Heller’s disdain: “It goes to show who controls this place now. The environmentalists that Congress has sold out to ... trial lawyers and big labor,” Heller said. “That is why you are seeing tax credits for trial lawyers in energy bills.” [EDFP] One should give Heller credit for cramming all three of the Grand Oil Party’s traditional boogey-men into the same sentence; however, the Representative provides no substantiation for their involvement in the current price spikes at the pump.

The 2nd District Representative calls for an investigation into whether there has been market manipulation with oil futures and brags that he is asking for a hearing on this topic. How this hearing would add more information to the discussion than that already gleaned from the Senate Commerce Committee’s session on the subject early this month isn’t clear; or, for that matter, from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s investigation into the self-same subject. [CNN] Nor is it clear how Representative Heller missed the fact that there is already a bill (H.R. 6238) sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. John Dingell on the subject, co-sponsored by the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). [ECcom]

Heller also boasts of writing to House leadership asking about an energy plan calling for more drilling and the construction or expansion of more refineries to depress prices in the long run; and, then inexplicably adds “I’m concerned if we don’t do something quickly we will see $5 or $6 gasoline.”

Congressman Heller has probably long since sold his Economics 101 text, but might be well advised to review the basics, like “equilibrium pricing,” and “economic incentives.” If the Congressman adheres to the basic free market tenet that an economic entity will act in ways to best secure its profitability, then the present lack of drilling development and refinery capacity should make perfect sense. When prices are high there is no economic incentive to increase supply.

The solutions Congressman Heller is setting forth actually aren’t in the best economic interests of the oil corporations he seeks to support. As noted in a previous post the oil giants could have increased their refinery and drilling operations at any time, but chose not to do so, thus increasing the price of their products and thereby the profitability of their companies.

This is partially evident when it is considered that the Bush Administration’s leasing of oil and gas fields has out-stripped the industry’s ability or interest in terms of drilling. Oil and gas industry corporations have leases on about 44 million acres of public land in the Rocky Mountain region, but have developed only about 10 million to date. Prices for gasoline have not dropped in spite of the fact that according to the Baker Hughes Rig Count the U.S. has 1,901 rigs operating in the U.S. compared to 1,305 on the remainder of our entire planet. Since taking office in January 2001 the Bush Administration has issued leases for over 26 million acres of on-shore public lands. [WSpress]

There also appears to be some confusion about what might be done and what can be done. Some of the oil shale operations mentioned by the President haven’t begun because the technology isn’t in place: “Government regulations do not prohibit development of this potential resource, technological feasibility does. Current federal policy supports a robust oil shale research and development program on federal lands managed by the BLM. However, despite a significant investment, industry admits they are a decade or more away from establishing the economic viability, technical efficiency, and environmental performance of the technologies. Even Shell admits its new technology remains many years away from viability.” [WS Press Release June 18, 2008]

The hard fact is that the United States has 3% of the world’s oil resources but consumes 25% of the planet’s oil production. Drilling every possible acre and refining every possible domestically produced gallon won’t alter this simple fact of life – Representative Heller’s standard “enviro-bashing” talking points notwithstanding.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Heller makes noise, other members of Congress address oil price manipulation

Cross posted at Desert Beacon

Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) would have us believe that he “can do little more than make noise about gas prices.” [RGJ] He’s managed the noise part, first writing provocative epistles to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (hardly a format designed to enhance his reputation for working across the aisle to find solutions), authoring a going-nowhere ‘demand’ for an energy “plan,” and finally asking the Financial Services Committee to hold hearings on price manipulation and speculation.

Perhaps Representative Heller didn’t get the memo: There have already been hearings concerning price manipulation and speculation, in both houses of Congress.

On the House side - Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) said that his U.S. House Energy Oversight Committee’s investigation [CNN] hasn’t uncovered illegal practices in oil and gas trading, but that loopholes in current statutes were allowing the biggest traders to ‘game the system.’ Stupak’s committee will hold a second hearing to announce the results of the entire investigation on June 23rd. [CNN]

On the Senate side - Senator Maria Cantwell chaired a Senate Commerce Committee hearing [McClatchy] (D-WA) on the subject, and is pressing both the FTC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to more closely regulate oil and commodity markets, and wants the FTC to issue an interim rule under the provisions of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act while the agency completes its ‘formal regulatory rule making process.’ Cantwell is also calling for the CFTC to revoke its ‘no action’ letters issued by its staff that allow electronic exchanges outside U.S. borders to continue trading West Texas Intermediate crude and related commodities. The Washington Senator and 20 other colleagues wrote to the CFTC on May 23rd demanding the revocation of those “no-action” letters. [OGJ] This exchange prompted the CFTC to admit that it had been ‘investigating’ the trading policies and practices in London (ICE) and Dubai since last December.

Representative Heller also voted against legislation seeking to ameliorate the current situation.

Concerning the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, (H.R. 6) cited by Senator Cantwell as offering a means to allow the FTC to address the issues immediately under its interim rule making provisions, Representative Heller voted as follows: [GovTrack]

(1) On consideration of H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: NO (vote 37) January 18, 2007.
(2) On a motion to recommit the bill (to kill it) YES (vote 38) January 18, 2007.
(3) On an appeal of the ruling of the chair (‘yes would sustain the measure) NO (vote 39) January 18, 2007.
(4) On final passage of the bill NO (vote 40) January 18, 2007.
(5) On agreeing to Senate Amendments NO (vote 1140) December 6, 2007.
(6) On agreeing to Senate Amendments NO (vote 1177) December 18, 2007. Representative Heller was the only member of the Nevada delegation to vote against the final passage of the bill as amended.

Thus do we see the difference between making noise and being a ‘grown up’ member of Congress?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Heller and The Leadership PACs

Cross posted at Desert Beacon
Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) appears in the process of transforming himself into yet another PAC-man in the U.S. House of Representatives. About 38% of the funds he has raised during the 2008 campaign season thus far comes from political action committee contributions. [OS] Leadership PAC funds constituted $113,000 of those PAC contributions. [OS]

To whom is Congressman Heller beholden? Or, at least 38% beholden…

The Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism has donated $15,000 to Heller’s coffers. [OS] The CPC’s list of donors reads like a K-Street directory: The Duberstein Group; Ernst & Young; Strategic Health Solutions; Capitol Tax Partners; Securities Industry Association; Aetna Inc.; The Alpine Group; Akin Gump; Capitol Hill Consulting; Arent Fox; and the Business Roundtable among others. [CM] Akin Gump is most often associated with former RNC official Kenneth Mehlman, and the company has represented the “U.S. Embassy of the Government of Colombia” contacting congressional and executive branch officials to discuss U.S. policy – we might assume that would include trade agreements. [SW]

Every Republican Is Crucial donated $10,000. [OS] The questionable nature of this committee has been raised here in previous posts. Again, this is a PAC operated by the Cantor Joint Fundraising Committee, as in Eric Cantor (R-VA). Few members of Congress who were so closely tied to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff still managed to retain their seats in 2006.

The Freedom Project (John Boeher R-OH) donated $10,000. [OS] Once more the “K-Street” connections emerge from their donor list. Among the top 100 donations to the organization are checks from: The Dutko Group; Boich Companies; The Duberstein Group; Ernst & Young; Cassidy & Associates; Hecht Spencer & Associates; Podesta Mattoon; Navigators (Christopher Cox); The Hobbs Group; The Baptista Group; Holt Strategies; The Washington Group; News Corporation; the Securities Industry Association; Akin Gump; the Miller Brewing Company and, the Federal Strategies Group. [CM] Those unfamiliar with the Boich Companies should know that Boich = Coal. The Baptista Group works on behalf of Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, and the Optimal Group. [The Hill]

Rely On Your Beliefs donated $10,000. [OS] This PAC is operated by Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Altria). The donor list for this Heller funding source may raise at least one eyebrow – it includes the Ogilvy Group’s Wayne Berman, co-finance chair of the McCain campaign. [CM] John Green is the co-founder and managing director of Ogilvy Government Relations (formerly called the Federalist Group), and between 2005 and 2006 Green and his firm were paid $640,000 by Ameriquest “the nation’s largest subprime lender.” In 2006, as Green lobbied for the company, Ameriquest settled a 49 state investigation in a $325 million agreement “that ranked as the second largest predatory lending settlement in history.” [MS]

Battle Born PAC, run by Senator John Ensign (R-NV), gave Heller contributions totaling $10,000. [OS] Among the top contributors to this fund were Mehlman Vogel Castagenetti, Kimbell & Assoc; Cassidy & Assoc; and Barbour Griffith & Rogers. [CM] Barbour Griffith & Rogers has a contract to represent Serbia, billing $60,000 per month through January 2009 to handle its public relations in Washington. The Serbian government has recently been criticized for its “half-hearted cooperation with investigations into war crimes committee during the 1990s.” [SW] As recently as April 2008, the Hague Tribunal was urging Serbia “to locate war crime fugitives, grant access to state archives, and to introduce a witness protection program.” [BI]

Midnight Sun PAC gave Heller $6,000. [OS] Randy DeLay, Houston, TX is one of the top contributors to beleaguered Alaskan Representative Don “Coconut RoadYoung. KTUU television added to Rep. Young’s woes this year weighing in with its report “Something Fishy in Seward.” The recipients list for the 2008 cycle is short by Washington standards, but both Dean Heller and Jon Porter are included. [CM] Young’s short list probably has something to do with the fact that he can’t seem to round up donors for his legal defense fund much less concentrate on filling campaign coffers. [The Hill]

The 21st Century PAC under the direction of Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) kicked in $6,000 for Heller’s 2008 run. [OS] Donations from the Apollo Group figure prominently in supporting McKeon this season. [OS] While the “Apollo Group” name may not be a household term, one of its enterprises certainly is – the University of Phoenix, the private for-profit educational institution.

Congressman Heller has received contributions of $5,000 each from other leadership PACs including: the Congressional Majority Committee PAC; People for Enterprise Trade Economic Growth (Peter Sessions, R-TX); New PAC (David Nunes, R-CA); and, RED PAC (Adam Putnam, R-FL)

A complete listing of congressional leadership PACs is provided by CREW. A list of contributions to Congressman Heller from leadership PACs is available from Open Secrets.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Foster! Cazayoux! Childers! Derby?

Why did the Jill Derby campaign and countless other Democratic congressional campaigns across the United States likely look to Mississippi last night?

Because of this man:

Travis Childers

Travis Childers yesterday won a race that he never was supposed to win. He beat a Republican in a district that voted for President Bush with 62%, that his predecessor (who was appointed to Trent Lott's Senate seat) last won with 71% in 2006.

Yet, Childers not only beat his Republican opponent, he beat him by a significant margin: 54% to 46%. This after the Republicans tried to attack Childers by associating him with Barack Obama and Reverend Wright and the bad, bad liberals. The almost bankrupt NRCC spent more than a million dollars here and Nevada's own Sheldon Adelson's dollars didn't help the Republicans either. Neither did Dick Cheney's last minute appearance.

Why is this so important? Because it is the third special election in a heavily Republican district in a row that the Republicans lost. The first was fmr. Speaker Hastert's seat in Illinois, won by Democrat Bill Foster. The second was just a week ago in Louisiana (the only state John Ensign seriously thinks he can beat a Democratic incumbent Senator), where Don Cazayoux won. House Republicans are in pure panic mode now. From The Hill:

The sky is falling on House Republicans and there is no sign of it letting up.

The GOP loss in Mississippi’s special election Tuesday is the strongest sign yet that the Republican Party is in shambles. And while some Republicans see a light at the end of the tunnel, that light more likely represents the Democratic train that is primed to mow down more Republicans in November.

The third straight House special election loss in three conservative districts this year is a clear indication that the GOP brand is turning off voters and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is in disarray.

All this is good news for Jill Derby of course. Like Foster, Cazayoux and Childers she faces the challenge of winning in a Republican district. She narrowly lost against Dean Heller in 2006. So, what is different this time around? Due to the caucus voter registration is up. In the primary, Barack Obama faired much better in this CD than Hillary Clinton, especially amongst independents. This could mean that Obama's likely to have coattails in November. Dean Heller now has a record that he has to defend. And Republicans are even more unpopular than two years ago.

You can of course help Jill Derby get elected by contributing through the My Silver State ActBlue page.

Jill Derby for Congress website

Cross posted from My Silver State.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Heller Still Promoting Giuliani Tax Cut Proposals

Cross posted at Desert Beacon

Ah, the joys of living in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District, thereby getting a spot on Rep. Dean Heller’s mailing list! We’ve been treated yet again to one of Heller’s glossy (and franked) mailers touting his objections to taxes. The taxpayers who funded the sending of this ‘campaign piece’ are not, however, equally rewarded for mailing in the little tear-out “survey” included in the mailer – that portion says: “Place Stamp Here.”

Under the heading “Congressman Dean Heller supports Tax Relief for Hardworking Families,” we discover that:

(1) Heller “co-authored” H.R. 2734 (the bill to make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent). The bill was actually “authored” by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), introduced on June 14, 2007, and has 118 co-sponsors among whom is Congressman Heller. What Congressman Heller doesn’t say in the glossy mailer is that by April 16, 2008, H.R. 2734 was a dead letter, as Dick Armey’s right wing “Freedom Works” duly noted.

(2) Heller “co-authored” H.R. 411, to make “tax relief for married couples permanent.” Here again Rep. Heller appears to confuse “co-author” with “co-sponsor.” The bill was introduced on January 11, 2007 by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) with 68 co-sponsors. Representative Heller didn’t sign on as a co-sponsor until August 3, 2007. [LOC]

(3) Heller “co-authored H.R. 5105, simplifying the tax code.” H.R. 5105, was actually introduced by Rep. David Drier (R-CA) on January 23, 2008, and to date has only 12 co-sponsors. This “Fair and Simple Tax Act” is not quite as fair, nor as simple as the title implies. First, it makes the Bush Tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent. Among its other provisions are (a) the establishment of a three level tax rate system of 10%, 15%, and 30%; (b) the repeal of the estate and gift tax (or, the Paris Hilton Legacy Protection Act); (c) the adjustment of the AMT to account for inflation after 2007, and makes permanent those exemptions; (d) the reduction of the maximum corporate income tax rate to 25%; (e) the reduction of the maximum tax rate on capital gains to 10%; (f) the allowance for an inflation adjustment to the basis of capital assets for the purposes of determining gain or loss; (g) the establishment of new tax-exempt accounts for retirement savings, “lifetime savings,” and “lifetime skills accounts” (privatizing Social Security, and unemployment savings accounts); the exemption of those under 65 who do not have employer paid health insurance from the adjusted gross income threshold for the medical care tax deduction; and (h) makes permanent the tax credits for increased research activities. [CRS LOC] The bill might also be titled: “The I Got Mine, You Try to Get Yours, Sucker, Act of 2008,” or the “Socialism for Corporations, Free Enterprise for Individuals Act of 2008.” Perhaps Congressman Heller just ‘forgot’ to mention the privatization of Social Security provision in this legislation?

For all intents and purposes, H.R. 5105 is former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s tax proposal from his aborted 2008 presidential campaign. [ATR-PRD]

In addition to these aborted, abortive, and otherwise legislatively moribund bills, Rep. Heller wants us all to know that, “I firmly support making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent. In addition to helping end the death tax on small businesses, which would keep $181 billion over 5 years in the hands of job-creating businesses, these important tax cuts will help spur our economy by encouraging investment.” The first problem with this statement is that tax cuts are not, and in practical terms never have been, a short-term vehicle for economic stimulus. [EPI] Secondly, its been known since 2001 that capital gains tax cuts have little, if any, impact. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2001 Bush Tax Cuts could produce an increase of approximately “a couple hundredths of one percent after ten years” in the Gross Domestic Product. [CBPP] Further reducing government revenues, while running up massive indebtedness to achieve “a couple hundredths of one percent after ten years,” isn’t a formula for fiscal responsibility.

Representative Heller is also pleased to tell us that he voted against H.C.R. 312, the House version of the budget, because it included “the largest tax increase in American history,” including a tax increase for “116 million taxpayers,” and “an average of nearly $3,000 for families in Nevada.” There’s nothing all that original about these claims; they come directly from a Heritage Foundation “study” that quite predictably found “evidence” to support the contentions. The points were quickly debunked:

This claim is inaccurate, just as the same claim was inaccurate with regard to the budget resolution the Congress adopted last year. Neither of the plans recommended this week by the budget committees include a tax increase. The House plan simply assumes the same level of revenues over the 2008-2013 period as projected by the Congressional Budget Office under its current policy baseline, which essentially assumes no change in current laws governing taxes. The Senate plan actually calls for a small reduction in revenues, reflecting its assumption that Alternative Minimum Tax relief will be extended for one year without any offset of the revenues that will be lost as a result of that extension and that a second stimulus bill this year may include a small tax cut.” [CBPP]

Taking the point a step further, there was a very good reason the proponents of the original tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 inserted a sunset provision: “It should be recalled that the President’s tax cuts expire in 2010 because their supporters deliberately designed them that way, in order to fit the tax cuts within the cost constraints imposed by the Congressional budget resolutions adopted in 2001 and 2003. While acknowledging that their real goal was to make the tax cuts permanent, supporters of those measures opted to “sunset” the tax cuts before the end of the ten-year budget window, partly in order to avoid recognizing the cost of permanent tax cuts.” [CBPP] (emphasis added)

A person could wonder how much the taxpayers might have saved on postal expenses had Rep. Heller opted not to mail out a slick vanity publication boasting of his co-sponsorship of inactive legislation, his adherence to a thoroughly debunked Heritage Foundation propaganda piece, and his adoption of the Rudy Giuliani tax proposals?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Heller Ignores Calls to Upgrade G.I. Benefits

What does a former Iraq War combat medic have to say about Nevada Congressman Dean Heller (R-NV2) and his lack of support for the New G.I. Bill?

Patrick Campbell: “Heller? The phone line goes silent as he consults the spreadsheet. “I sent him e-mail this very morning.” The note to Nevada Republican Rep. Dean Heller suggests that “his chance to sign on to the GI Bill was running out,” Campbell says.“I feel like I’m the conductor on the train saying, ‘All aboard! History in the making.’ This is going to be the most important piece of legislation this Congress is going to pass.” [LV Sun]

Some days it’s difficult to figure out just who Congressman Heller’s constituents might be. They certainly aren’t working and middle income families who could have been assisted by the passage of the SCHIP legislation. The Congressman refused to support that bill even when the specific issues he raised were addressed in the final version of the legislation. He continued to assert (without any evidence whatsoever) that the bill would benefit “illegal aliens.”

Those constituents definitely aren’t veterans of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. If they were the Congressman would, like his colleague Jon Porter (R-NV3), have signed on as a co-sponsor of the New G.I. Bill. However, the 2nd District Representative’s disinterest in this bill must owe something to his ties to the Bush Administration and its willingness to fund raise for his campaigns – why else would he not answer the e-mails from Iraq and Afghanistan vets?

Additional information and comment at Desert Beacon

Monday, March 3, 2008

Dean Heller has lowest rating by League of Conservation Voters


Dean Heller, Republican Congressman for Nevada's Congressional District #2 (which includes Nye County) has the lowest rating of the League of Conservation Voters of Nevada's five members of Congress. [Las Vegas Sun]

Heller voted against ending the $18 billion tax incentive for big oil companies. The reason, as I understand it, is that removal of the incentives is essentially a tax hike on the oil companies that will discourage them from exploring for more oil reserves, which in turn, he thinks will lead to higher gas prices. Besides, his constituents, he surmises, drive pick-up trucks.

No Dean, the current thinking is to "end the addiction" to oil, go solar, wind, geothermal, and for alternative fuels to run vehicles. Get with it man

Heller's anti-environmentalist formula for success

Cross posted at Desert Beacon

If Representative Dean Heller’s (R-NV2) explanation to the Las Vegas Sun is to be believed, then the ‘logic’ of his vote last week on the energy bill in the House goes as follows: (1) Big Oil companies need tax breaks to keep prices low; (2) Big Oil companies will raise prices if they lose their tax breaks; (3) Pickup drivers in his district want low prices; therefore (4) Big Oil companies should get tax breaks. However, one gets the distinct impression that the real reason for the vote is explained further down the article – Heller continues to play the contrarian, counting on any vote against “environmentalists” as a position that will play well in his district.

The practical effect: Unfortunately neither items one, nor two, hold up to even the most casual scrutiny. The Big Oil corporations got tax breaks, to the tune of $18 billion – and did customers see any relief at the pumps in Battle Mountain, Elko, or Winnemucca? Pull up to a pump in Elko County and the best you can hope for is $3.01 for regular, [NGP] Park the pickup next to a pump in Incline and expect to pay about $3.50. [NGP]

When the House passed legislation allowing tax breaks for Big Oil in 2005 [WaPo] the average price for a gallon of regular was $2.54. [NGP] This information hardly supports Heller’s contention that allowing Big Oil to take tax breaks equates to lower prices at the pump. During the period when Big Oil was enjoying the tax breaks, prices at the pump in Elko County increased 47 cents, or by about 18.5%.

The philosophical effect: Railing against the “Feds” does, indeed, play well in rural areas of Heller’s district. A very vocal cadre of anti-government types in favor of “wise use” (exploiters) and “no regulation” (polluters) hold sway in many local media outlets in the region. However, more well informed citizens are familiar with the local politics underpinning the Great Shovel Brigade ‘movement’ in Elko County – and the connection between the road to the ‘outhouse’ and a former Elko County commissioner. Additionally, they are also cognizant of the Fed’s efforts to assist a valley rancher by offering a way for him to keep cattle from foundering in a spring and keep the water source in better shape – which were refused. There are still individuals in the area who hold the untenable position that wildland fires can be prevented by deliberately allowing overgrazing. Heller is counting on the prevalence of these attitudes to keep him in office.

He’s “OK with a soccer mom wanting to drive an SUV;” he wants the “lights to come on when he flips a switch.” [LVSun] This is almost Presentism at its finest. By Representative Heller’s lights nothing needs to be done until the soccer mom can no longer afford to put gas in the tank, or until we’ve created enough carbon emissions to render human life on the planet all but impossible. These are short-term and ultimately really very selfish views, a perspective most often demonstrated by small children who want what they want when they want it. Further, the number supporting Heller’s position may be shrinking, not dramatically, but perceptibly.

When Representative Heller was elected in 2004 there were 9,074 registered Democrats in Clark County’s portion of CD 2, and 9,053 Republicans. In the remainder of the State in CD 2 there were 132,195 Democrats and 180,255 Republicans, a difference of 48,060 votes. [NVSoS] The number of “active voters” listed in January 2008 still indicates a tight race in Clark, 10,160 Democrats and 10,410 Republicans. The remainder of CD2 shows 118,184 Democrats and 161,226 Republicans, a difference of 43,042. [NVSoS]

In the mean time drivers in Washoe County are paying at least $3.12 per gallon, in Fallon at least $3.25, and in Lovelock $3.56 at the Chevron Station. [NVGP] Meanwhile Chevron reported a fourth quarter net income of $4.9 billion in February 2008, up 29% from $3.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006. [Chevron] Did any of those SUV driving soccer moms see a 29% increase in earnings over the last two years?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heller votes against tax credits for renewable energy in Nevada

Congressman Dean Heller, (R-NV 2d District) voted against a House bill to extend tax credits for renewable energy industries. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

"The bill, which passed 236-182, would give $8 billion in tax breaks through 2011 to companies that produce new electricity from natural sources like wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower. A 30 percent credit for investments in solar products and fuel cell technology would be in place through 2016."

Sounds like a good move to me, considering record oil company profits and Governor Jim Gibbons' anxiety to build new coal power plants in Nevada. Nye County appears to me to be a ready-made locale for producing electricity from wind, geothermal, and solar sources.

the Review Journal reports, "Despite the House action, the bill faces long odds. Earlier bills were killed in the Senate by Republicans, who opposed giving tax breaks for renewables because their cost to the Treasury would be offset by taking away some tax breaks now enjoyed by oil and gas companies."

I don't know about you but I'm not at all offended by "taking away some tax breaks now enjoyed by oil and gas companies."

"The vote fell along party lines. While [Shelley] Berkley voted for the bill, Nevada Republican Reps. Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted against it as did all but 17 Republicans."

I suppose I just can't understand Republicans. I do understand their obsession with corporate profits, but why punish residents of the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Nye County?

Jill Derby going negative against Dean Heller?

Douglas Hill of Fallon wrote a letter to the Lahontan Valley News published today. He opens his letter with "Does Jill Derby have to open her campaign with an attack on Dean Heller? According to her, Heller just follows the Republican line." [Lahontan Valley News]

"Yet at the Republican Lincoln Day Dinner, Heller stated, 'We (Republicans) truly need to change,' adding that the Republicans mishandled the war, had undisciplined spending habits and corruption. Sounds like Heller is pretty independent to me!"

Having read Mr. Hill's letter I turned to the Derby website to see what she said in her announcement she was going to run against Heller again. [Jill Derby for Congress] Here is what she wrote:

"* Rather than be independent, he (Heller) put the profits of drug companies ahead of making prescription drugs affordable for Nevada's seniors.

"* Rather than push for new solutions to the quagmire in Iraq, he has been in lockstep with the Bush Administration.

"* Rather than be independent and put Nevada first, he has put Big Oil first, giving corporate welfare to Oil companies making record profits, while Nevadans struggle with record prices at the pump.

"* Rather than be independent and put Nevada's children first, he chose tax breaks for the wealthy and voted against check ups for kids.

"* Rather than be independent, he has voted over 90% of the time towing the line of the Bush administration and his Party."

I fail to see those remarks as being attacks, as Mr. Hill appears to think. I see Derby's remarks as pointing out deficiencies in Mr. Heller's representation of Nevada's 2nd Congressional District. They are fair criticisms which Derby should be highlighting.

Mr. Hill's letter pointed out that "Heller states he voted against the expansion of the SCHIP because "If H.R. 3162 just focused on improving children's health care, my vote probably would have been different. Yet 75 percent of this bill cut Medicare and raised taxes on the middle class ... Medicare cuts affect 30 percent of seniors in Nevada ... This legislation includes ... mandating new taxation on private health plan." This bill would have eliminated the current proof of citizenship requirement."

But read what health care professionals were saying back when SCHIP was moving through Congress (September 2007) before Bush vetoed it.

"A group of healthcare professionals gathered today to voice their support for the SCHIP bill.

"According to the professionals, Nevada has one of the worst insurance rates in the country and this legislation is critical to ensuring the healthcare of children uninsured in Nevada.

"If President Bush vetoes the bill, it might not just be these children who lose out.

"They say the healthcare of the estimated 30,000 children enrolled in the Nevada Checkup program would also be jeopardized.

"Martin Gallacher, a registered nurse, says "if it doesn't pass, it will affect the neediest of us in the state of Nevada. Again, parents who are forced to choose the emergency room as a primary source of care".

"The group says the veto of the bill will force thousands of families to continue to choose between basic needs, including food and healthcare." [KTNV Channel 13, Las Vegas]

How does Heller square his rejection of SCHIP with the children of families in the 2nd Congressional District? Even Jon Porter voted for SCHIP.

Of course George Bush vetoed SCHIP, twice I recall. Heller backed Bush's vetoes. And keep in mind that Bush flew into Heller's District in 2006 to help him raise campaign funds.

No, one of the primary problems Heller has in getting re-elected is the fact he joined himself to George Bush's hip. George Bush has been a disaster as President of the United States. I admire Heller's loyalty to Bush but I fail to see that loyalty as a benefit to the residents of Congressional District 2.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Heller Snubs Benefactor

Last August President George W. Bush came to Nevada for the American Legion National convention accompanied by Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2), and the President visited Nevada three times in 2006, twice on behalf of Heller’s campaign. So, why won’t the Congressman be appearing with Mr. Bush during his appearance in Las Vegas? “Rep. Dean Heller's Washington spokesman did not return repeated calls regarding the congressman's schedule.”

Also “Among the Republicans not sharing the stage with him: Rep. Jon Porter, who said he is committed to appointments in Washington . He didn't elaborate.” Senator Ensign begged off citing the FISA bill debates in the Senate. [LVSun]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heller votes to sustain Bush SCHIP veto again

The U.S. House of Representatives was 13 votes shy of over-riding President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill, H.R. 3963, and no one expected Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2) to cast his ballot in favor of working American families who find themselves unable to afford medical care for their children. Heller, presumably basking in his role as a stalwart supporter of the Bush-Cheney administration, is still clutching those long-refuted contentions that the bill “is an unnecessary tax” (on cigarette manufacturers), [DB] would “cause families to abandon private insurance plans” (without a shred of evidence to support this), and might allow “illegal immigrants to be covered” (it never did, and has been strengthened since). [LV Sun] [DB]

The House Republicans have just defeated the measure, again, on a 260-152 vote, [roll call 22] despite the veto-proof margin of victory in the Senate. [Gavel] Expect Heller and his cohort Steve King (R-IA5) to follow the “slippery slope to socialized medicine” line into the 2008 election season. [DKos] It seems enough for the right wing Republicans to have the current 18 month extension of the current program without expanding coverage to additional families who are finding themselves in financial trouble at the moment, and to allow additional leave time for veterans’ caregivers.

Nevada Representatives Berkley (D-NV1) and Porter (R-NV3) voted in favor of the veto override. [roll call 22]

Cross posted at Desert Beacon