Saturday, January 05, 2013

Roskam dives off fiscal cliff; rescued by the adults

Sanity finally prevailed at 2:00 AM on January 2, as the US House passed the fiscal cliff agreement that saved tax cuts for the bottom 98% of taxpayers, saved unemployment benefits for the jobless, kept Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid intact, and thankfully, after 22 years, the wealthiest of the wealthiest will have to pay a bit more tax on ordinary income to shore up critical governmental services.

But my Congressman, GOP House Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, not only voted to dive off the fiscal cliff, he defied the pleadings of this party boss, House Speaker John Boehner, to cast his cliff dive vote. I checked Roskam's website to see if he would explain his inexplicable vote, but his home page, instead of trumpeting a principled no vote, contained this headline:


Click this old link and a you merely get a re-hash of Roskam's Tea Party platitudes of lowering tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and reducing critical governmental regulations. Sound familiar? That's because those twin policies helped refashion the US into a near Titanic in 2007, Roskam's first year in Congress.

Roskam's website is virtually devoid of substantive discussion of the critical issues facing our nation.  Then I noticed a sidebar with Roskam's Facebook postings. Maybe he offered insight into his bizarre vote there. First up: two posts January 4 on Senator Mark Kirk's return to the Senate after year long stroke rehab. While touching, they are not fiscally informative. The next post goes all the way back to December 17, and get this, its a quote from scripture! That certainly didn't provide this non-theist with insight into Roskam's fiscal policies.  Finally, the fourth post discusses the cliff. Amazingly, its from December 13, twenty-three days ago, and its a falsehood. Roskam slyly begins by asserting that the administration touts tax hikes on the rich as the ONLY way to cut the deficit. Administration proposals have always stressed the balanced approach of responsible spending cuts with increased revenue. The enacted tax cuts for the rich, which will barely make a dent in their fabulous wealth, are both substantive and symbolic. They will increase revenue $620 billion over ten years and finally reflect the overwhelming sense of the country that the rich must share the enormous pain the middle class and the needy have suffered due to utterly discredited GOP economic policies; policies Roskam doubles down on every day.

Just like a steep cliff should have warning signs posted, so should Congressman Roskam's website. Instead of the tired cliché CONGRESSMAN ROSKAM'S JOB CREATION PLAN being the first sign you see, this might be more appropriate:                        


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Obama to Rep. Pihos, Sen. Dillard: "Pass marriage equality in Illinois"

President Obama is urging my state representative Sandy Pihos (42nd) and state senator Kirk Dillard (24th) as well as the entire Illinois General Assembly, to legalize gay marriage when it comes to a vote early this month.

Taking time from the time consuming fiscal cliff donnybrook, the President made this rare, possibly unprecedented foray into state politics because as an Illinoisan and former General Assembly member, he, like me and millions of Illinoisans is ashamed and embarrassed that the Land of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, can only be number ten of states to join the 21st century of human progress and understanding and to reject the fear and the ignorance and hatred that deny first class citizenship to hundreds of thousands of gay Illinoisans.

I don't know how Pihos and Dillard will vote when the roll is called because they won't tell me. But their comments make it clear they would probably prefer a root canal rather than a vote on this historic day. I don't believe either has a homophobic bone in their body, but I suspect their political bones are warning them that it sure won't help them win a future GOP primary with the stain of supporting gay rights on their resume. They've no doubt read the tea leaves of the last two election cycles in which extremist Republican candidates knocked down decent, reasonable folks like them in primaries as if their were bowling pins.

An Obama spokesman summarized the president's view thusly:  "While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect.  As he has said, his personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so.  Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally." 

Are you listening, Sandy? Are you listening Kirk?