Posts Tagged ‘czars’

Below are a couple editions of Straight Talk With Sam. This is Congressman Graves newsletters in which he gives a little opinion on current issues. First up the 10/12 edition, the Czars and their lack of accountability. Thanks Congressman Graves for Speaking up about this!

Czars Should Be Accountable to Congress

According to history, the word “czar” is derived from the word Caesar and means emperor. In Eastern Europe and Russia, a Tsar was equivalent to kings. In the United States, the czar title is given by the media to a high level official in an administration.

These officials report to the President and are meant to be in charge of an important policy area. Every President since Franklin Roosevelt has named at least one czar. These czars do not fall under Congressional oversight or require Senate confirmation, because they are members of the President’s staff.

The steady increase of czars is changing our government. We now have an auto czar, a border czar, a drug czar, a health czar, a green jobs czar and the list goes on and on. I believe that any President should run their office as they see fit within the framework of the Constitution. However, creating a new level of bureaucracy that does not answer to Congress has gotten out of hand.

At a minimum the American public has a right to know who these czars are, why they are qualified and what is in their job description. That is why I have signed on to Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s resolution requiring the White House to do just that.

In addition, I believe all czars should testify before Congress. No branch of our government should be more powerful than another. Czars should be accountable to Congress and the American people.

Sincerely,

Sam Graves

Up next is the 10/19 edition. In this edition Congressman Graves addresses those that are calling for a second stimulus package. Because the first one worked so well? We now have Christina Romer on video, one of Obama’s “brilliant” economic advisors saying that the stimulus will provide basically no economic growth next year. Gee, I could have told you that. Did these people find their economic degrees in the same Cracker Jack box that President Obama found his Nobel APeaceMent Prize in? America we have a situation analogous to children playing with cutting torches right now.

A Better Stimulus Package, Not a Second One

As the leaves turn in late October, it is clear that the Fall is fully upon us. This time of year is dominated by carving pumpkins, dressing up in costumes and scary stories about ghosts, ghouls and goblins. If there are such things as ghosts and goblins, I have no doubt that they originated in Washington D.C. After all, in Washington, no bad idea ever dies.

That rule was proven again last week when word surfaced that some lawmakers were quietly drafting a second stimulus bill. The first “stimulus” bill cost Americans $787 billion and resulted in more government and higher deficits.

Currently, we have an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent. Analysts tell us that the unemployment rate will continue to climb above 10 percent in the coming months. Clearly, this stimulus spending has had little to no impact.

With the largest deficit in American history, Congress needs to focus on legislation that will help create jobs, rather than simply spending more money. The administration has to understand that you cannot spend, tax or bail your way to economic prosperity. Yet that seems to be the only answer coming out of Washington.

Instead of spending billions more; Congress ought to redirect the unspent money from the first stimulus bill toward something that will actually help create jobs. The fastest and most direct way to help families and small businesses is immediate and direct tax relief. It has worked every time it has been tried.

What we need right now is a better stimulus package, not a second one.

Sincerely,

Sam Graves

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I find it funny that many of my elected representatives find the time to write newsletters on a weekly or bi-weekly basis but yet Sen. McCaskill writes only once in a while. You would think with a staff as large as hers they could get a newsletter out more than every now and then. Below is a recent correspondence from Sen. McCaskill about health care. Interspersed are thought provoking comments from ClayCoMOPolitics in bold. Ms. McCaskill has asked that we tell her our priorities. I say go for it! The link is included in her letter. Below her letter is the letter that I received from Ms. McCaskill’s office after I shared my priorities.

Ms. McCaskill’s Letter:

Dear Friend, 

Tensions are running high in Washington as the debate rages over health insurance reform. 

And I get it.  Health care is such a personal issue.  Access to good quality, affordable care – or the lack of it – can change your life. 

So we can’t get swept up in the negativity that Washington interest groups specialize in or close our minds based on fear and misinformation, or draw imaginary lines in the sand.  We’ve got to keep our heads. (ClayCoMOPoliticss translation: In other words, you are not really mad, you can’t think on your own, and the only reason you are mad is because special interest groups have “lied” to you and made you mad. Sorry Ms. McCaskill, the number one interest group that has gotten main stream America mad is the DNC. The reason we are mad is because you are simply not listening to us!)

I owe it to you, my bosses in Missouri, to tell you where I’m at in this debate.  Here are my top priorities for healthcare: 

Provide you more choices (ClayCoMOPolitics comment: Not really, considering you do not support breaking down interstate trade barriers for us to purchase health insurance in another state. That would be more choices and would bring down health care costs.)

Bring down health care costs (read more) (See above comment.)

Deliver better outcomes for patients 

Make sure it doesn’t add to our debt 

I invite you to send me your priorities for insurance reform. 

I’m representing Missouri the best way I know how – by looking at each issue on its merits and coming to an independent decision. (ClayCoMOPolitics comment: If that’s the case, I’m really concerned. You voted for two bailouts, consistently vote for massive government spending, had no comment on Van Jones, have no concern about the FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd, voted for Cass Sunstein, and have been pretty friendly with ACORN in the past.)  But I’m convinced, now more than ever, that we must get a bill because the price of doing nothing is way too high. 

None of the bills proposed have been perfect, and they’re all likely to change significantly before the end. 

And with so many proposals now up for discussion, we have to remember there is so much agreement on most of the reforms we’re considering. Finding agreement on everything won’t happen, but I’m optimistic we will make a meaningful difference in healthcare and health insurance reform this year. 

Tell me your thoughts on healthcare now. 

I give you my word that I’ll keep fighting for what I think is right, and for Missourians like you. (ClayCoMOPolitics comment: That’s a really odd statement. “Fighting for what I think is right.” Above, I thought you said we were your boss. Ms. McCaskill you have been on record in supporting a public option, over 50% of America does not support a public option. Though I haven’t seen any polls I suspect that the numbers are similar in Missouri. Start fighting for what America and Missouri wants!)

All best, 

Senator Claire McCaskill

Here is the response that I got from Ms. McCaskill’s office. I sent a very brief comment just simply stating that there should be no public option and to reduce interstate trade barriers on health care.

Dear Mr. Palmer,

Thank you for contacting me regarding our health care system. I appreciate your comments and welcome the opportunity to respond.

There is no denying that our health care system is in dire need of reform.  The soaring cost of medical care is crippling our economy, bankrupting our nation’s families, and becoming an unsustainable financial burden for American employers.  In the last eight years, health care premiums have grown four times faster than wages, and there are nearly 46 million uninsured Americans – the majority of whom are employed. (ClayCoMOPolitics comment: Ummm…. I thought the President said it was 30 million, does this mean you are counting the undocumented migrant population. That’s the only way you arrive at this statistic. Better get your facts straight.) It’s tragic that in a country of great wealth like ours so many of our fellow Americans don’t have access to care; and that the uninsured are suffering from avoidable illnesses and receiving expensive medical care too late, the cost of which gets passed onto the rest of us.

I am pleased to see my colleagues on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee and on the Finance Committee leading the health reform effort in the Senate.  There are still many tough issues to resolve in the health care debate, including insurance coverage mandates, whether a public program will compete with private insurers, and how to pay for it.  I welcomed the President’s speech to Congress which outlined his view of how Congress should resolve the health care reform debate and offered room for compromise and pragmatism.  While Congressional committees continue to craft various versions of health care reform bills, the highest priorities for Congress and health industry leaders remain protecting patient choice of care, curbing skyrocketing health costs (ClayCoMoPolitics comment: Number 1 driver of cost in our system is Medicare but you can’t even acknowledge it?), and expanding coverage for the uninsured.

Although I am hopeful that significant reform will be enacted by the end of this year, you should know that Congress has already passed several measures that have improved access to care for children and struggling families.  In January, I voted for Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2), which will provide 4.1 million additional low-income children with quality health care coverage.  I was also pleased that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted in February, included extended unemployment health benefits coverage as well as funds for cost saving health care initiatives like health information technology.

Although there is not a final version of the health reform bill in the Senate or House, I understand that there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation, and, yes, some fear and anger, as well, surrounding certain proposals for reform.  You may be interested to know the Special Committee on Aging, of which I am a member, has prepared a document entitled “Health Care Reform, Fact vs. Fiction”. I would encourage you to visit the website http://www.aging.senate.gov/issues/healthcare/factvsfiction.pdf to gather factual information regarding some of these rumors.  If you are interested in reading the House and Senate bills, you can find the most updated versions of the legislation by visiting http://www.help.senate.gov and http://www.energycommerce.house.gov.

Addressing our nation’s health care crisis will be no small feat for Congress; but it will only get worse the longer we ignore it.  Our nation’s long term financial health requires a balance between family coverage needs and viable financing from businesses and the government.  The current tenuous situation necessitates action on healthcare reform now.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to find a fiscally responsible solution for the health of Americans and our nation’s economy, and I am hopeful that we will have significant reform enacted by the end of this year.

Sincerely, 

Claire McCaskill

United States Senator 

P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at www.mccaskill.senate.gov.

Ms. McCaskill I enjoyed the form letter! Thanks for not addressing either of my points! I know you get a large volume of mail but you would think that if you truly wanted to work in a bipartisan way you might have a form letter that addresses my concerns at least. No mention of breaking down interstate trade in Congress and you really didn’t address the issue of a public option. Ms. McCaskill there is a lot of us looking for straight talk and we are not getting it from you.

This is the September 4th edition of Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser’s e-newsletter Funk’s Front Porch. He discusses the health care reform forum that was held at Children’s Mercy, the mayor’s Green Impact Zone, and the Office of Urban Affairs created inside the White House (this is discussed below).

Adolfo Carrion, Jr one of the 37 czar’s asked Funk to host a meeting of mayors in our area. The newly created Office of Urban Affairs is headed by yet another non-confirmed czar Adolfo Carrion, Jr. I find it very interesting, and concerning, that Mr. Carrion reports directly to Valerie Jarrett. Ms. Jarrett is on record as saying quite positive things about the now departed Green Jobs Czar Van Jones. I am still what positive things can you say about a self-avowed communist who claims that whites are poisoning inner city minorities. Now I am not attacking the mayor here, but he does say he is excited about the new office. These czars concern me. We don’t know what Mr. Carrion’s salary is or the budget of the Office of Urban Affairs. For all I know Mr. Carrion isn’t another nut like Van Jones, John Holdren, Cass Sunstein, or Valerie Jarrett. It sure makes you wonder.

Dear Folks,

This Week’s City Business

It was a good week for Kansas City and the Mayor’s office. The Mayor took part in several events over the last week to welcome White House administration officials to Kansas City.

The Mayor was called to participate in a health care forum hosted by U.S. Senator Kit Bond on Monday morning. Also in attendance were Bond’s fellow Senators Mitch McConnell and John McCain. After the Mayor welcomed the group and thanked Children’s Mercy Hospital for providing the venue, the Mayor stated that the country needed to focus on the economic impacts of health care, and the need for a bi-partisan solution that would be long lasting. He said that there was no question that health care reform was needed, and he was pleased when the Senators agreed with that. He especially appreciated Senator McConnell’s call for a bi-partisan panel that could propose a solution and remove partisan tactics from interfering with the process.

The Mayor was also asked by the Urban Affairs office of the White House to host a reception and a roundtable discussion for regional mayors in our area on Monday evening. Seventeen mayors attended from cities as small as Wood Heights in Ray County to as large as Independence.

He said that it was good to see the White House focusing on cities and metropolitan areas and stated that the meeting produced an excellent discussion centered on how the White House can better help cities.

The Mayor is excited that President Barack Obama has created the Urban Affairs office. He has been in close contact with administration officials over the past few months, including a White House visit in August. He is looking forward to building that relationship.

On Tuesday morning, the Mayor attended the ribbon cutting for the Green Impact Zone Assistance Center. Flanked by White House officials, including HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and DOT Deputy Secretary John Pocari, the Mayor was pleased to hear his urban initiatives specifically mentioned by several speakers.

The Mayor stated that the Green Impact Zone project, headed up by Anita Maltbia, is the perfect example of partnership and that repair to our urban core is needed in order for Kansas City to succeed.

On Tuesday afternoon the Mayor participated in a forum hosted by the HUD and DOT Secretaries. In his welcoming remarks the Mayor told the White House guests and local attendees about his New Tools initiative and about his push to recreate the successful Harlem Children’s Zone in Kansas City. He stated that both of his initiatives work hand and hand with the Green Impact Zone because New Tools is designed to bring investment back into the area and the Harlem Children’s Zone is a model of educating youth in distressed areas.

On A More Personal Note

Finally, the Mayor was asked to support the city’s Start! Walking Wellness Program. That was an easy request to support given that Funk and I make it a priority to walk at least three miles every day. We have found that walking produces many wonderful results: it helps us stay in wonderful shape, it gives us a built-in time to converse each day, and it gives us a chance to meet and talk with other residents who have also made walking a priority in their daily routine.

The Next Town Hall Meeting When: September 9, 6:30 p.m. Where: Wexford Place, 6500 N Cosby Ave. Who: Wexford Place

In faith,
Gloria & Mark

You can respond by email to this newsletter at funksfrontporch@gmail.com.

If you’d like daily news updates, please check the Mayor’s blog site at www.funksfrontporch.com.