Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Meeting Roskam about the war

On Monday, March 19, a group of other citizens seeking to bring our troops home from Iraq met with U.S. Congressman Peter Roskam (Rep., IL Dist. 6) at his office in Bloomingdale. Here is there report:

A bricklayer and foster father, a former math teacher, a children's novelty-candy salesman, a retiree from COD and peace activist, friends of a mother who had lost her son to an IED just six weeks ago and a grandfather who still lives with the pain of a grandson lost two years ago in this ongoing war. We all came looking for answers from Peter Roskam; for some vision of how he plans to bring an end to a war, now opposed by 63% of Americans, started on false pretenses and continuing behind a shield of upholding troop morale.

In short, Peter Roskam doesn't have a plan to bring an end to the war in Iraq and is the very embodiment of the President's "be patient and stay the course" non-plan. He feels, he told us, that his slight margin of victory in November was a mandate for his campaign promise to "finish well" in Iraq. When asked by several members of our group what that might look like, he could not articulate anything specific. When asked whether he thought he would tolerate two more years of the heightened violence and destruction (please see Iraq by the numbers for all the figures) or five more or ten he responded that he would not be "cross-examined". Sort of ironic coming from a former personal injury attorney and public servant.

Please be assured that Mr. Roskam was extremely polite and a good listener. His staff was welcoming and we were seen promptly at 9:30 as was promised. Of course, this should be the norm when having a meeting with one's employers but, as anyone who has ever tried to meet with Henry Hyde will tell you, it can often feel as if the constituent serves at the pleasure of the congressperson and not the other way around.

We weren't surprised to learn that Mr. Roskam believes that there are droves of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who, without provocation, are planning our demise everyday (please go to to see the text of his floor remarks on Feb 16th) and that most of them are now in Baghdad. He believes Mr. Bush's homeland security policies have kept us safe from further attacks (nevermind that passport services overflow calls are being handled by volunteers...a digression but not really). He believes that if we don't keep these terrorists in the playpen we call Iraq, they will wander over here (probably across the Mexican border with all of those social-security stealing "illegals" he campaigned about).

Mr Roskam whose favorite phrase is "let's unpack that" when he wants to debunk something he feels has been been properly thought through, did not have any interest in "unpacking" his own things. He did not want to unpack the reason why we chose to attack Iraq when Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia provided the villains of 9/11. He did not want to unpack his rationale for why he voted for the surge of troops even after assuring Kevin Landeck's grieving father that he was the guy who would offer his ear and make a difference. Rich Landeck told Peter personally that Kevin repeatedly said that the war was being run incompetently and that they could not militarily solve the problems he saw in Iraq. When asked several times whether he would be willing to pack up his own child's things to go to this war, Mr Roskam avoided an answer.

Toward the end of our meeting, Roskam shared an analogy he gives when talking to our grade school children. The U.S., he posits, is like a person standing at the side of the pool and the Iraqis are like a person drowning. The U. S. is reaching out its hand to the Iraqis but unless they reach back, the U.S. can't pull them out. What he neglects to tell them is that it was the U.S. who pushed them in in the first place and then proceeded to hold their heads under water for four years now. Makes you wonder how long it will take him to unpack that. In 2008, District 6 needs to do more than cross-examine Peter Roskam, they need to vote him out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Roskam named one of the top public enemies of the Middle Class in Congress

Readers of this blog already know the Roskam is an enemy of the Middle Class residents of Il-6, but now he has just been named one of the top public enemies of the Middle Class in Congress. Read more below:

Americans United for Change Unveils List of Top 18 'Public Enemies of the Middle Class' in Congress

These Enemies of the Middle Class to be targeted with Ads, Events and Online Protests to Convince Them to Stand with Middle Class Americans

* Voted against raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade
* Voted against leveling the playing field for middle class workers by restoring their freedom to choose unions
* Put the special interests first – double check

Washington D.C. – In response to their full frontal, unapologetic assault on the middle class agenda in the 110th session of the U.S. House of Representatives, Americans United for Change today dubbed eighteen Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, ‘Public Enemies of the Middle Class,’ including Peter Roskam (IL-6).

Specifically, Americans United took issue with the Representative Roskam's votes against: 1) H.R.2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act which would raise the federal minimum wage for the first time since 1997 from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years; and 2) H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for middle class workers by fixing a badly broken system for forming unions and bargaining with big business and Corporate America for better pay and improved benefits. Both bills passed in the U.S. House with bipartisan support, and Americans United for Change, the non-profit advocacy organization perhaps best known for leading the fight to beat back President Bush’s disastrous proposal to privatize Social Security in 2005, is now urging Members of the U.S. Senate to do the right thing and move each element of the middle class agenda to the President’s desk.

“More and more of America’s working people are struggling to make ends meet, and our middle class is disappearing,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Americans United for Change. “At least two meaningful pieces of legislation to reverse this trend have already come before Congress this year – and, unfortunately, these eighteen Members were no where to be found when the middle class families they represent needed them most. Just last week, they each opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give middle-class workers a fair shake by fixing a badly broken system for forming unions and bargaining with Corporate America for better pay, improved benefits and retirement security. Earlier this year, each of these Members opposed the first increase in the federal minimum wage in a decade. They couldn’t even be counted on to stand up for the most vulnerable workers in their states who live in borderline poverty. It’s a question of priorities and a question of values – and it’s clear that each of these Members have lost touch with the values of middle class Americans, whom overwhelmingly support these important initiatives. Until they get their priorities straight in Washington and stop pandering to the special interests at the expense of working people, we will continue to identify each Member as their districts’ ‘middle class public enemy #1.’”

While more than 18 Republicans voted against both the minimum wage increase and the Employee Free Choice Act in the House, these 18 were selected as public enemies of the middle class because they either come from districts where these issues have gained added resonance because of the growing disparity between the wages of workers and corporate executives or because they had been identified as persuadable on these issues.

“Americans United for Change is prepared to make ‘poster children’ out of there 18 members – and others – who continue to put the interests of the corporate America – which has had its way in Washington for the past six years – ahead of the interests of families and workers,” said Funk. “If it takes television ads, online protests and public events with angry constituents to get these folks to do the right thing by middle class Americans -- then so be it.”

Why middle class workers support the Employee Free Choice Act:

The Employee Free Choice Act would: 1) strengthen penalties for companies that illegally coerce or intimidate employees in a effort to prevent them from forming a union; 2) bring in a neutral third party to settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree on a contract after three months of negotiations; 3) establish 'majority sign up', meaning that if a majority of the employees sign union authorization cards, validated by the National Labor Relations Board, a company must recognize the union.

It would level the playing field in a system that’s stacked entirely in employers’ favor – a system that routinely lets corrupt employers’ get away with harassment, intimidation, coercion and even dismissal of workers who try to organize unions. See this report from American Rights At Work exposing the shocking reality of routine company union-busting intimidation tactics in the workplace.

The Employee Free Choice Act is overwhelmingly supported by 69 percent of American public, according to a recent poll from the AFL-CIO. More than half of U.S. workers – nearly 60 million – say they would join a union right now if they could.

Workers who belong to a union earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers. Union workers are 62 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage and four times more likely to have pensions than nonunion workers.

Why middle class families support the Fair Minimum Wage Act:

The minimum wage has not been increased in nearly a decade, making this the longest span without a minimum wage increase since the wage was first implemented.

Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years.

83 percent of Americans support an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Workers earning the minimum wage will only make $10,700 over the next year, $4,367 under the poverty threshold for a family of three. 3

Nearly 13 million people would likely benefit from the increase – 5.6 million directly and 7.4 million indirectly.

See this report from the Center for American Progress debunking the myth that a minimum wage increase would hurt small businesses.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Roskam again votes against everyday working men and women.

Last week the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act, which will level the playing field for middle class workers by restoring freedom to choose unions and strengthening penalties for companies that illegally coerce or intimidate employees who want to unionize. While the bill passed 241-185 with several Republicans voting for it, Roskam continued to be a rubber stamp for his party leaders.

He clearly voted against the interests of everyday working men and women - and not even the $500,000 ad campaign the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) launched in districts like his can change this fact. The CoC, and their conservative allies like Roskam, have constantly fought against raising wages and increasing safety standards in the workplace are now fightin this bill claiming they are “protecting” American workers. Rubbish! The CoC is not spending millions of dollars to “protect” American workers, rather they are trying to protect the profits they gain from access to low wages non-unionized workers earn.

The Employee Free Choice Act is needed in the first place because of the intimidation from the companies that employ every tactic available to prevent workers from forming unions. Did you know that every 23 minutes a U.S. worker is fired or retaliated against for their support of a union? Here are a few more interesting statistics:

91% of employers force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with their supervisors during union organizing drives.

51% of employers illegally coerce workers into opposing unions with bribes or special favors during union organizing drives.

30% of employers illegally fire pro-union workers during union organizing drives.

Roskam has already voted increasing the minimum wage. This is another clear example of Roskam voting against everyday, hard working residents of Il-6. We need to shine light on these vote so that every one of his constituents know how sneaky Pete is voting against the interest of hard working middle class citizens.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wood Dale’s Mayor correctly questions Roskam’s ability to get federal dollars for vital Il-6 tranportation project

I just noticed an article in Saturday’s Daily Herald discussing an important Il-6 transportation project, the long-planned major overhaul of Wood Dale’s notorious intersection of Wood Dale Road, Irving Park Road and the train tracks.

While I am in general fascinated by transportation planning (this is actually true, I studied Urban Planning at the University of Illinois), what I want to call your attention to is the following excerpt with quotes from Wood Dale’s mayor Ken Johnson:

And with the influential Henry Hyde of Wood Dale now retired from Congress, Johnson said he was skeptical about Washington ever coughing up the remaining funding needed.

"Can we count on a freshman congressman (Republican Peter Roskam of Wheaton) in a minority party to get us $30 million?" Johnson said. "Our federal people tell us no, so we'll just have to hope we can use that $11 million we already have to increase safety some other way."

The mayor and his federal people are correct. Roskam doesn’t have the influence of Hyde to deliver for the people of IL-6 and never will. This is not just because he is a freshman member in the minority. Henry Hyde was in the minority for most of his career, but was effective in gaining influence and respect because he wasn’t just a rubber stamp who blindly followed his party. Hyde, while very conservative, served his country in war and was able to cross the isle to support gun control and family leave legislation. We’re still waiting for Roskam to demonstrate some ability to be an independent voice and not just a rubber stamp. Until then residents of Il-6 will suffer the consequences.

Raising Money from Terrorists

The DCCC has some great info how the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) has taken money from an accused terrorist financier and refused to donate this money to charity. This is despite the fact that the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) already has. The DCCC goes on to list the 22 Republican Reps who have taken money since the accused terrorist started donating money, and of course Rep. Roskam is among them. As the saying goes, “You can tell who a person is by the company they keep.” Rep. Roskam should do the glaringly obvious right thing and call on the NRCC to donate this money back. If they do not, we should call on him to donate his portion of this terrorist money to charity.

One thing Roskam and NRCC should NOT do is just give the money back. I’ve heard some suggestion of that from the media, and this has always struck me as silly. Just because the money is tainted and shouldn’t be used to further your conservative political agenda doesn’t mean you should return it to an accused terrorist. We would all be much better having that tainted money do good for a charitable cause. Since Sneaky Pete claims he cares about seniors so much that he won’t even collect taxes from oil companies and with seniors facing such high prescription drug prices as a result of members like Roskam forbidding the government to negotiate for lower prices, I think we should call on him to donate the money to a charity that helps seniors buy prescription drugs. Any other suggestions on what charity this terrorist money should go to?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Roskam’s ineptness – needs to ask Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board what they do

Take a look at this rather hilarious exchange from a House Financial Services Committee hearing with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke. Basically, Rep. Roskam asks him what the Federal Reserve Board does. Now I know there is no such thing as a stupid question, but one would expect an elected Congressman to have a basic knowledge of this sort of thing. Remember, he has a full staff and is on the Financial Services Committee! Its amazing he wasn’t laughed out of the hearing. I wish I could get a video of this so I could see the look on Bernanke’s face as he was answering. I also wonder what the more than 60,000 professionals working in finance in the Sixth District would think of the fact their elected Representative sitting on the Financial Services Committee actually had to ask the Chairman what the Federal Reserve Board does.

REP. PETER ROSKAM (R-IL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I'm a new member of Congress and a new member of the committee, and I have appreciated the detailed questions that my colleagues have asked.

I guess I would ask a broader question, and that is, you know, it seems to me that economic strength and weakness, success and failure, is mysterious in a lot of ways. And it's difficult for somebody outside of this arena to gaze in and really discern all the factors that go into a good successful mix. And I know there's really nobody that can do that.

But for purposes of this committee and future committees that have this responsibility of oversight for you, Mr. Chairman, and the Fed, what are the things that you're responsible for? What are the tools that you have at your disposal? And could you sort of -- and maybe, in an Econ 101 sort of fashion in the remaining four minutes, just break that down and say, "Look, these are the things that we frankly have no influence over but are just off the table." I think that would help me and maybe some other members of the committee in the future.

MR. BERNANKE: Well, the Federal Reserve has multiple responsibilities. The one that's best known is our responsibility for monetary policy, which we use to pursue the congressional mandate of price stability and maximum sustainable employment.

It's important that the Federal Reserve be independent and be able to make independent decisions about interest rates in order to preserve the credibility of the central bank. However, it is also important that Congress exert oversight over the Federal Reserve to make sure that we are following our stated mission and that we are pursuing coherent and rational plans.

The other areas include banking, where we are involved in developing the new capital (accord ?), providing various guidances and regulations together with the other banking agencies. And there we are more like the other agencies in terms of the kinds of responsibilities we have.

We have considerable responsibility in the consumer protection area -- that's come up a lot today -- for various regulations that provide disclosures to consumers on credit cards, on mortgages, and that provide some tools to address predatory lending or high-cost lending. And there we are -- like other agencies, we are given instruction by the Congress, by the law, in terms of what the Congress wants us to achieve and with what instruments. And then it's our job to implement the regulations that will most effectively accomplish Congress's goals.

So we have a range of activities, all of which fall under the oversight of Congress, obviously.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NY & Iraq

Lot of things have been happening the past week to report on – the biggest of course is Roskam delivered his floor speech and vote on the Iraq war resolution last week. I would written on this sooner, but I myself was taking advantage of the 3 day weekend to leave work a little bit early on Friday and head to New York with my girlfriend. It was a really interesting to go see ground zero and all the construction around where the World Trade Center used to be. Of course, all this got me thinking about a few things on the Iraq debate.

First of all, and it bears repeating, is the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. The Republicans often try to link Iraq to 9/11, but the two are completely unrelated. Along those lines, I find it very interesting that the cities directly targeted by 9/11, NY and Washington DC, both overwhelmingly reject Bush and his Iraq policy. The good people of NY do not want to see their city attacked again. Their lives are literally at stake, but they realize that a surge of troops in Iraq will do nothing to make them safer at home. Rather it will only put others at risk.

The reason I was able to get off work and go to NY in the first place was that Monday was a Presidents Day holiday to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday. I think anyone listening to the Iraq debate should have been required to read his farewell address first. In it he warned against the U.S. getting involved recklessly in foreign entanglements. His warning of "do not go abroad in search of monsters to slay lest ye become one," should still be heeded even today.

Anyways, below are Roskam’s comments on Iraq. What do you think of his comments and of his vote to rubber stamp Bush’s Iraq policies?

Mr. ROSKAM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Speaker, we are here to debate a House Concurrent Resolution, and the root verb of ``resolution'' is resolute. I just want to challenge the House today to consider the resolution of our enemies. I would like to read three quotes to you.

Resolved, by Samba bin Laden. The whole world is watching this war, and the two adversaries, the Islamic nation on the one hand and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation.

Or how about this? Resolved, in the al Agenda charter: There will be continuing enmity until everyone believes in Allah. We will not meet the enemy halfway, and there will be no room for dialogue with them.

Or how about this, and I am paraphrasing: Resolved, from Samba bin Ladens deputy, who said that the plan is to extend the jihad wave; to expel the Americans from Iraq and extend the jihad wave to secular countries neighboring Iraq, clash with Israel and establish an Islamic authority.

Is there anybody among us who doubts the resolve and clarity with which our opponents are speaking? I don't.

I think what is lacking today in our conversation is the consequences of failure. The previous speaker used the words ``victory'' and ``success.'' He had a very low view of them, and I understand his characterization of those words. He said we have heard those words before. That is what the gentleman from New Jersey said.

But, do you know what? We will hear the word ``failure'' when it is used in the context of this challenge that is before us.

There is no question that there has been great difficulty that has gone before us in this fight. There is no question that there have been great mistakes that have been made, and I am wholeheartedly in favor of us acting as a coequal branch of government and calling for benchmarks and demarcation and holding the administration accountable for its decisions.

But if we fail in this, if we pull out, if we retreat, if we yield, what will happen? Is there anybody really who thinks that Iran, for example, will be less provocative? Is there anybody who thinks that al Agenda will be less provocative?

If we fail, extremism in this world, will it be ascendant or will it be descendant?

Madam Speaker, I close with a simple question, and that is, we need to ask, What is it about this resolution that will do one of two things? Does this encourage our troops, or does this discourage our enemies? I would suggest that this resolution, while it is serious, oh, it is very serious, it is not substantive. This is the ultimate expression of legislative passive aggression. It offers no substantive alternative.

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition, and ask my colleagues to do the same.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sneaky Pete strikes again

Sneaky Pete is at it again. Last time I wrote about him he was introducing and bragging about an amendment that he previously voted against (and that doesn't do anything). Now he is cosigning letters urging legislative provisions that he previously voted against. It appears his hypocrisy knows no bounds.

What I’m referring to is the fact he just cosigned a letter written by Republican swing seat battler Heather Wilson urging Pelosi to immediately pass the Senate’s legislation to raise the minimum wage. In the letter they say specifically,

“We believe it is past due for a raise in the minimum wage, which is why many of us joined in supporting a stand-alone minimum wage bill in the House. . . .

. . . we believe considering the Senate amendment is the quickest and most effective means of giving low-income workers a pay increase. Workers who make $10,700 per year while working 40 hours a week do not care if a bill to increase their wages originates in the House or Senate, or if such legislation includes tax incentives for their employers. They simply care if their wages are raised.

Madam Speaker, we believe it is time the minimum wage is increased and a bipartisan solution is within reach. We urge you to bring this compromise package to the House floor for a vote and raise the minimum wage without further delay.”

I agree with the letter's underlying premise that the minimum wage must be increased. The problem is that hypocrite Roskam voted against raising the minimum wage in the first place. The Republicans have been in power for over 10 years without once raising the minimum wage and now hypocrite Roskam is telling Speaker Pelosi, who with Democrats has made raising the minimum wage one of her top priorities, how workers need to have the minimum wage raised immediately. How someone can have the audacity to sign such a letter after voting against raising the minimum wage is beyond me.

Sneaky Pete needs to be asked if he thinks it is so important for the minimum wage to be raised immediately regardless of what else such legislation includes, why did he vote against it? And why do I have this sinking feeling that hypocrite Roskam will end up voting against raising the minimum wage when it finally gets out of conference? We’ve already seen during the last campaign how this guy will flip-flop and say anything to anyone to get elected, but his voting record shows through his hypocrisy and reveals the compassionless extreme conservative he really is. His record speaks for itself and we're not letting him fool us with his empty talk.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Roskam passes meaningless amendment he previously voted against

Sneaky Pete is at it again. Yesterday his office sent out a press release praising his work in passing an amendment that he claims will save taxpayers $10 million. He goes on to talk about how great alternative fuels are, despite the fact he voted last month against collecting taxes owed from oil companies to fund development of alternative fuels.

The problem is that his amendment and press release is a complete farce. If I can get wonkish for a second, his basis for claiming to have saved taxpayers $10 million is that his amendment makes the new spending conform to pay-as-you-go (known as pay-go) budget rules, which requires new spending to be offset by reductions in spending (or increases in revenue) elsewhere. But the thing sneaky Pete doesn’t mention is that the House already passed pay-go budgeting rules. I know he is a new member and all, but how is it possible he missed the fact that the Democratic led House of Representatives already adopted pay-go budget rules for all of their legislation – a rule he voted against? Here are just a few samples out of the tons of articles and media devoted to this:

House Adopts Pay-as-You-Go Rules” Washington Post, 1/6/07.

Day Two: House passes new budget rules. Democrats push to increase spending only with cuts in other funding” MSNBC, 1/5/07.

Congresswoman Melissa Bean Hails Return to Pay-as-you-go Budget Rules,” from the office of Roskam’s neighboring congressional colleague, 1/5/07.

So basically, sneaky Pete offered an amendment to follow rules that everyone already agreed to follow – and is now trying to claim credit for it. There is a reason why his amendment passed by voice vote, which signifies that not a single member objected to its passage. That reason is because it doesn’t do anything new. The only reason he was even allowed to offer such an amendment is because the non-controversial bill (it passed 400-3) came to the House floor under an open rule which meant there were no limits on amendments that could be offered, no matter how pointless they were. If there were limits I assure you that such a pointless amendment would have never been allowed.

And what makes bragging about this pointless amendment especially ridiculous is the previously mentioned fact that Roskam actually voted against the original pay-go budgeting rule which passed last month 280-152. So he literally voted against this rule before he submitted an amendment for it. Talk about flip-flopping.

All of this brings me to a completely all together different subject. Some of you may noticed me use the term sneaky Pete throughout this post. I’ve actually adopted this from a reader who used this nickname on an earlier comment. I’ve been thinking for quite some time that we need a good nickname for Roskam – and sneaky Pete certainly sums him up in regards to this amendment. I haven’t been able to come up with anything catchy myself, especially as I do not want to make any personal attacks on this blog. The purpose of this blog is strictly to follow Roskam’s votes and policy. In that vein, the sneaky Pete label here refers to his legislative actions in bragging about an amendment that 1) doesn’t do anything and 2) is in support of a rule he previously voted against. But does anyone else have any suggestions for a good label/nickname? Keep in mind “way too conservative Roskam” isn’t very catchy – although it is certainly true!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Roskam already cozying up to lobbyists

Its not taking Roskam long to adopt to the Republican culture of corruption – what do we expect from someone who is protégé of the indicted Tom Delay? The Roll Call reports that tonight he is having a fundraiser hosted by lobbyist Erick Gustafson (Mortgage Bankers Association) at the swanky steak house Charlie Palmers. If Roskam wants to spend his time cozying up with lobbyists at posh steak houses, that is up to him. But when it results in votes against the interests of middle-class Illinois residents – then its time for us to step in. We’re watching. If he keeps voting with his lobbyist friends that he makes at $1,000 cocktail reception and steak dinners, we will make sure his constituents know. All donations made tonight should eventually be available in a future FEC report, so I’ll be sure to update you all later on the roster of high paid lobbyists that attend.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Illinois to move primaries to Feb. 5th?

Just read an interesting article in today’s The Hill regarding Michael Madigan’s proposal to move the Illinois primaries to Feb. 5th. As they point out, doing this would have implications in congressional races. It would force a challenger to organize sooner and will force both Roskam and a potential challenger to raise more money for the longer campaign operation. A bright side is it will allow more time for any wounds to heal if there is a primary battle on the Democratic side, something Roskam is likely to avoid on the Republican side.

However, I wouldn't overestimate the importance of this either. Regardless of the primary date, Roskam is still vulnerable. As Rep. Bean’s spokesperson observes, “Her record is the same in January as it is in March.” The same is true with Roskam. The wrong votes he as already cast will still be wrong no matter the month of the primary!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Global Warming cited as "unequivocal"

So the big news the past few days has been the new report by hundreds of scientists on global warming declaring its existence “unequivocal” and man-made. Meanwhile, Al Gore had his global warming movie, an Inconvenient Truth, nominated for an Oscar. Even President Bush acknowledged global warming in his recent State of the Union address. Despite Exxon’s attempts to discredit science through bribery, it seems like everyone is at least on board that global warming is a problem and now we can start working for constructive solutions. Except for Rep. Roskam that is. What does he think about global warming? At a debate late year, he drew heckles from the crowd when he called global warming “junk science.” This is someone out of touch with reality and too conservative for Illinois.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Record profits for Exxon

Exxon Mobile just announced that it has posted the largest annual profits by any U.S. corporation ever - $39.5 billion! Good thing Rep. Roskam broke a campaign pledge and voted to give Exxon extra subsidies rather then to actually tax them and use that money for sustainable energy independence. But on the bright side, at least in Roskam's world seniors should have a better retirement. Back in the real work, my Grandmas and I still aren't celebrating and rejoicing at this news.

$140,000 cash on hand

The new FEC campaign figures were released earlier today, and it looks like Roskam had about $140,000 in the bank at the end of 2006. Hope to take a look later at where he raised some of these campaign funds from. But no one should get their hopes up that dumping him will be easy, he has plenty of time to raise more money and he himself made close to $700,000 in 2005 and has ample personal funds to dip into.

Roskam continues to vote out of step with Il-6

Rep. Roskam continues to be a rubber stamp for the Republican leadership too conservative for Il-6. Yesterday's out of touch vote was for a Fiscal 2007 Continuing Resolution, which in layman’s terms is the spending budget for 2007 that was needed because the Republicans failed to complete a budget when they were in power. This resolution would basically continue the 2006 budget but with added funding for veterans' health care, the National Institutes of Health, tenant-based housing vouchers, Pell Grants, and military housing allowances.

The bill passed overwhelmingly, 286-140. While I don’t have polling data, I think most Americans would support continued 2006 spending with these needed additions. But not Roskam – he once again joined the minority of hard line conservatives with his dissenting vote. Seeing him once again vote against the majority of Americans and his Congressional colleagues, I thought it would be interesting to look at the most recent polling to see how Roskam’s other early votes compare to public opinion. Not surprisingly, it is clear the Roskam is voting way too conservatively and is out of touch with the majority of Americans and Il-6 residents.

Now to be fair, there is very little Il-6 specific polling out there so most of the polls I cite are national polls. But lets face it, Il-6 is a battleground district in the Chicago suburbs so we would tend to be pretty similar to the rest of the country. None of the polls are really even close, but if anyone can give me a reason why Il-6 would be so radically different from the rest of America, I’m all ears. And remember, Wheaton college enrollees make up only a small part of the electorate and even there they now allow dancing – so you’ll have to come up with a better reason then that!

Anyways, without further ado I’d like to present Roskam’s early voting.

Minimum Wage – Jan. 10th – HR 2
Despite the fact 86% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, Roskam still voted no. It passed the House overwhelmingly, 315-116.

Stem Cell Research – Jan. 11th – HR 3
Overall Americans support using stem cell research to help cure diseases by a nearly 2-1 margin with 61% in support against only 31% who oppose such a measure. All of the leading Illinois Universities strongly supported allowing this critical research. Even State House Republican Leader Tom Cross recognizes the popularity of using stem cell research to find cures, "Stem cell research has bi-partisan support in both chambers, just as it has overwhelming support across the state and across the country." Despite Roskam’s no vote, it sailed through the House 253-174.

Medicare Part D – Jan. 12th – HR 4
79% of Americans support having Medicare use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices while only 17% are in opposition. Does Roskam side with American seniors and the 79% who would like them to have access to cheaper prescription drugs? Of course not. Despite Roskam siding with the pharmaceutical industry, the bill easily passed the House 255-170.

Energy – Jan. 19th – HR 6
Already written several posts about this vote. Despite Roskam’s no vote, it passed by over 100 votes, 264-163.

Not that it was needed, but there you have it. Further proof that Roskam is out-of-touch with his constituents and too conservative for Il-6.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Il-6: Trending Democratic

Having an interesting discussion on the Swing State Project blog about Il-6 and how its trending more and more Democratic. Here is why I think we can knock off Roskam even though DuPage has historically been solidly Republican. First off, while most of IL-6 is in DuPage County, there is a significant chunk (about 20%) of the vote in Cook County. Duckworth won Cook County last year (results below), and a solid Democrat could presumably do likewise in '08.

2006 Cook County Results
Duckworth (D) - 18,544 - 52.8%
Roskam (R) - 16,576 - 47.2%

That leaves us with DuPage County, which has historically been a Republican bastion. Here there are a couple of factors at work. First, the Demographics are changing to become more urban and diverse - tendencies that generally trend Democratic.

DuPage population (2005 estimated)
1990 - 2000 - 2005
Total - 781,666 - 904,161 - 929,133
Black - 15,462 - 27,600 - 38,094
% Black - 2.0% - 3.1% - 4.1%
Hispanic - 34,567 - 81,366 - 104,992
% Hispanic - 4.4% - 9.0% - 11.3%

These changes have helped fuel the area's increasingly Democratic voting trends. Below are the Congressional results for DuPage the past few years - clearly a trend going the right way.

2002 - 2004 - 2006
Republican - 92,403 - 114,790 - 74,806
65.7% - 55.0% - 51.7%
Democrat - 48,005 - 87,769 - 68,028
34.2% - 42.1% - 47.0%

Unfortunately, because of the Republican history of the county (which includes several very Republican leaning townships not in the IL-6 congressional district) DuPage County has no local Democrat officials and only a few elected Democratic state officials with only miniscule portions of their districts in DuPage County. A Democrat came very close (49.3%) to winning state house seat 46 in 2006, but came up a little short. We need to continue to build the emerging Democratic infrastructure in DuPage over the next 2 years, if we do so we can definitely knock out the very conservative Roskam.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Are you kidding?

Did anyone else see Roskam's justification for voting for H.R. 6 and tax cuts for oil companies? Get this:

“The bill is overflowing with unintended consequences. One of the most disturbing is severely damaging the retirement savings of seniors. Retirement and pension accounts hold forty-one percent of domestic oil and gas company shares. When our domestic companies’ production levels shrink, so do the hard-earned and well-deserved savings of our seniors."

Oh please. Only a trial lawyer could come up with such baloney. Remember this quote - If in the future he votes for legislation that will hurt seniors (he's already voted against allowing the government negotiate for cheaper prescription drugs), I will be sure to bring this quote back up.

Of course, its complete nonsense that he voted against repealing these corporate handouts because of seniors. Remember, having the government collect the $14 billion it should be collecting would leave lots more money available for Social Security (which doesn't depend on the inequitable owning of stocks), Medicare, and the promotion of clean energy (I'm sure a few retirees have stocks in clean energy companies too).

And how much of this corporate handout are actually going to the stockholders? According to the 13th Annual CEO Compensation Survey:

*The top 15 U.S. Oil Barons are paid 281 percent of the average CEO
compensation in comparably sized businesses. The top 15 U.S. Oil
CEOs were paid an average of $32.7 million in 2005 while the average
compensation for CEOs of large U.S. firms in all industries was
$11.6 million.

*Top three highest paid U.S. oil chieftains in 2005:
#1 William Greehey (Valero Energy) = $95.2 million
#2 Ray R. Irani (Occidential Petroleum) = $84.0 million
#3 Lee Raymond (outgoing CEO of ExxonMobil) = $69.7 million

And lest anyone think that is the pay required to get a CEO capable of running an oil company:

*The second- and third-largest oil companies in the world are both foreign firms, British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell. Both pay their
CEOs considerably less than comparable U.S. oil companies. While
they operate in the same global marketplace, their average pay was
$4.8 million, compared to the average of $39.2 million for the top 2
U.S. oil CEOs.

If Roskam really cares about the minority of retirees that have stock in oil companies, perhaps he should look into doing something about CEO pay disparity? Of course, maybe the $127,065 he's received from energy interests is the real reason he voted to keep their corporate hand-outs. It certainly isn't to protect an average American retiree. That is one of the lamest justifications for voting the wrong way I've ever heard.

Roskam breaks promise on environment

I've already bashed Roskam for his vote to give tax breaks for oil companies instead of working for clean energy solutions, but there has been 2 new developments since then. First of all, President Bush made clean energy and reducing oil consumption by 20% a major part of his State of the Union address the other day. Second, I came across this letter in today's Chicago Sun Times. Until then, I didn't even realize that Roskam had signed a pledge to support clean energy during the his campaign. Can we trust his word on anything? We'll see how the rest of his term goes, but breaking a campaign pledge and harming our enviroment in the first 100 hours is not a good start.

Roskam's vote for Big Oil

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) did not support the Clean Energy Act despite his campaign promise to work toward a new energy future. Almost a year ago, President Bush acknowledged that we are ''addicted to oil.'' Unfortunately, instead of being invested in clean energy solutions, billions of taxpayer dollars have been used to subsidize big oil companies at a time of record profits for the oil industry.

On Jan. 18, the U.S. House took the first step and passed legislation that will repeal $14 billion in Big Oil handouts and use that money to fund the clean energy technologies that reduce our dangerous dependence on oil. Unfortunately, Roskam voted against the Clean Energy Act despite his signature on a New Energy Future promise that he signed during his election campaign. One can't help but wonder how Roskam will keep his promise to put us on a path to a new energy future when his very first vote cast on energy policy is in favor of the oil companies.
LuCinda Hohmann,
field associate,
Environment Illinois

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Social Security

The purpose of this website is mainly to track the way Roskam is wrong on most issues, but there is something else about the man that really motivates me to get him out of Congress - his complete lack of character. This is highly evident when analyzing where he stands on Social Security.

Coming into 2005 with Republican majorities in Congress, privatizing Social Security was President Bush’s top domestic priority. Of course the American people rejected privatization, which would have cut benefits and put their retirement security at risk. Facing widespread rejection towards the privatization proposal, Republicans like Roskam tried to hide their position.

He said he would privatize Social Security in an NTU Survey, a conservative anti-tax group, but then said in an AARP survey that he was against privatization. A clear flip-flopping contrast in opinion. When he was in the state house, he ducked out on a vote that would have revealed his position despite making all the other votes that day.

But lack of character doesn’t end with distorting his position, rather than just ducking the Social Security issue he actually had the audacity to distort and attack his opponent on the issue. In ads he accused Tammy Duckworth of wanting to raise Social Security taxes. The problem was that his accusation was completely made up. He cited an AARP response, but the AARP denied this and in fact sent out thousands of letters saying that Roskam’s ads were false.

He again falsely accused Tammy Duckworth of wanting to give welfare and Social Security benefits to illegal aliens, this time using the Chicago Tribune as a source. The problem, it was a false statement the Tribune never said. The Tribune responded with an editorial, “Don’t quote us on that” calling out Roskam’s lies, as did Senator Obama in this clip.

Clearly Roskam has no scruples about distorting others positions and saying whatever will appeal to the particular crowd he is speaking to. His next opponent should be ready for more Roskam distortions. Luckily for us, the Democrats have taken Congress and it appears Bush’s privatization plan isn’t going anywhere. The easiest and most common sense reform for Social Security is to lift the $90,000 cap on Social Security taxes.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Is Roskam just inept & inefficient - or is he hiding?

Has anyone else been to Roskam's website yet? It is truely frightening how bad it is. Basically, there is nothing there. His office address is not listed. His bio - nothing. Now I don't have very high expections for him, but its already been almost 3 weeks since he was sworn into office and over 2 1/2 months since he was elected. How hard is it to put your contact info onto your website?

I thought to be fair, I'd check out a few other newly elected member's websites. Started with the other newly elected Illinios Democrat, Phil Hare (Il-17). Yup, his contact info was listed. In Wisoncin, newly elected Democrat Steve Kagen (WI-9) has his contact info on hiw website. I visted the websites of our western neighbors Iowa and checked newly elected Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley (IA-1)and Dave Loebsack (IA-2). Sure enough, they had their office contact info listed too. Okay, what about the new Indiana Reps. Joe Donnelly (IN)- check. Brad Ellsworth (IN-8) - check. Baron Hill (IN-9) - check. Hmm, it seems like every other new member has at least managed to get their office contact info on their website in the first month.

Did we really elect someone to Washington who can't even get their basic contact info up on their website within the first 3 weeks? There has already been several pieces of good legislation passed in this time, it would seem to be a simple thing to do to add your contact info to your website. Then again, maybe after the way Roskam has voted so far he doesn't want anyone to be able to find him.

Jan 24, 4:00 pm new update- The contact info in finally up on his website. Way to go! Hope he does a better job representing his constituents.

Roakam's Conservative Guns

Below is an excerpt of a recent Daily Herald article. Not surprisingly, it seems Roskam is going to stick to his conservative guns, despite the fact that he only won by the smallest of margins and the issues being voted on are all common sense solutions that are favored by over 80% of all Americans. I especially love the contrast to Republican Mark Kirk, who actually does exhibit independence. Roskam did get one thing right though, if he continues to be a rubber stamp to his party and vote more conservative than his district, there will be efforts to educate his constituents about this and to dump him in 08!

How suburban House members voted this week
Daily Herald
January 15, 2007

The suburbs' seven House members found different ways of fitting into their new positions during the key first week of Congress.

For freshman Republican Peter Roskam of Wheaton, it meant sticking to his conservative guns despite winning by only a narrow margin last fall.

With Democrats pushing four high-profile, populist measures, Roskam voted for one of them. He backed the implementation of the rest of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, but voted against lifting a ban on federal stem cell research funding, an increase in the minimum wage and allowing the federal government to negotiate discounts with drug companies for Medicaid.

"The freeing thing about going through a campaign is that the direct mail is going to come no matter what," Roskam said. "Vote your district, vote your conscience and stand for what you believe and articulate why you believe it, because your opponents will attack you no matter what."

Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston said she wasn't surprised Roskam didn't move to the political center."This is a new direction for our country and Peter is following the old path," she said.

While Roskam kept to the philosophy he laid out in his campaign, his Republican colleague, Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park, moved to the center, supporting all four pieces of the Democrats' much-hyped first 100 hours push to deliver on promises the party made last fall.

"I'm an independent guy. I've always been pro-choice, pro- environment," said Kirk, who fended off a tougher-than-expected challenge last fall. "What I would hope to be is a new Republican voice that is pro-defense, pro-science, pro-economic development and a fiscal hawk."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Roskam votes for big oil

So Roskam once again goes with the hard line conservatives and votes for tax breaks for Exxon and other big oil companies (H.R.6). I guess he missed the headlines about the record setting $10.7 billion in quarterly profits Exxon recently made. What about helping the working classes Mr. Roskam? Maybe he voted because Big Oil companies contributed $70,765 to help him get elected? I guess he does take after his indicted former boss and K-Street project founder, Tom Delay, when it comes to influence peddling.

Giving away $14 billion dollars to companies making record profits is a terrible idea. If we are ever to become energy independent it makes sense to use this $14 billion towards an apollo like enery project. From the Apollo Alliance, I've learned that $14 billion can potentially: Power 4.2 million homes with wind energy. Create 29,000 jobs in the solar industry. Or fund incentives to help 5.6 million Americans purchase hybrid cars. But unforturtunately, Roskam once again votes the wrong way. He is way too conservative for Illinois.

Roskam votes against hard working Illinoisans Chides ultra-conservative Rep. Roskam for Vote Against Long Overdue Bill to Raise the Minimum Wage to $7.25/hr

Ultra-conservative Rep. Roskam voted against bipartisan legislation to boost earnings for nearly 13 million American workers and their families for the first time since 1997

Lomard, Il – As thousands of Illinois workers and their families celebrate the passage of legislation in the House to increase the minimum wage, the first step in an effort to increase the minimum wage for the first time since 1997, criticized U.S. Rep. Roskam today for his/her vote against H.R.2 – legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years. The long overdue, bipartisan bill passed by a wide margin of 315-116 – including 82 Republicans -- Wednesday night in the U.S. House of Representatives without the support of Rep. Roskam. The minimum wage has not been increased in nearly a decade, making this the longest span without a minimum wage increase since the wage was first implemented. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years. In fact, workers earning the minimum wage will only make $10,712 over the next year, $4,367 under the poverty threshold for a family of three. Nearly 13 million people would likely benefit from the increase – 5.6 million directly and 7.4 million indirectly.

“All boats should rise with the tide – not just the yachts,” said Jeff Cruz, spokesperson for the Change America Now! campaign. “For far too long, ordinary hardworking Illini have been denied a livable wage, but the passage of this bill to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour with such strong bipartisan unity is an extraordinarily positive step forward. It’s just disappointing that Rep. Roskam chose to stand on the side of the corporate specials interests instead of standing on the side of working families and supporting an increase in the minimum wage.

100 Hours: Raising the Minimum Wage

During the first 100 legislative hours of the 110th Congress, one of the bills that the House will consider is a bill that will help up to 13 million Americans and their families by increasing the minimum wage. The measure would increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years.

Increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour would bring a pay raise for up to 13 million Americans.

*Raising the minimum wage would provide an additional $4,400/year for a family of three, equaling 15 months of groceries, or over two years of health care – helping them to keep up with rising costs. [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, August 2006; Consumer Expenditures Survey, 2003-2004]

*Nearly 13 million people would likely benefit from the increase – 5.6 million directly and 7.4 million indirectly. This includes 7.7 million women, 3.4 million parents, and 4.7 million people of color. [EPI, December 2006]

*It is wrong to have millions of Americans working full-time and year-round and still living in poverty. At $5.15 an hour, a full-time minimum wage worker brings home $10,712 a year –nearly $6,000 below the poverty level for a family of three.

*A minimum wage increase is particularly important at a time when America’s families have seen their real income drop by almost $1,300 since 2000, while the costs of health insurance, gasoline, home heating, and attending college have increased by almost $5,000 annually. [Government Reform, 9/21/06]

*The minimum wage has not increased in more than nine years – the longest period in the history of the law. During that time, Members of Congress have received a $31,600 pay raise. The real value of the minimum wage has plummeted to its lowest level in 51 years. [Economic Policy Institute, 6/06]

*An average CEO earns more before lunchtime in one day than a minimum wage worker earns all year. [EPI, 6/2706]

Increasing the minimum wage has broad bipartisan and popular support.

*Supported by 89 percent of the American public in a recent poll. [Newsweek poll,11/11/06] Another recent poll showed 72 percent of Republicans support the minimum wage increase. [Pew Research poll, 4/19/06]

*President stated he would “find common ground” with Congress on a minimum wage increase. [11/8/06]

*Voters in six states passed minimum-wage-increase ballot measures in November – including Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio. [Washington Post, 11/19/06] As of January 1, 2007, twenty-eight states along with D.C. have a state minimum wage above the current federal level.

*Supported by a range of organizations, including labor (AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, UNITE, Steelworkers), religious (National Council of Churches, the Interfaith Alliance, U.S. Catholic Conference, Alliance of Baptists), and civil rights organizations (NAACP, MALDEF, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee).

* The minimum wage increase has the support of the majority in both the House and the Senate – with 64 House Republicans voting for a $7.25 per hour minimum wage under a vocational education bill in July 2006, and a majority of Senators, including eight Republican Senators, voting for the minimum wage increase in June 2006. [Vote #366, motion to instruct on S.250, 7/12/06; Vote #179, amendment to S.2766, 6/21/06]


Just learning how to do all this design work, so I hope you bear with me for the first month here. I was born and raised in Lombard and recently worked on the Tammy Duckworth Campaign. She was an inspiring individual who fought for her country and lost several limbs. What does Peter Roskam do? Questions her patriotism and spreads lies about her positions. Peter Roskam is way too conservative for Illinois - and I hope this blog can help make people aware of this.

Its only the first 100 hours of the new Congress and already Peter Roskam has voted against ethics reform (not surpising for someone who used to work for Tom Delay), against negotiating for lower precription drug prices, against raising the minimum wage for hardworking Americans, and for tax breaks for large oil companies. Peter Roskam is too conservative for Illinios - and this blog will be dedicated to tracking this.