Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Democratic Challengers: Incumbents Broke Faith with Constituents

Courtney, Vance attack opponents over ANWR, student loans

Democratic congressional candidates Paul Vance and Joe Courtney today attacked incumbents Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons for voting against the interests of their constituents. Vance pointed to Johnson's vote for slashing federal student loans, while Courtney accused Simmons of violating campaign promises by voting for a defense appropriations bill that included an amendment allowing oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve.

Student Loan Program Slashed

The House of Representatives agreed yesterday to slash the federal student loan program, and Paul Vance is not happy about it:

Said Vance, “When seven moderate and conservative Republicans voted to protect the student loan program, our supposed “independent” Congresswoman forgot about our concerns and voted with the majority to cut nearly $13 billion from the student loan program – and thousands of families from across the Fifth District want to know why.” (Paul Vance Press Release: 12/20/05)

Vance is referring to this, which is part of a defecit-cutting measure that will take more than $12 billion out of the student loan program. While it seems that banks will actually suffer the most, students will see higher interest rates and potentially fewer dollars. Republicans claim that students have been protected and that the money freed up from government payments to banks will lead to more grants and lower fees. We'll see if that is actually the case. I suspect that, in their suddenly remembered zeal to cut the budget, Republicans have taken off too big a bite for the program to remain as useful as it is today.

Promise Broken?

Rob Simmons is coming under fire for apparently breaking a promise to his constituents. Joe Courtney compares two recent campaign mailings to Simmons' vote to approve the defense appropriations bill, which included a provision to allow ANWR drilling:

In a November 4, 2005 bulk email to constituents, Simmons said “Since coming to Congress in 2001, I have voted six times against opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling. Rest assured, I will oppose any budget that permits drilling in ANWR.”

Simmons, in another bulk email on November 30, said the following on the GOP budget cuts: “I voted against this budget because I am opposed to cutting spending at the expense of Connecticut's most vulnerable citizens. Medicaid, student loans, and food stamps are programs that help people. I could not vote for a bill that targeted these programs. I am for a reduction in federal spending, but it must be done in a more equitable manner.”

Second District Democratic Congressional Candidate Joe Courtney said the votes are typical of Simmons’ performance in the Congress.

“Although ‘Connecticut Rob’ tells us how opposed he is to ANWR drilling and cutting important programs like student aid and Medicare, ‘Washington Rob’ backs his Republican leadership and the special interests funding his campaign,” Courtney said, “It’s time for leadership that will represent the people of this district when it counts – not when it’s politically convenient.” (Joe Courtney Press Release: 12/20/05)

To be fair to Simmons, he got screwed by his party (story here). Simmons was part of a group that tried to stop the ANWR drilling provision, it seems, but came up short. So what to do? Either vote for ANWR drilling and break a promise, or keep the promise and vote against the troops. It's an impossible situation, and Simmons, whose base of support is the Groton-New London area, apparently chose the option that would least harm his image among constituents. If I were Simmons, I'd be furious with Dennis Hastert for using the military as cover for unpopular oil exploration.

Both challengers are making efforts to tie their opponents to the Republican leadership, a tactic that has had mixed success in the past. However, as Northeastern Republicans become stretched by the often conflicting demands of their party's leadership and their own constituents, the charge that the incumbents are out of touch may start to resonate.


Anonymous said...

The caribou have fewer fans than they used to with home heating oil over $2/gallon

The Dems used to think all politics is local. Now ,they think all politics are about Baghdad and the Bering Sea

CT05 Admin said...

There is no need to "tie" Nancy Johnson to the leadership - she is part of the inner circle.

Her money - millions and millions of dollars - comes from HMOs who are part of the Frist (R-HCA) cartel, and Pharmaceutical companies that are getting huge subsidies from the government as part of the cynically named "Medicare Modernization Act of 2003", Johnson's signature legislation.

Since the American people thwarted their effort to "modernize" Social Security into the ground, she and her cronies have turned their attention to the long-term care piece of the social safety net.

Companies have been set up to fund the propaganda effort, with the expectation that they will be the next to reap windfall profits from the taxpayer-underwritten selling out of some of our most vulnerable citizens.

This is not about "increasing choices" and certainly not about improving the quality and cost of these programs. It is part of the radical agenda of the Republican party, an agenda that is systematically misrepresented by Johnson to the voters of the Fifth Congressional District.

Now the party of "No Child Left Behind" has shamelessly taken aim on a program which is vital to thousands of Connecticut's children if they are to - through their own and their families' initiative - avoid being left behind.

Anonymous said...

There's a campaign strategy. Let's go easier on Al Queda so we can beat up on the real threat, the evil drug comapnies.

Get a map. Find Pfizer and Bayer.

Get a dictionary. Find definition of "collateral damage"


Gene Parmesean said...

The only reason that candidates like Joe Courtney are able to get away with slamming Simmons on ANWR is because the Republicans don't effectively articulate the need for it and the benefits of it.

Anon (11:26) hit the nail on the head...."the caribou have fewer fans with home heating oil over $2/gallon."

I'd be interested in Courtney's plan to drive down the cost of oil, especially since we all know that artificial methods such as price caps don't work.

Anonymous said...

Vance's attack is baseless and useless but noraml and I am no fan of Johnson. Vance has nothing to offer his district.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he can teach you how to spell or even type a coherent thought.

Anonymous said...

Now now don't pick on a fellow anonymous. Vance has no idea how the legislation will effect the people he wants to represent and that was clear form his incoherent press release that had zippo info.
About the only thing he could teach me is how to stir the pot at the top and that doesn't cook anything. If maloney couldn't beat johnson then watch for Vance to get crushed like a bug. Where's the spell check.?

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Looks like no one is above the "jam it in a bill they have to support" trick ... Doubtless Vance and Courtney were equally shocked - shocked! - by the CT Democrats who pulled the same stunt with the contracting reform bill ...

Anonymous said...

From USA Today-

"At a time when the entire country believes we need to make higher education more affordable, Congress is trying to balance the budget on the backs of students," said Jasmine Harris, legislative director for the United States Student Association.

Parents who take out loans on behalf of their students would pay higher interest rates. And other parts of the college package could indirectly drive up costs for students, if banks pass on new expenses or offer less attractive loans as their profit margin shrinks.

"You don't want to say the news is all bad. It's a decidedly mixed bag," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, the largest coalition of colleges and higher education groups in the nation.

"But on balance, one comes to the conclusion that this is a sad step in the history of the student loan program," Hartle said.

Said Bob Shireman, director of The Institute for College Access and Success: "Overall, there will be less money out there for helping students pay for higher education. And it's not being returned to the system, except in some small ways."

Anonymous said...

How about lowering the cost of higher education? Anybody ever thought about that? Here in CT there are more chancellors, special chairs and all that at UCONN, CSU and the community colleges than are needed to teach kids. Ooops....don't touch the bureacracy......

Chris MC said...

Anonymous 7:48

You forgot Boehringer and Purdue.

That the deal made with these companies puts critics and candidates in a difficult position is obvious, not amazing.

The impact on the vast majority of people in the form of poorer coverage, higher premiums, a ballooning federal deficit, higher taxes, and increasing risk and insecurity makes this an issue that must be addressed.

What is pretty amazing is how quickly defenders of the status quo have abandoned fiscal responsibility and accountable government for a cultish belief in the profit motive as the panacea for society's ills.

Anonymous said...

Arctic National Wildlife Reserve not Alaskan.

Anonymous said...

McCardle for Governor.

Anonymous said...

He'd be better than that lightweight, Jodi Rell.

Weicker Liker said...

What a hypocrite Joe Courtney is.

He slams Rob Simmons for his Yes vote on the Defense Department Authorization Conference Report containing the ANWR Provisions.

But we hear, NOTHING about fellow Democratic Congressman John Larson's YES vote on the same legislation.

Courtney has received cash contributions from Larsons Candidate Committe during this cycle.

And even so, Larson has been pushing his fuel cells agenda for sometime now.

The only consitent member of the Delegation on this ANWR issue has been Nancy Johnson, who joined the House Dems in voting NO.

Weicker Liker said...

The Senate blocked oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge Wednesday, rejecting a measure that had been putinto a must-pass defense spending bill in an attempt to garner
wider support.
rilling supporters fell four votes short of getting the required 60 votes to avoid a threatened filibuster of the defense measure over the oil drilling issue. Senate leaders were expected
to withraw the legislation so it could be reworked without the
refuge language. The vote was 56-44.

Anonymous said...

Hillary's secret meetings in the early days of Bill cutoff an reasonable debate on getting a handle on health policy in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Chris Dodd went down to DC bad knee and all after not being there most of the month to vote. I hear the Republicans are going to make his knee an issue in the next election.

Funny how Alaska wants to drill in the ANWR so they can get money for high schools so their kids don't have to commute to Oregon. Having just got flush toilets installed in some of their homes last year a few folks up there don't understand why the Darienites don't understand the caribou will be just fine and adapt according to Darwin's theory of evolution, which the federal court in PA says can be taught in high school.....

Brass Anon said...

I'm one who believes that politicians need to keep their messages simple in order to reach a majority of voters. Vance is right on in challenging Nancy's vote. Most of us want an affordable education for our kids, and slashing $13 billion, in simple terms, is a bad thing for our kids. Vance's message will hit its mark with most voters in the district. As for ANWAR, my guess is that the average voter is ambivalent on the issue.
Regarding McCardle for Governor, he knows more about policy than Jodi and Ms. Moody combined.

Anonymous said...

This election is about pocketbook issues and Vance is at least talking about something that people can relate to......

I heard a pol talk about Connecticut's brain drain (kids leaving to go to college and never returning to CT). Perhaps this is Nancy Johnson's solution-- keep kids dumb and perhaps they will stay here? And she eats puppies...

Anonymous said...

Connecticut's social engineering is driving the young out of town. UCONN, CSU and the community colleges are for the professors and the politicians and not for education. Vance doesn't know the first thing about making CT a competitive state. He's the product of a state employee union family and a city empowered with John Rowland pork barrel funding. He has nothing to offer on the federal level. He'd be lucky to get elected to state dog catcher.

Anonymous said...

For goodness sakes, can we change the subject?

How about, Fairfield County gridlock and lack of affordable housing, among other factors, are undermining our state's economy. Discuss!

Anonymous said...

Do we elect state dog catchers?

Anonymous said...

No dog catchers are appointed by the Commisioner of Public Safety based on recommendations from the state legislature. They go on from there to raise campaign funds...

Anonymous said...

"Gridlock"....sell I-95 to the private sector and let them widen the highway and charge tolls

"affordable Housing" If people can pay a lot of money for a house, then they must think they can afford it.

Usually "affordable housing" is housing in places no one wants to live in. I'm sure it is cheaper to live in Erie PA or Newark NJ than Stamford. Anywhere people find desirable will have expensive housing. Of course, you could repeal zoning laws so demand met supply, Then you would complain about gridlock.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

I thought Nancy Johnson ate kittens. if she eats puppies too, she is doomed.
ps now that we elect state dog catchers i heard dems are already lining up for a primary. looks like a curry vs jepson rematch.