Friday, June 06, 2008

We're All Middle Class

Now, to be fair, this is not a Republican or a Democratic trick, it is dishearteningly bi-partisan. In this instance I wrote to my Representative in particular because he had announced joining a new Caucus in the House, and I was hoping that in the context of a legislative body, some of the disingenuousness might be stripped from the tactic.

Alas, no.

What is this tactic? "Supporting the Middle Class."
Why is this tactic disingenuous? Well, you can go back and read the letter I sent, or you can just read Congressman Tiberi's response, which does a pretty fair job of summarizing:

Dear Mr. Sullivan,

Thank you very much for your email concerning the Congressional Caucus on the Middle Class. I'm glad you took a moment to write.

As of this email, 35 members of the U.S. House of Representatives representing both political parties have joined the Congressional Caucus on the Middle Class. The Caucus was created to serve as a forum for discussion and bipartisan policy development on issues that affect a broad range of American society such as rising gas prices, access to health care, retirement and financial literacy, and housing, just to name a few.

The release I issued announcing my membership in this caucus mentioned a report issued by the non-partisan Pew Research Center, a subsidiary of the widely known and respected Pew Charitable Trusts. This report was presented as providing a "portrait" of the middle class and may be found online by visiting

As you note in your letter, the Pew report survey indicates that 92 percent of American adults identify themselves as belonging to some part of the middle class. The report also draws a distinction (that you also recognize in your email) between the use of the terms "middle class" and "middle income." When I was growing up in Columbus I always thought of my family as middle class. But as a participant in the free and reduced lunch program in Columbus public schools, we may not have been - especially if the middle class had been defined only as an expression of wealth or median income. I believe the report's concept of the middle class as, "a state of mind as well as a statement of income and wealth" is something we should be mindful of as the Caucus proceeds with its work.

Again, the Caucus was designed as a forum where we can discuss and, hopefully, come to agreement on, solutions to problems faced by a wide range of Americans. I'm concerned that conditions and limitations placed on the work of the caucus, either by members of the Caucus or other groups or individuals, could result in a closed forum whose work would resemble the gridlock along party lines that we unfortunately see in Washington, D.C. all too often.

Thank you again for your email.


Patrick J. Tiberi

Perhaps a bit of background is required: American families were asked to identify themselves as "lower," "lower middle," "middle" "upper middle," or "upper" class. In addition, family incomes were divided into 5 equally sized income brackets - lower, lower-middle, middle, upper-middle, and upper. Even though, 60% of Americans fall into those middle three income groups, 92% of Americans use one of the middle three labels. Making things even trickier, many people in the middle three income brackets actually identify themselves as "lower" or "upper" class, meaning that if middle class is both a mental state and an income level, the proportion of people under discussion is closer to 95%. Mr. Tiberi is right when he says that a family that qualifies for reduced price school lunches is probably middle-class in their own minds, but not by economic standards. This only becomes a problem when someone seeks to 'support the middle class' by giving a tax break to those who earn 150k-200k per year, and fund it by cutting back on programs supporting the "poor," like food stamps or even... reduced price lunches. Unless your policy predominantly affects multi-millionaires and/or the homeless, it will by definition be predominantly affecting members of the middle class.

There's nothing wrong with "a forum where we can discuss and, hopefully, come to agreement on, solutions to problems faced by a wide range of Americans." As a matter of fact, I kind of thought that's what Congress was.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's the Little Victories.

On Monday, I wrote about how the Pat Tiberi school of "bi-partisanship" involved blaming Nancy Pelosi for everything from high gas prices to the decline of Western Civilization.

According to the Newark Advocate, Pat was striking a different tone on Tuesday with the Licking County Chamber of Commerce:

Tiberi spoke out against the bill, describing the “expansive” spending plan as representative of what’s wrong in Washington. He said voters are disgruntled about subsidies. He praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for opposing earmarks and making them more transparent.

After reading that, I thought to myself, perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps I'm cherry-picking Pat's references to Ms. Pelosi, and, perhaps, he praises her all the time. Lucky for me, there's Google, which you can use to not just search the whole web, but to search specific websites. So I searched for "Pelosi," looking for all that praise I had missed:

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

Speaker Pelosi won’t allow us to expand nuclear energy production, ... However, instead of voting on Speaker Pelosi’s energy tax plan over and over, ... - 14k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this Tiberi Contact: (202) 225-5355 ENERGY SOLUTION ...

When Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) was sworn in as Speaker of the House in January of 2007, ... Even then Speaker Pelosi thought gas prices were too high. ... - 6k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

May 16, 2008 ... Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite having advocated for reform in the 2002 farm bill, when she was minority leader, ... - 18k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

“There are so many things wrong with Speaker Pelosi’s bill; I’m not sure where to start. First, this bill includes billions and billions in pork that ... - 14k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

Washington, Jun 13, 2007 - Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer: “Five months after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team took control, that promise remains ... - 40k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this Tiberi Contact: In Case You Missed It ...

Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer: “Five months after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team took control, that promise remains unfulfilled … ... - 33k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

In the Democratic Congress, Pork Still Gets Served

File Format: Microsoft Word - View as HTML
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did just that when she requested $25 million ... Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said that any suggestion of a ... - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

What’s especially dispiriting is how quickly the House Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi have tumbled from idealism to cynicism. ... - 15k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

U.S. Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) today calls on the new Majority led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to appoint members to a conference ... - 12k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

That is why the ACLU's website wants you to "tell House leaders" to "keep standing up to Bush" and thank Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer for "standing up" to ... - 20k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) want to increase spending in fiscal year 2008 by $219 million a day. ... - 11k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

... community hospitals, and on skilled nursing facilities, Democrats under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) are now planning on ... - 13k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

David Obey, Reformer

File Format: Microsoft Word - View as HTML
... to explain why he won't be disclosing earmarks in spending bills despite the promises made by Nancy Pelosi while lambasting Republicans last year. ... - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

... for final passage and ultimately to the president’s desk, House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) stalled the legislative process. ... - 12k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi

At the beginning of the month, Republican leaders sent a leader to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) asking her to appoint the House conferees, ... - 14k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 15 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.


So, Pat has averaged approximately one criticism per month of the Majority Leader (D-San Francisco... that's subtle, Pat) in the time that she has held that position. He's praised her once - the day after it was pointed out that this constant partisan criticism didn't fit in with the image he likes to portray of himself. It would appear that sincerity and consistency are also among those virtues Pat admires from afar.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Just an Idea

As per ODB & Plunderbund...

Senator Brown,

I appreciate that you have not wanted to take sides in the Democratic Presidential nominating process, as you represent all Ohio Democrats (as a subset of all Ohioans). Now that Barack Obama has secured the nomination, however, the best thing for our party and our country is to unite behind our candidate. Toward that end, I'm asking you to publicly affirm, in your role as unpledged superdelegate, that you will support Barack Obama's candidacy in Denver.

Thank you for your consideration,


Chairman Redfern

I appreciate that you have not wanted, as head of the ODP, to take sides in the Democratic Presidential nominating process while our party still disagreed about who our nominee should be. Now that Barack Obama has secured the nomination, however, the best thing for our party and our country is to unite behind our candidate. Toward that end, I'm asking you to publicly affirm, in your role as unpledged superdelegate, that you will support Barack Obama's candidacy in Denver.

Thank you for your consideration,


Feel free to join in.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rant Revival Re:GM

Plunderbund caught this story about GM closing an Ohio plant that manufactures SUV's and trucks, while increasing production at a separate Ohio plant that produces the small, fuel-efficient Chevy Cobalt.

The AP story that appears in the Dispatch contains these concluding paragraphs:

Detroit's automakers have been making the shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles, but not at the pace that matches consumers' drive to hybrids and high mileage models made overseas. Gas prices have accelerated the retreat from trucks and sport utility vehicles, leaving the Big Three at the most critical crossroads in 30 years.

The U.S. market is difficult for every automaker, with consumer confidence weak and 2008 sales expected to be the lowest in more than a decade. But it is most difficult for the Detroit Three, who have relied more heavily on sales of trucks and SUVs than their foreign counterparts. Trucks make up 70 percent of Chrysler LLC's U.S. sales, for example, compared to 41 percent at Toyota Motor Corp.

Last summer, I came across a wonderful quote from GM, which was originally made 53 months ago (Typically, a new model takes at least three or four years to get from idea to dealership). The entire post is reproduced below:

Friday, July 06, 2007

An oldie but goodie

My mother and stepfather are both GM retirees, and I know that there are a number of GM family members in the Ohio blogosphere. My mom's retirement saving would have been a lot better had they not been tied to GM and Delphi stock. This tends to make me angry when I think about it. To tell you the truth, Ken Lay may have stolen directly from his employees, but GM... 23 words from Robert Lutz, VP of product development in January 2004:

"Hybrids are an interesting curiosity and we will do some," he said. "But do they make sense at $1.50 a gallon? No, they do not."

If they had simply stolen my mom's money, at least somebody would have benefited.

BTW, Equality Ohio Told Me How They Feel

A little while ago, I did a post asking about Equality Ohio's endorsement (well, to be fair, needling EO about their endorsement) of State Sen. David Goodman (R-New Albany), given that he was in a position to move the anti-discrimination bill to the floor but was not going to do so. The problem isn't Goodman's commitment to LGBT equality, I'm pretty convinced of that, actually. My problem is that in the grand scheme of things, even an unfriendly Democratic State Senator gets us closer to getting bills like this one passed than the rare species of LGBT-friendly Republican.

I wasn't surprised that EO responded, nor was I surprised that they expressed continuing support of the Senator. I was a bit surprised at the candor of the response, and the terms upon which they based it. It's more sophisticated than the messaging I got in '06, and I appreciate that:

We at Equality Ohio continue to support Senator Goodman for his position on issues related to equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. As the Chairman of the committee, and the sole R co-sponsor, it was only through his discussion and work with his party leadership that we were able to secure proponent and opponent testimony on the bill - for the first time ever. I was involved in what it took to make this happen and personally saw the effort Senator Goodman put into securing the hearing, for more than four weeks. It is actually one of the only Democratic sponsored bills that any Senate committee has given proponent and opponent testimony to this session.

For Senator Goodman to stand up to protocol and have additional hearings without the consent of the Senate leadership or the support of the majority of the majority on the committee, would quite likely lose him his chairmanship of the committee before an additional hearing could occur... which would then also very seriously jeopardize any possibility for future hearings in the fall or lame duck. This is not a risk we're willing to push him to take.

Regardless of the fact that Senator Goodman won't yet confirm additional hearings to the press, we certainly believe we'll be testifying more on this bill before the end of this legislative session in December - and we're confident Senator Goodman will do what it takes to make that happen, in the manner that assures it will happen.

- Lynne Bowman, ED, Equality Ohio

Monday, June 02, 2008

Trials and Tribulations of Being Tiberi

Pat Tiberi (R-Galena) has been getting a lot more attention in the news and on the blogs lately, as election year eyes turn to Congress. In one instance, a blog called 'That's My Congress' wants to know why so many Republicans voted against the Crane Conservation Act, which was conservatively designed to get maximum bang for minimum bucks in promoting the survival of cranes, most species of which are endangered. The blogger listed off the Congressfolks voting against the bill, and Pat Tiberi was on the list. Well, perhaps PT voted against the bill because Crane Conservation has nothing to do with Ohio. Er, actually, Sandhill Cranes are a state-endangered species in Ohio, and the incredibly rare Whooping Crane has been migrating through Ohio the last several years, including an unconfirmed stop less than 20 miles from his house, right here in OH-12, in Delaware, OH during April of 2007.

Perhaps it was the conservative principle, one of those nasty but inevitable party-line votes. Well, um, here in Ohio all of the Democrats voted for the bill, as did Republicans Chabot, Schmidt, Turner, Hobson, LaTourette, Pryce, and Regula. It would appear that this was actually one of those rare instances of bi-partisan co-operation that I'm always hearing about. Pat unfortunately just doesn't actually tend to like bi-partisanship.

See, Pat's a Republican's Republican. Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (incidentally, one of the few other Ohio Republicans who thinks endangered Cranes are no big Whoop) recently put Pat in charge of figuring out why, exactly, Republicans keep losing special elections in previously safe districts. Washington has been all abuzz with news that the person who should be in charge of such an effort (Tom Cole of the NRCC) is being usurped by a Boehner-appointed tag team of Tiberi and Tom Davis (R-VA). Apparently, the Republicans need to be more like Pat, which means going far behind animal apathy. It means that we can expect an election full of Republicans blaming Nancy Pelosi for everything from high gas prices to the decline of Western Civilization, then turning around and claiming that Democrats are creating a toxic partisan environment. It will involve accusing Democrats of not being serious about entitlement spending without offering any details of any 'serious Republican ideas' beyond the huge increase in entitlement spending that created a drug company windfall in the form of the Medicaid Drug Benefit (even its staunchest proponents, like those prominently featured on Pat's Congressional website, admit: "Many fiscal conservatives--including Senator John McCain--opposed the drug benefit because of its undeniably high cost--$49 billion last year. Those concerns were legitimate"). We can expect that it will, in fact, involve mocking any and all Democratic proposals without offering anything more substantial than, say, mortuary deregulation.

My guess is that the Tom and Pat Show will conclude with a rousing number about Republican Identity. It will then be interesting to see if Pat can figure out who he actually is before November. Is he the moderate his supporters tout him as, or the out-of-step ideologue his voting record suggests? Is he the anti-spending activist his rhetoric suggests, or the principles-be-damned spender his record of voting against unnecessary-spending-as-long-as-it-isn't-popular-at-home would indicate? Is he the nice guy with the Pillsbury Cheeks, or the candidate who tried to falsely smear his last opponent as a man who encouraged experimentation on live fetuses?

I shot an email to the campaign of his current opponent, David Robinson, asking what they thought of Pat's new assignment as the guy who's supposed to figure out why Republicans are out of favor with voters. This was Mr. Robinson's reply:

"How will Tiberi's participation in this audit solve our energy problems? How will it help the middle class or create a single job? This is another example of inside-the-beltway thinking; that the rejection of incumbents is somehow a result of tactics or mis-marketing of the Republican "brand" and that it all can somehow be solved by an audit. The real problem is the very real effect of Bush policies supported by Tiberi over 95% of the time."

Seems simple enough to me.