Green energy producers want an extension of the promotion tax credits beyond 2009, which could be a good deal for the windblown, sun-baked, state of Nevada. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) is pushing these proposals; our Republican representatives are finding excuses not to — Senator John Ensign (R-NV) is afraid that giving promotion tax credits to alternative fuel producers will reduce the subsidies for Big Oil, and Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) is scared that one of the alternatives will be nuclear, and Nevada will get ‘dumped on.’ [LVSun] Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) isn’t referenced in the article, even though he serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.
Poor Jon Porter? Molly Ball, contributes a piece “Democrats get early start with bashing of Porter.” [LVRJ] The DCCC is launching its five day radio ad campaign telling citizens that Rep. Porter voted against veterans’ benefits, and pay raises for active duty soldiers. Porter responds with the Bushian “this is old news…” rejoinder, and a ‘flip-flop’ voting against the pay raises before he was for them.
One could add that Rep. Porter didn’t vote on the passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (S.5) [rc 443] and voted against the “Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.” [rc 404] Interesting, how in the Review Journal, Democrats are criticized, while Republicans are bashed?”
Wounding the warriors: Rep. Robert Filner (D-CA) expects to have veterans testify before his House Veterans’ Affairs Committee this summer about the misdiagnosis of PTSD and the military’s disability review system. Filner accused the military of “purposeful misdiagnosis” and of misleading service members into believing that accepting a pre-service personality disorder as the root of their problems would still leave them with government help. “There were lies, real lies,” Filner said. [Army Times]
One person’s pork is another person’s project: Clark County is “earmarked” for a $212,000 wastewater treatment study in Overton, and $500,000 will be “earmarked” for Fallon’s attempt to make repairs to its wastewater treatment system. [LVRJ] Congressman Heller is careful to remind us that arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral — right, it naturally occurs in mining operations.
Bloated private bureaucracy? The Department of Homeland (in)Security decided to “save” tax dollars by privatizing its information analysis — so, the pricey consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton got one of those lovely contracts the Cheney-Bush Administration loves to hand out. Thus a $2 million dollar contract in 2003 grew to be 60 times that, and the employees hired cost $250,000 annually — about twice the pay of comparable government employees. [WaPo] The Washington Post has an instructive graphic illustrating how Booz Allen Hamilton turned a $2 million contract into arrangements worth $124 million. [WaPo]
Then there’s K-Town. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard testimony yesterday on how mismanagement “derailed the Department of Defense project to construct the Kaiserslauten Military Community Center at Ramstein AFB. An Air Force audit found there were no thorough project planning and design reviews, no plans to estimate of mitigate risks, no oversight of planning procedures, no pre-design validation reviews, and no follow up on 35% review comments to ensure they were properly incorporated in subsequent designs. [Audit pdf] The auditors found that these deficiencies resulted in 173 change orders which in turn created $6.1 million in preventable charges. [Audit pdf] And, that was just for the planning stage. In terms of schedule growth, improper payments to contractors, and the Air Force’s refusal to implement the audit recommendations, the story just gets worse. [Audit pdf]
A 2004 program approved by Congress to allow the IRS to privatize tax collection survived a challenge in the current House of Representatives that would have stripped the Treasury Department program and returned the functions to the IRS. “Since starting, the agencies have been assigned almost 38,000 cases and collected almost $20 million. The goal is to bring in more than $2 billion over the next 10 years. The IRS says it has set strict standards on the collection tactics to protect taxpayer privacy and prevent harassment. Visits to taxpayer homes are banned, as are late-night calls. But critics say tax collection is inherently a public function and inadequate IRS resources don’t justify handing over that job to private collectors. Besides the effort to curtail funding for the program, several bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to kill it outright.” [full article – GovExec]
The Administration is trying out sound bites? Tony Snow told reporters that the reason Congress is unpopular is because there’s a “strategy of destruction rather than cooperation.” [WaPo] The White House version of ‘cooperation’ holds that members of the staff can’t be questioned in public, won’t be quoted in a transcript, and can’t be deposed under oath. Try telling the county DA you’d be delighted to cooperate with his or her investigation but you won’t go to court, won’t agree to having your testimony transcribed, and won’t testify under oath? Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) adds: “The president seems to be saying: ‘How can I stonewall? Let me count the ways,’” Schumer said. “Not since the Nixon administration have we seen a stonewalling strategy like this. I have no doubt it will backfire and it will not stand.” [The Hill] House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) is contemplating contempt citations because of the White House assertion of Executive Privilege. [Roll Call sub req]
Cultured Corruption: Commerce Bancorp’s CEO Vernon W. Hill will step down and the company announced it has settled two federal regulatory inquiries involving his activities with corporate insiders. [NYT] Jurors in the case of former Alaska state representative Tom Anderson have heard FBI tapes including information about sham companies established to funnel money from a Texas prison firm. [ADN]
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) stopped a proposed conference on the “long stalled” ethics and lobbying reform package, objecting to going to conference on the bill until the Senate adopts a set of rules on earmarks that don’t need House or presidential approval. DeMint has had a hold placed on the ethics and lobbying reform legislation. [Roll Call sub req]
The Free-market talkers are evidence of a “classic market failure?” [Alternet] “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” is stirring up the right-wing squawkers because its analysis flies in the face of conventional wisdom; Right-wing talk doesn’t dominate AM radio because of the magical hand of a functional free market, it dominates thanks to multiple market failures. Even worse, those failures represent a strong case for better regulation of what goes out on the public’s airwaves.” [CAP pdf]
Guantanamo Shuffle: 145 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Bush asking for the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. [McClatchy] The Supreme Court will review a case challenging the Guantanamo detentions. [WaPo]
It’s going so well? Unguarded Iraqi pipelines are easy targets for both thieves and insurgents. [McClatchy]
EPA ignores its own advice? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing changes to the national standard for ground level ozone (aka smog) supporting a limit substantially lower than current standards, however not low enough to meet the 0.060 ppm level recommended by the EPA’s own Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. [OMBw]
The Supremes: While most of the attention has been focused on the “Resegregation now, resegregation forever,” ruling by the Roberts’ Court, [LT] [WaPo] the Supremes also overturned the venerable “Dr. Miles Rule.” Under the 1911 precedent “minimum retail prices established by manufacturers were deemed to be an automatic (per se) violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. [Legal Times] The Brennan Center argues that the Court’s decision in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life permits “electioneering communications” and the steering of “millions of dollars of special interest money into campaigns. It will be the Wild West all over again,”…”In other words, under this ruling, an ad run two days before an election, criticizing a candidate, in the district, can be funded with unlimited corporate or union funds, as long as it mentions an issue.” [Brennan]
CREW has released its “Best Laid Plans” report showing how the Bush Administration ignored its own gulf coast hurricane planning. “Nevertheless, despite the comprehensive SLCHP, post-Katrina FEMA documents demonstrate that the plan was never implemented. On August 28, 2005, the day before Katrina hit, FEMA Deputy Director Patrick Rhode sent an email to Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks Altshuler and Michael Heath, Special Assistant to FEMA Director Michael Brown, with the subject line, “copy of New Orleans cat plan” stating, “I never got one – I think Brown got my copy – did you get one?” [CREW]
Just for the fun of it, try the Pew Research Center’s “typology” quiz to see where you fit in the Age of iPhone hype” … Quiz Here Are you an “Omnivore?” “Connector?” “Mobile Centric?” or, “Off the network?”