Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: fighting the Democratic spending plan and opposing health care reform

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) brings us up to date on an eventful week in Washington, in his own words:

"This week, Congress continued to work through annual government funding and spending bills - we voted on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act and the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
"I started off the week using Skype technology to video chat with the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce. I continue to look for new ways to listen to local residents and let them know what is going on in Congress. I sent out an email newsletter containing a sneak preview to a column I penned on health care. To receive these email alerts, you can sign up on my website:

"On Tuesday, my colleagues and I held a press conference to discuss the newly-introduced $1.5 trillion government takeover of health care, which could force 114 million Americans out of their current private health coverage, and pave the way for Washington bureaucrats and politicians to have a larger say in our health care decisions rather than patients and their doctors. How complicated is this bill? This chart illustrates the bureaucracy created: This trillion dollar program would be funded by tax increases on Americans and small businesses, and by borrowing the rest. This means billions of dollars of future debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. To see the video of the press conference, visit my website or Facebook page:

"On Wednesday I weighed in on our state budget mess through a column that ran on the Flash Report. As we deal with double digit unemployment, I made three observations that state legislators could consider to reform and improve our state’s long-term fiscal health: 1) we need to reduce the burden of taxes and regulations that California places on businesses, which is causing more businesses to leave our state. 2) we need to preserve California’s unique industries: renewable energy development, tourism, entertainment, high-tech development and agriculture to just name a few. We have to think of ways to keep these industries growing and thriving in order to provide needed jobs. 3) we need smarter spending, which means making tough decisions to cut wasteful, duplicative, or unnecessary programs, and only grow government by the rate of inflation. Sacramento has the chance to come together and put Californians first by focusing on enhancing our business climate and reducing spending.

Later that evening, I had dinner with my “sophomore class,” (the members of Congress I started with during the 110th Congress). The group is composed of Republicans and Democrats from across America, and it was refreshing for us to get together. I started these dinners two years ago with my friend Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) to move past the partisan bad habits inherent in Washington that develop from not talking and constantly fighting. One thing we talked about was the need to focus on helping our local banks that are struggling. Our local banks serve our communities, make loans to small businesses, and help many of us buy our first homes.

"Also, in case you missed it -- former Congressman Bill Thomas was selected to serve as Vice Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. He was one of four appointments made by House Republican Leader John Boehner (OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) to the Commission. The Commission has been tasked by Congress to investigate the causes of the financial crisis and the collapse of major financial institutions. I can’t think of anyone better than Bill Thomas to serve our country in this role, and seek out the facts that led to our financial crisis.
"The end of the week was a bit disappointing. At this time of record deficits totaling over one trillion dollars, I think that it is absolutely necessary for the House to vigorously debate any good ideas targeting wasteful or unnecessary spending. Despite two amendments I offered to save taxpayers $26 million in unnecessary spending, in addition to dozens of other bipartisan amendments proposed, the House Democrat leadership would not even allow us to consider the amendments, claiming there was not enough time, even though we finished floor debate at 4pm on Thursday and 3pm on Friday. They did find the time, however, to vote for a new $200 million wild horses and burros program. But next week is a new week, and I will continue to work to bring fiscal discipline to Washington.
"Thanks for reading, have a good weekend.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bako Bits: slinking back to Cal after a week in Georgia and staying abreast via Twitter

Bits and pieces from around town and some random thoughts heading into the weekend ....

* ALL ABOUT TWITTER ... Am constantly amazed at how technology can change our lives by influencing our habits. My wife can't work out or run without her iPod, my girls select their music and build their play lists never setting foot in a "music store," and I now keep up with news from home via Twitter and a handful of blogs. Spent the last week or so south of Savannah on the sweltering Georgia coast where - by the way - the economy is no better than home. Realtors are struggling, consumers have sharply curtailed their spending and everyone is wondering where the bottom is. Keeping up with Bako is now as simple as "following" a few key folks on Twitter, including a feed called "NewsBakersfield" which does an admirable job aggregating news from The Californian, all the local TV stations and just about everywhere else. Another prolific and interesting person to follow on Twitter is KGET's Kiyoshi Tomono, who does a good job interspersing local news with national events. I can do without Kiyoshi's personal barbs or exchanges with colleagues, but he's worth checking out. Another up and coming "tweeter" is Rachel Legan over at KGFM radio. She's on top of the news and laces it with a dose of wit to keep things interesting.

* DREAM SCHOOL ESSAYS ... Shameless plug for an interesting new website (run by my wife) devoted to helping kids with their college essays. It's called Dream School Essays (check it out here) and the business is aimed at high achieving high schoolers looking for help with those important college essays. Some schools require two to three separate essays as part of the admission requirements, all of different subjects. Given the dismally low percentage of Kern County kids who qualify to attend the UC system, this is a real niche market, but an important one to serve.

* RECOMMENDED SUMMER READING ... Highly recommend the new Malcolm Gladwell book "Outliers," a fascinating examination of why some people succeed and others don't. It explores cultural influences, of course parents, but more interesting things like birthdates that can heavily influence the lives of our children. This is the same guy who wrote "Blink" and "The Tipping Point," two other quality reads.

* PICKING AND GRINNING ... Also recommend a fun website to occasionally visit if you are in the least interested in guitars, called "Playalittleguitar." The author has a quick wit and the site was recently cited by Blogger as one of its most promising and interesting websites. (check it out here)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Musings about Jacko, Sarah Palin, housing prices and the state of the California economy

On vacation down here in sweltering South Georgia, south of fabulous Savannah on the coast, and enjoying the near daily rain and electric thunderstorms. Awoke to NBC's Today Show morning fodder: was Michael Jackson murdered? Levi says Sarah Palin wants a reality show! And you wonder why folks have lost faith in the mainstream media. But thanks to old pal Soll Sussman, a longtime Texan and journalist I befriended a lifetime ago, for passing along a fascinating read in The Economist comparing the states of Texas and California, one lean and mean and the other a tad lefty and generous to a fault. (read complete story here) It's worth your read as we try to find our way out of this fiscal mess, and I was struck by one passage that warns everyone not to count us out. Here goes:

"Second, it has never paid to bet against a state with as many inventive people as California. Even if Hollywood is in the dumps, it still boasts an unequalled array of sunrise industries and the most agile venture-capital industry on the planet; there is no prospect of the likes of Google decamping from Mountain View for Austin, though many start-ups have. The state also has an awesome ability to reinvent itself—as it did when its defence industry collapsed at the end of the cold war. Perhaps the rejection of tax increases will “starve the beast” and promote structural reform. A referendum on a new primaries system could end its polarised politics. Mr Schwarzenegger’s lazy governorship could come to be seen not as the great missed opportunity, but as the spur for reform.