Carter went on all expenses paid, $30,000 junket in August

Posted in Congress, District 31, Money In Politics at 3:32 pm by wcnews

Via Roll Call, Africa Trip Blurs Lines on Travel Propriety.

In mid-August, four Members of Congress took an ecotourism trip to South Africa and Botswana to learn about conservation, anti-poaching efforts and agriculture.

The 10-day excursion taken by Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Ander Crenshaw(R-Fla.) and Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) — all but Chandler brought their wives — ran about $30,000 per couple.

The whole trip — including game-reserve visits, biodiversity tours and expert briefings — was paid for by a nonprofit group called the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, which is closely linked to four lobbying organizations and a roster of corporate interests.


The caucus grew to become the second-largest in Congress and now counts about a third of the House and a fourth of the Senate among its members.

The four founding organizations stayed on as the “Advisory Council” to the ICCF, which hosts Congressional briefings, an annual gala and a yearly oyster roast “prepared by legendary South Carolina game wardens” that was attended by more than 40 Members of Congress, according to the group’s website. Its “Conservation Council” includes corporate heavyweights such as Volkswagen, Walmart, Unilever, Exxon Mobil Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute. [Emphasis added]

“Our partners play an essential role in supporting true American values in conservation by providing technical expertise, policy innovations, financial resources, information technology and general leadership and encouragement to conservation programs in other countries,” according to the foundation’s website.


A representative from Crenshaw’s office said the trip was a valuable opportunity for the Appropriations Committee member to learn about how foreign assistance is being used overseas.

“This House-Ethics-Committee-approved trip, taken at no expense to the taxpayer, provided that opportunity for programs in the regions of Botswana and South Africa. Participants gained knowledge of economic and political conditions, the education and health situation, natural resource management plans and conservation solutions that can be utilized in future decision making on Capitol Hill,” said Crenshaw’s communications director, Barbara Riley, in an email.

The offices of Carter, Chandler and Gingrey did not respond to requests for comment. [Emphasis added]

Ethics experts involved in the 2007 reform effort say trips paid for by nonprofits that maintain close links to lobbying entities were not what they had in mind when the revised rules were drafted. The proliferation of such trips has contributed to a rise in the amount spent on privately financed Congressional travel. As Roll Call has previously reported, the $1.5 million spent sending lawmakers and their family members abroad in August shattered previous monthly records, in large part due to trips paid for by the ICCF and a charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee known as the American Israel Education Foundation.

“This is something that is very troubling when it comes to our travel restrictions,” Holman said. “Once you start carving out any exceptions [for nonprofits], these lobbying entities will push the envelope as hard as they can.”

Must be nice. Congressman John Carter (R-Round Rock) holds a considerable amount of stock in one of the conservation council members, Exxon Mobil Corp. As Lawrence Lessig says, “money erodes trust”.

Here’s a particular vote, House GOP votes unanimously to protect big oil subsidies.

Check out this excerpt from the introduction to his new book, Lawrence Lessig on How We Lost Our Democracy.

The clue that something is very wrong is the endless list of troubles that sit on our collective plate but that never get resolved: bloated and inefficient bureaucracies; an invisible climate policy; a tax code that would embarrass Dickens; health care policies that have little to do with health; regulations designed to protect inefficiency; environmental policies that exempt the producers of the greatest environmental harms; food that is too expensive (since protected); food that is unsafe (since unregulated); a financial system that has already caused great harm, has been left unreformed, and is primed and certain to cause great harm again.

The problems are many. Too many. Our eyes get fixed upon one among them, and our passions get devoted to fixing that one. In that focus, however, we fail to see the thread that ties them all together.

We are, to steal from Thoreau, the “thousand[s] hacking at the branches of evil,” with “[n]one striking at the root.”

This book names that root. It aims to inspire “rootstrikers.” The root—?not the single cause of everything that ails us, not the one reform that would make democracy hum, but instead, the root, the thing that feeds the other ills, and the thing that we must kill first. The cure that would be generative—?the single, if impossibly difficult, intervention that would give us the chance to repair the rest.


This corruption has two elements, each of which feeds the other. The first element is bad governance, which means simply that our government doesn’t track the expressed will of the people, whether on the Left or on the Right. Instead, the government tracks a different interest, one not directly affected by votes or voters. Democracy, on this account, seems a show or a ruse; power rests elsewhere.

The second element is lost trust: when democracy seems a charade, we lose faith in its process. That doesn’t matter to some of us—?we will vote and participate regardless. But to more rational souls, the charade is a signal: spend your time elsewhere, because this game is not for real. Participation thus declines, especially among the sensible middle. Policy gets driven by the extremists at both ends.

What happened with this junket is not illegal. But it is another thing that’s making it more difficult to fix what’s wrong.


Carter continues to push false economic argument

Posted in Around The Nation, District 31, The Economy at 10:17 pm by wcnews

While we continue to suffer through long-term unemployment Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) continues to insist on attempting to waste Congress’ time on a non-issue. Carter would like us to believe that after three plus decades of government regulation rollbacks the problem with our economy is too much regulation. Economists on the right, Misrepresentations, Regulations and Jobs, and left, Regulatory uncertainty: A phony explanation for our jobs problem, agree that Carter is way off base.


Video of the day

Posted in Around The Nation, District 31, Money In Politics at 1:36 pm by wcnews

Via Texas Progress, Patriotic Millionaires.

Today, a group of Patriotic Millionaires released a video challenging several of Texas’ prominent politicians and 36 of their Republican Millionaire Politician colleagues for their opposition to the Buffett Rule.

And one of those Texas GOP “millionaire politicians” is Williamson County and District 31 Congressman John Carter.


My Congressman is an idiot - regulations have nothing to do with it

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, District 31, Employment, Right Wing Lies, The Economy at 12:05 pm by wcnews

The reason job creation is not where it needs to be is because we’ve started moving to austerity, in our nation and state, which is filtering down to the local levels as well. Austerity is defined as: In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. As history shows austerity will only make our economy worse, but we can also look at history for a way out of this mess. The best way to show this is from a post from 2010 by Robert Reich, My Father and Alan Greenspan.

When I was a small boy at the start of the 1950s, my father gave me my first economics lesson. “Bobby,” he said with obvious concern, “you and your children and your children’s children will be repaying the national debt created by Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

I didn’t know what a national debt was, but I remember being scared out of my wits.

Dad was wrong, of course. Even though the national debt then was a much higher percentage of the national economy than it is today, it shrank as the economy boomed. My children have never mentioned FDR’s debt. My granddaughter (almost 2) will never pay a penny of it.

Dad, now 96 and still in good health, recognizes how wrong he was then. He admits FDR’s deficit spending not only won World War II but it also got America out of the Great Depression.

For whatever reason it is very hard for too many politicians and the traditional media to understand, and they’re unable help the rest of the nation and world understand. That’s why Rep. John Carter’s (R- Round Rock) sorry Op-Ed about too much regulation should be laughed at and used for toilet paper. Carter wants us to believe that government regulation is the reason business and corporations aren’t hiring. But he’s wrong.

The reason businesses and corporations aren’t hiring is because of austerity, job and benefit cuts, and increasing income inequality. As a result we have a demand problem. Americans don’t have money to buy things, which means businesses and corporations won’t hire more people to make more stuff. That’s why as federal, state and local government employees get laid off, as well as teachers, firefighters, etc.., the economy will only get worse. A good job taken away, and replaced (maybe) by a job that pays less and has no benefits, leaves that worker and their family with less money to buy stuff. And the downward spiral continues. Instead of what happened to get us out of the Great Depression.

The best way out of our economic mess is with a new WPA. Promise a job for every American that wants to work.

Further Reading:
The Republicans’ Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them).
Regulations, taxes aren’t killing small business, owners say.


Rep. John Carter could potentially support raising to 70 the age for receiving full Social Security benefits

Posted in Around The Nation, Congress, District 31, Right Wing Lies at 11:12 am by wcnews

Most people who don’t spend time in Washington D.C. know the facts about Social Security. Social Security does not contribute to the budget deficit. That is the law. Of course Williamson County’s member of Congress John Carter (R-Round Rock) spends a lot of time in Washington and therefore is unaware of that facts regarding Social Security.

Carter, who has represented Texas’ 31st Congressional District since 2002, offered an overview of the country’s fiscal year 2010 spending.

With the help of a PowerPoint pie chart, he told the crowd that defense and non-defense discretionary spending represent the two areas politicians are realistically able to cut at the present time.

Other segments of the economy, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, were labeled by Carter’s chart as “autopilot spending.” The congressman said these areas, totalling nearly $1.5 trillion combined, must be addressed.

As one example, Carter said he could potentially support raising to 70 the age for receiving full Social Security benefits. “We don’t have to necessarily take any people’s benefits away to start fixing Social Security, but we have to restructure it,” Carter said. “If we just keep kicking the can down the road, we are going to become Greece and there will be no one to bail us out.”

Of course, raising the retirement age to 70 is cutting people’s benefits, and Carter doesn’t seem to understand that. Those are years longer that Americans will have to go before being able to receive their Social Security benefits. Not only is it cruel and wrong but it hurts the economy.

The other thing that Carter doesn’t seem to know that is that left untouched Social Security can pay our 100% of benefits until 2036. After that it won’t be broke, but will still be able to pay out 75% of benefits. There’s a simple fix to make fully fund Social Security for 75 more years, Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill To Lift The Payroll Tax Cap, Ensuring Full Social Security Funding For Nearly 75 Years.

To keep Social Security strong for another 75 years, Sanders’ legislation would apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than nine out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year. […] Under Sanders’ legislation, Social Security benefits would be untouched. The system would be fully funded by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax already assessed on those with incomes up to $106,800 a year.

Sen. Sanders’ idea appears to be getting out to the town halls this summer, Town Hall Constituents Tell Sen. Grassley To Raise The Payroll Tax Cap: ‘We Want To Have Social Security!’.

Shame on Rep. Carter for not knowing the facts about Social Security, but that’s what Republicans do. They’ve been against Social Security since it was created. But as with most of our country’s economic issues, Social Security can also be fixed if the wealthy and corporations would just start paying their fair share of taxes again.


US House GOP is disarray - Carter blames Obama?

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, District 31, Right Wing Lies, The Budget, The Economy at 9:44 am by wcnews

There’s a cliche that goes, “A fish rots from the head down“. That is the case with the GOP led US House of Representatives led by John Boehner.Rachel Maddow goes through how bad it has gotten, Unforced errors plague Boehner as Speaker.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Just to be sure there was a meeting last night that included President Barack Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that didn’t end well, Obama: ‘I Will Not Yield’. There’s a current story where Cantor is quoted saying, “Nothing can get through the House right now“.

Cantor said no other plan can pass the House. “Nothing can get through the House right now,” the Virginia Republican said. “Nothing.”

Cantor and Obama clashed over leaks and secrecy during Tuesday’s meeting. Frustrated that his private presentation on the Biden group’s proposal made it into media reports shortly after Monday’s meeting, Cantor demanded that Obama hand over a paper version of his own plan for a debt-limit package.

Obama then informed Cantor that he had shared his ideas with House Speaker John Boehner in private sessions and assumed that amounted to communicating with the House GOP leadership.

Cantor told reporters on Monday that few details of the “grand bargain” Obama and Boehner hoped to strike had been shared.

With that as a backdrop, it’s easy to understand why the House is in dissary when reading this hapless drivel that spews from an Op-Ed with our GOP Congressman John Carter’s name on it. What Carter is trying to say is that despite what Cantor says above, the House can pass something. It’s just that since it’s something that can’t pass the Senate, or something that Obama will sign, then it is their fault for it not being law already. But as this graph shows the main problem is that Republicans, and especially wing-nuts like Carter, have no appetite to work out a deal. What’s called a compromise, and that, Rep. Carter, is what was at the heart of government designed by our American Founders.

It’s not surprising that Obama and the Democrats can’t work a deal with the House GOP. They’re leaderless and in disarray. As George W. Bush’s Budget Director Mitch Daniels said the debt ceiling is just a “housekeeping matter”, Resolving the debt-ceiling dispute in five minutes.

Mitch Daniels, the conservative Republican Indiana governor and former Bush budget director, explained that “a responsible government” must routinely raise the debt ceiling. “This ought to be treated as the housekeeping matter it is,” Daniels said. Ronald Reagan warned that failure to raise the debt limit would lead to consequences too “awesome to contemplate.”

As Matt Yglesias explained yesterday, one effortless vote makes the entire problem disappear.

Surveying the scene, perhaps everyone should take a deep breath and recall the traditional way the country has avoided default when the debt ceiling needs raising: Congress raises the debt ceiling.

It’s that simple. The same kind of “clean” debt ceiling increase that’s passed repeatedly over the past 100 years will allow the country to avoid default without tax increases, without defense cuts, and without slashing entitlement spending. Education will be spared. So will transportation, health care, farm subsidies, and everything else. The interest rates investors are charging the American government to buy our debt are extremely low right now. The world economy is suffering from an excessive demand for American debt, not by reluctance to lend. All we need to do to keep our finances flowing is to raise the statutory debt ceiling…. Right now, though, the only crisis we face is an entirely self-created one.

GOP leaders insist they can’t do this because their political philosophy won’t let them. This might be slightly less laughable if they hadn’t already raised the debt ceiling — many times and without conditions — just a few years ago.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any potential crisis that’s so serious and yet so easy to resolve. Indeed, by some measures, the 14th Amendment actually compels Congress to act, suggesting policymakers have a constitutional obligation to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.

This entire dispute can end in five minutes, at which point, the parties can go back to arguing. But Republicans don’t care. It’s the greatest scandal Americans haven’t heard much about.

It’s time for all our elected leaders to step, end this charade, and agree to pay our debts.

Further Reading:
G.O.P.’s No-Tax Stance Is Outside Political Mainstream.


John Carter reiterates he wants to kill Medicare..and Medicaid, and Social Security

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, District 31, Health Care, Taxes, The Budget at 10:12 am by wcnews

Yesterday after meeting with President Obama Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock), reiterated his desire to kill Medicare. He went even further saying he want to kill Medicaid and Social Security too. Via the Temple Daily Telegram.

“Entitlements are the real issues that we have to deal with,” Carter said. “When we talk about entitlements, it’s real easy: we’re talking about Medi­care, Medicaid, Social Security.”

Let’s all be clear what is going on here. We all pay into Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security all of our working days. And to pay for the deficit that’s been created since he entered Congress, Carter wants to take away what we’ve spent decades paying for? Not going to happen!

Carter created this mess by voting for the tax cuts for the wealthy (himself) and corporations, and allowing us into and continuing two unfunded wars, and the economic downturn both of them created. Here’s the visual.

Fixing the debt and the deficit is easy. And it starts with making sure the wealthy and corporations start paying their fair share of taxes again. Which would include taking away unneeded tax breaks for giant oil corporations like ExxonMobil - of which Carter owns millions in stock. Getting our of Iraq and Afghanistan, and putting Americans back to work. It’s called The People’s Budget, that was put forth by Democrats in Congress - members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It’s the anti-Ryan plan that protects poor, working and middle class Americans, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Read more about John Cater’s vote to kill Medicare, Rep. John Carter voted to end Medicare, cut taxes on the rich.


My Congressman is an idiot - John Carter praises Socialism

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, District 31, Right Wing Lies at 10:41 am by wcnews

[When posting on Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) and the subject of oil it’s always key to know that he has a huge interest in ExxonMobil.]

Tip to Matt Yglesias, Representative John Carter (R-TX) Sings The Praises Of Norwegian Fossil Fuel Socialism, but Media Matters has the real takedown, GOP Rep. Carter Declares Support For Norwegian Socialism.

Like many conservative lawmakers, Rep. John Carter (R-TX) has often used the phrase “governmenttakeover” to deride President Obama’s health care law. But last night on the House floor, Carter came dangerously close to endorsing an actual government takeover of American energy production. Arguing in favor of increased oil drilling to address high gas prices, Carter cited Norway as an example of a country that the U.S. should emulate:

CARTER: The thing is we don’t know — we all speculate to some extent — but I think it’s [a] pretty easy commonsense position to take that the more supply we have with the demand — we are the demand capital of the world on burning gasoline and diesel. We outshine anyone else on the face of this globe in the use of those products. And we have relatively cheap prices as compared to other countries — especially countries that have no production. They can get very expensive very quickly. Until very recently, there was no oil or gas at all to amount to anything in what we now call Western Europe. Today there is. They have found it offshore, they have found it on the land in Holland and Norway and other places. Norway’s one of the — something like the third biggest producer of offshore oil in the world now. They’re doing extremely well and running their economy in a very frugal manner. Very smart people. And they should be commended. We should do so good.



Here’ another item for Carter to tout, The [auto] bailout’s secret success. Do I think Carter is advocating for Socialism? No, but this has little to with economic systems. Carter’s concern lies with what is best for ExxonMobil.

Anyone who pays attention knows that Carter says idiotic stuff on a regulatory basis. His ability to do that and get away with it has largely to do with him being in a solid GOP majority district. This recent report on a town hall meeting in the Hill Country News, where he talks about the economy, is so full of misinformation that Carter almost makes fromer US Senator Alan Simpson look sane.

In the report it states that, “U.S. Rep. John Carter told a packed house at the Leander chamber luncheon that we are all to blame for the country’s massive debt but that together we can address the issue..”. Carter then goes on to say that, “Santa is dying, and he’ll be dead before the end of the year,” and he tells us that the only was we can “together” fix this problem is by killing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and not raising taxes - especially the rich and corporations like ExxonMobil.

We are again reminded of how fatally flawed the GOP party line on the economy is after Bloomberg shredded House Speaker John Boehner’s speech on Monday, Boehner’s Views on Economy Contradicted by Indicators, Studies. There are two things that are always left out of the GOP discussion when it comes to the issue of deficits and the economy. Here’s a concise explanation of the fist from Bloomberg:

1993 Tax Increase

The speaker didn’t mention a 1993 tax increase that raised the top individual marginal rate to 39.6 percent, where it stood until 2001. In 1998, the government recorded its first budget surplus in almost 30 years.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in 1994, the year after Congress passed the second tax increase of the decade. The growth rate dropped to 2.5 percent in 1995, and thereafter rose to 3.7 percent in 1996. The economy grew more than 4 percent a year from 1997 through 2000.

The 1990s were a period of “stalemate between the Republican Congress” and President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, that paved the way for balanced budgets because there was “no major giveaway legislation,” said Eugene Steuerle, a former Treasury Department official who is Institute Chair at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research center in Washington.

That’s right, increasing taxes - especially on the rich and corporations - during a recession spurred the economy, and lead to the first budget surplus in almost 30 years. And here’s the second, The past and future of our budget deficit in two graphs.

Insofar as policy has gotten us into this fiscal mess, the Bush tax cuts deserve the bulk of the blame. In their absence, deficits would be much smaller today. If they’re allowed to expire in 2012, deficits will be much smaller going forward. So if you’re saying that tax increases are off the table in any and all budget deals, then you’re proposing to leave in place the very policies that have led to our current deficits and threaten to explode our future deficits. You can call people who’ve adopted that approach a lot of things. Tax cutters. Republicans. But you can’t call them deficit hawks.

That’s right, the main reason for our current debt is because of massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations. The other main driver, unfunded wars in the Middle East. Neither of which any member of the GOP like Carter and Boehner will ever mention.

Is Carter really an idiot? No, but he’s been taken hostage to an ideology that is greedy, corrupt, selfish, mean, cold, cruel, and irresponsible. He will say whatever is put in front of him, whether it is true or not. We should all be skeptical of everything he says, no matter where we lie on the political spectrum.

Further reading:
In case you missed it…
Stiglitz’s view of the economy and how to fix it.
The Great Debt Shift.


Rep. John Carter voted to end Medicare, cut taxes on the rich

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, District 31, Health Care, Taxes, The Budget at 9:10 am by wcnews

Last week Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) along with darn near every GOP member of the House voted to end Medicare while cutting taxes on the rich, again! We added Carter’s name to the text of this ad that is currently running around the country. Significant New Progressive Ad Campaign Targets Republicans For Voting To End Medicare.

On April 15th, your Congressman John Carter voted to end Medicare and its guaranteed health care benefits. Instead, he wants to give seniors a voucher forcing them to go out and find coverage from private insurance companies.

The Non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates this proposal will increase senior’s out of pocket costs by $6,000 each year - and Congressman Carter is using the savings to give corporations and millionaires another tax break.

Congressman John Carter even voted to slash Medicaid funds that pay nursing home care for seniors and the disabled.

Call Congressman John Carter at (202) 225-3864. Tell him that cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for corporations and millionaires is just wrong. Tell him to keep his hands off our Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Here’s the link to the vote. This is obviously not what the American people want, Polls Show Dangers For GOP In Pushing Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan.

In essence, the Ryan plan calls for privatizing Medicare and capping payments in the form of vouchers as a way to reduce spending. On it’s face, the proposal garners tepid public support, particularly when presented as a necessity to reduce the deficit. However, when explained more fully, support for the Ryan plan evaporates.

The more we know the worse it gets. Not a single Democrat voted for this.

Here’s the video of a similar ad.


CBS News, Carter getting free pass on ethics violation

Posted in District 31, Money In Politics at 9:55 am by wcnews

CBS News has a report up on the uneven, shall we say, way that Congress deals with ethics violations by it’s members, A Double Standard for House Ethics? Our own member of Congress, John Carter (R-Round Rock), spent the better part of a year haranguing Rep. Charlie Rangel, until his own ethics ciolation was brought to light, and he’s said little since. Here’s an excerpt:

Then there’s Congressman John Carter (R-Texas). On Oct. 7, 2009, he criticized Rangel for, among other things, failing to disclose income. “These are all violations of the rules of the House,” Carter said in an interview about Rangel.

But just a few weeks later, Carter himself was making a mea culpa. “I made an error on my House financial disclosure forms,” he said in a speech on Oct. 21, 2009 on the House floor. It turns out he got caught — just like Rangel — failing to report income: nearly $300-thousand dollars in profits from selling Exxon stock. But Carter isn’t facing an ethics trial. [Emphasis added].

Watch it below:

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