McNerney Chips Away At Estate Tax

mcnerney.jpgCongressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11) has recently decided to lead an attack on the estate tax from the Democratic side of the aisle. Yesterday, he announced that he is sponsoring H.R. 4042, the Family Farm, Small Business and Home Tax Relief Act. Here’s how a local newspaper reported on McNerney’s proposal: (emphasis added)

The “Family Farm, Small Business and Home Tax Relief Act” would raise the exemption from $2 million for farms and small businesses to $8 million and exclude from estate taxation as much as $2 million for the family home. “I’ve talked to a lot of farmers and business owners in my district who are very concerned about this issue,” said the Pleasanton congressman during a conference call from Washington, D.C. “In the long term, I’d like to eliminate the estate tax permanently.”

Of course, that position represents the complete antithesis of McNerney’s campaign promises of 2006. Just last year, McNerney responded to a questionnaire from On The Issues, stating that he “strongly opposed” a “decrease of overall taxation of the wealthy” and specifically stated his position as “No estate tax repeal; no permanent Bush tax cut.” Was his response to (more…)

Targeting Democratic Freshmen By Frightening Senior Citizens

bullseye.jpg Two local papers in Rep. Jerry McNerney’s district yesterday carried full-page ads calling on voters to contact their Congressman and urge him to “stop the cuts” on Medicare and “stand up for the quality skilled nursing care California’s seniors need.”

These ads were placed by the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. The AHCA announced this ad campaign in a press release dated August 22:

In response to the $2.7 billion cuts to Medicare that were passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP Act), the long term care provider community today initiated an aggressive TV and print campaign in Congressional districts across the country. The campaign warns that proposed cuts will jeopardize ongoing quality improvements in America’s nursing homes, threaten thousands of local health care jobs, and irrationally return Medicare funding levels to those seen almost a decade ago.

In addition to the newspaper ads, AHCA/AQNHC plans to air TV commercials in their targeted districts. Here’s the text of the commercials:

Why?… would politicians in Washington vote to cut Medicare for our most vulnerable seniors?… cutting $2.7 billion in vital funds for skilled nursing care. It’s wrong. Slashing billions will jeopardize quality, threaten thousands of health care jobs, and return Medicare funding to levels of almost a decade ago. Call Congressman [Name], tell him to stop the cuts, and to stand up for the quality skilled nursing care [State]’s seniors need. Time is running out.

So you might wonder exactly who these two groups are. Well, here’s how they describe themselves. According to the AHCA website, the AHCA “represents nearly 11,000 non-profit and proprietary facilities” and the AQNHC is a “coalition of 16 national skilled nursing providers.” In other words, this campaign has ostensibly been launched by two organizations that represent the owners of nursing homes.

But here’s where the story goes sideways. When the CHAMP Act came to a vote, 220 Democrats and five Republicans voted in favor of it. So these two supposed industry groups have announced that they will be targeting the following members of Congress in their districts:

Arizona: Rep. Harry Mitchell; California: Rep. Jerry McNerney; Connecticut: Reps. Joe Courtney, Chris Murphy; Florida: Reps. Tim Mahoney, Ron Klein; Georgia: Reps. Jim Marshall, John Barrow; Indiana: Reps. Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill; Kansas: Rep. Nancy Boyda; Minnesota: Rep. Tim Walz; New Hampshire: Reps. Paul Hodes, Carol Shea-Porter; New York: Reps. John Hall, Kirsten Gillebrand, Mike Arcuri; Ohio: Rep. Zack Space; Pennsylvania: Reps. Jason Altmire, Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy; Wisconsin: Rep. Steven Kagen.

Now, when I looked at the list of Congressional members this group was targeting, I couldn’t help but notice that they were all Democrats and mostly freshmen. In fact, only the two Congressmen from Georgia, Jim Marshall and John Barrow, are incumbents. But due to a redistricting maneuver in 2005 by the Georgia state legislature, they both barely won their races in 2006. In fact, Barrow won by a mere 864 votes, Marshall by 1,752.

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The Education of Jerry McNerny

windmills2.jpgYesterday, the WaPo published an article about Democrats softening on Iraq under the title “Senator Calls for Maliki’s Ouster.” As part of that article they quoted statements made by Rep. Jerry McNerney after his trip to Iraq at the end of July:

That followed comments by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) suggesting that his trip to Iraq made him more flexible in his search for a bipartisan accord on the future U.S. role in the conflict. “If anything, I’m more willing to work to find a way forward,” he told reporters late last month.

Since July 30, McNerney had been facing increasing blowback from his supporters over his statements. Yesterday, he responded with an email and post at his campaign blog, supposedly clarifying his position on Iraq. He even put up his clarification as a diary on Daily Kos:

In September, Congress will be participating in perhaps the most critical discussion of this conflict since it began in 2003. My campaign web site has been receiving increasing amounts of email from concerned citizens curious about my stance on the war. So, as we approach this pivotal debate, I want to clearly and unequivocally express to you where I stand on the question (more…)

No More GOP Talking Points, Please

mcnerney.jpgOn November 8, 2006, I celebrated along with the rest of the country over the election of Jerry McNerney. As one of the principal writers on the blog SayNoToPombo, I had worked incredibly hard to get McNerney elected, first in the primary and then again in the general. So you can imagine my confusion two weeks ago when McNerney returned from a weekend trip to Iraq spouting off Republican talking points. A few days ago the AP breathlessly reported a story, ”Democrats Praise Military Progress” that pushed the new Republican meme going into September that even anti-war Democrats are acknowledging that conditions in Iraq are improving. The article quoted a handful of Democratic senators, each one of whom was extremely careful to qualify his praise. The narrative traveled along the lines that, yes, indeed, our troops were performing admirably, but that without a political solution anywhere in sight, military progress was meaningless.

That is, right up until the last two paragraphs:

California Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney had a different take. After visiting Iraq last month and visiting with Petraeus, McNerney said signs of progress led him to decide he’ll be a little more flexible (more…)