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kathy hochul

August 14, 2012 - 11:39pm

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution got a ringing endorsement Tuesday from three of the top-ranking elected officials who represent Genesee County.

Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steven Hawley all appeared at SCOPE's monthly meeting to talk about what they're doing to help prevent extremists on the left from stripping gun owners of their right to own firearms.

Ranzenhofer started off the evening by discussing how important a Republican majority is in the State Senate to protecting gun rights.

"There are people out there who don’t like you and want to take away your rights," Ranzenhofer said.

When Ranzenhofer was first in office, and the GOP didn't have a majority in the Senate, he said anti-gun Democrats regularly tried to push new laws to restrict gun and ammo sales.  Since the GOP regained control of the upper chamber, "we’ve not had to be constantly on guard for new legislation coming up," Ranzenhofer said.

Now, Ranzenhofer said, the biggest worry at the state level for gun-rights advocates is a popular governor who wants to push through legislation to restrict the rights of gun owners.

Hochul said she comes from a family of gun-rights advocates. She has two brothers in Maryland, she said, who are expert marksmen. While Hochul said she isn't big into hunting or target shooting herself, she has taken safety courses and knows how to handle a firearm.

"When a bill comes up that affects your 2nd Amendment rights, I’m on your side," Hochul said.

While clerk in Erie County, Hochul said she streamlined the process for a gun permits from a year or longer to four months, and three of those months involve the State of New York doing background checks.

"Some of you may say I have a 'D' after my name and I can't vote for you," Hochul said. "Well, fine, but I still represent you. I am independent and I look at each and every issue as what's best for the people of Western New York. Sometimes the Democrats are right and sometimes they're really wrong. Some times the Republicans are right and some times they are really wrong."

According to Hochul, when the gun rights groups come out with their congressional rankings soon, she will receive a very high grade for her voting record for her first year in office.

"I'm very proud of my ranking," Hochul said.

Hochul also noted that she opposed the "Fast and Furious" operation, which provided guns to drug gangs in Mexico, and believes Attorney General Eric Holder should respect the powers of Congress under the Constitution and turn over all "Fast and Furious" documents to the House of Representatives, a demand from Congress the Obama Administration is fighting.

Hochul faces the most serious reelection challenge in November of the three officials who spoke Tuesday and SCOPE Chairman Jack Taylor said he contacted the campaign for her challenger, Chris Collins, to invite Collins to the meeting, but didn't get a response.

Hawley talked a good deal about his work on veterans' issues, particularly his annual Patriot Tour of Washington, D.C., and noted that while his colleague in the Senate, Ranzenhofer, may need to deal with only two anti-gun zealots in that chamber, the state Assembly is filled with 40 or 50 people eager to water down the 2nd Amendment.

Hawley said those representatives deal with a very different constituency than Assembly members in Upstate and Western New York, where people often live on a bit of land, own their own homes, like to hunt and fish and target shoot.

In noting the differences, Hawley segued into a discussion of a bill he has repeatedly sponsored -- allowing a referendum vote on whether New York should be split into two states.

Taylor spoke between each guest and hammered home the same point: Gun rights advocates need to educate the public on the difference between law-abiding citizens who own guns and criminals who not only use guns but other implements to commit their crimes.

"In all my years in retail, I've never seen a gun jump off the shelf and shoot somebody," Taylor said.

Some of the blame for the misrepresentation of guns falls on the media, Taylor noted, reminding SCOPE members that you never see a headline that says "Chevy and Budweiser kills family of four," but you do see headlines like "Glock used in murder spree."

The former county coroner said the most common way that young people die a violent death in Genesee County is from drunken driving, while there is only about one homicide every seven years locally (worth noting: the last homicide locally was Scott Doll beating to death his victim, no gun involved).

"We are all against crime, whatever the implement," Taylor said. "We need to separate the crime from the implement. There’s not a gun law out there that ever saved a life or prevented a criminal from committing a crime."

August 14, 2012 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) recently sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urging him to provide New York dairy farms with regulatory relief to help milk producers expand their businesses.

Hochul asked that the state raise the threshold for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations from 200 cows to 300 cows, a threshold consistent with national standards.

Increasing the threshold will allow dairy farmers to increase milk production, enabling them to fulfill the needs of New York’s growing yogurt industry. Hochul also requested that New York expand programs to assist dairy farmers with environmental conservation and protection.

Hochul wrote, “I request your assistance in delivering much-needed regulatory relief to our state’s dairy farmers, many of whom are still recovering from disastrous market conditions in 2009. Without assistance, too many New York milk producers will remain unable or unwilling to expand their businesses despite the game-changing opportunity for economic development made possible by the booming Greek yogurt industry. … Our dairy farmers need a level playing field and supportive regulatory regime to fully capitalize on the Greek yogurt boom, and I look forward to working with you to ensure they have both.”

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park will soon be home to Theo Muller Gmbh and PepsiCo’s $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility as well as a $20 million dollar Alpina Food yogurt plant.

Rep. Hochul has introduced bipartisan legislation that allows dairy farmers to apply for H-2A visas, which are available for seasonal agricultural producers but not the year-round dairy industry. She also is a member of the House Dairy Caucus.

August 14, 2012 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

Clarence, NY – “At a time when our nation is debating critical policy issues including whether to extend middle class tax relief or give more tax breaks to millionaires and companies that ship jobs overseas, voters deserve to know how their elected officials make their money and how much they pay in taxes. In a commitment to transparency, Congresswoman Hochul has made the last three years of her tax returns public,” said Campaign Manager Frank Thomas.

“Given Chris Collins' unwillingness to discuss his support for policies that gut Medicare to pay for additional tax cuts for the rich and lingering questions about the business he does with China so he can better line his pockets, we call on him to give voters the clarity they deserve and be candid with his tax returns,” continued Thomas.

Copies of her 2009, 2010, and 2011 returns are available here: http://www.kathyhochul.com/meetkathy/tax-returns/


Chris Collins supports tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  According to a Collins campaign press release, “Collins supports a full extension of the tax cuts.” [Collins Press Release, 7/9/2012]

Chris Collins refused to release his tax returns so he could hide sources of business income. According the Buffalo News,

For his part, though, Collins said he would not release his tax records because they would show how much he's earning from various business partnerships, meaning the release would also make public his partners' income.

More importantly, he said, his income would reveal how much money his companies are making -- and, therefore, provide important information to his competitors. [Buffalo News, 6/2/2012]

Collins told voters “I would never” release tax returns. At an event on May 21, 2012, Collins told an audience “so again, I'm not going to release personal tax returns, because it's got my partners' income. I would never do that.” [Chris Collins Video, 5/30/2012]

 

August 7, 2012 - 10:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farmers market, agriculture, kathy hochul.

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It's national Famers Market Week and to help commerate the event, Rep. Kathy Hochul stopped by the Genesee County Farmers Market in the Batavia Downs parking lot this morning.

Above, Hochul buys flowers from Kathryn Schneider, as mother Dana looks on. Dana Schneider is owner of Stonehouse Acres. Hochul told Kathryn that she worked in her mother's flower shop as a child as did her daughter. "See, you can learn a lot selling flowers," Hochul told Kathryn.

Below, Hochul is greeted by another constitutent and a couple of pictures of flowers and corn for sale today at the market.

August 3, 2012 - 6:47am
posted by Mark Brudz in kathy hochul, chris collins, NY 27.

A press release from Kathy Hochul's office, dated 1 Aug., had this headline:

"HOCHUL CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO CHRIS COLLINS’ PUSH FOR MORE DEFICIT-RAISING TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES"

Hochul's Campaign Manager Francis Thomas cites a report issued by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities [CBPP] stating:

"Economists say that cutting taxes for the richest Americans would raise the deficit by “nearly $1 trillion” and give the most benefits to people making more than $1 million per year."

Thomas goes on to cite a [CBPP] article dated 7/19/2012 that poses the proposition that maintaining the Bush Tax Cuts for those in the upper 2 percent would, in fact, add deficits of more than $1 trillion to the 2013 budget.

"According to the nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),
just 2.5 percent of small business owners face top tax rates. In a July 2012 study, they wrote 'allowing the top two marginal tax rates to return to pre-2001 levels as scheduled next year would affect very few small businesses, a recent Treasury Department study found. The study shows that only 2.5 percent of small business owners face the top two rates.' ” [CBPP 7/19/2012]

Although the CBPP does, in fact, claim to be "nonpartisan" on its Web site, further reading clearly disputes this claim. On the page titled "Experts" on the CBPP Web site, my research shows that all but one of those listed on the page have held positions with the Democrat Party. Of the 46 names listed in various positions, not one has held a position in the GOP or any other conservative or moderate think tank of a similar nature. Below are four examples selected from the Federal Fiscal Policy Section.

Jared Bernstein (Senior Fellow) is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. Bernstein is considered to represent a progressive, pro-labor perspective.

Indivar Dutta-Gupta (Policy Advisor) was involved with Amnesty International USA, as a member of its Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisory Group and in other volunteer positions. After graduating from the University of Chicago in June 2005, Dutta-Gupta came to D.C. to work with a nonprofit Democratic consulting firm on political campaigns, food and hunger, international development, energy and national security issues. While in college, he interned at the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL).

James R. Horney (Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy) was a deputy Democratic staff director at the Senate Budget Committee from 2001 through 2004.

Chuck Marr is the director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He served as economic policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Further, the report cited by Thomas has come under fire from nonpartisan and conservative tax policy organizations like the TaxFoundation and the Heritage Foundation.

"While we applaud the CBPP's obvious success at bringing attention to the budget, it paints an incomplete picture to place only certain budget items in a graph of the deficit, as if that demonstrates causality. Why not throw entitlement spending in the deficit category, or defense spending, or certain initiatives from the Clinton years? Better yet, why not simply show the entire budget, and in a larger historical context?

"Indeed, the CBO report on which the CBPP analysis is based does just that. A closer look at the CBO report will help illustrate the relative importance of tax cuts and spending (including spending through the tax code) in creating the projected deficits." The Budget Debate, taxfoundation.org

Clearly the issue is not so black and white.

Complete Hochul press release after the jump (click on the headline to read more).

August 1, 2012 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) voted to preserve and extend middle-class tax cuts to all Americans on the first $250,000 of earned income. This bill would provide tax relief and prevent a tax increase of about $2,200 on working families and small businesses in Western New York.

“At a time when our national debt is approaching $16 trillion, the House leadership has insisted on passing an irresponsible plan to add $1 trillion to the debt to pay for additional tax cuts for millionaires. This extra trillion puts us in even greater debt to the Chinese. Instead, I supported an alternative that would provide tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses, while requiring the wealthiest top 2 percent to pay the same tax rates they paid during the economic boom of the 1990s,” Rep. Hochul said.

“If we are going to effectively address our nation's fiscal challenges, we need a balanced approach that requires meaningful cuts to government spending and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. That is why I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a balanced budget amendment and to cut $2.4 trillion in deficit spending. It’s also why I supported cuts to wasteful spending, such as aid to Pakistan. There is still work to be done to protect middle-class families and reduce the deficit, and I will continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans to find ways to accomplish that goal.”

July 20, 2012 - 11:42am
posted by Mark Brudz in kathy hochul, chris collins, NY 27.

In an email released by Kathy Hochul's staff Wednesday, her Campaign Manager Francis Thomas took opponent Chris Collins to task over the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (RNCC) claims that Hochul's support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a talking point in this year’s race.

It is absolutely clear that Mr. Collins’ tact so far has been to attempt to paint Hochul as a champion for all Obama policies. Almost every press release, tweet and statement generated by the Collins’ Camp contains a reference to a Hochul-Obama connection.

What Chris fails to mention is that Kathy has sided with the Republicans in three key votes that, if also passed in the Senate, would repeal elements of the ACA. Mrs. Hochul was one of only seven Democrats who joined Republicans in repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

She also voted along with the GOP to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program.

Finally, Mrs. Hochul, along with 36 other Democrats voted for the Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on medical devices.

Consider also, that Hochul did not even hold office when the ACA was enacted and on several occasions has stated that she would have had problems voting for the ACA if it were presented as passed.

Yet, Collins is not alone in attempting to keep this race in true talking point hyperbole form.

In his press release styled email, Hochul campaign manager Thomas pulled out the tried and true quote, and often used by Kathy referring to the Paul Ryan Medicare Plan:

“.....Mr. Collins and his allies should explain to voters why he supports plans to force seniors to pay $6,400 more for their Medicare and use that money to give tax breaks to millionaires."

This approach was used to defeat Jane Corwin and Jack Davis in 2011’s special election with great success, unfortunately, this line was also dubbed as “One of the Whoppers of the Year” by factcheck.org then and it is under even more scrutiny now.

First of all, if implemented, those 55 at the time and older would not at all be affected at all by the Ryan Medicare Plan; they would receive Medicare benefits as currently prescribed by law.

As for the $6,400 figure, yes it is accurate when you do the simple math however, it leaves out distinct caveats that offset that number.

Finally, the next iteration of the Ryan Plan is similar to the first, and the new version is due to be brought to the floor after the November election. Among its contributors is the very liberal, and lifelong champion of senior issues, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. This iteration by all definitions is bipartisan.

For each talking point by either candidate, a fact-based argument can be used as a counter. For each statement issued by the candidates or by their supporters and staff, there will no doubt be a combination of truth, spin and/or vetted talking point.

Issues on the other hand, are often complex. When you analyze the facts there is plenty of room for debate.

The complete statement from the Hochul campaign:

Chris Collins is clearly afraid to run against Kathy Hochul's Independent record of fighting for Western New York, and now he and his allies are launching a desperate attempt to make this race about Barack Obama. Kathy has repeatedly crossed party lines to repeal the most troubling portions of the health care bill, while protecting Those provisions that protect our seniors, our young people, and those with preexisting conditions.

Instead of misrepresenting Kathy's record, Mr. Collins and his allies should explain to voters why he supports plans to force seniors to pay
$6,400 more for their Medicare and use that money to give tax breaks to millionaires.

July 16, 2012 - 12:40pm
posted by Mark Brudz in Barack Obama, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Publisher's Note: A few weeks ago, Mark Brudz discussed the idea of regularly fact checking the candidates for the NY-27 Congressional District, much like a site like factcheck.org does on a national level. We believe this is the first such post with more to come in this campaign. We hope to encourage both candidates to run more honest and truthful campaigns than is usually seen in this highly partisan era.

If Mr. Collins is going to cry foul for Mrs. Hochul cherry-picking his words and not keeping them in full context, he should also hold himself to the same standard.

A Collins For Congress email sent Saturday afternoon used a statement by President Obama to attack Hochul.

Obama: "If you got a business, you didn't build it. Somebody else made that happen."

The email then went on with the subtitle: "Kathy Hochul's Presidential Candidate Slams Small Businesses."

Yes, the president did in fact say that, however, it was taken out of context in a excerpt from a campaign rally speech in Roanoke, Va., on Friday July 13. The Collins team included in their email a quote from the Washington Times article written by Walter Cooler.

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."

The president's entire statement however, was not exactly a slam toward small business. In full context, the president more specifically expressed his belief in infrastructure and that successful business people rely on that infrastructure to grow their business. Additionally, President Obama stated that successful business people have achieved but also relied upon teachers and mentors to reach their goals.

All in all, there was much fodder for Mr. Collins with the statement in full context because it becomes more of philosophical discussion where Chris Collins actually can make some issue-based arguments.

It is no different than the flap earlier this month between Collins and Kathy Hochul. (See The Batavian; NY-27 race shaping up as a war over words.)  Hochul jumped on a Collins statement that he made in answer to a question during an interview for The Batavian. Clearly Mrs. Hochul took Mr. Collins out of context in order to obtain the upper hand when there was plenty in that interview that she could have taken issue with in full context.

What we need from both Collins and Hochul at this point is more statement of what they intend to do in Congress and less of the carefully choreographed talking points that are typical in today's politicians.

This is President Obama's statement in full context:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires; we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”

It would be very appropriate for Chris Collins to take the president to task on the entire statement in context, likewise it would also be appropriate for him to question Mrs. Hochul's position on this statement, should she actually have made one. In Chris Collins email, there were several bullet points where he did in fact state his strengths and there was a legitamate question posed as to Mrs. Hochul's private sector business knowledge and experience.

I say let them both go at it from that point and may the best candidate win. But spare us the talking points and the he said/she said game this time around. If you want my vote, spell out your agenda and let me decide.

After the jump, the complete press release from the campaign of Chris Collins (click on the headline to read more):

July 13, 2012 - 5:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, kathy hochul, agricluture.

Rep. Kathy Hochul heard a good suggestion from constituents today during an agriculture roundtable she hosted in council chambers at Batavia City Hall: Young people need to be taught more about farming.

Lorna Klotzbach first raised the issue.

In the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District, Klotzbach noted that "there is no FAA and there wasn't when I was in school that I can remember. There are very few teachers with an agricultural background. There is no training for farm careers. There is very little of that in Genesee County altogether."

Klotzbach noted that she's heard students suggest that farm work is really only for illegal immigrants.

"The smartest, most skilled people I've known are farmers and we hold them in such low esteem," Klotzbach said.

Hochul said she could envision supporting some sort of pilot project to help fund agriculture training in local schools and getting support for an informational campaign to elevate farming as a career choice.

Domestically produced food is a key component of national security, said Hochul, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee.

"Congress has a roll to play in directing funds (to ag training)," Hochul said. "We need to help people embrace the patriotic sense you get from the American family farm. That's what we're all about, the entrepreneurial spirt that this country is built on."

Farm labor was a big part of the morning discussion, with much of it centered on the difficulty farmers have these days in finding qualified, legal labor.

Hochul noted that with the opening soon of the Alpina and Pepsi yogurt plants, the demand on local milk supplies will increase 15 percent, and that doesn't mean more cows and milking parlors. It means more farm workers will be needed.

"If we don’t get more people in this workforce, we’re not going to be able to capitalize on the opportunities that we have right here in Genesee County," Hochul said.

The congresswoman said she is looking at how to move some of the recent refugees -- who are mostly from agrarian countries -- in Rochester and Buffalo to work on Genesee County farms.

There is apparently a growing Burmese immigrant community in Buffalo, with many people from rural communities.

The problem Hochul said she wanted to tackle is transportation, but Matt Lamb said transportation isn't an issue.

"We can house these people," he said.

If the workers are qualified and willing to work, there's work and shelter available for them now.

Klotzbach said that if Burmese workers were going to be brought to Genesee County to work on farms, it needs to be approached in a comprehensive way, with assistance to school districts for appropriate classes and ensuring Burmese families have a chance to retain their culture while assimulating to a new one.

"It doesn’t do any good to bring one Burmese family to Pavilion," she said. That doesn’t work. They need a community."

Hochul said she will look into available options to help find qualified refugee labor and ensure any move of the labor force to the area is done the right way.

Some farmers complained about overzealous U.S. Border Patrol agents, even conducting raids when there was no apparent probable cause for illegal workers being on a property.

Hochul said she's spoken with the director the border patrol and suggested that the Western New York border with Canada has too many agents for the threat level and perhaps some agents should be transferred to Texas or Arizona.

"Our homeland is not in any danger or threat from our farmers," Hochul said. "We need a different attitude."

July 7, 2012 - 3:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

GOP candidate for Congress Chris Collins reportedly has a history of saying things he maybe shouldn't, and his opponent in the race for the NY-27 has shown she's willing to use those statements against him in the campaign.

“All of us are human," Hochul said in an interview Thursday. "It’s important if you misspeak that you own it and say you made a mistake."

But, she added, “When there’s a pattern, then it’s trouble. If it’s an honest mistake that is a different category.”

As for criticizing Collins for saying people no longer die from cancer in an interview with The Batavian, Hochul said she thinks the comment raises legitimate policy concerns that should held up to scrutiny.

“He said it was out of context," Hochul said. "It looked like it read in context to me. He also said he misspoke, but either way, if you’re going to engage in this level of debate and criticize health policy that provides care to people with preexisting conditions, if you want to have these conversations, it’s important to state your position clearly."

Collins readily admits he makes statements that are easy targets for his political opponents, but he said that's just a byproduct of his straightforward style.

“Clearly, I’m not a politician," Collins said. "I come out of the private sector. I speak very directly. I actually answer questions. I’m not someone who filters, who is consistently filtering everything you say.”

As for the cancer comment, Collins thinks it's ridiculous that anybody would believe he thinks people no longer die from cancer.

Opponents concentrating on just one portion of his full quote miss the overall point he was making, Collins said.

Clearly what he said is there've been advances in health care, Collins said, and new treatments are more costly, above any increase in inflation, than what existed even just 10 yeas ago.

"The result is we live a lot longer and people today are surviving where they may not have a decade ago," Collins said. "Thanks for advances in cancer treatment that saved my sister’s life."

Over the course of Collins's several years of public life, the former Erie County executive has been criticized many times for public statements, most notably in 2009, when Collins compared Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Hitler, and in 2010 when Collins was reported to have offered a woman a seat at an event in exchange for a lap dance.

“I will say, about the Shelly Silver comment, it was a poor attempt at a joke in front of a friendly audience," Collins said. "It didn’t come across and in hindsight, I should not have said that.

"As for the lap dance remark," Collins added. "It never happened. I can’t apologize for something I never said.”

During her year in Congress, Hochul has gotten into trouble for an apparent misstatement once.

Republicans jumped all over a statement by Hochul at a political forum in Erie County where she reportedly said, “Well, basically, we’re not looking to the Constitution on that aspect of it. Basically, the decision has been made by this Congress that American citizens are entitled to health care.”

Hochul thinks that the public is ready to forgive a politician a genuine mistake, but when they do say something inappropriate they should own the mistake.

"If you’re not adding anything positive to the policy debate, then you have to deal with the consequences," Hochul said.

In his interview published in The Batavian on June 24, Collins made other remarks that could be construed as politically sensitive misstatements, but Democrats have not pursued those comments as aggressievely as the cancer statement.

Most notably, Collins made statements that could lead one to conclude that the GOP nominee doesn't believe in civilian control of the military and that the president is commander-in-chief -- two concepts enshrined in the Constitution.

When asked if there was an opportunity to cut spending by cutting the military budget, Collins said, "It’s not my call. I would say you look to your military commanders, you say what is our mission and you look to the experts on how to achieve that mission in in the most cost-effective way, making sure they’ve got the tools they need to accomplish their mission."

Collins then added that President Barack Obama has been out of line in his handling of the military in Afghanistan.

"Whereas our current president has tried to micromanage the military," Collins said. "He’s replaced commanders in Afghanistan because they don’t agree with his policies."

In an interview Friday, Collins said he certainly supports civilian control of the military and understands the president is commander-in-chief.

“President Obama has politicized his position beyond what you would call a professional commander-in-chief," Collins said. "That’s just my opinion. Others may have a different opinion, but I know many people who share my opinion.

“The Constitution is the Constitution and he can do what he’s allowed to do, but that doesn't mean that what he does is right," Collins added.

From Hochul's point of view, Collins's remarks regarding the president's handling of Afghanistan is misplaced criticism.

"Regardless of party affiliation, the president of the United States remains the commander-in-chief," Hochul said. “When the president made a decision to take out Osama Bin Laden, some said that may have been too big a risk. I understand he overrode a lot of people when he made that decision, but I thank him on behalf of the people of this country that he did.”

Finally, as is often the case in taped interviews, the original statement from Collins on advances in health care was quite long and was trimmed to make for shorter reading. While we believe the quote as printed in the origional article fully explains the point Collins was attempting to make, for transparency's sake, below is his full statement. The part of the quote used in the original article is in bold.

"The fact of the matter is, healthcare today is different than healthcare was five, 10, 20 years ago. We didn’t have Lipitor, we didn’t have robotic surgery, we didn’t have what we have for prostrate cancer. People just died. People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things. The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases, and drugs that step in for high cholesterol and high blood pressure and everything else. Those are expensive, if anyone thinks that’s just free, we didn’t have them 20 years ago, so when people, I think, erroneously say, the increased cost of health care is more than inflation, they’re forgetting about, you’re getting a different product. Do you like the product you’re getting today or not? That’s decisions I think people have to make."

July 3, 2012 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

The Kathy Hochul campaign just released the following statement:

“Chris Collins has demonstrated a stunning lack of sensitivity by saying, ‘people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and some of the other things.’ Tragically, nearly 70,000 people will die this year from these two types of cancer alone. We can disagree about public policy without making these kinds of outrageous and offensive statements."

That's the statement, with no reference to the source nor the full quote so people could judge the context for themselves.

The original source is The Batavian (both as a courtesy to The Batavian and as a matter of complete transparency, the Hochul campaign should have included this fact in its release).

Here's the full quote from Collins:

"People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things," Collins said. "The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases."

On its face, the opening part of the quote from Collins sounds outrageous, but in context, clearly, Collins misspoke. More likely, he meant to say. "Fewer people die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things." 

That's not what he said (I taped the interview and the original quote as published is accurate), but the rest of the quote clearly explains the larger point he is trying to make, which is that medical advances have driven up the cost of healthcare.

To rip this quote out of context and try to use it to paint Collins as some sort of insensitive boob is the kind of below-the-belt, negative campaign tactic that keeps people from being engaged in the process and casting intelligent votes. Frankly, I think of Kathy Hochul as somebody who is more dignified than this sort of mudslinging.

June 28, 2012 - 8:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Rep. Kathy Hochul's statement on the Supreme Court's decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling provides much needed clarity in an important national debate on the appropriate role of the federal government in the delivery of healthcare. While I was not in Congress to vote on the Affordable Care Act, I have always believed, and continue to believe, that the law is far from perfect, and I remain concerned about the high cost of implementing the law. That is why I have worked to roll back many of its most troubling provisions, including the financially unsustainable CLASS Act, the Medical Device Tax, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which could result in the rationing of Medicare.

“I am hopeful that today’s ruling will help to focus our country on the need for more effective policies that drive down the cost of care and ensure that all Americans — especially children, seniors and veterans — have access to quality and affordable health care. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to improve the law and find appropriate solutions to the rising cost of health care in this country.”

Kathy Hochul's statement on the contempt of Congress vote for Eric Holder:

“We can all agree that the Fast and Furious operation was ill-conceived and the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was an avoidable tragedy. Now, our objective must be to evaluate the facts and work to prevent such an event from ever happening again,” Hochul said.

“At a time when our country is facing significant economic challenges, it’s disappointing that both parties have, yet again, become distracted by Washington politics. The people of Western New York deserve a transparent government, regardless of which party is in control. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to exercise appropriate oversight, and I believe Attorney General Eric Holder should fully disclose the documents requested and allow this issue to be resolved.”

June 27, 2012 - 1:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

In the end, David Bellavia expressed more regret for his volunteers than he did for himself.

"I’m just exhausted," Bellavia said. "I’ve been walking so many miles and...so many doors...and I’m just trying to think in my head, what could I have done more, what could I have done, but at the end of the day, I’m just so sorry to all of these volunteers who gave me so much time and effort. I just feel really bad that I let them down."

The decorated Iraq War veteran thanked several of his volunteers by name during his concession speech at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia on Tuesday night. He then pledged his support to the Republican party and the effort to defeat President Barack Obama and Rep. Kathy Hochul in November.

"I spoke to Mr. Collins and I congratulated him on his victory," Bellavia told his supporters. "I’m telling you right now, we are going to lock shields as a party. We are going to stand in the trenches shoulder to shoulder."

After a campaign in which Bellavia characterized Collins as a "country club Republican" who was out of touch with the rural voters of the GLOW counties, the natural question for Bellavia after his speech: Did you just pledge to stand behind Collins?

His answer, "We’re going to talk. I stand behind the party and the process. I don’t make any excuse for whether it’s perfect today. We lost. I have kids and it’s important that they understand that you have honor when you win and you have honor when you lose. I have no excuses. I’m a Republican. I want to see Republicans win. Chris and I will talk in the future and we’ll move forward."

If Bellavia backs Collins, it's unclear if many of his GLOW supporters will follow.

But at the Clarion on Tuesday night, one of Bellavia's volunteers clearly said she won't vote for Collins in November.

Michelle McCulloch believes Collins was at least tangentially responsible for losing her staff position with State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.

"You’re asking a person who lost her job because Chris Collins didn’t want me helping someone else in the race," McCulloch said. "I have never tried to work against my party, but I have no use for Mr. Collins. I know what he is and he knows what he is. He will never have my vote or my family’s vote."

Asked if she would help Hochul's campaign, McCulloch said, "I’ll see how things play out. I guess I’ll listen to Kathy Hochul and see what she has to say and go from there."

McCulloch was among the volunteers Bellavia singled out for thanks during his concession speech.

"Michelle McCullough has sacrificed so very much for me and on the side of honor, principle and integrity," Bellavia said. "Your family is beautiful. Your husband is an outstanding man. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure and we’re going to make it right."

Collins will now face Hochul, who won her seat in a special election in May 2011 in which she attacked Collins ally Jane Corwin for her support of the Paul Ryan Budget Plan. Within an hour of Collins declaring victory on Tuesday, the Hochul campaign sent out a press release attacking Collins on the same topic.

Statement from Campaign Manager Frank Thomas:

"Chris Collins has made it a hallmark of his campaign to avoid taking positions on key issues. But one thing is clear, Mr. Collins supports Paul Ryan's budget; a plan that turns Medicare into a voucher program and makes seniors pay $6,400 more for their Medicare benefits to fund tax cuts for multimillionaires. He has even has said that it does not go far enough.

“It is time that Chris Collins comes clean with voters about his plans to take the Ryan’s budget further. What more could he do on top of decimating Medicare and protecting the super rich? We hope that now that he is the nominee he is willing to answer questions on the issues that matter most to the people of the 27th district.”

Previously: Collins landslide in Erie County sinks Bellavia in NY-27 GOP primary

PHOTO: Bellavia during his concession speech with his wife, Deanna, his children and parents (not pictured, his brother, Rand).

June 22, 2012 - 10:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) competed in the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game against female members of the Capitol Hill Press Corps.

“This event is a great opportunity to have a little fun with my colleagues and some of the journalists who cover us,” Rep. Hochul said. “I was happy I got to play centerfield this year since that’s where I’m most comfortable — not too far to the right and not too far to the left. I’m sure the reporters all noticed my prowess in the center and how well I worked with my bipartisan teammates.”

The press team defeated the congressional team 13 to 10.

The proceeds from this year’s event are going to the Young Survival Coalition, a group dedicated to young women affected by breast cancer.

June 21, 2012 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) introduced the Vocational Employment and Technical Skills Act (VETS Act), which will make it easier for veterans to receive professional certification in skills they performed while members of the armed services.

“The VETS Act is a commonsense solution to a problem facing too many veterans -- difficulty getting a job when returning home. After talking to troops during my trip to Afghanistan and many conversations with local veterans, I remain concerned that one of the biggest fears our troops are dealing with is the prospect of unemployment after their tour of duty. This legislation will help veterans who have put their lives on the line protecting us overseas make the transition to civilian life using the technical skills learned in the military,” Rep. Hochul said.

To assist veterans transitioning to civilian life in finding employment, the VETS Act will eliminate unnecessary hurdles for veterans who have a high level of competence in many certifiable fields. The legislation requires states to alter their certification procedures to take veterans’ military training into account if they seek to become a surveyor, plumber, general construction equipment operator, HVAC repair person, carpenter, electrician, or an automotive/aviation engine repair person.

Earlier this month, Rep. Hochul held a roundtable discussion on the VETS Act to receive input on the legislation from members of Western New York’s veteran community. Additionally, the bill has been reviewed and approved by Rep. Hochul’s veterans advisory board.

Rep. Hochul is also a co-sponsor of other legislation to encourage the hiring of veterans, including the Hiring Heroes Act that modernizes and improves programs to assist our veterans with the transition from service member to civilian life. She voted in support of the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 – a bill that received bipartisan support – that provides assistance to older, unemployed veterans and provides active duty service members with transition and employment assistance.

In May, Rep. Hochul traveled to Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan Armed Services Committee oversight trip.

June 14, 2012 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Kathy Hochul supports Obama, Obama is destroying the country, and only Mitt Romney in the White House and Chris Collins in the NY-27 seat can put things right, Collins told local reporters outside Batavia City Hall today.

“We have to defeat a representative who does not represent our core values," Collins said. "My core values are smaller government, personal accountability, local decision making, fiscal discipline, serving taxpayers and respecting future generations.

"These are not only the core values of the 27th Congressional District, they’re the core values of America. They are not President Obama’s core values. They are not Kathy Hochul’s core values."

Not once during his five-minute speech did Collins mention his GOP primary opponent, David Bellavia.

Asked about it, Collins said he is entirely focused on defeating Hochul on Nov. 6. Even if he loses the primary -- which he said he would win -- he will still be on the Conservative Party line and he said he intends to continue campaigning against Hochul right up until the general election.

"Kathy Hochul supports Obama," Collins said. "She is totally out of sync with the values of the 27th District. She won’t even admit she’s a Democrat."

According to recent reports, Hochul has a voting record that has not been in line with Obama or the Democrats.

The Buffalo News reported over the weekend that "Hochul is bucking the party line," noting that "Hochul voted with the Democratic Party line 81 percent of the time and with the Obama administration 78 percent of the time," which is less than other Democrats.

"Politico" noted that Hochul has not been the lapdog for Obama's health care policies that Democrats expected when she beat Jane Corwin -- in part because Hochul latched onto the GOP's Medicare reform plan as a wedge issue.

Still, Hochul did tell the Buffalo News she will vote for Obama, even though she won't attend the Democratic convention and, the News said, "she gives the president mixed reviews."

For Collins, however, Hochul and Obama are inexorably linked. 

The hook of Collins's remarks today was a statement by Obama that "the private sector is doing fine."

Collins said, the private sector isn't doing fine, not when there is 8.2 percent unemployment, China is cheating at trade and corporate tax rates are too high.

“We’ll keep talking about jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy," Collins said.

With Romney as president and Collins part of a GOP majority in Congress, Collins said policies would be enacted to put Americans back to work, most specifically, lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

He also said the nation's debt is too high and promised smaller government if the GOP is given a chance to lead the way.

"Small businesses have a lack of confidence in the future of our country," Collins said. "We have a president who let that happen because he needs to keep going to China to borrow money. We cannot continue to borrow $4 million a day, $1.4- $1.5 billion a year and have small business invest in our future. They don’t know where the future is going."

One point Collins and Hochul seem to agree on: Trade. 

Hochul kept her campaign promise and voted against free-trade agreements supported both by the GOP leadership and President Obama.

Collins said he would push for tarriffs on China if the nation continues its current trade policies, which include not letting its currency float on the open market, and giving Chinese businesses a 30-percent price advantage over U.S. companies.

Collins's message for China, "Float your currency, respect our IP, open your own markets -- or else. They need us more than we need them."

June 14, 2012 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Services Agency (FSA) can now file weather-related disaster reports for damage done by armyworms due to the fact that they have arrived earlier than expected and in unprecedented numbers because of the unseasonably warm weather this spring.

“I am pleased to hear the USDA Farm Services Agency will now allow farmers to file weather-related disaster reports for damage done to crops from armyworms," Hochul said. "This is an important step toward the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets declaring the armyworm infestation a disaster, allowing farmers whose crops have been devastated access to low-interest emergency loans to help in the recovery. I urge farmers that have been affected by armyworms to contact their local Farm Services Agency and report their loss immediately.”

Farmers should report their losses to their county Farm Services Administration to begin documenting the extent of the damage. If the FSA can document a countywide loss of 30 percent or greater for a single crop, they can then submit their data to NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets for a potential disaster declaration – allowing access to low-interest emergency loans.

June 11, 2012 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) today announced that a grant of almost $1.2 million for Head Start projects has been awarded to Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, Inc.

“I am pleased that Community Action of Orleans and Genesee will be receiving this funding to support the Head Start program that so many families depend on to prepare their children for school. The continuation of this program is great news for the children of Orleans and Genesee counties and their parents,” Rep. Hochul said.

The total grant award of $1,174,114 is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Head Start promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development.

June 7, 2012 - 6:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Last week, Rep. Kathy Hochul marked her first year in office, and it's been a busy year for the freshman Democrat who won a special election over Republican Jane Corwin.

Genesee County political observers estimate that Hochul has spent more time locally than her predecessors, Tom Reynolds and Chris Lee, combined.

"That's where the people are," Hochul said, explaining why she makes so many public appearances in the district. "That's where I can listen, find out their concerns. My title is U.S. Representative and the best way I can execute my duties is to listen to people.

"Every time I’m out out in the community I learn something new and I find another way I can serve my district," she added.

Upon taking office, Hochul said she found a backlog of constituent issues and immediately hired staff that would focus on constituent issues.

So far, she said, her staff has helped constituents garner $800,000 in benefits owed to them by the federal government for one reason or another but had been held up by red tape.

Listening to constituents, she said, is why she continues to oppose the Ryan budget plan and its cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Genesee County, already with a heavy Medicaid burden, would see it increase under the Ryan plan, Hochul said.

"The Ryan budget plan would convert Medicaid into a block grant program, and that's one of the many reasons I'm against it," Hochul said. "It would make for higher costs for county taxpayers and taxpayers across Western New York. It would limit how much counties get and the localities would have to pick up the cost."

But listening to constituents, she said, is also why she was one of only 24 Democrats, and the only one from New York, to support the balanced budget amendment.

Democrats in Washington, she said, haven't put pressure on her to conform with their agenda.

"My title is representative and I represent a Republican, conservative-leaning district," Hochul said. "I am free to look at every issue that comes before me and vote in the best way to represent my district."

In Washington, Hochul said, Republicans have shown a willingness to work with her. On the Homeland Security Committee, she was the only Democrat during the session to get unanimous bipartisan support for her amendments to bills. That included an amendment to ensure Transportation Security Administration uniforms are made in the United States and that unclaimed clothing from airport screenings are donated to homeless veterans.

Representing the people of WNY in Congress is an amazing honor, Hochul said.

"I come back to the district often because what occurs here is very much more meaningful and where the decisions we make effect lives directly," Hochul said.

Top Photo: File photo, Hochul at the parade in Bergen on Memorial Day this year.

June 6, 2012 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“I was pleased the United States Department of Agriculture has agreed with our request to declare all seven counties of the 26th District disaster areas following this spring’s devastating frost, freezes, and unseasonably warm temperatures that dealt a considerable blow to agriculture in the region. Farmers in these counties are now eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency to help them recover. Western New York is home to more than 3,000 locally owned farms and produces more than $700 million in goods every year, and I encourage farmers in my district to contact their local FSA offices for more information on the available assistance to keep their businesses viable.”

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