Friday, June 22, 2012

Thanks for the CFLs, Fred --NOT!

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) first showed on my radar in 2007 when he co-sponsored the bill (with Rep. Jane Harmon, D-CA) to ban the incandescent light bulb, forcing us to buy compact fluorescent lamps, or the CFL bulbs. Almost nothing career pols do surprise anymore but this required a second look. CFLs were nothing new, so why now? The whacky environmentalists must be behind this was my first thought. And they were but they had help –big time—from the two major manufacturers of incandescent bulbs, GE and Phillips which lobbied hard for the legislation to ban their own bulbs. It turns out they figured to make more money by producing CFLs in China than making incandescents in the USA. We now know that CFLs deteriorate faster than incandescent bulbs, cost much more and are hazardous if broken due to the mercury vapor in the bulb. I stocked up on our regular, reliable old light bulbs.

Now this 26-year professional politician comes back into view as he has a Republican challenger,Jack Hoogendyk, who is a staunch supporter of congressional term limits, our primary electoral reform issue. It turns out, Upton once claimed to support term limits on congress knowing that by the time it passed he’d be long gone. He firmly opposes term limits that are currently in effect on the Michigan legislature, tho.

In 2009, a flexible Fred Upton praised a wind energy project, "Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions." But when the Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 election, he saw an opportunity with his seniority to chair the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. His view changed and denied the threat of global warming in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. When asked by Tim Phillips, president of Koch Industries-backed Americans for Prosperity, if “the emails from East Anglia University that seem to show a pattern of concealment at the least, deception at the extreme” should “affect climate policy here in the United States,” Upton claimed that there is “no real science” that supports climate policy; and then called for Climategate hearings. Before becoming chair of the House energy and commerce committee he advocated taking action on global warming. Once he stated on his website, "I strongly believe that everything must be on the table as we seek to reduce carbon emissions." It is not there now

Considered a “moderate” Republican Upton has supported some gun control and stem cell research. He joined Christie Todd Whitman’s IMP-PAC (It’s My Party, Too), a liberal Republican political action committee. He’s the typical career politician who comes ready to defend the American way of constitutional law and individual freedom but, over time, believes that a big government is best to take care of the people. Tea Partiers are supporting his opponent this time as they consider Upton the kind of business-as-usual type who has allowed the huge debt to pile up and for the numerous regulations, especially those coming out the Energy Department that his committee oversees. If the bloated, wasteful $65 billion a year scandalous DOE is ever to be abolished or at least reformed it will go through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. With a chairman steeped in Washington spending and regulating one can’t reasonably expect change.

That committee chairmanship is worth big bucks in campaign cash, too. Upton has already received $2.5 million in contributions from the political action committees of energy companies Entergy Corp., Southern Co., Murray Energy and Duke Energy, along with the Nuclear Energy Institute, and others. He also has a couple of PACs. His opponent former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, disclosed that he had raised nearly $76,500 since announcing his campaign plans in mid-January. Democrats are considering putting a political novice, renewable energy expert Mike O’Brien, to oppose the Republican in November.

Frederick Stephen "Fred" Upton, 60, an heir to the Whirlpool appliance fortune, is wealthy –net worth estimated at between $7 and $19 million. He earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Michigan in 1975. He was a sports editor for a while before he joined the staff of U.S. Congressman David Stockman (R-MI) from 1976 to 1980. From 1981 to ’85 he worked under Stockman at the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan years. In 1986 he was elected to congress and is still there. The common strain among our Poster Children is that they have had no experience in the productive private sector. What their new laws cost, how they’re paid for, how the employees are paid, and how to adjust with changing conditions, and other normal management considerations are beyond them. Their lack of experience in the real world provides them with little understanding of the consequences of their actions. What was he thinking when he sponsored the bill mandating CFLs? Not that they entirely ignore the goals and hoped for results –they do consider how it will appeal to special interests who contribute to their reelection campaigns. Upton is by no means the worst one among “the worst of a bad lot” but during his long tenure the country has indebted future generations and saddled the country with onerous regulations and extremely complicated our tax code so that it inhibits growth and prosperity as it diminishes individual freedom.

To what extent he has been part of the problem we like to look at the rating agencies.

Heritage Action is a new one that covers more bills than most for a broader rating from a free market constitutionalist view. Upton scored a lowly 49% which compares to the Republican average of 66% and Democrat average of 14% mostly for his votes against spending cuts on a wide range of bills. Check them out here

The Club for Growth
rates on economic growth issues only and Upton gets 52% for the 112 Congress and 54% lifetime which puts him 190th of 435 Reps, not very supportive of economic growth. By comparison, the most pro-growth Democrat is at 42% --most are in the teens which describes a disdain for the private sector. Just this week, the Club came out with a report tracking amendments to FY 2013 House appropriations bills that reduce spending and use the savings for debt reduction in which Upton was rated 76%, about midway for Republicans –Dems were all generally opposed to spending reduction. Another rating of the Club is their RePork Card that shows the extent of earmark voting –Upton, again, in the middle of the pack with 53% several Democrats had higher ratings meaning they voted for less earmarked pork.

Citizens Against Government Waste rates Upton from “lukewarm” to “friendly” to taxpayers and even with their “hero” award in 1990 and 2010.

The National Taxpayers Union
rates him for his first ten years all As and Bs. Second decade in office, majority Cs. In a debt crisis, C- doesn’t cut it. C- is the problem. Like so many good Republicans before him Fred came to Washington to drain the swamp and decided over time that it was a hot tub. I like it here, what do I need to do to stay?

Americans for Democratic Action rates from a progressive big government view. For the past three years Dems average 87%; Repubs 11%. Upton’s average: 50%. To see how liberal you are ADA has 20 questions for you on its site. Full disclosure: I got a score of 20.

Term limits is the no-cost reform. It makes it possible for legislatures to have experience in all kinds of businesses and professions to inform their lawmaking. When they are not expecting to be reelected for life they spend more time and effort on the people’s business. Their decisions are not always made on what is best for their career in office, that is, reelection, which is necessary for career pols. There is a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. DeMint with 12 co-sponsors so far and it has been offered in the House as well. You can help by signing the petition to Congress at

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