Tim Johnson Watch

Representative Tim Johnson was elected to represent the residents of Illinois' 15th Congressional District in Central Illinois. His constituents should know what he's doing.

Location: 15th Congressional District, Illinois, United States

A concerned citizen of Central Illinois.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Supported That Bill Before I Opposed It

On October 7, the House passed, 212-210, the so-called Gasoline for Americas Security Act ("GAS"). The bill was so bad that the Republican leadership had to hold voting open for 40 extra minutes while they twisted arms to get Republicans to switch their Nays to Ayes -- eerily reminiscent of their tactics to obtain House passage of the 2003 Medicare act, which included allegations by Michigan Republican Nick Smith that he was offered a $100,000 bribe to switch his vote. Here's what the Forth Wayne News-Sentinel had to say about this awful bill:
It took 45 minutes, some arm-twisting and ignoring the rules, but Republicans in the House of Representatives managed to approve a bill to make it easier for companies to build oil refineries....

The stated goal of the "Gasoline for America's Security Act" is to cut the cost of gas for working Americans. But the House rejected a bipartisan effort to require an 8-mile-per-gallon increase in vehicle mileage.

Instead, the bill offers favorable treatment to a polluting industry, could make it easier for them to pollute, limits anti-pollution gasoline blends and waives federal, state and local requirements about fuel additives after a natural disaster that disrupts supplies.

Rather than encouraging conservation, this measure will simply reinforce the nation's dependency on oil, and therefore make the country less secure.

We see why so many Republicans would not vote for it, even with coercion, and why Democrats chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!" at the cowardly proceedings.
Tim Johnson voted against this bill. Is Tim Johnson Watch wrong? Is Tim Johnson really the principled moderate he claims to be?

Sadly, no -- because Tim Johnson helped bring the bill to the floor in the first place. The bill came to a vote on October 7 because, earlier that day, the GOP leadership had proposed a special rule, H. Res. 481, which provided for expedited consideration of GAS. Some of the Republicans who opposed GAS also opposed the special expedited consideration, but Johnson voted for it, and it passed 216-201. Then, later that day, as the News-Sentinel notes, an amendment to recommit the bill to committee with instructions to add a provision addressing price gouging came to the floor. This amendment, if it succeeded, would have slowed the momentum for the bill's passage and, at a minimum, would have added a modicum of consumer protection to a heavily pro-oil-industry bill. Tim Johnson voted against it, and the bill failed 222-200.

Would Tim Johnson have switched to an Aye if they had not been able to get the necessary votes elsewhere? We will never know, because as soon as the Republicans got the 212th vote, they closed down the voting. But we do know that Johnson lined up with the GOP leadership to make the final vote on passage possible. Independent representation of one's constituents does not just entail an occasional principled vote -- it requires standing up to the leadership when it really matters. Johnson's vote on the afternoon of October 7 against GAS proves that he knows it was a terrible bill. It's too bad he didn't try on the morning of October 7 to stop it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tim Johnson Stars on Scott Fawell's "Favors List"

The ongoing racketeering trial of former Governor George Ryan is casting an unforgiving light on corruption in Illinois politics.

The Government's key witness, Ryan's former Chief of Staff Scott Fawell (who has pled guilty of corruption-related charges and is currently serving a 6-1/2 year sentence), has testified concerning a 555-page "master list" of people who had received "favors" from Ryan's office (when he was Secretary of State). Fawell testified that he kept the list because it would be "politically useful", presumably because the recipients of favors would owe something to Ryan and Fawell. The Sun-Times has made the entire list available on line.

Tim Johnson appears on seven pages (97-102 and 226), for a total of sixty-six favors -- or nearly 1% of all the favors recorded by Ryan's corrupt chief of staff.

Now, let's be clear. This list provides very little detail, so there is no way to know at this point whether any of the favors sought and obtained by Mr. Johnson were illegal, or even unethical. However, the enormous number of favors granted to Mr. Johnson suggests, at a minimum, an unpleasant coziness with Ryan's corrupt patronage machine, and must cause us to ask what Mr. Johnson might have promised or been asked in return, or how Mr. Fawell might have found Mr. Johnson's fealty to be "politically useful"?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Where Are Those Jobs?

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Orwellianly-named American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, A Taxing Matter takes a look back and concludes that the results have been exactly what would have been expected at the time of passage -- big tax benefits for corporations that have done business abroad while keeping their money overseas, and nothing for jobs here at home:
The Wall Street Journal's front page story today (see above) notes that several of the companies that are bringing home large amounts of cash are simultaneously pursuing plans to lay off workers. An example is Colgate-Palmolive, which announced in July that it would repatriate $800 million and announced plans to lay off 4,450 people over the next four years.
Maybe that's why Illinois Repulicans Ray LaHood and Mark Kirk voted against it, as did Illinois native Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

Tim Johnson voted for it.