August 20, 2007

Collin Peterson (MN-07) - Bush Dog

"Probably not many of us here [are going to the PETA alternative, but] there are probably better looking girls there." - Rep. Collin Peterson, July 18th, 2007, in remarks to the House Agriculture Committee as he called for a break before going to the American Meat Institute's annual Hot Dog Lunch for members of Congress. PETA hands out veggie dogs as a counter-event.

Welcome to your guide to Bush Dog Democrat, Collin Peterson, who voted to give to Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales the authority formerly reserved for the FISA courts.

So, yes, Peterson voted to authorize a man who has repeatedly perjured himself before Congress to pick who the federal government gets to wiretap. Even though the court in question allowed for warrants to be issued up to 72 hours after a wiretap was initiated and only very rarely turned down requests; out of 18,761 warrant requests, 5 were rejected between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's founding in 1978 and the year 2004. The court proceedings are also closed to the public, and the record is classified. But that wasn't good enought for the Bush administration, nor Collin Peterson, who voted to remove all requirements for judicial oversight, to make legal what the Bush administration has been doing illegally for years.

Yet the rest of Peterson's voting record similarly leaves a lot to be desired. A lot.

He voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This law was passed in response to the revelations that the Bush administration had been torturing people, keeping them in secret detention, and violating the Geneva Conventions. In it, Congress told the courts of the United States that they no longer had jurisdiction over detainees deprived of their human rights, and that they couldn't enforce the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions became part of US law when this country enthusiastically signed the treaty after WWII, to publicly repudiate the human rights violations committed by the Axis powers.

Last year, he also voted against the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, which would have protected consumers from fuel and oil price gouging. But he has a long history of disregarding the public interest (links added):

... He voted with Republicans on Bill Clinton's showdown budget bill of 1993, perhaps the most important party-loyalty vote of the Clinton era. He was one of just 16 Democrats to back Bush's Medicare bill. He supports the Republican “fair tax,” a national sales tax, and voted for the bankruptcy bill, estate-tax repeal, tort reform, and the tax cuts. ...

And he once dated Katherine Harris, who later became his band groupie. Just, ewww.

The Democratic Party leadership has been angry with Peterson over his disloyalty, but never did anything about it. And with his chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee and comfort with his conservative district, he'll probably be around for a while yet to come.

And has he ever brought home the bacon. There are 57,956 farms and groups receiving farm subsidies in his district, $4.8 billion dollars worth for all types of farm subsidies. Peterson claimed that it was significant reform to the Farm Bill just passed in the House that it included an adjusted gross income cap for recipients, but payment caps? Right. A tiny minority of those farms, 195, or 0.3 percent, received over a million dollars in payments between 1995 and 2005.

It's usually applauded when a congresscritter can bring money back home, but I have to say, it's really a shame that it isn't spread around a little better. Because the farm dollars he ushers home only go to a very few farmers, which is why it's a shame that the Farm Bill he presided over passing perpetuates the same policies that give an unfair competitive advantage to a minority of very large farms in his district. As the Environmental Working Group points out, the 10 percent of recipients got 58 percent of the subsidies handed out in Minnesota's Seventh District, while the top 20 percent collected fully 79 percent of all subsidy dollars. Because it's like this, "Recipients in the top 10% averaged $43,968 in annual payments between 1995 and 2005. The bottom 80 percent of the recipients saw only $2,015 on average per year."

Conservation payments made up only 15 percent of the total, but not all of those conservation payments were really going to conservation. Plenty of them wind up subsidizing large CAFOs, a practice Peterson is glad to continue. Meanwhile, Peterson voted to bar the courts to small farmers when unfair contract provisions make it even harder for them to compete with Big Agriculture's big polluters.

Seeing a pattern? Peterson doesn't care about fuel consumers, people who go bankrupt because of long deployments in Iraq or outrageous medical bills, victims of corporate malfeasance, small and medium sized farmers, or basic human rights. He'll no more let farmers have the protection of the courts over business practices than he'll let citizens have the protection of the courts over surveillance. He's not out for the little guy, for the people who can't buy their way out of their problems.

Peterson may not be much of a Democrat, but at least he's more or less consistent. Which should be a relief. When he voted to screw over the country's reputation and the rights of all Americans to be secure in their persons and effects from unwarranted search or seizure, it wasn't personal. We're just not the people he cares about.

Posted by natasha at August 20, 2007 11:39 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

By the way: the FairTax is a non-partisan proposal and has many Democrats getting hip to this wonderful plan. While many who are invested in the current income tax system seek to demagog the well-researched FairTax plan, its acceptance in the professional / academic community continues to grow. Failure to enact the FairTax - choosing instead to try to "flatten" a NON-FLATTENABLE income tax system - will result in an irrevocable economic meltdown!

Here is why the FairTax MUST replace the income tax. It's:

• SIMPLE, easy to understand

• EFFICIENT, inexpensive to comply with and doesn't cause less-than-optimal business decisions for tax minimization purposes

• FAIR, loophole free and everyone pays their share

• LOW TAX RATE, achieved by broad base with no exclusions

• PREDICTABLE, doesn't change, so financial planning is possible

• UNINTRUSIVE, doesn't intrude into our personal affairs or limit our liberty

• VISIBLE, not hidden from the public in tax-inflated prices or otherwise

• PRODUCTIVE, rewards, rather than penalizes, work and productivity

Its benefits are as follows:


• No more tax on income - make as much as you wish

• You receive your full paycheck - no more deductions

• You pay the tax when you buy "at retail" - not "used"

• No more double taxation (e.g. like on current Capital Gains)

• Reduction of "pre-FairTaxed" retail prices by 20%-30%

• Adding back 29.9% FairTax maintains current price levels

• FairTax would constitute 23% portion of new prices

• Every household receives a monthly check, or "pre-bate"

• "Prebate" is "advance payback" for monthly consumption to poverty level

• FairTax's "prebate" ensures progressivity, poverty protection

• Finally, citizens are knowledgeable of what their tax IS

• Elimination of "parasitic" Income Tax industry


• Those possessing illicit forms of income will ALSO pay the FairTax

• Households have more disposable income to purchase goods

• Savings is bolstered with reduction of interest rates


• Corporate income and payroll taxes revoked under FairTax

• Business compensated for collecting tax at "cash register"

• No more tax-related lawyers, lobbyists on company payrolls

• No more embedded (hidden) income/payroll taxes in prices

• Reduced costs. Competition - not tax policy - drives prices

• Off-shore "tax haven" headquarters can now return to U.S

• No more "favors" from politicians at expense of taxpayers

• Resources go to R&D and study of competition - not taxes

• Marketplace distortions eliminated for fair competition

• US exports increase their share of foreign markets


• 7% - 13% economic growth projected in the first year of the FairTax

• Jobs return to the U.S.

• Foreign corporations "set up shop" in the U.S.

• Tax system trends are corrected to "enlarge the pie"

• Larger economic "pie," means thinner tax rate "slices"

• Initial 23% portion of price is pressured downward as "pie"


• No more "closed door" tax deals by politicians and business

• FairTax sets new global standard. Other countries will follow

The time for sitting around, pontificating, is over. We have NO CHOICE but to demand Congress Scrap The Code - NOW!

Posted by: Ian at August 22, 2007 10:00 PM

The last two weeks before the August recess were a swell time for the Blue Dogs: a retrograde farm bill that sends billions to their districts; a blocked CAFE amendment that would have boosted fuel economy; and the Republican version of FISA.

Posted by: Cook at August 23, 2007 06:16 AM