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NY-22 primary: a choice of jobs or welfare

Early in 2013, I asked if the people of NY-22 agreed with Rep. Richard Hanna in his claim that America needs foreigners to fill STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs.

By September 2013 I was fighting hard against HR 2131 – the SKILLS Visa Act – that Rep. Hanna promotes, which will give 160,000 jobs to foreigners instead of Americans in STEM fields.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)


I kept up the good fight on this issue. Then, in April 2014 – after I had left the race for Congress and some thought I no longer had a voice – Rep. Hanna finally responded about giving STEM Jobs to foreigners. His answer was that it was foreign students that would get the jobs, and to him that makes all the difference.

I have never seen the difference. What Rep. Hanna is promoting is no more and no less than this:

160,000 foreign students, studying in classes with American students next to them, will be given STEM jobs; and the Americans students will be on welfare or other government aide with student loans on their back, if Rep. Hanna gets his wish.

I don’t think that is why parents in the NY-22, or anywhere in America, struggle to pay bills to help their kids get to and graduate from college. I don’t think adding huge debts and living off of government hand-outs is why young adults go to college in America.

But, Rep. Hanna believes I don’t get it. He said as much on the radio when he thought I could not answer. He thought his flippant comments would just placate voters and he could vote as he wanted against their will.

Maybe he was counting on the fact that voters wouldn’t believe a black, middle class, small business owner over the word of a Congressman. Maybe he just though people wouldn’t believe that a Congressman would give American jobs to foreigners without reason.

Ok. I ask voters this, do you believe the studies by the Center for Immigration Studies, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the RAND Corporation, the Urban Institute, and the National Research Council as well as a segment on PBS? The conclusion of all of these is unanimous – there is no shortage of STEM jobs.

In fact, this is what they had to say

“So if there is a superabundance of native and immigrant STEM workers and little wage growth, and STEM immigration already exceeds the absorption capacity of the STEM labor market, why are there calls to allow in even more? The answer, put simply, is greed and politics. – National Review Online, Steven Camarota, 5/20/14 [Emphasis added by me]

So once again I will ask as I have for more than a year, do you believe that America should give foreigners (students or otherwise) STEM jobs instead of our sons and daughters?

If you agree with Rep. Richard Hanna, and the greed and politics that Mr. Camarota believes legislation like HR 2131 promotes, then you should vote for that greed and politics over people in the NY-22 congressional primary.

But if you are like most Americans that I know, have spoken to, and worked with, then you agree that there is too much greed in politics. You agree that the hard work of American students, our sons and daughters, deserve more than being pushed aside, into welfare lines and a life of debt. You would agree that HR 2131, and politicians (like Rep. Richard Hanna) that are counting on you to not pay attention to the details, should not be on the floor of Congress.

If you agree that every American deserves the chance to compete for a job equally, and not as a second-class citizen, then I hope you will stand up on June 24th, and cast a vote for Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney.

It’s your choice, your option of welfare or a STEM job. Choose wisely.

How to really help the Southern Tier and NY-22

On April 22, 2014, Rep. Richard Hanna decided to grace the Southern Tier with his presence – to discuss the ‘spent grain’ proposal by the FDA. But he has failed to answer why he is hurting the very same small businesses with his votes and support of other law/Bills.

The event, held at the Water Street Brewing Company in Binghamton, NY, marks on of the very few times that Rep. Hanna has ventured into the Southern Tier of New York – especially without President Obama appearing at the same time. In fact, searching Google (Rep. Richard Hanna Southern Tier) identifies only 5 visits by Rep. Hanna since 2012 when the NY-22 fell under his watch – out of the first 10 pages of searching with 718,000 items in the search parameter. This includes appearing with President Obama but excludes when he opened his office in Binghamton. Oddly, the visits coincide directly with when Rep. Hanna is seeking re-election, other than appearing with President Obama.

Still, given the apparent absence of concern when an election is not involved, Rep. Hanna has yet to explain how giving 160,000 jobs to foreign “students” (his qualification given on-air on 4/4, WUTQ) – and allowing US students to be unemployed – is a benefit to constituents or the national economy. Rep. Hanna, in the WUTQ interview, wasted no time to attack Michael Vasquez, a former candidate in the NY-22 race, but failed to address how the challenge by Mr. Vasquez was wrong – beyond clarifying that the foreigners are foreign students.

Rep. Hanna has yet to explain how his “ceremonial” anti-Obamacare votes, or his support of funding Obamacare without condition (9/29/2013), is helping small businesses – that are cutting back hours and not hiring because they can’t afford it.

“Whether that means he is the most liberal, the most moderate, or perhaps just the least conservative member of the GOP conference is in the eye of the beholder.” – Scott Bland, National Journal, 9/30/13

Rep. Hanna has yet to clarify why he has not pushed forward any Bill to cut the corporate tax rate that would help small businesses. Or why he has failed to pass any Bill created by him – other than naming a post office and 2 baseball coin Bills, in 2010.

Rep. Richard Hanna is trying to hide what he has done (or failed to do) with a dog & pony show that is supposed to make the Southern Tier feel like he is involved. I believe the people across the NY-22 are smarter than that.

On June 24th, which with the Dems abandoning constituents will be the election for the NY 22nd Congressional seat, you can make the better choice and support Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney for Congress.

It’s your choice. Why not choose the candidate that has a history of caring about the issues affecting you?

Rep. Hanna’s 2013 report card – a more realistic review

At the end of 2013 my opponent for the NY 22nd Congressional district, the incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna, released a summary of his efforts in Congress as a show of his dedication to the concerns of constituents. It’s a great gesture, but if looked at in context it is just a gesture.

Let me explain.

In the middle of page 3, right after the table of contents, a “snapshot of 2013 by-the-numbers” is presented. In the very first item, my point is made explicitly clear –

174 public Vote Explanations posted on Facebook, Twitter and Hanna.House.Gov

This is a lie, and I dare Rep. Hanna to sue me because I’m right. The total is 175. Because Rep. Hanna removed one of his public statements. Specifically How I voted on HR 2397 – which now comes up with a 404 error if you search for it.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Why is it missing and unaccounted for? Because in that article, published at 8:30 AM on July 25th, Rep. Hanna stated that he voted to protect the public from the abuses of the NSA. That statement flies in the face of his actual vote on July 24th – against the Amash Amendment which would have protected the public from NSA abuses.

Thus, since the full unedited original article has yet to be placed back into the record, I am led to believe Rep. Hanna is actively hiding his record from the public on an issue constituents are very concerned about. A record that isn’t always in the interest, or even good faith, of what the people he was elected to represent wanted and believe, I am led to conclude.

I say this directly, Rep. Hanna, if a word of what I have just said is untrue – sue me and I will exit the race for Congress.

You can decide for yourself what you make of this shell-game with the facts. But moving on.

On page 3, and elsewhere in the document, Rep. Hanna takes great pains to highlight the 9 Bills and resolutions he sponsored, as well as the 216 he co-sponsored. What my opponent fails to note, and hopes voters won’t notice, is what he does not include in the snapshot or the document… the number of Bills and/or Resolutions he had pass in the House of Representatives, let alone become law. An omission based on the failure to actually succeed since being elected in 2010.

My opponent paints a happy picture of the status on HR 2310 – a Bill that would provide headstones for Reservists that have died in combat for this nation. A Bill that is frozen in Congress and will likely never become law. Even though the cost is negligible, it is a bi-partisan issue, it is supported by veterans and the public, and there are 89 current members of Congress that are former military that would never dare vote against this Bill. Oh, and only 5 members of Congress, that are former military, support this Bill.

Which brings up the question of why? Has my opponent presented this to them? If not he is being inefficient, if he has then he is ineffective for the reasons why this Bill has universal appeal already stated.

There are other such examples, like H Res 134 (condemning North Korea) and H Res 190 (condemning the Boston Marathon bombing), each of which failed to garner support though there is universal bipartisan support for the issues addressed. Again, were these resolutions with less than 10% support framed a successes because the question of effectiveness and efficiency would be asked – and a shrewd politician obfuscates any question that might cause them to lose votes, no matter how true?

On page 4 of the report card, my opponent then makes this statement

“It is clear that in many ways Washington is broken as 2013 draws to a close. I am pleased to report that your office is not.”

Inefficiency, ineffectiveness, lack of representation of the voters and public in the 22nd District are not examples of a broken elected “office”, I agree. But it is a clear indicator, in my opinion, of one that is perhaps inept. It is an example of something that needs to be corrected, as Government is broken because too many in Congress are very good politicians just like Rep. Hanna seems to be.

You may disagree, but I will press on yet again.

The report card on my opponent then goes through several pages of his biography, the mission his elected office has in Congress (working for the people – not representing them, which is not the same thing by far), a nice picture of the NY 22nd District, and the multiple Committees that my opponent sat on in one of the least trusted and approved Congresses in the history of Congress. In fact 2013 was one of the least functional Congresses ever. Which calls to question how much value sitting on multiple sub-Committees matters when the entire Congress is failing to get anything substantial done.

But I digress. Thus, eventually, the report card gets back to the point of what was actually done.

The first thing it highlights is transparency and accountability. To this it restates the factually incorrect 174 disclosures. It is amazing how in a single figure my opponent, calls into question the transparency he presents to the public and simultaneously fails to be accountable to that same public – all at the same time.

My opponent then takes pride in being ranked as one of the most Liberal Republicans in Congress in 2013. That can be also stated as one of the most Conservative Democrats, or the most Moderate, or as he states “most independent Republican” – they are all equivalent terms I believe. But independent sounds far better than what some might call an elected official that actively tries to grow the opposition Party (as Rep. Hanna did when he told women voters to join the Democrat Party).

He then pats himself on the back for job creation awards (while there are over 20 million Americans still underemployed and the participation rate is at a low of 63%), lauds himself for his NRA rating (though he failed to show up at Remington Arms when President Obama was placing gun manufacturers under siege at the beginning of 2013, though he did months after the gun restriction debate had died down), and then hypes himself on his work with STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] jobs.

Let me pause there. My opponent, the incumbent Congressman, wants to be praised for trying to pass HR 2131 – the SKILLS Visa Act – that would give 160,000 STEM jobs to foreign immigrants instead of American workers. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the NY-22, and I don’t know any who have said they support that.

Rep Hanna then moves on to talking about how many people he responded to in 2013. The numbers sound impressive, until compared to the number of people in the NY-22 (over 700,000). Plus the number seems a bit vague. How many people sent letters and request to Rep. Hanna? What is the percentage of responses? It’s not quibbling when you consider that I have talked to dozens of people who state that Rep. Hanna never responded to a single letter or request they made. Even more important to me considering that I still have not gotten any form of response from a single letter that I wrote to Rep. Hanna since 2012 – even to this day his office has not responded to me or my media company, ever. How may others received the same disregard – 100? 10,000? 100,000? My opponent avoids saying.

Finally, on page 12, my opponent notes what he actually did in Congress in 2013. He presents just 1 Bill passed, for baseball coins. But he gives equal billing, in great wording, to HR 2310, H Res 134, and H Res 190. He makes it seem like getting less than 10% support on universal, bipartisan, unopposed items is success – and perhaps in a Congress with an approval rating of 8% it is. But I tend to think the public expects more. From Congress, their Representative, and Government in general.

On page 14 my opponent starts to name all the great causes he supports. He leaves out the fact that he doesn’t mind making “symbolic votes”, as he has admitted and is available to be seen on a Youtube video of an interview he did. He leaves out his apparent rejection of Republican women. He avoids his flip-flop on late-term abortions. He all but forgets his inability to take a side about Syria. He completely disregards his multiple flip-flops on immigration, and his apparent preference (finally) to support reforms on immigration that 9 out of 10 residents of the NY 22nd Congressional District that I have spoken to do not support. He even glosses over the fact that his sudden defense of truck drivers comes more than a year after the rules were changed and several months after the rules went into effect (even though the trucking industry has been fighting this issue since 2012 amid my opponents silence on the issue).

By page 21, my opponent resorts to taking a bow for the pork-spending that endears Congress to some, and has guaranteed re-election to more than a few politicians that have been in office so long they seem to believe themselves to be a nobility (I offer the examples of Sen. Harry Reid, and Sen. Schumer, but there are dozens of others).

Of course the numbers are spread out so as to hide the very apparent bias to the northern end of the NY-22. The Southern Tier received $5 million in funds (Broome and Tioga Counties), Central NY – the middle of the District – received $6 million (Cortland and Chenango), with the north (Oswego, Herkimer, Oneida, and Madison) getting $9 million. If you take out flood relief for Central NY and the Southern Tier, which had little to do with the Congressman, the difference in actions becomes vastly apparent (almost 2-1 bias toward the northern end of the district).

My opponent of course makes room to note the obligatory shaking hands and kissing babies that is part and parcel of all politicians. 2 pages for that. My opponent then goes on to highlight 2 pages of highly selective quotes from cherry-picked news items to finish the report card.

I imagine every student in any educational institution envies the ability of Rep. Richard Hanna, like President Obama, to create their own report card and grading system.

With all honesty I cannot say that my opponent was a complete failure in 2013. He did accomplish some goals that constituents wanted. There were some issues that he could do nothing about (though he could have said far more in my opinion – like Syria, abuse of Executive Orders, overreach of the NSA and IRS, ect). But that does not excuse or even equal the things that he did have control over and failed on.

If we were to be fair, and I am trying my best to be objective though he is my opponent, a true grade of the overall performance in 2013 would be a D+. Transparency and Accountability would be an F-. Effectiveness would be a D+. Efficiency would be a D+. Consistency would be a F-. Leadership would be a D. Responsiveness (to the political ramifications) would be a shining star with a C. Deficit spending would be a B-. Flip-flopping would be an A+.

At the end of the day what will this all mean? That is for voters to decide. But I believe, if voters look at the whole picture – at what is being omitted and hidden, what was done and what was calculated for political gain, what has been done in the name of the NY-22 that fails to reflect the views of the people of the NY-22 – then I believe 2014 will see my opponent, Rep. Hanna, fail to graduate.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez

What has Rep. Richard Hanna done for you lately?

With the accidental resolution of military strikes against Syria completed (or at least off the table until some time in 2014) its time of the nation to get back to the issues that directly affect the nation, and constituents of the New York 22nd Congressional District.

Since most of the public is likely to have completely forgotten what was being discussed over the summer, due to the looming potential of involvement in yet another Middle East war that the solid majority of Americans opposed (and Rep. Richard Hanna had no opinion on), I went over what Rep. Richard Hanna has done in 2013. There is no better indication of how well the public is served than by seeing what they are being served.

Looking at Govtrack.us, a quick search provides a list of 14 Bills that Rep. Hanna has either sponsored or co-sponsored. Of those, only 1 has made it past a House Committee, and was actually made law. That was HR 1071: To specify the size of the precious-metal blanks that will be used in the production of the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins. Baseball fanatics are sure to be happy as the Bill was predicted to only have a 14% chance of passage.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)


Does this Bill help small businesses? Outside the finite and niche baseball collectibles arena, no. Does it help the NY-22? No. Does it improve the quality of life for even a minority of the residents in Upstate New York? No. But politicians don’t count their success based on what Bills they actually pass in Congress (lest voters actually evaluate them on the merits of their work ethic), strong attempts to pass the Bills that matter to voters is what counts.

Rep. Hanna failed to get past committee, or even get strong support, on House Resolution 134 (H Res 134): Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for its continuing acts of aggression, its expressed intent to break the July 10, 1953, Korean War Armistice Agreement, and for its repeated violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

North Korea, a nation that is top on the list of countries that hates America, starves its people, and is reportedly winding up a plutonium reactor (which is good for nuclear weapons like radioactive dirty bombs) is universally condemned by Congress. There is not 1 member of Congress that would support North Korea and the horrors it imposes on its people, yet Rep. Hanna was unable to get traction on this.

Then there is H Res 190: Condemning the April 15, 2013, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks in Boston, Massachusetts and calling upon the United States Government, the governments of all nations, the United Nations, and other international organizations to renounce the use of IEDs and take actions to stop their proliferation.

Absolutely everyone in America was aghast and angered by the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. Equally, the devastation done to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by IED’s has no support from any member of Congress or American. Yet again this has gone nowhere, and is predicted to have 0% chance of getting passed.

In both cases, these are issues that are universal. Neither would alter the position of the nation, or alter the lives of the public, they are merely statements of the opinion of Congress (and in these two Bills, the clear mindset of the nation). Bipartisan support should not be a difficult task, if presented by an effective politician. The results speak for themselves.

Then there is HR 2310: To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make available for purchase Department of Veterans Affairs memorial headstones and markers for members of reserve components who performed certain training.

Again, an issue that no politician would take issue with, and the public can support. Yet it sits, without notice or action, a testament to the ability of the politician that proposed it. For the record there are 89 Representatives with prior military service (which Rep. Hanna is not among), 4 support this Bill. Prominent members of Congress that served in the military like Speaker Boehner, or even Rep. Chris Gibson of NY, Rep. Michael Grimm of NY, Rep. Peter King of NY, even Rep. Charles Rangels all without support of this Bill. Which begs the question, where they even asked?

So it’s pretty clear that Rep. Hanna isn’t very good at passing a Bill he has written, unless it involves baseball collectibles. What about Bills he has co-sponsored? Nope, to date nothing has passed their either. But it does bring up a very interesting Bill that he has cosponsored.

HR 2131 (SKILLS Visa Act): To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to enhance American competitiveness through the encouragement of high-skilled immigration, and for other purposes.

This is an immigration reform Bill, which is a tough subject for Rep. Hanna. In April and early May 2013, Rep. Hanna placed himself on both sides of the immigration debate. With HR 2131 it appears that he has finally picked a side.

What the SKILLS Visa Act does is give visas to immigrants that work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This of course will allow those immigrants to compete with the US graduates with STEM degrees. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, over the next 10 years there will be 3.9 million US STEM degrees – or 1.55x the number of jobs projected to be available. Yet, Rep. Hanna wants to increase the competition for these jobs with foreign workers. Odd.

But HR 2131 does even more. It immediately increases the number of foreign workers by 90,000 [SEC. 201. H-1B VISAS] – current actual unemployment in the US is 21.2 million.

Further, the SKILLS Visa Act apparently allows foreign workers of ANY type under the following

(c) Aliens Who Are Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Aliens of Exceptional Ability- Section 203(b)(2)(A) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(2)(A)) is amended by striking ‘paragraph (1),’ and inserting ‘paragraphs (1), (6), and (7),’.

(d) Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers- Section 203(b)(3)(A) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(3)(A)) is amended by striking ‘paragraphs (1) and (2),’ and inserting ‘paragraphs (1), (2), (6), and (7),’.

HR 2131 also lets an additional 10,000 foreigners get a visa to start a business in the US. This at a time where 1.3 million US business owners have lost their business (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data since 2009) and are not being helped to start a new one. Not exactly the job growth that has been promised by politicians since the 2008 Recession began.

In Section 105 FAMILY-SPONSORED IMMIGRANT VISAS – it increases the number of visas for foreign families, without regard to STEM jobs. The SKILLS Visa Act even helps let students, who are actually working a temp job, to bring their families – because the DREAM Act is very clear on what happens to the children of these immigrants after they stay in the US beyond the visa timeframe [SEC. 205. STUDENTS].

Perhaps the best part of the HR 2131 is the fact that it will justify increasing competition for STEM jobs by providing an additional $225,000 to each State – in the best case scenario, if all 50 States request the money – to be used for STEM education. A pittance compared to the cost of education, even worse if the cost of a STEM higher degree is considered.

Overall, Rep. Hanna as done nothing to help those unemployed in the New York 22nd Congressional District to find a job. He has not improved conditions for small business (except for baseball collectibles). He is actively helping foreign workers get jobs, and bring their families – conditions that are the root of the problem today and the justification for the DREAM Act. Rep. Hanna is also actively increasing competition for STEM jobs, now and in the future, at a time when his constituents are well above the national average for unemployment, and below the State average for pay.

Does this represent what you want from Congress? Is this what you were thinking of when Rep. Richard Hanna was re-elected? Does this job performance improve your confidence in Congress and Government?

If not, you can donate for a better option. I’m Michael Vasquez, and like everyone in the NY-22 I expect more from a representative in Congress. It’s time we get it.

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