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.

Rep. Hanna asked NY-22 to look at his record, here is what I found…

On May 2, 2014, Rep. Richard Hanna asked Republican voters listening to WIBX to review his record and decide who to vote for in the June 24th NY Primary, which without a Democrat running is effectively the congressional election.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

I took his advice, and this is what I found:

  1. Since 2010, Rep. Hanna has passed 2 commemorative coin Bills, and named a post office (from 2011 to present).

  2. Every other Bill that Rep. Hanna has created since 2011 is dead in the water with no significant support from Dems or Republicans – including the non-partisan Bill to give reservist who died serving our nation at war gravestones.

Going no further, that raises the question of just how effective Rep. Hanna is in Congress. But moving on… Rep. Hanna is also ambivalent, and flip-flops, on a lot of major issues.

According to the record, he has taken both sides on restricting the NSA. He has said he opposes abortion, but voted to support late-term abortions. He supports STEM jobs for Americans but is pushing to give 160,000 STEM jobs to foreign students instead of American students.

But what does Rep. Hanna do when it really matters?

  • With the debate over the 1st Amendment on the line in 2012, via the Stop Online Piracy Act, Rep. Hanna had no opinion beyond listening to the debate.
  • With Syria, as President Obama sought to grab greater power and push America into a unilateral war, Rep. Hanna had no opinion until the issue was over.
  • After 40 votes on Obamacare – that Rep. Hanna has called “ceremonial” (as seen on Youtube) – when it mattered in 2013, he voted with Democrats to fund Obamacare without condition.
      He has also attacked the alternatives provided by Republicans since 2011.
  • While claiming to be fiscally responsible, Rep. Hanna voted to cut military pensions and provide Democrats with unlimited debt ceiling increases in spending, January 2014.
  • With the revelation of the White House lying to the public on Benghazi, as proven by a recent email disclosed this week, Rep. Hanna – according to his statements live on-air on May 2nd – either has no idea what is going on, or just agrees with former Secretary Hillary Clinton.

    So with just a cursory view of Rep. Hanna’s record, I conclude:

    1. Rep. Hanna has justified his rating as the 3rd most Liberal Republican in Congress (he calls himself a moderate).

    2. His talk of the benefit to constituents from his support for Democrats and their issues does not exist.
    3. He actively supports issues that his constituents oppose.
    4. Rep. Hanna supports a “bandwagoning” approach to his work in Congress – he says and does almost nothing until he can safely jump on the winning side of an issue, regardless of constituent opinion.

    When I look at the record, I see a New York City Democrat on the Upstate NY Republican ballot. I see someone who is either ineffective in the job, or otherwise inconsiderate of representing the voters that elected him.

    Thus I support Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. Because she is the only consistent, accountable, voice of voters in the NY 22nd Congressional race.

    But don’t take my word for it.

    Follow the request of Rep. Hanna and actually look at his record yourself. Then ask yourself, are these votes and public comments reflecting the core values of the Republican Party? Is this action, and inaction, representing your values in Congress?

    Then go vote in the NY 22nd congressional district primary for Congress on June 24th.

  • Congratulations Rep. Hanna on top 25 wealthiest in House again

    I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate Rep. Hanna on the success he has achieved since being elected to the House of Representatives. Each year since 2010 Rep Hanna has made the cut for the top 25 richest Representatives.

    In 2010, Rep. Hanna was ranked 18th out of 435 Representatives, with a net worth estimated to be no less than $13.8 million. But competition in Congress is fierce, and in 2011 Rep. Hanna felt the pinch. His estimated minimum net worth dropped to $13.7 million, and he fell to only the 23rd most wealthy of all 435 Representatives.

    Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

    Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

    Still that minor setback did not impede the success that would come. Because in 2012, the last full year that data is available on, Rep. Hanna had a minimum net worth of $14.4 million, an increase of $700,000 (though he fell another spot to just the 24th wealthiest Representative).

    To give some perspective, from 2010 to 2012 the average household income changed [U.S. Census]:

    the poorest 20% – increased $599
    Next 20% – increased $1,764
    Middle – increased $3,082
    Next 20% – increased $4,065
    Top 20% (rich) – increased $10,671

    Put another way, the median household income, just for New York State, was $47,600. That was down from 2010 and 2011 income levels.

    Rep. Hanna overcame the negative pressures from New York State Government, and a sluggish (at best) economy, to outpace the average American household and retain a position in the top 6% of the House of Representatives, even as Congress reached an 8% approval rating.

    At the same time, Rep. Hanna’s efforts of 3 years have resulted in potentially 2,000 jobs for NY State by bringing drone testing to our State – of course without any legislation to prevent abuse of drone use by the same Government that allowed the NSA scandal to occur.

    Plus, Rep. Hanna is promoting HR 2131, the SKILLS Visa Act, which will give 160,000 STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] jobs to foreigners.

    Lastly, he voted for the Ryan-Murray budget deal, that will cut Veteran pensions and increases Federal debt spending.

    Rep. Hanna has been busy, and in 2014 you can re-elect him. Or you could visit and consider a different option in the mid-term elections.

    Twitter posts from June 2013

    The following can be found on my Twitter account (@electvasquezny – ask to be added to be up to date daily) from the month of June 2013:

    There are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Twitter is an excellent format to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Twitter. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

    Michael Vasquez ‏@electvasquezny 5 Jun

    Michael Vasquez speaks at Vestal Public Library – June 4, 2013 – pt 1: via @youtube

    Michael Vasquez speaks at Vestal Public Library – June 4, 2013 – pt 2: via @youtube


    8 Jun ‏@electvasquezny

    Michael Vasquez talks about improving Congress with Southern Tier Tea Party in Vestal, NY


    9 Jun ‏@electvasquezny

    Uploading older videos that some may have missed in the past

    Commentary on military service awards, and the Stolen Valor Act. Original video repost

    STEM jobs, immigration visas, and Rep Richard Hanna of the NY-22: via @YouTube

    Binghamton University Libertarians speak with Michael Vasquez – Q & A pt 1: via @YouTube

    Binghamton University Libertarians speak with Michael Vasquez – Q & A pt 2: via @YouTube


    10 Jun ‏@electvasquezny

    Your view: Letters to the editor via @sharethis


    12 Jun ‏@electvasquezny

    Michael Vasquez comments on WNBF interview with Bob Joseph

    Is the Internet the end of political waffling? Not quite

    Long ago politicians earned the moniker of being 2-faced and envisioned as “oil can Harry’s”. But in the age of the Internet, where the public has almost instantaneous access to voting records, video of speeches, and transcripts of campaign pledges one might assume modern politicians would be more straightforward. You may recall what happens when you assume.

    Case in point, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY22). In just the last few months he has either supported both sides of an issue and/or directly reversed his position or ignored constituent concerns. This justification of his ranking as the 5th most moderate Republican member of Congress [Bipartisan Policy Center - July 2012], though he ran in 2010 as a Tea Party conservative, has been achieved through careful wordplay and the assumption that voters aren’t paying attention to the details, in my opinion.

    Here are some facts:

    March 2013 -

  • The Drone Caucus (which Rep Hanna is a member) fails to mention legislation protecting 4th Amendment Rights in its 5 mission statements –
  • 25th – Rep Hanna is pushing to get Unmanned Aerial Systems in sky by 2015 to promote job growth –

    April 2013

  • 24th – Rep Hanna skips Joint Economic Committee meeting on solutions to long-term unemployment –
  • 24th – Rep Hanna publishes article promoting immigration reform to provide visas to foreign workers to gain STEM jobs –

    May 2013 -

  • 10th – Rep Hanna raises concern about impact of immigration reform on the unemployed seeking a job –
  • 16th – CBS News reports 32 States considering legislation to limit drone use, 4 other have passed laws (not New York), Rep Hanna makes no comment –

    June 2013

  • 18th – H.R 1917 receives NO vote from Rep Hanna, who is on record as against late-term abortions. H.R. 1917 would deny abortions as late as 20 weeks unless the life of the mother is at risk –

    July 2013

  • 24th – H Amnd 413, the Amash Amendment to restrict NSA from blanket gathering of phone and internet domestic data of general public, was voted on – Rep Hanna voted NO –
  • 25th – H.R. 2397, Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, passed. Rep Hanna, in discussing his vote YEA, states he also voted for restricting NSA –

    4th Amendment, abortion, immigration, and jobs all in just the first half of 2013. Plus pushing for technology to invade privacy without regulation and taking credit for a vote on an issue popular with the public that didn’t happen – a full roster of questionable actions. No matter what position a voter may have on these issues, Rep Hanna appears to have covered every base without actually taking a position that might endanger re-election hopes one may infer.

    The question should be asked if the lack of political fortitude stems from a lack of connection to constituents and their concerns on these issues? Is it shrewd political calculations to help fend off 2014 election challengers? Or is it a lack of understanding of the ramifications for the issues and legislation at hand?

    With all the advantages that modern technology affords it is still difficult enough for a voter to understand 2000+ page laws, secret courts, new technologies that are unaddressed by current law and so on. It is infinitely worse when elected politicians live up to the popular negative stereotypes that contribute to a 75% DISSAPROVAL rating of Congress.

  • Response to article: Hanna: Every day… you get to help someone

    The following letter has been submitted as a Letter to the Editor of the Binghamton Press & Sun, Norwich Evening Sun, and Utica Observer-Dispatch. This is a verbatim copy.

    On May 21st Rep. Richard Hanna spoke with the editorial board of the Utica Observer-Dispatch, about the objectives of his second term. While there may have been far more detail in that conversation than was reported, what was stated leaves questions that demand clarification from Rep. Hanna.

    First and foremost is the question about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs. While there has been a push by Rep. Hanna to promote this, his position has been unclear.

    As has been widely reported, Rep. Hanna supports promoting immigration reform that would allow foreigners to gain these jobs – clarified as a “temporary” stopgap measure until more Americans are available for those jobs. His support has been so strong that he failed to appear at a Joint Economic Committee meeting [April 24, 2013 - Lawmaker Unemployment Hearing Attended By Single Member of Congress At Opening] on resolving long-term unemployment. Instead, on that same day he provided a written support of immigration reform [April 24, 2013 - Help Wanted: The STEM workforce shortage] specifically targeting increasing H1-B Visas. Yet, in a Joint Economic Committee meeting that he did subsequently appear in [May 10, 2013 - Here’s the economic advice Congress is getting on immigration], Rep. Hanna apparently voiced concern over the competition that an increase of the immigrant workforce would naturally create.

    Politics may allow for claiming both sides of an argument, but Representatives should be clear when speaking with constituents about which side they actually stand on. Further, what exactly is “temporary”?

    If a greater focus on STEM education were to be enacted tomorrow, does that mean that foreigners (under the position Rep. Hanna promotes) should be favored for these jobs for the next 4 years – until current college students graduate, or 8 years – when current high school students could graduate college, or 12 years – when those high school students graduate college with advanced degrees?

    Most importantly, on this issue, shouldn’t the Representative be direct enough to clarify that regardless of the path taken, the reality is that STEM jobs – which are a fraction of the jobs available in New York State and the nation – will take a long time to occur and will not effectively help the current above national average unemployment besieging constituents of the NY 22nd Congressional District.

    Perhaps another question that should be asked is how this focus on STEM jobs will benefit the constituents of NY when – as stated by Rep. Hanna on January 29, 2013 [Hanna shares political beliefs and concerns at annual meeting] – “Especially in Upstate New York, where agriculture affects about 80 percent of our economy.

    Rather, given the fact that New York State is consistently viewed as the most business unfriendly State in the nation (a race to the bottom in many reports versus current progressive ‘capital’ California – which Gov. Cuomo in his 2013 State of the State Address seeks to surpass), and that America as a nation is one of the least competitive due to our corporate tax rate of 39.1% [April 13, 2013 - Yes, Sen. Sanders, We Really Do Have the Highest Corporate Tax Rate in the World], wouldn’t a focus on forcing Congress and President Obama (who made a big deal of reducing the corporate rate during his 2012 election campaign) to lower the corporate rate be the best short- and long-term solution? A solution that can promote small business growth, creating a greater demand for STEM jobs in Upstate New York and the nation – which would motivate students to not only seek these fields, but to decide to stay in NY once they have gained that degree. A solution that also helps improve the national economy and long-term unemployment.

    I have been speaking with many Americans across the NY-22 as part of my exploration on a run for the District, and have been following for a long time the national desire to lower the corporate rate. The benefit seems clear and generally bi-partisan (excluding the desire by some to emphasize increased taxes as a solution – that has as yet to provide the boost the nation continues to seek). Why is the focus not on this solution that can be a broad based benefit?

    The answer could be the appeal of gaining part of the potential 11 million new voters that current proposals on immigration reform may provide. Understandably, from a political power standpoint, that is an issue that must be addressed. But to focus on that political ambition, via obfuscation on the more pervasive and imminent problem of unemployment and economic health, is a disservice to the constituents and nation.

    If we want to truly promote STEM jobs and education, and motivate small business growth, for New York State and the nation, then a “temporary” fix will not do. We need to address the core problem, and corporate tax rates are part of that core problem. More direct discussion and action on that will do better to provide the end result than foreign immigrants and HB-1 visas.


    Michael Vasquez

    Note – Michael Vasquez has formed an exploratory committee to determine a potential run in the 2014 NY election for the 22nd Congressional District, which Rep. Richard Hanna represents. The exploratory site can be found at

    Rep Hanna straddling immigration reform

    On May 10, 2013, Rep Richard Hanna appeared at a Joint Economic Committee meeting on immigration. He stated, in an apparent follow up to the Politico article that he published supporting immigration reform to enable foreigners gaining visas for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, that there is a concern that immigration reform will cause competition for US citizens in the workplace.

    There seems to be a disconnect.

    On April 24th, Rep. Richard Hanna did not attend the Joint Economic Committee meeting on resolutions to the long-term unemployment rate. Instead he wrote an article suggesting that immigration reform be used to fill the void of STEM workers to stimulate small business growth.

    “But because creating a sufficiently deep and broad pipeline of domestic STEM teachers, students and workers will take many years, we also need to consider reforming our immigration laws now to allow more foreign STEM workers to fill immediate job openings. Far from taking net jobs from U.S. citizens, allowing foreign workers to join or create businesses right here will inevitably lead to innovation and invention that in turn creates more American jobs, American paychecks and American taxpayers.”

    Yet on May 10th, the Washington Post quotes Rep. Hanna as concerned over the competition that immigration reform can pose to the American worker

    Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) asked about the widespread belief among economists that immigrants don’t really take jobs from Americans. “Much immigrant labor is highly skilled and thus presumably not differentiated,” he said. “Why would wage competition not incur in the labor market?”

    Beyond the fact that the sentences are poorly worded, the Washington Post is reporting Rep. Hanna as being against the very argument that he posed 16 days earlier. So the question is, will immigration reform cause greater competition for jobs to American citizens? Rep. Hanna apparently believes that it won’t and that it will.

    The New York 22nd Congressional District contains Counties that have unemployment rates which at the lowest is 9% unemployment and increasing to 11% in the most hard hit County. Small businesses, and constituents seeking employment, are sure to want to have a clear understanding on what their Representative is telling them about immigration reform. Will it grow their businesses, or will it cause even further unemployment in a State that is already ranked the worst in business friendliness.

    Eloquence in speaking aside, Representatives in Congress have a duty to present the issues that affect constituents, and make the case for the best choice of action. That is the obligation whether the Representative is the most Conservative or Liberal in their own beliefs, with the responsibility to then vote the choice of the people – even if it opposes their own belief. Even a Representative that is one of the most moderate in Congress, is not allowed to argue both sides of the issue and present confusion to constituents.

    Either the NY-22 is in favor of giving foreigners visas to fill STEM jobs, or they are against immigration reform that would add to the burden for those unemployed and looking for work opportunities. Only one is the choice of the people of the NY-22. The Representative in Congress should be very clear what that choice is, and stand by the will of the people.

    America is on wrong track according to 61%

    wrong trackThere may be no better example of the state of the nation, and the effectiveness of current Government, than the fact that 61% of the nation believe America is on the wrong track. The blame for the path America is on is not just partisan, its universal.

    With only 27% stating that personal finances are getting better, 45% think college grads will have trouble getting a job, and 47% think a housing recovery is still 3 years away, Congress remains in gridlock. All the while the national deficit is $16.8 trillion and rising – even with $77 billion in additional taxes and $30 billion in Sequester cuts.

    This isn’t really shocking though.

    Government isn’t listening to the public, and the results are clear. The majority of Americans haven’t believed that America is on the right path since before 2009. Obamacare was passed against the will of the majority, and today 55% are still unfavorable towards this law. President Obama is using Executive Orders in a way that even Senator Obama would never approve. Only 15% approve of the way Congress is handling the economy, immigration, gun control, and the rest of their job.

    For the New York 22nd Congressional District, the lack of connection appears to be equally apparent. In just the last couple of weeks I have been amazed by the number of people that either don’t know who represents them in the NY-22, or believe that they are still represented by former Rep. Maurice Hinchey – who retired last year. Given is the fact that so far I have only spoken to a fraction of the constituents that make up the NY-22, but with the current Representative having made 45 town hall style meetings with the public (of which only 9 appear in a Google search of “Richard Hanna meets constituents“) and a re-election, the Southern Tier – at least – remains largely unconnected to Congress.

    But hopefully this will change. Already Rep. Hanna has attempted to clarify why he is in favor of immigration reform, and giving STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] jobs to foreigners. He has made sure to get the press aware that he is meeting constituents – as he did on May 1st. But he has yet to explain, that can be found via Google search, why he did not attend the Joint Economic Committee meeting on resolving long-term unemployment.

    I would like to think that the challenge of a Republican primary is motivating these changes. I would like to think that the knowledge of voters having a real choice is inspiring a re-dedication to the concerns of the New York 22nd District. Especially at a time in the nation when Government, from local to national levels, is actively restricting freedoms (Executive Orders for gun restrictions, NYSAFE Act), compromising law (Executive Orders on immigration, amnesty proposals in immigration reform talks, sanctuary cities), mandating action (Obamacare, Chevy Volt), even potentially removing long-standing safeguards (FCC decency policy). Which says nothing of the on-going fiscal irresponsibility of Government.

    But the trend of millionaire and career politicians has for decades been a study in doing just enough to appear invested in the constituent, right up until a primary threat or election passes. The ultimate result of which brings us back to what path 61% of Americans believe we are on.

    Status quo in elections, mediocre politicians, and a lack of real connection to the issues, concerns, and daily life of constituents needs to end.

    Why wasn’t Rep. Hanna at Joint Economic Committee meeting on unemployment?

    On April 24, 2013 the Joint Economic Committee, made up of Senators and Representatives from Congress, had a meeting to discuss the resolution to long-term unemployment (roughly 40% of those unemployed at this time). Virtually all members of this committee, Democrat and Republican alike, failed to appear (as reported by Huffington Post and National Journal).

    It is not our purpose to ask why the other Senators and Representatives did not appear at this event, that is for the constituents those elected officials must answer to. We do have a question for Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents the New York 22nd Congressional District. Why wouldn’t the elected representative appear at a meeting to address a national concern – especially as Binghamton (8.8%) and Utica-Rome (9.0%) exceed the national unemployment rate (7.4%). In fact, not a single county in the NY-22 has less than 8.0% unemployment, several having as much as 11% unemployment according to the NY State Labor Dept.

    In addition, Rep. Hanna did have the time to issue a letter, to Politico, addressing the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs to improve small business. The solution offered by Rep. Hanna was an increase in foreign visas and immigration reform.

    “There are many worthy policy proposals to consider that could help achieve this desirable end. Whether it be an increased H-1B visa cap, an automatic visa for foreign students that graduate from a U.S. college with an advanced STEM degree, or another system altogether, if Congress undertakes immigration reform without permitting small businesses to access the qualified STEM workers they are clamoring for now we will be missing an opportunity to revitalize our economy.”

    Thus we must ask, why was Rep. Hanna not at a meeting for resolving long-term unemployment while at the same time urging immigration reform to resolve STEM jobs? Is this what the constituents of the New York 22nd District believe, is this a representation of their views?

    %d bloggers like this: