News tagged as 'Fred Upton'

Upton Redux

By: Michael_Patrick_Leahy

Like a bad penny, RINO Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan) keeps turning up in some very unexpected places.

In 2007, for instance, he turned up as the co-sponsor of an amendment to ban the current generation of  incandescent light bulbs.

In January of this year, he turned up as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the promise that he would repeal the incandescent light bulb ban he had sponsored.

In July, he was the mastermind behind the failed strategy to present the light bulb repeal ban for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives under “suspended” rules. This meant the ban needed a two-thirds vote to pass, which it did not receive. (It did, however, receive a clear majority.)

Now, having performed so well in his other duties this Congress, Speaker Boehner has rewarded Congressman Upton today by naming him to one of the three coveted Republican House seats on the “budget reduction” committee.

What are we to conclude about Speaker Boehner, who demonstrates such loyalty to a member of his leadership who is so weak in both commitment to principle and development and execution of political strategy?

Constance Dogood has already addressed some of the problems of the current Republican leadership in her Voices of the Tea Party e-book  How the GOP Establishment is Co-Opting the Tea Party Freshman Class. Ms. Dogood focused on how the desire to secure and maintain political power clouded the judgements of the leadership so badly that they were unable to understand or respond to the principled commitment of the Tea Party freshmen to constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets.

It’s time now to consider another Voices of the Tea Party e-book about the current Republican leadership. This one would focus on the many reasons why it’s time for these out-dated thinkers to step aside for a new generation of leaders in the next Congress.

Does anyone think John Boehner, Fred Upton, and Mitch McConnell are actually going to make the hard choices necessary to cut the federal budget in real terms the current fiscal year, or the next?

I, for one, don’t think they will, and it is a great disappointment to see RINOs like Fred Upton put in  position to make further concessions on fiscal matters to the completely uncompromising Democrats. With Upton on the committee, can “revenue enhancements” be far behind?

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Fred Upton Snatches Defeat From the Jaws of Victory in Light Bulb Battle

By: Michael_Patrick_Leahy

In my new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, the condemned 100 watt incandescent light bulb has this to say about Fred Upton, the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who co-sponsored the offending amendment in the 2007 law, and concocted the inexplicably strategy that led to this evening’s 233-193 defeat of efforts to repeal the ban in the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act:

I stand wrongly accused and unjustly condemned, sentenced to die by the hand of Big Government . . .

What powerful industry executives, stuck selling me at low prices and low profit margins, deceptively manipulated the government to force my execution, so they could replace me with unsafe, high-priced, high margin, swirly spiraled Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs manufactured in China?

I accuse you, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, as one of those industry executives who sacrificed my tungsten filament on the altar of your industrial planning.

I accuse you, Congressman Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and now Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of moral cowardice and spinelessness. You denied me due process. You knowingly participated in my trial without allowing me the benefit of a defense attorney, the right to call my own witnesses, or the right to cross-examine witnesses brought by the prosecution against me.

As I wrote last week in this space, Upton compounded his 2007 error this year by failing to hold committee hearings on this bill, reporting it out of committee properly, then scheduling a floor vote that requires a majority, not two-thirds, to pass. Traditionally, only non-controversial bills take the special orders route. Upton’s poor strategy put Henry Waxman of California, of all people, on the moral high ground when he complained yesterday –quite properly — that this method was not appropriate for bringing the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act to the floor of the House for the vote.

This evening, Politico reported that Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee also formally complained about this usurpation of the rules:

Meanwhile, 20 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter last week asking for lawmakers to oppose the bill on procedural grounds.

“This bill is being brought to the floor on suspension prematurely without any hearings or markup in the Committee on Energy and Commerce,” they wrote. “This bill should not be considered by the House until it has been thoroughly examined, refined and voted upon in committee.”

What are we to make of Fred Upton then?

Is he merely unintentionally incompetent or intentionally duplicitous?

What are we to do with Fred Upton?

Here’s a suggestion. Remove him immediately from his position as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It takes a special kind of talent to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this light bulb ban repeal battle. The reward for such an accomplishment ought to be the removal of the responsible party from any position of authority.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Fred Upton Shows Us How Not to Repeal the Light Bulb Ban

By: Michael_Patrick_Leahy

On Wednesday of this week, Congressman  Joe Barton introduced the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act,” HR 2417 , in Chairman Fred Upton’s House Energy and Commerce Committee, for the purpose of repealing the light bulb ban. You can read the bill here.

The rushed manner in which this bill is being brought to the floor of the House, however, is reminiscent of the “rush to legislation” that characterized the Stimulus and Obamacare legislation passed in Nancy Pelosi’s 111th Congress. Depending on what press report you read, the bill — after some possible last minute behind the scenes “deals” — will be introduced on to the floor of the House for a vote as early as Monday of next week — July 11. Upton’s plan is to skip public committee hearings and deliver the bill for a complete up or down vote to the entire House.

Section 2 of the bill repeals the offending sections of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that established energy standards that effectively banned the current generation of incandescent light bulbs.

So far, so good.

Sections 3 and 4 are troublesome, however, and give opponents arguments to oppose the bill.

Section 3 states that “No Federal, State, or local requirement or standard regarding energy efficient lighting shall be effective to the extent that the requirement or standard can be satisfied only by installing or using lamps containing mercury.” This reads to me that Congress is attacking the mercury laden CFL bulbs. The point of the individual economic choice guaranteed in the Constitution, however, is that Congress ought not to favor CFLs over incandescents, just as it ought not to favor incandescents over CFLs. I’m no fan of CFL bulbs personally, but look for CFL manufacturers like GE to make this argument against the bill at every opportunity.

Section 4 of the Act is designed to repeal the light bulb efficiency standards in effect in the State of California since January 1 of this year. The standards are essentially the federal standards that will go into effect January 1, 2012, but moved up a year. While I personally question the legal status of these very specific rules promulgated by the California Energy Commission based on a vague and non-specific 2007 California statute, it seems to me that there are serious Constitutional questions surrounding a Federal law prohibiting a State to establish its own product efficiency standards. While a good argument can be made that the Commerce Clause grants Congress the right to repeal California state regulations, a reasonable argument could be made by opponents of the bill that Congress can’t do this because the state of California is merely establishing local standards, which is its right.

Given these concerns about Sections 3 and 4, what purpose does it serve to include them in the bill? Both raise potential objections to the passage of the bill on the floor of the House if it comes to a vote this week.

A full and open discussion of these issues in public hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would have been the right way to begin a legislative process that would have identified and addressed these potential objections. That’s the course that a Committee Chairman seriously committed to repealing the light bulb ban would have taken. Instead, Chairman Upton has followed this secretive, behind closed doors, last minute rushed vote approach.

If the House votes this Monday on the version of HR 2417 posted online Wednesday, it will barely meet the 72 hour tranparency standard Speaker Boehner and the House Rules Committee committed to back in January. We don’t know now if it will be that version, or some other version set forward for a vote.

Why be so sneaky?

The secretive nature of the process by which the content of the bill has been determined, combined with the lack of notice for when a House vote will be held has effectively removed the vast network of grassroots support for repeal from the political equation.

Why would someone who supports repeal of the ban act in a way that fails to take advantage of such widespread support? If the bill passes the House, it will need every bit of political support it can muster. The 53-47 Democratic majority of the Senate will be tough to win over, and President Obama’s signature on the bill–if it reaches his desk before the ban on the current generation of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs goes into effect on January 1, 2012–is highly unlikely.

As I argue in my new Voices of the Tea Party e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, the case for repealing this ill advised ban on the current generation of incandescent light bulbs is so compelling that a full and complete airing of the arguments for and against will inevitably lead to its repeal in a country that still believes in free markets. The only people who would oppose such an approach would be those who don’t really believe in free markets. Those would be the same kind of people who passed the ban in the first place.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

House to Vote on Repeal of Light Bulb Ban in July — Maybe

By: Michael_Patrick_Leahy

Myron Ebdell, Director the Freedom Action Project at  the Competitive Enterprise Institute just sent this email out:

The Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan), has agreed to support a bill to repeal the ban outright.  And the plan is to have a vote on a new version of the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (H. R. 91) in July. . .
 

After the House passes the bill, we will then need to turn our efforts to the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats. A Senate companion to Rep. Joe Barton’s House bill, H. R. 91, was introduced earlier this year by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming).

The ban on 100 watt standard incandescent bulbs, which Congress passed in 2007, is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2012, so we must convince both the House and the Senate to repeal the ban this year.  And then we must convince President Obama to sign it.  The President wants to get re-elected, so I think he will sign a bill this year if Congress sends it to him.

I’ve not yet seen a public announcement from Congressman Upton confirming this vote. Color me skeptical until I see that.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Did the Texas Light Bulb Two Step Bring Fred Upton to the Dance?

By: Michael_Patrick_Leahy

The encouraging headlines this weekend that the Texas Legislature had passed and Governor Rick Perry had signed into law a bill that allows Texans to make and sell within the State of Texas the 100 watt incandescent light bulbs banned throughout the entire country by the federal government, effective January 1, 2012, quickly gave way to a realistic assessment of the actual impact of the bill.

Don’t count on the passage of this bill resulting in the manufacture or sale of a single banned incandescent light bulb anywhere in Texas.

The devil, as they say, is in the details, and here are the devilish details of the law:

It simply authorizes the Attorney General of Texas, upon receiving notice that a resident of Texas intends to manufacture the banned incandescent light bulbs in Texas for sale exclusively in Texas, to request a ruling from a Federal District Court Judge based in Texas on the constitutionality of the proposed manufacturing plan. Only upon receiving a green light from the Federal District Court Judge will the Attorney General allow the proposed manufacturing project to proceed.

The catch is that unless all of the components of the incandescent light bulbs are native to Texas, the Federal District Court Judge will almost certainly advise the Texas Attorney General that the Texas Manufacturing project is unconstitutional, so long as the federal statute that authorized the ban– the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act — remains in effect.

The glass exterior shells of almost every incandescent light bulb now manufactured in the United States is produced on a ribbon machine operated at the Slyvania-Osram plant in St. Mary’s Pennsylvania. When those components are shipped from Pennsylvania to Texas, the project is no longer an “intra-state” venture immune from federal authority. Likewise, the tungsten filament that provide the heat and light in the bulb when an electric current is run through it begins its economic life as wolframite ore. Last I checked, there are no wolframite ore mining operations in Texas.

Fox News prematurely claimed this law amounted to the entire State of Texas snubbing their noses at Washington, D.C. Mind you, most residents of the State of Texas are entirely capable of and willing to snub the nanny staters in Washington who dreamed up this ridiculous ban of inexpensive and safe incandescent light bulbs, but this law won’t accomplish that worthy purpose. I would be delighted to be proven wrong, but wanting an outcome doesn’t make it so.

As I outline in my new Voices of the Tea Party e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, which will be released by Broadside Books next month, the only practical way to defeat this ridiculous ban and let Americans exercise their economic freedom to buy any light bulb they please is to put political pressure on the reluctant Republicans and defiant Democrats who refuse to repeal the ban.

Last week, I mentioned in this space that Congressman Fred Upton, the Republican who introduced the amendment to the 2007 that banned incandescents, now the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, isn’t rushing to honor his promise to hold hearings on repealing the ban “early this Congress.”

In breaking news this afternoon, there’s some indication that the political heat behind the new Texas law has reached all the way to Washington.  HotAir reports the following conversation at a bloggers briefing:

Heritage web editor Amy Payne directed a pointed question to Congressman  [Upton]. “Will we be able to keep our light bulbs?” she asked.
 

Upton’s answer was cryptic, but encouraging. “That is an issue that is out there,” he said. “I’ve been working closely with [Rep.] Joe Barton [R-Tex.] and [Rep.] Mike Burgess [R-Tex.] and we’re very close to seeing an agreement merge and happen, so stay tuned. … A couple different things that we’re looking at. Just stay tuned in the next couple days, actually. Maybe a little breaking news — well, let’s just say ‘soon.’ We’ve had some good conversations and we’ll see where we are later in the week.”

This is all very encouraging, but as with the Texas law, the devil is in the details. We can promise Congressman Upton this: we will stay tuned.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Fred Upton’s Broken Light Bulb Promise Another Example of the Failure of Republican Leadership

By: Michael_Patrick_Leahy

Late last year, Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who co-sponsored the infamous ban on the current generation of inexpensive incandescent light bulbs included in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, was desperate to secure conservative support for his bid to become Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the same committee in which he had introduced the despised ban three years earlier. He therefore promised that one of his first acts would be to advance legislation that would repeal the very light bulb ban he had once championed.

Upton’s ploy succeeded, and in January of this year, Speaker of the House John Boehner named Upton to his treasured chairmanship. More than four months later, Upton has not held the promised hearings. Several dozen members of the House, including Joe Barton, Michele Bachmann, and Thad McCotter, have co-sponsored legislation to repeal the ban, so there’s plenty of support for it among true conservatives. And since the ban on the current generation of 100 watt incandescent bulbs is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2012, prompt action is required. There are only six and a half months left!

Journalist Virginia Postrel recently wrote that the Republican leadership in the House has no intention of actually repealing the incandescent light bulb ban, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a different matter in the Senate, where the Republicans are in the minority. The Senate held hearings back in March, but despite a few rumors to the contrary, there’s no indication that the House, where Congressman Upton controls the path, will hold hearings.

That this ban is an egregious violation of free market capitalism is beyond dispute. I document this case in my new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, which will be released next month.

Howard Brandston, the internationally recognized lighting expert who wrote a companion e-book on this topic, The Disastrous Light Bulb Ban, was not invited to testify before the Energy and Commerce Committee when it passed this ridiculous ban back in 2007. In fact, no one who opposed the ban was asked to testify. The Senate wisely corrected this error when it invited Mr. Brandston to do so when it held hearings in March of this year.

I’ve informed the legal counsel to the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that Mr. Brandston is available to testify when and if it holds hearings on repealing the ban. It should surprise no one that I’ve not heard back.

Congressman Upton and his staff are betting that the Tea Party movement won’t generate enough political heat to force him to honor his promise. In doing so, he reveals himself as a man to whom the principles of free markets and limited government mean very little. It’s a quality that the Tea Party movement is certain to remember when he is once again challenged in the Republican Primary in 2012.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .



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