Congress skips Sandy recovery – not important enough for Republicans to care about


Just as the fiscal-cliff negotiations are drawing to a close, a fresh controversy is brewing in the House of Representatives after Republican leadership decided they will not vote during the 112th Congress on a bill to provide supplemental aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Both Republicans and Democrats lashed out at Republican leadership for what one Republican called a “personal betrayal,” after it was decided that the bill would not be considered until the 113th Congress, which convenes at noon Thursday.

“For the Speaker to just walk out is inexcusable,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY-Long Island) told reporters. “It’s wrong, and I’m saying that as a member of the Republican Party.”

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a short statement: “The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.”

That assurance was not enough for the members of districts affected by Sandy.

After Hurricane Katrina, Congress had special funds on the way to aid victims of that disaster within 10 days. Though the White House had a bill passed by the Senate just as quickly, House Republicans have refused to allow a vote on aid for Hurricane Sandy victims and communities for over 9 weeks, now.

“I feel it is a personal betrayal,” Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-Staten Island) said. “But I think more importantly, when you parse out all the politics, the people of this country that have been devastated are looking at this as a betrayal by the Congress and by the nation, and that is just untenable and unforgivable…”

The House had originally planned to consider a two-step bill that would start with $27 billion in supplemental aid, but also include an amendment worth an additional $33 billion. The bill had been split to allow conservative Republicans to vote for a base level of additional aid, but not the entire package, which many Republicans said did not entirely go to those affected by Sandy.

The Senate passed a bill on Dec. 28 by a vote of 61-33 that would provide $60.2 billion in additional aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. During that vote 12 Republicans voted for the measure, but only after a replacement amendment that would have stripped $35 billion from the bill failed to pass.

An emotional King went so far Wednesday to urge residents of New York and New Jersey to halt donations to his own party in the House as a result of the chamber’s inaction.

“I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” he said on Fox News. “Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”

Folks have to realize the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican does not consider itself a party of all the people, not even a party of all the nation. Just as they embrace only policies and ideology befitting the bigots of the Confederate States of America, they come down on questions of aid to fellow Americans in times of need as unnecessary. Physically as well as philosophically, they are the new party of the Confederacy.

Groundbreaking air-cleaner removes industrial pollutants, odors

A happy Matthew Johnson getting ready to be part of a successful business

Industries across Europe are threatened with shutdown as European Union emission rules for Volatile Organic Compounds are tightened. Now an air cleaning invention from the University of Copenhagen has proven its ability to remove these compounds. And in the process they have helped a business in Danish town Aarhus improve relations to angry neighbors…

In deepest secrecy the inventor Matthew Johnson from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen has been collaborating with an investor, INFUSER, in mounting and testing a revolutionary air cleaning device at the industrial plant, “Jysk Miljoerens” in Danish town Aarhus. The reason for keeping the testing secret was that they wanted to be absolutely sure that they could in fact remove the pollution before going public. Now their measurements are concluded and the results are in. And the device actually works.

At the department of Chemistry atmospheric chemist Matthew Johnson invented and patented the air cleaning method which is based on the natural ability of the Earth atmosphere to clean itself. In a process triggered by sunlight, polluting gasses rising into the sky start forming particles when they come across naturally occurring compounds such as ozone. The newly formed particles are washed out of the atmosphere by rain. Once the rain hits the ground, the atmosphere is clean again. In other words the whole process is nature’s own purifications works, explains Professor Johnson.

I have investigated the self-cleaning mechanism of the atmosphere for years. Suddenly I realized, that the mechanism is so simple, that we could wrap it in a box and use it to clean indoor air. This makes for a better indoor climate, and in this particular case it also removes smells from this industrial process allowing the company to stay in business and making the neighbours happy,” says Matthew Johnson…

In scientific terms, Matthew Johnsons patented process is known as an atmospheric photochemical accelerator. The whole process is housed in five aluminium boxes on the roof of the Aarhus business. Compared to traditional methods the new process outshines by removing pollution rather than diluting it, as is the case when we send smoke up a chimney. The method requires no filters, so maintenance is inexpensive. It consumes very little energy, so its climate impact is negligible. Finally it removes the need for a chimney which would have been costly to erect. For all these reason INFUSER and the photochemical air-purification was the right choice for Jysk Miljoerens…

The company Jysk Miljoerens makes a living separating oil from bilge water in ships, so that the oil may be recycled. For manager Bent Naldal all the parameters were important, but above all he is just happy that the new method has managed to remove the smells from his wastewater treatment plant. Because the smells were threatening to put him out of business.

Unintended consequences. Fortunately, Matthew Johnson was able to make the native connection between a process in nature and copying it for use on a much smaller scale. And doing so, with minimal energy consumption.

House passes U.S. Budget Bill, avoids most tax increases

The House of Representatives passed legislation averting income tax increases for most U.S. workers after Republicans abandoned their effort to attach spending cuts that would have been rejected by the Senate.

The 257-167 bipartisan vote breaks a yearlong impasse over how to head off $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that were set to begin taking effect today. The Senate passed the bill early this morning, 89-8, and it goes to President Barack Obama for his signature…

The measure isn’t the grand bargain on deficit reduction lawmakers wanted when they created the tax-and-spending deadlines over the past three years. While it averts most of the immediate pain, it is only a small step toward controlling the federal deficit — an issue that will return with a February fight over raising the $16.4 trillion debt limit.

The deal was worked out by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. Eighty-five Republicans and 172 Democrats voted for the measure while 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans opposed it.

The plan will make the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts permanent for most workers while letting them expire for top earners…

The legislation will continue expanded unemployment benefits and delay automatic spending cuts for two months. It will let a 2 percent payroll tax cut expire.

The Senate vote early today shifted the pressure to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who didn’t speak during debate on the bill. In his two years as speaker, Boehner has had to quell rebellions among fellow Republicans backed by the anti-tax Tea Party.

Boehner’s second-in-command, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, voted against the measure. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, this year’s Republican vice presidential nominee, voted for it “to protect as many Americans as possible from a tax increase,” he said in a statement.

The budget deal will raise taxes on 77 percent of U.S. households, mostly because of the expiration of the payroll tax cut, said the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.

That last one is something most working families will feel. The definitions are fuzzier, they will vary more. They won’t hurt any less for working class families.

The chance for real equity in SSA funding will only come when the cap is removed and folks earning more than $106K keep on paying the tax.