Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ehlers votes against mental health parity bill

The House passed the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act on a vote of 268-148. 47 Republicans joined 221 Democrats in supporting passage of the bill.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's blog, The Gavel:
This bipartisan legislation will end discrimination against patients seeking treatment for mental illnesses by prohibiting insurers and group health plans from imposing treatment or financial limitations when they offer mental health benefits that are more restrictive from those applied to medical and surgical services.
Congressman Ehlers voted against the bill.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why the S-CHIP flip, Congressman?

Last month, declaring his support for the re-authorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Vern Ehlers said he was very pleased with the program, which Michiganders know of as MIChild. He added:
"Although this bill made some controversial changes to SCHIP, which I do not approve, I believe the overall bill is acceptable and I voted for it," said Congressman Ehlers. "I grew up with acute asthma, and I know personally how important it is for kids to have access to affordable health care. This bill will continue to provide health care coverage to millions of children who otherwise would be uninsured."
Yet while he supported both the original passage of the bill and the attempt to override President Bush's veto, Ehlers las week voted against the new version of the S-CHIP reauthorization.

So why did Congressman Ehlers flip-flop on this important issue? He says he had asthma when he was younger, which I have no reason not to believe. So why would he vote to deny millions of sick children in West Michigan and throughout the nation the insurance they need to live healthy, active lives - and in some cases to survive, period?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ehlers's website gets a makeover - except for the News section

This fall, white is the new Navy blue at Congressman Vernon Ehlers's official website.

While not much of a fan of the Congressman, fair is fair, and I do like parts of the new layout for the site. On the left sidebar, for example, one can go to the Write Your Representative website, search legislation, and get help from his office. Also, you have the opportunity to "Tell Vern what you think!" by taking a poll.

Yet one thing I found notoriously missing is any updated news. The Latest News section of the front page contains unlinked citations to press releases from June. The News section is more recent, containing a couple of items from August 2.

Meanwhile, the Newsroom on Senator Carl Levin's website contains 27 press releases since that day, and Senator Debbie Stabenow's contains 26. Granted, many of these deal with funding for projects in areas outside the Third District, but even so, why doesn't the Congressman's website mention the more than $340,000 earmarked to help stop gangs in West Michigan? Or the two grants worth $330,000 and $270,000 coming to help fight crime in Grand Rapids - the heart of Ehlers's district?

And what does the Congressman have to say about Gen. David Pertaeus's testimony, Alberto Gonzales's resignation, or the passage of the College Cost Reduction Act (which he voted against?

Who knows? You'll just have to Contact Vern to find out.

In the mean time, what do you think of Ehlers's new website?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ehlers attends Iraq panel discussion

Media Mouse has an excellent round-up of a recent panel discussion on the Iraq War. Guess who showed up?

Last night at the Women's City Club in Grand Rapids, Democracy for America's Kent County chapter held a panel discussion titled "Searching for a Constructive Response to our Entanglement in Iraq." The panel featured two West Michigan area professors and a former military chaplain, all of who gave twenty-minute talks on the conflict in Iraq followed by a question and answer period.

Surprisingly, Grand Rapids area congressional representative Vern Ehlers who has recently stated his unwillingness to listen to protestors, attended the event. While it is nice to see Ehlers out in public engaging the current situation in Iraq, the fact that Ehlers chose to attend this particular event--and not any of the other numerous teach-ins that took place before and after the start of the war--is somewhat troublesome for those who have been pressuring Ehlers to end the occupation of Iraq as the three panelists basically echoed Ehlers' position that the United States has a "moral obligation" to the Iraqi people and that the United States must stay in the country to attempt to mitigate the effects of what is for the most part now a civil war. To be fair, Democracy for America cannot be blamed for Ehlers' attendance, but it was unfortunate that all three panelists represented what was at best a "centrist" position on the situation. There was no voice for an immediate withdrawal on the panel, nor for that matters were there any voices calling for a timetable for withdrawal. Ehlers will likely see the panel as bolstering his position, he has recently claimed that he will only listen to "facts" when making his decisions about the war and now he has three area "experts" on record essentially supporting his position on the conflict.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

War costs Ehlers's constituents $818 million - so far

The National Priorities Project has released a fact sheet detailing the cost of the war in Iraq to the state of Michigan and to each congressional district. From Media Mouse:

The fact sheet also highlights the fact that the war has cost residents of the 3rd Congressional District that includes Grand Rapids at least $818 million dollars. According to the National Priorities Project's analysis, that money could have paid for healthcare for 139,738 children for the duration of the Iraq War, 6,595 affordable housing units, or 74 elementary schools. The cost of the war to the city of Grand Rapids (http://www.costofwar.com/) has been estimated to be at least $236,523,931.

These costs have apparently been ignored by Republican Representative Vern Ehlers who represents the Third District. Over the past week, Ehlers--who was questioned about whether or not he would support cutting funding for the war--has refused to do so. Instead, Ehlers has claimed that he initially had "deep reservations" about the war and is unhappy without how it has gone, but has stated that it will be a "bloodbath" if the United States leaves. Ehlers has further said that he will not be influenced by demonstrations but rather will be "swayed by facts."
Media Mouse goes on to list the many "facts" that evidently have not swayed Congresman Ehlers, including the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed, the millions who have been displaced, numerous attacks by insurgents, and the lack of electricity throughout most of teh day in Baghdad.

And let's not forget the eight million Iraqis living in destitute conditions.

So much for 'liberating' them.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

GR Press: Anti-war campaign in town to work on Ehlers

Here's The Grand Rapids Press with more:

They have been in town several weeks now, organizing meetings, attending demonstrations, handing out lawn signs, andwriting letters, all aimed at changing one man's mind.

"The only person around here who can do anything about this is Vern Ehlers," said Bryan Finken, 46, a part-time philosophy professor from Denver, about the war in Iraq.


Their effort is part of a national campaign by a coalition of anti-war groups called Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The effort is targeting 40 Republican members of Congress they believe may be wavering in their support for the war.

Those 40, if they change their minds, would give the war's opponents a veto-proof majority in Congress, organizers said. They call their campaign Iraq Summer, modeled after the 1964 Freedom Summer, which registered black voters in the South, and the summer of 1967 protests against the Vietnam War.

America is speaking - is Vern Ehlers listening?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ehlers has $408,000 on hand

The Federal Elections Commission has the numbers:

Raised this quarter: $44,245.00
Raised this cycle: $112,620.00
Spent this quarter: $28,099.75
Spent this year: $84,652.47
On hand: $408,029.95

By the way, OpenSecrets has all the goods on where Ehlers is getting his money, including which companies and industries are bankrolling his campaigns.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

House passes relief for college students; Ehlers opposes it

These days, getting a college education is essential for those who want to be successful throughout life. Moreover, a skilled and educated workforce is critical for the US to get back on the right track.

Key to this is making sure college is affordable. Last year Republicans in Congress voted to cut the Pell Grant and raise interest rates on student loans. Under Democratic leadership, Congress is working to remedy that. An important piece of this effort, the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, has passed the House. Congressman Ehlers, however, opposed it.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chair of the House Education Committee and champion of students, had a few words for those who tried to kill the bill:

"...You don’t like the fact that while you were in power after years of flat lining the Pell Grant, we we’ve finally given them the biggest increase in decades for the poorest kids in this country. You don’t like that so you want to kill the bill. You don’t like the fact that were going to take 5 million middle class kids and extend to them a loan thats interest rate is cut in half? While their families are struggling to get them through college? They’re making sacrifices every year? You’re going to do this? You’re going to kill this bill? Are you proud? Are you proud of this amendment, that you are going to try to kill this bill? Say it louder."

Well Mr. Ehlers, are you proud?