Media Blackout : Kline Holds Ag Meeting and Town Hall

Ah, it’s been a great week for John Kline … his bucket list is being checked off in rapid fashion.

Monday, there was the RJC fundraiser to benefit his re-election.
Tuesday, John Kline accepted the “Summer 2013 Champion of Seniors Award” by The Grange, a national organization that advocates on behalf of America’s rural seniors.
Wednesday, John Kline started early with a breakfast with farmers and held a meeting with his AG Advisory Board and finished the day with a Town Hall meeting.

Yep, the bucket list is dwindling … but somehow there was no television coverage, nor a pre-announcement of these events so that citizens/media could attend … so the message was controlled by John Kline and his twitter account.

Naturally, there was no tweet for the fundraiser, but there was for the Grange award ;

Interesting that Mr. Kline receives an award after the press release “The House did the American people a true injustice today,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said after learning that the House failed to pass the Farm Bill. The group has also protested cuts in services provided by the Post Office and proposed changes in Medicare Part B where require seniors to pay a larger percentage of their premium, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services.

Interesting that Mr. Kline has an Ag Advisory Board meeting … no doubt to discuss the successful passage by the House of H.R. 2642 ‘‘Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013’’. The Kline-approved legislation received negative reactions from a number of agricultural groups — American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and other groups … with the comments of Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation the most interesting as he said the House bill is “seriously flawed” because it contains the controversial Goodlatte-Scott dairy amendment as well as a repeal of permanent agricultural law. John Kline voted for the change in the Dairy Security program …. which Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) puts the cost at $30 Billion. This legislation actually spends more than the bill passed by Senate Democrats as subsidies are increased.

It should be noted that Mr. Kline and his wife, Vicky Sheldon Kline, is listed as a 20 percent owner of Sheldon Family Farms LP and a past recipient of ag subsidies … although Mr. Kline has not issued a press release naming all the members of his Ag Advisory Board, the Steve Matthees Goodhue County farm has been on the board in the past and received past visits from Mr. Kline …. the Matthees family farm received $43,752 subsidies in 2012, and Lyle Amundson of Goodhue County is listed as a recipient of $6,137 in 2012.
Mentioning of these subsidies is not meant to imply that it is inappropriate for them to file claims, but instead to recognize that there have been proposals to “means-test” and make changes in theses programs … from a variety of groups including the Heritage Foundation writing Proposed New Farm Programs: Costly and Risky for Taxpayers” while Freedom Works urged Members to reject the bill.

There complaints are based on a pretty simple thought process … at a time when farm income has never been higher and the federal deficit has never been deeper, John Kline and the House Republicans should not vote to approve a “farm-only” farm bill that includes the most generous farm subsidies in history.
The bill which increases government-backed insurance subsidies by nearly $10 billion through increases in farm income guarantees provided by government-backed crop insurance, creates a separate and more generous insurance program for cotton farmers, and fixes price guarantees just below or even above the record prices farmers have been enjoying in recent years.
Yes, John Kline needed to take time to talk with a small group of his “Ag Advisors” …

Soon it was 4:30, time for John Kline to start his Town Hall meeting … err TeleTown Hall meeting … you know where a “random” group of callers can ask a question of their elected Representative … with the last question asked at 5:19 … not even an hour, the whole charade was done.
Think about it … rush hour … preparing dinner … or listening on the telephone for the hopes that you might get to ask one of the ten questions ? Yep, Mr. Kline was really concerned about holding an event that would allow a maximum of citizens to participate. Instead, Mr. Kline was done in plenty of time to set the dinner table and settle in for a quiet night.

So what were the questions asked at the Tele-Town Hall meeting ?
Did the questions concern Ag subsidies ?
NSA surveillance ?
Food Stamps cuts ?
Sequester ?
Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Iran ?
The approaching new fiscal year that the House is woefully behind on approving appropriations ?
Transportation or infrastructure programs ?
Gun rights ?
The need to cut the Medical Device Excise Tax ?
The hokey claims of climate change ?
Abortion ?
Veterans ?

Nah … instead it was “softballs” like

From the tweet, Chairman Kline suggests that he did something to help students but instead he actually rejected proposals that could have decreased interest rates to just cover anticipated costs … and proposals to hold the current rate … and instead forced students to pay more for loans.
Essentially, Chairman Kline “cherry-picked” President Obama’s proposal taking one suggestion and ignoring others … the Obama proposal was to use 10-year US Treasury Rates (influenced by the market) and adding a the processing fee of 0.91%. Thus, with today’s 1.81% Treasury rate, interest would have yielded a lower rate for students at 2.72% than the previous 3.4%. Chairman Kline wanted 2.5% processing fee (and based it on Treasury rates that change every year). The bi-partisan Senate proposed 1.85%.
The House would not accept the Senate version, so they reworked it to be over 2% to keep the Chairman happy … and charge students more — increasing last year’s loan rates of 3.4% to 3.9%. Chairman Kline likes to say that “It also protects hardworking taxpayers by reducing the deficit by $715 million over the next 10 years” … translation, the Government will continue to make money from student loans — $715 million.
Actually, Chairman Kline deserves an incomplete on this question … yes students will pay more, but it does nothing to address the larger issues plaguing higher education, such as rising tuition, overborrowing and the mounting student debt crisis.

So with a Media Black-out and no one to report what was said or offer corrections to his claim, he had a great week …
Next up, to have photos from these events included in a mass-mailing that he will send using his Franked Mail provision … sticking the taxpayers with the bill … and telling them how great he is.

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