waxman makes play to unseat dingell as chair of energy and commerce

According to CNN, it’s not just bloody on the Republican side of the aisle today. No, there’s been quite a bit of activity within the Democratic party in the wake of Tuesday’s election as well. For one, Harry Reid, now with 55 Democratic seats in the Senate, and no longer reliant upon Senator Joe Lieberman’s occasional vote of support, has apparently given the conservative Democrat from Connecticut an ultimatum – either he gets on-board and stops playing footsie with the Republicans, or he finds himself ousted from the Democratic caucus. And, in the House, it looks as though Henry Waxman is making a play for John Dingell’s position as Chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce committee, a position the elder statesman from Michigan has held for the past 27 years. The following, which begins with a quote from Waxman’s statement, comes from CNN:

…”When the new Congress starts in January, we will face unprecedented opportunities and challenges. The public expects Congress and President-elect Obama to work together to find solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems. But the issues we will confront are immensely difficult. We will need the very best leadership in Congress and our committees
to succeed”…

“Enacting comprehensive energy, climate, and health care reform will not be easy. But my record shows that I have the skill and ability to build consensus and deliver legislation that improves the lives of all Americans”…

One suspects that Waxman didn’t just up and do this on his own, without at least the tacit consent of both House leadership and other committee members. Given Big John’s dogged defense of the Big 3, and his unwillingness to support legislation calling for higher fuel efficiency in the past, it’s not altogether surprising that a move like this would happen prior to Obama’s inauguration. And Waxman, who has long sought more aggressive fuel efficiency standards and tougher environmental laws, is an obvious person to make the charge. Only time will tell if perhaps Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who, like Waxman, represents California, had a hand in it, or, more importantly, if she’ll now work openly against Dingell on behalf of Waxman. As the Detroit Free Press reminds us today, Dingell and Pelosi have clashed in the past. Dingell, however, isn’t without his own allies… The following comes from the Free Press:

…While Waxman may count on support from the large California delegation and Pelosi, Dingell could respond with backing from several other parts of the party, including conservative and black Democratic members. Earlier this year, Dingell set up his first leadership political action committee to send donations to freshmen House members and Democratic challengers.

This could, of course, be bad news for Michigan’s already struggling automakers, who have, over the past several decades looked to Dingell to protect their interests. Dingell, as I’m sure you know, is presently working to secure $25 billion in loans for the companies, which ostensibly will be used to implement new, greener processes.

As I’m told that Dingell’s staff reads this site several times a day, I anticipate we should hear something shortly.

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  1. Kat
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I guess the $25 billion loan he was trying to get for the auto companies is second priority now.

  2. Posted November 7, 2008 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    It would seem that Dingell hasn’t exactly ‘served’ the auto companies well if all he did was enable them to keep going in their dysfunctional direction. As far as the $ go, Obama has said consistently that he has an agenda of getting the auto industry back on track with more sensible vehicle development and planned to focus on this, so this will happen with or without Dingell.

  3. West Cross is the Best Cross
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Kind of a tough call.

    I think Waxman’s policies and ideas, especially on the environment, would be better, but it would be as shame to loose on of the few strong Michigan voices around, even if that voice isn’t always correct.

    That probably should have been more than one sentence.

  4. Murf
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Off topic a bit..Waxman looks like one of those actors in those movies you “accidentally” rent in hotel rooms with that cheesey mustache.

  5. Sted
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Dingell has had ample opportunity to work with the automotive companies to find a longterm solution that worked. Instead he held back legislation on fuel efficiency. Our auto companies kept right on going, business as usual, churning out SUVs. And now they are suffering for it. The time for action was a decade ago. He’s part of the problem.

  6. Posted November 7, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Fuck the auto industry. There. I said it. They had their chance to make significant changes in the 80’s and wasted it. Let ’em fail.

  7. Brackache
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Amen to that, Edweird.

    And yes, I know what that will entail. It’ll negatively affect me too. In the long run, however, removing the safety nets for failing businesses will be worth the short-med term suffering. If you subsidize shitty business decisions, you get more of them.

  8. Posted November 7, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    This is unrelated, but whatever happened to OEC? And egpenet? Their comments are greatly missed.

  9. Brackache
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    OEC has been in Gitmo for the past month or so. I wasn’t supposed to say that, but I’ve been drinking.

  10. Posted November 8, 2008 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Let’s go bust him out, BA.

  11. UBU
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    The Pope ought to be chiming in any minute too, Mark, as I understand he also hangs on your every word.

  12. Brackache
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know Geoff, I’m kind of getting used to my libertarian philosophy blanket statements not being immediately challenged by someone who writes so persuasively and knows my personal flaws really well. Maybe this lack of habeas corpus thing isn’t so bad after all.

    What a pickle.

  13. mark
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Ubu…. At least one member of the Congressman’s office reads the site. He’s told me himself. And, on at least one previous occasion, Dingell has posted a comment here, or at least given someone the authority to post something under his name. So, yeah, I know that what I wrote was read. I just stuck the piece on the end because I thought I might be able to goad them into responding. I also followed up with an email to him, asking a few questions. So far, no response… And how’s your cite traffic, Ubu? Did anyone drop by this month?

    And I love the idea of OEC in Gitmo. He deserves a nice rest. I hear it’s like a spa. Waterboarding is like swimming.

  14. mark
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    And, for the record, I like John Dingell, and I’m sympathetic to the situation he’s in relative to the auto industry. In hindsight, however, the assistance he gave them in fighting off legislation didn’t do them any favors. And, regardless, he should have been doing more. Everyone knew that the oil was running out and everyone knew that SUVs were contributing to global warming. They knew the system was destined to fail, but the kept pushing it. Dingell, if you’ll recall, publicly refused to see “An Inconvenient Truth.” He buried his head in the sand and tried not to think about it. And, as I’ve pointed out here before, it’s going to be his legacy.

  15. Brackache
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a youtube video of a bunch of guys arguing about whether it’s okay to let the big 3 fail or not (from Friday), featuring dashing freemarketteer Peter Schiff (conditionally lauded by mark on an earlier MM post).

    Here’s a NYT article about Iceland’s sudden unexpected economic/bank collapse, which may or may not be something that happens to us soon. I personally suspect it will, but I can’t actually see into the future. Usually people don’t see the horrible tragedies that actually happen in advance.

  16. Posted November 8, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Why does UBU hate on Mark Maynard so much? It’s certainly entertaining.

  17. BrianR
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, Dingell’s staffers read lots of local blogs. His staffers obviously want to know what people are saying about him, but he is our representative and also wants to know what issues are important to us. Mr. Dingell’s office really helped us out with our Wireless Ypsi project. They put us in touch with other communities in the area and he really helped make a good thing even better.

    I think it’s very important that Mr. Dingell remain the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee not only for Michigan but for the sake of the rest of the country. While it’s true that Dingell’s committee has CAFE related business, it’s much more expansive than that. We can credit Dingell’s committee leadership for laws like strengthening consumer product safety standards with respect to lead in children’s toys, air quality, telecommunications, healthcare, and prescription drug safety. His committee pushes legislation through and gets it turned into law.

    Mr. Waxman, on the other hand, hasn’t provided us with any substantial legislation as chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

    Besides, all this infighting among Democrats makes us look disorganized and certainly doesn’t benefit the party.

  18. Posted November 10, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t planned on weighing in, but one thing Democrats seem to do better than anyone else is eat their young. We had a great victory last week, but lets not blow it by all of a sudden having these bitter fights that don’t solve the problems we are facing. This fight between Pelosi and Dingell creates holes by which the opposition party can drive wedges through to stop the work that must be done to right the disaster that has been the legacy of the last 8 years of the Bush presidency.

    But lets get somethings out front. Congressman Dingell didn’t force the car companies to make SUV’s, that was a market decision where the public bought these cars. The car companies made them because people would buy them. All of the foreign manufacturers also make large SUV’s and many have large pick-up trucks to compete with Domestic manufacturing. Toyota built a billion dollar plant in Texas to make their behemoth truck, and is now looking at shuttering it. Even Toyota whiffed when it came to predicting gas prices.

    But look at Ford ramping up truck manufacturing, there is still demand and with other companies cutting manufacturing of trucks, Ford sees an opportunity. Trucks drive our industrial machine from working on the farm, at the factory, construction, or public works, we still need pickup trucks and America still makes the best trucks, period.

    Am I pissed that Ford doesn’t bring over some of their high mileage vehicles from Europe to the US, yes!

    The real issue; has Dingell served our community well and what would it mean if the Congressman was no longer Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce? I believe it is critical for Dingell to be on this committee for our district and for all of Michigan because has delivered so much for our community.

    Yes he has fought for the auto industry and that isn’t a negative. It kept jobs here in Michigan and it meant a quality of life that few other communities and states can boast. The US Auto industry and our manufacturing base, much of it centered here in Michigan created the middle class.

    Waxman and Pelosi are mad because Big John stood up and said that state level environmental standards would be too costly to implement. But the Pelosi plan was hatched in California and was opposed by Toyota, Honda and VW as well. Not just the domestics.

    This battle is not over CAFE standards and if you think so, you have been suckered by Pelosi and Waxman and the talking heads on television.

    This battle is over the billions that will be spent over the next 20 years on new energy research and manufacturing. Pelosi and Waxman know that much of the federal support and money is going to come though the Energy and Commerce Committee. As the entire country invests in new energy technology, we need someone like Dingell to work hard to make sure those projects and manufacturers land here in Michigan.

    Michigan has been a donor state for too long and we need these new energy jobs and companies in Michigan if we are going to survive.

    Dingell has done a lot for our community but we never talk about the positive things.

    As a result of Dingell’s work, he was able to push through new legislation to remove 10 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030 and new CAFE standards with a 40 percent increase in fuel economy. This is what folks on this blog have been pressing Dingell to do and he did it with the support of the car industry. Standards that had failed to pass for 15 years before.

    I am sure someone will say that Dingell blocked it previously, but I don’t think so. He has been consistent in saying CAFE needed to be applied fairly to all car companies, not just domestics, and not at the expense of workers here in Michigan.

    Dingell has done a number of other things that are positive for Michigan and our global environment. Dingell pushed though a ban on lead in children’s product which are the toughest standards in the world. Dingell also pushed through a doubling of funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enforce these and other new safety standards.

    I don’t agree with everything Mr. Dingell has done. We both agreed back in 2003 that Iraq was a mistake, yet I disagree that we should also pull out of Afghanistan and I think we should step up our efforts there. Am I happy with our auto industry leaders? Not by a long shot. I am not happy about loan or bailout for the Auto Industry? Not without some significant changes. That could be a whole other post (Hint Hint Mark)

    But when it comes to jobs, the Michigan economy, our environment, consumer protection, First and Second Amendment rights, and support for the Military and retirees, Big John has been steadfast in his support and it would be a mistake if we in Michigan just stood by and let Waxman and Pelosi run us over and take away the new energy jobs that rightfully should be here in Michigan.


    – Steve

  19. Steph's Dad
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Dingell has left a legacy to be proud of. He fought clean air legislation for decades before championing it, and now takes credit for being an environmentalist. He is no friend of the environment. He’s killed every attempt to set higher fuel economy standards since the Carter administration. “Oh, but Americans love big cars, and they should have what they want.” Classic baby boomer mentality. Yes, by all means, Americans should have what they want. And that should be Dingell’s job – to guarantee that we never have to face reality.

    Leaders should lead. They should do so even when it’s unpopular. That’s the mark of a good leader. Dingell by that standard is not a good leader. He’s good at ingratiating himself to the auto industry and unions. He’s good at remaining in power. He’s not good at leading. He’s not good at finding solutions to our problems. Look at the state of the American auto industry and tell me he’s helped with his long history of fighting regulation.

  20. nammeroo
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Dingell’s helped out the auto industry a great deal over the years. It doesn’t change my opinion that he’s far overstayed his welcome in the 15th District.

  21. Brackache
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Both Dingell and Waxman voted for the bailout (no doubt because Bush and Paulson, dressed in skimasks, were holding AK-47’s to their families’ heads off camera), so I can’t personally see why one would be significantly less of an unprincipled crony thief than the other.

  22. Clark Rd.
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Someone asked not too long ago why Steve Pierce wasn’t commenting here anymore. I don’t know the answer to that but I sure as hell know what it takes to get him commenting here again. One email from a Dingell staffer directing him to do damage control.

  23. Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    It is too bad that some here can’t contribute to the dialog but revert to personal attacks. No Dingell staffer emailed me or directed me to post here.

    Like I said I hadn’t planned posting, but I thought it would be helpful to move this discussion forward.

    This internal bickering and personal attacks do little to improve our community. Put the knives away, we all live and work in Michigan are we are not the enemy.

    We have to figure out how we are going to work together to get our community and state out of the ditch.

    Just a thought,

    – Steve

  24. Brackache
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that was me. I expected him to back Murdock before the election but he didn’t show. I can’t imagine a Steve Pierce endorsement on mark’s blog could have done anything but helped, so I’m as baffled as everyone else.

  25. mark
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I like Dingell. He strikes me as a good man. It does seem, however, that his attempts to help American automakers in the short term have resulted in critical long term issues.

  26. Robert
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I don’t blame Dingell any more than I do myself or any of you shitheads. For the most part I think you people are whiny little bullshitters who don’t have a lot to back up your supposedly strong positions and opinions.

    I’ll be interested to see any of you fuckers, especially you Brackache, get out there and actually try to lead on anything.

    It’s fun to attack people who’ve tried. It makes us feel like we are somehow in a morally superior position, while not actually providing any real evidence of it. From here in my stupid little life I can attack everyone. And I don’t have to do the slightest thing to back any of it up.

    With the possibility of a very few acceptations, I don’t buy for one second that any of you fuckers who are whining now did anything to address this problem as it grew. Maybe it is that you think your whining could somehow be considered action.

  27. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    My “whining” is doing something. My job as a concerned constituent is to write my reps and tell them to do the right thing, which I do and they don’t. I’ve urged Dingellberry to do the right thing countless times and he hasn’t, and now my recourse is to broadcast his failures as my rep in a public forum, which this is.

    And why do people always have to be LEADING and DOING SOMETHING to solve problems? That IS the problem! These horrible Bailouts are examples of LEADING and DOING SOMETHING and MAKING THE HARD CHOICES, and it’s the exact wrong thing to fucking do!!! When in doubt, vote no, and do nothing!!! That’s often times the most beneficial thing to do when it comes to Government intervention. I urge my reps accordingly (succeding at my job) and they do the wrong thing (failing at their jobs).

    So kiss my ass.

  28. Posted November 12, 2008 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Brackache, why don’t you just run for office? Then you can’t whine when politicians don’t do what you, insignificant little man, tell them to.

    “Waahh waahhh… I wrote my congressman and he didn’t listen to me!!!”

  29. Posted November 12, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh and UBU, don’t let Mark get to you. He’s just cocky ’cause his October traffic numbers were his highest ever.

  30. Posted November 12, 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    During last month, Mark’s site averaged one visitor every five minutes, ’round the clock for the entire 30 days. Now, because of it, Mark is going all bigshot on us.

  31. Posted November 12, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Mark’s forgetting that about two-thirds of his visitors in October were just looking for Nalin Palin p-rn. The other third were here for the Sidetrack coupon.

  32. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Ah. A fundamental misunderstanding of what a constitutionally limited representative democracy is. There’s your problem.

    Dingell’s first priority is to his oath of office (the Constitution).

    His second is to his constituents, provided it doesn’t conflict with his first.

    Making sure he’s reelected by greasing the palms of local corperations with other peoples’ money is not on the list. It’s as much a political necessity as slavery is an agricultural necessity.

    By the way, as per Robert’s request, from now on, only those who’ve been President can criticize George Bush.

    Unsure why the sudden rise in hostility towards me, I can only guess I must be hitting a nerve lately criticizing Dingell (rightly) for voting for the bailout. Sorry, but it’s not my fault he didn’t do the right thing. Most of the letters he got about it were negative, so it’s not just me he didn’t listen to. Other peoples’ reps did the right thing, he didn’t. Not my fault. His fault.

  33. Posted November 12, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    How do you know the content of the letters he got? Have you been reading his mail?

    I still say you should run since you obviously consider yourself an expert on financial policy.

  34. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m not allowed to have an educated opinion on a subject unless I run for office. Got it. Government people smart and important, common people dumb and insignificant. My civic duty is to shut the fuck up and not criticize my ruler, Dingellberry.

    Sorry the bailout’s getting worse and worse, and I’m getting righter and righter. Not my fault. Enjoy your shitty Federal Reserve controlled economy. Making the hard choices. Leadership, and such.

  35. Robert
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Nobody is saying you shouldn’t voice your stupid opinions, Brackache. We’re just saying you should run for something since you seem to think you have such a grasp on everything.

    I never said anything to suggest only those who have been president can criticize a president. The fact that you would say such a stupid thing suggest to me you know your full of shit, and you are looking to dodge with hyperbole like that.

  36. Posted November 12, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Did I say that? I’d just like to see you run, since you seem to be an expert and privy to Dingell’s mail. I think you would have a lot to offer.

    Have you considered it?

  37. Robert
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Jeez Brackache, who ever said anything about you not being allowed to have an opinion? You’re one defensive fucker. I’m just saying you’re full of shit because you whine from your safe little place, far from any real decision making. I would just like to see how you fare in any leadership situation. Shit, tell me if you’ve ever been a boyscout troopleader…ANYTHING! You’re attempts to recharacterize my criticism of you is what gets my hostility up. Nobody is saying any of the shit you’re saying they are. I’m saying you are full of shit. I’m not telling you to stop sharing it with the world.

  38. Posted November 12, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Warning to everyone: Brackache is middle school and is likely full of shit. Not just on this topic, but a host of others. Be warned, he is best to be ignored.

    I seriously doubt he as ever had any responsibility besides wiping his ass in his parent’s basement while he reads MM.com.

    I think that makes him perfectly qualified to run for office.

    Come on, Brackache, get those posters printed up!

  39. MFer
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I like Brackache, and encourage him to stay here. Unlike some of the trolls we’ve seen at MarkMaynard.com, he’s intellectually honest, and he has a viewpoint not often heard in these parts. I think the site would suffer without him. So get off his fucking back already.

  40. MFer
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I meant to end by calling Robert and Dude “titty babies” but I forgot.

    I love them too, but they are little titty babies sometimes.

  41. Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I like him, too. That’s why I would like him to run for office.

    I’d vote for him.

  42. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I wish I had the power to intentionally piss people off that bad!

    Just so I can do it again on purpose next time, what was it exactly that I said that set everybody off and made them want to get under my skin in revenge?

    Don’t spare my feelings, either; if it were just some extra strong espresso’s at the Ugly Mug today, and it had nothing to do with me, I’ll accept my insignificance like a trooper.

    Or was it OEC’s brief return, emboldening the previously cowardly seething underground Brackache resistance movement to take STRONG, DECISIVE ACTION and make some HARD CHOICES?

  43. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, MFer!

  44. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Jeez Brackache, who ever said anything about you not being allowed to have an opinion? You’re one defensive fucker. I’m just saying you’re full of shit because you whine from your safe little place, far from any real decision making. I would just like to see how you fare in any leadership situation. Shit, tell me if you’ve ever been a boyscout troopleader…ANYTHING! You’re attempts to recharacterize my criticism of you is what gets my hostility up. Nobody is saying any of the shit you’re saying they are. I’m saying you are full of shit. I’m not telling you to stop sharing it with the world.

    I’m sorry for misunderstanding.

    I thought you both were implying that I was not allowed to have an opinion about any leaders (or just Dingell maybe, I’m having trouble figuring that part out) unless I was in a leadership position currently or in the past, WHEN IN FACT, you are saying I can have an opinion, but it is immediately invalid due to my (as far as you know) not being in a leadership position currently or in the past.

    Got it. You can imagine my embarrassment at the misunderstanding!

  45. Posted November 12, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I am more impressed with your ability to read Dingell’s mail and great exaggeration of your influence on politics. If you really hold that much power and have a direct audience with these people, then I strongly suggest that you run for office. You can obviously do a lot of good there and use your skills to influence financial policy.

    Run! I’ll vote for you!

  46. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    dude, I really appreciate your support for my running for office, but if you’d do me a favor and not post anything here right before my election so people who don’t like you won’t be turned off to me, that be real swell.

    Now that’s real political leadership.

    I’d put a winky smiley face here, but I don’t think emoticons play well to this demographic.


    — Brackache

    PS: the letter thing was a reference to reports around the time of the Bailout vote which stated the negative to positive letters from constituents to their reps regarding the bailout were 9 to 1, respectively.

  47. Brackache
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    great exaggeration of your influence on politics. If you really hold that much power and have a direct audience with these people,

    Can’t seem to find where I said or implied anything of the kind. I think my saying Dingellberry ignored my multiple entreaties is me implying the opposite. Help me out here.

    Am I supposed to conclude that my writing my representative and urging him to do the right thing is wrong? Because I’m not a big wig in the big 3 or a union boss or something? I don’t get your point.

  48. Posted November 12, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Brackache 2010!!!

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