Only 30 More Weeks with Congressman Faso

Welcome to the response to John Faso’s weekly newsletter “Work Week With Congressman Faso.”

Each week we will highlight what the Congressman is neglecting to tell his constituents, point out his inconsistencies and hypocrisies and show how he damages NY-19 with his devotion to Trump and the Republican Agenda.

Week of May 13

John Faso’s statements from his weekly newsletter are in red:

Working to Solve our Immigration Problems

Our immigration system is badly broken and it is well past time for Congress to act on legislation to strengthen our border security, ensure Upstate farmers can fill open jobs with seasonal guest workers, and allow DACA recipients to continue contributing to American society. I hear all too often from farmers in Upstate New York that they are unable to hire enough workers due to an outdated and bureaucratic immigration system.

A discharge petition is the most immediate method of bringing immigration legislation to the House floor, and I signed it to signify my commitment to solve the big problems Upstate New Yorkers sent me to Congress to solve. I am determined to reach a bipartisan and comprehensive immigration solution.

NOT SO….wait – We agree with you!  

It is WELL PAST TIME for Congress to act on immigration reform.   The Republican Leadership has had six years to do this and has failed.  

It’s time for new leadership in 2019.

Improving Opioid Education for Seniors

Nearly one in three seniors on Medicare part D were prescribed an opioid during the year 2016. That statistic underlines just how pervasive opioid pain killers are among seniors, who often are dealing with issues stemming from chronic pain. One of the best ways to combat the opioid crisis is to better educate the public on their risks, and to educate them on alternatives.

I introduced H.R. 5685 – the Medicare Opioid Safety Education Act of 2018, legislation to improve education materials contained in the ‘Medicare & You’ information booklet. The booklet currently mentions ‘opioids’ a woefully small amount of times, even as the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic progresses. This legislation is a straightforward and necessary change so we can protect our seniors and provide them responsible and quality care. I was pleased to see it be considered and pass the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Faso fakes combating opioid crisis

Are we supposed to be grateful to you, Faso, for your piddling effort to edit a single education booklet on the opioid crisis, when your Trump administration, after setting up a commission to study the opioid epidemic last year and making some vague promises, has done almost nothing to combat this crisis.  The opioid epidemic is now the deadliest drug overdose crisis in US history. Nearly 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in the US in 2016, and at least two-thirds of those deaths were linked to opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, and prescribed painkillers. The total drug overdose deaths were higher than the number of deaths linked to guns, car crashes, or HIV/AIDS during any single year in America.  In fact, Trump has gone counter to the commission’s recommendations by asserting that our first priority is to get tough on drug traffickers—“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time. Just remember that. And that toughness includes the death penalty.”

Experts actually de-emphasize the role of the criminal justice system, arguing that it has, historically, done a very poor job of dealing with drug epidemics, and that public health policies are a better fit.  This means more treatment (particularly medications like methadone and buprenorphine), more harm reduction (including better access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone), fewer painkiller prescriptions (while ensuring the drugs are available to those who really need them), and policies that can help address the root cause of addiction (like mental health issues and socioeconomic despair) [vox.com 4/9/2018].

The US surgeon general reported that only about 10 percent of Americans with drug addiction get the special treatment needed because they lack access to treatment, plus that less than half of facilities offer the medications needed.  This is a funding gap that needs to be handled by the federal government. [vox.com 4/9/2018]

But with little or no movement and fake promises from the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress, why should we believe anything is being done about the opioid crisis?  You don’t fool us, Faso.

Statement on the U.S. Withdrawing from the Iran Deal

This agreement was flawed from the start. Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, and this behavior has not been altered following engagement with the United States and the other parties to the agreement.

Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East have resulted in brutal carnage in Syria. They continue to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, they continue to call for the destruction of the state of Israel. Until Iran decides to abandon its malign activities, the U.S. has no choice but to restore economic sanctions and withdraw from this deal.

NOT SO FAST FASO:

Rep. Faso is parroting the Trump line without considering the facts or the consequences. The facts are that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA. That is according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which inspects Iran’s nuclear sites, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates, other signatories to the agreement, and even Israeli generals. Sure, Iran has continued to develop missiles, but they weren’t covered under the JCPOA, which is aimed at preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. As for Iran’s role in the Syrian civil war and other “malign” activities in the region, those also weren’t covered under the deal. (And btw, Russia is more responsible than Iran and its surrogates for propping up the brutal Assad regime, yet we haven’t heard Trump criticize the Russians.) Pulling out of the nuclear agreement won’t stop Iran from testing missiles or being a bad player in the Middle East; it will just hasten the day when Iran is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon and the U.S. will feel compelled to attack Iran militarily–a giant mistake that would dwarf the blunder of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, Trump’s colossal misjudgment in pulling out is opposed by our allies in western Europe, who will bear the brunt of new sanctions imposed on Iran. In other words, Mr. Faso, our Russia-friendly president is following Putin’s playbook, which is designed to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies. What a terrific foreign policy!

House Eases Regulatory Burdens on Auto Dealers, Ensures Access to Affordable Credit

During the Obama administration, the CFPB issued a regulatory guidance to circumvent the normal regulatory process using insufficient data and shoddy methodology. The guidance ended up negatively impacting the auto finance market for consumers and did nothing to protect individuals from racial discrimination. This week, the House utilized the Congressional Review Act to overturn this regulatory guidance.

The CFPB issued this “guidance” in an effort to get around a specific legislative prohibition on their issuing regulations governing auto finance. This was a blatant effort to thwart the will of congress contained in the CFPB authorizing statute. Moreover, the agency used speculative and unproven data to allege discrimination in auto finance. Existing state and federal laws guard against racial discrimination in lending but the CFPB chose to ignore the law and issue the “guidance” as a way to thwart explicit congressional mandate that it had no authority to issue “regulations” in this area.

This was a perfect example of bureaucratic overreach; local auto dealers were burdened by this rule and after listening to their concerns and reading the CFPB statute, I voted to eliminate this regulation pursuant to the congressional review act.

Not so fast, Faso.

It is unsurprising that Rep. Faso, a former lobbyist for the payday lending industry, voted to overturn this guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But contrary to his statement, the CFPB’s allegation of racial discrimination in auto lending is based on solid research. Auto dealers are allowed to mark up the interest rates charged by their lenders, splitting the difference with the banks. They tend to mark up the loan rates more to African-American and Latino customers than to white clients, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, which cited 11 class action suits against lenders that were settled in the past decade. The National Fair Housing Coalition reached a similar conclusion after sending white and non-white “testers” into auto dealerships to buy cars. More than 60% of the time, qualified non-white individuals were given more costly options, resulting in loan terms that would have cost them an average of $2,662 more. Obviously, if existing state and federal laws against racial discrimination were adequate, this would not have happened, and that is why the CFPB issued its guidance in 2013. Advocates for minorities expect discrimination will become more widespread as the result of Congress rescinding the bureau’s regulation.

House Vets Committee Advances Blue Water Navy Legislation

Agent Orange has caused devastating health effects on the veterans who were exposed to this toxic chemical. Unfortunately, we still do not know the full array of complications of exposure. Our nation’s veterans deserve access to the benefits that they have earned through their honorable service to our country, and in this case, Blue Water Navy veterans were wronged simply due to when and where in Vietnam that they were exposed to these toxins. I am pleased to see legislation pass the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to restore benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans. Kingston resident Carol Olszanecki has been a tireless advocate for Blue Water Navy veterans and I am glad to have people like Carol in the community who care deeply about the veteran community.

NOT SO FAST, FASO  

If you really cared about the Vet Community, you would speak out against Presidential Advisor on Veterans Affairs Jared Kushner and the devastation he is causing:

The first stage of a multi-billion dollar military-VA digital health program championed by Jared Kushner has been riddled with problems so severe they could have led to patient deaths, according to a Pentagon report obtained by POLITICO. The April 30 report expands upon the findings of a March POLITICO story in which doctors and IT specialists expressed alarm about the software system, describing how clinicians at one of four pilot centers, Naval Station Bremerton, quit because they were terrified they might hurt patients, or even kill them.
Experts who saw the Pentagon evaluation — it lists 156 “critical” or “severe” incident reports with the potential to result in patient deaths — characterized it as “devastating.”

Continuing Efforts to Increase Lyme Disease Awareness

Lyme disease is prevalent in Upstate New York and similar communities nationwide that boast widespread wooded areas and numerous outdoor activities. Even though cases of Lyme are growing in number, the public still isn’t sufficiently aware of this devastating disease.

This week, Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) and I introduced a resolution to mark the month of May as National Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Marking the Month of May as National Lyme Disease Awareness Month will mirror advocacy work at the state and local level, while also aligning with the beginning of spring for the northeast. When awareness of this disease is coupled with support for research efforts, we can make great strides in combating the Lyme epidemic.

NOT SO FAST, FASO:  

Lyme Disease is preventable with early detection.  You voted to take away healthcare away from thousands of you constituents.  

NO Healthcare= NO doctor visits=NO early detection=debilitating Lyme Disease.

Working with FDA on Current EpiPen Shortage

Media reports in publications such as the Albany Times Union highlighted an alarming shortage of epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) noticed in the Upstate region and nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration acknowledged the shortage by placing these auto-injectors on its drug shortage list.I wrote to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to ask what the administration’s plan is moving forward to address the shortage and ensure that patients across the country can access the medicine they need. Specifically, I urged Commissioner Gottlieb to allow for the sale of alternative products that are deemed safe in the EU to be sold in the U.S. to fill the shortage.

Not so Fast, Faso:  

As People Magazine reports: “Mylan’s EpiPens are the best-known Epinephrine autoinjectors on the market, but the company has been at the center of several controversies over the last few years. Since the company took over manufacturing the product in 2007, the price has increased by more than 400 percent to over $500. It was originally just $57.

“And in March 2017, Mylan had to recall tens of thousands EpiPens after two reports said that they had failed to work during an emergency.

In September, the FDA issued a warning to the manufacturer because it did not properly investigate issues at a plant in Missouri or resolve the complaints about the EpiPens failing in emergencies.”

It’s time you and your Republican Party take action against Big Pharma and its predatory pricing policies.

Teacher Appreciation Week

May 7th – May 11th is Teacher Appreciation Week. Thank you to teachers across Upstate New York who dedicate their professional lives to teaching our children and helping shape their lives. Your work is a valuable service to our country.  One such teacher that had a tremendous impact on my life was a college professor at The College at Brockport State University of New York named Dr. John W. Killigrew. I’ll be looking forward to seeing Dr. Killigrew again May 12th at the Brockport commencement ceremony.

Not so Fast Faso:

Teachers would appreciate a competent Secretary of Education who has their best interests at heart – the polar opposite of the current Secretary, Betsy Devos.

Sullivan Co. Hotel Earns Recognition from National Travel Magazine

Congratulations to The DeBruce hotel in Sullivan County on being named to the Condé Nast Traveler 2018 Hot List. The recognition by the travel magazine will boost business for The DeBruce and the surrounding community, while also bringing visitors to the area to see the beautiful scenic attractions.

NOT SO FAST, FASO

NBC NEWS, JAN 23, 2018

Travel to the U.S. has been on the decline ever since President Donald Trump took office, and new data from the Commerce Department shows the slump translates to a cost of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs, according to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.

The latest data shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel. Experts say that Trump’s proposed travel bans, anti-immigration language, and heightened security measures have had a negative impact on the U.S.’s attraction for foreign visitors. “It’s not a reach to say the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world, creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior,” Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics, told The New York Times.

That’s it for this week’s rebuttal.
To be continued next week….

Catskills Freedom Network is a federally registered political committee. Prepared by CFN PAC and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. catskillsfreedom.org

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