Sen. Bernie Sanders had it right when he said “Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress”. During Rep. McSally’s brief time in the House, she has proved the Vermonter correct on numerous occasions by voting for the interests of big banks, credit card companies and the investment industry over consumers and her constituents back home.
On May 30 of this year, McSally caught flak for remarks she gave to a meeting of the Arizona Bankers Association where she pooh-poohed the idea that the nation suffered a major financial collapse in 2008-2009 and that the Dodd-Frank law enacted in 2010 was a worthy set of reforms designed to help prevent future shocks to the nation’s financial system.
About a week later, McSally went back to Washington and voted for a bill that would repeal much of Dodd-Frank by stripping away a host of post-financial crisis safeguards. The bill is not expected to ever be taken up by the Senate.
And before going on her August recess this summer, McSally voted for legislation to kill a rule put forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would let consumers join together to sue their banks or credit card companies in class-action lawsuits rather than opt to use an arbitrator to resolve a dispute.
Over her short career, Miss Martha has hit pay dirt in the form of campaign contributions from Wall Street and the financial services sector, reaping more than $454,424 from the likes of Wells Fargo ($36,867) and a group called Pro Private Equity ($31,202) among others. McSally wasted little time upon reaching Capitol Hill to begin voting Wall Street’s way. One of the very first votes she cast in January 2015 was to help gut Dodd-Frank by delaying for two years a section of the law known as the Volcker Rule (named for former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker), which prevents banks that make loans from engaging in speculative activity and requires big banks to sell-off risky financial investments known as collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). Republicans tried to rush the measure through under suspension of the rules, but Democrats thwarted the effort which failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass. But a week later, Republicans brought the bill back for another vote, this time needing only a simple majority, and the GOP tweaked it to delay the Volcker Rule until 2019 instead of 2017. McSally voted aye.
In 2016, McSally continued her assault on Dodd-Frank by voting for a bill to relax oversight of the $2.4 trillion private equity industry at a time when the Securities and Exchange Commission was going after some of the biggest players harder than ever with record fines and penalties for misleading investors. The Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016 that McSally backed, chipped away at Dodd-Frank by relaxing the requirements that private equity firms must report to regulators about the nature of its investments.
These votes, coupled with those aimed at undercutting the ability of retirees to receive sound advice from their financial planners clearly put McSally on the side of Wall Street and not Main Street. Maybe next year, voters in AZ-2 will use their ballots to move McSally’s time in Congress to a dead-end street.
Most folks might not be aware of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This little-known independent agency was created by Congress in 1974 to regulate futures and options markets.
For the next 25 years, the CFTC concerned itself with policing trades in markets like pork bellies and wheat until the end of the Clinton presidency. Then, while everybody’s attention was preoccupied over arguing about hanging chads in Florida following the 2000 presidential election, Bill Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) into law on December 21, 2000. This legislation proved to be a game-changer for the CFTC and those it regulated.
Pushed by energy giants like Enron, the CFMA exempted the trading of futures look-alikes called derivatives and swaps which are traded on over-the-counter electronic markets beyond the reach of CFTC oversight and regulation. Where once the CFTC was only concerned with precious metals and farm commodities, the new law ushered in the trading of oil and energy futures. And here the CFMA left the CFTC powerless to crack down on market manipulation and excessive speculation in energy markets trading. While this new unregulated market itself did not help cause the 2008 economic collapse, it acted as an accelerant of the financial meltdown.
As part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law Congress passed in 2010, the CFTC was supposed to be given the authority to impose “position limits” on various derivative trades. Republicans in the House and Senate have fought this tooth and nail with much success. The price of a gallon of gas at the pump is influenced more by rampant speculation in the oil market rather than some refinery on temporary shutdown. And even though gas prices are relatively low now, they will go back up and when they do, rural Americans will be most affected. In 2014, a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report found big Wall Street banks engaged in widespread market manipulation of coal, aluminum and natural gas that could lead to higher prices by consumers.
In 2015, the House passed a CFTC reauthorization bill that pared back some Dodd-Frank mandated reforms. McSally voted for the legislation. Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee blasted the bill for handcuffing the CFTC’s ability to play referee in the marketplace.
In January of this year, House Republicans launched another assault on CFTC through a new reauthorization bill. First, McSally voted for an amendment that bars the agency from imposing position limits until it first issues a finding that they are needed to curb excessive speculation, in spite of the fact that Dodd-Frank required CFTC to go forward with a rulemaking even without a finding. The final bill McSally voted for also froze CFTC’s budget at its current level of $250 million through fiscal year 2021. Under President Obama, budget increases were repeatedly requested ($330 million in FY 2017) so that CFTC could have the resources to ensure fair and transparent derivative markets for all market participants.
So, McSally’s stance is quite clear. She would rather hinder the ability of the CFTC to operate effectively and condone the same kind of risky and irresponsible behavior that helped lead to the great recession of 2008. Miss Martha has pocketed more than $600,000 in campaign cash from the securities and investment sector and the oil and gas lobby during her career. Seems that they like her positions just fine.
McSally Campaign Cashing in with Donations from Firms That Get Federal Contracts – Then Offshore Jobs
A new report this year caught our eye. Called Federal Contracting With Corporate Offshorers Continues, the study, by Good Jobs Nation and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, found that 56 percent of the top U.S. firms awarded the largest taxpayer-funded contracts in fiscal year 2016 engaged in sending jobs offshore. The study also reported that 41 of these top-100 federal contractors, which received more than $176 billion from us taxpayers that year alone, have shipped American jobs overseas.
Altogether, these top-100 commercial contractors have sent at least 58,913 American jobs overseas as certified by statistics from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program of the Labor Department.
Rep. McSally has said nothing about this issue but her campaign committee has reaped almost $100,000 in contributions of political cash (Source: www.opensecrets.org) during her career from eight of the top 26 firms who received the largest contracts and offshored the most jobs:
Company Total FY 2016 Offshored Jobs McSally Campaign
Fed Contract Donations
Lockheed Martin $43,072,276,953 953 $7,000
Boeing Co. $26,451,000,000 1,238 $11,000
General Dynamics $14,472,044,062 163 $10,000
Raytheon Co. $13,474,726,229 561 $45,801
United Technologies $6,478,992,907 5,716 $4,500
Honeywell International $2,256,915,483 5,470 $8,998
Textron Inc. $1,980,105,925 1,726 $4,500
General Electric Co. $1,890,301,997 8,736 $8,000
The report also cited big telecom firms for sending call center jobs overseas. Companies like AT&T and Verizon Communications which have received FY 2016 federal contracts of more than $755 million and $681 million respectively and offshored a total of 888 jobs between them, have also been generous to McSally. In the 2016 election cycle, AT&T gave Miss Martha $7,000 in campaign cash while Verizon ponied up $6,000. A bi-partisan bill, the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 was introduced back in March of this year. But McSally is not one of the five Republican House members sponsoring the legislation.
So while President Trump and some in his party talk tough about stopping jobs from leaving this country, it is business as usual in Washington’s undrained swamp in which McSally likes to swim.
On July 14, the House passed a $696.5 billion defense policy bill that far exceeded the budget request by President Trump. Rep. McSally was not one of the eight Republicans who voted against the National Defense Authorization Act which upped the ante on Trump’s DoD bill of $603 million.
Miss Martha loves to beat her breasts about what a forceful advocate she is for the Pentagon and she gets high marks from fiscally conservative groups that rate members of Congress on spending issues.
But what you will not hear from McSally is anything to do with the connections between major Pentagon and government contractors who reap millions from us taxpayers for planes, ships and other weapon systems and the sordid histories of contract fraud and other categories of misconduct associated with these awards of public dollars. And you will never see a case of McSally giving back any of the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions she has accepted from the lobbyists and political action committees for these defense contractors cited for ripping off the U.S. Treasury.
Let’s look at a few examples from the Project on Government Oversight’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database:
Of course, when looking at the fiscally conservative organizations that publish these congressional ratings and scorecards, you will be hard pressed to find any key votes on cutting bloated weapons or amendments to scale back stuff that even DoD’s admirals and generals say they don’t want or need. No sir. Take the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, who rated McSally a “Taxpayer Hero” in 2016 for her robust score of 85 percent. CCAGW’s key votes in the House include such items under the Department of Defense authorization and appropriation bills like alternative energy costs and green energy mandates (like installing solar arrays on military bases and using biofuels to power Navy vessels) or making sure that our troops have athletic footwear made in the United States by New Balance, America’s last domestic sneaker manufacturer. This is the stuff that makes it into CCAGW’s annual Congressional Pig Book of what they consider wasteful pork.
So, the next time you hear Miss Martha carrying on about how she is such a committed watchdog of the public purse, ask her for copies of the amendments she has filed and passed to crack down on fraudulent defense contracts that drive Pentagon spending over-budget.
When we think of our decaying infrastructure, rusting bridges and crumbling roadways often come to mind. And why not – they are most visible. But what about pipelines that carry gas and oil and are buried beneath the ground?
In April 2015, the year McSally entered Congress, Politico did a lengthy investigation on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of PHMSA, a little-known agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The expose revealed a weak and slow-moving bureaucracy dominated by the oil and gas industry as well as the risks to public safety from pipeline explosions and leaks. The article noted that in 2014 “more than 700 pipeline failures killed 19 people, injured 97 and caused more than $300 million in damage.”
A year before the Politico piece, The Arizona Republic did its own deep dive on the state of pipeline safety across the state. While the paper found leaks and accidents less of a problem in Arizona than the nation as a whole, it noted how fines and penalties for safety violations were rare, and that much of the existing pipeline networks have been in use since before 1970. In the case of the City of Willcox, more than 73 percent of the pipelines are pre-1970 vintage.
McSally had two opportunities in 2015 to go on the record in favor of better pipeline safety and on both occasions, she went the other way. The first came less than two months after the Politico report when the House debated an appropriations bill covering DOT. McSally voted against an amendment adding $27.6 million to PHMSA’s pipeline safety program. The second vote came in November, when the House considered a major $325 billion transportation authorization bill. This time, McSally voted against an amendment that provided for an additional, independent safety review of an approved pipeline route or segment of route, should a state or tribal government deem it necessary. As Politico reported “while federal spending on pipeline safety has grown by more than 50 percent since 2010, at $145.5 million for 2015 the agency’s pipeline safety budget is still less than what the Pentagon spent on a single jet engine maintenance contract last year.”
There are more than 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the nation. In Cochise County, there are more than 657 miles of gas transmission pipelines and over 167 miles of pipeline carrying hazardous liquids according to PHMSAs National Pipeline Mapping System. The pipelines running under Cochise and Pima counties belong to big industry players including Kinder Morgan, El Paso Natural Gas Co., Southwest Gas Corp., Sierrita Gas Pipeline LLC and Zapco Energy Tactics. And let’s not forget the generosity extended to Miss Martha’s campaign coffers by fossil fuel donors over the course of her congressional career – almost $136,000 pumped into her election kitty by oil and gas interests who take a dim view of pipeline safety statutes and regulations.
President Trump’s pick to head PHMSA is being called an “unknown” by safety advocates but they are dismayed that new rules for hazardous liquid pipelines are being delayed by the White House after closed door pushback by the oil industry. McSally has not lifted a finger to improve pipeline safety or stand up for state’s rights and sovereign tribes who have pipelines running under their nations. Given her failing record in this area, AZ-2 voters may want to turn off the valve to McSally’s continued incumbency at the ballot box next year.
As a freshmen member of Congress, McSally has cast some awful votes on trade policy that were bad on both constitutional as well as economic grounds.
In June 2015, the House debated legislation to give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) also known as Fast Track. Congress first crowned the president with Fast Track authority back in 1974. Under TPA, a president gets to negotiate trade agreements with other nations and then the House and Senate have to take an up or down vote on the entire package, as is, with no amendments allowed.
Many scholars believe that TPA violates the Constitution’s separation of powers by giving the president an overriding influence over trade agreements and legislation by superseding the power of the House to make its own rules to govern its proceedings. In addition, Article 1 Section 8 is quite clear when it states that the legislative branch shall have power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.”
The bill McSally voted for provided Obama authority to enter into trade agreements with foreign countries and to modify duties or other import restrictions. And the bill extended presidential trade negotiating authority up to July 1, 2018. At the time, Obama was pushing his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade deal, negotiated in secret, that was slammed by critics for being weak on currency manipulation, environmental protections, and labor and workforce rights while giving multinational corporations enormous profits and foreign investors the right to sue governments in private international arbitration when they feel their newly created property rights are violated (a process known as investor–state dispute settlement, or ISDS).
Why would McSally vote for Fast Track, where the executive branch is empowered to sign trade agreements before Congress has an opportunity to vote on them, and then unilaterally write legislation making the pacts’ terms U.S. federal law? Fast Track allows the president to send these executive branch-authored bills directly to the floor for a vote under rules forbidding all floor amendments and limiting debate. And by requiring the House to vote on the bill within a preset period of time, it takes the floor schedule out of the hands of the House majority and gives it to the president.
McSally threw Obama another lifeline for TPP when the House again narrowly passed TPA which was tacked on to another bill dealing with retirement funds for public safety workers. Again, McSally voted yes for the controversial Fast Track legislation.
Miss Martha ended 2015 by voting to weaken a customs reauthorization bill by opposing a measure to hold American trading partners more accountable by fighting currency manipulation. This is a big deal with countries like China and South Korea who artificially make their products cheaper on the international market by manipulating their currency. For years now, China has intentionally devalued its currency to boost its exports to the United States and as a result, widened its trade deficit with the U.S. To address this, Democrats offered a motion to instruct conferees on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, in an effort to get the conference committee to consider tougher language on currency manipulation secured in the Senate version of the bill by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that would strengthen efforts to combat currency manipulation through countervailing duties. But that motion to instruct failed because members like McSally voted no.
Once again, McSally is out of step with public opinion on currency manipulation. A May 2015 poll by Ipsos Public Affairs on perceptions of international trade, asked respondents “How important is it to you that any international trade agreements negotiated by the United States have specific rules preventing currency manipulation?” Those replying important were 88 percent to 12 percent not important. The survey also asked “If your Member of Congress voted to pass legislation prohibiting currency manipulation in international trade agreements, would you be more or less likely to vote for that Member of Congress?” The total more likely was 45 percent compared to the total less likely at 21 percent.
Even though 61,200 net jobs have been displaced in Arizona between 2001-2013 due to our goods trade deficit with China (Table 4), McSally does not seem too bothered by Beijing’s currency cheating. Clearly she was not bothered enough to sign a letter by 90 House members asking President Trump to back up his tough campaign talk about China’s currency manipulation with real actions to protect American workers and businesses. A week after receiving the aforementioned letter, Trump flip-flopped and did a U-turn on his 2016 promises.
So, there you have it. McSally is not only a traitor to the Constitution, but sells out her own constituents who play by the rules of international commerce. Looks like voters in AZ-2 need to trade up to a better representative next year.
When it comes to our food, public opinion data in poll after poll has shown that, by wide margins, consumers want to know where their food comes from and what is in it.
But Rep. McSally never got that memo. McSally has sided with the giant meat processors and biotech behemoths like Monsanto in voting against consumers’ right to know more about the food they serve their families.
After years of struggle against BigMeat, the 2008 Farm Bill contained language requiring country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on meat and poultry and that was the law from 2009 to 2016. However, in March 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked regulations mandating imported meat and poultry products to be labeled with their country of origin. This occurred because of congressional action to repeal COOL after Canada filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization. McSally sold out her district’s consumers and Cochise County ranchers when she voted in June 2015 to kill COOL. Between 2002 and 2013, nine polls have found consumer support for COOL running very strong – between 82 and 95 percent of those surveyed. More than 60 nations, including Canada, have their own version of COOL laws on their books.
McSally’s vote against COOL means multinational meat packers can import more beef, pork and poultry from foreign nations, even those countries with lax or questionable food safety practices. More than 800 million pounds of foreign beef is imported into the United States annually. Now, according to USDA, everything that comes out of an American packing plant or slaughterhouse is considered U.S. production. Even if the animals are imported from Canada or Mexico, as long as they are slaughtered at a U.S. packing plant, they are considered U.S. production. In 2013, USDA’s foreign inspection budget had shrunk 18 percent since 2010 and it inspected food plants in just 10 countries in 2012 – down from 32 four years earlier. With the death of COOL, American farmers and ranchers can receive lower prices for their livestock because multinational companies can import meat and poultry and misleadingly present it at the grocery store as homegrown product. Thanks Martha!
After filleting COOL, House Republicans turned their attention to genetically modified organisms or GMOs. In July 2015, McSally voted for the ‘Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act’ which blocked mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically engineered crops. Opponents of the bill dubbed it the DARK Act for ‘Deny Americans the Right to Know’.
For good measure, the bill barred states from enacting their own laws and pre-empted a Vermont law that was set to take effect in 2016. See, Republicans like McSally are all for states’ rights – except when they’re not. An April 2014 poll by Consumer Reports found 92 percent of respondents wanting genetically engineered foods to be labeled and should meet strong federal safety standards. Sixty-four other nations require labeling of GMO foods but the food lobby, led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association which represents more than 300 food companies and processors, and the Food Marketing Institute, swings a big bat up on Capitol Hill.
After the Senate finally passed the DARK Act in 2016, it came back to the House for a final vote. The bill still blocked states from passing their own statutes in this area and directed USDA to create a national labeling standard which allows food makers to choose how they want to disclose the presence of GMO ingredients. The bill McSally voted for, lets manufacturers use a QR code that consumers must scan with a smartphone to give them the information.
GMO disclosure is voluntary until USDA finalizes labeling regulations, which Congress mandated must occur by July 2018, but already the food industry is pushing ahead on its SmartLabel program, which they hope will ultimately enroll about 34,000 products. However, there are problems with this level of transparency. Many low income and elderly don’t own a smartphone and 13 percent of Americans don’t use the Internet, with 22 percent of rural residents not online. In Cochise County, 58 percent of the rural population lacks access to fixed advanced telecommunications capability, according to the Federal Communication Commission’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report.
For being so helpful and sympathetic to BigFood, McSally has loaded her campaign shopping cart with $233,364 in political contributions from agribusiness interests in her congressional career.
Given this record of aiding special interests over the public interest, voters in AZ-2 might want to discard McSally after two rancid terms and pick somebody with a different party label to represent them in the 116th Congress.
There was some good news the other day when federal energy officials announced that wind and solar produced 10 percent of the electricity generated in the United States for the first time this past March.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are powering the growth of new jobs in many states while saving consumers millions. But Rep. McSally has taken some really bad votes on these issues during her short time in Congress. Maybe it’s the $135,996 in campaign cash she has pocketed from the oil and gas lobby during her political career that is preventing Miss Martha from supporting polices that will lead to a clean energy future. In any event, let’s review her record in greater detail.
In April 2015, when the House debated the spending bill for energy and water development for the 2016 fiscal year, McSally voted against an amendment to increase the funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy by $25.5 million and cut the line item for fossil energy research and development by $34 million in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) budget. McSally ultimately voted for the entire energy and water appropriations bill that was strongly opposed by the Obama White House. In their Statement of Administration Policy, the president’s Office of Management and Budget said “the bill drastically underfunds critical investments that develop American energy sources to build a clean and secure energy future; develop and commercialize the emerging technologies that create high-quality jobs and enhance the Nation’s economic competitiveness in new markets for clean energy industries such as advanced vehicles, advanced manufacturing, energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and domestic renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass.”
In December 2015, the House considered a piece of legislation called the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015. McSally voted against an amendment that would incentivize local renewable thermal (heating and cooling) energy and waste heat such as combined heat and power (CHP), and would have provided technical assistance to eligible entities to establish distributed energy systems. CHP technologies range from biomass digesters that use animal, human or wood waste to gas and wind turbines and solar photovoltaic. At present, there are 12 CHP installations in Arizona producing 82,863 kW of power and half of these are in Tucson or Green Valley. The benefits of CHP are many. They can be installed quickly, in days or weeks compared to sometimes years for central power stations and due to their scalability, CHP systems require less money to buy, construct and operate. Due to their smaller size, CHP technologies allow energy providers to match the level of demand with the level of supply and to ramp up supplies incrementally as needed and because distributed power technologies are sited at or near demand, a local level of control, operation and maintenance is possible.
Republicans like McSally like to run off at the mouth about how much they care about the protection of private property rights. Except when they don’t. A perfect case in point is McSally’s vote against an amendment to that H.R. 8 bill, that would have required the Department of the Interior to notify land owners and any adjacent landowners, when federally owned minerals beneath their land have been leased for oil and gas development. Twenty-five GOPers voted yea, but it was narrowly defeated.
These votes clearly demonstrate somebody too beholden to the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of her district, state and planet. Arizona ranks seventh in the nation in the number of solar jobs but a closer inspection shows they are almost all in Maricopa County, while the rural counties have almost none. A new report from the Joint Economic Committee minority, noted that Arizona’s employment in 2016 for solar, wind and hydro electricity generation plus energy efficiency equaled more than 51,000 jobs. But with a full transition to clean energy, the total jobs would increase to more than 67,700 with construction and operations. And those energy efficiency standards like Energy Star for appliances and CAFE requirements for cars and light trucks, actually save consumers lots of money.
McSally needs to be replaced just like a dead battery.
Most Americans understand that passenger rail needs to be part of an integrated transportation system. But not Martha McSally. During her time in Congress, Miss Martha has voted over and over to defund Amtrak.
McSally’s jihad against Amtrak first began during House consideration of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 which was the bill reauthorizing Amtrak for 2015-2019. McSally voted for an amendment to eliminate all federal subsidies for Amtrak which went down in flames. She then voted against the entire PRRIA reauthorization, which passed.
McSally’s next attacks on Amtrak came in June 2015 when the House debated an appropriations bill that covered transportation spending. She voted for an amendment to eliminate all $288.5 million for Amtrak’s operating grants, which was defeated. Next, she voted for an amendment to kill Amtrak’s entire $850 million line item for capital and debt service grants, which was also derailed. McSally then voted to prohibit the use of funds to support Amtrak's Sunset Limited line which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Thankfully, this was defeated as well.
The attack on the Sunset Limited hits close to home because it is one of three Amtrak trains serving Arizona with stops in Benson and Tucson. According to Amtrak data, during FY 2016, there were 2,013 boardings and alightings in Benson and 27,301 in Tucson. Total Arizona station usage was 108,629, down 1.8% from FY 2015. Amtrak also spent more than $2.8 million on goods and services in Arizona in FY 2016.
As Brookings noted in a 2013 report, Amtrak is really two systems: “operational efficiency vs. geographic equity.” The efficient routes are less than 400 miles and include the heavily travelled Northeast Corridor routes between Boston and Washington, D.C. The geographic equity portion of the network are the corridors travelling more than 400 miles like the Empire Builder which serves the northern Great Plains and the Sunset Limited. The long-distance routes don’t often make money because they serve less densely settled small towns and rural communities. From 1997 to 2012 the ridership totals for Tucson only nudged up from 23,524 to 23,896, an increase of just 1.6%.
But poll after poll has found that people want more Amtrak service and they support public investments to fund it. But now Trump’s budget would drastically cut aid to Amtrak and cut $630 million in subsidies for long-distance routes. It seems that McSally is on the same page as the president when it comes to crippling Amtrak service to the nation’s hinterlands, like Cochise County.
Passenger rail is absolutely critical for rural areas which is why leaders such as former Republican presidential nominee Robert Dole have called for continued federal funding and support for Amtrak. “It is important that people in rural communities have access to the benefits of passenger rail service,” the ex- Kansas senator said. Maybe McSally ought to be listening to GOP elders like Dole lest she get run out of Congress on a rail.
If you peruse Rep. McSally’s U.S. House website, you will see lots of press releases about the A-10 Flying Warthog, the border crossing in Douglas and the latest winner of the Congressional Arts Competition.
What you won’t see is anything about her record on issues related to retirement savings. In October 2015, McSally cast her first vote against the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary rule” when she voted for legislation that would prohibit DOL from moving ahead with the rule until the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a rule that would have applied to all retail investment counsel. The Obama administration pushed for the rule as a way to help consumers and savers know that their financial advisers might have a conflict of interest with Wall Street brokers and insurance industry types and for more transparency in the process of giving financial advice. McSally’s vote for the Orwellian-named Retail Investor Protection Act was a ploy to stall the final DOL rule by making the SEC act first.
McSally’s next chance at killing the rule came in April 2016 when she voted for legislation to overturn the DOL’s rule requiring financial advisers to act in the best interest of retirement savers. She went for the hat trick with another vote to block the rule in June 2016, but House Republicans could not muster the two-thirds majority required, falling more than 40 votes short of the total needed.
The rule is scheduled to finally take effect this year but that has not stopped a host of powerful industry groups from going to court and filing litigation to stop it. Why the lawsuits? As a Naples, FL investment adviser told Bloomberg, the industry wants to “protect fat profit centers that do little to benefit individual savers.” “It's about money,” “he said.
And money, in the form of gobs of campaign donations, is just what McSally has reaped from some of the groups who are suing to kill the DOL fiduciary rule. Over the last two election cycles, Miss Martha has received $20,750 in PAC checks from the financial and insurance industry. Here is the breakdown:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $5,000 (2016), $2,500 (2014)
Financial Services Roundtable: $1,000 (2016)
American Council of Life Insurance $1,000 (2016)
National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors $11,000 (2016)
Bryan Cave LLP $250
But why stop at just trying to screw individual retirement savers when you can block entire states from offering low-cost retirement savings plans to millions of workers? In February 2017, McSally joined her fellow House GOPers in voting to roll back yet another Labor Department rule that sought to protect and strengthen state-level retirement plans. At present, eight states
(but not Arizona) have these plans in place.
Saving for retirement is pretty hard these days what with wage stagnation for almost everybody but the super-rich. Most workers whose employers offer overtime pay are more than happy to get those extra hours at time-and-a-half wages.
But not even having completed her sophomore term in Congress, Martha has gotten very adept at rubbing salt into workers wounds as she proved again on May 2. McSally voted for the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, which must have been named by Frank Luntz. See, the real-world title of that legislation is the ‘Freedom to Make Less’ bill because it would allow private-sector companies to offer workers a choice between taking time off or ‘comp time’ and overtime pay. McSally is now on record for watering down the Fair Labor Standards Act that requires time-and-a-half pay for hourly employees who work more than 40 hours a week.
So, McSally feels that instead of workers being able to put that overtime pay in the bank or somewhere it can earn some interest (for one’s golden years), that employees who agree to take time off are basically giving their companies a loan. Nice huh?