THE SWEEP. Mr Sweeney made a swing through GreeneLand yesterday, appearing at events where he reminded attendees of grants allocated from Federal programs to local projects thanks to his efforts. In Coxsackie, at a function organized by the county’s Industrial Development Agency, he reminded listeners that he had previously procured a $725,000 allocation of Federal funds for road and infrastructure improvements at Kalkberg Industrial Park, and then he announced (as quoted by reporter Donna Rich) “I got more, with $750,000 in Federal funds for Routes 9W and 81 upgrades.” In Catskill, at the Village fire station, he either announced a $40,000 Federal grant for the local police department or (depending on how one reads the report by Andrea Macko) he reminded auditors of the already-received grant that helped with the purchase of two high-powered cars. He also presented an American flag to Fire Chief Floyd Prince. In addition, he spoke of achieving an increase in funding for programs that bring Federal money to local fire departments, of rescuing subsidy programs that the Bush Administration had sought to eliminate, and of bring $21 million to the 20th congressional district in grants since 2001 in support of judiciary programs.
MEDIA COVERAGE. The foregoing account is drawn from reports in today’s Daily Mail. Coverage of Mr Sweeney’s swing through GreeneLand occupied nearly all of that newspaper’s first page. By contrast, the cited events elicited no coverage at all in the TimesUnion or on television last night. Conversely, the political event that did winparamount attention in today’s TU, as well as in last night's television newscasts, got no coverage at all in The Daily Mail.
THAT OTHER EVENT. In the eyes of the capital district’s news media, the main political event yesterday was the morning rally at
CANCELED. The Glenns Falls Post-Star reserved a hall in the local civic center for a Thursday evening (10/26) debate between the Congressional candidates, but then canceled after the Republican refused to participate. Mr Sweeney cited the reason he has given for previous refusals, namely, Ms Gillibrand’s refusal to release her income tax report. The Gillibrand camp calls that excuse his fourth phony pretext to evade an encounter.
FLANK ATTACK. In her attacks on Mr Sweeney, Ms Gillibrand’s accuses her opponent of being unduly loyal to the Botch Administration and being greedily servile toward insidious Special Interests. Mr Sweeney’s response, apart from personal smears, consists of arguing that his sole master is The District. Hence the emphasis on tangible projects. At any rate, the Special Interests thesis received a boost on Tuesday (10/24) by way of a blistering “report” called Sweeney For Sale: Top Ten Times John Sweeney Has Sold New Yorkers Out for Special Interest Money. The “report” emanates from a self-described “progressive” organization, Citizen Action, which the Sweeney camp stigmatizes as a liberal front for Democrats. It cites campaign funds given to Mr Sweeney by various corporate or interest group contributors, and links those donations to votes cast or other activities favoring those groups. Readers are invited to believe that the donations bought the votes and that the votes served the interests of the contributors (“Insurance Industry,” “Big Tobacco,” “Big Oil,” “Clear Cutters,” “Outsourcers”) at the expense of New Yorkers. (Check it out at www.citizenactionny.org ).
KISS OF DEATH? By an interesting coincidence, Citizen Action's list of malign Special Interests served by Mr Sweeney starts with “Big Pharmaceuticals.” The Congressman allegedly “took $42,900 from big drug companies and [sic.] voted for a Medicare bill that gives the drug companies a $139 billion windfall.” (We linger here over the suggestive thrust of that sentence. Explicitly, it names two events, linked with the conjunction “and”. But it also prods us to draw a causal inference, namely, that Mr Sweeney took the companies’ money AND THEREFORE supported that Medicare bill).
The precedence given to drug costs, as it happens, is peculiarly timely. Tuesday’s mail brought to elderly GreeneLand voters here (and in selected electorates around the country) another big color card from those dear folks at The Seniors Coalition of Fairfax VA (www.senior.org; 800 325 9891). We reported last week about a mailer from TSC. It lauded the new Medicare drug program, saluted John Sweeney for helping people to get registered for it, and urged recipients to convey thanks to Mr Sweeney for his services to seniors. In short, it was a thinly disguised piece of pro-Sweeney electioneering--disguised to the extent necessary to retain classification as a non-profit.
Well, the new Seniors Coalition greeting again gives special prominence to Mr Sweeney: He “helped [seniors] to sign up to save on their prescription drugs”; we ought to telephone him (371-8839) and “thank him for fighting for seniors.” In addition, however, we now must heed a warning: “Right now, there are real threats to the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. The Seniors Coalition Needs Your Help.” Those “threats” consist of a bill that has been introduced in the House of Representatives: H.R. 752. With regard to that measure, Congressman Sweeney “must be a leader now more than ever.” While thanking him for “fighting for seniors,” please “Urge him to oppose H.R. 752.”
Translation: were it not for the risk of being reclassified as a tax-paying political organization, we would directly urge you to vote for Sweeney, because he is opposed to H.R. 752, which is bad for seniors.
And just what does H.R. 752 prescribe? In essence, it eliminates current prohibitions whereby the Government is barred from negotiating with drug companies over the prices to be paid for drugs that will be dispensed under Medicare to seniors. It also would lift prohibitions against the use in Medicare of cheaper therapeutic equivalents of standard drugs. It eliminates, in short, the legislative sources of what Citizen Action calls the pharmaceutical industry’s $139 billion “windfall.” Mr Sweeney evidently opposes lifting those prohibitions.
As for The Seniors Coalition, it is self-described in the latest mailer as “the nation’s leading, non-profit, free market education and advocacy organization representing