The Opening Argument
“President Trump demonstrated strong leadership today by declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. His bold plan to bring government and the private sector together to confront this public health threat will get COVID-19 tests to those who need them and provide much-needed economic relief to American families.”
-- Congressman Mike Kelly, from his statement titled, Kelly: President Trump’s Emergency Declaration a Bold Action to Confront Coronavirus Pandemic. (March 13, 2020)
Of all the lies and distortions Congressman Mike Kelly has told his constituents over the last 10 years, none is more damning or deadly than this.
As we’ve watched the COVID-19 pandemic grow to infect hundreds of thousands of Americans – including Kelly, who fortunately recovered – and kill tens of thousands of them, our congressman has committed the gravest, most inexcusable sin of his political career.
Kelly sold us out to protect a failing president and, he hopes, his own taxpayer-funded job. Because of this administration’s actions – or failures to act – more people got sick and more people died than would have with a more competent, serious response from the federal government.
The evidence is irrefutable. President Donald Trump hasn’t demonstrated bold leadership in confronting the virus. He’s demonstrated no leadership. And neither has Kelly, who has sat quietly by as thousands of Pennsylvanians have died and hundreds in his district have become infected.
Trump ignored the early warnings about the virus and downplayed its danger. Faced with finally having to do something, he failed. He failed to establish any kind of national strategy to provide the necessary equipment and supplies to fight the virus. He failed to protect as many people as possible with a strong testing and contact tracing program.
And Kelly has failed to put the lives of Americans, including his own constituents, ahead of his personal and political agenda.
Trump continues to lie daily about the dangers of the virus. He ignores the science and bases his decisions purely on his own political benefit instead of what’s good for the country.
Kelly? He sends out an occasional virus newsletter and babbles about making America great again, while Trump endangers our lives, stokes our divisions, lays waste to our Constitution and our rule of law, and weakens our nation in both stature and influence on the world stage.
Our congressman’s sellout has gone so far that he joined a lawsuit trying to overturn Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s shutdown orders. This despite the fact that expert after expert has said that if we open too quickly without adequate testing and contact tracing we’ll experience a surge in the virus.
This will overwhelm our health care system and damage our economy even further, nullifying all the work and sacrifices of those in Pennsylvania and around the country.
Kelly refuses to sacrifice one bit of the political capital he’s accumulated in ten years in office to stand up against the catastrophic failings of the Trump administration in dealing with the coronavirus.
He won’t stand up for his constituents. He won’t stand up for the health care workers and first responders risking their lives. He won’t stand up for the elderly in nursing homes who are a prime target of the virus.
Lacking both a moral compass and political courage, Kelly, in fear of a mean tweet from the president, hasn’t done a damn thing.
The purpose of this website is to present the case that Mike Kelly’s time is up. That he no longer deserves the honor of representing us as Pennsylvania’s 16th District congressman.
It will tell you the truth about a variety of issues and expose Kelly’s lies and hypocrisy. It will shine the light of truth on a two-bit politician who can thrive only in the darkness of misinformation and the absence of facts and critical thinking.
Please take the time to read what's here and share this website with your family and friends.
And please make sure you vote on Nov. 3 -- it's the most important election of our lifetimes.
The Cruelest Lie:
Kelly's Efforts to Eliminate Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions
“The greater the risk, the greater the premium is going to be. … Insurers are no different than any other business out there. … You look at the market that you serve, you look at the people you serve, and you come up with different plans, so there’s not a one-size fits all. … It’s a business proposition.”
– Congressman Mike Kelly on why raising premiums on Americans with pre-existing conditions might be necessary for insurance companies to stay in business. CNN, May 1, 2017.
What do you call someone who doesn’t care if you live or die?
Congressman Mike Kelly.
In his career (2009-2020) Kelly has received a total of $1.4 million in donations from the insurance industry ($650,000), health professionals ($390,000) and the pharmaceutical/health products industry ($350,000), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In a debate with his Democratic challenger during the 2018 election, Kelly said, “We have always kept pre-existing conditions in there.”
In fact, Kelly has voted at least eight times to take away or endanger protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Kids in Cages
A National Disgrace
“They were filthy dirty, there was mucus on their shirts, the shirts were dirty. We saw breast milk on the shirts. There was food on the shirts, and the pants as well. They told us that they were hungry. They told us that some of them had not showered or had not showered until the day or two days before we arrived. Many of them described that they only brushed their teeth once.”
-- Warren Binford, Williamette University Law Professor, Inside a Texas Building Where the Government is Holding Immigrant Children. The New Yorker, June 22, 2019.
Is this Congressman Mike Kelly’s America?
What is the recipe stirred in our cauldron of hate for immigrants?
A hate so white hot that it isn’t just a matter of not liking them. It’s a matter of punishing them, intimidating them, dehumanizing them.
Even the children – some of them infants. How can we hate so much that we extend our abject cruelty and degradation to target even them? Treating them worse than some of us treat our dogs.
“The smell of sweat and soiled clothing filled the room. They had not been allowed to bathe or change since crossing the Rio Grande and turning themselves over to officials. Sevier found that about two-thirds of the kids she examined had symptoms of respiratory infection. … she found evidence of sleep deprivation, dehydration, and malnutrition, too.”
-- What a Pediatrician Saw Inside a Border Patrol Warehouse, an interview with Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier, The Atlantic, July 3, 2019.
Whatever the cause we know where it comes from: the darkest corners of the collective human soul. But it couldn’t have resulted in the horrors we’ve seen at our border unless some conduit brought it all together and channeled it into a force hell-bent on satisfying the dream of every white nationalist, warming the soul of every racist and playing to the irrational fear of every bigoted coward.
“Outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox were spreading among the hundreds of children who were being held in cramped cells, agents said. The stench of the children’s dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents’ own clothing -- people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly. One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of them, so they could watch her as they were processing new arrivals.”
– Hungry, Scared and Sick: Inside the Migrant Detention Center in Clint, Tex. New York Times, July 9, 2019.
The conduit, of course, is Donald Trump, the most corrupt, incompetent and unfit president in our history. Trump didn’t invent our hatred of immigrants, but he brought his own deep-seated and open racism to the most powerful office in the land. He gave us permission to hate and encouraged us to fear. Then he moved an entire government toward an unconscionable level of cruelty that seems to exist, as much as anything else, simply for its own sake.
But a conduit can’t stand alone. It needs a source of power. For Trump that power is a sycophantic Republican Party willing to shove aside even the slightest essence of human decency in its quest for money, power and the success of its own agenda.
That party includes Congressman Mike Kelly.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Scam
“The most important vote I’ve ever cast.”
-- Congressman Mike Kelly when he voted for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is expected to add nearly $2 trillion to the federal deficit.
“America is driving toward a fiscal cliff.”
-- Congressman Mike Kelly 19 months later when he voted against a two-year budget agreement that added to the national debt by hiking government spending for defense and non-defense programs by $320 billion.
The truth is the Republicans’ signature piece of legislation – the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act -- has never fulfilled the empty promises of the GOP. Instead, based on the long-standing Republican con job of trickle-down economics, it’s heavily skewed to benefit the rich and corporations – a page right out of the Republican playbook.
*In 2018, billionaires paid a smaller portion of their income in federal, state and local taxes than average Americans for the first time in history. Billionaires paid 23 percent of their income in taxes and average Americans paid 28 percent. In contrast, between 1950 and 1980 billionaires paid more than 50 percent of their income in taxes each year.**
*The majority of the U.S. economy's growth over the past decade has gone to the wealthy and the owners of financial instruments, such as stocks and bonds. Income inequality is at its highest level ever recorded. Real median household income grew 0.8 percent to $61,937 in 2018, the smallest increase in three years. The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the country’s wealth.**
*While the Tax Act cuts rates for people of all income brackets, some of the tax benefits overtly favored the wealthy, including a 2.6 percentage point tax rate cut in the highest bracket and the doubling of the estate tax exemption to $11.2 million. Other provisions were more subtle yet favored the wealthy even more, such as tax breaks for their investments and changes that boosted the value of their stocks. Congressman Mike Kelly’s was worth at least $10.4 million at the start of 2020.***
*The law cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Most of the bill’s Republican supporters said the cut would result in higher wages, factory expansions and more jobs. Instead it was mainly exploited by corporations, which bought back stock and raised dividends. In 2018, stock buybacks exceeded $1 trillion for the first time ever, and net corporate dividends reached a new high of more than $1.3 trillion, nearly 6 percent more than the previous year. Corporate investment is now at lower levels than before the act was passed.***
*The Tax Act resulted in nearly $150 billion in corporate tax savings in 2018, with one effect being a big boost in stock prices. Kelly is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversaw the writing of the bill in the House. He reported in 2018 that his wife owned 101 individual stocks with a minimum total value of $439,000. In addition to stocks and mutual funds, Kelly has investments in partnerships and the real estate business – two of the seven classes of assets that received tax breaks in the Tax Act.***
**American billionaires paid less in taxes in 2018 than the working class, analysis shows – and it’s another sign that one of the biggest problems in the U.S. is only getting worse. Business Insider, Oct. 9, 2019.
The Existential Threat
of Global Warming
Denying climate change, no matter what the evidence, has become a core Republican principle. … In practice, you can’t be a modern Republican in good standing unless you deny the reality of global warming, assert that it has natural causes, or insist that nothing can be done about it without destroying the economy.
– From “Arguing with Zombies” by Paul Krugman
Mike Kelly's Economic Fairy Tale
“Three years into his (Trump’s) administration, we are strong again and experiencing the best economy in half a century …”
– Congressman Mike Kelly in a Feb. 5, 2020 press release.
Congressman Mike Kelly not only got his facts wrong about the economy, he left out the most important part: “Thanks Obama.”
That’s because for all his fawning and bootlicking over President Donald Trump, the truth is our streak of economic growth leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic actually started when President Barack Obama brought us back from the Great Recession he had inherited from a Republican president.
In fact, the Trump economy has underperformed the Obama economy in several areas, according to a February 2020 piece in the New York Times by economics expert Steven Rattner titled, “The Economy is Not as Good as it Looks.”
It reported that Trump is the beneficiary of the strongest economic tailwind while running for re-election since 1900, according to calculations by J.P. Morgan. Rattner writes, “The Trump recovery is merely an extension of the Obama recovery.”
While Kelly, as usual, offers baseless clichés and talking points, Rattner offers facts. Let’s look at some of them.
Obama created more jobs over the same period of time
In Trump’s first 35 months as president the country added an average of 191,000 jobs per month and the unemployment rate fell by 1.2 percent.
During the last 35 months of Obama’s presidency the average was 227,000 jobs per month and the unemployment rate dropped by 2 percent.
Overall economic growth was essentially the same under Trump and Obama. Last year was the slowest expansion during the Trump presidency.
Wages, adjusted for inflation, have barely grown
While there has been roughly a 3 percent annual growth rate under Trump, when you add in the effect of inflation you see that, on average, real wages have risen just 0.8 percent annually under him.
This compares to 1.3 percent over a similar period under Obama.
Income inequality remains at historic levels
Corporate profits have risen sharply, thanks in large part to the Trump/Kelly tax cut, and a soaring stock market has benefited the wealthy disproportionately.
Trump’s tax cuts for individual Americans were regressive, helping the rich more than middle-class Americans. While earnings for those at the very bottom have increased, that’s at least partly due to states increasing their minimum wages. But the gap between those at the top and those in the middle continues to widen.
Trump promised his tax cut would add $4,000 a year to the average American’s paychecks, but it turned out to be $930 and real wages have barely budged. His promised investment boom fizzled quickly, and capital expenditures by businesses have been declining in real terms.
How about GDP growth?
Trump’s best year of real GDP growth (which accounts for inflation) was 2.9 percent in 2018, according to The Balance, a financial web site using figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
In the 91 years from 1929 to 2019, 47 years had better GDP growth, including 17 that more than doubled Trump’s best year.
Axios reported that economic growth under Trump hasn’t matched that of some of his recent predecessors.
Average annualized GDP growth has been 2.5 percent during Trump’s first term. By comparison, Ronald Regan had 3.1 percent growth during his first term and 3.9 percent his second. Bill Clinton has 3.5 during his first term and 4.0 in his second.
Axios reported that some aspects of the Trump economy, like wage growth and business investment, pale in comparison to other periods. GDP growth has failed to hit Trump’s oft-promised 3 percent mark annually.
While solid, “this is not a gangbusters economy,” according to Nathan Sheets, who has held roles at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve. There have been periods with “high growth, low inflation, rapid productivity, and the gains from growth were being broadly shared across society. That was gangbusters.”
Again, Kelly’s boasts about Trump’s economy fall flat when faced with the facts.
Don't Go by What Mike Kelly Says,
Go by How He Votes
Kelly's Vote for Dark Money and Voter Suppression
“The fact that this was the first bill introduced in the 116th Congress and the primary legislative goal for the House majority is telling. This is the Tale of Two Congresses. During the last Congress, H.R. 1 was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act …”
-- Congressman Mike Kelly in a statement opposing H.R. 1, the For the People Act, March 8, 2019.
Congressman Mike Kelly was right. The priorities of the Democratic and Republicans parties have never been clearer.
In 2017, the Republican-controlled House’s prioritized the approval of a tax-cut con job that heavily favored the rich and corporations and will add an estimated $2 trillion to our deficit over 10 years.
(See the section “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Scam” on this website’s home page for more details)
In contrast, the Democrats’ For the People Act covers three main areas: campaign finance reform, strengthening the government’s ethics laws and expanding voting rights. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the bill before the Senate.
In opposing the bill, Kelly hit the ground lying.
* * * * * *
Kelly Says No to Prescription for Lower Drug Prices
When Donald Trump was running for president, he said he could save Medicare billions of dollars by getting it to negotiate prices with major pharmaceutical companies – something not allowed by the law.
Trump wanted the government to “negotiate like crazy” with drug companies, the Washington Post reported.
Turns out that was just a lie. The president has done absolutely nothing to establish negotiations with the drug companies, and Congressman Mike Kelly has played right along with the sham by voting against that happening.
United States drug prices are nearly four times higher than the combined average of 11 other similar countries, according to a September, 2019, report by the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Kelly is a member.
The report said Americans pay as much as 67 times more than consumers in those other nations for prescription drugs, even when accounting for rebates.
This came from an analysis of 79 drugs sold in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada (Ontario), Australia, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland in 2018.
About three months after the report was released the House passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which called for the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on the cost of up to 250 commonly used drugs, including insulin. It would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, giving it huge reach.
In addition, it would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay rebates to Medicare if the price of their drugs increased faster than inflation. Out-of-pocket prescription drugs costs for those covered by Medicare Part D would be limited to $2,000 annually. Currently, there is no cap.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated this would save the government $450 billion between 2020 and 2029, some of which would be used to expand dental, vision and hearing coverage for Medicare recipients.
The bill would lower health insurance costs for employers and increase federal revenue by about $45 billion because employer insurance premiums would decline, and those savings would manifest in increased taxable wages, the CEO said.
After passing in the House, the bill wasn’t taken up in the Senate. As you might expect, drug companies vehemently opposed the legislation. They claimed it would stifle innovation.
And Kelly -- who received $231,000 in campaign contributions from drug companies during his political career, according to Kaiser Health News -- voted against it.
Kelly's Vote for Open Season on the LGBTQ Community
“ … above all, remember the Golden Rule. If we treat each other as we would like to be treated, we can avoid new wounds, heal old ones, and live up to America’s promise of one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
-- Congressman Mike Kelly, “Kelly Participates in Erie Silent March” press release. June 6, 2020.
The Golden Rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Mike Kelly’s Golden Rule appears to be: “Screw over others if they’re not like you.”
This seems to be the case in our congressman’s attitude toward the LGBTQ community. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t agree with him.
The court ruled on June 15, 2020, by a 6-3 vote, that gay and transgender workers are protected from workplace discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
How bad has it been for LGBTQ individuals, whose civil rights Kelly has deemed not worth protecting? Here are some facts from USA Today:
*About half of LGBTQ people in the United States live in a state where they legally can be fired, denied a promotion, refused training or harassed at their jobs – all because of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
*Only 21 states, D.C. and two territories have laws on the books explicitly banning bias in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
*One quarter of LGBTQ people reported experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2018 report from the Movement Advancement Project.
Against this backdrop, and more than a year from the Supreme Court’s historic ruling, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, The Equality Act, in May 2019. It called for providing comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, education, federal funding, housing, public accommodations and more.
The bill would address a gap in the civil rights laws, which already protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex and disability. However, there are no such federal laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
Kelly voted no.
Take it to the Bank:
Kelly Favors Donors over Constituents on Arbitration Issue
Never say Congressman Mike Kelly doesn’t put his vote where his money is.
And the little guy be damned in the process.
Kelly has received $239,000 in campaign contributions from commercial banks during his political career, so when it came time to get rid of a new regulation his donors didn’t like, he dutifully voted in favor of the banks and against protecting his constituents.
In July 2017, the Republican-controlled House voted 231 to 190 to kill a new federal regulation that would make it easier for Americans to bring class-action lawsuits against banks and other financial institutions. The Senate followed suit three months later.
The rule was released about two weeks before the House vote by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed in 2010 in reaction to the Great Recession, called on the CFPB to study the use of mandatory arbitration clauses that prevented consumers from entering into class-actions suits against financial institutions.
Lawmakers used the Congressional Review Act to get rid of the rule, which allows Congress to repeal newly enacted federal rules.
The fine print in many of the agreements consumers sign when they apply for credit cards or bank accounts require them to settle any disputes with the company through arbitration, rather than going to court or joining a class-action suit. In arbitration, a third party rules on the matter.
A class-action suit would allow customers who have suffered relatively minor harm to join together to hold a big bank accountable, and to bring bad practices to light, when they might otherwise see no point in going through the arbitration process on their own.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Wells Fargo successfully used its arbitration clause to stymie consumer lawsuits over its creation of unauthorized accounts, though it ultimately reached a $142-million deal to settle several class-action suits after its practices created a scandal.
Mike Kelly's Cover-up
Protecting Trump and Putin While Putting Our Election in Danger
Special Counsel Robert Mueller found multiple cases of possible obstruction by President Donald Trump. More than 1,000 former federal prosecutors signed a letter saying Trump would have been charged if not for the Department of Justice’s policy against indicting a sitting president.
Congressman Mike Kelly lied to you. He said the probe revealed no evidence of obstruction.
Mueller’s investigation produced indictments against 25 Russians and several of the president’s associates. It detailed Russia’s efforts to sway the election in favor of Trump through a social media campaign, computer hacking and the release of emails related to his opponent Hillary Clinton.
Congressman Mike Kelly cried politics and referred to "partisan fishing expeditions."
Kelly questioned the conduct of Justice Department and FBI officials without offering proof of his allegations. He backed the bogus efforts of Congressman Devin Nunes to undermine Mueller’s investigation. He scoffed at Congress’ constitutionally established duties of oversight over the president.
Kelly’s efforts to subvert justice and place the president above the law not only protected Trump, but they also provided cover to Russian President Vladimir Putin while leaving us more vulnerable to future attacks on our election.
Kelly's subterfuge is refuted by the truth. It's right there in Mueller's report.
Here are summaries from the report of key obstruction allegations against the president and Russia’s interference in our election to benefit Trump.
Kelly's Falsehoods Flashback
A Look Back at Mike Kelly's Lies to Us During the 2018 Debate
Mike Kelly vs Just the Facts
Mike Kelly vs Just the Facts the Sequel
Letters to the Editor
The Closing Argument
“Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of …” -- Socrates
We have a collective name. It’s the United States of America.
And just like our individual surnames, we pass it on from generation to generation, with the prayer that the next to carry it will have a better life than ours, and the hope that at the very least they’ll do nothing to disgrace it.
Our country’s legacy stands on a foundation laid by our earliest citizens on which layer after layer of history has been built by each succeeding generation. Some of this history shows the greatness of our country. Some of it shows our serious imperfections.
All of it has led us to unmatched levels of influence and power in the world.
And right now, it’s led us to a crossroads.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Decision time in America is drawing near. We will decide if we want to continue to follow the path of President Donald Trump, who -- in less than one term in office -- has built an historically corrupt and incompetent administration, manically fueled and exploited our divisions for his own political and personal benefit, roiled the rule of law and our intelligence communities, weakened our nation in multiple ways, endangered our lives, and debased his office and our collective reputation.
The alternative is to relegate this disgraceful period to the dustbin of history, remove Trump and his subservient Republican Party from office, and begin the challenging climb to become a better country.
In other words, take our good name back.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke
The obvious way to change our country for the better is to vote Trump out of office on Nov. 3. Any effort to avoid the frightening and destructive effects of four more years of our current nightmare must include that.
But that’s not where it ends. While Trump is a cancer eating away at our country every day, it’s been a corrupt Republican Party that’s fed the disease and allowed it to grow. Trump is the latest manifestation of the GOP’s long-time pro-rich, anti-poor-and-middle class, racist, anti-environment agenda.
He’s risen from the rubble of the class wars, the culture wars and the race wars the Republicans have propped up in hopes of convincing people who gain no benefit from their policies to vote for them anyway. The rich can’t dominate unless the rest of us allow them.
So, getting rid of Trump isn’t enough. In Pennsylvania’s 16th District, we also need to remove our congressman Mike Kelly.
“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.” – Plato
Election to public office, and its inherent opportunity to become part of something bigger than oneself and serve the greater good, is a gift few people receive and even fewer measure up to.
Kelly has squandered this gift. He’s lied and misled us over and over. He’s voted against the best interests of the majority of his constituents over and over in favor of rich people like himself and his corporate donors. He’s failed to even try to uphold the principles our country was built on. He’s failed to fulfill his constitutionally mandated checks-and-balances role as a member of one of our three branches of government.
We gave Kelly the rare privilege to stand on the shoulders of giants, represent us and our values, lead with political and moral courage, and speak truth to power. Instead he abdicated this responsibility, becoming a babbling cliché-and-talking-points-spewing yes man for a corrupt, racist, misogynist president and Republican Party.
His votes have been destructive enough. The cover he’s given to the president’s criminal and immoral enterprise and his refusal to speak on our behalf instead of his own is beyond the pale.
It might be fun to share a beer with Kelly, or go to a ballgame with him, or have him over for a barbecue. But we didn’t elect Kelly to be our pal. We elected him to be our congressman, and in that job he’s failed.
If we want a better country, we need a better congressman.
Kelly is part of the problem.
He’ll never be part of the solution.