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.
Kelly Cheers On Trump's Backdoor
Attempt to Defund Social Security and Medicare
Our Congressman Mike Kelly knows a thing or two about defunding things.
After all, he voted seven times to defund the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which would have ended the law and all its provisions, even popular ones like protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Now, Donald Trump is trying a backdoor play to defund Social Security and Medicare, two programs Republicans love to hate. Meanwhile Kelly, apparently unconcerned about the harm this will do to millions of senior citizens, including in his own district, has given the president a heartfelt attaboy.
Trump has issued an order calling for the suspension of payroll taxes – which are used to fund Social Security and Medicare -- for the rest of the year for individuals making less than $104,000 a year. His plan is to eliminate the taxes altogether in 2021 and not require payment of the accumulated unpaid taxes.
No program can continue when you eliminate or severely cut its funding. And in this case, we’re talking about a significant amount of money.
The federal government spent $1 trillion on Social Security, that’s 23 percent of its total budget, and $651 billion on Medicare in 2019, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The federal government collected $1.24 trillion in payroll taxes in 2019, according to the CBPP. This amounts to 5.9 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), or 35.9 percent of all federal revenues.
Social Security and Medicare taxes fall under the blanket category of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). For Social Security, 6.2 percent is deducted from the employee’s wages, and the employer pays a matching amount. For Medicare, the employee and the employer both pay 1.45 percent. People who are self-employed pay for both shares – a total of 15.3 percent.
There is no wage cap for Medicare; however, there is one for Social Security. In 2020, wages over $137,700 won’t be taxed for Social Security.
Trump made this move after negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over the next COVID-19 relief bill broke down. Considering that Trump made Tea Party hardliner and political hack/Chief of Staff Mark Meadows one of his lead negotiators, it’s legitimate to wonder how bad he wants an agreement in the first place.
Was this a setup to allow Trump to take the first step in the GOP wet dream of getting rid of or privatizing these two vital programs? Either way, Kelly loves it.
Kelly posted this on Facebook:
“As congressional Democrats continue to refuse offer after offer for additional economic relief, President Trump took decisive executive action today to cut through the impasse and help families pay their bills and get through this pandemic. His use of existing authority to do what Congress can’t or won’t do shows he won’t wait and allow the well-being of the American people to be held hostage for a wish list of progressive demands.”
It should be noted that the Democrats’ “wish list of progressive demands” that Kelly is peeved about includes money for the United States Postal Service, which Trump is trying to sabotage in light of the expected large number of mail-in ballots to be used in November’s election; funding for states struggling financially as a result of the virus; a continuation of a moratorium on evictions; and continuing the now-expired enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 a week for people who have lost their jobs due to the virus.
Oh, those progressives. Always putting people and democracy first.
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.
Kelly Covers for Mob Boss Trump Again
This Time in Assault on the USPS and Our Democracy
A strong mob boss can usually count on his associates protecting him, so it’s no surprise that our Congressman Mike Kelly is once again lying to try to cover for President Donald Trump.
And he’s getting pretty good at it.
Previously, Kelly tried to discredit the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and then lied about the fact that Mueller’s report showed multiple cases of alleged obstruction of justice by the president.
After that, he gave Trump a pass when he was impeached for trying to strongarm the president of Ukraine to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden. This was in part by withholding congressionally approved aid needed in that country’s fight with Russia, which is led by Trump pal and GOP favorite Vladimir Putin.
Now, Kelly wants his constituents to step into his alternate universe again and ignore all the evidence showing Trump is sabotaging the United States Postal Service as it braces for an onslaught of mail-in ballots due to the ongoing pandemic.
Trump is trying to screw up the flow of ballots because he wants to point to that as why he won’t accept the election results if he loses. This will set up a series of court fights trying to invalidate these ballots specifically and the overall results.
He also wants to sow distrust in the system so people either won’t vote or will believe him when he lies about what happened.
The president has lied constantly about the danger of widespread voter fraud, even though he’s voted by mail in the past and is expected to do so again this year. The truth is there has never been any significant evidence of widespread voter fraud.
In fact, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law said this:
“Extensive research reveals that fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is virtually nonexistent, and many instances of alleged fraud are, in fact, mistakes by voters or administrators. The same is true for mail ballots, which are secure and essential to holding a safe election amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
Kelly took to Facebook to defend his boss’s assault on the postal system. His comments included this:
“The scaremongering and politicking by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats does not comport with reality. … The Speaker is blaming President Trump for things that aren’t happening.”
Aren't happening? Okay, let’s look at what’s been happening. As you’ll see, there’s Kelly’s version of what’s happening, and there’s the reality of what’s happening.
*Trump said he opposes election aid for states and an emergency bailout for the USPS because he wants to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail. The president said his purpose is to prevent Democrats from expanding mail-in voting. He’s also previously admitted that he believes mail-in voting would allow more Democrats to cast ballots and hurt Republican candidates, including himself.
*New Postmaster General and Trump donor/stooge Louis DeJoy, approved by Trump’s handpicked USPS Board of Governors, has banned employees from working overtime or making extra trips to deliver mail. This has led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as much as several days,
*The Postal Service sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.
*The Postal Service is currently decommissioning 10 percent of its mail-sorting machines, which workers say could hinder processing of election mail. These machines are scattered across the country but are concentrated in high-population areas. (Note their primary locations – high-population areas -- which means cities, which tend to be more heavily Democratic.)
*The USPS was taking letter collection boxes off the streets in Western states until it backed down after accusations that the removals would further limit some voters’ ability to send back mail-in ballots. This came after news reports that the USPS had started reducing post office operating hours across several states and removing letter collection boxes.
*Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party have marshaled an army of 12 staff attorneys and several dozen more outside lawyers in a $20 million effort against mail-in voting. They’ve already gone to court dozens of times, including filing lawsuits in several battleground states (Kelly is involved in one of them, as you’ll read later), and are fighting voting rule changes in 17 states.
*Trump’s aides and outside advisors have been working to come up with possible executive actions to curb mail-in voting. Options looked at include directing the Postal Service to not deliver certain ballots and stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day.
*DeJoy has taken a chainsaw to the USPS’s organization chart. Analysts say this action centralizes power around himself and de-emphasizes decades of institutional postal knowledge. The USPS also will implement a hiring freeze and will ask for voluntary early retirements, according to the agency’s reorganization announcement.
*The Republican National Committee plans to train as many as 35,000 poll watchers to monitor both in-person voting and ballot counting, mostly in key battleground states. Trump’s campaign and the RNC plan to have lawyers ready to mobilize in every state in anticipation of a weeks-long legal fight. The president has complained about not having the results on election night, yet he’s prepared to create delays with legal action.
*DeJoy has a potential major conflict of interest because he continues to hold a $30 million stake in XPO Logistics, which is a USPS contractor. Before joining the administration, DeJoy was on the board of XPO, which acquired his company, New Breed Logistics, for $615 million in 2014. He also owns options to buy an additional 270,000 shares in XPO, at varying prices, that expire in November. (Note that’s after the Election when any sabotaging won’t be needed anymore, in case he wants to return to the private sector with all his stock.)
Are these some of the things Kelly says “aren’t happening?”
Kelly calls all this “scaremongering and politicking.” Actually, we should all be very scared as Trump mounts his assault on our election and Kelly stands watch to protect him.
There He Goes Again
Mike Kelly Hopes to Lie his Way to Another Term
Congressman Mike Kelly recently posted this on Facebook:
“I just proudly co-sponsored the ‘Defund Cities that Defund the Police Act,’ which prevents jurisdictions that defund law enforcement from accessing certain federal grants. We must stand behind the men and women in blue who protect and serve our communities every day. We have to send a clear message: there will be consequences if local and state governments move ahead with this dangerous anti-police movement.”
This is Kelly’s reelection strategy in a nutshell. He’s going to lie to us.
He’s going to cherry pick facts with the hope he can pull the wool over the eyes of his constituents, and when that doesn’t work he’ll simply make things up. He’s going to try to bamboozle those who don’t know better and overwhelm those who do.
That’s his only option, really, because what else can he run on?
Certainly not his steadfast devotion to a corrupt, incompetent, racist, and unfit president.
Or his unwavering support of caging immigrant children, taking away people’s health care, interference in the upcoming election, or the administration’s bungled coronavirus response that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
Or his membership in a Republican Party that has shown itself to be incapable of governing and stands firmly on the side of minority opinion in this country on any number of issues.
Take the above Facebook post. Kelly wants you to believe that Democrats want to defund the police. That’s a lie.
Sure, there are some on the far-left side of the party who would be okay with that, but the vast majority of Democrats doesn’t want to get rid of the police. They want to reform police departments in light of the recurring instances of systemic racism in its ranks.
They want to reallocate funds to better serve the community. They want to transfer duties currently assigned to the police to other agencies better trained to handle them, such as mental health issues, thus freeing up officers to concentrate more on police work.
But the truth doesn’t work for Kelly in this case, so he lies to us. And he shows us the GOP’s moving of the goalposts when it comes to their beloved “states’ rights.” This is their dodge when dealing with issues where their positions are opposite that of a majority of Americans.
Republicans support discrimination against the LGBT community, including being against gay marriage, limiting women’s reproductive rights in the area of abortion, and the absence of even the most basic common-sense improvements in our gun laws. So, they yell for states’ rights in the hope that more conservative states will be able to pass laws that are contrary to federal law and popular opinion.
But, let a community talk about toughening its gun laws or taking a hard look at how its police department operates, and GOPers like Kelly scream to high heaven. In cases like these, the will of the local voters and the people they elect don’t count because they don’t fit the GOP agenda or that of their donors.
Our congressman is just getting warmed up as he tries to lie his way to two more years in Washington. You can hear him now ranting about “socialism” and “socialist Democrats.”
The truth is Democrats – except maybe those on the far-left fringe -- don’t propose a socialist style of government for our country. One of the main differences between the two parties is that Democrats want to expand programs to help people, and Republicans hate programs that help people.
Heck, they’re even trying to defund Social Security and Medicare – with Kelly’s blessing.
Kelly doesn’t have much of a choice but to make false claims of socialism. Just look at his record:
*He voted seven times to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions, which would have caused millions of people to be without health insurance.
*He voted for a farm bill that would strip food stamp benefits from 2 million low-income Americans, including 469,000 households with young children, 667,000 households with seniors, and 214,000 households with people with disabilities.
*He voted to cut Medicaid spending by about $700 billion.
*He voted for a tax bill that heavily favored corporations and the rich and will add $2 trillion to our deficit.
When you’ve voted to hurt that many people you’ve got to find something to discredit those who want to protect them, so you call them socialists. The fact is socialism is what the GOP calls anything that helps people and requires tax dollars that they and their rich donors might otherwise be allowed to keep.
And that puts us at the intersection where all the Republican buzzwords – such as “personal responsibility,” “freedom,” “smaller government,” “less regulations,” “coastal elites,” “our values” – all meet at their ultimate goal: to please their donors with lower taxes for the rich and deregulations that lead to bigger profits for corporations, particularity in the fossil fuel and finance industries.
So, expect Kelly to keep lying, like he did in his 2018 debate when he lied about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the economy, health care, the Paris Climate Agreement, and our stature in the world. (See the Mike Kelly Falsehoods Flashback section of this website’s home page for more details).
Expect him to call his opponent a radical leftist who takes time out from being in Nancy’s Pelosi’s pocket just long enough to worship at the altar of “The Squad.”
(The Squad consists of four freshmen congresswomen of color that Republicans want you to believe control every other member of the Democratic House Caucus, not to mention all the Democratic senators, and Joe Biden himself.)
He’ll claim that Biden as president will implement some kind of radical left agenda – Joe Biden for crying out loud. Who’s more centrist than Joe Biden? If the Democratic Party was so heavily socialist, then Bernie Sanders would have been its nominee instead of him getting blown out by Biden.
Kelly will tell you, as he did in a recent e-mail to a constituent, that “Democrats have been playing politics instead of governing since the day they took over the House in January 2019,” when in reality, under Pelosi’s leadership, they’ve passed hundreds of bills that are now sitting on the desk of Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell because he won’t bring them up for discussion and a vote.
What else can Kelly say when you realize that in the two years that the Republicans controlled the same House, not to mention the Senate and the White House, the biggest thing they did was pass their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Scam? (That’s covered in another section of this website.)
He’ll tell you the country will go to hell if Trump isn’t reelected – ignoring the fact that the country has been going to hell since Trump was elected.
And he’ll make up a bunch of other stuff, too. He’s just going to lie.
Because when he looks at the truth, lying is all he’s got.
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.
Living the Lie
Kelly Insults His Constituents' Intelligence
by Pushing GOP Revisionist History
The Republican National Convention featured a full-court press by President Donald Trump and his allies to rewrite history, and our Congressman Mike Kelly jumped right in with both feet.
When Kelly was interviewed on C-Span during the convention, he mixed enough clichés, talking points, and lies to almost overwhelm anyone who was listening.
At one point, Kelly strung together three straight meaningless clichés – a Herculean task even for him -- when he uttered, “When push comes to shove. When you have to put it all on the line. When you have to show your true colors,” during a dissertation on the unrest in our cities stemming from the systemic racism displayed by police.
The Republicans’ effort was a course in revisionist history, with Kelly as a guest lecturer. Let’s look at some of his absurd comments and see how he insults his constituents by assuming that they’re so uninformed that he can get away with such blatant lying.
“My goodness, there’s so much good to talk about from the time this man came into office in 2017 until right now.”
Does that good include our current three-way crises of a pandemic that has killed 200,000 people – with no end in sight -- thanks to Trump’s dishonest and bungled response, the economic collapse that’s a direct result of the pandemic, and the societal unrest caused by the systemic racism in our policing that Trump has refused to address and in some ways has encouraged?
If Kelly is talking about before the Trump Virus, is he referring to the previously good economy that started after President Obama pulled us out of the Great Recession that occurred on the watch of a Republican president, or our growing wealth inequality that was exacerbated by Kelly’s beloved Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that heavily favored the rich and corporations and will add $2 trillion to our deficit?
When our congressman pulls out his list of good things this president has done does that include the child abuse that Kelly and the rest of the GOP have sanctioned against immigrant children at the border?
What about a whistleblower’s claim now under investigation that federal immigration detainees underwent unnecessary gynecological surgeries -- including full hysterectomies -- without their consent? Does this Nazi-like atrocity pass muster with Kelly and his pro-life crowd?
How about teargassing peaceful protesters or his continuing assault on the postal service? Maybe it’s his constant disregard for the rule of law and the constitution that Kelly keeps cheering on? Perhaps his ignoring of the existential threat of climate change and his assault on regulations that is sure to make it even worse?
In this case, “good” appears to be a very subjective term.
On social unrest stemming from protests against police racism:
“To see what’s happening in our streets, and to see how this has happened, and you know the old story is why do they continue to do it. People ask why do they do it? Because nobody’s stopping them. When a mayor and a governor sit back and say they’re just expressing themselves.”
Kelly has joined Trump’s efforts to use unrest in our country to his political advantage. When Kelly talks about “nobody’s stopping them,” he’s ignoring the only way to really address the current unrest – solve the root problem, which is systemic racism by the police.
He apparently believes in the fantasy that minorities can be intimated into submission with the show and use of force by the authorities. After the senseless murders of too many African Americans, why would they back down, slink home, and let these crimes continue? Kelly must think they’re as gutless as Republican members of Congress.
Also, what mayor or governor has reacted to destruction done by troublemakers interjecting themselves into otherwise peaceful protests by saying, “they’re just expressing themselves.” Kelly has purposely conflated individuals engaged in their constitutional right to peacefully protest with criminals looking to cause chaos. He thinks we can’t tell the difference. He’s wrong.
On the police:
“I am fully behind our police. Defunding the police force makes no sense to me. Giving the police force more funding is where I think it should go.”
Kelly is hoping we’re stupid enough to believe Democrats really want to defund the police. They don’t, and Joe Biden has made it clear that he has no interest in doing so.
Instead, proponents of better policing want to reform it, including reassigning responsibilities like mental health and drug abuse issues to professionals in those fields instead of burdening the police with them. This is one step toward addressing a complex issue that Kelly is trying to dumb down to fit with his “law and order” mantra.
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.
Kelly Favors Abusers Over Victims
in Violence Against Women Act Vote
In April 2019, the House voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association to a provision that would address the “boyfriend loophole” for individuals committing domestic violence.
Under current law, anyone convicted of felony or misdemeanor domestic violence is barred from owning a weapon. But currently this only applies to abusers who were married to their partners, lived with them, or had children with them.
This creates the boyfriend loophole, allowing abusers who dated their partners – but who didn’t live with them or have children with them – to purchase weapons. The new law would include current or former dating partners.
A gun doesn’t ask, “Tell me about your relationship.” It just kills.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:
*More than 600 American women are shot to death by intimate partners every year – roughly one every 14 hours.
*Firearms are used to commit more than half of all intimate partner homicides in the United States.
*An abuser’s access to a firearm makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.
*Domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force.
*Women in the United States are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries.
*In more than half of mass shootings where four or more people were killed, the shooter killed an intimate partner.
*One analysis found that nearly a third of mass shooters had a history of domestic violence.
*Nearly one million women alive today report being shot or shot at by an intimate partner.
*About 4.5 million women alive today report that an intimate partner threatened them using a gun.
Still, Kelly voted against reauthorizing the VAWA, saying in an email to a constituent that it “would negatively impact 2nd Amendment rights …”
Kelly appears more worried about a domestic abuser’s right to a gun than he is about the welfare of the woman who would be the next victim if he abuses again, this time armed.
Kelly Defends his Gun Votes by
Lying About the Second Amendment
Mike Kelly loves the U.S. Constitution, except for the parts he hates.
He hates the part that establishes congressional oversight over the president because he lives – and lies -- to protect Donald Trump. He hates the part about freedom of speech because that conflicts with the president’s efforts to silence and terrorize peaceful protesters. He hates the part about the rule of law because Trump has run over it time after time.
But one thing he does love is the Second Amendment. He loves it so much that he’s used it as a reason to try to block common-sense improvements of the background checks system – improvements that are very popular with Americans, including gun owners and Republicans. He loves it so much that it’s his justification to put more women in danger by voting against renewing the Violence Against Women’s Act.
Here's something else about Kelly’s relationship with the Second Amendment: He’s lied to you about it over and over again.
Yes, Mike Kelly is lying about the Second Amendment.
First, some background.
In February 2019, the Democratic-controlled House passed two bills concerning background checks of potential gun buyers. The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to act on either of them.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act expanded the use of background checks to close the “gun show loophole.”
Under current federal law, licensed gun dealers are required to run a background check on a potential buyer to make sure he doesn’t have a criminal record, a history of mental illness, or any other factor that legally bars him from purchasing a gun.
However, the law’s intent has been subverted by the fact that private/unlicensed sellers – like some of those you find at gun shows -- aren’t required to run such a check. The new law would change that by establishing that requirement.
The Enhanced Background Checks Act would give the FBI more time to conduct background checks on people attempting to purchase guns.
Currently, a gun seller has to wait three business days for federal investigators to conduct a background check. While most checks are done quickly, if the delay lasts more than three days the gun sale can move forward. The new bill expands the period to 10 days, with the potential to be expanded another 10.
Critics of the current system claim that the white supremacist who gunned down nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 would have been barred from obtaining his gun had investigators had more time to dig into his record and discovered a drug arrest.
After his votes, Kelly issued a press release saying he was against the bills because they “place an undue burden on law-abiding U.S. citizens attempting to purchase firearms. These types of laws criminalize lawful gun owners and simply make it harder for Americans to exercise their Second-Amendment rights.”
So, Kelly says someone skirting the law by buying a weapon at a gun show or through a private purchase is being criminalized by being required to undergo a background check. He’s saying it’s an undue burden on someone to have to wait a few more days so his check can be completed, as opposed to just handing him a gun by default with no idea if he qualifies for one.
Follow the Money
Kelly Has Received Nearly $10 Million in Campaign Contributions
As a general rule, people and businesses who donate to political candidates don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts.
They do it because they want a certain candidate to win, because they believe that candidate will vote for things that benefit them.
That can range from a businessman donating to a Republican in hopes of a cut in the corporate income tax or loosening of regulations, to a poor or middle-class person giving whatever he or she can scrape together to a Democrat who backs affordable health care, a higher minimum wage and better schools.
In his national political career, which began when he first ran for the U.S. House of Representatives during the 2009-10 election cycle, Congressman Mike Kelly has received $9.7 million in donations to his campaign committee.
Here are some facts and figures:
*The top industries donating to Kelly during that period have been insurance, $665,410; health professionals, $423,635; oil and gas, $378,871; automotive, $374,715; and pharmaceuticals/health products, $369,550.
*As for business sectors, the leaders are finance/insurance and real estate, $1.8 million; miscellaneous businesses, $1.2 million; health, $1 million; energy and natural resources, $776,149; transportation, $689,376; and lawyers and lobbyists, $487,538.
*Of the $8.3 million Kelly has received from the various business sectors, $5.6 million came from political action committees.
*Among his top individual donors is Koch Industries, a deep-pocketed supporter of tax cuts and deregulation, which has given $55,500, all but $500 from PAC money.
These numbers might help explain some of Kelly’s votes, such as:
*His vote for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was skewed heavily to favor the rich and corporations.
*His multiple votes to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which would have eliminated protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
*His vote to prevent the government from negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers on drugs it purchases for Medicare, protecting their profits at the expense of consumers.
*His vote to kill a federal regulation that would have made it easier for Americans to bring class-action lawsuits against banks and other financial institutions, protecting big banks and diminishing the rights of the little guy.
*His push for deregulation, including changes that would negatively affect our environment and exacerbate global warming.
*Most recently, his proposed Essential Workforce Parity Act, which would offer hospitals and other medical providers liability protections from certain lawsuits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What follows is a breakdown of Kelly’s political contributions during his career. They show you that a lot of money has been flowing Kelly’s way and what types of businesses have been his biggest benefactors.
This information can all be found on the Opensecrets.org, which is operated by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Sadly, we’re at a time when big money has taken over politics, and some of our politicians are working more for their big donors than for their constituents.
Is Kelly one of them?
You might ask: For that kind of money, how can he say no?
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
The Mike Kelly Must Go Video Series
Short Videos Looking at Mike Kelly's Performance As Our Congressman
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.