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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Another Scurrilous, False and Hurtful Attack"

It appears that I struck a nerve.

On February 10, ThisWeek Eagan published a letter I wrote discussing three votes John Kline cast against the interests of veterans. Donald DeGenaro disagreed, insisting that Kline "has been a leader in fighting for expanded benefits and higher pay for our veterans", and citing (without specifying) Kline's votes to increase veterans' benefits by 21 percent. Since I had asked Kline's office numerous times for the votes backing up this claim, I wrote another letter pointing out Kline's lack of responsiveness.

Apparently this most recent letter hurt Rudy Kubista's feelings. He replied by insisting that I had authored "another scurrilous, false and hurtful attack" on Kline, and that my "unmitigated mendacity is hardly helpful toward exposing facts or the truth." Apparently it's now out of bounds to discuss a congressman's voting record, or one's own personal difficulties getting said congressman to answer a question.

Mr. Kubista did provide some value, however, by finally identifying two of Kline's pro-veteran votes:
  1. 456 in the first session of the 108th Congress, 2003.
  2. 604 in the first session of the 109th, 2005.

Kline did vote for each of these bills, and they both provided funding for veterans. Each bill has some interesting quirks. For example, the first bill never became law, because the House and Senate never reconciled their different versions of it. The second bill is that rare creature which was passed unanimously, and so we can safely assume that anyone from CD-02 would have voted the same way.

One interesting fact about the second bill is that it appropriates $53 million less than it would have if a Democrat were in Kline's seat. Kline voted against an amendment which would have increased veterans' benefits by $53 million while reducing funding for Base Realignment and Closure activities by $169 million. The amendment failed 213-214.

What's more interesting than the substantive information which has finally come out are DeGenaro's and Kubista's letters themselves. Both men clearly have unquestioning faith in Kline, as they both seem to believe that an adequate response to my letters is, effectively: "I called up Kline's office and he told me it's not true".

More telling about Kubista's letter is what Kline apparently told him about the votes I cited (47, 149, and 221 in the first session of the 109th Congress): that they "were merely procedural votes, so that the language of the bill could be improved".

Oh really?

Vote 47 was a procedural vote, to send H.R. 27 back to the Education and Welfare Committee with instructions to add an amendment which would provide extra job training assistance to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, since reservists and National Guard members deployed for extended periods may return to find their jobs have vanished. Similarly, vote 221 would have sent H.R. 1815 back to the Committee on Armed Services to add an amendment to expand TRICARE health insurance to reservist and National Guard members, since significant percentages lack it. Both of these "procedural votes", would have fundamentally altered legislation had they passed. And perhaps Kline really supports each of these actions, even though he voted against each motion to recommit. But in the case of expanding TRICARE at least, Kline's Committee on Armed Services never acted to bring the issue back to the floor.

Finally, vote 149 approved the FY 2006 budget, which Kline supported and which cut funding for veterans' health care by more than $13 billion. Not a "procedural vote" at all. Kline is disseminating misinformation, but allowing surrogates to do it, thus maintaining plausible deniability. Smart.

Kline has cast more than 2000 votes in Congress, so it's inevitable that some have supported veterans, just as it's inevitable that some haven't. But have veterans fared better, overall, with Kline in office than they would have otherwise? Rather than attempt an exhaustive analysis of Kline's voting record, I'll refer readers to the group Disabled American Veterans. On 8 votes important to that group over the past three years, Kline has voted in their interest exactly once, and that one vote was the 2003 vote cited by Mr. Kubista.

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