WatchSonoma Watch

Woolsey casts lonely vote against House budget cut

Rep. Lynn Woolsey


What led Rep. Lynn Woolsey to vote against cutting the House of Representatives budget last week?

The Petaluma Democrat joined 12 colleagues — all Democrats — who opposed a Republican bill to trim the House’s operating budget by 5 percent.

Woolsey said Saturday that she wants to preserve the services that her office provides for her constituents in the high-cost North Coast.

“I believe that the House should be held in higher esteem than the people who recommended our budget be cut,” she said.

“Each office represents 700,000 to 800,000 constituents, and in order to do what needs to be done, we spend money. Depending on where you are, salaries are higher or lower. Ours are very high out here. I just didn’t want to be intimidated.”

Woolsey has voted before against popular political winds.

In April, for example, she was one of 15 House members who voted in favor of a congressional cost-of-living pay raise.

Thursday’s measure to cut the House budget passed 410-13. It will force representatives to reduce their operating expenses by $75,000, or the equivalent of 1.5 staffers, its proponents said.

On one level, Woolsey’s vote is a tea leaf of sorts, said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political science professor.

“It’s because she’s not running again,” McCuan said. “I think it begins to signal that she has turned the page on 2012.”

Last month, Woolsey said she is considering retiring after 20 years in Congress when her term expires next year.

That decided, McCuan said, Woolsey would have seen no gain in a largely symbolic vote.

The bill will save $35 million a year, said GOP supporters who cast it as a vote for a new frugality in government spending. That’s equal to about 0.001 percent of the $3.5 trillion annual federal budget.

“Because the overall numbers of the debt are so staggeringly large, it doesn’t help that,” McCuan said.

But the staunchly liberal Woolsey likely had a deeper reason for her vote, he said.

“Really what’s behind this is, she really is so put off by the Republicans and this Congress, for her to vote any other way would have been a surprise,” McCuan said. “She doesn’t want to give any moral authority to the leadership of the 112th Congress.”

A colleague of McCuan’s, SSU political science professor Andy Merrifield, suggested that Woolsey’s belief in the value of government — combined with her security in a district that is overwhelmingly Democrat — may explain her vote.

“She’s stated it over and over again: Government service is honorable and big government is necessary,” Merrifield said.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, voted yes on the measure. He was on an airplane returning to California Friday and unavailable for comment.

Not all representatives spend all the money their offices are allotted each year — by law, what’s unspent is put toward cutting the deficit. It could not be determined Friday what Woolsey’s and Thompson’s offices spent last year.

33 Responses to “Woolsey casts lonely vote against House budget cut”

  1. Wesyern Cluebird says:

    @ Ted Appel,

    You wrote “It would have been a tougher decision if the term was central to the story…”

    I submit that it would have been a tougher decision if journalistic integrity had been practiced.
    To willfully whitewash a quote with questionable language by one of your sources, yet leave a comment that referenced that quote to be misused and taken out of context seems extremely irresponsible and even negligible to me. This action leaves some in the untenable position of having their comments true intent questioned.

    Who is the “we” that you say made the decision to edit out the quote?

    You say it stopped you cold to see the wording used by Mr. Merrifield
    Did you consider how it might affect anyone referencing that quote for you to edit it out without notice? Did you already know that the comment regarding that quote was going to be reprinted out of context in other newspapers?

    Maybe you are witnessing what many of us have noticed- that there are two standards, and that there are many who will try to rationalize, cover up, or deny any culpability for their language or behavior while simultaneously demonizing those who disagree with them.

    If the original quote struck someone else as strange language and they referenced it in their comments, I think you have an obligation to make it known that you are going to edit out the original quote and give the person that commented on it the opportunity to have their post taken off this site as well. Otherwise, you are complicit in whatever repercussions come from your decision to protect your sources from their own choice of words.

    These actions show that it is hazardous to post on this site for anyone who is conservative or disagrees with the protected class, and I would warn them to be circumspect in their posts.

  2. Kirstin says:

    Ted, I think readers are intelligent and thoughtful enough to separate Andy Merryfield’s quote (and its intended meaning) from the tragedy in Tuscon. Not everything is connected to that shooting, and we need not create “connections” where there are none.

  3. Ted Appel says:

    Yes, we did remove the “bulletproof” reference from Andy Merrifield’s quote on Saturday evening when we updated the story with Rep. Woolsey’s explanation of her vote on the House budget. Mr. Merrifield clearly had a different meaning in mind when he used that word while speaking with our reporter on Friday, but it stopped me cold when I went back into the story on Saturday evening. In light of the Arizona shootings earlier that day, it struck me as an inappropriate analogy.

    It would have been a tougher decision if the term was central to the story, but I thought the element that Mr. Merrifield was trying to convey – that it is difficult to unseat Rep. Woolsey in a district that is overwhelmingly Democrat – was communicated clearly even with the quote removed.

    Ted Appel
    WSC Moderator

  4. Phil Maher says:

    Hi Ted,

    Just wanted to let you know that Joyce’s comment here was boosted by the Petaluma Progressive and Woolsey herself in the IJ. In both cases, they completely eliminated Merrifield’s quote that was contained in Joyce’s post to suit their purposes. They spun it. Without the exact quote, the real context is lost. Please don’t go down that road, too.

  5. Phil Maher says:


    What happened to the remainder of the original quote from Merrifield?

    “This is a continuation of that- and she has the beauty of being bulletproof.”

    That’s PC censorship. Stand with what’s been originally printed in the article, and let Woolsey’s handlers pick and choose the convenient omissions.

  6. Just Me says:

    Chuck H. I agree with almost everything you’ve said.

    Please get your facts before you spout about the overpaid public employee pensions. County employees have a retirement plan vs a pension plan because we are REQUIRED to contribute from every single paycheck we get. There is no opting out unless you are hired at age 60 or above.

    I sure could have used that money each payday when raising my kids as a single parent with no child support coming in and my salary was only $20 above welfare and food stamps cutoff. And how humiliating it was to even go in and ask! My counterparts in private sector made quite a bit more than I did. Payday would come and after I paid my rent, daycare and utilities, I had between $5 and $6 to buy food and gas for 2 weeks. Needless to say, I am now very grateful I was FORCED to put that money aside for today, which I’m now receiving and oh yeah…still not rolling in the dough.

  7. Jim says:


    And you know what kills me is that Woolsey voted to shovel wealth on over to the “monied interests” but I guess you forgot about that?

    As the church lady said: How Conveeeenient.

  8. Chuck H. says:

    Oh, and a P.S. to You People Are Boring Me:

    2010 Congressional election results:

    242 Republican
    193 Democrat


  9. Chuck H. says:

    Bonnie, you make a good point that the the comments can cross over into unwarranted namecalling but it does show the broad underlying anger that led to the Dems losing the House.

    Doesn’t the idea that big government is needed at all levels to get things done scare you at all? A national one that punishes success and encourages laziness through runaway entitlement programs? A state one that is more concerned with which days I burn my fireplace than coming up with a comprehensive economic recovery plan? A county/city one that needs an almost 10% sales tax to fund pensions for their employees so they can retire 20 yrs before I get to? A city one that goes to voters with hat in hand and gets a tax increase for their empty coffers, then offers up an idea to spend $20 million on a bike bridge?

    Just an opinion where some of the vitriole comes from and remember that the namecalling has come from both sides. While government service is honorable it shouldn’t be profitable on the backs of its citizens. Just ask the city of Bell.

  10. Bonnie says:

    “Liberal vermin”…”yak plop”…”dumb”…these ad hominem epithets reflect more on the people who wrote them than on Lynn Woolsey.

    Government service IS honorable and big government IS necessary. Government spending is what kept us out of a full-blown 1930′s-style depression.

    What’s more, every government service that has been privatized has ended up costing the taxpayer more than it did previously.

    The monied interests that are scooping up more and more of our national wealth with each passing year (more than at any time since the Roaring Twenties) want us to believe that government is bad, because the belief serves their interests, and most of the commenters here have mindlessly swallowed the propaganda. Fortunately, the majority of Sonoma County voters know better.

  11. truth in news says:

    I would be happy if she would just have the same ssi and medical benifits we have instead of the ones she voted for herself. “Some animals are more equal than others..” (G. Orwell)

  12. John G. says:

    Do you think that voting for Liberal vermin like Woolsey keeps your money here? It most certainly does not. Liberals vote to have your federal taxes raised to have money sent to Washington before it is sifted through hundreds of bureaucracies before it is “kindly” granted to the states. Last I read in California we get about 68 cents on the dollar we send to Washington. Voting for Woolsey is “enriching weapons manufacturers and Haliburton”.

    Less taxes= more money for our local economy.

  13. You people are boring me says:

    2010 election results, 6th CD:
    Woolsey 135,855 65.4%
    Judd 61, 521 30.3%

    Mr. Judd, WE THE PEOPLE have spoken.


  14. Marty Schoenfield says:

    Woolsey is an H word. Hypocrite.

    Several years ago she was against the war in Iraq, siding with her left wing supporters, who demanded we get out of Iraq. Oh, that terrible George Bush, shame on him, look what he is doing.

    However, she voted in 2003 to get us into that war initially. Why didn’t she vote against Bush’s war in the first place?

    Anyone doing a little investigation would have known that the so-called weapons of mass destruction fear was a pile of BS. Further, Bush et al were wrong to attack Iraq regardless of any so called MDA’s.

    This incident shows her left wing, socialist constituents will vote for anyone who wants bigger gubmint and fewer rights for we the people.

    Not one of her supporters or the news media (Press Demogogue) have ever called her on this hypocrisy.

  15. Clay says:

    Moderators, here is one vote for this as quote of the day:

    “The people who keep voting this xeynific yak plop into office are actually to blame.”

    It’s not every day you hear people mention yak plop! lol….

  16. Sandy says:

    District 6 blew it when they did not vote for Jim Judd. He kicked her $%# in every debate. This women wrote a feel good letter for the son of a employee who was being charged for rape. She proudly marched with the Farm workers union. Why in the world would anyone vote for her union or not. Every time I call or write her office she says we will have to agree to disagree on this. Meaning your thoughts mean nothing to me. She is a joke and has been for 20 years. She was not prepared to debate Jim Judd and knew she had union backing and did not have to. How corrupt is our system when a Union can dictate the way voters vote. Sick

  17. jake says:

    Woolsey is awesome. I pay over 20k in taxes, and I want it spent here for constructive reasons, not enriching weapons manufacturers and Halliburton.

    All you namecallers are pathetic.

  18. Steve Humphrey says:

    Sadly when this dispicable excuse for a public servant is finally out of office, her replacement will carry on her values. Does anyone really believe that someone with good moral character, strong fiscal responsibility and a desire to limit government will ever get elected in this district?
    Our only hope is that those who vote with intelligence rise up and come out with the gloves on in 2012.

  19. Chuck H. says:

    Great, so now Woolsey becomes and acts like a lame duck her first week in the new term. Refuses to cut spending, votes for pay increases and tells her constituents that big government is necessary on her way out the door. Says thanks for the big meal and sticks us all with the check and manages to insult the military to boot.

    Hard to believe 6th district voters haven’t seen through this facade and now they realize they got exactly what they were voting for, just another lip service politico looking out for herself and her cronies. Hope everyone’s enjoyed the Kool-aid the past 18 years.

  20. InsiderS.C. says:

    We the people are the watched. Congress and the Senate are the watchers. Who is watching the watchers? Who holds our elected representatives accountable? Is it we the people? Some would say yes. It looks and sounds like our elected representative think they are only accountable to themselves. Some would say accountable to there respective parties. In light or our countries vast problems with the economy, the budget, unemployment,infrastructure failure, the list is too long and daunting and depressing for any one individual or party to overcome. Partisan politics and finger pointings time has gone on too long. There is no one solution or fix all to this mess our country is in. Compromise on everyones part and by-partisan politics can start the healing and when there is a realization that a particular fix is not working it is everyones responsiblity to stop the bleeding so to speak and WORK together on a different approach. I am sick and tired of listening to the bickering. Just remember that you the people elected these representatives. If you want to blame somebody, blame yourself.
    I don’t like Woolsey or her politicing, but I didn’t vote for either. I would support anyone that fights for a bill or cause that has benifits for everyone. It just seems that our elected representatives are not representing at all. Seems there only interest is preserving there seats on mount high,making sure that they recieve the pay raise they can vote for them selves,continue to recieve the full medical benefits that we the people continue to pay for, I will never understand that, and so they continue there privilages as congressmen and senators. Is twenty years in office too long? should there be term limits on how many time any person can run for elected
    office or at least a congressman or senator? The president can only serve two four year terms? Why can congressman and senators sit in office a lifetime?

  21. Kirstin says:

    So, her office didn’t return phone calls about this subject? How unsurprising. Once she has been re-elected, the idea of accountability to the voters goes right out the window. She isn’t alone among politicians on that, but it’s a big reason she should have been voted out long ago.

    Regarding Mr. McCuan’s comment that 5% doesn’t help the staggering trillions of deficit because it is too small: like others I would have preferred a House vote for a bigger cut (20% sounds good!), but nevertheless at least the House did something. Had Nancy Pelosi continued as Speaker, we would have been lucky not to have seen an increase in their budget! Every dollar cut helps.

    Also, it is interesting that neither David McCuan nor Andy Merrifield expressed a theory that Rep. Woolsey voted against the cut because of any concern for her staff. I think it might have been a contributing factor.

    The idea that she voted against this action because she can’t bear to give any moral authority to the Republicans is surely a factor, but it just points to her inability to work in a bipartisan manner. She wants everything her own way or she won’t play and we cannot afford those kinds of representatives at this crucial time.

    Rep. Woolsey refuses to acknowledge the need to cut federal non-military spending, and this vote on her part highlights that wrong-headed view. The government needs to go on a diet, and even if Lynn Woolsey won’t go along, the House is going to act on that need.

  22. Josh Stevens says:

    Ironicly,Lynn gave the best description for her own career when she called the Afghan War an “…epic failure…a national embarrasment…and a moral blight.”

    Now repeat those words again Lynn,this time look in the mirror as you read it.

  23. Steveguy says:

    I would have voted against it for a different reason.

    A 5% cut is too small, it should be 20%.

    Lynn Woolsey is an embarrassment. Someone should check out her wealth, as I believe it is far above what she really earned.

  24. Jimbo96 says:

    Maybe you should do a report on how much money is spent by Woolsey and her various offices? Wouldn’t it be nice to know just how much money she wastes on her staff, transportation and other expenses. This should be something that is available for everyone to see. This is supposed to be a government of the people, so maybe we should know how much someone like Lynn is actually costing us…Cut her salary and perks by 50% or more…after all she is supposed to SERVING us, not the other way around…

  25. Jimbo96 says:

    Lynn doesn’t seem to get what almost every person alive knows, that if you keep spending more than you have you go broke.
    The people who keep voting this xeynific yak plop into office are actually to blame. “TANSTAASFL—There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” So she doesn’t want to cut her budget even 5%…Tell you what, how about cutting her salary to what a Sergent in the Marines makes? After all he/she is putting their life on the line, and all Lynn has to do is brave the weather…Sorry to say that she can fool so many of the voters…but as dumb as she is, the people who vote for her are to blame…enjoy your tax more and spend even more representative…

  26. Dan Delgado says:

    Woolsey and Wiggins appear to be of the same cloth. They claim to be looking out for the small guy, but when push comes to shove, they feather their own nest first. They treat government as some big deep-pocketed monster from which as many spoils as possible are to be gained. They don’t see that government is really us and every grab comes right out of our pockets. And speaking of which, be sure to get those 1099s and W-2s out. Tax time is here.

  27. Phil Maher says:

    She needs a caption bubble to go with her photo, and it just screams for- “What?”

  28. Jim Judd says:

    She can either be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. Her actions speak for themselves. Reap what is sown District 6. Her self-importance speaks loud and clear.

  29. Joe says:

    Woolsey has never had a problem with spending other peoples money! It is that welfare mentality!

  30. S.O.S. says:

    “But Woolsey has voted before against popular political winds.”
    ..and also against her constituents wishes and best interests.

    “Because the overall numbers of the debt are so staggeringly large, it doesn’t help that,” McCuan said.

    So we should keep digging the hole deeper? Woolsey’s and other elected representatives wasteful,self serving spending helped it grow so staggeringly large in the first place.Stop it!

    “She doesn’t want to give any moral authority to the leadership of the 112th Congress.”

    How can she give something that she doesn’t have? She would rather drive us further into fiscal disaster and chaos than to let the republicans take any credit for solutions or interfere with her latest spending spree.

    “She’s stated it over and over again: Government service is honorable and big government is necessary,” Merrifield said.
    How honorable is it to spend us into oblivion in order to grow government bigger, stronger and even less accountable or responsive to it’s citizens? More proof that saying something doesn’t make it true.

    A desire to maintain those fantastic 13% approval ratings must be driving her efforts to increase the marine santuary area but decrease Medicare by $575 billion dollars.
    A new motto for Lynn might be “Cut off the old-embrace the cold!”

    Just when she wants to make a lasting legacy to herself, the party crasher republicans want to decrease spending!

  31. Greg Karraker says:

    First, she insults every American soldier by calling the unfortunately necessary war on Jihad an epic failure and a national embarassment.

    Then, basking in the glow of her 381st ineffectual anti-war speech made to a chamber populated by empty seats, she smugly votes against a symbolic cut of 5% in her own staff budget.

    Can we please persuade Charlie Rangel to move here, so we can finally can have a Representative who is not a total disgrace?

  32. Notlob says:

    There are very few places in the USA where she could get away with this blatant demonstrated behavior of “don’t give-a-dang”. Unfortunately, she is not alone in her attitudes in SoCo.

  33. “She’s stated it over and over again: Government service is honorable and big government is necessary,” Merrifield said. “This is a continuation of that — and she has the beauty of being bulletproof.”

    Ohhhhh, she must have two bulletproof vests, two cars with bulletproof windows and no idea that she can’t take all her money and mcdouble possessions with her.

    My gosh how does she sleep at night?