And if you’re in the 10th Congressional District, vote for Judy Feder.
I’m going to make my plea to those who live in my own 11th CD to please vote for Andy Hurst as well as for Jim Webb for U.S. Senate this Tuesday, November 7.
It is long past time for some oversight in our government. The problem with the one party rule that we’ve experienced for six years is that there has not been adequate checks and balances.
That’s not the way to run a government. It’s not even the way you run a good business. In business, there are accounting standards that demand checks and balances and even audits to ensure accountability and honesty. If that’s how a private business is run, then surely a government, which is responsible to its citizens, should have even more transparency and accountability. The citizens, after all, foot the bill for the government.
And those citizen-taxpayers are dissatisfied on a number of fronts.
They want a solution to the war in Iraq that gets our soldiers out of harms way without compromising national security. Yet reports have shown that our presence in Iraq has actually made us more vulnerable to terrorist threats rather than safer. And in a stunning blow to the current administration, all the branches of our armed forces have called for Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s ouster.
Basically our people in uniform have voted no confidence in the Secretary of Defense. Yet President Bush has vowed to “stay the course” on keeping him. You can’t credibly say that our military leaders simply have a partisan gripe with their civilian leader. Everybody can see how badly things are going in Iraq, just as they can see how badly its going in the rest of the Middle East, North Korea, and around the world. The military is merely echoing the no confidence that civilians feel with the course we are being urged to stay.
Democrats certainly don’t have all the answers. Democrats, if you will recall, have been systematically excluded from leadership and marginalized by this administration and by Republican congressional leaders. Without access to meaningful intelligence reports it’s difficult to say what to do differently with any certainty.
But Democrats do agree on some alternatives including sending the National Guard troops home, moving Special Forces troops to friendly countries so they can monitor conditions in Iraq and contain terrorism in that country. They also favor seeking a diplomatic solution to the civil war there, which would bring Iraq’s neighbors and our European allies into the solution. Democrats want to ensure that our security needs are met, contrary to Republican claims, and find a way out of the morass that we are in, in Iraq.
On the economic front, Republicans are baffled that the country is not overjoyed at the economy they’ve created. We’ve had years of solid growth, high productivity and low unemployment, although growth has slowed dramatically this quarter and productivity is also on a downward spiral. Only the unemployment rate has dipped even lower. Now, investors fear the combination of a tight employment market and low productivity might drive wages up and spike inflation.
For ordinary workers, it’s a no win situation. When business growth was sizzling and profits were shooting sky high, high productivity kept their wages low. In fact, that was a favorable condition to economists, who always fear higher wages as a sign of inflationary pressure.
So, if workers cannot share the gravy in the good times, and any advance they make is a threat to the good of the economy (whereas astronomical salaries, generous bonuses and stock options, and munificent perks for CEOs are all considered justifiable expenses), what stake do employees have in the economy?
That’s what explains the sourness the ordinary voter feels for the economy. It’s why good economic conditions have not given Republicans any traction and why voters trust Democrats more with the economy.
And they’re right. Democrats understand the difference between greed, which contrary to Gordon Gekko, the character in the movie Wall Street, is not good. Rational self-interest is very good. Encouraging businesses to share the good times with workers, instead of resenting them as a necessary but evil expense that cuts into business profits and bonuses, is rational self-interest.
Democrats would raise the minimum wage and work with businesses to find ways to make healthcare more affordable and to encourage secure pensions. And they would do it in ways that would strengthen business because nobody wants to see business hurt; that’s killing the goose that lays the golden egg. And that, by the way, is the difference between rational self-interest and greed. Most workers don't want to gain benefits that hurt business in the long run. They want good salaries and good benefits only to the degree that it helps business not hurts it.
Republicans fear that Democrats would repeal Bush’s tax cuts. They probably would.
Instead, they would encourage targeted tax cuts that benefit the middle class and working people because economists have shown that when you give tax cuts to wealthy people, they do not spend it in ways that stimulate the economy. They stick it in savings or investment. But with the economic slowdown now a fact, we are going to need to stimulate the economy again and the fastest way to encourage people to spend is to give them money in their pocket as a tax cut does. The people who actually spend tax cuts in ways that stimulate the retail sector are poorer people. That’s because they’re the ones who have to put off purchases and if you give them an extra dollar, there’s stuff they actually need but couldn’t afford. So they’ll buy.
Tax cuts could also go to businesses that provide decent health coverage to employees to help offset the expense. There are other ways to use tax cuts to reward businesses for helping employees with healthcare, pensions, and even daycare for workers.
Because Democrats have different priorities than Republicans they will use tax cuts differently than Republicans. Not just to benefit the top one percent of the wealthiest members of society, but to benefit the middle class and working people.
Jim Webb and Andy Hurst have both demonstrated that they understand the needs of the middle class. Both of them want to find a solution to the mess in Iraq and realize staying the course isn’t it. Both men have demonstrated integrity and independence.
This country needs a change and both of them can help find it. They would represent Virginia with an integrity that is sadly lacking in Washington right now and Virginians could be proud to call them respectively Senator and Representative.
Vote Tuesday, and vote for Jim Webb for Senate and Andy Hurst for the House of Representatives.
And vote for Judy Feder in the 10, because everything I’ve said above applies to her too. And she would bring tremendous intelligence and experience to Congress.