PA-03: NOT ONE ANYONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS YEAR-- BUT THEY SHOULD. STEVEN PORTER CAN BEAT CONGRESSMAN GLUTTONY
Very little has been said this year about Phil English and the chances of replacing him in PA's 3rd congressional district (Erie down to Meadville, Sharon and Butler and some of the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh). A few years ago, English, a right wing imbecile, a total rubber-stamper and a hugely obese slug who is never seen without a donut or a sandwich or slice of pizza being shoveled into his open maw, was considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Pennsylvania. All but two of the GOP incumbents who managed to get re-elected with relatively tight margins in 2004--Charlie Dent (59%) and Phil English (60%)-- have been targeted by the DCCC in a big way this year: Michael Fitzpatrick (55%), Curt Weldon (59%), and Jim Gerlach (51%). None of the professional prognosticators seem to think English is in any danger.
In November he will be facing Steven Porter again-- his opponent from 2004. Dr. Porter has been an active diarist on Daily Kos. In 2004 Porter received 40% of the vote despite being outspent 6-1 by Congressman Gluttony and despite being virtually ignored by the DCCC. The DLC types don't seem to mind English all that much. Like them he's a huge free trade booster-- even though the 3rd CD has suffered mightily at the hands of NAFTA and outsourcing.
English was successful in starting a vicious whispering campaign against Porter that he advocated sterilizing alcoholics and banning hunting. Though both charges were false, they had an impact on voters and Congressman Gluttony is reviving them as truisms again. (When he announced his candidacy this year, Porter forcefully addressed the lies and misrepresentations Congressman Gluttony heaped on him. "Sterilization. I am not now nor have I ever been in favor of the forced sterilization of anyone; nor have any of my writings ever advocated the sterilization of people against their will."
On the issues, Porter is as good a match for northwest Pennsylvania as Congressman Gluttony is a bad one. The district, adjacent to some of the hardest hit areas of Ohio, has been in a downturn ever since Bush and the Republican rubber-stamp Congress have implemented their devastating economic policies-- or devastating to working and middle class Americans anyway. Unemployment is high there and good skilled industrial jobs have been replaced-- if at all-- by low wage service jobs, the #1 hallmark of the Bush economy.
Compare the platforms of the two candidates and you are unlikely to find two clearer examples of the differences between a grassroots progressive and a corporate reactionary. A stalwart supporter of Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt and John Boehner, Congressman Gluttony has made his fat ass right at home in the Republican Culture of Corruption, even going so far as to run-- unsuccessfully-- for the head of the NRCC. English has been sucking up money from DeLay, Boehner and Abramoff and consistently voting to weaken ethics rules in the House. Porter sees the type of behavior English is guilty of as a threat to the foundations of our democratic system. "Of all the things Congress can do to preserve the American democracy, campaign finance reform is the most important. Government today has become a sale in which office holders are bought in exchange for the money to run their election campaigns. This has created a spider web of special interests and has led to the conviction on the part of many Americans that the votes of the people no longer matter."
Porter supports a woman's right to choice. Congressman Glutton opposes it-- always. Porter believes in equality under the law for gay men and women. The Hog-Who-Walks-Upright is a vicious and persistent homophobe.
English supports the rights of corporations to import cheap labor and to export good jobs. Porter has actual plans to help reinvigorate the economy of northwestern Pennsylvania. Unlike English, he is not satisfied with NAFTA and CAFTA and all that bullshit, something on which he stands with progressives and against reactionaries of both political parties, including, ominously, the ones with their fingers on the spigots of DCCC finances.
English has been a rubber-stamp for Bush's catastrophic Iraq policies and his outrageous environmental policies. Porter is a committed environmentalist and someone who would never let a president of either party just ride roughshod over the Constitution, not when it comes to waging war or to domestic spying or to any of the deprecations of the BushCheney Regime that English has unswervingly supported.
Porter's statement of healthcare alone should be enough of a reason to replace English with him. "The skyrocketing cost of health care and prescription drugs is putting the very survival of our people bbeyond the reach of millions. It is also one of the factors leading to the outsourcing of jobs to labor markets where the employer has no health care responsibility for workers. The reason why solutions to the health care problem do not emerge is because the legislators who might enact such solutions are owned by the health care and insurance industries. My opponent has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from these industries in exchange for votes which keep the cost of medical care and prescription drugs higher by far than they are for the people of other nations. The answer to our health care problems is a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system which is run not by the government but by physicians themselves. Such a system was recently proposed in the Journal of the American Medical Association... and it has been proposed as legislation in the House of Representatives as HR 676."
And, of course, their views on taxation are diametrically opposed. English is all about tax breaks for multimillionaires and corporations. Porter advocates an entirely different approach. "In 1960, the corporations of America paid about 24% of all Federal income taxes. Today that rate has dropped to 8%. The difference has been shifted onto the backs of America’s middle class. Currently we have a policy in Washington, a policy for which my opponent has voted, in which the wealthiest individuals and the wealthiest corporations pay less and less and get back more and more. Just this year it has been stated that 60% of American corporations paid nothing in Federal income taxes. Profits made on foreign soil can be deferred from taxation year after year. The largest estates are exempt from taxation when they change hands. And all these tax breaks serve ultimately to deprive the government of revenue so that it, in turn, cuts services to the people. Moreover, when the Federal government cuts revenues to the states, the states have no choice but to raise state and local taxes and cut state services. The most unfair and damaging example of this is what happens to our local schools. The Fed cuts state money, so the state cuts state aid to schools thus forcing local property taxes up and school services down. The answer to the tax dilemma is to have everyone, rich and poor, person and corporation, pay their fair share. And that will not happen until legislators who take money from wealthy special interests, legislators like my opponent, are replaced by legislators beholden only to the people."
This is a race worth getting involved in. It isn't enough just to beat the Republicans. It is almost as important to make certain independent-minded Democrats are elected who will stand up to corporate-oriented Democratic power-mongers like Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer. Steven Porter will be that kind of a Democrat in Congress, someone who will stand up for traditional Democratic values and for the little guy-- against the DeLays and Bushes and Cheneys and against the Emanuels and Liebermans as well. If we want a better country, it's not only about partisan victories; it's about electing the right kind of Democrats-- like Steven Porter.
MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE: A CHANCE TO ACT BLUE
DWT has just added an ACT BLUE Page for Steven Porter. So if you'd like to see Congressman Gluttony waving bye-bye in November, keep in mind that even $10 or $20 is a tremendous help when enough people get together to combat the influence of the rich and powerful.