Friday, January 25, 2013

Toi Hutchinson: "I Am Nervous When Democrats Talk About A Grand Deficit Bargain That Would Slash Medicare And Social Security"


Over the past couple of weeks we've been making the case for electing Illinois state Senator Toi Hutchinson to Congress. Tuesday, the senator made the case for herself at a live chat at Crooks and Liars. I think her responses-- and the responses she made to Nicole Sandler's questions on her radio show Monday-- are indicative of what we're looking for in representatives of working families. She isn't going to be another out-of-touch rich person fighting for the rights of banksters to rip off consumers or for the one percent to not have to pay their fair share of taxes. Judge for yourself:

Asked about the support she had voiced for the public option while speaking with Nicole, she gave a fuller explanation:
I’ve always been a strong supporter of the public option because I don’t think it’s ok that there are so many people in our country that are just one illness away from going broke. We heard so many times that the problem with the public option was that it would make it impossible for private companies to compete. So if we had a publicly funded plan that provided quality care, people would migrate to it from the big insurance companies? That’s competition! That’s exactly the kind of thing the right-wing should be encouraging.

What I said on the show yesterday was that healthcare delivery is just like mail delivery in this way. Fedex is the private option, USPS is the public option. And the reason it doesn’t cost $99 to send a package through the private option is because the Postal Service will do it for $6. The public option holds private carriers accountable, and having a public option for health insurance would do the same thing. If it’s able to efficiently provide coverage and afford a high standard of care to patients, then that’s something we as a country should embrace.

And no on the crusade against the Post Office-- 6 day delivery! Seriously though-- I represent rural areas that depend on the post office to be open and working six days a week. I don't agree with attempts to cut that short.
Her main primary opponent, ex-Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, joined the Republicans in voting against consumer protection in financial markets and against Wall Street reform. That has a lot to do with why so many Democrats were disillusioned enough to stay away from the polls in 2010 and let a Republican beat Halvorson. When asked if she would have voted differently, Toi was happy to draw a distinction between herself and the self-described "conservative Democrat" Halvorson.
Absolutely. I was deeply disappointed to see her vote against Wall Street Reform. I think the reality is that that bill didn’t go far enough, but it was a critical first step. For too long we’ve put a premium on protecting big banks and big business instead of regular people. Wall Street sent our economy over a cliff in 2008, and the response was over a trillion dollars in aid while countless thousands of Americans lost their jobs, homes, and savings. The purpose of Dodd-Frank is to make sure that doesn’t happen again, so that risks taken by a few fat cats aren’t paid for by millions and millions of regular people that just can’t afford another collapse and bailout like that. And it’s not just the restrictions on bailouts and too-big-to-fail, which we have to keep working on, but it’s also the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There’s no question in my mind that these were critical steps, and that it is a legitimate role for government to make sure that big corporations can’t deceive and rip off regular people in the future.
And when asked if her admiration and respect for President Obama-- a former Illinois state Senator himself-- would influence her to put her progressive ideals aside for him, she was adamant that she wouldn't.
I don’t think the party of the President, or the state from which he hails, should affect how I or any congressperson does their job in the least. My constituents are (hopefully) electing me because of the vision I have articulated and the judgment I have demonstrated. That means that a bad policy doesn’t become good merely because of the immense respect and admiration I bear for the President. The Afghanistan example is a good one-- we have to bring our military home from that engagement. But there are other good examples out there as well-- I am nervous when Democrats talk about a grand deficit bargain that would slash Medicare and Social Security. For me, these cuts are just not an option at this point, and I fully intend on standing up for the seniors no matter who is issuing the proposal to slash their benefits. President Obama is such a massive improvement after the last years. I think his heart is in the right place and that he truly intends to fight for regular people in places like the district I seek to represent, but I’m asking people to elect me on the strength of my principles and my record. That’s a sacred trust, and I intend to honor it no matter what.
One of her "Democratic" opponents, Napoleon Harris is virulently homophobic and anti-Choice and really pretty Republican on most issues. He's 180 degrees away from where Toi is coming from-- and going to.
I'm proud that Illinois was out-front at first on decriminalizing homosexuality, and I'm hoping that it's the next state to legalize marriage equality. We almost got it done in the lame duck session at the beginning of the month, but feel a little short, but I'm hoping we get it done during this upcoming regular session.

And yes, I'm absolutely working on it. I voted in favor of civil unions a few years ago when it came up, and I'm a cosponsor on the current legislation to make this state truly equal.

You know, my husband Paul is the product of a mixed race marriage. When his parents got married, Loving v. Virginia hadn't happened yet and there were states that still outlawed their relationship. So in a real way, I feel like I can connect to the importance of this issue. They made the same excuses back then as to why mixed race marriages shouldn't be allowed-- "unnatural", the sacred institution of marriage, etc. It was ridiculous then, and it's ridiculous now. I'm looking forward to voting in favor of equality in Illinois in the next few months.
Blue America has a goal of raising $5,000 for Senator Hutchinson's campaign this week. We're getting close, mostly with small contributions from all over the country. If you can help, here's the special ActBlue page we set up for the special election primary next month.

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