Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Who Remembers Weasel Words? Interpreting Ro Khanna


We often hear Republicans-- particularly Paul Ryan and his cult followers-- saying things like “I don’t think we ought to be cutting benefits that have been promised to current seniors." The word "current" means the speaker wants to phase out Social Security for future generations, a very standard Republican Party position. But that particular quote I just transcribed, wasn't from Paul Ryan, one of his cult followers or even a registered Republican at all. It came from a certain breed of "Democrat" ungrounded in any of the principles or values of the Democratic Party. That quote came from Ro Khanna, the right-of-center Silicon Valley fundraiser/opportunist who has launched a scorched earth campaign against longtime progressive champion Mike Honda.

Honda has been a strong fighter on behalf of regular American families-- the ones that don't have the resources to hire their own slick K Street lobbyists or to bribe congressmembers with huge campaign contributions. Khanna... wait for it: "We need representatives that are willing to reach across the aisle and find common ground." That's another especially charged weasel phrase and it means giving in to hard right demands that the Republicans make. That mentality-- as well as Honda's record-- is why virtually the entire California Democratic House delegation has joined President Obama and California's two U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer in endorsing Honda. Nancy Pelosi led the way as soon as Khanna announced he was running:
“Congressman Mike Honda's life has been a tribute to the quintessential American ideals of equality and opportunity for all. From a childhood spent in an internment camp, Mike has risen to the heights of American leadership-- as one of the top Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee and a critical voice for fairness, the rights of LGBT couples and all families. Mike is a bold and effective leader who understands the needs of Silicon Valley and the 17th District, ensuring American competitiveness and fighting for American manufacturing, comprehensive immigration reform, STEM education and technological innovation. We need his continued leadership for our nation in the House of Representatives, and I am proud to endorse him.”
  Although another California fake "Dem" who has eagerly thrown in with the GOP at every opportunity-- Eric Swalwell-- has remained neutral, here are the California Members of Congress, spanning the ideological spectrum from Blue Dogs like Jim Costa and Loretta Sanchez and New Dems like Adam Schiff and Scott Peters to progressive warriors Barbara Lee, Xavier Becerra, Mark Takano and Judy Chu, who have endorsed Mike Honda's reelection:
Jared Huffman
John Garamendi
Mike Thompson
Doris Matsui
Ami Bera
Jerry McNerney
George Miller
Barbara Lee
Jackie Speier
Jim Costa
Zoe Lofgren
Sam Farr
Lois Capps
Julia Brownley
Judy Chu
Adam Schiff
Tony Cardenas
Brad Sherman
Grace Napolitano
Henry Waxman
Xavier Becerra
Gloria McLeod
Raul Ruiz
Karen Bass
Linda Sanchez
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Mark Takano
Maxine Waters
Janice Hahn
Loretta Sanchez
Alan Lowenthal
Juan Vargas
Scott Peters
Khanna first announced his campaign at De Anza College. But students there weren't taken him by his weasel words. Sunday, the student newspaper ran an opinion piece entitled Challenger to U.S. Rep. Mike Honda sidesteps Social Security in kick-off at DA.
Last Sunday former Obama White House cabinet official and Stanford educator Ro Khanna announced his campaign at a rally in the Sunken Gardens at De Anza for the 17th Congressional District, which encompasses a large part of Silicon Valley including Cupertino.

A crowd of 200 volunteers and supporters cheered as the youthful and exuberant Democrat announced he was running to help break the gridlock that has crippled politics in Washington.

“We need representatives that are willing to reach across the aisle and find common ground,” Khanna said.

Should Khanna win the election next year against the popular incumbent Mike Honda, questions remain over how far he would be willing to reach compromise with the Republican Party.

In exchange to pass his agenda, President Obama has introduced a budget that will radically reduce social insurance benefits to the aging population by recalculating the cost of living, potentially threatening those on Social Security most at risk of falling into poverty.

When asked where he stood on cutting social security benefits, Khanna danced around the question.

“I don’t think we ought to be cutting benefits that have been promised to current seniors,” Khanna said.

A popular talking point, “keeping promises to current seniors” is what most Democrats say when they don’t want to be held accountable for wanting to cut social insurance benefits.

A majority of the country favors preserving social security and trusts the Democratic Party more with entitlement programs over Republicans, who want to severely privatize them at the expense of society’s most vulnerable.

If you think that the Social Security issue does not affect you because you are far from retirement, think again.  If you are a wage earner, you are paying into the system and basically putting money into a fund that will hopefully be there for you in the future.

As students, we are living in precarious times of uncertain job markets, rising costs of living and inescapable student debt, and we have to ask ourselves if there will be a social safety net should things take a turn for the worse.

Honda believes that the new calculation “lowers earned Social Security benefits and would institute compounded benefit cuts that would hurt future retirees harder as time goes on,” according to his Facebook page. “We should be working together to make Social Security stronger not weaker.”

Honda has exhibited the type of leadership the Democratic Party needs on one of its core issues. His proven track record on the social compact is consistent, not compromising.
The most accurate polling firm in the business, Lake Research Partners, recently completed a survey of the 17th district (Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Milpitas, North San Jose, Newark, Fremont, and Berryessa) and showed Honda with a staggering 52 point lead over Khanna. Khanna has raised over a million dollars, much of it from Silicon Valley multimillionaires.
Honda begins with 57% of the vote while Khanna has 5%. Republican Evelyn Li picks up 13% of open primary voters with 23% undecided. Honda’s lead remains strong, holding an absolute majority of votes, even after compare and contrast messaging is provided... Another noteworthy finding was that among voters who work in the tech industry, 56% support Honda, while only 6% support Khanna. Honda’s proven track record of supporting initiatives that benefit innovation, job growth, and an educated and diverse workforce have been noticed by the people he represents.

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