Friday, January 08, 2016

Joe Sestak-- A Critical Thinker Who's Never Going To Turn Into A Schumercrat


A Schumercrat, a Democrat and a Republican

When I first met Joe Sestak, he was overcoming the opposition of DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel to his run for Congress in 2006 against corrupt Republican slug Curt Weldon. Sestak ousted the entrenched incumbent 56-44%, which Emanuel was happy to take credit for. Sestak was in the first batch of candidates Blue America endorsed, a full decade ago. He was completely organized and expected the people who worked for him worked as hard as he did-- just the right kind of candidate. Once he entered Congress, he always seemed like a pretty good congressman to me, not a firebrand like Grayson or Edwards or Ellison, but a solid member dedicated to doing what he could for ordinary working families in his suburban Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties district. What I especially liked about Sestak is that when we disagreed on an issue it always led to a respectful and reasonable debate. Not every congressman does that; almost none I've ever met.

Sestak was easily reelected in 2008 and then ran against Arlen Specter, who had switched to the Democratic Party. Much to the chagrin of the Beltway establishment, Sestak, outspent 3-1, beat Specter 54-46%, despite Specter's support from bigwig conservative Democrats like Gov. Ed Rendell and Senator Bob Casey. But 2010 was a disastrous year for Democrats nationally. In the special Senate elections leading up to the general, Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley in deep blue Massachusetts and Mark Kirk beat the Democrat in Illinois for Obama's seat. Democrats lost in Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, where Ron Johnson beat Russ Feingold 52-47%. In Florida, the Democrat, Kendrick Meek, only took 20% of the vote in a 3-way race with Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio. Pat Toomey got 2,028,945 (51%) to Sestak's 1,948,716 (49%), one of the least bad Democratic performances in a competitive race anywhere. On the same day Republican Tom Corbett took 2,172,763 votes (54.5%) to 1,814,788 (45.5%) for the establishment Democrat running for Pennsylvania governor. Also that day Democrats lost 5 seats in the Congress, all by much worse margins than Sestak's loss:
• Kathy Dahlkemper 44.3%
Patrick Murphy 46.5%
Chris Carney 44.8%
Paul Kanjorski 45.3%
And the seat in the 7th that Sestak gave up was won by Pat Meehan 55-44%. You'll notice that Sestak came closer to bucking the trend than anyone else in Pennsylvania. But now Chuck Schumer-- another Rahm Emanuel-- is running around bad-mouthing Sestak and telling media and donors than he's "a loser"-- and much worse things. One thing Joe Sestak is not and will never be is a Schumercrat, a kind of a creepy crawly creature with no backbone and no mind of his own, so Schumer recruited-- as his 7th choice-- Katie McGinty, who ran for governor in 2014 and came in 4th with just 7.7% of the vote. That's not a loser? McGinty, however, is a Schumercrat and will just be another one of his yes-men if she ever gets into the Senate, which isn't likely.

Had I followed Joe around yesterday, I would have been in 4 cities-- Harrisburg, Scranton, Bethlehem and Bryn Mawr-- listening to him talking with voters about a plan, chock full of specifics-- for how he intends to restore the American Dream for working families. The introduction to his plan emphasizes the role of competent, service-oriented leadership. "Over the last several decades," he wrote, "it became popular for public officials to force a pitched philosophical battle upon the American people, presenting our people with a Hobson’s choice of either ending government service to our citizens or using government to solve everything. As the divisive rhetoric escalated, working families continued to endure declining economic mobility and stagnant wages. This is a failure of leadership-- an assault on American unity at the expense of the American family. As a result of this failure, almost four-fifths of Americans no longer believe in the American Dream-- the idea that our children, based on their efforts, will have the opportunity to do better than we have done."

At his first stop Thursday morning he emphasized two aspects-- making homeownership more attainable for young families and raising all wages, not just the minimum wage, but wages for all working families. His plans for empowering homeowners and home-buyers includes expanding the eligibility of the Home Affordable Refinance Program to help people who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their house refinance their loans and get out of debt; making permanent an expired law that protects veterans from foreclosure during the year they return home from serving our nation, and extending expired protections for renters in foreclosed properties to ensure renters are given 90 days notice before eviction; recreating the successful first-time homebuyer tax credit to help first-time home buyers; increasing the allowable dollar amount of penalty-free IRA retirement withdrawals made for the purchase of a home, while also allowing parents to gift the increased withdrawal to their children for the purpose of purchasing a home; and instituting a new student loan interest formula based on 10-year and 30-year treasury notes and the Consumer Price Index to reduce the burden of student loan debt that is preventing many young adults from purchasing homes.

As far as raising wages, beyond the minimum wage, he talked about strengthening the economy, boosting job creation and ensuring that companies are not rewarded for shipping jobs overseas. So how does a senator from Pennsylvania do that? He talked about 6 goals he wants to work on-- strengthening existing middle-class tax breaks by raising the eligibility thresholds for the Child Tax Credit and Child Care Tax Credit, and ending the "marriage penalty" tax; creating a federal auto-enrollment IRA program to ensure greater retirement security for working families by allowing employees to contribute to a retirement account without creating additional costs for employers or impacting businesses profitability; updating the Affordable Care Act employer mandate to require health coverage based on a percentage of payroll instead of a number of employees, which will end hiring disincentives for small businesses; reducing corporate tax rates while also closing tax loopholes that allow companies to ship jobs overseas; and creating a one-time hybrid tax holiday in which companies are incentivized to bring an estimated $2.1 trillion in overseas bank accounts back home, while also encouraging investment in workforce training programs.

Second stop was Scranton, where Admiral Sestak addressed policies that will make quality education more affordable. "As a military man, the son of a mother who was a teacher, and a father who ensured that every one of his eight children attained a college education," he said, "I have always viewed education as our best 'homeland defense.' Simply put, I believe that affordable, quality education is vital to ensure that our children will be able to keep our country prosperous and obtain their own American Dreams. We need leaders who understand-- like our business leaders do-- that investing in education is not just for the benefit of our youth, but for our entire nation’s future." He laid out 8 goals: increasing school districts’ access to computerized testing so that teachers can know in real time how their students are learning and how to best serve their classes and individual students; fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for the first time in history to ensure that our schools have the tools they need to prepare all children to achieve their American Dreams; restoring the year-round Pell Grant program that was canceled without proper review; instituting a new funding formula to set lower interest rates on student loans by using 10-year and 30-year Treasury notes to determine the base interest rate, decreasing the $127 billion in profit the federal government is expected to make over the next decade off the backs of students; incentivizing federally-funded research programs/schools to provide family-friendly environments-- including flexible class schedules and child care-- to attract and retain women in STEM fields, which will continue to become increasingly important as our high-tech economy continues to evolve; developing minority business enterprise centers at historically black colleges and other leading minority institutions that serve large minority populations to better train minority entrepreneurs and support minority business development; establishing a program to provide funding for Community Colleges in states with unemployment rates above the national average-- like Pennsylvania-- to provide accelerated certificate programs in specific high-demand fields; and reauthorizing and updating the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to help restore funding to states to create and maintain technical education programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

In Bethlehem he discussed the policies he'll champion in Washington to create jobs through small businesses, invigorate American manufacturing, and improve the country's crumbling infrastructure. He talked about half a dozen points in relation to creating jobs through small business-- creating tax incentives to encourage angel investors and venture capital groups to invest money in small businesses with great ideas; making permanent the waiver for fees on loan guarantees for SBA loans under $150,000 to encourage minority business owners who are disproportionately denied credit by bank; creating a system of tiered regulation for small businesses by using models such as the ones used by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the U.S. Patent and Trade Office that charge based on the size of the offering or the size of the company, respectively as a way to help smaller businesses pay smaller fees and face less regulation; requiring federal agencies to more frequently hold negotiated rulemakings under the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 so small business owners can play a larger role in helping to design regulations before they are put into effect; increasing the staff of the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, which helps eliminate regulations that unfairly affect small businesses, saving businesses about $200 billion between 1998 and 2009 alone; and continuing to support the Export-Import Bank, which helped over 250 Pennsylvania businesses conduct $6 billion in transactions that supported over 35,000 jobs between 2007 and 2014.

He said that "[m]anufacturing has always been key to creating and maintaining good, quality jobs for working families. That is why I am excited to see that American manufacturing is on the cusp of a comeback, and why we must do everything we can to ensure that this trend continues. A strong manufacturing sector will allow us to secure good jobs for working families and ensure our long-term economic future." He offered 4 specifics: increasing funding for the green energy sector because unlike the oil/gas and coal industries where one and two jobs are created, respectively, for every $1 million invested, 4.5 jobs are created in the wind industry, 5.4 in solar, and 7.4 in biomass; extending the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit for a full five years to create certainty in the market to ensure a steady increase in production orders; holding international competitors accountable for intellectual property theft; and hiring more examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reduce the application backlog.

Job creation via infrastructure investment is something Democrats believe in and Republicans block, Sestak said that "if we want to remain the dominant economic power, we need to move fast to drastically improve the quality of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. America cannot compete in this global economy without a world-class infrastructure to move goods and people, and we need leaders who look to the future to ensure that we have the roads, bridges, waterways, airways, rail systems, and wireless infrastructure that working families need to thrive." Specifically he says he will pursue these 5 policies: providing funding to prepare our national freight system for the expected 88 percent increase in tonnage by 2035, expanding our seaports to handle increasing imports and exports, and improving our airports; addressing the gas tax used to support the Highway Trust Fund with the ultimate goal of eliminating or greatly lowering the tax in the future as long-term solutions become feasible. while creating a national infrastructure bank to finance surface, water, and airway projects-- leveraging both public and private capital; expanding successful public-private partnerships, such as Indiana’s 2006 lease of its road toll system for 75 years in exchange for $3.8 billion; holding internet service providers accountable for allowing the United States to have one of the worst internet speeds among developed nations despite the high prices they charge consumers by creating incentives for them to provide higher speeds at lower costs and enlarge the digital capacity for schools and hospitals; and expanding broadband access to rural areas to support America’s agricultural sector and preserve farming as a way of life. Pennsylvania alone has 62,100 farms.

His last stop was at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr, covering the policies he will pursue in Washington both to stand with senior citizens and to ensure all workers have equal access to the workforce. The 6 points regarding empowering and protecting seniors are continuing the fight for an Elder Abuse Victims Act, which will arm prosecutors with new tools to defend seniors, allocate funds for elder abuse advocacy, and equip the government with tools to evaluate the effectiveness of state and federal programs; improving the quality of in-home care for seniors by raising wages for in-home workers, evaluating the potential impact of allowing skilled homecare workers into the country on work visas due to the current shortage, and expanding tax credits for people caring for elderly family members; investing additional resources for research into Alzheimer’s Disease; combatting Medicare fraud by exempting fraud-prevention programs from government sequestration, which has previously hurt these programs; improving quality of life by creating a new index for the cost of senior living; and fighting for the continued solvency of Social Security, which includes accounting for the more than six percent loss of covered earnings over the past three decades that has moved into the top six percent of wage earners and are no longer within the Social Security taxable income cap of $118,000.

And the policies that Sestak vows to pursue to ensure access to the workforce and strengthen worker protections include creating federal requirements for annual paid sick leave for businesses with 15 or more employees; creating a federal paid family leave program to allow new parents and workers caring for seriously ill family members to take time off without worrying about their livelihoods; improving workforce access for women by removing the arbitrary caps on the amounts large companies can pay to victims in gender discrimination lawsuits and improve funding for entrepreneurial development programs that support women entrepreneurs; protecting LGBT workers from discrimination by ensuring the passage of national nondiscrimination law for employment, housing, and public accommodation; making the unionization process more efficient and effective by allowing workers to unionize based on signed authorizations, while also guaranteeing the option of contract mediation and arbitration; ensuring that more workers are able to unionize by extending union and collective bargaining rights to public safety workers, but without the ability to strike; and creating safer workplace by updating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration penalties to double the minimum penalty for a worker’s death caused by willful violation of OSHA guidelines and making felony charges available for repeated and willful violations that result in a worker’s death or serious injury.

So what about McGinty? Schumercrats do what Schumer want them to do and what Schumer wants them to do is what Schumer donors-- primarily Wall Street-- want. You don't have to agree with every single items on Sestak's agenda to understand that it's going to be a lot better than what Wall Street dictates to Schumer and that what Schumer dictates to the Schumercrats.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home