Saturday, December 09, 2017

Picking Between Democrats-- There Are Good Ones And There Are Bad Ones


Most of the top pick-up congressional districts have half a dozen of so Democratic candidates vying for nominations this cycle. And often there are multiple viable candidates, racing good money and putting together competitive campaigns. So how do you know who to support? I hope you look at the Blue America endorsements and check out our endorsed candidates page (frequently). But let's leave Blue America out of the discussion for a moment.

Goal ThermometerI noticed that yesterday, another usually dependable progressive organization, DFA, declared for Laura Oatman in the costal Orange County district (CA-48) where Dana Rohrabacher-- Putin's favorite congressman-- bases himself. The DCCC has been trying to torpedo her campaign-- "too progressive" for the district they tell their institutional donors. When I caught them inviting Frick and Frack (more on them in a moment) to their DC Candidates Week and leaving Laura out, the claim was that "everyone was invited; anyone can show up." But they sent Frick an invitation. And they sent Frack and invitation-- but not Laura. Laura's the only progressive in the race-- and the only woman. Is the DCCC not aware of the energy around the 2018 election cycle? Of course, they're not, Are they ever? You can contribute to her campaign by tapping on the ActBlue California thermometer on the right.

Anyway, Frick and Frack-- Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda (the Bobsey Twins of Orange County Democratic politics)-- were both endorsed by the New Dems. The New Dems are the Republican wing of the Democratic Party... and they're very strict about who they back. Anyone endorsed by the New Dems, anyone endorsed by the Blue Dogs: automatic bad news.

But let's skip over to Pennsylvania for a moment. In the 16th district, the best local organization is Lancaster Stands Up, a Bernie-oriented local grassroots group. This week they made their candidates' questionnaires public in time for the mid-December endorsement vote among their members. The active candidates are DCCC establishment shill Christina Hartman, grassroots progressive Jess King, and a guy named Gary Wegman. We'll stick to comparing the 2 frontrunners, King and Hartman, though you can find all 3 candidates complete answers to all the questions at the link.

The first question was "What will you do to ensure that each of your constituents has access to quality health care? Please address in your answer whether or not you support a Medicare for All / single payer system." Hartman followed the standard DCCC (fixing Obamacare) and never mentioned single payer or Medicare-For-All: "The Affordable Care Act has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured individuals, but that doesn’t mean that the law was perfectly designed. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, it was our participation in health insurance marketplace that that gave us the opportunity and the resources to have his illness treated effectively. We need to protect, enhance, and expand the Affordable Care Act, and I will legislate common sense solutions to increase quality and cost-effectiveness, such as expanding access and addressing market distortions that result from government negotiated drug prices as we work towards universal healthcare."

Same answer for the guy named Gary. But Jess actually answered the question in a way that will make voters want to get out and vote:
It isn’t right that in the richest country on Earth, 28 million Americans live without health insurance. We pay more for health care than any other industrialized country, but have worse health outcomes across the board. We can change that. We can pass Medicare-for-All and ensure that every American, no matter how rich or poor, has medical care. Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege.

We need to continue protecting Obamacare. Our nation is better off because nearly 20 million more Americans have health insurance and insurance companies can’t raise our premiums because of a pre-existing condition.

But Obamacare is not enough. It was a compromise with the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies who wanted to maintain a complicated, private healthcare system that made them millions of dollars. We can do better.

We can create a system of guaranteed, lifetime health insurance by expanding Medicare to all Americans. Imagine what small businesses could do if they weren’t pouring tens of thousands of dollars into managing their employees' medical plans. Imagine what our families could do if we didn’t pay thousands of dollars in premiums each year. I have written publicly in support of Medicare-for-All describing my vision and held a town hall outside Rep. Smucker’s office.
Clear as a bell, right? Another question asked each candidate what they will do to take on economic inequality. Jess had obviously put some time into thinking about it:
I believe that decades of rewriting the rules of government to favor the top 1% has been a disaster for working families in the United States. From allowing Wall Street and corporate monopolies to consolidate power, undercutting the power of labor unions, and suppressing wages, the policies of the corporate establishment in both parties must be reversed.

I decided to run for Congress because I was sick and tired of working my heart out for ordinary Pennsylvanians, only to watch all of us fall further behind. We need to level the playing field for working families, instead of allowing the biggest corporations to dominate the market. We need to enforce antitrust laws to break up monopolies, rein in Wall Street, and give small businesses a fair shot.

We need to defeat tax bills that fund a massive giveaway to multimillionaires and multinational corporations and reform the tax system so that the rich can’t take more than their fair share, including taxing capital gains more than we tax the multi-millionaire’s secretary.

We must recognize that all work has value and all working people have rights. We need to raise the minimum wage, as I have advocated for locally, and make it easier, not harder, for workers to join a union.

Together, we can create a fair economy for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected in Washington.
Hartman hadn't; just DCCC boilerplate bullshit: "Lancaster, Chester, and Berks counties are known for their strong small businesses and a culture of entrepreneurship. We want to see these businesses grow and encourage everyone to take part. Businesses, schools, and local government-- our largest employers-- need job-ready employees with the skills that match their industries. We need to eliminate tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs and provide tax incentives to small businesses, creating more jobs here at home. I will work tirelessly to expand vocational and training opportunities, as well as to raise the minimum wage in a way that does not adversely impact local small businesses."

Hartman refused to answer the question on confronting racism and advancing racial justice. She just left that question blank. Again, King went right for it:
In August, I joined a vigil outside Rep. Smucker’s office to honor Heather Heyer, the young woman who lost her life standing up against racism in Charlottesville. It’s important that we always speak out against the grave dangers posed by resurgent white supremacy. It’s also essential we take responsibility as leaders to heal the deep wounds of racism in this nation.

If elected to Congress, I will represent the communities of color that I have lived in for my entire adult life as well as the rural community I was raised in. I will call out white supremacy and will fight for policies that move our nation towards justice and reconciliation, including:

The Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR. 2978) to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act and protect African-Americans, and all Americans, from measures that seek to disenfranchise them.

Legislation to reduce the mass incarceration and over-policing of African-Americans, including but not limited the bipartisan Sentencing & Reform Act (HR. 3713),

Legislation to form a National Truth & Reconciliation Commission for the purpose of righting injustices and inequities resulting from slavery, Jim Crow, and all forms of institutionalized racial discrimination.

Legislation to create jobs and wealth in communities impacted by decades of racial and economic discrimination, which I have advocated for in Lancaster.
Nor did Hartman answer the question about gender justice. Just left it blank, while King had quote a lot to say about it:
Women have a right to pursue our dreams, take care of our families, and make our own decisions about our bodies. At ASSETS, I co-founded the Women’s Business Center to move Lancaster towards parity for women in business. In Congress, we must pass federal legislation to ensure pay equity for women, comprehensive paid family leave, access to affordable child care, and guarantee that survivors of domestic violence have a safe place to go.

Full funding for women’s health: Empowering women means investing in an economy that works for all of us and our families. We must fully fund for women’s health centers like Planned Parenthood, expand access to crucial family planning services, and ensure that abortion is a last resort.

Comprehensive paid family leave: While the Family Medical Leave Act provides parents with 12 weeks of unpaid time-off, only three states - CA, NY, and NJ - guarantee paid time off for eligible workers. We need a national paid, time-off plan, modeled after the success of those states.

Defending and expanding funding for domestic violence shelters: Hundreds of women a day in PA are turned away from domestic violence shelters. No woman should have to stay in an abusive household because domestic violence shelters aren’t funded.

My work on the Women’s Business Center in the LNP: Why Lancaster Needs A Women's Business Center
Both Hartman and King responded to the question about a vision of public education, although Hartman refused to address the group's prompt to include whether or not she supports free public higher education. Hartman: "As a graduate of Manheim Township public schools, I believe every child should have the same opportunity to an excellent education that I did. High-quality schools and a strong economy give each of us our best chance to be successful. For too long, we’ve cut funding to our schools. Now is the time for us to invest again in our children’s futures and the future of our towns, villages, and cities. We need families to choose our communities as their homes, knowing their children will attend strong schools that will prepare them well for a future with our changing economy. We have a long and proud tradition of higher education here in central Pennsylvania, and I am committed to making sure that our students can afford to attend a four-year college or a vocational program. If we don’t make this a top-priority, we will lose our best and brightest students."

So now compared King's response:
Every American has a right to an excellent public education. The political establishment has abandoned our public schools, cutting precious funding and allowing big banks to take advantage of a growing student loan debt crisis. Attending a good public school should not be determined by where we grow up and how much money we have.

We must support strong neighborhood public schools that are governed by the local community. My two kids attend School District of Lancaster elementary and middle schools. SDOL is the poorest district in Lancaster County, where 85% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The City of Reading fares even worse at 93%.

There must be equitable and adequate state funding for public education, including expanding the amount of Title I funding available for districts with high concentrations of poverty. School districts should have access to adequate funding regardless of their local property tax base.

We need to provide debt-free public college to all Americans. I am committed to engaging in a robust debate about the best way to establish higher education as a universal public good. I will explore policies that include imposing a financial transactions tax on Wall Street to eliminate tuition at community and public colleges and/or providing federal matching funds that ensure the costs of college never exceed what students can earn working 10 hours per week at the state minimum wage.
They wanted each candidate to address confronting gun violence. Hartman refused to answer. Again, King was well-informed and thoughtful:
My heart breaks for the people killed and injured in the the epidemic of mass shootings we have experienced. Our elected representatives should be passing more effective background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. And we should be banning the sale of deadly, semiautomatic assault weapons.

During the 2016 electoral cycle, Rep. Lloyd Smucker received more money in outside spending and direct contributions from the National Rifle Association than any other House candidate: $221,736. Our community is outraged by the horrific death tolls in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Newtown, but it’s hard to stand up for what’s right when the NRA gives you more money in outside spending than anyone else. Rep. Smucker should be ashamed.

I grew up on the edge of farm fields in Leola, Pennsylvania. My community is home to hunters and sportsmen. I support the right to own guns, and I also know that none of us need to buy rapid-fire, assault weapons that are designed for warzones. Protecting our communities from assault weapons, banning bump stocks and accessories that transform legal guns into deadly automatic weapons, and creating a comprehensive system of background checks is just common sense.

My statement after the Las Vegas mass shooting.
Money in politics? Not a peep out of the DCCC fave, Hartman! King:
Free and fair elections are essential to an American democracy that works for all of us. But right now, Washington is rigged for the rich and powerful. On every issue we care about, from healthcare to gun safety to climate change to taxes, politicians are pulled to favor the wealthiest by armies of lobbyists and corporate donors who fund campaigns and SuperPACs. We need to end the corruption of big money in our politics.

Our campaign is funded by thousands of grassroots donors, and we reject money from corporate SuperPACs and the fossil fuel industry. If elected, I will advocate for a reformation of our campaign finance system and our lobbying laws, including:

Cosponsoring the Democracy for All Amendment that would overturn Citizens United, Buckley vs. Valeo, and McCutcheon vs. the FEC.

Cosponsoring the Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) that would establish a system of publicly funded federal elections.

Crafting legislation that requires that publicly traded companies disclose all political spending to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hartman refused to respond to the question about criminal justice reform and drug policy. King, as you can guess, how a coherent, comprehensive policy agenda already developed. And then in answer to the final question, "Why should Lancaster Stands Up members vote to endorse you in the primary election? (which also urged each candidate to address strategic concerns about beating Lloyd Smucker in the general election.) Again, Hartman had an uninspiring rote response with no specifics, likely written by an intern: "People are really fed up with Washington. Right now, we need leaders in Congress who can get things done by cutting through the petty partisanship and legislative gridlock. For most of my life, I’ve been someone who brings people together to find solutions. Whether advocating for non-profits’ policy agendas domestically or teaching civic participation methods internationally, I have a long track record of achieving results. As the 16th district’s Congresswoman, voters can count on me to build the coalitions needed to implement solutions." Jess King ended with a bang, a bang that is likely to win her the endorsement:
We have a choice in 2018. We can allow the politics of fear and greed to divide us. We can allow Trump’s GOP to speak for working people. Or we can build a progressive majority that can win this district. The opportunity is clear. If a Democrat mobilizes the growing base of working people-- Latinos, Puerto Rican immigrants, African-Americans, students, small business owners, and anti-establishment rural voters-- we’ll break the GOP’s 72-year grip on this seat.

Washington insiders say no one can bring those groups together; Democrats can only try to win a few more Romney voters. But despite what they say, we see working people of every color and creed stand largely united. We want an America that works for all of us, not just the rich and powerful.

When the GOP is allowed to claim the mantle of populism and then sow seeds of bigotry, pitting neighbor against neighbor, we lose. When millionaire donors pour money into campaigns in exchange for massive tax giveaways, and Democrats don’t indict this corruption, we lose.

But a bold progressive populism that includes all of us can undercut the appeal of Trumpism, unite us against a political establishment that works only for the 1%, and mobilize that progressive majority of voters. Anger at Trump is important, but it won't bring together that diverse base of voters alone. We need to put the worries and hopes of working families at the center of our campaign, and champion policies that give all of us a better life.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker will say his tax bill is a boon to small businesses, and for too long Democrats have allowed the GOP to own the ‘small business’ argument. But as a first-time candidate with local, Mennonite roots, and a career of supporting Pennsylvanians to start their own businesses, I will dismantle Lloyd Smucker’s pro-business facade.

I got my first job at 8 years old, working in the paint shop my parents started. I live in Southeast Lancaster City alongside immigrants and hardworking folks trying to make ends meet. I know that too many of my neighbors feel that the Democratic Party isn’t for working people like us. But I know my story, and our vision for an America that works for all of us, can build a winning coalition in PA-16.

It will be hard to overcome the GOP’s advantage in PA-16. We can’t pour all our money into TV ads and hope we just get over the top. We need to talk to tens of thousands voters face-to-face, and start knocking doors early and often. That’s why we’re building an immense, volunteer-driven field program that can cover every corner of the district.

As I campaign, I think often of Thaddeus Stevens, who represented Lancaster in the mid-1800s. Now is the moment to ask ourselves the same question Thaddeus Stevens asked our nation: Is the revolutionary promise of freedom and equality real in the lives of the people, or just dry ink on parchment? We can win this election and continue the struggle to make real the promise of this nation. We will build an America for all of us.

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At 6:24 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Hmmm Establishment candidates refusing to answer questions on political issues i know why $$$$$$.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ap215, you need to extrapolate further. How many of those STATED positions, all very progressive and needed, would be supported and sponsored by the democrap party?

None of them. They get their money from corporations and billionaires who would not stand for them to be passed.


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