Voters in Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional district have a chance to make history this Tuesday by tossing out 5-term Republican Congressman Joe Pitts and electing Democrat Lois Herr in his place.
This district has never sent a Democrat or a woman to Congress, but a lot of people in this district sense that history will be made tomorrow. Lois has run indefatiguable campaign and raised over $300,000 with no help from the DCCC. Her TV spots and billboards have enabled her to greatly expanded her name recognition despite limited media coverage, and her yard signs are everywhere. She has earned the endorsement of, among others, the AFL-CIO, The National Education Association, the Political Action Committee for Education, the National Farmers Union Political Action Committee, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Women's Political Caucus, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Sierra Club's National Political Committee and its Pennsylvania Chapter, the Alliance for Retired Americans, et al. She has won the endorsement of the Lancaster Pa. Intelligencer-Journal. In short, Lois Herr has won broad-based support because of her common-sense and principled approach to the issues.
But what of Joe Pitts who has represented this district for ten years and is now seeking a sixth term in violation of a pledge not seek more than five terms? (the Intelligencer Journal reported on December 19, 1995: "Pitts... promised that he would only serve 10 years in Congress. 'I will support term limits. I always have for Congress.'). To call Joe Pitts "conservative" is an understatement of epic proportions. He is among the most right-wing members of Congress with an anti-women, anti-labor, anti-environment, pro-torture, agenda. He has consistently attempted to weaken the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. He supports the war but turns his back on veterans' benefits. Joe Pitts is, in short, the pits.
But don't take my word for it. I do not like Joe Pitts, but I have a lot of company:
Pitts received a "0%" voting record from NARAL with votes against embryonic stem cell research; for restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions; for providing funding for health providers who refuse to provide abortion info; for banning family planning funding in U.S. aid abroad et al.
Pitts received a 7% score from the American Civil Liberties Union for voting to make the PATRIOT Act permanent; yes on a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage; yes on a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration; yes on banning gay adoptions; yes on allowing torture and suspending habeus corpus, et al.
Pitts received a 100% rating from the conservative United States Chamber of Commerce for voting yes on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140B in new breaks; yes on Bankruptcy Overhaul requiring partial debt repayment, et al.
On education, the National Education Association (NEA) scored Pitts at 8% for voting no on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges; yes on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror; yes on allowing vouchers in schools; yes on vouchers for private & parochial schools; yes on allowing schools to display the words "God Bless America," et al. Pitts also supports a Constitutional Amendment for school prayer.
Pitts received a 5% rating from the League of Conservation Voters by voting no on increasing AMTRAK funding; no on barring a website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump; yes on deauthorizing "critical habitat" for endangered species; yes on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects, et al. He also supports oil drilling in the ANWR wildlife preserve.
Pitts is rated "A" by the National Rifle Association for voting yes on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse; yes on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1, et al.
Pitts received an 11% score from the American Public Health Association (APHA) for voting yes on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay; yes on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages; yes on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients; no on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs; yes on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits, et al.
Pitts was rated 11% by SANE for voting yes on continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight; yes on deploying SDI, et al.
Pitts was rated 7% by the AFL-CIO for his anti-union voting record.
Pitts was rated 100% by the Christian Coalition for his "pro-family voting record."
Pitts was rated "0" by the Alliance for Retired Americans for his "anti-senior" voting record.
Despite his strong support for the Iraq war Pitts received a "0" rating from Disabled War Veterans
The Drummager Institute annual scorecard ranking members of the House and Senate on how they voted on bills that advanced the middle class position gave Joe Pitts "a perfect score: 0 for 10. A perfect 'F'"
In an October 11th roundtable sponsored by the Rotary Club Joe Pitts showed his compassion for the less fortunate by stating: "My own personal philosophy is that the purpose of government is not to meet the needs of the people. The purpose of government is to provide an atmosphere in which people can meet their own needs and in free society we have the freedom to succeed, the freedom of opportunity."
In the wake of the Foley scandal Pitts was among the first to come to the aid of Dennis Hastert, issueing a joint press release with fellow leader of the Republican Study Committee, Mike Pense: ``Regardless of our reservations about how this matter was handled administratively, we believe Speaker Hastert is a man of integrity who has led our conference honorably and effectively throughout the past eight years. Speaker Dennis Hastert should not resign.''
Joe Pitts is also head of the Congressional "Values Action Team" formed by Tom Delay in 1988 to "unite conservative Members [of Congress] with pro-family coalitions by establishing legislative goals, identifying key tasks for Members and coalitions to perform, and executing action items that would lead to conservative victories."
Joe Pitts is one of the leading proponents of legislation limiting legal access to contraception.
Joe Pitts also supports a bill that would rewrite federal tax law to allow churches and other houses of worship to use their tax-exempt resources to support political candidates, entitled the "House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act." This bill would allow partisan political activities in American houses of worship and permit religious institutions to endorse or oppose candidates for public office. The bill was drafted by the American Center for Law and Justice, the Reverend Pat Robertson's legal group. Among those who have lobbied for its passage are Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy and James Dobson. Joe Pitts co-sponsored the legislation along with Tom Delay.
I could go on, but you get the picture. It is time to retire Joseph Pitts