Good evening, Daily Kos! My name is Rich Anthony, and I’m running for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.
David Plouffe’s op-ed in this morning's Washington Post was a dose of common sense to Democrats and Progressives as we move closer to the mid-term elections. One particular paragraph really stood out to me:
No Bed Wetting - This will be a tough election for our party and for many Republican incumbents as well. Instead of fearing what may happen, let's prove that we have more than just the brains to govern -- that we have the guts to govern. Let's fight like hell, not because we want to preserve our status, but because we sincerely believe too many everyday Americans will continue to lose if Republicans and special interests win.
Since the historic victories of 2008, too many "Democrats" in Washington seem to have forgotten that it was the boldness of then Sen. Obama’s message of change that got people off their couch and into a voting booth. The past year has seen progress and some of it significant, but none of it equals the boldness that people voted for.
I think that Mr. Plouffe hits the nail on the head when he essentially calls out Democrats for not having the “guts to govern”. Not all, but far too many, Democrats have been afraid of offending anyone by passing the type of legislation they were elected to pass. It reminds me of a line in Aaron Sorkin’s “The American President,” when the President admits, "I was so busy keeping my job, I forgot to do my job." I think its time that Democrats took a long look in the mirror and answer the question, “Am I doing my job or am just trying to keep my job”.
So what the hell does this have to do with a guy running for Congress in the 10th District of Virginia?
My gut tells me that a lot of the negative polls and the loss of the Governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey as well as the recent loss of the Senate seat in Massachusetts is not a rejection of the policies and positions of Progressive Democrats. I think that the American people can smell fear and they know a coward when they see one. They’ve been looking at a lot of Democrats in this Congress too willing to give up or give in when the heat gets turned up.
No bed wetting. Not anymore.
So, with that as a backdrop (and let me state for the record that I was potty trained at a very early age), let me tell you about my opponent, Frank Wolf.
Wolf is a 15-term Republican with a straight party line voting record. When he was first elected in 1980, he ran on a platform of term limits, saying that he didn’t think he should serve more than 6 terms. During his re-election campaign for a 7th term he was reminded of that campaign promise and asked why he was breaking it. “I changed my mind” was his response.
In a drastic departure from his years of silence during a Republican Administration, Wolf has taken to repeated attacks on President Obama and his administration over the last year. The notable change may have something to do with not wanting to be labeled a “Bed Wetter” by his primary challenger and self-described “tea party candidate,” Jim Trautz.
A quick scan of Wolf’s congressional website reveals zero criticism of President Bush during his eight years in office. No shock there. However, in the first year of the Obama Administration, Congressman Wolf went on the attack 14 times, the first of which came just 20 days after the swearing in of the new president.
After the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day, my opponent wasted no time rushing to a microphone to politicize the event. Take a look at the video posted by his office on December 29 http://www.youtube.com/....
Aside from the fact that this little PR ploy was nothing more than an attempt to tear down the President, Mr. Wolf plays fast and loose with the facts and seems to have a very short memory. For example, what’s this about Attorney General Holder getting an American citizen killed by terrorists? Where on earth did that come from? We all know (including Mr. Wolf) that it was the Bush Administration that released Gitmo detainees to “art therapy” in Saudi Arabia. In fact, in a 2007 Washington Post Article, a spokeswoman for the Bush Administration described it as a “very, very good program”.
The Defense Department considered more than 90 percent of the transferred detainees to be terrorist threats to the United States and its allies, but sent them home as part of an agreement that Saudi Arabia would mitigate the threat, according to Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman. "Our goal is to transfer out as many individuals from Guantanamo Bay as we can," said Sandra L. Hodgkinson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. "The Saudis have developed a reconciliation program to address the needs of their population, and we strongly appreciate them finding a way to mitigate the threats that these people pose. We believe this is a very, very good program."
It's unfortunate Mr. Wolf and his staff were not fully aware of all the facts and his rush to a microphone was ill advised and probably did more harm than good. I call upon Mr. Wolf to explain to the voters of the 10th and the President why he felt it best to issue an inflammatory press release rather than take some time to gather the facts and then form a conclusion as reasonable and responsible people would. We all know that our country is at war and that we must do everything in our power to protect our citizens. I hope that Mr. Wolf learns from this embarrassing episode and joins me in supporting our Commander-in-Chief in his goal of winning the war on terrorism."
But what about his voting record you ask?
Here are a few of the bills that Wolf has voted against recently.
H.R. 2847 Jobs for Main Street: The bill redirects $48.3 billion from Wall Street to help put people to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and cleaning our air and water.
Highway Infrastructure: $27.5 billion to make additional highway infrastructure investments. These projects support jobs in the short term while saving commuters time and money in the long term.
Transit: $8.4 billion for public transportation investments including $6.15 billion for urban and rural formula grants; $500 million for capital investment grants for new or expanded fixed guideway projects; and $1.75 billion in formula funds to address repair needs of existing subway, light rail and commuter rail systems. Public transportation saves Americans time and money, saving as much as 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline and reducing carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons each year.
School Renovation Grants: $4.1 billion to allow State, local, or tribal governments to receive a federal grant equal to the cost of tax credits that would otherwise be payable on bonds issued to finance school construction, rehabilitation or repair.
Education Jobs Fund: $23 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to help States support an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years. 95% of the funds will be allocated by States to school districts and public institutions of higher education to retain or create jobs to provide educational services and to modernize, renovate, and repair public education facilities. The remaining 5% of funds is reserved for State education-related jobs and administration of the Education Jobs Fund.
Law Enforcement Jobs: $1.18 billion to support putting over 5,500 law enforcement officers on the beat throughout the United States.
Firefighter Jobs: $500 million to retain, rehire, and hire firefighters across the United States. According to the International Association of Firefighters, nearly 6,000 firefighters have been laid off or are subject to layoffs. An additional 6,000 positions have been lost through attrition. Any unused funds may be transferred to firefighter assistance equipment grants.
AmeriCorps: $200 million for AmeriCorps programs and the National Service Trust, to support an additional 25,000 AmeriCorps Members. This funding will enable those individuals to serve their communities while earning an education award to further their education or pay off student loans.
Summer Youth Employment: $500 million for a summer employment program for youth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for teenagers (age 16 to 19) reached 26.7% in November 2009 – the highest level recorded since BLS began collecting data. These funds will support summer youth employment for approximately 250,000 disadvantaged youth.
Job Training for High Growth Fields: $750 million for competitive grants to support job training for approximately 150,000 individuals in high growth and emerging industry sectors, particularly in the health care and green industries that are adding jobs despite difficult economic conditions. Grants for job training in green industries will focus on programs that train workers living in areas of high poverty.
Small Business Loans: $354 million, fully offset, to allow the Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue two temporary loan guarantee authorities through the end of fiscal year 2010 to make loans more attractive to borrowers and lenders and to free up capital. Small businesses represent a major engine for the U.S. economy, but many small business owners have had a difficult time securing needed loans in these tight economic times.
H.R. 3221 The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act
It will help more students graduate with less debt. This legislation will invest $40 billion in the Pell Grant scholarship, to keep interest rates affordable on need-based federal student loans, to simplify the federal student aid application process, and in other forms of aid that will help low-income, middle class and minority students pay for and complete college - at no additional cost to taxpayers.
It will stabilize and safeguard the federal student loan program that students and families depend on to pay for college. Families shouldn't have to worry about whether the roller coaster fluctuations of the financial markets will hurt their access to low-cost student loans. By originating all new federal loans through the cheaper Direct Loan program, students and parents will be able to receive the exact same loans with the added assurance that these loans are entirely reliable, no matter what happens in the economy. This simple change will save taxpayers $87 billion over 10 years.
It builds on the best of what works in the private sector to provide borrowers with top-notch customer service. The legislation will allow state non-profit lenders and private industry to continue doing what they do best - servicing loans.
It will eliminate waste and create a streamlined, cost-effective program for families and taxpayers. This is exactly the kind of waste we need to eliminate in tough fiscal times. By cutting out the middleman, this legislation will save taxpayers $87 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It's a smarter business decision for taxpayers and families.
The Consumer Energy Supply Act HR 6578:
Would temporarily release nearly 10 percent of the oil stockpiled in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and replace it later with heavier, cheaper crude oil. [HR 6578; roll call vote #527]
Would require the Department of Energy to wait at least six months before purchasing the heavy crude replacement oil and complete it within five years. Proceeds from the sale would be deposited into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Account.
Each time the SPR has been tapped or suspended, there was an immediate impact on oil prices. In 1991, oil prices dropped by 33 percent and dropped by 19 percent in 2000 when similar actions were taken.
The American Housing Rescue & Foreclosure Prevention Act H.R. 3221
Congress’s most comprehensive response yet to addressing America’s worsening mortgage crisis [H R 3221, #519, 7/23/08]
The measure provides $15 billion in tax benefits, including a real property tax deduction for homeowners, who do not itemize their federal income taxes.
The measure will give taxpayers, who claim a standard deduction, with a deduction worth up to an additional $500 ($1,000 for a joint return) on their 2008 federal income taxes.
This property tax deduction will benefit nearly 30 million taxpayers, who do not itemize their federal income taxes. [Bloomberg; July 11, 2008]
Needless to say, voters in Virginia’s 10th CD deserve better.