My friends over at Prairie State Blue have been doing some great work on freshman Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. Before she had finished her first month in Washington, they had already pegged her penchant for "selling out" her principles in the name of being a "No Labels" Congressional Problem Solver, and showing although she campaigned to vigorously protect Social Security and Medicare, she still hasn't signed the Grayson-Takano "No Cuts" letter. In theory, everyone wants their elected representatives to work for the good of the country, and no one in theory thinks they own a monopoly of wisdom. Bustos, like Obama, has an overwhelming desire to work with the other side in defiance of the grassroots activists and organizers who worked tirelessly to defeat Tea Partier Bobby Schilling. Besides rebuffing Democratic activists in the name of "bipartisanship" but also her own constituents. IL-17 is a "Safe" Democratic district. Besides electing Lane Evans, one of the founders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus of over twenty years, the district has a PVI of D+7. So far, out of the 202 members of the House Democratic caucus, Bustos is ranked the 182nd most progressive member. To give you some perspective, "former Blue Dog" member and the current head of the DCCC, Steve Israel is ranked 121st by Progressive Punch. Cheri Bustos is in serious Blue Dog territory.
But what has really gotten me riled up was a recent editorial co written by Bustos and published this week in the Quad Cities Online which perfectly illustrates the fraud of the whole "non ideological problem solver" theme being pushed by DCCC and the "bipartisanship" supposedly non partisan "No Labels" group.
On April 26th, the Quad Cities Online published an editorial entitled,"No Labels: Searching for Bipartisan Solutions" authored by Cheri Bustos and Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. In this piece they write:
This is why both of us joined the bipartisan group called 'No Labels,' and have been identified as Congressional Problem Solvers. We represent a wide range of opinions and beliefs, but are united in the desire to put partisanship aside and work together to find common ground.Who is Mike Fitzpatrick, and does his record show him to be a nonpartisan "problem solver?"
In an excellent piece detailing the nonsense of the "No Labels" movement and their approach to solving gridlock in Washington, our friends over at the progressive Pennsylvania blog, Keystone Politics have already noted that it is hard to claim to be a "non-partisan problem solver" when Fitzpatrick votes 79% of the time with the GOP leadership in the most partisan obstructionist Congress ever.
I must confess, I think the biggest problem with our government is that it is awash with money. Corporate influence is rampant, and the system is completely corrupt. If I was a freshman Congressperson like Cheri Bustos, I would not immediately associate with a Congressperson who missed the oath of office to attend a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors' Center on federal property. I would think twice about associating with a Congressman who was taped selling access to lobbyists at exclusive five star golf resort in Key Largo, Florida.
Cheri Bustos received a considerable amount of early money from Emily's list. She also was endorsed by the National Organization for Women's NOWPAC. She campaigned as as strong supporter of women's reproductive rights. During a debate last fall, she labeled Tea Partier Bobby Schilling's views as "extreme" due to his cosponsoring of the Todd Akin bill to redefine rape and his vote to defund Planned Parenthood.
Mike Fitzpatrick, like Schilling was a cosponsor of the Akin Bill. But unlike Schilling, Fitzpatrick received an honor that only the most malignant male members in the "War against Women" can receive. Fitzpatrick, along with Allen West, Steve King, Todd Akin, Mike Pence, and Ann Marie Buerkele were named to Planned Parenthood's Toxic Ten list. The vote to defund Planned Parenthood must have led to at least one awkward moment since his daughter had tweeted the previous year about going to get birth control at Planned Parenthood.
Cheri Bustos campaigned as a strong supporter of women's reproductive rights, and Mike Fitzgerald received a zero rating from NARAL. I can't see the "common ground" or opportunities for compromise on this issue.
One of the most effective issues for Bustos was Bobby Schilling's support for the Ryan budget which would "end Medicare as we know it" by requiring seniors to cough up an extra $6,400.00 a year to help pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Mike Fitzpatrick, of course, voted for the Ryan budget.
I think Kathy, Boockvar, Fitzpatrick's opponent in the last election summed it up best:
“In fact, in Washington, Congressman Fitzpatrick is toeing the Tea Party line and fighting to end Medicare as we know it, slash Pell Grants for college students, and keep tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. If we are going to get Congress focused on us again, we need a representative that won’t say one thing at home but do another in Washington.”Of course there are differences in political parties over policy issues, but I wish someone would explain how this Mike Fitzpatrick quote at a Tea Party fundraiser is non-partisan or even rational.
"When he left the microphone on in Russia, we all heard what he said. Left unrestrained, without the inhibitions of the next election, he'd have 'flexibility,' he said, 'flexibility' to do what he wants to do. Whether it's trade away the secrets of our national intelligence, to, what he could do to the United States Supreme Court in the next four years."Seriously? You can see for yourself at Rachel Maddow's blog.
Cheri Bustos courted the support of and received considerable aid from organized labor. She repeatedly stated her support for working men and women at almost every stop. The fate of the Sensata workers at the Freeport, Illinois plant was an issue which Bustos campaigned upon, and she successfully tied her opponent to the vulture capitalism, Bain Capital policies of Mitt Romney. Should she be in an organization with a man who believes things like this?
Bustos with her track record and her membership in the "No Labels" political movement of the Beltway (check it out) shows that she has "common ground" with Mike Fitzpatrick in one regard. They are both opposed to the "democratic wing of the Democrat party," and the beliefs and positions of the vast majority of the America people. We can elect a "better Democrat" in 2014.