In the September 2013 edition of the Illinois Tenth Congressional District Democrats Newsletter, Brad Schneider supporter, Steve Sheffey, wrote an article titled The Top 10 Reasons to Reelect Brad Schneider. From past experience, it's my understanding that a rebuttal article would not be welcome in the newsletter or on their site. I archived my old blog last year. But, I am and have been a Kos Diarist for many years. So, I park my rebuttal here. If Tenth Dems wants to give me space to add it (and I sure provided them a lot of content when they needed it) somewhere on their media, here it is below the fold.
In his article Sheffey lists two co-sponsorships of legislation written by others, and some "he supports" stuff. If true, and I'm I'm not arguing he does not support these things, or at least pays lip service to them, it is important. I do not downplay the importance of environmental issues, women's rights, LGBT issues, and voting issues. I do not argue that on many occasions Brad Schneider's votes are ok. My argument is that none of it will matter in the long run if we don't have a stable economy to support reform. There are no enduring rights, liberties, or good and nice things if there is no economic security or justice. Homeless people don't get to exercise their rights. Hungry people don't dream big, enjoy or work for increasing liberty and justice. Hopeless people are easily turned against each other.
Schneider's pet progressive issues are predestined to fail when we enact his pet economic plans that pull billions of dollars out of the economy and leave most Americans in survival mode. Cutting the social safety net pull dollars out of the economy and consumers out of the market.
History teaches us that the quickest way to end civil rights, civil liberties, and general protection of people and the planet is to create a severe economic crisis. Hunger, unemployment, food insecurity, homelessness... that's the stuff two world wars and more than one genocide were made of. Today, several unstable governments in the Middle East sit atop unstable and unjust economies. Since the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, we know that there's no better way to recruit terrorists than to give the young people nothing to do, nowhere to go, and nothing to eat. Neither Sheffey, nor Schneider, have addressed these thruths.
Let's take a look at one of Sheffey's specific claims. In his newsletter article, Sheffey states that Schneider "helped introduce" the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration Achievement. I don't know what he means by "helped introduce." Was the bill heavy? Did Brad carry boxes to the office where they introduce bills? Anyway. The point is that Schneider didn't come up with this thing. It's a retread of a 2010 bill. But, more important, the bill is not economic stimulus, but corporate welfare and failed trickle down economics. Under the bill, the government pays for employee retraining when corporations cut their workers loose to pull out more profit for CEO salaries and large shareholder profits. Companies may (or may not) see fit to hire anyone new or anyone back.
I remember when companies paid for their own training programs. I know this because I'm the product of a corporate training program. The program no longer exists, and the skills I learned are not being taught to younger workers, although they are still useful and valid today. The product that company makes is certainly of lesser quality, and is now created by people who are paid less, and have far less job security than I had back in the day. This heavy bill that Brad assisted introduce is not a job creation or a job security bill. It does not stimulate business so there will be customers, business, and the stuff that creates paid work and moves dollars around the economy. It's just government paying for something corporations used to pay for, and more tax dollars shifted to those who are already wealthy in exchange for no meaningful promise to employ people.
Sheffey's final plea for Schneider includes a claim that there is a stark contrast between Schneider and his Republican predecessor, Bob Dold. If you have read my earlier Kos posts on Brad Schneider, you may know, that he recently voted against Obamacare, and now partners with Pete Peterson's Fix the Debt, through a related group called the Concord Coalition that mostly exists to hide the fact that it is Pete Peterson and Fix the Debt. He's bringing this group to the district next week, under the guise of a "bipartisan" "collaboration" to scare people into giving up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Is that so very (starkly) different from the time Bob Dold did the exact same thing?
Yes, Bob Dold is fine with ending Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Guess what? Brad Schneider is too, and is doing exactly what Dold did to help end these programs. Think about what your life will be without them. Think about your parents, children, extended family and neighbors will do without them. Will you be able to send the kids to college if you have to take care of your parents or worry even more about your own retirement? What if a parent needs nursing care? Will your family be able to pay for it, or will you have a sick parent in the spare bedroom without the care he or she needs, in unsafe conditions, and cutting in to your ability to work, or even leave the house? These are the realities of the proposed cuts.
Let's not forget that Social Security and Medicare are paid for by the users; they are not charity foolishly promised by an arrogant tax and spend society. They provide genuine help to well-deserving, hard working middle class Americans, and put money back into the economy, freeing up workers to be workers, and consumers to be consumers. Medicaid helps the neediest of people, and frees up their family members to work and live their lives. You have to do your own gut check on ending these programs, and please be realistic when doing so.
Further, I ask you to think about what Brad Schneider's work against traditional Democratic values means for the greater political atmosphere of this country. Social Security is an old program. The bill authorizing it was signed in 1935. The first contributions were withheld in 1937. and the first payments were made in 1940. The program was, and still is, wildly successful, and does not contribute one cent to the deficit, by design. It should be non-controversial. Talk of cutting it or ending it should be seen as extreme. Now, the talk of cutting and eventually ending the program is mainstream, almost inevitable if you ask Brad Schneider.
Medicare is a younger program, enacted in 1965, and effective the next year without too much drama. It's also very successful. It was always intended for expansion to cover Americans of all age, but now we have Democrats like Brad Schneider making the argument against it. Suddenly, what was mainstream for years is controversial and I've heard that Tammy Duckworth and Bill Foster have done the same). Now, the planned extension is simply out of the question. Even the meager replacement, Obamacare, is highly controversial, enough to shut down the government if you ask Republicans. Brad Schneider's pissing and moaning about that this week, forgetting to mention that he voted with the Republicans against it a few short weeks ago.
Medicaid? Oh, that program that helps the lazy and undeserving poor if you ask Schneider and friends, except if you consider that most of it keeps grandma and grandpa in nursing care and off the street.
What used to be considered extreme arguments made by crackpots against a very necessary and proper social safety net is suddenly mainstream conversation, and future policy. That is the conversation Brad Schneider will be hosting on September 24th. The same conversation Bob Dold hosted just last year.
But, never mind. Steve Sheffey assures us that Brad is "on our side," and that not reelecting him will give the House back to Boehner. I was not aware Boehner had lost the House since... well, earlier today, but maybe I'm misinformed.
The argument for Brad Schneider is that he is the lesser of two evils. They tell us that he'll make a peep for some basic rights. But, since he won't support the economic security and economic justice needed to protect those basic rights, and since he works to move the national dialogue further to the right, where's the lesser in all this evil?
And, where does it leave us on the political dialog in the country? Who will talk about the social safety net and demand side economics? When Tenth Dems supports the foe of both, they won't be talking about either. They won't host another one of those We Won't Be Fooled Again Social Security educational programs while they support a candidate who has decided to devote his time in office to working against it. You won't find articles in their newsletters, or on their blogs supporting progressive economic programs when their leading candidate works against them. If not the Democrats, who will talk about progressive economics? When there's no one left to talk about it, how will it survive against the huge mainstream media onslaught against it? What does the lesser of two evils mean when it causes us to close our eyes to evil, and to stand down on our core values?
If we cannot do better than pay lip service to rights that won't be exercised when people devolve into survival mode, and we won't even discuss trying to do better, then what are we doing in politics other than taking souvenir pictures with elected officials, and posting them on the Internet next to cat videos.
Ok. That's my argument. I'm done worrying about Brad Schneider, and worrying about you and your children. People live with their choices. I have no problem living with my decision to withhold my support from Brad Schneider. He has Wall Street multi-billionaire Pete Peterson. He doesn't need someone like me, and when you get down to it, isn't that really the underlying problem with Brad Schneider. He does not see us as his constituents any more than Bob Dold did, or Mark Kirk did before that.