The Booman Tribune Open Seat Initiative is designed to help progressive Democrats identify where candidates stand on critical issues. It is limited to congressional and Senate seats that are open, i.e., there is no incumbent in the race. One such race is in New Mexico’s First District, which Heather Wilson (R) is abandoning to pursue her bid for U.S. Senate.
Go below the fold to find where Heinrich stands on FISA, torture, the Bankruptcy Bill, the Military Commissions Act, and other issues where Bad Democrats have let us down.
If I can get his primary opponents to respond to my questionnaire, I will post those responses. Enjoy.
Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists.
But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.
We have since learned that the government has used National Security Letters to invade people’s homes without a warrant, that they have violated the law to eavesdrop on our electronic communications, and they have held U.S. citizens in custody indefinitely, in violation of habeas corpus, which can only be constitutionally ignored in “cases of rebellion or invasion.”
In light of this, do you agree that Russ Feingold was correct when he was the only only senator to oppose passage of the Patriot Act?
Would you tend to agree more with candidate Jon Tester, who said “Let me be clear. I don’t want to weaken the Patriot Act. I want to get rid of it,” or with former Senate Intelligence Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, who said, ““I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead”?
CALL: I think, and I state this emphatically on my website, that the Patriot Act is an entirely unconstitutional piece of legislation, and that its passage showed that our Congress in 2001 had a minimal understanding of our Constitution and the intent of our Founding Fathers. Benjamin Franklin said “Those who would trade essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither,” and Jefferson said “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” The Patriot Act strips Americans of much of their liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights, all at the word of a petty and unintelligent would-be emperor who has probably never read the Constitution and certainly has no respect for it (It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!)
But more to the point, this administration is only interested in pursuing this “terrorism” when it suits its own political purposes. Case in point is the Anthrax attacks that followed in the week after 9-11. These were direct attacks against US Senators and others which should have garnered the full attention of law enforcement, yet these attacks somehow produced no leads and nobody has ever been charge with a crime.
The scare value of Anthrax, however, was highly influential in the passage of the Patriot Act, both within the American public, and due to the fact that the only two Senators who could have effectively stopped passage of the Patriot Act were Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy…and it happened than they were the only two US Senators who received the Anthrax at their offices.
I would repeal the Patriot Act entirely. I would further repeal the Military Commissions Act and the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, both of which were signed on the same day in October 2006. Most people don’t realize that following the Civil War, the Posse Comitatus Act was passed, which forbade US military forces from acting on US soil against US citizens. While the Military Commissions Act overturns habeas corpus for foreign nationals, which violates the Geneva Conventions, the lesser known John Warner Defense Authorization Act does away with the 1878 post-Civil War Act. US troops are now authorized, under this pResident, to act against Americans in these United States. What I want to know is why the pResident might feel these are powers that he needs?
At the outset of our nation, Founding Fathers led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison championed the defeat of 2nd president John Adams after his first term. The primary reason for Adams’ ouster was the insidious Alien and Sedition Act Acts of 1798, which Jefferson and Madison declared unconstitutional and detrimental to the liberties of the American people. Three of these four acts were repealed in 1802. The legislation that has passed in the 21st century, based in lies and fear, is far more dangerous to the American Constitution, and therefore American freedom and liberty, than anything John Adams and the Federalists ever dreamed of. We must turn away from the Patriot Act and the like, and never look back.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Would you have voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which passed the House on September 29, 2006 by 250-170 vote (with 32 Democratic supporters)? Do you disagree with then Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Pat Leahy, who said at the time:
“Authorizing indefinite detention of anybody the Government designates, without any proceeding and without any recourse — is what our worst critics claim the United States would do, not what American values, traditions and our rule of law would have us do. This is not just a bad bill, this is a dangerous bill.”
CALL: See above. The Military Commissions Act not only strips enemy combatants of their rights to due process and a fair trial, it is this particular piece of legislation that allows the pResident to define the status of an enemy combatant as ‘unlawful’ (a ridiculous prospect at the outset), and as such unprotected by the Geneva Conventions and subject to torture (which the president has also redefined as basically any treatment short of death and organ failure.) When the pResident states that “The United States does not torture,” he is only able to make that claim through his own definition of torture. Anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine and has also seen stories of CIA “Black Sites” in such varying places as Thailand, Egypt, and Romania must recognize that our policies surrounding treatment of enemies and suspected enemies consist of rendition and torture. To compound the highly illegal and unjust operation of our government with regard to such prisoners, not a single one of the hundreds of residents of facilities like Guantanamo Bay have been convicted of a crime, and many have been released to devastated futures after years of physical and mental torture with no access to counsel, no rights to hear the charges against them (there have been none), and no right to any kind of fair judicial process. This is not only illegal by our own law (as signatories to the Geneva Conventions, they have constitutionally become US law), it decimates the foundation of what it means to be America.
We must further recognize that, as American citizens, the Military Commissions Act brings our own government one step closer to treating us the same way.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: “On July 28, 2007, President Bush called on Congress to pass legislation to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) purportedly to ease restrictions on secret surveillance of alleged terrorist suspects.” This resulted in a hastily crafted revision to FISA, known as the Protect America Act of 2007. On August 4, 2007, the House passed this law by a 227-183 margin (with 41 Democratic votes). At the time:
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said lawmakers were being “stampeded by fear-mongering and deception” into voting for the bill. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) warned that the bill would lead to “potential unprecedented abuse of innocent Americans’ privacy.”
How would you have voted on this bill?
CALL: How ironic that Representative Harman warned about the abuse of Americans’ privacy when she sponsored HR 1955 just a few short weeks ago, legislation that could eventually lead to criminalizing radical thoughts.
As far as this piece of legislation, it seems that all the pResident need do to get an unconstitutional bill passed is slap a title like ‘Protect America’ on it. While it goes with saying that I would never have voted for this piece of legislation, it is no surprise that the pResident asked again for such unconstitutional powers. What is more important, then, is the nature of Congress that this bill’s passage reveals. After all of the continuing public furor over the lies of this administration – lies over Iraq, lies over the outing of a CIA agent, even known lies about how this pResident had abused existing FISA laws…this Congress, a Democratically controlled Congress I might add, still saw fit to pass this legislation with 41 Democrats jumping ship to side with the corrupt and cantankerous Republicans.
The House alone should not take the heat for this legislation though. This bill was first introduced and passed in the Senate by a vote of 60-28. 16 Democratic Senators voted for it, and 6 Democratic Senators did not vote. Among these Senators voting for the legislation were such heavyweights as Evan Bayh and Dianne Feinstein.
We gave the Democratic Party the power to stop this pResident’s ongoing crusade to destroy the Constitution and our civil liberties, and to date they have failed miserably. Can I get an opposition party, please?
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: The Protect America Act of 2007 had a six-month sunset, and it is now being marked up in the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees. The Intelligence Committee recommended providing the telecommunications corporations immunity from responsibility for prior cooperation in illegal warrantless surveillance. Presidential candidate, Sen. Chris Dodd has taken a position against immunity, and has promised to place a ‘hold’ on any bill that provides for it.
“While the President may think that it’s right to offer immunity to those who break the law and violate the right to privacy of thousands of law-abiding Americans, I want to assure him it is not a value we have in common and I hope the same can be said of my fellow Democrats in the Senate.
“For too long we have failed to respect the rule of law and failed to protect our fundamental civil liberties. I will do what I can to see to it that no telecommunications giant that was complicit in this Administration’s assault on the Constitution is given a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
Do you agree with Senator Dodd’s position?
CALL: Absolutely yes. I’m thrilled to see that a Democrat, a presidential candidate no less, standing against companies that have committed crimes against the American people, particularly companies as politically powerful as the telecommunications giants. It was Dodd’s standing on this particular issue, and the fact that he said his Iraq War vote was wrong (as opposed to claiming to be the victim of bad information like Hillary Clinton) that first led me to look at his candidacy more closely.
No individual, corporation, or other entity, should have immunity from lawless acts simply because they are issued a presidential directive to break the law. The president is not above the law, and lawless commands should not be heeded. This smacks of “I was only following orders,” and history has already proven that this is not an acceptable excuse.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Finally, do you consider waterboarding to be a form of torture that is banned by our Constitution, specific statutes, and by signed treaty agreements? If so, what should be done to people that authorized waterboarding, and to the people that carried out those orders?
CALL: Waterboarding is not only torture, it is a form of torture that has been used by some of the most brutal dictatorial regimes in recent history. Waterboarding was used by the Nazis, the Japanese in WWII, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Senator John McCain, a Vietnam POW for years and a torture victim, has said that waterboarding is torture. Former Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin volunteered to undergo waterboarding back in 2004, and came through the procedure convinced that waterboarding is torture, yet when he wrote a memorandum to the Bush Administration to that effect, he was fired.
I would be interested to see if the people who authorized waterboarding would volunteer to undergo the procedure themselves, like Daniel Levin did. If it is not torture, it can’t be all that bad, right? But the hypocritical nature of the Bush administration would certainly preclude this eventuality.
Lincoln said, “Whenever I hear someone arguing for slavery, I have a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” I have that same impulse for the proponents of waterboarding. But to follow through with that impulse would be illegal. So I would settle for prosecution under article 22 of the Geneva Convention.
The War in Iraq
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: The Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq passed the House on by 296-133 vote (with 81 Democratic supporters). How would you have voted on this resolution? Did you comment on the resolution at the time? With the benefit of hindsight, would you change your vote?
CALL: This vote was a travesty of justice. Congress effectively abdicated its obligation to act as a check and balance against the executive branch when it ceded its war-making powers to pResident Bush. I would have voted no on this resolution then, and I need no hindsight. All of the New Mexico CD 1 Congressional candidates were asked the question by the local Albuquerque Alibi about when they first publicly came out against the war. I will copy the relevant passages from that article below, concerning the current field of candidates. The entire article is at this url.
In the race to replace Heather Wilson in Congress, only one Democrat, Jason Call, has any record of opposing the Iraq War more recently than this year. The other three candidates can’t point to anything they did to oppose the Iraq War before announcing they wanted to work on Capitol Hill.
Call and his wife, then eight months pregnant, marched in February 2003 with millions of Americans trying to avert war. He’s joined other public demonstrations every year since. He’s written letters to newspapers against the war. He showed me documentary and photographic evidence of his passionate opposition to the Iraq War spanning five years. He is a math teacher, and he expressed great disappointment that citizens like him were largely left to oppose the war without much help from career Democrats.
Martin Heinrich’s campaign says he has opposed the Iraq War “from the beginning.” In response to questions about when he first publicly opposed the war, he says he remembers “some kind of debate” about the Iraq War at a Democratic Party meeting in February 2003. He says the war also “came up” when he was going door-to-door campaigning for the Albuquerque City Council. He admits not writing members of Congress on the issue. I haven’t found any statement by Heinrich on the war that was issued until his plans for a congressional race materialized.
Jon Adams says, “I decided to run because of the Iraq war, when I learned that 23-year-old James Akin from Albuquerque had been killed in Iraq.” He says he gave money to anti-war Democrats but was otherwise busy practicing law. He did not write Congress or submit letters to the editor in opposition to the war.
Michelle Lujan Grisham told me I wouldn’t find any statements from her about the war until Oct. 11, 2007, when she announced her candidacy. At the time of the invasion, she was Secretary of the New Mexico Aging and Long Term Services Department. She then became New Mexico Secretary of Health until she resigned to run for Congress. She suggested she was not in the position to make statements on issues outside the purview of her office.
I have opposed the Iraq War and subsequent occupation since I “knew” that the Bush administration was going there. I protested the first Gulf War when I was a sophomore in college at the University of Washington. I watched and anticipated while the Bush administration capitalized on the 9-11 outrage, and used its mouthpiece “Faux News” to make claims of Saddam Hussein’s involvement in 9-11. I watched in abject horror as the Congress abdicated its vital duty as a check against executive tyranny in late 2002. I have written numerous letters and opinion pieces to newspapers in the years since the war began. You will rarely find me not wearing one of my dozens of peace-related liberal message t-shirts. I drive 1991 Ford Explorer with over 250 predominantly antiwar bumperstickers, which I started collecting around roughly the time the treasonous Patriot Act went into effect, when I recognized the quickening push towards a fascist state. I’ll also say that I think that every politician who votes to continue funding this atrocity is pro-war. Clinton: pro-war. Obama: pro-war. Biden: pro-war. The war continues because we have a Congress, half of which is almost entirely partisan (there have been a few voices in the wilderness, Chuck Hagel lately, and Ron Paul), and the other half most of whom have decided that a “Support the Troops” image is more important to their political careers than the fact that we Americans continue to die in an unjust cause, along with now over a million Iraqis. How’s that for pro-life?
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Since the invasion of Iraq, there have been periodic supplemental funding bills. Would you have put any conditions on supporting those supplemental bills? What conditions?
CALL: See my previous response. I have consistently and adamantly spoken out against supplemental funding. If elected, I will not cast one single vote to fund this atrocity. Not with conditions, not with timelines. The Iraqi people want us out of Iraq. Our presence only serves to prolong sectarian aggression and our stated motives for invasion have been entirely false from the beginning. How can a Congressperson continue to fund a lie? A vote against supplemental does not hurt the troops. The troops want to come home, and we want them back here, back with their families and communities, back where the National Guard is needed to protect America from real threats such as wildfires and floods. There is money in the war budget to bring the troops home and that is the right thing to do, and it must be done immediately. I hope that Congress has made that very decision by the time the ’08 election rolls around, but I despair at the leading Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom while saying that we need to get out, still expect us to be a presence there for the next ten years. There will be no peace in Iraq until we leave.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: This year, 2007, had been the deadliest year for our troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you support an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq, with the ultimate aim of complete withdrawal?
CALL: Yes. The physical, mental, and emotional toll that this military action has taken on US troops and their families is tragic. The ongoing occupation of Iraq has caused divorce, bankruptcy, homelessness, mental illness, and a host of other maladies beyond the physical trauma that soldiers are susceptible to on the battlefield. What reeks, and has done since this war’s inception, is that many of the people who are sending these men and women to war under false pretenses have never served a day in their life. Dick Cheney – 5 deferments, and a casual statement that he “had other priorities.” Disgusting. And the pResident himself, going AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard to work on an Alabama senatorial campaign, refusing to take urine tests because he was coked up, and then having the nerve to land (as a passenger) on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in May, 2003 in full flightsuit and codpiece, after having scored one point above “too stupid to fly” in the TANG. It is an intolerable situation. But it also shows the separation between our ruling body and the people themselves. As it has ever been, rich man’s war, poor man’s blood.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: In July 2007, Senator Webb introduced an amendment that would have ensured that troops have as much time at home as they have in combat. The Republicans filibustered the bill even though it had 56 supporters in the Senate. Would you have supported the Webb amendment?
HEINRICH: Yes. I am a strong supporter of our servicemen and women. We must not overextend our military lest we weaken our military. Our troops have given so much for our country and we must make sure that they are taken care of both while they’re on active duty and when the retire to civilian life.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: What, if any, current plans do you support for extricating ourselves from the quagmire in Iraq?
CALL: The only plan that will have my full support is complete and immediate withdrawal of all US troops and contractors from Iraq. I hear Congressmen talk about our obligation to the Iraqi people. Where was that sense of obligation when they gave this rogue administration the power to unilaterally make war? I have spoken with Iraqi-Americans, who still have family in places such as Basra, about the continued American presence on Iraqi soil.
First, the Iraqi people know this occupation is primarily about securing oil supplies and strategic territory for a planned invasion of Iran (hence the permanent military bases that are have been built in Iraq.) They have no reason to trust us after five years of carnage with no end in sight. I have a sticker on my car that says, “It’s hard to convince people that you’re killing them for their own good.” True, that.
Second, I was presented with the most poignant analogy about our efforts to help the Iraqi people rebuild what we have destroyed. Imagine that you are a Pole in 1945, following the surrender of the Nazis. Imagine that one of the mandates was that the Nazis remain in Poland to help them rebuild. Imagine how you would react. Now that’s not coming from me, that’s coming from an Iraqi-American. I’m willing to give this analysis credence over anything that the US Congress might forward about our obligations to the Iraqi people. We have no right to be there. We never did. The only honorable course of action at this point is to leave the Iraqi people alone to rebuild their shattered country. And that means leaving them to their own oil also.
The US history of invasion and occupation for control of resources is a long and sordid one. We could have learned our lesson from the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 which eventually led to the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979. But our learning curve is slow, our leaders arrogant, and our victims many. We, the People, have an obligation to the world and ourselves to break this cycle of aggression.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Are you pro-choice?
Yes. I believe that the arguments against abortion are primarily religious arguments. The scientific research shows that when women have access to full reproductive healthcare rights in a safe and private environment (and this includes sex education and access to birth control), then the instances of abortion decrease because fewer women are unintentionally getting pregnant. Because the debate on when life begins is a religious one, it should not be legislated. As an atheist, it is easy for me to see how religion clouds this debate. If I subscribed to a religion dictated that abortion was unacceptable, that should have no bearing on a woman’s personal right to choose what is best for themselves. Worn through as it may be, we still do have a constitutional separation of church and state, and I think that it applies here. It is a specious argument for anti-abortion activists to say that women are using abortion as a method of birth control. Abortions are painful procedures, both physically and mentally, and I can’t believe that any woman would go out of her way to make this choice if she didn’t have to. This is why education is so important.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: What’s your position on the continued funding of abstinence-only sex-education which has been proven not to work?
CALL: Abstinence only sex education is a ridiculous prospect at the outset. And again, it is a religious argument, and not a scientific one. Oh, and it doesn’t work. I’m not saying I’m a proponent of handing out birth control in schools, but I certainly think that along with health course related sex education, students should be provided with information on where they can receive birth control and further information on disease prevention. I do support informing parents of the curriculum of any public school sex education class, so that they can make a personal family choice as to whether their child receives such information, and this then places the burden upon parents who do not want their child to receive this portion of the health class to do their own education in their own way.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Do you support added funding for family-planning programs (including subsidized birth control programs)?
CALL: Absolutely. I believe that Planned Parenthood says it perfectly – “Every child a wanted child,”
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Do you support federally funded stem-cell research?
CALL: Yes. Yet another religious argument. My mother-in-law died of Parkinson’s Disease. It was horrible to watch her deteriorate physically and mentally, as was the pain that it caused my wife and her family. That anyone thinks banning research that could cure such diseases is advocating a pro-life position is beyond me. Certainly there must be ethical considerations in all medical research, but ‘potential for life’ is not the same as ‘life.’
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: Do you have a position on gay marriage, adoption, and equal rights under the law?
CALL: I support gay marriage fully. There are differences between civil unions and marriage that give married couples preferential treatment under the law. I simply think that this is wrong. If we are all created equal, as our Declaration of Independence states, and we all have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then why should we deny rights to gay people that we don’t deny to straight people. Doesn’t seem right to me, doesn’t seem fair. But the bottom line once again, is that this is primarily a religious argument, and as such it shouldn’t be legislated. I would support an individual church’s right not to perform a marriage ceremony if they didn’t believe in such action. However, any gay couple should be able to go to a Justice of the Peace, be married legally in a civil procedure, and be afforded all of the rights that heterosexual couples are afforded. I find it offensive, frankly, that this civil rights issue has yet to be achieved in America. It should be a point of shame.
Along with this I fully support adoption rights for gay couples. There are far too many children who are need of loving homes and caring parents for an argument against gay adoption to make any sense to me. And arguments against gay adoption typically stem from some notion that gay people are not normal.
Here’s my argument: Heterosexuality is not normal. It’s just common.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: On April 14, 2005, the House passed The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 by a 302-126 margin (with 73 Democratic votes). The bill was supported by the Blue Dog coalition and now Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who justified it:
“The argument that bankruptcies were becoming simply a way to excuse irresponsible behavior had validity to it,” he told me. “I believe that personal responsibility expectations are very important. No Child Left Behind, the accountability of students and teachers and parents and administrators to provide taxpayers their value … The core value of personal responsibility is what I felt was manifested in the bankruptcy bill.”
Elizabeth Warren, an expert on bankruptcy at Harvard Law School, points out that 90 percent of families who file for bankruptcy do so after a job loss, a serious medical problem, a divorce, or a death. “What was the personal responsibility that they were missing?” Warren asks. “Was it that when Dad had chest pains and fell to the ground, he went to the emergency room rather than saying, ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to pay for it’? … Was it that when Mom got laid off from her job, she didn’t just hand over her keys to the landlord and move into a cardboard box on the street with her two children?”
Would you have joined the Blue Dogs in supporting this bill?
CALL: Hell no. The majority of bankruptcies in this country are due to unavoidable circumstances, such as death or incapacity, and over 50% of all bankruptcies are directly related to the unaffordable cost of healthcare. Studies show that only 5% of bankruptcies are a result of fiscal irresponsibility and overextension of consumer credit.
Two points of hypocrisy here. First, most Congresspersons come from wealth, and the kind of wealth that the average American will never see. They have a free healthcare plan so they’ll never have to worry about paying medical bills when their insurance decides not to cover a procedure because of its ‘experimental nature’ whatever the hell that means. (Strike that, Congress does not have a free healthcare plan – you and I are paying for it!) How easy it must be for them to point the finger at the average working class American who has to work two or three jobs to ‘put food on his family’, and call them irresponsible. (And I wrote this before I looked up and read Elizabeth Warren’s statement…really, I need no coaching on this.)
Second point of hypocrisy: We are looking at a Congress and a pResident who have driven this country to the verge of bankruptcy. I blame Congress for allowing the pResident such broad leverage to be fiscally irresponsible (again, with our money, I might add.) Yet who is going to hold them responsible for squandering our surplus and driving down the value of the dollar? I hope that the American people will, at the ballot box.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: According to the National Debt Clock the National Debt currently (as of November 13, 2007) stands at $9,118,656,201,037.12, meaning that every U.S. citizen owes 30,042.65 of the total. In 1954, the top marginal federal income tax rate was 91 percent. The current top marginal rate is 35 percent. Meanwhile:
For more than 25 years, Business Week has conducted an annual survey of the earnings of chief executive officers of the largest U.S. corporations. In 1980, those executives earned 42 times as much as the average American worker, a ratio larger than the corresponding ratios for such countries as Japan and Germany even today. By 2000, however, American CEOs were earning 531 times the average worker’s salary.
Do you think we have our tax priorities straight? How would you go about creating a fairer system and protecting future generations from being saddled with crippling debt?
CALL: No, of course we don’t have our tax priorities straight. We have a supremely wealthy upper class who have just enjoyed the largest private tax cut in history, and Bush is pushing to make those tax cuts permanent. We also have a corporate tax system where corporations are making record profits and still receiving tax breaks and even tax refunds, all this while cutting benefits and engaging in massive layoffs. It’s really quite disgusting the level of greed that has enveloped our country. Corporations used to pay half of the tax burden, back in Roosevelt’s days. Now they pay somewhere around seven percent of the overall tax burden, and laws exist that allow them to offshore their holdings so that they don’t have to pay any taxes at all. Companies like Halliburton are allowed to move their headquarters to Dubai to avoid paying US taxes, yet our government still funds them with lavish no bid contracts, while they and their subsidiaries overcharge our military (and therefore us taxpayers) for basic services that they provide at a substandard level. Lewis Carroll couldn’t make this stuff up in a thousand Wonderlands.
While CEO earnings are representative of the nature of human greed, I think that the tax structure for corporations and the wealthy is what is really unfair. I watched a book talk with Molly Ivins and Bill O’Reilly a few years back, and O’Reilly was arguing that the rich should be able to ‘keep their money, it’s yours, you earned it.’ And to some degree I agree, I’m not about full income redistribution, however Ivins put it really succinctly. She said, “I made a million dollars last year, and I had to pay four hundred thousand in taxes. Now, I still got six hundred thousand to take home with me. You gonna feel sorry for me?”
So, we need to increase the corporate tax burden, we need to increase taxes on the very wealthy (and to repeal the Bush tax cuts goes without saying, I think), and we need to cut taxes on the middle and lower classes. And that trillion dollar bill for Iraq is not looking very good right now either.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: According to the National Coalition on Health Care:
Nearly 47 million Americans, or 16 percent of the population, were without health insurance in 2005, the latest government data available (1).
Over 8 in 10 uninsured people came from working families – almost 70 percent from families with one or more full-time workers and 11 percent from families with part-time workers (2).
Do you support a single-payer national health care program that provides universal coverage, a program that requires people to purchase private health insurance (with tax subsidies for the needy), or some other solution? What is your reasoning?
CALL: This is a question that would be answered fully if you looked at my website, on the http://www.call4democracy.org/article.asp?AID=756>Health Care Issues page.
In short, yes I support a plan such as Kucinich’s HR 676, or here in New Mexico, the Health Security Act, single payer government run health care, under which all citizens have equal access to healthcare providers.
The reason that we can’t get single payer healthcare passed in America is a very simple. Our politicians are being bought off by the private insurance companies. Our own governor, and presidential candidate, is a case in point. When he put together a health care reform task force a while back, that task force came to him with 3 proposals, one of which is the Health Security Act. The other two programs left private insurance in control of the system, not everybody was completely covered, administrative costs were still high, the proportion of money that went to healthcare was lower (than HSA), and both plans ended up costing more than we currently pay for our health care in New Mexico ( a system where over 400,000 New Mexicans do not have any insurance.) The Mathematica study analyzed these plans, and it was clearly, to any discerning and unbiased individual, that the Health Security Act was the far better plan in terms of cost and coverage, but it completely cut private insurance out of the picture. Well I say, ‘so what’, they’ve botched health care management so badly over the last thirty years, shouldn’t they legally be required to stay out of health care. Where is it written that private for-profit companies have an inherent right to play a part in my, and your, healthcare? I want my medical decisions being made by my doctor, not by someone unknown to me whose job it is to deny payment. It’s a fundamentally criminal system that we have, in that it kills people. It flat-out kills people.
And Bill Richardson won’t support a plan that cuts out private insurance, even though the numbers are in, because private insurance is his largest business sector campaign contributor. The money in politics presents an inherent, and deadly, conflict of interest. Which, incidentally, is why
I am running essentially a no-money campaign.
I am also making a commitment to the voting public, which you can read directly on my website, that I will not use the free Congressional health plan until ALL Americans have full healthcare. Not insurance, care. I will pay for my family’s health insurance just like every other working American has to. Why should Congresspersons have access to healthcare that they routinely deny to the American people?
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: If elected, what committees would you like to sit on?
CALL: There are many committees that I think I could bring fresh vision to. My first choice would be the House Judiciary Committee. It’s no secret to the American people that this pResident has committed impeachable offenses. It is the duty of the HJC to investigate these offenses, and if they don’t they are simply not doing their jobs. I have heard that John Conyers, who I must believe fully supports impeachment hearings, especially after his excellent work with afterdowningstreet.org, has had his chairmanship threatened by Nancy Pelosi if he moves forward on impeachment. This cuts to the heart of what is wrong with party politics. Congress has a duty to impeach, if the facts warrant it, not to sit on their laurels and wait for the storm to pass. If it were up to me, we would have moved to impeach as soon as the Downing Street memo was made public, yet Conyers was relegated to a basement room to conduct his hearings, and when it was quite clear that we had been taken to war under false pretenses, Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment was off the table. My opinion of Pelosi is that she should not only be off the table but she should be out of a job and I hope the voters in her district in California see it the same way.
Following the Judiciary Committee, I would be honored to sit with Henry Waxman on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. We have a lawless and corrupt government. We need to get the money out of politics, we need secure and fair elections. We don’t have a democracy right now, we have an auction. As a citizen I’m disgusted with scandals like the Jack Abramoff influence peddling, and the outing of Valerie Plame. We have to start fully prosecuting government corruption or it’s not going to stop, and the American public gets the short end of the stick every time. That’s why we need an outside of the beltway politician like myself in Congress. I can’t raise $300,000 like my competitor. But if we really want change, we really have to change our ideas about who we are putting in office. Otherwise we’re just recycling the status quo.
Other committees I can make valuable contributions to are the Education and Labor Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Appropriations Committee. I’ve been a teacher and union member for nine years, so I have a well-defined perspective on education and labor, and I fully support stronger unions and more union membership, and I’ll doggedly go after union busting corporations such as Wal-Mart. It’s a fundamental right to organize to negotiate work conditions, pay, benefits, and the like. We need to get back to that America. I support the repeal of No Child Left Behind, as it is legislation designed not to strengthen, but destroy public education by defunding the neediest of schools in the neediest of communities. I have lived and traveled worldwide, and my Master’s degree in Education focused on the multicultural aspects of education. This, coupled with my Political Science degree, and passion for political activism, would make me a good candidate for the Foreign Affairs Committee. My bent for rooting out corruption and pork would be good to have on the Appropriations Committee.
BOOMAN TRIBUNE: If elected, would you join one of the congressional caucuses (New Democrat, Blue Dog, Progressive)? Why, or why not?
CALL: Kucinich, McDermott, Waxman, Woolsey, Tubbs-Jones, Conyers, Waters, Lee, Frank…yes, I am a Progressive Democrat, and this is the caucus you would find me in. They espouse the same political values as me, for the most part. I might even pull them a little to the left…