Text originally published and paid for by Grant For Congress. Re-printed at StatenIslander.org as a courtesy to our readers, educational and historical reference material that is irreplaceable.
|We Need Change|
|Throughout my campaign, I have stressed the need for change in Congress.
While I usually have deficit spending on the top of my list, I am deeply saddened by the latest revelations regarding Congressman Foley from Florida. The very man who was supposed to be in the forefront of protecting our children has resigned because of inappropriate conduct toward House pages. Worse yet, it appears that the current House leadership knew about his behavior and did nothing.
How much are we expected to overlook? We have already had seven people plead guilty to bribery at the highest levels of our government and, yet, Congress has done nothing. We need serious change in Washington, not only in behavior, but also in attitude. Bribes, scandals and corruption are not acceptable, period.
The same is true of spending. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are spending more than you are taking in, you will go in the hole. Yet Congress continues to spend with abandon. Deficits are nothing more than a deferred tax increase because someone has to pay them sooner or later, with interest. It is irresponsible to burden our children and grandchildren with our debt.
We need more accountability in our government. We have started a war without having a plan to end it, sent troops into battle without adequate armor, relied on inadequate and questionable intelligence, suffered the highest gas prices in history, and turned FEMA into one of the most inept government agencies of all time. And Congress does nothing.
It is definitely time for change.
Top Five Reasons To Go To Congress
People want to know what Larry wants to work on when elected. Here are his top five reasons to go to Congress.
1. Jobs. To make sure that every person who wants to work can find a job that pays a living wage, to be sure that Congress passes trade, technology, and tax policies that create jobs here instead of sending them overseas, and to stop giving tax cuts to the wealthy while cutting benefits for the poor and middle class.
2. Education. To make sure that every child gets a good education and an opportunity to go to college or learn a trade, to be sure that teachers and public schools get the money and respect they deserve, and to stop the federal government from telling us how to educate our children without providing the money to do it.
3. Health Care. To make sure that every family that needs a doctor can see one, to be sure that every person who needs prescription drugs can afford them, and to protect Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.
4. Spending. To make sure we get back to balanced budgets and stop Congress’ current spending spree, to rein in the outrageous amount of money spent on pork barrel projects, to halt subsidies for oil and gas companies at a time when they are making huge profits, and to change energy policies that do little or nothing to end our dependence on foreign oil.
5. Respect. To restore America to its rightful place as the most respected and powerful nation in the world by ending the greed and corruption currently raging through the top ranks of our government, to end the war in Iraq with dignity and purpose, and to make sure every individual is treated fairly under our laws and that their rights are protected from undue governmental interference.
Federal Land Sales
In February, the Bush Administration proposed selling National Forest lands to make payments under the Craig-Wyden program to provide funding to rural schools impacted by federal land ownership.
Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey reportedly said that if lawmakers don’t like the idea of selling National Forest lands to make up payments under the Craig-Wyden program that they must come up with an alternative. He was quoted as saying that selling public lands “is the only proposal on the table. However unpopular it is, it is a universe of one.”
The official name of the Craig-Wyden program is the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. It was sponsored by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. When timber sales declined in rural areas, it provided payments to local governments to make up for taxes and revenues lost in the transition from a timber economy. Idaho has received about $20 million per year under the program. The total program costs about $800 million a year.
There are, of course, any number of alternative funding sources, none of which requires the sale of public lands.
The Administration has been silent since then on any public land sales. But don’t be fooled into thinking the idea is dead.
With a national debt now totaling nearly $9 trillion and growing every day, it’s a sure bet that proposals to sell public land to pay bills will come up again.
With a transportation budget bloated with 6,000 special projects costing over $24 billion, continuing subsidies to oil and gas companies even while they’re making record profits, and a new round of tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest people in the country, the money to pay bills will have to come from someplace.
And that place is likely to be our public lands unless we kill that idea once and for all.
Our public lands must not be put up for sale to the highest bidder. Once sold, they’re gone forever. Selling off part of our national heritage to make up for the financial irresponsibility of Congress is not an option.
Let’s face it. Whether there is money for rural schools in the federal budget depends on which priorities you want to serve. If rural children are your priority, there’s money. If funneling money to oil companies is your priority, then helping schools and kids gets harder to do.
So are we really to believe the federal government doesn’t have the money to take care of the Craig-Wyden payments? No, it really is just a matter of priorities. And, clearly, this federal government has its priorities all screwed up.
I, Larry L. Grant, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
This is the oath that I will take as a Congressman when I am elected. Every public official of the U. S. government, including the President and Vice President takes a similar oath. The purpose is to insure that our leaders act only for the public good, not for personal gain or the particular benefit of some individual, company or group.
Today the meaning and effect of that oath is being tested. Each day seems to bring new stories of public officials who have ignored their obligation to the country by acting for their own purposes.
. . . that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. If someone comes up to you and says, “How about we go play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland? I’m paying.” As a congressman, do you say, “Great!” or does a warning bell go off somewhere that something may be amiss. Congressman Tom Delay said “Great? What time do we tee off?”
. . . that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. If someone comes up to you and says, “I’d like to buy your house for twice what it is worth. Don’t worry about a place to live. You can live on my yacht.” As a Congressman do you say, “Where do I sign?” or do you think twice. Congressman Duke Cunningham said not only “Great!” but also “How about I send a little defense contracting your way?”
. . . that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. If someone comes up to you and asks “How about I get my client to make a substantial contribution to your campaign? All you have to do is write a nice letter about how you like his casino.” Apparently, several Congressmen, said, “How much?”
But the story here is not about corruption in politics. That’s no surprise to anyone. As long as money and power are involved, there will be corruption. The real question is, what is Congress doing about it?
That answer is “Nothing.” The House Ethics Committee has been paralyzed for the last year and has not completed one major investigation, despite any number of opportunities to do so. After it reprimanded the Republican House Majority Whip for three different ethics violations in the past, the Republicans fired their members of the panel and replaced them. They then fought against having the traditional non-partisan staff. They now say that they may be ready to start work just in time for the next election. This clearly too little, too late.
When a congressman takes the oath of office, he accepts the public trust. All politicians are volunteers. Nobody forces them to run. If they are not willing to meet the high ethical standards required of public service, then they should look for another line of work.
What do we do when Congress lets us down?
The President has now announced that he has authorized warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens and that he did so without consulting Congress in any formal way. We should all be deeply concerned.
The framers of the Constitution believed that certain of our rights as Americans are so fundamental that they spelled them out in the Bill of Rights. Along with things like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms, they included the Fourth Amendment which reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Constitution contains built in checks and balances against abuses of government authority by establishing our three branches of government, the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court. Certainly a debate will now rage long and hard in both the courts and Congress over whether the President’s actions are legal, and if not legal, justified as part of the war on terrorism.
But the President did not seek the advice of any court for his warrantless searches even though there are established procedures for doing so. No doubt the Supreme Court will someday, long after the fact, have an opportunity to review the issue. But by not seeking a warrant from any judge, the President intentionally bypassed one of the checks on his power deliberately built into the Fourth Amendment.
What about Congress? We are told that a few members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, were told about the searches but held their tongues, out of deference to national security, despite some misgivings. But by doing nothing more, they allowed Congress to fail in one of its most important and essential duties of keeping the President and this country on the straight and narrow. Some members of Congress, including Idaho’s delegation are now calling for hearings on the matter. But this is just another case of Congress being too little, too late.
We’re told that the wiretaps are necessary for our defense and security. But sad experience teaches us that some actions taken and justified in the name of war are later found to be illegal or ill-advised. The internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II and the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War come immediately to mind.
What should the President and Congress have done? At the very least the President should have gone to the appropriate leaders and committees in Congress and sought formal approval. That could even have been done in secret. If those leaders objected to the searches, they should have told the President that if he proceeded, Congress would open the debate to the public.
We all know that those in power find it easier to govern using secrecy and fear rather than openness and knowledge. But we are a democracy. And, if we value that democracy, we need a strong Congress to step up and keep the power of the President in check. That is not likely to happen with after-the-fact hearings by a Republican majority in Congress. It will only happen when we restore balance in this country by electing people who put our freedoms, instead of power, first.
Shame on Congress. After approving more deficit spending than any other Congress in history, they are now going home and calling for cutbacks. That’s like closing the barn door after the elephant has gone.
The budget deficit this year will be $319 billion and the national debt just topped $8 trillion. Interest on that debt for 2005 is $352 billion alone. Idaho’s share is roughly $1,547,000,000, or $1,190 per person, just to pay the interest.
With those staggering numbers in mind, here are just three of the spending measures approved by Congress so far:
– The transportation appropriations bill includes over 6,000 special projects, or “pork,” costing more than $24 billion, including over $220 million for the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska that will serve 50 people on an island you never heard of, and probably never will.
– The energy bill will cost $14.5 billion over ten years, including paying out somewhere between $2 and $6 billion to major oil companies as “incentives.” Only a few weeks after it passed, all the major oil companies reported record profits and their CEO’s nailed down huge salaries for the year.
– Farm subsidies amount to $11 billion a year, but don’t let that number fool you into thinking Idaho family farms got their share. The largest chunk of the money goes to large corporate farms instead. According to a 2003 Department of Agriculture study 30% of farm subsidies go to the largest 6% of producers
So there you have it. We hear Congress talking about cutting spending but they vote to spend more and more, much of it for the benefit of large corporations who can afford expensive lobbyists.
Where does it end?
It ends when voters stop listening to the spin of congressmen who talk about spending cuts and then do the opposite. It ends when voters stop electing candidates who do nothing but mouth the right words, thinking no one will ever call them to account.
How do we fix it?
In the ‘90s we had budgets that ran without borrowing money, budgets that actually reduced the national debt. The system was called “pay-as-you-go,” or PAYGO, established under the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. Under PAYGO, Congress could not pass a law without knowing what it would cost and where the money was coming from. Everything had to be revenue neutral, meaning that it could not increase the deficit. But in 2002 Congress threw away the PAYGO restraints and we are now on a spending spree like no other in history.
Cutting spending? Actions speak louder than words.
As things stand today we are clearly stuck in Iraq and in need of a way forward. The question of how we got there and whether we should have invaded at all will be debated for a long time, but we did invade the country and, like it or not, we have made ourselves responsible for the welfare of the Iraqi people.
I do not believe that we should “cut and run.” But neither should we settle in for an extended military occupation to reach an uncertain goal. Stay the course? That clearly isn’t working. Americans are killed and maimed daily, and we continue to hemorrhage money into what feels like a bottomless pit.
Despite what the current administration hopes will happen, Iraq is never going to be a Christian democratic country. It is unlikely that it will even be a secular country. But if we want to bring our troops home any time soon and leave behind the foundation for a stable society, we should at least be doing everything we can to accomplish the task.
I do not have, of course, access to all the military intelligence that would be available to me as a member of Congress, but it seems clear that we cannot rebuild Iraq until we quell the violence. At this point, I believe almost everyone agrees that there is no military solution to the problem. The only solution is a political one. The people of Iraq must have a stake in their own future. And, I think, the only way to do that now is to get local control into local hands.
We cannot ever hope to rebuild the country in the midst of the current violence. Worse, we cannot tell those who are fomenting civil war from those who are world terrorist. But local leaders do. That’s why we should put local leaders in charge. We should not be fighting local militias, we should be recruiting them. And, the only way to do that is to recruit and support local leaders.
It is possible at this point that the only way to give local control to local leaders is to sit down with the various factions and divide the country into several sections. We should carve out three or more territories for the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds. Let them elect or appoint their local leaders and send them to a central government, much like we do in the United States. Baghdad, of course, may need to remain an international city under an international peacekeeping force.
Most importantly, we should sit down with the Iraqi government and negotiate a timeline for our withdrawal. We should set this timetable jointly, confirming to the Iraqi people that we will not leave precipitously. But we should be firm in expressing our intention to remove our troops from Iraq.
Doing these things won’t necessarily produce a stable, peaceful Iraq immediately, but I believe an indigenous government is much more likely to be effective in repressing domestic insurgency than an occupation army that neither understands the culture of the country nor the language.
The real question in the debate over immigration is whether you want to solve the problem or whether you just want to talk about it to get elected. I prefer to solve the problem.
How do we establish a policy on immigration that will actually work? Start with the basics. First off, sneaking into the country and getting a job is not, and should not be, a basis for citizenship. Getting a job here on a temporary basis and moving here to become a citizen are two different things. Citizenship should not be a reward for breaking the law.
Second, you cannot solve the border security problem until you solve the jobs problem. Our borders are a sieve but we are so bogged down in dealing with illegal immigrants that we cannot adequately devote the time, attention, and resources we need to go after the terrorists, drug dealers and criminals who would do us harm.
It seems obvious that as long as there are employers who will hire illegals, then the illegals will come. You can build a wall from San Diego to Brownsville, but as long as there are jobs here, then people will find another way in, like through New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle or Detroit.
When I was at Micron Technology we were always short of engineers. But we could not hire a foreign national until we certified to the federal government that we were paying a fair wage and no American wanted the job. What works in the laboratory should also work in the lettuce field.
If an employer wants to hire a foreign national, from Mexico or anywhere else, then they should be required to certify that they are paying a fair wage, that they cannot find an American to do the job, that the employee and his family will not go on welfare while here, and they will go home when the job is done. Once you provide a legal work force for those who need it and a way for those employees to legally cross the border, then you can go after any employee or employer who breaks the law. And, you can concentrate on border security, not immigrants.
As for those illegals already here, to the extent that they are law-abiding, working persons, their employer should vouch for them and take responsibility that the employee is not a burden on the United States. But all that gives them is permission to stay and work, it does not give them any path to citizenship. For that they have to get in the immigration line like anyone else.
|More and more Idaho Republicans are choosing to put principle above partisanship in the critical race for Congress in the Idaho First District.
It was once considered a political virtue in our nation to conduct oneself in public life in such a way as to earn the respect and the support of people in both political parties. We think it should be a virtue again.
In Larry Grant, an Idaho native with extensive and successful experience in our state’s important high tech sector, Idahoans have a candidate for Congress who will concentrate on solutions to our real problems. Larry has proven that he can work with people of all political persuasions and do so with common sense and respect. His Republican opponent, in a long and divisive tenure in the Idaho Legislature, has shown time and again that he is unable and unwilling to seek common ground or even work with his fellow Republicans.
It is clearly time for a change – it is time for Larry Grant.
Once in a while a leader comes along who cuts across the partisan divide, brings us together and works in the best interest of all Idahoans. Republicans, independents and Democrats have such a leader in Larry Grant.