Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Does voting matter?

Dear Friends and Family,

This e-mail is about politics.  If you are offended by political
e-mails, I urge you to hit delete now.  But I hope you don't do that.
I invite you to read this, think about it, and act on it.  It's kind
of long, but I think you will find it worthwhile.

Next month our nation will hold crucial congressional elections.
Although some people claim that these elections don't matter, I
believe that they do – enormously.  All elections have consequences
for our lives, and that is true of this fall's contests.

I decided to do some digging about key issues that Congress has been
dealing with, to educate myself before the election.  I have finished
my research, and I can now tell you that when I go into the voting
booth, I will enthusiastically vote for Democratic candidates for the
U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  I want the Democrats
to retain their majority, and I want to tell you why.  Here are ten

1. The Democratic-led Congress enacted major reforms to the federal
student loan program for college students, freeing up an additional
$60 billion for students that would have gone for bank fees and

2. The Democratic-led Congress enacted a "bill of rights" for credit
card holders that will prevent credit card companies from gouging
ordinary people and wrecking their credit.  You are already seeing the
results of that law.

3. The Democratic-led Congress enacted major reforms to the banking
and financial sectors, reining in corporate excesses and restructuring
many things, so that our nation will not soon be wracked by the same
type of recession that hit us in 2008.  One part of that law is a new
consumer financial protection agency, an entity sorely needed.

4. The Democratic-led Congress enacted a significant income tax cut
for middle-class and working families last year.  The Republicans
don't want you to know about that, so they claim that Democrats oppose
tax cuts.  But the Republicans are wrong on this – Democrats cut
income taxes for the middle class.  If you don't believe me, please
look it up.

5. The Democratic-led Congress also enacted significant tax cuts for
small businesses – more than once.  Republicans enjoy ranting about
how Democrats hurt small businesses, but they are wrong on the facts.
Democrats have taken numerous steps to help small businesses,
including tax cuts.  If you don't believe me, please look it up.

6. The Democratic-led Congress enacted legislation to provide better
and more comprehensive health care to combat veterans from our recent
wars, as well as benefits to their caregivers.

7. The Democratic-led Congress raised the minimum wage to $7.25 per
hour.  When the Republicans held the majority, they stonewalled any
increase for years and years, exacerbating poverty and homelessness
for working Americans.  The Democrats also enacted a law guaranteeing
equal pay for women after the super-conservative, super-activist
Supreme Court said that existing law did not guarantee such equality.

8. The Democratic-led Congress passed a landmark health care bill that
we should all be thankful for.  Among its many provisions are these:
32 million people who have been without coverage will soon be able to
have it; insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime expenditure
limits on anyone, even those with major illnesses; no one can be
denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions; all of us
now have a "patients' bill of rights;" and Medicare is strengthened
for years to come.  (Furthermore, everyone can keep their current
health coverage if they wish.)  These are huge steps forward for our
nation.  Ironically, on the very day that several of these provisions
took effect, Republican leaders declared their fundamental opposition
to such progress and vowed to repeal health care reform, including
these common-sense provisions, if they obtain a majority in Congress.
In addition to the comprehensive health care bill, the Democratic-led
Congress expanded the SCHIP program that provides health care for
at-risk low-income children, and strengthened the Medicaid program for
low-income adults.

9. The Democratic-led Congress faced up to the recession and extended
unemployment benefits for those who are out of work and unable to find
work, while Republicans strenuously opposed such payments to those in
great need.

10. Finally, there is the stimulus package, enacted by the
Democratic-led Congress.  Republicans rail endlessly about how
terrible it was, but a majority of unbiased economists declare it a
solid achievement, a real success.  Every American should be thankful
for Democrats' thoughtful and prompt action on the stimulus package,
because it helped to halt our steep slide into recession, and put
millions of unemployed folks back to work.  The stimulus package was
and is a solid, practical response to difficult times, a true building
block for the economic recovery.

Those are ten significant accomplishments by the Democrats, ten
reasons why they should be entrusted to continue leading Congress.
Not convinced yet?  Well, here are ten more.

11. The Democratic-led House enacted a major clean energy jobs bill
that will benefit our nation in numerous ways.  Senate Republicans
have so far blocked it in that chamber, but Democrats will keep trying
to achieve bipartisan approval.

12. Democrats have proposed a thoughtful, workable plan to deal with
immigration issues.  Republicans have no plan beyond rounding up
millions of immigrants and sending them back, plus placing more troops
at the Mexican border.

13. Democrats in Congress are striving to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't
Tell," so that every American who wants to serve in the military will
be permitted to do so.  Republicans have blocked repeal because they
fundamentally oppose full freedom for gay people.

14. Republican leaders have pledged to increase the nation's deficit
even further in order to cut taxes for the super-rich. They attempt to
scare the rest of us by suggesting that President Obama's proposal for
somewhat higher taxes on the super-rich will translate into higher
taxes on everyone, even though there is no evidence for that.

15. The Democratic-led Congress enacted an increase in vehicle fuel
standards that will both decrease our dependence on foreign sources of
oil and clean up our environment.

16. Several Republican candidates for Congress are committed to
privatizing Social Security, while Democrats strongly oppose such an
effort.  Imagine what pain and anguish would have set in among our
nation's seniors during this recession if their monthly Social
Security checks depended on the stock market.  Democrats will protect
Social Security and make it solvent for decades to come.  (In a
further attack on seniors, one Republican candidate has even pledged
to work for the elimination of Medicare.)

17. The Democratic-led Congress worked closely with President Bush in
2008 to enact the TARP bill, which prevented the recession from
becoming much more serious than it was.  We hear Republicans routinely
decry that bill, but it was actually a stunning bipartisan success,
saving many American companies and jobs.  Although the initial
projection for TARP expenditures was $700 billion, the success of the
program and the rapid rate of repayments now point to a final cost to
taxpayers of less than one-tenth of that amount.

18. Republican leaders announced their goal to remove reasonable rules
and controls on Wall Street, so that investment bankers can return to
their Wild West approach and make themselves richer.

19. The Democratic-led Congress voted to penalize American companies
that ship jobs overseas, while Republicans opposed that legislation.

20. Finally, the Republicans have several candidates who are truly
beyond the pale.  A Republican House candidate in Ohio enjoys wearing
a Nazi uniform in public and re-enacting Waffen-SS atrocities.  The
Republican Senate candidate in Alaska urged repeal of the 17th
Amendment, which provides for senators to be elected directly by the
people; he wants to go back to the days when state legislatures chose
senators, with lots of backroom horse-trading.  The Republican Senate
candidate in Kentucky called for repeal of the Civil Rights Act of
1965.  Some Republicans are backing repeal of the 14th Amendment,
which enabled the slaves to become full citizens of this country.

So, there is a summary of the choice that we face.  We can re-elect
the Democrats, the party that works to improve our nation and its
people, or we can bring back the Republicans, the party that promotes
fear, opposes progress and undermines liberty.  We can re-elect the
strong, thoughtful Congress that has been in place for the last four
years, or we can bring back the party that let business run amok,
creating economic collapse.

Here is another way to think about it: the Democrats in Congress will
do a better job on practically every issue than the Republicans.
Beyond the 20 points above, take a minute to think about: military
spending, nuclear weapons treaties, public education, terrorism,
reproductive choice, farm policy, climate change, stewardship of
natural resources, religious liberty, labor issues, meals-on-wheels,
transportation and Indian affairs.  I trust Democrats to handle all of
those matters in a more thoughtful and appropriate way than

As I said at the outset, elections have consequences, and this year is
no exception.  Voting for Tea Partyers and their cohorts is gambling
with everything that makes up America – our economy, our health, our
jobs, our infrastructure, our security, our liberty.

Big money is flowing to the Republicans in this election, hoping to
buy a Congress that will ignore the interests of ordinary people.
Earlier this year the conservatives on the Supreme Court dealt a major
blow to democracy when it essentially removed limits and controls on
secret financing of election campaign ads; the result is that tens of
millions of dollars have flooded into Republican coffers.  We need to
fight back with people power.

If you agree with this analysis, please consider taking the following steps:
(1) Forward this message widely.  Sent it to everyone in your address
book.  If you only like parts of it, forward the parts you like.  If
you want to cut and paste, feel free.  If you want to plagiarize, feel
free.  If you want to print it out and distribute hardcopies, feel
free; it is not copyrighted.  Just get it out quickly and widely.
(2) Go out and work for Democrats between now and November 2nd.  Knock
on doors, host a gathering, work at phone banks, hand out leaflets,
give some money to candidates.

Thank you for reading this and thinking about it.  If you have
questions, let me know.

Bob Tiller

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