Monday, May 23, 2005

Open Letter To 8th District Democrats

By Bill Scheurer

As we approach the Memorial Day recess, and Republican candidates are lining up for the 2006 election, Congresswoman Melissa Bean has now cast enough votes to begin to give us a fairly clear picture of what kind of representation we now have in Washington. Focusing on five of these votes, I ask 8th District Democrats -- Is this what you thought you were getting when you worked so hard to replace Phil Crane?

First, Bean voted with the Republicans for passage of the REAL ID Act, with its harsh provisions against immigrants and refugees. This legislation, disguised in the cloak of homeland security, is really little more than a backwards attempt to address the problem of illegal immigration -- by squeezing the hardworking immigrants already here, instead of fixing the broken borders that are the real problem. Meanwhile, it takes us all one step closer to a police state mentality, complete with national ID card.

Next, she voted with the Republicans again for a permanent repeal of the estate tax, one of the most regressive acts of our lifetime. This is not about protecting the middle class from rising bracket creep. Congress has repeatedly fixed that problem by raising upper limits on exemptions, and could easily continue to do so. We are talking here about the complete elimination of all taxes on the fortunes of the super-rich. This may well have a disastrous impact on charitable contributions by our wealthiest citizens, at the same time that government cuts back on help for the poor, the sick, and the elderly.

Then, Congresswoman Bean again sided with the Republicans and the big banks and credit card companies, in drastically limiting the ability of those who have suffered financial reverses to protect themselves in bankruptcy and get a fresh start. With our national healthcare coverage in shreds and our declining labor market, this is especially harsh. Two of the biggest causes of personal bankruptcies in this country are uninsured medical bills and lost jobs. Meanwhile, the super-rich get their tax breaks.

Also, Congresswoman Bean continues to support the tragic and misguided war in Iraq. Despite the loss of thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, and the flushing of billions of dollars straight into the coffers of corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton, and the destruction of Iraqi society and infrastructure, and the stretching of our military to the breaking point -- Melissa Bean still lacks the courage to stand up and say no to this war. She voted for another $82 billion blank check for war.

Finally, just last week, she voted for the Republican environmental appropriations bill that cuts critical funding for clean water programs like the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which helps with wastewater collection and treatment, correction of combined sewer overflows, and control of storm water and non-point source pollution. These funds also create good jobs for engineers, contractors, skilled laborers, and manufacturers.

Again, I ask 8th District Democrats -- is this the kind of representation you really want? Is this why you poured so much of your hope into ousting Phil Crane last year?

Bill Scheurer works with and ran against Melissa Bean in the Democratic primary in 2004.


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