Archive for the ‘Barbara Boxer’ Tag
Last night California got its first—and only—scheduled chance to see its 2010 Senatorial candidates square off in a debate. Incumbent Barbara Boxer, seeking a fourth term as the Junior Senator from California, met her Republican opponent and harsh critic, millionaire Carly Fiorina at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. It was our first, and likely our last, opportunity to compare the two candidates’ positions on the issues that will matter most to Californians now, in these deeply turbulent economic times, and well into the future.
The race for the coveted Senate seat was hardly settled, but one thing was clear: There is precious little agreement between the two candidates. It was also clear that one candidate was polished and prepared to tackle the issues, while the other was long on rhetoric and short on solutions to our state’s and nation’s problems. The debate certainly demonstrated that the candidates have sharply divergent ideas on how to improve California’s plight.
Fiorina opened the debate by immediately blaming Boxer for our national debt and the state’s unemployment figures, which are disturbingly high. However, throughout the night, Fiorina failed to delineate just exactly what she would do, what she would support other than more tax cuts for the wealthy, that would improve the California economy and bring more jobs to the state. She vilified Boxer for not supporting tax cuts for small businesses, when in fact, as Boxer pointed out, that’s exactly what she supported, and what was included in the stimulus bill that she supported.
Fiorina, Boxer said, opposed the bills in the Senate that would provide tax breaks for small businesses. And she opposed the jobs bill that saved the jobs of the 16,500 teachers in California who, because of severe budget cuts, had received their “pink slips” in the mail. “She called the bill to save teachers’ jobs ‘disgraceful,’” criticized Boxer.
While Fiorina touted tax break after tax break after tax break, Boxer countered that she had stopped tax breaks for companies that shipped jobs overseas, and supported giving tax breaks to small businesses who hire new employees, specifically pointing to the HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment) Act, which Fiornia opposed. The HIRE Act includes tax incentives and credits, social security exemptions, and other incentives to encourage businesses to hire more workers.
The most contentious issue of the night was Fiorina’s record while serving as the CEO of Hewlett Packard. Fiorina was angered that “a great American company like HP” was being dragged into this debate, and criticized Boxer for using it as a “political football.” The trouble is that Fiorina’s entire campaign platform and the credentials she brandishes as her qualifications for office are based solely on her record at HP. The fact that as CEO, Fiorina shipped 30,000 HP jobs overseas became one of the key points of the evening.
The debate format called for pre-recorded questions submitted from the general public to be used. One such questioner was a retired Hewlett Packard employee who worked at the company during Fiorina’s tenure. He questioned Fiorina on her record of sending jobs to China, and wanted to know what her plans were to bring jobs back to California.
Fiorina’s responded saying “Any job can go anywhere.” And she’s right. But that doesn’t mean that businesses should be so eager to send those jobs elsewhere.
California, Fiorina says, is seeing increased unemployment because we are “destroying jobs.” Her solutions included taking the example of China, Texas, and Brazil, who all offer business tax credits. She called for a two year payroll tax holiday for businesses who hire new employees.
She lamented that the United States currently ranks 17th in the world in innovation, and supports providing incentives for research and development. She did not, however, provide any details on what kinds of incentives she would like to see, other than tax cuts.
Boxer expressed her support for tax breaks for small businesses, but prefers a more targeted approach: The idea is to close tax loopholes and make sure that those incentives are indeed going to companies that are working to create jobs at home and are putting those tax breaks to use locally, and to provide tax relief for specific performance. The stimulus bills she supported in the Senate do just that, she says.
On the issue of gay marriage, it was pointed out that gay couples are denied 1000 federal rights that are afforded to traditional married couples. Fiorina was asked if gay couples should receive the same rights: “Marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Boxer: “The only way to get equal rights is through marriage equality.”
On Prop 8, Fiorina was critical of the recent court decision against it. “The voters were clear on Prop 8,” she said, lamenting that the decision of the voters was “overturned by a single judge.” Boxer asserted that the courts are often called upon to decide the constitutionality of voter enacted decisions, and this case is no different.
Immigration reform, said Boxer, is an economic issue, pointing to a USC study that determined that many of our economic woes are tied to our lack of a comprehensive immigration policy. Fiorina, said Boxer, calls comprehensive immigration reform “a distraction.” And while she opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, Fiorina says she does support the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship to young people who attend college or serve in the military.
On abortion, Boxer may have struck the most lethal blow of the debate, pointing out that if Fiorina’s views prevailed, suddenly many women and doctors would be considered criminals. She also criticized the hypocrisy of the Republican stance, pointing to the mantra of keeping government out of our personal lives, yet their stand on abortion necessarily requires the restriction of personal choice.
The choice in November, in my mind, comes down to a rather simple choice: An anti-government candidate who supports fewer regulations for businesses and prefers that we do nothing to combat global warming (“California acting alone will have no effect”), whose platform is centered around big corporations and billionaires, or a candidate who seeks responsible business practices, seeks to promote California as a leader in clean energy technology, and whose platform is based more on people rather than corporate interests.
Watch the entire debate here.
Why is it that the very idea of comprehensive immigration reform is such an onerous idea for those on the Right? It seems that they’d rather grouse about immigration and lament that illegal immigration is such a drag on our society, but when it comes to sitting down and doing the hard work to actually do something to solve the problem, they hem and haw and head for the hills.
The Democrats haven’t exactly been out front on the issue, either, but then again, until now they haven’t had the power to meaningfully address the issue. And while they haven’t officailly put it on the table, at least they don’t run away from it (not yet, anyway). Give credit too to George W. Bush for at least attempting to bring the issue to the fore, only to see his Republican friends in Congress scurry away from it like cockroaches. After all, we wouldn’t want them to actually tackle an issue that was hard, now, would we?
See, Republicans tend to see this as a very simple issue with pretty simple answers: More guns, more barriers, more muscle, more enforcement on the border. But it’s not that simple. Far from it. The enforcement only band-aid won’t fix our problems. Closing the borders and sealing it off so that no one gets in at all will only exacerbate the problem. And it’s wholly unrealistic. People who want to sneak in will still find ways to do so.
Arizona and (to a slightly lesser extent) California have a very serious problem and are in dire need of very serious solutions. The trouble is no one seems willing to do the heavy lifting required to find serious solutions. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been screaming for years for more federal attention, with some success; then again, it is a bit less of a challenge to patrol 140 miles of border than it is to patrol 351 miles of barren desert. But our senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, haven’t done enough to heed Schwarzenegger’s call and push the federal government to take serious action.
In Arizona, the former self-proclaimed “Maverick” turned political coward John McCain and his Arizona Senate colleague Jon Kyl used to be vocal proponents of comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform. They realized that their state was in a bad way, and at one time actually thought about doing something about it. But, as the Arizona Republic excoriates in their front page editorial this past weekend, they’ve both abandoned their supposed principles in favor of political expediency in order to pander to their extreme right-wing base. Solving a complex problem involves instituting some policies that are politically unpopular with the Republican base and plutonium for the Republican leadership, so it’s off limits.
Policies such as creating a path to citizenship for those already here. That way the U.S. government could document who’s here, conduct background checks on them to help ensure that the criminal element is kept in check, and separate the wheat from the chaff: It can then be presumed that those who actually register want to work toward citizenship and become productive members of our society. They can then have their status normalized, be able to legally find a job and pay taxes, be able to be monitored, and be set on a rigorous course to citizenship. Those who refuse to participate or don’t measure up in the background check can be assumed to be here for less than honorable reasons, and thus can be deported when caught.
Policies like streamlining and simplifying the process to immigrate legally. We have the technology now to do this and make it unnecessary for so many to risk their lives to cross illegally and live their lives on the lam when they get here. The reason so many do it is because the process as it stands is so difficult and cumbersome and horribly inefficient. It takes years, sometimes decades to come here legally through the system, and these folks simply don’t have that kind of time. Speed it up and give them hope that they can go through proper channels. Allowing them to come here legally ensures that they can pay their taxes and not simply leech off of our society. Background checks and government scrutiny will help to filter out the bad seeds from those looking to come in earnest.
Policies like creating a guest worker program so that migrant workers can come and work in the fields or at other seasonal jobs, and then be free to return home having earned enough money to provide for their families and without the worry of not being able to cross back into the U.S. for the next round. Many of those here illegally would go back if they could, but because of the difficulties and dangers they face in crossing the border northward, once they’re here they’re stuck. And the simple fact is that our farms and industries need them and their services.
Reforming our immigration system would also reduce the migrants’ need to rely on the drug traffickers and gun runners that have made life such a living hell and has put so many migrants into indentured servitude, and that has made life so miserable and frightening for so many living in what would otherwise be quiet, safe neighborhoods. By taking away the power of the drug cartels to traffic in human suffering, we diminish their power to terrorize our neighborhoods.
And then there’s the unthinkable policies that would tighten and strengthen our gun laws in an effort to make it as near to impossible as we can for the cartels to arm themselves to the teeth on this side of the border with all manner of advanced weaponry that allows them to outgun the Mexican authorities who are attempting to curtail their reign of terror in the border region. Authorities have determined that Houston is the number one source of weapons for the drug cartels, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the weapons seized between 2007 and 2008.
The ATF is stepping up its efforts to track the sources of weapons, spreading their new eTrace system into U.S. consulates in Mexico and providing access to Mexican authorities in an effort to track the sources of cartel weapons, and has concluded that the problem of supply lies on the northern side of the border. It was guns from the U.S. that were used in the massacre at an Acapulco resort in 2007. Mexican authorities have practically begged U.S. authorities to clamp down on the gun trade, but the gun rights advocates will have none of it. They apparently don’t understand, or just plain don’t care, that their insistence on their right to own any kind of sub-machine gun or high-powered rifle that rapid fires rounds more akin to artillery shells than more conventional bullets is what is enabling the cartels to do what they do and how they do it. Cut off the supply of guns, and you emasculate their ability to control the border region through terror.
Solving our immigration problem will be hard work, and will involve enacting a lot of policies that may not be politically popular. But that’s what we sent our representatives to Washington for; to do what needs to be done, not what’s politically popular or expedient. It’s time to stop crying about it and start doing something about it. It’s time for the Republicans to stop trying to make a very complex and complicated issue into a simple matter of enforcement. It’s time for the Democrats to get off their collective asses and work to solve another difficult problem.
It’s time for President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to follow through on their pledge to worry more about solving problems than winning elections. Fix what’s broken and the elections will take care of themselves.
UPDATE: Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who was arrested this past weekend at an immigration rally outside the White House for “failure to obey a lawful order from a U.S. Park policeman,” on with Keith Olbermann this evening discussing proposals he intends to advance in Congress: