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Rep. Jim McDermott

Rep. Jim McDermott

Posted: October 20, 2010 09:29 AM

A Day Without the Democrats

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Recently, I watched the movie, A Day Without a Mexican. It's a hypothetical look at life in Los Angeles without Latinos, and the impacts on the society were they to disappear for one day. Yesterday, I read a newspaper article noting that unemployment insurance is due to come to a screeching halt in the very near future, and I began to wonder what the United States would be like if the Democrats disappeared.

My imagination took over as I thought about the consequences of a possible Republican victory on November second. After measuring the drapes for the Speaker's office, House Republican Leader John Boehner has been busy crossing the country making lofty promises on what he will do if he assumes the Speakership. Yet all too often, voters don't hear the details of a politician's plan for governing. The country would do well to listen very carefully to John Boehner's promises.

During the last several years, the American people have lost faith in America's banking system. Irresponsible lending, extravagant executive salaries, and the shady practice of trading derivatives left millions of families with no retirement savings and no hope. The Democrats instituted a series of significant reforms to return some confidence to the banking system, yet John Boehner promises to "repeal the financial regulation legislation." A day without the Democrats will take us back to the financial chaos of the 1930s, forever destroying what little security middle class families still enjoy.

When it comes to health care, until President Obama and the Democrats enacted the Affordable Care Act, too many Americans faced an uncertain health care future. This law prevents health insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and ends the horrible practice of rescissions, in which insurers drop policyholders when they get sick. It also allows children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26. John Boehner has vowed to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act. A day without the Democrats would set this country back to a time when children were denied health insurance because of asthma and other common childhood illnesses, and families were forced to declare bankruptcy to pay their medical bills.

The Republicans in the House and the Senate resisted extension of unemployment benefits in 2010. If the Republicans take over, why would anyone think they will vote to extend benefits in 2011, even if unemployment remains at its current level? Republicans are on record stating their belief that an unemployment check creates a "moral hazard" and results in laziness as recipients sit and wait for a check rather than look for a job. Clearly, Republicans are not thinking about the millions of people currently looking for jobs that just aren't there. A day without the Democrats isn't going to create more jobs, but it will take away the last lifeline keeping millions of Americans from homelessness.

One of the most serious problems facing the middle class today is the continuing foreclosures on homes. The banks refuse to acknowledge their bad debts, reduce their profits, or renegotiate the mortgages of millions of homeowners. Nothing is more important to a family and to a breadwinner than the ability to provide a warm, safe place for their loved ones at the end of the day. A day without the Democrats will put big banks back in the driver's seat, destroying any chance that those middle class families facing foreclosure will ever get the help they need to hold onto their homes and regain their financial footing.

How about America's seniors? Social Security and Medicare are social safety nets vital to tens of millions of people in this country. If John Boehner and his budget guru, Congressman Paul Ryan, get their way, both Social Security and Medicare will be privatized. They trust Wall Street to be a better keeper of America's social safety net than our federal government. No matter that over the last decade, bankers behaved like drunken customers at a casino, throwing away other people's money in a wild spree of irresponsibility. In a day without the Democrats, you can say goodbye to Social Security and Medicare.

It is easy to understand the anxiety and fear of ordinary Americans in today's uncertain economic climate. For many, the tea parties throughout the country are an appealing way to let off anger. However, we all know that decisions made in anger are usually misguided and much regretted. Abraham Lincoln had the habit of writing a letter when angry, but then putting it in his desk drawer to be reviewed later when he was calm and thinking clearly. In the next two weeks, the American people must sit down and take a deep breath, and consider whether they want to vote for the party that will continue moving America upward on the gradual climb out of the deep hole dug by Republicans when they controlled Congress and the White House. Or, would they rather give the shovels back to the Republicans so they can dig us in still deeper?

 

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