One year ago today, Congressman Joe Wilson shocked our nation by breaking decades of decorum and yelling at the commander-in-chief during a joint session of Congress. First he refused to apologize publicly, and then he began raising money off of his embarrassing behavior.
In the year since, not much from Joe has changed. From his childish outburst to inserting lobbyists' words in the Congressional Record as his own, to an ethics investigation over more than $100,000 and 30 taxpayer-funded trips, Joe Wilson represents everything that is wrong with Washington today.
If you ask Joe, none of this is his fault.
He doesn't think that his shouting at the president was wrong; he prides himself on it. Joe doesn't see the problem with lobbyists ghostwriting for him; he told NPR that he didn't think having lobbyist ties was negative.
And Joe doesn't think that his ethics investigation is about being responsible with your money; he thinks that a nonpartisan commission co-chaired by George W. Bush's choice to head the CIA is on a political witch hunt.
Earning a congressional reprimand, getting in bed with lobbyists, and coming under investigation has left Joe without a leg to stand on. He's the poster boy for Washington insiders and a broken Congress. South Carolina deserves tough, smart, honorable leadership. That's why months ago I rolled out my Restoring Faith In Government package that will make Washington more transparent.
My Restoring Faith In Government proposal hits Congress at its most corrupt points. We have to cut congressional pay by 10 percent until our budget is balanced. We have to reform and bring transparency to the earmark process. We have to require members of Congress to disclose their interactions with lobbyists. And we have to reform the congressional per diem and travel system.
Wilson can start by having the courage to do what's right and come clean about how much per diem money he's pocketed. Every tax dollar is precious, and Wilson should return every penny that he stole from us. But, since Joe has never had the courage to do what is right for his district, it's time for him to go.
South Carolina deserves a representative who will have the courage to do what's right. South Carolina deserves a representative who won't outsource our jobs. South Carolina deserves a representative who will never lose sight of our values: honor, family and service.
The 2010 election comes down to the past versus the future. We can get caught up in the embarrassments that scarred our state -- and our nation -- over the past year, or we can embrace new leadership who will restore faith and honor in our government.
We can elect a representative who will send our jobs to Central America and China, or we can choose new leadership who will protect our jobs and defend our workers.
We can continue with Washington's culture of corruption, or we can shed light on Washington's backroom deal-making.
So what's it going to be? Fresh leadership or more of the same?