THE BLOG

I'm Running for Congress in IL-5

02/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm running for Congress in the Fifth District of Illinois.

As a Chicago lawyer for thirty years, I have fought for working people in the Fifth District and throughout the city. I have represented unions as well as people with no unions to protect them. In plant closings I have helped them recover health and pension benefits. I obtained health care for the uninsured. I've been pressing the State of Illinois to crack down on payday lenders.

In my life as a lawyer I have lived out a commitment to one cause above all - to bring economic security to working Americans, in our District, in our country. That's the same commitment I will bring to Congress.

(Please stay in the loop with my campaign: www.geogheganforcongress.com )

We're deep in an economic crisis unlike any other we've known. It may last years. We need new and creative ways to protect working Americans, especially our older working people who have no real pensions to live on.

For years we've heard the doomsayers: "We can't afford Social Security." "We can't afford 'single-payer' national health." One thing we all learned from the $700 billion bail out: We've got the money to do all of this and more.

At the moment, the Federal Reserve is literally printing money, to give not billions but trillions to banks and financial firms. To the people of this District, the banks and others have gotten their money. Now it's your turn. Here's the bailout I will go to Congress to get:

First, I want to expand Social Security, our public pension system, to replace - not overnight but in stages - the private pension system which has collapsed. Social Security now pays about 38 to 39 percent of your working income. In other developed countries, it averages 65 percent. That's where our fiscal stimulus should be: a commitment to reach this goal, a public pension that ordinary working people can live on.

Second, we have to move to a single payer health care program, at least in phases: we might begin with extending Medicare to children, but the government should ultimately be the single payer for all. That's not because single payer is the only ethical and efficient way to protect us all. No, it's also because it is crucial to making us competitive globally. Through single payer and expanded Social Security, the goal is to pick up the "non-wage" labor costs that employers now have to pay. That's already how other countries out-compete us: they have the government and not the private employer pick up these non-wage health and pension costs.

Unless we have government pick up the costs of pensions and health care, our companies can't compete, and we'll go on piling up huge trade deficits. We'll have debacles like GM, which has collapsed in part because of the health and pension costs that the federal government should have been paying all along.

For years, the conservatives have said: "We can't do this. The money isn't there." Well, the money is there. It was there for the Iraq war, a colossal waste of money - and for the bailout, the first half of which has been a colossal waste as well. And if we now have the government pick up non-wage labor costs with the use of general revenues, we will in fact make it cheaper and easier for our companies to hire. This is in fact the best and most realistic approach for a long term recovery.

Additionally, we have to put limits on returns to financial firms. We should re-enact the usury laws, the interest-rate caps that were in place in America up till the 1970s. We need to stop the rates of 30 to 35 percent, the hidden fees, the hundreds of ways that banks pull our money out of industry and into gambling and speculation.

In my campaign, I will have a single minded focus on the economic security to working Americans, that's why I so strongly support the Employee Free Choice Act and other changes in our labor laws. And that's why I support policies that will reduce the debt of working Americans. Overall, the plan I am setting out here will help make our country more competitive.

I'm a strong supporter of President Obama. Yes, I strongly support his program to repair our infrastructure. Even so, we don't have to pave the streets with gold. If not the meltdown, then the bail out should have opened our eyes. The real fiscal stimulus has to be the kind that brings financial security to the middle class. The message of this campaign is: We're moving beyond the bailout. Now it's your turn.

Please stay in the loop with my campaign: www.geogheganforcongress.com