TX-10: Dan Grant on Failed Economy Pushed By McCaul

The reviews are in, and consumer spending this holiday season was up a mere 3.6 percent over the year before.  It was the weakest increase in at least four years, as families purchased fewer presents to put under the tree — and spent one-third of that increase on gasoline.

The news is the latest evidence that the free spending fueled by Washington’s aimless policies in Iraq has turned our economy into the equivalent of a grade-B horror flick come to life — Return of the Living Debt.

While the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies such as Rep. Mike McCaul squander more than $3 billion of our tax dollars every week in Iraq, economic security in central Texas communities continues to suffer.  Job creation is slowing down, unemployment is rising, and debt-driven growth is bottoming out.  The world’s first trillion-dollar war, almost all of it borrowed, is creating economic casualties here at home as the new year gets underway.

In addition, the collapse of our nation’s mortgage and credit markets is now rippling through the economy.  At least two million middle-class families will probably to lose their homes to foreclosure.  

Apparently following the example set by Mr. McCaul’s political bosses in Washington, D.C., consumers have borrowed against their homes and maxed out their credit cards.  But as the lackluster recent holiday sales show, we aren’t borrowing to buy widescreen TVs or other luxury items.  We’re going into debt to cover escalating health care costs, soaring college tuition rates, and to pay for gas to get to jobs, while our paychecks are stagnating.  

No wonder economic security is now the top issue this election year. Merely breaking even has never been an acceptable notion for Americans — especially when one of the culprits is the war in Iraq, which has not only lost mainstream support but is helping to increase the highest national debt in history.

Here is some of what Washington should be doing to improve middle-class economic security:

• Universal health care.  These days, access to high-quality, low-cost health care should be a right, not a privilege. I support a plan to leverage down health costs by creating a single nationwide risk pool, to guarantee open disclosure of all prices so that we know what a pill costs before swallowing it, to insist on unitary pricing so that everyone pays the same price for the same product or service, and a renewed commitment to insuring every child.

• Energy independence.  Invest in alternative sources of energy.  Wind, solar, geo-thermal, bio-diesel, and other alternative energy technologies are an opportunity for the U.S. to become a global leader again.  The result?  Greater energy independence, fewer energy costs, and the creation of sustainable jobs.  Repealing taxpayer subsidies for polluters will improve our economy, clean up our environment, and strengthen our national and economic security.

• Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.  This pro-work, pro-family IRS program, first created by Ronald Reagan, helps middle- and low-income working families obtain federal tax credits.  Unlike tax cuts for the wealthy, the EITC puts money directly into local economies.  Last year, 2.1 million Texas recipients qualified for more than $4.3 billion in refunds, with the average return coming to nearly $2,000.  This money is spent in local businesses on school supplies, small appliances, vehicle repairs, and other good or services that may have been deferred during the rest of the year for lack of spending cash.

• Invest in education.  China, India, and others are investing in the next generation of our global competitors.  Let’s reverse the Bush-Cheney administration’s cuts in Pell Grants for eligible college students, reform their failed ‘No Child Left Behind’ boondoggle, and once and for all stop them from trying to siphon tax dollars out of public schools to pay for a private-school voucher scheme.

• Micro-lending.  Expand the scope and lending limits of the Small Business Administration’s innovative micro-loan program. This home-grown wealth program helps encourage local companies and entrepreneurs, and the money stays in local communities in the form of higher tax revenues, consumer spending, sustainable local jobs, and economic opportunities for middle-class and working families.

These steps may not be easy, but they are essential.  The free spending in Iraq and laissez-faire enforcement of financial regulations by the Bush-Cheney administration and its reliable allies in Congress have created a danger far more horrifying than a grade-B Hollywood movie.  They have placed the economic security of the American middle-class at risk.

This election, let’s have a serious conversation about our priorities to move forward.  It begins by ending the war in Iraq and shifting the resources we are spending there to things that matter the most — universal health care, better public schools and access to college, a stronger Social Security trust fund and comprehensive services for our veterans and their families — here at home.

These are some of my ideas for positive change. The last thing we can afford is more of the same. We need a change in Washington — now.


TX-10: Let’s stand with U.S. workers this Labor Day — and beyond

When Congress gets back to work after its August recess, the first thing lawmakers should do is unite behind a common sense initiative to support our National Guard troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ‘Patriot Corporations of America Act’ would require corporations to support U.S. troops by paying the difference between regular salary and military salary for all National Guard and Reserve employees who are called up to active duty, and by continuing health insurance coverage for the Guard member and his or her family.

It’s time for America to export our values, not our jobs. This initiative will take an important step toward that goal by rewarding companies that invest in our economy and the middle-class families who drive it.

The act would also:

  * provide tax breaks and preferences in federal contracting to companies that produce at least 90 percent of their goods and services in this country
  * require corporations to invest at least 50 percent of their research and development budgets in domestic projects
  * provide at least 70 percent of the cost of quality health care for their employees
  * contribute at least five percent of payroll to a portable pension fund
  * enforce compliance with federal environmental, workplace safety, and consumer protection regulations.

When Congress returns after Labor Day, passage of this legislation would be a fitting way to mark a fresh start in a new direction for working families and small businesses.


TX-10: From ‘Bring ‘Em On’ To ‘Bring ‘Em Home’

Just four Republican members of Congress had the courage late last week to vote for a bill requiring that U.S. troops stationed in Iraq be deployed by next April.  Mike McCaul was not among those showing such courage.  Instead, he voted to keep taxpayers’ sons and daughters mired in the escalating violence while the Baghdad government continues to enjoy its summer-long vacation.

For Central Texans who have been watching Mr. McCaul put his rubber stamp on the White House’s failed public policies for the past four years, his vote last week was no surprise.

Nor will his next move be – introducing a measure calling for the adoption of the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations from last year, now that those recommendations are no longer viable, if they ever were.

This isn’t leadership.  It’s followership.  And followership isn’t good enough.

When I went to Iraq in 2005, it wasn’t because I was a fan of President Bush or his war.  I’m not.  But I had spent the previous years working for small-d democracy from Kosovo to Afghanistan, and I thought I might contribute in some small way to help the Iraqi people consolidate their peace so that our own troops could come back home where they belong.

I worked on the elections of October and December that year – historic successes in the midst of the violence, failure, and disappointment that have marked the U.S. presence there.  In a rare collective act of hope and bravery, Sunni and Shiite alike went to the polls to choose a legitimate government in a free, fair, and open process, and the overwhelming public sentiment was to carry on with more elections in an effort to rebuild their nation.

Like millions around the world, I now realize that the Bush Administration and its congressional allies considered the elections little more than a photo op.  No wonder they didn’t take advantage of the momentum that had started.  The newly elected Iraqi government saw no reason to have more elections that could undermine its new power.  The Iraqi public, hungry to make its voice heard again, never got that chance.  The White House failed to push for more democratic change in Iraq.  And without pressure from either government, the elections ministry where I worked collapsed into a cycle of score-settling personal vendettas and political purges.

Press releases instead of progress.  Spin over substance.  Flashbulbs, declarations of mission accomplished, and endless requests for just a little more time to turn things around.  It’s not enough.

Along with thousands of brave soldiers and hundreds of other civilians from around the world, I tried to play a role in bringing positive change to Baghdad.  But it wasn’t enough. The elections I worked on were allowed to fade away, like sowing seeds on dust.  The best efforts of our troops, our team of international experts, and our good-hearted Iraqi friends didn’t end the war.  We simply installed a government bent on entrenching itself every bit as violently as Saddam Hussein had.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.  I’ve come back home.  And now I’m asking you to send me to Congress so that, together, we can make sure our brave troops come home soon, too.


Dan Grant (TX-10): ‘I’m Ready to Lead’

When Tom DeLay engineered his redistricting scheme four years ago, he was riding high.  In control of the White House and both houses of Congress, he and his partisan allies thought they could get away with anything, from a war of choice in Iraq to choosing a new representative to roam the halls of Congress for us.

So how’d they do?

Well, Mr. DeLay, the man who once boasted “I am the federal government,” was forced to resign in disgrace.  Iraq, where I spent the past year-and-a-half, is mired in sectarian violence that is costing taxpayers $8 billion per month and untold treasure in the lives we’ve lost.

As for the Congressman bequeathed to us by Mr. DeLay, the news isn’t much better there, either.  Only two of Texas’ 32-member congressional delegation are less effective, according to the latest non-partisan power ranking.  Despite rubberstamping every failed Bush policy for the past four years, he has even less influence than Ted Poe and Pete Sessions.

That’s why I’m running for Congress in Texas’ 10th District – because the last thing we need is more of the same.

I’ve worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  I’ve seen what happens around the world when Washington exports partisanship instead of American values.  And now I’ve come home to ask you to send me to the source so we can change the course.

I’m ready to lead the way toward positive change.  Together, we can improve national security, move toward energy independence, reduce the national debt, and provide a level playing field for middle-class families.  We can achieve health care coverage for every child.  We can restore our leadership role in the world.

Most of all, we can find a smart way out of Iraq and bring our brave troops home to the heroes’ welcome they have earned.

Please join me and let’s make a fresh start in a new direction.