Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Townhall with Congressman Adam Smith

I attended Congressman Adam Smith’s (D-WA) Townhall today. He started with some general comments about how the Democratic majority and Bush are learning to work together and commented that they don’t have a history of cooperation so this has been a difficult process.

The topics he introduced and gave us an update on included: (1) Funding for veterans (2) Energy reform (3) Immigration reform (4) The deficit (5) Defense (6) No child left behind (7) Iraq.

Some of his best lines and ideas included:
o He wants a service wide re-entry program for all returning veterans which includes health care.
o He indicated that he thinks we need to ignore (my words not his) the issue of the 15-20 million illegals in this country before we can reform immigration. He admits that we cannot round them up and deport them but sees this issue as holding up meaningful discussion.
o Adam Smith talked about the confusing an convoluted tax code and said this was primarily due to all the special tax laws that are constantly being phased in and phased out.
o He’s not for single payer healthcare because he sees cost containment as a major problem in our health care system. He also said that incentives are paid for certain medical procedures that may not be necessary such as certain prescriptions and surgeries and by making this more efficient we could divert these wasted funds into better and more financially efficient procedures.
o George Bush is delaying the political situation in Iraq that needs to happen and propping up a Prime Minister that will never let that happen.
o Bush’s capacity to believe things that fit his view of the world cannot be underestimated.
o Access by everyone to the civil justice system is the greatest democraticizer.
o Sovereignty is ours. We negotiate what sovereignty to let go of and we should never give up something unless we get something of value for it.
o We shouldn’t call Congress people who fail our way as not having courae. Courage shows up on the battlefield and very rarely by pushing a button on the House floor.
o They will vote to restore habeas corpus next week.

When he opened the floor to questions he got MANY questions regarding why we’re not impeaching Bush. You could tell he’d gotten these questions many times before. He gave unsatisfying answers about bitterly divide the Country, need 67 Senate votes, not up to his standards of impeachment, blah, blah, blah.

I didn’t challenge him because I was saving my question to talk about toxic food imports. He agreed that FDA needs to be strengthened and promised they would discuss it at next weeks Trade Policy Caucus meeting.
We thanked him for his “yea” votes on the McGovern and Schiff amendments.

He took many great questions about our returning vets and promised to look into the use of the nursing home at American Lake, consider a traumatic brain injury trauma center at Madigan, increase case workers at the VA and change their mission to be advocates for the vets, and got other information about our vets. (He’s GREAT on these issues!)

He wants GitMo closed (yeah!), greater oversight on past contracts (Yippie!), and alternative fuels and raising the CAFÉ standards (OK!).

All in all, I left there feeling pretty good.



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