Monday, January 16, 2012

I Have a Dream of Economic Justice

Olympia Snowe has spent the last 33 years in Washington. That’s 33 years -- and counting -- that have made her one of the wealthiest people in America.

Lately, that wealth has been showing up in votes that put profits before people.

When Snowe voted against the Senate jobs bill in October, she identified only one provision of the bill she disagreed with: the surcharge on taxpayers who earn more than $1 million in adjusted gross income.

According to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice, only one-tenth of one percent of Maine taxpayers would be affected by the surcharge — about 375 people.

The legislation would have created 2 million new jobs and cut taxes for virtually all Maine taxpayers. While her constituents struggle to survive the bleakest economic conditions in generations, a small segment of Mainers -- 375 -- have a senator on their side.

Did she vote against a small tax increase for only 375 Mainers because she is one of us?

Or one of them?

According to the Media Matters Action Network, Snowe’s estimated net worth -- between $12.6 million and $44.7 million -- makes her the 10th richest member of the Senate, a millionaire's club in itself.

But she makes only $174,000 a year as a U.S. senator. Though Snowe's most recent official financial disclosure form does not list specific income for her husband, John McKernan, it does indicate two income sources that make them millionaires.

McKernan serves as chairman of the board of directors of Education Management Corporation.

Education Management's corporate filings describe a "McKernan Agreement" under which he is paid an annual salary of $330,000, plus a target bonus of $412,500. McKernan is also a member of the board of directors of BorgWarner, which paid him $328,000 in cash and stock awards in 2010, and he serves on the board of directors of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Snowe's vote against the jobs bill is thus much easier to understand, since Snowe and her husband are among those fortunate few.

Everyone knows we need to change the dynamic in Washington to protect the many against the privileges of the few, to unleash the middle class and create a broad-based economic recovery.

But we can't keep sending the same people over and over again and expect a different outcome.

We need a senator who is one of the people.

A member of the middle class who wants to reduce taxes on middle-class families and keep alive the American Dream. Someone who believes everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed.

Someone who demands those who have reaped the biggest rewards pay their fair share to the nation that nourished that wealth.

Olympia Snowe never will.

I already have.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 U.S. Senate Race: What would Einstein do?

Will 2012 be the year America gets its groove back, or are we going to send the same people to Washington that we have been sending for decades and hope things will change?

Against all odds I am considering running for the U.S. Senate against Olympia Snowe,  who has been in Washington D.C. since 1979 and is now one of the wealthiest U.S. Senators in America.

Am I crazy? I want America to educate our children, protect our seniors, reward our veterans and keep people healthy and safe. I want corporations and wealthy people to pay their fair share of taxes, and I know that corporations are not people. I want a senator who will stand up for ordinary people and speak loudly for economic justice.

Not since George Mitchell have we had a Democratic Senator in Washington fighting for the middle class and taking a stand for good people struggling to find and keep jobs, put food on their table and protect their families. The Republican Party is out of touch with the challenges American families are faced with, and quickly becoming more and more extremist and obstructionist. Gridlock in Washington is robbing a generation.

I would love to hear from you -- the People I wish to serve. Are you ready for change in Washington? Are you willing to fight for it? I hope so.

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