As election day approaches, I think it's time to examine what Congressman Dan Benishek has done (or not done) for his constituents since he assumed office. Let's review some of his accomplishments, and his positions on some of the major issues:
- Congressman Benishek supports the Ryan/Romney budget, which would maintain historically low tax rates on the wealthiest taxpayers (millionaires and billionaires). Benishek (and Ryan/Romney) claim that doing so will not increase the deficit, and will not result in the rest of us (the middle class) having to pay higher taxes. Unfortunately, the math behind this so-called plan does not add up. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center concluded, after analyzing the Ryan/Romney Plan, that it would result in a net tax cut for millionaires averaging about $87,000/year, and a net tax increase for the other 95 percent of the population of about $500/year. And it could be even worse than that, because the Ryan/Romney Plan counts on closing tax loopholes to save money, but they refuse to say which tax loopholes will be closed, and who will be affected.
-Congressman Benishek also supports the portion of the Ryan/Romney budget that would drastically change Medicare, turning it into a profit-driven voucher program run by insurance companies. This would cost the average senior an additional $6,400 per year for the same coverage currently provided. Here is what the Michigan Nurses Association has to say about Benishek's support for converting Medicare into a voucher program: "Nurses care about our patients and we have to speak up when our elected officials like Congressman Benishek protect millionaires instead of Medicare. Our seniors are in serious trouble if Medicare is replaced by vouchercare. We don't know how Doctor Benishek can believe that giving seniors more bills so millionaires can get more breaks will do anything but endanger the health and safety of our patients."
-Congressman Benishek voted in September to help the House pass the TRAIN Act, which delays two critical clean air safeguards for reducing toxic air pollution from power plants that would save over 2,000 lives per year in Michigan: the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. If enacted, this would give polluters a free pass and lead to increased health care costs for Michigan families already struggling to make ends meet.
-Congressman Benishek has received an appallingly low rating of "3" (on a scale from 0 to 100) from the Michigan League of Conservation voters. The score is based on how a Congressman voted on bills relating to protection of clean air, clean water, and the environment in general. Congressman Benishek's rating of "3" is the lowest rating for any federal or state representative in Michigan, and is reflective of his commitment to protect polluters (and their profits) rather than protecting our environment.
-Congressman Benishek supports continued subsidies for big oil, and also voted to continue those subsidies and tax loopholes for oil companies to the tune of 4 billion dollars per year. It is no coincidence that some of Congressman Benishek's biggest campaign contributors are also big oil/coal companies, including Exxon Mobil and DTE Energy. It is also interesting that 74 percent of the money that Benishek has raised since he took office has come from outside the state of Michigan (mostly from big multinational corporations and GOP Political Action Committees).
-Benishek has done little or nothing to create good-paying jobs in northern Michigan. Instead, he told the Escanaba Daily Press in July that unemployment here is high because "people don't want to work..."
Have you heard enough? The closer you examine Congressman Benishek's record, the worse it looks. Congressman Benishek wants us to believe that all of our problems can be blamed on "big government." He seems to love big corporations, though, and spends most of his time looking for ways to help them protect their record profits, at our expense.
If you believe, as I do, that Congressman Benishek has failed to represent the concerns of his constituents since he came into office, then vote for Gary McDowell on Nov. 6. We deserve better than Congressman Benishek.