Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Michael: Jeff Latas Declares for CD 8 Race against Kolbe

Please visit the website of Jeff Latas for Congress. Mr. Latas has laid out a very smart and common-sense platform in plain language on his site. I don't agree with every detail of his views, but it is obvious that Jeff is a smart and serious, and well-qualified candidate who is open-minded, goal-oriented, and progressive.

He comes out strongly for creating an actual energy policy rather than letting the energy companies set policy around such a deeply influential and strategically important sector of our economy. With energy prices on everyone's mind this is going to be a compelling campaign issue, and Jeff recognizes that.

He takes a strong stand for environmental conservation and enforcement, though I think he would do well to talk more about the moral and self-interested dimensions of conservation and protecting the environment and less about the nuts and bolts of enforcement.

He is going to take some serious heat in CD 8 on immigration issues with his current statement. He is laudibly honest in his condemnation of the 'close the border' 'law-enforcement first' view of immigration, but his suggestion that Mexico pay for the health-care costs for its nationals in the U.S. is unrealistic.

Latas gives a nod to defense spending being out of control but hesitates short of calling for any specific reductions in the defense budget, and instead only states a desire to increase military R&D. Our military budget certainly needs to be reprioritized, but it also needs to be cut - mostly from our over-exention in Iraq.

Jeff wisely acknowledges that the Medicare deficit is a much more serious and immediate problem than any projected shortfall in the Social Security Trust. Presumably, Latas can therefore be depended upon to staunchly reject any spurious Social Security 'reforms' and look for solutions to underfunding Medicare instead, which will be the foundation of any universal health-care program, which Latas clearly supports. Latas would do well to devote less time to attacking private accounts, which is a policy that's already DOA, and more to addressing how fund Medicare and how to fix the drug prescription benefit, which will be a heated topic begining next year as retirees get fed up with the GOP's horrible plan.

Latas needs work on his tax proposals, though it is dangerous to be specific on this topic. He makes a good start by stating the priciples that he stands for reduced income tax on the poor and AMT for the wealthy. To complete his philosophic stand on taxation he advocates relying less on income tax and more on "user tax", by which I assume he means service fees and the like. I find that position weak. He should advocate for less reliance on payroll taxes if he wants to help 95% of Americans. If he wanted to be truly progressive and innovative he should back a universal transaction tax.

Latas keeps his position on free trade short and sweet, demanding "free trade for free states." All parties to free trade agreements should adhere to human rights, enviromental, and fair trade policies. I'm not sure what 'fair trade' policies are, but if they are international norms on wages, union rights, workplace safety and benefits, then count me in.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Latas does in the campaign. He has some natural advantages in the current political climate. He's a career veteran of the Air Force with Pentagon and intelligence experience and a son in the Army Reserve in Iraq. This gives him a natural authority to take a strong position on Iraq in contrast to Kolbe's. He also has a compelling personal story regarding his son's life-threatening illness supporting the moral urgency of his stand on universal health-care. Finally, as an engineer, he has the intellectual capacity and personal commitment to enviromental protection via an alternative energy policy to really sell this issue and make it a centerpiece of his campaign. He would do well to link his campaign to the Apollo Alliance.

If I had one suggestion for the Latas campaign. it would be to make Americans' civil rights and universal human rights a much more explicit and central issue in his platform. The people need candidates talk about the damage to our constitutional rights and our prestige in the world this Administration and Congress have done over the past 5 years. Unless candidates put it front and center in their campaigns, the GOP will not pay the price they should for their perfidy.


At 9:14 PM, Blogger DRP said...

Go, Jeff, Go! Beat Kolbe.


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