Blue America Progressive Candidates Step Up In TX, IA, HI

Blue America endorsed 3 extraordinary new candidates for Congress last week:  

Kaniela Ing in Hawaii’s Honolulu seat, Austin Frerick in the district that stretches across southwest Iowa from the Omaha, Nebraska suburbs through Des Moines, and Lillian Salerno in the north Dallas Metro.

Aside from all being well-experienced progressives, all three have something else in common; all 3 are running populist campaigns shining a light on how monopolies hurt working families. In other words — trust-busters.

Kaniela Ing is the most progressive member of the Hawaii legislature:

“In today’s political climate, no entrepreneur looking to grow his or her business should ever consider voting Republican. The GOP’s pro-oligarchy agenda has rigged the American economy against both workers and the majority of business owners. A handful of multi-national corporation and Wall Street investment firms are seeing enormous gains, while everyday entrepreneurs are being hung out to dry. Now that the GOP controls Congress and the White House, it’s no wonder so many corporations are driving up prices, lowering wages, and shipping jobs overseas. The greatest threat to American innovation, small business, and a resilient economy is the monopolization of industries. Democrats must lead the fight to break apart monopolies and big banks, and build a future economy that leaves no one behind.”

Austin Frerick was an economist in Obama’s Treasury Department and he’s getting well known throughout western Iowa for taking on Monsanto. Monsanto noticed too — and their PAC is helping fund two candidates running against Frerick, a conservative Democrat, Theresa Greenfield, and an even more conservative Republican, David Young.

“I’m seeing this pattern of corruption that made me want to get into this race,” said Frerick. “Who’s going to look out for the farmer who’s facing rising seed costs when an incumbent congressman is beholden to Monsanto’s political action committee and the Democratic candidate is getting campaign contributions from one of Monsanto’s biggest lobbyists?” And Frerick makes a broad case against monopolies that go beyond just seed prices. He talks about cable service, pharmaceutical prices, and craft beer(!!) as universally relatable examples.

“Craft breweries are a great example of innovative new small businesses challenging monopolistic incumbents. More than 98% of all breweries are locally owned small businesses. These are the type of businesses that grow our local economies. But Anheuser-Busch InBev and MolsonCoors sell 71% of all beer in the US and they’ve set out the dominate the industry even more… And what’s happening in the beer industry is a microcosm for our economy at the moment. Economists across the political spectrum agree that monopolies harm small businesses and communities and also lead to higher costs and lower quality for consumers. Let’s allow craft breweries to thrive. If we want local small businesses to have a chance in the modern economy, we have to enforce our antitrust laws and stop barons like Anheuser-Busch from robbing us.”

Lillian Salerno has the same idea. She recently announced her candidacy for Texas’s 32nd Congressional District, which Pete Sessions has represented for 11 terms. A deputy undersecretary for rural development in the Department of Agriculture, she tells voters, “I had a front-row seat on the game being rigged.” She believes antitrust policy can make the economy more dynamic: New business creation has fallen dramatically in recent years, stifled by incumbent behemoths who either buy out or cripple the competition.

All three have competitive primaries in districts that are likely to go blue in 2018 — the one Hawaiian district is certain to stay blue —  so whoever wins the primary will be a member of Congress.

Primaries are crucial, especially because each of these candidates is being opposed by conservative, Republican-lite quasi-Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. None of them are wealthy and all three are counting on grassroots help from people like us. I gave; can you consider doing the same?

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

 — Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Roxanne Conlin, IA-Senate

Wednesday the House voted overwhelmingly to abolish the exemption the health insurance monopolies have been enjoying from antitrust laws. I spoke to half a dozen candidates running for House seats from around the country, all of whom were very enthusiastic about the action (as you can see at the link above). Today an old Blue America friend, Rep. John Hall, sent us a statement reminding us that he's been talking about doing just this since last summer.

Finally, the House of Representatives has repealed the anti-trust exemption for the health insurance industry. I have been talking about this since last August, when it elicited applause from progressives and conservatives alike in my health care town hall meetings. I have spoken forcefully in our caucus about the insanity of allowing monopolistic practices, price-fixing, collusion and consolidation by corporations which are gouging the consumer with skyrocketing insurance premiums, shrinking coverage, underpaying of doctors, and refusing coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Today, we finally got a debate and a vote on this first, clear issue pertaining to health care reform. Competition is key in driving down costs for families and small businesses. Monopolies kill competition. I have not heard a credible reason for health insurance companies to have such protection. It is especially obvious when Anthem Blue Cross just proposed a premium hike of 39% for one year, while simultaneously posting record profits and dropping millions more from coverage. I have heard from many of you who have experienced similar hikes from your insurance companies.

Enough is enough. I co-sponsored the legislation that passed by a bipartisan vote of 406-19. Republican Representatives argued strenuously against the bill, then flip-flopped and voted for it. I guess they didn't want to face the voters after casting a vote to protect an industry that clearly does not need protection.

By chance I also happened to be on the phone with Roxanne Conlin, a progressive Democrat running for the Iowa Senate seat currently occupied by anti-health-care fanatic Chuck Grassley. Roxanne is an attorney who "has devoted her law practice in Des Moines, Iowa to representing people who have been injured by others, whether by discrimination, products, doctors or vehicles and has gained national attention and the respect of her peers in the process." She knows quite a lot about why repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act will be a tremendous boost for the whole cause of health care reform. John and I have invited her to C&L today (at noon, PT) to talk about this issue as the bill moves on to the Senate, the body she is aspiring to be part of. Meet us-- and Roxanne-- in the comments section.




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