Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes State Senator Jim Wilson (D-OK)

A labor union president once told me that the worst Democrat in Congress, at least from the point of view of ordinary working families, is Oklahoma reactionary Dan Boren. I've never been able to find anyone to persuade me that he was wrong. The video above should explain that pretty well.

Today Blue America is very proud to present the courageous populist who's decided Boren doesn't deserve a free ride from Oklahoma Democrats. State Senator Jim Wilson, long considered Oklahoma's most pro-family state legislator, made up his mind after Boren voted in favor of the anti-Choice Stupak amendment and then against the overall healthcare reform bill-- twice. Healthcare reform has been one of Jim's signature issues as a state Rep and state Senator. He'll be joining is for a free-ranging discussion below in the comments section.

Jim, whose political career has been dedicated to the most needy in his community and who has fought a long and unrelenting battle on behalf of public education, the environment and health care reform, decided to take the plunge into national politics when his congressman, Dan Boren, once again joined the Republican Party in trying to derail healthcare reform.

"I've been working on healthcare in the state legislature for 10 years," Jim told me. "Oklahoma ranks 50th in overall delivery of healthcare statewide... Health care costs are escalating at the compound rate of 6.7% per year. This year's increase for every man, woman and child, directly or indirectly, is $428. That represents income that can't be used elsewhere in the economy which removes, to some extent, discretionary spending which in turn hurts other business or quality of life segments."

There doesn't seem to be a resulting justification for the increased expenditures. One-third of health care spending doesn't seem to help or prevent sickness. If in Oklahoma we were to return the waste in health care to the people, the savings would be equivalent to all the state taxes paid by individuals and businesses. In Oklahoma we have in statute a floor of 60% for a medical loss ratio. The new federal reform legislation will require a medical loss ratio of not less than 85% for big groups and not less than 80% for small groups. The savings in Oklahoma will be at least $210 million.

Just automating health records in Oklahoma would save $800 million and 750 lives annually. Nationally we have one medical error per patient day and have an 80% error rate on provider billing. Cleveland clinic has to have 1,400 clerks to support 2,000 doctors-- and it's more cost effective than any other major provider with the possible exception of Mayo and the VA.

To improve quality of life for our citizens we should strive to improve disposable income. If we are resistant to increased pay or if increases in pay are mitigated by rising health care costs, we owe it to the citizens to make the health care system more efficient which will produce better health outcomes at less cost.

Jim, a former combat marine in Vietnam, who walked away with the valuable lessons of that tragic conflict, would be another voice of reason in Congress regarding Afghanistan. His astonishingly progressive record in Oklahoma shows what kind of a Member of Congress he would be. We can be absolutely certain we'd be trading in the worst Democrat for someone who will be giving Members like Alan Grayson and Raul Grijalva a run for their money! After Boren crossed the aisle again to support Boehner, Wall Street and the GOP in their jihad against regulating the money-changers in the temple, Jim issued a simple and direct statement that shows the contrast between the two of them:

“While driving around Eastern Oklahoma in my pickup truck, I have met thousands of people whose lives were ruined by the crash just two years ago. How can Dan Boren forget about those people and vote for his donors instead? It's a shame that he’s been in Washington so long he’s forgotten about the people in Eastern Oklahoma... This is common sense legislation. I have not met a single person on the campaign trail begging me to be compassionate to Wall Street. Dan Boren needs to spend less time in Washington with his Wall Street lobbyist friends and more time in Eastern Oklahoma."

The last two mangy Blue Dogs we're trying to dislodge in this cycle are John Barrow-- who faces off against Regina Thomas on July 20-- and then Boren, who will be facing Jim on July 27. If you can, please consider donating to his campaign so that Jim can continue getting out his message to Oklahoma Democrats. By the way, that labor union president I referred to above? Nowhere to be seen on this race-- or in Regina's. I guess we should be happy his union isn't endorsing their Blue Dog opponents this time.



John Amato: I hope you'll join Blue America in donating what you feel you can to the Coussoule campaign.

The idea of tobacco lobbyist John Boehner replacing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House is not something many Americans would like to see happen. But today Blue America is proud to introduce you to the young man who plans to make sure it never happens, the Democratic candidate for Congress from western Ohio's 8th CD: Justin Coussoule.

16b&w_de8d3_0.jpgJustin will be answering question in the comments section below. You'll find an exceptional young man, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, married for 10 years-- he met his wife when they were both at West Point-- and the father of two young children. An attorney, he worked as a legislative assistant for outstanding progressive Rep. Maurice Hinchey, started and ran a small business and currently works for Procter & Gamble.

On Monday he did a guest post about John Boehner's role in trying to make sure we never hold Wall Street accountable. Read it; it'll give you some background about how he thinks and where he's coming from. On other issues, Justin comes across as a populist looking out for regular American families:
At the core of our national character is the belief that we all are entitled to a fair opportunity to achieve the American dream. Embedded in that belief is the notion that we all benefit and achieve as a society when we further the ideal of succeeding together. I believe that implicit in each of the topics above, including strengthening the middle class, preserving our economic and national security, reversing climate change, and reforming health care, is the American value that we all succeed or fail together and we must work to ensure we all have the opportunity to lift ourselves up.

And when Justin says "all," he isn't excluding anyone based on race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.

His strong stand against Boehner's obstructionism of financial reform has drawn the attention of one of America's most knowledgeable spokespeople for reform, Barney Frank, who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Justin's campaign.

I support ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and finding ways to simplify the tax code to prevent the wealthiest corporations from exploiting tax loopholes.... I support re-regulating Wall Street to protect middle-class families from predatory loan practices and from paying for another bailout for banks whose irresponsible greed and lack of oversight directly led to the financial meltdown and Great Recession of 2008-09.
That was Justin. This was Barney, chairman of the House Financial Service Committee and voted, year after year, the smartest man in Congress by the Washingtonian this morning:

"I am pleased to endorse Justin Coussoule as someone who understands the necessity of passing financial regulatory reform to avoid repeating the current economic situation. Justin's support for this is especially important because his opponent, John Boehner, led House Republicans last year to vote unanimously to kill any kind of financial reform."

No one's kidding themselves that winning in a district that was gerrymandered specifically to be a safe seat for a Republican is going to be easy. But it isn't beyond hope either. Boehner has never faced a serious opponent since he slipped into office in 1990 by winning a primary against a typical Republican incumbent, "Buz" Lukens, who was caught on camera arranging to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. (Lukens later went to jail for fondling a House staffer in an elevator, and Boehner went on to make a name for himself as the go-between for GOP congressmen and the tobacco industry and was once caught on the floor of the House handing out lobbyist checks to his colleagues during a vote! He hasn't served time yet.)

(Please scroll down below the fold to read Alan Grayson's awesome take on this election and support for Justin Coussoule.)

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