Why Blue America Endorsed Ellen Lipton (MI-09)

BLUE_AMERICA_ENDORSE_ELLEN_LIPTON.jpgEllen lists 7 core platform items on her website, her priorities: a strong public education system and will always resist efforts to privatize our schools; protecting and expanding Social Security; investing in infrastructure and creating well-paying jobs for our community; universal healthcare for all Americans; raising the minimum wage to a living wage; a woman’s right to choose, and protecting our environment and leaving a healthy planet for our children.​

What most people know about Ellen Lipton, a candidate for the open congressional seat in the Oakland and Macomb county suburbs north of Detroit, is that she founded and was named president of the Michigan Promise Zone Association. The association supports free community college tuition, technical training and certification to Michigan students in selected communities across Michigan, a blueprint for free college tuition across America. Before that she was in the Michigan legislature, fighting for public education and therefore the bane of Betsy DeVos' existence. But if education policy is one of her fields of expertise, infrastructure was one of the motivations that made her jump into the race. We don't always think of potholes as issues in congressional races... but Ellen explains why it is in her district

“POTHELL!” was the big, bold headline splashed across a newspaper recently here in metro Detroit, and no word sums up Michigan’s infrastructure crisis more clearly. Under the headline was a picture of three drivers who’d been stranded on their way to work when they crossed an enormous pothole that had immediately destroyed their tires and rims upon impact. Welcome to pothole season in Michigan, when a daily commute often involves dangerous dodging and swerving to avoid potholes, then dodging and swerving to avoid accidents with other vehicles.  It’s a public safety nightmare.
 
Trump recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, and it falls far, far short of what’s needed in Michigan to even begin to solve our infrastructure crisis. Under his plan, states and localities would have to find their own, new sources of revenue to spend on infrastructure to even qualify for federal help. After decades of state disinvestment in infrastructure in MI, Trump’s plan would have little to no impact here, since our local units of government have already been revenue-starved for years and are highly unlikely to be able to come up with new state spending sources. 

Michigan can’t wait for President Trump to get his act together and propose a plan that would actually work for our state. Here are just a few examples of how our infrastructure crisis is negatively impacting our communities every single day:

 

  • Flint water crisis-- Old service lines leached lead into Flint’s drinking water, poisoning an entire community.  These service lines and lead connectors have still not been replaced, four years after the crisis first began to unfold.
  • Fraser sinkhole-- A little over a year ago, an underground sewer line in Fraser collapsed, causing the ground to shift and open up and forcing people from their homes, closing down roads and putting a community in harms way.

 

  • Falling concrete on I-696-- Just recently, drivers along I-696, a major thoroughfare that links Oakland and Macomb counties in the 9th Congressional District, were being bombarded by large chunks of concrete falling from highway overpasses.
  • Heavy rains and E. coli outbreaks-- Every time there’s a heavy rain, levels of E. coli rise along the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. This shoreline issue can be traced to much of the region still operating on old combined sewer systems in which a single pipe carries sewage from homes and businesses as well as storm runoff coming from street drains.  Such outdated systems mean that during a heavy rainfall, a mix of storm water and sewage spills over from the retention basins to rivers and drains that carry it to Lake St. Clair.

The problems I’ve just described above barely scratch the surface of what our state’s infrastructure crisis entails. Cleary, President Trump’s so-called plan won’t even begin to get the job done when it comes to rebuilding my home state and making it a safe and healthy place for our communities.
 
What’s needed now more than ever is a bold vision for rebuilding our infrastructure, centered on the human side of the issue, and focused on putting people back to work and enhancing peoples’ quality of life where they work and where they live. Such a bold vision would invest our resources in people to produce millions of family-sustaining jobs, raise living standards, reduce inequality, strengthen education, reduce poverty and create a clean, healthy environment. 

It would also mandate a direct public investment in roads, bridges and other public works, as opposed to providing “corporate giveaways” to spur private-sector investment. This direct investment should come in the form of a federal jobs program, through which our country would invest in human capital by putting people back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, schools, airports and veterans’ hospitals, and linking our communities with high-speed internet access.
 
This kind of federal infrastructure program could create millions of jobs immediately, as well as introduce real-world job training for so many young people who are looking to begin careers in the skilled trades. An initiative like this one place great emphasis on jobs that pay a living wage, ensure workplace safety and guarantee racial and gender equality in the workplace. These goals could be achieved by raising benchmarks for prevailing wages in every corner of the country, requiring local hiring to accurately reflect and represent the diversity of the community’s workforce, include robust “Buy American” requirements and prioritize the hiring of veterans.
 
The path to American greatness lies in significant investment in our greatest resource: our people.  A federal jobs program based on rebuilding our country would be proof that America’s complex infrastructure challenges can be met by following the simple principle that public money should go toward the public good.

MI-09 is a reliable Democratic district, which Sandy Levin, who has represented it for three-and-a-half decades, is leaving. His son Andy would like to take over. There are 2 other middle-of-the-road men running as well... and Ellen, the progressive game changer in the race.

So, why have we endorsed Ellen Lipton (MI-09)?

Ellen is part of the progressive grassroots energy that is sweeping the country and she's the kind of leader who won't be satisfied sitting on the backbench taking orders from the party's sclerotic, calcified leadership. Pelosi's, Hoyer's and their team's days are numbered. The congressional Democrats desperately need seasoned, bold leaders like Ellen Lipton to help the party snap out of it before it's too late. Please consider contributing to her campaign here.



Blue America Welcomes Dr. Syed Taj

The only Michigan Democrats Steve Israel is allowing the DCCC to help so far this cycle are Blue Dog Gary McDowell (MI-01) and virulent anti-Choice fanatic Steve Pestka (MI-03). No doubt John Boehner and Eric Cantor would prefer actual Republicans but they know they'll be able to count on conservatives like McDowell and Pestka most of the time. The race that's the most primed for a Democratic takeover, MI-11, is being studiously ignored by Steve Israel. Although three districts have around the same advantage with Obama on the ticket. Under the new boundaries MI-01 and M-011 were won by Obama 50-48 and MI-03 was won by Obama 50-49. MI-11, unlike the other two, is an open seat with no Republican incumbent-- a prime takeover opportunity. But, apparently-- and for whatever reason-- not in Steve Israel's eyes. For one thing, the Democrat running, Dr. Syed Taj, is a strong progressive, which isn't what Steve Israel is looking for in candidates.

But, regardless of the DCCC, when voters in the 11th head to the polls in November they will be presented with a stark choice. On the Republican line will be a far right-wing libertarian being backed by Ron and Rand Paul and on the Democratic line will be a pragmatic progressive who has spent his entire life dedicated to saving and improving lives.

This week Blue America is endorsing that pragmatic progressive Democrat, Dr. Syed Taj and he'll be joining us here for a live chat today at 2pm (ET). Normally we meet our candidates on Tuesdays but Dr. Taj informed me he meets with his patients on Tuesdays at that time. The excuse says a lot about who he is and what motivates him.

His opponent, Kerry Bentivolio, is an accidental candidate who wound up on the GOP line when the incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, was forced to resign to stay out of prison after a series of election fraud scandals. Horrified, Establishment Republicans tried running a normal candidate but it was too late and they got stuck with Bentivolio, a reindeer rancher who made some extra money as an actor in a low-budget conspiracy film that blamed George W. Bush for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has a vision for obstruction and turning the clock back to the Nineteenth Century. He thinks the Ryan Budget is just a good start and he would go further in gutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the rest of the social safety net that we have fought so hard to build.

"My opponent," Dr. Taj told us this week, "will not just be another vote for Speaker Boehner. He will be a ringleader for efforts that build on the type of hyper-partisan zealotry the House Republican Caucus has come to use as their standard operating procedure. In short, my opponent has the potential to be one of the worst Members of Congress in history. That may sound like hyperbole but even his ultra-conservative primary opponent took to calling him 'Krazy Kerry'.”

Dr. Taj is running to make sure we never have to worry about “Krazy Kerry” causing Americans problems by a stint in Congress. Dr. Taj has worked for over 40 years as a physician and understands the vital roll that programs such as Medicare and Social Security play in everyday people’s lives. He told us he not only understands how important it is to keep the Affordable Care Act in place but that we urgently need to iron out the wrinkles, improve and expand it’s programs and insure that every American has access to quality health care without undue financial burden.

"I came to this country because of the great opportunities and freedom that it provides. My family and I have lived the American Dream. That is why it pains me to see the dream slipping away from so many people. These are good folks, they’re my neighbors and friends that played by the rules and worked hard but through no fault of their own now find their American Dream turning into a nightmare. I will fight to insure that our economy works for everyone, that we use every option available to spur job creation and continue to grow our economy. Here in Michigan we are proud of the work President Obama has done to save the auto industry and reinvigorate American manufacturing. My opponent opposed the GM and Chrysler rescues that have proven to not only have saved those companies but also our state and national economy. I support American manufacturing and real fair-trade that protects workers and the environment here and across the globe. I am running to provide voters a choice between going back or moving forward."

However, Dr. Taj needs our help to make sure every voter in the 11th District knows just how stark the differences are between him and the crackpot running against him.

"When the people of my district know all the facts they will make the correct choice and vote for me. The National Republicans and the Ron Paul Super PACS know this and they will spend limitless amounts of money to obscure the facts and play to people’s fears. I need your support so we can counter these attacks and layout the real choice that voters will have to make.

This task will not be easy, because as you may have noticed I do not have the most average name. Nor do I practice the same religious faith as most Americans. But only in America could an immigrant from India that proudly attends a mosque be able to run for Federal Elective Office. This is the greatness of our country and why I know that with your support we can win this election. So, please consider making a contribution to my campaign, we cannot afford more obstruction-- we truly need a 'Doctor in the House'.”



Blue America Welcomes John Waltz


You know what I love for Blue America? When we find a perfect candidate and he or she is running against a perfect villain. Michigan's 6th district offers us just that combination this cycle and I want to introduce you to Democrat John Waltz, a movement progressive, who's taking on cartoonish plutocrat, Fred Upton, the Whirlpool heir who has always treated the district as though it were a feudal fiefdom. Upton, by inheritance one of the richest members of the House, was appointed to the SuperCommittee by his crony John Boehner because Republicans know he will never agree to anything sensible that can in any way help dig the middle class out of the economic mess the modern day Robber Barons, in their unparalleled greed, have created for the rest of us. Today the man we hope will finally retire Upton from political life, John Waltz, will be joining us for a live blog session here in the comments section at 2pm, ET (11am, PT).

A 34 year old Iraq War vet, John is a completely dedicated champion for a commonsense progressive agenda, born and raised in Kalamazoo, the heart of the 6th district. It's a district Bush won in 2000 and 2004 with, respectively 52 and 53%. In 2008 Obama took the district 54-45%. When I started talking to John about this race this summer, he told me he feels Upton is alienating his constituents with his conspicuous, if defensive, move towards the Tea Party. "I fully expect him to propose privatizing Social Security, gutting Medicare, gutting the VA budget, working to get rid of the EPA, all to protect tax cuts for the 1,400 millionaires who didn't pay a dime in income taxes last year... and to do so again and again while normal people shoulder the load." John Conyers, Michigan's most progressive political leader, was out of the box endorsing Waltz.

Although Waltz has a lot to say on every major issue facing America today-- and all of it is spot on-- his campaign is all about getting the economy working again for ordinary American families. Talking to him this week, I didn't gather he was from the Tim Geithner/Rahm Emanuel/Harold Ford end of the Democratic Party.

The last ten years we have been transformed into a nation that has been brainwashed into thinking that they will one day be millionaires and that only their needs matter. The shame we bear as a nation is that we were unified by the tragedy on 9/11. It was short lived though and the last ten years will be remembered in history as the decade our economy was systematically looted by Wall Street, which was enabled by politicians in DC.

Instead of focusing on getting folks back to work and getting our economy back on its feet we have been lulled by the constant cries that we need to fix our deficit. The only deficit we need to fix is the chasm between the rich and the rest of us. While the middle class (what is left) and the poor are clawing away at just paying the essential bills, keeping a roof over our heads, and sending our kids to school, millionaires are basking in the glory of a government that coddles their every need. This is not the America I know, you know, or the one I thought I was fighting for when I joined the military.




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