Taking back our America: Iraq, Health Care, True National Security
Kennebec County Democratic Committee - Augusta City Hall
May 18, 2006
I want to thank the Kennebec County Democratic Committee for putting on this event. This committee is doing a wonderful job in providing support and training for all Democratic candidates.
Other counties and the state committee should sit up and take notice of what's happening here in Kennebec County. And they should follow your lead.
But most of all I want to thank this committee for its leadership in passing a resolution calling on Congress to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney.
There is no one in this room who doesn't know the Bush/Cheney team has committed illegal and immoral acts against the people of this country and the people of the world.
And most of us also have a pretty good idea of what else George Bush intends to do if we don't stop him - although I must admit he keeps surprising me.
But KNOWING these things and DOING something about it are two different matters.
Far too many Democrats are afraid to speak up on this issue, afraid to take a stand.
Some are afraid Rush Limbaugh might call them some awful word like "liberal."
Others have more serious fears. My dentist told me that, with a family and a dental practice, she cannot afford to speak out.
There is, however, no fear in Kennebec County. Here there is hope. And courage.
You have done the right thing. You have used your constitutional rights of free speech and public petition to let your Congress know how you feel, and to demand that your Congress act responsibly.
I hope that your action takes deep root in Maine, that the state committee and the other county committees, like maybe Hancock County tonight, will follow your leadership.
George Bush and Dick Cheney are CRIMINALS and we all are victims of their crimes.
I am confident that if Democrats across this country work as hard as Kennebec County is working to bring meaningful, significant change to Congress - to cast out those who obstruct justice and replace them with people with backbone - then we WILL see impeachment proceedings in 2007.
And as we speak of the crimes of Bush and Company, let us not forget that Olympia Snowe is a co-conspirator in many of those crimes.
It's bad enough that she is part of the neocon Republican majority that gives cover and consent for everything George Bush does.
But even when she pretends to see a problem, she ends up being a Bush-enabler.
Take the wire-tapping case. The Bush Administration adopts a policy of warrantless spying on its citizens, and what is her response?
Olympia Snowe drafts a bill that not only retroactively pardons the President for his violations of the Fourth Amendment, but permits him to continue his law breaking ways
WITH THE ADVISE AND CONSENT OF CONGRESS.
The staid old New York Times called her actions "disappointing."
I'm here to tell you her actions are outrageous.
To paraphrase our old friend Pogo, "We have met the enemy and she is Olympia Snowe."
Our campaign to defeat Olympia Snowe is based on three over-riding themes.
First, get out of Iraq.
Second, deliver national single-payer health care - it's time.
And third, provide TRUE national security through comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable policies on energy, environment, education and the economy.
True national security is NOT confiscating pen knives and knitting needles.
It's not walking sock-footed onto the plane, or building a wall at the border.
True national security is a FAIR tax code, a SUSTAINABLE economy, and a manufacturing base restored to its former luster.
It's a commitment to renewable energy, conservation, alternative fuels, and a foreign policy based on peace, not exploitation.
Windmills or war, take your pick.
It's growing SAFE and healthy food, understanding and protecting the environment, CARING about clean air and clean water.
These are all issues that involve careful thought, an understanding of science, and a vision for the future - not any qualities exhibited by the current administration.
We need to start looking out for working families. The minimum wage should be a LIVING wage. OSHA standards should be enforced. Pensions and Social Security protected. We need to get out of NAFTA and CAFTA, and put Americans back to work.
Olympia Snowe favors repeal of the estate tax, and wants more tax cuts for the wealthy.
Olympia Snowe voted for the draconian Bankruptcy Bill.
And last fall Senator Olympia Snowe voted against raising the federal minimum wage above $5.15 an hour.
Let's look at that vote.
A long-standing Maine value is an honest day's pay for a solid day's work, and our $6.50 - soon to be $7 - an hour minimum wage reflects that understanding.
CLEARLY Olympia Snowe does not share that Maine value.
But it isn't just struggling workers in other parts of the country that she hurt by her vote. She hurt Maine small businesses. By voting to hold down wages in the rest of the country, she's forced Maine small businesses to compete with out-of-state firms that can legally pay poverty-level wages.
Also not helpful is our current tax policy.
As a reporter and Bureau Chief for the Bangor Daily News in the '70s and '80s, I watched local and state office holders constantly wrestle with the delicate balance between essential community services and a fair tax structure.
I see none of that balance in the Bush Administration or the Republicans in Congress.
The super rich keep getting all the breaks at the expense of the rest of us.
And don't be fooled by Olympia Snowe's vote last week against a federal budget bill that contained $70 billion in tax breaks, primarily benefiting the rich.
Tom Allen, after casting his NO vote in the House, remarked "The Republicans are drunk on tax cuts for the rich. This is fiscally insane."
But what did Olympia Snowe say?
"This is not the time to be widening the income gap in America."
So I have to ask, "Sen. Snowe, just when IS a good time to be widening the income gap in America."
You think her answer might be "in a non-election year?"
Well, I have news for Olympia Snowe.
SHE DOESN'T GET ANY MORE NON-ELECTION YEARS, BECAUSE AFTER THIS ELECTION YEAR . . . SHE'S DONE.
Health care in this country is broken. And we're all going broke along with it.
National health care is affordable, RIGHT NOW.
Between payments from governments, employers and individuals, we're already paying the more than a national single-payer program would cost.
When America adopts a national health care program, we won't have to argue about who gets drug benefits, or medical disability, or Veteran's benefits, or employee benefits.
We'll all be on the same plan, and we'll all be covered.
National health care will make our citizens, and our economy, healthier.
U.S. manufacturers will be able to compete in the world economy, unions will be able to negotiate contracts without having to haggle over health benefits - or the loss of them.
And national health care will allow people to follow their dreams, start that small business, take that job that uses their best talents, all the while knowing they will not leave their families unprotected.
National single-payer health care will unleash an entrepreneurial spirit the likes of which America has never seen.
And that brings us to what I can only label as the elephant on the table.
The war in Iraq.
How do we get out of Iraq?
The short answer is "As quickly as possible."
Of course it is more complicated than that.
But the first step is to have an agreed-upon goal, for Congress to agree that WE NEED TO GET OUT.
Articulating the goal is important.
The second step is in understanding the dynamic of what is going on over there, of what we're doing and what we're not doing, what our responsibilities are, and what they're not.
The third step is to coordinate our withdrawal with the fledgling Iraqi government and its friendly neighbors in the region, involving the UN and European countries where appropriate, to maximize the potential for stability.
I agree with Rep. Murtha when he said six months ago that we had already achieved everything possible militarily in Iraq. The military war in Iraq ended a long time ago. The violence happening there now is criminal, or gang-related, or a civil war between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds.
Our troops are an added target, but not the entire focus.
And in that situation, it is hard for our troops to tell whose side we are on, who within their field of vision is friend, and who is foe.
But here we are, six months after Rep. Murtha's remarks, and we're still rotating 120,000 troops in and out of that country.
That includes a reported 20,000 National Guard and Reserve troops.
And from all appearances, our presence there is not quelling any of the violence.
In fact, it seems to only make matters worse.
Yes, under step two, we most definitely have to recognize our serious responsibilities toward Iraq, in the form of reparations for all the damage we've done, for all the thousands of civilian deaths we've caused, for all the havoc we have wrought to a thriving economy and culture.
But first we must stop causing that damage, and that means removing the troops.
Getting our troops out of there is also selfish.
I don't want our troops in harms way any longer.
I don't want them to be targets for snipers or roadside bombs.
We're an occupying army in a country that wants us gone.
So let's go.
It also means removing the American corporations that are providing support staff for the troops.
I'm talking about Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, those kinds of outfits that are feeding the troops, doing the laundry, trucking the fuel, all at overblown taxpayer expense.
And it includes all the "private contractors," the private security forces that have been behaving like mercenaries in that country.
But beyond that, we need to put Iraq on the "don't go there" list for all American corporations, forbidding any American company from owning any assets in Iraq, or operating a business within that country.
Part of this process is to unilaterally revoke, repeal, make null, all the laws and rules that US Iraqi civilian administrator Paul Bremer instituted shortly after the Iraq War began - in violation of international law.
That means relinquishing control and any claims of ownership of the oil fields and all the associated infrastructure and turning them back to the Iraqi government.
If we want their oil, we buy it from them.
And, of course, we stop building permanent military bases in Iraq.
We just stop.
We pull out of there, turn the keys over to the Iraqi government, and go home. They can drink any Starbucks coffee that we leave behind.
With us out of the way, the reconstruction and healing can begin, again with the help of friendly allies - allies friendly to Iraq, as the Iraqi government defines that.
The Iraq War has been a disaster, no matter how you count.
Legally, morally, strategically, diplomatically, militarily, financially. We will be paying for this disaster for many decades. Our federal budget is a wreck.
I cry not only for all the lives lost, on all sides in this fiasco, but also for all the billions of dollars that have been shoved down this rat hole.
And I lament all the good that those billions of dollars could have done here, all the infrastructure and social services that have been lost to us and will continue to be lost to this country.
All as a result of this so-called war.
Taking back Olympia Snowe's seat is the only way Maine Democrats have this year of changing the agenda in the U.S. Senate.
But it's not enough to ask people to vote AGAINST Olympia Snowe.
Maine voters in November will need someone to vote FOR.
Maine needs a senator proud of where she comes from.
One with a long history of working in and for Maine.
A senator with backbone.
One who speaks out for what she believes in, and what you believe in.
HOW Maine Democrats vote in the June primary,
WHO they pick to face off against Olympia Snowe,
WILL make a difference in what happens next in this country.
I have had an interesting life.
And the diversity of that background over three decades in Maine, as a reporter, an organic farmer, a small business owner, a political activist, will serve me well, not only in this campaign, but also in the U.S. Senate.
I will put my organic farming experience up against Tom DeLay's pesticide applicator business any day.
So I urge you - Compare my writing, speeches and activism over those decades with Olympia Snowe's abysmal voting record, her continuing slide to the right, in-step with her party, her abandonment of Maine values and her lost pro-choice credentials.
When you do, you will see that, as Olympia Snowe's first woman opponent in her entire congressional career, I provide a clear choice in this race.
My campaign has gotten this far because of the involvement, the dedication, and the contributions of people like you, people with the courage of their convictions.
I am counting on self-confident, empowered people who understand that - collectively - we cannot only make a difference, but that we can literally take back our country.
I'm Jean Hay Bright, and I'm asking for your vote.
It's not just a vote for me.
It's a vote for the America we all want to live in.
For more on the candidate's position on immigration, Click Here.