Norman Solomon Promotes Progressive Ideals – September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT –  Norman Solomon, one of leading candidates in the 2012 election for the newly-formed Second Congressional District, believes health care, education and jobs programs should be top government spending priorities and he’s vowed to fight for them if elected.

In an era of division that has cast his fellow Democrats as pushovers, Solomon is pushing for “push back,” as he stated in an August 15 editorial for the Marin Independent Journal. 

Candidate Norman Solomon at GreenWay Partners in the Arcata Technology Building Sept. 6. KLH | Eye

It’s a message that’s emblematic of his grass roots campaign for Congress and one that he brought to Humboldt last week.

Making stops in Arcata, Garberville, Fortuna and Eureka, Solomon’s “listening and speaking tour” is part of an outreach effort in a sprawling new coastal district that joins counties like Sonoma and Marin, where he lives, with more rural North Coast communities.

Solomon is already being outspent by San Rafael Democratic Assemblymember Jared Huffman, who’s considered the front-runner in the race. But Solomon said his campaign includes over 400 volunteers and he’s shown an early commitment to on-the-ground outreach.

His campaign will be free of corporate political action committee contributions, he said, and will communicate his strong support for “economic fairness in our social structures.”

Last November’s general election saw most liberal candidates in the county defeated, an outcome likely related to a slumping economy.

Solomon said that in his local travels, he’s heard “a lot of distrust and deep concern about where the economy is and the ways in which people are being left behind.”

He’s direct in his explanation of why it’s happening. “I see it in terms of Wall Street trumping Main Street,” Solomon said. And he added that federal spending priorities perpetuate a dismal economic scenario.

Solomon cited recent spending statistics over most of the last decade that show an overall 28 percent increase in federal expenditures, with grants to state and local governments increasing by 14 percent and military spending going up by 41 percent.

“So if we look at the trajectory of those chronic reductions of federal aid to state and local governments, we see how localities are up against the wall and are struggling to provide employment.”

Relating that to the influx of big box stores into communities that welcome them, Solomon said he’d work to provide an alternative through “federal government commitment – with teeth – for full employment,” as seen in Congressman John Conyers’ jobs bill.

Conyers’ bill – the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act – calls for the establishment of a jobs creation and training trust fund. It includes a Wall Street transaction tax as a payment mechanism and Solomon mentioned the bill as a model proposal.

He thinks New Deal-era spending strategies should be pursued now. “With that model, we’d be able to create jobs that are secure, with adequate pay and benefits and in this era, it would be not just a new deal, but a green new deal.”

Environmental protection and development of renewable energy systems are important aspects of Solomon’s campaign platform. He’s also a longtime antiwar activist and visited Baghdad prior to the U.S. invasion with a group that included members of Congress and the Senate and actor Sean Penn, who’s endorsed his campaign.

Solomon advocates government-supported health care and said that the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries have exerted control that has reduced quality of care and economic efficiency. There are medical provider shortages, particularly in rural areas, Solomon added.

“And at the root of this is that Medicaid is woefully underfunded and the reimbursement rates are atrocious,” he said.

He’s also called for the closing of the state’s nuclear power plants, is against offshore drilling and naval testing, and said the Federal Government needs to “stop getting in the way of sensible marijuana policy.”

Perhaps Solomon’s most strongly-stated criticisms target his own political party. He said that with the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, worthwhile programs have been talked about but not fought for.

“And that’s one of the things I want to do in Washington – put up a better fight,” Solomon said.

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