A few years ago I wrote to Representative Rick Larsen (District 2, Democrat) about something that concerned me with the TSA. Although I am a Republican and he a Democrat, I felt that he was still my representative, was deserving of respect, and that I in turn deserved to be heard. After filing my letter on his website, I received notification that he or a staffer would get back to me. Instead, all I got was his newsletter – to which I had apparently become subscribed.
When I met with Dan Matthews, his Republican challenger, I was struck by a significant difference in attitude
Among the first things he said to me was that he was running to be the congressional representative for the whole district, not just republicans. His appearance is clean cut and he is obviously the kind of man you would trust. He flew planes for a living and served for two decades in the armed forces. That’s the kind of job where if you make a bad choice people actually die, and there is no place to hide or political equivocation that can conceal bad behavior.
Again, contrast this with Rick Larsen. In 2011 he was forced to fire three of his staffers for drinking on the job and referring to Larsen as “my idiot boss.” They were caught because they were dumb enough to tweet about it.
When I first saw this story I thought for sure it had to just be a rumor. So I looked it up. I googled “staffers drinking and Rick Larsen.” Among the top results was a Huffington post article, a very liberal news source, which described the incident.
Now, to be clear, Representative Larsen has three offices. He cannot be blamed for everything his staffers do.
People do dumb stuff. But based off of the texts this was going on for five months. In his DC office! Come on! What led them to drink at work and mock their boss for months on end? Presumably his other staffers at least had a clue about it.
What’s going on over there? I hesitate to write about this.
Like most of you reading this, I have plenty of liberal friends. Will they ever talk to me again after this? But I have said nothing more than the widely reported truth. And Democrats would rightly have done the same if it had been a republican, not a Democrat. Republicans have scandals too.
But this Democrat did, and this Republican will not.
Let’s look at Rick Larsen’s voting record. First, it is clear that Rick Larsen is not particularly moderate. The vast majority of the time, nine times out of ten, he votes the Democratic Party line (see the Washington Post “US Congress Votes Database”). This is important because judging by Mr. Larsen’s web page you would think he was a moderate.
If you review Larsen’s webpage under debt and deficit he claims that “we can achieve our aims through shared sacrifice and bipartisan compromise.” Yet reviewing Larsen’s votes on the non-partisan Project Vote Smart database (www.votesmart.org) it shows that Larsen has been anything but bipartisan.
He voted against a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (H J Res 2). He voted against the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011 (HR 2560). He voted against the 2012-2013 Budget (H Con Res 112) introduced by Paul Ryan and the 2011-2012 Budget (H Con Res 34). And he voted against the Government Shutdown Prevention Act (HR 1255), which would have suspended the salaries of members of congress in case of a govern- ment shutdown. His preference was to threaten to shut down the government rather than negotiate as evidenced by twice voting against a bipartisan stopgap funding measure (HR 2608) during the fall budget crisis.
Not a very promising record for someone wanting to balance the budget, much less someone who is trying to fulfill their obligation to pass a budget. Further, neither he nor his party has made any serious attempt to balance the budget with bills of their own and gain Republican support for them. Bipartisan? I think not.
It reminds me of the Citizens Against Government Waste conference last Saturday (4/24/12), broadcast via C-SPAN. Senator Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina: “We find that a lot of the bipartisanship here in Washington is really all about spending, and as long as we can spend money Republicans and Democrats work together, if we can hand out the candy…” How true.
In a list of three “accomplishments” under debt and deficit, Larsen claims that he “Urged the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to cut $4 trillion in a bipartisan letter”. Really? A letter? That’s an accomplishment? This is from HIS website. The other two “accomplishments” describe him by using terms like “support ending tax payer funded subsidies…” Great! So why can’t he say he has actually passed a bill? Done something more than just “support” in the abstract? These are not actually accomplishments. It sounds like it’s from a resume of someone fresh out of college trying to fill white space. That’s fine for a recent college grad, not fine for a six term congressman.
Some Democrats make an argument under Keynesian economic theory that cutting the debt is a bad idea during hard times. Republicans disagree with this theory. As of April 20, 2012 the gross debt was $15.6 trillion, approximately 100% of our GDP. This is not all that much less than bankrupt Greece as a % of GDP.
Imagine if interest rates on our debt were to go up. But Rick Larsen is not even making the Keynesian argument.
He is saying that he believes cutting the debt is good, but doesn’t seem willing to do much about it. If Rick Larsen believes cutting debt is good, perhaps he should vote for Dan Matthews.
Dan Matthews is not the kind of guy to advocate for something in a letter but do nothing about it. Dan Matthews would not consider claiming a “letter” as an accomplishment.
Nor would Dan Matthews vote against every serious attempt to fix a problem, while refusing to offer bills of his own, and call himself “bipartisan.” There are other problems with Rick Larsen’s record as well. My favorite is his vote against HR 163 from December 2011, which limits the regulation of farm dust. Really.
He voted to continue to allow the federal government to regulate farm dust. If there was an issue with massive clouds of dust it seems like local governments should handle that.
Still, Rick Larsen is a formidable force. He has served for six terms.
Incumbents generally enjoy an advantage; among the reasons is that members of congress receive a budget to run their operations and offices. Just the other day I received an ad for Rick Larsen attacking the Republican budget. Underneath my mailing address was the statement “This mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer expense.” In other words, he can use his multi-million dollar congressional budget to send out mailings.
We do not have this advantage.
As frustrating as this is, we believe that members of congress should be able to stay in touch with their constituents. But this just shows how much of an uphill battle we face.
To mail an ad to just a portion of the over 600,000 people in our legislative district it could easily cost us well over $50,000. So we shamelessly ask for your financial support as well as your vote. We will also need volunteers as it gets closer to November.
Donate and learn about Dan Matthews at www.danmatthewsforcongress.com and find us on our local Facebook page to be announced via email in the next few weeks. From 4/29 to 5/9 we are requesting statements (there’s only one of me so far, so 50-250 words is ideal) from as many San Juan county residents as we can get outlining the issues that are most important to you – send yours to:
These statements will each be individually read and considered as we set priorities.
If you oppose President Obama’s policies, we will need a Republican congress regardless of who wins the presidency. But Rick Larsen himself offers plenty to be worried about and merits opposition on his own. We hope you will join us.
This article was written by Nathan Butler, the San Juan County Coordinator for the Dan Matthews campaign. As listed above, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org