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NC's David Price on this administration

I’m represented by Dem David Price, who serves North Carolina’s 4th Congressional district. Price was first elected to the House in 1986. Before that he taught poli-sci and public policy at Duke and holds a divinity degree and a Ph.D. in poli-sci from Yale University.

Durham is a progressive stronghold, so he’s a blue dot in a red-turning-purple state. He voted against FMA, stating that he doesn’t “believe it is the business of the federal government to legislate a ‘definition’ of marriage,” and supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes to include crimes related to the victim’s gender or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, he also voted for the bankruptcy bill, so it’s a mixed bag, but he’s right on many of the issues that matter.

BlueNC‘s Anglico has posted a great interview with the Congressman, and it is up on MyDD, DKos. I want to post some big hunks here to give you a taste of this Tar Heel’s dissatisfaction at the leadership in this country.

What’s it like being in the minority party with George Bush in the White House?
In all my nine terms in Congress, I’ve never seen as bitter and punitive a partisan atmosphere. Democrats in Congress have virtually no say in the major legislation that comes before the House. Bills are rammed through to appease the right-wing zealots of the Republican Party, giving the minority no opportunity to amend them or to vote on alternate legislation that would appeal to members on both sides of the aisle. Even more troubling is the utter lack of oversight. Instead of functioning as a co-equal branch of government, Congress is abdicating its constitutional responsibility to hold the Administration accountable – at a time when accountability couldn’t be more critical.

You’ve been in politics a long time. Have you ever seen a more corrupt and incompetent government than we have right now?
The President and his advisors don’t appear to understand – or perhaps care about – the legal and constitutional limits on the authority of the executive branch. As a consequence, it is difficult to know where to draw the line between corruption and incompetence, although there is surely a good measure of each.

In only five years, the Bush Administration has undone a decade of progress on bringing federal budget deficits under control. It has used the specter of September 11 to tread on civil liberties beyond what’s necessary to protect the country, and to justify a war of choice in Iraq. Yet the Administration has also failed to secure the country, as recently revealed in the debate over control of our ports, or to prepare for natural disasters. This Administration has taken a generally positive image of the United States abroad and turned it into a reputation for unilateralism and the disregard for human rights. The Republican leadership in Congress has been a partner in most of these transgressions, defaulting on its responsibility to fulfill the oversight responsibilities of the Legislative Branch of government and trampling on the rights of the minority party in the process. While excess and abuse in the political realm have always been a threat to democratic government, the heights reached in the last five years are unprecedented in my lifetime.

A recent report shows you’re holding down the progressive front in North Carolina, along with Mel Watt.  How do you respond to 4th District voters who want you to be more aggressive?
A few weeks ago National Journal) released its composite vote ratings based on 2005 votes in three areas:  economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy.  I was ranked more progressive than 81.7 percent my colleagues.  I am proud to share with Mel Watt the only 100% ranking among North Carolina’s members by the NAACP, as well as a 94% League of Conservation Voters score shared by Mel and Brad Miller.

There should be no misunderstanding of my position on Iraq. I voted against the war, and I have been a persistent critic of the way Bush has conducted it –without reliable intelligence, appreciable support from allies, or a workable postwar plan.  I have also introduced legislation (H. J. Res. 70), directing the President to submit an Iraq exit strategy to Congress.

What’s the most effective way for citizens to support you in pursuing a progressive agenda?

First, they can continue to keep in touch. The people of the Fourth District are engaged, committed, and above all, well-informed. Although we won’t always reach the same conclusion about a particular policy question, it’s integral to my job to know what’s on their mind and to have the benefit of their perspective.

Second, they can help elect other progressive candidates to Congress. None of us on the Democratic side can do our jobs as we and our constituents would like as long as the right-wing Republicans rule the roost.

Third, citizens can band together in organizations supporting public education, housing, environmental protection, civil liberties and other critical issues – encouraging politicians who support them, pressing those who do not, and laying the groundwork for the political change we need.

As I said above, you can read Anglico’s full interview on MyDD, DKos and BlueNC. Price also talks about impeachment and gives his take on of some of the election races in North Carolina.

I actually met Price a few years ago when he visited my old neighborhood. Also, if you’re curious about what constituents in my area told Price about issues of importance to them, look no further than his 2005 Congressional Survey

SURVEY RESULTS

Do you favor President Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security?
Yes — 27 %
No — 72 %

Looking back, do you think Congress did the right thing when it gave the President open-ended authority to invade Iraq?
Yes — 28 %
No — 71 %

Which statement best expresses your present view on military operations in Iraq?
“The US should simply stick to its present course.” — 19 %
“The US needs a more serious plan for moving Iraq to self-defense and self-rule.” — 52 %
“The US should set a fixed timetable for withdrawal.” — 28 %

What is the most pressing moral issue facing our country?
A. abortion — 6 %
B. health care — 25 %
C. civil rights — 5 %
D. gay marriage — 4 %
E. inequality and poverty — 16 %
F. sex and violence in our culture — 9 %
G. war and foreign policy –19 %
H. other — 14 %

President Bush’s tax cuts for people making over $250,000/year are set to expire. What should Congress do?
Make the tax cut
s permanent — 20 %
Use the money to reduce the federal deficit/debt — 38 %
Use the money to invest in education, transportation, housing, and/or health care — 41 %

Should the US be doing the same, more, or less to address global warming?
More –- 72 %
Less –- 10 %
Same — 16 %

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding