What is a Massachusetts Democrat?
In the race to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate, it looks as though two members of the House of Representatives — Ed Markey of Massachusetts District 7 and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts District 9 — will be the prominent contenders for the Democratic party nomination. As members of the House, Lynch and Markey offer starkly different visions of what it means to be a Massachusetts Democrat. Consider these differences in the 112th Congress of 2011-2012:
|Issue||Ed Markey’s Record||Stephen Lynch|
On February 14 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner brought a bill called H.R. 514 to the floor for a vote after mere minutes of debate, despite a lack of any committee consideration and without any provision for amendment. This bill aimed to reauthorize provisions of the Patriot Act without reform. The Patriot Act, as you probably know, a law that allows agents of the U.S. government to spy on, search and seize the property, papers and communications of individuals without a constitutionally-guaranteed finding of probable cause for that action.
|Ed Markey voted against the Patriot Act (against H.R. 514)||Stephen Lynch voted for the Patriot Act (for H.R. 514)|
|Big Oil Subsidies
The oil industry is one of the most profitable enterprises on the planet, and yet the same oil industry gets a load of special tax breaks from its friends in government. H.R. 601, the End Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, would have cut nearly $40 billion in federal subsidies to the oil industry, ending rewards for environmentally dirty practices and restoring some balance to the federal budget.
|Ed Markey acted against subsidies to big oil corporations (cosponsored H.R. 601)||Stephen Lynch allowed big oil subsidies to continue (failed to cosponsor H.R. 601)|
|Big Military Spending
On February 18 2011, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee introduced H. Amdt 150 to the Republicans’ main spending bill for the year. If it had passed, the amendment would have cut spending at the Department of Defense to 2008 levels — more than $50 billion in cuts — without taking such cuts from the pay or health care of members of the military. As Rep. Lee noted in debate, a 2010 bipartisan defense task force report found that more than $100 billion could be cut from the annual defense budget without impairing national security. This amendment offered a chance for significant budgetary savings while eliminating rampant military waste.
|Ed Markey voted to cut rampant military spending||Stephen Lynch voted to maintain rampant military spending|
|Ending the War in Afghanistan
On March 17 2011, the House of Representatives voted on House Concurrent Resolution 28, legislation that would have brought an end to the increasingly pointless decade-old war in Afghanistan by the end of that year.
|Ed Markey voted to end the war in Afghanistan||Stephen Lynch voted to keep the war in Afghanistan going|
|FISA Amendments Act
The FISA Amendments Act gives the federal government the power to set up a massive electronic surveillance dragnet, grabbing private information from Americans’ personal electronic communications without a judge’s warrant. Your activity on cell phones, GPS devices, smart phones, online shopping, emails, internet browsing and even your ebooks on your Kindle is vulnerable to being spied upon, and you don’t have to be a criminal to be watched. The government doesn’t have to prove any suspicion of terrorism or other dastardly act.
On September 12 2012, the U.S. House voted to pass a 5-year reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act without a single reform.
|Ed Markey voted against the FISA Amendments Act||Stephen Lynch voted for the FISA Amendments Act|
On these issues, Massachusetts Democrats face a fairly clear choice. Will Massachusetts embrace a liberal, anti-war, anti-corporate vision for the Democratic Party or a conservative, pro-war, pro-corporate vision? Watch and see — or, if you live in Massachusetts, help make the difference.