By Lucas O’Connor
Carl DeMaio is running for Congress. You may have heard. And even though he’s had the misfortune of writing down and voting on major issues for more than a decade, so far his campaign is predicated on hoping that nobody notices in spite of article after article after article after article chronicling his career.
The attempts to fake a newfound moderation on social issues have been well chronicled, but if you don’t believe him, don’t ask him… He refuses to talk about civil rights issues even as the Republican leadership Carl’s running to empower continues going along with Tea Party extremists and holding votes on exactly those issues. It’s not clear if anyone’s really sat down yet and explained to Carl that you can’t actually be an à la carte Congressman, but he seems committed to trying anyhow.
But just for today, let’s give him a break on all the issues that are apparently beneath him. Instead, let’s jump in the wayback machine, back to when Carl DeMaio was publicly telling us that he would “owe” the people who pay for his campaigns. He voted several times to provide tax dollars to his donors, and then voted to give the mayor’s office near impunity to distribute government contracts that his donors were competing for.
It’s been a common theme with DeMaio. He also promised one of California’s most prominent anti-LGBT equality activists and donors that if they donated to his campaign “he would not push the gay agenda issues (including same-sex marriage)” like other Republicans had from office.
And of course, he was out enthusiastically talking to Tea Partiers about “our principles” and assuring them that “I will owe you and our collective movement everything” if elected.
But why worry about DeMaio’s ethics just because of a little implied payola? Sure, after he was fined by the Ethics Commission for bad ethics, he went ahead and tried to de-fund the Ethics Commission. Sure, in spite of all his rhetoric about transparency, he refused to register as a lobbyist even after being told to by the City Attorney.
And sure, he managed to wrangle himself into essentially overseeing how the government awarded contracts to his own business. All it took was publicly vouching for David Safavian and then fretting about “the potential for going overboard with internal controls” on ethics — before Safavian was indicted on multiple felonies in the Jack Abramoff scandal. What’s the problem?
It could be easy to dismiss Carl’s record like he wants us to, and not worry about where his priorities lie or who he’s really working for. Except he’s asking for real responsibilities that would impact hundreds of millions of lives, like with the Ryan Budget that’s been passed this week by the House leadership that Carl is running to support.
Carl has been clear that “obviously I would prefer to have Republicans in charge,” and now that the Republicans in charge are in thrall to the Tea Party, the Ryan budget outlines the priorities that Carl’s running to support; priorities that would balance the nation’s budget on the broken backs and emptied pockets of the middle class.
For most Americans, the country’s top priority is getting Washington to focus on strengthening the economy, creating jobs, and protecting and growing the middle class. But what we got instead from the sharp Tea Party turn of the Republican leadership is a budget that does the opposite: It cuts the middle class loose and jeopardizes our economic future, all to protect special interests, big corporations, and the ultra wealthy.
How? Well for starters, it gives tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas at a time when we should be focused on how to bring jobs back and create good jobs here at home. Carl’s built quite a career on outsourcing jobs, so this one should be right up his alley.
The budget would raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000 in order to cut taxes for households with incomes over $1 million. On city council, Carl said “elected officials should certainly lead by example” before he refused to cut his own salary and even gave his staff raises while the fire department’s budget was being cut, so this one shouldn’t be much of a reach either.
Carl’s never been much for programs designed to make college more affordable. He called for eliminating low-interest Perkins student loans (even though he was having some trouble with his facts), and said last year’s Ryan’s budget “a good start” that had “good ideas.” That was the budget that would slash eligibility for Pell Grants and cap funding while inflation continues right along. This year’s version would once again hack away at funding for Pell Grants and reduce the number of students receiving the aid. If you’re wondering, student debt has more than tripled in the last decade, with poorer families hit hardest.
But the ideas don’t stop there! There’s also cutting $129 billion from Medicare as part of a plan that would “end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program and risking a death spiral in traditional Medicare.” DeMaio’s own approach to Medicare is focused on cuts, so this should be in his wheelhouse too.
And even though it might fall under Carl’s banished ‘social issues,’ it’s still worth noting that the budget targets funding cuts for job training programs, Head Start, and the STOP Violence Against Women Program in order to reduce ‘wasteful spending.’
Conveniently for us, since Carl’s been trumpeting his willingness to challenge Republicans when he disagrees with them, it’s easy to tell which parts of this Tea Party agenda he supports by simply keeping track of his silence.
Even more conveniently, Carl went ahead and signaled support for the Ryan budget, so we don’t even really need to wait on silence. While it’s probably too much to expect that Carl would actually take a concrete position on the budget of the country just because he’s running to vote on the budget of the country, he’s at least apparently against people being against Ryan’s Tea Party agenda.
But if the Ryan Budget still seems like a bit much, keep in mind that Carl is frustrated too. Unfortunately, his frustration isn’t that it might be too extreme. Rather, he’s feeling the conservative frustration lately because Republicans haven’t been more proactive about these sorts of changes, and he’s lamenting how many times the Republican Party has “caved.”
So don’t worry. If Carl DeMaio gets to Washington, we’ll finally have the more stubborn, more ideological, more aggressive Republican Party that none of us have been hoping for.
I’m proud to work to re-elect Congressman Scott Peters