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POWER FROM THE PEOPLE FUELS THIS EXCITING CAMPAIGN… COME ABOARD!
May 24, 2008
Dear Family, Friends and Folks ~
We had a great canvassing birthday bash today, thank you to all those who walked the 2nd District with us!
This year is my 42nd Birthday — please find my 2008 4500 word birthday message, a transcription from a recent radio interview, below in text and an audio link.
Looking forward to working with you all this summer!
In your service,
Please Make Checks Payable to:
“DeLear for Congress”
15023 Baxter Village Dr., Unit D
Chesterfield, MO. 63017
Talk Nation Radio Interview with Congressional Candidate Byron DeLear
click player below to listen:
Dori Smith (DS): Welcome to Talk Nation Radio, a half hour discussion on politics, human rights and the environment, I’m Dori Smith. On August 5th, Missouri will hold its Congressional Primaries for both Democrats and Republicans; we spend the half hour with Democrat Byron DeLear, who has announced he’s running for the 2nd District House seat, currently held by Republican Todd Akin, who’s been in office eight years. Byron DeLear has the endorsement of internationally famous writer and scholar Gore Vidal. I asked him why he decided to take on hard right Bush Republican Todd Akin.
Byron DeLear (BD): Dori, I mean from my perspective our country’s on fire; and we need some big picture ideas and some new leadership to come online to stop the destruction of our civil liberties, to stop the unbalanced foreign policy and out-of-control fiscal policy that has been coming out of Washington for many generations, and frankly, Todd Akin, Representative Todd Akin, exemplifies the worst of the kind of Bush extreme legislators that have given a rubber stamp to everything that this administration could conceive of.
DS: You call yourself a Blue-Dog Democrat, what kind of Democrat is that, and what is the significance in terms of who Todd Akin is?
BD: I consider myself a Blue-Dog Progressive Democrat, and it’s a bit of political rhetoric, but essentially, the only caucus in Washington right now that’s talking about fiscal responsibility or is actually trying to achieve fiscal responsibility and restraint are the Blue Dogs. Now, traditionally the Blue Dog Democrats — because the Republicans have forgone their opportunity to call themselves fiscally responsible; because when you compare the trade deficit of $2 Billion dollars a day, you consider the national debt rising to levels never seen before, there’s just no sense of imagination that would indicate that the Republicans are fiscally conservative or responsible anymore. – Now, traditionally the Blue Dogs have also been very supportive of Free Trade Agreements, and I don’t necessarily consider the Free Trade Agreements that have been coming online in our country to have been supporting American interests, in fact, they’ve been outsourcing the prosperity of our country, they’ve been sending good paying American manufacturing jobs overseas.
So as a “Blue-Dog Progressive Democrat”, I support fiscal responsibility, I support a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But I also support Fair Trade Agreements with environmental standards and worker’s rights, and that’s the distinction that’s worth noting.
DS: Put in context for us the meaning of this trade deficit when you’re talking about things like NAFTA, CAFTA, what’s the meaning of this $2 Billion a day deficit we’re running?
BD: We have right now $700 Billion dollars a year of trade deficit. That means that America, essentially, is buying more stuff than is being bought from us. Money and prosperity is being sucked out of our country at a rate of $2 Billion dollars a day, which is absolutely unstable and not sustainable economically. And this is why we’ve seen the dollar weaken in the international community, this is partially why we’re seeing inflation rates at their highest is 17 years, and, you know, in some way Ross Perot’s prophesizing about a “giant sucking sound” when he was going up against NAFTA, those prophesies came true. In 1994, when NAFTA was signed into law we had a $1.3 Billion dollar trade surplus with Mexico, fast forward ten years later and that surplus has turned into a $45 Billion trade deficit. So, simple numbers speak for themselves. And you can hear a lot of economists and a lot of, what I call “apologists” for Free Trade, try to obfuscate the issue and try to confuse the issue, that saying that, “NAFTA is gonna be a big boon to our economy, NAFTA is going to create American manufacturing jobs”, indeed, this is how a lot of the American labor legislators, like, for example, Esteban Torres (Ret.) from Southern California, and he was a Congressman that came out of the American labor movement, this is how is they were able to win their support for NAFTA. But the key is, from the beginning NAFTA never did that, it never was a great boon to our economy. It only sent jobs over into Mexico, in fact it operated as economic terrorism against the campesinos (family farmers) in Mexico, because their markets were flooded with a bunch of subsidized American corn, and two million campesinos were thrown out of work, they tried to find jobs in the urban areas in Mexico, they couldn’t find jobs, and so that exacerbated the immigration problem because they came North looking for work. So these kinds of bigger picture perspectives need to be considered when crafting Trade Legislation, this is why I support a Bill (S. 2611) that’s been brought forth by Senators Casey, Senator Brown, and Senator Dorgan – Senator Byron Dorgan, ironically enough the only other Byron in Washington, Senator Byron Dorgan – but their Bill (S. 2611) provides for performance metrics and benchmarks in the Trade Agreements that are signed. So, in other words, if you use X,Y and Z to justify a Trade Agreement, that it’s going to do this to our economy, that it’s going to create these kinds of jobs, if the Trade Agreement does not qualify, if it does not meet those expectations, then we have stop-loss mechanisms built right into the Trade Agreement, so we can stop the bleeding before it’s too late.
DS: There is on your website a note that you want to reform the Payroll Tax, how would that work, how would that help Missouri workers?
BD: I think that a fundamental core American principle is progressive taxation. Indeed, Thomas Paine, arguably the gentleman who named the United States of America, argued vociferously for progressive taxation in his book the “Rights of Man”. Right now, if
you make a $100,000 dollars in wages, your Payroll Tax, your FICA, the Social Security portion, you pay $6000 dollars and some change into Social Security. If you make $20,000,000 million dollars in wages, you pay the same $6000 dollars and some change into Social Security, that’s just not fair, and it doesn’t make sense. So, I would like to create a permanent economic stimulus by having the first $30,000 dollars of wages earned to be Tax Free in regard to the FICA, the Payroll Tax, and to pay for that, I would like to raise the cap, the artificial regressive cap on the Social Security FICA, so that, you know, if you make $500,000 dollars in wages you gonna pay your fair share. It doesn’t make any sense for somebody that makes $20,000,000 million dollars in wages to be paying the same exact tax, in dollars, as the person that earns a $100,000 dollars in wages, it doesn’t make any sense and it’s regressive and it’s not fair.
DS: Byron DeLear, what would you do to help Missouri voters to buckle down and survive this period of economic recession in the US?
BD: Well, we have a situation right now where the Sub-prime Mortgage crisis is causing millions of home foreclosures from coast to coast, and this is because of predatory lending practices having been allowed to see the light of day because the Federal Government has failed in its regulatory capacity to reduce this kind of gamesmanship and fiscal opportunism that is, frankly, just attacking the better interests of our American middle class and weakening our American middle class. My opponent, Rep. Akin in 2007, he voted to block regulating the out-of-control sub-prime mortgage crisis. And, these are trends that have been compounding for years – the same things that caused the Great Depression in 1929, these same greedy practices are what are materializing today – you consider what had occurred in 1929. In 1929, you had people “borrowing on margin”, and they wanted to put a dollar up to buy stock, and they be able to buy $10 dollars worth of stock, and when all those calls started coming in, they were unable, the banks were unable to sustain the run on the banks, and that’s what caused the Great Depression. Well, the same kind of thing happened in the Savings and Loan crisis, and the same thing is happening in the Sub-prime Mortgage crisis right now, and I think it’s absolutely essential for us to consider the long track record of this history, of seeing these cycles, of these crashes, and how a lot of people are laughing all the way to the bank, while the American populace is being left holding the bill. I think we need to consider the historical track record, and start to design some legislation into our Federal Government that will prevent this kind of gamesmanship from happening. To me the big picture, long term, philosophical, political solution is what I call the “separation of buck and state”. And what I mean by that is that we need to erect an ethical wall between our private and public institutions to free the hands of our legislators to be more about service, instead of being about sales. Because right now they’re selling out the better interests of the American people to the highest corporate bidder, this is what has us embroiled in a resource war in Iraq, this is what has 50 million Americans denied Health Care, this is what has corporations getting subsidies and tax breaks for shipping good American manufacturing jobs overseas, and these trends must stop, because they’re destroying the Republic. When you have greed and people that play war like a game, when you have those two combinations come together the republic of democracy is undermined and destroyed. I think the Democratic Party needs to rediscover the voice of the American people, I think that we need to re-inject the verve and strength and resolve that Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought online; because in 1936 when he was accepting the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia for his second term, he made it very clear, he said that we fought a War of Revolution to prevent tyranny, to prevent monarchistic expressions of abuse of power, and we had some successes in that – and I’m paraphrasing right now — but then he continues, and he says human ingenuity evolved and new economic royalists carved new dynasties oppressing the people of America. And he says, now fingers will be pointed at us accusing that we want to destroy American institutions, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt made it very clear, he made the argument that, our allegiance to the Constitution and to the Declaration of Independence, our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this type of power. That kind of resolve and that kind of strength needs to be brought to bear on the depredations that have been leveled at our American system of government and undermined our representative democracy. We need a political intervention, we need political triage, and it’s gonna take some people that are willing to take on this fight to go up there in Washington and make these arguments and that’s what I’m willing to do. I think that the American labor movement has been getting the short end of the stick for decades, you know, the Ronald Reagan “religion” of free-market ideology vilifying big government has reduced American Labor’s power exponentially, and we need to restore and re-discover the heritage of American labor. I think that the labor movement operates as a fundamental check-and-balance in our system of governance, and having their power reduced has shown how unbalanced our fiscal policies have become.
DS: Can you talk about Missouri in particular, “clean coal”, and some of the other initiatives that maybe the Republicans have, or Todd Akin has that you would reverse?
BD: We need to create Green-collar jobs, we need to reduce carbon emissions, and we also need to positively impact our foreign policy in regard to our addiction to oil. And these are talking points that have become popular political fare in the last year or so – the last year and half. In my 2006 run, I ran on the Green Party ticket, and the Green Party has always understood that the fossil-fuel economy needs to be replaced with a Green economy; a new economy. And some “clean coal” technologies are viable, um, I think the most intriguing thing about using coal, to me, is the creation of synthetic fuel from coal that has 40% less sulfur in it than normal diesel fuel. And there’s a company called Syntroleum which is based out of Oklahoma that puts coal through a Fischer-Tropsch method which creates synthetic fuel and if you use the clean electricity generated from wind-turbine or solar photo-voltaic to generate this Fischer-Tropsch process to make synthetic fuel out of clean coal, then you’ve successfully created a transportation fuel that is less polluting, and you’ve also successfully reduced our dependence on foreign oil. I would like to see some companies like Syntroleum come into Missouri, and I would try to make a contribution in getting some of these corporations over here. Actually, just 30 miles outside of my district in Louisiana, Missouri, was where right after World War II, synthetic fuels were being created, because after World War II there was a desire to, in terms of sovereign integrity, to reduce our dependency on foreign produced oil. But then after, in the 1950s, there was an oil glut, and the mandate was lost. And then the same thing happened in the seventies with the oil crisis and fuel crisis that had occurred there. Carter passed legislation to create energy independence, but then in the eighties there was another oil glut, so the corporatists win the day, and they
shut down these policies, which are long term successful strategies and policies for our nation.
Well, now that we’re facing the global climate change, and global warming — and just this skyrocketing of this gaseous magnifying glass up into our heavens in the form of green house gases – now that we’re facing this crisis, we see a confluence of these different issues coming together: the way our foreign policy has been negatively impacted because of our over-dependence on foreign oil, the way that the usage, the over-usage of fossil fuels is putting up so much pollution into the atmosphere that it is preventing our opportunity at a survivable future, and the idea that we could create green-collar jobs and become energy independent through the manufacture of wind turbines, through the manufacture of solar photo-voltaic technologies and increasing our hybrid vehicles, and increasing our electric vehicles in our transportation infrastructure, these kind of perspectives, these kinds of facets coming together and converging, hopefully will create the kind of motivation and an agenda that will not lose steam because there’s some other oil glut that comes around the corner. I don’t think that we’re going to have another oil glut that comes around the corner. And frankly, I think we need a more scientifically sound perspective in Washington in order to bring these policies into play. I think that legislators like Todd Akin who receive lots of money from the defense sector and lots of money from oil interests, there’s a desire not necessarily to embrace these changes and this transformative vision with the same kind of urgency that nature is demanding. And, so, I think that I’m more capable to see that bigger picture, and to amplify and support those policies which I think will be more successful in the long term for our country and for Missouri.
DS: A four-term Representative Todd Akin is running on his history of promoting Air Force contracts, weapons and security contracts, if elected would you work to continue these kinds of contracts, or what would you do instead?
BD: Well, I think that an unbalanced defense portfolio will harm the long-term interests of Missourians and Americans. I consider our energy independence to be an issue of national security and sovereign integrity; and we need to connect the dots between our defense manufacturers and the Pentagon, we need to connect those industrial sectors to forwarding the mandate for energy independence and transforming our energy infrastructure. I see great job opportunities and prospects for Missouri and America based on the creation of this Green economy; this new economy. And it needs to be pursued with the same kind of urgency that the New Deal was pursued with, with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or the Marshall Plan after World War II, or the Apollo Program to send the first man to the moon. This kind of national prioritized agenda needs to come online. And I see the defense contractors, for example Boeing is a contractor that’s very large in my district, Boeing could be making wind turbines and they could be making solar photo-voltaic technologies, and here’s the idea here: it would not make sense for us to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, only to replace it with a dependency on foreign manufactured renewable energy technology. So, if we’re interested in reducing our dependency on foreign oil, because of national security issues, we need to be sizably self-sufficient in regard to our own renewable energy technology. We need to deploy our best and brightest in developing, designing and distributing these technologies stateside so that it can be a project that protects our sovereignty; that protects our independence. And this will have a massive positive impact on our foreign policy. Right now, we spend $343 million dollars every single day in Iraq. Joseph Stieglitz leading economist projects that this war is going to cost us $3 trillion dollars – now, that may sound like a huge figure, but when you consider that veterans from World War II, over 60 years ago, that the peak payments to veterans from World War II was 1993, you can see how the projection for costs for this war is going to last 50, 60 years from now, and this is why that price tag is at $3 trillion dollars. We can’t afford it. We can’t afford that kind of thinking anymore.
When you look at the Presidential Seal of the United States, the Eagle has two talons. One talon is full of arrows of war; the other talon is an olive branch of peace. I see the Bush Administration unbridled militarism as crowding the arrows of war into both our Eagle’s talons, into the Eagle’s beak, I mean it’s just out-of-control. And we need to have viable strategies for defense that reduce motivations for conflict, just as much as fighting fire with fire. In other words, we can get attacked by terrorists and that we can fight fire-with-fire, meet force-with-force alone – but it’s just as viable a strategy for defense to fight fire with water. To reduce motivations for conflict, to not only reduce our over-dependence on foreign oil, but to reduce the desire for poor folks in third world nations to want to attack American interests abroad or domestically. And this is the kind of spirit that I think Barack Obama is bringing online with his diplomatic agenda. And I think that we are watching history unfold, I have endorsed Barack Obama, I endorsed him before Super Tuesday, and I think that he represents an amazing opportunity for the United States to redefine itself in the international community and start to roll back the trillion dollars worth of damage that the Bush Administration has done to our international reputation, stature and integrity. I mean it would be hard to sort of quantify the kind of damage that the Iraq War and that Bush’s sort of unilateral, preventive / pre-emptive war doctrine has caused America in the international community, but it’s definitely billions and billions, perhaps trillions of dollars worth of damage.
So, we are an absolute essential crossroads where we need to redefine where America’s placement is in the world, and we need to redefine how we can start beginning to protect good American manufacturing jobs, protect our economy; the Reagan attitude of letting corporations and big money run roughshod over the American interests, cause that’s really what happened it kind of started in ’80 with Reagan’s doctrine, that doctrine has succeeded in vilifying and demonizing the concept of protecting the economy. And, you never hear any politician say that we’re interested in being protectionist, and that’s like ground “strictly verboten”. I think we really need to rediscover the word “protect”, as in protect and defend the health and constitution — small ‘c’ constitution — of our economy. We need to protect our economy, there’s just as much value in a good American manufacturing job as there are in the social values that have been so front and center, God, guns, gays and abortion that the Republican Party has been harping on. There’s just as much value in a good American manufacturing job, and just completely saying, “Oh, come on, get with the times, you gotta be with the Free Market reforms, this is going to be good for us, you know? You can get your cheap products at Costco; you can get you cheap products at Walmart…” There’s something spiritually wrong with the American consumer being addicted to products made by virtual indentured servants half way across the world, by almost slave labor, child labor. There’s something spiritually wrong with that equation, and we need to start to unpack it and face the music and face the reality of this.
DS: Well, there is a tendency in history where people facing difficult economic times trend in the direction of war, they te
nd to tool up military industry as a kind of bail-out for the economy – let’s say 2008 elections do bring in more progressive democrats, can they stave of that kind of thinking, and if so, how?
BD: You’re bringing up the historical evidence of the rising and falling of the Empires in civilization’s timeline. And we saw this occur with the Roman Empire, where it over-extended itself and couldn’t handle the over-extension and then imploded. We saw this with the British Empire, and right now, we’re seeing it with the American Empire. Now that sometimes is a dirty word for people to digest, “Empire, American Empire, what do you mean? We’re not an Empire.” But when you consider the fact that there’s over 800 or 900 military bases littered across the landscape of the planet – we have a lot of military deployments all across the world, presenting a military superiority over the planet, and indeed, I believe our military spending eclipses the next 14 or 15 nation’s military budgets, so those are the actions of an Empire. I think that there are some wars that we can fight as human beings – and what I mean by that, is that I’m seeking to redefine the word “war”. We can “war” in an athletic competition, we can “war” in academic pursuits, in intellectual pursuits, in scientific pursuits, we can compete in that, and that’s a sustainable and edifying practice. We can compete in trying to out-love one another, so that is a sustainable practice. So, I think that if we can take a more balanced approach, and not forward the politics of fear incessantly, and start to look at the long term needs of our civilization, of our states and our nations, we can perhaps start to redefine, redesign, retool and transform some of these defense contractors to producing products based on life. Producing products that don’t satisfy a demagoguery of fear-mongering, but rather, products that are reducing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels, creating an electric energy infrastructure that is generated by renewable energy; these are just as viable products for our defense industry to manufacture domestically, we can have a huge re-invigoration of our domestic manufacturing sector through the creation of Green-collar jobs. This will have a positive impact on the environment; it will have a positive impact on our foreign policy so that we’re not projecting all this force into the Middle East because that’s where all the quality crude is. It will have positive effect on our economy by the creation of good American manufacturing jobs stateside, I mean Senator Byron Dorgan says it very clearly, he says, “You don’t have to be an economist or a mathematician to know that sending good paying American manufacturing jobs overseas is bad for our country”. And this kind of pragmatism and common-sense approach needs to be applied to our biggest expenditure machine which is the Federal Government. You consider the fact that just in 2007 alone we spent $430 Billion dollars on interest for loans, for borrowing money, for our debt. That’s the third most largest expense of the Federal Government, that’s like buying a house with the worst credit card in your wallet, it just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s fiscally irresponsible. This kind of insanity needs to stop, when we’re bleeding out the prosperity of our country, we need a pragmatic sensible approach. I mean, you know, you’ll often hear stock brokers talk about a portfolio’s balance and health is based on it being diversified, well in the same sense, our economy needs to be diversified, with a sizable manufacturing sector, with sizable and self-sufficient components and characteristics that communicate balance and diversification. So, if it’s good for a stock portfolio, I say it’s good for the economy. And, um, so I don’t necessarily think that this will, this kind of new ethos, or new sense of stewardship to the environment, and attention to the needs of the middle class of America, I don’t think this is going to bad for corporate America, or bad for the defense industry, I think it’s just a retooling of our priorities and writing a prescription that will not have the United States falling like the other Empires of the past, because we’ve over-extended ourselves financially, and our economy crashes, and then, you know, think about all the debt that China has, they could deploy what is called the nuclear economic option by dumping all the treasury bonds on the market, etc. Those kinds of things we need to prevent from happening, and we can do it by looking at ourselves, being a little self-critical, and pulling ourselves up by our boot straps, and bringing on sensible, balanced and equitable policies into our corridors of power.
DS: Byron DeLear thanks so much for spending this time with us.
BD: Thank you so much!
DS: Byron DeLear is a prodigal son living once again in West St. Louis County, Missouri, where he was raised and running for the Second District office held for eight years by Republican Todd Akin. For Talk Nation Radio, I’m Dori Smith. This program is produced at the studios of WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. WHUS.org to listen live Wednesdays at 5pm. TalkNationRadio.org for transcripts, audio and discussions.
Please Make Checks Payable to:
“DeLear for Congress”
15023 Baxter Village Dr., Unit D
Chesterfield, MO. 63017