Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When It Matters

I like to think that some politicians don't speak out both sides of their mouth. However, I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that of the newly elected Democratic congressman in Idaho's first district.

From Congressman Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) in response to Obama's speech to Congress last night:
"Like all Idahoans, I join the president in a commitment to work together. These times are too tough and there is too much to be done to linger over the points where we differ. Instead we must look to the areas where we agree...Our children need more opportunities to create their own successful future."
Sure, a shared commitment to work together is a great talking point and if genuine, a great goal, however, given Minnick's recent vote on H.R. 911 (Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009), I am having an awfully hard time believing that our children's successful future is an actual goal or priority.

What is it about H.R. 911 that makes it so hard to vote for? Walt Minnick must be the only Democrat who knows because he certainly was the only Democrat who voted against it. Yes, of the 102 votes against this legislation, Walt Minnick was the only Democrat who voted no. And surprisingly, my congressman here in Idaho's second district, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), voted in favor of this bill. Yes, 64 Republican members of congress voted in favor of this legislation.

In addition to every other Democrat beside Walt Minnick voting in the affirmative and 64 Republican votes for the legislation, H.R. 911 was also supported by the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, the National Youth Rights Association, the U.S. Department of Education and various child abuse prevention organizations.

Minnick's vote on the stimulus bill was understandable, regrettable, but politically understandable if he is indeed thinking today about reelection in 2010. His vote on H.R. 911 is simply unacceptable.

If the argument is that government has a limited place in the private life of citizens, I would argue that this is where government has a place. Children should be protected, regardless of the cost or the size of government. As each of the previously listed organizations will point out, safe kids are far more likely to be successful members of society. Children who do not grow up in abusive environments, whether that be in private single-family homes, state-run hospitals/centers or privately operated facilities, are far more likely to lead lives absent from criminal activity. Children raised in safe environments are far more likely to finish high school and they go on to receive college degrees.

Idaho needs a Democrat and I realize that being one in the first district is no easy task but Idaho needs a Democrat who votes like one, albeit even occasionally. Even Mike Simpson realized that H.R. 911 matters to Idahoans; H.R. 911 matters to kids.

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