Sunday, October 15, 2006

CJ article on the Yarmuth Northup Race. My comments in BOLD>

My comments in bold on Northup's comments on the race in today's Courier Journal.

Northup, Yarmuth claim different turf
Choices are distinct in 3rd District House race

By Kay Stewart
The Courier-Journal

To Vincent Walker, the difference between Anne Northup and John Yarmuth is readily apparent, even if he's not sure which one will get his vote.

"It's clear that you've got two distinct choices to make," said Walker, 44, a senior vice president at JPMorgan Chase.

Northup, the five-term Republican incumbent in the 3rd Congressional District, and Yarmuth, founder and former editor of the weekly alternative newspaper LEO, disagree on just about every major political issue -- the Iraq War, education, tax cuts, Social Security and raising the minimum wage.

Donna Walker Mancini of the Libertarian Party and W. Ed Parker of the Constitution Party also are seeking the seat.

With 23 days before the Nov. 7 election, the Northup and Yarmuth campaigns are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hammering home their opposing themes in attack ads.

Yarmuth portrays Northup as a rubber-stamp for President Bush's unpopular policies, and Northup, while citing local projects she has helped fund, criticizes Yarmuth for liberal opinions he's expressed in public appearances and in newspaper columns.

Yarmuth says Northup "is a big part" of national policies that have made the economy great for big corporations and millionaires, but not so great for working-class people. He says 90 percent of Americans haven't achieved a higher economic status in the past five years.

"I believe government has a role in making lives better for everyone. … Conservatives don't believe that government has a role in changing social and economic outcomes," Yarmuth said.

Northup says Yarmuth "thinks the government is the first, best answer to every single problem we have in this country." And Anne thinks the government is the first best answer for the people of Iraq at the expense of the people here at home.

She argues that the economy is strong, with the number of jobs and incomes rising, and says that's largely the result of 2003 tax cut legislation she supported that was passed by Congress. Yes, a tax cut wiped out by rising interest rates and rising gas prices that inflate the price of everything.
She's called Yarmuth a "tax and spend" liberal with "extreme" positions on a variety of subjects, including Social Security and the minimum wage, positions she says he's shifted to a more moderate stance now that he's a candidate for Congress. Yes Anne, he's a writer of opinions. You know, like Rush Limbaugh, only smart. That means that occasionally he'll raise ideas that are radical to spur thought on the matter. That doesn't mean that as a representative he'll adhere completely to those ideas.

Yarmuth claims she's misinterpreted his words or taken them out of context. Read my blog further to see how.

In one exchange about minimum wage at a debate Friday, Northup said Yarmuth wanted a "living wage" at $10 an hour, based on a proposal of 2006 legislative initiatives posted on the Web site of an organization he founded, the Center for Kentucky Progress. She said that would cause an economic "crisis." But she doesn't say how. And she doesn't explain why the mininum wage is still so low.

Yarmuth countered that he was for working toward that goal, and said in an interview he favored raising the $5.15 minimum hourly wage to $7 over the next two years.

Northup says her position on the powerful Appropriations Committee would not be filled by Yarmuth if he were elected, noting that those seats are granted based on seniority.

Yarmuth said if Democrats take back control of the U.S. House, as he believes they will, he'll have more influence than Northup would.

Yarmuth the'liberal progressive'
Yarmuth, the founder of the weekly newspaper LEO, where he wrote an estimated 800 columns over 15 years, says he takes a "liberal progressive position" on most issues.

He was opposed from the start to the Iraq war. He favors national health care coverage and raising the minimum wage, and is against tax cuts for the richest Americans.

If elected, Yarmuth said health care, the Iraq war, national security and funding education would top his national priority list.

Yarmuth said he believes expanding businesses in Louisville's West End, keeping jobs in Louisville and funding the two new bridges across the Ohio River are the top local concerns.

Northup the conservative
Northup, who favors making across-the-board tax cuts permanent, opposes raising the minimum wage without corresponding tax relief and believes that the United States needs to stay the course in Iraq.

Special-interest groups ranking Northup's voting record paint her as solidly conservative. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, gives her a 93 out of 100, while the League of Conservation Voters gives her a zero.

Northup cites her priorities as winning the war on terrorism, keeping the economy strong, making the country less dependent on foreign oil and closing national borders to illegal immigrants. And yet she criticizes John Yarmuth for having ideas on how to address dependence on foreign oil.

Locally, she says completing two new bridges across the Ohio River, building a new veterans hospital and continued enhancement of the waterfront, including a pedestrian Big Four Bridge, top her list. Again, future projects. What have you done for me lately?

Iraq war
The Iraq war, which Yarmuth called the "dark cloud" over the race, is a prime example of their opposing views.

Yarmuth wants America to get out of Iraq, beginning immediately, with some troops remaining in the region in case they need to be deployed.

Citing recent national intelligence reports that say the U.S. presence is inciting insurgents and that violence will worsen, Yarmuth said: "Nobody has been calling the shots for the U.S. and Iraq right at any juncture in the last 3 1/2 years."

There is just as much reason to assume things will get better if Americans leave than if they stay, he said, adding, "It's the provocative nature of our presence that everybody says has made things worse."

Northup, who supported the invasion of Iraq, said there have been mistakes, citing bad U.S. intelligence on deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. While she said Saddam is not linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, he is linked to terrorism and "we went to war against terrorists." So there's no connection but there is? She knows that this statement is false, but figures misleading is better than telling the truth.

She says intelligence reports don't conclude things would improve if the United States leaves. The mission to bring stability and democracy to Iraq is vital to national security, she maintains, adding that a U.S. departure now would allow terrorists to refinance, increase recruits and training and attack America again.

"We will not win the war on terror unless we are on offense and we go after these guys," she said. So essentially, the 583rd position of the Republicans on Iraq is that now it's a Roach Motel for terrorists. We'll bait 'em into the lawless hellhole and then kill 'em.

Safe borders
Northup said she supports closing the borders to illegal immigration, which would improve national security, by building a fence on the Mexican border and increasing electronic surveillance.

Until the border is secured, she said, she's not willing to consider immigration reform measures such as amnesty and worker-guest programs for illegal immigrants.

If I can't keep a neighbor's kid out of my 1/4 acre yard, how does a fence spanning the length of our southern border do it? Besides, who is going to keep the damned thing painted?

Yarmuth said he agrees the borders need to be closed for security and that employers who hire illegal immigrants should be stopped. But he said a guest-worker program for the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the country should be addressed at the same time.

Northup said immigration is an example of times when she has opposed President Bush, whose proposals include a worker-guest program along with closing the border with Mexico. So Anne is against the many fine Mexican restaurants we have here in Louisville? My fajitas are at stake here!

Northup also said she supports importing cheaper prescription drugs from other countries, which Bush opposes. And she favors offshore oil drilling near Florida, in opposition to the president.

On America's energy problems, Northup said that long term, she supports energy conservation measures but in the short haul she supports expanding oil and natural gas exploration by drilling in both the Gulf of Mexico and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

While she said that could be done safely and would make gasoline cheaper, Yarmuth called the approach a "Band Aid" that would not adequately address the short-term problem and would be detrimental to the environment.

Reporter Kay Stewart can be reached at (502) 582-4114.

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