For starters, let's look at the Senator's record on the war in Iraq. The war, which has cost us some $700 billion dollars and has cost the state of Tennessee directly some ten billion dollars in taxpayer expenditures for the war effort, means that there are less dollars available in the federal budget for education and alternative energy development and it means that there is more federal debt. Alexander voted for the original war and since then he has voted for every expenditure that has come before the Senate to extend funding for the war. He has voted against pulling troops out of Iraq when the opportunity has arisen.
Lamar has voted for the most destabilizing foreign policy expenditure in recent memory. Experts agree that the biggest reason for high oil prices in the global market is because of instability and uncertainty in the Middle East. Investor confidence has been greatly shaken by US activities in the Middle East and has driven down the value of the dollar in relation to other major international currencies. As a candidate for federal office, I support an immediate withdrawal of US armed forces from Iraq. I have spoken out clearly and directly on the issue of the war and my opposition to the current misadventure. If we had not invaded Iraq, the international marketplace would have greater confidence in the American economy and the global markets would not be reacting with so much fear and uncertainty to current market conditions.
Now let's look at taxes. Senator Alexander supports a flat income tax. He supports reducing the tax rates that wealthy people pay to 15% while at the same time he supports expensive, taxpayer funded military ventures. A flat income tax means that rich people will pay less and poor people will pay more. Flat taxes are already inherently unequal in terms of revenue and the response of a flat tax by state and local municipalities will be to simply increase sales taxes and other income generating revenues which will disproportionately affect the poor. Lamar also voted to cut taxes on capital gains and dividends. Lamar has made it clear where his interests lay, and it isn't with the working people of this country.
The record of Senator Alexander's votes means we have a higher federal deficit because Lamar doesn't believe that rich people should pay their fair share. It also means less opportunity for working class people to get ahead which only drives them further into poverty. As a candidate for federal office, I believe that we need to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share. They are members of this country, the same as everyone else. It is time to restore progressive taxation as a national policy.
Now let's look at Alexander's record with regard to working people. I've already talked about how a flat tax will end up costing working people more money in the long run. Less federal revenue means more toll roads, privatization of public services and higher local, municipal and state taxes to pick up the extra needed revenue. These aspects alone will reduce the standard of living for the middle class, but if we continue to support the policies of Alexander, we will find that standard of living even further eroded.
Alexander has supported fundamental dismantling of one of the most important social safety nets our country has created, the Social Security System. Now why Alexander would be against a federal program that provides support and resources to our senior citizens is beyond me, but if it is any indication of where he stands, Lamar was given a big fat zero by the Alliance for Retired Americans for his anti-senior voting record. Social Security works, and in spite of the Republican scare tactics, the program isn't going broke. If we were to privatize social security, then there is a guarantee that the poorest Americans will have nothing when they retire and the whole purpose of the program will have been rendered meaningless. As a candidate for federal office I fully support the Social Security program and commend it as one of the most successful government programs of the twentieth century for ensuring quality of life into old age.
There are so many other ways that we could look at Alexander's record which show that he votes against the interests of working people and for the interests of the wealthy and corporations. Since Tennessee is mostly made up of working people, I wonder who Alexander's decisions are going to work for. It is time for progressive leadership in Tennessee. Time to restore the minimum wage to a living wage with annual increases to adjust for cost of living. It is time to support universal single payer health care to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care and it is time to use the federal government as an agency for lifting up working people rather than letting the market drag them down.
We can make it out of this recession and make this country into a nation that works for everyone, but we have to follow sound federal policies in order to make this a reality. It is time to restore progressive taxation as a national policy and ask the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. It is time to strike down anti-union legislation that increases profits for investors by reducing labor costs, shipping jobs overseas and turning our manufacturing base into a Walmart service economy. It is time to make sure that education is funded as a priority and defense is secondary in terms of budget allocation to the health and well-being of children and families. As a candidate for the US Senate in Tennessee I believe that these are the policies that will insure a modest national prosperity for all.