On October 9, 2010, the Marin Independent Journal published “Woolsey makes bid for 10th term.” The article covered a few highlights from a joint interview IJ editors held with the two main candidates for Congress in our 6th District: Jim Judd (R) and Lynn Woolsey (D). The mini-forum was part of the IJ’s candidate endorsement process which culminated Monday, Oct. 11, in the IJ’s endorsement of Lynn Woolsey in an editorial entitled, “Lynn Woolsey has earned a 10th term in Congress.” Read both for yourself and see how informative and fair you consider them.
Voters need as much exposure to candidates running for office as possible, and first-hand knowledge always trumps editing by media. All the more reason to get the rest of the story of this IJ meeting.
Jim Judd kindly agreed to an interview to provide more of that story. He first wanted to set the record straight on federal bailouts. The IJ only printed part of his answer during the meeting and did not explain a crucial distinction he made: “I’m not for the bailouts, but with 20/20 hindsight,” he said, “TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] did work in some instances. It worked for banks at risk. They have repaid the money.” When it comes to other types of corporations and entities, he’s still convinced they should have been allowed to fail and let the market take its course. He also wants the repaid TARP monies to pay down our deficit (TARP payments pushed up the deficit in the first place).
Concerning the Bush tax cuts, Lynn Woolsey said only a small percentage (4%) of small business owners make enough to be affected if the tax cuts were not renewed for those with incomes over $250,000. Since Jim Judd acknowledged he made less than $200,000, the IJ editors apparently thought he’d made the incumbent’s case even though he spoke about the need for all small business owners (whatever their gross income) to be able to “self-fund” their businesses, especially in these economic times when banks loans are hard to come by and business confidence is low.
But what wasn’t reported by the IJ was Mr. Judd’s subsequent question to Lynn Woolsey about why Congress had not addressed the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax). Every year this tax affects more and more people (whether they own businesses or not) because it has “not been indexed for cost of living.” The incumbent had no answer. The editors seemed, at the time, to think this was a very good point, but didn’t bother reporting it to the voters.
Jim Judd, for whom “uncontrolled government spending” is a top issue, along with jobs and the economy, drummed on the $1.3 trillion deficit, the $13+ trillion national debt, and the $120+ trillion in unfunded liabilities. What was Lynn Woolsey’s reaction? These fantastically huge debts just don’t seem to register with her. They apparently go over her head. Spending interests her; fiscal responsibility doesn’t.
She told the editors and her fellow candidate that she supports even more stimulus money being spent. She wants more federal government involvement in just about every facet of life: education, social programs, business regulation, job creation, etc. For her, government is the answer to most everything.
Asked if the IJ editors at any time offered pointed criticisms of Rep. Woolsey’s eighteen years in office, Mr. Judd said they did not. He himself told her — as he had in the Santa Rosa public debate last month — that she was out of touch with her constituents, and added that eighteen years in office would cause a disconnect for anyone, including himself (which might be why Mr. Judd has stated at his own town hall meetings with voters that he plans to limit his service in the House to six years if elected). Mr. Judd said he told the room that accessibility is a big part of his own candidacy and will continue to be should he become our representative. He cited the town halls he’s held all over the district over the last few months. Lynn Woolsey said she maintained accessibility through “phone town halls.”
Jim Judd said the IJ editors asked, “If the House stays Democrat could you work with them? His reply, “Yes – if they legislate constitutionally and address the need to cut spending and the deficit.”
Then Lynn Woolsey introduced a bit of levity at which everyone in the room laughed. She said (paraphrasing): “If Jim Judd wins, the House majority will be Republican.” Gotta give her that. She was not asked and didn’t volunteer to answer the question of whether she could work with a Republican Congress.
At one point, the editors asked how he would create more jobs, and seemed a little flustered when Mr. Judd made another distinction: “Ask me as a businessman or as a member of Congress.” When they chose the latter, he answered, “I’d work to create an atmosphere so business can reap the rewards of their labor.” He then added the need for responsible regulations and responsible taxes. He also referred to the 2008 Marin County Economic Sustainability Report . Whether anyone else in the room had read that document seemed questionable. He also emphasized he supports reducing the size of government, but that “we have to create private sector jobs” at the rate we cut public sector jobs to prevent further unemployment.
The candidates talked about Afghanistan, and Jim Judd made the point that Americans want to disengage from that war as soon as possible and want the money now being spent there on military operations to be available for domestic use.
Of course, the inevitable question about the Tea Party came up, and the IJ led with it in the opening paragraph of “Woolsey makes a bid for 10th term.” As Mr. Judd has noted often, the group he helped found, but to which he no longer belongs, the North Bay Patriots, is not technically connected to “the Tea Party.” Media has promulgated quite a few misconceptions about the Tea Party, including trying to simplistically label a spontaneous movement that, like any other organic movement, isn’t a monolith. Do a lot of people in America feel that responsible change in government (federal, state, and local) is essential? You bet. And that appears to drive Jim Judd too. But the IJ wants to use lazy shorthand instead of looking deeper.
Thanks to Jim Judd for taking the time to shed some more light on Friday’s forum and what was left out of the IJ reports. We need candidates for public office who understand the real priorities, and Jim Judd is one of those. If you haven’t already, check out his website: jimjuddforcongress.com. Tell you friends. Then VOTE!