April 2010

Let's Make the Welfare of the American People the Goal of the Fiscal Commission

I presented the following remarks at the first meeting of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform:

We members of the Fiscal Commission are charged with a critical mission: "Identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run."

We gather, not as accountants, actuaries, bean counters looking through green eye shades at columns of numbers, but as policy-makers who care deeply about the lives of the American people of today and tomorrow who are impacted by the economic policies of our country. As the President said last week, "...some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged there's a family looking to buy a house, or pay for an education, open a business, save for retirement. What happens on Wall Street has real consequences across the country, across our economy."

The exact same can be said about the task in which we are engaged. Balancing the budget and reducing the debt are not ends in and of themselves. The welfare of the American people must be the goal of our fiscal policy. Everything we do here must be measured in terms of the impact on the well-being of our people, the opportunities we provide to our children and the values of our democratic society.

Stand With Me!

“We did it!” That’s what my friend and part-time bagger at my Jewel food store said as he gave me a bear hug after the vote on health care. He didn’t say “You did it.” or “Obama did it.” He said “We did it!”, and he was right. Everyday people in communities across my district and across America, many of them knowing personally the failures of our current health care system, stood up and said yes to health care reform.

Some of you may remember my raucous town hall meeting in Skokie last August. Thousands of people, some determined to shut down the meeting, came out to express their opinions about health care. After that I received thousands of phone calls and emails -- about 80% in support of health care reform -- some for a single payer system, some for a public option, and some just pleading for relief from pre-existing condition exclusions or unbearably high premiums. Throughout the year long debate in Congress, the people of the 9th Congressional District let me know where they stood and asked me to stand with them. Together, we did it!

Still, there are those who want to break the momentum that is building behind a progressive agenda – even here in the 9th District – and they are willing to spread lies, and fear, and misinformation to prevent us and our candidates and elected officials (including me) from succeeding.

Let's make it perfectly clear to everyone that the Tea Party agenda and the special interest money agenda are rejected by the 9th Congressional District and are a world apart from the values that you and I share.

To demonstrate our strength, I am creating a “Stand With Jan” committee and inviting you and all progressive-minded supporters to sign up.