Monday, November 06, 2006

Senator Allen, Right on the Issues

Here's a copy of my column from October 26 in the Potomac News:

Critically Thinking
By Charles Reichley
October 26, 2006

Senator Allen, Right on the Issues

In the Virginia Senate race, the media has largely avoided discussing real issues. They spent a month on an inappropriate comment by Senator Allen. Then it was 27-year-old attacks on women by James Webb. After that, the religious background of Allen’s mother, and whether Webb was running an anti-Semitic campaign.

Next there were competing rumors about candidates using the N-word when they were in college over three decades ago. Then Webb used the offensive term “Towel-head” in a Washington Post interview. I’ve probably missed some; it’s been hard to keep up.

An opinion columnist in this paper said we should support Webb because Allen is a “putz” (an offensive Yiddish term meaning “Forget the issues, I hate this guy”). He followed up with another column saying he was serious – two columns, not one good word about Webb.

Character matters, of course – but decades-old recollections don’t reveal the character of grown men. Allen has a bevy of well-respected people vouching for him, as well as a 20-year public record of votes, speeches, and conduct proving his good character.

Allen received the endorsement of respected African-Americans who would never support a racist. This includes Portsmouth Mayor James Holley and Bishop Gerald Glenn of Chesterfield, and also Democrat State Senator Benjamin Lambert. Allen is supported by The Latino Coalition, who made their unanimous endorsement after polling 3,500 members in Virginia.

Allen is also endorsed by respected Senators John Warner and John McCain. Yes, they are Republicans. But neither would support Allen if he was not a man of good character. Even James Webb has acknowledged their integrity. The attacks on Senator Allen’s character are unwarranted based on his record and the testimony of those who know him.

But can we discuss issues? There have been three debates, but except for the Iraq war there is almost no media coverage of issues. But on issue after issue, Allen is on the side of Virginians.

Allen is a strong proponent of the tax cuts which have spurred our economy and led to record tax revenues. Over 215,000 jobs have been created in Virginia since the tax cuts were enacted, and average wages have increased about 10% in the past two years. The record shows three million Virginians benefited from those tax cuts.

Webb thinks 99% of us were hurt by the tax cuts. He is on record saying we need more tax revenue. Webb is supported by those in his party who will take away tax cuts which have benefited millions of Virginians and spurred our economic growth.

On trade, Allen is joined by Governor Tim Kaine in supporting free trade policies that benefit Virginia’s seaports, a major employer in our state. Webb told the editorial board of the Virginia-Pilot newspaper that he supports using tariffs to force “fair trade” on our partners. The editors gave this damning assessment of Webb’s position: “Even Webb's backers see that his arguments make no sense for Virginia. Gov. Tim Kaine calls Webb's position a "losing strategy."

Allen has an excellent record on education as Governor. He has sponsored the National Innovation Act, which focuses on improving science and technology education to better equip students and our nation for the challenges of the 21st century. He supports extension of tuition tax credits, another tax cut blocked by the Senate Democrats who support Webb.

Allen supports federal help for local transportation. He has pushed for widening I-66 inside the Beltway and for the I-66/Route 29 interchange project. He’s worked to widen I-95 between Rte. 123 and the Fairfax County parkway. And he’s championed the Dulles Metrorail project.

Senator Allen supports drilling for oil in ANWR, providing a million barrels a day of independence from countries like Venezuela and Iran. Webb opposes ANWR drilling. Allen has a comprehensive policy for energy independence.

Allen supports a minimum wage increase. Allen voted to increase the minimum wage and extend the middle-class tax cuts. Webb says he supports these positions. But his Democrat allies in the Senate blocked the bill; otherwise we would have an increased minimum wage today.

These are issues on which we can decide this election, rather than on cheap personal attacks. And on the issues, Allen is right for Virginia.

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