Friday, April 15, 2005

Allyson Schwartz extends her middle finger to Philly

I am stunned. Say what you want about our Congressional delegation, but generally, they vote the right way. However, on the most awful, repugnant, disgusting, anti-consumer legislation to come up in the Congress in years, Allyson Schwartz voted with the credit card companies, and against the thousands upon thousands of Philadelphians struggling to get by. Amazing. There are few pieces of legislation in Washington as disgusting as this one, and few that are so nakedly blunt tools for awful companies to hurt people with. (Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah voted the right way.)

The Bankruptcy Bill is a law that makes your skin crawl. It was written by the credit card companies, for the credit card companies. There was no ground swell of support for the law, just the desire of some very rich corporations to assume control over the lives of single mothers who fall ill, soldiers whose financial fortunes fall apart when they are overseas, parents who lose their job, and the elderly who struggle with high payments of everything. It truly is disgusting. So, do me a favor Rep. Schwartz, next time you come to Philly for one of your photo-op's on social security, and pat yourself on the back for all the haaaaarrrrrd work you are doing in D.C., leave me out of it. You represent no Philadelphian. Only yourself.

John Edwards, former candidate for VP, gets it, and says it a lot more eloquently than me:
Like a lot of Democrats, I voted for a bankruptcy reform bill before. I can't say it more simply than this: I was wrong.

The bill is supposed to crack down on irresponsible borrowers. That's the right thing to do. The problem is that this bill imposes big burdens on families who did everything right but went broke just because they lost a job or lost their health insurance. And, even more than the legislation I supported, this bill doesn't crack down on the real abusers.

Two million Americans go bankrupt every year, but you might never know it. People keep it to themselves. They're ashamed about what has happened to them. But they aren't alone-these families are our neighbors, our brothers, our friends. And I've listened to so many people tell me how their life was on track until hardship hit. Thanks to Professor Warren, we now know that half of families going broke suffered illnesses or high medical costs.

These men and women want to pay their own way, but they can't. They can't because the hospital wants $135,000 to cover the heart operation and the plant just cut back their hours. They can't because the bank is about to foreclose on a predatory loan unless they can pay $40,000 in 48 hours. They can't because they lost their job and now the electric company wants a few hundred dollars more just to turn on the lights.

This bill won't do anything to give struggling families more security. It will only make it harder for good and decent people to start over. The new means test that will mean hundreds of dollars in new legal fees for families who barely have money to put food on the table.

If we want real reform, we shouldn't punish every hard-working family looking for another chance. But we should get serious about the biggest abuses.

In some states, a multimillionaire CEO can drive his company into the ground, declare bankruptcy, and still keep his mansion-tennis court, Jacuzzi, and all. The 2001 bill at least stopped that by capping the "homestead exemption" at $125,000. This bill will allow many multimillionaires to protect their mansions if they plan ahead.

We've also seen the credit card companies and predatory lenders become more aggressive. Today, many Americans have seen their interest rates triple to 29% or higher-not because they missed a payment, but just because they lost a job and needed another loan. Many more Americans are losing their homes because lenders have hidden points and fees in their loans. These companies are making billions by kicking people when they're down. This bill does nothing to stop them.

Unfortunately, we know what the outcome today is going to be. But that doesn't mean we should give up the fight-it means we have to fight harder. If we want to stop bankruptcies, we need to address their real causes, like rising health costs. We need to stop the abuses by the credit card companies and the predatory lenders. We need to make sure all families, and especially those who are poor, can build their savings and assets so they have some security if something goes wrong. It won't be easy, but it can be done. That's what being American is about--standing with people who are struggling to do right, and taking on anyone who tries to take advantage of them.
Never, and I mean never, will I vote for Allyson Schwartz for anything. The darling of Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill showed her true colors. Unfortunately, instead of red, white and blue, we saw her allegiance: green.


At 8:37 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Yep, Schwartz is dead to me too. Thanks for the post. I was concentrating my fury on the 31 turncoats Atrios has listed and missed Schwartz.

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, that sucks. thanks for bringing it to my attention. i called her office and will be expecting a written explanation in the next few days, i will share it if it says anything worth noting. she'll be getting no more of my money and/or volunteer support.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg said...

Let me first say, and pardon my French, "Go Fuck yourself Alison Shwartz".

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, I have to ask- how the hell are we going to reconcile ourselves with these turncoats in our party? We have to force them to stop putting corporation's interests over those of the middle class, but how can we do this if we don't draw a line in the sand and try and oust middle-class traitors (and I'm not using this word litely- she is a traitor to the working men and women that she swore to represent) like Schwartz? How can we expect progressive politics to go anywhere if we allow our Reps to vote for cruel and insane laws like this?

I want nothing more than to restore some sanity to the congress, and I believe the best way to do that is to return it to Democratic hands, but will it even make a difference if supposedly progressive Democrats like Schwartz continue to stab us in the back?

At 10:58 AM, Blogger DanielUA said...


If she actually responds, I would love, and I mean love to see her bs, DLC talking points. Please send it our way if she does.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger PusBoy said...

I think we Dems are going to have to come to terms with the fact that if we want the party to stop drifting to the right, we may have to endure times that get worse before they get better. And that means running liberals in primaries against "moderate" or "conservative" Dems, even if it damages the incumbent's chance of winning in the general.

The GOP might strengthen their grip for a while, but eventually the Dems will get some guts back.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

I would certainly support a challenger against her. MoveOn promised to support candidates running against people who supported this bill, even if that meant going after Democrats in primaries.

Paging Joe Hoeffel... We need you to go back to Congress and reclaim your seat.

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no problem danielUA. i will share the letter/response with you when i get it. i am also planning on calling her office throughout the day to see if anyone will talk to me. her office number (in dc) is: (202) 225-6111, i don't see any reason not to voice our concerns.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Pat Evans/Butcher/Wicks said...

I'm all for challenging Dems who drift to the right or do nothing at all to move our party to a better place. However, do folks really want to see Allyson outsted? She has been there for a lot of key progressive issues in the past. I too am really upset by her vote for the bankruptcy bill, but we can slow down a bit before calling for her head? After all , while we on the left are starting to get a clue about how to elect progressives, we offer them nowhere near the level of suport new Republicans get when they get in office.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

Hey Ray-

Do I want Allyson ousted? Your goddamned right. In a heartbeat. From her own webpage, this is her bio:

"During her four terms in the state Senate, Schwartz was known as leader for working families."

It is good that statement is in the past tense, because she certainly does not fill that description now.

I am not saying I want a Republican in her place. I want someone who will not vote to put a put a foot on the neck of the very people she represents.

Again: Paging Joe Hoeffel. your Congressional seat has gone into disrepair. Please return to office immediately.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Lewis said...

Alright, Daniel. You had me up until the last two posts. You're posts have been interesting, diverse, and thoughtful. However, this is ridiculous.

First off, the bill sucks. Its going to hurt a lot of people, utterly fails to go after the people it should, and is an insulting sell-out to the credit card lobby.

However, it passed easily. It wasn't even close. If you want to be mad about this piece of crap, point at the Republican leadership in Congress and the administration.

Now, ousting Allyson? Get a friggin' grip. If she chose this particular bill to gain some headway with Republican moderates, fine...because her vote didn't matter. The bill passed by a massive margin.

You can either choose to be an idealist, or you can hope that she's making a cosmetic gesture to gain some capital.

Whatever the case, she's been an effective and progressive voice for Philly for over 15+ years...and you're willing to drop her on a meaningless vote? Especially when she just got $50 million for her district?

The sky isn't falling. Take it easy.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Pat Evans/Butcher/Wicks said...

I don't agree that it's ok for Allyson to vote with Republicans in Congress to curry political favor even if her vote doesn't matter. However, I don’t think ousting her is the right answer either. I worked with Allyson when I staffed United Pennsylvanians and she was a real progressive voice in the State Senate where she was just as much in the minority as she is in the US House. She needs to know her vote on the bankruptcy bill was wrong, but ousting her won't solve the problem either. Yesterday's vote points to a much larger problem which is that without strong Democratic leadership and a real message for our party, it doesn't make much sense to spend all of her time electing folks in swing districts. By the way, Joe Hoeffel wasn't 100% progressive on every vote either, just look at his record on welfare reform.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

"If she chose this particular bill to gain some headway with Republican moderates, fine...because her vote didn't matter. The bill passed by a massive margin." Really? You think this will help her with moderate republicans? Really? Have moderate Republicans been clamoring for the cc industry? This wins her votes?

Why is it so bad? One, this is the most anti-consumer piece of legislation in recent time. So, yeah, I dont want a "progressive" Congresswoman from my City voting for this.

Second, people like her, voting for this crap, give the impression that this is "Bi-partisan." you say blame Republicans. How can we when Democrats line up to vote for it. This is such a ridiculous bill that Democrats could have used it to wedge Republicans everywhere. Instead, we will see President Bush smiling at the "bi-partisan" legislation that he will sign into law.

And, I wrote this on DailyKos: A few examples of how this could have been a wedge:

Republicans want to put soldiers in bebtor's prisons.

Republicans want you to choose between going to the ER when you have a heart attack, or becoming a slave to Credit Card companies.

I am sure people could come up with more, and more effective, slogans, as well.

Here is the problem- many, many people hate their cc companies. And I mean HATE. (anecdotally, there is for just about every cc company, a corresponding site, etc.). And, I think that it is a pretty bi-partisan hate.

The key, and this is really key, is that you have to start politicizing what they do, politicizing debt itself.

When someone hears about abortion, be they left right or center, they think politics. When someone gets screwed by cc companies, they dont. But if Democrats took a stand, and were smart, they could change that. Instead, they take their MBNA contribution, vote yes, screw the American people, and hurt themselves in the long run.

If we were smart, every time people felt wronged by their cc company, they woould consciously or unconsciously think "Republican." But that will not happen, and cannot when so many damn Democrats vote for the bill.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous John said...

Fundamentally, I agree with Ray. The primary problem is that we have weak leadership and no unifying message...and that translates to a horrible landscape for progressive members of Congress (particularly freshman who are trying to get in the game).

There are two solutions that apply to the current debate...

1. We define ourselves. We construct powerful messages, unite behind them, vote for policies we believe in, fight for our lives against those we don't.

This is what I think Daniel is suggesting. And moreover, he even sees this debate as an opportunity for this (which I agree with).

2. We struggle within the system. Despite being in the lion's den, we engage in realpolitik to maintain the semblance of a progressive influence on the system.

I could be wrong, but I interpret Schwartz's vote as an attempt to play by the rules and struggle to build a voice within the system.

Now, that might royally piss you off. And that's fair. We all want number one.

However, Schwartz is not in a position to lead the way for number one. That can only come from leaders with money, power, clout, and guaranteed seats. Schwartz doesn't have any of those things....yet.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stunned is exactly how I felt as well. I was completely floored to read that she had voted for such a horrid piece of legislation. About 70 other house Democrat also voted for Bankruptcy Reform along with Ms. Schwartz together with about 20 Senate Democrats. The problem with the Democratic Party is that it has these people in it.


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