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Bedell: Choose to put compromise over party

BY GUEST OPINION | SEPTEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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In 1974, I was elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat serving a predominately Republican district in northwest Iowa.

I served 12 years, and during that time, Republicans and Democrats still worke together. Some of my closest Congressional friends were Republicans, including Chuck Grassley, Cooper Evans, Jim Leach, and Tom Tauke. We advised each other on legislative matters, and we all voted for what was best for the nation, rather than what was best for just our political party.

Things have changed in Congress, across the nation and even in Iowa. Although there always have been extremely liberal Democrats and extreme right-wing conservative Republicans, neither of them controlled their parties. Today, there is little difference in the Democratic Party, but it should be clear to everyone that the right-wing Tea Party conservatives have influenced Republicans to such an extent that their agenda has taken over the national party.

It should also be clear that today’s Tea Party-affected Republicans are helping the super rich take over the nation to the detriment of everyone else. As a result of the Bush tax cuts benefitting primarily the wealthy, the 400 richest families in our nation today have more wealth than the bottom 185 million citizens — more than half of our entire population. Warren Buffet has pointed out that he pays taxes at a lower rate than does his secretary. Taxing people and corporations according to their ability to pay is now a joke in our country.

We have a huge budget deficit. It can be addressed by increasing taxes for those of us who can afford to pay or by further penalizing the great majority of our people by cutting programs that benefit them.

Consider this: The top individual income-tax rate was cut from the 75 percent when I was in Congress to today’s 35 percent, and a multitude of deductions were added for wealthy individuals as well as corporations.

And this: All but 13 Republican members of the U.S. Congress have signed a written pledge not to increase any taxes — corporate or individual. Iowa Republican congressmen have signed the pledge. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is one of the 13 who has not signed.

We have a choice in the coming election. We can vote for candidates and political-party members who sign pledges in support of America’s corporations and wealthy persons while cutting programs for the people, or we can elect persons who will work together to have government by and for all the people. We did it when I served in the ’70s and ’80s and it can be done again. The choice is easy for me; I hope it is for you.

Berkley Bedell
Spirit Lake, Iowa


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