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An open letter to Senator Webb: Where is your passion for income inequality now?


(I wrote about this same topic on Saturday. – promoted by lowkell)

Dear Senator Webb,

Put bluntly, it was people like me who got you elected.  I participated in (as a minor cog) Draft Webb. I, at my own expense, printed a two-page Jim Webb biography and put it on 1000s of windows. I donated, raised money, and otherwise work to get you elected.

Having been exposed to you for decades, through your professional activities and your writing and otherwise, I had incredible respect for you and swelled with pride at the potential that you would be representing me and my fellow Virginians in the U.S. Senate.

And, well, I am feeling increasingly betrayed.

Frustration re  Energy and Climate Issues [note: Senator Webb voted against the Murky Air Act] Increasing

When it comes to the increasingly severe realities of climate change and mounting national security risks of catastrophic climate chaos, you are near absent — noted as a climate curmudgeon.  When it comes to economic power of a clean energy revolution, you seem more concerned about supporting coal and increased offshore drilling.  

Defining the middle class

You have spoken strongly of the growing inequality in our nation. Back in 2007,

“When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did,” said Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) in his response to the president’s State of the Union Address. “Today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money his or her boss makes in one day.”

Webb warns that growing inequality means the death of the middle class and the destruction of America’s backbone.

And you have spoken to this since then. You co-sponsored tax fairness legislation. Sadly, your efforts to undermine a meaningful tax cut to all Americans while not giving additional tax subsidies to the wealthiest Americans call into question this sort of passionate call for addressing the inequality that is undermining our society.

I am incredibly frustrated that you have decided to be part of the blocking path toward moving forward with equitable tax cuts to all (tax cuts for net income below $250k) and favoring increasing this threshold to $1 million.  

To be honest, due to a bit of luck and changing life circumstances, I might well benefit from such an increased threshold. And, let me tell you, I would love to have extra dollars in the bank for children’s education, as financial cushion, etc … But, I am a citizen and a citizen concerned about the social and economic fabric of our nation.  I would benefit as individual, not as an American citizen.

We simply cannot afford to continue such tax subsidies for the wealthiest among us.  If we wish to ‘stimulate’ the economy, there are literally 1000s of more cost effective paths to do so — including extension of unemployment insurance and, sadly without enough support from you, clean energy legislation.

You will not get reelected without the passionate support from people like myself … people who raised money … people who got off their couches to knock on door … people who passionately encouraged others to support you and vote for you.  People who care about and are willing to fight to put truth to the struggle to create “a more perfect union”.   Putting people like myself into the lukewarm “he’s better than the other guy” category isn’t a path toward electoral success.

NOTE / PS:  A very similar letter went to President Obama.

  • Tom

    I had hoped Webb might announce his intentions about 2012 this past weekend at the Steering Committee or Central Committee meetings, but so far as I’ve heard he did not.

    I think we really need to start thinking about who we want to draft to run for U.S. Senate in 2012, whether it’s to primary Webb or the person he decides to endorse for his seat. For the life of me, I can’t think of anyone who would be a good “draftee” candidate, unless it’s maybe state Sen. McEachin in which case I’d have to believe Webb would endorse him given all the support Donald gave to Webb in 2006. But I seriously doubt that McE. would be interested so that’s not a realistic possibility.

    As recently as a few months ago I was actively discussing with one of his senior staffers the possibility of Connolly running for U.S. Senate if Webb announced he wasn’t running again. But Gerry’s positions are really not much different from Webb’s except maybe for social issues unrelated to the deficit or the economy, so he would have little chance of energizing the statewide grassroots volunteers and has no name recognition statewide.

    Any thoughts about who we could draft for 2012 ?

    As an aside, but maybe significant, I think it is time that Brigades should consider changing it’s name now that Webb has so frequently spoken out against and voted against many of the principles that caused us to work for him so hard. Webb already knows that the majority of Brigades active members do not support much of what he has been doing and saying over the past year or more so it may be time for a new group name that more accurately reflects what Brigades is all about. Retire the name and move on is my suggestion.


  • Tom

    I’d like to think of a group name change being somewhat analogous of the retirement of the “Raising Kaine” blog name in favor of “Blue Virginia” name. Like “Brigades”, “Raising Kaine” served its original purposes very well. And like the the blog name “Raising Kaine” the time came to retire the name that blog name, so it may be that the time may have come to retire the “Brigades” group name and move on to the next stage of progressive activism under a different (and more descriptive) name.  

  • Thanks to Ezra Klein for putting it all in perspective.

  • Catzmaw

    Where all debate is subject to strange, arbitrary rules about what makes a good Democrat and where a Democratic Senator who voted WITH the majority on a DEMOCRATIC proposal is threatened with primarying.

    You’ve got to be effin’ kidding me.  Let’s review:  Webb joins that lion of the progressive faction Senator Feingold in voting against a plan to grant tax cuts for those earning up to $250K.  Feingold gets a pass because … well … he’s Russ Feingold and his impeccable populist credentials are not to be questioned, but Webb is decried as having suddenly, inexplicably turned upon the common American because for reasons he has yet to set forth he also voted against the same piece of legislation.

    The vote on the second piece of legislation consisted of Webb JOINING 52 of his Democratic colleagues in voting FOR a proposal BY one of his Democratic colleagues.  Feingold voted against that proposal, too, but because Feingold is STILL Feingold he STILL gets a pass whereas Webb’s vote FOR this Democratic legislation PROVES he’s against the common people because the ONLY way he could prove he’s FOR the common people is if he voted FOR proposal number one and AGAINST proposal number two.  Oops, wait a minute, under this reasoning doesn’t that mean that ALL those Democrats who voted FOR the Schumer proposal also have turned their backs on the common American people?  

    Oddly enough, even Webb’s many eloquent statements on income disparity in this country and his co-sponsorship of tax fairness legislation are not enough to save him from this criticism, even though there are probably some very good reasons why he – along with his Democratic colleagues (except Feingold and a couple of others) – voted for the Schumer proposal.  I already set forth a few good reasons why he probably chose to vote this way in a comment a couple of days ago, but others here seemed to think my suggestions were nonsense.  They didn’t actually tell me WHY and I defy them to do so, but that’s apparently their position and they’re sticking to it.

    As to my suggestions, let me boil them down to their essentials:  a) Webb might have voted against the 250K proposal because he considered it a losing proposition and also because the savings for those earning under 250K might actually be spent more in servicing debt rather than stimulating the economy with new purchases; and b) those saving on incomes between 250K and 1 million are far more likely to spend their savings rather than use them either to service debt or to go out and buy some new stocks and bonds.  Our economy more than anything else needs to be stimulated, and no one earning under a million dollars a year can suddenly afford to stop working and live off a year’s pay for the rest of their lives, so therefore people earning up to that amount may be prosperous, but they’re not rich.  They’re just the demographic likely to buy themselves a few more little knick-knacks with their savings, though – a new boat, new car, kitchen remodel, new carpet, etc.  Let me add that from a political viability standpoint the Schumer proposal seems far more likely to attract moderate Republican interest than the one for those earning $250K.

    Someone please explain to me how Webb gets singled out but none of his colleagues who voted for both proposals (which Webb might have found inconsistent).  Someone explain to me why voting for a tax cut up to 250K makes one a lover of the common American people, but voting for one up to 1 million makes one a tool of the oppressive corporatist overlords.  Be specific – please.

  • listlady

    to explain his votes? If not, that’s another problem. Webb is usually more responsive than Warner, who seems to think he owes no explanation to anyone. In this case, it would be helpful to know Webb’s rationale for these votes.