As a Congressional candidate I am often approached by various well-meaning special interest groups who urge me to pledge that if elected I will vote their way. These pledges have become common for legislators in Washington. It is tempting to sign some of the pledges I do support. But here is the one promise I will make: I will sign no pledge that will force me to prejudge any proposal. A representative to the U.S. Congress should be fair and impartial in looking at any proposed legislation.
Wally Herger has signed a pledge to not seek any earmarks for his district. Earmarks are unpopular, and I am sure some voters think signing such a pledge is a good thing. But not all earmarks are bad. What if a disaster like a raging wildfire or uncontrolled flooding hits the district and we do not have the financial resources to respond? This is where an earmark can provide much needed relief. Yet Wally has pledged that he cannot compromise or even try to help the people of his district, just to make a political point. Wally has asked for earmarks in the past, but now if he is re-elected no earmarks will be awarded in the district for the next 2 years, no matter what unforeseen circumstances arise. This will not help our persistent unemployment rate, which is already double the rest of the nation. Our district needs jobs now.
Legislators traditionally have gotten important bills passed by making compromises that give up something less important to get something much more important. Any legislator who has signed a pledge is unable to compromise, which leads to gridlock. This is one of the greatest problems in Washington today: legislators have lost their ability to find middle ground with members of the opposite party. As a moderate candidate who refuses to tie my own hands with grandstanding pledges I will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion for the good of all my constituents.
We can all agree that no one wants higher taxes, and any candidate can look good by signing a pledge against ever raising your taxes. But there is currently a pledge that has backfired and is costing us jobs! We have a tax loophole that actually rewards companies for moving our jobs from the U.S. overseas to China and India. Those who wrote the "No New Taxes Pledge" now say that removing the tax advantage of moving jobs overseas is a tax increase. Those who signed that pledge now have their hands tied and are helpless to close the loophole. We can all agree that keeping jobs in the U.S in the current financial crisis is more important than giving corporations a tax break.
I will make no pledge to any special interest group or political party. I will not judge any legislation until it is in front of me. I will make legislative decisions based solely on what is best for my people in my district.
I will, however, make personal pledges to you, the voters of the Second District: I pledge to abide by self-imposed term limits and not remain in office longer than 8 years. I pledge to limit my own pay and refuse the annual pay raise until Congress stops its runaway spending and balances the federal budget. These pledges I make will only affect me personally, and only serve you better in Washington.