Rep. Killer is in the nation’s capital for a program sponsored by the State Innovation Exchange, which is working to rally progressive legislators to fight ALEC.
Here’s the speech President Obama, a former state legislator himself, gave to Killer and a few dozen colleagues from around the country:
Sounding an awful lot like our state Democratic party vice chair Joe Lowe, the President treated Rep. Killer and company to a frank assessment of his opponents’ disconnect from fact:
Somehow they’ve invented a reality that everything was terrific back in 2007–2008, when the unemployment and the uninsured rate were skyrocketing and when our economy was shedding hundreds of thousands jobs every month and we were mired in two wars and hopelessly addicted to foreign oil and Bin Laden was still plotting. Apparently those were the good old days before I came in and messed things up.
But there is this pesky thing called facts. And here are the facts.
When I took office, the unemployment was on its way to 10%. Today it is at 5.1%.
When I took office, we were losing up to 800,000 jobs a month. Today our businesses have created jobs for a record 66 months in a row, more than three million jobs overall. There are more job openings right now, in fact, than any time in our history.
When I took office, more than 15 [percent of] Americans were uninsured. Today only 9.2% are uninsured. If we can get a few more states to expand Medicaid, then even fewer will be uninsured. For the first time on record, more than 90% of Americans have health insurance, and for the first time, insurance companies can’t discriminate against you because of a pre-existing condition, which is helping all of us.
And by the way, despite the predictions, we’ve done all this and cut the deficit by two thirds since I took office [President Barack Obama, remarks to State Innovation Exchange, White House, 2015.09.30].
The State Innovation Exchange is bringing together even more progressive state legislators with donors and activists in D.C. to build more support for their anti-ALEC fight. But their focus is less on helping Kevin Killer and friends win elections and more on passing good legislation:
SiX doesn’t help Democratic candidates win elections, although regaining control of state legislatures in 2020 ahead of congressional redistricting is certainly on the minds of Democratic donors hoping to win back the House of Represenatives. (Republicans’ success in influencing redistricting after the 2010 census is widely credited with helping the GOP maintain control of the House.)
Instead, SiX works with the liberal state lawmakers to craft bills that promote liberal priorities, including paid sick leave, boosting the minimum wage and reducing the prison population. The group has also fought against conservative bills, Rathod said, such as versions of Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law that have been proposed in other states. The conference includes sessions titled “Reproductive Rights in 2016,” “College Affordability and Student Debt” and “Clean Energy Economy,” according to a copy of the agenda provided to POLITICO, as well as a lunch with leaders of the Black Lives Matter Movement and a keynote address by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio [Theodoric Meyer and Kenneth P. Vogel, “Lawmakers and Donors Plot Strategy Against GOP in the States,” Politico, 2015.09.30].
SiX’s top ten progressive policies are good ideas:
- Closing the Wage Gap for Women & Minorities
- Accommodating Pregnant Workers
- Earning Sick Leave
- Expanding Access to Higher Education
- Tackling the Student Debt Crisis
- Reducing Carbon Emissions
- Modernizing Voter Registration
- Repealing the Death Penalty
- Increasing Police Accountabililty & Public Safety
- Keeping Guns Away from Abusers & Stalkers
…but SiX’s policy-focused strategy may not do much for Rep. Killer and other progressives in Pierre, where passing progressive legislation is nigh impossible until we deflate the Republican supermajorities in both chambers. Bring those good ideas to Pierre, Rep. Killer, but tell your SiX friends to bring some campaign donations as well!