Tuesday, August 15, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
During a town hall meeting he hosted on Aug. 14 at Council Chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th) gave a dire assessment of a political climate controlled by Republicans and lorded over by President Donald Trump.
“We probably are in the worst position that we’ve been in in a long time,” Davis said, referencing the Democratic Party’s minority status in most statehouses and in Washington, D.C.
“I don’t ever remember a time when one political party was in control of all four components of making national law,” Davis said. “The Republicans control the [the House, the Senate, the presidency and the Supreme Court].”
As if to drive the point home, Davis commiserated with state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-7th), who was in attendance at the town hall.
During brief remarks, Welch said that the extreme conservatism marked by Trump and the GOP-controlled federal government also exists at the state level.
“Right now, the federal and state governments are mirror images of each other,” said Welch, a vocal critic of the governor.
Along with Welch, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) and Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, along with several village board members and staff, were in attendance.
Much of Davis’ opening remarks, and most audience questions, were framed by concerns about how existing legislation would fare under the Republican majority.
Davis said that he’s particularly concerned about international conflicts Republicans in Congress and in the White House might invite.
“We’re on the verge of war right now,” Davis said. “Some of these guys get trigger happy and they think they’re the John Wayne of international politics.”
Although he didn’t reference any particular case, the increasingly hostile back-and-forth between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over the latter’s nuclear weapons tests have dominated news cycles in recent weeks.
On the domestic front, Davis said that, despite the GOP control, he expects Congress to reauthorize at least three major pieces of legislation he either sponsored or cosponsored.
The congressman said that the House budgeted for next year around $68 million for the Second Chance Act — which was introduced by Davis and then-Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) in 2007, and signed into law in 2008. Davis said he also expects the House to reauthorize the New Markets Tax Credit Act.
Davis was less optimistic, albeit rather vigilant, in his assessment of how the GOP might approach the Affordable Care Act — legislation into which the congressman said he’s put $11 billion.
“They’re going to whittle it down, whittle it down and whittle it down until they get enough votes, but I think we’ll keep resisting,” Davis said, of the Republicans’ attempts to repeal the law and replace it with something else.
The GOP’s latest attempt to repeal the ACA failed after Republican Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats in July against getting rid of the healthcare law, which many Democrats consider former president Barack Obama’s signature achievement.
When one constituent asked Davis what plan the Republicans would replace the ACA with, the congressman quipped, “They’re going to replace the poor folk,” before he went on to criticize members of his own party for their reluctance to address poverty head on.
“Being poor right now is not a good place to be,” Davis said. “Even Democrats are reluctant to talk about poor folks. Very seldom do we hear a Congress member say the word, ‘poor.’”
Davis said that he thinks the reluctance, among both parties, to discuss the poor stems from a lack of empathy for those on the bottom of the economic ladder among the country’s economic and political elites.
After criticizing what he said is a political system that is captured by big-moneyed special interests, Davis argued for campaign finance reform. He said that the U.S. should implement a feature of Great Britain’s Parliamentary system, which puts strict limits on how much candidates can spend on their campaigns.
In the absence of deep reform, the congressman said, “Pretty soon, if you ain’t got no money, you won’t be able to run for these offices.”
But Davis said that his deepest immediate concern has to do with how Trump’s first term plays out.
“My biggest fear I have is that some of the progressive gains it has taken 50 and 60 years to bring about — these guys are trying to wipe them out in four years,” the congressman said. VFP