Locked in a Tight Election, GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack's 'Third World Toilet' Comments About Her District Resurface
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Wealthy Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack is locked in a tight and bitter Congressional race against a progressive Democrat with an inspiring story. While her campaign focuses on red-baiting her opponent (yes, they still do that in 2012) a new nonpartisan analysis shows that Mack scores "zero" on voting for the interests of the middle class.
Actually, make that less than zero. Mack has actively worked to undermine middle-class interests, including those of her own constituents, many of whom are struggling underwater homeowners. She's also displayed withering contempt for some residents of her own district, whose neighborhoods she laughingly agreed was a "third world toilet."
There's something particularly distasteful about seeing someone who earned her Congressional seat the "old-fashioned way" -- that is, through nepotism, cronyism and big-money politics -- describe the homes of her own constituents that way.
Middle Class "Mack Attack"
TheMiddleClass.Org (a project of the Campaign for America's Future, where I am a Senior Fellow) recently analyzed the voting record of every member of Congress and created the Middle Class Voters Guide.
As the Huffington Post noted, this was a truly nonpartisan analysis that scored some Democrats poorly. As might be expected, however, Republicans as a group scored worse. A number of them, in fact, scored an absolute "zero" on representing the middle class.
Representatives with that dubious distinction include Paul Ryan -- and Mary Bono Mack. How does a Representative get a "zero" on middle-class issues, anyway? Here's how Mary Bono Mack did it:
Bono Mack voted for the Ryan/Romney/Republican budget, which (among other things) would dismantle Medicare as we know it and leave an ineffectual voucher system in its place. That budget also cuts funding for everything from cops on the beat to early warning of floods and hurricanes.
Although Bono Mack expresses concern about the national debt, she voted against the Progressive Congressional Caucus budget that reduces that debt. It would also create middle-class jobs and rebuild schools and bridges.
She voted to extend the Bush "millionaire and billionaire" tax cuts which would give her fellow millionaires an average tax break of $160,000 every year -- while leaving middle class and lower-income Americans on the ropes financially.
Bono Mack also voted to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to extend jobs-killing "free trade" to South Korea, and against employees' rights to organize.
In a better world, Mack's voting record would be the focus of the campaign. Instead her team is going after opponent Raul Ruiz, an idealistic young physician with an inspirational life story, for statements he made as a young activist at Harvard.
The attacks on Ruiz for youthful actions don't seem to be working. Ruiz went door to door in the Coachella Valley as a young man, asking for donations toward his education and promising to serve the community once he graduated.
He kept that promise.
Changing the Subject
Nobody has accused Mary Bono Mack of a lifelong passion for political engagement and social change. She married the much older pop musician turned restauranteur Sonny Bono at the age of 25. Sonny reportedly entered politics after becoming frustrated with the red tape it took to open his Palm Springs restaurant. That's not a problem most people can relate to.
But my musical background prevents me from saying anything bad about the guy who wrote "Needles and Pins." Sonny and Cher may not have been my favorite musical group, and Salvatore Bono's greatest musical gift may have been self-promotion, but he succeeded on his own terms -- and he wrote some good songs. I think I would've liked him.