Practically every politician has uttered these, or similar, catch phrases during this election cycle.
Jeff Merkley, who is running against incumbent Gordon Smith, for US Senate, agrees.
Endorsed by Senator Barack Obama, Jeff Merkley said he wants to work to help stabilize the American economy.
“Our economy isn’t serving families well here in Oregon, or across America; we are losing living wages and jobs,” he said.
He went on to say that one of the key factors in turning our economy around was our dependence on foreign oil.
“We need to have a new responsible national fiscal strategy rather than running our nation into debt, and building up a debt our children will have to pay off. That’s a key factor in building up the economy,” he said.
This, of course, relies on having less dependence on foreign resources.
“We need to have an energy policy that serves Americans and not the oil companies who have made in profit — not revenue — made in profit over 600 billion dollars, while we the consumers have been stuck with four dollars a gallon at the pump,” he said.
Jeff Merkley said he plans to support Oregon’s natural resources by implementing the “Country of Origin Labeling” law. He believes that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from.
One of the largest and most debated issues of this election cycle has been healthcare reform.
In Oregon there are over 600,000 people without healthcare.
“As a democratic leader I would recruit candidates, and we spent a lot of time knocking on doors. No matter where I was in the state, the top issue for families was healthcare,” he said.
On November 19, 1945 President Harry S. Truman gave a speech to congress proposing a new national healthcare system.
“The health of American children, like their education, should be recognized as a definite public responsibility,” President Truman said during his speech.
Merkley said he feels much the same way.
“We have ordinary citizens throughout this nation and certainly throughout Oregon who feel that this is a major stress in their lives, and the time has come to get this done and we need to get it done in 2009,” Merkley said. “Things have changed very much; small businesses that didn’t want government involvement are now asking for government involvement. They can’t afford the double digit increase per year to try to provide healthcare to [their] employees,” Merkley said.
The lagging economy plus the price of fuel has made healthcare simply unaffordable.
In Oregon, for one average white non-smoker it would cost up to $73 a month for healthcare.
“We don’t just need a healthcare policy; we also need a stay-well policy,” Merkley said.
He said that includes improving the nutrition of foods in schools and making sure that children have enough physical activity in their lives.
Senator Ron Wyden’s Healthy Americans Act is supposed to give Americans a choice as to what kind of coverage best suits their needs. Merkley plans to support this plan.
Merkley says the best way to help Oregon’s schools succeed is to get rid of No Child Left Behind.
NCLB requires schools to test in math and reading and students must maintain a certain score in order for that school to receive the funding it needs.
“We can’t compare one group of third graders to another group of third graders. That doesn’t help teachers understand how one student is progressing,” Merkley said.
He said the education strategy needs to come from intense conversation with teachers and administrators.
One thing that is on the minds of many voters is
“When will the war in Iraq be over?”
Jeff Merkley said he opposed the war from the start.
“I believe that we should have dropped diplomats not bombs,” he said.
He thinks it is important to have a senator who recognizes the difference between real threats to national security and manufactured threats to national security.
Merkley spent some time as a security analyst, first for the Pentagon, then for Congress.
“We don’t speak the language and we don’t understand the culture; we are the wrong force to be monitoring a civil war in Iraq,” he said.
In 1998 Jeff Merkley was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives for district 47.
Several governmental officials including Senator Barack Obama, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, Senator Ron Wyden and Oregon Representative Brian Clem currently endorse him.