November 4, 2012

Editorial: Shinagawa ’05 for Congress

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The nature of the race for New York’s 23rd congressional district is  a product of recent redistricting. The 23rd district is expansive, encompassing most of the Southern Tier of New York. The winner of this election will represent both the rural countryside, dotted with staunch conservatives, and cities such as Ithaca and Geneva, populated primarily by devout liberals. As such, this race is a choice between two stark opposites. While Nate Shinagawa’s ’05 M.A. ’09 campaign seems to be based more on talking points than substance, we feel that he would make a better representative than incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y. 29), the republican nominee. Reed is far too uncompromising in his fiscal policy to be reelected to the House of Representatives. Representatives should engage in rational bipartisanship, not overt partisanship, and for this reason, we cannot support Reed’s candidacy.Reed is representative of exactly what was wrong with the 112th Congress: a refusal to compromise. Instead of pursuing an economic policy that balanced cuts with reasonable tax increases for those who could afford it, he refused even the most moderate of proposals. Reed was part of the contingent that held the American economy hostage as we barrelled toward the debt ceiling. Though Reed eventually voted in favor of a compromise, he played political brinksmanship in the lead up to the vote, saying that he would under no circumstances vote to raise the debt ceiling. While tackling the national debt is of critical importance, debt reduction must be approached in a responsible way. Reed’s methods in this situation were irresponsible.Shinagawa’s economic approach is more reasonable. The candidate supports cutting military spending by ending the war in Afghanistan and reducing the number of U.S. military bases abroad. He also supports letting the Bush tax cuts for those who earn more than $250,000 a year expire. Though the opposition believes these tax increases would harm small businesses, Shinagawa has moderated this position by saying he would make loans more accessible to small business owners, as well as offer them federal tax credits. Shinagawa’s approach takes action toward addressing the deficit without blindly cutting government services necessary for the well-being of citizens.While Reed has been uncompromising in his positions on the economy, Shinagawa has been equally uncompromising in his views on fracking. As a Tompkins County Legislator, Shinagawa has voted repeatedly to ban fracking — the drilling process in which chemically engineered fluid is pumped into the ground at high pressure to break apart rock and extract gas — in Tompkins County, the Finger Lakes Watershed and the State of New York. A more reasoned approach to fracking that we would support would call for further research on the practice and consider stricter regulations — not necessarily an outright ban.Still, we err on the side of caution and support Shinagawa, as Reed has not supported the important regulations that would seek to make the process safer. Reed has advocated against regulating fracking at the federal level, refusing to support the FRAC Act, which would require the disclosure of the chemicals that are pumped into the ground and regulate fracking under the Environmental Protection Agency.This race is unfortunately symptomatic of what is wrong with American politics: two uncompromising politicians spouting partisan rhetoric instead of independent analysis and thought. This race has been broken down into talking points that simplify political realities even beyond those used in the presidential campaign. We feel that Shinagawa, however, has taken positions that will more responsibly get our economy back on track.