Like many of us, former Modesto City Councilman Bruce Frohman has noticed that labels like “conservative” and “liberal” don’t really apply to today’s politicians and issues. Here, Frohman looks at Congressman Jeff Denham through the lens of the traditional conservative and decides that Jeff Denham isn’t really very conservative at all.
Congressman Jeff Denham is a very nice fellow. He smiles a lot and has a charismatic personality. When one meets him, one just has to like him. But is he really the true conservative that he says he is? If one examines the actions, public statements and votes made by Congressman Jeff Denham, one may decide that he is not a true conservative. Let us look at some examples.
Social Security is self-sustaining, does not contribute to the federal budget deficit, is relied on by fifty million beneficiaries who earned what they are paid, and does much good for the citizens of this country. Abolishing Social Security is not a true conservative value. The true conservative maintains the fiscal integrity of successful programs and constantly strives to improve the performance and function of such programs.
Although Mr. Denham has stated in reelection campaign flyers that he supports Social Security, his deeds do not support that statement.
Congressman Jeff Denham associates with a group of legislators who want to abolish Social Security. The group plans to dismantle the program and let people rely on Wall Street Corporations to provide retirement plans. Social Security has not been late with monthly payments since benefits began 82 years ago, but Mr. Denham would abolish the program. A sizable percentage of the 50 million beneficiaries depend on each payment for their livelihood, but Mr. Denham has taken no action to insure that the program is fiscally sound for future generations.
The true conservative works for harmony and compromise in the legislative process. The conservative approach is most effective when advocated in a conciliatory manner. Congressman Denham has sided with the “my way or the highway” approach to resolving federal budget disagreements.
A true conservative will balance the budget before even thinking about cutting taxes. There has to be a revenue surplus before taxes would be cut. Congressman Jeff Denham signed the Grover Norquist pledge not to raise taxes even to balance the budget. A true conservative would never sign such a pledge.
A true conservative will collect enough taxes to provide government services. Laying off government employees is not a true conservative value. A true conservative would not take actions that lead to substantial job losses. Congressman Denham has voted against appropriations that would enable government to fulfill its mission and meet its obligations. He has been part of a group of legislators who have attempted to shut down the federal government via budget impasse.
Congressman Jeff Denham has supported tax preferences for highly profitable corporate businesses and very wealthy citizens despite the fact that the federal government has been running record budget deficits for several years. This is not a true conservative value.
True conservatives do not advocate for or encourage welfare for those who are not in need of it. Congressman Jeff Denham has supported welfare in voting for subsidies for large, highly profitable corporations. He has opposed eliminating tax breaks for large oil companies despite their huge profits and the lack of competition within the industry. He has allowed some large corporations to get away with paying no annual income taxes.
He has not supported a revamped tax code to make it more equitable.
Congressman Jeff Denham is a champion of subsidized water for large corporate farms. He supports crop subsidies that benefit large corporate farms. These are not the values of a true conservative.
A true conservative preserves the environment so that future generations will have a quality of life that is at least as good as the life we presently enjoy. Congressman Jeff Denham has one of the lowest ratings in Congress among environmental groups. He is working to eliminate wild and scenic designations of local rivers and to repeal the Endangered Species Act.
One of Mr. Denham’s proudest boasts is that he is leading the effort to sell off public property. Is this an action a true conservative would take? Is it wise to sell off property that the public may need in the future? Is it wise to sell off public property right after a collapse in real estate values? What would true conservative President Theodore Roosevelt say about selling public property?
Jeff Denham’s Congressional District in California has one of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the nation. His failure to act as a true conservative could be a contributing factor. Instead of bringing money or new business home to his district, he has worked for special interests on the national stage. What has he done to stop the flow of jobs out of the country or out of his district? In fact, he’s opposing restoration of the San Joaquin River, which would bring thousands of jobs to our region.
Political labels don’t mean much, especially here in the Great Valley. Congressman Jeff Denham does not behave like a true conservative. He is not a liberal either. His main mission appears to be to represent special interests outside of his district rather than the good of the community he is supposed to represent. Mr. Denham has raised an enormous amount of cash for his reelection campaign. Special interests don’t make contributions unless they expect something in return. But, hey, he has a nice smile and we too often vote for people we like regardless of what they really stand for.
Tim Fisher says
Bruce is mistaken .. Social Security is not ‘self-sustaining’ and is needing funds from the Federal Budget to maintain payments .. Bruce will advocate for the benefits of Social Security as a former Social Security employee. Today there are only three employees paying for the benefits of each recipient; it is getting worse. If we leave it the way it is it will be ‘self-abolishing’ by going bankrupt.
Denham is among a growing group of legislators who do not wish to abolish Social Security but wish to keep it solvent by raising the age limits .. as has been done before .. the folks (like AARP) who try to scare folks with ‘abolishment talk’ are thinking we elders are easily cowed; not too discerning.
Fred Herman says
I’m not sure there’s a better use for federal funds than to augment social security, but the little chicken ultra-right has threatened us with the sky falling down for some time. Jess Denham is a political fraud. He bills himself as a local farmer. He is neither. He is a Salinas plastics man who moved east for political convenience.
Bruce Frohman says
Social Security benefits are paid out of trust funds outside of the federal budget. The source of the money in the trust funds is the Payroll Tax that all working people pay. The annual income to the trust funds from the payroll tax usually exceeds the annual benefit payouts. The trust funds currently have about $3.5 trillion in cash. The “cash” is in the form of Treasury Bills like you can buy at the local bank.
Social Security does not add a dime to the deficit. However, the federal deficit includes money that the Treasury owes to the Social Security trust funds. (T-Bills represent money borrowed by the government that has to be paid back so that benefits cans be paid.)
Politicians have made a number of false and misleading statements regarding the social security program. Now, you know the reality.
Chuck Hollingsworth says
Eric, your cousin, former Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, did not consider Jeff Denham to be a conservative legislator.
Eric Caine says
Chuck, didn’t know I had a cousin in high places, but maybe one thing we can all agree on is the definition of “conservative” has changed. Always good to hear from you, Chuck.