By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
COOPER, Iowa, Sept. 2, 2019 – Six months after I first told you this, I can’t say it any better. So let me again try to make it plain. I believe former Maryland congressman John Delaney is the “Real Deal” Democrat in this wild scramble for the presidency. And he now has my endorsement.
I know the first question for many of you reading this endorsement is, “Who the heck is John Delaney?”
Your second one is, “And so what?”
John Delaney speaking in Churdan, Iowa, last March.
–The 56-year-old Delaney, a moderate, likes to point out he’s “the only person running for president who’s been successful in both business and government.” He’s the son of a union electrician in New Jersey; a graduate of Columbia University in New York City and then Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.; an entrepreneur who created thousands of jobs with companies in healthcare supply and finance, and who made a fortune. A decade ago, he and his wife April, an attorney, decided they would spend the rest of their lives in public service. That led to John Delaney running for and winning three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was considered to be one of the most bi-partisan members of Congress. I’ll be telling you more about Delaney’s background in days ahead.
–The only real value of my political judgment is that I form it differently than most of you do. I read and listen to lots of political coverage. I watch almost none of it on TV, especially the campaign ads on TV. I go to all the candidate forums possible, even for those candidates I know I will not support. I try to ask them good questions. And I really do believe in the integrity and value of the Iowa Precinct Caucuses, and I generally respect the wisdom and committed citizenship of most Iowa voters.
There’s not been any other candidate who’s come even close to Delaney in how he’s worked Iowa in this election cycle.
Delaney speaking at the Depot Deli in Shenandoah.
“I think John has read every book ever written about Jimmy Carter,” said Terry Lierman, another Marylander who is national chairperson of the Delaney campaign. “He is very determined to run a Jimmy Carter kind of campaign,” referring to how Carter, back in the mid 1970s, was the first presidential candidate to realize how the Iowa caucuses could launch somebody who didn’t start out with much name recognition.
“John Delaney’s strategy has been to start out small, put a great team together and visit every little place in Iowa,” said Lierman, 71, former chairperson of the Maryland Democratic Party and former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland. “John was the first to have 40 to 50 people on the ground in Iowa. He was by far the first to be in all 99 counties, and now he’s nearly been to all of them twice. He’s done more meetings in Iowa than anybody else. I like his tenacity, his honesty and his common sense approach.”
Precisely, Delaney is currently on his 36th trip to the state since the summer of 2017. As of last Saturday, he’s made campaign stops at 379 political events all over Iowa. And he is two-thirds of the way through round two of his tour of all our counties. All that is while he’s also been campaigning in New Hampshire and elsewhere.
Delaney knows the territory.
Delaney being introduced by farmer David Weaver at a forum in an equipment shed at the Weaver farm east of Rippey.
Yet, he’s so far back in the polls, he’s barely charting. Last Thursday, he acknowledged that he did not qualify with the Democratic National Committee for the next debate, on Sept.12 in Houston. But he made that acknowledgement in a most unusual way. He came out with a statement that said while he is “disappointed” in the disqualification for this debate, he is continuing his campaign because there are “ten truths” that none of the other candidates are giving serious consideration.
I’m attaching that statement at the end of this column, and I hope you’ll take time to read it. Even if you disagree, it will give you fodder to ask better questions yourself at the storm of candidate forums that are going to happen in Iowa in these five remaining months before the Feb. 3 precinct caucuses.
While those of us who enjoy politics like to think the presidential campaigns in the Iowa caucuses extend for a year or more, the truth is that it’s only after Labor Day that the public really tunes into the race.
So, here we are.
Delaney meeting Coon Rapids community leaders Liz Garst and Darwin Pierce before a midday forum at the Coon Bowl bowling alley in that community.
Three more points here today from me:
–I think there’s a real chance that the Democratic presidential field may yet break wide open. The current top three candidates – former Vice-President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders – are respectively 76, 70 and 77 years old. I hope the American people come to realize that they are just too old. And ditto for incumbent President Donald Trump, at 73, on the Republican side. I wish all three – make that four – would pull out of the race. If they don’t, I hope Americans will vote them down. Repeat: I still believe all of the above could happen.
–That’s why it’s important for a next-generation candidate like John Delaney to be able to stick around in this race. He has self-funded most of his campaign, and has the wherewithal to extend it. “We started off to position John to be the last moderate standing,” said John Davis, 42, a veteran political aid in Iowa politics who is senior advisor for Iowa in the Delaney camp. “That’s the space he naturally occupies.” Delaney also identifies himself as a “big tent Democrat,” one who welcomes independents and unhappy Republicans. In Exira recently, he told the crowd, “I think you beat Trump on decency, common sense and real solutions.” And he often says that one of the biggest issues of this election cycle may well be “how divided our country is,” as he said in Churdan. “I want to be the president who unifies this country again, who restores the notion of common purpose.” In my hometown of Shenandoah, I pushed Delaney harder on the question, “Can you beat Donald Trump?” That seemed to crack his normally mild manner. “Every day of the week!” he said sharply. “I will kick his ass!”
–Damned if I didn’t step on a landmine as I was interviewing for this column. When I learned that Delaney’s campaign chairperson Terry Lierman had worked on the 1992 presidential campaign of our now-retired, 79-year-old U.S. Senator Harkin, I decided to contact Harkin to see if he had any observations on Delaney to share. “Obviously you have not heard about my run in, or confrontation with, Mr. Delaney last September in Sioux City!” Harkin responded by email. I later clarified this happened at the annual Harry Hopkins Dinner up there in early October 2017. Turns out, in a quick conversation in a conference room before dinner, Harkin and Delaney disagreed about pending Social Security legislation both had been involved in. Then at the banquet, Harkin spoke critically of Delaney during his speech. “Needless to say he avoids me at all costs!” Harkin wrote. “We can do better for a presidential candidate!” Delaney responded to me that he “was fine” with Harkin’s criticism in Sioux City, and characterized their disagreement on the Social Security legislation as relatively minor. “I believe Social Security is the most popular, and most bi-partisan-supported program in the country,” Delaney said. “It’s so broadly supported that it’s difficult to make changes to, because of that. Everybody is very protective of it.” He said he is, too, and that his interest has always been in strengthening Social Security’s solvency and extending its guaranteed life. Delaney said no way has he tried to avoid Harkin. “I’d love to talk to him. Of course I would. His implication that I’ve somehow avoided him is ridiculous. I haven’t avoided anybody in Iowa. I’ve been there 35 times, and I want to see everybody in Iowa.”
I like them both, I enjoy politics and this is all part of it.
You can email the columnist at chuck@Offenburger.com or comment using the handy form below here.
John Delaney’s “ten truths”
By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
COOPER, Iowa, Sept. 2, 2019 – A press release on Aug. 29 from the John Delaney presidential campaign at first seemed like an acknowledgement of bad news. He had not qualified for the upcoming debate among the Democratic candidates. However, Delaney turned his statement into something far more important. He said he is going to continue his campaign so that he can continue to address “ten truths” that no other candidates seem to be seriously considering.
You decide for yourself, but I think Delaney’s “ten truths” are a remarkable and concise statement of our nation’s and world’s problems right now and what the solutions might be.
Here’s how John Delaney defined what the Democratic Party is all about, in an earlier message to the Greene County, Iowa, Democrats. They have now preserved it in this banner.
Here you go, with his initial statement to the media about missing the Sept. 12 debate in Houston, then his analysis.
“While I’m disappointed to have not qualified for the third debate, I remain committed to the campaign for one simple reason: someone has to be consistently telling the truth and in doing so, telling a better story about the future we can share together.
“What has surprised me most about the primary process is the absence of a real debate on so many of the important issues facing the American people, the avoidance of acknowledging certain truths, and the level of mischaracterization of what is truly happening in the world. As a result, I’m going to make sure I keep telling these ten truths.
Number One: The best economic outcomes are achieved when the government, the private sector and the nonprofit sector work well together. Last month we debated the future of our nation in Detroit, a city that has recently seen first-hand the benefits of collaboration. The same can be true for tackling all of America’s problems, but we have to stop thinking in silos with “government-only” solutions, or “business only” solutions, and we have to start unleashing our full potential by embracing solutions centered on partnerships between business, government and the nonprofit community. This
approach drives innovation and efficiency, it enables investment in people and communities, and it fosters unity, which is the only cure for the true disease affecting our nation – political divisiveness. In addition, it allows us to start focusing on the many issues that most Americans agree on, but never get done – like reforming immigration, building infrastructure, lowering drug prices, protecting digital privacy and national service. Collaboration and common purpose equal progress.
Number Two: We live in an interconnected and interdependent world. Addressing job and political disruption because of technology, climate change, migration, and national security requires the United States to engage globally. This means rejecting isolationism, whether it’s Trump’s perverted form of nationalism or Democrats’ anti-trade policies. For example, U.S. farmers not selling soybeans to China does create an incentive for Brazil to clear cut the Amazon to grow soybeans. The fact that we are not as competitive in Asia as we could be if we were in the TPP does limit the pressure we can apply to China on North Korea while also hurting the U.S. economy. Default on the debt of Italy or Greece will have an effect on the retirements of union workers in California. Entering into trade agreements is directly linked to our ability to shape a world that addresses human rights, national security, climate, migration and creates stable financial markets. Anti-trade positions are directly against progressive goals. Trade agreements also ensure that we compete globally and that markets are open to U.S. companies
Number Three: Health care is indeed complicated. Considering the importance of health care to every American, efforts to reduce health care reform to bumper sticker slogans is disqualifying. Health care is 1/6 of the US economy and consists of thousands of sub-systems of providers, payers and care networks. Contrary to what many candidates will tell you, very few countries have a single-payer system. Most have mixed models of government and private insurance. It is well documented that the federal government does not currently pay the full cost of care to providers, reimbursing at rates that are too low. It is the mix of private insurance and government insurance that provides sufficient reimbursement for the system to operate. Americans deserve a universal health care system. Every American should have essential government health care coverage, including mental health, for free and the federal government, with smart steps, can figure out how to make that happen. But that should not be done with the elimination of private insurance or we risk a system that is massively underfunded with huge disparities in quality between the rich and everyone else.
Number Four: Technology will not displace all the jobs, but it will continue to put pressure on pay. We have a pay problem in the United States more than a jobs problem. People who tell you that technology will displace all the jobs in this country are not being honest. There is no evidence to back up this claim now or at any time in history. What innovation does do is displace jobs from some and create them for others. And recently it has put enormous pressure on pay. People claiming we need Universal Basic Income or guaranteed government jobs are ignoring the facts and putting forth fairytale solutions. What we need to do is raise wages, provide tax credits to workers, build infrastructure, create ways for people to earn a living doing all the jobs that exist in our society that add huge value but for which there is no compensation (like caregiving), improve skills training and generally do things to ensure every American can raise their family with dignity on one job.
Number Five: Education is not delivering for far too many students. In 2017, 71% of 17-24 year-olds were not eligible to join the U.S. military, U.S. high school students ranked 30th in math and 19th in science out of 35 OECD countries, and 65% of college graduates owed student loan debt. Unless we completely reimagine public education – from early childhood education through community college – we will continue to leave huge parts of our country behind. This involves both more resources and education reform. What is does not involve is free four-year college or writing off all the student debt in the country. That is a wildly inappropriate allocation of resources away from the true needs in education.
Number Six: Half of our citizens are suffering economically and falling massively behind. Huge parts of our country– particularly in rural America – have been drained of opportunities, jobs and core services. This America needs solutions, not ideology. They need good jobs, a living wage and the ability to support their family on one job. This struggling America needs us to provide basic solutions such as more affordable housing, an increased earned income and child tax credit, jobs through infrastructure, better public schools, incentives for businesses to invest in their communities, resources to address the addiction crisis and paid family leave. These solutions are big but they are also simple and straightforward. They don’t involve the entire upheaval of the economic model of the United States. Progress on these issues will require old-fashioned compromise and bipartisanship. That is the only way we make progress on the kitchen table issues facing hard-working Americans. People who argue against a collaborative and bipartisan approach on these issues ignore all of the lessons of history and are basically arguing for maintaining the status quo and against improving these people’s lives.
Number Seven: Climate change can’t be solved on the backs of workers. We cannot expect hardworking American families, 40% of whom cannot afford their basic necessities, to experience rapid increases in energy prices to address climate. This is wrong as a matter of policy and it will never happen politically. Any climate solution has to neutral to the worker. That is why the central plank of my climate platform is a Carbon Fee and Dividend which will create the market incentives to speed the transition to renewables and hasten the move away from fossil fuels, but since 100% of the revenues will be going straight back to the American people as a dividend, we won’t be hurting working families.
Number Eight: We will not solve climate change without innovation. Climate is a global issue and there are billions of people entering the global middle class who need energy and countries around the world will fundamentally not deny them energy or food as part of solving climate. It is therefore incumbent on the United States, as the leading innovation economy in the world, to develop new energy and agricultural technologies – including battery, transmission, negative emission, carbon capture, and nuclear – to create the advanced energy economy that the world needs. If we don’t, we will not solve climate change.
Number Nine: Our national debt will be a problem. One day interest rates will go up. We don’t know when and we don’t how. But when they do, interest expense as a percentage of our budget will likely triple, crowding out every priority any American cares about and wiping out the next generation. People who say this is not a problem are lying. But people who say we need a “balanced budget” are also lying. We need to reduce deficits to around 2% of the economy, less than the long-term rate of economic growth so that the Debt-to-GDP ratio drops over time, and we will be just fine.
Number Ten: The world gets better every day and we need to bet on our future. Despite rising inequality, hate and tribalism, the condition of the world gets better every day and the facts back it up. Every year fewer and fewer people live in poverty. Why? Because of innovation. Which is why for every issue: curing Alzheimer’s and cancer, solving climate change, and eliminating poverty and hunger, we need to make massive investments in research and innovation to harness computing power and big data to solve the world’s problems. This is what the United States does best.
“The truth matters.”