Wellstone represents Minnesota’s concerns

When they go to the polls next week to choose a representative to the U.S. Senate, Minnesota voters can influence the kinds of social and economic policies the federal government will pursue during the remaining years of this century. Encouraging further economic growth, curtailing the budget deficit, eradicating crime and controlling runaway health care costs are among the top concerns citizens say will determine for whom they vote.
Incumbent Sen. Paul Wellstone is clearly the best candidate to represent Minnesotans on each of these issues as well as on other important national priorities, such as education and protecting the environment. Republican challenger Rudy Boschwitz’s furious determination to recapture the Senate seat he lost to Wellstone in a startling defeat six years ago hasn’t amounted to anything more than a vengeance crusade. And most Minnesotans oppose the flat-tax plan at the center of Reform Party candidate Dean Barkley’s campaign.
Although Wellstone is, in fact, one of the most philosophically liberal representatives in Congress, his legislative record hardly strays from mainstream Minnesota politics. No other lawmaker in Washington has invested more time and energy into pushing for legislation meant to provide economic opportunities for citizens with low and modest incomes. Although we criticized him for failing to support Clinton’s welfare reform package, his objections were rooted in a steadfast commitment to protecting the nation’s poverty-wrecked children. His support of President Clinton’s 1993 tax bill, moreover, helped generate more than six million new jobs in the economy and contributed to a substantial decline in the deficit.
When it comes to higher education issues, Wellstone has emerged as a national leader in the fight against congressional threats to eliminate federal loan guarantee programs. Boschwitz, a self-proclaimed deficit hawk, promises to take a fiscal scissors to every major government program including Social Security, Medicare and federal financial aid. As Congress continues to consider slashing financial aid in its effort to balance the federal budget, students around the nation will need Wellstone’s uncompromising support for programs that assist in deferring the rising costs of education. In addition, Wellstone is fighting for targeted tax deductions of up to $10,000 for families with incomes under $100,000 to offset tuition and other higher education expenses.
Boschwitz, for his part, insists targeted tax cuts aren’t enough to stimulate economic growth. Instead, he supports Republican presidential contender Bob Dole’s call for a 15 percent across the board income tax reduction. Like Dole, however, Boschwitz hasn’t offered any explanation of how the government might pay for the cuts.
Like most Americans, a vast majority of Minnesotans favor continued government support for education programs and social services aimed at facilitating economic mobility. Boschwitz’s sketchy, Reagan-esque ramblings are a shallow misreading of the nation’s economic insecurities and social ills. It is Wellstone’s equality-minded commitment to fostering further economic growth combined with his unwavering demands for social responsibility that will guide the nation toward a more financially secure, compassionate future.