Tuesday, July 29th
Obama?s stand on issues
By Joe Ruklick
No African American serves as a member of the U.S. Senate and Barack Obama calls that a disgrace.
The 41-year-old State Senator intends to remedy that by winning in the 2004 election and changing his representation of the 13th state Senate district for one of Illinois? seats in the U.S. Senate.
At the moment, Obama, distinguished by his intellect (he was Harvard Law School?s Law Review editor), has a record of practical accomplishment behind him in the general assembly and a practical view of improving American?s quality of life.
His causes include guaranteed health insurance for constituents that ? among other liberal issues he sees as unfinished business ? also calls for tax reduction for middle and working-class families.
He says he is the only candidate for nomination by the Democrats in the primary election next March who is also a legislator and the only one of 10 aspiring nominees who has ever cast a vote or passed a bill.
His litany of qualifications appears at this early moment tin the race for the nomination, to set him clearly apart from his rivals.
Last week he talked about what he called his unique track record of success that is illustrated, he said, by the 25 bills that State Senator Obama sent to Gov. Blagojevich for signing into law.
While he was the chief sponsor of legislation requiring videotaping of police interrogations of murder suspects and their confessions, he was also the sponsor of a less spectacular bill, one that extended health care to 20,000 children and 60,000 needy families through the state?s KidCare program.
As the chief sponsor of the earned income tax credit bill, he said: ?We put $100 million into the pockets of the working poor.
?I led the fight to ban ephedra, which killed 117 people,? he said of the fatal food supplement, ?and I was chief sponsor of the nightclub safety bill that will help prevent tragedies like the E2 disaster from happening again.?
Obama said he was also chief sponsor of the Hospital Report Card bill, one that allows consumers to find out about the quality of health care that is rendered at hospitals.
?The job of a United States Senator is to frame the issues and be a forceful advocate. I?ve done that in the state legislature,? he said.
?I also think one of the biggest challenges we will be facing involves protecting our civil rights and civil liberties at the national level.?
Obama, a part-time University of Chicago law school professor, said that he is ?the only Constitutional lawyer in the race and an expert in issues that are of importance to the African American community.?
He said he is a candidate unafraid of standing up for that in which he believes.
?Last fall I appeared with Rev. Jesse Jackson to publicly oppose President George Bush?s foreign policy in Iraq at a time when the other senatorial candidates were silent on the issue of war or peace,? he pointed out.
Of his uniqueness in the race for outgoing Senator Peter Fitzgerald?s U.S. Senate seat, Obama said, ?These issues are not just the causes in a campaign.
?They are the causes of my entire life and career.?