October 28, 2016
Even in a deeply partisan Congress that has set records for inactivity, and despite being a member of the minority party in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney has proved to be an effective congressman for the 2nd Congressional District that covers the eastern half of Connecticut.
His work across party lines was instrumental in boosting production of Virginia-class fast attack submarines from one to two a year. As a result, Electric Boat, with facilities in Groton and New London, is expected to add 1,500 jobs this year, and hundreds of more jobs will be created for the suppliers feeding the submarine production line.
Connecticut now has the fourth largest ship building industry in the country, and New London County the second largest ship-building county. It is hard to envision the status of the local economy if not for the submarine production. But this is not a jobs program. Courtney and other members of the state delegation effectively sold the value of the submarine force in projecting U.S. power, intelligence gathering and assisting Special Forces operations. EB did its part by keeping production within budget.
The effort is not done, however. Design work is underway to replace the aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, which form the largest, most difficult to detect and arguably most important leg of a nuclear triad that includes land-based missiles and Air Force bombers. Building the planned 12 Columbia-class submarines to replace the Ohio-class force will be enormously expensive, about $95 billion.
Courtney has sought Republican help in funding the next-generation submarines outside the Defense budget. It’s a complicated political play, and Congress may not fund the full fleet, but in any event, it is no time to send a congressional novice to Washington from this critical district.
Daria Novak, the Republican candidate, wants a big investment in defense spending, but is unrealistic in her approach as to how to accomplish that while at the same time dramatically slashing taxes, which she also proposes.
Some of Novak’s proposals are far outside the political mainstream. She has made a return to the gold standard a centerpiece of her campaign, for example. The late conservative economist Milton Friedman once called the idea “not feasible because the mythology and beliefs required to make it effective do not exist. This conclusion is supported not only by the general historical evidence … but also by the specific experience of the United States.”
Green candidate Jonathan Pelto, noting he agrees with Courtney on most issues, is focused primarily on criticizing the Common Core educational initiative and standardized testing to measure student progress. He also hopes to get the 1 percent necessary to gain the Green Party permanent status on the election ballot in future congressional races.
This newspaper largely agrees with the Common Core concept of boosting academic expectations for American students and trying to close the performance gap as measured against other countries.
Also on the ballot is Libertarian Daniel Reale. His vision of a dramatically stripped down federal government, perched somewhere in pre-Great Depression era America, does not line up with this newspaper’s values or the expectations of most mainstream voters.
Courtney is hardly a one-issue congressman.
His office coordinated a regional effort that led to securing an $8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. When combined with state and private investment, it will make possible a $12.8 million freight rail upgrade on the Central New England line as it runs from New London’s port north to the Massachusetts border. Work will begin soon. The improved line will allow for heavier freight, potentially driving industrial development and making the New London port more valuable to commercial shipping.
Courtney also assisted United Community and Family Services gain the federal recognition that will open it to more federal aid and expand its health services, including for opioid addiction.
On the Affordable Care Act — improve it don’t repeal it — on tax policy reforms that make the system more equitable for the middle class, and on tougher federal gun laws, Courtney’s positions line up with those of this newspaper.
The Day enthusiastically endorses Rep. Joe Courtney for a sixth term.
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