One of the great disappointments of this year's 24th District congressional campaign season has been the awful coverage provided by area newspapers. Significant campaign events come and go without being reported on for days, if at all, and the few newspaper articles on the candidates are short and scanty.
If you want to know where the two most recognized Democratic candidates, Les Roberts and Michael Arcuri, stand on the issues, don't look to your local newspaper. You won't find any information there at all.
Never fear. I've taken it upon myself to reach out to the candidates in search of just this kind of information, and both Arcuri and Roberts seem willing to provide it. (Leon Koziol's secretary still is not responding to requests, and Bruce Tytler wants to wait until after his formal campaign announcement.) So, I'll be talking about Roberts and Arcuri on the issues over the next few days.
Arcuri has yet to make a formal campaign announcement speech, but he did give a talk to a gathering organized by the Lansing Democrats last week, and in that talk, he outlined the policy framework of his campaign. Arcuri says that his campaign will focus on five main issues:
1.) Health care. Arcuri favors coverage for all Americans, but has yet to select a particular plan to get to that goal.
2.) Domestic wiretappinng. Arcuri relates this issue to his prosecutorial experience. He knows that it is sometimes necessary to get warrants for wiretaps, but says that there is never a situation where a program to wiretap the telephones of Americans without search warrants or approval after the fact is necessary. My favorite statement from Mike Arcuri on this subject: "Security and liberty are not mutually exclusive."
3.) The War in Iraq. Arcuri's position here still needs a bit of refinement. It's not clear whether Arcuri opposed the Iraq War before it was begun, but he clearly thinks that it was a mistake for America to start the war now. Arcuri says that it would not be intelligent for America to pull out of Iraq right now, but favors setting a timetable with tangible benchmarks so that American soldiers can return home as soon as they can do so while maintaining their responsibilities to the Iraq people.
4.) Taxes. Arcuri does not explain what specific proposals he would support, but cites the problem of tax credits being given to oil companies that are making record profits.
5.) Stopping inappropriate budget cuts. It is Arcuri's sense that the Republicans are cutting much needed programs. Specifically, he mentions the short-sightedness behind Republican cuts to student loan programs.