Barbara Smith: We do have a choice, in representation |

Barbara Smith: We do have a choice, in representation

People are sick, schools and businesses are shuttered, family life is disrupted, jobs are lost.

The necessary practice of social distancing is adding to the isolation and fear already impacted by economic challenges. At these times, we look to our elected leaders to provide solace and leadership.

Instead of voting to provide emergency paid leave to furloughed or laid-off workers, Rep. Tom McClintock voted against the bill. He claimed it would de-incentivize our work force, providing an opportunity to game the system. Setting aside the implications of McClintock’s degrading opinion of his constituents, we have now been presented with his dissertation on the choices we face going forward.

In his column, “Our Choice: A Third Quarter Rebound or a Lost Decade,” McClintock continues his paternalistic patronizing views by echoing recent calls to return to life as normal. He further states that a payroll tax holiday is preferable to extending leave and unemployment benefits.

To McClintock, it matters little that scientists and public health professionals tell us ending social distancing too soon will hasten the transmission of the virus, devastate an already overburdened healthcare system, and lead to long-term societal and economic difficulties. We ignore the advice and experience of these experts at our peril.

For the unemployed, how is a payroll tax holiday of any help? A holiday from a tax you’re not paying because you’re unemployed is hardly a benefit. Furthermore, payroll taxes are used to fund Medicare and Social Security. How long will it be before McClintock demands cuts in earned benefits as a pretext of his rediscovered fiscal concerns?

McClintock is right — we do have a choice. He has already chosen partisan politics and wealthy donors over us.

I will choose a representative who puts our needs first.

Barbara Smith


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