POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 5:50 p.m. HST, Oct 28, 2010
Republican Charles Djou and Democrat Colleen Hanabusa have been in a fierce competition for followers of Blue Dog fiscal conservative Democrat Ed Case, the third-place finisher in May's special election for the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie. While Djou has been bending over backwards to portray himself as an independent centrist, voters should recognize that Hanabusa's views are closer to those of the majority of residents in Honolulu's urban 1st Congressional District. She deserves their votes on Nov. 2.
Both Hanabusa and Djou possess the intellect and experience to serve in the U.S. House, Hanabusa with 12 years in the state Senate and Djou with two years in the state House and six years as a Honolulu city councilman before his service to fill the last few months of Abercrombie's term. Hanabusa's selection as Senate president, the first woman in that position in Hawaii's history, reflects her respect by legislative peers. Such esteem and political smarts will be needed if the U.S. House turns Republican, as expected.
Keeping in mind Hawaii's best interests, Hanabusa can be expected to join the other members of Hawaii's congressional delegation on most important issues. In his few months in the House, Djou has negated votes made by 2nd Congressional District Rep. Mazie Hirono, casting "no" votes on legislation such as campaign finance reform, energy reform and cost-saving single-payer Medicare.
Djou's deviation from the rest of the delegation includes his opposition to the recently enacted health care reform, patterned largely after Hawaii's successful employer-based insurance system; he opposes the employer base to be extended nationally.
Djou claims to support universal health care, even the provision that individual health insurance be mandatory. However, he says he would have voted against the health care reform measure -- it came to a vote prior to his arrival in the House -- because of what he regards as "flaws," including its absence of lower caps on court awards to victims of medical malpractice; the bill's sponsors rightly saw that as a separate issue having no place in universal health care reform.
Hanabusa recognizes that the current budget deficit was caused by steep expenses from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while the George W. Bush administration obtained tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that are due to expire in January. She rightly supports extending the tax cuts except for the richest 2 percent of taxpayers, those making more than $200,000 a year for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Djou wants the rich to be included in the extension, trusting that it will trickle down into job creation. That's a misguided leap of faith too great to make. Importantly, Hanabusa recognizes the importance of keeping taxes down for the middle class as the nation continues to climb out of the economic ditch.
Hanabusa has joined Gov. Linda Lingle and most of Hawaii's other elected officials in praise of federal stimulus spending to create jobs, albeit slowly. Djou is highly critical of stimulus spending as "wasting money," although he has said he wants "to make sure as much of it is wasted in Hawaii as possible," such as the $24.5 million reconstruction problem of Honolulu's Pier 29 that he and other elected officials highlighted in August.
Hanabusa recognizes the necessity of the federal government in creating jobs through public works or making capital available to the private sector. That realization rather than partisan sarcasm would best serve Hawaii in Congress.
In the 2nd Congressional District, we endorse Democrat Hirono's reelection to continue representing the neighbor islands and suburban Oahu over commercial airline pilot John Willoughby, a novice in elective politics who has been supported by the tea party movement.
And in the U.S. Senate, Daniel Inouye deserves a ninth six-year term to continue his good work as Hawaii's highly effective yeoman -- not as its ruler, as depicted by a Washington Post reporter in a recent profile.