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Hello Democrats, we are watching you

In the 2006 and 2008 elections voters turned away from Republicans in Congress and in the Presidency, demanding changes in the direction of the nation.

Most importantly, Americans wanted Congress to once again represent the people not the powers.

But is that happening, or are we finding out that powerful special interests still dominate the political process?

This week President Barack Obama held his first cabinet meeting and firmly demanded a cut in spending of $100 million dollars.

Mr. President, that is not a cut. That spending reduction accounts for about 13 seconds of federal spending, hardly meaningful for any effort to control spending.

If you honestly believe that we need reductions in spending then do the right thing and make those tough decisions, but spare us the symbolic gestures that change nothing.

Mr. President, Americans also want torture investigated. In a recent poll over 60 percent of Americans indicated they wanted to know the facts about torture by Americans, either in order to prosecute those who were involved or to simply find out the extent of the torture. Your position on this should be simply to allow the U.S. Attorney General to follow where the law leads.

It is not a political decision and you should not allow it to be perceived as that. The Bush administration was an American presidency, not a Republican presidency, and all of us have the right to demand explanations here.

It appears that torture was authorized at the highest levels before the legal “cover” was written to justify those acts.

If that is found to be true, then members of the Bush administration authorized torture, the breaking of American law and treaty, with no knowledge of the outcomes nor legal justification for breaking out laws.

Members of Congress, including Democratic leaders, may also have been briefed on torture and remained silent. We are a nation of laws Mr. President, and no American is above the law.

Democrats in the Senate, your actions to eliminate the estate tax are little more than yet another indicator that you remain the captives of special interests.

Given the increase in the “wealth gap” in the U.S. and the budget deficits we face, it is unconscionable to seek to eliminate over $44 billion from budget income to benefit one quarter of 1 percent of Americans. Ten Democrats joined 41 Republicans in support of a bill to accomplish this shameful change in policy.

Further, the Democratic Congress recently turned its attention to credit cards, passing into law a bill that will require credit card companies to stop the dishonest practice of raising the interest rate consumers are charged on existing balances of their credit accounts.

But the bill allowed the heinous practice to continue until June of 2010. This allows the banks to complete the rate increase on all existing balances before the change is implemented. If you are not the captives of the banks, why would this bill not have taken effect immediately?

Finally, in one of the least noted events of recent weeks, a banking regulatory change took place, permitting a change in “mark to market” valuation of bank loans. This change allows a bank to value a loan, not at its current market price, but at a value of the loan in an “ideal” setting. The effect of the change is to permit banks to show assets they do not possess and reduce reserves they should be required to hold. Congress silently looked the other way.

Democrats, will you simply be a different version of support for special interests or will you represent the people?

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.