J. Peder Zane

Zane: Kay Hagan has dismal record in Senate

Thom Tillis is wrong. Kay Hagan has done plenty in the Senate.

She has rubber-stamped President Obama’s major economic programs – including the trillion-dollar stimulus that failed to find “ shovel-ready projects,” the ill-conceived “ clash for clunkers” program that cost $1.4 million for every job it created and the Dodd-Frank reforms that enshrined “ too-big to fail” banks. Such programs have produced the worst recovery in history, with real median incomes and labor participation rates falling since the recession’s official end in 2009.

Given that dismal record, it’s not surprising that Hagan and Obama believe that raising the minimum wage, passing more pay-equality laws (unequal pay has been illegal since the 1960s) and running up more crushing government debt to build infrastructure will turn things around.

No wonder 64 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, according to Real Clear Politics poll averages.

Hagan has also supported Obama’s efforts abroad. He promised a new era of diplomacy and coalition building. Instead, we have a world on the brink. Highlights include the famous reset button with Russia – which President Vladimir Putin has pressed time and again; support for the rebels in Libya, which remains in violent crisis; and the decision to remove all our troops from Iraq, which helped spur the rise of the “ jayvee” Islamic State, which may require us to return troops to Iraq.

No wonder only 34 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy, a record low in the CBS/New York Times poll.

Hagan has also offered broad support for Obama’s stewardship of federal agencies, which is notable only for its astonishing incompetence. From the botched roll-out of Obamacare to pervasive problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Secret Service and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it fumbles the response to Ebola, Obama seems like the Manchurian candidate, making the GOP’s case for the perils of big government.

No wonder the Gallup poll found that a record-high 72 percent of Americans believe big government poses the biggest threat to the country’s future.

Like every other incumbent Democrat, Hagan provided the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act. Even those who support this deeply flawed, unpopular law must reckon with the fact that it was sold on the falsehood that Hagan repeated endlessly: If you like your doctor or health plan, you can keep them. This is not a small or partisan point. The message sent was that Obamacare would be an option, not a requirement. Since the law passed by a razor thin margin involving brazen vote buying, it is clear this deception was necessary for passage.

Hagan has also stood back as the White House and her Senate colleagues work to dismiss investigations into IRS abuses against conservative groups. For a party whose leadership came of age during Watergate – when a president fell because he targeted his political enemies – it is the height of hypocrisy to ignore efforts to target private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

Given the deeply collaborative nature of the Senate, it is not surprising that Hagan voted with Obama 96 percent of the time. The question this November is why anyone, except a yellow dog partisan who believes Republicans are evil, would want more of the same.

Elections are choices. The stakes are high. Current polls suggest that Republicans will hold the House and that North Carolina’s Senate race may well determine which party holds that chamber. Voters who see this race as a chance to cast a protest vote against the Tillis-led legislature should consider that their action will have, at most, a small, indirect effect on state politics. This is a national race.

A Hagan victory, however, will lead directly to continued gridlock and executive action by an unpopular president. A Republican offers the hope for progress. Forced to lead, the onus 0will be on the GOP to provide an alternative vision for the country. Ideally, Republicans will pass comprehensive tax and regulatory reform, address the spiraling costs of entitlements and the challenges of illegal immigration while offering an alternative to Obamacare (including vouchers, market-based reforms and provisions for those with pre-existing conditions).

Independents still unsure about the GOP should note that Democrats will be able to filibuster Republican bills and that President Obama can veto any measure that reaches his desk. Nevertheless, a GOP victory would crystallize the issues at stake in the 2016 presidential race in a way that continued Democratic control of the Senate would not.

Now is a time for choosing in North Carolina. Do we support the failed policies of the past six years or see whether we can do better during the next two?