During each of her last two campaigns for the United States Senate, first against the outspoken conservative Bruce Herschenson and then against the mild-mannered moderate Matt Fong, Barbara Boxer depicted her opponent as an extremist out of touch with mainstream American voters and their values. Her television ads have already begun characterizing her current opponent, Carly Fiorina, as "too extreme" for California. However, a review of votes cast by Mrs. Boxer in the Senate and of recent poll results indicates that it is she who has moved far from the views of most Americans.
Cap and Trade
Senator Boxer has been a sponsor of the Senate's version of cap and trade legislation, which was originally known informally as Boxer-Kerry and is now referred to as Kerry-Lieberman. Its official title is the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Although it contains a number of provisions, its basic purpose is to create a system whereby the federal government places limits on the carbon emissions of private companies and public utilities. Those companies that exceed their limits would be required either to buy carbon allowances from the government, in effect paying an additional tax for the right to continue their operations, or to purchase the unused allowances of companies that do not exceed their caps. Most Americans, recognizing the remarkable potential for corruption and inefficiency inherent in this legislation, believing that cap and trade would inevitably lead to increased costs for energy and significant job losses, and dubious that it would have any measurable effect on global warming, oppose cap and trade. A poll conducted earlier this year for the National Federation of Independent Businesses shows that a majority of Americans oppose cap and trade while only 37% of us support it. The same poll showed that by a margin of more than three to one, Americans believe that cap and trade would increase energy costs and, by a margin of more than two to one, believe it would reduce economic growth. Mrs. Boxer, however, in fealty to the large environmental advocacy groups from which she has garnered so much support over the years, continues to advocate placing this additional burden on the struggling American economy.
Senator Boxer supports the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as Card Check. The title of this proposed legislation is Orwellian in that its effect would be to deprive workers of their right to determine their futures through free elections. If passed, Card Check would eliminate the rights workers currently enjoy to a federally supervised secret ballot when determining whether or not to unionize. In place of free and fair elections, workers would be asked to check and sign cards in full view of union organizers and coworkers. Once enough cards have been collected, the workers would be required to join the union, and it would be recognized as their sole representative before management. The American public, believing in democracy and recognizing the probability that Card Check would expose workers to harassment, intimidation, and perhaps even violence, oppose Card Check. In a poll conducted for the United States Chamber of Commerce in February of this year, a majority of those surveyed said they would be more likely to oppose a generic candidate who voted in favor of Card Check. However, the AFL-CIO and the SEIU strongly support it, and Senator Boxer stands with them, rather than with mainstream America, on this important issue.
According to a Pew Research Center poll released on April 28, 2010, a plurality of Americans believe that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), otherwise known as the Bank Bailout Bill, has not helped prevent a more severe financial crisis. A number of polls have also indicated that Americans are very concerned about our rapidly increasing national debt. Nevertheless, in January of this year, Senator Boxer voted against a proposal by Senator Thune that would have repealed TARP and required that the national debt limit be lowered to correspond with TARP repayments.
Cash for Clunkers
On August 4, 2009, Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing that by a margin of 54% to 33%, Americans opposed additional funding for the Cash for Clunkers program. The poll indicated that this opposition was based in part on the correct perception that the program was only accelerating new car sales, not increasing them, in effect moving sales from one fiscal quarter to another. Two days after the release of the Rasmussen poll, Senator Boxer voted in favor of a bill that appropriated an additional two billion dollars for the Cash for Clunkers program.
Civil Rights for Foreign Terrorists
In a poll conducted in June of 2008 for the Washington Post, 61% of the respondents said that al-Qaeda terrorists being held at Guantánamo Bay should not be allowed access to civilian courts in the United States. In September of 2007, Senator Boxer voted in favor of a bill sponsored by Senator Specter that would have restored the ability to obtain a writ of habeas corpus, and hence access to the courts of the United States, to the Guantánamo terrorists.
Partial Birth Abortion
Partial birth abortion, also known as intact dilation and extraction, refers to a type of late-second-trimester or early-third-trimester abortion in which the fetus is partially extracted from the womb, leaving only the head inside. An incision is made in the base of the skull, and the brains of the fetus are suctioned out, causing the skull to collapse, thereby allowing the head of the fetus to pass more freely through the mother's cervix. More than 70% of Americans believe that partial birth abortion should be banned except when necessary to save the life of the mother. In October of 1999 and then again in October of 2002, Barbara Boxer voted against proposals to prohibit partial birth abortion except where the life of the mother is in danger.
Iraq Troop Surge
On January 10, 2007, after receiving reports from the Iraq Study Group, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs, and the National Security Council, President Bush announced the commitment of 20,000 additional American troops to our occupation forces in Iraq. This "surge" of troops is widely credited with bringing an end to significant attacks by insurgents in Iraq and with contributing to the defeat of al-Qaeda there. Senator Boxer opposed the surge and, in December of 2007, was one of only twenty-four senators to vote in favor of a proposal to end the surge and to redeploy most of our troops in Iraq.
The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is regarded by many as one of the signature achievements of the Clinton administration. In August of 1996, Barbara Boxer was one of only twenty-one senators to vote against the approval of this legislation.
To date, Senator Boxer's attacks on Carly Fiorina have focused on Ms. Fiorina's status as the former chief executive officer of a large corporation and the amounts earned by Ms. Fiorina in that capacity. However, with most polls showing that the race is essentially tied, based on her past performance, Senator Boxer will soon claim that Carly Fiorina is an extremist out of touch with mainstream voters. When those accusations are made, it will be important to remember that on the important issues of cap and trade, the rights of workers to free and fair union elections, TARP repayments, Cash for Clunkers, civil rights for foreign terrorists, partial birth abortion, the troop surge in Iraq, and welfare reform, it has been Senator Boxer who has adopted positions at odds with the intent, and contrary to the interests, of a majority of the American people.