SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL |AUG 27, 2020 AT 6:00 AM
In a Congress with too many show horses, Ted Deutch is a work horse.
The COVID-19 pandemic, Deutch told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, “has cast a bright light on the challenges” facing the state and country. Most of his office’s work since mid-March has been to help people who have lost jobs and may lose their homes. Despite efforts by President Trump and Gov. DeSantis to portray a swift recovery, Deutch said, “People are still really suffering.”
Such constituent work suits Deutch. He’s not a talking head on cable TV news studios. He doesn’t mistake a social media presence for the real work of Congress. These days, his focus is on helping business owners secure Paycheck Protection Program loans. “I try to make life better for people.”
Another example of Deutch’s personal touch was his work to get Medal of Honor awards — most of them posthumous — for 24 soldiers who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. All were Black or Jewish. They had not been recognized because of existing prejudice.
Deutch, a Democrat, got to Congress through a special election in April 2010 and has won five full terms. He represents District 22, which includes Boca Raton, West Boca and portions of northwest and coastal Broward County. The district was redrawn five years ago because Republicans had illegally drawn congressional districts in 2012 to benefit the GOP.
Many congressional candidates campaign on big ideas and promises. Having served in the Florida Senate, Deutch understood that new members do better by specializing in one or two areas and building a good voting record.
Deutch has done that. He chairs the Middle East Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He understands that for the many Jewish constituents in District 22, the Middle East is a local issue. Deutch supports the recent normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, but he wants more information about the military sales to the UAE, on which the deal is conditioned.
Deutch also holds senior positions on the Judiciary and Ethics committees. In the latter role, he led the effort to enact tougher standards against sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. Deutch notes that some members who had faced such allegations lost their re-election bids or resigned. “It’s had a lasting impact.”
Though Deutch arrived in Washington just after Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act with no Republican votes, he remains a strong supporter of the law. Despite Trump’s claim that he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions, the president wants to abolish the law and with it, those protections.
Republican James Pruden, Deutch’s Republican challenger in the Nov. 3 election, also opposes the Affordable Care Act. During the GOP primary, Pruden said he would disclose his version of an ACA alternative if he won. A check of his website does not show his supposedly sweeping replacement. He was unavailable for a joint candidate interview with Deutch.
Jim Pruden is a candidate in the August 2020 Republican primary, U.S. House, District 22.
“How,” Deutch asks, “can we serious consider abolishing (the health care law) in the middle of a pandemic?”
Like Trump, Pruden has offered no credible replacement, referring only to cheaper plans that don’t cover most essential services.
In other ways, Pruden echoes his party’s stereotyping and false claims. He argues that Deutch embodies the Democrats’ drift toward socialism, but Deutch is not part of the Bernie Sanders wing. Pruden contends that tax cuts have led to prosperity and reduced the national debt. In fact, tax cuts have favored the rich and have not paid for themselves. Pruden argues that “lawlessness is rampant in the streets.” Most protests against racial injustice have been peaceful. Nationally, the crime rate continues to drop.
Though the pandemic has dominated the news cycle for nearly six months, the climate crisis and its effects continue. Deutch helped create and lead the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
Making progress on climate change, Deutch acknowledges, “is still difficult.” That is especially so with a president who denies the problem. Deutch favors a return to the Paris Agreement and introduced bipartisan legislation that would impose a fee — not a tax — on carbon emissions, and return the money to citizens. “If we don’t start soon,” he said, Florida eventually will feel the worst effects of rising seas. A warming climate also breeds stronger hurricanes and increases the risk of pandemics.
The biggest short-term issue in Washington is a second COVID-19 relief bill. Deutch remains optimistic that Congress will pass one, even though Senate Republicans couldn’t even agree on a bill in response to the HEROES Act that Democrats approved in May.
Deutch called the first relief bill — the CARES Act, which Congress passed in March — “one of the most bipartisan moments” in recent memory. More recently, though, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that states should declare bankruptcy if they face serious financial problems and Trump has been hands-off, making a show of mostly meaningless actions.
For all the frustrations Deutch has with Congress, he says they are “nothing compared to the enormous challenges ordinary people face.” He has the right priorities and the right policies. The Sun Sentinel recommends Ted Deutch for re-election to the U.S. House, District 22.
Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara, Dan Sweeney, Steve Bousquet and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.