U.S. House Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told students on Friday that he has the “simplest job in Washington, D.C.”
“Not the easiest, but the simplest—to win back the majority for Democrats,” Israel said.
Israel spoke to about 50 students at an event hosted by the Columbia University Democrats, where he criticized the current Republican leadership and outlined his plan to get 25 more Democrats elected to Congress in 2012.
“We have 14 million Americans out of work. Yesterday we passed a bill that allows any American to conceal a weapon when crossing state lines. How will that create jobs?” Israel said.
Israel also criticized Republican policies that enable subsidizing of companies that make huge profits, saying that such subsidies may have been good when they were originally created but didn’t need to be permanent.
“If we take away the $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies, I swear to God the CEO of Exxon Mobil will not be applying for food stamps,” he said.
Israel addressed an audience member’s question about the Democratic Party’s failure to brand itself effectively by saying that he thinks it is hard to have a unified message when the party is so diverse. Still, he assured the audience that the campaign would soon unveil a message which would hopefully help the DCCC reach its goal of getting a Democratic majority in Congress.
He insisted that a Congress controlled by Democrats would be able to accomplish more than the currently Republican-controlled Congress has been able to do. When questioned about how the country could rebuild the middle class, Israel told the audience that the key is to invest in public work projects.
“When the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, you no longer have an economic base,” Israel said. “Occupy Wall Street really does manifest a true, deep anxiety about the shrinking middle class.”
CU Dems members, including president Janine Balekdjian, CC ’13, said that hearing about the game plan for the 2012 elections was important to keep students engaged.
“He’s one of the leaders of our party,” Balekdjian said of Israel. “The more contact we have, the more energized our party is going to be.”
Debattama Sen, SEAS ’13, said she was there to stay informed.
“It’s great to have an idea of what’s coming and to plan for the next election cycle,” Sen said.