District should return Courtney to Congress

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney has well served the interests of the large and diverse 2nd Congressional District, consisting of roughly the eastern half of Connecticut. The two-term incumbent Democrat has gone about his job in a professional and respectful manner, accessible to the people he represents and moderate in his approach.

This Vernon resident managed to win a critical appointment to the House Armed Services Committee after his election to a first term in 2006. In that position he has played a critical role in fighting for funding for Electric Boat in Groton, presenting credible national security arguments as to why the Navy needed to ramp up submarine construction.

As a result, in 2011 Electric Boat will build two submarines in a single year for the first time since the 1980s, with two-per-year-sub development to continue through the decade. This will assure that the submarine force can maintain its mission of extending military deterrence across the world's oceans. Economically, it provides stability for a shaky local economy. Increased EB work led to the company's decision to buy the two large office buildings in New London that Pfizer is vacating.

As significant as it may be, defense spending is but one segment of the district's economy, and the congressman recognizes that. He has sponsored overseas fact-finding trips for local businesses seeking to develop export markets. Rep. Courtney has also been a leader in pushing federal legislation providing support for family farms and protecting open space.

The incumbent took a courageous stand in opposing the $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). While in hindsight it appears the program successfully prevented a more severe financial crisis, it is also true that it was far too vague in its details, was rushed into law without adequate oversight and bailed out only Wall Street, not Main Street.

Unlike many of his fellow Democrats, this longtime advocate for health care reform is not running away from his support for the health care bill. That legislation, he notes, is ending the practice of denying health care coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and will provide access to care for millions of now uninsured citizens.

Rep. Courtney voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, and should have. While aspects of the bill are open to debate, it did save jobs. Doing nothing to pump up an economy in crisis would have been a mistake.

Among the challengers, Green Party candidate G. Scott Deshefy is the most intriguing. A scientist, retired from the state where he worked as a supervisory environmental analyst, Mr. Deshefy raises issues that the major parties would just as soon ignore.

He argues, convincingly, that economic-growth models do not take into account dwindling natural resources, particularly oil. The nation's dependence on foreign oil is a national security issue not receiving adequate attention, says Mr. Deshefy, who seeks more aggressive conservation efforts and development of renewable energy technologies. He also makes a good case for the U.S. re-examining the wisdom and cost of staffing military bases around the globe.

The third candidate in the race is Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, a former longtime TV journalist in the state. In debates and discussions, Ms. Peckinpaugh demonstrated a superficial and sometimes confused grasp of the complex issues facing the country. She has not made a case for replacing the incumbent.

The Day endorses the re-election of Rep. Joe Courtney.

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