Skelton: I'd give Obama "a good C+" for his first year

February 8, 2010

Rep. Ike Skelton met with The Star’s Editorial Board Monday — and defended his votes against the House health care reform package, for cap-and-trade legislation, and for both the stimulus package and the TARP bank bailout bill in the fall of 2008.

“They were the right votes,” Skelton said.

The Democrat is expected to face one of the toughest challenges of his career from either Bill Stouffer or Vicky Hartzler.   Missouri’s 4th District is pretty conservative, giving John McCain one of his largest margins in the state in 2008.

Skelton said his longterm relationships with voters will help him in the district.  He’s running for re-election, he said, because he still has things he wants to do.

“I think I’ve been doing quite well,” he said.   He did not contest the claim from Republicans that he’s a reliable vote for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — about 90% of the time — but said many of those were procedural votes.

Asked for an example of a difference with Pelosi, Skelton said health care reform.  ‘I think we should go back to square one,” he said, and pass reform proposals everyone can agree on.

But when asked how the government could require insurance companies to cover everyone without requiring everyone to have insurance, Skelton said he didn’t know.

He also wavered a bit on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the policy which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  A subcommittee of Skelton’s Armed Services Committee may hold a hearing on the policy tomorrow if the snow can be cleared away.

Skelton said he still supports DADT, but admitted his opposition may be generational — that younger servicemen and women, and voters, may have no objection to repealing the policy.

He said the U.S. should focus on two things — the economy and the fight against al Qaeda.  He admitted both goals will be difficult.

And he said President Barack Obama should have focused on jobs and economy more in his first year, but said other presidents — Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — had rough first years but went on to have successful presidencies.


Tom Erickson, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee responded:

“In case Ike Skelton hasn’t noticed, we still suffer from unacceptably high unemployment and skyrocketing deficits, thanks in part to his rubber stamping of the reckless Pelosi-Obama agenda.

“Given the hole Washington Democrats are digging this country into, Skelton might want to rethink his statement that his support for the National Energy Tax, the bailout and the failed stimulus package ‘were the right votes.’”
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