I had the opportunity to have a one to one conversation with Juan Thomas, a candidate for US Congress in the Democratic primary, because I had met him at a jobs forum in Joliet and wanted to learn more. At the forum, he struck me as a man who was genuinely concerned about jobs and wanted to do something about it.
We met in his office in Aurora and had a long conversation. In it he gave me some biographical information, all of which is available at juanthomas.com. I asked him for his position on a number of issues, including jobs and our current economic situation in this country. What he said lined up with what most of my friends and I believe to be true. Over the last 20 years or so, middle class wages have stagnated while those of the upper 5 percent, and especially the upper 1 percent, have grown exponentially. In order to maximize profits, corporations have shifted work from the United States to foreign countries, where they can get cheap labor, don’t have to worry about things like good working condition, fair compensation, etc. As a result, many of the middle class lost jobs as well as their homes and their savings. The upper folks, however, did extremely well and saw their incomes grow, mostly at the expense of the middle class.
He pointed out how over the last 20 years, taxes on the wealthy have decreased considerably, while those for the rest of us have not really changed much. We continue to pay “normal” tax rates, while the wealthy are in most cases able to dodge taxes altogether or pay at a much lower rate. Like me, he believes that everyone should pay their fair share, including the wealthy.
He argues that if the wealthy paid at a fair rate, rather than at the rate of the Bush tax cuts, all of which are paid for by borrowing, we would be in a position to work on infrastructure in this country, putting a huge number of people back to work. Again like me, he does NOT believe that the way to pay for these things is to cut programs and services for the worst off and most vulnerable in our society. Instead, he sees it as a matter of character to treat people well, pay them fairly, and try to keep jobs in the United States.
To date, I haven’t received any information from the other candidates. It seems to me that Juan Thomas is actually the only candidate who actually cares about the people in the 11th District. Unlike the others, he isn’t running for office due to political expediency, but rather because he grew up here, continues to live here, and has a vested interest in the area and people who live here. If you are like me and consider yourself a progressive, or, if you prefer, a liberal, then I strongly urge you to support Juan Thomas in the primary election on March 20.