The Most Important Vote I Have Ever Cast

I have had one of those weeks that you remember for the rest of your life. On Tuesday, I won a congressional election. On Thursday, I was sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and got to cast the first vote of my congressional career: a resolution honoring female veterans and military personnel. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to cast the most important vote of my 34 years in public service.

The health care reform bill that cleared the House yesterday, if approved by the Senate, will transform this country's health care delivery system. Denial of treatment for pre-existing conditions will be a thing of the past. None of us will have to worry that if we fail to report the chicken pox, we'll be denied treatment from our insurers for cancer. Out-of-pocket expenses will be capped and subsidies and tax breaks will be made available to consumers and small businesses. This combined with the reduction in administrative overhead costs, the savings associated with an emphasis on preventative medicine, and other measures will provide us as individual consumers and as a nation with substantial long term cost savings. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform bill will cut the deficit by over $30 billion over the next decade and will continue to create a surplus over the next 20 years.

Yesterday's plan also includes a public option that, while not as expansive I would have liked, is still very worthy of support. And as most of you are well aware, we had an unfortunate setback for women's health in yesterday's voting. But on the whole, this is change we can believe in.

When I was California's Insurance Commissioner, my staff fielded thousands of calls from California residents who fell victim to the insurance industry shenanigans. When large fires hit San Diego, Oakland, and elsewhere, hundreds of consumers were victimized a second time by their insurance companies. My capable staff was successful at coming to a consumer-friendly resolution for almost all cases, but at times, I had to personally ring up high ranking industry executives to use all forms of persuasion available to my office to make sure my constituents were treated fairly.

When one's business model depends on collecting monthly payments from people in the hope that you'll never have to provide them with the services they are paying you for, it's disappointing but not shocking that the insurance industry looks for loopholes to maximize its profits.

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CA-10: Sworn in and Looking forward to Voting on Health Care Reform

On Tuesday, communities across America voted in hundreds of local and state elections. In Northern California's 10th Congressional District, voters saw fit to send me to Congress. To all my supporters who voted, volunteered, donated, and spread the good word about our campaign, you have my sincere gratitude.

Today I was sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to represent the people of the 10th Congressional District (video here, about 1:35:00 in). It is an honor to serve my constituents and my country at such an important moment in U.S. history.

When we started our campaign for Congress this spring, we knew we would run a forward-thinking campaign with unwavering support for comprehensive health care reform that includes the public option. With a team of hundreds of volunteers and the support of more than 66,000 voters, we won our special election with a double digit lead. I look forward to voting for a House health care bill worthy of support as early as this Saturday - a bill that includes a robust public option, ends the denial of converge for so-called pre-existing conditions, creates cost-savings, and protects Medicare for our seniors.

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CA-10: Taking Nothing for Granted

I have a request to our friends in the netroots: remind anyone you know who lives in the 10th Congressional District, a Northern California district that includes portions of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties, to vote on Tuesday, November 3rd.

In the last 5 days of this campaign, our aggressive phone banking and door knocking campaign will ramp up, but we need more volunteers this weekend and on Election Day. Please check out our Get Out the Vote page to see how you can help. Also, please consider devoting a few hours to remote phone banking.

Our conservative Republican opponent's Tea Party base is hungry for an upset.

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CA-10: President Obama: "Everybody has got to go out there and work for John"







I've had many incredible experiences during my 34 years in public service, but never have I been blessed to receive the support of two presidents in just over a week - until now. On Thursday, at a Bay Area event, I received President Barack Obama's support for the November 3rd 10th Congressional District special election. This followed our great endorsement rally with President Bill Clinton last week.

At President Obama's San Francisco event last night, the President introduced Garamendi, saying: "Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, who is running for the California 10 [in the] upcoming election - everybody has got to go out there and work for John."

The President went on to say "The reason you're here tonight, the reason I'm here tonight is because we know that our work isn't done. We still have enormous challenges in this country. There are far too many people out there who are really going through a tough time - out of work, seeing their hours trimmed, their wages cut. Americans who are subject to the whims of health insurance companies or who can't afford quality health insurance in the first place. Too many Americans who are seeing the American Dream slip further and further and further out of reach. ... Now is the time to secure our future."

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CA-10: Yesterday's Victory and Tomorrow's Challenges

What a night! As you may have seen, last night I was the highest vote-getter in the 10th Congressional District special primary election and will now face Republican David Harmer in the November 3rd general election.

I want to thank our incredible team of hard working volunteers. They spent countless hours knocking on doors, making phone calls, and making their presence known at community events throughout the district. Our success would not have been possible without them, and they have my deepest gratitude. Because of their efforts, we won all four counties in the district.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge my competitors in this election:

To David Harmer: Congratulations on your victory among Republicans. I look forward to two months of dialogue focused on the issues and solutions that matter to the people of the 10th Congressional District. I intend to make it clear that a radical right wing agenda that seeks to stop health care reform, starve the education of our children, fails to finance the transportation and infrastructure systems we need, and advocates more tax breaks for the most wealthy is not in the interests of the people of the 10th Congressional District, California, or America.

To Senator Mark DeSaulnier: Your health care town halls helped establish an important dialogue in the campaign about the need for comprehensive health care reform. You are an institution in Contra Costa County, and you have many admirers. You deserve special acknowledgement for your work seeking a constitutional convention. The two-thirds majority requirement has worsened California's problems and I look forward to working with you to bring a working democracy and majority rule back to California.

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CA-10: Polls Still Show us on Top, Public Option Remains a Top Agenda Item

Last night Survey USA and KPIX CBS 5 released a new poll showing that our campaign for Congress remains largely unchanged. With 25 percent of the vote, I still lead the pack, with Senator Mark DeSaulnier at 16 percent, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan at 12 percent, Anthony Woods at 9 percent, and undecided voters at 5 percent. This largely mirrors every publicly released poll since I entered the election.

Among Democrats, my lead is even starker: 37 percent favor me, 23 percent favor DeSaulnier, 18 percent favor Buchanan, 13 percent favor Woods, and only 2 percent are undecided. Most importantly, our great team of volunteers is effectively converting the support identified in the Survey USA and other polls into actual votes cast. Among those who have already voted, our considerable lead holds: 27 percent voted for me, 18 percent for DeSaulnier, 13 percent for Buchanan, and 10 percent for Woods.

Our lead holds among all demographic groups, including Obama voters, men, women, all age groups, all races, all levels of educational achievement, and all income levels. Our support is broad based and diverse. As the only candidate who has represented all corners of the 10th Congressional District, the voters know where I stand. As CBS 5 explained, "DeSaulnier and Buchanan have failed to make inroads since CBS 5's last poll 16 days ago."

Clearly, with Election Day fast approaching this Tuesday, we like where we stand.

The poll explains the what, but it fails to explain the why. I'm proud of the campaign we've run. We're convinced the polls are a reflection of voter support for a positive issues-based campaign that has emphasized solid Democratic principles and experience that can deliver results.

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Senator Ted Kennedy's Health Care Legacy

Last night, our country lost one of the most important public servants in U.S. history, Senator Ted Kennedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Vickie, his children, First Lady Maria Shriver, the Governor and the entire Kennedy family. The nation and the world have lost a leader with unparalleled passion for social justice and equality, and his legacy will live on in the many lives and hearts he touched. They will carry the flame of justice and service forward.

Senator Kennedy fought for health care access for every American. In the 1990s, he was one of the lead architects of S-CHIP, which has provided millions of low-income children with the health care they deserve, and he tirelessly promoted universal coverage throughout his career. As Kennedy said during his riveting address at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last year:

"This is the cause of my life - new hope, that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American - north, south, east, west, young, old - will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not as a privilege."

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CA-10: We Can't Let the Insurance Companies Win this Time

Thousands of people are lined up in front of a sports arena waiting to receive the health care they desperately need from a nonprofit that specializes in treating patients from the developing world. Some of their grateful patients stand outside hours past sunset waiting to be treated. Basic dental work for working mothers, glasses for young children, infections left to linger, procedures delayed because the cost of treatment is too great.  

No, I'm not recalling an incident from the years I volunteered for the Peace Corps in rural Ethiopia treating small pox. I'm talking about the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corp's weeklong clinic in Inglewood, a community near Los Angeles. For the first time in their 25 year history, they are offering their worthy service in a major metropolitan U.S. city. Where did we go wrong?

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A Green Industrial Revolution for a Golden State

NOTE: These are my prepared remarks for today's keynote address as the Scripps Seaside Forum, sponsored by the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California, Heartland Foundation-United Green and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

It's great to be at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, one of our country's most important research facilities. The work of this institute has led the way in understanding climate change, the effect of the warming oceans and how we can adapt to the inevitable changes in our environment.  

I'm here today to talk to you about the next industrial revolution. The world's economies are fueled by carbon based fuels that have polluted our atmosphere and set up a warming climate. Now when I talk about the next revolution, I don't mean the coal-and-oil fueled economy of yesteryear. The irrefutable science of climate change requires that we take a different path, and with sound investments in renewable energy, green technology, and education, we can create a new green industrial revolution that will put countless thousands of our residents back to work.  

President Obama understands what's at stake. Under his stimulus package, California is expected to receive more than $1.5 billion for job-creating alternative energy, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and other energy and climate related efforts. Included in this estimate, the U.S. Treasury and Energy Departments announced that at least $3 billion in competitive grants will be distributed nationwide to support an estimated 5,000 biomass, solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. Note to Secretary Chu: consider using some of the $3 billion as a loan guarantee, thereby expanding the use of the funds.

Incentives for renewable energy generation and installation are also fueling the growth in green jobs. In just the first four months of 2009, solar installations nearly tripled compared to the year prior. Homeowners, businesses, and government all benefit from the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which provides incentives that reduce the total cost of installed systems by an average of 20 percent. Signed into law in 2006, the CSI aims to install 3,000 MW of new solar power by offering $3 billion in solar rebates over 10 years. Additionally, businesses and homeowners qualify for a federal investment tax credit of 30 percent on renewable energy systems. According to the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence, the solar industry in California is on pace to produce 40,000 new jobs by 2016.

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One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Education

Forty years ago, one man took a small step that inspired a country. The Apollo 11 mission to the moon was a great moment for America as viewers across the nation, in unison, watched one of our own step foot on an otherworldly body for the first time. America's potential was limitless.

I still remember the journey of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I had just returned from my own life-changing adventure: a two-year stint serving Ethiopia in the Peace Corps. I served in a country that could not afford to feed its population, let alone educate them, and this loss of human potential still slows progress there today. A quality education is important not just for the betterment of individuals but also for society as a whole. In my decades of public service, I have worked tirelessly to ensure that we provide our children with the highest quality education, because I know that our economic growth depends on their intellectual growth.

The success of Apollo 11 would never have happened without the work of America's best and brightest scientists. They were the product of our country's commitment to STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math education. America led the globe in science education, but due to funding cuts and increased international competition, we're falling behind the curve.

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