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Natalie E. Tennant: Capito's budget choices show her priorities

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 07:32 PM

Whenever I make tough decisions, I think about our family farm in Marion County where I grew up. I think about my dad and my six siblings. I think about the families across West Virginia. I ask myself: Could I go back to the farm and explain my decisions to them?

Well, it's becoming all too clear that Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito isn't asking herself those questions. Because she certainly could not defend her decisions in Marion County.

Congresswoman Capito has put Washington ahead of West Virginia. She has lost sight of West Virginia's values and traditions, and nowhere is that more clear than in her votes over the years for our nation's budget. More than almost any other bill, the budget outlines a representative's view of our nation: What do they think is important? Where do they think we should invest our resources?

As Secretary of State, I have invested in technology to improve services for small business, streamlined operations and cut wasteful spending. As a result, my office returned $3 million to the taxpayers of West Virginia while quadrupling the number of businesses that file annual reports on line.

But as folks in Washington reach our nation's first budget compromise in years, it's time for West Virginia to take a look at the budgets that Congresswoman Capito has supported through the years because that will show us where she thinks we should invest our resources. Instead of focusing on our West Virginia seniors, children and working families, Congresswoman Capito has focused on Washington. She has repeatedly supported drastic cuts to programs West Virginians rely on in order to keep taxes for the wealthiest low.

The Ryan Budget, the budget Congresswoman Capito voted for three times over, would hurt seniors across the state. It would force more than 300,000 West Virginia seniors to pay thousands of dollars in premiums, as well as raise prescription drug costs, jeopardize nursing home care and limit access to affordable housing and food.

And it's not just seniors: the budget Congresswoman Capito voted for would leave more than 24,000 West Virginia students with reduced or eliminated services. I'm not willing to trade in our state's future that way.

The plan also hurts our nation's veterans. Millions of veterans across the country, including many right here in West Virginia, rely on Medicare and Medicaid for their health care. The budget Congresswoman Capito supports would turn its back on our veterans and cut these programs. As a military wife, I've seen firsthand the sacrifices our troops make every day; our nation and our state should be doing what we can to support them, not abandon them.

Congresswoman Capito is so out of touch with West Virginia that she is the only member of the West Virginia delegation who supported this budget. And she's voted for it not just once, but three times. She was the only West Virginian in Congress to vote for the Ryan Budget in 2013, 2012 and in 2011, when a Charleston Gazette editorial called it a "monstrosity" which would have hurt West Virginia "more than most places."

Congresswoman Capito has been called a "rubber-stamp" who "regularly supports her party's agenda of favors for billionaires and cutbacks in help for average American families." Those just aren't West Virginia values. She is a part of the problem in Washington, but I know our solutions are right here in West Virginia. We have so much potential, and I am ready to fight for our state in Washington.

Congresswoman Capito has given in to the way Washington works, but I'm not afraid to stand up to anyone when I know something is the right thing to do. I've been working hard here in West Virginia to make sure that we are holding everyone accountable, regardless of political party, and that we are helping our veterans succeed and start businesses and vote when they are deployed overseas.

Abandoning our seniors? Leaving children, veterans, and working families out in the cold? Those aren't the values of this great state. That's why I'm running for the U.S. Senate. Our state needs someone who will bring West Virginia values to Washington and make sure those values are reflected in our nation's budget.

In the Senate, I'll be focused on making decisions West Virginia and my family on the farm in Marion County can be proud of.

Natalie E. Tennant, currently West Virginia's secretary of state, is a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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