"Keeping an Ethical Course In a Political Storm"
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Central Michigan University
Bush Theatre (adjacent to Moore Hall)
U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) served as the inaugural speaker for the Philip A. Hart and William G. Milliken Endowed Speaker Series for Integrity in Politics. Former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken and two sons of the late Senator Phil Hart attended the presentation.
About Senator Levin
Senator Carl Levin was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 and reelected in 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008. He is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he has earned a reputation as a strong supporter of our national defense, a tireless advocate on behalf of our service men and women, and an effective fighter against wasteful government spending.
In an editorial about Carl Levin, the Detroit News wrote, "He has been above reproach personally and has stuck to his principles, even when they were unpopular. Principled leadership, no matter what political ideology it comes from, is sorely needed in Washington."
TIME Magazine recently named Carl Levin one of "America 's 10 Best Senators," noting that "the Michigan Democrat has gained respect from both parties for his attention to detail and deep knowledge of policy."
Senator Levin has championed efforts to reduce the threats to our nation and the world from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the threats posed by terrorism. He supports the efforts of the military services to transform their forces, technology, and tactics to meet these threats. He has been an active supporter of improving U.S. security by cooperative threat reduction, including arms control agreements that reduce weapons of mass destruction, and has fought for efforts designed to reduce the threat of proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Senator Levin opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has authored several bipartisan proposals aimed at changing U.S. policy in Iraq. While Americans have differing opinions about our policy in Iraq, there is broad support of our brave men and women in uniform. Levin spearheaded the successful effort to pass the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act, an historic reform to improve the way we provide medical care and ongoing support for our troops and our veterans, enacted in early 2008.
In 2007, Levin pushed to secure passage of the Acquisition Improvement and Accountability Act, the most far-reaching acquisition reform measure approved by Congress in more than a decade. The act requires, for the first time, that private security contractors working in a war zone must comply with Defense Department regulations and directives issued by our military commanders. The act also establishes a new acquisition workforce fund to hire the employees needed to manage defense contracts properly. These provisions will go a long way toward addressing contracting waste, fraud and abuse.
As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Levin has focused on issues that impact the wallets of most Americans, including unfair credit card practices and sky-high oil and natural gas prices. Levin chaired two hearings in 2007 delving into abusive credit card industry practices that help keep families mired in debt. Following the hearings, two major credit card issuers, Citicards and Chase, dropped widely criticized practices such as charging extra interest through double cycle billing, hiking interest rates for cardholders who pay their bills on time, and charging multiple fees for single violations of credit limits. Levin has also introduced credit card reform legislation to ban the unfair practices exposed in this investigation and to protect consumers from credit card company abuses.
Another 2007 investigation found that excessive speculation in oil and natural gas markets resulted in higher prices for consumers. Levin introduced the "Close the Enron Loophole Act" to put a cop on the beat to police prices in U.S. energy markets that, due to Enron and others, are now largely unregulated. Levin's leadership enabled Senate passage of an amendment in late 2007 to close the Enron loophole and its enactment into law in May 2008.
In 2002, Levin led Congress' most in-depth examination into the collapse of Enron. His investigation exposed how Enron used deceptive accounting and tax transactions to report better financial results than the company actually experienced. The subcommittee's investigative work contributed to the accounting and corporate reforms enacted in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in July 2002. In 2002, Levin began a three year investigation into the mass marketing of abusive tax shelters by KPMG and other professional firms, which was cited by The Washington Post as "a path-breaking inquiry . . . that served as a road map for prosecutors." Levin's bipartisan bill to end the use of tax havens will end some of the worst abuses of our tax laws by companies and individuals who avoid paying their U.S. taxes by using places such as the Cayman Islands to create sham transactions and shell corporations.
As the premier investigating subcommittee in the Senate, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under Levin's leadership has also conducted a comprehensive money laundering investigation, which led to the enactment of legislation to detect and stop money laundering and terrorist financing. Levin is also a member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and an ex officio member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Carl Levin believes we must expand educational opportunities for all Americans if our nation is to remain strong and productive. He has fought for increased funding for the Head Start preschool program, Title I for educationally disadvantaged students, and Pell Grants and loans for college and vocational school students. Senator Levin has been a strong advocate for the effective use of technology in K-12 schools and helped create the Consortium for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching with Technology, a groundbreaking Michigan partnership helping teachers master technology skills. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of School to Work programs, which have created a public-private partnership to prepare students for the demands of the modern workplace. He has won critical federal support for the Focus: HOPE Center for Advanced Technology, a world-class manufacturing training facility in Detroit.
Addiction to illegal drugs continues to plague our society. Senator Levin authored a provision in the Drug Abuse and Treatment Act of 2000 to enable qualified physicians to prescribe and dispense from their private offices - rather than centralized clinics - revolutionary, new anti-addiction medications such as buprenorphine that suppress the craving for heroin.
Efforts in Michigan
Carl Levin has worked to strengthen Michigan's industrial economy. Levin proposed the American Manufacturing Initiative to ensure that our government aggressively fights for manufacturing in America so our manufacturers and workers can compete globally on a level playing field. American manufacturers are not competing against foreign companies; they are competing against foreign governments.
As a co-chair of the Senate Auto Caucus and the Senate Auto Parts Task Force, Levin has been one of the most insistent voices in Washington calling for strong action to open the world's markets to American goods. Levin has been a longtime advocate of programs that provide for joint government - industry partnerships in development of advanced vehicle technologies. These efforts led to the growth of the Army's National Automotive Center in Warren, Michigan, which has played an important role in developing advanced technologies for military use, often in conjunction with the private sector.
As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Levin has fought to protect the environmental treasures of "the Great Lakes State," an irreplaceable natural resource for Michigan and the country. In 1990, Levin authored the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act to create new standards of environmental protection for Great Lakes waters. Levin also helped win passage of the Great Lakes Legacy Program in 2002 to clean up contaminated sediments, and he worked to secure funding to deal with foreign aquatic invasive species including zebra mussels, milfoil and Asian carp. A strong advocate for the creation of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Levin has obtained significant funding for it and introduced legislation in 2007 to expand the boundaries of the sanctuary to more than eight times its current size. The expansion would help preserve "Shipwreck Alley" for divers and historians, where dozens of ships sank in the waters of Lake Huron.
Notable Awards & Recognitions
- The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute awarded Senator Carl Levin its 2007 Four Freedoms Medal for his bipartisan efforts to reassert the role of the U.S. Senate in critical issues of foreign and military policy and for his longtime service to the country. The award recognizes Levin as "a leader dedicated to making government more effective, who holds himself and his colleagues to high ethical standards and insists that these same standards must apply to all facets of our society, both public and private; a leader whose efforts to strengthen America's armed forces have helped make the United States Military the finest fighting force in the world."
- The National Guard Association of the United States presented Senator Levin with its 2004 Harry S. Truman Award for distinguished service in support of national defense. The award cited Levin's "long-standing, diligent and impassioned commitment on the readiness, morale and welfare of our military forces, their families and the modernization of our armed forces" that has had an "unparalleled and direct positive impact to the defense capabilities of the National Guard." In January 2003, the Secretary of the Navy cited Levin's "exceptional service to the Navy and Marine Corps" in presenting him its Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award given to a civilian.
- In July 2007, the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, presented Senator Levin with the Commander's Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. Instituted by Parliament in 1974, the award is conferred on foreigners and Polish residents abroad for service rendered to Poland.