Jesse Helms likes to trumpet his support of the tobacco industry and his stands against abortion, arts funding, and foreign aid. But a review of his voting record reveals that he has also staked out lesser-known positions that place him squarely at odds with the needs of his constituents.

FARMERS: Voted against soil conservation, federal crop insurance for hail damage, and temporary protection from foreclosures during the farm crisis. As chair of Agriculture Committee, failed to take action on bill making it easier for farmers to get drought relief and other disaster assistance.

VETERANS: Voted against $80 million in pensions and $100 million in home loans. Supported massive cuts in medical care for disabled veterans. Opposed job training for unemployed veterans of Korea and Vietnam, and compensation for military personnel exposed to nuclear tests.

ELDERLY: Repeatedly voted to freeze or cut cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits. Opposed funds for Meals on Wheels and Medicare. One of nine senators to vote against medical coverage for prescription drugs.

CHILDREN: Voted against summer jobs for inner-city teens, shelters for battered women and children, nutrition for mothers during pregnancy, and Social Security benefits for children in foster care. Opposed safety standards for day care centers.

WORKERS: Voted against tax cuts for working families, 60-day notification of plant closings, parental leave, job training for those on welfare, and increasing the minimum wage to $4.55 an hour.

ENVIRONMENT: Voted against controlling asbestos, double hulls on tankers to protect against oil spills, sewage treatment facilities, and the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Introduced bill to outlaw new wilderness areas. Used threat of filibuster to reduce industry fees for cleaning up toxic waste.

EDUCATION: Proposed cuts in school lunches. Voted against funds for vocational education, Head Start programs for disadvantaged preschoolers, and special education for the disabled. One of four senators to oppose work-study jobs for college students.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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