Hello, Columbus: Clocking Out

Working-class voters in Ohio hold the key to this election.

“The reality remains that a vote for Romney is a vote for his party — a party that, by almost universal acclimation, utterly failed when last entrusted with governing.”

Will Republicans turn FEMA’s disaster relief into another pointless spending fight?

In post-hurricane New York, Occupy Wall Street puts efforts towards disaster recovery.

Read and share: Six ways that Obamacare matters for women.

Romney and Republicans are the beneficiaries of 69% of outside political spending.

More employer interference: Midwestern retail giant puts its employees through “civics courses” that push right-wing and anti-Obama messages.

Romney’s jobs math still doesn’t add up.

Neither does his tax plan.

Building a Majority of Working Family Allies in Oregon: By the Numbers

With six days to go until the election, Working America Oregon is going full speed ahead.  While voters everywhere are abuzz with the presidential election, we’re working hard to get our ballots fully completed to support working families up and down the ballot. Our team is out every night, fanning across the state as far as Eugene to talk to folks about their local elections.

Teaming up with the Oregon AFL-CIO and its affiliates, we’re letting our members know that all of the races count. Democrats hold a 2-vote majority in the State Senate, and the State House is evenly split, 30 to 30. 16 Senators are up for reelection, as are all 60 members of the House. This is where Working America comes in, supporting candidates who will be champions for the middle class in Salem. After seeing the actions of radical state legislatures across the country after the 2010 election, we’re leaving nothing to chance.

We’ve been focusing on important statewide races like Oregon’s Secretary of State, supporting Kate Brown, who has saved Oregon $180 million through effective audits, and Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who’s been fighting for middle-class Oregon families, a strong minimum wage, and our state’s most vulnerable.

In Oregon City, Rep. Brent Barton’s 2009 tie-breaking vote to pass the Oregon Healthy Kids Initiative was just one of the reasons our members are supporting him for reelection; we also want to keep him in Salem to support strengthening vocational education and decreasing K-12 classroom sizes.  In East Multnomah County, we’ve been getting out the vote for candidates like Chris Gorsek and Shemia Fagan, who will focus on education and preserve local jobs.

Here are some numbers as we enter the final stretch: We’ve knocked on 92,295 doors and talked to 35,798 Oregonians over 5,426 hours in the field. We knock on over 3,000 doors every night, using 33 iPads to log our data.

Our members have handwritten 900 postcards to friends and family about the importance of the coming election. We’ve held 9 postcard writing events, 3 debate watch parties, and driven 5 vans in 7 inches of rain (so far!).

But as we seek to break that 30-30 tie in the House and expand our pro-worker majority in the Senate, here’s the number that matters: We are 1 incredible team, building 1 incredible movement.

If you haven’t yet, plan your vote today. To see our full slate of endorsed candidates, check out our Facebook page. To get involved in Oregon email me at [email protected] or call 503-284-6819.

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Endorsement: Mark Critz for U.S. Congress (PA-12)

Before he represented Pennsylvania’s 12th District, Mark Critz managed economic development issues for longtime Congressman Jack Murtha. It shows: when it comes down to who will roll up his sleeves and do the unglamorous grunt work that puts Pennsylvanians in jobs, Mark Critz is the clear choice.

Since his election, Pennsylvania has added 195,000 jobs, despite the reckless public sector cuts made by right-wing legislators in Harrisburg. That’s because Rep. Critz has the experience attracting investments and businesses to Western Pennsylvania – and the knowledge of what hurts development. He voted to cut the payroll tax, saving more than 5.7 million Pennsylvanians an average of $1,000 in 2011. Representing an area that has been battered by outsourcing, Rep. Critz co-sponsored the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and create incentives for returning production to the United States.

The 12th District also has a large population of retirees and seniors, and Rep. Critz has stood by them at every turn. He voted against the “Paul Ryan budget,” and voted against the repeal of Obamacare, saying:

“It would be wrong and irresponsible for Congress to go backwards and allow insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, to kick young adults off their parents’ health insurance plans or to re-open the ‘doughnut hole’ which will force seniors to pay more for medicine.”

Certainly, it’s a commonsense statement. Yet Critz’s opponent, corporate attorney and former Bush Administration official Keith Rothfus, wants to repeal Obamacare.

Our questions for Mr. Rothfus are many. Why does he want to re-open the ‘doughnut hole’ for 12th District seniors? Why does he want to return us to a time where insurance companies can deny coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions? And why does he support the Romney-Ryan plan to voucherize Medicare, which AARP says would double out-of-pocket costs for seniors?

Mr. Rothfus’ out-of-touch views don’t end with healthcare. He is committed to protecting tax subsidies for oil companies. He supports a plan that would give millionaires a $250,000 tax cut while raising taxes on 2 million Pennsylvania families by an average of $900. He has even taken the Grover Norquist “don’t think” pledge that will prevent him from closing tax loopholes that incentivize companies to outsource American jobs.

It would seem that Mr. Rothfus absorbed the wrongheaded economic views of the Bush Administration during his time in Washington that put us in the economic mess we are in now. Meanwhile, Rep. Critz is a tireless advocate for economic development in the region.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote in their endorsement: “Mr. Rothfus has built a campaign on hopes and promises in which the details don’t add up. Mark Critz is a real-world congressman who wants to help his district and solve the nation’s problems.”

We urge a vote for Mark Critz for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania’s 12th District. Plan your vote now.

Photo by USDAgov on Flickr

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Ohio Endorsements: Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, Yes on Issue 2, Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress

Working America has strong connections to the state of Ohio. Some of our first pilot programs started in the Buckeye State, and over a million Ohioans call themselves Working America members.

Ohio features some of the closest and most crucial political races in the country. Working America has looked at the candidates and ballot options, and we endorse the following:

Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate

Yes on Issue 2

Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress (OH-16)Find your district here.

All endorsements after the jump.

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Endorsement: Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate

In Wisconsin, the choice for U.S. Senate is stark. There’s really no contest—we think Tammy Baldwin is the clear choice over Tommy Thompson.

Tammy Baldwin, who represents central Wisconsin in the U.S. House, has a solid record of supporting working- and middle-class families. Her record shows that she believes in protecting a secure retirement, expanding access to health care, and creating good jobs that people can live on.

Thompson is a veteran politician who served as the state’s governor from 1986 to 2001. Since then, however, he’s moved away from Wisconsin—serving in George W. Bush’s cabinet before starting a career at a Washington lobbying firm. He went straight from pushing Bush’s drug-industry-friendly Medicare changes to a high-paid job advocating and advising drug companies and health insurance companies. His clients included corporations that profited from outsourcing jobs to other countries.

Thompson’s campaign promises show how much he’s embraced a corporate-friendly agenda. He supports even deeper tax cuts for millionaires like him, at the expense of programs, like student loans and Social Security, the rest of us need. He has wrapped himself enthusiastically around Paul Ryan and the Ryan budget, which would privatize Medicare and shift costs to seniors, who would be left on their own to contend with insurance companies. In a video recorded at a Tea Party gathering this spring, Thompson even asked, “who better than me” to “do away with Medicare and Medicaid.”

Tommy Thompson has spent the last few years advocating on behalf of powerful corporations in his lobbying-firm job. There’s no reason to think he won’t have exactly the same priorities in the U.S. Senate. We know where Baldwin would stand, because we’ve seen how she’s voted as a member of the U.S. House. She’s always looked out for working people in Wisconsin with drive and determination.

Tammy Baldwin is, to be sure, a better choice than Tommy Thompson. But the real pleasure for Wisconsin voters is that they don’t just have a chance to vote against a bad option—they have a chance to vote for someone. By voting for Baldwin, they’ll elect someone who will stand out in the Senate for her commitment to her principles. Baldwin won’t just vote the right way; she’ll be a leader and a voice for working people.

Tammy Baldwin is looking to move Wisconsin forward. She has the values and the energy to be a great Senator.

Photo by isafmedia on Flickr.

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Endorsement: Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress, OH-16

Voters of Ohio’s new 16th District (check here to see if that includes you) have a unique opportunity – return one current Congressperson to Washington and send one home. Both Betty Sutton and Jim Renacci have clear voting records, and when it comes to working families, the overwhelming choice is Democrat Betty Sutton.

Rep. Sutton’s votes reflect an understanding that Rep. Renacci’s votes do not: that government has a limited but crucial role to play in economic recovery. Like U.S. Sherrod Brown, she fought hard for the rescue of the auto industry, as well as the “mini-stimulus” of the “Cash for Clunkers” program. She was recognized with a Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association (OADA) for her commitment to creating and retaining the jobs of autodealers and workers.

She voted for Obamacare, which has allowed thousands of Ohioans to afford health insurance and saved prescription drug costs for thousands of Ohio seniors. She opposed the “Ryan budget,” which would gut funding for education, cripple Medicaid, and end Medicare as we know it; Jim Renacci voted for it.

Rep. Sutton has also been recognized for her work on behalf of veterans. She worked on the Stop-Loss Compensation Act and the new GI Bill, and was named Legislator of the Year by the Ohio American Veterans Association. When the VA made plans to move their Lorain clinic to a less accessible location, Rep. Sutton was instrumental in making sure it remained at the readily accessible St. Joseph Community Center.

Republicans designed the 16th District especially to give Rep. Renacci a leg up. Yet Sutton has received the endorsements of every newspaper that covers the area, and the race is nearly tied. That is because the choice is abundantly clear: Renacci has fought for obstruction and austerity, while Sutton has fought for jobs, jobs, and jobs.

We endorse Rep. Betty Sutton for Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. Plan your vote now.

Photo by AFL-CIO on Flickr

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Endorsement: Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate

There is no one in Washington fighting harder for Ohio working families than Sherrod Brown.

When the economic crisis threatened to topple the auto industry, which supports one of out every eight Ohio jobs, Senator Brown worked with President Bush in 2008 and President Obama in 2009 and 2010 to find the best solution. The bold action by Senator Brown and the Obama Administration, though unpopular at the time, rescued a key American industry from collapse and has done wonders for the recovering Midwest economy.

His work extends far beyond the auto rescue, however. He has been a leading voice against tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He has been a passionate, unwavering defender of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning, even as big money poured in against it. He is also steadfast in his belief that we must end “corporate personhood.”

For these reasons and others, $26 million of out-of-state, anonymous donations have flooded Ohio this past year, attacking Senator Brown and promoting his Republican opponent, first-term State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Brown faces more spending from his opposition than any other senator or Senate candidate in the country. This is is already the most expensive race in Ohio’s history.

This is no accident. The anonymous donors behind that $26 million – Wall Street, Karl Rove, oil companies, insurance interests, CEO’s who want “corporate personhood” to remain in place – recognize Sherrod Brown as a key obstacle in their efforts to exert control over our pocketbooks, our votes, and our elected officials. They can’t voucherize Medicare, dismantle Social Security, or continue to run the Wall Street casino while Sherrod Brown stands in their path.

While we respect his military service, there’s no doubt that Brown’s opponent, Treasurer Josh Mandel has run an exceedingly dishonest campaign. And when he is pressed on his agenda, what comes out is wholly against the interests of working families: repealing Obamacare, ending Medicare as we know it, keeping subsidies for oil companies and protecting tax breaks for outsourcers. In three debate performances, his conduct has been unbecoming of a Senate candidate but emblematic of today’s anti-worker Republican Party; calling Senator Brown a “liar” with no proof, repeating the debunked statement that Senator Brown “stole from Medicare,” and doubling down on his claim that support of the auto-rescue was “un-American.”

But even when not compared to his opponent, Sherrod Brown is passionate fighter for Ohio jobs, workers’ rights, and solutions that will aid our economic recovery. We urge a vote for Senator Sherrod Brown - plan your vote now.

Photo by USDAgov on Flickr.

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Endorsement: Yes on Issue 2 (Ohio)

Okay, Ohio, we know. We spent most of 2011 urging you to vote No on Issue 2, which repealed the union-busting Senate Bill 5. But in 2012, we urge you to vote Yes on 2, the Ohio Redistricting Amendment.

They key argument for Issue 2 is the current Ohio Congressional Map. Drawn behind closed doors by politicians and special interests, the current map was created with one goal: protecting those who drew the map in political power. That means taking our voice in who should be representing us, and replacing it with politicians’.

Unfortunately, that means the districts defy geography, geometry, common interest, and common sense! Summit County is now divided into five different districts; neighbors across the street from each other in Akron might be voting for two separate representatives, one from Cleveland and another from Youngstown. The 15th District includes Wilmington and Athens, 109 miles apart, and also slivers of Columbus. “Live around Avon, Ohio?” Seth wrote earlier this year, “Depending on the street you’re on, you might share a district with people living in nearby Medina County, or nearly two hours away in Toledo, or all the way in St. Mary’s, practically at the Indiana border.” No wonder the Toledo Blade calls its new home, the 9th District, an “abomination.”

But it’s about more than geography. We want our elected officials to be as accountable as possible for their actions in Washington, and we also want them to work together, regardless of party. So when members of Congress only have to please one side of the aisle, because their district is 70 percent Republican or 80 percent Democratic, we get the same name-calling and obstructionism that has plagued our politics and stymied our economic recovery. Further, fairer and competitive districts mean that officials will need to run on the substance of their own ideas, not political affiliations, a welcome idea.

Issue 2 would create a 12-person “Citizens Commission” to draw legislative and congressional district maps. Any member of the public can submit a plan for consideration. The whole process: meetings, communications records, and draft plans must be available to the public. The new map, which would go into effect in 2014, would reflect the division of towns, cities, and counties, not just the political leanings of their inhabitants. No more “abominations” like the snaking 9th District.

The Citizens Commission would also include equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Even if you are a Democrat who dislikes the current map, there’s no reason that Democrats should be able to re-rig the map in their favor if they happen to be in power in the legislature.

There’s no reason we should have 16 “safe” districts in a politically competitive state like Ohio; and there’s a reason over 430,000 Ohio citizensacross the political spectrum signed their name to put Issue 2 on the ballot. For accountability, transparency, and districts that reflect our communities rather than our politics, we urge all Ohioans to vote Yes on Issue 2. Plan your vote now.

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Six Days: Punching In

Home prices rose for the seventh straight month in August.

What one labor lawyer tells his clients about Nov. 6.

The conservative Columbus Dispatch endorses U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

President Clinton endorses Proposition 2 in Michigan, the Collective Bargaining Amendment.

Related: Why voters in Washtenaw County, Michigan should oust Rep. Mark Ouimet.

10 House races that’ll tell you who is winning on Election Night.

How cell phones skew polling results.

The big money donors behind the voter intimidation billboards.

Finally, from all of us to the workers digging us out from Hurricane Sandy:

How to Throw an Effective Tantrum: Clocking Out

Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s strategy of constant obstruction has managed to sucker in a surprising number of pundits.

Romney campaign training volunteer poll workers–using misleading information that will make it harder for people to vote.

Romney, Obama, FEMA and Hurricane Sandy.

The issues raised by Hurricane Sandy–issues like hiring first responders, funding disaster aid, and basic competence at governing–are legitimate political issues.

It’s Medicaid that’s the biggest target for Romney and Ryan–and the potential consequences are awful.

Rob Delaney on Hurricane Sandy, Medicaid and the stakes in the election.

Romney’s plan to eliminate unions and collective bargaining.