Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and Republican private equity executive Gabriel Gomez are running to become the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.
The special election will be held on Tuesday, June 25, and June 5 is the last day to register to vote.
In local and national news, the coverage of the race has focused on the “horse race” and various things the two candidates have said – not so much on policy. But on issues affecting working families, there’s are huge differences between Markey and Gomez that we wish were making bigger headlines.
1.) Retirement. As a member of Congress, Ed Markey has been a longtime defender of Social Security. When both Republicans and Democrats were considering a plan to change the formula used to determine Social Security benefits to “chained CPI,” Markey opposed it.
“Chained CPI” (CPI stands for “consumer price index”) assumes that when prices go up, consumers will choose a less expensive product. This formula results in a lower “cost of living” estimate because it assumes people need less; using this formula to calculate Social Security is equivalent to a benefit cut.
Republican Gabriel Gomez, on the other hand, supports the “chained CPI” benefit cut, which he announced at an April 10 debate. As the AARP points out, if the government makes this switch for both Social Security and veterans benefits, current and future seniors veterans could lose $146 billion in benefits over 10 years.
2.) Wall Street. Ed Markey voted for the groundbreaking Wall Street reform bill, which ends some of the worst abuses of big banks and corporations (those same banks have since fought tooth and nail to weaken the reform). He also opposes Republican plans that would increase tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Gabriel Gomez, who made his fortune as a private equity executive, has relied heavily on the support of Wall Street and the financial services industry in his run for office. Individuals working in finance have given Gomez’s campaign $278,000, 52 percent of his total campaign contributions. Bain Capital employees have given Gomez more than $12,000.
3.) Health Care. The candidates differ starkly on the issue of Medicare. Ed Markey opposes cuts to Medicare, while Gabriel Gomez has said he favors raising the Medicare eligibility age. On his website and in his public statements, Gomez refers to Medicare as an “entitlement,” not as a guaranteed benefit.
Gomez hasn’t said at what age seniors should be eligible for Medicare, but a popular proposal would raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67. According to Roosevelt Institute fellow Matt Stoller, that would mean that 5 million 65 and 66 year olds would not be able to get Medicare coverage for at least a year, and 7 million would not be eligible for at least a month. Even with Obamacare fully implemented and every state accepting Medicaid expansion, this policy change would leave at least 200,000 seniors without health insurance, primarily those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Those seniors would be denied the earned benefit that they paid for over the course of their lives.
Remember, the special election is on Tuesday, June 25, and the last day to register to vote in this election is Wednesday, June 5. If you live in Massachusetts or know someone who does, please share these three crucial pieces of information about where Markey and Gomez stand.
This marked the successful conclusion to a two-year campaign waged by Working America, the Colorado AFL-CIO, and numerous other pro-worker organizations in the Centennial State.
It’s exactly the kind of bill that states should be passing.
When they assign projects, under the new law state agencies must take into consideration a contractor’s labor practices – wages, benefits, how they treat their workers – not just cost of the bid.
Plus, state-funded construction projects have to have at least 80 percent Colorado workers. Makes sense, right? Colorado projects should have Colorado workers? That requirement has been on the books for 80 years, but finally it has teeth – now there are penalties for contractors that don’t follow it.
A similar bill was first brought up in 2012. Since that time, Working America members and organizers had over 13,000 conversations, wrote over 1,000 handwritten letters, and collected over 1,300 petition signatures in communities around Colorado.
This is the type of commonsense legislation we hope to see elsewhere. Taxpayer funds should be used to hire local workers at good wages by contractors with good labor practices. Why Republicans in the legislature opposed this bill for two years is baffling, but thanks to the Colorado AFL-CIO working with pro-worker legislators and the advocacy of thousands of Coloradoans like you, it’s finally the law of the land.
The Speaker is making sure his colleagues in the legislature know that he intends to make banning fair bargains – also known as “right to work” – a priority in 2014. This past session, despite the efforts of some extremist legislators, no such bill made it to the floor.
But it’s not as if this session didn’t have its share of attacks on workers’ rights. After a drawn-out fight, both the Missouri House and Senate passed paycheck deception and changes to prevailing wage legislation. Both bills weaken the ability of workers to advocate for better wages and benefits at the workplace.
Working America, along with allies like the Missouri AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Jobs with Justice, and Progress Missouri, mobilized in opposition to these attacks. Hundreds of emails and calls flooded Jefferson City, with Missourians asking why the legislature had launched an assault on workers’ rights instead of focusing on creating jobs. And in each vote held on anti-worker bills, more and more Republicans broke with Speaker Jones.
Gov. Jay Nixon has said he opposes so-called “right to work” and would presumably veto it if it arrived on his desk. Speaker Jones and his corporate-backed allies are looking into other options, which could include pushing the issue to a 2014 referendum. Missouri voters rejected “right to work” when it came to the ballot in 1978.
Another option being pursued by Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) would be to pass fair bargaining bans in each Missouri county, one by one. She is researching this option “with her personal lawyer.”
No matter how it comes, Missouri extremists will be switching up the language they use. They believe “freedom to work” will work better than “right to work.”
Rehder said she’s made national contacts and done a significant amount of research into “freedom to work,” which she said is an alternative and suggested phrase for “right to work.”
“’Right to work’ has been beat up on so much,” she explained.
No matter what you call it, facts are facts. In states where fair bargaining bans – or “right to work” or “freedom to work” laws – have been passed, wages are lower, fewer people have health insurance, poverty is higher, less money is spent on education, and more workers suffer workplace injuries and fatalities.
Democratic Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City) doesn’t think that this issue will fly in Missouri, this year or the next:
“I think our state has shown that blue collar, working class folks support issues that help blue collar, working class folks,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think “right to work” shows that support for those workers. “The fact that those [labor reform bills] can gain the majority of the votes in the chamber is concerning in and of itself.”
A wealthy businessman is running on the Republican ticket for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, but he has a problem: he thinks he should get to play by different tax rules than the rest of us.
I could be talking about Mitt Romney, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy in the Bay State’s 1994 election. Or I could be talking about what’s going on right now in 2013.
Gabriel Gomez, a private equity investor who made his fortune working with companies like upscale apparel store Lululemon, is the Republican nominee to succeed former senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry. The Massachusetts special election will be held on June 25. And he has more in common with Mitt Romney than you think.
A special rate for some
During the presidential campaign, we learned a lot about Mitt Romney’s tax rate, which was effectively 14 percent in 2011 despite making $13.7 million that year. (For context, a single person making $50,000 paid roughly 23 percent that year.) This is because much of Romney’s income came from stock dividends and investments rather than salary, which are taxed under a lower rate for “capital gains.”
President Obama proposed changing this with the “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure those making $1 million or more a year wouldn’t pay a lower rate than middle class families. Romney rejected that proposal, calling it a “gimmick,” and a 45 Republican Senators blocked the proposal for even coming up for debate.
Free money for not breaking the law
As a fellow investor, Gomez also made much of his income in the form of capital gains, allowing him to pay that lower tax rate than those of us who earn wages – but that’s not all. In 2005, he also used a special deduction to effectively pay $281,500 less in taxes for doing…nothing.
That’s right. In 2005, Gomez claimed a deduction for making “no visible changes” to the façade of his 112-year old home in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Using a federal tax loophole, Gomez claimed this as a charitable contribution to protect historic homes. So poof! An extra $281,500 in the bank.
Here’s the catch: local laws already prohibited Gomez from making changes to his historic home. In other words, Gomez saved over five times the median household income in the United States just by not doing something that was illegal.
Gomez isn’t the only one who has pulled this trick. The IRS considers it one of the “Dirty Dozen” of most common tax cheats, and the organization that Gomez made the easement to has been targeted by the Department of Justice.
There were many reasons the American people rejected a potential President Romney last year, but certainly the idea that he saw no problem with keeping special breaks for a wealthy few was one of them. Gabriel Gomez has demonstrated that he feels the same way: first by making a fortune thanks to the special capital gains tax rate, and then by exploiting a loophole to maneuver an extra $281,500 into his bank account.
We need less of this greedy maneuvering and exploitation, not more.
So, New Mexico workers found the next best thing. They launched the Susana Minimum Wage Listening Tour, featuring a cardboard cut out of the governor who would listen to testimonials of workers who were affected by her veto.
“We’re here to ask: Why did you sell us out and throw us under the bus?” asked Working America organizer David Garcia Diaz, “How can you reconcile giving out-of-state corporations a multi-million dollar tax break while our people continue to struggle?”
Like the real Governor Martinez, the cardboard cutout did not respond to questions.
Want to have a listening session with the cardboard governor in your town? OLE and Working America organizers are holding sessions across the state. Email Brenda at email@example.com to set up an event in your community.