With Congress continuing to struggle in federal budget negotiations – the notorious “fiscal cliff” with its automatic cuts to federal spending along with an end to all the Bush era income tax cuts – Working American members have more than their personal New Year’s resolutions on their minds. Throughout the last several weeks of the “lame duck” session in Congress, as they have been paying close attention to developments taking place on Capitol Hill, they have been moving forward with a campaign to make their strength in numbers felt in the debate.
Here in southwest Ohio, the target of their efforts has been Senator Sherrod Brown. They want him to clearly understand what members are demanding: an end to Bush era tax cuts for the richest 2%, along with no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Members have been writing letters as part of a campaign to gather hundreds of hand-written messages to the Senator from throughout the state. First of all, there was a desire to thank the Senator for being a reliable and long-time advocate for working families. Now, middle class Ohioans are asking him to be a champion for us on the issues that we all care about. In doing so, many in the greater Cincinnati area have also told their personal stories of how they or loved ones depend on these essential programs for their livelihoods, and even their very lives.
One such member is Julia Rothwell. A single mother with a full-time job, a new small business, and a daughter soon heading off to college, she worries about the future of Social Security:
“I will be hopefully retiring in about 25 years, and wonder whether I will have the Social Security benefits that I have been contributing to for the last 25 years. Please make sure to protect what I have worked for, and many Americans have worked for, so we may have peace of mind when we grow old.”
Karen Dollinger is another. A visiting assistant professor from Oxford in southwest Ohio, she holds these concerns for her parents, who also reside in the state:
“My parents are in their 60s, and my mother, who is a cancer survivor, and my father, who has Parkinson’s Disease, are on Medicare. Should my father need to go to a nursing home, my parents would need Medicaid to pay for it. They are not wealthy, and need a fair amount of medical care. If Medicare and Medicaid are cut, I worry about their survival, as they are already struggling to pay bills. I am certain that many other Americans find themselves in the same situation.”
And finally, there is Tammy Friedman. A nurse by training, she is currently a stay at home mom, and has a young son with special needs. In her letter to the Senator, she discusses the importance of preserving programs and institutions that are vital to the well-being of the “98%” and crucial to affording opportunity to people like her:
“We need to end the Bush tax cuts for the disproportionately richest Americans and restore them to the levels they were previously. This only makes sense and helps the nation as a whole. The burden of taxes on the middle class is already oppressive enough, and restoring the previous tax percentage on the 1-2% of wealthiest Americans would not burden or oppress anybody.”
Tammy gives voice to a view held by so many. What she recognizes – along with Julia, Karen, and millions of Working America members across the country – is that when they raise their voices together, they are more powerful. This strength can have a significant impact on what is taking place in Congress right now and into the New Year. You can raise your voice as well! Make contacting your members of Congress about these important issues your resolution. You can take action here.
Tags: Health Care, Jobs, Ohio, unemployment
Working America has endorsed the following candidates and ballot initiatives in the 2012 election. These endorsements do not cover all the candidates and ballot issues in which we have a stake, but they all reflect the passion of our members and the values of our organization.
On November 6, please consider the following as you go to vote:
Barack Obama for President
Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate, Massachusetts
Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate, Missouri
Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate, New Mexico
Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, Ohio
Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate, Virginia
Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate, Wisconsin
Joe Miklosi for U.S. Congress, Colorado, 6th District
Ed Perlmutter for U.S. Congress, Colorado, 7th District
Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress, Ohio, 16th District
Mark Critz for U.S. Congress, Pennsylvania, 12th District
No on Proposal 1, Michigan
Yes on Proposal 2, Michigan
Yes on Issue 2, Ohio
Tags: Barack Obama, Colorado, endorsement, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin
We’re proud to support President Barack Obama for re-election on Tuesday.
Four years ago, the nation was in crisis. We’d seen nearly a decade of stagnating wages, growing corporate power and steady erosion of the middle class. We were squandering time and resources we could have been using to rebuild America and create a fairer economy. In the fall, an under-regulated, irresponsible and out-of-control financial system detonated, which led to a massive recession and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. We nearly lost a major American industry as the recession crippled auto companies.
Today, we’ve seen nearly three straight years of jobs being added in the private sector. Though things are still tough, we stopped the nosedive of our economy avoided the catastrophic depression that seemed imminent in 2008. We saved nearly a million jobs or more by rescuing the auto industry. And what’s more, we passed much-needed reforms to our health care system and our financial system that will help protect working people and rein in corporate power. None of this was inevitable, none of it was easy, and none of it would have happened if our hard work hadn’t elected Barack Obama as our president.
President Obama also signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and an important credit card reform bill. He passed the Recovery Act that halted the economic collapse, cut taxes for working-class and middle class families and invested in our schools, our infrastructure and new kinds of energy. And he appointed champions for working people to the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Board.
We haven’t agreed with the president on everything, but when it comes down to it, he’s shown that he wants to make America work better for middle class and working-class families. His values and his priorities are the same ones we hear from ordinary people at their doors thousands of times a week: building prosperity by strengthening the middle class, ensuring a great education for our kids, keeping the promise of Social Security and Medicare for today’s retirees and tomorrow’s.
Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, has been hard to pin down on a lot of issues, but on the basic economic issues that matter most, his views are remarkably clear: he thinks corporations and the very wealthy are the most important actors in the economy, and so in order to make the economy work we have to tilt it ever-further in favor of those rich and powerful actors. He said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt” rather than investing in the auto industry. He named Paul Ryan as his running mate—endorsing a radical plan to demolish Medicare and leave seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies. As a finance-industry CEO, he exemplified the worst trends in our economy, stripping companies of value for himself and his shareholders and leaving the people who worked for those companies stranded. In his business career, he was referred to as a “pioneer” of outsourcing, and his proposals would give companies further incentives to ship He’s maddeningly unspecific about much of his tax plan, but every serious analysis shows that he would give bigger tax breaks to millionaires (like him) than even George W. Bush did. And he has declared time and time again that his top priority is repealing the health care reform and Wall Street reform that President Obama worked so hard to pass.
This isn’t a close call. President Obama’s skill and leadership in stopping the economic collapse and putting in place health care reform and Wall Street reform would be enough to earn him a second term—but the case for a vote for Obama is even clearer when you compare it to what a Romney administration would look like.
On Tuesday, we recommend a vote for President Obama—and we hope you’ll get your friends and family to the polls, too.
Photo by Intel Photos on Flickr
Tags: Barack Obama, Colorado, endorsement, Jobs, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin
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.
Tags: Betty Sutton, Ohio, Sherrod Brown, voting rights
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
Tags: Betty Sutton, endorsement, Ohio, Sherrod Brown
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.
Tags: endorsement, Josh Mandel, Ohio, Sherrod Brown
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.
Tags: endorsement, Ohio, redistricting, voting rights
We’re never going to be truly satisfied with how the media covers elections – but after last week’s first presidential debate things got a little out of hand.
Mitt Romney came onto the stage in Denver last week and continuously stretched the truth, changed from his previous positions, and made policy proposals that were mathematically and logistically unfeasible. Blogger Igor Volsky counted 27 myths in Romney’s 38 minutes of speaking time.
Sure, we all laughed at the “Big Bird” mention, but let’s be clear: You can’t increase the size of the military, give an enormous tax cut to the wealthy, lower the corporate tax rate, and reduce the deficit and debt by eliminating subsidies for PBS.
Yet too many commentators across the spectrum awarded a “win” to Romney. Why? He earned more “style points,” some said. He “seemed” more confident and forceful, other said. With health care coverage, jobs, and housing for millions on the line, too many people used the same standards that are applied to American Idol to address the most important decision of the decade.
All this talk of style over substance bothered Working America member Sid Washington, who wrote a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer titled “Stop focusing on candidates’ debate style and start focusing on who’s telling the truth.”
It never fails to amaze me how superficially our society judges winners and losers in political debates. Style and delivery have become the determining factors, while substance and truthfulness have become insignificant side issues.
When Mitt Romney criticizes the president for the size of the deficit, he fails to mention how Republicans ended negotiations on a deficit-reduction plan because they would not consider tax increases on the rich. When he talks about high unemployment rates, he does not discuss how Republicans have fought and voted against every proposal the president has put forward to increase jobs, including the American Jobs Act.
Instead of obsessing on who looked the best and who had the more forceful debating style, while telling lies and deceiving the voters, we should be focusing on who’s telling the truth on how his proposals will affect middle-class Americans.
But before we begin any debate, we must be truthful and acknowledge that the Republicans have vowed from Day One to make Barack Obama a one-term president. And for this vow, they have forsaken all others, including a vow to implement policies that benefit the American public.
Sid Washington Brook Park
Tags: Jobs, Mitt Romney, Ohio
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
So begins A Tale of Two Cities, the renowned novel by Charles Dickens. Born in poverty, with a father in debtor’s prison, Dickens understood and uplifted the plight of working people fighting to survive and thrive in an economy in which technology was transforming life, and average citizens too often suffered under the subject of forces seemingly out of their control. Dickens’ opening words ring true to us today (for better or worse). They don’t simply capture the sentiment of his own era – they also speak to us in the present, here in the United States.
And here, today, we have “A Tale of Six Cities.”
It is a story set in Cincinnati and Cleveland, Columbus and Jackson, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Last week, in each city, Working America stood up once again to have their voices heard and to hold politicians accountable.
Over two hundred years ago, the downtrodden people of Paris turned to the streets to loudly proclaim their opposition to unjust governance, unbridled avarice, and unfair taxes.
Last week, we turned out to make known their opposition to tax policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many. We sought the ears of our politicians that are unfortunately choosing to represent the interests of the 2 percent wealthiest in this country, rather than looking out for the rest of us.
We were not out shouting for bloody revolution as workers in France did so many years ago, but our passion for economic fairness and good jobs was clear: Wielding pens rather than pitchforks, canvassing the sidewalks rather than storming the boulevards, we asked people to sign on to the demands for the wealthiest in this country to pay their fair share. Rather than bearing torches, with searing satire we carried large checks for $160,000, representing the average virtual checks that both the Senate and the House of Representatives had recently voted to write to the richest 2 percent in America.
We insisted that additional tax cuts for heads of corporations and other millionaires should not come at the expense of Medicare for our seniors, access to higher education, and raising taxes on 25 million working Americans. We still need these politicians to hear our displeasure at the attempt to hold middle class tax cuts hostage by shielding the wealthiest from merely having to pay the same rates under which they prospered in the Clinton years (and only on their income over $250,000).
Our members also told their personal stories of struggle in this Bush-created economic system. Stories like that told in Milwaukee by contractor and member Todd Sprewer, of how small businesses like his have suffered at the behest of large corporations under policies supported by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. Or like that of member and veteran Ed Jude, whose wife is unable to get the health coverage she needs in the Badger state. Stories of how families fight to stay afloat while they see cuts to education and infrastructure, like that told by Minneapolis area member Mike Adair, who criticized Rep. John Kline’s support of tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent. Members like Paul Hoffinger of Minnesota spoke to the press, explaining why they chose to go out and visit the offices of their elected officials, and how Working America was fighting for middle class families. And they were supported by the people they met, like the construction worker in Columbus who climbed down from his scaffolding, and wearing his hard hat joined the assembled group outside the office of Senator Rob Portman.
Unlike in the Reign of Terror, where French rulers were physically thrown out of their offices, it was the threat of being turned out by voters on Election Day that forced some officials to respond to the actions last week. Like Congressman Tim Wahlberg, whose district director in Michigan not only met with Working America on the spot, but who felt required to personally take to the airwaves as well as issue a statement in response. On the other hand, as arrogant Bourbon royalty ignored the cries of the French people to have a say in their government – much to their peril – so do we have self-assured politicians like Senator Rob Portman, who bar their offices from the people, removing them away in tall towers, hiding them behind guards, and staffing them with attendants who refuse to take even a moment to meet face-to-face with constituents and hear what they have to say.
Tens of thousands of Londoners were suffering through economic hardship in 1854, the year Dickens’ novel Hard Times was published, bringing attention to the plight of the working poor. More than 1 million Working America members over four states were represented by the over 150 organizers and activists who stood together united in their support for policies that would bring greater economic fairness and prosperity to middle class Americans. Significantly, they were joined on that day by citizens in 30 cities across the country, all part of a National Day of Action organized by not only Working America, but by a coalition of allies who helped give voice in part to the 58 percent of Americans – over 175 million people – who believe that too few taxes are paid by the wealthy rich.
When it is all said and done, whether it’s a tale of two cities or six cities, one city or hundreds, whether that tale is set in the past, the present, or the future, it’s the power of strength in numbers that carries the day. It is a strength that is at the core of Working America. A strength which grows as new members sign up and take action across this country every day. A strength that powers a movement. One which will ensure that our politicians and policies of the future will truly listen to the interests of working families.
Tags: Bush tax cuts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Rob Portman
After previously trying to restrict early voting, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) today reversed course on his decision to block county boards of elections from setting their own early voting hours in the days leading up to the November election.
Last month, Husted and Ohio Republicans led an effort to limit early voting hours in Democratic counties, including those with major cities like Columbus and Cleveland, while expanding early voting in Republican counties. After the ensuing uproar, Husted moved to restrict voting hours across the state, only to have his cuts to early voting restored by a federal court.
For now, Ohio counties can set their own early voting hours. That’s especially helpful for those counties with large minority communities, like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County; in 2008, over 93,000 Ohioans voted in the last three days before election day, a significant number of them African-American. Those final three days have been the subject of a drawn out battle between Secretary of State Husted, local elections officials, and voting rights advocates.
However, don’t pop the champagne yet. Husted appealed the district court decision that allowed those final three days of voting to the 6th Circuit Court. If that court rules in his favor, those final three days of early voting are – and we’re using a complex legal term – toast.
We’ll be watching this closely. We are hoping ultimately that justice - and access to the polls comparable to 2008 and 2010 – will prevail.
Tags: Ohio, voting rights