October 2012

Voices of the Election 2012

There is so much noise surrounding this election, it can be hard to figure out what people are actually saying. Here are the issues of the election in the words of the people shaping it.

Democrats

The Man: Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

The Quote: "If the majority of workers want a union, they should get a union. It is that simple."-Speech about the Employee Free Choice Act, 2008

The Takeaway: Barack Obama has been a steady friend of working people. He got his start helping a community recover from the closing of a steel mill in Chicago. The first law he signed when he became president was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects workers from wage discrimination. As a senator and as president, Obama pushed hard to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. His appointments to the NLRB and his appointment of Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor have helped restore balance to the Department of Labor and greatly increased enforcement of labor statutes.

The Man: William "Bill" Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

The Quote: "Since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!" - Speech before the Democratic National Convention, 2012

The Takeaway: Bill Clinton knows a thing or two about job creation, and the facts speak for themselves. The common-sense efforts of Democratic presidents to responsibly improve the economy for rich and poor alike created one of the greatest economic booms in our nation's history. Twenty-eight years of trickle-down voodoo economics have not been effective. With the economy like it is, whose record are you going to trust?

The Man: Joseph "Joe" Biden, 47th Vice President of the United States

The Quote: "Romney and Ryan don't think that much about you guys. They view you, the working women and men of America as the problem. We view you as the solution. Look folks, we know who built this country and we know who is going to rebuild it. It's you. Instead of vilifying you, we should be thanking you. We owe you." - Labor Day speech to union members, 2012

The Takeaway: Joe Biden has always been a strong advocate for working people in the Senate and has been an impassioned voice for labor in the administration. This is one of the things that set this administration apart: While most politicians shy away from acknowledging the contributions of union workers, the Obama/Biden team is open about its support for working families. Keeping them in the White House will ensure we are not forgotten over the next four years.

Republicans

The Man: Willard "Mitt" Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts

The Quote: "One of the first things I will do, actually, on Day One, is I will end the government favoritism towards unions in contracting on federal projects and end project labor agreements, and I will repeal Davis-Bacon." - Speech before the Associated Builders and Contractors, 2012

The Takeaway: Romney's words amount to an all-out war on unionized workers. The federal government is the largest purchaser of construction and Romney would rather deal out those projects to his union-busting cronies at the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Getting rid of PLAs would jeopardize construction workers' wages and benefits while likely costing taxpayers a fortune in delays. Repealing Davis-Bacon would allow local workers, local contractors, and community standards to be undercut by irresponsible contractors from outside the region.

The Man: Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman, House Budget Committee

The Quote: "[The Republican budget proposal] addresses the short-comings of [Social Security] and strengthens the retirement safety net by providing workers with the voluntary option of investing a portion of their FICA payroll taxes into personal savings accounts." - Roadmap for America's Future, 2010

The Takeaway: Sounds like mumbo-jumbo? That's because it is. Paul Ryan writes his budgets in language so boring it could put you to sleep, but the things he wants to do are scary enough to keep you up at night. What he's suggesting here is throwing workers' hard-earned Social Security investment into the stock market for his Wall Street pals to gamble away on the next big bubble. He likes the idea so much that he has proposed it twice. Social Security should be preserved, not cut up and doled out to investment banks. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney has said that he supports Ryan's idea.

The Man: Addison "Mitch" McConnell, Senate Minority Leader

The Quote: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." - Statement to the National Journal, 2010

The Takeaway: That's right. The MOST important thing. Not putting Americans back to work, or defeating Al-Qaeda. Americans elected Mitch McConnell and the rest of Congress to solve our nation's problems. With two wars and an economic crisis, there were plenty of problems to solve. McConnell and his Republican peers decided to squander their time in a cynical attempt to unseat Barack Obama instead. Ignoring the crisis, they fought every initiative the president proposed to improve the economy. They blocked the American Jobs Act, which contained funding for vital infrastructure repairs; filibustered the Employee Free Choice Act and the Highway Trust Fund Reauthorization; and threw the full faith and credit of the United States into question for the first time in history. Their only accomplishment-a record number of filibusters that stymied recovery.