This week, the five of us who helped found Peanut Butter PAC are focusing our attention on Jennifer Brunner in keeping with this week's unofficial theme. I hope to be able to get Brunner's position on the Patriot Act by this Friday. I have contacted her campaign about it and am still awaiting a reply. Since it is Wednesday and the middle of the work week, I figured it was a good day to tackle what each Ohio Senate Candidate plans on doing about the jobs problem. It should certainly be the number 1 priority for Democrats once health care reform is put to bed for this year.
Jobs are the number one issue in my campaign. But jobs can't be considered in a vacuum. Issues like health care and fair trade policies go hand in hand with developing a sustainable recovery in Ohio and stable communities for the years to come.
There is no silver bullet for creating new and better jobs. It will take cooperation among many levels of government, business and even advocacy groups to grow Ohio's economy again.
Brunner is correct in that health care reform done right would save jobs and even help create new ones as premiums would be brought under control, as insurance rate increases have hurt small businesses and have eaten into already flattened wages. Trade polices are also important to look at as NAFTA incentivized big corporations to move their factories to Mexico and left behind hard-working American workers for non-union Mexican workers. Brunner tend goes on to explain that Ohio's unemployment rate is at 10.9% and explains more about health care reform and starts on what is needed.
Now the "hue and cry" is that health care reform was not the issue President Obama and Congress should have tackled first (despite the fact that reigned in health care costs helps our economy)—but rather they should be turning away from health care reform and focusing on jobs. The focus was on jobs—first thing—with the stimulus package that bailed out banks and the out-of-balance budgets of the states and directed funds toward jobs in the states in health care, energy independence and education. But clearly, this hasn’t been enough.
Others and I have suggested Congress take unspent bailout money and use it for infrastructure jobs in our states. Infrastructure building is one of the most direct ways to get people working again quickly, especially skilled workers in the building trades, which is often called the "tip of the spear" to jobs recovery in any area. My friends in the IBEW and many others like them could use that help, and our communities would benefit from it.
Brunner gets it on infrastructure spending, and I have quoted this part before. Sh also correctly asserts that the stimulus was primarily a jobs creation effort albeit one that was watered down with useless tax cuts. Brunner goes on and talks about unemployment benefits.
In Ohio and many other places in the U.S. we need some common sense solutions—like letting people work part time when they can find it but not cutting off their unemployment benefits. Few states allow this, so why not pick up this regulation from the states for now and get people working again, even if only part time?
Most people on unemployment are receiving just a portion of what they were earning. They still have their mortgages to pay, prescriptions to pay for, cars to fuel and repair, and kids’ lunches to buy—so why not let them do it with reduced benefits? They would have longer to find a sustainable job for the same overall benefit cap while small businesses could safely begin to grow right now.
The wages they receive would most likely be substantially less anyway than their weekly benefit but if they could take the job, it could lead to a full-time position and they could still receive partial benefits while working without giving up their unemployment benefits completely.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s website is clear that unemployment insurance programs (created in 1935 in response to the Great Depression) play a key role in helping businesses, communities and the nation’s economy by providing temporary income support for laid off workers.
I do think after that little stunt that Jim Bunning pulled, we know that Republicans somehow think of unemployment as a disincentive to working rather than a means of support while families are looking for a new job. I am thankful that Brunner gets it that we want people to be able to continue to pay their mortgage and the rest of their bills.
Allowing those laid off workers to start working part time, for instance for up to 6 months, would be a good start. The USDOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program that provides a variety of re-employment services and income support for jobs lost by increased imports or "shifts in production to foreign countries, due to trade and business tax policies" (better known as "outsourcing") sets a similar time frame.
I applaud some of the more long-term steps being proposed like:
- Helping small and mid-sized manufacturers (especially former auto suppliers and auto component manufacturers – Ohio’s largest industry) retool for the clean energy economy,
- Fostering entrepreneurialism and the creation of new jobs through business incubators like I’ve seen in Beachwood, Ohio,
- Preparing our workforce for new jobs through tailored, regional workforce development programs to support high-growth industries, and
- Enforcing trade laws to invest in domestic manufacturing and production, like Senator Sherrod Brown’s Trade Enforcement Priorities Act, to give the federal government more authority to address trade barriers and require the U.S. Trade Representative (Ohio Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman’s former job in the Bush administration) to analyze trade barriers that have the most adverse effect on U.S. exports and employment to crack down on the unfair practices that have killed American jobs and drained our country of our sources of prosperity.
All of those are good ideas, especially retooling for a clean energy economy, which echoes what many progressives call for and looking at the worst trade practices that are killing off American jobs. She also has a full section under Issues regarding Trade, but you get the idea with Brunner. She's through and solutions-oriented.
My top priority is economic recovery for Ohio and the nation, and that means a relentless focus on saving and creating good-paying jobs. When I was asked by Ted Strickland to run as his Lieutenant Governor in 2006, Ohio was just beginning to feel the effects of the Bush Administration’s misguided trade policies, failed economic program, and disastrous fiscal stewardship that ran up our national debt. Never in our lifetime have we seen such a catastrophic national economy.
I support common-sense economic principles: fiscal discipline, living within our means, rewarding hard work, investing in our people, and growing a strong middle class. In the Senate, I will fight to reduce the deficit and support pay-as-you-go budget rules to make sure Congress lives within its means. I also will fight to implement tax policies that reward work, support middle-class families, and encourage investment and job creation.
Despite these tough times, I continue to believe in the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of America and the power of economic growth and fair competition to create shared prosperity. With the right policies in place, I am confident we can create good jobs and grow our economy in a way that benefits all Ohioans.
Let's see: somehow reducing the deficit creates jobs? It will help our bond rating, that's for sure. Cutting spending and letting infrastructure go certainly won't create jobs. He says strong middle class, well...that's good. How do you intend to keep the Middle class strong? The page then mentions Fisher as Director of Development but then fails to mention that Fisher quit the position just a month after President Obama took office when Ohio was still hemorrhaging jobs. That's Leadership for you. And people wonder why Fisher won't debate Brunner. That has to be a big reason why.
Lee believes we can and must make Ohio a hub of energy production, putting thousands of Ohioans to work creating sources of clean, renewable energy like wind turbines, solar panels and fuel cell-powered cars.
I somehow take it that Fisher would find the funding for this, and also minimie the bureaucracy when it comes to installing solar panels on one's roof as well? I think the focus on fuel cells for cars is unrealistic right now. Biodiesel is much more inplementable right now, not to mention that I know switchgrass ethanol is being worked on. The page then lacks to mention anything about trade or infrastructure. Fisher then mentions health care reform passing and then educational attainment and job training. He talks about trade but then doesn't give any specifics on his trade policies. And on energy, he doesn't mention nuclear at all, and then mentions "clean coal". Yeah, "clean coal" is like "jumbo shrimp", it's an oxymoron.
I saw in a post not too long ago that there were two other nobodies that popped into the Democratic race at the last moment. There's no mention of them on OpenCongress, and so I won't bother with them. If someone can even name these nobodies on the ballot, then I'll consider updating with their positions if they have a website.
Lastly, we have Rob Portman, the Republican. Portman currently polls ahead of either Brunner or Fisher, but it is only March and his lead isn't that much. On Portman's Issue page, Jobs is on the top. His Jobs tab talks about him visiting manufacturing plants and small business. Then he tells a whopper:
But Crown Battery’s management – like many other small business owners – are fearful of the health proposals currently being debated in Washington that could raise small business taxes and force workers into government-run plans that do less and cost more.
The current Jobs Bills being passed and debated in Congress actually cut taxes for most small businesses. The 15 Billion dollar Jobs Bill was mostly tax cuts. So that's lie #1. The only plans that people are being forced into are the ones run by Wellpoint, Aetna, the Blue Crosses and all the other health insurers. So unless Uncle Sam is the one really running Wellpoint, that is a blatant lie. Furthermore, there is no government-run plan in the current Senate Bill or in the President's proposal. He could somehow be saying that 65 year olds or older shouldn't be on Medicare though. So is that it, Mr. Portman? You think seniors shouldn't be on Medicare? He then goes on to concern troll the Employee Free Choice Act, extols nuclear as an alternative fuel source(but silence about all others) and says cap-and-trade(and he calls it a "tax') would kill jobs. He then goes on further about job training and faith-based charities to help the less fortunate.
So there you have it. Brunner, Fisher or Portman. I think the choice is clear as to who is the best candidate on jobs, and that is Jennifer Brunner.