Deciding how to cast your ballot is a very personal choice. But it’s often difficult to gather enough solid information to make an informed decision, despite the deluge of material that has been written and broadcast about the upcoming elections in the last few months. That’s why many unions are publishing comparisons of the candidates’ positions on the issues most critical to working families.
Below are some points to consider in this year’s crucial presidential and senate races. Also in this issue is a listing of the candidates the Local 802 Executive Board has endorsed in the Nov. 7 elections, along with some highlights of their platforms.
Whatever you decide, we urge all 802 members to cast their ballots on Nov. 7.
ISSUES IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
þAl Gore supports setting aside 60 percent of the federal budget surplus to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. He opposes raising the retirement age, cutting benefits or privatizing Social Security. While leaving guaranteed benefits alone, he would add new “Retirement Savings Plus” accounts to boost retirement for low- and moderate-income families.
ýGeorge W. Bush proposes a trillion-dollar tax cut for the wealthy that will take away money needed to support Social Security. He would consider raising the retirement age for Social Security and supports partially privatizing the system. That approach would require cuts in guaranteed Social Security benefits of 29 percent for older workers, and 54 percent for workers 30 and younger, according to a study by the nonpartisan Century Fund.
FREEDOM TO CHOOSE A UNION
þAl Gore believes union organizing is a “fundamental right,” has consistently opposed privatization, and has personally lobbied for public employee collective bargaining in Maryland and Puerto Rico. He opposed anti-union “paycheck protection” initiatives and has promised to veto such legislation if elected.
ýGeorge W. Bush has said that union workers undermine the economy and bragged that “Texas is a right-to-work state, with low unionization of the work force.” He wants to regulate unions’ right to support pro-worker legislation and candidates. As governor, he tried to privatize state workers’ jobs.
þAl Gore supports a strong Patient’s Bill of Rights, which would allow patients to file lawsuits to hold health plans accountable and would ensure access to emergency rooms and prescription drugs. He wants to expand the 1997 Children’s Health Insurance Program to include children in families earning up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four, and enable all other families to buy into the program voluntarily. He has cosponsored breast cancer legislation and fought for mammogram coverage under Medicare.
ýGeorge W. Bush backs a weak patients’ rights bill that gives HMOs the final say on what is medically necessary and excludes the 100 million people in “self-funded” health plans. As governor, he vetoed a patient protection bill because he said it placed too many new regulations on managed care organizations. Under Bush, Texas ranks worst in the nation in the percentage of the population with health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
þAl Gore supports adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare and using $300 billion of the projected budget surplus to strengthen the program. He has proposed expanding Medicare to allow people ages 55-64 to pay a premium and receive coverage.
ýGeorge W. Bush’s tax cut leaves no money to shore up the Medicare system. Rather than adding a prescription drug benefit, he supports a Congressional proposal that would put coverage under the control of insurance companies; would cover less than half as many people, according to a Congressional Budget Office study; and would require monthly premiums and a $250 deductible. He backs a congressional plan that would raise the eligibility age for Medicare and implement “means testing” for recipients.
þAl Gore opposes school vouchers that would take away funds from public schools. He supports investing $115 billion to decrease class size, hire 2 million new teachers in the next decade, invest in new school construction and make preschool available to all children.
ýGeorge W. Bush supports using public funds to provide vouchers for private school education. Since he took office the state has dropped 6 percentage points in college entrance exam scores; Texas now rates 46th among the nation’s 50 states. Preschool participation is 28 percent below the national average, and there are 40,000 teacher vacancies in the state.
þAl Gore voted for increases three times while in Congress and, as vice-president, supported the last increase, in 1966. He is now pushing to increase the federal minimum wage to $6.15 an hour.
ýGeorge W. Bush opposes efforts to increase the minimum wage. Since becoming governor, he has gone on record three times in opposition to increasing the Texas minimum wage of $3.35 an hour. At the federal level he supported an amendment (which passed the House last March) to allow states to refuse coverage by the federal minimum wage. He opposed paying welfare recipients in public-service jobs the federal minimum wage, arguing that they should receive no wages beyond their monthly $188 welfare payments.
þAl Gore proposes a tax plan that would help working families – including expanding the child care and Earned Income tax credits, expanding health care coverage through targeted tax credits, and giving a deduction for college tuition.
ýGeorge W. Bush proposed a tax plan so risky and costly that even House Republicans avoided voting on it. The plan would drain budget surpluses and could force cuts in Medicare, education and child nutrition programs to give tax breaks to the rich.
þAl Gore co-sponsored the Civil Rights Act of 1990; supported the Violence Against Women Act and Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and 59 percent of Clinton/Gore judicial nominees are women and minorities, the highest ever.
ýGeorge W. Bush opposes affirmative action; refused to back comprehensive Texas hate crimes legislation; and less than one-third of Gov. Bush’s appointees are women.
Al Gore supported NAFTA and GATT, most favored nation status for China, and he voted for Fast Track authority that would prevent Congress from amending trade agreements
George W. Bush supports “a strong NAFTA,” inclusion of China in the World Trade Organization and “Fast Track.”
ISSUES IN THE SENATE RACE
WORKER PROTECTIONS & THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE
þHillary Clinton supports making it easier for workers to organize without fear of employer harassment – including requiring recognition through a “card check.” She would increase penalties for companies which illegally fire workers who support unions. And she has consistently opposed efforts to weaken pension, overtime and worker safety laws.
ýRick Lazio voted to allow employers to pay workers in comp time instead of cash for overtime hours. He voted to allow corporations to raid pension funds. And he voted to slash the budget for OSHA enforcement by a third.
þHillary Clinton believes the federal budget surplus should be used to improve education, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and pay down the national debt. She supports the Kennedy-Bonior bill to increase the minimum wage to $6.15 per hour over two years.
ýRick Lazio supports the Republican budget plan that places priority on big tax cuts for the wealthy. He voted in favor of Newt Gingrich’s budget in 1995 that cut $270 billion from Social Security. He voted to weaken laws that protect overtime pay and pensions, and has voted three times to oppose or weaken increases in the minimum wage.
PATIENT RIGHTS & HEALTH CARE
þHillary Clinton supports a strong and enforceable Patients’ Bill of Rights that will ensure that doctors – not bureaucrats – make treatment decision, and will allow patients to hold HMOs accountable when they are wrongly denied care. She calls for making long-term care tax deductible.
ýRick Lazio voted against a strong Patients’ Bill of Rights, and for a budget that would have cut Medicare by $270 billion. He also voted for a bill that would weaken patient protections now provided to New Yorkers under New York State law.
þHillary Clinton supports the Allen-Johnson bill, which guarantees every senior citizen an affordable prescription drug plan, with low deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, through Medicare. She would also introduce legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing pharmacists to reimport them.
ýRick Lazio supported a “voluntary” prescription drug plan under which seniors would have to pay the first $250 of drug costs annually.
þHillary Clinton supports hiring 100,000 new teachers and lowering class sizes in schools. She supports a tax deduction of $10,000 a year to help families pay for college tuition. And she’ll fight to build new classrooms and renovate crumbling schools.
ýRick Lazio voted for the largest education cuts in history – and even voted to eliminate the Department of Education. He has also voted against funding to hire new teachers, and against funding school repairs.
Both Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio supported NAFTA, fast track legislation, and permanent normal relations with China.