Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won six of the ten states that voted on Tuesday in the race to become the Republican nominee for President. Romney won Ohio, Virginia, Alaska, Massachusetts, Vermont and Idaho, but political analysts focused sharply on his slim margin of victory, 38% - 37%, over the second-place finisher in Ohio, former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA). Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) did not win in any of the states.
Romney still faces heat over his health care stance during a campaign stop in Ohio on Monday. Supporters and critics alike slam Romney for his muddy explanations on the differences between his 2006 state-mandated health care reform as governor of Massachusetts and President Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul. A resurfacing of his 2009 op-ed article in USA Today highlighted many key benefits of his state plan that would benefit citizens at the federal level. To access the 2009 op-ed, go to http://bit.ly/wVPS5d.
According to Reuters (http://reut.rs/zk0Xr6), labor concerns in Ohio have created a hostile political climate in a state that could lead to a small advantage for President Obama and the Democrats going into the 2012 campaign season. After voters overturned Republican Gov. John Kasich’s law attempting to limit collective bargaining rights for unions, Ohio Democrats have seen increased support from party supporters as well as from some Republicans who disagree with some of the proposed social and economic policies, similar to the “Reagan Democrats” of the 1980s.
Midwest RegionalMeeting FocusesonThreat to Voting, Collective Bargaining Rights
Threats to voting rights, collective bargaining rights and retiree benefits in Wisconsin and across the Midwest were a major topic of a 3-day training session for 150 Alliance members in Milwaukee this week. Guest speakers and workshops educated retirees on the latest developments - as well as media relations and organizing - needed for success in the 2012 elections that are now eight months away.
The AFL-CIO’s Julie Greene gave everyone state-specific fact sheets on voter changes. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said that Wisconsin's collective bargaining law and voter law changes are bad for democracy, which he said should be “the ultimate participatory sport.”
Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt gave a fiery report of Wisconsin protests and the upcoming recall elections of Governor Scott Walker and four Republican state senators. He praised retirees for standing side-by-side with workers and students. Matt Rothschild, editor & publisher of Progressive magazine, said Walker badly misjudged the power and popularity of labor in Wisconsin, as well as the state's long progressive tradition. Bruce Colburn, Director of the Health Care Reform Campaign at SEIU, said that labor has been succeeding in making the statewide debate about the future of the middle class. Other speakers, including Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance; Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer; and Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs, who gave an overview of the 2012 Congressional races in the Midwest, were also well-received. “I want to thank Wisconsin Alliance President Leon Burzynski for being such a gracious host for this week,” said Ms. Easterling.
Elected to the Regional Board from the Midwest were: Sam Burnett of Ohio; Larry Malone of Missouri; Tim Foley of Michigan; and Don Brown of Iowa. Photos from the Midwestern conference are available at http://bit.ly/ACmBQX.
Photos of the Western Regional conference are available at http://bit.ly/zfPxVh. Also, last week’s Friday Alert inadvertently listed Mark Goodman of Colorado as having been elected to the Western Regional board. It was Mack Goodman of Colorado who was elected.
Affordable Senior Health Insurance to Supplement Medicare
Affordable insurance supplemental to Medicare is available through the Retiree Health Plan endorsed by the Alliance for union retirees. The Open Enrollment period is currently in effect through April 30, 2012! During this period, these Medicare-eligible retirees and their spouses are guaranteed acceptance with no waiting periods, regardless of preexisting health conditions. If you have questions or would like to enroll in the program, please call 1-866-298-9117. You can also visit www.araretireehealth.com to get more information.
State Chapter Report: California and Pennsylvania
California Alliance members held an informational picket and rally in Oakland on Tuesday to challenge the proposals that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson were presenting later that evening regarding the country’s deficit and their plans to address it. Bowles and Simpson were the two co-chairs of the President’s Deficit Commission, which was unable to get the votes they needed to send their recommendations to Congress at the end of 2010. Now they are conducting a national speaking tour to promote their proposals and encourage their adoption by Congress – proposals that include deep changes to Social Security, such as raising the retirement age, taxing benefits, and privatizing the program. They are also proposing massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
In Harrisburg on Monday, Pennsylvania Alliance members attended their third “Protect Our Vote Coalition” press conference to stop severe Voter Identification rules from becoming law in the state. Such changes would affect seniors and the disabled disproportionately, by making it more difficult to cast a ballot.
White House Details How Health Care Reform Helps Every State
The White House has released data detailing how the Affordable Care Act – health care reform - helps residents of every state. To see how your state benefits, go to http://1.usa.gov/yuI1gu.
Rep. Donald Payne Dies; Was a Strong Advocate for Seniors
Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) has died following a months-long fight with colon cancer, his family announced on Tuesday. The first African-American to represent New Jersey in Congress, he was 77. “Rep. Payne will be missed in Congress for both his leadership and his pro-retiree voting record,” said Mr. Burks. Rep. Payne had a 99% lifetime voting record with the Alliance.
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