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August 22, 2016


Vivien DeBack

The Senate race in Wisconsin in 2016 will be contentious. Unfortunately such political races focus on individual traits rather than policies and plans. This year while Trump spews hatred, anger, divisiveness and fear, the public have become immune to such behavior. It tends to center us on bizarre and frequent headlines that are titillating but destructive, high emotion, but useless when making serious decisions about the best people to lead us.

History has proven Russ Feingold to be the kind of candidate who has plans to address the concerns of Wisconsinites. Plans that include Social Security protection, needs and rights of workers, veterans issues, and improvement for the Affordable Care Act. Many of us are supporters of Russ Feingold. But supporting and voting for him is not enough. It is important for all of us to discuss the issues that make us committed to Russ and inform others of that commitment.

Senator Johnson has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” When he was told Ponzi schemes are against the law he said, well it’s a “legal Ponzi scheme.” It is actually a valuable insurance benefit you have worked for and paid for all your life. Johnson would dismantle Social Security. Privatization would have a disastrous effect on trusting seniors who believe they will be financially secure during their retirement.

Russ Feingold believes Social Security should be expanded, not privatized. Russ’s actions and votes have been rated 90% by the Alliance for Retired Americans on his commitment and votes while in the Senate on protecting and supporting Social Security. “Social Security and Medicare are promises to our seniors,” and we “stand together in sup- port of Social Security and Medicare for American Seniors” (Russ Feingold). Unfortunately the discussion about the differences between Feingold and Johnson on Social Security is getting little publicity in this election.

Veteran’s health care has been in the national news after reports of veterans waiting in long lines to receive needed care, in some cases dying before receiving care. Johnson and Russ Feingold have different views on this serious issue. Johnson wants the VA to have a lesser role in meeting the needs of veterans returning home. He wants veteran’s needs to be meet by private providers with no detail on how the veterans can be assured of proper and timely care. This opens up concerns that veterans will be subject to the lowest bidder for their health care. Even when a bill was passed in 2014 known as the Veterans Choice Act, allowing veterans who had been waiting for care to take advantage of private health care providers, Johnson voted against it because it would cost too much. Feingold, on the other hand, has been listening to veterans across the state and says veterans have told him they want the system improved and well-funded but not privatized. Feingold listens to the people.

The stakes are high and this race is widely expected to be most hard-fought U.S. Senate contests in the nation.

Senator Johnson is against the existence of the federal minimum wage, and you can surely forget about raising it if he is re-elected.

Johnson also believes helping women fight for equal pay would “do more harm than good.” However, he is all for giving breaks to multinational corporations that ship our jobs overseas. Senator Johnson is not listening to the Wisconsinites he was elected to represent.

Russ Feingold knows the needs of Wisconsinites because he’s been to each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties at least twice, logged over 50,000 miles on the campaign van and talked to thousands of Wisconsin residents from all walks of life. What he’s heard is that they’re ready to unite and work together. They want a senator who listens to them. Russ said Wisconsinites’ concerns became apparent during that tour. They include fears the economic recovery has left them behind. To combat those problems, Feingold favors a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also supports allowing students to refinance their college loan debt, expanding paid family leave, and improving Social Security benefits.

The Affordable Care Act is a 2010 Federal law establishing protection for an individual’s health insurance coverage, with standards of care, expansion of coverage, and no penalty for preexisting conditions.

The Alliance for Retired Americans rated Feingold’s pro-public health record as a Senator at 100%. Senator Johnson vows to “get rid of the ACA once and for all,” leaving millions of Americans once again without health insurance.

What can you do? Talk about the issues you consider important. We need clear statements on candidates’ plans for our state and country.

Write to your local paper about the issues you support based on facts from the candidates and their record. Most of all, talk to people who are staying away from voting. The selection of Senator for Wisconsin is critical. We can have someone who listens to the people (Feingold), not someone who does nothing to improve the lives of people of our state and nation (Johnson).  VOTE and get others to vote. Let’s take the high road with Russ and do everything we can to make him the next Senator from Wisconsin.


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