GUEST COMMENTARY: Missouri AFL-CIO endorses Claire McCaskill

Saturday, November 3, 2012 | 2:05 p.m. CDT

This commentary is in response to an article by Carrie Lukas that published Thursday.

In these final few days before Election Day, we’re seeing a recurrence of the shady special interest groups who have been lying low since Todd Akin infamously coined the phrase "legitimate rape." Although many of the names of these groups are new to Missouri, their tired ideas are not.

Just in the past few days, a group called the Now or Never PAC announced it will spend $800,000 on a last week ad campaign to bolster Akin’s flailing campaign. The deceptively named The National Right to Work Committee is buying full-page ads in Missouri newspapers and running online ads this week. The latest? In the Columbia Tribune, a group calling itself the Independent Women’s Voiceattempted to drag the members of the Missouri American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) into their baseless attacks on Sen. Claire McCaskill.

It is likely you’ve never heard of the Independent Women’s Voice. I hadn’t either, but a quick search online leads me to believe this group is anything but independent and to question its claim to speak for Missouri women. They do not speak for us. The Missouri AFL-CIO hasn’t just endorsed McCaskill. Across the state, hardworking teachers, firefighters, construction workers, bus drivers and auto workers are volunteering to get out the vote for McCaskill.

As president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, representing working and middle class families, I’ve talked with working women and men across the state about this election. McCaskill is a moderate.With a senator ranked exactly in the middle, we may not agree on every single issue, but the choice between McCaskill and Akin is clear.

Equal pay is an issue that matters to working families and discrimination is illegal. It is outrageous when employers pay less to female workers than men doing the same work; Akin thinks that’s just “freedom.”  In sharp contrast, McCaskill supports stronger equal pay laws so more Missouri workers can make a decent living and provide for their families.

Akin helped author the devastating Paul Ryan budget, which would end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. He suggests that Medicare isn’t constitutional and has said that he “doesn’t like” Social Security and has voted with special interest groups against his constituents again and again. While three out of four Missouri voters oppose cutting Medicare to give tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent, that’s exactly the reckless and extreme position taken by Akin. 

The choice is also clear on jobs. Sadly, it isn’t news that Missouri families have suffered due to outsourcing — we need leaders who will work together to bring good jobs back to the U.S. McCaskill voted for the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would close tax loopholes for corporations shipping jobs overseas. Akin voted against even considering the Bring Jobs Home Act for a vote in the House.

While the Independent Women’s Voice group criticized McCaskill for the price of gas at the pump, they were silent on the issue of Akin’s support for a budget that would give corporate welfare to big oil companies but slash school lunches and education. Akin even called student loans a “stage 3 cancer.” 

This senate race matters — that’s why we’re seeing these groups coming out of the shadows. Akin’s voting record during his twelve years in Congress shows that his bizarre and offensive views aren’t a one-time mistake – they reflect Akin’s beliefs. Door-to-door and on the phones, people all over the state are saying that they reject his extreme views.

When we vote Tuesday, we have the opportunity to elect a senator who will work for middle-class Missourians. This last-minute flurry by fly-by-night operations and corporate front groups just goes to show it. When working people speak up about what’s at stake, and vote for middle class issues, the special interest groups don’t stand a chance. That’s us – the working people of Missouri – and we’re with McCaskill.

Hugh McVey is president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

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