October 13, 2014

The National ‘Put the Middle Class First’ Bus Tour Rolls Into Illinois, Joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

Contacts:   Jeremy Funk, 605-366-3654
Blake Williams (Traveling Press Secretary), 407-902-7399

18-State Tour Underscores Clear Choice Voters Face in November:
Democrats’ Middle-Out Approach to Building an Economy That Works for Everyone vs. Bruce Rauner, Mark Kirk & Rodney Davis’s Top-Down Tea Party Approach That Works Only for the Wealthy Few & Big Corporations

[Scene outside the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building today; click here for more pictures]

Washington DC – Americans United for Change has hit the road with the national “Put the Middle Class First” bus tour to help drive home the clear choice before voters on November 4 between having a Democratic Congress that works for them or a Tea Party Congress that works for corporate special interests like the Koch brothers. Today’s stop: Chicago, IL.  With the backdrop of the 45’ long ‘fair shot advocate on wheels’, Americans United was joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, local labor leaders, and seniors’ advocates who agree that a strong economy can only be built to last from the middle-out.  The alternative?: The top-down Tea Party approach espoused by Bruce Rauner Sen. Mark Kirk, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) that says we should give millionaires more tax cuts that never manage to create jobs but do always manage to undermine middle class priorities like education and Medicare. They say minimum wage earners who are working full time and still living in poverty don’t deserve a raise, but that companies that ship U.S. jobs overseas deserve another tax break.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District): “Governor Pat Quinn has talked about the fact that minimum wage workers often work two or three jobs and are some of the most important jobs: taking care of our children, taking care of our seniors and people with disabilities and still not able to take care of their own families.  Bruce Rauner has been in the business of outsourcing jobs. He’s actually taught other companies how to outsource their jobs from America. And he says he wants to run on his business record? His business record is in outsourcing jobs from Illinois.  In Illinois because Pat Quinn has embraced the Affordable Care act, we now have 650,000 people as of today that have healthcare that did not have health care before the Affordable Care Act.  So we need to make sure on November 4th that we’re going to be casting our votes for Democrats, and for the middle class.

William McNary, Co-Director of Illinois Citizen Action: “There is a clear choice before Illinois voters on November 4th. Will we move in the direction of an economy that works for all of us, or in the direction of the Tea Party’s trickle down approach that works only for the wealthy few.  Let us make sure that Republican Bruce Rauner is exposed for the greedy, destructive, venture capitalist that he is. This is a man who makes $25 thousand dollars an hour, and at the same time he says that the minimum wage should be lower. He wants to cut government spending, unless they’re spending it on him. He wants to cut workers’ pensions even further. This is a man who says his role models for Governor are Scott Walker and Rick Snyder. This is a man who says he would have refused to provide healthcare to those who need it the most, and would have refused to expand Medicaid.  We have a simple message for Bruce Rauner, the man who makes over one million dollars a week: Illinois is not for sale. If you won’t stand up for the middle class, we won’t stand up for you. We will meet you and beat you on November 4th.”

 Katie Jordan, IL Alliance for Retired Americans Treasurer: “Social Security and Medicare are under renewed threat from Tea Party extremists in Congress.  These cherished programs have lifted generations of seniors, survivors, and disabled Americans out of poverty. They are a promise kept from one generation to the next – benefits that are guaranteed and earned through hard work.  But right-wing ideologues in Congress like Rodney Davis want to break that promise on behalf of the Wall Street bankers and Koch brothers that back their campaigns. Davis helped House Republicans pass a budget plan crafted by Paul Ryan that would end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a system of private vouchers.  Private vouchers that the CBO confirmed would not keep pace with the cost of health care and leave seniors paying thousands of dollars more out of their pockets for care.  Ryan’s Plan also fast tracks cuts to Social Security, requiring that in any year that the Social Security Trust Fund does not meet 75-year solvency the Social Security Board of Trustees must provide recommendations to the President who must then draw up implementing legislation to change the program, which must then be taken up by Congress. This is a nothing but a backdoor way for right-wing extremists to resuscitate their old scheme for Social Security: Privatization. Voters already overwhelmingly rejected the idea of gambling Social Security benefits in the stock market when President Bush proposed it in 2005.  Even so, many Republicans in Congress – many of whom have higher political ambitions – insist that privatization should be on the table when debating Social Security’s future.  The financial crisis of 2008 showed exactly why privatization should never rear its ugly head again. Think of how many seniors would have been wiped out if their Social Security benefits had been tied up in that mess on Wall Street.  And yet Rodney Davis still thinks privatization is a good idea.”

BACKGROUND: While the economy is picking up speed, many American families are still struggling to climb into the middle class and stay there. The problem: incomes have been stagnant or even shrinking for more than a decade at the same time the cost of food, child care, college, housing, retirement security, and basic necessities has soared.  The solution: lawmakers must make critical investments in education, innovation and infrastructure that will create more jobs, opportunity, and an economy that works for everyone. But instead, Tea Party Republicans have stood in the way of every reasonable proposal made by President Obama and Democrats to move the country forward, even if it meant shutting down the government and hurting the economy. As a result Congress has been the least productive and most beholden to the special interests in U.S. history, no thanks to Rodney Davis who voted to rubberstamp their extreme agenda 75% of the time.

Davis helped pass extreme Republican budget plans that voucherize Medicare and hikes seniors’ premiums, guts Medicaid and nursing home care, slashes Pell grants and child care services, and shortchange badly needed repairs to America’s crumbling bridges and roads. At the same time, the Ryan-Davis budget protects Big Oil subsides and gives away $5 trillion in new tax breaks for millionaires and corporations that outsource U.S. jobs. Not to be outdone, Republican Governors are enacting their own Robin Hood in Reverse policies, from tax breaks geared towards the super-wealthy, to gutting public education, to refusing to accept available Medicaid resources to cover thousands of vulnerable citizens including Veterans who living one health emergency away from bankruptcy.  The Koch brothers, Big Oil and Insurance and Wall Street are clearly very satisfied customers judging by the millions of dollars they continue to funnel into Republican campaigns like Davis’.

In contrast, Democrats in Congress have a detailed set of proposals that put the middle class first, giving more Americans a fair shot at getting into the middle class and achieving the American Dream, including: Ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work; Making college affordable; Raising the Minimum Wage; Creating jobs by investing in infrastructure; and Protecting Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts, voucher and privatization schemes.


Americans United for Change, known formerly as Americans United to Protect Social Security, is a 501c4 issue-advocacy organization established in 2005 to beat back President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security and that has been working ever since to advance a progressive agenda in Congress including Wall Street reform, protecting Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security from benefit cuts, and requiring millionaires and big corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

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