When they’re running for office, candidates promise that, if elected or re-elected, they’ll keep us safe, support the average worker, cut the deficit, save American jobs, fight corruption and protect consumers. To find out if they told the truth, all we have to do is track how they voted. If those who elected Republicans in the past several years knew how their candidates voted, they’d be outraged.
They’d see that, almost without exception, GOP lawmakers vote for the interests of large corporations at the expense of workers and consumers. They vote against keeping jobs in America, transparency in government and preserving the quality of our air and water. They vote in favor of making it harder for us to vote and for tax plans and laws that overwhelmingly benefit their wealthy donors.
Democrats have been doing the opposite. They vote to protect consumers and to encourage companies to keep jobs here in the United States. They fight for living wages, fair taxation, clean elections and against pollution of the air we breathe and water we drink.
The following are a few examples of how Congressional lawmakers voted on major issues over the past few years. The votes were taken the week of the dates given.
Oct. 22, 2017: Although they say they want to cut the deficit and promised not to cut Medicare, Republican senators, including our own Sen. Ron Johnson, voted to allow a GOP plan that would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion and cut Medicare by $473 billion to proceed. When Democrats proposed an amendment that would have restored Medicare funding, the GOP blocked it. Republicans also voted to allow their plan to limit or eliminate deductions we’ve been able to take for the state and local taxes we’ve already paid and to severely limit the amount we can put into 401(k) accounts to proceed.
Oct. 22, 2017: The same week, the GOP refused to allow the Congressional Budget Office even 28 hours before floor debate to release its report on the financial aspects of bills. They apparently don’t want us to know how much their bills are going to cost us.
In February 2016, Senate Republicans defeated Democratic amendments that would have required disclosure of the names of those running political ads and of federal political spending over $10,000 that have been kept secret since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Why and what don’t they want us to know?
Oct. 26, 2017: Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie, passing a GOP bill that repeals a rule that gave customers the right to join with other consumers in class-action lawsuits against banks and other financial institutions they believe had defrauded them. On Oct. 26, International Business Times reported that lobbyists for the financial sector “spent $375,000 in total on all its efforts to influence lawmakers.” It also reported that Pence “raised more than $250,000 from donors in the banking and lending industries” during his time in Congress. Guess which party voted for the finance industry against American citizens?
The GOP defeated a 2014 Democratic bill that would have eliminated the tax deduction companies get for money they spend to ship jobs and operations overseas. They also defeated a Democratic amendment to the Keystone Pipeline bill that would have required TransCanada to build its pipeline out of steel made in the United States. In other words, Republicans continue to reward companies that outsource our jobs and buy cheap foreign products, rather than higher-quality ones made by Americans.
In November 2013, the GOP voted against making companies disclose the chemicals they discharge into abandoned wells, threatening the contamination of private wells connected to the same aquifers. In February 2016, they voted to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring permits to discharge pesticides into waterways.
In June 2016, they voted against a Democratic amendment that would have prohibited the sale of firearms and explosives to people the FBI suspected of having terrorist ties. Hard to believe, but the votes are on record.
Democratic bills defeated by the GOP include bills to raise the minimum wage, prevent corporate mergers that lead to higher prescription drug prices, prevent exports of natural gas to countries that sponsor terrorism or conduct cyber attacks on the United States and many others meant to help Americans. Plus, the Republican majorities often kill Democratic bills in committee, guaranteeing they’re never brought up for a vote.
The only way to vote smart is to follow the voting records of the candidates and their parties before going to the polls. Records for Wisconsin’s Congressional lawmakers are published Sundays in the Wisconsin State Journal. Voters also can track votes through Thomas Voting Records Inc. or rollcallvotes.com. It’s time well spent.