Being a Labor Democrat

Tom Suhrbur

Tom Suhrbur
Illinois Education
Association (retired)
Special to the Fox
Valley Labor News
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015

In this final installment of a 4-part series, retired IEA member Tom Suhrbur examines the labor movement and how its successes improved individual and family prosperity.

To make matters worse, Republicans also want to raise the eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, in effect, reducing benefits. In 2012, House Republicans passed the Ryan Budget. It included a voucher system for workers aged 55 and younger that would end the Medicare guarantee. The vouchers could be used to shop for medical coverage. It also included a block grant system for Medicaid. Eventually, Medicaid funding would be cut under the Ryan plan.

These are many other important reasons for voting Democratic. Republicans are horrible on environmental issues. They (and some Democrats mainly in coal and oil producing states) recklessly support the fossil fuel industry with little regard for the environment. Climate change is not a “hoax” perpetuated by scientists.

On gun control, it makes no sense to oppose universal background checks and to allow the purchase of military assault weapons yet the Republicans are beholden to the gun lobby. In fact, the Party is totally committed “getting government off our backs.” They defend the interests of the ruling class and transnational corporations that the elites manage without any regard for the social and environmental consequences now or future.

Democrats are not blameless. Like Republicans, Democrats are often under the sway of wealthy corporate interests. Some Democrats have supported Republican-sponsored neo-conservative policies. Here are just a few examples: Clinton signed NAFTA. George H. Bush introduced the legislation to Congress. Clinton promised labor and environmental protections in NAFTA, but signed it without any such provisions. NAFTA and other free trade agreements have resulted in job losses and downward pressure on American wages. Clinton also signed legislation sponsored by Senator Phil Graham (R-Texas) that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, removing federal regulation of banking and investment contributing greatly to the 2008 financial collapse.

Except for a few, congressional Democrats blindly supported the Bush Administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as American militarism in general. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) — aka Obamacare — was essentially the approach advocated by the conservative Heritage Foundation in the 1980s. In 1993, Sen. Bob Dole and several other Republicans introduced a health care bill similar to the ACA in response to Hillary Clinton’s proposals. Later, Gov. Romney supported the passage of a health care bill in Massachusetts that served as a model for the ACA. Hoping to win Republican congressional support, President Obama proposed a “compromise” (cuts) on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in 2011. Republicans rejected the plan because it also included tax increases mainly on high-income earners. Much to the chagrin of progressive Democrats, he also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (free trade agreement).

Despite its numerous shortcomings, there are many voices in the Democratic Party that supports workers’ rights, fair trade rather than free trade, corporate and financial regulation, environmental protection and other progressive policies that benefit the vast majority of Americans. The Republican Party leadership serves the interests of the wealthy elites and the transnational corporations that they control. The Party and its conservative right Federal Court appointees are out to destroy the unionism. So I actively support labor Democrats.

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