McCain presidency would be disaster for working families

Newton B. Jones, International President

McCain doesn’t understand workers; Obama does

MANY OBSERVERS have concluded that, if elected, John McCain will continue the failed policies of the past eight years. They are right, but they don’t go far enough. He will actually make many of them far worse. For working families — including Boilermaker families — a McCain presidency would be a disaster.

McCain opposes everything this union stands for. He not only opposes increases to the minimum wage, he opposes the minimum wage itself and voted to abolish it. [1] He opposes Davis-Bacon,[2] a law that protects the wages of workers on federally-funded construction projects. He opposes the Jones Act,[3] a law requiring that ships carrying goods or passengers from one U.S. port to another U.S. port be built in the United States. He opposes “Buy American” laws.[4]

He opposes project labor agreements.[5] He opposes union security.[6] He opposes the Employee Free Choice Act,[7] a law that gives workers who want to organize their place of employment a fighting chance. In fact, he opposes labor unions in every way and on every level. He says the right to organize a union amounts to “class warfare.”

McCain voted to block OSHA from implementing standards to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries.[8] Now he says every regulation should be revisited to determine whether it imposes a burden on employers.[9]

He voted to use the Social Security surplus to pay off the national debt — one year after voting for the Bush tax cuts[10] that added $2 trillion to that debt. Now he proposes raising the minimum retirement age and reducing cost-of-living raises, but refuses to consider making high-income wage earners pay the same Social Security tax rate as low income wage earners.[11]

Throughout his campaign, he has claimed he will put more money in the hands of average Americans. But when he had the chance last year, he didn’t even bother to show up to vote for the stimulus package that sent rebate checks of $600 to $1,200 to middle-class working families.[12]

John McCain appears to have no idea what life is like for working families. Perhaps that is because he hasn’t “walked a mile” in our shoes. The son of a four-star admiral married to an oil heiress, he has never had to struggle to make ends meet, never been laid off when the plant he worked at closed down, never had to do without when his paycheck wouldn’t stretch to cover all his needs.

Now he is married to an heiress himself, the daughter of a successful beer distributor. Their combined wealth is nearly $100 million. I don’t begrudge them their money, but I want you to understand why he cannot relate to the life you live. When a reporter asked him how many homes he and his wife own, he said he’d have one of his staff look into that and get back.

He couldn’t remember how many houses he owned! A person with that kind of wealth has to make a concerted effort to understand how someone who works for a living thinks, and John McCain has never made that effort.

Barack Obama does understand the lives working families live. For part of his childhood, he was raised by a single parent. He learned early that working families must struggle to survive, and after he graduated from Harvard Law School, he turned down offers to work for large law firms to become a community organizer in a working-class Chicago neighborhood ravaged by the closing of a steel mill, its main employer.

Organizers are a curious breed. Whether organizing a labor union or a community, they succeed by inspiring people to work hard to improve their own position in life. A successful organizer does not create change on his own — the people he organizes are the ones who make change happen. In that Chicago community, Obama demonstrated he is a true leader, a person who can inspire others to follow him as he helps them unlock the doors to a better life.

An Obama presidency promises a world of change from the Bush administration of the past eight years — and in fact, from any administration in almost 50 years. No candidate since John F. Kennedy has invigorated the nation’s youth as Barack Obama has, and no candidate since Franklin Roosevelt has been so committed to struggling against the injustices and economic hardships felt every day by working families.

The choice is yours

ON ELECTION DAY, you will vote as your conscience dictates. Who you support is your decision and yours alone. I urge you to be a responsible voter — to study the candidates’ records, positions, and proposals in light of how they will affect you, your family, and the millions of other working families across the country. Information about the candidates and videos of them explaining their positions are available through our Web site, I urge you to read about the candidates and listen to McCain explain his positions, so you can see how out of touch he is with the world you and I live in.

When you do, I believe you will see that your choice is clear.

You can vote for the candidate who has refused to accept campaign donations from lobbyists or the one who not only accepts their donations, but hires them to be his campaign advisors.

You can vote for the candidate who has vowed to end tax incentives for companies that move jobs overseas or the one who proclaimed he “would negotiate a trade agreement with almost any country.”[13]

You can vote for the candidate whose health care plan makes coverage affordable for every American[14] or the one who wants to tax the health care benefits you get from your employer.[15]

You can vote for the candidate who believes workers need greater security for their pensions and a stronger Social Security or the one who has voted to privatize Social Security and wants to raise the eligibility age for Medicare.

You can vote for the candidate who will give companies tax breaks for creating jobs in the United States or the one who said, “I firmly object to Buy American laws.”

You can vote for the candidate who supports the Employee Free Choice Act[16] or the one who supports a national so-called “right-to-work” law[17] that eliminates union security in collective bargaining agreements.

You can vote for a champion of the working people who knows how to work with unions or the one who believes the right to unionize amounts to “class warfare.”

You can vote for the candidate who promises a change from the failed policies of the Bush administration or the one who has supported President Bush 89 percent of the time.

You can vote for the candidate who understands the struggles and needs of working families and has dedicated his life to helping us improve our lives or the one who consistently opposes the laws that help working families.

You can vote for the candidate who has promised to cut taxes for middle-class Americans and retirees or the one who has promised to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.

In other words, you can vote for Barack Obama or you can vote for John McCain.

I hope you choose wisely. The nation’s future and your family’s future are riding on it.

Paid for by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Campaign Assistance Fund, [phone: (703) 560-1493] and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

  • [1] S.Amdt. 116 to S.Amdt. 100 to H.R. 2, Vote 24, 1/24/07; H.R. 2, Vote 23, 1/24/07; Vote 25, 1/25/07; Vote 37, 1/31/07; Vote 39, 1/31/07; Vote 42, 1/31/07)
  • [2] S Amdt. 4031 to S.C.R. 57, Vote 134, 5/22/96; H.R. 10, Vote 239, 7/12/83
  • [3] International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots,
  • [4] McCain Amdt. No. 3461 to S.Amdt. 3197 to S.2400, Vote 135, 6/22/04; McCain Amdt. No. 783 to S. 1050, Vote 191, 5/21/03
  • [5] Associated Builders and Contractors PAC
  • [6] S. 1788, Vote 188, 7/10/96
  • [7] Congressional Record, page S8389, 6/26/07; H.R. 800, Vote 227, 6/26/07
  • [8] S.J.Res. 6, Vote 15, 3/6/01
  • [9] Associated Builders and Contractors PAC
  • [10] S. 2020, Vote #26, 11/18/05
  • [11] Wall Street Journal, 3/3/08; S.C.R. 83, Voe 68, 3/16/06; S.Amdt. 489 to S.C.R. 21, Vote 89, 3/22/07; S.C.R. 86, Vote 56, 4/1/98; S.C.R. 86, Vote 77, 4/1/98
  • [12] Phoenix Business Journal, 2/7/08
  • [13] Speech to National Press Club, 5/20/99
  • [14] Campaign Web site; Speech in Iowa City, Iowa, 5/29/07
  • [15], Forum, 10/31/07; Los Angeles Times, 11/20/07; Center for American Progress, 4/9/08
  • [16] H.R. 800, Vote 227, 6/26/07; Chicago Tribune, 3/4/07; S.Amdt. 316 to S. Amdt. 275 to S. 4, Vote 64, 3/7/07; Illinois State Senate, S.B. 90, 2003; Campaign Web site, accessed 6/12/08
  • [17] S. 1788, Vote 188, 7/10/96