Republican Ads Paid For By Foreign Oil?

U.S.€™ Chamber Of Commerce Is Fueled By Foreign Oil

The United States Chamber of Commerce is running an unprecedented $75 million campaign to unseat progressives from Congress, in defense of a big-oil agenda. As a ThinkProgress investigation has learned Chamber’s donors — who send their checks to the same account from which the political campaign is run — include multinational oil corporations, and even oil companies owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain. The oil-fueled Chamber has hammered candidates who voted to limit our dependence on oil, falsely claiming they supported a “job-killing energy tax” (like Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH), Rep Joe Sestak (D-PA), Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM)).

Go read the whole thing.

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” Prior To Election Day

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

There are a number things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.
Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.

Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.
2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.

Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.

Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.

Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.

Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.

Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.

Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.

Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn’t work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

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Republican Inevitability Strategy In Midterms

Is a Republican sweep inevitable? Saying so is just a strategy.
Don’t forget Rove’s Bush “inevitability strategy.” And Hillary’s. It’s a strategy, that’s all. We’re seeing it used now in the midterms.
Don’t forget,

It’s well-known that Karl Rove believes that swing voters like to vote for the winner. Therefore, one of the central political strategies for Bush has been to create an “aura of inevitability” that, theoretically, will bring people to his side. If everyone believes you’re a political juggernaut, the theory goes, then you will become a political juggernaut.

Are Tea Party Members Getting Played?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.
Are the Main Street Tea Party members getting “played” by Wall Street and big-corporate billionaires? There is a big, big, big difference between what the regular members and the big-money funders expect. If Tea Party candidates get elected will they do what their supporters want, or what their Wall Street and big-corporation funders demand?
What Tea Party Members Want
I just finished a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia attending and writing about the “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall meetings. At these meetings and on the road I had occasion to talk to self-identified members of “Tea Party” groups. My conversations tell me, and polling confirms, that the regular day-to-day Tea Party supporters want government to stop job outsourcing and help American manufacturers. And even more than that they really don’t like trade agreements like NAFTA. In fact some go so far as to say that NAFTA and the WTO violate our country’s sovereignty. And even more than that they hate Bush’s bailout of Wall Street (but have been told Obama did it).
What Tea Party Funders Want
At the same time I saw and heard ad after ad after ad after ad that backed Tea Party-type candidates, that were paid for by the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups for Wall Street and the big multinational monopolist corporations that live off of “free trade” and have been closing factories and outsourcing jobs. And the Tea Party was originally set up by and is largely funded and maintained by front groups for this same crowd.
Here is just one example of how much the Tea Party is funded by these front groups: In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who didn’t do his bidding and sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills. Do you think the Main Street Tea Party members in Oregon expect their Tea Party candidate to support or oppose measures that further enrich Wall Street hedge fund managers? I’ll give you three guesses and the answers are Main Street, Main Street and Not Wall Street. Do you think the Tea Party candidate will dare? I’ll give you one guess.
Will Tea Party Members Or Funders Win Out?
So the regular Tea Party people hate NAFTA and “free trade” agreement, Wall Street bailouts, want a stop to job outsourcing and want help for American manufacturing — but the people behind them and funding their ads do not. What will happen if these candidates get into office? Will they stick with their Tea Party supporters from Main Street, or will the be beholden to the big-money behind their campaigns? As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
This is a very, very serious problem. The “crowd” instincts of regular people are usually pretty good and even in the Tea Parties they understand the damage that “free trade,” Wall Street, big-corporate interests and the rest of the “free enterprise” crowd have done to the country. But the big money is steering them away from the solutions that their collective gut tells them are right.
Serious Consequences
The financial crisis that Obama inherited has not really gone away. The unsustainable trade deficit that has been growing since Reagan is draining our economy. The huge budget deficit that Bush left behind — caused by tax cuts and military spending increases — has not gone away. Global warming has certainly not gone away. All of these problems are still there. We may be headed into a trade war, we need to rebalance the global economy, the rest of the world is jumping on the Green Industrial Revolution and we are not — but we can’t even begin to have a reasonable conversation about it because the entrenched wealthy interests are able to purchase the megaphone, microphone and amplification system that let’s people hear the arguments.
I say yes, the Main Street supporters of the Tea Party are getting played. What I want to know is, what will they do if the Tea Party candidates get elected, and then support “free trade’ and Wall Street and all of that? Will go even further to the right, or will they start to figure it out?
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Canton, Ohio Town Hall: We Can Make It, Build It, Grow It Here

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The Canton, Ohio “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall meeting was at the Kent State University Stark Campus this evening. Lieutenant Governor and Senate candidate Lee Fisher spoke. His opponent, Rob Portman, (U. S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush) was also invited to speak to this meeting discussing how to recover the 2.4 million manufacturing jobs that were lost to China in the Bush years, but had other commitments and was unable to attend.
The crowd was welcomed by Stark County Commissioner Steven Meeks, who let us know that “Stark State College is creating curriculum that addresses needs of unemployed, and is growing 30% every year. Just announced a $2.1 million grant plus $8 million from Stark State, creating a Wind Energy Research and Development Center to test wind turbines.” This partnership will train employees but will also bring wind energy business to the area.
After Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing introduced the organization and explained the town hall, Congressman John Boccieri, OH-16 spoke, saying, “We can make it, build it, grow it here.” Later, “I thought the Chamber of commerce was supposed to protect jobs in the US not in Beijing. I fail to see how they believe that this is good policy for our country.”
Next up was Senate candidate, Lt. Gov Lee Fisher. (Summarized from notes):
“Do we go back to the same people who gave tax breaks to large companies to send our jobs out of the country? To treaties that allowed these countries to dump cheap, unsafe unhealthy products, endanger our health and our economic health, put people out of work and companies out of business and industries vanished?
People think it’s OK the steel workers are upset, the auto workers are upset. It isn’t. The key is to build alliances that go beyond steel, let’s talk about technology. The guy who founded Intel, Andy Grove, wrote recently that he no longer believes that free trade is the right way to go. In 1975 when first personal computer was invented, 125,000 people employed in the US. Today 125,000 are employed. This is the same but in Asia 1.5 million are employed in this business.
This is not just steel, glass auto, textiles, electronics, this is about solar panels, advanced batteries, wind turbines. We need to wake up the rest of America, you already get it that’s why you’re here, but the key to our victory is waking up the rest of American before it’s too late.
Interestingly, Fisher is running against Rob Portman, U. S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush. Portman was also invited to speak to this town hall discussing how to start recovering the 2.4 million manufacturing jobs that were lost to China in the Bush years but had other commitments and was unable to attend.
The Panel
Canton’s town hall panel of local experts was Scott Paul of AAM moderating, with,
* Dave McCall District 1 Director for the United Steelworkers
* Athony Denoi, Plant Manager ATI Alegheny Ludlum (Stainless steel, other specialty steels)
* Max Blachman – Office of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown
From notes:
Blachman – Sen Brown elected 92 to Congress, fighting for American manufacturing and workers ever since. Ran for Senate said let’s make Ohio the Silicon Valley of manufacturing. Sen Brown had an op-ed in yesterday’s NY Times. (Note – a good read , it starts out, “TEN years ago this fall the Senate sold out American manufacturing.”)
Steps to take – enforce trade laws, China created tremendous and unfair imbalance
McCall – We need a manufacturing policy. Level playing field. China currency. VAT – every country has a VAT except us. A company that makes something in India pays 20% tax, but when you ship the government gives the tax back, so companies in other countries get as much as a 20% break and China gets that break on top of currency manipulation and other schemes so that’s now 60%. … Just try to get 1 pound of steel into China, you can’t. You can’t sell there, they are exporting their unemployment to us. … Why has this been going on for a decade, decade and a half? Because a whole lot of people have very short term thinking, don’t care, want to make their dollars now, want to get out. … It’s time to give some protections to our American companies. They need to be profitable, so it is fair and balanced for companies and steelworkers as well.
DeNoi – We are in business because of specialty steel that goes into special places like nuke reactors, transformers. To make good steel you need: Good equipment good people know how to make it. China doesn’t have #3, intellectual property, if we lose that China can make it. Silicon Steel, best grade, now China says they can do. It’s part of their energy strategy, for China to make their own. Titanium, we know how to make and others do not. Give us a level playing field we can compete globally. I keep on hearing industrial policy, it is a strategy, they are looking 5 10 20 years down the line. Has to be more than policy, has to be a serious strategy for long term/
McCall – on IP rights, I remember a guy testified before the China commission some years ago, who produced roof tiles for all KFC places in US. KFC got a contact from Chinese government to build 100 KFC stores in China. This guy, family business, invested in new technology, 40 employees. Business was good. KFC got this contract, the first load of shingles he sent got locked up on the dock and the government wouldn’t release it to be built on those restaurants until he gave them the formula and processes, KFC said we got to have these shingles, so he had to give up property rights. Now a company in China produces all those shingles, he is out of business.
Q from audience: “How do we get consumers to understand and support Buy American?”
McCall – Look what happens when we fight back. Cooper Tire built a plant in China, China said for 5 years you must export. So they have a price advantage, dump the tires here. So we filed a trade case and won, they put on a tariff, now they are dumping in Europe but not in US, so in Ohio now Cooper plant hires, 100 new jobs.
Q: “What is the government and manufacturers going to do to help put people 55 and older forced into retirement, back to work?”
Blachman – Sen Brown SECTOR act, labor grants to communities, allow labor an business and Community College or other anchor institution to come together with workforce investment board to fashion a curriculum to train for available jobs in new industries, fuel cells, advanced batteries, like what is happening at Stark Research Center on this campus. One-stop services often do not provide those specific skills needed to succeed in these industries.
This passed the House, Senate filibustered
DeNoi – challenge is to get a good educated workforce out there, we try to hire, give them tests, it is hard to get the skill set needed to work in steel. They have to have computer skills, math skills, problem-solving skills, we are having a difficult time finding it so we hire mature workers in this area because of that.
Paul – if you see a factory on TV it’s an action setting, abandoned factory, rusted chains coming from the ceiling, fire coming out of the floor and a dead bodies is thrown from the second floor, that’s what people see when they see factories. Now is clean, highly technological, exciting, and you have an opportunity
Q: “What three things if you could talk to the President.”
DeNoi:
1) Level playing field
2) Long term strategy
3) Buy American
Silverware, it is not made here anymore. Gas grills.
So this was the last Town Hall I will be attending. There are more on the schedule and they are GREAT, and you learn a lot. Take a look at the schedule and see if you can make it to one. And I am sure there will be another round coming.
I will be thinking for a while and then writing a wrap-up post that take a bigger-picture look at what I learned this last week. So check back.
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Erie, PA Town Hall: “No Country Ever Went Broke Investing In Its Own People”

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Last night’s “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall meeting was at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. Kyle Foust, Chairman of the Erie County Council welcomed the attendees and led off the Town Hall meeting, quoting Hubert Humphrey: “No country ever went broke by investing in its own people.”
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I recently spoke with a Tea Party member who did not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, sewer systems, etc. that make up the infrastructure that is the foundation of our country’s ability to have companies at all. He actually thought that private companies do this, and that “government spending” just “takes money out of the economy.” Maybe this is why so many candidates in this election say that “government spending” is bad but will not say, no matter how hard they are pressed, what spending they plan to cut in their quest for “smaller government.”
The Town Hall
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Following a Unitarian invocation by Rev Steve Aschmann, Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) — the organization that is putting on these “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall events — explained what AAM is about, strengthening manufacturing in this country. Scott gave the audience several facts about manufacturing:

  • 74% of Tea Party supporters support more manufacturing, as do 82% of union members.
  • 563,500 in Pennsylvania work in the manufacturing sector
  • This is down from 864,000 in 2000
  • And represents a 35% cut in manufacturing jobs.

Candidates Speak
Two local House candidates spoke at this meeting. Mike Kelley, Republican candidate for Congress spoke first.
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“We can’t control unfair competition. Just make it fair, that’s all, make it fair. Enforce the rules. We play by the rules, other people don’t. Chinese currency.”
Q: “Will you support buy American policies?” A: Who would not? Especially in taxpayer-funded projects.
Q: “Hold China accountable?” A: The world has been waiting for America to take the lead. China has to be held accountable when they break the rules.
Q: “Policies?” Competition, we never back away from competition. We need to get a national strategy in place. Taxes – need a VAT. Others all do it. (Note, Kelley’s answer is good for manufacturing. Short explanation: Other countries use a VAT to boost their manufacturing sector. Their manufacturers get a VAT rebate, but goods imported from the US do not, so in effect a VAT is a either a subsidy of their companies or a tariff on imports from us.)
Next up was his opponent in the race, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper:
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We need to get back to a manufacturing economy, to provide that good family-sustaining wage.
How to keep it made in America, three points:
1) Close the loopholes, Republicans’s did not vote with us on this. My opponent has pledged, signed a pledge no to remove the tax advantages given to companies for moving factories out of the country and outsourcing American jobs. (Note see my post on this today.)
2) Stop China’s cheating. Everyone knows China cheats. The currency bill, voted for it, the Chamber of Commerce – that’s the national Chamber which is a very different thing from the local Chambers — is against it. We also have to stop China’s illegal trade practices and dumping (selling below cost to capture markets).
3) Invest in our domestic manufacturing base. The COMPETES act has passed the House, but Senate… Education.
Raw materials – rare earth elements, China is saying they can get these IF they bring manufacturing t their country.
We can produce them here, but don’t. Because China subsidizes, it is not profitable to start production here.
The Panel
This Town Hall’s panel of local experts:
• Kenneth Boothe Jr., General Manager, Donjon Ship Builders
• Reverend Jeffery Priscaro, St. Ann’s church
• Ron Oliver, Community Labor Leader
• Tim Ryan President, Apex Offshore Wind.
• David J. Rosenberg, Head of Marketing, North America Gamesa Energy
• Hillary Bright, Blue/Green Alliance Field Organizer.
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Priscaro – When people make things It create sjobsm, revenue, they buy houses, participate in economy.
Ryan – Windmills, local wind turbines on old steel mill site, made in the US. Sun Ray project in Texas used GE wind turbines, GE Transport made the gearboxes. Gemasa, of Sain, has set up manufacturing near here. The Export/Import bank financing requires high local content. We need a national Renewable Energy Standard, then there is a tremendous opportunity for American manufacturing in wind energy.
Oliver – the effect on people of losing job, moving, move in with mom, manufacturing is the heartbeat of America.
Boothe – Donjon has recently gone from 13 employees, in 10 months have 118. 125 by end of year, 150 then up to 250.
Bright – Labor and environmentalists share common goals Hadn’t recognized how intertwined manufacturing is with a healthy community, environment, wages, families, healthy communities. And healthy environment. The way we see America in future generations, manufacturing is key to recognizing that.
Q: “Where are we going to get jobs? We need the infrastructure rebuilt, everything reconstructed. How?”
Bright – AAM, others have recognized that one of the largest opportunities is in clean energy. The stimulus was a down payment. Opportunity at federal policy level like Renewable Energy Standard to create the market and the demand to get it going, otherwise we lose the race to countries like China.
Oliver – We need to create the jobs here, the stimulus was using money to buy windmills made in China.
Ryan – We need new power plants as well as wind energy power plants. National policy has been up and down up and down, industry can’t survive on federal programs that last 6 months or a year, we need national policy that looks at the next 20 years or so.
Priest, we lost jobs because of legislation, we can gina jobs by legislation.
Q: “What can we do to stop the leak of jobs from US?”
Scott Paul: Stop tax breaks to ship jobs overseas.
(Note – All pictures by Ike Gittlen, USW, with permission. Click any pic for enlargement, see the entire collection here.)
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Wheeling Town Hall — BIG Turnout — Focus: Tax Breaks For Offshoring

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Driving across Ohio toward Wheeling you pass one small manufacturing company after another – but not too many with lots of cars in the employee parking lot. I stopped in a coffee shop in a small township. They offered me a cookie, and when I declined, the owner said, “We’re giving them away, it’s our last day.” After 14 years the shop and the restaurant next door are closing because the landlord is giving up, auctioning off the building, and they don’t see how they can reopen somewhere else and make it. Too many manufacturers in the area have had to close.
Every manufacturing job supports four or five other jobs in the economy. This is seven or eight more gone. The Cut Nail plant dominates a section of Wheeling. It closed last week, after 152 years in business. That’s a lot more gone.
The Town Hall
Friday night I attended the Wheeling, WV “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall meeting. This was a BIG event – 600 attendees big . (Note – All pictures by Ike Gittlen, USW, click any pic for enlargement, see the entire collection here.
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Many elected officials, starting with Governor Joe Manchi (now running for Senate) attended and spoke. Quite a few candidates for Congress attended and spoke as well. And there was a panel. The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register has a great writeup of the event.
The meeting began with a flag entrance presented by an honor guard of Young Marines:
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This was a big event with a lot of speakers, so I’ll only put up snippets of what was said. But the entire town hall was webcast live: see the recording of it here.
Alliance for American Manufacturing Executive Direct Scott Paul gave “manufacturing facts” between each speaker.

“Why should people care about manufacturing if they don’t work in a factory?
* Manufacturing provides 70 of all r&d, 90% of all patents, so if you care about innovation, next best thing…
* Manufacturing largest purchasers of technology, so if you care about…
* Manufacturing still employs 12 million, sizable portion.
* Also manufacturing has a multiplier effect, each job supports 4 or 5 others in your community. More than any other.
* Finally manufacturing jobs pay 22% better.”

Vice President of the United Steelworkers Tom Conway spoke first,
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“Thanks for coming, having a discussion, about what we think is a crucial issue, and one that America has been struggling with for a while. We’ve lost 50-60,000 factories over the last few years and millions of jobs. Labor and management do not have the luxury of not being together on this. We need to be together on this. Doing it jointly, telling a common story.
Trade is good but trade needs to be balanced, but now for 30 years we have had an imbalance that has gone on and one, and you can’t do that and expect to have a thriving economy, and think the country is going to exist off the growth in the financial services sector. Now 40% of our GDP comes from the financial services sector and you’ve all seen what’s happened.
You’ve got to have an economy that is based on something. You can’t keep having your best and brightest go to wall street.
It used to be there were two tickets into the middle class, get a union card or get a college degree.

Governor, Senate candidate Joe Mansion:
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First question is will you support buy America policies? Made in America, even better.
There is not one thing in free trade that talks about fair trade. We can compete with any workforce in the world as long as it is on a level playing field.
Currency manipulation 40%, no rules or regulations on environment, and then we give tat incentives to companies to move jobs offshore.

Charlie Wilson OH-6, which borders on Wheeling:
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We all have common interest, returing to economic security, returning our neighbors back to work and returning our communities to prosperity is a priority for all of us.
We shouldn’t be looking to advance new trade deals if the ones we have aren’t working. I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of Repeal NAFTA. Trade is important but it has to be fair trade and we have not had fair trade.
We have been outsourcing jobs, crippling thing in our economy, voted 2 times in last few weeks to close tax loopholes that encourage companies to outsource. How can we possibly justify rewarding people with tax breaks who send our jobs to other countries. Come here I’ll show you what has happened to our economy from jobs lost to trade deals.

The Conservative Tax Pledge
One speaker said something I want to hilight: Mike Oliverio, Congressional Candidate, WV-1, said something about the “Norquist No New Taxes Pledge” that I think was significant. Oliverio called it a pledge to keep those tax incentives for closing factories and outsourcing jobs.
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I support legislation that prevent outsourcing of jobs, these tax giveaways have to stop, my opponent signed a tax pledge to continue these giveaways to corporations. I just can’t imagine how you can sign that kind of pledge in today’s world.

His opponent David McKinley:
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The stimulus failed, only added debt to the government. We’re driving business away by overtaxing and overregulating. National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Congress, Tea Party backs me, Right to Life back me.
I want to freeze tax rates where they are now to remove uncertainty. Create confidence what our tax structure is going to look like they will start hiring again. Eliminate overregulation of business.
Nancy Pelosi is toxic to our political environment.

About 3-400 other candidates spoke. The Libertarian Party, the Mountain Party, the Constitution Party, others.
The Panel
After approx 28,245 more candidates spoke there was an excellent panel discussion, moderated by Scott Paul, with
* Tom Conway, VP USW
* Kenny Perdue, AFL-CIO West VA
* Beri Fox, CEO of the Marble King Company
Note: About Marble King. Wheeling and WV have been hit hard by imported glass. Glass used to be a very big industry in West Virginia. There were 240 glass manufacturing companies in WV 30 years ago. Marble King is one of only 6 remaining companies.
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Berri – Marble King is a 75-year-old company. We want to help keep the American dream alive,. Glass business in WV second only to coal, 240 companies 30 years ago, today 6. The obstacles are substantial. Something has to be done.
We did kids’ toys, supplied game companies. All moved to China, NONE manufactured in US now. This created huge stresses on what was our market share, so we bagan to diversify our product into other areas, creative innovative. Now, you buy spray paint, aerosol, shake it, that sound is our marbles.
Question from audience: Tax Breaks for offshoring?
Conway – companies getting tax breaks are also the companies that have taken control of our government, big multinational companies, they leave American workers and communities behind and we can’t tolerate it any longer.
I think that is the best line to close with. If you need a reason to vote, there it is.
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Lorain, OH Keep It Made In America Town Hall Meeting

Thursday evening I attended the “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall in the John Spitzer Conference Center at Lorain County Community College, an impressive, large campus. Lorain, Ohio is another town with closed factories, boarded-up houses, high unemployment, and ringed by the national big-box vulture chains whose business model is to suck the remaining funds away to Wall Street.
Driving into Lorain
As you drive from town to town in Michigan and Ohio you see one after another a ring of the “big box” stores and national chain stores around each city. You also see the “brownfields” of rusted-out, closed factories, empty, falling-down buildings. Then you go to the downtown and you see boarded up houses, empty storefronts, deteriorating and deteriorated communities, idle people standing on corners. As you drive into these towns you can just see what is happening in a nutshell.
You used to hear about how Wal-Mart was predatory, how it would show up in an area and after a while the downtowns would dry up, local business-owners would go broke, local business employees would be laid off, and the local people would have to work for low wages at Wal-Mart, while the region’s spending money would go off to the wealthy few who run these things.
Well a juicy story of devastation like that one gets around, and there are those who hear it and say, “Hey, that’s a great idea, I wanna get me some of that.” So the Wal-Mart business model has taken off and now there are any number of these vultures, ringing the cities and towns around the country, so often private-equity owned. They are draining away the lifeblood of the downtowns, fighting off the unions to keep wages down, even demanding tax breaks to move in and “create jobs.” You see all the same stores circling every town now, running all of the local and regional businesses unto the ground.
Here are some pictures from the inner Lorain area but you see it all around: (click for large)
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The Lorain Town Hall Meeting
As I said, the meeting was at Lorain County Community College. The turnout was good, a number of candidates, local officials, and people from the community.

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The opening speaker was Congresswoman Betty Sutton. “Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy. It’s the backbone of our nation. We’re aware here in Northeast Ohio that it created and promises to support the idea of a middle class.”
Sutton talked about the bill passed recently by the house that confronts Chinese currency manipulation. She hopes the Senate will also pass this, but we all know how difficult it is to get anything through the Senate. She also said that unlike Wall Street shuffling paper money around, what creates real value is the manufacturing of goods, which supports four surrounding jobs in the economy for every manufacturing job.
Following the opening remarks Scott Paul of the Alliance for Ameican Manufacturing presented a number of facts about manufacturing in Ohio and the country. 624,700 people work in manufacturing in Ohio, down from 1,021,000 in 2000. 39% of Ohio’s manufacturing jobs were lost in the last decade. For the country the last decade was the worst ever, worse than great depression. We lost 1/3 of all manufacturing jobs with 50,000 manufacturing facilities closed.
“When I grow up will there be jobs in America?”
Next came a panel, moderated by Scott Paul, with

  • Larry Taylor, Plant Manager, US Steel Corp’s works in Lorain
  • Dave MaCall, Director of District 1 for the United Steelworkers, USW in Ohio
  • Kelly Zelesnik, Dean of engineering technologies at LCCC Elyria

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A video of a question from a young person in Lorain: “When I grow up will there be jobs in America?” was asked of the panel.
MaCall: there will be jobs, because we have to take action, have to level the playing field. Things we need to do. Not be protectionists, have fair and balanced trade. But we need net exports. That’s how we grow. Every other country has a value-added tax so when someone makes a product that country writes a value-added check, so it is a subsidy on them and a tariff for us. America’s Visa card has run out.
We have 100 million tons of demand for steel in the US, has been for decades, last year demand was 60 million tons. Huge numbers of people laid off, from lack of demand, lack of consumption, and illegal trade.
Kelly, LCCC is partnering with manufacturing. LCCC invested in needs of community, 2 of 4 cornerstones of the college are education and economic development. LCCC is helping grow local economy with a new sensor center to develop and commercialize sensor technology. Industry and educational partners and entrepreneurs to access the center to develop and test prototypes and shorten the time to send products to the market as well as train employees. The center is an attractant to new businesses.
MaCall: We need national policies like every other country has. Businesses need to know there is a policy in America that will make sure there is access to capital, etc. For green startups, it is hard for companies to make investment when other countries helping their industry and we are not. Wall Street gets refinanced, now they’re holding it back, won’t let small businesses have access at reasonable rates.
Paul Q: What is the role in trade laws to keep steel competitive and on level playing field?
Taylor – We need strong trade policies that are strictly enforced. If they are not enforced they do no good, if we have this there will be jobs in future, level playing field. We stopped China on the steel tubes, but now other countries are producing subsidized product, we don’t get government subsidies, they do, we must have strong policies that we enforce.
Concluding
Over and over I am hearing these themes emerge: trade is good but stop illegal trade practices, level the playing field to enable us to compete, put together a national policy, improve trade education and training, invest in our future.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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The last three photos by Ike GITTLEN: USW