Targeting Rob Portman on Tax Increases for the Wealthy

If you're on any progressive mailing lists, you probably that they're trying to rally supporters to contact their elected representatives regarding the upcoming budget negotiations.

For instance, tomorrow, Friday, at 1:15 p.m. you can join state representative Mike Foley, state senator Nina Turner, and AFL-CIO executive secretary Harriet Applegate outside the Cleveland office of Senator Rob Portman to talk how a miniscule tax increase for the wealthiest people in the country — a position that earns positive approval even from right-wingers — is the best way to solve the deficit problem Republicans started wailing about the minute President Obama took office (never mind that President Bush created it), rather than cuts to safety-net programs.

Portman's office is at 1240 E. 9th St., # 3061, in downtown Cleveland.

Ohio has two senators. Why are they going to Portman's office?

Well, yesterday, Senator Sherrod Brown sent out a newsletter that said, among other things,

We can reduce our nation’s deficit and avoid onerous tax increases on middle class Americans. Last July, the Senate voted to extend tax cuts for 99 percent of Ohioans—the working families and the middle class tax payers who need relief the most. Yet today, this bill that ends tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 still languishes in the House of Representatives.

Middle class Ohioans have always worked hard and played by the rules—now it’s time that the wealthiest Americans paid their fair share too. That means it’s also time for the House of Representatives to act.

In other words, he's already on board.

Ohio's two senators, as most of you know, are very different. They subscribe to differing ideologies and vote differently. And that leads me to a pet peeve I've been stewing about for a while: national progressive groups that helicopter in with blanket demands to contact your representative or senators about something or another, with seemingly no awareness of where they stand.

MoveOn.org has been one of the worst offenders. Last week, I got a mass email asking me if I would take a generic letter they would give me to Sherrod Brown's office.

Congress is heading back to Washington this week, and there's only one thing on the agenda: Republicans trying to ram through another extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich and big cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid before the end of the year. ... That's why on Wednesday we're mobilizing nationwide to deliver letters along with photographs of loved ones who would be impacted by any cuts, to the local offices of every member of Congress. We need to tell them that Americans are paying attention, we know that the Republicans are scaremongering to ram through their 1% agenda, and we won't stand for any more tax giveaways for the top 2% or cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.

Just pick a time of day to drop off the letter, and we'll follow up with everything you need, including a copy of the letter for you to print out. If you have a photo of someone who would be impacted by cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, you can bring that as well. It'll take only a few minutes, and the more folks who show up throughout the day, the better

Really, MoveOn.org? You think I need to take time out from my day to trot down to Sherrod Brown's office and try to tug on his heartstrings to tell him we're paying attention and "won't stand for any more tax giveaways for the top 2% or cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits"?

He's ALREADY ON BOARD, MoveOn.org.

I complained and got a note back saying they are just coordinating a national campaign to do this. So in other words, whether my Senator is Sherrod Brown or, say, James inhofe of Oklahoma, I'm supposed to go down there like a good little robot and deliver MoveOn.org's form letter?

I've also frequently gotten emails from them, asking that I call Congresswoman Marcia Fudge's office to demand that she support things I know she is way ahead of them on.

There is certainly a value in contacting elected officials that are on your side and letting them know you have their back. And any message or demand has more impact if you go in knowing something about what positions that official has already taken. I wish MoveOn.org would get information from their local members instead of merely requesting that they be couriers for such generic campaigns.

Portman hasn't stood with regular people on the budget issues that are looming in Congress. Like his fellow Republicans, he's shown a tendency to want to gin up a fake budget "crisis" and solve it by shredding the safety net, not by letting taxes on the wealthy revert to where they where during the economically booming Clinton years.

THAT is why Foley, Turner, and Applegate are going to Portman's office and not Brown's, MoveOn.org.

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