Athens News Endorsement: Ted Strickland deserves your vote for U.S. senator

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Athens News Endorsement: Ted Strickland deserves your vote for U.S. senator
Athens News, Editorial Board
October 5, 2016
http://www.athensnews.com/opinion/endorsements/ted-strickland-deserves-your-vote-for-u-s-senator/article_ac220404-8b06-11e6-9913-8b8b1dc53d95.html

The Athens NEWS strongly supports former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s election as U.S. senator for Ohio. Also a former congressman, Strickland offers a forward-looking approach to solving the many complex and persistent problems facing Ohioans and the nation.

His opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, supports the obstructionist, conservative Republican congressional agenda, as well as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Those positions conflict in a lot of ways, with Trump sharply deviating from the establishment right agenda on trade and foreign policy, among other issues. Yet both as an establishment GOP senator and a Trump supporter, Portman can be relied upon to support a federal government that cares more about the 1 percent than the rest of us.

Sen. Portman has received a colossal amount of financial support in his campaign from Super-PACS and other outside groups (spending some $32 million between May and late September). For months, the airwaves have been carrying a constant barrage of anti-Strickland advertising, painting a picture of a feckless governor who ran Ohio’s budget into the toilet.

Not surprisingly, the truth is substantially different from the pro-Portman advertising. Gov. Strickland was forced to use the state’s “rainy-day” fund to balance the budget during the Great Recession (which ran roughly from December 2007 to June 2009), resulting in a 17 percent decline in state revenues. In his “Capitol Insider” column of Aug. 21, Darrel Rowland of the Columbus Dispatch wrote, “And what’s typically ignored by Republicans is the fact that several months of job growth began the summer before (Strickland) left office (in 2010), state revenue was rebounding, and by the end of Strickland’s final budget, the state was able to put nearly $250 million back into the rainy-day fund.”

Moreover, by the time Strickland left office, Ohio ranked fifth out of 50 in terms of state economic growth.

The other factor to consider when assessing Strickland’s term in office is that the Great Recession came about as a result of policies supported by Portman’s Republican Party and its Wall Street and mega-bank allies, which led to the financial crisis of 2007-08 and subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-09. The recession started during George W. Bush’s second term as president.

Moreover, much of the money that’s being plowed into this race on Portman’s behalf is coming from organizations with ties to the fossil-fuel industry, including two groups in the hard-right/libertarian Koch Brothers’ network of political non-profits. They’ve managed to paint Strickland – a Southern Ohio native and longtime supporter of Appalachian Ohio communities and economies – as anti-coal. This has badly hurt him in our region, where support for Donald Trump also appears strong.

Strickland, like President Obama, isn’t ready to abandon the fossil-fuel industry, though he does recognize the profound threat posed by climate change. He believes in taking action to counter that threat, in league with other responsible nations, and that includes supporting policies that reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and encouraging alternative and advanced energy sources. He hopes to position Ohio as a leader in the green-energy economy.

And like Hillary Clinton, Strickland supports strategies and programs to help position coal-dependent communities in Ohio and other Appalachian states to take advantage of new economic opportunities – including those offered by developing clean-energy industries.

Portman is typical of the head-in-the-sand approach to climate change that defines the Republican Party, along with its national standard bearer Donald Trump (who has called the idea of human-caused climate change a “hoax”).

Our nation and world can’t afford to fall behind in confronting the global threat posed by climate change. Ted Strickland is much better equipped to meet that challenge than an opponent who has been bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers and the fossil-fuel industry.

On some issues, Portman flirts with moderate and even innovative problem-solving. Some of his proposals for college affordability, for example, would help students and families burdened with debt, though Strickland also supports aggressive programs to make college affordable and ease student debt.

Portman’s support in the past for trade agreements that increase the United States’ ability to participate in global markets are to his credit, though in recent months, he’s twisted himself into pretzels trying to reconcile his longtime pro-trade approach with Donald Trump’s firm opposition to international trade deals.

Strickland has generally opposed the biggest trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the Central American Free Trade Act, and has voted against granting permanent favored trade status to China in 2000 when he was in Congress. This paradoxically puts Strickland closer to Trump on trade than Portman’s favored presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

On various other national issues of importance, we favor Strickland’s approach over Portman’s. This includes veterans issues, education, taxation, health care, entitlements, immigration and foreign policy, among many others.

We urge our readers to vote for Ted Strickland for U.S. Senator for Ohio.

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