Union members support the EFCA. Michael Whitney, SEIU member and organizer, recently wrote: “The point of contention for CEOs looking to protect themselves in Coleman’s second term is the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill supported by Franken and opposed by Coleman that would make it easier for people to form or join unions to fight for better wages & benefits at work.…the reason CEOs are throwing cash at Coleman is because they are afraid that Minnesota’s working people would be able to have “more of a chance” to form unions, earn better wages and benefits, and rebuild Minnesota’s middle class.”
“The Republican incumbent has drawn far more financial support from local executives than Democratic challenger Al Franken has…CEOs from the state’s 50 largest public and 50 largest private companies combined to donate more than $100,000 to Coleman and not a penny to Franken. Business political action committees (PACs) also overwhelmingly supported Coleman. These groups gave $2.5 million to Coleman and just $15,000 to Franken.”
Incidentally, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (“CDW”) has sponsored television ads depicting Franken as anti-union for supporting the EFCA. However, CDW, a pro-business/anti-union group has actually spent thousands of dollars lobbying against the EFCA as part of their goal to block unions from being formed.
“Global corporations like Wal-Mart have hired the likes of Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Employee Freedom Action Committee, run by former tobacco lobbyist Rick Berman, to blockade the Employee Free Choice Act. They are trying to make big business out to be David in this David and Goliath struggle, although it is union membership that has shrunk to David size over the past half century. Since its height in 1953, when 35 percent of workers belonged to unions, membership has now fallen to 12.1 percent.”
— United Steel Workers
Education: Al Franken has proposed a new tax credit for families earning under $200,000. The tax credit allows up to $5,000 a year per college student for up to four years. Franken favors an expansion of Early Childhood Family Education. Norm Coleman proposes making “adjustments” to ECFE and opposes any expansion of the program.
Social Security: Coleman favors the privatization of Social Security. Franken strongly opposes the privatization of Social Security, and will fight to keep it safe and out of the hands of Wall Street financiers.
Healthcare: Coleman favors a free-market approach to healthcare which utilizes Health Savings Accounts and Medicare Part D. Franken supports universal healthcare coverage and opposes Medicare Part D because it doesn’t go far enough in protecting seniors from the high cost of prescription drugs.
Bush Tax Cuts: Franken is opposed to extending Bush’s tax cuts for the top1% wage-earners in the country. He favors tax cuts for the middle class. Coleman supports making the cuts permanent, and supports tax breaks for big oil and gas companies.
Support for Presidential Candidates: Norm Coleman has voted with Bush 86% of the time. During 2003, he voted with Bush 98% of the time; 92% in 2004; 84% in 2005; 88% in 2006; and, after mid-term elections during which Republicans lost many congressional seats, 67% in 2007. (See StarTribune Editorial Counterpoint: Coleman’s Record Shows Him as the Partisan He is). Coleman has endorsed John McCain for president. Al Franken supports Barack Obama.
Polling: Franken and Coleman are still polling extremely close. Quinnipiac shows Franken ahead by 2%; SurveyUSA shows Coleman ahead by 2%; a new University of Wisconsin poll gives Franken a 6-point lead. (October Poll Update)
The word on the street is that some voters are threatening to abstain from voting in this race due to the nastiness of the ad campaigns. Given that the worst ads are coming from outside the campaigns, specifically the National Republican Senatorial Committee, it is incumbent upon voters to consider the candidates’ stance on issues and, where appropriate, party affiliation when they go to the polls on Tuesday, November 4.