The economy has been considered by many as the most important issue in this election, and in some ways it is, but social issues are just as important, especially considering their effects on everyday Americans. Tammy Baldwin would make sure, as her record demonstrates, that both economic and social issues are zealously advocated for that help the American people if elected to the U.S. Senate.
Baldwin has clearly demonstrated her commitment to economic policies that help the middle class in this country. As a member of the U.S House of Representatives, she voted against the infamous 1999 Financial Modernization Act, a law that allowed banks to become too big to fail.
The Financial Modernization Act effectively repealed the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, a law that separated investment and commercial banking. It did nothing to help consumers; It only helped the finance, insurance and real estate industries, which should be evident by, as PBS reports, their combined $350 million expenditure on lobbying and political donations in the 1997-98 election cycle to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act.
Even when most Democrats in her party forgot their duty to protect consumers and middle-class Americans, Baldwin held her feet firm and voted against legislation that would harm consumers in the future, like the Modernization Act which helped create the 2008 housing bust and the highly unregulated Wall Street financial derivatives market.
In contrast, Wisconsin Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Tommy Thompson, is like Mitt Romney; they are both political opportunists who will do or say what is politically convenient at any particular moment for an extra vote. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Thompson was promoting a voucher-like program so that people in 10 years could choose either traditional Medicare or a government subsidy to buy private health insurance.
This is essentially what Paul Ryan has advocated in his past congressional budget proposals. Both Ryan’s and Thompson’s plans are transparent attempts to privatize Medicare by slowly undermining the federal program. In the past month, though, Thompson has tried to create a distance between himself and Ryan’s Medicare plan by now saying he wants to give seniors either the option of traditional Medicare or buying into the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. The Huffington Post notes he also said in regards of his new plan in comparison to Ryan’s, “I think my plan is better.”
Thompson’s views on economic issues, along with his views on social issues, are adverse to the interests of the American people. Thompson does support a woman’s right to choose in cases of rape or incest, but has not supported a change in the recent Republican Party platform that broadly opposes abortion, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it. As governor of Wisconsin, PolitiFact states he signed into law restrictive partial-birth legislation, which was later struck down by a federal appeals court as unconstitutional in 2001.
Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times reports in 2000, Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said, “[Thompson's] signed every anti-choice bill that has come before him.”
Not only does Thompson believe in restrictive abortion laws, he also opposes gay marriage as a fundamental right. He said during his first debate this year with Baldwin “I support the citizens of Wisconsin” in regards to Wisconsin voters defining marriage between one man and one woman by referendum, adding that he thought marriage was a state issue.
Just because a state has the power to regulate something does not mean a state can discriminate on sexual orientation when it decides to regulate that subject, in this case marriage. A state should not be able to deny two consenting, loving adults the ability to live their lives together and raise children if they wish to do so and get married. To deny this fundamental right on the basis of sexual orientation is to deny many of my personal friends and family members of their civil rights. Baldwin, if elected, would be the first openly gay U.S. Senator and also supports equality for all Americans. Like many issues, Thompson also had a change of mind when it comes to contraception. As Wisconsin’s governor, he created a state family planning program which spends taxpayer money to provide contraception and family planning to the poor.
Yet, when the Obama administration mandated that health insurance companies provide contraception, religious institutions claimed it was a violation of their religious liberty. Thompson agreed, posting on his Facebook on Feb. 7 “[The birth control requirement] is a breach of our religious liberties that any person of faith should oppose.”
It shouldn’t matter if a religious institution doesn’t believe in providing contraception. Oral contraception cures ovarian cysts and women shouldn’t be denied a right to this cure simply because an institution believes unfettered religious freedom trumps peoples’ right to adequate health care. Tommy Thompson, like Mitt Romney, will say anything to get elected to office this election. Thompson changes positions constantly during elections and then implements conservative economic and social policies once elected. We need someone to fight for the middle class on economic issues and fight for every American on social issues, not just some Americans, and I believe Tammy Baldwin will fulfill that duty.
Aaron Loudenslager (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a first year law student.