HARTFORD, Conn. – Greeting the 19-state “Put the Middle Class First” bus tour as it stopped off in Hartford, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman recalled that the day after the “Raise the Minimum Wage” Americans United for Change bus tour, “we were able to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage so that people would not live in poverty.”
Wyman and Governor Dannel Malloy are in a tight race with Tea Party Republican challenger Tom Foley, who opposes the wage increase is spending millions on misleading and divisive ads.
“We have changed things,” said Wyman. “We have people who will be earning a $10.10 minimum wage, we have people who have health insurance who didn’t have it before. We now have 60,000 new jobs created under this administration, while Tom Foley only gets rid of jobs.”
Four years ago, in their last match-off decided by only a few thousand votes, Foley angered many public workers with his statement that “we need a Wisconsin moment” in Connecticut.
“If Tom Foley wants to see a ‘Wisconsin moment,’ I’ll pay for a one-way ticket for Tom Foley to go to Wisconsin,” said Wyman. “We need our unions in this state. We need our workers in this state. And we’re going to protect them.”
The tour, which is traveling to states across the country locked in toss-up races for Governor, U.S. Senate and Representative, started in New Hampshire with Rep. Carol Shea Porter and Maine with Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for Governor. The tour travels next to Syracuse, N.Y., and then on to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Leading up to the election, the goal is to focus public attention on the need for economic policies that support workers and their families. These include raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, making college affordable, creating jobs by investing in infrastructure, and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
“Social Security may be the most important successful program this government has ever established,” said Bill Tyszka of the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans. “Substantial numbers of Americans have a decent quality of life because of Social Security.”
Americans United for Change hopes to help drive home the “clear choice before voters on Nov. 4 between having a Democratic Congress and state government that works for them — or a Tea Party government that works for corporate special interests like the Koch brothers.”
The tour is exposing the reality that Republicans in Congress have blocked greatly needed proposals, including: Ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work; making college affordable; raising the minimum wage; creating jobs by investing in infrastructure; and protecting Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts, voucher or privatization schemes, while they vote to increase tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent. At the same time Tea Party Governors have done the same in their states, including increased tax breaks to the wealthiest and decreased funding for public education, Medicaid, and public safety.
The outfitted bus is part of a national effort by unions, retirees, women, students and civil rights organizations to get out a big vote and defeat Tea Party candidates in state after state.
Photo: Connecticut’s Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman greets the “Put the Middle Class First” bus tour. Americans United for Change