The Wire

Memo From President Brad Woodhouse: Race to the Right in Georgia

To: Interested Parties
From: Brad Woodhouse, President of American Bridge 21st Century
Re: Georgia Republican Senate Contenders Race to the Right
Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The top two extreme Republicans running for Senate in Georgia have advanced to the next round of this knock down, drag out, race to the right primary fight. With two more months of campaigning until the runoff, David Perdue and Jack Kingston will undoubtedly continue to pander to the Tea Party base. Whether opposing raising the minimum wage/extending unemployment benefits, or supporting cuts to Medicare/attempting to voucherize the program, extreme conservatives Perdue and Kingston have more in common than not. Not to mention the time Kingston suggested low-income children perform manual labor in exchange for subsidized school lunches, and Perdue’s track record as an out-of-touch elitist. Is this the face of a Republican Party that has learned its rebrand lessons from 2012?

Background

David Perdue

Elitism & Business Practices

Perdue Criticized Primary Opponent As “A High School Graduate” Who Was Not Qualified To Confront Important Policy Questions. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “With David Perdue’s ascent to the top of the polls in the Senate race comes additional scrutiny for his record and statements. Thus, a source passed along the above video of Perdue speaking in Bibb County in January about how his educational experience compares to former Secretary of State Karen Handel’s: ‘I mean, there’s a high school graduate in this race, OK? I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex. There’s only one candidate in this race that’s ever lived outside the United States. How can you bring value to a debate about the economy unless you have any understanding about the free enterprise system and how — what it takes to compete in the global economy?’ Handel left a broken home at 17, finished high school and went to work but never finished college. This issue came up during her 2010 campaign for governor, when there was talk about whether she only got a GED, which Handel vehemently disputed. Perdue holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Georgia Tech.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/2/14]

Perdue Said A Health Care Solution Should Not Be Left To The States, But That “It Needs To Be Addressed At The Federal Level.” According to the Dallas Morning News, “’It’s a tragedy that so many people are uninsured,’ said David Perdue, chairman and chief executive of Dollar General Corp., the Tennessee-based chain of more than 8,000 stores. He said a health care solution shouldn’t be left to the states. ‘It needs to be addressed at the federal level.’” [Dallas Morning News, 10/17/06]

Perdue Oversaw “International Operations” At Haggar While The Company “Closed Down Factory Lines In America And Outsourced Production Overseas, Where Labor Was Cheap And Regulations Were Less Restrictive.” According to MSNBC, “David Perdue, a Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia’s competitive primary, has boasted in ads, interviews and debates that he ran corporations that created thousands of jobs in America. He’s also claimed that he learned the intricacies of international affairs from managing business operations abroad. Both of these claims are true, just not always at the same time. When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well. Under his watch, the company did what so many clothing manufacturers did at the time: closed down factory lines in America and outsourced production overseas where labor was cheap and regulations were less restrictive.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]

While Perdue Was CEO Of Pillowtex, The Company Lost Millions Of Dollars And Fell To “The Verge Of Another Bankruptcy Filing.” According to The Tennessean, “Pillowtex proceeded to lose $27.6 million over the past seven months of 2002 and failed to meet certain requirements with lenders, bringing the company to the verge of another bankruptcy filing.” [The Tennessean, 4/4/03]

  • Perdue Received A $2.1 Million Signing Bonus And A $300,000 Salary As Pillowtex Chairman And CEO. According to an editorial by the Salisbury Post, obtained via the Associated Press, “Perdue received $2.1 million in a signing bonus and a $300,000 salary for serving as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer for about 10 months.” [Salisbury Post via Associated Press, 10/22/03]

Medicare

Perdue Supported Cutting Medicare Benefits For Future Beneficiaries. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, “Perdue’s solution is honoring the obligations to anyone already receiving Social Security benefits, but changing the benefits for anyone coming into the workforce. ‘Their deal is going to have to be different,’ he said. Perdue would make the same changes to Medicare.” [Marietta Daily Journal, 2/16/14]

Minimum Wage

Perdue Opposed Increasing The Minimum Wage. According to the Gainesville Times, “But despite all the attempts and maneuvering to isolate their campaign from the others, the field came together once more, with each candidate expressing opposition to a proposed minimum wage hike and supporting congressional attempts to undue Common Core education standards.” [Gainesville Times, 2/24/14]

Social Security

Perdue Supported Cutting Social Security Benefits For Future Beneficiaries. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, “Perdue’s solution is honoring the obligations to anyone already receiving Social Security benefits, but changing the benefits for anyone coming into the workforce. ‘Their deal is going to have to be different,’ he said. Perdue would make the same changes to Medicare.” [Marietta Daily Journal, 2/16/14]

Unemployment Benefits

Perdue Opposed Extending Unemployment Insurance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Six of the leading GOP hopefuls each vowed to reject calls to extend unemployment insurance and vote against a comprehensive immigration overhaul gelling in the Senate.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/28/14]

Jack Kingston

Equal Pay

2009: Kingston Voted Against The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Which Expanded The Deadline To File Wage Discrimination Lawsuits. In 2009, Kingston voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allowed lawsuits for pay discrimination to be filed within 180 days of any discrimination-affected paycheck, even if the paycheck was the result of discrimination that occurred more than 180 days ago. The bill effectively overturned the Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. According to the New York Times, in that case, “A jury found [Ledbetter’s] employer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Ala., guilty of pay discrimination. But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the case, ruling that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her peers.” The bill passed the House, 247 to 171. A similar bill, S.181, was approved by Congress later that month, and ultimately became law. [House Vote 9, 1/9/09; Public Law 111-2]

2008: Kingston Voted Against The Paycheck Fairness Act, Which Made It Easier For Women To Successfully Sue Their Employers Over Unequal Compensation. In July 2008, Kingston voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would make it easier for women who are paid less than their male counterparts to bring suits against their employers and receive compensation. Employers seeking to justify unequal pay would have to prove that disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages. As amended, it would specify that punitive damages could only be awarded to plaintiffs who prove intentional discrimination.” The House passed the bill, named the Paycheck Fairness Act, by a vote of 247 to 178. The Senate took no substantive action on the measure. [House Vote 556, 7/31/08; Congressional Quarterly, 7/31/08; Congressional Actions, H.R. 1338]

Medicare

Supported Medicare Vouchers

Kingston Supported Medicare Vouchers. According to Fox Business, “KINGSTON: We need to go in and we need to cut duplicate programs — programs that are inefficient, programs that are expanding the entitlement mentality. I think we should go back to Social Security, take it off budget, dedicate the fund, put personalized accounts on it. On Medicare, I think something like vouchers where people actually have an incentive to save money for the government and they’re rewarded for doing so. That would change the system around.” [Fox Business, 2/8/10]

Supported Replacing Medicare With A Premium Support Plan

2011: Kingston Voted For FY 2012 Ryan Budget, Which Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. In April 2011, Kingston voted for replacing Medicare with a premium support plan, as part of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Under the new system, Medicare would pay a portion of the beneficiaries’ premiums, i.e., provide ‘premium support.’ The payments would be adjusted for age, health status, and income and would be paid directly by the government to the insurance plan selected by the Medicare beneficiary. In addition, plans with healthier enrollees, would be required to help subsidize plans with less healthy enrollees.” The vote was on passage; the resolution passed by a vote of 235 to 193. [House Vote 277, 4/15/11; CRS Report #R41767, 4/13/11]

  • Wall Street Journal: Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. […] The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. Mr. Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the program’s soaring costs.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]
Voted To Raise Medicare Eligibility Age

2013: Kingston Voted To Raise The Medicare Eligibility Age To 70 Over 20 Years. In March 2013, Kingston voted to support raising the Medicare eligibility age to 70 over 20 years, as part of the Republican Study Committee’s proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2014 to 2023. According to the Republican Study Committee, “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” The vote was on an amendment to the House budget resolution replacing the entire budget with the RSC’s proposed budget; the amendment failed by a vote of 104 to 132 with 171 Democrats voting present. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Repeating a strategy from last year, 171 Democrats voted “present” to push Republicans to vote against the RSC plan to make sure it did not have enough support to replace the Ryan plan.” [House Vote 86, 3/21/13; Republican Study Committee, 3/18/13; Congressional Quarterly, 3/25/13]

2012: Kingston Voted To Increase The Medicare Eligibility Age To 67 By 2034. In March 2012, Kingston voted to increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67 by 2034, as part of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2013 to 2022. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The budget proposal would gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67. Beginning in 2023, the age of eligibility for Medicare would increase by two months each year until it reached 67 in 2034.” The vote was on passage; the resolution passed by a vote of 228 to 191. The Senate took no substantive action. [House Vote 151, 3/16/12; CRS Report #R42441, 3/29/12]

Minimum Wage

2013: Kingston Effectively Voted Against Raising The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 Within Two Years. In March 2013, Kingston effectively voted against an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would [have] incrementally increase[d] the federal minimum wage to $10.10 within two years of the bill’s enactment.” The vote was on a motion to recommit the underlying bill – the proposed SKILLS Act, which would have reauthorized and overhauled 35 employment and job training programs into one funding stream for state and local use – with instructions to report it back immediately with the prescribed amendment. In addition to raising the minimum wage, the amendment would have also clarified that nothing in the bill would repeal, deny or loosen employment protections, training opportunities or educational benefits for certain seniors, veterans, women or youth. The House rejected the motion by a vote of 184 to 233. [House Vote 74, 3/15/13; Congressional Quarterly, 3/15/13; Congressional Actions, H.R. 803; Congressional Quarterly, 3/15/13]

Social Security

Kingston Called Social Security Eligibility At Age 65 A “Guarantee For Disaster.” According to the Augusta Chronicle, “In Social Security, there should be a recognition that people are living longer, he said. In 1900, there were a couple thousand people 100 or older, Kingston said, where in the 2010 Census there were 53,364. That will only increase due to medical advances, he said. ‘For us to say that Social Security (eligibility) is at 65, it’s a guarantee for disaster,’ Kingston said.” [Augusta Chronicle, 11/5/13]

Kingston Endorsed “Changing The Retirement Age.” According to the Augusta Chronicle, “‘So I think you have to get on that thin ice of we have to look at changing the retirement age. I’ve actually voted for that. That’s a vote which I am sure I will be hearing about. But I think you have to have politicians who are willing to risk their political career if you are going to change the country around.’” [The Augusta Chronicle, 11/5/13]

Unemployment Benefits

Kingston Rejected Extending Unemployment Insurance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Six of the leading GOP hopefuls each vowed to reject calls to extend unemployment insurance and vote against a comprehensive immigration overhaul gelling in the Senate. Yet the rift erupted over a controversial Internet sales tax bill, and that’s noteworthy in a race largely defined by candidates who take the same positions on nearly every issue. […] U.S. Reps Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, and Paul Broun, along with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, all voiced opposition to the measure, rejecting it as a tax increase that should be considered only as part of a broader overhaul.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/28/14]

Kingston’s Extreme Rhetoric on School Lunch Program

Kingston Proposed Making Low-Income Children Perform Manual Labor In Exchange For Subsidized School Lunch Program. According to the Huffington Post, “Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wants kids to learn early in life that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. To make sure they absorb that lesson, he’s proposing that low-income children do some manual labor in exchange for their subsidized meals. On Saturday, Kingston, who is vying to be his party’s nominee in Georgia’s Senate race next year, spoke at a meeting of the Jackson County Republican Party about the federal school lunch program. Under that program, children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty line are eligible for free meals. Students from families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level can receive lunches at reduced prices.” [Huffington Post, 12/18/13]

  • Kingston Opposed “Free Lunches” For Low-Income Children, Said That Children Should Have To Either Pay Something Or Perform Manual Tasks, Such As Sweeping Cafeteria Floors. According to the Huffington Post, “But on Saturday, Kingston came out against free lunches, saying that children should have to pay at least a nominal amount or do some work like sweeping cafeteria floors. ‘But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch,’ he said.” [Huffington Post, 12/18/13]
  • Kingston Believed That Low-Income Children Should “Maybe Sweep The Floor Of The Cafeteria” In Order To Participate In School Lunch Program, For The Sake Of “Getting The Myth Out Of Their Head That There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch.” According to the Huffington Post, “But on Saturday, Kingston came out against free lunches, saying that children should have to pay at least a nominal amount or do some work like sweeping cafeteria floors. ‘But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch,’ he said.” [Huffington Post, 12/18/13]
  • Kingston’s Proposal “Could Create Significant Embarrassment For Low-Income Children.” According to the Huffington Post, “Besides the ‘administrative problem,’ Kingston’s plan could create significant embarrassment for low-income children, who would be sweeping cafeteria floors while their wealthier peers did normal kid activities. And while the low-income children would supposedly be learning the lesson of hard work, their wealthier peers would simply be getting a free lunch from their parents.” [Huffington Post, 12/18/13]