Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio has a double-digit lead in most polls going into Election Day.
Brown is vying for his third term in office. The campaign has been bitter and personal at times. ButBrown is sticking to familiar messages to make his case to voters. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown sits in a small office inside the headquarters of the Ohio Democratic Party, making phone calls to supporters.
It’s something he’s been doing a lot these days. He’s continuing to hammer home one of his key messages….that he is fighting for middle class Ohioans.
“While the president always brags about the economy doing well, the stock market is up, there’s economic growth but the growth has not gone to working families. It has not gone to the middle class.”
Brown says he had two proposals that would have provided tax relief to middle class Ohioans.
“One was the Patriot Corporation Act, which simply says if you pay your workers well, provide good benefits, health and retirement and you produce in the United States, you get a lower tax rate. The other is the Working Families Tax Relief Act which focuses on middle class tax cuts.”
Brown says Congress decided against targeted tax cuts and instead put tax reforms in place that provide most of the breaks to the richest in the country. And that, he says, is straining the budget. Brown rejects a suggestion by key Republican leaders that limits need to be put on Social Security now to reign in the deficit.
When it comes to immigration, Brown agrees with his opponent, Congressman Jim Renacci, that borders should be secure. Brown touts what’s known as the INTERDICT Act that he and Ohio’s other senator, Republican Rob Portman, supports. It was recently signed into law and it gives border police more tools to stop drugs from making it into the country.
“But you can’t deport 13 million people. You do a path to citizenship where they earn it. They pay taxes. They pay penalties when necessary, when it’s the right thing to do. But the thing you don’t do, and Republicans are not speaking out on this and aren’t pushing the president, is you don’t take small children and rip them away from their families.”
President Trump rescinded that family separation policy that was being enforced earlier this summer but opponents of that policy say it is still happening on a smaller scale and note there are still children who haven’t been reunited with their parents.
While immigration has been a prominent talking point this election season, the issue that’s arguably getting the most traction going into Election Day is the future of the Affordable Care Act and its protection for people with pre-existing conditions. Brown is an ardent supporter of it and points out Republicans have voted 20 times to repeal the law also known as Obamacare.
“Right now, 200,000 Ohioans are getting opioid treatment because of the Affordable Care Act. First do no harm. Don’t take that away from people but the other part is the two dozen times they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act says to insurance companies, ‘yea, you can deny coverage to someone who has a pre-existing condition and right now, in Ohio, more than half of the adults have a pre-existing condition.”
And many Ohioans have something else – college debt. Brown says the state needs to invest more in its public universities to make them more affordable on the front end. And he says Congress needs to put in more money to make sure students can attend college without having to take on crushing debt.
“We need to invest more in Pell grants and Perkins and more of those programs that help middle class kids go to college if they want but those same loans should be available for trade schools if they want to be a diesel mechanic or for community college.”
Brown says Congress needs to reduce the interest rates on private loans. Brown had a bill that he says Renacci voted against that would have reduced interest rates banks could charge. On trade, Brown is in rare agreement with Renacci – they both support President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. But Brown and Renacci disagree sharply on other issues. Brown doesn’t want additional restrictions on abortion. He does want additional gun regulations. He wants to see marijuana legalized and he supports LGBTQ rights.