Unions target McCaskill, Warner in new round of ‘cliff’ ads

“Cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid will short change the people who need it the most,” the ads say. “So if you don’t want seniors to come up empty, call [lawmaker] and tell [him/her] 'Don't make a bad deal that cuts our care.' ”

It is the second round of ads from unions on the fiscal cliff, following a batch of radio and television spots that they aired during the Thanksgiving break

Mary Kusler, NEA’s director of government relations, said labor is ramping up its advocacy now that “fiscal cliff” proposals are beginning to emerge.

“A lot has happened since our first round of ads. There are offers on the table,” Kusler said. “This is about making sure the debate is not just about numbers but about working families, seniors and children. We need to make sure that they stay front and center in this debate.” 

Along with the ads, labor is planning hundreds of events for a day of action on Dec. 10. Unions also flew their members into Washington last week to personally lobby lawmakers. 

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have offered dueling proposals to resolve the fiscal cliff — both of which have been ridiculed by the other side.

Obama proposed $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, $400 billion in entitlement program savings as well as $50 billion in new stimulus spending, while Boehner’s plan would cut $2.2 trillion from the national deficit through slashing the budget, reforming entitlements and finding $800 billion in new tax revenue. A final deal is expected to include a mixture to some degree of both tax increases and spending cuts.

Kusler said she is more comfortable with the president’s approach and stands behind his call for higher tax rates on the wealthy.

“We are very supportive of the president. We appreciate that the president has been very, very strong on the tax rates and we hope he continues to stay strong on the tax rates,” Kusler said.

Nevertheless, Kusler said there have been no assurances from any policymakers, including Democrats, that Medicare and Medicaid benefits are off the negotiating table.

“I think it's really hard to give any assurances in this situation because there's a lot of dialogue still going on,” Kusler said. “That's why we are continuing to be as active as we currently are in this campaign. We want to make sure the people who are impacted by this have a voice in the process.”  

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