SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 3, 2012

Column: Beyond the rhetoric

Jim Amatucci
The Salem News

---- — If it seems that campaigns are even nastier than usual this year, you’re right. The Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate donations to political groups. It’s not hard to guess which side big corporations are supporting (Hint: it’s not on the side of clean air and clean water).

Nationwide, big corporations are spending millions on character assassination ads. These corporate-funded PACs’ primary strategy is to smear their ideological opponents while avoiding any mention of their own (pro-corporate welfare, anti-regulation, science denying) views. Using character assassination, with dark foreboding ads, scary music, and grainy black and white photos are Karl Rove’s trademarks. We’ve been seeing Rove’s handiwork throughout the Bay State this year, and it’s not pretty.

With just a few days before Election Day, we urge you to base your decision in the voting booth on the basis of a candidate’s voting record, lifetime accomplishments, and their positions on actual issues. Don’t be fooled by the tangential accusations and the inflammatory rhetoric.

In the race between Congressman John Tierney and former state Senator Richard Tisei, I urge voters to look at each candidate’s record. For over a decade, John Tierney has been an unwavering advocate on behalf of many environmental bills. He voted against the Bush administration’s bills that favored big oil companies and threatened pristine wilderness areas with potential environmental disasters. John Tierney supported funding for rail transit, knowing that better transportation choices will reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels.

John Tierney has repeatedly stood up to Big Oil, voting to end billions of dollars in corporate handouts. While his opponent may honestly believe that sending taxpayer dollars to the world’s wealthiest corporations is somehow in our best interests, we know that “trickle down” economics was a disaster in the late 1920s, again in the 1980s, and once more during the second Bush administration.

Congressman Tierney has been a leader in Washington, co-authoring the federal Green Jobs Act, which helps support and train American workers to install solar panels, manufacture wind turbines, and weatherize homes. This program has helped thousands of Americans, including many in Massachusetts, to get good jobs working toward energy independence.

John Tierney has championed the protection of our public lands and national monuments. Instead of opening our parks to drilling and mining for short-term corporate profits, he protects these precious resources for future generations.

John Tierney championed historic fuel efficiency standards, which will help create more than half a million new American jobs in the auto industry while saving families thousands every year at the pump. With important legislation like this, we can rebuild America’s manufacturing sector, burn less fossil fuels, and slow the rate of climate change.

Congressman Tierney stood up to protect the Clean Water Act, opposing corporate efforts to weaken the act and put our drinking water, streams, rivers, wetlands at risk from toxic pollutants. Here in the Bay State, we remember all too well what happens to water when chemical companies run the show. But Congressman Tierney didn’t stop there, he supported protections from toxic mercury pollution that will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.

John Tierney voted against the effort to strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Hurricane Sandy is yet another wake up call to anyone who thinks that climate change isn’t important; scientists predict that future storms could be much worse.

In sharp contrast, Richard Tisei’s website lists absolutely no environmental positions — nothing. While Tisei was in the state Senate, he opposed many important environmental bills, refusing to sign on or support even the most basic environmental protections for the people of Massachusetts.

If you’re concerned about clean water and clean air, about climate change and pollution, if you want to end corporate control over your health and safety, I urge you to look at John Tierney’s consistent record and decide: who do you want to represent you in the U.S. Congress?

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Jim Amatucci is a member of the Massachusetts Sierra Club’s Political Committee. He lives in Beverly.