Our Turn: United we can stop Trump-Sununu agenda

Published: 9/15/2020 6:00:06 AM

Donald Trump and his dangerous policies are on the ballot more than once this November. The president’s biggest New England cheerleader, Chris Sununu, a self-described “Trump guy through and through,” has brought Trump’s agenda to New Hampshire.

As progressive leaders in New Hampshire who supported different candidates in the primary, we know we can end Trump and Sununu’s dangerous agenda that will undermine working families, women’s health, and our system of public education.

Sununu and Trump have both left workers behind, putting their corporate special interest donors first time and again.

Here in New Hampshire, Sununu twice blocked raising the minimum wage, while nationally, Trump has neglected to raise the federal minimum wage, which continues to leave Granite Staters behind. Top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow has said there shouldn’t even be a federal, state, or local minimum wage.

Sununu is so out of touch he personally called raising the minimum wage “dumb” and “disastrous.” Worse still, Sununu blocked a minimum wage for New Hampshire while taking a $31,000 raise for himself. Granite Staters, and especially frontline workers, deserve a raise to be able to put food on the table and provide for their families. Sununu has his wealthy campaign contributors on speed dial and is leaving working Granite Staters behind.

Even though New Hampshire is one of the most pro-choice states in the country, Sununu has mirrored Trump’s anti-reproductive health agenda in New Hampshire. This year, Sununu restricted access to abortion by vetoing a bill that would have ensured Granite Staters receive coverage for abortion if their insurance plan also covers maternity care. Because of Sununu’s veto, it remains legal for an insurance plan to deny coverage for an abortion – even if medically necessary.

Sununu and Trump have also been united in the dangerous effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Trump has defunded Planned Parenthood with his Title X rule, and Sununu voted to do exactly the same thing. Defunding Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire jeopardized health care for 13,000 Granite Staters but for Sununu and Trump, they care more about pleasing their right-wing base than protecting reproductive health care.

Sununu has even stood by Trump as he puts Roe v. Wade at risk, supporting then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which changed the makeup of the court to an anti-choice majority. Sununu is out of touch with a majority of Granite Staters who want to protect and expand reproductive rights.

Politicians like Sununu and Trump shouldn’t be making decisions on reproductive health for Granite Staters – it should be between Granite Staters and their provider.

Last but not least, both Sununu and Trump have pushed plans from Betsy DeVos’s playbook that would take money from taxpayers and public schools and divert it to wealthy private institutions. Sununu proposed a voucher scheme that would have cost New Hampshire public schools more than $260 million. Since their efforts nationally and statewide to pass a wide-reaching voucher scheme failed, both Sununu and DeVos have tried to use CARES Act funding to accomplish the same goal. That’s wrong.

We know our public schools need more resources right now, not fewer. Sununu, who calls himself an “enthusiastic” supporter of DeVos, has brought her and Trump’s anti-public education agenda right here to New Hampshire. His relentless efforts to undermine public education have already cost Granite State students. A new study from EdWeek showed New Hampshire having the single biggest drop from 2018-2019 in its quality of education ranking of any state in the country. Sununu’s anti-public education agenda, which closely resembles DeVos and Trump’s agenda, is hurting New Hampshire students.

Granite Staters can’t afford a third term of the Trump-Sununu agenda. Both of us fought hard in the Democratic gubernatorial primary for our respective candidates. For one of us (Rep. Ellison), it was Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. For the other (Rep. Schultz), it was Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes. But now is the time for progressives to unite behind Feltes to defeat Trump and Sununu, his top New Hampshire enabler, this November. Granite State families can no longer afford their damaging twin agenda that holds back progress for all of us and puts their corporate special interest donors first.

(Reps. Kris Schultz and Art Ellison live in Concord.)

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