The Athens NEWS wholeheartedly recommends the re-election of Sherrod Brown to a third term in the U.S. Senate. Brown is a hardworking man of integrity who has shown time and again that the everyday citizens of Ohio are his top priority.

We’d also be less than forthright if we didn’t acknowledge that Sen. Brown’s party affiliation, Democrat, is a big drawing card in the Nov. 6 midterm election. Since the Republicans in Congress have failed abysmally to provide any check or balance against President Trump’s imperial presidency, it’s essential for the Democrats to regain the majority in both the U.S. Senate and House.

Retaining Brown’s seat is a crucial element in winning a Democratic majority in Congress. Lucky for us, he’s shown repeatedly during his 12 years in Congress that he’s deeply invested in decisions that directly affect his constituents, especially when it comes to jobs and the economy.

Granted, Brown isn’t perfect, particularly on questions of free trade. Whether for political reasons or his sincere beliefs, he was a shortsighted, tariff-loving protectionist long before Trump began launching unsustainable trade wars.

Yet, on other issues concerning the economy, the incumbent senator hits the target dead center. He correctly points out that the Republican tax cuts mainly benefit the richest people in America, and are ballooning the federal budget deficit. That eventually will place a drag on the economy, and spur Republicans and the president to target popular middle-class programs for draconian cuts, including Social Security and Medicare. Plus at tax time, our hunch is that millions of middle-class Americans will learn that they owe the IRS when they thought they were getting a break.

Despite these very real considerations, Sen. Brown’s opponent in this election, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, supports the GOP leadership’s proposal to extend many individual tax cuts after they expire in 2025. According to an article Sept. 16 in the Columbus Dispatch, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has projected that this would “add $630.9 million in fresh debt by 2028.”

The Republicans, once the party of fiscal restraint, now refuse to accept the reality that while some tax cutting can spur the economy, there’s a point of diminishing and reversing returns, where asking for less money from citizens means you’ll receive less money from citizens. We’ve reached that point at the same time that congressional Republicans and Democrats both have abandoned any restraint on the spending side.

Rep. Renacci is also wrong on health care. He opposes the Medicaid expansion approved by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2014 (which has extended access to health insurance to 653,000 Ohioans).

According to an Aug. 21 article on NPR’s website, Ohio’s Medicaid director cited a recent analysis reporting that the program expansion had sliced in half the number of uninsured Ohioans. “Ninety-six percent of people in the program with opioid addiction got treatment, and 37 percent of smokers were able to quit. One-third reported improved health, including better access to medical care for high blood pressure and diabetes. ER visits went down 17 percent, and there was a 10 percent increase in the number of people seeing primary care doctors. And most recipients said Medicaid expansion made it easier to find work, earn more money and care for their families.”

Meanwhile, Renacci’s prescription for addressing chronic health-care problems in this country is the tried and failed “let the market sort it out” strategy of his fellow Republicans. He would replace Obamacare with “a patient-centric, market-based system driven by competition and defined by choice, affordability and access.” These are lofty abstractions untethered from any workable ideas for reigning in health-care costs and making health insurance affordable and accessible to every-day Americans.

On hot-button issues, such as immigration, guns and abortion, Sherrod Brown takes traditional Democratic stances, and that’s nothing to apologize for. We, as well, support a woman’s right to make her own health-care decisions; common-sense restrictions on gun ownership (especially among people with mental-health issues); and humane but firm immigration policies. For example, nothing but malice, political opportunism and racism justify the deportation of immigrants who came to this country when they were children.

On all these issues, Renacci stands firmly in line with this country’s increasingly unpopular president and Republican establishment. On a wide range of issues, Renacci is in lock-step with President Trump.

It bears repeating. President Trump has violated many established norms of the presidency; numerous creditable sources have testified to his profound unfitness for his job; and he has repeatedly attacked and undermined the foundations of our democracy – the free press and First Amendment, the balance of powers, the independent judiciary, international diplomacy, the Justice Department and intelligence apparatus. The legislative branch must step up and do its job of checking this bad president, and it’s obvious the GOP can’t be counted on to do it.

Re-electing Sen. Sherrod Brown to a third term will help make sure Trump doesn’t achieve what he most certainly wants – absolute, unchecked power. Anybody paying the slightest attention to this president’s repeated outrages knows we can’t let that happen.

Re-elect this hardworking, influential senator with a record of integrity, who will continue working for all Ohioans. Vote for Sherrod Brown.

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