Skip to main content

Republicans' Plans to Cut Social Security And Medicare Would be Devastating for Rural America

 

This week the Washington Post reported what we have long suspected would happen: “House Republicans have started to weigh a series of legislative proposals targeting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs.”  

Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org issued the following statement:

It’s appalling that House Republicans are using Americans who rely on Social Security and Medicare as hostages in their debt ceiling gamesmanship. Cuts to those vital programs would have a particularly devastating impact on rural communities. That House Republicans would even consider such a strategy shows contempt for the people who live in their districts - those currently receiving the benefits they earned and those approaching the age when they can receive the benefits they earned.

The facts are clear.  Rural communities have higher percentages of older residents. According to Census data,  “a larger segment of the population was 65 years and older in rural areas (17.5 percent) compared to urban areas (13.8 percent) during the 2012- 2016 period….While the overall size of the rural population has both increased and decreased since 1980 – hovering around 60 million – the share made up by the older population has consistently grown, from 10.9 percent in 1980 to 17.5 percent during the period 2012 to 2016.”

These numbers are borne out in the districts of key GOP House leaders. For example, New York’s 21st Congressional District, represented by the third-ranking House leader Elise Stefanik, is almost 60% rural.  According to Census.Gov, over 19% of her constituents are over the age of 65 while 15% are over 55. Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, one of the most rural districts in the country, is currently represented by Glenn  Thompson, the chair of the House Agriculture Committee. According to Census.Gov,  over 22% of his constituents are over 65.  Another 15% are over 55 so approaching the age when they can receive benefits.  When Stefanik, Thompson, and other GOP leaders talk about cuts to Social Security and Medicare, they are threatening tens of thousands of their own constituents.

Republicans talk a good game when it comes to rural issues, but, the reality is that they don’t deliver for them. This latest effort to cut Social Security and Medicare  is a glaring example. They consistently prioritize mega-corporations and billionaires who fund their campaigns over their constituents. 

Rural voters need to understand that their members of Congress do not look out for them. We’re going to watch this debate closely to make sure rural constituents know whose side their member of Congress is on.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

Yes, the Farm Bill should restore a robust rural economy and that means including the Rebuild Rural America and Rural Prosperity Acts

According to Agri-Pulse, at a recent “unofficial listening session” convened by the new chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Glen Thompson (R-PA), he said “the Farm Bill needs to ‘restore a robust rural economy and begin to grow our rural population again, to be able to support what we need to do.’”

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director or RuralOrganizing.Org:

Frankly, we agree with Chairman Thompson.

A commitment to a robust rural economy means passing policies that increase good-paying jobs and wages, decrease daily expenses, and improve the quality of life for rural communities experiencing economic distress. That's why the Rebuild Rural America and Rural Prosperity Acts should be included in the 2023 Farm Bill.

We hope Thompson’s comment is also a recognition that rural doesn’t mean only farming and agriculture, something that too many people in Washington, D.C. and the media get wrong. In fact, more rural people work in manufacturing than in agriculture. Health care is another major rural employer, but rural hospitals are in dire straits, and each one that closes devastates the local economy. Of 2,000 rural U.S. hospitals, 150 have closed since 2005, and more than 300 are at risk.

At Rural Organizing, we are focused on policies that expand opportunities for all rural communities because that’s what rural people have told us they want. If Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee want to be reliable voices for rural America, those should be their priorities, too.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

Two Years After January 6 attack, RuralOrganizing.org Report Shows Danger to Democracy Still Exists: 252 Election Deniers Won in 2022.

Today, as we mark two years since Donald Trump and his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of the 2020 election, RuralOrganizing.Org is releasing an update to our report, “Election Deniers in the 2022 Midterm Elections,” authored by Rural Organizing Executive Director Matt Hildreth, and independent consultant John Ray. We analyzed election deniers’ performance in the 2021-2022 midterm cycle in races up and down the ballot as well as the implications of this performance for future elections.

The report can be viewed here. 

In total, our report includes 779 election deniers, 527 of whom advanced from their primaries into the general election or into a special election that will be tabulated at a later date, 389 of whom ran in contested general elections, and 252 of whom won their elections.

Among the key findings:

  1. Republican election deniers do more than spout conspiracy theories and have already demonstrated a series of policy objectives they are poised to achieve in many states.

  2. Republican election deniers did not only seek high-profile statewide offices that would give them control of the machinery of elections but won seats in state legislatures and Congressional delegations across the country.

  3. Republican election deniers overwhelmingly ran in “safe red” districts, and a majority ran in “red” states, suggesting they have a secure vantage point from which to steer the party in the future.

  4. The scale of the intra-party debate over the election denier movement is overstated.

  5. Democrats have few pickup opportunities in election denier districts barring a significant effort to appeal to rural voters who currently support Republicans. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, executive director of RuralOrganizing.Org and co-author of the report:

The number of seats won by “election deniers” amounts to approximately 10 percent of the federal, statewide, and state legislature elections that Republicans won overall. That is not an insignificant number. Furthermore, our data suggest the election denier movement is well positioned to exert significant influence over the GOP for the foreseeable future, has already demonstrated a willingness to do so above and beyond public blustering and conspiracy theorizing, and has received material support from the mainstream party apparatus to a degree suggesting any perceived rifts in the party over election integrity are not emerging in the party’s general campaign efforts.

This week, that’s on full display in the U.S. House of Representatives as extremists with little agenda other than chaos derail the process of choosing a Speaker. And even presumptive leadership, including Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, and Jim Jordan, are complicit since all voted to overturn the election results as did six of the first GOP members to nominate McCarthy.

Importantly for rural progressives, many of these election deniers represent rural districts at the state and federal level, which creates an opportunity and a challenge for those of us who are organizing in rural communities.

Fortunately, the Democratically-controlled Congress passed the Electoral Count Reform Act and it was signed into law by President Biden. That will help. But our democracy is still in peril as long as the Republican Party continues to coddle, promote, and engage those who wish to destroy it.

 The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

RuralOrganizing.org Statement on the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project: Finally!

The following is a statement from Brent Edwards, Ohio Organizer for RuralOrganizing.Org:

Last week, the Biden administration announced $1.64 billion in funding for the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Ohio and Kentucky. This much-needed project has been talked about since I was in high school. Today, President Biden joined Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY), and Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) at the bridge to tout the funding for this critically important project.

Funding for this vital corridor over the Ohio River comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in 2021. That Infrastructure Law, historic in its size, allocated critical funding to over 350 distinct programs across more than a dozen federal departments and agencies including many rural projects.

While Republicans show up at this event, and some, like McConnell voted for it, let’s not forget that infrastructure was a joke under the previous administration. It took a Democratic President, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic House to get it down. Democrats showed up when it was time to vote for this bill, not just to take credit for its passage.

Implementing the infrastructure law is a challenge for the Biden administration. Flawed views of rural areas, and rural people's concerns still plague Washington D.C. policy making circles. We look forward to working with them to make sure that rural voices are centered at the heart of this transformational rebuilding agenda.

 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

RuralOrganizing.org Statement on the Start of the 118th Congress

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org

Today, as the 118th Congress convenes, we’re excited by the new additions to the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, including Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington. Both of them ran very rural-centric campaigns while defeating MAGA Republicans.


We’re also watching the debacle among House Republicans who can’t even choose a Speaker, the most fundamental task for the majority. It’s important to remember that House Republicans — and many pundits — believed they were destined to sweep the House with a large majority. Voters made sure that didn’t happen. They stood up for our democracy and for our rights. You’d like to think the Republicans heeded the message sent to them by the voters — but today shows they didn’t.

There is a lot at stake for rural communities in this session of Congress, starting with the Farm Bill. We need a functioning Congress and it sure looks like the House Republicans are too obsessed with their extreme agenda to focus on the needs of the American people.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

RuralOrganizing.org Lauds Funding for Recompete Pilot Program In Omnibus

 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:

Today, House and Senate Appropriators released the 2023 “Omnibus” spending bill. Included in that legislation is $200 million for the new Recompete Pilot Program, which is a significant accomplishment for rural communities. 

We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Derek Kilmer, who sponsored this legislation, which was first authorized by the CHIPs bill. Today, we saw that there is very real funding for this new federal block grant program at the Economic Development Agency (EDA).  

Recompete will empower persistently distressed communities, including rural communities, with flexible 10-year "Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People to Excel" ( RECOMPETE) Grants to create good jobs in persistently distressed communities, including rural and Tribal communities.

For nearly two years, through our Campaign for Rural Progress, RuralOrganizing.org has focused on passing policies that increase good-paying jobs and wages, decrease daily expenses, and improve the quality of life for rural communities experiencing economic distress. Today, we saw that our organizing work has started to pay off on Capitol Hill. We encourage the House and Senate to pass this spending bill without delay.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

ICYMI: NPR: “Democrats Made Midterm Gains In Rural Areas. Can They Keep Them?”

Yesterday, NPR’s All Things Considered highlighted the work of RuralOrganizing.org to reduce conservative margins in small towns and rural communities.

Listen to NPR's Coverage of RuralOrganizing.org:

Reporter Ximena Bustillo explained:

“Strong performances in states like Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington showed Democrats can sustain and win over rural areas, where Republicans have generally done well. Even in places like North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado, Democrats proved to be competitive, running up margins of past elections and flipping some districts, even if they did not always win…

If you look at John Fetterman, [he] very much ran a 'both/and approach'," said Matt Hildreth, executive director of Rural Organizing, a progressive rural organizing firm. "John Fetterman was able to mobilize the base and also engage voters outside of the traditional Democratic base, specifically voters in small towns and rural communities…

Tim Ryan really focused on persuading voters outside of the Democratic base and oftentimes found himself at odds with the Democratic base," Hildreth explained. "What we found is that really turned off base voters in Ohio and any of the gains that he was able to make up through those efforts were undercut by low turnout amongst the base."

Both parties are already setting the stage for the 2024 election, which includes a presidential ticket and likely higher turnout. The Biden administration will be faced with the challenge of how to communicate its policy platforms in rural areas — many items, like health care, student debt relief and abortion protection, are popular among some rural demographics.”

According to Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org:

For the last four years, our team here at RuralOrganizing.org has been writing the winning playbook to cut Republican margins in small towns and rural communities. Rural voters have a massive impact on the Senate and Supreme court. In about 20 years, half the U.S. population will live in eight states. That’s why Republicans have focused on consolidating votes in red states and rural areas. But the good news for Democrats is that good policy is still good politics. There’s a new generation of Democrats in Congress like Sens. Mark Kelly, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tina Smith, and Reps. Derek Kilmer, Angie Craig, Tom O’Halleran, and Josh Harder who are focused on delivering concrete results for small towns and rural communities. And these Democrats who are focused on increasing good paying jobs, decreasing daily expenses, and improving the quality of life in Rural America all had a good year. 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

RuralOrganizing.org Welcomes Senate Passage of Respect For Marriage Act

The legislation marks an important protection for same-sex couples, thousands of whom live in rural communities

The following is a statement from C.J. Peterson, rural LGBTQ activist, and former RuralOrganizing.org staffer:

Today’s vote is historic in its affirmation of marriage equality for interracial and same-sex couples. It is even more significant in its breadth of support, with backers ranging from Sen. Mitt Romney, who opposed marriage equality as the 2012 GOP nominee for president, to Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first out lesbian to serve in the U.S. Senate. It’s clear that marriage equality has won broad bipartisan support. 

That’s thanks in no small part to the work being done to change hearts and minds in rural America, where so many LGBTQ couples live and contribute to their communities. This legislation gives them peace of mind to keep working toward a better future for themselves and their families with less fear of discrimination. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org:

This legislation is necessary to protect marriage rights because Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear in his concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision that overturning the Obergefell decision was in his sights. 

That matters in rural America. More than three million LGBTQ Americans live in rural areas — thousands of whom are married and raising families. In fact, majority-rural states comprise 24 of the 30 states with a higher than nationwide average rate of same-sex couples raising children, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for her leadership on the Respect for Marriage Act, and we look forward to its passage and signature into law.

 The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

###

Share this post

Midterm Election Voter Poll Shows Democratic Policies Popular Among Rural Battleground Voters, But Democratic Candidates Underperforming

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:

RuralOrganizing.Org is a partner in the Midterm Election Voter Poll, which provides valuable information about rural voters, a group often overlooked or subject to Beltway conventional wisdom. One thing the poll reminds us is that rural does not equal white or conservative.

The poll found that among rural battleground voters,  progressive policies on abortion rights, climate change, and immigration outperform generic Democratic House candidates by 16 points. The poll also shows very strong support among rural voters — approaching 80 percent — for allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, a policy Democrats passed this summer despite strong Republican opposition.

And, like voters around the country, small-town and rural voters are worried about Republicans and white nationalists who promote hate and violence against minorities and immigrants.

So where’s the disconnect? Why do rural voters support progressive policies far more than progressive candidates? It’s no coincidence that, as the poll shows, Democrats are contacting small-town and rural voters at a much lower rate than other communities.

That supports what we have been saying for years: Rural voters feel abandoned by the Democratic Party. Democrats need to focus on turning out the base in small towns and rural communities, and demonstrate their commitment to investing in rural America.

The 2022 Midterm Election Voter Poll was conducted by the African American Research Collaborative (AARC) on behalf of America’s Voice, Climate Power, First Nations Development Institute, The Immigration Hub, Indivisible, Latino Community Foundation, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, SEIU, UnidosUS, Voter Participation Center, and RuralOrganizing.Org. The poll of 12,208 voters was conducted from Oct. 26-Nov. 7 with a margin of error of +/-1%. The full array of data can be seen at https://2022electionpoll.us. (To see Rural voters, click Crosstabs by Urbanicity.)

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing."

###

Share this post

Ohio Senate Debate Shows Tim Ryan Cares About Rural Ohio While J.D. Vance Cares About Himself

 

The following statement is from Brent Edwards, Ohio Statewide Organizer at RuralOrganizing.org in response to the Senate debate between Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance last night.

“Last night's debate highlighted the stark differences between the two candidates for Senate in Ohio. Tim Ryan leaned in, defending Ohio values and growing Ohio’s middle class, while J.D. Vance leaned into racist tropes and tired culture war issues. 

Tim Ryan focused heavily on building a resilient manufacturing and energy economy of the future, pledging to increase natural gas production to “poke a finger in the eye” of Vladimir Putin. Ryan highlighted his leadership in passing the CHIPS Act, which helped fund the massive $20 billion investment of the Intel processing plant in Licking County. In stark contrast, J.D. Vance showed he is no friend of the middle class, instead leading venture capitalists who invest in companies that outsource American manufacturing jobs to China.

Vance was exposed for his shameful work in creating a non-functioning and fraudulent charity, Our Ohio Renewal. Tim Ryan effectively called Vance out for setting up a fake nonprofit that was supposed to address the opioid crisis, but instead served as a political platform. Ryan pointed out how Vance “brought in somebody from Purdue Pharma to be the spokesperson for the nonprofit.” This issue and Purdue Pharma’s role in creating the opioid crisis have particular resonance in rural Ohio. The clip of Ryan’s remarks on Vance’s fake nonprofit already has more than 830,000 views on Twitter.

Ryan noted he was working on real solutions by creating the border technology caucus in Congress, which brought in state-of-the-art investments to better protect America’s Southern border against the scourge of fentanyl and human trafficking.

On social issues, Tim Ryan reflected the widely held beliefs of Ohio voters: that there is no room for politicians in anyone’s bedroom or doctor’s office. Vance, on the other hand, denied his past extreme views that even childhood rape victims should be forced by the government to give birth. Additionally, he reiterated his views against codifying same-sex marriage into federal law, putting hundreds of thousands of Ohioans’ marriages at risk. But that’s not surprising: Vance has already shown his out-of-touch beliefs through leading a fundraising campaign for those who swarmed the Capitol on January 6th. 

Tim Ryan proved that he is working for the “exhausted majority” of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, who have rejected extremism and partisan fights. J.D. Vance avoided any direct answers to probing questions and made it clear that his campaign doesn’t reflect the views and needs of Ohio residents. The choice for Ohio voters cannot be more clear. J.D. Vance is a fraud who must be sent back to San Francisco this November.”

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing."

###

Share this post