The Georgia runoffs mean so much more than flipping the Senate blue.
There are countless ways America will benefit if Georgia’s Senate seats flip blue on January 5. Victories for Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock will give Democrats the Senate majority, thanks to Vice President Harris’ tie-breaking vote. Dethroning Mitch McConnell will allow the Biden administration a real chance to enact reform. Congress could pass more COVID-19 help, expand access to healthcare, boost our pandemic-damaged economy, and focus on the fight against climate change. As much as Ossoff and Warnock wins will help all Americans, we can’t forget the real significance of these races: the winners will determine Georgians’ livelihoods for the next six years.
These are some of the key ways Americans’ lives, especially Georgians’ lives, will be directly affected by the outcome of this election.
As of December 13, Georgia has 472,000 confirmed cases, 37,550 hospitalizations, and 9,204 deaths from COVID-19, with people of color making up a disproportionate share of the statistics. Since March, over 4 million unemployment insurance claims have been filed in the state, surpassing the total number of claims filed in the past nine years (3.8 million). With pandemic protections running out on December 26, millions of Georgians stand to lose the government assistance they need to live if Congress doesn’t act soon.
The Republican-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a stimulus bill since the CARES Act in March. In May and October, the House passed two versions of the Heroes Act to provide economic relief to citizens, states, and businesses. McConnell dismissed both with the backing of Loeffler and Perdue. While Georgians lost their jobs and got sicker, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the state’s current Republican Senators, traded millions of dollars in stocks to profit off of information they learned about the pandemic back in January. Both continue to downplay the severity of the pandemic by flouting social distancing rules at maskless super-spreader rallies, even as we face the pandemic’s biggest wave yet. Instead of trying to address the hardships millions of Georgians are facing, they perpetuate propaganda, making a mockery of those who have lost loved ones.
If Ossoff and Warnock unseat Perdue and Loeffler, Georgians will finally have representatives who listen to science. They’ll work to pass a meaningful stimulus to help struggling Georgians, encourage mask-wearing and social distancing, and fight for Georgians’ right to health care.
In 2019, 13.4% of Georgians were uninsured and 30% relied on public health care options, with significant discrepancies based on race. With record numbers of Georgians losing their jobs this year, that number is likely even higher. A statewide Medicaid expansion would grant 518,000 Georgians access to affordable health care, an undeniable necessity during a global pandemic — but Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature and Governor Brian Kemp won’t take this small step to improve their lives.
David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler’s health care record is no better. Perdue voted twice in 2017 to eliminate the Affordable Care Act without an alternative, which would have stripped coverage from millions. Loeffler and Perdue continued Senate Republicans’ mission — during the pandemic. Both voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a vocal opponent of the ACA, and support Trump lawsuits that would dismantle the act. Instead of trying to give their constituents access to health care, they instead played politics with the courts to push their partisan agenda that could strip coverage from 23 million Americans. Kelly Loeffler’s health care “plan” revokes protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock both support expanding Medicaid access, strengthening the Affordable Care Act, and supporting rural hospitals so all Georgians have access to quality health care. They are looking out for all of their constituents, not just the ones who can afford private insurance, and will help thousands Georgians receive the medical care they need.
The median income in Georgia is under $60,000 per year, falling below the national average. David Perdue’s net worth is $15 million, and Kelly Loeffler’s is a staggering $800 million. Perdue voted for Trump’s radical tax cuts that gave big breaks to businesses — even pushing a rule that benefits pro sports team owners, like Loeffler, at the rest of our expense. A long-time GOP donor, Loeffler promised on appointment to self-fund her campaign to the tune of $20 million. (She’s still fundraising, though.) Big banks are supporting the Republicans because they champion economic policy that favors executives through tax cuts and deregulation, leaving the average Georgian behind.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will support fair job growth in Georgia and beyond by reinstating taxes on big businesses and the wealthy, raising the minimum wage, making college affordable, and helping small business owners of all demographics. As Georgians continue to lose their jobs due to COVID-19, Ossoff and Warnock will make sure emergency relief funds go to those who need it most. With both Democrats in the Senate, Biden’s job-creating infrastructure plan could become a reality that lifts many Georgians out of poverty.
Though many Republicans view climate change as a far-off threat (or deny its existence), Georgia has already faced the dangers of a warming world. The sea level on Georgia’s coast has risen 11 inches since 1950, and will rise 6 more by 2030. Since 2017, Georgia has experienced tropical cyclones, hurricanes, winter storms, and growing numbers of days with dangerous heat. The state has already lost billions of dollars in damages, which will only grow more expensive the longer politicians ignore climate change.
David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler support Trump’s climate-destroying agenda. Perdue denies climate science, voted to deregulate emissions, and urged Trump to exit the Paris Climate Accord, all while hypocritically protecting his own beachfront house from rising shorelines. Though Loeffler hasn’t been in the Senate long enough to make an impact on climate policy, she proudly touts herself as 100% pro-Trump, giving us a pretty clear idea of how she’ll vote on Biden’s climate policy proposals.
Ossoff and Warnock support Biden’s green infrastructure plan that will create jobs in clean and sustainable energy in Georgia. They’ll push for the US to re-enter the Paris Climate Accord and become a leader in the fight against climate change, investing in their constituents’ futures. They won’t gamble with their Georgians’ lives just to please lobbyists.
How You Can Help
Just as Georgians are voting on the future of their state, the course of our nation is at stake. The Senators who are seated from the Peach State after January 5th have the opportunity to make life better for all Americans with economic relief, tax reform, and an environmental policy that puts people over corporations. At Swing Left, we make it easy for you to get involved in these races from anywhere in the country. Earlier this fall, we partnered with Vote Forward to write letters encouraging Georgians to vote on January 5. We’re hosting Call Nights from now till Jan. 5 to give voters crucial information about the runoffs. We’re backing Jon Ossoff’s and Reverend Warnock’s campaigns, and we’re supporting grassroots groups on the ground in Georgia who know the state and its citizens best, including Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and Asian-American groups already reaching out to Georgia voters.
Join us in helping elect senators who will fight for a better Georgia:
Jenna Massoud is a Social Media Assistant for Swing Left and helps manage the communications for Blue Revolution, a nationwide group of grassroots activists.