RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Charlie Wilson, former representative of Ohio’s Sixth U.S. House District, lost his seat in 2010 by Republican challenger Bill Johnson. Wilson and Johnson face off for the district again in November, and Wilson said Johnson has one thing this year that he did not have in the last election — a voting record.
Wilson was in Portsmouth Tuesday evening for a private campaign fundraiser. He took a few moments to discuss this issues facing this upcoming election. He accused Johnson of favoring the wealthy over working class families.
“This has been a Democrat district for 52 years. Some parts of it have been broken up at different times, but the values are pretty much the same as you go up and down this river; steel, manufacturing, mostly working families. And the policies being voted now by congress of which my opponent is a part of are not working family policies,” Wilson said.
Wilson further attacked Johnson for supporting the budget proposal set forth by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., which he said “kills Medicare” and protects tax breaks for the wealthy.
“There are 9,800 Medicare beneficiaries in our district alone who enter Part-D in any given year, and they’re trying to open that up so more people can come into it. I’m in favor of closing that, so we can get people not to have to spend $96 million dollars more over the next 10 years on pharmaceutical needs as you get older. Many of these people don’t have the money for it, so what they do is many times they’ll cut pills in half. So what happens is they ultimately get sicker because they can’t afford to get the scrip filled. And getting sicker is not a way to get well,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he also supported health care reform, and he would like to see both parties working together to find common ground.
“Nobody said the health care bill was perfect, or even great. Just get something on the board we can work on,” Wilson said.
Asked if he thought it was at least a good bill, Wilson replied, “There are some parts of it that are not. I think it gives us a starting point. Compare it with Medicare. When Medicare started in ‘65 or ‘66, it has evolved tremendously to where it is now. I have people thank me everyday, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so glad we have our Medicare.’ A lot of folks have built their lives depending on it.”
Wilson said a lot of money has been spent to make health care sound like a bad thing, but more than 200,000 people in the Sixth District, including 96,000 children, gained coverage from the bill immediately. Local hospitals, he said, saved $49 million in “charity care” that would otherwise have to write-off.
He’s also proud that while he was in Congress for four years (2006-2010) he supported the American Recovery Act, which he said brought $75 millions to Scioto County — including $4.5 million to Portsmouth City Schools, $1.9 million to the Valley School District in Lucasville, $750,000 to Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority, $65,000 to Portsmouth Public Library. He said money has also been given to Bloom-Vernon Schools, Northwest Schools, and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“These are monies that are brought home that can help build our infrastructure in Scioto County. I want to be able to talk about this. I want people to see what we did for Shawnee State and for Community Action. Ohio led the nation in weatherization on homes (through Community Action programs),” Wilson said.
He said Republicans are always shouting for smaller government, but that also means fewer police, fewer firemen, and fewer teachers.
“I don’t think it was money that hurt us. I think it helps us. I think what hurts is when you don’t have any,” he said.
He believes that he lost in 2010 because people were angry with Democrats everywhere, and voted against anyone with a “D” next to their name on the ballot. Now two years later, he said early polling suggests that voters are feeling “buyers remorse” and things could end very differently in November.
The Bill Johnson Campaign did not respond to an e-mail seeking comments Wednesday.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.