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With less than three weeks until Election Day, every candidate for public office is your best friend. Vote for me instead of that other scoundrel, they say, and I'll deliver maximum benefits at minimal cost to taxpayers.

How can we sort through the clutter? Last Sunday’s debate between Mark Schauer and Gov. Rick Snyder offered a clear contrast on taxes, education, roads and other key issues.

The discussion confirmed what the working men and women of the Michigan AFL-CIO found when we evaluated Rick Snyder’s four-year track record. As Schauer pointed out on Sunday night, the incumbent’s “tough choices” are always tough on the wrong people. Soon after taking office, Snyder raised taxes by $1.4 billion on Michigan workers, including the first-ever tax on retiree pensions in Michigan history.

Parents and homeowners are also paying higher taxes. So is everyone else. Snyder and the GOP legislature raised the state income tax rate, which applies to everyone who earns a wage or salary.

But rich CEOs and wealthy corporations are paying $1.7 billion less; the governor gave them an across-the-board tax cut. Snyder promised that cutting taxes for business would create jobs — but that didn’t happen.

Michigan has the fifth highest unemployment rate of all 50 states, the same as when Snyder took office. We’re 49th out of 50 when it comes to future job creation — the jobs we need for our children and grandchildren.

After four years of failure, Michigan needs a change. That’s why we’re endorsing Mark Schauer. He’ll cut middle class taxes and raise middle class incomes, giving workers spending power to get our economy moving. He’s going to reinvest in education, manufacturing and small business to bring jobs back to Michigan.

Schauer has also pledged to give Michigan companies first crack at Michigan public contracts — unlike Rick Snyder, who outsourced the Pure Michigan tourism campaign to a publishing firm in Iowa. Maybe Snyder can be governor there after voters retire him here.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Gary Peters has a clear, impressive track record. During three terms in Congress, Peters has been a champion for Michigan’s auto industry. He fought against wasteful spending, opposed a congressional pay raise, and managed his office budget so carefully that he actually returned $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury.

Peters’ opponent, Terri Lynn Land, is ducking debates and won’t give many interviews — maybe because her positions are so hard to defend. She backed Mitt Romney, opposing help for Michigan’s auto industry. Her stance would have cost one million American jobs and wrecked the Michigan economy.

Land also opposes equal pay for equal work, claiming women have a “different lifestyle” and that we’re “more interested in flexibility on a job than pay.” Here’s a news flash: In the 21st century, men and women want family-friendly jobs. Regardless of gender, we all want to be treated fairly — and paid fairly — for the work we do.

Candidates will have plenty to say in the next 20 days. The Michigan AFL-CIO has a full list of recommendations at MIAFLCIO.org/endorsements.

When all the talking is done on Nov. 4, you get to make the final decision. You have the power to decide who’s a scoundrel and who isn’t — and who is a true friend of Michigan’s working families.

Karla Swift is Michigan president of the AFL-CIO.

Labor Voices

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.

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