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Kooren: I was Port's pawn in cheap political attack

I would like to respond to comments made recently by blogger Rob Port and state Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah. It seems as soon as you dip your toe into politics to fight for your rights, some folks are more than happy to drag you into the mud.

In Port's Feb. 1 blog, he insinuated that I should be upset with Sen Heidi Heitkamp's opposition to the president's tax scheme. He noted that UPS leadership has claimed they are going to fix the retiree pension crisis thanks to the tax cuts and that it's ironic that Heitkamp opposed this legislation. In other words, I was Port's pawn in a cheap political attack. Unruh also attacked Heitkamp through me — claiming Heitkamp can't really be for working families since she opposed the president's tax plan.

Contrary to Port's assertion, the UPS pledge to help pensions only impacts its own company plans. Our Central States Pension — which is facing devastating cuts — is not covered. Nor are the pensions of the majority of UPSers in the U.S. The UPS pledge was a ruse meant to show that UPS takes care of all its retirees, which is simply untrue. But that didn't stop Port from using it.

With regard to the president's tax cuts that were written behind closed doors and shoved through Congress in the dead of night, I believe that these cuts will cause long-term harm to working men and women in this country. Over 80 percent of the benefits will go to the wealthiest 1 percent, while our kids and grandkids will be left with trillions of dollars of additional debt. Republican leadership is already hoping to slash Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other critical programs as a result of the debt they created.

It was a great honor to join Senator Heitkamp at the State of the Union. I was proud to represent working men and women and I consider Heitkamp to be a champion for us. It's unfortunate that this generous invitation on her part was used as means to sling some political mud so early in an election year.

And finally, with regard to the cancelled meeting with Rep. Kevin Cramer, Local 638 in Bismarck has been straightforward in explaining that they cancelled the event, not me. Like other North Dakotans, I've been praying for the Cramer family as they go through a very difficult time with the health of their son.

I will continue to stand up for working men and women and support those who support us. I am grounded in my faith and saddened when I see others take the political low road to try and hurt folks who are fighting for a better life for working families, seniors and so many others who make up this great country.

Kooren is the chairman of North Dakota Fargo Committee to Protect Senior Rights and the UPS Committee Chairman of the National United Committee to Protect Pensions