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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘social contract’

NObama! No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare;
WPA-, CCC-style Jobs Programs Now

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

“We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.”FDR, 1941

“. . . if the tax cuts are extended, their cost to the Treasury will be used (again) as a rationale for cutting Social Security, Medicare, health care reform, and other social safety-net programs. As Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont has written in his letter to Speaker Pelosi, ‘Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it.’ ”   From our letter to President Obama in Dec. 2010 urging him to stand against extension of the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy

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•  If you’ve thought of maybe contacting the White House or your representatives, now would be a good time. • White House e-mail: comments@whitehouse.gov  • Please join us in phoning the White House (202-456-1111) and members of Congress to say “Don’t touch Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid”; let the wealthy pay up for a change. Don’t let Republicans hold middle class and poor Americans hostage when they won’t budge on raising taxes. •  Tomorrow we’ll post a similar letter we’ve been faxing to members of Congress.

Following is an open letter to President Obama that we faxed (202-456-2461) and mailed to the White House this week.

An Open Letter to President Obama

President Obama:

As a former Obama campaign and OFA volunteer, I urge you, do not trim Social Security benefits or raise the Medicare eligibility age when the middle class is already nearing extinction. Only months after extending the Bush Tax Cuts for Millionaires, with the G.O.P. not budging on raising revenues, it is intolerable that you would even think of cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and federal pension programs. (And stop calling them “entitlements”: that’s a Republican term.)

Even if these programs are left intact, reducing federal spending by billions or trillions at a time when no other large domestic entity is spending at all will increase unemployment, choke consumer spending, and shrink the economy still further. You seem to be putting a lot more effort toward cuts than toward revenues. Seriously, austerity in a recession? You can’t really want to try the Herbert Hoover–Andrew Mellon route to reelection. I’m urging congressional Democrats to refuse the deal.

The millions who voted for you are begging you to address the nation’s real crisis and launch an ambitious WPA-style jobs program and lower the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security to 55. That would restore public and investor confidence, and would invigorate this lame, sucking economy. If tax rates were fair, this wealthy nation could afford it. You could help make it happen.

Your reelection would be less in doubt if you gave America’s 15+ million unemployed and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure a comprehensive WPA-style jobs program at least 10 times as aggressive as the ARRA stimulus: public works, transportation (not just high-speed rail), public housing, environmental conservation (think CCC), schools, hospitals. Franklin Roosevelt didn’t wait for Congress: he established the WPA in 1935 by executive order. You could do the same.

You’re trying to make a “reasonable,” “centrist” deal with nihilistic extremists who want the government to shut down and to blame you for it. They don’t even believe in government. Claiming “progress,” you’re leading us straight into the G.O.P.’s chainsaw. Last December, after you asserted your readiness to fight the Republicans “next time,” I wrote to you:

. . . if the tax cuts are extended, their cost to the Treasury will be used (again) as a rationale for cutting Social Security, Medicare, health care reform, and other social safety-net programs. As Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont has written in his letter to Speaker Pelosi, “Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it.”

I understand the political rationale for wanting to be seen as curbing the deficit, but any cuts are only acceptable if you follow them up with a really serious WPA-style jobs program. I worry, however, that you really don’t have the stomach for a fight. That’s really, really too bad for the millions of us (many unemployed) who put our faith in you. We, and labor and congressional Democrats, may not be helping you in 2012—or even in 2011.

Yours, etc.

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Tyranny Disguised as Fiscal Discipline

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

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“. . . to secure these rights [including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . . whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it . . .”

“In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”Declaration of Independence

 

On the night of Weds. March 9, after weeks of massive opposition rallies and national attention, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the state senate pulled a legislative maneuver to pass a bill that strips the state’s public workers of the right of collective bargaining. Wisconsin’s teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public workers had held and cherished the right to bargain for improved working conditions since 1959. These workers agreed to the fiscal remedies Walker sought, but refused to surrender their right to collective bargaining. He forced his bill through anyway, by trickery. Ironically, it was on another March 9 that Congress passed the first piece of FDR’s New Deal legislation, the Emergency Banking Act of 1933.

There was no fiscal crisis in Wisconsin when Walker took office on Jan. 3. But there was a big deficit after his first legislative priority as governor, to give Wisconsin corporations some $140 million in tax breaks.

What makes Walker’s action most reprehensible is his absolute refusal to meet with his opponents or to listen to the tens of thousands of people in the streets objecting to his scheme for “fiscal repair.” Collective bargaining is a right that would only be taken away by a tyrant, and only by force and deception. (Former labor secretary Robert Reich calls it a coup d’etat.) In Walker’s refusal to meet with or listen to the people he was elected to govern, he violates the very principles of representative government.

“Conservative” Is Not the Word for Someone Like Scott Walker

In the fall of 2009 as the Tea Party movement was growing louder and more raucous, we posted a piece titled “Are ‘Conservatives’ Conservative? Are They Even American?” The obviously provocative title irritated a number of our gentle readers—ungentled them, you might say. We said the question was asked not about ordinary citizens, with whose distress we largely sympathize, but about “the elites, the elected officials who until recently held the White House and majorities in Congress, certain corporate executives and right-wing think tankers and pundits who identify themselves as conservatives.” (more…)



Republican War on Working Families

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

It’s Not Only in Wisconsin, America

This TV ad is being launched today in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans. Please help Democracy for America spread the word by clicking here to contribute. Thank you.




Taxing the Rich: Still a Good and Fair Idea

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Budget cutting is all the rage; a recent attempt to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire was defeated by Obama’s deal with the Republican congressional leadership. (See our reaction to that regrettable deal here and here.) In this time of (unnecessary) revenue shortfalls and budget crises, who speaks for raising taxes? We do. And we’re not alone. (For example, Bill Gates Sr., a wealthy man, believes the rich should pay more.)

Recent letters to the New York Times in response to a superficially reasonable column by David Brooks spoke well about the need to raise revenues by taxing the wealthy, reducing tax breaks for the rich and for corporations, and, when cutting the budget, to include defense spending. (As is often the case, the best part of the paper is the Letters to the Editor.) The writers convey their views well, so we’ll say no more except to commend their good sense.

 

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If you feel the same way, please write letters to the editors of your own local papers, and phone your local news stations and the news networks listed here (lower page) and say so. Demand that producers present the views of proponents of fair taxation of upper-income Americans—such as the Citizens for Tax Justice and the National Priorities Project—rather than only presenting the arguments of “fiscally conservative” budget-slashers. Thank you.

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No “Kumbaya” for Billionaires

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

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[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

Today when the New York Times reports “Tax Cut Timing Is Proving Problematic for Democrats,” we faxed and mailed the following letter to President Obama and sent similar messages to his economic team (Goolsbee, Bernstein, Elizabeth Warren), along with Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine. We’re sorry to hear the timing’s inconvenient, but our view is that a shortage of tax revenue from the upper 1 and 2 percent tax brackets is “proving problematic” for America: for the unemployed, for the crumbling infrastructure, the public transportation that isn’t being built, the teachers and police who are being laid off, and so on. The richest 1% of Americans now take home almost 24% of income; in the past 30 years more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes has gone to the richest 1% (Nicholas Kristof, “Our Banana Republic”).

Join us in pressing on the White House and congressional Democrats (there are still some left) to do the right thing for America and not extend the Bush tax cuts for the upper 2%. Obama and the Democratic-led 111th Congress passed some 25 tax cuts for the middle class (the “lower 95%”), as he promised he would in 2008, but the Democrats forgot to make sure we knew it. Contact info here. White House phone: 202-456-1111. White House fax: 202-456-2461. Senate. House of Representatives.

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Restore Top Rate to Reagan-era 50%

Dear President Obama:

It has to be you, the President, taking the lead on not extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%. Congressional Democrats won’t move without your lead. Gain the upper hand and the moral high ground by not compromising on this. Speak up, and hold firm. Stay in campaign mode—the G.O.P. surely will.

Economic fairness. It would be unfair to the point of criminal to extend the upper 2% tax cuts when the nation is suffering 10% unemployment, 15 million are unemployed, infrastructure is crumbling, and the richest 1% own almost 24% of income. In the past 30 years more than 4/5 of the total increase in American incomes has gone to the richest 1%.

Political winner. In addition to the moral argument, it is essential politically that Democrats take a stand for the middle class. The G.O.P. is handing you a gift, just as Gingrich did to Clinton over Medicare cuts. Bring it on, G.O.P.—we’re not backing down. Force the Republicans to show who they really care about. You already know that they are not serious about reducing the deficit. Anyway, the more they pay in taxes, the less they’ll have to donate to anti-Obama commercials.

“Compromise” by honoring Reagan. Raise the upper-income rates to the 50% they paid during the Reagan years of 1982–1986. Tell ’em, “You’re always praising Reagan, so if it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for you now.” Honor the Gipper, and pay your share.

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Health Care Summit Shows Sharp Contrast in Political Philosophies

Friday, February 26th, 2010

We’ll soon have more to say about Thursday’s health care reform summit, but first wanted to share some good observations written by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post (a sharp, gifted young blogger-reporter who knows policy like a wonk but explains it in plain English). In a blog post titled “Sen. Lamar Alexander Explains Why There’ll Be No Compromise,” Klein observes:

At best, what you can say today is demonstrating is that there’s a sharp contrast in the philosophies on display: Democrats believe the federal government is capable of writing and implementing legislation that will take a big step forward on a hard problem. Republicans believe government doesn’t have that capability, and shouldn’t try. There’s no real compromise available between those two position, but they’re philosophies that the American people can choose between.

(This, by the way, is a good, clear way of saying from another angle what we’ve observed before about the parties’ different philosophies of governance, and shows why, if, say, you want public, government-directed investment in flood defense infrastructure or environmental protection, if you want public officials who just might believe in a social contract and a social safety net, you want to vote in as many Democrats—preferably progressive Democrats—as possible.)

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Department of Corrections:
About That John Edwards Endorsement

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Mardi Gras has come and gone, and Ash Wednesday too, and now it is Lent: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Speaking of dust and repentance . . .

Two years ago we endorsed John Edwards for president. That was before we realized how far superior Barack Obama was (is), and before we read Heilemann and Halperin’s Game Change from beginning to end. (Click here for an excerpt.) Now, our endorsement got a bit of attention through Huffington Post (because we said “Democrats need a tough candidate who won’t hesitate to kick the Republicans in the balls”), but apparently the endorsement caused no irreversible damage. Still, we would like to issue a correction, an admission of error of character judgment.

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“The Brown Pelican Is Back”

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

An Environmental Protection Success Story
Detail from the Bank of New Orleans, Magazine Street.

Detail from the Bank of New Orleans, Magazine Street.

The brown pelican, a species that was driven nearly to extinction by use of the pesticide D.D.T., has grown back in strong enough numbers that the admirable bird has been removed from the endangered species list. The decision was announced Wednesday by officials of the U.S. Interior Department in a ceremony with Senator Mary Landrieu at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe, Louisiana. The brown pelican was declared endangered in 1970. Pelicans would eat fish that contained traces of D.D.T., and the pesticide’s weakening of calcium in the eggshell would cause the birds’ eggs to be so thin that they would break during incubation. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and other birds were similarly affected. D.D.T. was banned in 1972 (but we’re not safe yet).

Christine Harvey of the Times-Picayune explains the announcement in illuminating detail. She reports that Senator Landrieu used the occasion of the visit by Interior assistant secretary Tom Strickland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services director Sam Hamilton

to convene a closed meeting between the Interior officials and about 75 coastal restoration “stakeholders” representing state agencies, universities, local governments and environmental groups in an effort to press the Obama administration on its commitment to speeding the state’s coastal restoration process.

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