The Senate is completely broken, with a minority obstructing everything. Minority. Obstructing. Every. Thing.Everything. There were more than 380 filibusters in just the last few years! In a few days the Senate will vote on fixing this and making them talk if they feel it is important to block a bill, instead of just blocking bills. If we are going to fix the Senate so the majority will can get things done, your senators need to hear from you immediately. Tell them to make them talk.
Next week is the only chance for two years for the Senate to change the rules and Fix the Filibuster. So today is a day of action, asking people across the country to call your senators.
Call your senators at 1-866-937-5062 and demand change. Tell them to make them talk.
Make Them Talk
The idea behind the filibuster is that when the minority thinks a new law violates their rights they can hold it up and give themselves and their supporters time to rally the public and make their case. They used to take to the floor of the Senate and talk, and talk, and talk, keeping any action from proceeding. This was an important tool that gave the minority a real voice in the Senate.
How many real and serious national problems can you list? And how many obvious solutions can you come up with literally off the top of your head? Now an experiment: list how many of them are being worked on by our DC elites or even discussed my our elite media? The answer is none. Why is this? And what can you do about it?
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi wants members of Congress to sign what is known as a “discharge petition” to force a vote on keeping taxes at current levels for people making under $250,000. Call your member of Congress to let them know you support this. The more noise and publicity this gets, the more it puts pressure on hostage-takers to stop taking hostages.
Here is what is going on. At the end of the month the “Bush tax cuts” expire. While most of the cuts go to people at the high end of the income ladder, there are some cuts for people making less than $250K that will also expire. The President and Democrats as asking Republicans to go ahead and approve this, since they say they agree. But Republicans are trying to keep the Bush tax cuts for their wealthy backers and and willing to prevent extending these tax cuts for middle in order to do it. In other words, they are holding the middle class hostage. A “discharge petition” can force this bill to come up for a public vote.
The Hill sums it up succinctly, in House Dems try to force vote on extending middle-class tax rates,
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday announced Democrats would circulate a discharge petition to force a House vote to extend current tax rates only on annual household income below $250,000.
The Senate has already approved the extension, but Republicans are objecting because they want all of the Bush-era rates to be extended, including on income above $250,000.
Pelosi called on House Republican leadership to bring that legislation to the floor next week and threatened that if they do not schedule a vote on the Senate bill, Democrats will file what’s known as a discharge petition on Tuesday to force a vote on the measure in her chamber. If Democrats successfully obtain 218 signatures on the discharge petition, it would automatically force the middle income tax cut bill to the floor for a vote.
“We believe that not [bringing the Senate bill to the floor] would be holding middle income tax cuts hostage to tax cuts for the rich,” Pelosi said. “Tax cuts for the rich which do not create jobs, just increase the deficit, heaping mountains of debt onto future generations.”
You can help change the economy! Big companies use their size and the fear of losing our jobs to force us to accept no raises or even lower pay and benefits. They can use their size to force communities, states and even the federal government to lower their taxes. You can help change the economy by standing with Walmart workers next week. They have the money but we have the people. Continue reading →
A new web video unveiled today by the National Education Association and Americans for Tax Fairness vividly shows how extending the Bush tax cuts for CEOs and the richest 2 percent of Americans would be paid for by cutting education funding for kids.
If you have a chance, please book mark this for weekend reading: Prosperity For America, and their Prosperity Economics report.
“Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All
Prosperity economics concludes that there is no trade-off between creating a strong, dynamic economy and fostering a society marked by greater health, broader security, increased equality of opportunity, and more broadly distributed growth.”
The 99% Spring movement is starting to make itself heard at corporate shareholder meetings around the country. And next week it really gets started and will be big. (I’ll be reporting from the GE shareholder meeting next week in Detroit.)
Did you know that shareholder protests shut down the annual shareholders meeting of energy-company EQT Corp. yesterday?
Our country is at a crossroads. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The choice is in our hands. This spring we will act on that choice.
In the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers and inspired by today’s brave heroes in Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin, we will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action.
From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:
Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.
Starting this spring with corporate shareholder season, the 99% Power coalition—workers and retirees, families fighting foreclosure and the unemployed, students, immigrants and environmentalists—have united together to build an economy and a democracy that works for all us, not just for the 1%.
Thousands of people will be inside and outside more than three-dozen corporate shareholder meetings across the country, including Wells Fargo, GE, Verizon, Sallie Mae, Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Verizon and more. We will directly face and challenge the 1% board members and executives that have only served to expand inequality, threaten democracy, destroy our environment and have put their desire for profit in direct conflict with the survival of families and communities.
99% Power will mobilize well over 10,000 people, from all walks of life and representing the diversity of the 99%, to engage in nonviolent direct action. All told, there will be more demonstrations connected to corporate shareholder meetings than at any point in American history. Together we fight to build a political and economic system that offers equal opportunity for all.
MARCH 22: VERIZON DAY OF ACTION
Verizon has made tens of billions in profits and its top executives walked away with $283 million in the last four years. But when it comes to the 45,000 workers who made Verizon’s success possible, suddenly the company cries broke.
Verizon has sent thousands of American jobs overseas and wants to outsource even more jobs, gut pensions, charge current and retired employees thousands of dollars more for health benefits, and cut disability benefits for workers injured during their jobs.
On March 22, CWA and IBEW workers and thousands of others will be rallying around the country to support good jobs and the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act. Join us.
About The Call-Center Bill
The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act is a bipartisan bill to help fight the offshoring of call-center jobs and protect consumers. This proposed legislation would let the public know which companies are engaging in sending jobs out of the country, let customers ask to use an American call center instead, and ban federal grants or guaranteed loans to American companies that move call center jobs out of the US.
Today many call-center jobs are being moved out of the country, mostly to India and the Philippines. This costs American jobs, and can be very frustrating to consumers who have to speak to people who they cannot understand because of language problems or cultural differences. The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act gives consumers the right to ask where the person they are speaking with is based, and ask for an American-based representative instead. Among the things this bill would accomplish:
Require the Department of Labor to publicly list firms that move call center jobs overseas.
Make these firms ineligible for any direct or indirect federal loans or loan guarantees for five years.
Require 120 day advance notification of a proposed move off-shore.
Require call center employees to tell U.S. consumers where they are located, if asked.
Require that call centers transfer calls to a U.S. call center if asked.
Action Coming — Spread The Word!
This is a Big Deal, just look at end of this post for the list of organizations that are signed on to this so far – and more coming. April 9-15, 2012, the 99% Spring: 100,000 Americans will train for non-violent direct action. Sign up. And spread it around.
This spring, the 99% Spring.
The following is in case you haven’t looked around lately: millions of jobs destroyed, wages cut, working people told “shut up and take or we’ll send your job to China, too,” homes foreclosed, crushing student loan debt, unions denied collective bargaining rights, budget cuts, crumbling schools with skyrocketing class sizes and teacher layoffs, and a huge rise in the number of children in poverty.
These things are a result of rampant greed—the deliberate manipulation of our democracy and our economy by a tiny minority in the 1%, by those who amass ever more wealth and power at our expense.
From the Christian Science Monitor, here is what happened to the workers in one company when the Romney/Bain machine “came to town”:
The new owner, American Pad & Paper, owned in turn by [Mitt Romney's] Bain Capital, told all 258 union workers they were fired, in a cost-cutting move. Security guards hustled them out of the building. They would be able to reapply for their jobs, at lesser wages and benefits, but not all would be rehired.
Watch the first teach-in on the economy, National Teach-In To Take Back The American Dream for background on how we got here, and ideas about what next. And spread it around. 99% Spring
Campaign for America’s Future and more than 30 major grassroots organizations in the “99% Spring” are coming together to help train 100,000 people across the country to participate in sustained non-violent, direct action to stand with the 99%, and reshape our country.
“From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:
Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.”
The coalition is calling for a national convergence of training, education, and action between April 9 and 15 to: shape a collective vision of an economy that works for all Americans – not just the wealthiest 1%; learn about the history and application of non-violent direct action; and put what we learn into direct action to expose the injustices of the moment and demand change from those responsible.
You can read more about “99% Spring Movement” here: http://the99spring.com/ Read the letter from key movement leaders & organizations calling for a 99% Spring.
350.org, Alliance for a Just Society, American Federation of Teachers, The Campaign for America’s Future, Change to Win, Citizen Action of New York, Citizen Engagement Lab, Color of Change, Communications Workers of America, Engage, Fuse Washington, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Greenpeace, Institute for Policy Studies, Jobs With Justice, Leadership Center for the Common Good, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, MoveOn.org, Movement Strategy Center, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, National Education Association, National Guestworker Alliance, National People’s Action, New Bottom Line, National Domestic Workers Alliance, New Organizing Institute, The Other 98%, The Partnership for Working Families, PICO National Network, Progressive Democrats of America, Pushback Network, Rainforest Action Network, Rebuild the Dream, The Ruckus Society, Right to the City Alliance, Service Employees International Union, smartMeme Strategy & Training Project, UNITE-HERE, United Auto Workers, United Electrical Workers Union, United States Student Association, United Steel Workers, United Students Against Sweatshops, UNITY, Working Families Party. This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.
Thom Hartmann, host Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Heather McGhee, Demos Leo Hindrey, businessman and “Patriotic Millionaire” Natalie Foster, Co-Founder, Rebuild the Dream Robert Borosage, Campaign for America’s Future
Not long ago, in A Win For Labor – FAA Bill Drops Anti-Union Language, I wrote that, “negotiators have dropped the anti-union language for votes to start a union. Republicans were insisting that no-shows be counted as “No” votes. Delta’s check must have been mailed late.”
Well, not so fast. While dropping a blatant anti-labor requirement that any non-voters be counted as ‘no’ voters, it turns out that the bill remains solidly and sneakily anti-labor. This is supposed to be a bill about airline safety and security, but the fight is over anti-labor provisions… what’s up with that? Laura Clawson at Daily Kos writes in, Unions call on Democrats to reject poison pills buried in Republican ‘compromise’ on FAA,
When Republicans suggested that they would agree to a compromise on Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, dropping their demand to count workers who did not vote in union representation elections as having voted against the union in exchange for raising the threshold of workers asking to get a union representation election from 35 percent to 50 percent, there were two possibilities: Either Republicans were dropping a huge demand in exchange for something relatively minor and it was a bit of a win, or there was something sneaky buried in what Republicans now wanted.
Why This Fight?
The reason there is a fight over labor rules in an FAA bill at all is that Delta Airlines is trying to keep unions out, so the 1% can keep from paying good wages and benefits to the 99%. And, as usually happens, they are offering the Republican Party a share of the take if they can just make it happen for them. Such is our present-day political system. It seems to come down to who is giving the most money to the Republican Party gets priority in legislation. (“Drill, baby, drill!”) Compromise?
If you start with a bill that says, “kill all the unions, kill all the unions, kill all the unions, kill all the unions” and take out one “kill all the unions” is that a compromise? The unions are still killed three times over.
The FAA bill contains a number of provisions that make it nearly impossible to establish a union, including but not limited to:
the percentage of workers that say they wan a vote on unionization increases from 35 to 50 percent
tricky election run-off rules open up elections to even more company interference
a procedure allowing for the wholesale decertification of a whole host of unions through mergers
So Will Dems Cave?
So the question is, will Democrats cave on this? Some are saying that they have “made compromises” but what has happened is they took out one part that makes it almost impossible to form a union while leaving in other parts that make it nearly impossible to form a union. The only “compromise” appears to be from almost impossible to nearly impossible and labor is screwed either way. Or, from above, the unions are killed three times over instead of four times over.
As David Dayen reports at Firedoglake, a number of labor organizations have signed a letter rejecting this “compromise.” The unions signing the letter are the United Auto Workers union; Teamsters; Communications Workers of America; Association of Flight Attendants-CWA; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees-IBT; American Federation of Government Employees; International Association of Machinists; National Education Association; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen-IBT; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; Service Employees Local 32BJ-National Conference of Fireman and Oilers; Sheet Metal Workers; United Steelworkers; American Train Dispatchers Association; Transportation Communications Union-IAM; Amalgamated Transit Union; United Transportation Union; and UniteHere. Fight Back Against Attacks By The 1%
Stand with these unions to help protect the middle class from attacks by the 1%. CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY and tell them you want the FAA bill to be about airline safety and security, not busting unions.
Then, click here to sign a letter, Stop This Radical Threat to Workers’ Rights:
Radical anti-union members of Congress are attempting to rewrite the Railway Labor Act and change the role of the National Mediation Board without debate or discussion. They have included drastic changes to the law in the FAA Reauthorization bill.
The changes these radicals are seeking would: Make it much harder for airline and railroad workers to hold union representation elections. Threaten airline and railroad workers’ right to a secret ballot during union representation campaigns, allowing for management intimidation and retaliation. Allow airline and railroad management to decertify unions without an election in a merger.