Progressive voices were heard loud and clear at Saturday’s Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) State Committee Meeting in Maricopa, Arizona.
Unlike some past ADP meetingswhere progressives were ignored or where progressive resolutions were tabled and not heard by the full ADP membership, the Maricopa meeting was dominated by progressives.
During the morning caucus meetings, approximately 80 members of the progressive caucus (pictured here) met in the booming high school cafeteria to hear about legalization of marijuana, the plight of Dreamers, and a host of progressive resolutions.
Following candidate speeches, including a rousing address by would-be governor Fred DuVal, the full State Committee heard staff reports, caucus reports, and resolutions. During the afternoon meeting of the entire State Committee, the corporate personhood and the Robin Hood Tax resolutions easily passed the entire body. Although the Resolutions Committee recommended against consideration of the Keystone XL Pipeline resolution and the clean elections resolution on technicalities, the State Committee membership overruled the Resolutions Committee and passed the anti-Keystone Pipeline resolution easily. The clean elections resolution was tabled until the court cases have been decided and could be heard at a future meeting. An additional resolution condemning private prisons also passed with little dissent. (The DREAMer resolution was new, and therefore, not heard by the entire body on Saturday.)
In addition to the progressive votes, State Committee members enthusiastically applauded Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) activists Dan O'Neal and Barbara Njos, who were arrested in Maricopa County last week at a pro-DREAMer protest.
For long-time Arizona progressives, Saturday’s meeting was a far cry from prior years’ meetings where all progressive resolutions were stopped by the Resolutions Committee on technicalities or tabled from the floor (and allowed to die). At the January 2013 meeting of ADP, many incumbents were voted out of the party leadership.
Is the ADP turning blue?
[For additional photos from Saturday's meeting, go here.]
UPDATE: This article was picked up by the national publication In These Times and by the Daily Kos Progressive Blog Round-up. Check out the In These Times version for more details: Knights of the Progressive Roundtable.
Deals are made, and bills are negotiated not only in the halls of Congress but in offices and meeting rooms around DC. Since December 2012, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has been conducting monthly, Educate Congress roundtable meetings with Congressional representatives and key staff.
With a give-and-take format, these meetings allow PDA representatives and allies to discuss proposed legislation and related progressive ideas and allow Congressional representatives and staffers to offer updates, insights, and strategies.
The Progressive Roundtables provide a forum to address a broad range of issues– from Wall Street gambling and hunger in America to voting rights, immigration, fracking, universal healthcare, the living wage, austerity, tax reform, mass incarceration, and more.
“One of the things I love about PDA is you stand up for ‘the little guy,’ and that’s what government’s all about,” Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern told the roundtable audience in July 2013. “Donald Trump doesn’t need us [Congress], but somebody who is unemployed or somebody who is working and making so little that they still qualify for SNAP [food stamps], they need us!” More roundtable details and videos after the jump.)
Fifty million Americans, including 17 million children live in poverty, according to McGovern. PDA members nationwide mobilized in June 2013 to urge Congress not to cut foods stamps and free or discounted school lunch programs for millions of Americans. In addition to publicizing the proposed cuts through blogs and social media, PDA members hand-delivered 225 letters to Congressional offices around the country, urging their representatives to vote against any Farm Bill that included cuts to the supplemental nutrition program. In addition, they staged demonstrations at key Congressional offices, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s.
Because of PDA’s letter drops and street heat efforts outside the beltway, McGovern said that PDA “helped Democrats be Democrats” and vote against food stamp cuts. “People here knew there was a movement out there that was absolutely against gutting the SNAP program.” (Pictured above is a PDA Tucson thank you rally at Congressman Raul Grijalva's office. Below are two PDA Tucson members dropping off a letter at Congressman Ron Barber's office.)
Referring to future fights over food stamp funding, we’re still “in the game” because of PDA, McGovern said. “You are being heard.”
In addition to fighting to protect earned benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and supplemental nutrition programs, PDA members and progressive Congressional representatives are pushing for legislation that would dramatically raise revenue– particularly the Inclusive Prosperity Tax, also know as the Robin Hood Tax.
Also at the July Educate Congress roundtable, Minnesota Congressional Rep. Keith Ellison offered insights into how the Robin Hood Tax fits into the upcoming budget battle with House Republicans, who continue to push for austerity (for the poor and middle class) and have threatened to shut the government down over budget battles this fall.
“The Republicans have said they want to lower the number of loopholes and lower the [tax] rates. They’ve argued for budget neutrality,” Ellison said. “If they argue that, we will continue to suffer under sequestration cuts that we have seen this year, the $85 billion.”
At the July meeting, Ellison warned of rolling cuts that will continue federal employee lay-offs– particularly Department of Defense civilians—and cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels, which delivers hot meals to the elderly and disabled, and Head Start, early childhood education for poor children. In fact, by mid-August, 57,000 poor children were cut from Head Start, a War on Poverty program that has been proven effective at helping children succeed.
“The Pain is not massive and all at once to people who are politically connected,” said Ellision. Instead the cuts will dribble out and primarily affected the “politically disconnected”.
“Politically these people [House Republicans] are not of a frame of mind to talk about ending sequestration,” Ellison continued. “But I believe this is coming to an end, and we are going to see cuts that will affect the whole country, Republicans included.”
How do progressives suggest we get the money to end sequestration and fully fund social safety net programs? The Robin Hood Tax. Officially known as the Inclusive Prosperity Tax, it would charge a tiny percentage tax on every Wall Street trade and raise $350 billion per year.
“It is more than a revenue-generator. It is a market regulator in that the financial transaction tax will slow down these erratic, flash trades, these algorithmic driven trades where literally millions of trades are taking place over a very short period of time—not based upon someone sitting down and analyzing the stock or the value of the company but just a mathematical trigger point and then all of these trades happen,” Ellison explained.
The rationale is that if individual trades are more expensive—even in an infinitesimal way—Wall Street gamblers will take the time to analyze the trades—rather than allow computerized micro-trading. “This will help markets operate in a more sensible way,” according to Ellison.
“The government and the people of the United States have the right to run the programs of the United States—health, welfare, housing,” Ellison said. The people who benefit from this infrastructure have a duty to support funding for it, and the Inclusive Security Tax is one method of raising revenue to fund the government, he concluded. More than 30 countries worldwide—including 11 in the European Union—have some form of a financial transaction tax.
“These people [House Republicans] do believe that plutocracy is the right model for America, and they’re striving to achieve it everyday,” Ellison noted. “We believe in democracy, so we’re not on the same page.”
All of the Congressional representatives at the roundtable thanked PDA members for their help, but McGovern said it most eloquently.
“It’s helpful to have wind at your back. You [PDA] are like a hurricane at my back.”
The letter drops at Congressional district offices around the country and the inside-the-beltway Progressive Roundtables are key components of PDA’s Educate Congress efforts. The letter drops take place on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. The next Progressive Roundtable will be September 11, 2013 in the Rayburn Building. As with the July meeting, a live streaming connection will be available for anyone who wants to watch. Videos also will be posted on PDA’s YouTube channel.
Progressives in Congress and across the country are fighting the tide of right wing extremism on multiple fronts– from food stamps to cuts in Social Security to stalled immigration reform to anti-woman legislation to austerity for the middle class, while the wealthy live high on the hog.
Congressman Raul Grijalva has been at the forefront of the progressive movement in Congress. As another budget battle heats up in the House of Representatives, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) want to thank our stalwarts like Grijalva, and at the same time want to celebrate Medicare's 48th birthday.
This rally at Grijalva's office is part of a nationwide action at multiple Congressional offices by PDA and National Nurses United (NNU). The event is 10:30 a.m.-12 noon at the old YWCA (738 N. 5th Ave.)
At some locations– like Congressman Ron Barber's– PDA members will do letter drops urging Congressional representatives to support certain bills or issues. This month the focus is on prosperity vs austerity, Medicare expansion, jobs, and progressive financial legislation like the Robin Hood Tax. (More details below.) At Grijalva's office and others, there will be street heat rallies, as there were last month when PDA members were protesting cuts to food stamps nationwide and helped stop the Farm Bill.
Details are still being formulated; so, watch this blog and the PDA Tucson Facebook page for updates. Details after the jump.
More from PDA on the July 17 letter drop .
H.R. 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, marking the 48th Anniversary of Medicare by demanding Congress pass legislation to create a national, not-for-profit program to provide high quality healthcare for all Americans–everyone in, no one out. Please take action here.
Also H.R. 1000: The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act which would create employment opportunities for the unemployed; and H.R. 1579: The Inclusive Prosperity Act: also known as the Robin Hood Tax (RHT) and Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).
Join our growing nationwide Educate Congress Campaign by delivering a letter to your Representative and/or by making phone calls to support the campaign. We'll be in 200 plus home districts and on Capitol Hill, mostly on Wednesday, July 17th. Read more here.
Why the Robin Hood Tax? Wall Street’s reckless behavior in the past decade caused the greatest economic meltdown since the Great Depression. The financial industry was in trouble, and the American people stepped up to help Wall Street. And now it’s time for Wall Street to step up and lend a hand rebuilding Main Street.
Passing the “the Robin Hood Tax,” is the first step. It would add a small fee of half a percent or less on the thousands of automated, high-volume trades occurring on Wall Street every second. Not only would this tax help rein in risky high-speed trading, it would collect $300 billion a year–money which can put Americans back to work, improve our infrastructure, enhance education, and help fund human needs. Let’s show Congress that Americans across the country demand that Wall Street pays its fair share to Main Street.
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) members visited roughly 200 Congressional offices nationwide on May 15 with an urgent message for their representatives: "Austerity is not an option." In addition, 2,000 PDA members called their Congressional representatives yesterday, and Robin Hood Tax supporters held demonstrations in San Francisco and Fresno. Over the past year, PDA's monthly letter drop campaign has mushroomed from a handful of offices visited to nearly half of Congress.
Mr. Barber, aren't there more regular folks in CD 2 than bankers? Why would you protect Wall Street– and not your constituents?
The only thing I can say to you is, "We're not giving up, and we're not going away."
More about yesterday's actions after the jump.
They fanned out across the country from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Chicago, south to Atlanta and Miami, to the towns of Western Massachusetts, in New York City and beyond, and they entered offices on Capitol Hill in a national “Educate Congress” letter-drop campaign. Roughly 200 members of Congress were delivered this urgent message, a reminder that the country’s deteriorating condition needs to be addressed with meaningful policies that bring prosperity to Main Street. Austerity is not an option.
The message in the letter delivered today read, “We are voters… writing to urge you to oppose cuts to essential programs, as well as support common sense tax policies and job creation, as well as expanded, improved healthcare.”
In San Francisco, letter-drops culminated in a march from the offices of Rep. Nancy Pelosi to Sen. Diane Feinstein. Elsewhere, visits transformed to rallies, as well.
Workers and students, concerned citizens, all activists against austerity, banded together in this national outreach effort with profound results: reaching nearly half the Congress. They were members of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), joined by National Nurses United, Labor for Single Payer and others, in support of the Robin Hood Tax, now before Congress in the reintroduced Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1579. Today’s letter-drop campaign and national call-in effort also urged passage of Medicare for All legislation and an end to cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
“We reached more than 200 congressional offices in district offices today, demanding “Prosperity Not Austerity,” said PDA National Director Tim Carpenter. “We also made hundreds of phone calls into district offices, demanding our elected officials join Rep. Grayson, Rep. Takano, and dozens of other House members drawing a line in the sand against any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.”
Carpenter added, “We also turned up the volume on the need to pass H.R. 1579, also known as the Financial Speculation Tax (FST) and Robin Hood Tax, that would generate hundreds of billions of dollars a year to fund job creation and help the economy, as well as protect the social safety net. This measure would save lives and save taxpayers’ money, increase revenues and decrease financial speculation that directly causes highly-destructive fiscal bubbles. We launched this Educate Congress campaign three years ago—before the Tea Party, and before the Occupy movement.”
A follow up national call-in effort is continuing. Next Tuesday, PDA and others meet with Rep. Ellison and Rep. Grayson to talk about next steps to obtain co-sponsors for H.R. 1579 and signatories on a Grayson-Takano letter pledging support for social services.
Since the Tea Party took over the House of Representatives after the disastrous 2010 election, you'd think the most pressing job facing the Congress was to lower taxes on the richest Americans. (Feather-bedding the 1% is right up there with squashing our civil liberties, suppressing voter turnout, grandstanding about cutting "entitlements" (AKA earned benefits), supporting Wall Street banksters, and protecting Citizens United and the obscene campaign finance system we have.
Just look how many marches, blog posts, letters to the editor, calls to representatives, and Occupations it took to overturn the Bush Era Tax Cuts on people who make more than $400,000 a few months ago. (And it still probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for three percentages that changed public opinion– 99%, 1%, and 47%.) More on taxes and budgets after the jump.
One piece of the Ryan plan and the CPC plan focuses on how much income tax the wealthiest Americans should pay. Ryan wants to lower the top tax rate to 25%– going back to the Coolidge years (yeah, that worked out well)– while the progressives want to raise the top bracket to 49% (on income over $1 billion). Bumping up the income tax rate on billionaires to 49% sounds like a big jump, but when you look at the historic data (provided above in a graphic from the Washington Post), you can see that that rate has jumped up and down wildly– depending upon who is President.
So, can billionaires afford to pay higher income taxes? Of course. They can afford to pay 49% on anything over $1 billion much more than the elderly and the disabled can afford chained CPI. For that matter, people making $250,000+ can afford to have their Bush Era Tax cuts rescinded.
The rich also can afford to pay more into Social Security; currently Americans don't pay FICA on any income over $113,700. (So, if you believe the right-wingers when they say that Social Security is in financial trouble, how come they never propose raising or eliminating the cap?)
And, finally, the rich Wall Street banksters can afford to pay a tiny Financial Transaction Tax (AKA Robin Hood Tax) on each stock market trade.
So, what's the big deal with the debt and deficit? I've just offered a few trillion dollars worth of ideas– some of which are in the CPC budget plan. The vote is this week. Call your Congressional representative and tell him or her to vote for the Back to Work Budget. Here's a petition you can sign. Here's a link to send a letter.
Also known as the Robin Hood Tax in the US, a financial transaction tax charges a small percentage fee for every stock market deal. The new European law will charge a rate of 0.1% on any trade of shares or bonds and 0.01% on any financial derivative contract, according to an article in Think Progress. These tiny percentages would raise an estimated 57 billion euros per year if all 27 of the European countries adopted the law. (At an exchange rate of 1 EU = $1.33, that is an estimated $75.8 billion in US dollars per year of revenue generation.) In addition to raising funds, the financial transaction tax discourages speculative computerized trading. Also know as "rent seeking," computers are set up to buy stocks and sell them quickly– sometimes when the profit is just pennies. If you do enough of this automated micro-trading, you can make a bundle of money; but this speculative behavior adds volitility to the market and produces nothing except fot the gamblers who are in the game. The Ed Schultz Show has a great explanation here.
In all, 40 countries worldwide have adopted a financial transaction tax. The 11 countries who have passed the Robin Hood Tax recently include two European powerhouses– Germany and France– plus Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, and Estonia. The financial problems facing Greece, Spain, and Italy have been in the news for years. This tax will help cash-strapped governments to become more stable.
Gosh, what other country is facing dire financial choices and needs an infusion of cash? Find out how the Robin Hood Tax would help the US economy after the jump.
Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2010, the US Congress has been having the same austerity vs prosperity arguments that pushed European citizens into the streets in recent years. With the Republicans' clear goal of protecting the rich, the corporatists, and Wall Street gamblers, the right wing noise machine has been hawking belt-tightening for the 99% and welfare for corporate citizens as the solution to our country's fiscal problems (which were largely created by the Congress, the rich, the corporatists, and the Wall Street gamblers). "We must live within out means. We must cut entitlements!" is the Fort Sumner Teapublican battle cry. Although moderate-to-left-leaning politicians, pundits, economists, and activists say we can't cut our way out of our deficit hole, the Teapublicans are sticking to their guns (in more ways than one).
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), and National Nurses United (NNU) have been pushing for the financial transaction tax, which was introduced into Congress in 2012 by Congressman Keith Ellison as the Inclusive Prosperity Act (HR6411).
New York – The U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign today applauded the introduction in Congress of a bill that would impose a tax on Wall Street speculation. Introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison, HR 6411, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, would raise up to $350 billion in annual revenues that would be used to breathe new life into Main Street communities across America, as well as international health, sustainable prosperity and environmental programs. [Emphasis added.]
The legislation embodies the Robin Hood Tax, a 0.5% tax on the trading of stocks, 50 cents on every $100 of trades, and lesser rates on trading in bonds, derivatives and currencies. It marks the return of a sales tax on financial transactions in place from 1914 to 1966 and targets the high-risk, high-speed trading that dominates the markets.
“The American public provided hundreds of billions to bailout Wall Street during the global fiscal crisis yet bore the brunt of the crisis with lost jobs and reduced household wealth,” said Rep. Ellison in a press statement. “This is a phenomenally wealthy nation, yet our tax and regulatory system allowed the financial titans to amass great riches while impoverishing the systems that enable inclusive prosperity. A financial transaction tax protects our financial markets from speculation and provides the revenue needed to invest in the education, health and communities of the American people.”
As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich tweeted, “Most of Europe will now tax financial transactions, generating billions for hard-pressed budgets. U.S. should do same.” It’s unclear how much revenue Europe will raise, but the European Commission “had previously estimated that such a tax across the 27-nation bloc could yield €57 billion a year,” while “the 11 nations pushing ahead represent about two-thirds of the EU’s economy.”
Here in the U.S., lawmakers have unsuccessfullytried to implement a financial transactions tax in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The benefits of such a tax are two-fold. First, it would raise billions of dollars to repair a federal budget that expanded in the wake of a recession caused in large part by Wall Street malfeasance, thus making the financial sector repay for the damage it caused. Second, it would slow down some of the high-frequency trading that hasexploded in recent years, bringing more stability and safety to financial markets.
Last year, a group of 52 financial executives, including several former heads of mega-banks JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs,endorsed the idea. Forty countries around the world have already embraced a transactions tax.
We can do this. Locally, Congressman Raul Grijalva backs the financial transaction tax, and PDA Tucson has been pushing Congressman Ron Barber in this direction with monthly letter drops and phone calls to his office. (More about this on PDA Tucson's Facebook page.) If you think the financial transcation tax is a good idea to painlessly raise billions– instead of making Grandma switch to a cat food diet— call you Congressional representatives and tell them to sign as sponsors to HR6411. (Do it!)
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