Economy: A Sensible Budget Alternative

Yesterday, the Senate nixed two budget-cutting proposals — the House GOP budget bill and the Senate Democratic alternative — and exposed “the fault lines within the Republican and Democratic parties over fiscal issues.” Three Tea Party Republicans “who want deeper cuts” joined all Democrats in a 44-56 vote against the GOP bill. But 11 Democrats joined all Republicans in a 42-58 vote the Democratic plan, with some arguing it cut too little and others arguing it cut too much. The government is currently funded until March 18, after which most federal services will cease if a new funding bill for the remaining six months isn’t passed. White House budget director Jacob Lew said the rejection of the two bills “made it abundantly clear that we are going to need to work together on a bipartisan basis.” But a look at the GOP’s idea of compromise reveals an aggressive need to balance the budget on the backs of the disadvantaged while simultaneously impairing economic recovery. At the Center for American Progress yesterday, Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) advocated an “all of the above” approach that “incorporate[s] mandatory cuts and revenue raisers into the mix” rather than “continuing the fixation on domestic discretionary cuts” in order to reign in the deficit responsibly. While recognizing there are tough decisions ahead to reach budgetary goals, Americans are signaling support for a progressive proposal that can responsibly avoid stymieing economic growth and hurting middle-class families at the same time.

THE SLASH AND BURN: Intent on fulfilling their pledge, House Republicans plowed through the federal budget to reach $57 billion in spending cuts in H.R. 1, their continuing resolution to fund the government through 2011. Bypassing pragmatic cuts to outdated programs and subsidies, the House GOP took their ax to vital public investments and our nation’s most vulnerable populations. It would leave 10,000 low-income military veterans and 10,000 long-term disabled people without housing assistance, nearly one million low-income students without academic support, numerous pregnant women and mothers without food and health care assistance, 11 million patients without health care received at Community Health Centers, and at least 5 million children without access to anti-poverty services when the number of children in poverty is at a record high. While leaving the Pentagon’s record-high budget request intact, Republicans still jeopardized national safety by cutting funding to food safety regulators, local law enforcement, and air transportation safety. And despite making job creation their top priority, the House GOP turned H.R. 1 into a job-killer out to kneecap economic competitiveness by drastically reducing investment in public infrastructure, cutting nearly 50 percent of federal job training funding and potentially driving the unemployment rate “up to 9.7-10 percent.” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and numerous economists have stated that the GOP bill could “cost about 700,000 jobs through 2012.” H.R. 1 ended up being so detrimental to “the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation” that President Obama promised to veto the bill if passed. “This is a highly politicized slash-and-burn budget,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said after it failed. “This debate is about more than dollars and sense. It’s about real people with real lives.”

THE RESET: The Democratic budget proposal “coalesced around a spending bill that cuts government funding by $6 billion in 2011” — a far less damaging alternative. However, as The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein indicates, the Democratic baseline still fails to “accelerate our economy” because it focuses solely on deficit reduction without offering any spending on economic investments. In a speech at the Center for American Progress yesterday, Schumer called on Congress to “reset” its approach to deficit reduction. “We need to stop falling into the trap of measuring fiscal responsibility in terms of willingness to cut government, and instead focus on what matters — reining in the deficit,” he said and proceeded to offer a more responsible way to do so. First, Schumer revived his proposal from last year to institute a surtax on millionaires and billionaires — a proposal, he noted, that was “the most popular proposal” among Americans in a recent poll. He also advocated for closing the tax gap by going after tax dodging and income sheltering by big corporations, a gap that “has gotten as high as over $300 billion a year this past decade.” Pointing to mandatory spending as “the largest contributor to the deficit,” Schumer also suggested Congress reduce unnecessary subsidies handed out to industries that don’t need them every year. In an interview with ThinkProgress‘s Pat Garofalo, Schumer said oil and gas subsidies “stick[] out like a sore thumb” because “the entire rationale for it is gone.” With the price of oil at $100 a barrel, “the subsidy, in economic terms, doesn’t mean anything other than to make some people wealthy who are already wealthy,” he said. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agreed, advocating similar millionaire surtaxes and elimination of tax breaks for oil companies to address the deficit. Schumer pushed back hard against cuts to Social Security. “Social Security doesn’t have any problems until 20 years from now,” he said, adding that the deficit needs to be reduced long before then.

THE MAIN STREET VIEW: While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) might think “Americans don’t have a clue” about the problems facing our economy, the perspective from outside the beltway is pretty clear. Most Americans want to see a compromise on the federal budget to avoid a government shutdown, but 56 percent of Americans chose creating jobs over cutting spending as the more important government priority. Fifty-nine percent of Americans favored repealing the Bush tax cuts, and 49 percent thought defense spending should be a top priority for cuts, “even if it means eliminating programs that bring jobs to your state.” However, Americans “across all ages groups and ideologies said by large margins that it was ‘unacceptable’ to make significant cuts to entitlement programs in order to reduce the federal deficit.” What’s more, a sizable majority supported making wealthier Americans share more of the sacrifice — be it through reduced Social Security and Medicare payments or, the most popular option, a surtax on millionaires. Overall, Americans overwhelmingly rejected cuts to social programs. The progressive plan outlined by the Center For American Progress’s Michael Ettlinger, Michael Linden, and Reece Rushing “brings the budget into primary balance by 2015 and brings our deficits to sustainable levels” through pragmatic cuts in 2015, including “eliminating roughly $35 billion in corporate subsidies” and “targeting $60 billion in specific defense cuts for a 7 percent overall reduction.” Coupling responsible cuts at a more economically viable time while raising revenues — such as “applying a new 2 percent surtax to adjusted gross income above $1 million” — will help achieve important budget goals “while protecting middle-class families, continuing vital economic investments, and adequately funding other national priorities.” While tough choices must be made, “proposing to balance the budget only on tax increases or only on spending cuts” while the economy is still fragile “is both unrealistic and bad public policy.” Any feasible deficit reduction plan will balance both the budget and the sacrifice to avoid crippling the economy and hurting struggling middle-class families.

Republican proposal is packed with extreme cuts

Democrats and Republicans have to reach an agreement to keep the government operating.

Right now, President Obama is calling on both sides to come to the table and reach a reasonable solution — a plan that builds for the future while eliminating wasteful spending in the present. A plan where cutting spending is done judiciously — not recklessly. A plan with investments that create jobs — not cuts that eliminate them.

But the current Republican proposal is packed with extreme cuts that are clearly serving a political agenda — cutting billions from Head Start, slashing Pell Grants and other programs that help students pay for college, and completely eliminating funding for Title X family-planning services.

It’s not a responsible plan to cut spending — but a set of policy prescriptions intended to appease the most extreme wing of their party.

And while cuts like these make the Republican plan objectionable — it’s the fact that it puts nearly 1 million jobs at risk that makes it absolutely unacceptable.

So we’re standing with President Obama in a very public way — with an open letter calling on Republicans to work with him and Democrats in Congress to pass a commonsense budget that works for the American people. Supporters will hand-deliver the petition, with your signature, to House Republicans — making sure our combined voices ring loud and clear.

Right now, the debate surrounding our budget should be about one thing — people.

An out-of-work father of three isn’t concerned with advancing the Republicans’ social agenda. All he’s thinking about right now is getting back to work so he can pay his mortgage and his gas bill.

A single mother who relies on Head Start for her four-year-old isn’t thinking about the political sound bite of the moment — she is concerned with making sure her daughter can keep up when she enters kindergarten next year.

The American people don’t care about political back-and-forth or partisan ideology. They want their government to do right by its citizens.

And that’s where the Republican plan falls short.

They would close more than 16,000 classrooms, lay off 55,000 teachers, and cause 218,000 children to be kicked out of early-childhood education programs.

They would slash homeland security investments and lay off thousands of police officers and firefighters, leaving our communities less safe.

They would defund health insurance reform, doing away with the cost savings and vital patient protections relied upon by millions of Americans around the country.

They would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, ending thousands of health center jobs across the country and leaving millions of women without access to preventive care.

Now, President Obama knows that this must be a shared sacrifice, and that some cuts must be made — and he stands ready to work together to find a commonsense solution.

But the current Republican plan would knock this country down just as we’ve begun to stand back up.

The American people deserve better — and it’s up to us to demand it.

Add your name to call on congressional Republicans to stand down from their irresponsible proposal and work with the President on a reasonable plan that we can all support:

Thank you,


Patrick Gaspard

Executive Director

Democratic National Committee

Threats against Muslim Americans …

Tell Congressmen Royce and Miller to denounce calls for the murder of Muslim Americans

This isn’t covered in the rules on Congressional ethics, so sadly it falls to us to remind two members of Congress that it’s not OK to have your friends call for members of the armed services to murder Americans.

Last month, while protesting a group of Muslim Americans who were gathered for a charity fundraiser, Villa Park City Councilwoman Deborah Pauly said, “I know quite a few Marines who would be happy to help these terrorists to a, uh, early meeting in paradise.” Later, some of the protesters shouted slurs at families as they entered the event: “Muhammed was a child molestor,” “why don’t you go beat up your wife like you do every night,” and “you beat your women and you rape your children.”

Sharing the stage at that protest were two Los Angeles area Congressmen: Ed Royce and Gary Miller.

Spurred by activists, Congressman Royce has issued a vague statement trying to disassociate himself from the rally say such hate speech was “regrettable” and “wrong.” But he didn’t say anything about Councilwoman Pauly’s comments, and as of yet we haven’t heard anything from Congressman Miller.

Can you help send both Congressmen the message that they need to denounce Councilwoman Pauly’s comments and the hateful rhetoric used at the rally?

The event the Congressmen were protesting was a fundraiser to combat homelessness hosted by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) in Yorba Linda, Orange County. Two speakers at the event, Siraj Wahhaj and Abdel Malik Ali, have made controversial statements in the past, and the protest was ostensibly organized in response to their presence.

However, as seen in a video of the rally put together by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the protesters insulted and threatened violence against Muslim Americans from the community who came to the event. You can see the video on the petition page.

Thank you for taking this on,

Weldon and the team

the Panther … the RAN newsletter

In the past month we’ve seen a major wave of power shifts across the globe. From Sidi Bouzid to Cairo to Wisconsin, The People are taking power out of the hands of those who’ve proven unworthy to wield it. This is a rare and precious moment in time when people like you and me have both the inspiration and the momentum to command our future. What’s it gonna be?

Table of Contents

*Powershift 2011

*Keep the Pacific Northwest Beautiful

*Girl Scouts Fight for What’s Right

*Disney Destroys Magic Kingdom

*Chevron Found Guilty

*People Power Round-Up


Powershift 2011

From April 15th-18th, over 10,000 young leaders will converge on Washington, DC to stand up for our future, to reclaim our democracy from big corporations and push our nation to move beyond dirty energy sources that are harming the health of people and the planet. Rainforest Action Network will be there in force. Join us.

The Young Activist’s Guide to Building a Green Movement and Changing the World

by Sharon J. Smit


Keep the Pacific Northwest Beautiful

Across the U.S., carbon-spewing coal plants are being shut down and permits for new plants are getting blocked left and right. Coal producers desperate for new markets are gearing up to ship tons of coal overseas, and are vying to build dirty coal ports on the beautiful Pacific Northwest coast. Protect the West Coast, block the coal ports before they get built


Girl Scouts Fight for What’s Right

From Thin Mints to Samoas to Tagalongs, Girl Scout cookies are full of deliciousness. Sadly, they are also full of rainforest-destroying palm oil. How depressing. Are eco-minded cookie lovers supposed to give up the sublime joy of Girl Scout cookie season? Not if scouts Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen have anything to do with it. Get behind these Girl Scouts to get palm oil out of Girl Scout cookies for good!


Disney Destroys Magic Kingdom

Mr. Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” We agree. Though in Mr. Disney’s absence, his company is printing children’s books that threaten a truly magical kingdom, Indonesia’s remaining rainforests. Tell Disney Publishing to protect Indonesia’s rainforests and choose rainforest-safe paper now.


Chevron Found Guilty

After 18 years of litigation, Chevron has been found guilty of polluting the Ecuadorean Amazon with billions of gallons of oil waste. Facing a historic judgment of more than $8 billion, Chevron has vowed not to pay to clean up its mess. The oil giant has enlisted a cast of crooked professionals to sabotage the justice process, and we intend to expose them. Meet Chevron’s Human Rights Hitmen.


People Power

Over the past four weeks, we’ve witnessed incredible moments in people’s movements around the world. Here’s a glimpse into some of the latest revolutions and a taste of those to come…

*Kentucky Has Risen

*Egypt’s Youth Revolution

*Wisconsin Police Join Protesters in Madison

*Citizens United: Time to Amend the Constitution

*RAN, 350 and Greenpeace Call for Mass Non-Violent Action Now

BREAKING: Wisconsin …CodeRed from the PCCC team

CODE RED: Wisconsin‘s Republican senators just voted to pass Gov. Walker’s anti-worker bill — without Democrats present.

They are bending the rules in order to break Wisconsin unions, and they need to be punished for this undemocratic action.

We plan on working all night to prepare new online ads and radio ads — and we’ll buy more TV ads in the districts of Republican senators up for recall.

8 Republican senators are facing recall elections. Voters need to know what happened in Madison tonight. This was wrong.

Now more than ever — please consider chipping in $3 to help us punish Republicans for their war on working families and their undemocratic actions. Click here.

Then, please pass this email to others! Thanks for being a bold progressive.

— Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Jason Rosenbaum, Amanda Johnson, and the PCCC team