Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Never Give Up !

Misguided Members of Congress are at it again.  They continue to press for cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid in order to preserve tax loopholes for Wall Street and wealthy Americans.
Thats not right.  Join the Alliance and activists  around the country in a national day of action to tell Congress: "We need jobs not cuts!"
Click here to take action!
Today we are partnering with hundreds of labor and progressive organizations to send a loud and clear message.
Social Security has not added one penny to the deficit.  Medicare and Medicaid have improved the lives of millions of Americans.  These vital programs have not caused our deficit.  Instead, reckless tax cuts and loopholes for the wealthiest and greedy Wall Street behavior have. We need to keep the pressure on and tell Congress hands off Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Make those who caused the deficit pay for it.
Add your voice now!

" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Thursday, January 17, 2013


New Public Option Bill Lowers Families’ Health Costs and the Deficit

Photo by Andrew Aliferis/Flickr
Health care experts have long said that a public health insurance option not only would provide lower-cost health insurance for those who choose it but would also force private insurers to lower their premiums. A public option was a key element of the 2009 House-passed version of health care reform, but it did not make it to the final bill.
Now, as lawmakers focus on deficit reduction, with many Republicans calling for cuts in health care benefits and shifting even more costs to working families, the creation of a public option as a deficit-reducing tool—along with its other benefits—is back on the table.
On Tuesday, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), along with 43 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 26, the Public Option Deficit Reduction Act.  This bill would offer consumers the choice of a publicly run health insurance plan, an option they say would save more than $100 billion over 10 years. Schakowsky says:
American health consumers deserve a publicly accountable, transparent and lower-cost option. The bill would provide that choice and lower the federal deficit at the same time. We cannot let for-profit insurance companies continue to prevent American consumers and American taxpayers from benefiting from passage of the public option.
She says that a public health insurance option would offer premiums 5% to 7% lower than private health insurance companies (according to the CBO).
And, by providing a lower-cost alternative to private insurance, it would put pressure on all insurers to lower their premiums in order to compete.
According to Schakowsky, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated a public option could reduce the deficit by $104 billion over 10 years. If coupled with other measures such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates a 10-year cost savings of $278 billion. That’s in addition to the health care cost savings the Affordable Care Act is already achieving.  
Says Waxman:
As Congress looks to reduce the deficit, it is important to remember the one policy that could save billions of dollars is the public option.
A public option is part of the AFL-CIO's Solutions Agenda to stabilize the national debt over the long-term. Find out more of what Congress should do.
“We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike." !   Adolph Hitler - May 2,1933
 " two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Senate Filibuster...2013

The Filibuster ?

In the past, our nation was able to move forward on landmark legislation that established workers’ rights, civil rights, retirement security, and much more. But today, the current rules that govern the U.S. Senate are halting progress, even when a solid majority supports legislation. Tactics like the “silent” filibuster – where a Senator can bring a bill to a halt by merely saying that he or she will filibuster – allow individual Senators to hold the nation’s work hostage.

So what is a filibuster ? Filibusters are long, exhaustive speeches by Senators to block all or parts of a bill. They were once reserved for rare occasions, such as when Sen. Strom Thurmond launched his record-setting 24 hour and 18 minute attempt to stop to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Today, the “silent” filibuster happens all the time – 385 times since 2006. Sixty votes are needed to stop a filibuster, so the Senate now needs a super-majority to get anything done. The “silent” filibuster has derailed many USW priorities including the Employee Free Choice Act, the Bring Jobs Home Act and more. 

Senate rules on the filibuster need to be reformed.
Those decisions will be made next week!
Senate Resolution 4 (S. Res. 4) would replace the current “silent” filibuster with the traditional “talking” filibuster, encouraging accountability by making the filibuster a public exercise and discouraging frivolous misuse.  S. Res. 4 ensures that you cannot filibuster what’s called a “motion to proceed” which simply brings a bill up for debate.  It also modifies the amount of time that can be spent on nominations and prevents Senators from filibustering when a conference committee is needed to resolve differences in House and Senate bills.
Please make a quick call to each of your Senators!
Decisions will be made early next week.

Dial the Capitol Switchboard toll-free at 866-297-3817
and ask to be connected with your Senators.
Ask each of your Senators to cosponsor Senate Resolution 4.
Please note: Senators Udall (NM), Harkin (IA) and Merkley (OR) have led the charge on this issue and are already listed as cosponsors of the legislation.  Please thank them for their efforts!
Not sure who your Senators are?  Check for a listing.

“We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike." !  Adolph Hitler - May 2,1933
 " two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Monday, January 14, 2013


Saving Social Security by Cutting Middle-Class Taxes

Posted: 01/14/2013 12:08 am
Round 1 of the fiscal cliff negations is concluded.

Although round 1 indefinitely extended income tax reductions for most Americans, middle-income taxpayers will see their federal taxes increase as temporary FICA tax reductions end. The FICA tax (the tax that supports Social Security and Medicare) is the primary federal tax that middle-income workers must pay. To support the Social Security program, FICA taxes earned income up to $110,100 at a rate of 12.4 percent; the tax is divided equally between employers and employees.
Round 2 is coming up.
Politicians are contemplating "entitlement reform" in round 2. Social Security is the largest entitlement program. If reform follows the established bipartisan model, it will balance tax increases and benefit cuts. A leading proposal to reduce benefits would alter the cost-of-living adjustment using the "chained CPI." Social Security benefits are initially set on the basis of earnings history, marital status and retirement age and then are adjusted annually to reflect changes in living costs.
The chained CPI is expected to reduce Social Security benefits by 0.3 percent per year. This would be a 3.7-percent cumulative reduction by age 75, and a 6.5-percent cumulative reduction by age 85. (The longer one receives Social Security benefits, the greater the cumulative reduction.)
Progressives are concerned. Although the elderly are the least likely age cohort to be poor, this is largely a consequence of Social Security. At present, approximately 9 percent of elderly people are poor, but the near-poverty rate (the proportion of people within 125 percent of the poverty standard) is 5.7 percent. Beyond this, Social Security benefits are modest, providing only about$1,200 per month to the average retiree. Yet Social Security provides 100 percent of the income for more than one third of beneficiaries and half of the income (or more) for 65 percent of beneficiaries. Benefit reductions are likely to have more and more seniors facing poverty and privation.
Although President Obama has considered the chained CPI, he has also advocated raising the FICA tax cap to $250,000. President Obama's proposal does not go far enough. This is an opportunity for bold action to capture the high ground in bipartisan tax reform and channel former President Reagan. The classic Washington tax reform expands the tax base while reducing tax rates. One of President Reagan's praiseworthy achievements was the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a bipartisan reform that reduced marginal income tax rates while increasing the tax base. President Obama could propose a parallel reform for Social Security.
For too long progressives have focused on the income cap that limits FICA tax collections while overlooking the tax's larger problems. FICA is a regressive tax on earned income. In other words, it is a tax on work that has lower-income people paying higher tax rates. By increasing the FICA tax cap, the problems of the present system are perpetuated. Even if the cap is removed entirely, FICA remains a tax on work.
A better alternative is to expand the tax base, not merely by increasing the FICA tax cap but by taxing other income sources. By doing so, President Obama could preserve and protect Social Security while reducing tax rates. This reform is pro-labor, pro-employment and pro-growth; it will stimulate job creation by reducing the cost of employees for business.
If you think this proposal is a pipe dream, recall the evolution of the part of the FICA tax that finances Medicare. When the tax was initiated in the 1960s, it was a capped tax on earned income (structured exactly like the current tax that supports Social Security). In the 1990s the cap was removed, making this part of the FICA tax a flat tax on earned income. However, elements of the Affordable Care Act are making the rate structure somewhat more progressive and expanding the tax base by taxing income sources other than earned income.
It has been done before; it can be done again. The president can seize this moment to advance a combination of tax and entitlement reforms that preserve Social Security while providing a tax cut for middle-income Americans.
" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote
Fiat Lux

Friday, January 11, 2013

REPUBLICANS are OUT of Control ?

Republicans Say they are Willing to Shut Down the Government in March

White House officials are eyeing a return to elements of a “grand bargain” they tried to reach late last year with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in order to defuse a fresh threat to the U.S. economy in just two months, according to The Washington Post and sources familiar with the discussions. The Post article is at
President Obama and Boehner came close last month to a major deal aimed at stabilizing the federal debt. But the speaker abandoned the talks, saying that the White House offer was too heavy on taxes and too light on spending cuts. Instead, Democrats and Republicans reached a far more modest agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. Republicans say they have a stronger hand in the new negotiations because of the federal government’s pressing need to increase its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit. The government hit the debt ceiling this week, and the Treasury Department warns it will be unable to pay its bills in about two months unless it can borrow more. Congressional Republicans say they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless there is a deal to make steep spending cuts. Republicans also say they are willing to shut down the federal government in March, when a resolution funding it expires. If Republicans do resist an increase in the debt ceiling, Obama Administration officials plan to attack them for risking an economic calamity in an effort to slice Medicare. One possible way to curb the debt is to adopt a less-generous measure of inflation in calculating Social Security payments, the “Chained CPI.”
According to the Social Security Actuary, moving to a chained CPI would mean an immediate benefit cut. “An average earner retiring in 2011 at age 65 would lose over $6,000 over 15 years if the chained CPI were adopted,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The losses would be greater for those living longer.” The Alliance is planning a broad lobbying effort between now and the end of February. More on the chained CPI is at

" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Talking Filibuster...Yes !


If you’re like me, you’re fed up with what's been happening in Congress lately.

Most of the time, important legislation addressing the tough issues we face never reaches the Senate floor.

The reason? Misuse and abuse of the filibuster—a tactic originally used to empower opponents of a bill to extend debate on the measure.

Today senators regularly hold “silent” filibusters that have stopped important legislation—measures to create good jobs, protect workers’ rights, shape a commonsense immigration process and more—without ever having to stand on the floor of the Senate to explain why.
Send a message urging Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker to support rules reform to restore the talking filibuster and keep corporate politicians from blocking important legislation.

Many senators are as frustrated as we are with this lack of progress. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have introduced Senate Resolution 4 to fix the problem. S. Res. 4 replaces the silent filibuster with the “talking” filibuster to ensure senators who oppose a bill have to speak on the Senate floor to explain their objections.

Believe me, this filibuster abuse is a real problem. Bills that would have stopped rewarding corporations for outsourcing jobs, made it easier for workers to organize for a voice on the job, required corporations to disclose contributions to politicians, ended subsidies to big oil companies and other critical initiatives all passed the House and had majority support in the Senate. But they didn’t become law because of the silent filibuster.

It’s pretty ridiculous that one senator can hold any bill hostage and not have to at least explain to colleagues or voters why.

We must fix the filibuster if we’re going to create jobs, stop cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits and end tax loopholes for Wall Street and the richest 2%.

E-mail Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker right now to make sure they don’t stay silent on supporting rules reform:

In Solidarity,

Underdog = Don Jones

" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Saturday, January 05, 2013

UNIONS in 2013

On Tuesday, Congress approved compromise legislation that generates much-needed revenue by requiring the wealthiest to pay more in taxes, while offering an economic lifeline to the vast majority of working and unemployed Americans and their families.

The deal will:
  • Make tax cuts for the middle class permanent
  • Continue unemployment assistance for the long-term unemployed
  • Extend critical tax credits for working families
  • Delay massive across-the-board spending cuts in military and domestic programs for two months, known as sequestration.
The Upcoming Fight Over the Debt Ceiling

Unfortunately, the legislation did not raise as much new revenue as we wanted and it also sets the stage for major battles over spending cuts in the months ahead.

The legislation did not raise the federal debt ceiling, a limit set by Congress that determines how much money the federal government can borrow to pay its expenses.

If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling soon, the federal government will not be able to pay back the money it has borrowed. It is like being unable to pay the minimum balance on your credit card bill, leading to grave consequences for the US economy.

Protecting Working Families

In the weeks ahead, we must remain vigilant. Tea Party Republicans have pledged to use the federal debt ceiling as leverage to extract further cuts to vital services that protect our communities – including funds for public schools, public safety, transportation, scientific research and college loans.

They have made it clear that cuts in programs for veterans, seniors, students and low-income citizens will all be on the table. This also means that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid remain at risk. As one of our best activists, we need your help this year to protect these crucial services.

In 2012, AFSCME members were a strong and consistent voice for all working people. We sent thousands of e-mails and made scores of phone calls to Congress on issues like the fiscal cliff, the Paul Ryan budget, and the Affordable Care Act.

Together, we do make a difference.

Moving Forward in 2013

We need to continue working closely together during these challenging times and focus on real solutions in the budget debates ahead of us. There are alternatives to unnecessary, reckless cuts.

We must press Congress and President Obama to focus on job creation, which is the best way to stimulate our economy.

Working families need you, and all AFSCME members, to fight for a fairer economy that benefits all Americans.

Click here if you're ready for the heavy lifting that needs to be done in 2013.

In Solidarity,
Underdog = Don Jones

“We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike." !
 Adolph Hitler - May 2,1933
" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote

Fiat Lux

To unsubscribe from this list, click here.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Fix The SENATE !

The petition reads:
"I am writing today to ask that you support a strong package of reforms to the filibuster, including a requirement that senators have to speak on the Senate floor in order to filibuster, and oppose the McCain/Levin proposal that would not help end the dysfunction in the Senate."
Automatically add your name:
Take action now!

The filibuster is one of the biggest barriers to progress in our country.
This antiquated provision in Senate procedure has given a minority of right-wing senators the ability to paralyze the Senate.
It's the reason there was no public option in health care reform, financial reform didn't end "too big to fail," and the DREAM Act never made it to the Senate floor.
Every two years there's an opportunity to reform the filibuster by a majority vote at the beginning of a new Congress.
The next chance to do so will come up in a few weeks, but if we miss this opportunity we will not have a chance to fix the filibuster until 2014.
The filibuster of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" no longer exists.
Today's filibuster doesn't require opponents of a bill to make their case on the Senate floor. Instead filibusters now require very little time or effort, which has led to widespread abuse by the conservative minority.
While filibusters used to be extremely rare, right-wing senators are now routinely stopping bills and nominees that a majority favors.
Two years ago, there was movement to fix the filibuster until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cut a bad deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that killed the reform effort.
We can't allow the Senate to once again take a pass on meaningful reform of the filibuster. We simply cannot afford another two years of Senate paralysis and dysfunction.
So this time around, we're working to create momentum behind a strong package of reforms championed by Sen. Jeff Merkley, including the "talking filibuster" which requires senators to speak on the Senate floor in order to continue debate and prevent a vote.
Unfortunately a bipartisan group of more conservative senators have announced a much weaker proposal (called the McCain/Levin proposal) that would not fix the Senate's dysfunction but could have the effect of scuttling the meaningful filibuster reform. And in some ways the McCain/Levin proposal could be worse than the status quo.
We need to speak out and make sure the Senate confronts this issue head on and passes a strong reform package that includes the "talking filibuster."
Abuse of the filibuster has reduced the Senate to an arena where petty political posturing and the casual and callous disregard for the crises we face as a country can bring the business of the legislative branch of our government to a grinding halt.
In a few weeks, the Senate will be able to change the filibuster rules with a simple majority vote.
We need to speak out now to make sure that Democrats lead with a strong package of reforms that includes the "talking filibuster," and don't fall prey to the weaker bipartisan proposal which will effectively kill our efforts to actually fix the filibuster.

Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for all you do.
" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Senate Agreement on Fiscal Showdown

The agreement passed by the Senate last night is a breakthrough in beginning to restore tax fairness and achieves some key goals of working families.  It does not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. It raises over $700 billion over 10 years, including interest savings, by ending the Bush income tax cuts for families making over $450,000 a year. And in recognition of the continuing jobs crisis, it extends unemployment benefits for a year.  A strong message from voters and a relentless echo from grassroots activists over the last six weeks helped get us this far.
But lawmakers should have listened even better.  The deal extends the Bush tax cuts for families earning between $250,000 and $450,000 a year and makes permanent Bush estate tax cuts exempting estates valued up to $5 million from any tax. These concessions amount to over $200 billion in additional tax cuts for the 2%.
And because of Republican hostage taking, the deal simply postpones the $1.2 trillion sequester for only two months and does not address the debt ceiling, setting the stage for more fiscal blackmail at the expense of the middle class.
Instead of moving to address our nation’s real jobs and public investment crisis, our leaders will be debating a prolonged artificial fiscal crisis.  In the weeks to come, as the confrontation over the economic direction of our country continues, the working men and women of the AFL-CIO will continue to fight to keep poor and middle class families from giving more so rich people can continue paying less.  That means a fairer, more progressive tax system, an end to Bush tax rates for the 2% and protection of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts.
" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux

Continued ! THE WAR on DRUGS !


Values and Virtues;

Values and virtues are things we do not often speak of, but they are of utmost importance to the recovering addict and alcoholic. Values are the things we hold dear. They define what is important and where we invest our time and energy. If I value my recovery I will invest time and energy into it. The same is true with family, a spiritual life, work, self-care and our relationships with others. Virtues on the other hand determine how we go about living our lives. The program teaches us many virtues such as honesty, courage, wisdom and many others. We discover that we do not need to live in a manner of self-deceit, dishonesty, fear and stupidity. We find that we can develop healthy values and virtues. Recovery and the steps and traditions teach us how to live. Am I developing a healthy set of values and virtues?

Brought to you by OneHealth™ Solutions, Inc. and their OneHealth Meeting Finder. OneHealth products are uniquely built by people dedicated to helping people change behavior and lead healthier lives. OneHealth offers a supportive space for members to connect with people who understand, share stories and support one another as they set and achieve their personal health goals. For more information check our site.

“The past is the cause of the present and the present will be cause of the future” !

" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.



The Ongoing War: After the Battle Over the Cliff, the Battle Over the Debt Ceiling

Posted: 01/02/2013 9:08 am
"It's not all I would have liked," says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, speaking of the deal on the fiscal cliff, "so on to the debt ceiling." The battle over the fiscal cliff was only a prelude to the coming battle over raising the debt ceiling -- a battle that will likely continue through early March, when the Treasury runs out of tricks to avoid a default on the nation's debt. The White House's and Democrats' single biggest failure in the cliff negotiations was not getting Republicans' agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The last time the debt ceiling had to be raised, in 2011, Republicans demanded major cuts in programs for the poor as well as Medicare and Social Security.
They got some concessions from the White House but didn't get what they wanted -- which led us to the fiscal cliff.
So we've come full circle.
On it goes, battle after battle in what seems an unending war that began with the election of Tea-Party Republicans in November, 2010.
Don't be fooled. This war was never over the federal budget deficit.
In fact, federal deficits are dropping as a percent of the total economy.
For the fiscal year ending in September 2009, the deficit was 10.1 percent of the gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced in America. In 2010, it was 9 percent. In 2011, 8.7 percent. In the 2012 fiscal year, it was down to 7 percent.
The deficit ballooned in 2009 because of the Great Recession. It knocked so many people out of work that tax revenues dropped to the lowest share of the economy in over sixty years. (The Bush tax cuts on the rich also reduced revenues.) The recession also boosted government spending on a stimulus program and on safety nets like unemployment insurance and food stamps.
But as the nation slowly emerges from recession, more people are employed -- generating more tax revenues, and requiring less spending on safety nets and stimulus. That's why the deficit is shrinking.
Yes, deficits are projected to rise again in coming years as a percent of GDP. But that's mainly due to the rising costs of health care, along with aging baby boomers who are expected to need more medical treatment.
Health care already consumes 18 percent of the total economy and almost a quarter of the federal budget (mostly in Medicare and Medicaid).
So if the ongoing war between Republicans and Democrats was really over those future budget deficits, you might expect Republicans and Democrats to be focusing on ways to hold down future healthcare costs.
They might be debating how to make the cost controls in the Affordable Care Act more effective, for example, or the merits of moving to a more efficient single-payer system, as every other advanced country has done.
But they're not debating this, because the federal deficit is not what this war is about.
It's about the size of government. Tea-Party Republicans (and other congressional Republicans worried about a Tea-Party challenge in their next primary) want the government to be much smaller.
"My goal," says conservative guru Grover Norquist, "is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
What's behind this zeal to shrink government? It's not that the U.S. government has suddenly become larger. In fact, non-military government spending relative to the size of the U.S. economy remains the smallest of any other rich nation.
Apart from the military, Medicare and Social Security account for almost everything else the federal government does -- and these programs continue to be hugely popular, as Republicans learn every time they threaten them.
The animus toward government has more to do with the growing frustrations of many Americans that they're not getting ahead no matter how hard they work.
Government is an easy scapegoat, utilized by much of corporate America to convince average Americans to cut taxes, spending, and regulations -- and divert attention from record-high corporate profits and concentration of income and wealth at the top.
The median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation, even though the economy is growing. And the share of the economy going to wages rather than to profits is the smallest on record.
Increasingly it's looked like the game is rigged, especially when people see government bailing out Wall Street (the Tea Party movement grew out of the bailout, as did the Occupiers), and handing out corporate welfare to big agriculture, big pharma, oil companies, and the insurance industry, to name but a few of the recipients.
The outrage grows when average working people are told -- falsely -- that a growing portion of Americans don't pay taxes and live off government handouts.
The battle over the fiscal cliff is over, but the trench warfare will continue.
" two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"! a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Fiat Lux