Debt Deal Could Disproportionately Harm Women

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

NOW Press Release:   http://now.org/press/07-11/07-22.html

July 22, 2011

The National Organization for Women is concerned that President Obama is about to agree to a deficit reduction package that disproportionately harms women — without even bothering to consult with women leaders in Congress.

Rumors indicate that a deficit reduction deal is being finalized that will slash trillions over 10 years in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in addition to cuts to family planning, prenatal care, food stamps, women/infant nutrition, student loans, child care subsidies and dozens other important domestic programs — while extending tax cuts for the rich.

Women will not be the only ones who lose out as a result of a so-called “grand bargain” that trades away the economic security of seniors, children, people of color, persons with disabilities and millions of low-income families in exchange for continued tax breaks for the wealthiest. Elected officials, including the president and Democrats, who have claimed to embrace the values represented by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will surely lose out as well.

The 11th hour budget negotiations reportedly include agreements on a variety of changes to these programs, such as a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) change that would reduce Social Security benefits across the board, dramatically cutting benefits for the oldest seniors — who are mostly women. This reduction in Social Security income would most egregiously harm persons with disabilities who often depend exclusively on their Disability Income check.

Most reprehensible are reports of reductions in federal funding of Medicaid, placing more of the burden on states that are already experiencing extreme fiscal challenges. Deep cuts would result in the closing of literally thousands of nursing homes around the country, as Medicaid is a key funder of those facilities. Women are 76 percent of nursing home residents and are the overwhelming majority of nursing home staff. Medicaid is also the largest government program providing reproductive health care for women. More than one in seven persons receive health care through Medicaid and more than eight in 10 children (about 2.9 million) with autism, cancer and other special health care needs rely on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a primary source of coverage.

NOW has long insisted that any deficit reduction plan must require corporations and multi-millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes. I hope that President Obama will do the right thing — which the vast majority of people in this country support — leave Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other essential programs alone and out of the debt deal.
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For Immediate Release
Contact: Latoya Veal w. 202-628-8669, ext. 116, c. 301-660-3447

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The Most Aggressive Defense Of Teachers You’ll Hear This Year

From Move On:

The Unemployed Aren’t Invisible: Washington and the Media Just Aren’t Paying Attention

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/151733/the_unemployed_aren%27t_invisible%3A_washington_and_the_media_just_aren%27t_paying_attention_/

America’s 14.1 million unemployed aren’t voiceless; it’s just that no one is listening, and no one’s got a plan to help them.

By Sarah Jaffe
July 21, 2011

It hits you like a punch in the gut, losing your job. Being laid off. Being fired.

It stops you cold in the middle of your day even if you’ve seen it coming. Even if you hate your job and being out of it will be a relief. If you love your job, it hurts like a bad breakup—it’s heartbreaking.

I was laid off not long ago, and I know all too well the mix of panic and hurt that comes with the news. I know the jumble of thoughts that come rushing in—how will I pay my rent blending with I’ll never find a job I like this much again, worst-case scenarios and ways to make money and plans I’ll have to cancel all at once.

I was one of the lucky ones. I found a good job quickly. Millions of others, though, are still struggling to pay their bills, ignored by politicians too busy pandering to deficit hysteria to listen to their stories.

The New York Times said the unemployed have become invisible. Maybe in Washington, in political circles where the question is not what to spend to put people back to work but which programs to cut. But there are 14.1 million unemployed right now, scattered around the country, many of whom have been out of work for months or years.

The Times asked, “And where, if anywhere, is the outrage?” But instead of asking unemployed workers, they sought out the usual panel of experts, professors, historians, economists, lawyers, even an organizer. The unemployed themselves are as invisible in the Times story as they are in Washington, good for a quick mention but not to be listened to.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/151733/the_unemployed_aren%27t_invisible%3A_washington_and_the_media_just_aren%27t_paying_attention_/

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Peggy Seeger

DOMA Repeal and the Truth About Full Faith & Credit

From The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-barrington-wolff/doma-repeal-and-the-truth_b_905484.html

By Chief advisor on LGBT issues for 2008 Obama campaign
Posted: 7/21/11

(This post is an updated version of an essay that first appeared on the eQualityGiving website, which can be found at here.)

With the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act and President Obama’s strong endorsement of the legislation, we are closer than ever before to achieving the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act, the discriminatory 1996 statute that denies equal treatment across the board to committed same-sex couples. Predictably, opponents of equal treatment are making the same alarmist claims that succeeded for them so well when they got DOMA enacted fifteen years ago: that the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution will require that a marriage performed in one state between a same-sex couple automatically be recognized everywhere in the country. According to this claim, states that deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples will suddenly have their policies overridden by the decisions of Iowa, New York or Massachusetts.

These claims are false. They always have been. In fact, it has been well established for more than a century that Full Faith and Credit does not require mandatory recognition of marriages around the country in the same way that it requires mandatory recognition of judgments by courts (which is its core function). Insofar as DOMA was enacted to address a supposed full faith and credit problem, it was enacted on a falsehood. Now that repeal is on the horizon, it is time to put that falsehood to bed.

The key points that it is important to understand are the following:

• First, this is not the first time that states have had different policies on contentious questions about civil marriage and who can get married under state law. Far from it. States have figured out sensible ways to handle these policy differences in the past, and they can do so again.

• Second, while repealing the “full faith and credit” portions of the Defense of Marriage Act is very important for a number of reasons, it will not have the dramatic and far-reaching effect of “imposing” same-sex marriage upon other states, as many on both sides of the debate often assume.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-barrington-wolff/doma-repeal-and-the-truth_b_905484.html

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Why It All Sounds Like ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/22

by Donna Smith
Published on Friday, July 22, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

When push comes to shove everybody gets their political cover moments in Washington, DC.  Everybody, that is, except the average working class American.  The sound and fury surrounding debt ceilings and deficit reduction swirl on multiple levels, activists in the conservative right claim advancement and activists in the disenfranchised liberal left plan protests.  And the President claims he is governing from the middle ground, which is ever so much different than campaigning, so we’re always told.  And so it goes.  Cycle after cycle after cycle as working class people work to stay afloat in a society and economy increasingly disconnected from their realities.

Look (thought I’d start with the word of admonition no one seems to expunge from our current vernacular), no one in Washington, DC, circles of power lives in the world in which the rest of working class America does.  No one.  Not the President and his beautiful family.  Not the Congressional members and their DC-home district split life-styles.  Not the lobbyists on “K” Street.  Not even the career public servants who dutifully ride the Metro every day to and fro and fuel the inner workings of the city without formal representation in Congress.  It is an artificial world where toilets are cleaned and children are cared for by very real, underpaid people that has to occasionally nod outward towards the rest of America.

Every couple of years, the DC rentals turn over as one major political party or the other retains or regains power in DC.  Upscale salons and restaurants shift their services and menus while service workers cater to new clients now earning the larger volume of DC salaries.  It is a cycle of in and out, up and down, through and through that simultaneously confounds and corrupts.  No one is safe ultimately; no one is truly secure.  Some people entrench themselves with DC-based organizations and leaders least subject to bi-yearly ebbs and flows – and their safety comes from safely riding the waves of change, at one point being the outcasts throwing stones at the houses of power and at other times resting comfortably inside, cocktails in hand.

It’s no wonder that it is hard to trust the whole lot and sometimes even harder to understand what it is they are saying to one another and to the rest of us about any subject.

Continue reading at:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/22

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Wal-Mart’s Low-Wage Jobs Not Worthy of Praise

From AFL-CIO Blog:  http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/07/20/wal-marts-low-wage-jobs-not-worthy-of-praise/

by Mike Hall
Jul 20, 2011

Representatives from Wal-Mart and other retailers attended a White House event today to recognize grocery chains and other corporations for expanding their businesses into underserved areas.

But, say AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) President Joe Hansen in a joint statement, including Wal-Mart in the event:

undercuts the message of the need for good jobs that can rebuild our middle class.

The administration’s focus, say the union leaders, should be on the importance of a strong middle class and protecting and creating good jobs on a scale big enough to right the economy.

We ask the administration to stand with communities that have called on Wal-Mart to strengthen the communities it enters rather than drive standards and wages down.

The two, who serve on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, say working families who are bearing the brunt of the job crisis that threatens the nation’s economic security, “need leadership that will get Americans back to good jobs, paying taxes, spending in their communities and saving for retirement.”

Instead of building good jobs, they say:

When Wal-Mart opens in a community, it regularly displaces existing jobs with poverty-level jobs. Tens of thousands of Wal-Mart associates qualify for and utilize food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. In this time of budgetary stress, Wal-Mart’s business model is subsidized on the backs of American taxpayers.

Continue reading at:  http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/07/20/wal-marts-low-wage-jobs-not-worthy-of-praise/

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Stop The Machine!

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Don’t Exaggerate the Death of the Antiwar Movement

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/21-2

by Medea Benjamin
Published on Thursday, July 21, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

In an article in Salon.com, Todd Gitlin writes a convincing obituary for an antiwar movement killed by a thousand blows: crushed by Bush’s pigheadedness, dumped in the media’s black hole, rendered invisible by a volunteer army and drones, overshadowed by more urgent financial crises, chastened by the “unpleasantness” of adversaries from Taliban to al-Qaida to Gadhafi. He leaves out some other daggers to the heart of the movement: grass-roots election campaigns that lured away millions of activists; betrayals by the president and groups like MoveOn who used and abused the antiwar sentiment; craven congressional reps who violate the will of their constituents by continuing to fund war; powerful lobbyists for the war industry who wield enormous power in Washington; and the utter exhaustion that sets in after 10 years of standing up to the largest military complex the world has ever seen.

Despite all these challenges, however, the reports of the death of the antiwar movement are greatly exaggerated. Sure, there are no longer millions marching in the streets — but there aren’t millions marching in American streets for any cause these days. Lacking the staying power of Tahrir Square, our weekend rallies failed to effect policy and left people disillusioned — and bored. That’s why creative and media-savvy activism 2.0 tactics — like flash mobs, Twitter culture jams and YouTube videos — have emerged that engage with the younger generation.

And that’s why the movement has transformed as well. Rather than marching in circles and chanting slogans to ourselves, we’re reaching deep into our communities to make connections between the economic crises our neighborhoods face and the wars that rob us of scarce resources.

Take a look at the recent Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign spurred by CODEPINK, a campaign that gave a new burst of energy to the movement. We encouraged activists around the country to build local coalitions to push the passage of a resolution to stop funding wars and invest those monies into rebuilding America. From big cities like Los Angeles and Baltimore to towns like Ithaca, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., coalitions of peace, labor, environmental, feminist and religious groups wrote letters, made calls, visited and otherwise cajoled their city officials. After dozens of victories, in June we took the resolution to the national U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1,200 American cities. Despite some hackneyed efforts to brand the resolution as being “against the troops,” it passed overwhelmingly and has become a useful tool against congressional members who continue to vote more money for war.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/21-2

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Germany discovers that boosting unions reduces unemployment

From the Union Review: http://unionreview.com/germany-discovers-boosting-unions-reduces-unemployment

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D., Kentucky Labor Institute Director
July 21, 2011

Germany, with a 6% unemployment rate, relatively low by economic measures both in Europe and USA, has found that strengthening unions is an important way for reducing unemployment. It is also an important policy for reducing economic inequality.

The New York Times on June 8, reporting on the German economy, stated, “Germany, with its 6% unemployment rate against the US 14 % unemployment rate,” enacted policies based on strengthening and building unions as a way of increasing consumer spending through higher wages paid to union workers. Thus this policy reduces unemployment by increasing workers’ purchasing power. In addition, German policies encouraging union building and negotiation power found that it was able to reduce economic inequality. Proof of this is the fact that the top 1% of German households earns 11% of all income, virtually unchanged since 1970. However, in the US the top 1% makes more than 20% of all income, up from 9% in 1970. It should be noted that Germany has the tightest market regulation of banks in Europe.

Germany does not have a smaller deficit than the US because it spends less; it has a smaller deficit because its tax policies take a heavier toll from huge corporations. Thus, this reduces the total amount of governmental deficits that it carries. Unlike the US, the German government believes that fairness demands that its huge corporations pay a heavier share of taxes which increases their general government revenue stream. It is the obverse of US tax policies as illustrated by the Bush tax cuts.

Continue reading at: http://unionreview.com/germany-discovers-boosting-unions-reduces-unemployment

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The End of the American Dream?

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Audit: Fed gave $16 trillion in emergency loans

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/21/audit-fed-gave-16-trillion-in-emergency-loans/

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The U.S. Federal Reserve gave out $16.1 trillion in emergency loans to U.S. and foreign financial institutions between Dec. 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010, according to figures produced by the government’s first-ever audit of the central bank.

Last year, the gross domestic product of the entire U.S. economy was $14.5 trillion.

Of the $16.1 trillion loaned out, $3.08 trillion went to financial institutions in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium, the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) analysis shows.

Additionally, asset swap arrangements were opened with banks in the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Mexico, Singapore and Switzerland. Twelve of those arrangements are still ongoing, having been extended through August 2012.

Out of all borrowers, Citigroup received the most financial assistance from the Fed, at $2.5 trillion. Morgan Stanley came in second with $2.04 trillion, followed by Merill Lynch at $1.9 trillion and Bank of America at $1.3 trillion.

The audit also found that the Fed mostly outsourced its lending operations to the very financial institutions which sparked the crisis to begin with, and that they delegated contracts largely on a no-bid basis. The GAO report recommends new policies that would eliminate such conflicts of interest, and suggests that in the future the Fed should keep better records of their emergency decision-making process.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/21/audit-fed-gave-16-trillion-in-emergency-loans/

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Top 10 Worst Foods – Nutrition By Natalie

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GOP Strategy Wrecks Economy and Obama in One Fell Swoop

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/20-16

by Ted Rall
Published on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Ross Douthat, the conservative columnist who elevates bland to middle-brow art for The New York Times, thinks Republicans have overreached in their showdown with Obama over the debt ceiling. “[The Republicans’] inability to make even symbolic concessions has turned a winning hand into losing one,” he says.

Advantage, according to Douthat, representing the mainstream media: Obama.

Of course, Obama had already agreed to begin dismantling Social Security and Medicare, surrenders Republicans have craved for decades. If he pulls off this “victory” Obama will have done more damage to the Democratic Party and its core values than any president in our lifetimes. How will he promote what Douthat fears will be a “victory”? I wonder.

Or, to lift a line from “Double Indemnity”: I wonder if I wonder.

Back a few pages, Times reporter Jesse MacKinley finds himself in the curious position of writing that no one really cares about a story that has dominated the headlines for weeks.

“Indeed, the drama of whether the government will raise the debt ceiling (to the chagrin of some conservatives demanding tighter financial belts) or allow it to remain as is (to the horror of the administration and economists who predict financial ruin) seemed largely lost on a populace involved in more pressing—and more pleasant—summer distractions,” asserts MacKinley.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/20-16

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‘Dysfunctional’ Too Polite to Describe Tea Party Congress

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/dysfunctional_too_polite_to_describe_tea_party_congress_20110720/

By Joe Conason
Posted on Jul 20, 2011

As America lurches toward new and unfamiliar status as a nation that defaults on its debts, commentators around the world are wondering how the democratic government that was once the most admired in the world—for many reasons—is now so “dysfunctional,” to use the polite term. But the truth is that the entire U.S. government is not dysfunctional. Much of the government functions well enough or better, and even the members of the troubled U.S. Senate seem to be trying, a little late, to deal with the problem before us.

No, dysfunctional is the too-polite term for the House of Representatives, specifically its dominant tea party Republicans, who can be described in far less dainty psychological terms. Even the most extreme Republican partisans in the Senate seem to realize that their House colleagues, seized by some combination of ideology, madness and pig ignorance, are propelling the country and the world toward economic chaos.

Of course, the tea party Republicans insist that no such thing will ever happen—the warnings from economists, business leaders, financiers and public officials are merely so much “scare talk.”

When President Obama says that he won’t be able to send out Social Security and Veterans Affairs checks or meet the nation’s obligations on Treasury debt come Aug. 2, he is just trying to frighten his opponents into giving up their principles. They don’t accept the idea that we have to pay for financial obligations already incurred—or that the rising interest rates caused by default will make future deficits much deeper.

But they don’t have to believe the president to understand that the threat posed by default is real. They could listen to ultraconservative senators like Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.—members of the Gang of Six/Seven whose own profound ideological hostility to Obama and the Democrats still leaves space for prudence.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/dysfunctional_too_polite_to_describe_tea_party_congress_20110720/

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