LIMITED-TIME SPECIAL OFF ON 2013 PEACE CALENDARS
For a short time, Truthout is offering its perennial favorite 2013 Peace Calendar at a great year-end gift price of 5 calendars for $95.00!
We have a limited number on hand and will not be re-ordering this year when we run out.
You can only take advantage of this limited offer by phone. Call the Truthout line at 213-489-1971 to take advantage of this year-end special. It is not being offered through our online Truthout Pick of the Week ordering process.
It's become an annual tradition at Truthout to welcome in the New Year with a Syracuse Cultural Workers' peace calendar. Each year hundreds of readers order these progressive, visually striking wall date keepers.
This year's calendar is dedicated to the Occupy movement. As the Syracuse Cultural Workers write, "Eighteen incredibly varied images of Occupy poster art comprise this collaged tribute to the transforming energy of the movement. In 2013, we’ll continue to shake up the status quo (1%!) and invite people to engage with us in changing our political system!"
Each month is dedicated to a progressive topic with vibrant full-page custom artwork. November, for instance, features support for Bradley Manning. March focuses on ending patriarchy in our society.
STAND UP! CHICAGO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
EPI researchers show that raising the minimum wage would provide a substantial lift to the national economy and benefit workers still reeling from the effects of the recession, generating almost $40 billion in increased wages.
This additional spending power would be a useful tool to spur job growth, as employers would need to hire new staff to keep up with heightened demand for goods and services. In fact, an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour would result in a net increase in economic activity of approximately $25 billion, generating approximately 100,000 new jobs. This hike would have a positive impact across the country, with job creation in every state.
SUE WILSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Media Action Center has been monitoring the five local Talk Radio shows on Milwaukee, Wisconsin's WISN (Clear Channel) and WTMJ (Journal Communications) and has come up with some stunning results. Members of Media Action Center Wisconsin will release those results at a press conference Tuesday, May 22, at 10:00 AM, in front of WTMJ, 720 East Capitol Drive Milwaukee, and supporters of Tom Barrett will be present to demand comparable time throughout the remainder of the campaign.
The Media Action Center found that each of those radio stations are giving an average of 50 minutes every day to Scott Walker supporters to promote their candidate, while giving only seconds to Tom Barrett supporters. That's the monetary equivalent each of those radio stations giving between $70,000 to $180,000 in free airtime to the GOP - every week during the recall election.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - Warning that "American democracy in endangered," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections.
The first constitutional amendment ever proposed by Sanders during his two decades in Congress would reverse the narrow 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission. In that controversial decision almost two years ago, justices gave corporations the same First Amendment free-speech rights as people.
"There comes a time when an issue is so important that the only way to address it is by a constitutional amendment," Sanders said of the effort to override the court decision that he labeled "a complete undermining of democracy."
Sanders' Saving American Democracy Amendment would make clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and that corporations may be regulated by Congress and state legislatures. It also would preserve the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. It would incorporate a century-old ban on corporate campaign donations to candidates, and establish broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections.
A BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT NEWS ALERT
The following is a statement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont - I):
As a result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street, the American people have experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs, homes, life savings, and ability to send their kids to college. Small businesses have been unable to get the credit they need to expand their businesses, and credit is still extremely tight. Wages as a share of national income are now at the lowest level since the Great Depression, and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high.
Meanwhile, when small-business owners were being turned down for loans at private banks and millions of Americans were being kicked out of their homes, the Federal Reserve provided the largest taxpayer-financed bailout in the history of the world to Wall Street and too-big-to-fail institutions, with virtually no strings attached.
Over two years ago, I asked Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, a few simple questions that I thought the American people had a right to know: Who got money through the Fed bailout? How much did they receive? What were the terms of this assistance?
Incredibly, the chairman of the Fed refused to answer these fundamental questions about how trillions of taxpayer dollars were being spent.
The American people are finally getting answers to these questions thanks to an amendment I included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill which required the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and investigate conflicts of interest at the Fed. Those answers raise grave questions about the Federal Reserve and how it operates -- and whose interests it serves.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
The following is a November 4th statement from the Congressional Progressive Caucus opposing a slap on the wrist White House settlement with big Wall Street banks who committed mortgage fraud and ruinous speculation:
Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), today released the following statement in response to the proposed $25 billion settlement currently under negotiation by the state Attorneys General and the U.S. Department of Justice with banks largely responsible for the national foreclosure crisis:
"Across the country, Americans are outraged and taking to the streets to demand accountability from the big Wall Street banks whose reckless actions cost millions of families their homes and wreaked havoc on the American middle class.
We applaud President Obama and the Justice Department for this effort to hold these banks accountable. However, a $25 billion settlement pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in lost home equity, retirement savings and exploding public debt caused by these institutions.
We stand in support of the numerous Attorneys General that have demanded a better deal for homeowners in their states, from New York to California.
Instead of immunity for Wall Street banks, let's stand with the American people and demand a fair deal for homeowners."
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sanders (I-Vt.) called the report "shocking." He said aggressive steps must be taken to ensure taxpayer dollars aren't wasted.
"The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," said Sanders. "With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money."
The report detailed how the Pentagon paid $573.7 billion during the past 10 years to more than 300 contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million, $398 billion of which was awarded after settlement or judgment for fraud. When awards to "parent" companies are counted, the Pentagon paid more than $1.1 trillion during the past 10 years just to the 37 top companies engaged in fraud.
Another $255 million went to 54 contractors convicted of hard-core criminal fraud in the same period. Of that total, $33 million was paid to companies after they were convicted of crimes.
Some of the nation's biggest defense contractors were involved.
A BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT NEWS ALERT
WASHINGTON,DC (September 14, 2011) - Today Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 40 members of the House Democratic Caucus introduced the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, H.R. 2914 - a cost-effective plan to put over 2 million people to work for two years.
The time has come for Congress to focus like a laser on the most pressing crisis facing our country - the jobs crisis. With extended unemployment benefits scheduled to expire at the end of this year, 13.9 million people remain out of work. The average worker who is unemployed has been searching for a job for more than nine months and recent reports reveal that private sector employers largely refuse to hire those currently jobless. An additional 8.4 million are working part time because they cannot find a full-time job. In June 2007, 63 percent of adults were employed, now the percentage is 58.2 percent. Despite reports of a Congress immobilized and unable to address the jobs crisis- Congress can and must do something today.
"It begins with this simple idea: If we want to create jobs, then create jobs. The best way to grow the economy and reduce the deficit is to put Americans to work. Every dollar in H.R. 2914 must be attached to an actual job," said Rep. Schakowsky. "The worst deficit this country faces, isn't the budget deficit. It's the jobs deficit. We need to get our people and our economy moving again."
If enacted, the legislation would create 2.2 million jobs that will meet critical needs to improve and strengthen communities:
- The School Improvement Corps would create 400,000 construction and 250,000 maintenance jobs by funding positions created by public school districts to do needed school rehabilitation improvements.
- The Park Improvement Corps would create 100,000 jobs for youth between the ages of 16 and 25 through new funding to the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service's Public Lands Corps Act. Young people would work on conservation projects on public lands include restoration and rehabilitation of natural, cultural, and historic resources.
- The Student Jobs Corps would creates 250,000 more part-time, work study jobs for eligible college students through new funding for the Federal Work Study Program.
- The Neighborhood Heroes Corps would hire 300,000 teachers, 40,000 new police officers, and 12,000 firefighters.
- The Health Corps would hire at least 40,000 health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and health care workers to expand access in underserved rural and urban areas.
- The Child Care Corps would create 100,000 jobs in early childhood care and education through additional funding for Early Head Start.
- The Community Corps would hire 750,000 individuals to do needed work in our communities, including housing rehab, weatherization, recycling, and rural conservation.
The legislation gives the unemployed priority for jobs, particularly those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits (the "99ers"), and veterans. The bill allocates a fair distribution of funding and jobs among states, with targeting based on high unemployment and need. The bill also ensures that jobs do not undercut the rights of other workers, lower wages, displace current workers or take business from small/local businesses.
The $227 billion cost of the bill ($113.5 billion over each of two years) can be fully paid for through separate legislation such as Rep. Schakowsky's Fairness in Taxation Act, which creates higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, and eliminating subsidies for Big Oil and tax loop holes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.
The full, detailed summary of H.R. 2914 can be found at http://schakowsky.house.gov/jobs/
BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT NEWS ALERT
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after voting against what he called "an extremely unfair" deficit-reduction package:
"I believe that Vermonters and people across the country are extremely dismayed that all of the burden for deficit reduction will fall on the backs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. This extremely unfair agreement does not ask the wealthiest people in this country, most of whom are doing extremely well, or large profitable corporations to contribute one penny. This is not only immoral, it is bad economic policy and will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.
"It is impossible at this point to determine exactly what programs will be cut or by how much. That will be determined later in the committee process and I will do everything I can to defend priorities important to Vermont. What we can say, however, is that vitally important programs for Vermont, like LIHEAP, education, Head Start, child care, community health centers, the MILC program for dairy farmers, Pell grants for college students, nutrition programs, environmental protection, affordable housing, community action agencies, small business loans and many other programs will be on the chopping block.
"Further, the so-called deficit reduction super committee of six senators and six House members will have the power to make devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans.
"All of us understand that the current deficit situation is unsustainable and that we need responsible action to address it. It is unconscionable, however, that this agreement would place the entire burden on working families and some of the most vulnerable people in our country."
BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, Dwight Eisenhower would be so far outside of the radical beliefs of the modern Republican party that he would be somewhere between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and President Obama. This quotation is from a personal letter to his brother, Edgar Newton Eisenhower. The letter is dated November 8, 1954:
It is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid. [bolding added by BuzzFlash at Truthout.]
A BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT NEWS ALERT
On his weekly appearance on the Thom Hartmann program, in a segment called "Brunch with Bernie," Sen. Sanders (I-Vermont) - in response to two callers to the radio show - called for a Democratic presidential primary opponent to Barack Obama.
During the July 22 broadcast, Sanders accused President Obama of reneging on his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare, and said that the president has moved far to the right. However, Sanders warned that "despair is not an option."
Sanders ignited Twitter when he suggested that it would be a good thing if Obama faced a primary challenge to a caller who wanted the senator to run for president. Sanders told a second caller that "one of the reasons that President Obama has moved as far to the right as he has is that he thinks that he can go all the way and no one will stand up to him."
Although some of the twitter reaction indicated that some listeners thought that Sanders had indicated that he was considering running in a primary, on Friday a senior staff member from his office firmly denied it in a call with BuzzFlash. The senior staffer indicated that that Sanders may have "inartfully" phrased a response when he said that "I am now giving thought to it." Indeed, listening closely to the interview, it appears Sanders was responding to encouraging a progressive to run, not declaring his personal intention to enter the primaries.
Senator Sanders, a favorite of economic and social progressives who believe that the distribution of wealth in America has become lopsided, is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
Disclosure: BuzzFlash has used first the congressional office of Senator Sanders and then his senatorial office as a resource since the founding of BuzzFlash in May of 2000. He is a regular BuzzFlash reader. Thom Hartmann has also been a colleague and friend for many years.
BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT NEWS ALERT
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) republidated the rumored details of the US Senate "Gang of Six" :
“While all of the details from the so-called Gang of Six proposals are not yet clear, what is apparent is that the plan would result in devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and many other programs that are of vital importance to working families in this country. Meanwhile, tax rates would be lowered for the wealthiest people and the largest, most profitable corporations.
“This is an approach that should be rejected by the American people. At a time when the rich are becoming richer and corporate profits are soaring, at least half of any deficit-reduction package must come from upper income people and profitable corporations. We must also take a hard look at military spending, which has tripled since 1997.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today congratulated Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on their very significant victory in negotiating a deficit-reduction plan which achieves their long-term goal of dismantling every major social program relevant to working families.
The so-called Gang of Six plan that the Republican senators negotiated calls for massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and virtually every program important to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children and the poor. The package also would hurt American workers by giving U.S. companies more incentives to avoid U.S. taxes by shipping jobs to low-tax countries.
"While I am sure that they did not get everything that they wanted, I think it's fair to say they won about 80 percent to 90 percent of what they fought for," Sanders said. "Despite President Obama's campaign promise not to cut Social Security benefits, the Gang of Six plan, which he apparently embraced, calls for massive cuts in that vitally important program."
Under the Social Security proposal, a new formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments would cut a typical 75-year-old's yearly benefits in 10 years by $560. The average 85-year-old would see a $1,000 a year cut in 20 years. Furthermore, the proposal demands that Social Security be solvent for a 75-year period, which could include additional cuts. The proposal also cuts Medicare by $298 billion over 10 years and makes massive cuts to Medicaid.
While the spending cuts for programs that working people desperately depend upon are enforced by specific spending caps, there is no such enforcement or clarity regarding the $1.1 trillion to be raised in revenue over 10 years.
"What happens if that revenue target is not reached? There is no language that deals with that. Where does the revenue come from? That very important issue is kicked to the tax writing committees with no guarantee that hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue will not come from the pockets of low- and moderate-income Americans," Sanders said. "While nobody knows for certain what provisions might be adopted, there is reason to expect that some of the areas that the House and Senate will be looking at include the home mortgage deduction for middle-class families, taxes on health care benefits, and increased taxes on retirement programs such as 401(k)s and IRAs. In other words, while there is a reasonable degree of specificity in terms of cuts there is only vagueness in terms of revenue."
Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, has advocated an approach to deficit reduction that matches increased revenue with spending reductions. "At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are becoming wealthier and are paying the lowest effective tax rates in modern history, when corporations are making billions of dollars and making nothing in taxes at all, Sanders said at least half of a deficit reduction package should come from ending tax breaks and tax loopholes for the wealthy and large corporations. With military spending having nearly tripled since 1997, we must take a hard look at cutting unnecessary and outdated military programs," he said.
The following is a news release from the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
Washington - As Social Security emerged as a target in White House budget negotiations, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) insisted that the retirement program must not be cut as part of any deficit reduction deal.
Social Security, which had been off the table in the deficit talks, reportedly reemerged as President Obama met with congressional leaders.
"Let us be clear," Sanders said. "Social Security has not contributed one nickel to our deficit or our national debt. Social Security is funded by the payroll tax, not the U.S. treasury." The program that benefits more than 50 million seniors and disabled has a $2.6 trillion surplus, he stressed, and will be able to provide full benefits for every eligible American for the next 25 years.
"I am especially disturbed that the president is considering cuts in Social Security after he campaigned against cuts in 2008," Sanders added. Obama made his position clear on Sept. 6, 2008, when he said: "John McCain's campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost of living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either," Obama said. "The American people expect the president to keep his word," Sanders said.
According to a coalition of seniors groups, Social Security Works, a change in the way Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are calculated would cost seniors hundreds of dollars a year in benefits. The Congressional Budget Office estimates adoption of the so-called "Chained-CPI," which would be used to determine Social Security's annual COLA, would cut benefits by $112 billion over 10 years. The Social Security Administration chief actuary estimates the effects of this change would be that beneficiaries who retire at age 65 and receive average benefits would get $560 less a year at age 75 than they would under current law and get $1,000 less a year at age 85 - a 3.7 percent cut and a 6.5 percent cut, respectively. The proposal would cut $1.6 trillion over Social Security's 75-year valuation period - mainly from the oldest of the old, primarily women and those who are disproportionately poor.