Tuesday, April 26, 2011

AZ Legislature: The biggest reason why Medicaid should not be a block grant

Rep. Paul Ryan's Road to Ruin budget plan (which was passed without one Democratic vote by the US House of Representatives recently) would change both Medicare and Medicaid so much that the programs would be unrecognizable.

He proposes to change Medicare to a voucher program-- which could lead to increased costs for patients and more medical bankruptcies-- and he proposes to change Medicaid into a block grant program and give the states authority to spend the funds as they see fit. Yikes!

Can you imagine what the Arizona Legislature would do with a Medicaid block grant? I can think of a few things...
  • Give more corporate tax breaks.
  • Privatize Medicaid and allow costs to run rampant (since taxpayers will be footing the bills. This will teach us discipline.)
  • Legislate morality by denying women's reproductive health services.
  • Let the free market decide where community health centers and hospitals would be located. (Good-bye, El Rio.)
  • Provide services everywhere in Arizona except Pima County. (It could happen. Look at all of the anti-Tucson and anti-Pima County legislation they passed this year.)
Our state Legislature is unscrupulous, and our governor is working beyond her pay grade-- way beyond.

If you don't think giving these wing-nuts more healthcare money to waste is a bad idea, check out this story from today's Arizona Daily Star...

AHCCCS ready to start cutting services Sunday

They really don't care what happens to the sick, the poor or the young. After all, that would be socialist.

Reposted from the Tucson Progressive blog on TucsonCitizen.com

On the People's Budget, the AzBlueMeanie tells it like it is

Except for the TucsonCitizen.com (1, 2), it was dang near impossible to find a local news story about the People's Budget, the progressive alternative to the much ballyhooed Path to Prosperity, penned by right-wing darling Rep. Paul Ryan. It didn't matter that our own Congressman Raul Grijalva was a co-sponsor; the Arizona Daily Star ignored the People's Budget, while printing several stories about the Ryan budget.

Not one to mince words, the AzBlueMeanie (of Blog for Arizona fame) recently offered an analysis of the People's Budget, including quotes from the New York Times' Paul Krugman, who wrote...
And that’s why the only major budget proposal out there offering a plausible path to balancing the budget is the one that includes significant tax increases: the “People’s Budget” from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which — unlike the Ryan plan, which was just right-wing orthodoxy with an added dose of magical thinking — is genuinely courageous because it calls for shared sacrifice.

True, it increases revenue partly by imposing substantially higher taxes on the wealthy, which is popular everywhere except inside the Beltway. But it also calls for a rise in the Social Security cap, significantly raising taxes on around 6 percent of workers. And, by rescinding many of the Bush tax cuts, not just those affecting top incomes, it would modestly raise taxes even on middle-income families.

All of this, combined with spending cuts mostly focused on defense, is projected to yield a balanced budget by 2021. And the proposal achieves this without dismantling the legacy of the New Deal, which gave us Social Security, and the Great Society, which gave us Medicare and Medicaid.
For the rest of the AzBlueMeanie's story check this link: The People's Budget praised by serious economists, dismissed by the clueless Arizona Daily Star

Miss PDA goes to Tucson (video)

Check out this video-- Miss PDA goes to Tucson.  

According to its creator Alison McLeod of PDA Bisbee, it is a tribute to "Alice Hamers, Dan O’Neal and the rest of the Progressive team who are not afraid to speak truth to power and push the status quo in the struggle  to ensure that a government by and for the people will not perish from the USA."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Nation: Obama vs. Ryan: Who's Winning the Deficit Debate?

From The Nation...

Democratic strategists believe that House Republicans committed political suicide by voting to approve Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan last week. “When we win back the majority, people will look back at this vote as a defining one that secured the majority for Democrats,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent.

Obama skillfully framed Ryan’s budget during a major speech on the deficit earlier in the week, contrasting his vision of “shared sacrifice” with Ryan’s “deeply pessimistic” plan to gut the social safety net and redistribute income upwards. After a week of enjoying the limelight, the “bold” and “courageous” Mr. Ryan, an instant media darling, suddenly looked like something of a fool. Ryan complained that Obama had characterized his proposal as “basically it's un-American.”

Obama plans to talk up his deficit plan in a series of campaign stops this week in Virginia, Nevada and California, and a virtual town hall hosted by Facebook. Obama’s advisers believe the president is finally on advantageous terrain on this issue. Reported the Post: “Obama faces a political necessity—claiming the debt issue as his own—and a political opportunity. Recent polls show that Americans disapprove of his record on the deficit. But sizable majorities agree that a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes on the wealthy—Obama’s vision—is the best prescription for the nation’s fiscal malady.”

For the rest of this story, click on this link to The Nation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Nation: How Climate Science Was Saved—For Now

From The Nation...

During the recent budget showdown, as House Republicans made their boldest effort yet—and failed, at least for now—to repeal mainstream climate science, Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts managed to find some dark comedy in the situation. It’s customary during legislative debates for members of Congress to preface their remarks with “I rise” in support of (or opposition to) the bill under consideration. As the GOP majority on the House Energy and Commerce committee prepared to pass a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution, Markey said that although he opposed the bill, “I won’t rise physically, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating around the room.”

After provoking more chuckles by asking whether Republicans also planned to excommunicate Galileo’s finding that the earth revolves around the sun, Markey predicted that HR 910 would pass the full House but be “dead in the Senate.” And so it was. The House passed what environmentalists dubbed the Dirty Air Act on April 7, 255 to 172, with not a single Republican voting against. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, however, could muster only fifty votes for a similar measure, leaving Republicans ten votes short of a filibuster-proof majority.

For the rest of this article, click on this link to The Nation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Time to call the President...

News leaked this week: the White House is considering an executive order that would require more disclosure from corporate forces trying to influence our democracy.

It's the definition of corruption for companies to try to win government contracts by influencing our elections. Even the appearance of corruption undermines our democratic institutions and representative government.

We know that as progressives, and the president knows that too. And since Congress has failed to close a gaping loophole that would allow precisely that type of corruption, the president is considering an executive order that would require government contractors to disclose their contributions to groups who get involved in elections.

We need to make sure this proposal actually happens, because corporate lobbyists are lining up against the president's plan.

Right now, corporate-backed groups are planning to attack the president -- and force him to drop any plan to require more disclosure. We know these lobbyists play tough -- they've stalled this kind of action in Congress for years. We can't let the same bullying tactics stop President Obama from doing what we know is right.

Progressives must make sure the president issues the proposed executive order.

Call President Obama at the White House right now and tell him to stand up to the corporate lobbyists in Washington and follow through on this proposal.

Making this change would be a big step in the right direction and we need the president to follow through.

A phone call to the White House will take only a minute or two.

Please call the White House today.

Thank you for uniting as a Progressive,

Cole Leystra
Executive Director
Progressives United

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recall Brewer signing events in Tucson

Have you signed the petition to recall Arizona Governor Jan Brewer yet? No? Well, why not? Here is a list of upcoming recall signing events in Tucson.

To donate or volunteer for the Recall Brewer campaign, visit their website.

April 22
Ronstadt Center in downtown Tucson
6 a.m. - 9 a.m.

April 29
Mariachi Festival at Tucson Convention Center
beginning at 7:15 p.m.

April 30
Tucson Folk Festival in downtown Tucson

Mariachi Festival at Kino Sports Park
10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

UA Teacher Day at the UA Bookstore on Campus
9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

May 1
Immigration March begins at Grayhound Park and ends at Armory Park
9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

On the federal budget: What are the next steps for progressives?

"Progressive Strategies for the Upcoming Budget Battle" will be the theme for the Progressive Democrats of American (PDA) Tucson Chapter's second membership meeting on Monday, April 25, 2011.

Both the People's Budget-- sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus-- and Rep. Paul Ryan's Road to Ruin... er... "Path to Prosperity" right-wing extremist budget were voted on in the US House of Representatives a week ago. Since the Republicans hold the majority, Ryan's budget passed on a strictly party-line vote and the People's Budget was defeated on a strictly party-line vote.

Now what? Senator Harry Reid and President Obama have both said that the Ryan budget-- which targets Medicare and Medicaid for dramatic changes, guts social programs, cuts taxes for the wealthy, and leaves the military budget untouched-- is a non-starter.

With both parties so far apart, what will be the progressives' strategy going forth? Join PDA Tucson for a talk about budget strategies by Congressman Raul Grijalva. On the agenda with Grijalva will be a presentation entitled "Budgets and Deficits and Debt, Oh My!" by Andrea Witte of Connect the Dots for Democracy and MoveOn.

PDA Tucson also will give an update about the issue organizing teams (IOTs)-- small groups that are working on PDA's seven core issues: clean and fair elections, global warming/environment, economic and social justice, accountability and corporate personhood, immigration reform, healthcare for all, and end the wars/redirect the funds. The PDA Steering Committee is looking for volunteers to lead three of the IOTs--immigration reform, end the wars/redirect the funds, and accountability and corporate personhood.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and be held at the Hotel Tucson at St. Mary's Rd. and Granada; doors open at 6:30 p.m. This meeting is open to the public. Suggested donation: $5.

Friday, April 15, 2011

NPR Ignores the People's Budget in their 2012 Budget Coverage :(

I was seriously upset with NPR's 2012 budget coverage this morning. I expect Fox News not to report on the People's Budget (proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus) but NPR??? Blah, blah, blah about Rep. Paul Ryan's budget and President Obama's budget (both of which are pretty conservative... actually, Ryan's is radically conservative). But NPR said absolutely nothing about the People's Budget.

You have to read The Nation, the Huffington Post, or the lefty blogs or listen to Democracy Now to even know that a progressive alternative was suggested.

Who voted 'no'?

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate voted on the 2011 budget deal that was cut between House Republicans and President Obama a week ago.

The minute-by-minute blogging updates on the Huffington Post showed that Rep. Nancy Pelosi and others who had been cut out of the negotiations-- like all Congressional women-- were not happy with the deal.

Despite the drama from the left and the right, the bill passed 260 to 167 in the House and 81 to 19 in the Senate. As The Nation pointed out, who voted "no" is very telling. From The Nation...

Of the 167 "no" votes, 108 came from Democrats and 59 from Republicans.

The Democrats who voted "no" included the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, as well as Congressional Black Caucus chair Barbara Lee of California and Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Nydia M. Velázquez of New York. Ranking Democrats such as George Miller of California, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and John Conyers of Michigan voted "no." And so did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

“It was pretty evident the House Democrats were not a part of that agreement,” Pelosi explained before the vote. “I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it — except that we don't want to shut down the government.”

Pelosi and the House Democrats deserve credit for their show of independence, and support for the basic principles of the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. They know that pro-Wall Street "austerity" budgets serve special interests and reinforce Republican talking points, not working Americans and progresive values.

The same cannot be said for Senate Democrats, all but two of whom backed the Obama-GOP deal.

The measure passed the Senate 81-19. Sixteen of the "no" votes came from conservative Republicans who thought the deal did not cut enough. Two senior Democrats, Vermont's Patrick Leahy and Michigan's Carl Levin, opposed the deal. So, too, did Vermont Independent Sanders.

In addition to arguing that the budget agreement "moves America in exactly the wrong direction, Sanders said, "Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Republicans in Congress have tasted blood. Now they are dead set on making even deeper cuts. They have proposed a radical budget for 2012 that would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them while providing $1 trillion more in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations."

Sanders captured the sentiment of progressives in Congress and across the country when he said, "There is no question that we must reduce soaring deficits, but it must be done in a way that is fair, which protects the most vulnerable people in our country, and which requires shared sacrifice.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

US House to Vote on People's Budget: CALL Your Representative Now!

The US House of Representatives has been wrangling over the 2011 budget for weeks, and they struck an 11th hour deal last Friday. Today-- after much posturing-- the 2011 budget was passed by both houses.

But before the dust cleared on the 2011 federal budget, extremists in the Republican Party launched a media blitz around conservative Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget plan-- the Roadmap for America's Future (alternatively labeled the Road to Ruin by the Congressional Progressive Caucus [CPC]).

The CPC-- the largest Congressional caucus-- launched a counter proposal for the 2012 federal budget early this week. Dubbed the People's Budget, it balances the budget by 2021 by on creating jobs and rebuilding America's infrastructure, creating a fair tax system (where everyone pays their fair share), brings the troupes home, and protecting our nation's health while cutting costs through price negotiation and a public option.

The People's Budget is scheduled to be heard on the floor of the House on Friday, April 15, 2011 at 9 a.m. EDT. Call or write to your Congressional Representaives now to urge them to vote for the People's Budget.

For more information about the 2012 budget, check out this interview from Democracy Now: While Obama Touts Compromise with GOP, Progressive Lawmakers Unveil "People's Budget". At about 12 minutes, you'll hear Congressman Raul Grijalva talk about the differences between Ryan's Plan, Obama's Plan, and the People's Budget.

One of the biggest differences between Ryan's budget and the People's Budget is that the People's Budget cuts military spending while protecting social programs; Ryan's budget, on the other hand, cuts taxes for the rich, protects military funding, and fundamentally changes Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid forever-- thus balancing the budget on the backs of workers.

Here is a link from The Nation: Fighting for the People's Budget.

Here is a link from the Progressive Democrats of America: Vote on the People's Budget Scheduled for Tomorrow

And here is information about the People's Budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus...

The People’s Budget Budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Fiscal Year 2012

Budgets are more than collections of numbers; they are a statement of our values. The Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget is a reflection of the values and priorities of working families in this country. The “People’s Budget” charts a path that keeps America exceptional in the 21st century, while addressing the most pressing problems facing the nation today. Our Budget eliminates the deficit and stabilizes the debt, puts Americans back to work, and restores our economic competiveness.

The CPC Budget addresses these problems by listening to the American people. In poll after poll, they are telling us, their representatives in the American government, that they want to preserve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to make higher education more affordable, to expand job-training programs, to cut taxes burdening the middle class, to subsidize affordable housing, and to provide financial assistance for those struggling to prevent foreclosures.

The majority of America thinks cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, K-12 education, heating assistance to low-income families, student loans, unemployment insurance, and scientific and medical research are completely unacceptable. In contrast, Americans find a progressive tax policy very acceptable. The overwhelming majority of America supports additional taxes on millionaires and billionaires, eliminating unnecessary weapons systems, eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries, phasing out Bush tax cuts, and eliminating subsidies for new nuclear power plants. Poll after poll give voice to what Americans are asking of us.

Our Budget, in response, listens to what the American people are telling us. It does all of the above in a fiscally responsible way that dramatically reduces our borrowing from banks and foreign governments and ensures our long-term economic competitiveness. It does all of the above recognizing that in order to compete, we need every American to be productive, and in order to be productive, we need to raise the skill level of every American and meet the basic needs of every working family. It does all of the above while remaining rooted in fairness, recognizing that America works only when everyone has an opportunity to make it in America.

Our Budget Eliminates the Deficit by 2021The CPC budget eliminates the deficit in a way that does not devastate what Americans want preserved, specifically, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Instead of eroding America’s hard-earned retirement plan and social safety net, our budget targets the true drivers of deficits in the next decade: the Bush Tax Cuts, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession. By implementing a fair tax code, by building a resilient American economy, and by bringing our troops home, we achieve a budget surplus of over $30 billion by 2021 and we end up with a debt that is less than 65% of our GDP. This is what sustainability looks like.

Our Budget Puts America Back to Work and Restores America’s CompetitivenessThe CPC budget rebuilds America and makes it competitive again. We put America back to work. We rebuild our roads and bridges, ensuring that those who use it help pay for it. We rebuild our dams and waterways with seed money for shipping systems that can compete with the rest of the world. We rebuild our education system by training more and better teachers, restoring schools, helping each student graduate, and supporting community colleges. This is what competitiveness looks like.

Our Budget Creates a Fair Tax SystemThe CPC budget implements a fair tax system based on the American notion that fairness and equality are integral to our society. Our budget restores fairness to a system that unfairly benefitted the richest few while hurting the majority of America. Our budget heeds America’s call to end the Bush Tax Cuts and the estate tax and create fair tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires while maintaining credits for the middle class and students. It ensures that the banks that wrecked our economy pay a modest financial responsibility fee and that exotic trading by Wall Street traders who gambled away America’s savings is levied a tax. It guarantees that hedge fund managers (and those who use them) do not get special treatment by taxing capital gains and dividends as ordinary income. It eliminates charity to oil companies making record profits from prices paid at the pump by the American people, given that it is unfair that the American people must also give these oil companies billions of dollars in handouts. Finally, our budget taxes US corporate income as it is earned, in much the same way Americans are taxed. This is what fairness looks like.

Our Budget Brings Our Troops Home
The CPC budget responsibly ends our wars that are currently paid for by American taxpayer dollars we do not have. We end these wars not simply to save massive amounts of money or because the majority of America is polling in favor to do so, but because these wars are making America less safe, are reducing America’s standing in the world, and are doing nothing to reduce America’s burgeoning energy security crisis. The CPC budget offers a real solution to these fiscal, diplomatic and energy crises, leaving America more secure, both here and abroad. The CPC budget also ensures that our country’s defense spending does not continue to contribute significantly to our current fiscal burden – a trend we reverse by ending the wars and realigning conventional and strategic forces, resulting in $2.3 trillion worth of savings. This is what security looks like.

Our Budget’s Bottom Line
  • Deficit reduction of $5.6 trillion
  • Primary spending cuts of $869 billion
  • Net interest savings of $856 billion
  • Total spending cuts of $1.7 trillion
  • Revenue increase of $3.9 trillion
  • Public investment of $1.7 trillion
  • Budget surplus of $30.7 billion in 2021, debt at 64.1% of GDP

Pearce Recall Fundraiser in Tucson-- Friday!

Don't forget this Friday, April 15, 2011, there will be a Recall Pearce fundraiser in Tucson. In just a few short months as president of the Arizona Senate, Russell Pearce has done a lot to continue our state's downward economic and social spiral.

The Tucson Recall Pearce fundraiser will be at 5 p.m. at the home of Southern Arizona Legislator Linda Lopez, 1506 E. Melridge St. For information, contact chapalinda@cox.net or citizensforabetteraz@gmail.com.

Southern Arizonans who want to get involved in this effort also can collect signatures in Pearce's district in Mesa or donate. Check the Recall Pearce website for details.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Welcome to PDA Tucson

Welcome to the brand-new blog for the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Tucson Chapter. If your politics lean to the left, think of this blog as your home base for news, commentary, and political action related to PDA's seven core issues:

  • End the Wars and Occupations, Redirect Funding
  • Healthcare for All
  • Economic and Social Justice
  • Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections
  • Stop Global Warming
  • Accountability and Justice
  • Immigration Reform 

The Tucson Chapter had its inaugural meeting in February 2011. Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva and populist commentator Jim Hightower fired up the standing-room-only crowd with political commentary, humor, and Washington insights. They were followed by PDA national organizers Tim Carpenter and Mimi Kennedy, who described PDA's organization and goals.

Since that meeting, the Tucson Chapter has been building its organization around the seven core issues, building its mailing list, and participating in local political events, like the March for Peace and Jobs (above), the Cesar Chavez March, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Day of Action.

Look to this blog for information about participating in PDA events, joining PDA's Issue Organizing Teams, and working for progressive change in Southern Arizona and the US.