31 March 2010

Part Two: The Reagan Revolution Continues under Clinton & Bush

 The Reagan Revolution Becomes Entrenched Policy

Yesterday we talked about recent revolution in America within the context of the Hegelian Dialectic which posits a construct of history composed of (1) Thesis, (2) Antithesis, (3) Synthesis, or, as I am applying it, (1) Revolution, (2) Counter-revolution, (3) Freedom or Slavery. And we discussed, briefly, the Reagan revolution which was hall-marked by proletariat acceptance of a monetarist fiscal program which was sadly predicated on the wholesale dismantling of the new deal and dissolution of unions.  Make no doubt of it, the Reagan/Bush years were about a right-wing revolution here in the United States and exported abroad (notably Latin America) with a neo-liberal economic policy based on the monetarist theories of Milton Friedman.

Feeling the squeeze from these ill-advised notions, the petite bourgeoisie (small business owners) joined with the proletariat (wage earners) in a sufficient number to elect Democrat Bill Clinton as president.  However, if one plans to look to the Clinton presidency for signs of counter-revolution one is destined to fail.  In no small way Clinton carried on with the primary elements of Reagan's programs--albeit somewhat muted.  At best, Clinton was a Chamber-of-Commerce democrat far more comfortable at wine-and-cheese parties and on exclusive country club golf courses than in the union halls and shopping malls of blue-collar, wage-earning America.  In many ways, he would have fit in quite well in the administration of Dwight Eisenhower--more moderate Republican than Democrat.  The Reagan revolution continued!

Nothing happened during the ill-gotten administrations of George Bush, the second, to counter the revolution and, in fact, the element of engaging in a worldwide war with a nebulous noun (Terrorism) served to provide the proletariat and petite bourgeoisie with a rallying cause directing attention outward and away from the continuing destruction of the new deal and institutionalizing of monetarist deregulation and unrestricted speculation in real estate, banking and finance draped in populist avowals of freedom of "market force".  Wall street had taken charge!  And there would be hell to pay!

The revolution had entered a new phase.  New Deal and Great Society safety nets (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) became the whipping boys as the proletariat and petite bourgeoisie felt the unease and a sense of a declining standard of living.  For them it was not unrestrained, unfettered, unregulated capitalism concentrating more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands which were the culprits.  It was the give away programs to the lumpen-proletariat  (welfare, unemployed, criminals & other "free-loaders") which were creating a deficit through so-called entitlements and in turn eroding the emergent middle class "all that we've worked so hard for".

The masses sensed something was horribly wrong and were ripe pickings for the jingoistic, nabobism of the bourgeoisie working at the behest of their Wall Street masters. That sense of unease grew into a pathological paranoia and hysteria which have taken us into what, I believe, is the final phase of the Reagan Revolution.

Tomorrow: The misinformed, the misled and the misbehaving face of a revolution getting out of hand!  Ideology trumps party politics!

30 March 2010

Hegel Got It! Why Don't You? (Revolution in America - Part One)

Part One:  The sixties, seventies and eighties (Revolution & Counter-Revolution)

One could argue very successfully, I think, that we are in the beginning stages of yet another period defined by the Hegelian dialectic.  This time it is a revolution of the misguided, misinformed, and misbehaving proletariat right, aided and abetted by their masters the stateless corporations served by Wall-Street bankers and financiers.

Hegel's dialectic, roughly stated, posits (1) Thesis, (2) Antithesis (3) Synthesis; and for the purposes of this brief argument: (1) Revolution (2) Counter-Revolution  (3) Slavery or Freedom.  And, while some would quibble with me that these words have no relevancy in a post-industrial world, I would suggest very strongly, as we watch the destruction of the middle-class and dissolution of the strength (financial, social, & political) of the unions, that the dialectic has historic relevance to the here and now.

Consider first, the entire decade of the sixties and seventies in which the intelligentsia and students led protests and demonstrations from which grew a powerful movement against an immoral war in Southeast Asia, repressive attitudes toward human sexuality, the role of women as chattel, and the denial of basic human and civil rights of (the term then used) Negroes.  These were revolutionary times. Fundamental change was happening. Families were torn apart. Cities burned!

However, the proletariat (wage-earners) and petite bourgeoisie (small business operators) failed to join in and stood by as a counter-revolution, initiated by President Richard Nixon, in which we watched as students demonstrating on campus were gunned down by the military, protesters were brutally beaten in the streets, and the revolution's leaders were brought before us in show trials or else fled the country.

Then we entered a brief period of  synthesis during the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.  Disco reigned supreme and blocks long gas-pump lines  formed in small towns and large cities across the nation.  Revolution became the property of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as it deposed the CIA supported Shah and took over our embassy and held hostage our state department staff.  America looked outward rather than within.  We were in a state of synthesis, neither revolution nor counter-revolution

The eighties and nineties brought us the Reagan Revolution.  Union busting became a federal enterprise, the NLRB became the Washington field office of the National Association of Manufacturers, and a wholesale attempt at dismantling the Roosevelt era New deal commenced as Chicago School of Economics disciples of Milton Friedman took charge of the federal bureaucracy and began exporting their right-wing monetarist beliefs to other countries with catastrophic and disastrous results costing the lives of tens of thousands of innocents .

Tomorrow: Part Two - Clinton and Bush the Second.

29 March 2010

There Is A Reason They Are Called Wing-Nuts!

The crazies on the right. Is there no end to their madness?

Not only no, but hell no!  The car-chasing, baying at the moon crowd from the right are now up in arms over the constitutionally mandated census.  Never mind that the census is used to apportion things such as federal funding for schools and that congressional seats and the size of the electoral college are both based on the numbers--numbers go down, you lose seats, numbers up, you gain seats.

Here are some of their wilder claims:

The census will provide the basis for citizen round-ups by United Nations personnel  after President Obama hands over control of the nation to foreign troops.

Linking the census to GPS coordinates will allow the federal government to "target with drones" undesirables.

President Obama intends to use the census to undermine border control so that the left has a "permanent ruling majority" with the help of "illegal aliens".

And under the category of Nowhere Else but Texas, we have only returned 27% of our  completed census forms compared to 34% nationwide.  And, this oughta tickle you; some of our counties with the lowest return rate are predominately Republican which could wind up costing the Republicans congressional districts and electoral votes in the 2012 presidential election.

And to top it off, you have this madness from every lunatic's favorite House member, Minnesota's very own Michele Bachmann, which is so bizarre that a Fox News interviewer does a double-take.

26 March 2010

Alliance for Retired Americans: Big Changes for Seniors' Health Care

Health Care Reform: What's in it for Seniors

The Senate-passed health care reform bill dramatically cleared the House on a 219-212 vote Sunday night, and President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday. Please see the Alliance for Retired Americans Special Edition Friday Alert of March 23 for more details of the related votes.

The reform phases out the doughnut hole gap in prescription drug coverage, providing a $250 rebate in 2010 for seniors who fall into the hole. Beginning in 2011, seniors will receive a 50% percent discount on their prescription drugs when they fall into the doughnut hole, and by 2020 the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated.

To see the Alliance's one-page write-up listing provisions in the health reform law that will affect seniors, along with the time line for their implementation, go HERE. To summarize that document, the new law also:

  • Covers preventive services; in 2011, seniors in Medicare will receive free annual check-ups with no co-payments for mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventive screenings;
  • Supports early retiree coverage, providing financial assistance to employer health plans that cover early retirees;
  • Encourages doctors to coordinate care and improve quality, creating incentives for providers to work together and reduce wasteful care like repeated tests;
  • Removes obstacles to changing Part D prescription drug plans, allowing Part D enrollees to make a mid-year change in their enrollment if their plan makes an unexpected change;
  • Expands the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, which will significantly help struggling seniors afford their health care costs;
  • Enacts the CLASS Act, creating new long-term assistance for seniors and the disabled;
  • Enacts the Elder Justice Act, authorizing new criminal background checks on long-term care workers who have access to residents or patients; and
  • Eliminates wasteful over-payments to Medicare Advantage plans while creating incentives for coordinated, high quality care across the health care spectrum, extending the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 9 years and improving Medicare for generations to come.

For a listing of which changes take effect immediately, go HERE. In short - in addition to the doughnut hole changes - within the next six months alone, the new law:

  • Provides a $5 billion reinsurance fund to help employers who provide health benefits to early retirees ages 55 to 64 (goes into effect in 90 days);
  • Eliminates pre-existing conditions for non-dependent children up to age 26;
  • Prohibits insurers from placing lifetime limits on coverage;
  • Restricts new plans' annual limits on coverage;
  • Provides $5 billion to states to create a high risk insurance pool for those denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions and who have been without insurance for 6 months;
  • Prohibits rescission, or dropping coverage, when individuals become sick;
  • Creates a public health and wellness fund and requires new private insurance plans to offer preventive services without co-payments;
  • Provides up to 35 % tax credits to small business that offer health care coverage; and
  • Creates a new and independent health insurance appeals process for consumers

A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 49% of those polled concluded that the passage was "a good thing," as compared to 40% who concluded its passage was "a bad thing."

Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, urged seniors to thank Members of Congress who helped to pass reform with personal visits to their offices during the spring district work period, March 29 - April 9. "Thank you again to seniors who worked for decades to pass health reform. Now, let's give House Members who voted courageously for health care reform in the face of violence some words of appreciation, in person or in writing," said Mr. Coyle.

To listen to the audio of Alliance leaders' conference call this week with seniors, click HERE. To see the video of Alliance member Bob Meeks of Brandon, FL and Mr. Coyle on the importance of closing the Medicare drug doughnut hole, go to HERE.

Misinformation has been spread on how the health care reform will affect veterans' care. President Obama has strongly supported a 16% budget increase in 2010 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest in over 30 years. "TRICARE, the U.S. Department of Defense's military health care program, will continue to be available for all eligible servicemen and women, and their families," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

24 March 2010

Damned Fool Republicans Keep On Helping Democrats

Shortly after Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat made vacant by Ted Kennedy's death Republicans began basking in a self-anointed glory of self-ordained political ascendancy.

They were fools to do so then and they are now even more foolish to think that their continued attempts to head off or "repeal" health care reform will provide them the basis for recovering a majority in the House in Senate come this November.

Here's why that "Old dog won't hunt", and in fact won't even crawl out from under the porch to wag its tail.

Imagine a campaign wherein a Republican says; "We're going to go back to a system wherein children can be denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition". That ought to play well with soccer moms and NASCAR dads don't you think?

Or, "Hey small business operator, we're going to make it really tough on you by repealing your tax credits of up to 50% of your employee's health care premiums".

Or, "Listen up grandma and grandpa, we want to leave open that doughnut hole in your drug coverage that has you paying premiums but having no benefits." You have not seen anger until you've experienced that of a senior denied what they feel they've earned through a long and productive life!

Or, "We need to have pity on those poor Insurance companies and restore annual and lifetime caps on what they'll pay once you became ill or injured."

Or, "It makes sense to cut your coverage once you start to use it. If those insurance company margins come down to 25%, well hell, we might not get taken to lunch, on trips, or get memberships to exclusive country clubs. And that there would be bad, real, real b-a-a-a-d!"

Or, "You rural folks just need to move into the city if you want Medicare payment protection".

Now let's say that they managed to shivvy enough gullible folks into giving them the votes whereby they could actually leverage some sort of repeal legislation, do they really think President Obama would sign it?

So hell yes Republicans, keep it up! You think you got an ass-whipping in 2008, well, you ain't seen nothing yet.

23 March 2010

Republicans Encourage Tea-Bagger Violence

Members of the "Tea Party" protesters, last Saturday, revealed their true core of ignorance and hatefulness when they verbally assaulted House Democrats shouting vile epithets including "nigger" and "faggot" and spat upon Missouri Democrat, Emmanuel Cleaver.

The House members were in a group passing through the Longworth House office building to the president's speech to a gathering of House Democrats when a frenzied mob of "Tea Party" health care reform ruffians began heckling Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass) with exaggerated lisp-y screams and cat calls of "faggot". Representative John Lewis (D-GA), a highly revered figure in the civil rights struggle, was called a "nigger" by the mob out to disrupt the proceedings as they have in the past at various town hall meetings.

Disgusting and repulsive as all that might be to rational people, the situation is made even worse by Republican leaders who address these crowds and play on their paranoid fears and whip them into out-of-control frenzies. Saddest of all is that no Republican has come forth to repudiate, disown, or condemn such lawless excess. In fact, several, during the health care debate which followed, actually had mealy-mouthed words of tacit support along the lines of, 'While I don't exactly approve their actions, I understand their frustration".

"Don't exactly approve"?--where the hell is the, "I am disgusted by and utterly want no part of such repulsive viciousness"?

If you do not condemn it, you support it!

But it does not end with that. Later in the day, we learned that Rep. Louise Slaughter's office in Pine View, New York, was vandalized by a skulker who, under a cloak of nighttime darkness, hurled a brick through the window of her office.

These are not the sort of matters deserving a tsk-tsk, a head shake, and then back to business as usual. They warrant our complete and immediate attention and the application of the full weight of the law. The climate is becoming that of anarchy and assassination--someone is going to get hurt unless Republican leaders take significant steps to defuse and disown a dreadfully volatile situation.

As it stands now, their lack of action and even tacit approval empowers the lawlessness and violence which in turns empowers those same Republican politicians to mouth even more provocative pronouncements, such as "Baby Killer", screamed on the hallowed floor of the United States Congress.

Yes, I know. A tepid apology followed, along the lines of, "I didn't mean anyone in particular, just the situation in general". Yeah right! Where, I want to ask this bozo, was the maturity, decorum and self-restraint we deserve and expect from our representatives?

This congressman from Texas, Randy Nuegebauer, in that nasty moment of excess became one with the earlier mob which assaulted Representatives Frank, Cleaver, Lewis and vandalized Representative Slaughter's office.

Instead of suppressing the mob, the Republicans are becoming part of it!

17 March 2010

GOP Hates Seniors - Lie During Health Care Debates & Now Set Out to Attack Social Security

GOP Stacks Debt Panel with Foes of Retirement Security: The ‘Sock Our Seniors Six’

Alliance for Retired Americans President Barbara Easterling points out here that the Republican appointees to the debt commission have long voting records opposing retirement security.

Current and future retirees, alarmed by the extremist Republican members of Congress named to the newly created bipartisan commission to lower the federal budget deficit, have a name for this group: “Sock Our Seniors Six.”

These lawmakers repeatedly have voted to weaken Social Security and sell off Medicare to the big drug and insurance companies. They reflect the failed ideology that fueled George W. Bush’s and John McCain’s efforts to let Wall Street gamble away privatized Social Security on the roulette wheel of the stock market. One look at a recent 401(k) statement shows what dangerous folly that would have been.

The new panel members—Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Paul Ryan (Wis.)—have a combined 6.5 percent average lifetime rating voting record, according to the analyses by the Alliance for Retired Americans. Criteria include key congressional votes on Social Security, Medicare and other issues affecting retirement security.

The recent appointees call into sharp question the objectivity of this panel, particularly when combined with former Sen. Alan Simpson, who recently was named the panel’s co-chairman. Simpson has referred to older Americans as “greedy geezers,” and as a senator, he wanted to lower Social Security benefits by changing the statistical formula used to calculate Cost-of-Living Adjustments.

The commission must examine the full range of tax-and-spend policies that led to these large deficits. Since 1983, American workers have paid enough Social Security payroll taxes to accumulate a $2.5 trillion surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund. We hope the commission will accurately point out the reckless fiscal decisions that got us to this point, and also reaffirm that Social Security and Medicare are two of our nation’s greatest success stories and have helped generations of seniors stay healthy and out of poverty.

Last week’s developments are an inauspicious start to this new commission. It is a reminder that Americans need to keep a close eye on this panel and stay educated and active on these important issues.

16 March 2010

Alliance for Retired Americans' Ed Coyle Joins Speaker Pelosi in Call For Health Care Reform

Health Reform Can Improve Seniors Lives,

Retiree Leader Says

Will Make Preventive Tests and Medications Affordable

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, who today joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a press conference on health insurance reform.

“On behalf of the 4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans, I want to thank Speaker Pelosi for her leadership in bringing us to the conclusion of the health care debate.

“Unfortunately for seniors, this debate has been dominated by scare tactics and misinformation by the big insurance companies. They have distorted the truth to protect their record profits.

“But the truth is this: Congress has a chance to make smart investments in preventive care that will keep us healthier and spending less money. Health insurance reform will be good for both our physical health and our fiscal health.

“Here is how it will help seniors live longer and better lives:

  • When we close the Medicare doughnut hole, seniors will no longer have to cut dangerous corners on their medications.
  • When we eliminate co-pays for preventive screenings, older Americans will more quickly –and affordably – identify and treat diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
  • When we cut wasteful spending and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund, we will help seniors better afford their monthly premiums, which have doubled over the past eight years.
  • When we help pre-Medicare retirees afford insurance and finally ban pre-existing conditions, retirees will have fewer costly health problems when they begin Medicare at age 65.
  • When we pass health care this week America’s seniors will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that they will live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

“Retirees are struggling to get by and cannot afford to wait any longer. It is time to pass health care reform.”

15 March 2010

No Place Else But Texas: Christian Taliban Turn Schools Into Ultra-Right Madrases

Insanely fervent, extreme right-wing, ultra-conservative, Christian fundamentalists have grabbed control of the textbook selection process in Texas and demand that textbooks highlight the Judeo-Christian values of the founders...well, not all of them actually.

Here is part of what the lunatic faction has wrought:

Teachers will be required to highlight the supposed "Judeo-Christian values of the founders but downplay the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state.

Curriculum will describe the United States as a "constitutional republic" rather than "democratic". This plays to the right-wingers' mantra of states-rights versus the federal government.

Students studying the Bill of Rights must have included the references to the Second Amendment right-to-bear arms in their government classes.

American exceptional-ism and the free-enterprise system will be heralded as thriving best in a climate free of "excessive government intervention". Such studies will be linked to the decline of the value of the American dollar since the abandonment of the gold standard.

Now, back to the founders; Thomas Jefferson, who was, at best, a Deist and more likely an Agnostic, will be replaced by John Calvin in studies of the "enlightenment".

And, students studying the Alamo will not learn that Hispanic "Tejanos" died defending it along with Bowie and Crockett.

The study of institutional racism will be banned from sociology classes.

Students who have already been "dumbed down" to the extent that they cannot make change without color coded keys, do not know the difference between their and they're, and you're and your, will soon become an army of brainwashed right-wing Christian fundamentalists eager to fight for the "American Republic" on behalf of the interests of stateless corporations under the flag of GAAAAWWWD and JEEEESUS!

But, don't just have pity for Texas youngsters. Because Texas is one of textbook company's largest clients, these changes will morph into the textbooks of other States--it's cheaper to print one textbook for all than fifty different variations.

These drastic and far-reaching changes to Texas curriculum and textbooks will become final in May after a brief period of public comment. I will bet you a dollar against a doughnut that every right-wing, Christian fundamentalist in the state will turn out and progressives will continue to pule and keen without waging any sort of demonstrative response.

12 March 2010

Health Care Reform - Coming To The Wire!

In Week of Health Care Developments,Thousands
Gather to
Against Insurers


Tens of thousands of activists, seniors, union members, and
religious leaders protested against insurance company abuses on
Tuesday in front of the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., where
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) leaders were meeting.

The enthusiastic crowd chanted and brandished their signs,
demanding that Congress finish their health care reform fight.
Several Alliance for Retired American groups were among the
activists who turned out in full force.

The same day, Alliance members participated in a conference call
on health care with White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama delivered a passionate,
campaign-style health care stump speech in St.Charles, Missouri,
just outside of St. Louis. Ten Alliance members attended that

The next day, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the
Senate health care plan would cut the deficit by $118 billion
over a decade. Also on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (D-NV) outlined in a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
his plans to use reconciliation to make budget-related changes
to the health reform legislation passed by the Senate in December.

The procedure will allow the changes to pass with a simple
majority in the Senate, rather than a super-majority of 60 votes.
Reid noted in the letter that the bill reduces health care costs
and fills the prescription drug "donut hole" for seniors while
reducing the deficit. "We urge Congress to take the next step
and pass this legislation, for the benefit of all Americans,
especially seniors, who are feeling the brunt of health
insurance abuses," said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the

10 March 2010

Amending The Constitution: Simple, But Not Easy

In the wake of the recent decision by SCOTUS reversing limits on corporate and union direct contributions to political campaigns there is a move afoot to initiate a constitutional amendment to override that decision.

There have been a number of amendments and proposed amendments through the years with the most recent being the Equal Rights Amendment which failed to gain full ratification by a sufficient number of states. And therein lies the difficulty.

Article V of the constitution says, "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior tot he year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

In short, the process consists of two steps:proposal and ratification.

1. Both Houses of Congress must propose the amendment with two-thirds vote. This is how current amendments have been offered. Or...

2. Two-thirds of the State legislatures must call on Congress to hold a Constitutional Convention.

1. Three-fourths of the State legislatures must approve of the amendment as proposed by Congress, or...

2. Three-fourths of the states must approve the amendment via ratifying conventions. This method has only been used once, to repeal Prohibition (21st Amendment).

The Supreme Court has held that ratification must happen within a reasonable period of time which, since the 18th amendment, has come to mean seven (7) years.

There have been only 33-amendments proposed by congress. Of those, only 27 were ratified by the States.

09 March 2010

Texas AFL-CIO COPE Endorsements

The Texas AFL-CIO Committee On Political Education (COPE) Releases Endorsements!

As the campaigns progress, we will post profiles of each candidate and their positions on issues critical to Texas seniors. These endorsements are for the statewide positions only. We will review the "local" endorsements at a later time.

GovernorBill White
Lieutenant GovernorLinda Chavez-Thompson
Attorney GeneralBarbara Ann Radnofsky
Comptroller – No Endorsement
Land CommissionerHector Uribe
Agriculture CommissionerHank Gilbert
Railroad CommissionerJeff Weems
Texas Supreme Court, Place 3Jim Sharp
Texas Supreme Court, Place 5Bill Moody
Texas Supreme Court, Place 9Blake Bailey
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2 – No Endorsement
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5 – No Endorsement
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6Keith Hampton
Chair, Texas Democratic PartyBoyd Richie

08 March 2010

AFL - CIO Offer Five Step Solution to Jobs Crises

No one needs to tell America’s families that unemployment and underemployment are at crisis levels. We need jobs—and we need them now.

Wall Street has gotten its bailouts. Now it’s time for Main Street to get some immediate help.

The AFL-CIO is calling on Congress and the Obama administration to take five steps now to care for jobless workers and put America back to work.

1. Extend the lifeline for jobless workers. Unless Congress acts now, supplemental unemployment benefits, additional food assistance and the expansion of COBRA health care benefits will expire at the end of the year. They must be extended for another 12 months to prevent working families from bankruptcy, home foreclosure and the loss of health care. Extending benefits also will boost personal spending and create jobs throughout the economy.

2. Rebuild America’s schools, roads and energy systems. America still has at least $2.2 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs. We should put people to work to fix our nation’s broken-down school buildings and invest in transportation, green technology, energy efficiency and more.

3. Increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services. State and local governments and school districts have a $178 billion budget shortfall this year alone—while the recession creates a greater need for their services. States and communities must get help to maintain critical front-line services, prevent massive job cuts and avoid deep damage to education just when our children need it most.

4. Put people to work doing work that needs to be done. If the private sector can't or won't provide the needed jobs, the government should step up to the plate, putting people who need jobs together with work that needs to be done. These should never be replacements for existing public jobs. They must pay competitive wages and should target distressed communities.

5. Put TARP funds to work for Main Street.The bank bailout helped Wall Street, not Main Street. We should put some of the billions of dollars in leftover Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to work creating jobs by enabling community banks to lend money to small- and medium-size businesses. If small businesses can get credit, they will create jobs.

America’s jobs situation would be even more dire without the economic stimulus program President Obama and Congress enacted, which has saved or created 1 million jobs. But the depth of this crisis demands that we do more—and that we do it now, before more people lose their jobs, their homes, their health care and their hope.

05 March 2010

Senate Stiffs Seniors on $250 Stimulus!

Retirees Despondent After Senate’s Refusal
of $250 Payment to Seniors

Would Have Helped Many with Life-saving Medications

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle,
Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans,
in reaction to the Senate’s failure to pass a $250 Economic
Recovery payment for seniors,veterans,and persons with

“Retirees are frustrated and despondent after both President
Obama’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ calls for a $250 payment to
help those struggling in this recession have so far fallen
on deaf ears. This proposed act of compassion, had it passed,
would have helped 49 million Social Security recipients,
many of whom have seen their retirement savings and home
values badly shaken by this economic crisis. This helping
hand would have made a real difference in seniors’lives."

“It was bad enough when retirees were told they would not be
receiving a Social Security Cost-of-Living-Adjustment in
2010. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, it
is unbelievable that Congress has shoveled hundreds of
billions of dollars to Wall Street Robber Barons, yet the
Senate has denied seniors a $250 check. That amount would
not even cover dinner for one of Wall Street’s fat cats!"

“The purchasing needs of seniors are unique, and often
include medications needed to stay alive. We insist that
the Senate realize the importance of this $250 payment to
struggling retirees.”

“Alliance members demand that seniors not be ignored, and
will continue their grassroots lobbying in support of this

04 March 2010

Alliance for Retired Americans - Social Security Did Not Cause Financial Crises

More Debt Commission Appointees Named

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has appointed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to serve on the President's fiscal panel tasked with developing a plan to bring down the $12.3 trillion national debt.

The President said that the commission can consider everything, including new taxes, spending cuts and changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, in order to reach his goal of balancing the federal budget except for debt interest payments by 2015. Obama is asking Congress to consider the panel's recommendations.

Obama will appoint six people to the 18-member panel and up to four can come from the same party. Leaders in Congress will choose the other 12 members, with three coming from the Republican and Democratic caucus in each chamber.

Reid is the first congressional leader to announce his picks. The majority leader said that he would make sure that the panel's recommendations, which are non-binding, receive votes in the Senate. Both Baucus and Conrad are noted centrists, a group of lawmakers that has made debt and deficit issues a priority.

Obama last week selected former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) to head the panel. Now, the president has named former Clinton White House budget director Alice Rivlin; Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern; former Young & Rubicam Brands CEO Ann Fudge; and Honeywell CEO and Chairman David Cote to fill remaining slots, an administration official said.

"I would like to say to the panel: Social Security's long-term solvency can be resolved by relatively modest adjustments, and without cutting benefits," stressed Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. To see the Alliance's latest document on Social Security, which refutes opponents' charges that today's budget problems are due to Social Security, click HERE

03 March 2010

Indiana Middle School Madness - Just Saying No Is Not Good Enough

Remember the mindlessly petty authoritarianism of middle school and how it shaped your attitude towards those in power for the rest of your life?

If so, you will have sympathy for little Rachel Greer, a charmingly clean cut seventh grader at River Valley Middle School in Jeffersonville, Indiana. No I am not making it up, there really is such a place. And right now, Rachel, if she knew about such things, must be thinking she's in a Gulag rather than school. Well, that's not exactly correct, since she's been suspended for a week and is not in school where she belongs.

You see, Rachel violated the school's zero tolerance drug policy by looking at, touching and handing back another kid's prescription medication, according to news reports from WHAS-TV.

In short, when the other kid handed the drug to her, Rachel did what she had been taught; she said no and handed it back! And that, according to school administrator, Marty Bell, in a draconian interpretation of the school's drug policy, constituted "possession" and just good enough.

"Someone hands them a pill or a drug or something like that and they say well I said no I didn't participate. Well the act of saying no is not to be there, not to be involved in the handling the you know they didn't have to put their hand out," says Marty Bell of Greater Clark County Schools.

Bell says students and parents have to sign off on their policy so they know the rules.

Greer's mother, responded that her daughter's punishment isn't good policy. "We're teaching our kids if you say no to drugs you're going to get punished, it's not right."

Mrs Greer, we agree it is not right. And we think it is part of the reason why a whole generation of people with high school and college educations do not know the difference between there and their, your and you're, or how to properly make change or how to write in cursive.

We think Mr. Bell is a prat better suited to administering a prison rather than "teaching' our kids!

02 March 2010

TEXAS Primary Today--VOTE (Our Suggestions)


Polls close at 7:00 pm:

We have made no endorsements at this point, however, we do recommend voting in the Democratic primary as none of the Republican candidates offer any progressive credentials!

While we are not yet issuing formal endorsements, we do have several recommendations for contested statewide races.

Governor: Bill White > The most experienced candidate with good name recognition - Electable over Perry in the upcoming general election!

Lieutenant Governor: Ronnie Earle > While I cringe at adult men who carry a diminutive into their adult life, Mr. Earle deserves consideration if for no other reason than he has carried forward investigations into both Tom DeLay's and Kay Bailey Hutchison's alleged wrongdoings.

Agriculture Commission: Hank Gilbert > Hank is probably the closest thing to a real democrat and real Texan in any of the races. Certainly more qualified for office than his rival; political dilettante, Kinky Friedman.

Commissioner of the General Land Office: No Preference > Either Hector Uribe or Bill Burton would serve well in this office and we have no clear preference despite Burton's slight edge in experience.

01 March 2010

Watch Out Conservative & Blue Dog Democrats : The Progressives Are Coming!

The internal fight between core-value progressives and the middle of the road, "take what they'll let you have" Democrats has now taken form in a race for one of Arkansas' Senatorial seats.

Conservative Democrat, Blanche Lincoln, who did so much harm and aroused the ire of progressive Democrats during the health care reform process, is being challenged in that state's Democratic primary by a prominent and much-liked Democrat with impeccably strong progressive credentials, Lieutenant Governor, Bill Halter .

Halter has already captured the support of many progressive groups including; Progressive Change Campaign committee, Moveon.Org, Democracy for America and Daily Kos. His campaign is coordinating a fund-raising campaign with these groups targeting $500,000 this week.

This is an important match-up to see if progressives have gained the strength to return to the core values of the Democratic Party over the more pragmatic who claim they have to be more conservative in order to win.