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Federal Union Leader: 2016 GOP Platform ‘A Hostile Takeover of the Civil Service System’

Leader of largest federal employees’ union blasts proposals to cut pay and benefits, privatize government services, and politicize the workforce

AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr.WASHINGTON – In response to the release of the 2016 Republican Party Platform, J. David Cox, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, representing 670,000 federal and D.C. government employees across the country, issued the following statement:

The 2016 Republican Platform makes clear the GOP has moved so close to the extremes that it opposes the very government it seeks to lead. The platform advocates such profound changes to the terms of government employment that, if enacted, it would bring to end the merit-based, apolitical civil service system. Without Constitutional due process rights and free unions to provide accountability and transparency to government employment, government employment would cease to be a professional civil service. What would ensue is quite predictable and occurs wherever there is an absence of the rule of law: a government staffed with cronies and political protectors that will fail to provide quality services to the American people. A spoils system staffed by those hired because who they know, not what they can do.

AFGE_Logo_high+resThe platform’s ignorance and misrepresentation of the facts about federal pay and benefits should be an embarrassment. The truth is that federal pay lags the private sector and state and local governments by an average of 35% according the Federal Salary Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And federal benefits only look generous when compared to the shameful practice of private employers who provide nothing or next to nothing for their employees in the way of pensions or insurance. Federal compensation has always been modest, but three years of frozen pay and substantial pension cutbacks enacted over the last several years in the name of deficit reduction have impoverished thousands of federal employees and their families. The notion of dragging a border patrol agent or a VA nursing assistant’s living standards down even lower is despicable.

The Republican platform also shows a horrible irresponsibility for the public interest in its embrace of privatization. Handing over the government’s work to profit-hungry contractors at the expense of public safety and health is a guarantee of scandal. Dismantling the veterans’ health care system by closing down hospitals and clinics and telling veterans to find their own care through a privatized insurance system is a disgraceful and outrageous abrogation of the promise our nation makes to those who have worn our nation’s uniform. Today veterans can walk into any VA hospital and access seamlessly integrated primary/specialty care in addition to financial, educational, housing, vocational, and other benefits. Closing down the VA would mean more than just dangerous degradation in their health care. It would also mean missed opportunities for direct employment and job assistance, obtaining an education, and help with overcoming addiction or homelessness.

The platform’s plan to privatize TSA would also be a dangerous and expensive disaster, throwing away a decade and a half of reliable airport security and returning us the pre-9/11 model that failed to such devastating effect. Instead of dismantling the TSA, the platform should demand that the agency receive the funding and staff it needs to do its jobs safely and efficiently, which a Republican-led Congress has failed to do for years.”

#####

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

Democratic Leader on GOP Candidates Addressing the NH State House: I’m not Impressed

The top Democrat in the NH House calls out GOP Primary candidates for failing to represent the people that elected them. 

CONCORD, N.H. – Today, Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio are scheduled to address the New Hampshire State House. Democratic House Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement in response:

“Today, we are joined by three presidential candidates. As we get closer to the First-in-the-Nation primary, how someone campaigns and governs in their current job can tell you a lot and from what I’ve seen from Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, I’m not impressed.

“As representatives, we are elected by our constituents to show up and vote. But Senator Rubio of Florida has one of the worst voting records in the Senate and has even said that the votes he misses in Washington don’t matter. So Rubio continues to miss foreign policy hearings, votes to fund the government, and even votes on national security. Even as he’s here in New Hampshire, he’s missing a hearing on the Iran Deal in the Senate. When it comes to a President, I’d prefer someone who shows up to his current job.

“One of our biggest responsibilities  as elected officials is making sure we support law enforcement officials, but Chris Christie isn’t telling it like it is when it comes to his commitment to public safety. Christie slashed the benefits of hard-working men and women in the law enforcement community in New Jersey and has refused to meet with them. While campaigning here in New Hampshire, Christie called a police officer a “pig” in response to criticism. And perhaps most telling is that his administration created a public safety disaster on the George Washington Bridge, the busiest in the world, just to get back at a political enemy. Chris Christie has a big mouth, but his actions as governor speak louder – and he’s got New Jersey’s failed economic record and the Bridge-gate scandal to show for it.

“Former Lehman Brothers managing director John Kasich spends his time campaigning in New Hampshire threatening workers. In 2015, John Kasich visited the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and said that the Base Realignment and Closure process keeps shipyard workers “on their toes.” Kasich has also threatened Granite Stater seniors, first by touting his plan while in congress to cut and privatize their Social Security benefits even to those close to retirement, and then by dismissing a senior concerned by the cuts. It’s clear Kasich’s priorities are completely out of line with the things that are important to Granite Staters.

“We’ve seen a lot of presidential candidates over the past few months, but I remain unimpressed with today’s guests. Candidates with failed records, absenteeism, and policies that actively harm the people they represent are bad for New Hampshire and bad for the country.”

The Next Two Years Should Be Interesting Listening To The Science Deniers (Op-Ed By Susan Bruce)

(original title)
In the United States, in the 21st Century
By Susan Bruce for the Conway Daily Sun

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Credit: NIAID

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Credit: NIAID)

Three weeks ago, the news was all Ebola, all the time. Todd Kincannon, the former Executive Director of the South Carolina Republican Party announced, “the protocol for a positive Ebola test should be immediate humane execution and sanitization of the whole area. That will save lives.” The President was labeled inept and weak at handling the crisis! We needed more leadership! Retread Congressman-elect Frank Guinta insisted that there needed to be a travel ban. Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas accused Obama of unleashing Ebola on Murka to seize more power. Louie Gohmert (whose continual reelection is proof that we shouldn’t wait for Texas to secede, we should just go ahead and build a wall around the state) claimed that Ebola is “the Democrats war on women.” Women are nurses, you see.

Corrupt blowhard and birther Donald Trump blamed Obama for Ebola, referred to him as “Barry Sotoro,” and called for his resignation. This, dear readers, is the same Donald Trump who was chosen by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications as the keynote speaker at their First Amendment Awards dinner. The award was given posthumously to James Foley. James Foley was a reporter who lost his life in pursuit of reporting from dangerous areas of our world. Choosing Trump as the keynote speaker at an event honoring this brave man is a level of tone deafness that surprises even me, coming from the Loeb/McQuaid crowd. This can only be described as an obscenity. Trump used the opportunity to bloviate about Obama. He’s still bleating about the need for Ebola quarantines. The one true thing he said was to James Foley’s parents, “Your son was far greater than I, and far greater than I will ever be.”

Obama was even criticized for not having a Surgeon General. The reason we don’t have one is Rand Paul. The President’s choice for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy regards gun proliferation and violence as a health problem. Senator Paul, Republican of the NRA district, placed a hold on Dr. Murphy’s nomination.

There have been 4 cases of Ebola in the United States. One man died.

New Congresswoman and juggler of hog testicles, Joni Ernst of Iowa was at an event the other day talking about Ebola. Reporter Charlie Pierce pointed out that there was (on that day) a single case of Ebola in the United States. Ernst’s response? “That’s your opinion,” she said. Buckle up kids. The next 2 years are going to be a bumpy ride.

There are zero cases of Ebola in the United States. That was accomplished without travel bans or humane executions. Now that there isn’t a low information electorate to whip into a frenzy of fear, we won’t hear much more about it. It’s not as if we actually care about sick people in Africa.

In other news, a whole lot of bizarre was just elected to legislatures across the land.

In Colorado, Tea Party Pastor Gordon Klingenschmitt was just elected to the state legislature, with 70 percent of the vote. Klingenschmitt claims to have performed numerous exorcisms on gay people. Gay people “want your soul,” he says. He also claims to have performed an exorcism on President Obama, to rid him of the demons of tyranny. How disappointed Klingenschmitt must be that Obama is still black.

This guy was elected by a huge percentage. In the United States in the 21st century.

In Georgia, newly elected Congressman Jody Hice is worried about lunar eclipses. It seems that the religious right thinks that lunar eclipses are signs of God’s impending judgment against Murka for the sins of gay equality and abortion. Jody Hice has a talk radio show, and told his listeners that the appearance of blood moons “has preceded world changing, shaking type events.” In another era, living in a cave, Hice would have been advocating blood sacrifices to the gods to appease them. In the 21st century, he was elected to the US House of Representatives.

New Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Grothman once warned that sex education classes are a secret plot to turn kids gay. He’s also said that money is more important for men than women, that days off from work are “a little ridiculous,” that Kwanzaa is a conspiracy promoted by white people, and that people on food stamps don’t act poor enough. In the 21st century, this man was elected to Congress.

New Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke told a Republican group that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is “the antichrist.” Naturally when he was called out for his comment, he claimed he was joking.

Joni Ernst isn’t just an expert on Ebola. She told Iowans last year that Agenda 21 agents were likely to start moving people off their agricultural land and sending them to the cities, after which their land would be confiscated. Agenda 21 is a non-binding treaty on sustainable development that was written over 20 years ago. Ted Cruz predicts Agenda 21 will bring an end to paved roads and golf courses. Both of these people are elected members of the US Congress, in the 21st century.

Ben Carson, a columnist at World Nut Daily is gearing up for a presidential run. He recently announced that he would cut back on voter fraud by undocumented workers by revoking their citizenship and deporting them.

Here in NH, the electorate has apparently determined that we need to revisit the 2011-2012 legislative debacle. The humiliation and destruction visited upon the state during those years was apparently easily forgotten, so now we have some retreads being sent back, along with a bumper crop of Free Staters and other dubious characters.

With the Republicans in control of the NH House, the position of Speaker is being hotly contested, and the rumors are rampant. Bill O’Brien wants desperately to return to his position as Official Petty Tyrant, and has reportedly sent out a hatchet man to threaten, cajole, and bribe various members to support him, with promises of committee chairmanships. The Tea Party-John Bircher- Free Stater crowd loves O’Brien. He’s unencumbered by truth or ethics.

On the other side of the GOP, Senator Kelly Ayotte, former governors John Sununu and Steve Merrill, former Congressman Charlie Bass, and former Speakers Doug Scamman and Donna Sytek are all urging House members to support Rep. Gene Chandler as Speaker. The decision will be made next week.

An O’Brien Speakership on the cusp of the First in the Nation Primary can only be a disaster for the NH Republican Party. That he’s even being considered for the position should frighten any thinking person.

“This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.”  ~ Charlie Pierce

In Case You Don’t Remember: The Republicans Have a “Jobs Plan”

Haven’t read this morning’s New York Times? Here’s what you’re missing:

WASHINGTON — Anticipating a takeover of Congress, Republicans have assembled an economic agenda that reflects their small-government, antiregulation philosophy… The proposals would mainly benefit energy industries, reduce taxes and regulations for businesses generally, and continue the attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a mix that leaves many economists, including several conservatives, underwhelmed.

What’s on the list?


View Fraccidents Map in a larger map

What’s not on the list?

  • Fixing our roads and bridges (even though more than 177,000 bridges around the country are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete)
  • Overhauling immigration laws (maybe Fox News and the Tea Party think xenophobia is good for the country)

Look again, at that last omission from the Republicans’ “Jobs Plan.”

A bipartisan Senate-passed bill on immigration would increase economic growth by 3.3 percent in a decade and save $175 billion by then, the Congressional Budget Office estimated.

Look again, at what could have been… if only the GOP hadn’t been so determined to stop anything and everything President Obama proposed.

When Mr. Obama sent Congress his jobs package three years ago, several forecasting firms estimated that it could add up to 150,000 jobs a month in the first year.

(Read about the Senate GOP filibuster here.)

Then, remember that the GOP’s opposition started on the first day of Obama’s first term.

WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.

And then, think about what this “GOP Jobs Plan” is really all about.

GOP Jobs Plan

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson holds the First In The Nation presidential primary

sheldon_adelson2Looks like New Hampshire is losing our “first-in-the-nation-Presidential-primary” status.

According to press reports, the FIRST “primary” for the 2016 Presidential campaign is being held this weekend in Las Vegas

…as each of the likely GOP candidates gets interviewed by moneyman Sheldon Adelson.

“Certainly the ‘Sheldon Primary’ is an important primary for any Republican running for president,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush.

Reportedly, this weekend’s events include a poker tournament, a Scotch “tasting”, and a VIP dinner “hosted by the Adelsons in the private airplane hangar where Adelson keeps his fleet.”  In-between those events, “Adelson is scheduled to hold casual one-on-one chats — over coffee, at dinner or in his private office — with the prospective candidates.”

A senior strategist who has advised past GOP nominees said the 2016 hopefuls ‘are just falling at his feet.’

So… if Billionaire mogul Sheldon Adelson gets first crack at vetting the presidential candidates… where does that leave regular Republicans, here in the Granite State?

Senate GOP Sentences Future Retirees onto Social Services

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

CONCORD – THURSDAY, on a party-line vote, the Republican-controlled Senate killed SB 364, a bill sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Larsen, (D-Concord), to create real pension reform for employees hired on or after July 1, 2011. Hard-working new public employees harmed by the disastrous retirement changes in 2011’s HB2 told their personal stories during the bill’s committee hearing. Today they came back to Concord in hopes to convince their Senators to vote for their families, for the economy, and against resource-shifting to the social services net.

“It’s a sad day in New Hampshire when our legislators refuse to listen to their constituents, kicking the can of real pension reform down the road again to burden a  future generation. Our public employees deserve better than partisan politics being  placed ahead of common sense and dignity.” said Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH.

Chris Cummings, representing NH Troopers’ Association, noted the impacts this low new member benefit program is having on recruiting and retaining high-quality employees in the Granite State. “This bill would have given us an opportunity to compete for the best and brightest recruits to address today’s law  enforcement challenges. With this vote, Senate Republicans have turned their backs on the public safety of New Hampshire.”

For more information on the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please visit nhretirementfacts.com and follow us @NH_RSC

UPDATED 1715

Senator Larsen Comments on Senate Bill 364

CONCORD – Senator Sylvia Larsen released the following comments after the defeat of Senate Bill 364 which would create real pension reform for newly hired public employees.

“I am disappointed we could not get a Senate majority to help pass SB 364. This bill would not change the fact that new hires are now required to work longer, retire at an older age, and pay more for their retirement benefit. It does however, include a compromise in the form of a defined contribution plan for Group I, which until recently has long been opposed by workers. I believe this bill represents real pension reform.”

“I believe there were unintended consequences during the 2011 legislative changes to the New Hampshire Retirement System, that’s why I introduced Senate Bill 364. After reviewing data last year from the New Hampshire Retirement System, I came to the conclusion that the Legislature must act now or else there will be a substantial social cost down the road.”

The current retirement plan creates a future generation of impoverished public employee retirees. It will provide only 45-49% salary replacement in retirement. Experts say that all retiring workers whether in the private or public sector need to receive between 80-85% of your last working year’s salary. Current law leaves the average firefighter retiring in 25 years with only $34,000 and teachers averaging $24,000 in retirement pay. That’s hardly a liveable wage now, let alone 25 years from now”

“Under the changes made in 2011, retired police, firefighters, and teachers thirty years from now could qualify for social services. It’s unacceptable to think that firefighters – who don’t receive social security and who spent decades running into burning buildings – would now be forced to survive on food stamps. We know we have problem now and have the advantage of years to offset the shortfall,” said Senator Larsen. “If we don’t act now, the Legislature will be kicking the can down the road and hoping a future Legislature will find a way to foot the bill and avoid thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers living on social services.”

“By failing to address the problem now and pass real pension reform, we are pushing costs for the state and taxpayers further into the future.”

The Rules change that could end gridlock in the US House

Record dysfunction in Congress: it’s NOT just the Senate, and NOT just the filibuster.

Republican extremists in the House have also been using parliamentary tricks to block legislation – including bills that had bipartisan support and would have passed if our elected Representatives were actually allowed to vote.

“The use of ‘closed rules’ has excluded most House members from full participation in the legislative process,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, wrote earlier this week.

“Under a closed rule, no amendments are allowed on the House floor. As a result, House Republicans are able to pursue a politically driven agenda without allowing commonsense amendments that could achieve bipartisan compromise.  This approach has also empowered the most extreme members of the House to pursue narrow policy goals at all costs.”

Like, say, the government shutdown.

“On Sept. 30 — the eve of the government shutdown — Republicans on the House Rules Committee changed the rule so only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) could call up a Senate-passed clean funding bill — a bill that has the votes to pass the House and would end the shutdown, if it were given a vote.”

One man, standing in the way of a vote that impacts millions of Americans.  (Remind you of anything?  Such as: then-Senator Scott Brown single-handedly blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, back in 2010?  The Senate couldn’t vote until they added an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.)

This is what’s REALLY wrong with Congress:  our elected Representatives aren’t being allowed to vote on legislation that has bipartisan support.

GOP leadership is using the “closed rule” process to keep the House from passing legislation.  Last year was the most “closed” year in House history.  “In fact, the House GOP passed as many closed rules in a single week in October as during the entire last year of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) speakership.”

The Senate is finally reforming the filibuster.

Isn’t it time for the House to reform the “closed rule” process?

Deportation, Physical Abuse, & Stolen Paperwork; What Will It Take For A Vote On Immigration?

Don't deport my momEveryone is jumping up and down over the fact the House of Representative finally did something!  Yeah, they passed a bill!  The fact is that passing this budget is a big deal for a couple of reasons.

Passing this budget means that we will not be forced into another government shutdown.  The budget funds the government for the next two years.  This also means that Congress will not be jumping from crisis to crisis every three months.

Passing this budget also means that the house can actually put aside their ideologies and pass legislation is a bi-partisan way.  Speaker John Boehner did something nobody expected him to, and chastised the right-wing conservative groups for trying to block this budget.   The question is whether or not Speaker Boehner will continue this rebellion and start to actually pass a few bills in the house.

I know just where Boehner can start, comprehensive immigration reform.  You know the bill that already passed the Senate with strong bi-partisan support, and is just waiting for the House to pass it.  The Speaker has said on multiple occasions that passing immigration reform is a major part of the Republican agenda and it should be done.

Sadly the House of Representative closed up shop for the year. They went back home to their districts without even discussing immigration.  Now we must wait until early January until we see if John Boehner will bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Our immigration system desperately needs reform. Our broken system puts significant strain on our communities. It also hurts American workers and legal immigrants, not to mention illegal immigrants, whose families live on the margins of our society,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).

That means we will have to wait about 25-30 days before the House reconvenes and a vote can be held.  In those 30 days over 30,000 aspiring citizens will be deported.  30,000 families ripped apart.  On average 1,100 aspiring  citizens are deported every day.

To add further insult to these people who are chasing their own version of the American Dream, the Immigration Policy Center reports that immigrants are being mistreated while in US custody.

“Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody”. (Emphasis added)

If we put these figures into action that would mean that in the next 30 days while Congress is on vacation and not passing immigration reform, 3,000 immigrants will be physically abused during their deportation.

As if physically abusing immigrants already in custody is not enough, it is now being reported that over “one-third (1/3) of all immigrants taken into US custody had their belonging taken from them and not returned.”  Some items may be trivial, but not all of them. “Among deportees who were carrying Mexican identification cards, 1 out of every 4 had their card taken and not returned. The taking of possessions, particularly identity documents, can have serious consequences and is an expression of how dysfunctional the deportation system is.

The Immigration Policy Center continues:

 Our study finds that migrants processed through Operation Streamline, or held in detention for a week or longer, are most likely to have their possessions taken and not returned.”

How can this be happening?  Just because they are not American citizens does not mean that the US Government can trample their rights.  This is just another reason we need to pass immigration reform.  We must put an end to the daily deportation of these aspiring  Americans.

To bring attention to the need for real immigration reform advocates began a ‘Fast for Families’ on the National Mall.  Many of the faster’s are well known in the ongoing fight for immigration reform, including Eliseo Medina.  The Fast For Families includes bio’s of all of the faster’s, and this is what they said about Eliseo:

Eliseo Medina is described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most successful labor organizers in the country” and was named one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders” in Poder Magazine. Medina served as the International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for 17 years (1996 – 2013)

They began their fast with a declaration.

What is our faith, our words and our history worth if not translated into action, sacrifice and redemption? The world has witnessed the beliefs and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez translate in courageous acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to gain justice for a community of people who were underserved and discriminated against. We now humbly attempt to follow the examples of these great teachers and the teachings of Scripture to align our own hearts with the heart of God, who desires justice for immigrants and immediate justice for the 11 million undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters within our borders. Our faith requires nothing less. Today begins our vow to abstain from sustenance.”

(Read the full Fast for Citizenship: The Moral Obligation to Pass Immigration Reform)

These brave men and women have been fasting for over 35 days now.  They have received visits from many supporters including President and Mrs Obama, Rep John Lewis (D-MS), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and many more.  To bring more attention to their fast, members sent multiple letters to Speaker Boehner asking him to bring the bill up for a vote.

After 30 days of surviving on nothing but water, the fasters have handed the torch over to a new group of fasters.  Congressional Representatives and union leaders quickly stepped up to fast for immigration reform. Every day since, members of Congress and immigration advocates have come forward to fast on the National Mall in their place.

How many families will have to be ripped apart by deportation before Speaker John Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor of the house?

How many people will be physically abused, and have their property and identification cards stolen from them before Speaker Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor?

What does it take to convince the Speaker that we need immigration reform now!

AFL-CIO Pushes For Immigration Reform With New Ad

Labor Federation mobilizes workers to pressure House Republicans to pass immigration reform with roadmap to citizenship and workers’ rights

Efforts tie into coalition “Cost of Inaction” mobilizations

Today the AFL-CIO announced the release of new, hard hitting television ads that call out Republicans for obstructing comprehensive immigration reform, citing anti-immigrant statements by Republican lawmakers.  In addition to the ads, labor will launch in-district mobilizations to increase pressure on House Republicans to support immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship and protection of workers’ rights. Providing 11 million aspiring Americans with the chance to come out of the shadows and contribute to our communities will protect the rights of all workers, the AFL-CIO has said.

These ads represent the next step of the labor movement’s unprecedented nationwide campaign to reform the nation’s broken immigration system and create equal access to the American Dream. The ads will run in Spanish and target districts with large Latino constituencies in Bakersfield, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Orlando, Fla. The ads will also be broadcast in English in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

“The time for acting on immigration reform is now, and the labor movement has decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Every day, over 1,000 people are deported, while House Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship and workers’ rights.  We won’t stop until the deportation crisis ends and aspiring Americans have the roadmap to citizenship they deserve.”

Online actions and mobilization by the labor movement will tie into coalition actions targeting nine key House Republicans as part of the “Cost of Inaction” campaign.

“I have been working on this since the days of Governor Pete Wilson in California when he tried to demonize immigrants back in the early 1990s,” said AFL-CIO Los Angeles Labor Federation head Maria Elena Durazo. “We know what happened. We saw how that worked out.  The time to act is now. Or the Republican Party may never again be able to get support from immigrant communities.”

 

GOP House Members still fighting? Gonna be costly.

No, it’s not de ja vu. It’s just that… so much of it is still exactly on-point.  Wish it wasn’t, but it is. So, with very few updates, here’s a repeat of my post from February 6, 2013:

————————

Last person leaving, please dock the doorsHoping for bipartisan cooperation, now that the election is over? Think again.

The weekend before the inauguration, Republicans gathered in Williamsburg to discuss strategies for “fighting” the President. Just a week later, former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was telling a gathering of conservatives that “Republicans control both the House and most of the statehouses. So we have to oppose the president and the Senate on some fronts—and engage them on others…”

Does that sound like cooperation to you?

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting next few months. Two dates to mark on your calendar:

On March 1st, the sequestration cuts are scheduled to go went into effect. Cutting government services through these automatic, across-the-board cuts is expected to send the economy back into recession. One example: according to a study commissioned by the airline industry, the FAA’s share of the sequestration cuts is about $1 billion a year. That cut would reduce the nation’s air traffic between 5% and 10%, and the country would lose between 66,000 and 132,000 jobs related to air transportation. The irony? The economic losses would cause tax revenues to drop by as much as $1 billion a year. (Hmmn… $1 billion in tax revenues lost because of a $1 billion spending cut. Not a whole lot of deficit-reduction going on, is there?)  After members of Congress were inconvenienced by airport delays, the FAA was granted special treatment under the sequestration act.  Recent estimates of the economic costs of sequestration include:  1.6 million jobs and 1.2% of GDP.

On March 27th  September 30th, the “continuing resolution” that funded federal government expired. That means a possible “government shutdown”. According to Politico, a majority of GOP House members “are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner ‘may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,’ said a top GOP leadership adviser.”

What happens if the government shuts down? Federal employees who are deemed “essential” are still required to go to work – they just don’t get paid until after Congress approves a bill to pay them. The last time there was a significant government shutdown, almost a half-million federal employees were required to work without pay for three weeks.

The economic damage went far beyond the family finances of federal employees. The crisis also caused 11 states to suspend unemployment insurance, due to lack of federal funds. Veterans’ services were suddenly unavailable (including counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and pension and education payments). The crisis affected the oil industry, leaving more than 10,000 barrels a day untapped while companies waited for federal reviews. The tourism industry suffered millions of dollars in losses each day of the shutdown, because passports and visas were not processed. The housing industry suffered when $800 million worth of mortgage loans were delayed. The crisis halted cleanup of 609 toxic waste sites. It left hundreds of thousands of children in limbo, waiting for foster care or adoption.

And that was only a partial government shutdown. Most of the government still had funding, during that shutdown. (Just imagine what may happen on March 27th! now!)

There’s a moral here, folks. Government services are integral to our nation’s economy.

Is there any hope that Congress could learn that lesson, in the next month or so? Or is the GOP going to insist on doing economic damage, “just to get it out of their system”?

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