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Shea-Porter Receives Endorsement From President Obama And LBGTQ Gun Violence Prevention PAC

Today, former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter received to major endorsements in her election campaign in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.  Shea-Porter received the endorsement of President Barack Obama and the nationwide LGBTQ organization, Pride Fund To End Gun Violence.

Obama called Carol Shea-Porter a “fighter for the middle class,” and cited her work making the country “stronger, safer, and fairer for Granite State families.” 

“I’m proud to endorse Carol Shea-Porter for the United States House of Representatives,” said Obama. “Carol is a fighter for Granite State working families, and will be the kind of independent leader we need to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, safer, fairer country for our children. In Congress, I know that Carol will push to make sure veterans get the care they deserve, secure equal pay for equal work for women, and fight for affordable childcare and paid family leave. All Granite State families know that Carol will stand up for them.”

“I’m deeply humbled to have earned Barack Obama’s support,” said Shea-Porter. “In Congress, I’ll continue working to protect Social Security and Medicare, make sure veterans get the care they deserve, and focus on keeping jobs here in New Hampshire.”

Ending gun violence in our communities is a pilar of Shea-Porter’s campaign.  She has already received the endorsement from Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Gun Solutions, for her commitment to “stand against the Washington gun lobby.”

Today, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC, America’s only LGBTQ organization focused solely on gun violence prevention, announced its endorsement of Carol Shea-Porter, Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate, and 15 House candidates. 

“We support these candidates because of their demonstrated commitment to support equality and safety for all, and for their commitment to acting on common sense gun reforms,” said Jason Lindsay, founder and Executive Director of Pride Fund. “We need elected officials who will stand up for people – not for the profits of the corporate gun manufacturers.” 

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. This organization is committed to mobilizing the LGBTQ community and allies to help eliminate senseless gun tragedies and hate crimes, and I am proud to stand with them. We need to work together to pass common-sense legislation that reduces gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights, so that massacres like the Pulse night club shooting never happen again,” said Carol Shea-Porter.

With this election, we have an opportunity to reclaim our communities from the threat of gun violence. Pride Fund is turning anger into action by working to elect candidates who have committed to making our cities, our states, and our country safer for everyone.  

Pride Fund’s endorsed candidates have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ equality during their service in office, in their communities, or in their personal lives. All Pride Fund endorsed candidates have pledged to support the following key issues:

  • Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales
  • Prohibiting suspected terrorists from purchasing guns
  • Restricting access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Supporting federally funded research on gun violence
  • Preventing individuals convicted of committing hate crimes from purchasing guns

In the House, Pride Fund endorses Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Terri Bonoff (MN-03), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Bill Foster (IL-11), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Sander Levin (MI-09), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Carol Shea Porter (NH-01), Adam Smith (WA-09), and Brady Walkinshaw (WA-07). 

Pride Fund to End Gun Violence is a political action committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect pro-LGBTQ candidates who support sensible gun reforms. Pride Fund is America’s only LGBTQ organization solely focused on gun policy reform to ensure safety for all.

Hazardous Child Labor Is Still Legal In The U.S. And President Obama Needs To End It

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Nearly 50 members of Congress ask President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before leaving Oval Office 

Washington, DC—Nearly 50 Members of Congress asked President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco fields in a letter sent to the White House today. U.S. child labor law allows children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours in tobacco fields as long as they are not missing school. “Voluntary policies among tobacco companies have attempted to get children under 16 out of the fields, but it isn’t clear those policies are effective or why they permit 16- and 17-year-old children to do work that is hazardous and makes them ill,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) and executive director of the National Consumers League.

“We believe that this work is too dangerous for workers under 18,” said Greenberg. “Children working in tobacco fields suffer regular bouts of nicotine poisoning, otherwise known as Green Tobacco Sickness. They are also subjected to dangerous pesticide residues and use razor-sharp tools. We believe tobacco work should be conducted by adults who are better able to deal with the risks, and kids who have to work or who want to work should be re-directed into safer jobs.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) authored the letter, which asks the President to designate tobacco work for children as “hazardous child labor” and by doing so, render it illegal. Cicilline has been a persistent advocate of protecting U.S. child tobacco workers since a Human Rights Watch report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children—Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” found that nearly three out of four child tobacco workers interviewed suffered symptoms that correlated with nicotine poisoning.

“Laws that allow children to risk nicotine exposure while working in tobacco fields are hopelessly out of date and put children’s health in jeopardy. President Obama should act immediately to prohibit this hazardous work for children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In August, the CLC sent a letter signed by 110 groups, representing tens of millions of Americans, to President Obama urging him to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before he leaves office. The Administration has not responded to the request.

In 2012, under strong pressure from the farm lobby, the Obama Administration withdrew long-overdue occupational protections for child farmworkers that would have banned child labor in tobacco while providing several other life-saving protections.

“We call on President Obama to rectify this decision and protect child tobacco workers from the dangers of nicotine poisoning before another child farmworker becomes ill at work,” said Norma Flores López, chair of the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee. “Children who work in tobacco fields often wear black plastic garbage bags on their torsos to try to avoid contact with nicotine-laden tobacco leafs. Imagine the heat they experience in broiling sun wearing those bags? How can we subject them to those conditions?”

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have urged the Obama Administration to issue federal rules to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.  

On May 5, the Federal Drug Administration announced new regulations prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to children. “We’ve agreed for many years that nicotine does not belong in the hands of children,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. 

“Despite this concern, the Obama Administration has not yet taken appropriate steps to protect child tobacco workers from nicotine poisoning in the fields,” said HRW’s Becker.

In September, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, a global leader of the movement to end child labor and child slavery tweeted a plea for the President “as a fellow Nobel Prize laureate” to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.

“The United State has adopted the global sustainable development goal of ending child labor in the next nine years, but refuses to take the important first step of ending hazardous child labor in our tobacco fields,” said Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy for the National Consumers League and coordinator of the CLC. “How sincerely are we embracing this vital goal if we won’t ban hazardous work that most Americans would agree is too dangerous for children—work that has been already banned in India and Brazil?” 


About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition, which has 38 member organizations, represents consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. The CLC’s website and membership list can be found at www.stopchildlabor.org.

The DOL To Double Overtime Rule Lifting The Wages Of An Estimated 12 Million Workers

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

12.5 Million Americans: the number of people that the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates will be affected by President Obama’s changes to the overtime rule.

Today, the Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, will update the threshold for salaried workers who automatically qualify for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.

“We’re making more workers eligible for the overtime that you’ve earned. And it’s one of the single most important steps we can take to help grow middle-class wages,” said President Obama.

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.”

“The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones,” added Trumka. 

This simple rule change will have a significant impact on our local and national economy. The White House estimates this rule change will put $12 billion dollars into the hands of hard working Americans over the next ten years.

The DOL is lifting the threshold for salaried workers from just over $23,660 a year to $47,476. This means that if you are a salaried employee who makes less than $47,476 dollars you will now be entitle to overtime (time and 1/2) for every hour worked in a week above 40.

This doubles the current salary threshold while being responsive to public comments regarding regional variations in income by setting the salary threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest income Census region (currently the South). Tying the salary threshold to the lowest-wage region of the country has strong historical precedent in previous rulemakings.

This salary threshold will be reevaluated and updated every three years ensuring that if continues to meet the 40th percentile mark.

Employers have used this low salary threshold to cheat workers out of higher wages for decades. Many of these workers routinely work 50-60 hours a week and are paid a flat rate. In some cases salaried workers were putting in so many extra hours, without any additional pay, that their per-hour rate would drop below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Now employers will have to choose between raising the wages of salaried employees or keeping employees at their current salary but reducing the number of hours they work in a week. Reducing the number of hours worked would lead to job growth as employers will need to hire additional workers to fulfill their needs.

Check out this short video from the White House that explain the rule change and how it will effect individual salaried workers. 

EPI estimates that raising the overtime salary threshold will directly benefit a broad range of working people, including:

  • 6.4 million women, or 50.9 percent of all directly benefiting workers
  • 4.2 million parents and 7.3 million children (under age 18)
  • 1.5 million blacks, and 2.0 million Hispanics
  • 4.5 million millennials, defined as workers age 16 to 34 (who make up 28.2 percent of the salaried workforce but 36.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.6 million workers age 25 to 34 (who make up 22.9 percent of the salaried workforce but 28.7 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.2 million workers with a high school degree but not more education (who make up 15.5 percent of the salaried workforce but 25.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)

This is a monstrous step in the right direction to lift the wages of millions of Americans. The White House estimates that the new rule is expected to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans who are not currently eligible under federal law.

The new rule is slated to take effect on December 1st of this year.


Below are a couple of charts from the EPI that break down what industries will see the biggest boost from this new rule change and the number of workers impacted by the new rule, state by state.

In New Hampshire, over 54,000 workers will be directly effected by this new rule change.  Texas, Florida and California will see the biggest increases with over 1 million workers benefiting from this change.

Sen. Ayotte And Her Fellow Republican Obstructionists Plan To Block All SCOTUS Nominee’s

US Supreme Court BuildingTo absolutely nobody’s surprise, Senator Kelly Ayotte and her fellow obstructionists in the U.S. Senate have stated they will not approve any nominations to the Supreme Court until after the 2016 Presidential elections.

The country was shocked to hear the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s passed away in his sleep while visiting a West Texas Ranch.

The 79 year old Scalia was most notably known for his extremely right wing views and tried to push the Supreme Court to repeal a woman’s right to choose, a workers rights to organize, and opposed the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Now not even three days after Scalia’s death the Republicans in the Senate are vowing to block any of President Obama’s nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said:

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

As Majority Leader and Minority Leader, Senator McConnell has made it his legacy to block as many of President Obama’s nominees. Republicans in the Senate have been blocking the nomination of Adam Szubin, to be the Treasury Department’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, for over 300 days now. McConnell and his cohorts blocked the nomination of Attorney General Loretta Lynch for over five months.

In a recent speech on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tore into Republicans for blocking key national security nominations.

  • Azita Raji, Ambassador to Sweden, has waited 398 days
  • Samuel Heins, Ambassador to Norway, has waited 265 days
  • Brian Egan, principal advisor to the State Department and the Secretary of State, has waited 384 days
  • Ambassador Tom Shannon, Undersecretary for Political Affairs at the State Department, has waited 135 days

 

McConnell is not alone. My Senator, Kelly Ayotte, has jumped head first into the shallow pool with her Senate companions.

“We’re in the midst of a consequential presidential election year, and Americans deserve an opportunity to weigh in given the significant implications this nomination could have for the Supreme Court and our country for decades to come. I believe the Senate should not move forward with the confirmation process until the American people have spoken by electing a new president.”

What a ridiculous statement by Republicans in the Senate. They are willing to stop the highest and most important court in the nation for over a year on the bet that they will win the Presidential election. They are also assuming that they will win the election. I am sure President Trump would nominate a real scholar like Gov. Sarah Palin or Rep Michelle Bachmann.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid disagrees with his fellow Senators and released this pointed statement:

“The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”

Time Magazine looked into Reid’s claim of being “unprecedented” and found it to be mostly true.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, Ayotte’s major opponent for her Senate seat, blasted Ayotte in a written statement:

“Failing to take up a Supreme Court nomination is a complete abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty. Senator Ayotte’s decision to put her party leaders ahead of our country is a sad reflection of just how wrong her priorities are and how broken Washington has become.”

With the Supreme Court down a member how will this affect the current cases before them?

What will happen to the national right to work case, Friedrichs v California Teachers Association?   Does this mean the Supreme Court will come to a split decision? If that happens the California Supreme Court ruling, upholding the union’s right to charge agency fees, would be the final decision, which is exactly what the LA Times is reporting will happen.

The actions of Sen. McConnell and Sen. Ayotte epitomize everything that is wrong with Washington politicians. Putting their partisan priorities over the needs of We the People.

No, we cannot wait for a new President to appoint another Supreme Court Justice.

Of course if that does happen I hope President Clinton or President Sanders appoints Former President Obama.

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Required Reading for today:

Untold story: How Scalia’s death blew up an anti-union group’s grand legal strategy http://fw.to/Spe4vjR from the LA Times

Obama Drops the Ball with Proposed 1.6% Pay Raise for Federal Workers

Employees deserve a meaningful increase to make
up for years of neglect, AFGE says

WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement:

“President Obama has again set the bar far too low by proposing a 1.6% pay raise for federal employees in 2017, continuing a regrettable record of denying federal employees even the most basic cost-of-living adjustments.

“According to the federal law governing the civil service pay system, federal employees should receive an across-the-board increase of 1.6% next year, plus additional locality adjustments to help close the pay gap among employees in the federal and private sectors.

“For six consecutive years, federal employees received no locality increases to their pay, and for three of those years they received no pay raise at all. Since 2010, the inflation-adjusted value of federal wages and salaries has fallen by 6.5%, leaving all federal employees with a lower standard of living than they had at the start of the decade.

“We believe federal employees deserve a meaningful pay raise next year to help make up for years of neglect by elected officials. AFGE is calling on lawmakers to approve a 5.3% pay raise in 2017, which reflects the 1.6% national increase employees should receive plus a partial catch-up for the national and local pay adjustments denied for the past four 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.

NH Rebellion Applauds President Obama’s Support for Steps to Fight Big Money in State of the Union Address

Cross-partisan movement calls on president and presidential candidates
to commit to concrete actions that will “fix our politics”

January 2015 NH Rebellion Rally at the State House

January 2015 NH Rebellion Rally at the State House

NH Rebellion Executive Director Dan Weeks today applauded President Barack Obama’s view that “the most important thing” we must do as a county is “fix our politics.”

“In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama gave voice to what those of us at the grassroots level already know: ‘democracy breaks down when the average person feels that their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.’  Our country is at that tipping point right now,” Weeks said.  “Poll after poll has found that Americans of all political stripes agree – overwhelmingly – that money has too much influence over our politics.  Unlimited campaign money is corrupting our government, and voters have reason to be angry about that.”

“It was refreshing to hear President Obama address the problem in such a high-visibility way,” Weeks said. “Too many elected officials shy away from talking about it.  And far too many elected officials have actually voted against measures that would help fix the problem.”

As one example, Weeks cited last week’s vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives against a bill to study proposed constitutional amendments that would help limit the influence of money in politics.  He also noted the US Senate voted in September 2014 against sending a proposed constitutional amendment to the states for consideration.

President Obama endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling last February.

In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama also endorsed other parts of the NH Rebellion agenda: ending gerrymandering and making it easier for citizens to vote, saying “over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms.”

Weeks noted that campaign finance reform advocates have studied the influence of political spending on federal contracting, and are calling for measures to increase transparency.

“This is one area where President Obama could, himself, make a big difference,” Weeks said.

“Congress has been moving away from transparency,” Weeks observed, noting that the federal budget passed last month specifically prohibited the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing a new rule requiring corporations to disclose their political spending.

“But President Obama could take executive action, and issue an Executive Order requiring at least those corporations that contract with the federal government to disclose their political spending,” Weeks said.

A 2014 Sunlight Foundation study found that “on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.”

“We the people – taxpayers – are the ones who pay for government contracts,” Weeks said. “We deserve to know how much federal contractors are spending, trying to influence the budget and contracting decisions. We deserve to have transparency in that process.”

“We hope President Obama will follow his State of the Union remarks with concrete action,” Weeks added.  “Congress may be moving in the wrong direction on transparency, but President Obama can issue an Executive Order and help us move a little bit more in the right direction.”

Weeks also called on the candidates for president to take clear positions on the issue.

Members of the Rebellion have been attending campaign events, asking each candidate “What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence of money in politics?”  Candidates’ answers can be found here.

———-

The New Hampshire Rebellion (#NHRebellion) is a cross-partisan movement of citizens who are Walking the Talk to get big money out of politics — 30,000 miles and counting. We are motivated by one undeniable fact: American government no longer works for the American people because of the corrupting influence of special interest money in elections. Fully 96 percent of citizens agree that money has too much influence in politics, yet 91 percent have little hope that it will change. Our job in 2016 is to restore their hope and harness their energy to make reforming our democratic process possible, starting in New Hampshire.  http://www.nhrebellion.org/

Don’t miss the We the People Convention, February 5, 6 & 7, 2016:  http://www.nhrebellion.org/convention

Labor And Civil Rights Groups Urge Supreme Court To Take Immigration Case From Texas

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Coalition of Immigration, Civil Rights, Labor, and Social Service Groups Urges
Supreme Court to Protect President’s Executive Actions on Immigration

Legal Brief Filed by 224 Groups Pushes High Court to Hear Landmark Immigration Case, Texas v. U.S.

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 224 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief, urging the Supreme Court to review the case, Texas v. U.S., that has blocked some of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The filing comes less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction put in place by a Texas federal district court that blocked implementation of protections for millions of immigrants across the country.

The filing from the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, comes only ten days after the formal request, known as a petition for writ of certiorari, from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court to review the case. Amicus briefs in support of a cert petition are usually due 30 days after the petition is filed. The amici coalition acted swiftly given that the Department of Justice has requested a briefing schedule that would allow the Supreme Court ample time to hear the case during the current term and issue a decision by June 2016.

“The breadth and depth of support for the President’s executive actions is clear,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center. “It’s now up to the Supreme Court to take the case up this term and put the legal questions to rest so that the over 5 million U.S. citizen children whose parents are eligible for DAPA, can finally have stability and be free from the fear that they will one day be separated from their parents.

“With more than 200 organizations joining this amicus, including labor groups that represent millions of immigrant workers, there’s no question that the president’s immigration initiatives are necessary and backed by the majority of the American public,” said Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of SEIU International. “The Supreme Court has a responsibility to take this case, just as we have a duty to mobilize our communities to continue to defend the immigration action and push lasting immigration reform to the forefront of the agenda with our vote.”

The brief provides personal stories and testimonials about potential beneficiaries of expanded DACA and DAPA and explains how these deferred action initiatives would positively impact millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children, family members, employers, employees and other community members. The groups explain that the sweeping injunction upheld in the lower court directly harms individuals who have either been in the U.S. since they were children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

“The individuals profiled in the brief illustrate the havoc this case has wreaked on the lives of millions of immigrants who remain in legal limbo,” added Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this case and give hard working immigrant families the chance to live and work without fear of deportation.”

The immigration programs, which were announced by the President last November, would expand eligibility for the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and expand protections for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through a program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Together, the programs would allow millions of undocumented individuals to remain in the United States without fear of deportation and apply for work authorization permits for a period of three years, with the possibility of renewal. 

“The DAPA and expanded DACA policies will help ensure that families are not needlessly separated and that immigrant workers can speak up for basic safety and fairness on the job without facing retaliation,” said Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO.  “We urge the Supreme Court to take up this case right away.” 

  • Click here to see the full legal brief.
  • Click here for more background on the legal challenges to executive action on immigration: 
  • Click here to see an interactive timeline outlining the process for review of the case by the Supreme Court:

Congress Votes Tomorrow On Everything That Will Happen For The Rest Of Obama’s Presidency

Congress West Front Late last night, House GOP leadership announced a compromise bill that will (temporarily) end all the Congress-created crises by setting the federal budget and suspending the debt limit through the end of the Obama presidency.

The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow (Wednesday). A draft of the bill is available here.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Right Wing:

  1. It doesn’t try to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  2. It doesn’t try to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
  3. It doesn’t try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  4. It doesn’t try to voucherize Medicare.
  5. It doesn’t try to privatize Social Security.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Working Class:

  1. It doesn’t rein in corporate giveaways to stockholders, such as dividends and buybacks. (Trillions of dollars that corporations could have used to create jobs, pay fair wages and make long-term investments.)
  2. It doesn’t end the tax preference for unearned income. (Most investment income is still taxed at about half the rate of wage income.) Ending this tax preference could end the budget deficit.
  3. It doesn’t eliminate the Social Security wage cap (which would strengthen Social Security, long-term).
  4. It doesn’t raise the minimum wage.
  5. In its current form, it doesn’t do much to reverse previous cuts to Food Stamps, veterans benefits, and other safety-net programs. It doesn’t mention the 2.1 million American workers who are long-term unemployed… or the 1-in-five American children who are living in poverty.

What it does do:

  1. It loosens the Sequester budget restrictions, both for defense and non-defense spending – and it also increases an off-budget military spending account.
  2. It completely rewrites the procedures governing IRS audits of business partnerships. (Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that part of the bill was written by somebody’s lobbyist.)
  3. It diverts some Social Security tax revenue into the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, and *privacy alert* it also creates a new information clearinghouse (presumably, to be used to detect fraud).
  4. It reduces payments to some Medicare providers and regulates the increase in Medicare supplement policy premiums.
    AND
  5. It renames the small House rotunda… in honor of the House Freedom Caucus.

It does some other things. Please take the time to read through the bill yourself – and encourage your Congressional representatives to do the same. Contact information for those representatives is available here.

————-

Having watched this impossibly deadlocked Congress — and its impossibly intransigent Right Wing

Personally, if this “grand compromise” happens, I don’t expect anything else to get through this Congress until President Obama leaves office.  (Remember, GOP extremists have been working to “submarine his presidency” since the very first day of his first term.)

Moms Group Praises President Obama’s Labor Day Expansion of Paid Sick Days to Federal Contractors

MomsRising Backs President Obama Urging Congress to
Pass the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act
 

Earlier today, President Obama in a Labor Day address announced a new executive order expanding paid sick leave to all employees who are working on federal government contracts. The action makes all federal contract workers eligible to earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to 7 days.  In the speech, President Obama also announced his support for the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would guarantee paid sick leave to all U.S. workers; and of the the FAMILY Act, legislation that would establish an insurance program that would provide workers—including those who are self-employed and/or work part time—with much-needed income while they, or a family member, deal with the arrival of a new baby or a serious health issue. 

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRIsing.org, an organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families issued the following statement, praising President Obama’s announcement and urging Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act and FAMILY Act: 

“Moms and their families across the country welcome President Obama’s expansion of earned paid sick days to all federal contract workers.  Advancing earned paid sick days, as well as family leave insurance, boosts our nation’s families and our nation’s economy.  Our over million members wholeheartedly support these two policies and have been raising their voices, sending letters to leaders, attending meetings, sharing their stories with the media, and much more at the city, county, state and federal levels to advance these critically important policies.

Plain and simple – no one should ever have to choose between going to work sick and risk infecting coworkers and customers or staying home and losing an invaluable day’s pay.  And no one should have to go back to work immediately after a new baby arrives or when facing a catastrophic health issue.  

American families just can’t afford it. American businesses and our economy can’t afford it either.

It is now up to Congress to take the next step and expand earned paid time off to all American workers.  Our public policies are not caught up with what modern working families and our modern economy need to thrive.  Women are now 50% of the labor force, and 40% of primary breadwinners are moms, but our family economic security policies are stuck in the stone ages.

For instance, despite the fact that over 160 countries guarantee a minimum number of earned sick days, right now, nearly 40% of private sector workers, and more than 80% of low-wage workers, in the US don’t have the ability to earn a single paid sick day – costing the economy nearly $160 billion in lost revenue and productivity.

Further, it is a national embarrassment that over 177 countries provide some form of paid family leave insurance to new parents and that the US isn’t one of them.  Even though the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed more than two decade ago, only 13% of American workers are able to access paid family leave when a new baby arrives.

President Obama’s Labor Day announcement for working families, including his public support for the Healthy Families Act (earned sick days) and the FAMILY Act (paid family leave insurance) are important steps in helping to improve family economic security in the US, while at the same time strengthening our businesses and our economy.

We thank and salute President Obama for his commitment to helping our families and our economy be healthy and strong and recognizing the needs of the American workforce this Labor Day. Moms and their families around the country back President Obama’s call for Congress to pass these crucial laws now, and we call on every single person running to be President of the United States to support earned paid sick days and a national paid family leave insurance policy.

 

MomsRising.org is an online and on-the-ground grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to achieve economic security for all families in the United States. MomsRising is working for paid family leave, flexible work options, affordable childcare, and for an end to the wage and hiring discrimination which penalizes so many others.  MomsRising also advocates for better childhood nutrition, health care for all, toxic-free environments, and breastfeeding rights so that all children can have a healthy start. Established in 2006, MomsRising and its members are organizing and speaking out to improve public policy and to change the national dialogue on issues that are critically important to America’s families. In 2013, Forbes.com named MomsRising’s web site as one of the Top 100 Websites For Women for the fourth ye

Civil and Human Rights Coalition Applauds “Ban the Box” Support from Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, and Obama, Repeats Call for Executive Order

Statement Comes as Hillary Clinton Endorses Removing Criminal Record Checkbox from Job Applications

Leadership ConferenceWASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in response to Hillary Clinton’s statement of support for “banning the box,” removing the check box from job applications used to pre-screen applicants with prior convictions. Clinton now joins other Democratic Presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders, who joined a letter with 25 other senators calling for a ban the box and fair chance hiring executive order in May, and Governor Martin O’Malley, who includes fair chance hiring in his policy platform.  President Obama also endorsed the concept of banning the box at the NAACP convention in July. The Leadership Conference has joined with formerly incarcerated advocates and a coalition of organizations urging the President to issue an executive order to implement these policies with federal workers and contractors. 

“We applaud Secretary Clinton’s endorsement of a commonsense solution to a pernicious problem in American society—our nation’s refusal to give the formerly incarcerated a second chance at a decent life. With Clinton’s announcement, the three leading Democratic presidential candidates and President Obama himself have all endorsed banning the box.

But an endorsement does nothing to help the 70 million Americans with an arrest or conviction record who must struggle with a lifetime of barriers in the way of their ability to work, find affordable housing, or pursue a college degree. 18 states, 100 cities and counties, and major employers like Starbucks, Walmart, Koch Industries, and Target have already put these policies in place. It’s time for the federal government to catch up to the nation and give millions of Americans a second chance and a fair chance at employment and opportunity.

President Obama must listen to the calls from formerly incarcerated people, from civil rights groups, and from businesses who all want the White House to walk the talk by issuing an executive order banning the box for federal jobs and contractors and implementing hiring practices that give these applicants a fair chance at employment.”

Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

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