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The State of Our Climate: Why We Must Build a Clean Energy Economy

ngc_lead-vertical_R-01In the wake of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, our country has had the opportunity to reflect upon the tremendous strides toward combating climate change that the United States has made over these past seven years.  From increased fuel efficiency standards on automobiles to the historic UN climate deal reached in Paris, America has made significant progress—both at home and abroad—to ensure that the state of our union remains strong. 

But our union will never truly be secure until we tackle climate change, which threatens our economy, our health, and our national security. That’s why NextGen Climate is calling for America to be powered with more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030, putting us on the path to a completely clean energy economy by 2050. It’s up to the American people to ensure that our next president is prepared—on day one—to help solve this crisis by accelerating our country’s transition to a clean energy future.  

We know that transitioning to clean energy is an economic growth opportunity for our country creating jobs, lowering energy costs for families and businesses, and driving our country’s economic growth. In fact, according to a recent report from ICF International, this transition will create up to 2 million jobs by 2050 and increase disposable incomes by as much as $650 per household.

At the same time, the cost of climate inaction would be disastrous. Leading researchers predict that inaction on climate change will lower America’s GDP by 5 percent through 2050 and 36 percent by the end of this century—dramatically expanding income inequality as these impacts disproportionately affect low-income households. 

As President Obama begins his final year in office and the race for his successor is underway, one thing is clear—addressing climate change is essential to ensuring America remains strong and secure, our economy continues to lead the world, our society becomes more just, and our children have access to brighter, better future.  

There is too much at stake to ignore the greatest challenge our country faces.

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

State of the Union Highlights Importance of America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Statement by John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority,
on President Obama’s final State of the Union address

We’re glad the president highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation to a thriving private sector in his final State of the Union address tonight, and we agree that small businesses need to have their voices heard in our growing economy.

As noted in his speech, our economy is truly on a path to recovery, with more than 14 million new jobs and our unemployment rate reduced by half. We agree that creating smart policies that support working families and the middle class—small businesses’ primary customer base—is the most common sense way to ensure our economy continues down this pathway to prosperity.

In order to truly ensure small businesses and our economy thrive, we need policies like those discussed tonight on closing corporate tax loopholes, expanding retirement savings, mobile benefits and paid leave programs, and supporting an innovative economy. This will bolster our nation’s entrepreneurs and their middle class customer base. This includes:

  • Closing corporate tax loopholes that put small businesses at a disadvantage, and cutting the top corporate tax rates. Small Business Majority’s opinion polling found 75 percent of entrepreneurs believe their small business is harmed when big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes, and 90 percent believe big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay.
  • Supporting the growing freelance economy and identifying and fixing tax issues unique to freelancers. A healthy freelance ecosystem can provide an innovative and singular pathway for women, minorities, youth, veterans, disabled people and immigrants to enter the mainstream American economy and build income and independence.
  • Providing access to affordable health insurance for small businesses by upholding and implementing the healthcare law in full. The law creates more avenues for small business owners and the self-employed to secure affordable coverage and reduce costs, which encourages entrepreneurship and small business growth.
  • Moving forward with policies that help small businesses provide paid leave to their employees and raising the minimum wage. These changes can improve employee productivity, reduce turnover and increase spending at small businesses to strengthen our economy overall.
  • Supporting easy-to-implement mechanisms for entrepreneurs and small business employees to access retirement benefits, such as the myRA program.
  • Implementing the president’s plan to make two years of community college and technical school free to responsible students, which would help address our nation’s crippling youth unemployment, and small business owners’ struggle to find qualified workers.

These policies can play a valuable role in promoting an environment where small business can grow, but Washington needs to act on them. It’s vital that policymakers make it a priority to level the playing field for small businesses and break down barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship through smart economic policies. By taking action on these issues and more, we can help small businesses thrive and strengthen our economy.


About Small Business Majority

Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today. Since 2005, we have actively engaged small business owners and policymakers in support of public policy solutions, and have delivered information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth and drive a strong economy. We regularly engage our network of 45,000 small business owners and more than 2,000 business organizations, along with a formal strategic partnership program of more than 125 business organizations, enabling us to reach more than 500,000 entrepreneurs. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers, including access to capital, taxes, healthcare, retirement, entrepreneurship and workforce development. 

Shaheen, Kuster, and NH Democrats Praise Pres. Obama’s State Of The Union Address

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) released the following statement on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Every time I’m in New Hampshire, the message I hear from people throughout the state is clear: people want Congress to work across the aisle to strengthen our middle class and expand economic opportunity. While we’ve seen economic improvement in recent years, too many are being left behind, and more must be done to move our economy forward.

“We should all be encouraged by many of the proposals unveiled this evening that will promote economic growth and job creation. Whether it’s efforts to make higher education more affordable for young people, reforming our tax code, or investing in alternative energy sources to lower costs and create jobs, Congress should now renew our commitment to growing our economy and helping small businesses succeed. I look forward to working across the aisle this year to act on these types of proposals on behalf of our economy and middle class.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address:

“Since taking office, I’ve been focused on helping create more jobs and opportunity for our Granite State workers. Although we’ve come a long way, too many Granite Staters continue to struggle. This year, we must continue to focus on strengthening economic security for our middle class families.”

“There are a number of steps I believe we must take in order to support our middle class. First of all, we must work together to make college more affordable for our students, so every Granite Stater can go on to successful jobs and careers. But we also must ensure that those jobs stay here at home – and that’s why we must eliminate tax loopholes for companies that ship good American jobs overseas.  Instead, I support cutting taxes on our middle class, so our families take home more money at the end of the day, which they can reinvest in our economy and help move our nation forward.”

“From fighting to raise the minimum wage, to supporting equal pay for equal work for all men and women, to supporting the expansion of paid family leave, I’ve made fighting for the middle class a priority this year and every year ahead. I encourage the President and my fellow members of Congress to join with me in fighting for the issues that matter to all of us at home in New Hampshire, and I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to fight for initiatives that will strengthen our middle class and help our economy grow.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley released the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“The President once again laid out the clear differences between the Democratic vision of strengthening our middle class and expanding opportunity for all and the Republican plan to continue putting the interests of big businesses first while middle class families pay the price.”

“Middle class economics have helped put our economy back on the right track over the past six years, and Democrats will keep fighting to build on our progress to ensure that all Americans are included in our shared success.”

“We have much more work to do, and Granite Staters know that Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Kuster will keep working tirelessly to bring our New Hampshire traditions of bipartisan problem solving to Washington in order to move our economy forward.”

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka on the State of the Union Address

President Obama eloquently and forcefully advocated for working families throughout his State of the Union Address this evening. The President’s focus on raising wages through collective bargaining, better paying jobs, a fairer tax code, fair overtime rules, and expanded access to education and earned leave sent the right message at the right time. So did his embrace of union apprentices and immigrants who want to achieve the American Dream. The President has again demonstrated his strong commitment to creating an economy that truly works for all working people.

Fighting income inequality is one of the biggest challenges of our time. As Oxfam recently reminded us, the world’s wealth continues to be increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very few. If we are serious about solving this monumental challenge, the size of the solutions must meet the scale of the problem. We must have a similarly vigorous response to the barriers to raising wages: our opposition to fast-tracked trade deals that are giant giveaways to big corporations must be resolute. We can’t face the competitive challenge of China with a trade deal that fails to adequately address currency manipulation, climate change or that gives corporations rights that people don’t have.

Now is the time for politicians to champion a Raising Wages agenda that ties all the pieces of economic and social justice together. America has now heard what the President thinks about this agenda. We thank the president for his passion and his advocacy. We are ready to see what he and Congress will do about it. That is the ultimate standard of accountability.

AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

“Unions give workers the voice they need, and public education gives our children the opportunity they deserve.” 

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s statement on President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight, the president invoked our shared values, reminding us what unites us as a nation. He asked us to turn the page, to ensure shared prosperity, to pave the road to middle-class economics so that all who want a chance to succeed get that chance. He affirmed that every child in every neighborhood matters. And he reinforced that unions give workers the voice they need, and public education gives our children the opportunity they deserve.

“All workers deserve a pathway to a good job with a living wage—one that covers the cost of healthcare and child care, and allows them to pay down exorbitant student loans, save for their retirement, provide the basic necessities for their family, like food and housing, and still have a little left over. Working families see that the economy is getting better, but too many have yet to feel it. That must change, and the president raised many ideas tonight to change it. We need to ensure that all families can climb the ladder of opportunity. And to do that, we need our government to reinvest in public education and support our educators. The tools the president advanced tonight—providing free community college and greater access to early childhood education, raising the minimum wage, offering child care and paid sick leave to parents—all will help if they are enacted.

“The president summoned us all to come together, to think bigger, to aim higher. That’s what the teachers, nurses and public workers, those who are and want to be the middle class in America, do every day. This is our credo. We want to do what’s best for our communities and our country. We want to reclaim the promise of America.”

Statement by the Communications Workers of America on President Obama’s State of the Union Message

Washington, D.C. – The President spoke with confidence about where America is headed. In many areas, he laid out an encouraging vision for our nation – expanding education opportunities for working and middle class families, improving the ability to better balance work and family responsibilities, tax fairness, improving children’s health, and more.

CWA has supported the President in these and similar initiatives throughout his presidency. However, we cannot stand with the President in his alliance with Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable to send more U.S. jobs offshore, undermine U.S. communities and weaken U.S. sovereignty under the guise of “free trade.”  The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has much more to do with protecting the investment of multinational corporations and maneuvering around China than lowering trade barriers.

Public opposition to “fast track” authority and the TPP is strong, and growing more vocal everyday. Consumer groups, workers, environmentalists, people of faith, students and more have united to stop this attack on U.S. jobs and communities. Conservatives, who do not believe that nations should relinquish their sovereign power to secret tribunals, also are on board.

Over the past 20 years, millions of U.S. jobs have been lost. The jobs U.S. workers had been promised over those years of course never materialized. In fact, just two trade deals – NAFTA and the Korea Free Trade Agreement — have resulted in the loss of nearly 800,000 jobs. The promoters of the TPP are again promising job gains through growth in U.S. exports. But we can do the math. Any new jobs will be dwarfed by the flood of jobs that go offshore.

We believe in trade, but U.S. communities and working families deserve fair trade that gives workers’ rights, environmental standards, consumer rights and other issues the same standing as corporate profits. 21st century fair trade will balance our imports and exports, lead to job growth and protect all our rights, not just those of the 1 percent.

Instead, through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process, the TPP gives multinational corporations special guarantees and the right to challenge a country’s laws and regulations that could affect future profits in a secret tribunal. Corporations don’t have to wait for six years, like workers in Guatemala did, for the U.S. to raise trade complaints over the abuse of workers in that country. Corporations don’t have to accept the judgment of the Australian Supreme Court that the government has every right to regulate cigarette packaging. The secret tribunals and ISDS process would handle corporate complaints quickly.

The TPP has been negotiated in secret, but it’s no secret that we’re taking this fight to the Obama administration and to Congress, where activists and organizations across the political spectrum are pushing members of the House and Senate to stand up for jobs, fairness and our communities. Congress must reject “fast track” authority and give trade deals like the TPP the full review that the American people deserve.

LiUNA Member Gets A Seat Next To Michele Obama At SOTU

LIUNA Training and Apprenticeship Leads Mother to Family-Supporting Construction Career – and a Seat With the First Lady During the State of the Union Speech

(Washington, D.C.)  LeDaya Epps built a family-supporting construction career through LIUNA’s training and apprenticeship program – and tonight she will find herself with First Lady Michelle Obama during the President’s State of the Union remarks.

Epps, 38, is a proud nine-year member of LIUNA Local 300 in Los Angeles. The Compton, Ca., native is currently working on a project to expand the light rail train line for LA Metro to Los Angeles International Airport. Epps credits LIUNA’s training and apprenticeship programs with providing the skills needed to take advantage of job opportunities in the construction industry and to improve her standard of living.

“The skills training I received through my union has done more than teach me a trade. It’s renewed my life,” Epps said. “It has been a lifeline to a career I am proud of and allowed me to provide for myself and my three children.

Epps was invited to be a guest of the First Lady by Labor Department Secretary Tom Perez as a way for the Administration to highlight the positive impact of the training programs of LIUNA and other Building Trades unions. In addition to joining the First Lady, Epps met with the Labor Secretary while in Washington, D.C.

“We are deeply proud of LeDaya and that a member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America has been chosen for this honor,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said. “It is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of LeDaya, to the positive difference LIUNA Local 300 makes in the lives of our members and their families, and to the significance and power of our training and apprenticeship programs.”

LIUNA operates more than 70 fixed and mobile training centers which provide classroom and hands-on skills training for 140,000 workers a year in both construction and environmental remediation. The construction skills taught prepare workers to build the critical infrastructure of the U.S., including roads, bridges, transit systems, pipelines, power plants, buildings and other projects.

AFL-CIO Releases Youth Economic Platform, Leading Up to State of the Union Address

Platform to serve as foundation for upcoming nationwide actions

Today, the AFL-CIO Young Worker Advisory Council released its economic platform as part of an effort to build a nationwide youth economic movement for raising wages. The platform, which is being announced on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address, is an agenda for action for the labor federation’s nearly 50 Young Worker Groups across the country—including in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Despite the economy slowly rebounding, young people continue to lag behind. The President’s community college proposal is a wonderful idea but it has to be part of a bigger plan to revive the American Dream,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “This document and its principles should serve as the outline of what the President embraces in the State of the Union when he talks about young people next week.”

The platform includes a number of proposals that would help young people overcome many significant economic challenges. Among them: free high-quality public higher education, increased public investment to create jobs, stronger union rights, a heavier emphasis on combatting discrimination in the workforce, and policies that raise wages for all not just the wealthy.

“Unless there’s an election coming up, politicians far too often relegate the interests of young people to the backburner. To make sure that changes, young workers have told us they will fight for this agenda in the coming months,” said AFL-CIO Young Worker Coordinator Tahir Duckett.

The report can be viewed here: http://go.aflcio.org/nextup-future-economy

Shaheen Hosts NH First Responder And Member Of The Profession Firefighters Of NH At State Of The Union

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will host Bill McQuillen, a Portsmouth firefighter and Secretary-Treasurer of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, as her guest at next week’s State of the Union address. The State of the Union will be delivered by President Obama Tuesday, January 20 at 9:00 PM. Shaheen selected McQuillen as her guest this year as a way to show her appreciation for New Hampshire’s first responders.

“New Hampshire’s first responders are some of the nation’s best, putting their lives at risk every day to keep us and our communities safe,” Shaheen said. “It’s an honor to host Bill in Washington to show my appreciation for all that he and his fellow first responders do for New Hampshire year round.”

Bill McQuillen is a 25 year veteran of the fire service and is a current Lieutenant at in the City of Portsmouth. He began his career in at the Portsmouth Fire Department in 1990 as a firefighter and was promoted to Fire Lieutenant in 2008. He has been a member of both IAFF Local 1313 Portsmouth Fire Fighters Association, and IAFF Local 4039 Portsmouth Professional Fire Officers Association. He has been elected by his peers to serve as Local 1313 President for 13 years, and has served on Local 4039’s the Executive Board as President and currently Secretary-Treasurer.

McQuillen has also been a member and leader of his state association, the Professional Fire Fighters of NH. He was selected as PFFNH Trustee in 1996 then served as District Vice President in 2000. In 2002, Bill was elected to his current role of Secretary-Treasurer to the organization.

In 2010, Bill was elected to the Governor’s Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Council. He currently lives in Portsmouth with his wife Molly and their two children, Liam and Brendan.

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