Posts tagged ‘legislation’

When did it become acceptable to take money from old people?

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, April 8th, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Pat Herrmann I first heard Pat Herrmann, a retired art teacher from Wheaton, Illinois, ask the question, “when did it become acceptable to take money from old people?” during a public pension discussion hosted by the DuPage Coffeehouse.  Herrmann is a deep-thinking activist.  The multiple messages on her signs reflect her ability to conduct careful research and see the bigger picture.  Her question about taking money from old people reflects her ability to see the human impact; something lawmakers don’t see.

As the Illinois General Assembly debates how much money they will strip from Illinois teachers’ pensions and President Obama puts deep cuts to Social Security on the table, I was reminded of Hermman’s important question.  If you have not signed the petition to tell President Obama to take Social Security cuts off of the table, now would be a good time to do it by following this link.

Of course those reaching into the pockets of old people don’t want to talk about how this will impact living, breathing human beings.  They want to talk about numbers, budgets and other inhuman things.  Consider Tom Cross’s recent letter to the Chicago Tribune that makes this all sound like a tragic math problem.  Cross, after 20 years in Springfield, takes no responsibility for the state’s past 40+ years of delinquency.  I am not giving Democrats a free pass on this either.  The primary drivers of pension reform in Springfield are Mike Madigan, Pat Quinn, Elaine Nekritz and Dan Biss (all Democrats).  All of them, Democrats and Republicans, are singing from the same sheet of music.  Watch the video of Bernie Sanders below the fold.

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Money Grab: Heather Steans, Chicago School Closings and K12 Inc.

by John Laesch, posted on Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

State Senator Heather Steans and Stand for Children are ultimately responsible for Chicago school closings and the recent increase of charter school applications like the 18-district virtual charter initiated by K12 Inc. in the Chicago suburbs.

Rahm Emanuel, Barb Byrd-Bennett, Heather Steans, Jonah Edelman

Rahm Emanuel, Barb Byrd-Bennett, Heather Steans, Jonah Edelman

I started researching SB79 and HB 5825, the legislation that created and gave the Illinois Charter Commission super “override powers” and autonomy from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).  If SB7 gave education activists concern, SB79 and HB 5825 should have started a five-alarm fire.

Because of SB79, K12 Inc., a for-profit, Wall Street-traded company applied for a virtual charter scam in 18 suburban school districts.  Why are they doing this?  K12 Inc. anticipates that the state charter commission will override local rejections of their taxpayer rip-off scheme and approve the charter despite overwhelming local opposition.

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Austerity Chicken

by n0madic, posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 at 6:23 pm

In the maneuvering to affix blame for the mess that is sequestration, the Republicans in Congress would have us believe this was all the President’s idea to begin with, while the Obama Administration would have us believe that it was a deal that was never supposed to take effect. Not really. And yet, both sides voted for it. Both sides agreed to play this dangerous game.

And that’s the problem. The debate has never been a question of whether or not we should even be pursuing a politics of austerity in the first place, it has merely been a question of the precise balance of pain that was to be exacted upon those less fortunate than those who will determine our fate.

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Jakobsson and Chapa LaVia Sponsor Graduated Income Tax

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Updated Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

On Jan 9th, State Representative Naomi Jakobsson filed a bill that would give Illinois voters an opportunity to amend Illinois’ tax code and pave the way for a graduated income tax. House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment HC0002 On Jan 23rd, State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia added her name as a co-sponsor to the bill.

The bill, HJRCA 0002 would amend the Illinois Constitution and allow for a graduated income tax. Please take a minute to sign our petition to Representatives Jakobsson and Chapa LaVia.

The language of the bill reads:

Proposes to amend the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that individual income taxes may be at a graduated or a non-graduated rate. Provides that any such tax imposed on corporations shall be at a non-graduated rate, not to exceed the average of the lowest and highest individual rates by more than a ratio of 8 to 5. Effective upon being declared adopted.

If the bill passes the general assembly, Illinois voters would have to approve of the measure by voting “yes” on the November 2014 ballot before it went into law.

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NIJWJ Forum: Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Rep. Elaine Nekritz

by The Editors, posted on Monday, January 7th, 2013 at 12:16 am

from Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice

Illinois State Representatives Linda Chapa LaVia and Elaine Nekritz address the Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice forum, “Funding Strong Schools and Fair Pensions,” East Aurora High School, Aurora, Illinois, January 2, 2013.

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NIJWJ Forum: Fred Klonsky, “The Politics of Pension Reform”

by The Editors, posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2013 at 7:21 pm

from Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice

Retired teacher Fred Klonsky address on “The Politics of Pension Reform,” at the Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice forum “Funding Strong Schools and Fair Pensions”, East Aurora High School, Aurora, Illinois, January 2nd, 2013.

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Gerald Epstein: Rich Should Be Happy with Cliff Deal

by The Editors, posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 at 7:32 pm

from The Real News Network

President Obama did not have to make this deal. It’s a debacle being called a win.

Gerald Epstein is Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute, and Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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The United States of ALEC: Bill Moyers on the Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws

by n0madic, posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

from Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! premieres “The United States of ALEC”, a special report by legendary journalist Bill Moyers on how the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council has helped corporate America propose and even draft legislation for states across the country. ALEC brings together major U.S. corporations and right-wing legislators to craft and vote on “model” bills behind closed doors. It has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in promoting “Stand Your Ground” gun laws, voter suppression bills, union-busting policies and other controversial legislation. Although billing itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership,” ALEC is actually a national network of state politicians and powerful corporations principally concerned with increasing corporate profits without public scrutiny. Moyers’ special will air this weekend on Moyers & Company, but first airs on Democracy Now! today. “The United States of ALEC” is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC and the Schumann Media Center.

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PDA-IL: Ed Yohnka (ACLU-IL) on Voter Suppression

by n0madic, posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2012 at 9:17 am

from PDA-IL

Ed Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy for ACLU-IL (American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois) speaks on voter suppression and the Republican electoral strategy to stop poor and the elderly from voting.

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Hanging in the Balance: A Head Start for Low-Income Kids

by n0madic, posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

from the Center for American Progress

Head Start is a program of the Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. With sequestration pending, funding for Head Start hangs in the balance.

This video spotlights what’s at stake if Congress fails to act to avert the automatic cuts to the area of the budget that funds many human needs programs, including Head Start. As many as 80,000 children could lose access to Head Start’s comprehensive services and more than 30,000 teachers, administrators, and support staff could lose their jobs. At a time when one in four children under age 5 are living in poverty, we need a strong Head Start program now more than ever.

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About Those 1/2 Million Call Center Jobs Shipped Overseas…

by n0madic, posted on Friday, August 24th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

from The Big Picture, with Thom Hartmann, on RT

Ron Collins, Communication Workers of America (CWA) joins Thom Hartmann. A job that’s becoming increasingly harder and harder to find in America over the last few years is one in the call center industry. Since 2006 - a half-millions American call center jobs have been packed up and shipped overseas to low-wage countries. Companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and T-Mobile are the some of the biggest culprits when it comes to killing American call center jobs. But, Democrats in Congress have been pushing legislation to put an end ot this mass exodus of jobs. The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act cuts off federal loans and benefits to companies that off-shore their call center jobs. This bill also keeps a running list of companies that have off-shored call center jobs in an effort to discourage the practice. Back in June, the House of Representatives took a vote on this legislation - and most Republicans lined up against it - killing the bill - and leaving the few Americans who still have call center jobs screwed. But now, Democrats in the Senate are trying to revive the legislation with the help of Senators Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania - two states that have been hit really hard by call center job losses. As Senator Sherrod Brown said this week in defense of the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act: “When companies send call center jobs overseas, they don’t just frustrate consumers - they hurt our economy as well. With thousands of Ohioans looking for work, it just doesn’t make sense to ship these jobs overseas.” He’s right - so what can be done to make sure this legislation passes to stimulate OUR economy - instead of stimulate foreign economes with what used to be American call center jobs.

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Wall St. “Cheetahs” and the Financial Transaction Tax

by n0madic, posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 at 9:31 am

from The Real News Network

The recent stock market volatility could have been restricted by a tax on transactions that would make the small quick score less attractive

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How Millennials and Students Won a Massive Victory on Loan Rates

by n0madic, posted on Friday, July 20th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

from Rebuild the Dream

In January, nearly everyone thought the student loan interest rate was going to double — and no one could stop it. Then students stood up. They fought and they won

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Ralph Nader: 30 Million Workers Would Benefit From Raising Minimum Wage to 1968 Level

by n0madic, posted on Friday, June 15th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

from Democracy Now!

In 2008, Barack Obama pledged to raise the minimum wage every year once elected, but the hourly rate of $7.25 hasn’t increased since 2007. Low-wage workers now make far less than they did four decades ago. Last week Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. introduced The Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2012. It draws its name from the idea that the federal minimum wage would be $10.55 an hour now if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. While the bill has about 20 co-sponsors so far President Obama has yet to endorse it. We speak to longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

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The Real Victims of Voter ID Laws

by n0madic, posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

from the Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress visited Wisconsin, one of a handful of states that have recently passed strict voter identification laws, to see how such laws disenfranchise voters

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LGBT Discrimination: Protecting Employee Rights

by n0madic, posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

from the Center for American Progress

Every day, far too many gay and transgender Americans are forced out of their jobs and into the ranks of the unemployed at a time when all families are struggling to stay afloat. Until Congress passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) it will remain perfectly legal to fire someone based simply on their sexual orientation or gender identity in a majority of states in this country.

To learn more, go to http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/domestic/justice

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TRS Pension Rally at the State Capitol

by VideoNewsService, posted on Saturday, June 2nd, 2012 at 8:55 am


The Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice Coalition held a rally in front of the Illinois State Capitol Building on Tuesday May 29th. The purpose of the rally was to point out the failure of Gov. Quinn, Speaker Madigan and the Democratic Party to lead the state toward a positive solution to the teacher pension issue. In addition, the speakers also pointed out that no one in the House or Senate are broaching the subject of the only real solution to the debt problems of the State-new revenue. The Coalition has put forward several proposals to generate the revenue needed to fund our States’ budget. They include a “graduated income tax”, a “transaction tax” on the Commodities Exchange among other solutions. For more information please contact: www.nijwj.org.

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How Mandatory Sentencing Laws Are Sending Juveniles to Prison for Life

by n0madic, posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

from The Nation

In 1976, when Trina Garnett was 14 years old, she accidentally started a housefire that ended up killing two boys. Now, thirty-five years later, Trina is fifty years old and still in prison. Why is a first-world country imprisoning its children for life? The Nation’s Liliana Segura explains.

See also: “Throwaway People: Will Teens Sent to Die in Prison Get a Second Chance?” by Liliana Segura, The Nation, May 28, 2012.

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Teachers and Citizens Demand a Seat at the Pension Funding Table

by Ellen McClennan, posted on Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

A group of about forty people from Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice gathered in the noon day sun outside Illinois Senator Mike Noland’s office in Elgin on Friday, May 4th.  The people wanted Senator Noland to hear their concerns about the lack of revenue and funding for Illinois teachers’ pensions.  Senator Noland is one of four legislators appointed by Quinn to a task force to solve this issue.  While earlier State Senator Mike Noland (D-Elgin) had informed the group he would not be present to respond to their rally, he unexpectedly showed up

John Laesch, from NIJWJ, announced the rally was about the group’s concern regarding the State’s lack of funding for teachers’ pensions, but Noland didn’t seem to understand until the end of the rally that the citizens standing before him had not been sent by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and were instead concerned citizens and workers—about half of whom happened to be teachers.

“This is a workers’ issue. And we are concerned that our legislators have not funded our teachers’ pensions. We have a revenue problem here. This is a concern to all taxpayers and to all people who work for a living,” said Laesch.

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Progressives hold Republicans accountable for Medicare vote

by n0madic, posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 at 9:45 am

new video from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee

For more info on the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, click here.

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Progressive Congress on the Ryan Budget

by n0madic, posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

“It’s time to play #ryanmadness … Join us on Twitter to see which Budget actually reduces debt AND puts Americans back to work (Hint: it’s NOT the Ryan Budget…)”

Progressive Congress was built at the intersection between the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the progressive movement to connect the progressive movement, ideas, and Congress. Founded by the leadership and staff of the CPC and key leaders in the progressive movement, the board includes a broad cross-section of the progressive community in the United States and the leadership of the CPC.

For more info, go to ProgressiveCongress.org

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Food for Thought: Solving the Jobs Crisis

by Democratic Socialists of America, posted on Friday, September 2nd, 2011 at 9:10 am

Cross-posted from the website of the Democratic Socialists of America.

HR 870: The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act

Although the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the US economy has failed to provide the jobs needed for long term, sustained growth. At the current rate of job creation most economists believe we would not recover the 8 million jobs lost until 2016. To generate the growth required to employ both the unemployed and underemployed, we need a serious commitment to job creation such as that embedded in HR 870–the jobs bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI). Following is a summary of this legislation as well as a discussion of why socialists – indeed all progressives – should support the bill.

A Deficit Neutral Jobs Program

HR 870 would not add a dime to the federal deficit. The jobs created by the act would be funded through a tax on the trading of financial assets: stocks, bonds, and currencies. The tax would be levied on both the asset itself and on the trading of derivatives (e.g., futures and options) based on the asset. The tax proposed in HR 870 is a very modest one of 0.25% of value traded or $1 on every $400 of value traded. The amounts raised, however, could easily exceed $400 billion/year.

The Jobs to Be Created

HR 870 is explicitly designed to put people, large numbers of people, to work quickly. HR 870’s fast track job creation focuses on painting and refurbishing schools, community centers and libraries; restoration of abandoned and vacant properties in foreclosure-decimated neighborhoods; expansion of emergency food programs; and renovation and maintenance of parks, playgrounds “and other public spaces.” These jobs, which are the ones to be filled during the first 9 months of the economic opportunity grants provided for under the Act, do not require long periods of training but instead are much like those created under the CCC and the WPA in the 1930s. After the initial 9 month period, priority is given to construction / rehabilitation / improvements of residences or public facilities. These include energy efficiency improvements and programs targeted at disadvantaged youth.

Who Would Be Employed?

HR 870 recognizes that one of the features of the Great Recession is the record high level of long term unemployment, people out of work for 26 weeks of more. These are the first to be hired under the terms of the Act. The second category of new hires is low income workers unemployed for at least 30 days.

Protections in the Act

Some job programs pose risks to employed workers because employers may replace them, often at lower wage levels, with new hires. HR 870: (i) prohibits replacement of any existing employee with someone hired with funding from the Act; (ii) requires that anyone hired under the Act be paid no lower wage than workers performing the same work; and (iii) requires that, if the Act is used to employ people in a unionized workplace, the union must agree to the terms of new hires. Finally, employment under the Act must be for a minimum of 12 months.

Why Support and Organize around HR 870

HR 870 simultaneously attacks two of the major problems of the US political economy: a labor market that fails to provide enough jobs – much less good jobs – to meet our peoples’ needs and an inefficient and bloated financial sector.

It is also rooted in the understanding that a lack of demand is the primary reason the US economy is failing to achieve levels of growth and output that are sufficient to provide employment for all who are willing and able to work. The Act is explicit in its commitment to the role that the public sector has in generating economic growth.

Jobs and the Failure of the Financial Sector

High levels of unemployment and underemployment in the US have been a growing problem over the past three decades. In the period 1945 – 1975, the unemployment rate was 4% or below during 75 months, more than 20% of the 360 month period. However, during 1975 – 2010, the unemployment rate was 4% or below during only 5 months, barely 1% of the 420 month total time.

At the same time, financial sector growth accelerated sharply, with financial sector profits reaching almost 45% of total business profits in 2005/06. It is essential to remember that finance is a cost to the economy as a whole. Finance, when functioning appropriately, simply enables the rest of the economy to perform well by lending, raising and allocating capital to businesses and households. The trading of paper claims to assets does not help the economy to grow although it may generate large profits for some financial institutions, a significant portion of which ends up in the pockets of a small number of decision makers at financial institutions. These high rewards are a strong incentive for the firm to take on additional risk, shifting focus and resources into trading rather than capital raising and allocation. Thus, taxing this socially useless activity will not only provide funds for jobs, it will also reduce the rewards of financial speculation and help redirect resources, especially talented individuals, into other occupations.

Creating Demand

How do you restart an economy that is functioning at less than full resource utilization, as in the case of the US today? The stimulus passed in early 2009 had some good features and did save a significant number of jobs. However, it was overly dependent upon indirect jobs creation, tax breaks to businesses in the hopes that they would then hire more workers. Households have cut back on their spending, reducing demand for goods and services and leaving businesses reluctant to expand output and increase hiring to the degree necessary to significantly reduce employ ment. HR 870, by using funds to hire workers quickly and directly, puts money into the pockets of working and middle class families, who will spend most of their wages on clothes, food, and shelter, increasing growth in these crucial sectors.

The Role of Government

Finally, HR 870 uses the resources and capabilities of government to restart the economy rather than cutting spending or providing additional tax breaks to employers and hoping that the result will be new hiring and a restart of economic growth. This is an explicit recognition of the central roles that government, the public sector, has in directing and generating economic growth.

What Can I Do to Help?

Building the support necessary to pass HR 870 won’t be easy. It is important to let your congressmember know that you support HR 870 and that you expect them cosponsor the bill. If you are active in your union, place of worship or political club, ask it to support the bill, too. In many communities activists are demonstrating or holding “First Friday” vigils on the day that the monthly unemployment figures are released. These actions call attention to the plight of unemployed and let the public and politicians know that we expect them to do something about the jobs crisis.

Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

For more on the political perspective of the Democratic Socialists of America, click here.

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President Obama’s Big Deal: Cuts for Social Security, but No Taxes for Wall Street

by Dean Baker, posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Cross-posted from Truthout, where it was originally published on July 18, 2011.

The ability of Washington to turn everything on its head has no limits. We are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Even though the recession officially ended two years ago, there are still more than 25 million people who are unemployed, can only find part-time work or who have given up looking for work altogether. This is an outrage and a tragedy. These people’s lives are being ruined due to the mismanagement of the economy.

And we know the cause of this mismanagement. The folks who get paid to manage and regulate the economy were unable to see an $8 trillion housing bubble. They weren’t bothered by the doubling of house prices in many areas, nor the dodgy mortgages that were sold to finance these purchases. Somehow, people like former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and his sidekick and successor Ben Bernanke thought everything was fine as the Wall Street financers made billions selling junk mortgage and derivative instruments around the world.

When the bubble burst, one of the consequences was an increased budget deficit. This is kind of like two plus two equals four. The collapsing bubble tanked the economy. Tax revenue plummets and we spend more on programs like unemployment insurance and foods stamps. We did also have some tax cuts and stimulus spending to boost the economy. The result is a larger budget deficit.

All of this is about as clear as it can possibly be. The large deficit came about because the housing bubble, which was fueled by Wall Street excesses, crashed the economy. Yet, we are constantly being told by politicians from President Obama to Tea Party Republicans that we have a problem of out-of-control spending.

The claim of out-of-control spending is simply not true. It is an invention, a fabrication, a falsehood with no basis in reality that politicians are pushing to advance their agenda. And that agenda is not pretty.
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Loyal to a Fault

by n0madic, posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011 at 7:35 am

Like a lot of progressives, I’ve been troubled by the President’s response to the debt ceiling crisis which Republicans in Congress have been engineering lately. I’m not a deficit hawk. I believe we need more social investment, not less. So, as far as I’m concerned, both sides of this negotiation are on the wrong side of the debate.

And it’s not just that allowing the debate to narrow in this manner leads us to bad policy choices. It’s also bad politics. Having the nominal leader of the Democratic Party himself opening the door to the possibility of Medicare cuts, even if it’s just some sort of negotiating ploy, undercuts the efficacy of a key campaign message that Democrats need to be able to run on in 2012: opposition to the desire of Paul Ryan and the Republicans to cut Medicare.

So, when the Progressive Change Campaign Committee began circulating a petition that it hoped would stiffen Obama’s spine in these negotiations, I signed on. And I posted a link to it on my Facebook wall as well, hoping that others of a like mind would sign the pledge, too.

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The Business of Polluting

by NScott, posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 1:13 pm

In light of the recent environmental tragedy in Japan, awareness of the growing threat of environmental toxins and pollutants has undoubtedly risen. When toxic materials enter our air and water supply, the consequences can be dire. Because the risks can be so severe, the Environmental Protection Agency has been tasked with the job of protecting the public health from these potential threats. Unfortunately, such a job is not too easy when some of the leading polluters are backed by corporate lobbyists who possess nearly endless funds. Proposing a legislation that limits greenhouse gas emissions throws a mighty wrench into the well-oiled machinery of corporate greed.

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Springfield out to weaken collective bargaining rights

by John Laesch, posted on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The war on the middle class continues to be waged on both sides of the aisle.  This is less of a comprehensive blog about the topic and more of a call to action.  After America more or less lost our manufacturing base and moved to a service economy that exports bad debt as our main source of GDP, Wall Street types decided to start making profits off of government services.  In Illinois, this means that the fight to protect our education system from Wall Street profiteers is on.  An Oregon-based organization is pushing legislation that will deter the best and brigthest from teaching and ultimately enter Illinois’ schools into the race to the bottom.

State Representative Keith Farnham, an Elgin Democrat, is holding a town hall forum at the Gail Borden Public Library (270 N. Grove St., Elgin, IL) on Wednesday, Dec. 29th at 7:00 p.m.

Representative Farnham is on the education committee and it is important that he hear from teachers, parents and community activists before returning to Springfield in January.  It is believed that this legislation is being put together in a hurry and that it is part of a backroom deal (Republicans will get a large part of their anti-middle class agenda in exchange for a tax increase).  It is expected to pass before January 11th, 2011 (when the new assembly takes office).

This bill does not have an official number yet, but here is a screen capture of part of the copy that I obtained.  Click the pic to read the most significant part.  Click the link to read the entire bill.

  Legislation without a number

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Illinois General Assembly passes civil unions

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, December 4th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

While the Illinois General Assembly has yet to create jobs, pass a balanced budget, or find a way to fund the $80B pension liability, they did a very courageous thing during veto session by passing a civil unions bill.  This strikes me as one of the biggest “change” votes taken by the ILGA and perhaps the biggest act of courage in my memory. It was a positive step forward for residents of Illinois as we seek to join other states who view equality as a centerpiece for social and economic justice.

In the 21st century, I find it hard to believe that there are still people in Springfield and Washington who honestly feel that some in our society should be treated like second class citizens in the eyes of the government. But, some still voted “nay.” You can see the entire Senate vote here. You can see the entire House vote here.

If you agree that this is a good step for Illinois, please call or write members in the Fox Valley to let express appreciation or disappointment.  Altough he has delayed signing the bill until 2011, it is expected that Governor Quinn (312-814-2121 / Online Contact Form) will sign the bill.  It probably does not hurt to send the Governor a note to thank him for his support of equality.  See list of Fox Valley Representatives below.

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Health Insurance and Unintended Consequences

by Downtowner, posted on Saturday, July 24th, 2010 at 7:34 am

I helped write a preservation ordinance once and discovered in my research that you really need to write a clause in there forbidding teardowns while the ordinance is being considered, otherwise there’s always some asshole who will invest a ton of money in destroying his building just to prove a point to the city council about what he thinks of the proposal of the measure.

So there may be many who will be surprised to discover insurers doing things like ceasing to write insurance policies on children in order to avoid a provision of the health insurance reform bill that will kick in later this year and force them to cover children who are already sick, and there may even be those, like the author of this AP piece, who call it an “unintended consequence,” but not me.

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DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen on Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead

by n0madic, posted on Saturday, May 8th, 2010 at 6:00 am

In Red to Blue: Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Grassroots Politics, author Sanford Gottlieb tells the story of Chris Van Hollen’s successful grassroots campaign for Congress in 2002, and the lessons Van Hollen, and others, took away from that campaign in subsequent election cycles.

Van Hollen’s district is MD-08, located in Washington DC’s Maryland suburbs. In the primary he beat frontrunner Mark Shriver, a Kennedy cousin with a lot of money to spend and a consultant by the name of David Axelrod on his team. He then went on to unseat longtime incumbent Connie Morella in the general election that fall. Morella was a well-liked, liberal Republican who had been long thought to be unbeatable, having enjoyed more than a little bit of support from local Democrats through the years on election day. And Van Hollen pulled this off in a Republican year. This was the first congressional election to be held after 9/11. The Republicans won back control of the Senate in 2002 and added to their majority in the House. Only two Democrats unseated incumbent Republicans that year. Chris Van Hollen was one of them.

Van Hollen has brought this experience to bear in his subsequent work at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). And he was not the only one to go to school on that 2002 campaign. As Gottlieb puts it:

David Axelrod told Van Hollen in 2008 that he had learned some lessons from being on the other side of the 2002 primary. It was a really good grassroots campaign, Axelrod said, with the passion on Van Hollen’s side. Van Hollen carried the lessons learned in 2002 into the successful effort to build a House Democratic majority in 2006. Axelrod and David Plouffe may have applied those lessons in the 2008 50-state race for the White House. (Gottlieb, Red to Blue, 32)

Last week Van Hollen appeared with Gottlieb at a book event in Washington, DC and talked about his attempt to apply those lessons learned to his work with the DCCC. Van Hollen’s introductory remarks, plus the question and answer session that followed, are presented below.

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Separation of Corporation and State: Healthcare

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 at 7:59 am

My political career began on a cold evening in the dimly lit labor hall of Laborers Local 362 on Cabin Town Road, in Bloomington, IL.  It was the monthly Democratic Party meeting and I had no intention of speaking. After representatives from other campaigns spoke, I felt the need to represent my 2004 presidential pick.  The words fell out of my mouth with no cadence or inspiration and I’m confident that nothing I said was remembered by the 20-25 attendees who were being pressured by party leaders to send Rod Blagojevich another $500 contribution. But there it was: the 12 words that have somehow come to define my political activism: “The task of my generation is the separation of corporation and state.”

Perhaps the biggest abuse of taxpayer money to bail out a gang of undeserving corporations was the bank bailout. Like many people, I was outraged and nearly driven to put my name back on the ballot when the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress passed a $700 billion bank bailout to help Bush put the finishing touches on his corporate-state presidency.  But I sat back and waited, overlooking the first year of Obama’s presidency that featured the more bailouts, more blank-check spending on Bush’s wars for profit, a wholesale attack on public education, and now, a healthcare bill written by corporations for corporations.

And so, I have come full circle as my next political steps take me back to the beginning and those first 12 words.  This piece on healthcare aims to show how the will of the people was replaced by the will of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) while support for Newt Gingrich’s Contract on America grows.  Among those following the health care reform process, it is commonly known that AHIP, the voice of insurance companies on capital hill, has played a significant role in drafting the bill.

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