This video highlights some of the craziness around what extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans could mean in terms of spending. The average amount these tax cuts would give is $80,000, which would allow a rich American to hire the entire staff of the Jersey Shore to appear at a party, or it could pay one month of unemployment for 273 Americans. But when you look at the richest of the rich, say, CEOs of big banks on Wall Street, they would stand to gain even more, reaping between $700,000 and 1.6 million each from these tax cuts.
Extending tax cuts to the richest 2% of Americans would cost our country $700 billion in new debt. At a time when nearly 15 million Americans are out of work, and over 2 million are in danger of losing their homes, Congress’ priority needs to be the 98% of Americans who need the most support.
Tell Congress that they must NOT pass a tax cut for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
Call Your Representatives now and tell them not to spend $700 billion on the richest among us. In this time of high unemployment and housing lost, we need to have better priorities!
Here’s the number for the House (202) 224-3121
Once you’ve made your call, visit here and share with us how it went and why you oppose tax cuts for the wealthy.
We have already seen the notes of appreciation start to come in from throughout the country.
Greg S. posted: “Congressman Grayson, the fact that the GOP worked so hard to defeat you was because you are right and you work for us. Don’t let January be the end. Let it be the beginning of a new Progressive movement, and please lead us there. You are respected and loved and we thank you! You are a truly great American!”
Kevin S. wrote: “I absolutely love Alan Grayson. This guy is a true American. He stands up for his/our rights, is for the average person, and tells it like it is. Obama/Grayson – 2012!!!!”
Some weak-kneed Democrats aren’t so keen on seeing Henry Waxman grill the insurance industry over their immoral policies of denying care. They probably don’t want to jeopardize their campaign contributions. But Waxman and others aren’t listening to them, and will move forward.
“It’s completely fair to talk about profits and reserves and compensation and how they make their decisions,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leader of the Progressive Caucus. “Let them come and make their case.” [...]
Regardless, Waxman and the House Energy and Commerce Committee appear to be heading forward.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Investigations subcommittee, said Tuesday that most of the nation’s 52 largest insurance companies met Monday’s deadline to submit documents on their profits and compensation to executives and board members. He also said a hearing is being put together.
“We will be doing hearings on different aspects of the insurance industry, including this,” Stupak said. “I hope that by the end of this week we’ll have a schedule set … I’d like to do another one of these, at least one or two, this month.” [...] “Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is the insurer of last resort in Michigan, they’re raising their rates 22 to 40 percent,” Stupak said. “How do you justify that when inflation is basically zero? Where is the money going? Is it going for healthcare? Or executive compensation?”
“I think it’s part of the mix, in that our committee needs to look at it,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas). “I remember a quote from Sen. [Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] sometime this year … he said that some of those healthcare CEOs’ packages would even make Exxon-Mobil blush.”
Just so it’s clear, here are the types of policies that Blue Dog Dems would rather not have discussed publicly in Congress in the middle of a debate over health insurance reform:
• The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Assurant to pay 10 million dollars for rescinding the policy of a 17 year-old after he tested positive for HIV.
That’s really the tip of the iceberg. The stories of runaway profits, lavish lifestyles for CEOs and denials of care causing suffering and death have been chronicled over and over at Sick For Profit. The public ought to know about them, at least as much as they think they do about death panels, and if Congress can find a way to raise attention, all the better.
Wells Fargo is a roadblock to economic recovery. That’s what members of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE) are claiming, as they literally blocked a busy Rock Island, Illinois intersection late last week to protest Wells Fargo’s decision to cut off credit to the Quad City Die Casting factory.
100 Quad City factory employees risk losing their jobs if Wells Fargo doesn’t extend tens of thousands of dollars in credit to continue day-to-day operating costs. So why won’t Wells Fargo use some of its $25 billion in bailout funds to keep this factory afloat, particularly when the Illinois-Iowa Quad Cities region is losing $6.1 million in wages and tax revenue annually? According to UE organizer Leah Fried, “[Wells Fargo] want[s] to get out from under the TARP money because they want to get out from the scrutiny. They’re hoarding.” Wells Fargo has even gone so far as to prevent the company from paying the wages and benefits owed to its employees, which prompted UE to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board last week.
Across the country, we’re seeing more and more protests this one. As journalist/labor activist Mike Elk recently noted, these public demonstrations are highly effective ways of bringing national attention to the bailed out banks that are cutting off credit and have done pathetically little to jump-start our ailing economy. We saw this last December, when laid-off UE workers held sit-ins at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago because Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase wouldn’t fork over credit for the company to pay severance.
That future is bleak. Insurers still control the markets, as they do now, and in fact, the giant insurance companies have grown. Hacker and Rajkumar predict we’ll have a choice “basically between WellPoint and UnitedHealth–gargantuan for-profit insurers each about the size of Medicare.” Sounds great, right?
Hacker and Rajkumar also pointed out a peculiar fact our geography and politics:
Ironically, the problem is worst in the rural areas of the country whose Democratic Senators–such as Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus of Montana–have been among the Democrats most willing to forsake the public health insurance plan. In these rural areas, one or two dominant insurers hold over 90 percent of the market. (In all of Montana, for example, one insurer has 75 percent of private enrollees.) For people in these parts of the nation, a real choice of health plans is as mythical as unicorns.
As a member of the Senate health committee, one of two Senate panels dealing with health care reform, it has become apparent to me that real health care reform must address the billions of dollars in fraud and abuse that comes from the major corporations in the health care industry.
What we have seen over the last several decades is the systemic fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies, private drug companies, and private for-profit hospitals ripping off the American people and the taxpayers of this country to the tune of many billions of dollars.
The rampant fraud is another reason why our current health care system, dominated by private insurance companies, is the most costly, wasteful, complicated and bureaucratic in the world. Its function is not to provide quality health care, but to make huge profits for those who own the companies. With 1,300 private insurance companies and thousands of different health benefit programs designed to maximize profits, our country spends an incredible 30 percent of each health care dollar on administration and billing, exorbitant CEO compensation packages, advertising, lobbying and campaign contributions. Public programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the VA are administered for much less.
God I hope David Broder is wrong. “The President has told visitors,” the Washington Post columnist wrote last week, “that he would rather have 70 votes in the Senate for a bill that gives him 85 percent of what he wants rather than a 100 percent satisfactory bill that passes 52-48.” The good news is that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is now talking about how bipartisanship may need to be redefined downward if the Democrats are going to pass meaningful healthcare reform. In a meeting with journalists last week, Emanuel proposed that healthcare legislation could be bipartisan without Republican votes. “There will be ideas from both parties, and individuals from both parties, in the final product,” he said. “Whether the Republicans decide to vote for things they promoted will be up to them.” ( David Axelrod seconded the emotion in his appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”)
For those concerned the U.S. is becoming mired in a military quagmire in Afghanistan there was good news and bad news on the House floor this afternoon:
The good news is that a majority of House Democrats just voted (131-114) to support the McGovern amendment to the House Defense Authorization bill that requires the Pentagon to develop a military exit strategy from Afghanistan.
The bad news is that the overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted against the amendment (164-7), leading to its defeat.
For opponents of endless war in Afghanistan, it is a question of the glass being half empty or half full. Continue reading →
With the Pentagon admitting military error led to civilian casualties in last month’s Farah province airstrikes, and congressional calls for an exit strategy growing louder, there’s never been a more important time for people to Rethink Afghanistan.
Is there a library, school, or member of Congress who needs to see this documentary on DVD? Brave New Foundation just made parts 1-3 available for a suggested donation of $19.95. When you donate, you’ll not only receive Troops, Pakistan, and Cost of War plus special features, but you also have the option to donate your copy to a library, school, or member of Congress of our choosing.
If you decide to keep the DVD for yourself, consider using it to host a screening in your neighborhood through Brave New Theaters.
And now, here’s your chance to get a copy completely free. The first 20 people to gather three friends to see the DVD will get it at no charge. Simply Tweet their names @reply to @afghanistandocu, and be sure to include your friends’ names!
Today is Afghanistan Exit Action Day. As Congress prepares to authorize $550 billion in military spending along with an additional $130 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–more federal dollars than Bush ever requested–Rep. Jim McGovern is proposing a bill that requires Defense Secretary Gates to establish an exit strategy. McGovern intends to propose it as an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee wartime spending bill making its way to the House floor today.
I realize how hard it may seem for Congressional Democrats to require the Obama administration to develop an exit strategy as a condition for continued funding. After all, this is our guy, right? The last thing our guy needs is a Democratic Congress second guessing, making demands, and putting conditions on the war.
But this is exactly what we and the administration need precisely because he is our guy.
Unlike Mr. Limbaugh, we want and need President Obama to succeed. The very real prospect of the United States embedded in an endless war in Afghanistan would undermine everything this administration is trying to do while imperiling the very Congressional Democrats President Obama needs to move his agenda.
Though McGovern currently has 91 co-sponsors, we can get that number to over 100 and give this bill real visibility by the time the House votes on it later today or tomorrow. Call your Representative at (202) 224-3121 and:
1. urge her/him to co-sponsor Rep. Jim McGovern’s Afghanistan Exit Strategy bill – H.R. 2404
2. vote for Rep. McGovern’s amendment to the Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 2647)