Announcement for Monday, 2/18 (from Adrienne Fong)

Fake National Emergency

Protest

Monday, February 18, 2019

12Noon – 1:00pm 

Not My President’s Day

San Francisco Federal Building

90 7th Street

San Francisco

Wheelchair accessible

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/events/371623146774299/  

Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/02/16/18821209.php

Provides link for other SF Bay Area demos:

Oakland, El Cerrito, Albany, San Rafael, San Mateo, San Jose, etc.

(Cyber cops would not let email go through giving direct site!)

Revoke Trump’s national emergency declaration

SIGN: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/revoke-trumps-national-emergency-declaration?source=direct_link&referrer=group-defending-rights-dissent-drad&eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=c90493d0-ecb8-4ef6-b91b-f5b4c519896d

MoveOn, Indivisible, CREDO, and all progressive partners are mobilizing nonviolent rapid-response events to stand up against Trump’s #FakeNationalEmergency to defend our democracy and immigrant, Muslim, black, and brown communities from Trump’s dangerous national emergency power grab.

Photo: Indybay by MoveOn

no_trump_wall2.jpg

New York’s rejection of Amazon could be a turning point for corporate welfare

Amazon’s HQ2 debacle is the latest sign that the public has gotten wise to corporate subsidies4

By Jeff Andrews  Feb 14, 2019 (Curbed.com)

When Amazon announced the long-awaited “winners” of its search for a second headquarters last November, the swift and visceral backlash from residents and local officials of New York City seemed destined to fizzle with time, just like similar outrage every time a city gives out half a billion dollars to build a stadium or lure a manufacturing plant.

But this time was different. Amazon endured three months of negative publicity in New York before giving up the $2.8 billion in subsidies the state and city offered the company in return for a new campus in Long Island City, a neighborhood in the midst of a development boomthat’s already the priciest in the borough of Queens.

While a similar fate has not met Amazon’s other HQ2 location in Crystal City, Virginia, and a smaller operations center in Nashville, Tennessee—at least not yet—New York’s victory over a company as wealthy and powerful as Amazon will no doubt embolden residents of other cities to rise up the next time an elected officials tries to give a sweetheart deal to a corporate entity.

And it was no small victory. At the time of the announcement in November, Amazon’s deal with New York stood to become the fifth-largest corporate welfare subsidy in American history, according to a Curbed analysis of data from Good Jobs First. It would have made Amazon the fifth-highest recipient of corporate welfare behind only Boeing, General Motors, Intel, and Alcoa.

New York’s rejection of Amazon comes at a time of renewed scrutiny of corporate subsidies that likely helped contribute to the outcome.

In July 2017, former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker gave Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn $4.7 billion in public subsidies to build a factory in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, for LCD panel production, with the promise of 13,000 well-paying jobs for the state’s long-suffering blue collar workers. The project was used by both Walker and President Donald Trump as evidence they were reviving manufacturing in the Midwest.

According to Bloomberg, the factory currently employs 178 people. In November, the Wall Street Journal reported Foxconn was considering bringing workers from China instead of hiring locals. In January, a Foxconn executive said that the company was rethinking its plans for the factory.

Now, instead of manufacturing, it might be used for research and development because it’s cheaper to manufacture in China and Mexico.

If Amazon’s defeat in New York is to become a turning point for how the country responds to corporate welfare, elected officials will need to make the connection that not only is corporate welfare unpopular with constituents, it’s just bad policy.

Of the respondents of the Menino Survey of Mayors, an annual poll of 110 U.S. mayors, 58 percent of mayors said public subsidies for corporations were bad politics, but 44 percent believed they were both bad politics and good for the city. Only 14 percent said they were both bad politics and bad for the city.

Last summer, a coalition of dozens of city officials, urban policy experts, and economists headed by author Richard Florida signed a petition denouncing these types of giveaways and incentives as “wasteful and counterproductive.” Some argued they should be made illegal.

“Such incentives do not alter business location decisions as much as is often claimed, and are less important than more fundamental location factors,” reads the petition. “Worse, they divert funds that could be put to better use underwriting public services such as schools, housing programs, job training, and transportation, which are more effective ways to spur economic development.”

What’s interesting about Amazon pulling out of New York is that while some local officials groused about the deal over the last three months, it appears that Amazon made the decision to pull out on its own, while the deal’s chief political architects—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo—remained supportive, suggesting the company was more responsive to public opinion than the elected officials were.

Yet despite Amazon’s statement thanking him for support, de Blasio blasted Amazon after the announcement today, after spending the better part of three months advocating for the alleged benefits of the company’s presence in New York.

“Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity,” de Blasio’s statement said. “If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.” But based on what’s transpired with HQ2, a deal to cut one of Amazon’s competitors a similar break seems highly unlikely.

The Green New Deal Is Indeed a Big Deal

February 15, 2019 by Truthdig

The beauty of the GND resolution is that it is still an idea, but it is a bold and beautiful one

by Sonali Kolhatkar

They're for it: Environmental activists and supporters of the Green New Deal occupy the Capitol Hill office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D.C. last December. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

They’re for it: Environmental activists and supporters of the Green New Deal occupy the Capitol Hill office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D.C. last December. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

The most visionary resolution to emerge from Congress in recent years, encompassing both the climate crisis and economic inequality, has captured the imagination of many Americans. In less than a year we went from having never heard the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to watching the impressive, young rookie  congresswoman achieve more in a month than most of our representatives do in a year as she rolled out the Green New Deal (GND) resolution along with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). While the resolution is not yet a full-fledged piece of legislation, it does lay out a blueprint for future bills.

First, it is critical to understand that Ocasio-Cortez did not create the GND—rather, the idea was borne out of the same movement that birthed the Democratic lawmaker’s candidacy. An account of the proposal in Politico details how Justice Democrats, the organization that recruited Ocasio-Cortez and ran her campaign, was founded by young organizers who cut their teeth on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Another organization, Sunrise Movement—also created in 2016—crafted the GND proposal together with Justice Democrats. Just days after Ocasio-Cortez won her New York congressional seat last November, she addressed Sunrise Movement activists during their sit-in of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and effectively endorsed the GND that they were demanding.

The GND “would tackle the twin crises of our lifetimes—the climate crisis and also the rampant and nauseating levels of wealth inequality in this country.”

Varshini Prakash, the founder of the Sunrise Movement, explained to me in an interview that the GND “would tackle the twin crises of our lifetimes—the climate crisis and also the rampant and nauseating levels of wealth inequality in this country, and would really center racial justice, which was something that the original New Deal failed to do.” She described the resolution as a “blueprint,” which could, if passed, yield new legislation on a variety of climate and economic issues.

Just as there has been strong resistance to the idea of Medicare-for-All from centrist Democrats and Republicans, the GND is garnering similar censure from many sides. Republicans have deemed it “loony,” and at a political rally in El Paso, Texas, President Donald Trump predictably lied about what it would entail, saying, “I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of ‘let’s hop a train to California,’ of ‘you’re not allowed to own cows anymore!’” He even claimed that “[i]t would shut down a little thing called air travel. How do you take a train to Europe?” (It hasn’t helped that a document about the proposal’s details distributed by Ocasio-Cortez’s staff was initially the wrong one—it was an earlier draft containing some provisions that Republicans have seized on but that were not present in the actual proposal.)

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would vote on it, saying, “it will give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.” In truth, McConnell likely is attempting to use the vote to crush Democratic chances in 2020. Markey countered on Twitter, “this isn’t a new Republican trick,” and speculated that, “By rushing a vote on the #GreenNewDeal resolution, Republicans want to avoid a true national debate & kill our efforts to organize.”

The Democratic leadership has also balked at it, with Pelosi initially agreeing only to create a select committee to further study climate change when the idea was raised last year. Angered by her response, Sunrise Movement’s national political director Evan Weber said, “Basically all she wants it to do, from what we can tell, is convene people to talk about the science.” He added, “We’ve been talking about the science for the past few decades.” Then, just ahead of Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s early February press conference on the GND, Pelosi derisively told Politico, “It will be one of several, or maybe many, suggestions that we receive. The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” Ocasio-Cortez, in a testament to her effective communication skills, dismissed Pelosi’s words, saying, “I think itisa Green Dream. All great American programs—everything from the Great Society to the New Deal—started with a vision for our future.”

Just as in the case of “Medicare for all,” the public actually loves the idea. A poll conducted in December found that a whopping 92 percent of Democrats and even 64 percent of Republicans supported the idea of a GND, which is perhaps why so many Democratic presidential contenders say they support it.

There are some concerns from the left about the proposal, mostly along the lines of worries the legislation emerging from the resolution might not go far enough to tackle the climate and the jobs crises. The Climate Justice Alliance worried there had not been enough consultation with impacted communities before the resolution was drafted, saying in a press release, “The proposal for the GND was made public at the grasstops level. When we consulted with many of our own communities, they were neither aware of, nor had they been consulted about the launch of the GND.” The Alliance pointed to shortsighted legislation on the “cap and trade” approach to climate change that has not worked. An analysis in Mint Press News pointed out it was deeply problematic for the emergent legislation to be crafted by a committee appointed by the House speaker and minority leader. In an interview with In These Times Magazine, activist Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson said, “We need to critically analyze some of the shortfalls of the capitalist logic embedded in this plan. We have to push back and improve upon the Green New Deal.” He wisely added, “Dismissing it and not having a dialogue and talking just about how it’s imperfect is not good enough.”

Members of Congress have been handwringing over economic inequality for years and have yet to move beyond a tax-cutting approach to stimulating the economy. They have been worse on climate change, either refusing to acknowledge it is a reality, even while federal agencies plan for it, or accepting it is real but doing very little about it. As a result, American youth face a financially precarious present and an existentially uncertain future. It is no surprise then that among those pushing hardest for the GND are young people—and especially young people of color—who have poured great grassroots energy into it. Prakash explained that her organization plans to “build an army of young people big enough that we can stop the climate crisis and create millions of new jobs for our generation.”

The beauty of the GND resolution is that it is still an idea, but it is a bold and beautiful one. Relative to the grim political climate, it may be just the antidote to our collective despair.

© 2019 TruthDig

We Have a National Emergency, All Right. Its Name Is Donald Trump.

February 15, 2019byWashington Post

Trump cares only that his base is mollified. And that nobody remembers how Mexico was supposed to foot the bill

by Eugene Robinson

President Trump during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

We have a national emergency, all right. Its name is Donald Trump, and it is a force of mindless, pointless disruption.

The president’s decision to officially declare an emergency—to pretend to build an unbuildable border wall—is not only an act of constitutional vandalism. It is also an act of cowardice, a way to avoid the wrath of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the far-right commentariat.

It is an end run around Congress and, as such, constitutes a violation of his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” — which gives Congress, not the president, the authority to decide how public money is spent. It does not give Trump the right to fund projects that Congress will not approve. Authoritarian leaders do that sort of thing. The puffed-up wannabe strongman now living in the White House is giving it a try.

Let’s be clear: There is no emergency. Arrests for illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaked in 2000, nearly two decades ago, at more than 1.5 million a year. They declined sharply under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and, in 2017, were at their lowest point since 1971. In 2018, apprehensions ticked up slightly — but still barely climbed above 400,000.

Because there obviously is no legitimate emergency, Trump’s declaration — and the shifting of resources from duly authorized projects to the wall — will surely be challenged in court.

There has indeed been an increase in familiespresenting themselves at legal points of entry to seek asylum — those groups of bedraggled Central Americans that Trump calls “caravans.” Under U.S. and international law, these people have an undisputed right to ask for asylum and have their cases evaluated. Again, they come to legal border crossings to seek admission. Only a handful try to navigate the forbidding rural terrain where Trump says he wants to build a wall.

What the administration really needs to do is expand and improve facilities for processing, caring for and, when necessary, housing these asylum seekers. But Trump doesn’t care about doing the right thing, or even the necessary thing. He cares only about being able to claim he is following through on his vicious anti-immigration rhetoric, which brands Mexican would-be migrants as “rapists” and Central Americans as members of the MS-13 street gang.

Trump had two years in which Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate — and could not persuade Congress to give him funding for a wall. He decided to make it an issue only after Democrats won the power to say no. The president’s negotiating strategy — pitching tantrums, walking away from the table, venting on Twitter, provoking the longest partial government shutdown in history — was never going to work. You might think he would have learned something about how Washington works by now, but you would be wrong.

Because there obviously is no legitimate emergency, Trump’s declaration — and the shifting of resources from duly authorized projects to the wall — will surely be challenged in court. It is possible, if not likely, that any actual construction will be held up indefinitely.

Indeed, legal briefs arguing against Trump’s action practically write themselves. An emergency, by definition, is urgent. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, for example, clearly qualified as a national emergency. But Trump has been talking about issuing an emergency declaration to build the wall for a couple of months. If such action wasn’t necessary in December, some judge will surely ask, then why now?

Money for the wall will have to be taken from other projects, all of which have constituencies in Congress and among the public. Ranchers and others whose land would have to be taken by eminent domain for the wall will be up in arms.

Politically, Trump carelessly put Republican senators in a tough spot. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may have the House pass a resolution of disapproval, which the Senate would be compelled to take up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his caucus would have to decide whether to support a presidential power grab they know is unwise — or oppose Trump and risk the ire of the GOP base.

One of the most strident Republican criticisms of Obama was that he took executive actions that should have been the purview of Congress. But this action by Trump goes much further and sets a dangerous precedent.

What would keep the next Democratic president from declaring an emergency, in the wake of some mass shooting, and imposing a ban on assault weapons? Is that what McConnell wants as his legacy?

Trump cares only that his base is mollified. And that nobody remembers how Mexico was supposed to foot the bill.

© 2019 Washington Post

The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS

February 15, 2019

Over the years, without regular critiques by liberal and progressive groups, both NPR and PBS have bent to the continual right-wing antagonism in Congress that decreased public budgets

by Ralph Nader

Charlie Rose on PBS had many more CEOs on his program than civic leaders. (Photo: 2016 JB Lacroixd)

Charlie Rose on PBS had many more CEOs on his program than civic leaders. (Photo: 2016 JB Lacroixd)

Recently an elderly gentleman asked me about my opinion on NPR and PBS, knowing of my vigorous support in the nineteen sixties for these alternatives to commercial radio and television stations.

Here is my response:

Congress created NPR and PBS to provide serious programming, without any advertisements, for the American people. Former media executive Fred Friendly and others worried that the commercial stations were not meeting the 1934 Communications Act requirement that they operate for the “public interest, convenience and necessity.”

In 1961, before a shocked convention of broadcasters, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Newton Minow called commercial television “a vast wasteland.”

Over the decades, NPR and PBS have produced some good programming – original features (among the best coming from Boston affiliate WGBH) and interviews. NPR has the largest radio audience in the country. David Brancaccio, the bright host of Marketplace Morning Report, has a daily listening audience of 11 million.

However, over the years, without regular critiques by liberal and progressive groups, both NPR and PBS have bent to the continual right-wing antagonism in Congress that decreased public budgets. PBS started to allow advertisements (called “support for x station or x PBS network program comes from y corporation.”) These ads have become more frequent and can be as long as 15 seconds.

During the 8am to 9am hour WAMC, Albany recently aired 28 such “support from…” commercials. That is almost one “ad” every two minutes!

The omnipresence of the ads hour after hour has irritated many NPR listeners around the country. By way of comparison, a major commercial station in Hartford – WTIC – clocked 18 advertisements in that 8am hourly slot – albeit they were longer than the NPR ones.

They invite guests on air who ideologically oppose public broadcasting—that’s fine, but then they minimize the appearances by leading progressives.

It seems that NPR and PBS, often by their omissions and slants, bend over backward in order not to offend right-wing lobbies and corporations. They invite guests on air who ideologically oppose public broadcasting – that’s fine, but then they minimize the appearances by leading progressives.

Occasionally, I speak with the NPR and PBS Ombudsmen. The purpose of the ombudsman is to maintain proper standards and ethics as well as to consider audience complaints. A while back, an NPR Ombudsman volunteered to me that NPR was giving far more time to representatives of conservative evangelical groups than to representatives of liberal religious organizations.

Charlie Rose on PBS had many more CEOs on his program than civic leaders. During a rare appearance by me on his show with Jim Hightower and William Greider in 1998, the audience reaction was robust. The response from around the country was so pronounced that in an internal e-mail, that was inadvertently sent to my office, a Rose staffer complained that we might have been encouraging the positive response. Absurd and false, but revealing nonetheless.

Rose, by the way, set the stage for PBS and NPR by interviewing his two favorite reporters again and again instead of active specialists or scholars in various fields. For example, Judy Woodruff, the ultra-cautious, exclusionary anchor of the “News Hour,” interviewed reporters on complex tax legislation instead of authentic experts such as the long-time director of the well-regarded Citizens for Tax Justice, Robert McIntyre, often invited by her predecessors.

In 2016 we convened for eight days in the largest gathering of civic leaders, doers, and thinkers of more reforms and redirections ever brought together. They made over 160 presentations in Constitution Hall (see breakingthroughpower.org). Although we advanced this remarkable Superbowl of Civic Action directly to NPR and PBS producers, their reporters never showed up. Certainly, they have not treated right-wing conventions in Washington, D.C. in that manner.

There are other practices of public broadcasting and its syndicated talk shows, that its audiences should know about to understand how much broader coverage they have been denied. One is that the amount of time devoted to music and entertainment pieces goes well beyond the intent of the legislators who created NPR and PBS (both created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967). Members of Congress knew that entertainment was adequately taken care of by the thousands of commercial stations.

Moreover, even commercial network radio would not use its weekday 6pm hour for music, as one NPR station does in Washington, D.C. Nor does commercial network TV news in the evening start their programs with several advertisements, as does PBS’s The NewsHour and Kai Ryssdal’s jazzy, drumbeat, breathless NPR evening show – Marketplace.

Recently, I discovered another woeful transformation. Wondering why I could not get calls back from the state-wide NPR stations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I sent them written complaints. These stations had venerable programs that used to interview me and other civic leaders on consumer, environment, and corporate crime topics.

Minnesota Public Radio politely wrote back, regretting that they had not called me back and explained that they now adjust their programming to react or expand on ”what is in the national conversation.” Since Trump et al. command the heights (or the depths) of the news agenda, very important subjects, conditions and activities not part of this frenzied news feed are relegated to far less frequent attention.

These are just a few of the issues that should be analyzed by print journalists who cover the media full time, such as the estimable Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post, formerly the “public editor” of The New York Times. But then, she also doesn’t return my calls.

The slide toward commercialism and amiable stupefaction will continue on PBS and NPR until enough people review public broadcast’s history, raise their expectation levels consistent with why PBS and NPR were created, and insist on adequate public funding (a truly modest amount compared to giant corporate subsidies by taxpayers). These redirections would enable public broadcasting to fulfill better its serious statutory public interest missions.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest books include: To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse CourseHow the Rats Re-Formed the CongressBreaking Through Power: It’s easier than we think, and Animal Envy: A Fable

The Time Is Right for S.F. to Get a Public Bank

Supervisors took a significant step toward launching a publicly-owned bank with a unanimously co-sponsored resolution seeking a state banking charter.

Kurtis Wu, an organizer with the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition, speaks outside City Hall before the Board of Supervisors voted on a resolution for a banking charter on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)(Photo courtesy SFPD)

The Board of Supervisors urged the state to create a public banking charter on Tuesday, its first formal show of support for a movement to break from Wall Street.

Supervisors unanimously co-sponsored and approved a resolution that backs publicly-owned bank and called for state legislators to allow local jurisdictions like San Francisco to proceed. Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer introduced the resolution days the same week the Treasurer’s Office released its draft report of what a public bank could look like.

A public bank is enticing to advocates like the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition who say the city’s $11 billion budget would be better invested in affordable housing, small business, clean energy, and student loans. Big banks have been known to invest customer funds in things San Francisco opposes like oil pipelines, immigrant detention centers.

Former Supervisor Malia Cohen set off a municipal bank task force that began meeting in 2018, culminating in a report supervisors will weigh in the next couple of months. Days before leaving office, she held a hearing on banking options presented in an initial report that was criticized for not going far enough and instructed them to think big.

The Treasurer’s Office updated the draft report, which task force members took up at their final meeting on Thursday. Though there’s still details left to be worked out, three models could see a bank that purely invests, purely divests from Bank of America and US Bank, or does both.

“In Sacramento, they really are eager and curious to know what stance San Francisco is going to take on this,” said Sushil Jacobs, a task force member who works with the California Public Banking Alliance. “We’re looking to pass legislation and counties to pursue charters to pass their own legislation.”

The resolution clarifies that it doesn’t lock commit the city to specifics of a public bank. Still, it’s not often that the Board of Supervisors unanimously co-sponsors legislation and doing so for a publicly-owned bank sends a strong message that San Francisco is serious about the transformation.

A copy of the resolution will be sent to representatives Mayor London Breed, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Scott Wiener, and Assemblymember David Chiu.

“A public bank for public good,” Fewer said Tuesday. “It’s about time.”

Colin Kaepernick Speech Before Amnesty International

Colin Kaepernick's Speech Before Amnesty International

Listen to Colin Kaepernick explain why he took a knee — and why it's essential that others like him have the right to challenge racial injustice

Δημοσιεύτηκε από NowThis στις Πέμπτη, 24 Μαΐου 2018

‘Historic’: House Approves War Powers Resolution to End US Complicity in Yemen

February 13, 2019 by Common Dreams

“Not only does this vote bolster hopes for a quicker end to the war and the resulting humanitarian crisis, it also signals a timely resurgence in congressional oversight on war.”

by Jon Queally, staff writer

Boys hold a large piece of twisted metal near homes that were destroyed in an air strike in Okash Village, near Sana’a, the capital of Yemen in 2017. (Photo: UNICEF/Mohammed Hamoud)

Boys hold a large piece of twisted metal near homes that were destroyed in an air strike in Okash Village, near Sana’a, the capital of Yemen in 2017. (Photo: UNICEF/Mohammed Hamoud)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a War Powers Resolution that would require President Trump to end U.S. military support for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen. 

The bill, H.J. Res. 37 introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), passed in a 248-177 vote—mostly along party lines in the Democratic-controlled House—and will now head to the Senate where a version of the resolution last year, despite Republican control, passed in historic fashion. Read the full roll call here.

“Today is historic,” declared Khanna in statement. “This is the culmination of several years of legislative efforts to end our involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen. I’m encouraged by the direction people are pushing our party to take on foreign policy, promoting restraint and human rights and with the sense they want Congress to play a much larger role.”

Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, also celebrated the vote and characterized it, like the Senate vote last year, as historic.

“Building on last year’s Senate vote, the newly empowered House of Representatives just made history by voting to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen, marking the first time the House has successfully invoked the War Powers Act to direct the withdrawal of U.S. forces from an unauthorized war,” Martin said.

“Not only does this vote bolster hopes for a quicker end to the war and the resulting humanitarian crisis,” he added, “it also signals a timely resurgence in congressional oversight on war. The Senate will have to vote again to send this particular bill to the president’s desk, which it should do without delay, but Congress has now made its opposition to U.S. military involvement in Yemen crystal clear.”

Both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who spearheaded the companion resolution in the Senate, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an early co-sponsor, applauded the House vote:

Win Without War, one of the key anti-war groups that lobbied alongside other peace and human rights groups to demand an end to U.S. complicity in Yemen, thanked their members and all those who applied pressure on lawmakers to vote in favor of the resolution:

Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), also hailed the vote and gave credit to the tireless work of campaigners.

“Today’s vote affirms the power of grassroots, pro-peace advocacy to turn the tide against war in Congress,” said Randall. “Ending the war that has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis is something we can achieve. Today’s vote demonstrates a bipartisan desire to do so.”

Martin said that he hopes the Saudis and their allies in the war, like the United Arab Emirates, recognize just how serious a rebuke of the carnage in Yemen members of Congress are now voicing.

“For nations participating in the Saudi-led intervention,” Martin said, “this new political reality poses a serious threat to their military relationships with the United States. For millions of Yemenis facing indiscriminate airstrikes and war-induced famine, this new political reality offers a glimmer of hope for a more peaceful future. More work remains to be done, but hope is well worth celebrating.”This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

To Fix System That Let Trump Stop Paying Social Security Taxes 40 Minutes Into 2016, Sanders Says ‘Time to Scrap the Cap’

February 13, 2019 by Common Dreams

“Because of the earnings cap on Social Security taxes, a multi-billionaire pays exactly the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who earns $132,900 a year. Today we say that is going to end.”

by Jake Johnson, staff writer

“Social Security’s importance to American workers and their families will only grow as the United States faces an approaching retirement crisis,” Social Security Works declared on Twitter. (Image: Social Security Works/Twitter)

Using America’s billionaire president as a perfect illustration of the “absurdity,” deep inequity, and untapped potential of Social Security in its current state, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday presented a striking data point during a press conference unveiling the Social Security Expansion Act.

“Donald Trump made $694 million in 2016. That means he stopped paying Social Security taxes 40 minutes into the year. Meanwhile a middle-class worker paid Social Security taxes the entire year. I say to Trump: pay your fair share. Let’s scrap the cap.” 
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

“Donald Trump claimed that he made $694 million in 2016,” Sanders said, with the caveat that the president doesn’t always tell the truth about his finances. “If that is accurate, he stopped paying Social Security payroll tax 40 minutes into January 1st of that year.”

“Meanwhile, the average middle class person paid Social Security taxes for the entire year,” the Vermont senator continued. “That is absurd, and that has got to end.”

Under the current system, all income above the $132,900 cap is completely exempt from the Social Security payroll tax. Denouncing this approach as “absolutely regressive,” Sanders declared on Wednesday, “It is time to scrap the cap.”

The Social Security Expansion Act, which Sanders introduced on Wednesday alongside several congressional Democrats, would subject all income over $250,000 to the Social Security payroll tax—a far more progressive tax structure that would help fund more generous benefits to low-income retirees while also ensuring the popular program’s solvency for more than five decades.

“Because of the earnings cap on Social Security taxes, a multi-billionaire pays exactly the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who earns $132,900 a year,” Sanders declared. “Today we say that is going to end.”

As Our Revolution executive director Heather Gautney argued in Jacobin on Wednesday, Sanders’ legislative push to “scrap the cap” is “not a radical idea.”

“Americans are sick of having to do more with less. Billionaires and millionaires are going to have to pay up.” 
—Heather Gautney, Our Revolution

“The wealthiest have captured an increasing share of income gains above the taxable earnings cap, while workers’ wages have flat-lined. This trend has shrunk the share of national wages being taxed to fund Social Security,” Gautney observed. “[L]awmakers have raised the cap several times over the years and in 1994 eliminated it entirely for Medicare. Plus, it would only affect a small portion of the population.”

According to a fact sheet put out by Sanders’ office, 98.2 percent of wage-earners would not see their taxes go up by “one penny” under the Social Security Expansion Act.

“Americans are sick of having to do more with less,” Gautney concluded. “Billionaires and millionaires are going to have to pay up.”

As advocacy groups backing Sanders’ legislation pointed out on social media, many of the wealthiest Americans stopped paying Social Security taxes today, just weeks into 2019. According to Kevin Cashman, senior associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the last of America’s millionaires will have paid into Social Security by next Monday, Feb. 18.

“If a person made $50,000 in 2019, for example, they’d pay taxes until December 31st—and have an effective tax rate of 6.2 percent,” Cashman notes. “But someone making $1,000,000 in 2019 would stop paying Social Security taxes on February 18th and see a bump in their pay afterwards. This person’s effective tax rate would be just 0.8 percent. The burden of Social Security taxes falls more heavily on those who make less.”

Progressive advocacy groups applauded Sanders’ legislation on Wednesday as a long-overdue and politically “wise” step toward shifting the tax burden back onto the wealthiest Americans.

“Social Security’s importance to American workers and their families will only grow as the United States faces an approaching retirement crisis,” Social Security Works declared on Twitter. “It’s time to #ScrapTheCap.”This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License