Contest! Sinatra and…South Dakota?

Today Blue America is launching an effort on behalf of prairie populist Rick Weiland, who is running for the open blue Senate seat in South Dakota. With two Republicans running against the GOP Establishment pick in the general election, this should be a great opportunity to elect a dedicated tribune for working families in what the DC pundits see as a tough race.

This week, Rick released his first television ad. You can you watch it here. Digby, John and Howie are asking Blue America supporters to chip in getting the ad seen more widely-- and you can do that on the same page you watch the ad on.

There are basically two big media markets in South Dakota. One covers the Democratic-leaning half the state (East River)-- Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Watertown, Brookings, Huron, Mitchell and Yankton-- and the other covers the more conservative half of the state (West River)-- Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Custer, Wall, Lead, Deadwood and Hot Springs.

This is a sample of what a typical contribution can buy in the eastern part of the state:

• $28- All In With Chris Hayes
• $35- Southern Charm
• $125- Good Morning America
• $165- Face The Nation
• $225- Wheel of Fortune
• $400- 48 Hours

And this is what we can get in the western part of the state:

• $34- The Rachel Maddow Show
• $50- Inside Edition
• $75- Big Bang Theory
• $120- The Today Show
• $150- 60 Minutes
• $300- The Blacklist

So what's all this got to do with Frank Sinatra? Well, Howie was the president of the record label Sinatra started, Reprise Records. Sinatra started it-- and Howie continued it-- as a haven for artists who didn't want to be pushed around by corporate dictators, an ethos that epitomizes Rick's "Take It Back" campaign.

Howie was awarded an RIAA-certified plaque when Sinatra's greatest hits album, The Very Good Years went double platinum… two million records sold in the U.S. alone. He's donating this gorgeous, historical collector's item to one randomly selected donor to this Rick Weiland effort this week.

The "contest" ends next Monday, April 28, at noon. It doesn't matter how much you give, just that you do give on this page.

And, for the Sinatra fans, some of the songs that are on The Very Good Years: "Fly Me To The Moon," Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out of You," "Luck Be A Lady," "Love and Mariiage," "Send In The Clowns," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Strangers In The Night," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and the song Howie says is the perfect theme for Rick's campaign for South Dakota, "The Best Is Yet To Come." And some of the musicians who played on this record-- Nelson Riddle, Woody Herman, Count Basie and Quincy Jones.

You want to know Rick stands for policy wise? He's a bold progressive and he sums up his political beliefs in that :30 second TV spot we want you to look at.

Remember, a little bit of money goes a long way in South Dakota, so don't be shy about making even a modest contribution.

Thanks, we are all in this together,

Jacquie for Blue America



$10.10… It's Good For Us All

Friday, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich made the case that unemployment is still high and the economic recovery so turgid because of the failed European-style austerity measures being forced on the country by the plutocrats and oligarchs, primarily through their bought=and-paid-for conservative handmaidens in government.

Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don’t have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy’s gains go to the top 1 percent.

That’s why we need to (1) cut taxes on average people (say, exempting the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes and making up the shortfall by taking the cap off income subject to it), (2) raise the minimum wage, (3) create jobs by repairing roads, bridges, ports, and much of the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, (4) add teachers and teacher’s aides to now over-crowded classrooms, and (5) create “green” jobs and a new WPA for the long-term unemployed.

And pay for much of this by raising taxes on the top, closing tax loopholes for the rich, and ending corporate welfare.

But none of this can be done because some wealthy people and big corporations have a strangle-hold on our politics. “McCutcheon” makes that strangle-hold even tighter.

Connect the dots and you see how the big-money takeover of our democracy has lead to an economy that’s barely functioning for most Americans.

A healthy majority of Americans-- including 83% of Democrats and nearly a third of Republicans-- supports the efforts to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. The financiers of congressional careers, however, are not part of that majority. They and their conservative puppets don't want to increase the minimum wage; they want to abolish it. And the faux-moderate position becomes, "let's not abolish it or increase it too much." You can watch apologists for the plutocrats, like Republican Susan Collins (ME) and New Dem Colleen Hanabusa trying to broker "a compromise" that leaves working families in poverty. Both represent blue states with overwhelming majorities that want a $10.10 minimum wage and both take excessive campaign money from the forces that want to hold the level down. And… both are running for Senate in November-- against tireless leaders in the fight for working families. 

Shenna Bellows of Maine and Senator Brain Schatz of Hawaii are pushing very hard for the $10.10 minimum wage increase. In fact, every Blue America candidate is pushing for the $10.10 level. 

I know it sounds a little gimmicky, but today we're asking Blue America supporters to chip in $10.10 for one or more of the Blue America candidates running for Senate.

And believe me, it isn't just Shenna and Brian. Rick Weiland, the prairie populist running for the open South Dakota seat is adamant about raising the minimum wage to $10.10. His GOP opponents, Mike Rounds and Stace Nelson, would like to see the minimum wage disappear altogether. Rick:

Political reality today is that America is being turned into a plutocracy by the ability of big money to buy what it wants from Washington, and increasingly from every other level of government as well.

Political reality today is that politicians who used to be public servants are now servants of the big money that elected them.

How else can you explain the endless array of policy decisions at every level of government that are vehemently opposed by large majorities of ordinary citizens, but are made anyway by elected officials. Think about it. 90% plus majorities of the voting public oppose offshore tax havens for billionaires and yet they persist. 90% oppose shutting our government down, yet it is shut down. Oil spills occur, dangerous vehicles are sold, banks evict families from homes they have been conned into buying, payday lenders extort poor families, all practices supported by virtually no one, but permitted to persist, even encouraged by the representatives supposedly elected by the people these things harm. Most Americans, including independents and Republicans, want to see the minimum wage rise to $10.10 but politicians in the pockets of the self-entitled billionaires are preventing it from passing in Congress.

What more can I say? Is it worth $10.10 to you to help elect tribunes of the people like Rick Weiland and Shenna Bellows?

Take my word for it, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren can't do it by themselves. We need lots more like them.

Our candidates, I can report, were not invited to the Sheldon Adelson primary try-outs. Can you help?

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby and John



$1,000 Matching Fund-- Why Shenna?


"Thank you, Blue America supporters, for refusing to give up on our democracy.  Grassroots action is the only way meaningful social change ever happens, and your grassroots support is making a difference." --Shenna Bellows

Digby, John and Howie did not expect to send this note out today. They planned a sabbatical until after the first quarter rush was over Tuesday. But… we got an offer we couldn't refuse-- and one I hope you won't be able to either.

As you probably already have figured out, we feel that Shenna Bellows, the 39 year old former executive director of Maine's ACLU, is our idea of a perfect candidate. Last night she told Howie that she wants to "go to the United States Senate to work with Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul to place checks and balances on the big banks and the NSA. We can restore economic opportunity and constitutional freedoms for all if we have the courage and the vision to try."

That came right on top of a generous offer by one of Blue America's most consistent supporters to match, up to $1,000, all contributions to the Bellows campaign that are made through this page between now and midnight tomorrow (Monday night/Tuesday morning)

"I was originally attracted to the Maine contest," he told us, "by its potential to send the loudest message, of any 2014 race, that voters are sufficiently shocked, by the NSA surveillance revelations, to turn strongly against NSA-apologist incumbents like Collins. But now Collins appears even more vulnerable because of this month's outbreak of open warfare between Senate Democrats and the CIA, over the torture report that Collins may be trying to help the CIA delay or suppress. The more closely I looked at Bellows, the more I saw not only policies I support and political experience, skills and tactics that I respect, but also great potential for proving to be the right person in the right place at the right time."

There is great potential for Susan Collins’ “mile-wide” popularity to be proven “inch-deep,” because people who disagree with Collins’ positions, especially on civil liberties, can be found not only among Maine’s plurality of Democrats but also its substantial contingents of Independents and Libertarians, with whom Bellows has strong rapport.

Let's not leave this thousand dollar offer on the table. If Shenna wins in November, it will be the biggest victory for the progressive movement in America since we helped oust Wall Street favorite's senator, Scott Brown, in Massachusetts and elect Elizabeth Warren.

If you give $10 it's like giving $20 today. And if you give $50, it's like a $100 contribution. This is what Shenna needs to get her message out across Maine. This offer ends tomorrow at Midnight (ET).



Why Blue America Is Taking A Time Out

For the rest of this week, you are likely to be bombarded with hysterical, desperate spam from the DCCC, DSCC and their myriad candidates…ugh.

The New Dems and Third Way candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party have been instructed to send out as many as 5 e-mails per day leading up to Monday, the last day of the FEC's first quarter. So we're not going to send any more e-mails out 'til after that circus is over.

Today, though-- we're offering to send a $1,000 check from our PAC to whichever House candidate our members prefer. You tell us who.

Just go to the regular Blue America page and contribute-- any amount-- to whichever candidate or candidates you would like to see get the extra grand. The candidate that gets the most contributions (not necessarily the most cash) gets the PAC check. Clean and easy!

We want to know who you're feeling so far this cycle. We're not going to make any pitches.

All the candidates on this page have been vetted as Blue America '14 candidates and are worthy of your vote and dollars.

Digby, John and I write about them all the time. You can search our sites for posts to learn more about each of of them.

Or just contribute to the one you already know enough about to want to see win in November.

Thanks,

Digby, John, Howie



You Know-- Even If Republicans Don't-- Hawaii Is A State


There are no perfect candidates. They all have at least one flaw. But we still haven't found one for the progressive seeking the open House seat based in Honolulu, Stanley Chang. Blue America endorsed him because he's quite literally a progressive dream candidate. He's great on women's equality, LGBT equality, immigration reform, environmental issues, and campaign finance reform. But today we just want to emphasize the populist economic vision that puts Stanley, a former student of Elizabeth Warren's at Harvard Law, right in synch with the proud Hawaiian traditions advanced by Patsy Mink, Tom Gill, Jean King, Dan Akaka and Mazie Hirono.

"Social Security," he told us "is the bedrock of the safety net for our kupuna. Make no mistake, 'chained CPI' is a euphemism for deep cuts to Social Security, a program that keeps 22 million seniors out of poverty. I was relieved that the White House dropped chained CPI from its most recent budget proposals, but we should continue to be vigilant. Social Security must be strengthened, not gutted. Let’s look at simple, commonsense reforms, like raising the cap on taxable income, which would ensure that Social Security stays solvent for many more generations. Surely we can do better than to balance the budget on the backs of our kupuna who have worked a lifetime to enjoy a secure retirement."

Same type of progressive attitude when it comes to raising the minimum wage: "When the minimum wage was introduced, it was $10.74 in today’s dollars" he reasoned. "Today, the minimum wage is only $7.25. Many of the homeless on our streets today work full-time jobs, but can’t afford rent or even a security deposit on their minimum wage paychecks. Raising the minimum wage would stimulate the economy, generate more jobs, and lift working families out of poverty. Hawaii is in particular need of a raise as its minimum wage is stuck at the national minimum. No one who works full time should be relegated to poverty and homelessness."

And he's eager to go much further, of course. "Almost one quarter of American families live outside the mainstream banking system and spend, on average, over $2,000 per year on costly fees and services such as payday loans, bill paying and check cashing. With 35,000 locations across our country, the United States Postal Service is well positioned to provide these service at a low cost to families and is exactly the kind of innovation our financial system and working families need. Providing basic financial services at a dramatically reduced rate while pushing some of the most unscrupulous banking service providers out of the market is a smart move for America… I support a new Glass-Steagall Act, which for generations banned investment banks from gambling away people’s life savings. America’s five biggest banks hold more than half the banking assets in the country. Clearly, we must fight to increase capital requirements and break up the banks that are 'too big to fail.' We have to prevent the large banks from keeping all the profit from the good years while forcing American taxpayers to bail out their losses."

Sound like your kind of candidate? He's ours and his opponents in the August primary are a nightmare, mostly a bunch of DINOs from the other wing of the party, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. This district is deep blue; whoever wins the primary will be going to Congress. Let's make sure it's someone who shares our progressive values. You can contribute to Stanley's campaign here. Have you ever contributed to someone running in Hawaii before?

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America team



We Need Members Of Congress Who KNOW Something

Earlier this month we introduced our newest House candidate, Illinois particle physicist George Gollin. This link goes to the TV ad he's trying to get up on more stations across the sprawling district that goes from Bloomington and Champaign, straight through the Illinois farm belt to the northern suburbs of St. Louis. The election is a week from Tuesday, March 18, enough time to show that ad to the undecided voters who will cast the decisive ballots in this hotly contested race. Can you help him do it?

Even before scientist/Rep. Rush Holt announced his retirement from Congress, a friend of mine put together this explanation of why it's important to help Gollin win this race. He was making an argument that was the exact opposite of the argument for confirming Nixon failed Supreme Court nominee G. Harrold Carswell-- later arrested for trying to have sex with random men in public toilets in Tallahassee and Atlanta-- that was made by Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska. Hruska, no rocket scientist himself, is remembered for this one statement he uttered in his 22 years in the Senate, this one about Carswell: "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos." Well, I think we can try. We certainly have a very, very long way to go. 

Thoughtful people in the House are really getting tired of listening to people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

One of the dirty little secrets of Congress is that many of them legislate in areas in which they are utterly bereft of knowledge. If ignorance is bliss, then some of the Members must be deliriously happy. (No wonder Sen. Ted Cruz is always smiling!)

Seriously, we have Members on the Agriculture Committee who couldn’t tell a plow from a harvester. We have Members on the Science Committee who couldn’t tell a proton from a photon.  We have Members on the Foreign Affairs Committee who couldn’t locate Indonesia on a globe if their lives were at stake. And we have Members on the Intelligence Committee who are as dumb as...

Well, you get the idea. And don’t even ask me about the Ethics Committee.

So that’s why we're supporting George Gollin for Congress, and why you should support him, too. He actually knows stuff. Lots of stuff.

Even worse, to the extent that Members of Congress know any stuff at all, it’s always the same stuff. According to Roll Call, out of the 435 Members of the House, we have 187 businessmen, 156 lawyers, and 77 educators. Do the math. That leaves 15 Members.

For four years, Alan Grayson worked as an economist. As far as we know, he's the only Member of Congress who can make that claim. Roll Call did not uncover anyone else. And believe me, whenever he starts to talk economics in a Congressional hearing, the eyes glaze over. Quickly.

But don’t worry. Whenever we need an expert opinion on something, we can turn to the three former talk radio hosts in the House. (It was four, until one got caught snorting-- possibly selling-- cocaine.) Or perhaps we can benefit from the expertise of the former professional football player-- whenever it’s third and nine on the Floor of the House.

This is why we need George Gollin in the House. The man actually knows what he’s talking about.

George Gollin is a physicist. In the 70s, he worked on muon scattering, to test quantum chromodynamics theory. (We're not making this up.) In the 80s, he studied neutral K meson decay, to test for CP violation. (I swear that this is true.) In the 90s, he measured the production and decay properties of heavy quarks. (I kid you not.) Since then, he has specialized in the design and construction of electron-positron colliding beam facilities. (This is indeed bona fide.)

So we can elect George Gollin to Congress, or settle for yet another lawyer/businessman tool. What do you think? And as you consider that question, also consider that the U.S. Department of Energy spends roughly $10 billion a year in taxpayer dollars on physics research, with no one in Congress qualified to do oversight on that effort.

Members who serve on the House Science and Technology Committee tell me it's bleak, really bleak. A few months ago, one of the Members on the Committee said that evolution is “a lie straight from the pit of hell.” Most of the Members are climate change deniers. One friend of our on the committee keeps encouraging them to transfer from the House Science Committee to the House Religion Committee, and follow their true calling. (There is no House Religion Committee, but their eyes light up anyway.)

The progressives on that committee need George Gollin’s help there-- and in Congress. So we should help him get there.

Here’s another really good thing about George Gollin-- he’s a liberal Democrat, and he’s not afraid to say so. In fact, that’s exactly what his TV ad says-- that he’s a proud progressive Democrat. For that reason alone, he deserves our support. A progressive who is proud to be a progressive-- how refreshing! I hope that this catches on.

Maybe Congress always will be crawling with witless lawyers and businessman, like vermin. But if someone like George Gollin can win, then maybe not. Maybe there is hope.

…Help George Gollin win his primary next month… because George Gollin has both a head and a heart.

You can contribute to Gollin's campaign on the Blue America '14 Congressional candidates page. Please do.



Tell the DSCC: "Your Job is to Elect Democrats, Not Susan Collins"

I can't begin to describe how frustrating it is that the DSCC seems content to waste their resources on reactionary Blue Dog Travis Childers' hopeless attempt to win a Senate seat in deep red Mississippi (where Obama lost with 44%) while stubbornly ignoring the best Democrat running for Senate in years, Maine's Shenna Bellows-- and in a state Obama won with 56%.

Shenna Bellows is the right Democrat for Maine.

This week, Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Bellows is "way too far outside the mainstream" for Maine and that "if the Daily Kos declares statehood, Shenna Bellows would fit in well." Bellows, of course, is proud of the support she's gotten from Daily Kos and other online activists. And she asked which of the policies she's running on are outside of Maine's (not DC's) mainstream. Shenna:

  • Most Mainers I know support raising the minimum wage to $10.10;
  • Most Mainers care about climate change;
  • Most Mainers believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

These are issues where my opponent, Republican Susan Collins, and I honestly disagree… My opponent has sided with Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz over Maine voters on the minimum wage, the Keystone XL Pipeline and just yesterday, she voted against restoring veterans’ benefits.

One of Blue America's most consistent contributors asked us to express to all our other members some of his own thoughts on why now is the time to contribute to the Bellows campaign.

First off, he points out that now is crunch time. The next few weeks is when Bellows’ campaign can benefit most from increasing contributor headcount and dollars, in order to earn more attention from national media and support from national political organizations and contributors. Her campaign is on the verge of this kind of “lift off”-- or “critical mass”-- after its surprisingly fast start-up in fundraising, organization-building, endorsements and visibility-- culminating last week in national publicity from ABC News. 

The message of Bellows’ success would be all the louder because Susan Collins has been a very popular incumbent in prior elections and recent polls. But this popularity depends largely on Collins diverting attention from her positions on privacy, law enforcement drones, marriage equality and other issues, which are not evolving fast enough to keep up with public opinion among Maine’s voters, who gave Obama two emphatic wins. Small-town native daughter Bellows is well-equipped to win over even more of these voters.

And, for many of us, the most important issue, on a par with Climate Change, is the increasing scope of the surveillance state. Its becoming a plausible issue. We believe that a successful campaign by the ACLU-veteran “civil libertarian” is possible.

Bellows can send the loudest possible message to every politician and government official in Washington, DC that the ongoing Snowden disclosures are a serious concern to voters of every stripe, including swing-voting independents and potentially Democratic-voting libertarians.

Bellows’ opponent Collins, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has done virtually nothing to advance surveillance supervision or transparency, and has uncritically amplified quickly-discredited assurances about the efficacy and limited scope of surveillance. Maine’s voters include many independent thinkers who will not be impressed by Collins statements that: "the program, in which the NSA collected information on the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans 'has defeated and thwarted dozens and dozens of terror plots both here and overseas ... We should not assume a trade-off between liberty and security…'"

Let the DSCC waste their time and resources on anti-Choice, anti-equality, antigay, anti-environment, pro-NRA goons like Travis Childers. Let's do absolutely everything we can to elect a real progressive fighter.

Shenna Bellows is going to be just as astounding a U.S. Senator as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Let's do absolutely everything we can to elect a real progressive fighter. Please give what you can to Shenna Bellows campaign today..

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America team



Chained CPI-- RIP? Now Let's Get To Work Strengthening Social Security

Last year, President Obama offered to compromise Social Security inviolability on the alter of the plutocrats and their advocates (the GOP and the ConservaDems) who want to cut-- if not abolish-- social insurance. It was a bad mistake but, lucky for America, the Republicans, who had demanded it, refused to compromise and Chained CPI wasn't adopted. This year, the president has decided to focus on his State of the Union message about opportunity as his budgetary vision. It's a reflection that the budget is falling rapidly already and would fall more if Congress passes immigration reform. AP reported Thursday that there will be no Chained CPI cuts in this year's budget-- at least not Obama's. Ryan, of course, will have that… and worse.

Part of this victory for progressives had to do with mobilizing against Chained CPI cuts, as has been reported lately in the press.

We haven't come across a single House Republican who doesn't back Chained CPI cuts to Social Security, from Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, all the way down the food chain to ineffectual backbenchers like Rodney Davis. We reached out to all the Blue America candidates and all of them oppose Chained CPI and other conservative schemes to cut Social Security. Since we mentioned Paul Ryan and Rodney Davis, let's begin with their opponents' statements. Rob Zerban (D-WI): "There is absolutely no way I could imagine a scenario where I could support a change in the calculations to the colas for for Social Security. Chained CPI is nothing more that an attempt to reduce benefits to senior citizens at a time when they can least afford it.  At this point the best thing we could do for our economy is to lower the retirement age to encourage workers to retire.  We would then open up more positions for those seeking jobs and reduce the unemployment. To make Social Security more solvent we need to remove the caps on higher income earners. I never understood why people making the most would pay less taxes for Social Security than those earning less. This is a simple fairness issue. If eliminating the caps on incomes is not enough to make the programs solvent indefinitely then we need to adjust the contribution we pay into the system to ensure that American's can retire with dignity and security."

Down in Illinois, George Gollin, the progressive alternative to Davis, sees it much the same way Zerban does:

Early in the last century, many of those who became too old to work suffered a rapid descent into poverty, infirmity, and mortal illness. The Social Security Act of 1935, which guaranteed a decent standard of living for “aged persons, blind persons, [and] dependent and crippled children,” changed this.

Eighty years ago a loaf of bread was a nickel. Without cost of living adjustments to earned benefits, the elderly would have long ago tumbled into the Dickensian nightmare of privation that is so fiercely defended by the Tea Party.

Cost-of-living calculations should include more than just inflation. We expect our spending patterns to change as we age--medical care will cost us more than it did when we were invincible twenty-somethings-- and COLA ought to take this into account. The original intent of the Social Security Act was, after all, to protect us from an irreversible slide into poverty after a lifetime of work.

But Washington is abuzz with a push to cut earned benefits, delay the retirement age, and implement a bogus inflation index called “chained CPI.” These indecent rollbacks are proposed so that someone with an annual income of $1 million will pay no more into the system than someone else with an income of $120,000.

Lifting the cap on income taxed for Social Security-- so that system is supported with a more progressive schedule of contributions-- would keep the system solvent indefinitely, and would increase taxes only on the top 5% of earners.

But that’s not how we do things anymore, with our politics awash in corporate cash that buys favors for the wealthy. Real people-- though not corporations-- are ground to dust in a down economy. Most members of Congress appear unconcerned with providing workers a decent standard of living.

It is not right for us to tolerate such a grotesque tilting of the rules.

This is a big deal across the Midwest and our other candidates from the region were as animated as Rob and George. Mike Obermueller is running for the seat occupied by right-wing fanatic John Kline in southeast Minnesota. "Social Security," he told me, "has been critical to making sure seniors can retire with dignity in this country. No program in history has been more successful at lifting seniors out of poverty than this one. That’s why it’s so frustrating that Republicans (and even some Democrats) are fixated on cutting these benefits for people who need them and who have earned them. Chained CPI would eliminate the financial stability and independence Social Security was created to provide. We have to set priorities and protecting the middle class against this gimmick should be one of them."

In the suburbs east of Cleveland, Michael Wager is running for the seat held by David Joyce, a Boehner lackey. "Chained CPI," Michael told me, "is, in fact, a cut in Social Security benefits, and undermines the already tenuous financial health of millions of Americans. Many in Washington continue to look to Social Security to address budget concerns, yet Social Security has not contributed to budget deficits. Still suffering from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, low and moderate income seniors, quite simply, should not be asked to endure reduced benefits in name of 'fiscal responsibility.'"

Another top Boehner lieutenant and committee chair, Fred Upton (R-MI), is being challenged by Paul Clements. Upton is a big Austerity booster and backs Chained CPI and other deprecations against working families in the Ryan budget. Paul does not-- in a big way: "Introducing policy schemes like Chained CPI into budget discussions is a reckless move that imperils our seniors and the economic prosperity of our nation. For years, we've watched members of our own party team up with conservatives to slash programs aiding the jobless and our seniors. More people are living in poverty than ever before and Washington continues to hurt more than help. We must work to make critical investments and strengthen programs like Social Security, not engage in more schemes that hurt our seniors."

Same for Pat Murphy, the front-runner in the race to succeed Bruce Braley in Iowa's first congressional district. He is the former Speaker of the Iowa House and he has a keen understanding of the role of leadership. "Social Security is a cornerstone of my progressive beliefs. My parents raised me to keep my word and stand up for what’s right. We’ve made a pledge to seniors who have worked hard and paid into Social Security and Medicare for decades that their benefits will be there when they need them, and I intend to keep that pledge. It’s the right thing to do. Cutting benefits to those who have paid into the program to simply make budget through 'chained CPI' is wrong.  By raising the cap for folks who make over $106,000 a year would increase solvency, have the ability to expand benefits and better serve our seniors."

The progressive candidate for the open seat in Oklahoma City (OK-05) is Tom Guild, who is of no mind to compromise away the rights of working families on this or anything.

Approximately one in five Social Security recipients has no other income. The current Social Security COLA doesn’t cover the increased costs of living for seniors. Expanding Social Security benefits would give many additional seniors peace of mind, and help them keep pace with cost of living increases. We owe it to the generation that did their part to build our country, to make good on the promise of Social Security, that they wouldn’t have to live their golden years in poverty. It makes sense and is the right thing to do to increase the Social Security stipend for our seniors. By lifting the cap on the $114,000 of income currently taxable to support the program, we can extend the life and promise of Social Security for generations past 2031. This is a concrete way that we can demonstrate our thanks to our seniors who have done so much for us.

If the national government funded just one programs adequately, it would be Social Security.  This is a proposal to adequately fund Social Security. It would protect and enhance benefits, and increase the revenue stream supporting this vital program by abolishing the cap on income subject to the tax dedicated to Social Security, and increase the dedicated tax by 1/20th of 1% for six years. This would secure Social Security for additional decades. Since 2/3 of today’s retirees receive more than half of their income from Social Security, and about 1/5th are completely dependent on this source of income, this proposal would greatly enhance tens of millions of Americans’ retirement security. It would ensure that seniors’ cost-of-living would not continue to outpace benefits received by recipients, who paid into the Social Security fund for their entire working lives. Sometimes we should just do the right thing for those who spent their lives building our country. That time has arrived.

A chained CPI would take us in the wrong direction, and take desperately needed funds out of seniors budgets. It is time to move forward, and not allow those who have tried to destroy Social Security since 1935, to take the first step toward dismantling and undermining this vitally important program protecting American seniors from poverty and hardship in their golden years.

Like Tom, state Senator Daylin Leach, the Liberal Lion of Pennsylvania's legislator, wants to expand Social Security, not cut it: "For the life of me I can't understand why the administration is buying right-wing propaganda about the need for cuts to Social Security. To be blunt, its bullshit. There is no problem with Social Security that can't be solved (and then some) by uncapping the FICA tax. At a time when private pensions are shrinking and disappearing, and people rely more than ever on their Social Security check, it is morally abhorrent to unnecessarily cut these benefits because paying higher taxes makes a few rich people sad. It's time to expand, rather than cut, Social Security benefits." And I'll close with a statement from our newest candidate, Stanley Chang from Honolulu:

Social Security is the bedrock of the safety net our seniors have earned. The current Republican efforts to dismantle Social Security are a grave and immediate threat to the livelihoods of too many families in American. Make no mistake, Chained CPI is a euphemism for deep, harsh cuts to Social Security, which keeps 22 million seniors out of poverty.

At a time when the middle class continues to struggle and there are far more people living in poverty than ever before, we need to be protecting and expanding Social Security, not cutting it. Simple, common sense progressive plans such as raising the taxable income above the current $106,000 ceiling will extend Social Security’s solvency for decades to come.

Surely we can do better than to balance the budget on the backs of working families who have worked a lifetime to enjoy a secure retirement. Social Security must be strengthened and expanded, not gutted and scraped for parts.

We've got to get this conservatives out of power and out of office and off our backs. Electing these progressive candidates is going to help.
You can do that here and keep in mind, there is no such thing as a contribution being too small.

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America Team



LAST CALL: JONI MITCHELL CONTEST ENDS TODAY

UPDATE: Thank you to all who participated. The contest had 945 people who donated something to either Alan Grayson, Lee Rogers or Blue America, for a total of $27,572.

Details, here.

Everyone who was randomly selected is very excited and happy to win their prize, which is one of four Joni Mitchell Prints.

The winners are:

Garland Marshall, a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics in St Louis,
Paul Droluk, near San Diego
Jim Gilkeson, Orlando
Clark Newhall of Salt Lake City

Thanks again, and apologies to those of you outside of the United States, who, by law were unable to contribute. :(
******************************

At noon today (Pacific Time, so 3pm on the East Coast), Blue America will randomly select 4 "winners" of our Joni Mitchell drawing. It's been a fun little "contest" and we managed to raise around $8,000 for Congress' most essential Member, Alan Grayson, and another $6,000 for California congressional candidate with a similar progressive perspective, Lee Rogers. We feel good-- and we feel grateful to the over 500 men and women who chipped in (here>. Thank you.

If you haven't entered the contest yet, you have 'til noon at that link above. And if you want to contribute to Alan and Lee but have no interest in the contest, you'll find them both on the regular Blue America page-- along with all the other progressive House candidates we vetted so far this cycle.

But the real purpose of this e-mail is to remind you of what we're up against-- all of us.

The Koch brothers are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in Orlando to try to defeat Grayson with their regular complain of smears and lies. "Vicious, fraudulent negative ads. Money to burn. Who could that possibly be? Can you guess?" Grayson asked last week. And answered:

Right. It’s the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers are running attack ads against me. Already.

The Koch Brothers, Charles and David, are tied for fourth place on the list of the richest Americans. Each of them has $36 billion. That’s $36,000,000,000.00.

They own Koch Industries, which is one of the biggest polluters in America.

The Koch Brothers pledged and spent over $100 million in 2012, trying to defeat President Obama and the Democrats. That was roughly one one-thousandth of their wealth.

The Koch Brothers also spent $2 million to defeat me in 2010, through their front group “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP). And another $2 million through their front group “60 Plus”.

In 2012, their front group AFP printed 80,000 door-hangers to distribute in my district, condemning me for voting twice to raise the debt limit. I actually had voted twice against raising the debt limit – on the very bills that they cited. But the Koch Brothers don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, the truth is whatever they say it is.

Well, now they’re back, to try to beat me again. The ads in my district are paid for by the Koch front group “Concerned Veterans for America.” Virtually every nickel that the “Concerned Veterans for America” has to its name comes from a group called the TC4 Trust. And the money for the TC4 Trust comes from the Koch Brothers. The Washington Post and Open Secrets laid it all out, nice and neat, earlier this month. In a Washington Post article called “The Players in the Koch-Backed $400 Million Political Donor Network,” one of the “players” was “Concerned Veterans for America,” which “was funded almost entirely by TC4 in 2012.”
In the illustration above, Koch groups like this are called “Astroturf Agents,” “fake ‘grassroots’ groups to project an appearance of popular support for ideas and policies that benefit big corporations.”

Why do the Koch Brothers have it in for me? Is it because Slate magazine called me “the most effective Member of Congress”? Is it because Business Insider listed me as the most productive Member of Congress? Is it because I introduced more bills last year than any other Member of Congress? Is it because I passed more amendments last year-- in a Republican-controlled House-- than any other Member of Congress? Is it because I stood up against the military-industrial complex over war with Syria, and won?

Or is it all of the above?

Look, it’s clear at this point. Whoever ends up as the nominal Republican nominee in FL-9 this year is simply a placeholder. A proxy. A surrogate. It’s going to be me against the Koch Brothers.

As I explained yesterday, we need reach our voters, to dispel the Koch Brothers’ lies. And whether we do it through TV ads, radio ads, internet ads, mail or even yard signs, it all costs money.

I need your help, and I’m going to need it all of the time between now and Election Day. Not once-- all the time. If you haven’t contributed to our campaign yet, then you need to start now. If you have contributed, then you need to do it again. If you aren’t already contributing monthly, then you need to do that-- because these rotten attack ads against me are going to run monthly, weekly, daily and hourly. And if already you contribute monthly, God bless you for that, but please consider upping the ante.

This is serious. I need you to pitch in. Every dollar counts, because I count, and you count.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson



Kochs/Fox Aiming to take Alan Grayson Out-- Joni To The Rescue?

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Koch brothers are already pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into ads meant to demonize Alan Grayson and defeat him in November. Fox "News" is targeting him again as well. That these powerful entities are shoveling their vast resources towards Grayson's defeat is good news… Because it proves he's succeeding at the job we sent him to Congress to do!

Today, Blue America is launching a Joni Mitchell contest to help raise some campaign cash for Grayson's reelection in the very expensive Orlando media market.

Grayson also requested that we ask our donors to give to Lee Rogers at the same time, a friend and political ally running a tough campaign to win the seat Buck McKeon is giving up just north of L.A. "I like Lee Rogers," Grayson explained. "But that’s not why I’m asking you to support his run for Congress."

I respect Lee Rogers, because he is the doctor who founded and directed the Amputation Prevention Center, and reduced amputations by 72%.  But that’s not why I’m asking you to support his run for Congress.
 
I know that we need a progressive doctor like Lee Rogers in Congress, to help Drs. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) counter the demented ravings of Drs. Paul Broun (R-Paleolithic), Scott DesJarlais (R-Patient Dating), Michael Burgess (R-Fetal Wanking) and Larry Bucshon (R-Guns).  But that’s not why I’m asking you to support Lee Rogers’s run for Congress.
 
I’m asking you to support Lee Rogers for Congress, because we have to win a seat like his to turn the U.S. House of Representatives blue.

…Please contribute to the Lee Rogers for Congress campaign today. Every dollar counts, because every person counts.
 
Do it for Nancy Pelosi, to make Nancy-- the first female Speaker of the House-- Speaker once more. Do it for me, so that I can push through all of our legislation for justice, equality and peace. Do it for yourself and the people you love, so that all of us can enjoy the blessings of good government.

This time we're running the "contest" a little differently. The basic rules are the same: just contribute any amount to Alan and Lee on this special Joni Mitchell page-- or, if you're strapped for cash and want a chance to win, send us a post card telling us so at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

What makes this contest different is that we're giving away 4 Joni Mitchell art prints (18" x 24") and Grayson suggested that we choose four random winners! Everyone has a lot better chance to win one of the rare, collectible Joni prints-- four times better-- that have never been offered for sale for any amount of money.

Let me just leave you with something Lee Rogers told us about Grayson: "As a doctor, I know most people use their guts for digestion. But, Rep. Alan Grayson uses his guts for a more constructive purpose. He stands up for the voiceless and underrepresented as a Congressman. Sadly, unless you're one of the 0.01% that donates significant money to fill the coffers of politicians, you're probably one of those underrepresented by Congress. Alan is your voice. I greatly admire Alan for having the guts to stand up to nearly everyone and almost single-handedly prevent an American war in Syria. He's bold and "tells it like it is." Those are qualities I hope to emulate in Congress and I'm honored to have his support in my election."

Again, here's where you can support Alan Grayson and Lee Rogers and enter to win one of the 4 Joni Mitchell prints. One is pictured, above.




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