$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



New Jersey Can Help Fix The Senate

I’m not the most famous candidate running for Senate in New Jersey.  If you know me at all, you probably know me as the congressman who beat IBM’s computer, Watson in Jeopardy-- the one whose bumper stickers say “My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist!”

But as a true progressive, you care about more than celebrity and slogans.  You care about electing the senator who will fight the hardest for our shared values.

So let me tell you why, with your support, I will be that person:  the truly progressive, evidence-driven voice we urgently need in the U.S. Senate.

As a teacher and a scientist, I used to help run the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and led the nuclear nonproliferation program at the U.S. State Department. This experience gives me a very different perspective from anyone now in the Senate –and gives me the conviction to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

You see, right now, the Senate has zero scientists. And as a result, the evidence in support of our progressive priorities is being ignored:

• The earth’s climate is changing, and human beings are responsible. Every single month for the last 28 years has been warmer than the historic average. If America fails to act, millions of people will die.

• America’s health care system is not the best in the world-- not even close. We’re paying 40 percent more than any other country as a share of our economy, and we’re still leaving almost 50 million people uninsured.

• America is betraying our young college students-- burdening them with an average of $27,000 in student loan debt, then abandoning them to face 13 percent unemployment in the workplace.

If we’re honest about the evidence, the way forward is clear.

We need to tax carbon so that polluters pay for the greenhouse gases they’re dumping into our atmosphere.

We need to move to a single-payer health care system, the kind that has held down costs and improved quality in nations around the world.

We need to make college more affordable by charging students the same low interest rate, 0.75%, that Wall Street banks pay to borrow money from the government.

And we desperately need a senator for the 21st century: someone who has a real understanding of the science and technology that are changing our world.

Because despite what some senators have claimed, the Internet is not a series of tubes, abortions do not cause breast cancer, and breast implants do not make women healthier. And although changing technology does present new challenges to law enforcement, it does not mean the NSA has the need or the right to monitor the phone calls, letters, and e-mails of innocent people-- treating Americans as suspects first and citizens second.

It’s long past time for the Senate to have at least one scientist, at least one voice who follows the evidence wherever it leads, no matter the political or personal risk.

Rush Holt, Rocket Scientist

Contribute

Will you help me be that truly progressive, evidence-driven voice? If so, I ask for your vote and your support.

Please visit my website, RushHolt.com. See where I stand, watch my videos explaining these ideas in more depth, and-- if you like what you see-- share the word with your friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Thanks.  It’s a privilege to run for your seat in the Senate, and I can’t wait to get to work for you.

Rush Holt



Heroes And Villains: Massachusetts Senate Race

Massachusetts will pick a replacement for Senator John Kerry on June 25, although it's likely that the winner of the Democratic primary on April 30 will pretty much have it locked up. All of the top tier Republicans who looked at the race-- ex-Senator Scott Brown, ex-Lt. Governor Kerry Healey, ex-Lt. Governor Jane Swift, ex-Governor William Weld, ex-state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei and a bunch of Romneys-- quickly declined to run. If enough of the petition signatures they turned in are deemed valid, the 3 Republicans who will be on the primary ballot-- ex-Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez. ex-U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Michael Sullivan and the one non-ex, state Rep. Daniel Winslow-- don't really offer a serious challenge to either Democrat running, Ed Markey or Stephen Lynch.

So it comes down to a battle between Congress' sharpest and most stalwart fighter for a sane Climate Change policy, progressive Ed Markey and a run of the mill conservative Democrat, Stephen Lynch, who's made a name for himself as an anti-Choice fanatic and GOP kiss-up in their culture wars. Example: on Palm Sunday, 2005, when Tom DeLay called Congress, back for a special session to exploit Terry Schiavo's tragedy, almost all the Democrats in the House ignored him and refused to take part in his circus. 102 Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, stayed away, including Ed Markey. Lynch could barely wait to get back to Washington to cast his vote with DeLay and the Republican necrophiliacs.

More recently, we watched Congress tackle the issue of Sequestration. Markey, along with virtually all the progressives in the House, voted against the policy. There was tremendous pressure from the White House-- exerted by pro-Sequestration party leaders Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- for Democrats to toe the line. Markey refused. No one needed to twist Lynch's arm. He was one of the 95 Democrats who went along with Boehner and Cantor and voted for this disastrous policy. That vote tells you a lot about who Stephen Lynch is and who Ed Markey is.

Yesterday we looked at how Sequestration is part of an orchestrated plan to nudge panic reluctant Americans into accepting a Simpson-Bowles version of the failed European Austerity agenda and how progressives are fighting back against that potentially disastrous outcome. The Grayson-Takano letter ("we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need") sends a clear message to Obama and the House Democratic leadership that not all Democrats will sell out working families to pursue a conservative vision of deficit reduction at a time when the deficits are already shrinking and at a time when working families are being pushed to the brink, even as the stock market and the wealth of the one percent soars. 

Markey, of course, stands with Alan Grayson and Mark Takano and the two dozen other progressives who are leading the way. Stephen Lynch refuses to sign the letter or anything like it. He's waiting-- as usual-- to be told what to do by his Establishment backers. Stephen Lynch is the last kind of politician a state like Massachusetts needs in the Senate-- which probably has a lot to do with why polling shows Markey substantially ahead and why both outgoing Senator John Kerry and newly elected Senator Elizabeth Warren have enthusiastically endorsed Markey. And so has Blue America. This week we set up a special Profiles in Courage page around the Grayson-Takano letter. Our first profile is Ed Markey. Please consider helping him win a seat in the U.S. Senate.

UPDATE: Lynch Raises The White Flag, Signs The Letter!

Today 3 more progressives and a conservative signed on to the Grayson-Takano letter. The progressives were Lacy Clay (D-MO), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and their signatures are really non-stories, since they tend to support progressive initiatives anyway. The conservative is much bigger news: Stephen Lynch, who is freaking out that Ed Markey is ahead of him by double digits in another poll that came out today!



Dems Desperate to Hold Senate Majority-- Let's Build A PROGRESSIVE Majority! Support Sanders & Warren

Bernie and Elizabeth depend on Grassroots (that's us!) not Wall Street. Every penny goes directly to their campaigns. Please give what you can.

Blue America doesn't usually send e-mails asking for contributions because of some phony Inside the Beltway "deadline"-- as if a $20 contribution is any more or any less crucial today or tomorrow. But we just got a wretched plea from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, begging for money for the dreadful and unpopular incumbents whose voting records make it impossible for them to raise money from grassroots Democrats. I mean who in their right mind is going to donate to conservative shills like Ben Nelson, Joe Manchin or Claire McCaskill? They've alienated Democratic voters and the lobbyists and Big Business interests they have normally counted on would rather replace them with Republicans. Good riddance!

On the other hand, Blue America would like to ask you to help us send a message to the DSCC today (or tomorrow-- we don't care) by helping us support Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), two people who have fought long and hard for ordinary American families, not for the banksters and not for the corporate elites.

You already know Bernie. This is what Elizabeth Warren told the Boston Globe yesterday: “It’s about being willing to take a good idea and fight for it. It’s being willing to throw your body in front of a bus to block bad ideas... There are some things worth fighting for and right now it’s about fighting for the middle class."

She's running for Ted Kennedy's old seat, which is currently occupied by Wall Street's favorite senator, Scott Brown-- and that's what business-friendly Forbes called him... admiringly. One day Elizabeth may be the tellers' favorite senator, but she'll never be the banksters' or hedge fund managers'!

"I came out of a hard-working middle class family. I lived in an America that created opportunities for kids like me... I now see an America in which our government works for those who already have money and already have power... I would walk out of a senator’s office and the office would be completely jammed with lobbyists who were there to explain why the consumer agency was bad. There was not enough room for them to sit down.’’

Blue America has only endorsed 2 people for the Senate so far this cycle. It's hard to imagine any other incumbents and so far the only other challenger who looks worthwhile is Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, although she hasn't declared yet. So we're asking you to take a look at our Senate page and see if you can give us a hand with Bernie and Elizabeth... either before or after the DSCC's midnight "deadline."

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

Check out this video of Elizabeth Warren, who is worthy of our support.




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