Thursday, October 27, 2011
Rob Stuart passes away, Keystone Progress Education Fund Board Member
Virginia Organizing says Eric Cantor breaks promises at home and in Philly
LADELLE MCWHORTER, VIRGINIA ORGANIZING BOARD MEMBER
I am a board member of Virginia Organizing, a statewide, nonpartisan grassroots organization that works on social and economic justice issues.
We have a lot of members who are concerned that Rep. Cantor is not representing the 7th district or the state of Virginia well.
Lately it seems that Rep. Cantor has gone out of his way to embarrass Virginia to the rest of the nation and has become a lightning rod for good reason. He has obstructed the American Jobs Act. His unwillingness to negotiate helped lead to the Standard and Poors credit downgrade. And when natural disaster struck Joplin and his own district twice, he heartlessly announced that we must counter any disaster aid with spending cuts.
Recent earthquakes and hurricanes aside, many Virginians feel that Eric Cantor is the biggest recent disaster to hit Virginia.
Rep. Cantor’s cancellation of his Philadelphia income inequality speech is part of a pattern of behavior that indicates that he is not interested in hearing from the other 99 percent, or working on the one issue almost everyone cares about: jobs.
Rep. Cantor promised to work on jobs just like he promised to speak at the University of Pennsylvania last week. Well, Philadelphia has unfortunately learned what Virginia already knew: Eric Cantor has no problem breaking promises.
Virginia needs jobs and we need all of our representatives in Washington fighting for the unemployed. Virginia has fared better than other states like Pennsylvania, due to our high concentration of government and military jobs. But as massive cuts continue, we find our unemployment rate rising.
I am a professor at the University of Richmond, which is in the middle of Rep. Cantor’s district. There is no question that the number one priority of the graduating students and the community surrounding the university is jobs. Rep. Cantor represents some rural districts as well that have been hit hard by the economic downturn. Cantor’s constituents need a Jobs Champion in Washington, not a Jobs Obstructer.
Rep. Cantor has spent the last several weeks killing the American Jobs Act, which would create thousands of jobs in Virginia and 2.6 million jobs nationwide. Instead of working on jobs, Cantor is attacking the Occupy Wall Street protesters, restricting women's reproductive rights and working to deny disaster aid to his own district.
And instead of facing his constituents to explain why he is not fighting for jobs, he is scheduling speeches in Philadelphia only to cancel at the last minute because he is scared of the other 99 percent.
Virginia Organizing members traveled 300 miles to Philadelphia last Friday just to see their congressman. Representative Cantor rarely holds public meetings in his district and does not put out a public schedule. The closest thing Rep. Cantor has had to a recent town hall was an invite-only event on August 31, publicized only on the local tea party website. Hundreds of his constituents showed up anyway and were kept away by the police. It’s clear that Representative Cantor wants to keep his distance from the poor, middle class, unemployed and just about anyone else who doesn’t agree with him.
Rep. Cantor is much more comfortable surrounded by his wealthy donors and corporate CEOs. Well, in order to move our country forward, we might have to take Rep. Cantor out of his comfort zone for a moment, so that he can understand the struggles of the other 99 percent.
New Report Shows That Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid Work for Pennsylvania and America
Programs provide benefits to 1 in 5 residents, contribute $79 billion per year to state’s economy
A new report issued today (http://bit.ly/samlK2) outlines the importance of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to people in Pennsylvania and the state’s economy.
The report comes out just as Pennsylvania’s Senator Pat Toomey finishes his work on the congressional Super Committee tasked with reducing the federal deficit. The Committee must recommend at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts by November 23. The full Congress must approve these recommendations by the end of the year, or it will trigger automatic deficit reduction.
At an event today, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans and the Strengthen Social Security campaign unveiled the report detailing the number of state residents who rely on these programs as well as the economic impact and number of jobs the programs support.
Although programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are widely scapegoated in federal deficit discussions, today’s report points out that they are not the true cause of the deficit. The report notes the large recent run-up in federal deficits resulted largely from 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; unpaid costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; the Great Recession which dramatically reduced tax collections, and the Wall Street bank bailout. Correspondingly, in seeking solutions to the federal deficit, the Super Committee should be looking at its causes and should not be cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are absolutely vital to the economic security of this nation.
Highlights from the new report:
ü Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spend a total of about $79 billion a year in Pennsylvania, providing benefits to an average of 1 out of every 5 residents for each program.
ü Social Security provided benefits to more than 1 in 5 (20.3 percent) residents in 2010, with an average benefit of $13,508 per year.
ü Without Social Security, the elderly poverty rate in Pennsylvania would increase from 1 out of 11 (8.7 percent) to nearly half (47.7) residents.
ü Social Security never has and will never contribute to federal budget deficits because, by law, it does not have borrowing authority.
ü Medicare spending generally rises less than private health insurance. From 1997 - 2009, Medicare’s annual costs per beneficiary rose far less than those of private health insurance. Cutting Medicare’s benefits simply shifts costs to the sickest and oldest among us, forcing some seniors and people with disabilities to forego treatment, living shorter, less healthy – and more medically costly – lives as a result.
ü Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are a lifeline for residents of Pennsylvania and the lifeblood of many small businesses, hospitals and nursing homes and home caregivers. Most of the jobs they create stay in America. Cutting these programs would threaten our families’ economic security and health and deepen our jobs crisis.
ü Two-thirds of all Medicaid spending is for seniors and people with disabilities. One out of every four (16 million) seniors and people with disabilities depended on Medicaid in 2010.
Pennsylvania resident Maxine Yancey worked as a nurse for 43 years. She is now retired and gets by with help for Social Security and Medicare.She said, “For me, it’s a matter of survival. Without the help of my four adult children and these supports, I would not be able to survive.”
“Too often political and media elites talk about these programs as just cold, unfeeling facts and figures, as if they are divorced from the people whose lives they touch,” said Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works. “Too often, the programs are talked about as ‘problems’ when in fact they really are ‘solutions’ – solutions that provide benefits that have been earned through the hard work of Americans.”
Jean Friday President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans said, “I worry about the future of retirement in this country. People used to work until the day they died. Seniors often lived in extreme poverty and bad health. We’ve come a long way, and we can’t go back. … We call upon Senator Toomey to support retirees and all residents in Pennsylvania by safeguarding these programs.”
View the full report here: http://bit.ly/samlK2.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
September Pennsylvania Jobs Report: Employment and Unemployment Moving In The Wrong Direction
To read the full report click here.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Our Eric Cantor Protest makes the Daily Show
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Talker, Texas Deranger & Scared Speechless|
PA Opposes Vouchers
UNEMPLOYED WORKERS, CONCERNED VOTERS OCCUPY SENATOR TOOMEY’S OFFICE
ALLENTOWN, PA –Angered by months of unanswered calls to address joblessness, an increase in Pennsylvania’s unemployment and news of an influx of donations to Senator Toomey from the banking industry, unemployed workers and concerned voters marched to Senator Toomey’s Allentown office this morning to call on him to support real job creation efforts, including the American Jobs Act. Refusing to leave the office until Senator Toomey changes his position on critical job creation programs, the demonstrators pledge to continue daily protests during the Senate recess.
“Senator Toomey has turned his back on Pennsylvania’s middle class,” said Shawn Wygant, who has been looking for work since the laundry facility he worked at closed down in May. “Our families are hurting. While we struggle just to keep a roof over our heads, Senator Toomey is working to give more tax breaks to companies that are sending our jobs overseas and taking donations from the greedy CEOs and banks that put us in this mess.”
The unemployed workers and community members are demanding that Senator Toomey:
1. Support the American Jobs Act;
2. Stop making job-killing cuts to Medicare and other services Pennsylvania families need;
3. Make big banks and corporations pay their fair share.
“I’ve been looking for work for months, and there’s nothing out there,” said Dan Haney, who has been out of work since his job and those of 650 of his co-workers were outsourced in February. “Senator Toomey is trying to make it easier for corporations to send jobs overseas when my family needs him to help create jobs here in Pennsylvania. Senator Toomey is siding with the rich CEOs and Wall Street bankers, the 1% that he spends his time with, and has forgotten about the hard-working Pennsylvanians who put him in office.”
The demonstrators are angry about Senator Toomey’s opposition to the American Jobs Act, which would create jobs in Pennsylvania, and his recent proposals to the budget Super Committee, including a territorial tax system which gives tax cuts to corporations that ship American jobs overseas, and his proposal to institute a voucher system for Medicare.
Pennsylvanians have been calling on Senator Toomey to stop siding with CEOs and Wall Street bankers at protests in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown,Scranton and Harrisburg. Protests outside of Senator Toomey’s Allentown office will continue throughout the Senate recess with faith leaders and local elected officials adding their support to the unemployed workers.
Education Voters Video Project
Education Voters Institute of Pennsylvania (EVI) is conducting a video project to highlight both the impact of cuts to critical programs that serve kids, and the importance of education to our communities and our economy. Tell us about how a program has affected you, or what the schools are like in your community, or who was the first person in your family to go to college. It can be a video short, or just a personal story told directed into the camera. Across Pennsylvania, students, parents, community leaders are speaking up about how we are affected by these choices.
What happened with this year’s budget was a travesty, and it didn’t need to happen. If we’re going to overcome the same obstacles next year we need make our voices heard and start laying the groundwork for change NOW!
Deadline October 30th
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Eric Cantor tells Tea Party to "take to streets," but calls Occupiers a "mob"
Check out this great video from Jon Stewart about the hypocrisy of GOP leaders deriding people who are standing up for the 99%.
And join us on Friday, October 21 in Philadelphia to greet Eric Cantor. He's speaking on economic inequality in the United States, but he opposes anything that seriously addresses that issue.
Tell Eric Cantor "We are America!"
Friday, October 21
3:30- 6:00 PM
Walnut and 38th Sts.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The Gas Boom Comes to the Forest
- Tens of thousands of Marcellus shale gas wells will be tapped in Pennsylvania Forests in the next 20 years. How will they affect the birds, fish and plants that call the deep forest home? The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier went over one forest to find out the answer.
- Read the whole story, with photos, here:
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Educators urge Gov. Corbett to provide resources for all students, not just a few
Monday, October 10, 2011
What is the Occupy Movement about? Alan Grayson summarizes in 1 1/2 minutes
Buidling Change event in Pittsburgh, October 13-15
- Development of an Action Plan for Building Social Justice in Southwestern Pennsylvania
- A major Youth Leading Change event for 350 young people on Thursday, October 13
- Keynote address by renowned environmental, social justice, and Native American rights activist Winona LaDuke
- The five-day, multi-theater Building Change Film Festival
- The 7 Pathways of Change Arts Show
- A Regional Champions of Change Awards presentation and ceremony
- An eclectic mix of entertainment
- Region-wide Internship Fair
- Grassroots Grantees Recognition event
Additional activities include workshops, panel discussions, roundtable discussions, keynote speakers, and plenary sessions on a wide range of issues such as Labor; Disability Rights; Economic Empowerment; Environmental Sustainability; LGBTQ Advocacy; Peace/Human Rights; Racial Equity; and Women, Youth and Families.
To make this event as accessible as possible for people of all means, we have kept the price very low at $5-$10. And, we have a limited number of free "scholarships" for which people with limited budgets can apply. Also, we are arranging bus and van transportation from the nine outlying counties in the region. Convergence attendees are free to tour the History Center and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum after attending their chosen workshop(s) ($12 value).
People will take part in this Convergence in several ways, including participating on an appropriate forum panel, co-presenting in a workshop, co-sponsoring in return for a range of benefits and premiums, tabling at the event to distribute information about their services and work, attending the workshops and panels of their choice, and engaging with the many young people who will be signing up for community service projects and internships.
This event presents many opportunities for networking and involvement, including tabling, sponsorship, presenting, serving on a discussion panel, and participating in relevant workshops and skill building sessions.
For more information or to reserve your space, please e-mail email@example.com or call 412-243-9250. Complete details are available on the event website, www.buildingchangewpa.org.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
What's the opposite of the "Buffet Rule?" The "Romney Rule!"
President Obama is having a field day dinging Republicans with his Buffett Rule — the principle that the super-rich shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than middle income Americans.
Now, someone who hopes to see Obama reelected says he’s found a similarly snappy line to attack the man emerging as Obama’s main rival: Mitt Romney.
Presenting The Romney Rule: the bumper sticker-friendly way Democrats are saying Romney favors exactly the opposite of what Buffett prescribes.
Greg Sargent first noticed the early green shoots of the idea:
The other day, Time magazine’s Michael Scherer weighed in with a great post reporting that one of the wealthy individuals who would be impacted by Obama’s push for the “Buffett Rule” is none other than Mitt Romney.
As Scherer noted, much of Romney’s income comes from investments, making him exactly the sort of “millionaire and billionaire” that Obama has been talking about — those who pay a lower tax rate than many middle class taxpayers.
Sargent noted that the idea of Romney as Buffett Rule millionaire had caught on with PrioritiesUSA Action, a pro-Obama fundraising group hoping to counter big money coming from American Crossroads and the like. In a follow-up post, PrioitiesUSA’s Paul Begala first floated the “Romney Rule” as a summary of the position.
Begala, who knows a thing or two about sexy one-liners that can grab an electorate, told TPM Wednesday that “Romney Rule” could be catching.
“It does kind of roll off the tongue, doesn’t it?” he said in an interview.
Citizens for Tax Justice, a progressive-leaning group, estimated Romney’s 2010 tax rate at 14%, based on public records of his income (read the reporting on all that in the Time piece here.) Begala cited the CTJ figure and said it shows a huge weakness for Romney in a political climate where many Americans are clamoring for a more balanced tax burden on the wealthiest.
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Occupy Wall Street
· Wall Street and corporate America must invest in America: Big corporations should invest some of the $2 trillion in cash they have on hand, and use it to create good jobs. And the banks themselves should be making credit more accessible to small businesses, instead of parking almost $1 trillion at the Federal Reserve.
· Stop foreclosures: Banks should write down the 14 million mortgages that are underwater and stop the more than 10 million pending foreclosures to stop the downward spiral of our housing markets and inject more than $70 billion into our economy.
We will open our union halls and community centers as well as our arms and our hearts to those with the courage to stand up and demand a better America.
· Fund education and jobs by taxing financial speculation: A tiny tax on financial transactions could raise hundreds of billions in revenue that could fund education and create jobs rebuilding our country. And it would discourage speculation and encourage long term investment.
Support the Occupy Movement: Demand a Presidential Commission on the Influence of Money on our Democracy
Tell Washington: We've had enough of big money buying our democracy
There is a worldwide movement emerging that is calling for real representative democracy. It has changed the Middle East forever and has brought people together in nations around the world.
In recent weeks, the movement came to the United States in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Now, people in hundreds of cities in the U.S. are taking to the streets to say that we’ve had enough of the influence of big money interests. Our elected officials should be working to protect the interests of working families.
Keystone Progress supports the efforts of the people occupying Wall Street and other cities across the U.S. And we are asking our subscribers to sign a petition backing their demand:
We demand that President Barack Obama establish a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.
It’s a simple demand, but it can change the way our nation works. An overwhelming majority of Americans agrees that that money plays too much of a role in the way decisions are made in Washington, and in our state capitols. A commission to find ways to limit that influence can have profound impact on our economy and our democracy.
As the folks at AdBusters wrote, “This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want… Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.”
We can do this if we stand together, and stand firm. We’re asking you to do two things today:
1) Send an email directly to President Obama, and your Members of Congress demanding the Presidential Commission; and
2) Send this to all of your friends, family and co-workers. Use email, Facebook, Twitter and every other resource you have.
If you join our efforts, we’ll send you updates when there are Occupy events happening in your area and when there are other significant related actions happening.
It's time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we're doomed without it.
The Keystone Progress Team
Poll Shows PA Doesn't Want Vouchers or Corbett's Education Cuts
PUBLIC OPINION POLL FINDS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR PROVEN SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES, OPPOSITION TO STATE FUNDING CUTS FOR PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
HARRISBURG (Oct. 5, 2011) – By a wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose recent state funding cuts to public education and support investments in programs that work, according to a new public opinion poll.
Pennsylvanians strongly support investing in tutoring students, reducing class sizes and making schools safer. By a similarly wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose creating a taxpayer-funded voucher system for private and religious schools.
Those are the findings of the latest Terry Madonna Opinion Research survey, released today by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). The results are available today on PSEA’s website, www.psea.org.
“By a nearly two-to-one margin, Pennsylvanians oppose the recent funding cuts to the Commonwealth’s public schools,” said PSEA President Michael J. Crossey. “They overwhelmingly support recommendations in Solutions That Work, PSEA’s blueprint for education reform. And it is clear they don’t support tuition vouchers.”
The Madonna poll asked Pennsylvanians for their views regarding the $860 million cut from public schools as part of the state budget Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law last June. Sixty-nine percent said they oppose or strongly oppose these cuts, while only 27 percent said they favor or strongly favor the action.
The Madonna poll then asked survey respondents to give their opinion on how state funds for education should be used if the cuts were restored.
The respondents favored or strongly favored “more individualized student attention and tutoring” (89 percent),reduced class sizes (88 percent), and “programs to help make schools safer” (85 percent). They also favored: alternative placement for disruptive/violent students (85 percent); “pre- and full-day kindergarten” (73 percent); and “programs to coordinate school, community and law enforcement programs”(79 percent).At the same time, the poll results establish Pennsylvanians oppose “a voucher plan to send students to private, religious and parochial schools.” Fifty-nine percent said they were “strongly opposed or somewhat opposed” to vouchers, while only 38 percent were in favor of such plans.
The programs supported by the respondents, tutoring, smaller classes, safe school and alternative student placement pre- and full-day kindergarten, and coordinated school/community strategies are all included in PSEA’s school reform agenda, “Solutions That Work.” Read more about “Solutions That Work” at www.solutionsthatwork.org.
Crossey said, “These findings show the public backs common-sense, research-based strategies to improve education, and providing schools with adequate, equitable resources.”
A report released last month from two groups representing school administrators and business managers detailed how state funding cuts to Pennsylvania’s public schools have resulted in larger classes, reduced course offerings and tutoring opportunities, as the school year began this fall.
“The Madonna poll is yet the latest indication that Pennsylvanians believe the governor and state lawmakers need to change direction when it comes to education priorities,” said Crossey.
The poll presents the findings of a survey of 801 Pennsylvania adults designed by Terry Madonna Opinion Research and conducted September 2011. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. A state affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 193,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.