Coming to Vegas: “Come Together and Fight Back Tour”

— by William McCurdy II, Chair—Nevada State Democratic Party

I wanted to let all of you know that we’ve locked in a date and location for the DNC’s Nevada stop for the “Come Together and Fight Back Tour.” I’m thrilled that Senator Bernie Sanders, Tom Perez and Cecile Richards are all coming to Las Vegas next weekend to share their vision for coming together and fighting back. I hope you can make it, and please encourage your friends in the Democratic Party to attend this event if they can.

RSVP now to attend this event.

I firmly believe that a united and more progressive Democratic Party fueled by grassroots activism will lead us to victory again here in 2018. From knocking Dean Heller out of the U.S. Senate to reclaiming our Governor’s mansion, Nevada will play a critical role in sending a message to Washington that the GOP’s priorities are wrong for working families.

Here are the details:

What: Come Together and Fight Back Tour — Las Vegas

Who: Senator Bernie Sanders, DNC Chair Tom Perez, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards

When: Saturday, April 22 at 11:30 a.m.

Doors open: 10 a.m.

Where: Cox Pavilion, 4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154

And Now There Are Two—Bernie Announces

—by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Candidate for President of the United States

I am writing to inform you that I will be a candidate for President of the United States. I ask for your support.

For many months I have been traveling from coast to coast across our country, and have had the opportunity to meet with thousands of good, hard-working, and remarkable people. Like you and me, they are deeply concerned about the future of our country.

They wonder why they are working longer hours for lower wages. They worry about whether their kids will be able to afford college or get decent jobs. They fear that they may not have the savings to retire with dignity and security.

The challenges facing our country are enormous.

It’s not just that, for forty years, the middle class has been disappearing. It’s that 99% of all new income is going to the top 1%, and the grotesque level of wealth and income inequality today is worse than at any time since the late 1920s. The people at the top are grabbing all the new wealth and income for themselves, and the rest of America is being squeezed and left behind.

The disastrous decisions of the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case and in other related decisions are undermining the very foundations of American democracy, as billionaires rig the system by using their Super PACs to buy politicians and elections.

And the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet.

The middle class in America is at a tipping point. It will not last another generation if we don’t boldly change course now.

After a year of travel, discussion and dialogue, I have decided to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. But let’s be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It’s about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”

I run not to oppose any man or woman, but to propose new and far-reaching policies to deal with the crises of our times. And I run because I know we must change course now, or risk losing the future for so many to the interests of so few.

A successful national campaign is a massive undertaking, especially when we will be heavily outspent. It will require the active participation of millions of Americans in every community in our country. In fact, it will require nothing less than a political revolution which combats the demoralization and alienation of so many of our people from the political process.

Let me be very honest. It may be too late to stop the billionaire class from trying to buy the Presidency and Congress. The forces of greed already may be too powerful.

But we owe it to our children and grandchildren to try. We owe it to them to make the fight and, through the power of our numbers, turn back this assault on the foundation of our democracy and our future.

We are at a moment of truth. We need to face up to the reality of where we are as a nation, and we need a mass movement of people to fight for change.

I believe America is ready for a new path to the future.

On May 26th I will formally launch our campaign at the City Hall in Burlington, Vermont, where I served as Mayor.

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Divergent Visions: GOP Budget Plans Don’t Line Up With US Priorities

New analysis examines how competing federal budget proposals rate in responding to the stated policy priorities of the American people

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

The competing federal budget proposals will now wind their way through a fractured Congress. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

The differences between the four budget proposals recently put forth by President Barack Obama, both Republican-majority houses of the U.S. Congress, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are “stark,” according to a new analysis—while some provisions in the GOP blueprints “completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”

The National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making the federal budget process transparent, released Competing Visions on Friday.

The report compares how each budget proposal responds (or not) to the stated policy priorities of the American people, on key issues including jobs, education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food assistance, and military spending, as well as proposed strategies for tax reform and deficit reduction.

“Our analysis shows that, in most spending categories, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the president would do the most to address the priorities voiced by the majority of Americans,” said Jasmine Tucker, research analyst for NPP and author of the report. “In some areas, the House and Senate budget proposals completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”

For example, on the issue of taxing the wealthy, according to the NPP analysis:

  • 68 percent of Americans think wealthy households don’t pay enough in taxes.
  • The Obama budget proposal raises top capital gains tax rate to 28 percent and closes the “trust fund loophole” that allows heirs to avoid taxation, raising $208 billion over 10 years. Places limits on tax deductions for top income earners and implements the Buffett Rule ensuring a minimum tax rate for the wealthy. Places limits on tax deductions for top income earners and ends the “carried interest” loophole that benefits hedge fund managers to raise $17.6 billion over 10 years.
  • The House budget calls for comprehensive tax reform that would lower tax rates for individuals and families. Closes some special interest tax loopholes but does not specify which ones. Eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax that sets a minimum tax for the wealthy.
  • The Senate budget contains no proposed changes to the status quo.
  • The CPC proposal raises tax rates for richest 2 percent (earning more than $250,000 per year) to Clinton-era levels, and taxes capital gains investment earnings at higher rates, yielding $1.4 trillion in additional revenue over 10 years. Places a cap on the value of itemized deductions that mostly benefit the wealthy (raising $566 billion over 10 years) and limits other tax deductions for top income earners.

Similar discrepancies exist on almost every issue.

As Tucker put it: “The differences between the four budget proposals are stark, and all signs indicate a difficult budget battle ahead as lawmakers try to resolve widely different approaches despite clear public opinion in favor of certain policies.”

While 70 percent of Americans oppose cuts to food stamps, the House and Senate budget plans would both cut the program.

While 67 percent say improving the education system in the U.S. should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, the House and Senate allocate no new funding for education—and in fact the House proposal “freezes the maximum Pell grant award at the same level for the next 10 years, provides financial aid to fewer families, and makes substantial cuts to domestic discretionary spending, including education.”

Overall, the House Republican budget would cut $5 trillion in government spending over the next decade, mostly out of programs that low- and moderate-income Americans need and depend on—and say they support. At the same time, it adds $400 million in defense spending—not in line with public opinion polls—and promises to lower tax rates for wealthy Americans and corporations.

The Senate version follows the same basic outlines.

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also noted the divergence between GOP policies and the priorities of the general public.

“[T]he rich get much richer, and the Republicans think they need more help,” he said. “The middle class and working families of this country become poorer, and the Republicans think we need to cut programs they desperately need. Frankly, those may be the priorities of some of my Republican colleagues in this room, but I do not believe that these are the priorities of the American people.”


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Sen. Bernie Sanders: Defending Working Families

Crunch time is coming in terms of the fiscal cliff and deficit reduction.  At a time when the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, while the middle class is disappearing, we must not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in this country.  Elections have consequences.  The American people have spoken.

Please ask your friends, family and co-workers to contact the White House and their members of Congress:  No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs important to working families.  It is time for some austerity for the wealthy and large corporations.
Below, I have included an op-ed I recently wrote for Politico which deals with this issue.  Thanks for your efforts in fighting to protect the middle class.
Sincerely,
Bernie
Senator Bernie Sanders

Politico
We must not balance the budget on poor, elderly
By Senator Bernie Sanders
November 18, 2012

The Democrats won a major victory on Election Day.

Despite dozens of billionaires spending huge amounts of money to defeat President Barack Obama, he won a crushing victory in the Electoral College and received 3 million more votes than former Gov. Mitt Romney did nationally. Democrats won 25 of 33 seats contested in the Senate and, to everyone’s surprise, expanded their majority there by two. They also gained seats in the House.

Now, with this victory behind them, the president and congressional Democrats must make it very clear that they will stand with the middle class and working families of our country. These are the people who, because of the Wall Street-caused recession, have seen a significant decline in their family income. These are the people who worry about whether they can afford health care and whether their kids will be able to attend college. The Democrats in the House and Senate must stand with these people — not the millionaires and billionaires who are doing just fine.

Most important, in the coming weeks and months, the Democrats must demand that deficit reduction is done in a way that is fair — and not on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. At a time when real unemployment remains close to 15 percent, we must also focus on creating the millions of jobs that our people need.

In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on Earth. Incredibly, the top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 60 percent owns just 2.3 percent. In the last study done on income distribution, we learned that 93 percent of all new income generated between 2009 and 2010 went to the top 1 percent while the bottom 99 percent split the remaining 7 percent. This extraordinary unfairness is not only morally reprehensible, it is bad economics. It will be very difficult to create the jobs that our people need when so many Americans have little or no money to spend.

Congress must pass legislation to create a major jobs program to put millions of people back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. Throughout our country, we need a massive effort to improve our roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems, airports, rail, broadband and cellphone service. Rebuilding our infrastructure makes us more productive and internationally competitive — and creates millions of new jobs.

In terms of deficit reduction, let us not forget that in 2001, when Bill Clinton left office, this country had a $236 billion surplus. As a result of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were unpaid for, huge tax breaks for the rich, a Medicare prescription drug program put on the credit card and a significant decline in federal revenues because of the recession, we now have a $1 trillion deficit and a $16 trillion national debt.

Congress must address the deficit situation and the fiscal cliff, but we must do it in a way that is fair. At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are doing extremely well and their effective tax rates are low (think Romney), the people on top must pay their fair share of taxes to help us deal with the deficit. We must also end the outrageous loopholes that allow one out of four large profitable corporations to pay nothing in federal corporate income taxes. Further, it is absurd that current tax policy allows the wealthy and large corporations to avoid paying over $100 billion a year in federal taxes because they stash their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

We must also take a hard look at wasteful spending in the Defense Department, where we now spend almost as much money as the rest of the world combined. Significant savings can be found at other federal agencies, too.

What we must not do, however, is move toward a balanced budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. Sadly, that is the approach that virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are advocating. As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, I look forward to working with other members of Congress, the AFL-CIO, senior and disability groups and the vast majority of people in our country who want to prevent cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other programs vitally important to the working families of America.

In my view, if the Republicans continue to play an obstructionist role, the president should get out of the Oval Office and travel the country. If he does that, I believe that he will find that there is no state in the country, including those that are very red, where people believe that it makes sense to continue giving huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I have a strong feeling that when large numbers of constituents all across this country start calling and emailing their senators and members of Congress about this issue, the American people will win this fight.

The good news is that we are already beginning to see some Republicans make thoughtful comments showing they understand that elections have consequences. Bill Kristol, the conservative commentator and Weekly Standard editor, said Sunday that the Republican Party should accept new ideas, including the much criticized suggestion by Democrats that taxes be allowed to go up on the wealthy. “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It really won’t, I don’t think. I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer.”

Kristol is right. At a time when the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider, common sense and justice require the people who are doing extremely well financially to help us in a significant way to reduce deficits.

The Week in Review

— by Sen. Bernie Sanders

The Senate voted Wednesday to back a new Environmental Protection Agency rule to cut the sickening levels of mercury pollution now spewed from coal-fired power plants. On Thursday, senators passed a sweeping new farm bill, but said no to an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to let states require labels on genetically modified food.  Community health centers were in the news.  A new round of grants was announced on Wednesday to operate 219 new centers, part of a dramatic expansion of affordable primary health care authorized by a Sanders provision in the Affordable Care Act.  On Friday, Sen. Sanders talked with the audience of the Thom Hartmann about the farm bill which passed this week in the senate.

Listen to Sen. Sanders on the Thom Hartmann show here.

Power Plant Pollution The EPA rule on power plant pollution survived a resolution to roll it back. The resolution was offered by Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe. “To Senator Inhofe and others, I say, respectfully, stop poisoning our children,” Sanders said. A member of the Senate environment and energy committees, Sanders also said retrofitting power plants will create thousands of good-paying jobs. Watch

Health Centers There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday to mark the opening of a new $11 million home for the Community Health Center of Burlington. Then on Wednesday more than $128 million was awarded in a new round of grants under the Affordable Care Act to operate 219 community health centers around the country – including $160,417 for the first facility in Addison County. A Sanders provision in the 2010 health care reform law authorized $11 billion to double the number of health centers that provide affordable primary care, dental care, low-cost prescription drugs and nationwide. Read more

Farm Bill The bill that the Senate passed and sent to the House would authorize $1 trillion over the next 10 years for price support and crop insurance programs. About $80 billion a year would go to the food stamp program, about $4.5 billion cut from current spending at a time,  as Sanders noted, “when poverty is increasing in America and when half of the people on Food Stamps are either children or the elderly.” The House plans even deeper cuts, he warned. House Republicans “are planning on cutting not $4 billion over a 10-year period, but over $130 billion over a 10-year period. They are really going to war against the very poorest children and senior citizens in this country. And that`s something we cannot allow to happen,” Sanders said. Watch

Food Labels The Senate rejected an amendment by Sanders to let states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients. The vote on the amendment to the farm bill was 26 to 73.  “This is the very first time a bill on labeling genetically engineered food has been brought before the Senate. It was opposed by virtually every major food corporation in the country. While we wish we could have gotten more votes, this is a good step forward and something we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what’s in the food that they eat,” he said. Read more

Dairy Farms Vermont’s congressional delegation hailed Senate passage of provisions in the five-year farm bill that would help dairy farmers. One provision would let farmers purchase insurance for times when milk prices decline. Another builds on legislation introduced two years ago when Sanders proposed a ‘supply management’ system for dairy farms.  The law is designed to break a cycle in which milk prices drop so farmers produce more but the flooded market then causes prices to fall even more.