On a recent day in Petaluma, two very different events spotlighted grim results of upside-down priorities from the federal government.
Upwards of 600 people gathered for an early breakfast at the Veterans Memorial Hall to raise money for the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), a nonprofit organization that last year sheltered nearly 2,000 individuals, served more than 127,000 hearty meals and distributed 800,000 pounds of food to the needy.
We heard moving stories about — and from — people whose lives have been transformed by active compassion, generosity and their own hard work. But, as speakers lamented, COTS must turn away many who need help.
Apparently no amount of evidence can convince Republicans that our government can be part of the solution.
Last week, Speaker Boehner described the Senate deal for extending middle-class tax cuts and unemployment benefits as acceptable. This past Saturday, eighty-nine senators—including the vast majority of Republican Senators—voted for the bipartisan compromise to extend unemployment benefits and a middle-class payroll tax cut for two months.
No sooner did the Tea Party House Republicans begin to fear that this good faith compromise just might succeed than they stepped forward and smashed the deal. Within a few hours, Speaker Boehner went from saying the Senate compromise was “a good deal” and “a victory” to saying, “It’s become clear that what the Senate did pass is going to cause job creators all kinds of problems.”
What a difference a year makes! Last year The Nation’s Honor Roll recognized courageous, if often lonely, battlers against an austerity agenda, an ascendant Tea Party and a Republican electoral wave that had put Democrats, working folks and the unions that represent them on the defensive nationwide. This year we celebrate the remarkable movements that have arisen not just to stem the conservative tide but to build a new vision of progressivism for the twenty-first century. How much has changed? As 2011 finished, even Barack Obama was sounding populist themes. And progressives were organizing, fighting and winning critical battles on the streets, in the polling places and in the media. The events of 2011 did not transform America. But they did confirm that millions of Americans are ready to fight for the 99 percent.
When I was asked to speak at Saturday’s rally at Fort Meade in support of Pvt. Bradley Manning, I wondered how I might provide some context around what Manning is alleged to have done.
(In my talk, so as not to think I had to insert the word “alleged” into every sentence, I asked for unanimous consent to using the indicative rather than the subjunctive mood.)
What jumped into my mind was the letter Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from the Birmingham City jail in April 1963, from which I remembered this:
“Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up, but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
...to Payroll Tax Cut and Extension of Unemployment Benefits
Washington, D.C.--Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement after a series of Republican procedural votes to block passage of H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011:
"I strongly support a plan to extend the payroll tax cut, which would prevent a tax increase directed at 160 million American workers. I strongly support an extension of unemployment benefits for the 13.3 million jobless workers, which would prevent Americans from falling into poverty.
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