Category Archives: Politics

BERNIE SANDERS NEWS UPDATE

BERNIE SANDERS NEWS UPDATE

In the 77 years since President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law on August 14, 1935, the retirement program has been one of the nation’s most successful anti-poverty programs. Before Social Security existed, about half of America’s senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty.

Today, Social Security not only provides retirement security but also enables millions of people with disabilities, and widows, widowers and children to live in dignity and security.

In these highly volatile economic times, when millions of Americans lost their life savings in the 2008 Wall Street crash, it is important to remember that since its inception, through good economic times and bad, Social Security has paid every penny owed to every eligible beneficiary.

Despite Wall Street and right-wing misinformation, Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax, does not contribute to the deficit. In fact, the Social Security Trust Fund today, according to the Social Security Administration, has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years. Further, unlike the huge commissions paid out to Wall Street firms, Social Security is run with very modest administrative costs.

Despite Social Security’s popularity and overwhelming success, we are now in the midst of a fierce and well-financed attack against Social Security. Pete Peterson, the Wall Street billionaire, has pledged $1 billion of his resources to cut Social Security and other programs of enormous importance to the American people. Other billionaires and Wall Street representatives are also working hard to weaken or destroy Social Security and endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. We must not allow their effort to succeed.

Let us never forget that the current deficit of $1 trillion was primarily caused by two unpaid-for wars and tax breaks for the rich. These policies were strongly supported by “deficit hawks.” The deficit is also related to a major decline in revenue as a result of the Wall Street-created recession. The deficit is a serious issue, but we must not move toward deficit reduction on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. This would not only be immoral, it is bad economic policy. At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are doing phenomenally well and their effective tax rate is the lowest in decades, the top 1 percent must begin paying their fair share of taxes. At a time when large corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits, we have got to eliminate the huge corporate loopholes which result in a massive loss of federal revenue. At a time when we have tripled military spending since 1997, we must take a hard look at a bloated and wasteful Defense Department.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has been a proponent of privatizing the retirement program by putting seniors’ savings into risky Wall Street investments. Even before tapping Ryan as his running mate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he wants to begin the process of privatizing Social Security. He also would gradually increase the retirement age to 68 or 69. And he favors slowing the growth of benefits for persons with “higher incomes.” Under a plan floated by Romney’s allies on Capitol Hill — Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — someone making about $45,000 a year today who retires in 2050 would receive 32 percent less in annual Social Security benefits than under the current formula. By that definition, the top 60 percent of all wage earners would be considered “higher income.”

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, was a staunch defender of Social Security in his 2008 campaign. So far this year, however, Obama has refused to stand behind his four-year-old opposition to cuts. In fact, the president has signaled that he may be open to lowering benefits by changing how they are calculated. In my view, it is long past time that the president told the American people in no uncertain terms, as he did in 2008, that he will not cut Social Security on his watch.

To keep Social Security’s finances sound in the future I have introduced legislation — identical to a proposal that Obama advocated in 2008 — to apply the payroll tax on incomes above $250,000 a year. Under current law, only earnings up to $110,100 are taxed. The Center for Economic Policy and Research has estimated that applying the Social Security payroll tax on income above $250,000 would only impact the wealthiest 1.4 percent of wage earners.

Those who want to cut Social Security benefits are looking at a number of proposals. One of the most talked about ideas is moving toward a so-called “chained-CPI,” which would not only impact seniors, but also military retirees and those who receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The “chained-CPI” approach changes how the Consumer Price Index is calculated, so that a person 65 years old today would earn $560 a year less in Social Security benefits once they turn 75. Benefits would be cut by nearly $1,000 a year once they turn 85. Instead, I have proposed legislation to base Social Security cost-of-living adjustments on a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, a measure that would increase benefits because it would take into account the real-life impact of rising health care costs and prescription drug expenses paid by seniors.

While we often take Social Security for granted, we must not forget that Social Security today is providing dignity and security to tens of millions of Americans. It is a program that is working and working well. We must stand up today, on the 77th anniversary of this enormously important program. We must pledge to continue the fight against the right-wing Republicans, some Democrats and their wealthy backers who want to destroy the program.

Thank you for all that you do.

Sincerely,

Bernie
Senator Bernie Sanders

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24 Senators ask for accelerated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

CLW
March 9, 2012

 

Thanks to your work contacting Members of Congress, 24 Senators have signed a letter sent to President Obama asking for an accelerated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) circulated a letter to their colleagues stating: “We write to express our support of a transition of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from a combat role to a training, advising and assistance role next year.”

The signers were:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Click here to read a copy of the letter. Click here to read an article about the letter.

Thank you for your work. This letter helps build pressure on the President to withdraw from Afghanistan. Council for a Livable World will not rest until all American combat troops are out of that country.

 

 


 


 

John Isaacs and Guy Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Did You Know War Is Illegal ?

When the World Outlawed War

In January 1929, the U.S. Senate ratified by a vote of 85 to 1 a treaty that is still on the books, still upheld by most of the world, and still listed on the U.S. State Department’s website. It’s a treaty that under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law of the land.”

This treaty, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, bans all war.  Bad wars and “good wars,” aggressive wars and “humanitarian wars” — they are all illegal, having been legally abolished like duelling, blood feuds, and slavery before them.

World Affairs, August 27, 1928 – Coolidge and Foreign Affairs

Relations between the United States and France had cooled in the aftermath of World War I. A number of issues had driven the former allies apart, including:

  • residual tensions from hard bargaining and perceived double-dealing at Versailles;
  • the continuing effort of the U.S. to collect the full amount of war debts incurred by hard-pressed France;
  • the embarrassment felt by France because of being assigned a lesser naval role at the Washington Conference (1921);
  • the recent failure, regretted by both nations, of the Geneva Conference (1927).

An effort was made by French foreign minister Aristide Briand to warm-up relations between the two former allies. Columbia University professor James T. Shotwell met with Briand in France and suggested that a bilateraltreaty be negotiated that would outlaw war between the two nations. Briand seized this idea and presented it in an open letter to the American people.

The Coolidge government, at least initially, was not interested in having its hand forced in diplomatic matters and offered no response. A few weeks later, Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler sounded the same theme in a letter published in The New York Times. The press in New York and elsewhere began a drumbeat calling for the “outlawry of war.”

Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg was lukewarm to the idea, but at least gave formal recognition to Briand’s proposal. Meanwhile, public sentiment continued to build. A leader in this effort was Senator William E. Borah of Idaho, who secured the support of the National Grange; its petitions supporting the proposed agreement contained more than two million signatures and increased the pressure on the government. Kellogg began to see advantages in such an agreement, but insisted that the concept be expanded to encompass many nations.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact provided for outlawing war as an “an instrument of national policy,” and was further notable for the following:

  • No enforcement mechanism was provided for changing the behavior of warring signatories.
  • The agreement was interpreted by most of the signatories to permit “defensive” war.
  • No expiration date was provided.
  • No provision existed for amending the agreement was included.

Despite these shortcomings, the pact was signed in August 1928 by 15 nations. In the following months, more than 60 countries joined in this renunciation of war.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee studied the matter and issued a report that maintained that the pact did not impair the nation’s ability to act to protect the Monroe Doctrine. Having cleared that hurdle, the full Senate voted 85 to one for ratification. Despite the lopsided tally, little true enthusiasm existed for the highly idealistic agreement. Other nations followed the U.S. lead by ratifying the treaty, but reserving the right to act to protect their special interests.

Events of the 1930s demonstrated the total inability of treaties to halt expansionist nations from making war on their neighbors, proving the skeptics to have been correct. Most damaging perhaps for the United States was that the Kellogg-Briand Pact may have induced some in positions of authority to delay action in the face of aggression, hoping in vain that the terms of the agreement would be honored.

Happy Holidays to all !

Maggie

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Al Franken - U.S. Senator, Minnesota

Dear Maggie,

Tuesday night, we saw progressives stand up and fight.

In Ohio, voters resoundingly defeated a terrible law that stole collective bargaining rights away from nurses, teachers, cops, and firefighters. In Mississippi, they voted down an extreme anti-choice amendment. In Maine, they reversed a decision to end same-day voter registration. In Arizona, they recalled a state senator well-known for being a radical right-wing demagogue on immigration. In Kentucky, Iowa, and New Jersey, Democrats triumphed.

And right here in Minnesota, I was proud to see Duluth add three terrific women to its City Council (meaning four of the nine Councilors will be women), and excited that a vast majority of school levy questions were approved.

We didn’t win every battle, but those who fought to stop far-right laws and elect progressive candidates deserve our gratitude. And, of course, those who won Tuesday night deserve our congratulations.

There’s going to be a lot of talk about what those results meant. But let’s not get big heads just yet. We have a lot of work to do. There are still a lot of workers whose basic rights are under attack, a lot of states where reproductive rights are in jeopardy, a lot of voters who may be disenfranchised by new Republican-backed laws, and a lot of work to do before 2012.

I hope that, if you were part of one of these fights, you took yesterday to celebrate and rest up. But today, it’s back to work. We have big fights ahead. And I’m proud to have you on my side.

Thanks,

Al

Paid for and authorized by Al Franken for Senate 2014

http://www.alfranken.com/

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