Pennsylvania Republican Senators Kiss the Gas Lobby and Kick Headstart…

Marcellus Shale Gas Well
Marcellus Shale Gas Well

And the loser is: The Pennsylvania Taxpayer

Vol. 11, No. 18 – August 31, 2009
Penn Future Facts

Click Here for a printable copy

If the Senate Republicans have their way, and the $1 million in lobbying money spent this year by gas drillers has enough Democrats towing the industry line, the state budget crisis will be resolved without the enactment of a severance tax on natural gas drilling. And the loser would be the Pennsylvania taxpayer.

Multi-billion dollar Texas and Oklahoma-based energy companies as well as multi-national corporations like ExxonMobil are rushing to lock up drilling leases on millions of acres in the Marcellus Shale deposit that underlies most of Pennsylvania. The deposit is the largest and richest in North America. One company alone has identified 3,900 potential drilling sites in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Continue reading Pennsylvania Republican Senators Kiss the Gas Lobby and Kick Headstart…

Sen. Vogel on PA Budget – A 50% Cut in Pennsylvania Headstart Is Better Than Nothing

 August 29, 2009 
Pennsylvania Republican Budget:
Cut Families First
Sen. Vogel - Who Does He Serve?
Sen. Vogel - Who Does He Serve?

by Randy Shannon

Farmer and freshman PA State Senator Elder Vogel has backed the Pennsylvania Republican extremists in their attack on the State’s elderly, veterans, disabled, children, and youth by voting for the Republican Budget.

This budget was vetoed by the Govenor, but still the Republicans refuse to raise revenues to fund critical programs for the working families of the state. Now the state has run out of money and all kinds of agencies are shutting down and laying off people. There is no state funding for childcare, headstart, high school or college programs, and many more.

A local headstart employee called Senator Vogel’s office this week to discuss the impact that a 50% cut in headstart funds would have on area children. Vogel’s local staff member replied that “50% is better than nothing.”

Continue reading Sen. Vogel on PA Budget – A 50% Cut in Pennsylvania Headstart Is Better Than Nothing

Can the US Afford Single Payer Healthcare? Yes!

Tina Shannon
Tina Shannon

Presented to Cong. Jason Altmire at a PDA Roundtable Discussion on Healthcare on August 20, 2009


by Tina Shannon, Chairperson
PA 4th CD Chapter Progressive Democrats of America

Perhaps the biggest sticking point in the single payer/national healthcare argument is cost. If you look at the system of healthcare we have now, it’s hard to imagine being able to provide that to everyone in the country.

But study after study indicates that we can.

June 1991, General Accounting office: “If the US were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer, as in Canada, the savings in administrative costs (10% of health spending) would be more than enough to offset the expense of universal coverage.

December 1991, Congressional Budget Office: “(a) single payer system that paid providers at Medicare’s rates, that population that is currently uninsured could be covered without dramatically increasing national spending on health.”

Continue reading Can the US Afford Single Payer Healthcare? Yes!

Does PA Senator Elder Vogel Care About Children? Ask Him!

by Randy Shannon
Protest Daycare Cuts in Belleview
Protest Daycare Cuts in Belleview

Who Is Elder Vogel?

Elder Vogel is a farmer on the plateau above the valley of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers . He is also the freshman Republican State Senator representing the 47th Senatorial district encompassing much of Beaver and Lawrence Counties, including the cities of Ambridge, Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, and New Castle.

As his website says: “A citizen-legislator, Senator Vogel is a fourth-generation dairy farmer, operating the family farm in New Sewickley Township which was established in the late 1800s.  For many years, Senator Vogel served as president of the Beaver-Lawrence Farm Bureau, and until his election served as a New Sewickley Township Supervisor.”

Vogel defeated Jason Petrella, a Democratic Party newcomer with no political experience. Petrella was also running with the overhang of scandal. Local Democratic leader Mike Veon and other Democrats were previously ousted for stubbornly supporting a midnight pay raise despite widespread protest and criticism.

What Has Elder Vogel Done?

Continue reading Does PA Senator Elder Vogel Care About Children? Ask Him!

Western PA Progressives vs. Blue Dogs on Health Care


Photo:L-to-R, Randy Shannon, Ed Grystar, Lou Hancherick, Jason Altmire, Tina Shannon

Progressive Democrats
Take ‘Medicare for All’
To Congressman Altmire

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats and labor unions in the 4th Congressional District west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania held a special meeting on health care reform Aug 20 with Congressman Jason Altmire at the Beaver County Community College Student Union in Center Township. The roundtable discussion with Altmire was pulled together by the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).

The discussion was civil but the issues were sharply posed. If Altmire votes against the Weiner Amendment for single-payer health care (HR 676) when it comes to the floor in Congress in a few weeks, it won’t be because he hasn’t heard strong and passionate arguments for “Medicare for All.” Continue reading Western PA Progressives vs. Blue Dogs on Health Care

Another Nestle/Purina Worker and Union Activist Assassinated in Columbia

"No more state sponsored crime!"
"No more state sponsored crime!"

submitted by IBEW retiree and PDA member Bob Schmetzer

Worker of Nestle Foods la Rosa and Member of SINALTRAINAL in Colombia Assasinated

With deep pain, we inform that on August 21st, 2009 at approximately 6:30pm, strangers arrived to the house and knocked on the door of Gustavo Gomez worker of Nestle Foods la Rosa SA and affiliate of Sinaltrainal in the Municipality of Dosquebras.  When Gustavo Gomez opened the door, they shot him 10 times with a fire arm. He was immediately transported to the Comfamiliar clinic where hours later he passed away.

Our brother Gustavo Gomez was member of the Sinaltrainal Board of Directors of the Dosquebradas sector from 1997 until 2000. He was first cousin to Jose de Jesus Marin Vargas, worker of Nestle Foods La Rosa SA and member of Sinaltrainal who was also assasinated on November 22, 2007 in the Dosquebradas municipality.

Sadly, this crime came about in moments when Sinaltrainal has presented a sheet of petitions to the business Nestle Purina Petcare of Colombia and there are already 12 assasinations of Nestle workers, members of Sinaltrainal in Colombia.

Continue reading Another Nestle/Purina Worker and Union Activist Assassinated in Columbia

PA Senate Republicans Declare War on Working Families with Vicious Budget Cuts to Protect the Rich

 Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Pileggi, Scarnati, Vogel Attack Children, Elderly, Vets
Pileggi, Scarnati, Vogel Attack Children, Elderly, Vets

On May 6, on a party-line vote, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a budget that makes deep cuts in most state services and programs.

Senate Bill (SB) 850 proposes spending $24.6 billion in state general fund dollars in FY2009-10, effectively reducing state expenditures to 2005-06 levels. With the addition of $2.7 billion in federal stimulus funds, total state spending rises to $27.3 billion, $1.7 billion less than the spending plan proposed by Governor Ed Rendell in February.

Even with federal stimulus funds accounted for, every major department will be cut. Funding for the Department of Public Welfare will decline by $250 million, a 4% cut, while funding for environmental protection will decline by 40%.

The Senate plan relies on cuts to balance the budget, rejecting other options. The plan leaves the state’s $740 million Rainy Day Fund untouched and contains little new revenue. It rejects the Governor’s proposed tax on smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products, a new natural gas severance tax, and a cigarette tax rate increase. It leaves $500 million in the Health Care Provider Retention Account, a portion of which could be used to avoid service cuts.

Continue reading PA Senate Republicans Declare War on Working Families with Vicious Budget Cuts to Protect the Rich

The Fight for National Healthcare is also the Fight for Obama’s Agenda for Change

Pres. Obama & Chief Rahm Emanuel
Pres. Obama & Chief Rahm Emanuel

Has Obama lost the trust of progressives, as Krugman says?

Paul Krugman says “yes.” Is the health care fight an opportunity to change who wins in Washington?

Glenn Greenwald

 Aug. 21, 2009 

Paul Krugman has an excellent column today arguing that progressives have backlashed so intensely over the prospect of Obama’s dropping the public option because — for reasons extending far beyond specific health care issues — they no longer trust the President.  Citing Obama’s steadfast continuation of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies, the administration’s extreme coziness with crisis-causing banks, and the endless retreats on health care, Krugman says that “a backlash in the progressive base . . . has been building for months” and that “progressives are now in revolt. Mr. Obama took their trust for granted, and in the process lost it.”  

Krugman contends that while “the fight over the public option involves real policy substance,” it is at least as much “a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.”  That’s the argument I made the other day about why the health care fight is so important regardless of one’s views of the public option.  The central pledges of the Obama campaign were less about specific policy positions and much more about changing the way Washington works — to liberate political outcomes from the dictates of corporate interests; to ensure vast new levels of transparency in government; to separate our national security and terrorism approaches from the politics of fear.  With some mild exceptions, those have been repeatedly violated.  Negotiating his health care reform plan in total secrecy and converting it into a gigantic gift to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries — which is exactly what a plan with (1) mandates, (2) no public option and (3) a ban on bulk negotiations for drug prices would be — would constitute yet another core violation of those commitments, yet another bolstering (a major one) of the very power dynamic he vowed to subvert.

  Continue reading The Fight for National Healthcare is also the Fight for Obama’s Agenda for Change

Congress Can Save Healthcare Reform by Passing the Weiner Amendment for Medicare for All

Cong. Anthony Weiner
Cong. Anthony Weiner

Memo to the left on healthcare – don’t mourn, escalate

by National Nurses Movement

Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 04:12:03 PM PDT

There’s a fundamental lesson in collective bargaining that seems to have been lost on the White House, and those in Congress who devised their failing strategy on healthcare reform:

Don’t make all your compromises before you walk in the room.

For all those now wringing their hands over the apparent abandonment of the public option and like Rachel Maddow  dissecting the train wreck of the once promising opportunity for genuine healthcare reform, it’s time to ask:  what happened? who could have foreseen that semi barreling down the highway? and what do we do now?

Continue reading Congress Can Save Healthcare Reform by Passing the Weiner Amendment for Medicare for All