Behind Pittsburgh’s Becoming the G20 Meeting Site


Photo: Protesters’ ‘Tent City’
Camp for G20 Events

Progressive Activists,
Big Business Converge
on Pittsburgh’s G20 Meet

Jeb Sprague
Inter Press Service

PITTSBURGH, Sep 20 (IPS) – As media and government delegates prepare for the G20 Summit to be held Sep. 24-25 in Pittsburgh, local business and activist groups are promoting clashing visions of days to come.

Hit hard over the last quarter of the twentieth century with a collapsing steel industry, recession and falling population, Pittsburgh is still a decent place to live – often highly rated because of low housing costs.

On one side, Pittsburgh government and business leaders say they have reshaped the city to connect with globalization as a hi-tech, financial and medical industry hub.

On the other side, labor, community, youth and environmental groups are fighting for green jobs and clean energy, while calling into question how government and corporate leaders have dealt with the global financial crisis and urban renewal. Continue reading Behind Pittsburgh’s Becoming the G20 Meeting Site

Justice Sotomayor Issues Challenge to a Century of Corporate Law


WASHINGTON — In her maiden Supreme Court appearance last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a provocative comment that probed the foundations of corporate law.

During arguments in a campaign-finance case, the court’s majority conservatives seemed persuaded that corporations have broad First Amendment rights and that recent precedents upholding limits on corporate political spending should be overruled.

But Justice Sotomayor suggested the majority might have it all wrong — and that instead the court should reconsider the 19th century rulings that first afforded corporations the same rights flesh-and-blood people have.

Cong. Kucinich: Single Payer National Healthcare is only Affordable Solution

Medicare_for_allKucinich: Take Insurance Industry Profits to Pay for Universal Health Care

Posted Sep 18, 2009 07:00am EDT by Aaron Task

Related: AET, CI, WLP, UNH, ^HCX, ^DJI, ^GSPC

Sen. Max Baucus’ health-care bill got the cold shoulder from Republicans, but the Montana Democrat isn’t making any friends on the (true) left of the political spectrum either.

“The people of the United States deserve a lot better than this,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) says of the Baucus plan. “Unless you have a public option there is no way that you can drive down the cost for health care because the insurance companies won’t have any competition.”

We can have it all, according to Kucinich: Universal health care without higher taxes or soaring deficits. How? By taking the profits away from the insurance industry and using them to pay for health care.

“If we take that money” — $800 billion a year by Kucinich’s reckoning – “and put it into care we cover everyone,” he says. “So of course we can afford it. When people know a plan exists where there’s no more premium, co-pays and deductibles, where everyone is covered and where no one has to go broke…I think people will listen.”

You may say Kucinich is a dreamer, but he’s a political realist too and understands the current environment doesn’t support his vision. Still, he’s disappointed with President Obama for supporting what Kucinich calls a “minimalist” approach to health-care reform.

Go here for video of Kucinich interview:

A Message to Progressive Democrats from the Congressional Progressive Caucus

logo“Medical Security Is The Name Of The Game”

September 17, 2009, Washington, DC

On Thursday, September 17, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva, sent the following message to the members of Progressive Democrats of America:  

As co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), I want to thank the PDA community for its ongoing support of Medicare for All. Who knows where we would be in this debate without your moral and compassionate voices railing against the status quo.

These have been trying times, in Congress, as the CPC has worked to muster support for a real and robust public option against a well-funded corporate opposition. The CPC is confident that we will influence this debate and we remain committed to a robust public option that:

  • Enacts concurrently with other significant expansions of coverage and must not be conditioned on private industry actions.
  • Consists of one entity, operated by the federal government, which sets policies and bears the risk for paying medical claims to keep administrative costs low and provide a higher standard of care.
  • Be made available to all individuals and employers across the nation without limitation.
  • Allows patients to have access to their choice of doctors and other providers that meet defined participation standards, similar to the traditional Medicare model, promotes the medical home model and eliminates lifetime caps on benefits.
  • Has the ability to structure the provider rates to promote quality care, primary care, prevention, chronic care management and good public health.
  • Utilizes the existing infrastructure of successful public programs, such as Medicare, in order to maintain transparency and consumer protections for administering processes, including payment systems, claims and appeals.
  • Establishes or negotiates rates with pharmaceutical companies, durable medical
    equipment providers and other providers to achieve the lowest prices for consumers.
  • Receives a level of subsidy and support that is no less than that received by private plans.
  • Ensures premiums are priced at the lowest levels possible, not tied to the rates of private insurance plans.

I urge you to continue to rally citizens and your representatives to support the Kucinich and Weiner amendments. Although Congress does not appear to have the stomach to pass HR 676, there’s every reason to believe that we can secure Medicare for All, once states begin to pass their own single-payer bills.

The CPC will do its best to ensure that the public option is as close to Medicare as we can get it. I hope you will do your best to continue to build support for the Kucinich and Weiner amendments.

Girjalva serves on the PDA Advisory board.

Sen. Baucus Declares War on American People – $20 billion in Fines to Uninsured – Tax on Healthcare Benefits

 Seven Important Facts in the Baucus Bill’s CBO Report
By: Gregg Levine Wednesday September 16, 2009 8:00 pm

Today, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) released the Chairman’s mark of his health care reform bill along with a CBO report on the legislation. I’ve found seven interesting and important issues in the report.

1. It looked like Baucus purposely left himself a small possible giveaway to liberals. His bill in fact saves $49 billion, which could be used to increase subsidies by that amount while still keeping it budget neutral. A little “look, liberals won something”:

According to CBO and JCT’s assessment, enacting the Chairman’s proposal would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $49 billion over the 2010–2019 period

2. It appears that the CBO agrees with almost every health care reform expert and also concluded that Conrad’s small state-based co-ops are worthless.

The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments.

Continue reading Sen. Baucus Declares War on American People – $20 billion in Fines to Uninsured – Tax on Healthcare Benefits

AFL-CIO Convention Endorses Single-Payer National Health Care

AFLCIOAFL-CIO Convention Endorses Medicare for All

September 16, 2009, Pittsburgh, PA

In a historic vote that adds the nation’s leading voice of American workers to a broad national campaign, the AFL-CIO voted unanimously at its national convention here today to endorse the enactment of single-payer, universal healthcare for all Americans.

The resolution was sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the Alameda County (California) Central Labor Council.  

In urging its support, CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro, an AFL-CIO National Vice-President, noted the recent death of Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life union organizer from the film Norma Rae who died last week after a long battle with cancer, exacerbated by her own three-year fight with her insurance company.

Continue reading AFL-CIO Convention Endorses Single-Payer National Health Care

Watching ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ with Michael Moore


Michael Moore’s
Labor Fans Hit
Pittsburgh’s Streets
For a Film Premiere

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

When we heard Michael Moore was going to do a surprise premiere of his new film, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ at the AFL-CIO convention Sept 14 and we were all invited, it was a no-brainer—how many names could we nail down in time and how many cars could we get for the drive to downtown Pittsburgh the next day?

We knew union delegates to the convention that could go. But Moore, the California Nurse’s Association, and Leo Girard, head of the United Steel Workers, wanted the area’s battleground fighters for HR 676 ‘Medicare for All’ to have a shot at the seats in the Golden Triangles’ Byham Theater. That qualification certainly fit the 4th CD’s Progressive Democrats of America and its ally, Beaver County Peace Links. They had been working of HR 676 for years at the grassroots, showing Moore’s ‘Sicko’ documentary on health care many times.

For a spur-of-the moment happening, the event was wildly successful. Thousands rallied at the David Lawrence Convention Center, then poured into the evening sunset-lit downtown streets with chants and banners, for a militant and spirited march to the cultural district. Michael Moore, appropriately clad in a bright red shirt and red ball cap, helped carry the front row banner, leading the chants. Continue reading Watching ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ with Michael Moore

The Kiss of Death – Sen. Arlen Specter Calls for “Expensive” Public Option in Health “Insurance” Bill

p971504731by Randy Shannon

September 15, 2009

In his message posted below Sen. Arlen Specter states his support for the hotly debated public option. The public option was originally proposed as a large inexpensive Medicare- administered plan to allow access to good healthcare for the 46 million uninsured and the millions of under-insured. As the White House slowly moves to accomodate the powerful corporate health insurance lobby, opportunists like Specter are climbing aboard offering support with qualifiers that further water down the public option.

Now the public option will only cover a few million persons. And if Specter has his way it will have to cost no less than what the private insurance companies charge. This means it will be unaffordable and offer no competition to hold down the cost of private insurance. The current legislation being considered does not control the rising insurance premiums. It does call for restraining the outlays for Medicare, even though Medicare is the most affordable and most efficient administrator of healthcare outlays.

The bill makes it a crime for an individual not to buy junk insurance. It’s no wonder that Wall Street is already celebrating the victory of health insurance reform over healthcare reform by bidding up the stock prices of their favorite insurance companies and hospitals.

In a recent Pittsburgh Post Gazette article, Congressman Jason Altmire is quoted saying that he will probably vote for the health insurance bill after he voted against it in committee. Mr. Altmire is a former lobbyist for the Federation of American (for-profit) Hospitals and UPMC.  This is another sign that the bill will favor the large corporate entities such as UPMC and hurt the working people of the 4th Congressional District.

See Specter’s message on next page…

Continue reading The Kiss of Death – Sen. Arlen Specter Calls for “Expensive” Public Option in Health “Insurance” Bill