Tax on gas drillers boils in Harrisburg
Governor resolute in his opposition
As new taxes go, a levy on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania would seem like a pretty easy political sell.
Two-thirds of the state’s voters support the idea, several polls show.
Politicians are desperate for money to plug a $4 billion budget gap and prevent deep cuts in the state college system and other programs.
Every other major natural-gas producing state has some sort of tax, and some of the biggest drillers have said they won’t oppose one here, so long as it’s reasonable.
“The Marcellus industry has been clear and outspoken on this for a year or so,” said Ray Walker, vice president of Texas-based Range Resources and chairman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group. “We are willing to discuss a severance tax.”
Why Any Deal to Cut Social Security,
Medicare or Medicaid Would be
a Moral, Economic and Political Disaster
By Robert Creamer
Huffington Post, March 28, 2011
Friday, the Democratic group Third Way published a memo arguing that Democrats should support "entitlement reform" — by which they mean cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I don’t doubt the sincerity or intentions of their proposal, but I believe that if Democrats took their advice it would result in a moral, economic and political disaster.
The immorality of "entitlement reform." The very idea that seniors on Social Security — whose average income is $18,000 a year — should be asked to tighten their belts while the Federal Government still gives huge tax breaks to millionaires and subsidies to oil companies is just plain wrong.
The principle voices for "entitlement reform" are the multi-millionaires from Wall Street who argue that we need to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of a bargain to reduce the long-term federal deficit and give the "markets" confidence. Never mind that Social Security in particular does not contribute anything to the deficit and has in fact generated a $2.6 trillion surplus that was paid for by workers and employers through Social Security taxes. Never mind that the Wall Street gang clamoring for "entitlement reform" demanded extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, subsidies for the oil companies, tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas and an end to the estate tax that only affects the sons and daughters of multi-millionaires.
March 18, 2011
“Why Are We Playing Russian Roulette With the American People?”: Longtime Nuclear Critic Ralph Nader Advocates Phasing Out Nuclear Power Industry
Former presidential candidate and longtime consumer advocate and nuclear critic Ralph Nader strongly advocates phasing out nuclear power in the United States by calling for public hearings on the status of every single nuclear power plant. “What we’re seeing here is 110 or so operating nuclear plants in the United States, many of them aging, many of them infected with corrosion, faulty pipes, leaky pumps and combustible materials… Why are we playing Russian roulette with the American people for nuclear plants whose principal objective is simply to boil water and produce steam? … This is institutional insanity, and I urge the people in this country to wake up before they experience what is now going on in northern Japan.” [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: We’re discussing the continuing nuclear crisis in Japan, and we’re joined by Philip White from the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo, Dr. Ira Helfand from Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Ralph Nader joins us from Washington, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate. His latest book is Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ralph.
RALPH NADER: Thank you, Juan.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Your assessment not only what’s happening in Japan, but what the impact will be here in the United States, and especially with the Obama administration and Congress trying to move forward with a renaissance of development of nuclear plants here in the United States?
RALPH NADER: The Japanese disaster has ended whatever nuclear renaissance is being considered here in the United States. The problem is that people have got to get more involved, because the government and the industry will defend nuclear power in the United States to the last mutation. They are representing a closed, monetized mind that does not have options for revision, which true science should provide for. Secretary Chu, Energy Secretary, has refused for two years to meet with the leading critics of nuclear power, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, Friends of the Earth and other groups. He has met with nuclear business interests regularly, and he has written articles touting nuclear power.
What we’re seeing here is 110 or so operating nuclear plants in the United States, many of them aging, many of them infected with corrosion, faulty pipes, leaky pumps and combustible materials. These have been documented by data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assembled by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Indian Point, for example, is a plant that presents undue risks, in the opinion of the Union of Concerned Scientists, to millions of people in the New York City greater area. And it is unevacuable if there’s an accident. You’re never going to evacuate a population of millions of people, whether it’s around San Onofre or Diablo Canyon in Southern California or Indian Point or Davis-Besse near Toledo and Detroit or any of the other endangered nuclear plants.
Why are we playing Russian roulette with the American people for nuclear plants whose principal objective is simply to boil water and produce steam? This is technological insanity. It presents national security problems, for every nuclear plant is a prime target. It affects our civil liberties. It endangers our workers. It is an industry that cannot be financed by Wall Street because it’s too risky. Wall Street demands 100 percent taxpayer guarantees for any nuclear plant.
So I suggest that people listening and watching this program to pick up the phone and dial the White House comment number, which is (202) 456-1111, (202) 456-1111, and demand the following: that there be public hearings in every area where there’s a nuclear plant, so the people can see for themselves what the hazards are, what the risks are, how farcical the evacuation plans are, how costly nuclear power is, and how it can be replaced by energy efficiency, by solar energy, different kinds of solar energy, by cogeneration, as Amory Lovins and many others, Peter Bradford, have pointed out.
We must no longer license any new nuclear plants. We should shut down the ones like Indian Point. How many people know that Hillary Clinton, as senator, and Andrew Cuomo, as attorney general, demanded that Indian Point be shut down? That doesn’t matter to the monetized minds in Washington, D.C. We also should prepare a plan where, apart from the aging plants, which should be shut down, and apart from the earthquake-risk plants—should be shut down—for the phase-out of the entire industry. We’re going to be left with radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years, for which there is no permanent repository. This is institutional insanity, and I urge the people in this country to wake up before they experience what is now going on in northern Japan: uninhabitable territory, thousands dead, hundreds of thousands at risk of cancer, enormous economic loss. And for what?
From the Front Lines: Laura Flanders, Jim Hightower, and Dennis Kucinich Urge You to Support and Join PDA!
Steelworkers Denounce Wisconsin GOP Bill
Pittsburgh, March 11, 2011 – This statement was released this morning by the United Steelworkers (USW) on actions taken last evening by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican Senators.
In a clear violation of Wisconsin’s open meeting law, Wisconsin conservative senators yesterday voted without a quorum to strip the state’s public sector workers – teachers, nurses, and librarians – of collective bargaining rights that the people of Wisconsin granted them a half century ago.
United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard said this attack on the rights of Wisconsin’s public sector workers is an attack on all working people. “Although Wisconsin law requires a quorum when Senators vote to spend the people’s money, these conservatives exploited a loophole to vote without a quorum on legislation to steal workers’ rights. This is not democracy,” Gerard said.
“As illustrated by the surging crowd of protesters who filled the capitol building in Wisconsin after the undemocratic sneak-vote Wednesday, workers everywhere, whether public sector or private sector, union or unrepresented, will unite to win back their rights with their feet at protests and their votes at ballot boxes,” said Gerard, who leads North America’s largest industrial union, with 850,000 members, including steelworkers, paper workers, oil workers, rubber workers and public sector workers in the U.S. and Canada.
The conservative attack on workers in Wisconsin is far from isolated, Gerard said: “This is a nation-wide campaign by billionaires and country-club conservatives, to terminate workers’ rights, giving unfettered power to corporations.” So far in Wisconsin, conservatives have granted only government workers the right to freeload – the ability to benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues. In nine other states, from Maine to Missouri, conservatives are pushing right to freeload legislation to cripple all unions.
“All this legislation is an attack on the middle class, which blossomed in this country as a result of collective bargaining victories during the middle of the last century. Middle class workers, whether Republican or Democrat, know they must repel this assault on their right to collectively bargain or be reduced to insecurity and poverty,” Gerard said.
Dueling Rallies on Women’s Health
and Abortion at Altmire’s Office
By J.D. Prose
Beaver County Timesonline.com
ALIQUIPPA – Hopewell Township resident Danielle Houston was 22 and uninsured when she went to Planned Parenthood to take a pregnancy test.
The test was positive, Houston got health insurance and eventually had a son, and she’s grateful for the assistance she received from Planned Parenthood. "I felt that they weren’t judgmental," she said Tuesday in the parking lot of U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire’s Aliquippa district office.
Now, Houston is again without health insurance and she’s returned to Planned Parenthood for help. "It’s the only place I can get affordable checkups and birth control," she said.
On Women’s Day, GOP Attacks Women
By Leo Gerard
USW International President
Beaver County Blue via Huffington Post
Not like Valentine’s Day, which is about love and chocolate, or Mother’s Day, which is about sentimentality and breakfast in bed, International Women’s Day is about equality and autonomy.
The first commemoration occurred on March 19, 1911, a time when most governments in the world, including the U.S. and Canada, barred women from voting and most employers refused to hire women, ghettoizing them in sweatshops.
Six days after that first international call to action for women, flames engulfed such a sweatshop, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, killing 146 workers, the vast majority of them young women aged 16 to 25, some of whom jumped to their deaths from the 9th floor rather than burn.
Women can vote now. They can hold most jobs, though not all, including combat positions in the U.S. military. And their pay is only 75 percent of men’s. So the struggle for equality and autonomy is not over. Yet the GOP is intent on setting women back. If the Republican governors across the country succeed in confiscating collective bargaining rights from public sector workers, women will be hurt most. Continue reading March 8: Women’s Day Is About Equality and Autonomy