Nurses Union Condemns Budget Deal

Federal Budget Deal is an Endorsement of Austerity at the Expense of All of Us

December 11, 2013

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of registered nurses, today expressed dismay and alarm over the federal budget deal announced yesterday, saying it will perpetuate the harmful effects of austerity, especially with so many in Main Street communities continuing to feel the painful effects of the Great Recession caused by Wall Street speculation.

“There is no reason to cheer an agreement that requires unwarranted pension cuts for federal workers, including VA nurses who earned that pension, underfunds nutrition programs and fails to extend assistance for the long-term unemployed,“ said NNU co-president Jean Ross, RN.

“Austerity budgeting, reflected in this latest deal, continues the disturbing focus by politicians in both parties in Washington, who should be fighting for jobs at living wages, restoration of the disgraceful cuts in food stamps, healthcare for all, housing assistance, and other human needs, not simply how to please Wall Street and the banks,” said Ross.

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Live Discussion of Budget Agreement by Congressional Progressives


Keith Ellison

Big news on budget agreement between Sen. Patti Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan, respective leaders of Senate and House budget committees. Agreement cuts pensions, unemployment compensation, and Medicare reimbursements, and raises airfares. Restores across the board cuts to military and domestic programs. No tax hikes on the billionaires and corporations, and no cuts in subsidies to oil, coal, and gas industry.

Hear Progressive Caucus leaders Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Barbara Lee, and Rep. Jim McGovern discuss these developments live at the Progressive Democrats of America Roundtable discussion tomorrow at 1pm.

Iceland to write €24,000 off every household mortgage

Iceland to write €24,000 off every household mortgage

Despite international opposition, the Reykjavik government will press ahead with the debt relief plan.

Tue 10:14 AM
The Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland
Image: Chris Ford via Flickr/Creative Commons

THE ICELANDIC GOVERNMENT has announced that it will write off household mortgage debt in order to kickstart the economy.

Under the plan, every household in the country will have €24,000 worth of debt written off.

The move was part of the election manifesto of the Progressive Party, led by Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson.

The idea will cost the country €1.2 billion and will begin in mid-2014. Iceland has been burdened with debt since the 2008 financial crisis, which saw the krona collapse.

A government statement said that the plan would kick-start consumer spending.

“Currently, household debt is equivalent to 108 per cent of GDP, which is high by international comparison.

“The action will boost household disposable income and encourage savings.”

The plan has been criticised by the IMF, the OECD and various economists, with the IMF saying that the country has “little fiscal space” for the move, while the OECD says the plan should be limited to low income housing.

The measure has improved the country’s rating with Standard & Poor’s, who upgraded the economic outlook from negative to stable.

Note by Randy Shannon

There are a little over 75.5 million homeowners in the USA. What would happen if every homeowner in this country were to receive the same kickback from the US government that Iceland is paying out? Well, each homeowner would get a check for $32,800.00.

This would be a total outlay from the US Treasury of $2.46 trillion. If this were done in monthly payments over a four year period the amount would be $51.4 billion per month. Does this sound like a lot of money?

The bankers don’t think this is a lot of money. Right now the Federal Reserve is transferring $82 billion per month to private US banks that are insolvent due to the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed is printing US dollars, “buying” worthless mortgage backed securities from these zombie banks, and the banks are depositing the cash back into the Fed and earning interest. That interest is paid by us homeowners.

So for about 40% less outlays per month the Federal Reserve could kickback the same amount to each US homeowner as the Government in Iceland is doing. Now the Federal Reserve and US Treasury are saying that this $82 billion a month is stimulating the economy, but the percent of people employed has remained unchanged since 2008. The unemployment rate has dropped because people have given up looking for a job. If the bankers in control of our country’s finances really wanted to stimulate the economy they would and they could do the same as Iceland and it would cost less!


Rep. Barabara Lee on Nelson Mandela’s Passing

Congresswoman Lee on Nelson Mandela’s Passing

Dec 5, 2013

December 5, 2013
Contact: Carrie Adams (202) 225-2661

Washington, D.C.— Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on the passing of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, family, and the people of South Africa. His legacy will live on forever in how we live our lives and fight for freedom and justice in a multi-racial society. We must pause and remember Madiba in his greatness; he used his life not for himself, but for the good of his country and the good of the world, and his spirit will live on.

“Even throughout his 27 years of incarceration and brutal treatment, his spirit was never broken and this stands as a testament to the power of reconciliation. Not only is Nelson Mandela the father of the liberation movement in South Africa, but he also laid the framework for modern liberation movements throughout the world. With a dignified defiance, Nelson Mandela never compromised his political principles or the mission of the anti-apartheid movement, fighting the global AIDS pandemic, ending poverty and preserving human rights.

“During Mr. Mandela’s trip to the United States in 1990, it was a great honor to be a member of the host committee that welcomed him to my district of Oakland, California.  One of my proudest moments as a member of Congress was when I led the effort to remove Mr. Mandela and the ANC from the U.S. Terrorist Watch list in time for his 90th birthday.  I served as an official election observer for the 1994 South African elections when President Mandela was first elected, and it was a magnificent reminder that perhaps one day my own country would elect an African American president.

“Mr. Mandela exuded a larger-than-life presence and a humble spirit that was remarkable; he is my hero and an inspiration to us all. While this earth will miss the physical presence of Nelson Mandela, his indomitable nature, his gentle spirit, and overwhelming smile will remain with us all. My heart is heavy as we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of this great warrior.”


Follow Barbara Lee on Facebook and Twitter at @RepBarbaraLee. To learn more, visit

 Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a former Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and currently serves as CPC Whip and Chair of the Task Force on Global Peace and Security. Congresswoman Lee serves as a representative from the United States to the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations.

Lorain Labor Council Candidates Win Local Elections

Ohioans Elect Two Dozen City Councilors on Independent Labor Ticket

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After one too many sell-outs by the local Democratic Party, the Lorain County central labor council decided to draw “a line in the sand” and run their own city council candidates on an Independent Labor Party ticket. Two dozen won seats—including union teacher Joshua Thornsberry, shown canvassing with his young son, who beat the head of the local Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Joshua Thornsberry.

Union-dense Lorain County, Ohio, is now home to an independent labor slate of two dozen newly elected city councilors—recruited and run by the central labor council there. All labor’s candidates had strong showings last month, and all but two were elected.

“This was a step we took reluctantly,” said Lorain County AFL-CIO President Harry Williamson. “When the leaders of the [Democratic] Party just took us for granted and tried to roll over the rights of working people here, we had to stand up.”

A series of disputes between organized labor and the Democratic leadership led the labor council and its allies to recruit and run their own slate in this Democratic stronghold, home of Ohio’s largest steel and auto facilities.

‘The Final Straw’

The unions had worked for years to build a labor-community partnership that resulted in a Lorain city Project Labor Agreement (PLA), which required that city contracts be staffed by at least 75 percent local and 9 percent minority workers, and unionized during the period of the project.

But Mayor Chase Ritenauer pushed the city council to repeal it in May 2013—just two months after its passage.

“It took us three years to negotiate this historic agreement,” said Joe Thayer, marketing director of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, “and it took them three days to kill it!”

The city council voted 8-2 in favor of the repeal. It was reported that an estimated $29.6 million in city road and water projects were soon to be awarded.

“Before we had the PLA, Lorain regularly hired contractors from outside the city and county,” said Rick Lucente, councilman and Steelworkers member, who voted no on repeal. “Repealing the PLA is taking work away from people here and revenue away from our city.”

The next big fight was over a contract dispute involving the Teamsters and the city. Mayor Ritenauer, with some of the council members, borrowed city trucks from nearby Elyria—another Democratic stronghold—and actually worked on the trucks to try to break the sanitation workers’ strike.

“That was the final straw,” according to Williamson. “You just plain do not cross a picket line and scab! There has to be a line in the sand.”

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