Category Archives: Democrats

Pittsburgh and The Revolt of the Cities

AN ARTICLE FOR DISCUSSION. During the past 20 years, immigrants and young people have transformed the demographics of urban America. Now, they’re transforming its politics and mapping the future of liberalism.

By Harold Meyerson
Beaver County Blue via American Prospect

Pittsburgh is the perfect urban laboratory,” says Bill Peduto, the city’s new mayor. “We’re small enough to be able to do things and large enough for people to take notice.” More than its size, however, it’s Pittsburgh’s new government—Peduto and the five like-minded progressives who now constitute a majority on its city council—that is turning the city into a laboratory of democracy. In his first hundred days as mayor, Peduto has sought funding to establish universal pre-K education and partnered with a Swedish sustainable-technology fund to build four major developments with low carbon footprints and abundant affordable housing. Even before he became mayor, while still a council member, he steered to passage ordinances that mandated prevailing wages for employees on any project that received city funding and required local hiring for the jobs in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new arena. He authored the city’s responsible-banking law, which directed government funds to those banks that lent in poor neighborhoods and away from those that didn’t.

Pittsburgh is a much cleaner city today than it was when it housed some of the world’s largest steel mills. But, like postindustrial America generally, it is also a much more economically divided city. When steel dominated the economy, the companies’ profits and the union’s contracts made Pittsburgh—like Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago—a city with a thriving working class. Today, with the mills long gone, Pittsburgh has what Gabe Morgan, who heads the local union of janitorial and building maintenance workers, calls an “eds and meds” economy. Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, and its medical center are among the region’s largest employers, generating thousands of well-paid professional positions and a far greater number of low-wage service-sector jobs.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

Peduto, who is 49 years old, sees improving the lot of Pittsburgh’s new working class as his primary charge. In his city hall office, surrounded by such artifacts as a radio cabinet from the years when the city became home to the world’s first radio station, the new mayor outlined the task before him. “My grandfather, Sam Zarroli, came over in 1921 from Abruzzo,” he said. “He only had a second-grade education, but he was active in the Steel Workers Organizing Committee in its early years, and he made a good life for himself and his family. My challenge in today’s economy is how to get good jobs for people with no PhDs but with a good work ethic and GEDs. How do I get them the same kind of opportunities my grandfather had? All the mayors elected last year are asking this question.”

Continue reading Pittsburgh and The Revolt of the Cities

Progressive ‘Back to Work’ Budget Wins Praise for Anti-Austerity Approach

‘A reminder that we don’t need to cut teachers and school lunches when we can eliminate wasteful giveaways to fossil fuel corporations.’  Watch Rep. Keith Ellison introduce the budget here:

By Jon Queally 
Beaver County Blue via CommonDreams.org

March 14, 2013 – In the midst of ongoing hysteria about a ‘non-existent deficit crisis’ in Washington, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday unveiled an alternative approach to destructive austerity economics by releasing their ‘Back to Work Budget’ plan for 2014.

Pushing back specifically on the dominant talking point of inside-the-Beltway elites, the budget challenges the idea that cutting programs, reducing corporate tax rates, and slashing investments is a pathway to economic prosperity. Its proponents argue the US does not have "a deficit crisis"—as those pushing for steep cuts suggest—but rather, "a jobs crisis."

Presented by CPC co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison and backed by members of the caucus’ Budget Task force—Reps. Jim McDermott, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan—the plan describes how smart investments, not deep cuts to key programs, would create almost 7 million jobs over the first year of its implementation.

“Americans face a choice,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “We can either cut Medicare benefits to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or we can close outdated tax loopholes and invest in jobs. We choose investment.”

They continue:

    The Back to Work Budget invests in America’s future because the best way to reduce our long-term deficit is to put America back to work. In the first year alone, we create nearly 7 million American jobs and increase GDP by 5.7%. We reduce unemployment to near 5% in three years with a jobs plan that includes repairing our nation’s roads and bridges, and putting the teachers, cops and firefighters who have borne the brunt of our economic downturn back to work. We reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion by closing tax loopholes and asking the wealthy to pay a fair share. We repeal the arbitrary sequester and the Budget Control Act that are damaging the economy, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, which provide high quality, low-cost medical coverage to millions of Americans when they need it most. This is what the country voted for in November. It’s time we side with America’s middle class and invest in their future.

Received as a breath of fresh air of economic sanity, the plan was praised by a variety of individuals and groups.

Continue reading Progressive ‘Back to Work’ Budget Wins Praise for Anti-Austerity Approach

Why We Like Elizabeth Warren!

Elizabeth Warren Grills Banking Regulators at First Hearing

By Rachel Rose Hatman

Yahoo News

Democrats eager to see consumer champion Elizabeth Warren take Wall Street’s biggest banks to task got their wish on Thursday when the newly elected Democratic senator made her debut at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

"What I’d like to know is tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial," the Massachusetts lawmaker said to applause, speaking to the federal regulators gathered for a hearing on Wall Street reform.

No witnesses spoke up.

Warren raised her eyebrows. "Anybody?" she asked.

Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, spoke up: "We’ve actually had a fair number of consent orders. We do not have to bring people to a trial…"

"I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial," Warren said. "My question is, when did you bring them to trial?"

"We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals," Curry said.

Warren moved on to the rest of the panel, knowing full well that none of the regulators present have brought a Wall Street bank to trial.

"I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial,’" Warren later said.

Warren ousted Republican Sen. Scott Brown in November in a hard-fought campaign. She was President Barack Obama’s first pick in 2011 to head up the government’s newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an entity the former Harvard University law professor and attorney helped create. But Republicans in Washington essentially killed her nomination, citing her record of taking on big banks and Wall Street. That opposition helped boost Warren’s reputation and led Democrats nationwide to embrace her decision to run for U.S. Senate.

PDA Greets Inaugural with ‘Progressive Central 3’ in DC, Vows to Fight for Jobs and Fair Trade

Discussing Fair and Unfair Jobs, and MORE!

Dear Beaver County Progressives:

Guest Speakers and Staff at Progressive Central

PDA’s January 19th pre-inaugural event in Washington DC–Progressive Central III–alerted us to a hazardous new trade agreement in the making.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), negotiated in deep secrecy, would supersede environmental regulations, labor rights, and consumer safety. This agreement would make it even more difficult to regulate the financial industry.

‘Buy American’ would be outlawed.

Ms. Lori Wallach from Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, as a Progressive Central panelist, delivered a concise and highly informative explanation of what this pending trade agreement contains. She will be our special guest on our next Economic and Social Justice call.

Pennsylvania has been one of the states hardest hit by corporate trade agreements.

We would like to think that President Obama will take a more progressive approach to trade. However, we are acutely aware that trade agreements have been controlled by the top financial corporations and have exclusively benefited the 1%.

Members and friends of PDA in Pennsylvania will want to stay current on these trade talks and prepared to take action along with our allies to prevent more damage to our economy and our social stability.

I hope you’ll consider joining PDA in our “Educate Congress” campaign each month. You can visit with or do a letter drop at a local Congressional office, or back up those who do with phone calls. Our coalition is growing and we are working in conjunction with the Jobs Not Wars campaign to educate Congress on what the people of Pennsylvania and America, really need:

Prosperity Not Austerity.

Contact conor@pdamerica.org to get involved! You can also work with an issue organizing team (like our Economic and Social Justice Team) and / or help to start or connect with a local chapter in your area. Please help support our organizing with a contribution. Feel free to email me at pennsylvania@pdamerica.org with any questions.

Please watch Lori Wallach’s comments from Progressive Central (coming soon), as well as the rest of the exciting videos from this great event at the PDA YouTube channel!

In solidarity,

Randy Shannon
PDA PA State Coordinator
Economic and Social Justice Team Coordinator

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An Ugly Deal: 4 Reasons the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Is Worse Than It Looks

By Robert Borosage
Beaver County Blue via OurFuture.org

Jan 1, 2013 – Early this morning, the Senate passed the fiscal cliff deal by 89-8, a margin virtually guaranteeing that it will survive in the House.  The deal has some good parts.  It lets the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthy, raises the estate tax marginally and increases taxes on capital gains and dividends a bit.  Unemployment benefits are extended for a year.  Tax boosts for the low paid workers – the child tax credit, expanded earned income credit, refundable tuition tax credits – are extended, if only for five years.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not touched.

But no one should be fooled.  This is an ugly deal, with foul implications for the coming months.

1.  Setting Up the Next Extortion

The most ominous part of the deal is what was left out.  The deal makes no provision for lifting the debt ceiling.  It postpones the sequester (automatic cuts in domestic and military spending) for only two months.  It is a smaller deficit reduction package than that originally sought by the president.  It therefore sets up the right-wing House zealots to hold the economy hostage once more, while demanding deep cuts in public services (known as cuts in domestic spending), backed by a media frenzy about deficits.  And while Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid escaped unscathed in this deal, they will be the prime targets in the coming debate.

Continue reading An Ugly Deal: 4 Reasons the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Is Worse Than It Looks

Get Out the Vote. Especially Women, Youth and Trade Unionists. It Matters…

New Poll Puts Presidential Race As A Dead Heat Between President Obama And Mitt Romney

NBC News calls it a 47-47 tie

By Glenn Blain
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Oct 21, 2012 – The race for the White House is a dead heat.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney tied at 47% with barely two weeks to go before election day.

Obama had held a 49-46 lead among likely voters in the most recent previous NBC/WSJ poll, which was conducted before any the presidential debates.

The new poll revealed Obama with a wider lead among all registered voters, 49% to 44% but showed his support weakening in key demographics.

Among women voters, Obama’s lead had slipped to its slimmest margin yet this year, 51% to 43%. Romney leads among men 53%-43%. Mitt Romney lost some ground gained by first debate, according to polls, but still doing strong.

Continue reading Get Out the Vote. Especially Women, Youth and Trade Unionists. It Matters…

A Solid Debate between a Progressive Democrat and a Top GOP Rightwinger

Virginia Democrat Wayne Powell came out swinging Monday and remained on the offensive throughout the first debate in the race for Virginia’s 7th congressional district seat, accusing U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of abdicating his role as a leader of Congress and repeatedly slamming him for his lack of military service, while the visibly agitated six-term incumbent labored to furiously fend off the flurry of attacks.

Mr. Powell’s campaign has vowed to frame Mr. Cantor to both his constituents and the entire country as an unapologetic partisan irrevocably beholden to large corporations and special interest groups — and the former Army colonel wasted no time in lobbing grenades at the Republican incumbent Monday evening in Richmond before a national audience on C-SPAN2.

“He never talks about working people — he only talks about business people,” Mr. Powell said in the hour-long forum hosted by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “These people are suffering — I’ve seen them all the time … you’re so far removed from reality, I don’t think you even know what a small business is except for a hedge fund.”

United Steelworkers Endorse Critz Over Altmire

Leo Gerard Greets Mark Critz

GOP-led Redistricting Unsettles Old Patterns

By Timothy McNulty
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jan 23., 2012 – The United Steelworkers union announced its support this morning of U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, in the increasingly competitive race for the new 12th congressional district.

Republican mapmakers combined the seats of Mr. Critz and fellow Democratic incumbent Jason Altmire of McCandless, forcing them to face off in the state’s primary April 24th. The endorsement by the union, and its 32,000 active and retired members, should help Mr. Critz introduce himself to voters in Mr. Altmire’s backyard in suburbs north of the city.

"Mark has always been there, not just for the Steelworkers union, but for working families," said union president Leo Gerard at the announcement at union headquarters Downtown.

Every local union president in the new district (which includes parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Cambria, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Westmoreland counties) endorsed Mr. Critz, and the union has committed to do phone banks, mailers and door-knocking on the candidate’s behalf. Steelworker and retiree volunteers will also phone members of other unions to urge support of Mr. Critz, the USW’s political director Tim Waters said.…

[Text of USW Statement at Close of Article]

Continue reading United Steelworkers Endorse Critz Over Altmire

John Conyers: A Champion of Jobs, Justice and Peace

 
 

Photo: Dwan Walker of ‘One Aliquippa’ with Rep. Conyers at award dinner

Rep. John Conyers Honored at Labor’s

Human Rights Dinner in Beaver County

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Over 400 labor and human rights leaders and activists gathered at The Fez in Beaver County’s Hopewell Township Oct. 8 to honor John Conyers, the Congressman from Detroit Michigan, now serving his 23rd term as a long-time champion of labor, civil rights and civil liberties.

Sponsored by the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council, the annual human rights banquet drew local labor unions, the NAACP and African American churches, and activist groups such as the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America. The elected officials present included County Commissioners Joe Spanik and Tony Amadio, row officers Carol Fiorucci and Nancy Werme, as well as Dwan Walker and his ‘One Aliquippa’ organization. Walker’s recent primary victory has position him to be the town’s next mayor. The event was also honored by the attendance of several youth ambassadors from Aliquippa’s Council of Men and Fathers.

conyers-pda-table1 "There’s a high level of energy here," said Tina Shannon, PDA’s president and a member of the dinner’s organizing team. "Many of us have already worked together for years on Medicare for All, and in the recent ‘One Nation’ mobilization in Washington, DC. We’ve built a strong unity by working together, and it’s reflected in the turnout here tonight. It’ll continue as we fight for jobs"

Conyers was an excellent choice for the labor council’s award. Not only is he known worldwide for his leadership in the House Judiciary Committee as a staunch defender of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, he is also responsible for introducing some of the most progressive Bills in Congress.  HR 676 ‘Improved and Expanded Medicare for All’ has been widely promoted here in Beaver County by Unions and Progressive Democrats, including the first Citizen’s Hearing on the Bill conducted in Aliquippa featuring Dennis Kucinich as convener. The Beaver County Commissioners and the Beaver/Lawrence Labor Council have both passed resolutions endorsing the Bill. Conyers has also recently drafted another groundbreaking bill, HR 870 Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, to be funded by a financial transaction tax on Wall Street speculators.

Continue reading John Conyers: A Champion of Jobs, Justice and Peace