Pages tagged "americandream"


Rick Perry razzed for anti-Social Security views

Think Progress caught up with Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) on the campaign trail in Iowa. A group of Iowan seniors found Perry in front of a store in Iowa City. Perry, who has just announced his presidential candidacy, expressed on more than one occasion that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are unconstitutional Ponzi schemes. The group of seniors exercised their own constitutional rights by chanting "Hey, hey, whadya say, stop the corporate giveaways!" One elderly gentleman cried out "You gonna kill Social Security?!? Where'd you read your Constitution?" Needless to say, the constitutionality of Social Security is well established.Around 20% of Iowans receive Social Security, a program they've paid into their entire lives. If Social Security is in any danger, it is because Gov. Perry's predecessor in the Texas Governor's Mansion, George W. Bush, spent trillions on Iraq and Afghanistan and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Despite Bush's irresponsibility, virtually the entire gap in Social Security's longterm projections can be made up by eliminating the regressive cap on the payroll tax. Social Security taxes currently only go up to $106,800 of earnings, meaning that wealthier people pay a lower percentage of taxes than poorer people.

Kid responds to Fox News bullying

We noted earlier that instead of weighing the merits of the Contract for the American Dream, Fox News chose to attack the kids appearing in the video we released to announce the planks in the Contract. Guests on the Fox News program "Red Eye" called the kids "dorks" and "little bastards". The kids were in the video because the ideas in it are so common sense, so widespread that even a child could understand them. If the hosts on Fox News had a problem figuring them out, there's no reason to go after the kids.One of the girls who appeared in the video just uploaded a response of her own to YouTube.

Last week some people on FOX News attacked me and the eight other children in the video, and even called us names. Basically, they were saying that we don't have the right to speak out on issues that affect us today and issues that affect us in the future. One of the guests even called us a curse word[...]

Bullying is a huge problem for kids today. We don't need to turn on the TV and see guests on a major news network bullying us.

How about an apology to Victoria, Fox News? How about an apology from your guests, and if they can't manage to apologize for bullying kids, how about not inviting them back again?Here's the original video release:

#VerizonFAIL

Verizon has run into a few problems since its Tea Party-esque negotiation strategy ("Give me what I want or I'm taking the ball home") forced 45,000 workers into a strike. First, they've rushed poorly trained people into performing dangerous work, resulting in situations like this, where a manager trying to do a worker's job ends up blowing a transformer.Verizon has also tried a few different methods of making its case to Americans that it's on the right side of negotiations with unions. Trying its hand at new media with a Facebook page called VerizonLaborFacts, Verizon found itself swarmed with customers angry that the company refused to stand by workers who had built the company and with workers upset at the hardline Verizon has taken in the negotiation.

On the old media front, Verizon took out a bizarre series of ads that seemed to actually take the workers' side, including this one:

The strike is now in its second week, but the striking workers, represented by CWA and IBEW, show no signs of backing down.

Buffett recognizes need for raising taxes on wealthy

Warren Buffett has a great op-ed in the New York Times today about the need to stop protecting the wealthiest Americans when so many in the middle class are still struggling. Buffett points out that the rich pay a lower effective tax rate because "they make their money with money" rather than being paid for doing a job. Not only are their earnings taxed at a lower rate than many middle class families, they avoid the payroll tax.To me, the key point that he makes is this one:

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

I often hear prominent members of the Right (like Mitt Romney) make the wild claim that by taxing the rich at a fairer rate, we're "punishing them for their success" and creating a deterrent for people to work hard to make more money. If they're taxed a little bit more for that money, they wouldn't bother.It's a bizarre claim, because as Buffett points out, if someone wants to make money, they won't shy away from investing because a little bit more of that extra money will be taxed. The evidence bears him out. Despite the magic supposedly unleashed by repeated tax cuts over the last decade, the '00s is the worst decade for job creation and for stocks since the Great Depression. 

More scenes from Jobs Not Cuts rallies

Throughout the week, especially on Wednesday, Americans have been visiting congressional offices and public squares around the country to voice their support for government job creation measures financed by making the rich pay their fair share. It's not surprising to see action across such broad swathes of the United States; pollsters have found for months that Americans overwhelming support increasing taxes rather than cutting spending. Here's a sample of what's going on out there. This is just the tip of the iceberg right here - there are so many people demanding change around the country that we can't include them all here. In Houston, about 200 stood outside in the heat chanting "Good Jobs Equals A Great Houston" in front of Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) local office. In Fort Worth, several dozen braved the Texas heat at the county courthouse. One speaker wondered if the rich have argued for ten years that we need to keep cutting their taxes to spur job creation, where are the jobs at?In Louisville, Kentucky, protestors demanded real solutions for jobs from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

Local residents angered by the recent debt deal gathered outside U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's office Wednesday.

The group of unemployed and underemployed demanded McConnell focus on job creation rather than cuts to programs.

The participants said the cuts to the programs affect the middle class, but asks nothing of big corporations and millionaires.

We are sending a strong message," said Keith Rouea of MoveOn.org. "We need to focus on job creation and put deficit reduction on the back burner, and we can deal with it once we have a stronger economy."In Newton, NJ, dozens showed up at Rep. Scott Garrett's district office.

Virginia Heatter, the coordinator for the MoveOn.org northwest office, said the group presented a copy of the contract to staff members at Rep. Scott Garrett's office in Newton before the rally.

"We are here at the unemployment office to make the point that Americans need jobs, not cuts to the budget that will only hurt job growth," Heatter said. "America is a great country, and we need our leaders to stop their fighting and work to restore this nation."In Concord, New Hampshire:

The $10.2 billion two-year budget that took effect July 1 also cut payments to hospitals for caring for the poor by $115 million; lays off as many as 500 state workers once lump-sum agency budget cuts are implemented; increases workers' pension costs to reduce employers' pension costs; and raises health care premiums for retirees under 65, in addition to other cuts.

At the rally, Gagnon filled out an "Application for Good Jobs for the Granite State" that urged the state Legislature to support middle-class families and not cut education and essential services.

"The comment I put down was that when you cut public-sector jobs: teachers or police, firefighters, court workers ... it essentially also results in a cut in private-sector jobs because the laid-off public workers now don't have money to spend in their community," she said. In Lawrenceville, Georgia:

If he thinks that it's better to deal with things that don't have anything to do with the real people that are voting...and just make the corporations happy, then he is not representing me," said Glenda Poindexter, council coordinator for MoveOn Gwinnett. "I call on him today to make jobs happen in this state."

"It's not right that they balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the disabled and those that don't have," said Iris Basham, a MoveOn activist. "Once you have a job, you start spending. Once you start spending, the economy starts working... but the government's got to take that first step and employ all of us."In Loma Linda, California:

Members of the Democratic Club and Citizens Action for Peace joined MoveOn members at the intersection of Brookside Avenue and San Mateo Street near Congressman Jerry Lewis’ Redlands office.

For just over an hour, they waved signs, chanted and cheered as vehicles honked. Members spoke and then the group delivered a jobs contract with a list of demands for the congressman that included: Invest in the country’s infrastructure, offer Medicare for all, and fix Social Security.In Marlborough, Massachusetts:

Rubenstein told Patch that he was new to protesting. "I felt like I had to do something. I'm not happy."

Wagner said, "I am angry with the manipulation by the oligarchy - the few privileged elite - that hold the majority of the wealth and they manipulate our government and policy at the expense of everyone else."In Springfield, Pennsylvania:

Strong political opinions were aired Wednesday during a demonstration by MoveOn.org outside the Springfield office of U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby.??“I don’t believe (Meehan) is a bad person,” said Tim Brew. “But I do think that he has little or no idea what people like me and the people here have to go through.”?

“It’s 10 simple points that people can rally around,” said Brown. “Basically, it creates jobs and it protects our basic rights for Social Security and Medicare.”??The demonstration drew a group of 40 or 50 anti-Meehan individuals. Most were from Delaware County, but some came from nearby counties.In Erie, Pennsylvania:

Jobs, jobs and more jobs.

That was the message to Congress from about 60 protesters who rallied outside U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly's office on Erie's bayfront.

The rally was organized by the local chapter of the liberal organization MoveOn.org but included participation from unions, religious leaders and former political officials.

Among those who spoke were former Erie Mayor Joyce Savocchio and Bishop Dwane Brock of Victory Christian Center. Former Erie County Executive Judy Lynch was among those in the crowd.

Another speaker was Erie resident Lisa Stark, 48, who said she's been unemployed for one year and has tried to find work. Stark said she went to college, worked hard, paid off her student loans and tried for the American dream of owning a home.

But to pay for health insurance, Stark said she's had to dip into the savings account for her future home's down payment.

Stark said she's one of 140 million Americans looking for jobs. "That's tough competition,'' she said.

Joshua Atkinson, president of the Erie-Crawford Central Labor Council, told the crowd that "CEOs and the superrich have never had it better,'' while the middle class loses jobs and faces home foreclosures.In Mercer Island, Washington:

Islanders and non-Island residents gathered near Reichert's office at noon, some coming specifically for the event and others joining the cause after seeing the group on the sidewalk.Island resident SaraLee Kane said she has attended several MoveOn events and came to Wednesday's demonstration because she's concerned that there is not enough awareness about what is happening to the general public.

Another Island resident, Ellen Jeffcott, who has lived here for 37 years, said she feels Reichert has become a puppet for the Republican cause and that she doesn't see enough independent thinking from him or concern for the local people, even though they are who he is representing.In Olympia, Washington:

About 100 people gathered at the Tivoli Fountain near the state Capitol today to protest the debt-limit deal last week and urging Congress to focus on job creation instead of spending cuts. ?Signs in the air had messages like “Infrastructure is vital to national security,” “Stop the war on workers,” “End Bush Tax Cuts,” and “More Jobs Now! – Call Congress.”

Sherri Goulet, a founder of the Thurston County Progressive Network, spoke of many people’s lives being “on the margin, even of those who are working’’ in the jobless economic recovery. ?

One man, Carl Cannon of Gig Harbor accused the so-called tea party, which advocates cuts and opposes new taxes, of treason its work to tie up Congress over the debt-limit bill and cut spending. Cannon told me he is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army and a “Reagan Republican” but he considers the tea party “the new red menace” to the nation. ?

Jim Blakeley of Olympia and others complained that Congress, in their view, represents the rich.Congress can expect to hear more from the American people until either they actually bring jobs back to this country or until they get lose their own jobs in upcoming elections.


VIDEO: Constituents confront Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY)

Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY) has had a rough month. Just a couple of weeks ago, she called the police on seniors trying to tell her not to cut Social Security and Medicare at her district office. Now she's facing heat from constituents blasting her at a town hall meeting for her insistence on cutting taxes and allowing companies to ship jobs overseas.In the town hall meeting, constituents repeatedly asked what she was going to do about bringing jobs back to this country when companies like Verizon continue to send jobs overseas. Hayworth kept dodging with the answer that we should lower tax rates for corporations, but couldn't answer why companies like Verizon ship jobs overseas when they pay few taxes on billions in profit. Make sure you watch until the end, when a constituent, exasperated with a meandering Hayworth filibuster that did not address his point, cried out "You are not the teacher here. You are a Congresswoman!"

Rand Paul jumps on the Romney corporate train

What is it with these people? Are they programmed at some secret corporate retreat? Rand Paul doubled down on Mitt Romney's "corporations are people" talk yesterday, calling us all corporations and stating emphatically that corporations are "middle-class."In an interview with Think Progress yesterday at the Ames, Iowa Republican debate, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul made a number of statements at odds with the reality that most of experience.

KEYES: What did you make of Mitt Romney’s statement today that “corporations are people”?

PAUL: Corporations are collections of people. I think we’re all corporations. To say we’re going to punish corporations like they’re someone else. All of us are corporations.

KEYES: Do you think that was basically in line with what he was saying?

PAUL: You think about, if you own a retirement fund, you have a 401k, everybody who has a 401k has parts of corporations, so in a sense we are.

KEYES: I think people might argue that corporations can’t be sent to jail.

PAUL: I think those arguments can be made, but I think the fact that a lot of times people want to vilify corporations, saying they’re someone else, that they’re these other rich people. They’re us. They’re the middle class. We all own parts of corporations.

I'm not sure I follow. Lots of people own homes and have bank accounts. Nobody would claim that "we are homes" or "we are banks". Nobody would claim that bankers are middle class just because middle class people put some of their money into a savings account or CD at a bank.When he ran for Senate in 2010, Paul reaped tens of thousands of dollars in donations from rightwing corporate funders like Koch Industries and hedge fund Mason Capital Management. It's not surprising that they would pour their money into his campaign, with views like this.

Great new video from Verizon workers on strike

You really need to see this video. It's an incredibly moving and heartfelt appeal directly from the working men and women who are on strike against Verizon right now. They are ordinary people like you and me who built Verizon and helped make it one of the largest phone companies in America. By standing out in the picket lines all day in the heat, they are just trying to hang on to what they have while their bosses continue to pile up stacks of cash.To recap, Verizon has raked in billions in profits, and its executive officers have made over $250 million over the past few years. The CEO alone has made over $80 million and enjoys free health care for life as one of his perks. Despite all the money in its coffers, Verizon has taken an extremely hard line in negotiating with the union in its new contract. Their demands include cutting benefits, paid sick days, scrapping the old health care plan and replacing it with a high deductible plan with thousands of dollars in additional costs, doing away with employee pensions, and expanding the amount of jobs outsourced overseas or to low-paid temporary workers.Even though the workers' collective backs are up against the wall, they are energized and ready to keep fighting, even after six days of picketing. There are lots of ways you can help them, from signing a petition that goes to Verizon's COO to changing your Facebook and Twitter profile pics to express solidarity with the strike.

Fox News calls kids in Contract for the American Dream video 'dorks' and 'bastards'

No matter what your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that while ideas should be fair game for debate, kids should be off limits for ridicule. I had to take exception with Fox News' attack on the children who appeared in our Contract for the Dream video release. The children were in the video for a very simple reason - the ideas in the Contract are so simple, so widespread that even kids could understand them. And if kids could understand them and put them into a clear understandable package, maybe Congress could finally get the message.But the folks at Fox News aren't just too blinded by ideology to understand the message. Like a gang of bullies, they resorted to attacking the children in the video. In a segment on last night's Red Eye, panelist KT McFarland, a regular contributor on several Fox News programs, called the kids "a bunch of dorks." Another regular panelist, Joe DeVito, said that "the little bastards are making me so angry!" It's typical tone-deafness for Fox News to resort to having adults mock children at a time when the rest of society understands the consequences of bullying. And on Fox and Friends yesterday morning, Media Matters noticed the hosts ridiculed the children as mindlessly parrots and said that they should be learning to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or memorizing parts of the Constitution instead. If a child can understand parts of the Constitution, they can understand simple concepts like making sure the rich pay their fair share. The children who appeared in the video and their parents were given copies of the Contract of the American Dream to read through before they were allowed to participate in filming the video so that they could understand the entire project and its goals. Of course, Fox News would never, ever use children to promote a political message, would they? And Fox & Friends host wouldn't dream of trying to indoctrinate children with a Tea Party coloring book.I will give Fox News credit for one thing - even knowing their schtick over the last dozen years, they still managed to surprise me. I knew they would attack a progressive agenda to create jobs and make the rich pay their fair share, but I thought they'd stick to the tried and true epithets, not slur children.

Romney confronted in Iowa over support for the rich

Speaking of Massachusetts, Think Progress has some amazing video of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney confronted by questioners at the Iowa State Fair about raising the cap on the payroll tax to include more income from rich people. In 2010, the payroll tax only went up to $106,800 of income, after which the payroll tax no longer applied. Effectively, the more you make over the cap, the lower your tax rate is. If we eliminated the cap, it would almost completely fund Social Security over the next 75 years, as long as economic projections will go.Romney refused to answer the question, going instead on a long tirade about how we shouldn't tear down rich people for being successful, and how Wall Street and Main Street are connected.A second questioner interrupted Romney's filibuster to ask how he would fund Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid without cutting benefits, which got a huge cheer from the crowd. Romney replied that he wasn't going to raise taxes, and if you don't like that answer, you can go vote for Barack Obama.Romney later defended his calling for a raise in the Social Security retirement age in order to preserve corporate tax breaks by saying that "corporations are people too." That quote sounds like it's from an Onion article on Romney, but it actually happened in Iowa today.