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Which Members of Congress Are Standing Up for Economic Decency

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, americans, congress, corruption, cover-up, democrats, dishonesty, elections, ethics, government, Govtfearmongering, healthcare, lies, Medicare, Medicaid, media, obama, politics, propaganda, republicans, socialsecurity )

- 2257 days ago -
"We will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need."


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Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 6:54 am
(Photo: ProgressOhio / Flickr)

Now we know.

Every member of Congress has chosen whether to sign a letter making a crucial commitment: "We will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need."

The Democratic Party hierarchy doesn't like the letter. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has said that cutting Social Security would "strengthen" it, and President Obama's spokespeople keep emphasizing his eagerness to cut Social Security's cost of living adjustments. The fact that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit is beside the austerity point.

Since mid-February, across the country, many thousands of people have sent personal notes, submitted petitions and made phone calls imploring members of Congress to sign the letter, initiated by Congressmen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano.

Twenty-eight members of the House of Representatives have signed the letter.

Here are their names: Brown, Cartwright, Castor, Clay, Conyers, D. Davis, DeFazio, Ellison, Faleomavaega, Grayson, G. Green, Grijalva, Gutierrez, A. Hastings, Honda, Kaptur, Lee, Lynch, C. Maloney, Markey, McGovern, Nadler, Napolitano, Nolan, Serrano, Takano, Velazquez and Waters.

If you don't see the name of your Congress member on that list, you live in a House district without a representative standing up for economic decency.

Especially noteworthy are 49 members of the House who belong to the Congressional Progressive Caucus but have refused to sign the Grayson-Takano letter. In most cases, they represent districts with a largely progressive electorate. In effect, their message is: We like to call ourselves "progressive" but we refuse to clearly stand up to an Obama White House that's pushing to slash Social Security and Medicare benefits. To see the names of those 49 members of Congress, click here.

A case in point: As a freshman Congressman, Jared Huffman represents California's North Coast district, stretching from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. On the 2012 campaign trail, I often heard Huffman assuring voters that he opposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare. (As a candidate, I finished second to him among Democrats in the primary election last June.) When he got to Washington, Huffman joined the Progressive Caucus.

Now, refusing to sign the Grayson-Takano letter, Congressman Huffman publicly touts his disdain for "outside groups." Days ago, deriding the pressure from organizations urging him to sign the letter, Huffman boasted on his public Facebook page: "I won't be bullied from the left or the right into signing Norquistian vote pledges to outside groups."

The pejorative word "Norquistian" is proving to be very handy for some Democratic politicians -- eager to equate progressive pledges not to cut vital social programs with right-wing pledges not to increase any taxes -- as if standing up for economically vulnerable people is somehow comparable to the ideological rigidity of Grover Norquist. This amounts to old-wine corporate centrism poured into a new rhetorical bottle. Subtext: basic progressive principles aren't important enough to warrant a wiggle-proof promise.

As battles over key issues of economic fairness intensify on Capitol Hill, we're very likely to see a lot of Democrats -- led by President Obama -- preening themselves as virtuously non-dogmatic while they rebuff the minimal humanistic demands of progressive constituencies. The Grayson-Takano letter, for example, has been endorsed by dozens of progressive groups such as National Nurses United, Credo Action, Civic Action, Bold Progressives, Democracy for America,, Social Security Works, Progressive Democrats of America, the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, Rebuild the Dream, Progressives United, Color of Change, Campaign for America's Future, Center for Community Change, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

In the real politics of the emerging struggle over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, there's a very big difference between expressing opposition to benefit cuts and promising not to vote for them. It's only when members of Congress make a firm public commitment that Obama White House strategists may feel a need to recalibrate their deal-making calculus with Republicans.

Even firm commitments have eroded all too often on Capitol Hill, but at least the Grayson-Takano letter is a solid starting point. And as we look to the next election season, we should be searching for alternatives to the members of Congress who call themselves "progressive" but refuse to risk the wrath of an austerity-crazed Obama White House.

By Norman Solomon, Norman Solomon's Blog | Op-Ed | Truthout |

Past Member (0)
Friday March 15, 2013, 7:02 am
Thanks Kit---I believe in the taking of names. Makes them "goosy".

Brenda Nelson (3)
Friday March 15, 2013, 7:57 am
Its a start by real change also happens when any high paid individual takes a pay cut, then they are really putting their money where their mouth is. To me anyone making over $30,000 a year is high paid.

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 15, 2013, 9:32 am
In plain English - for 507 it is BYE BYE ! Remember this! Thx Kit! Awful news-but the truth so happens to hurt.

janice l (0)
Friday March 15, 2013, 9:42 am
It is truly sad that they sit back with all there money and want to take away from the elderly people of this country.

pam w (139)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:42 am
".. our constituents earned....." Those words are SO IMPORTANT!



Thanks, Kit!

Phil P (94)
Friday March 15, 2013, 12:55 pm
Thanks Kit. This used to be a nice country.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 12:58 pm

True Phil, but that was once upon time....and seems very long ago.

Past Member (0)
Friday March 15, 2013, 1:12 pm
For a good economy, please sign,

Robert Tomlinson (62)
Friday March 15, 2013, 2:43 pm
Kit, thanks for this post as it is an important issue that must be pursued. The only way to make our voices heard is to keep in touch withe our elected officials. During the election next year.....buttonhole the candidates and push your beliefs. This will have a great effect especially during the primary season. If we don't push for Medicare, Medicaid and social Security the candidates will veer more to the right in order to appeal to "Moderate" republicans. Many forget that an election is a participatory event and not just a voting event.

JL A (281)
Friday March 15, 2013, 3:21 pm
It didn't used to be so hard for people in Congress to walk the walk that matched their talk....

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday March 15, 2013, 3:43 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit.
Although my House member isn't a member of the Progressive Caucus, I've still been badgering him on this. I get mailings from many of the groups listed, and have sent letters through them as well. Some of the names on the list of non-signers really threw me for a loop. Have they started drinking that crazy Kool-Aid, too?!
Since Obama started caving on the chained CPI regarding Soc. Sec., it seems many, many Dems. have lost their spine on protecting these important programs. Are they doing this just to give Obama cover? Is that more important that keeping their word to their own constituents?

This is not for the betterment of our country...or to bring down the deficit. The ultimate goal of Pete Peterson and Simpson/Bowles was to "privatize" Social Security so Wall St. could gamble it all away, bet against it, and line their pockets with even more. This is a slippery slope the Dems. should not go down. When we see how many billions was literally given to the banksters, how many trillions was wasted on 2 unnecessary, bloody wars, and recall how the markets were rigged with can anyone agree to taking money literally out of the mouths of people who are already hungry?
I don't even "have a dog in this fight" since I don't collect Social Security...and won't for several more years. But, I see how harsh the economy has been to relatives and friends....even strangers...and just can't get it through my thick skull how anyone could have the desire to continue hurting those already in pain.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 5:08 pm

Lois, I would have to say that you have just wrapped this package and added a shiny bow on top. GW Bush tried to privatize Social Security but was stopped, if he had, we would talking about how or if there is a way to restart or salvage the program. For too many people in this country the planned retirement was tied to their contributions to company pension programs, fortunately most also paid into to Social Security or they would be completely out of luck.

I often hearing the right whining that government can not do anything right, when in fact until recently they have managed most things very well. Contrary to that I don't hear the right complaining about the miserable job they are dong and have done with the many "privatized" programs given to them, yet still paid for by taxpayers.

Joanne Dixon (37)
Friday March 15, 2013, 5:57 pm
My representative is, to quote a friend's "pithy, well-reasoned political response," a "total d***head," has not and I am sure never would, sign the Grayson-Takano letter, in fact has probably signed Grover Norquist's more than once. But I've sent him some emails anyway. May as well let them know we know they are s**ts.

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:53 pm
Thank you for keeping us informed. They have forgotten who they serve. I'm sad to say they have lost their way. I have called, sent letters, and signed petitions till I'm cross eyed. Perhaps its time for greater measures such as protests in every city across the nation.

paul m (93)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 6:51 am


Munro Tapper (80)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 8:44 am
Thanks for the news. I was lost in the fracking protest in my home province. So sad what is happening in the US.

Ro H (0)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 9:35 am

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 9:45 am

Everyone no matter how high their salary (or what form of salary) should be paying into the Social Security and Medicare fund. That will more than cover not just the baby boomers but all future needs of these two vital programs. Whether republican or democrat - independent, libertarian or green party, when asked about Social Security and Medicare people seem to agree with a resounding "YES" on these two programs being saved and not turned into another privatized system that will fail.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:56 pm
Good. It's about time they stood up for something that's right.

Helen Porter (39)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 3:42 pm
I am going to use my freedom of speech to say something that I realize will be most unpopular with my friends and associates in Care2. I will not protest that I am right. Maybe I'm wrong. It's happened before. lol
However, I'm one who likes to look at and examine both sides of an issue. I learn more that way. What I'm about to say is the opposite side of the issue.

I need to state that I am not upper or middle class. My income is just under a thousand a month from Social Security. I am 70 -- and I'm healthy and happy. I have everything I need and most of what I want. Thanks to Care2, I am living a useful, contented old age. Care2 gives me causes worthy of giving my time. I am working harder and longer hours than before I retired. And I'm loving it. I'm making the best of these years before I cross over,. Thank you, Care2.

Ok, here's what I have to say. If America does not keep the millionaires at some level of satisfaction, they will simply take their money and their businesses and, with the greatest of ease, move to another country where they are appreciated. If they do that, where will our jobs be?

Think on it.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:19 pm

Technically, our tax rate for corporations is 35% though Obama has offered to lower that (to possibly 25%) if they do not ship jobs overseas and do actually pay their taxes, and not hide money overseas. Many countries have a higher rate for corporations and a few a lower rate.

I don't believe that Americans should be held hostage by the desires of the few for sake of the many. The proposed tax increases are very small, the problem is some want all, and to give nothing in return. Those who are wealthy made their money because of the opportunities in this country. Why should they not feel a responsibility to pay back (through minor taxation) to make this country and our economy function well?

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:26 pm

yep, One of many similar emails I have received and signed. They will end the sequester, both their own pay checks and their staff salaries will be cut off by the sequester. Now how is any one in Congress to function without their huge staff to do their work? 535 in Congress (both houses) and about 35,000 people for their staff, secretaries, receptionist etc...oh and don't forget their security teams. The Secret Service for the President and on and on...what stupid way to run a government.

Helen Porter (39)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:27 pm
I agree. We shouldn't be held hostage.

As long as we have free speech, we need to use it,

There's that saying, "All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing."

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:28 pm

Keep in mind that by the Constitution it is the job of the House of Representatives to pass the budget. If they do not like the one submitted by the president than it is incumbent on them to find a comprise.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:33 pm

Right Zee ---

“All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing...”

― Edmund Burke

Robert K (31)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 1:49 pm
Cool! My rep signed it.

Robert K (31)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 1:53 pm
Here's a great idea, apply all the sequestration to red states.

Charlene Rush (79)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 8:20 pm
Well, who can we blame, but, ourselves for the 'wrong' legislators in office?
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