Friday morning I got up at 5 am, loaded up my camera gear, got on the train and headed to downtown LA for the Moving America Forward rally with Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer and President Obama. I expected a crowd, and I expected enthusiasm, but even in my optimistic wildest dreams I did not expect what I saw, which was thousands of people waiting in very long lines for the opportunity to see the President speak for about 30 minutes.
It was his standard stump speech with the usual local twists on the "You can't drive" riff, but he added one section I haven't heard before (he's probably said it, but I didn't notice or something), and it directly addressed the disappointment and cynicism many feel with regard to the first two years under his governance:
Glenn Beck expects 300,000 people in Washington, D.C., tomorrow for BeckStock. Really. Those are his own words. Calling it both the "Woodstock of the next generation" and "the anti-Woodstock," Beck expects "a miracle." It would take a miracle to get half so many people to ride a bus to D.C. and watch a three-hour Goldline ad.
Did you know that Goldline sponsored both the Wright Brothers and the moon landing? I didn't. Much more -- including an original video -- after the jump.
More people are out of work today than were last year, counting everyone too discouraged even to look for work. The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to the highest level since February. Not counting temporary census workers, a total of only 12,000 net new private and public jobs were created in July -- when 125,000 are needed each month just to keep up with growth in the population of people who want and need to work.
Not since the government began to measure the ups and downs of the business cycle has such a deep recession been followed by such anemic job growth. Jobs came back at a faster pace even in March 1933 after the economy started to "recover" from the depths of the Great Depression. Of course, that job growth didn't last long. That recovery wasn't really a recovery at all. The Great Depression continued. And that's exactly my point. The Great Recession continues.
Even investors are beginning to see reality. Starting in February the stock market rallied because corporate profits were rising briskly. Investors didn't mind that profits were coming from payroll cuts, foreign sales, and gimmicks like share buy-backs -- none of which could be sustained over the long term. But the rally died in April when investors began to see how paper-thin these profits actually were. And now the stock market is back to where it was at the start of the year.
[...] Forget the Neo-Hoover deficit hawks who say we have to cut government spending and trim upcoming deficits. We didn't get into this mess and aren't remaining in it because of budget deficits. In fact, the only way to reduce long-term deficits is to restore jobs and growth so government revenues rise and expenses like unemployment insurance drop.
[...] The central problem is lack of demand -- and that's what has to be tackled.
My, how the times have changed. Here's a "Save Social Security" rally in 2005, when Steny "Let's Raise the Retirement Age" Hoyer and Dick "Bleeding Hearts Should Be Open To Cuts" Durbin were defending the program from any possible threats. Now they're falling over each other in their eagerness to cut.
Somehow, I just knew it would be the Democrats that Wall Street finally lured into cutting Social Security - because they needed that "Nixon goes to China" cover. But could I just remind you that it's the wealthy who are living longer, not us? (They're the ones with the good health insurance.) So the next time they tell you they need to raise the retirement age, remember that.
It's the Democrats who have progressives feeling queasy.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer explicitly put the idea on the table as well in a speech last month. "We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan," Hoyer said.
He echoed House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who put it this way: "With minor changes to the program such as raising the salary cap and raising the retirement age by one month every year, the program could become solvent for the next 75 years." One month a year may not sound like much, but if you're 30 years away from retirement, that adds up to almost three years.
In the House, though, Nancy Pelosi is the linchpin, and she's not nearly as enthusiastic as her colleagues. But, notwithstanding the enthusiasm gap, she also left the possibility of raising the retirement age on the table. When asked about it by TPMDC at her press conference last week, she criticized the plan, but mainly to say she disagrees with putting Social Security on the chopping block ahead of other measures. "Why they would start talking about a place that could be harmful to our seniors -- 70 is a relative age," Pelosi said. "Around here, there's not a lot of outdoor work or heavy lifting. But for some people it is, and 70 means something different to them. So in any event let's talk about growth, let's talk about how we can reduce spending, let's put everything, those initiatives: promoting growth, tightening the belt, looking at entitlements. But let's not start on the backs of our seniors."
There's one catch, though. Last week, Democrats included a rider to the supplemental war spending bill that will likely force the House to vote on a forthcoming fiscal reform plan, if the Senate passes it first. That package is being put together by President Obama's deficit and debt commission, and will be ready to go after the midterms. Pelosi had already pledged to give the package a vote, so perhaps nothing has really changed. But in a way, she also tied her own hands: if the Senate passes a broad tax-and-entitlement reform package at the end of this Congress and her own caucus is willing, she'll be hard-pressed to stop the Social Security reforms she thinks should come last.
Of course, that puts the onus on the Senate, which can't pass much of anything these days,especially if it includes tax hikes -- and any serious effort to pull the country back from the brink of fiscal crisis will have to include some of those. But if there's a fluke, or an unexpected decision on the part of 60 senators to hold hands and jump together, it could happen swiftly, with very little notice.
Don't get mad, get organized! And call your congress critters every single time you read a story like this to tell them you don't support any cuts in Social Security -- and you won't vote for anyone who does.
The only mainstream media coverage I saw of the "Showdown on Wall Street" Thursday was on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show. Possibly everyone else was off covering a gathering of a dozen teabaggers, and could not spare the time to listen to working Americans:
More than 5,000 union members and others delivered a crisp message with their march from City Hall to the Bowling Green Bull. In contrast to recent protests on the right, the event was noticeably lacking in loaded and ahistorical symbols like Gadsen flags, and refrained from vilifying individuals in favor of calling out institutions. Of hundreds of signs hoisted, only one was branded with the Obama logo.
The signs were non-partisan and dealt with real problems -- namely, this country's rogue, unregulated finance sector. There was only one puppet, a fanged vampire squid meant to symbolize Goldman Sachs. The banners declared "Wall Street: Never Again" and "Less Audis, More Audits." Almost to a one, they echoed the clear policy demands of the day: regulatory reform, new taxes on banks and speculators, and a jobs bill.
The afternoon began with direct action protests in the lobbies of Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase. Next came a series of speakers -- teachers, students, workers -- that put New York City faces on the nationwide hard times. Representing hundreds of labor, religious and community groups, they demanded Wall Street do its part to fix the mess it created. They railed against budget cuts in city housing, health and education, overseen by the city's billionaire mayor who opposes a financial transaction tax.
"The result of these cuts will be more homelessness, more joblessness and more hunger," said Sean Banks, a high school teacher in Brooklyn. The planned cuts will also result in bigger class sizes. Currently the New York state House and Senate are considering bills that would see New York lay off between 4,000 and 8,500 teachers.
Before leading the march to the Bowling Green Bull, the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka issued a direct three-part challenge to the banks: stop fighting reform and call off the lobbyists; stop speculating and start lending; and "take responsibility for the mess you made."
The demands resonated with a crowd thick with the unemployed and city workers facing layoffs in their departments and agencies. "These bankers have no shame," said Marie Mitchell, a city clerical worker. "I saw the Goldman Sachs guys on TV the other day, still refusing to apologize for anything. They should be sent to jail, like Madoff."
What has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to fix our broken immigration system, which Democrats and Republicans alike agree doesn’t work. It’s unacceptable to have 11 million people in the United States who are living here illegally and outside of the system...read on
Rep. Grijalva released a statement about the Arizona problem also via press release:
For myself, I know I am going to keep the pressure up on the White House, on the Leadership in my Party, and on the Members across the aisle. We need to get a bill passed this year. If we lose hope or lose momentum or lose sight of our goal, disasters like the Arizona bill are the result. We cannot afford to let the American people down and we cannot afford to allow the continued assault on immigrant families that we are seeing from coast to coast.
Ironically, the actions of Republicans in Arizona have lit a fire in immigrant and Latino neighborhoods and have galvanized national support for a serious immigration overhaul. We have been flirting with immigration reform for years, but I think if we keep the pressure up in this political year, we can enact reform that respects working people, reunites families, secures the border, and ends illegal immigration.
Keep the pressure up. Check Arizona's schedule and stay involved. Please help get a protest off the ground so it will spread from city to city.
And remember my Hispanic friends. "Not One More Dime" should be spent in Arizona on the Diamondbacks. We're starting slowly and this will expand with your help.
This guy was yelling that he's a libertarian and was getting the shit kicked out of him.
Palin is able to walk the line between teabagger and GOP operative quite comfortably because they live in a reality all their own. If McCain beats Hayworth, she might face some blowback in AZ, but probably nowhere else.
Today's the day. Tens of thousands of people are registered to come to the National Mall for today's immigration reform rally, called the March For America. Hundreds of buses are still pouring in from across the country, and several major progressive and pro-migrant bloggers will be reporting directly from the rally, which starts at 2pm. Expect coverage from Vivir Latino and Crooks and Liars, among others, as well as pictures and video from the National Mall. Look for a performance by Grammy award-winning talent, Los Lonely Boys! Live-streamed video should pop up at C-SPAN, Telemundo or Univision. On twitter, check out the #m4a hashtag. Follow @AmericasVoiceand @RI4A.
I'm hearing that there are well over 200K people protesting at the March, but I expect the media to not care all that much about it.
President Obama held a rally to drum up support for health care reform at George Mason University, which was covered by the three cable news networks.
Just when Obama started launching into examples of real Americans suffering under our current system, who else but Fox News broke away from the speech in order to give House Minority Leader John Boehner's press conference? Media Matters:
Fox's Jon Scott cut off President Obama and stated flatly: "I described it before it began as a pep rally and you can kind of see that's what it is. The President doing everything he can to try and get the American people behind his health care reform plans." Scott suggested the Fox audience finish watching Obama's event on the internet if they were so inclined and then cut to Boehner for "the opposition point of view."
Gosh. You'd think it was almost as if Fox News didn't want people to realize how people could benefit from health care reform.