Tag Archive for budget

A mad dash to the right

The NC legislative session isn’t even finished yet and I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. As the effects of this disastrous session begin to be felt across the state, I’m sure other North Carolinians will feel the same way.

Across the state, thousands of classroom personnel — teachers and teacher assistants, will lose their jobs, even though the Republican leadership denies it’s happening. As usual, if they say something isn’t real, then it must not be happening. That’s what you get when you live in your own little bubble where you don’t have to have compassion for anyone else.

Women who seek to end their pregnancies will have to listen to an anti-abortion lecture and wait 24 hours, even if they’re pregnant by an abusive partner who would beat the crap out of them if he found out. It’s as though we shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about our own bodies unless the right agrees with those decisions.

The new “austerity” budget, which contains deep, deep cuts to education and health care programs, wasn’t about money, according to Rep. Tim Moffit, whose district includes Arden and Candler, “it’s about policy.”

Well, policy follows the money. Your priorities are where you put — or take away — the dollars, and it’s clear that this legislature prefers corporations to humans and right-wing “moral” values to compassion.

Medicaid will lose some of its “optional” services, such as specialized housing and other necessary services for people with severe disabilities. Instead of living in intermediate care facilities, they will be moved to nursing homes, where they won’t get the occupational, physical and speech therapy and other amenities that make their lives worth living. They’ll be warehoused.

People on Medicaid will lose their eye and hearing care. No glasses, no hearing aids.

I don’t see these things as optional, but the people in the North Carolina General Assembly do.

They have gutted environmental protections and made it harder for the state to collect taxes from corporations.

They have made it harder to vote, eliminating same-day registration, shortening early voting and requiring a photo ID from every voter. These measures affect poor and minority populations the most — those who would be most likely to vote against the right.

And if you get really pissed off and want to yell at one of these cads? Well, they’re trying to pass a law that allows them to carry guns into the legislative parking lot, so you don’t want to make them feel threatened.

But you don’t have to vote for them again. Remember this session come Election Day, and you might want to shoot an e-mail to your representative and senator to let him or her know you’ve been watching.

 

 

Midnight cowboys

The NC House met just after midnight to override Gov. Bev Perdue's budget; apparently, leaders were concerned the teachers coming to Raleigh today might be able to sway some votes.

The NC House met under cover of darkness in the wee hours of this morning to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of their disastrous, immoral budget.

It’s likely they didn’t want to wait for the light of day because today is a teacher lobbying day in Raleigh, and they didn’t have to courage to talk to these dedicated educators and then go slash their budgets. They wanted the deed to be done already. I’m sure Republican leaders wanted to be certain no one was swayed by pleas and real stories of need from teachers.

So, with the Senate poised to override the veto, it looks like this immoral budget will be what we have to live with for the next two years.

Republicans are saying their budget is the same as the one Gov. Perdue proposed, but it’s far worse, with deeper cuts to early childhood education, our about-to-be-devastated  university and community college systems and to the social network. They’re cutting $60 million from the state’s mental health system, which is so bad already it’s under investigation by the US Justice Department.

There is no rationale for these kinds of cuts. We are not broke. The only thing I can think of is that our state legislators who voted for this thing have no compassion for their fellow human beings.

I mean, if we’re so broke, why does House Majority Leader Thom Tillis have the money to offer huge raises to his staff members? Tillis gave his legal counsel, Jason Kay, a $30,000 a year salary increase to $140,000, and a 25 percent raise of $30,000, to $150,000, to his chief of staff, Charles Thomas. Half the speaker’s staff got raises.

Tillis spoke in January of “shared sacrifice,” but I guess you only have to share in the sacrifice if you’re not Thom Tillis or one of his staff.

I’ve already e-mailed my state representative, Tim Moffitt, and told him I will remember his vote come Election Day. He has reponded with this:

“I’m sorry that you feel that way.  The cuts to education amount to .05% difference compared to the Governor’s budget.  That’s after an explosive growth of over 250% in the last 14 years with barely a move in the overall achievement levels of our children.  Sadly, money is not the issue as it is in most things, it’s policy.”

He is wrong, of course. Early childhood education programs were starting to make a difference; they are the only way children in poverty can catch up to their wealthier peers.

And education is not the only part of this budget that is immoral. The budget shreds what was left of the social safety net, especially for people who have mental illnesses and others who depend on Medicaid.  It cuts $60 million out of the budget for our state’s mental health system, which already is in such bad shape it’s being investigated by the US Justice Department. Please, if your representative voted for this budget, let him or her know how you feel, and let them know we’re coming for them in 2012.

Thank you Bev Perdue

For the first time in North Carolina history, a governor has vetoed a budget. That’s good news for the people of this state.

Republicans are screaming that this was her budget to begin with, but then she backed down.

The governor’s budget did have some deep cuts, but nothing as severe as what the Republican majority — along with five conservative Democrats — plan to put into place this week.

Those five Dems, all from the eastern part of the state, traded favors for deep cuts to education and a further shredding of the social safety net that civilized people recognize as humane and necessary.

The legislature has refused to maintain a one-cent sales tax that could prevent such deep cuts to education, and the majority of people in the state want the penny tax kept so children here can have a decent education. The legislature is refusing to listen, and I believe it’s at their own peril.

The fallacy they’re perpetuating is that we’re broke. We are not broke. Tax rates in this country are lower than they’ve been in decades; corporate tax loopholes are letting huge corporations like GE escape paying any taxes at all.

Republicans say if we tax corporations, they’ll move offshore.

I say, fine. Let them move and then tax the hell out of any business they do here. It’s time we stood up the the extortion of the corporations in America.  They’re not creating the jobs they could be creating — they’re sitting on nearly $2 trillion in revenues that they’re not re-investing in American jobs.

Meanwhile, our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, while people who could be working to fix it sit idle, their unemployment benefits dwindling. They’re accused by the wealthy of being lazy because they’re not looking hard enough for work. People who lost $20-an-hour jobs with benefits are being forced to take $8-an-hour jobs with no benefits. This has been happening for 30 years as the right has attacked working people.

The wealthy have done fine through this recession — in fact, they have prospered beyond their wildest dreams — and they want more at the expense of the rest of us.

Wealthy individuals aren’t creating jobs with their tax breaks either; they’re spending all of it on their own selfish desires.

We are not broke. We do not need to deny children, people in poverty, who are ill or who have disabilities their very right to life so that some wealthy jerk can have another yacht or diamond-studded dog collar.

There’s plenty to go around; we just have to make the selfish bastards share a little more.

We have to be the reasonable ones

Obama was calm and reasonable Wednesday as he explained why he won't accept more tax cuts for the wealthy.

Recently, my son told me he was worried about my stress levels after seeing a photo of me appearing to be screaming at someone. As it turns out, I was leading a chant at a rally and I had to shout at the top of my lungs to be heard by the hundreds of people there.

But it left me wondering how many pictures of an angry-looking me are out there.

Talking to a group of friends who also are community/nonprofit leaders the other day, I was offered one strong piece of advice: You have to have a cool head. You can’t look like the angry, frustrated one. You have to be the one who makes sense.

“Remember President Obama’s reaction when Joe Wilson shouted ‘You lie!’ in the middle of the State of the Union speech?” one of them asked me.

Of course. The president gave Wilson a dirty look and continued on with his speech. Wilson looked like an ass to most of the country. Had Obama engaged him, he would have brought himself down to the level of Wilson’s behavior. Instead he looked, well, presidential.

Anger and vitriol aren’t the best way to get a point across. When you’re the one who’s being reasonable, the other guy tends to just seem angry and/or mean.

The president did it again Tuedsay in his budget speech, when he said he wouldn’t agree to any more tax cuts for the rich while asking the middle and working classes to pay more. He was critical of the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, head of the House Budget Committee.

“There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” Mr. Obama said. “There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. And this is not a vision of the America I know.”

There was no anger, just the promise that he will negotiate when his opponents agree to negotiate in good faith.

Ryan was furious and it showed; members of the Tea Party issued nasty statements, one of them saying they’ll hold bayonets at the backs of the Republicans to strengthen their spines.

What we Progressives need to do is agree to disagree with some people and get on to doing the constructive work that needs to be done. If they want to scream and call us names, that’s fine. We can give them a dirty look and get on with our business.

One outraged citizen at a time

I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless lately, what with the successes of the right wing in strangling unions, reducing federal programs for people in need, cutting Pell Grants and other programs that help get people through college, sabotaging health reform …

They’re getting away with murder, even though most of the American people don’t want the things the right is doing. Most of us want Medicare left alone; we don’t want to see Social Security privatized, and we certainly don’t want to see Donald Trump as president.

This is a man who lives like a billionaire using other people’s money. He’s been broke for years, but his investors keep pumping money in so they won’t lose everything. He is everything those on the right say they hate about the government, but they seem to love him because he started an “investigation” into President Obama’s birth certificate.

The investigation that really needs to be going on is the one into the judicial election in Wisconsin, where several thousand votes suddenly appeared on the private laptop computer of a GOP operative who has worked for the candidate who will make decisions in favor of Gov. Scott Walker’s immoral cuts to workers rights.

Meanwhile, the government nearly shut down last week as the religious right in the house tried to insert language into the bill that would de-fund Planned Parenthood because they don’t want government money going to any organization that offers abortions, even though not one penny of government funding goes to abortion. Planned Parenthood has to be able to prove that, so where each dollar goes is carefully tracked. Planned Parenthood has never been accused of using government money for anything other than what it was intended for — well, except for people who have no proof of anything to support their false accusations.

Americans want to see the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes, but government doesn’t care and continues to slash health and mental health programs, jobs programs and infrastructure repair (which really does create jobs).

Yeah, there’s plenty to be upset about if you’re an average American.

What we need to do is take this outrage we all feel and turn it into action. One outraged citizen at a time, we can come together and fight the incursions on our rights. We can decide whether we want to be a nation in community or a land of greedy, I-got-mine-get-your-own bastards.

The March 7/14 issue of The Nation contained an exceprt from the Stéphane Hessel’s book, Indignez-vous!, that I found absolutely inspiring.

Hessel, 93, was a member of the French Resistance during World War II. While Nazi sympathizers ran the “official” government, Hessel and others were with the government-in-exile, battling seemingly insurmountable odds to defeat the Nazis.

Hessel believes our outrage must take a positive form because anger only fuels more anger.

“We must realize that violence turns its back on hope. We have to choose hope over violence—choose the hope of nonviolence. That is the path we must learn to follow. The oppressors no less than the oppressed have to negotiate to remove the oppression: that is what will eliminate terrorist violence. That is why we cannot let too much hate accumulate.”

My late son, Mike, believed the same thing. Days before he died, he asked me to “play the dead-kid card” in a positive way, to try and use the energy of my grief to create positive outcomes.

We can put a stop to this if we’re willing to work together in positive ways to educate voters, then get them to the polls. If we need to help people get photo IDs, then let’s do it. If we see irregularities, we need to report them.

We need to be LOUD, but we have to keep our message free of violent rhetoric.

We can do this, one energized, outraged citizen at a time.

Is adult behavior too much to ask?

All I’d like to ask is that Republocans in Congress act like adults. Yes, they have the majority in the House, but Democrats still have the Senate and the White House.

Oh, and I’d like to see Democrats stand up for the people who elected them instead of cowering and simpering that they’re trying to reason with the Republicans.

Democrats have made compromises and the Republicans have refused to budge. So the Democrats made more compromises and the Republicans refused to go along. So Democrats offered pretty much everything the GOP asked for in the budget and they budged — farther to the right.

They want a government shutdown so they can blame Democrats. They might want to recall that this has been done before, and they didn’t benefit. In fact, they lost the public relations battle.

Of course, the Right pretty much owns the media now so it’s harder to get the truth out.

Already, Republicans and their big media allies have managed to villify the unemployed as lazy and unambitious even though there eight unemployed people for every job opening.

And working people, who only want to get by while the wealthiest 2 percent are making more money than ever? Portrayed as greedy, money-grubbing bastards.

But the poor big banks and investors. Why, the government wants to regulate them to death.

Why do so many Americans believe this crap?

But people will notice when government services go away. Who you gonna call when your tax refund doesn’t get issued? How about when that campground you planned to visit on your vacation is closed? And what do you tell the tens of thousands of government employees and their families who depend on a paycheck? Those are real jobs too, you know.

The Republicans are acting like playground bullies and the Democrats are cowering. I’ve lived through some interesting and scary times, but nothing like this.

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