“If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.”
John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

Poverty in America

Robert Reich Explains the Economy

Tea Party Pubic Service Announcement

May 11, 2010

Health Care Reform Index

46.3 million - Number of Americans without health insurance

45,000 - Number of Americans, without health insurance, who die each year due to preventable causes, according to a study by Harvard Medical School

32 million - Number of uninsured Americans who will be able to get health insurance under the new law

45.2 million - Number of older Americans enrolled in Medicare

160.6 million - Number of Americans who get their health insurance through their employer

112.2 million - Number of low and moderate income Americans who will receive subsidies to purchase health insurance

$5,761 - Per capita health care spending in the US, the highest in the world

15 - Per cent of total US GDP spent on health care, the highest in the developed world

6.8 - Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births, highest in the developed world

77 - Life expectancy in the US, ranking fifth in the world

2.3 trillion -Amount spent by Americans on health care in 2007, the last year that statistics are available

390 billion - Amount of savings to be realized by Medicare in the next decade while protecting basic benefits

26 -The age until which children will be able to remain under their parents insurance coverage

143 billion - Amount of deficit reduction in next ten years attributed to health care reform

0 - Number of undocumented immigrants who will be able to purchase health insurance, even with their own money, from the state health care exchanges

0.9 - Per cent increase in Medicare taxes for individuals earning more than $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000 per year

3.8 - Per cent tax on unearned income for those same high-income earners

100 - Per cent of members of Congress who will be required to purchase health insurance through the state run health exchanges beginning in 2014

1 - Number of western, industrialized countries without universal health care – the United States

0 - Number of Republicans in Congress who voted for health care reform

0 - Distance that health care reform moves the country closer to socialism

May 4, 2010

Tea Party Index

41 - Per cent of Tea Party members who believe President Obama was NOT born in the United States

52 - Per cent of Tea Party members who believe “too much has been made of the problems facing black people”

31 - Per cent of Americans who approve of the Tea party movement

89 - Per cent of tea Party members who are white

40 - Per cent of Tea Party members who are 45 years old or older

61 - Per cent of Tea Party members who are male

44 - Per cent of Tea Party members who identify as “born again”

$285,000 - Amount contributed to Scott Brown’s campaign by the Tea Party

$12 million - Amount Sarah Palin has earned in speaking fees since losing her bid for Vice-President

2.3 million - Number of copies of Sarah Palin’s autobiography sold to date

$1 million - Amount of three-year contract Fox News gave Sarah Palin to serve as a contributor to the news

$250,00 - Amount Sarah Palin is paid per episode for her Learning Channel reality show about Alaska

$100,00 - Amount the Tea Party paid Sarah Palin for her keynote address at their first national convention

91 - Per cent of Tea Party members who support smaller government with fewer services

95 - Per cent of all American households that received a tax cut in 2009

10 - Per cent increase in the average IRS tax refund over last year

2 - Per cent of Tea Party members that think taxes were cut last year

44 - Per cent of Tea Party members who believe taxes were increased last year

86 - Per cent of Tea Party members believe that taxes are too high

57 - Per cent of Americans who believe taxes are too high

1 - Per cent of richest families that earn 24% of all income in the country

400 -Number of richest taxpayers who saw their income double in 2009 and their taxes reduced by 50%

65 - Per cent of Tea Party members who believe Social security is a form of Socialism

92 - Per cent of Tea Party members who believe the US is moving more towards Socialism than Capitalism

May 3, 2010

Bernie Sanders on Wall Street Reform

Sanders Op-Ed: Real Wall Street Reform
By Sen. Bernie Sanders

April 23, 2010

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman and one of the architects of financial deregulation, recently testified to the effect that no one could have predicted the Wall Street collapse of 2008. Really?

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, this is what I said on the floor of the House in 1999 as I voted against the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bank deregulation bill: “I believe this legislation, in its current form, will do more harm than good. It will lead to fewer banks and financial service providers; increased charges and fees for individual consumers and small businesses; diminished credit for rural America; and taxpayer exposure to potential loses should a financial conglomerate fail. It will lead to more mega-mergers; a small number of corporations dominating the financial service industry; and further concentration of economic power in our country.”

Frankly, it didn’t take a PhD in finance to come to this conclusion. If you lock a heroin addict in a room with heroin, you shouldn’t be shocked if he overdoses. If you give unlimited license to Wall Street speculators, whose only function is to make as much money as possible, you shouldn’t be surprised when the result is greed on steroids, reckless behavior and a disaster for ordinary people.

Today, as a result of that uncontrollable greed, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, health care and homes and our country continues to struggle through a disastrous recession. Disgust at Wall Street is profound. The American people want change as to how Wall Street functions, real change. Congress must deliver.

We must be clear that real and meaningful financial reform will not come easy. When Wall Street and the financial sector successfully fought for deregulation they poured some $5 billion into lobbying and campaign contributions over a 10-year period. Now, as Congress begins to address financial reform, they’re at it again. In 2009, the major financial interests spent $300 million in lobbying and the money continues to flow like water.

In my view, the real and transformational financial reform we need must include the following elements:

Break Up Huge Banks The four major U.S. banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Well-Fargo – issue two-thirds of the credit cards in this country, write half the mortgages and collectively hold $7.4 trillion in assets, about 52 percent of the nation’s estimated total output last year. Incredibly, despite all of them being bailed out during the Wall Street meltdown because they were “too big to fail,” three of them (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo) are now bigger than before the bailout. But this is an issue which goes beyond the danger of “too big to fail” and future taxpayer liability. We must break up these behemoths because of the incredible economic power they exert on the economy through their concentration of ownership and enormous competitive advantages.

Financial Institutions Must be Integrated Into the Real Economy At a time when we are in the midst of a major recession, it is insane that our largest financial institutions continue to trade trillions in esoteric financial instruments which makes Wall Street the largest gambling casino in the world. We need to create a financial system which invests in the real economy, and helps create millions of new jobs by providing small and medium businesses with the credit they desperately need. We also need investments to rebuild our manufacturing sector, transform our energy system and create modern transportation and infrastructure systems. We don’t need banks pushing home mortgages on people who can’t afford them. We don’t need huge amounts being “bet” on whether housing securities go up or down or what the price of oil will be six months from now.

National Usury Legislation Major financial institutions have, in many ways, become nothing less than loan-sharking operations. Today, millions of Americans who pay their bills on time are now forced to pay 25 or 30 percent interest rates. That is not only obscene but, according to every major religion, immoral. Banks cannot be allowed to engage in usury and charge outrageous interest rates. We must cap interest rates for private banks at the same level as we do for credit unions – 15 percent except under exceptional circumstances.

Transparency at the Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve cannot continue to operate in almost total secrecy. During the bailout, large financial institutions received trillions of dollars in zero or near-zero interest loans. Who received those loans and under what terms? The Fed isn’t telling. Did some of them turn around and, in a mammoth welfare scam, invest that Fed money in government treasury bonds at 3 percent or 4 percent interest rates? The Fed refuses to say. It’s time we had transparency at the Fed so that the American people know what our central bank is doing.

May 1, 2010

Bill Moyers on the New American Plutonomy

BILL MOYERS April 30, 2010

You've no doubt figured out my bias by now. I've hardly kept it a secret. In this regard, I take my cue from the late Edward R. Murrow, the Moses of broadcast news.

Ed Murrow told his generation of journalists bias is okay as long as you don't try to hide it. So here, one more time, is mine: plutocracy and democracy don't mix. Plutocracy, the rule of the rich, political power controlled by the wealthy.

Plutocracy is not an American word but it's become an American phenomenon. Back in the fall of 2005, the Wall Street giant Citigroup even coined a variation on it, plutonomy, an economic system where the privileged few make sure the rich get richer with government on their side. By the next spring, Citigroup decided the time had come to publicly "bang the drum on plutonomy."

And bang they did, with an "equity strategy" for their investors, entitled, "Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer." Here are some excerpts:

"Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper...[and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years..."

"...the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the US-- the plutonomists in our parlance-- have benefited disproportionately from the recent productivity surge in the US...[and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor."

"...[and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. [Because] the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact."

And so they were, before the great collapse of 2008. And so they are, today, after the fall. While millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings, the plutonomists are doing just fine. In some cases, even better, thanks to our bailout of the big banks which meant record profits and record bonuses for Wall Street.

Now why is this? Because over the past 30 years the plutocrats, or plutonomists — choose your poison — have used their vastly increased wealth to capture the flag and assure the government does their bidding. Remember that Citigroup reference to "market-friendly governments" on their side? It hasn't mattered which party has been in power — government has done Wall Street's bidding.

Don't blame the lobbyists, by the way; they are simply the mules of politics, delivering the drug of choice to a political class addicted to cash — what polite circles call "campaign contributions" and Tony Soprano would call "protection."

This marriage of money and politics has produced an America of gross inequality at the top and low social mobility at the bottom, with little but anxiety and dread in between, as middle class Americans feel the ground falling out from under their feet. According to a study from the Pew Research Center last month, nine out of ten Americans give our national economy a negative rating. Eight out of ten report difficulty finding jobs in their communities, and seven out of ten say they experienced job-related or financial problems over the past year.

So it is that like those populists of that earlier era, millions of Americans have awakened to a sobering reality: they live in a plutocracy, where they are disposable. Then, the remedy was a popular insurgency that ignited the spark of democracy.

Now we have come to another parting of the ways, and once again the fate and character of our country are up for grabs.

So along with Jim Hightower and Iowa's concerned citizens, and many of you, I am biased: democracy only works when we claim it as our own.