You are hereCongress
Wednesday, November 9th at 11:00 AM
Washington, DC: OccupyWashingtonDC.org will hold a hearing on the economy for the 99% that will examine how to create a fair economy for all Americans.
The Occupied Hearing will contrast with hearings on Capitol Hill which are destined to enrich the 1% and protect major donors.
The Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99% will examine critical issues facing the economy and the federal budget. The hearing will include testimony from people with great understanding of the issues facing the country as well as comments from the 99% who are directly affected by the economy.
One week after the hearing, OccupyWashingtonDC.org will put forward proposals that should be enacted to fairly fix the economy -- these proposals should not be considered our demands as our demands are much more transformative than a short-term fix of the economy and budget.
From Sam Husseini
Two House budget committee members — Rep. Heath Shuler, (D-N.C.), and Rep. Mike Simpson, (R- Idaho) — have been making the media rounds as the new faces of establishment bipartisanship in favor of a letter 100 congress people signed on to stating “all options for mandatory” — presumably including Social Security, which adds nothing to the deficit — “and discretionary spending and revenue must be on the table.”
Sam Husseini questioned them as they left the Fox studios on Sunday morning.
Shuler: “I think the thing that you look at: here’s an opportunity that we can do so much because once the Supercommittee releases its finding and that becomes a bill, and it’s put on the House floor, there’s no amendments to it, it can’t be altered or changed when it goes from the House to the Senate. So that gives us an opportunity to have a clean slate to be able to put everything on the bill, to increase the revenue. The problem is, you don’t find this very often when you have members of the different political parties working together and acting. It’s much easier to split the screen and let us debate and argue something. But we’re united. We’re together. Now we have 100 members in the House and counting, with the 45 members in the Senate. That is the best, most newsworthy thing we can provide for you under the most difficult situations that we have. And to be able to come up with the cuts that’s necessary and the revenue that’s necessary to put us on a more sustainable path.
Shuler and Simpson’s handlers begin shouting to try to stop the questioning.
Husseini: “Why aren’t you united to tax the rich and the corporations and end the wars? Why aren’t you united for something that is actually popular rather than pursues monied interests?”
Simpson: “We’ve ought to be looking at everything.”
Husseini [holding up box of Band-Aids just off camera]: “Let me ask you this: yesterday I went to a pharmacy and there’s a tax on Band-Aids. Why isn’t there a tax on financial transactions? I had to pay a 6 percent tax on Band-Aids that people need.”
Simpson: “Probably a state sales tax, right?” [Actually, it's D.C. and D.C. is not a state, with many of its laws set by a Congress that D.C. residents have no real voice in and which Simpson and Shuler are members of.]
Husseini: “What’s your position on financial transaction tax?”
Simpson: “You’d have to look it up.”
Husseini: “Why can’t JP Morgan pay its transaction tax on their dealings [like ordinary people have to pay on necessities like Band-Aids]?”
Shuler and Simpson walk away.
Special thanks to Chris Belcher (video), Sam McCanne (transcription), Jonathan Schwarz, Matthew Bradley, David Swanson, Wendy Mink, Thomas Ferguson and Elisa Salasin for helping.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement pushes forward, evolving daily in mission and meaning, its cinematic companion has arrived on the scene. Heist: Who Stole The American Dream? is the latest socially and politically relevant documentary executive produced by Earl Katz, President of Public Interest Pictures. Heist will soon premiere as the fundamental primer on the historical and present-day inequities which gave rise to the Occupy Movement. From its 1930s depiction of Depression Era breadlines to Wisconsin Governor Walker's current assault on Collective Bargaining, Heist tells the story of America in decline due to the excessive greed of corporate executives and politicians bent on destroying the middle class.
Nov. 2, 2011 - A new study suggests that defense hawks are crying crocodile tears over planned cuts to Pentagon spending.
Capitol Hill conservatives and Pentagon brass fighting cuts to defense spending have argued that the military is limping off the battlefield with decrepit hardware. It's quite the sob story: At a hearing last week, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the chair of the House armed services committee, cut his remarks short to literally sob for "these young men that are going outside the wire over in Afghanistan, every day on patrol."
Oct. 28: Rachel Maddow expresses exasperation that Paul Wolfowitz is still treated by the media as if he has credibility on foreign policy matters despite his infamous history of disastrously poor judgment.
By Dave Lindorff
Shanghai -- I was talking yesterday with the chief financial officer of a US-based drug firm that operates here in China, producing for the Chinese market, and got an up-close look at how bad things are for what used to be called the Almighty Dollar.
The company in question, a joint venture between a very profitable U.S. drug company and a local Chinese company, is quite profitable itself.
Leah Bolger of Oregon is the Vice President of Veterans for Peace, is occupying Freedom Plaza, and risked jail on Wednesday, with another case pending against her, to speak up in the Super Congress (Deficit Committee) hearing, in which she was arrested. She has been released.
Bolger comments: "I had to speak up. The witness, Douglas Elmendorf, was hiding the fact that military spending has increased dramatically in real terms and as a percentage of discretionary spending. He was focused on percentage of GDP, as if war spending should increase whenever it can, not whenever it has to. The simple deficit solution of taxing the rich and curtailing the militarism is favored by the majority of the public. The 99% had no other voice in that room to compete with those of the corporate lobbyists."
Members of Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations are in the hearing room and marching to rally outside it.
Hensarling, co-chair of Supercons, just lied that military budget has shrunk as % of budget -- see the facts.
Neither Patty Murray, D from Boeing, or Hensarling, R from Texas, has mentioned taxing the rich.
Their witness today sure ought to bring it up.
Douglas Elmendorf is NOT thus far talking about taxing the super rich. He is talking about spending, including military spending, which he calls "defense." He is not using the larger category of "security," prefering to use "defense." But he is talking entirely about discretionary spending, which is a huge problem for this gang and its efforts to go after things it's not allowed to go after -- like Social Security.
Elmendorf describes "defense" spending as declining as percentage of GDP, not as percentage of discretionary spending.
He is proposing very slight caps on base "defense" budget, not counting wars, and on non-"defense" spending. He's offering more than one option.
The C-Span camera is angled to avoid any audience members. The public has been told signs cannot be held and no one can speak.
I am not in the room because of the recent trend toward treating laptop computers as threats to committee hearings.
Here's the testimony from Elmendorf.
Murray is eager to cut nondiscretionary "entitlements," totally avoids possibility of taxing billionaires or corporations, claims that eliminating all discretionary spending would still leave deficit. Elmendorf does not address that claim but agrees that discretionary spending is a shrinking share of all spending.
Excerpt from the testimony:
Discretionary funding for 2011 totaled $1,277 billion: budget authority of $712 bil-
lion for defense and funding totaling $566 billion for nondefense activities, including
$54 billion in obligation limitations for some transportation programs (see Table1).
Budget authority provided for defense activities in 2011 was $3 billion (or less than
1percent) below the amount provided the year before; the sum of discretionary bud-
get authority and obligation limitations for nondefense programs was $39 billion (or
7percent) below the amount provided in 2010. Nevertheless, discretionary outlays in
2011 were close to the amounts spent in 2010, CBO estimates, because of spending
from funds appropriated in previous years.
Questioning continues but lacks a little something I like to call:
TAX THE RICH!
Also, the crowd out in the hallway, outside a number of thick marble walls is giving up and moving on, having not -- as far as I know -- been heard inside the committee room.
Update: the folks say they WERE heard, the doors opened, the media made aware.
Apparently the military spending fairy is in the room too.
Baucus points out that military spending is higher now in inflation-adjusted dollars than during the Korean or Vietnam or Cold wars. Elmendorf admits it. $700 billion now compares to $240 billion during the Korean war. He points out that no caps have been put on or proposed for wars. Baucus gets Elmendorf to admit the obvious point that capping war spending would save money.
Rep Clyburn now points out the CBO's own study linked above showing the upper 1% has increased avg income by 275% while middle 60% of us have seen an increase of 40% over the same period of 28 years.
Rep Clyburn lamely and folksily mentions taxes, but doesn't propose taxing the wealthy or corporations.
Sen Rob Portman (R, Ohio) points out that "defense" has grown from 25% to 50% of discretionary budget.
The march has returned to Freedom Plaza.
The Washington Post says we're wearing out our welcome; we're also using the Washington Post as a welcome mat.
I'm stopping watching the hearing.
In other news, a bankster is being prosecuted.
Corporate welfare, subsidies, satire, humor, oil exploration, financial bailouts, mortgage crisis, agriculture subsidies, energy subsidies, Republicans
by Walter Brasch
“Got any idea how to make a frozen daiquiri?”
Saturday. 6 a.m. A question no one else would have asked at that hour. I knew it had to be Marshbaum, my faux-friend foil.
“Too early to be drinking,” I mumbled, then hung up. The phone rang again.
“It’s not for me,” said Marshbaum, but since I’m going to own a bar, I should learn how to make drinks.”
“Marshbaum,” I said, reluctantly awake, “you can’t even afford to buy soap to wash your fuzzy navel! How are you going to afford a bar?”
“The government’s going to bankroll me,” he said matter-of-factly.
“New kind of welfare?”
By Thomas Ferguson, The Washington Spectator, via Alternet
Under the new rules for the 2008 election cycle, the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] asked rank-and-file members to contribute $125,000 in dues and to raise an additional $75,000 for the party. Subcommittee chairpersons must contribute $150,000 in dues and raise an additional $100,000. Members who sit on the most powerful committees … must contribute $200,000 and raise an additional $250,000. Subcommittee chairs on power committees and committee chairs of non-power committees must contribute $250,000 and raise $250,000. The five chairs of the power committees must contribute $500,000 and raise an additional $1 million. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel must contribute $800,000 and raise $2.5 million. The four Democrats who serve as part of the extended leadership must contribute $450,000 and raise $500,000, and the nine Chief Deputy Whips must contribute $300,000 and raise $500,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must contribute a staggering $800,000 and raise an additional $25 million.—Marian Currinder, Money in the House (2008)
October 18, 2011
At 10 a.m. today US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will testify at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the Dirkson Senate Office Building, and may be greeted appropriately by representatives of the 99%.
At 4 p.m. activism workshops are planned in Freedom Plaza.
At 6:30 p.m. there's an Iranian dinner, dancing, and teach-in in Freedom Plaza, thanks to Andy and Marjan Shallal of Busboys and Poets.
News on Iran: http://dontattackiran.org
Me? A 22-year-old mild-mannered peace activist, assaulted the Secretary of Defense? I had simply tried to tell him how I felt about the wars. On the morning of October 13th about 25 activists who are occupying Washington DC, as part of the nationwide occupations, went on a field trip to Congress. We wanted to attend the House Armed Services Committee hearing where Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, and Martin Dempsy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were testifying about "lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade" and "how those lessons might be applied in the future in light of anticipated reductions in defense spending." After all, these hearings are open to the public. And shouldn't we have a say in where our money is being spent?
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to eliminate the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The bill repeals the provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that create, fund, and establish the Super Committee's rules. Further, the bill repeals the enforcement mechanisms that trigger automatic budget cuts in defense and discretionary spending. All other provisions, including the debt ceiling increase, would remain intact.
"I firmly believe that Congress should be focused squarely on this nation's unemployment crisis. Since the Super Committee's single charge is to produce $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction-- which could include cuts to programs that create jobs --it must be promptly dismantled so that regular order can be restored and the federal government can fully dedicate itself to creating jobs and stimulating the economy. If not, unemployment will inevitably rise in all communities, in particular in communities of color."
Republicans refuse to negotiate on tax reform, and they remain immovable to making cuts in federal corporate welfare programs to the oil and gas, defense, and financial services industries. At the same time, however, they continue to propose steep cuts in: low income heating subsidies; community development block grants; Pell Grants; grad student loan subsidies; and health care affordability. Their entire agenda is predicated upon the destruction of the social safety net and the elimination of programs and federal assistance during a time when they are needed the most.
The committee is an illegitimate shell game which poor and middle class Americans will lose. It flies in the face of basic principles of fairness and transparency. How can 12 people decide the fate of millions Americans behind closed doors with little to no input from Congress or the average citizen? The Super Committee's final legislative product will receive an up or down vote in both bodies of Congress; however, Members will not be allowed to offer amendments. Therefore the 523 Members of the House and Senate who do not serve on the Super Committee will be excluded from having the opportunity to represent their constituents' interests in Super Committee's bill. The Tea Party has so rigged the law that regardless of whether the Super Committee fails or succeeds to meet its goal, it is likely that the end result will be draconian spending cuts to critical programs.
"Republicans have completely hijacked the legislative process, and they have seized every opportunity to hold the most perfunctory of congressional business hostage for their radical agenda. The Republicans manufactured "Debt Ceiling Crisis" last July is the latest example of the lengths this relatively small group of lawmakers is willing to go to achieve irresponsible cuts. The formation of the Super Committee is merely another counterproductive tool the Republicans can exploit for the next "showdown" they are certain to stage, while doing nothing to create jobs."
Identifies more than $4 Trillion in Savings to Create Jobs and Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
Drones have a congressional caucus now.
Here are its bipartisan (yay!) members.
Here are some constituencies that do not have their own congressional caucuses:
The Violently Occupied
Here's what you can do about it.
Oct 04, 2011 - Iraqi law should not govern a lawsuit brought by the mother of a Pittsburgh-area soldier electrocuted in a barracks shower at an Army base in Iraq, a federal judge has ruled.
Lawyers for Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc. had asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to apply Iraqi law to the ongoing lawsuit in the January 2008 death of Pittsburgh-area Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. But Fischer agreed with lawyers for the soldier's parents who argued that United States law should hold sway because the base was under American control - and could provide for punitive damages and other advantages to the plaintiffs not recognized by Iraqi law.
caskets of dead
soldiers coming home;
cameras out of
They did not count
all they killed;
they did not count
They said the
mission was accomplished.
They said the
mission was through.
Missions made of only lies.
Murder and maim,
Murder and maim
and use our name.
Death for sale by enterprise.
Devil’s bargains stealing souls.
We know. We know. We know.
CODE ORANGE: Amendments missing!
If you see them,
Their mother is worried.
Reward for their safe return.
Supreme Court fire sale:
Half off for
Politicians while they last.
Of the 70 who've signed this letter to the Super Congress there might be two or three I'd trust to fight for it as far as I could throw them, but it is an accomplishment these days to speak any bit of humane truth aloud. So read this letter and go forth and speak likewise.
By Nick Turse, AlterNet
Arizona’s Republican Senator Jon Kyl wasted little time. A member of the bipartisan Congressional “supercommittee” charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, he did his best to forestall even discussion of cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. “When we had our first meeting the chairman asked, ‘Well what do we think about defense spending?’ and I said, ‘I’m off of the committee if we’re gonna talk about further defense spending,’” he told the audience at a recent forum sponsored by several conservative think tanks.
The Senate Minority Whip may be the most outspoken member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction when it comes to the military budget, but the Democrats currently considering whether to cut the deficit via reductions in defense spending or programs like Medicare and Medicaid have received far more money from Pentagon contractors than Kyl or any of their Republican colleagues on the panel, according to an investigation by AlterNet, with assistance from the Brave New Foundation and Salon.com.
Since 2007, Democrats on the supercommittee have received more than $1 million in defense industry donations, while contributions to the Republicans added up to only $321,000. Panel co-chair Senator Patty Murray, for example, has received more defense industry dollars over that period than the combined total of the top four Republican recipients on the super committee. Even so, her haul from the Pentagon’s weapons-makers isn’t the largest by a panel Democrat, a distinction held by her colleague from South Carolina, John Clyburn.
An analysis of official government data paints a disturbing picture of big money, cozy relationships and potential influence that, alongside a concerted lobbying effort by the Pentagon and its powerful defense contractors, makes substantial reductions to the Department of Defense’s budget improbable and steeper cuts to entitlement programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, more likely.
Line in the Sand
A product of the legislation passed to raise the federal debt ceiling this summer, the supercommittee -- six members of the House and six from the Senate -- must come up with a plan to slash federal deficits by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and do so by November 23. If the panel fails or if its proposals are rejected by the full congress, it will trigger automatic spending cuts across the federal government -- a process called sequestration.
At the moment, before the panel makes any decisions, the Department of Defense faces a likely “cut” of around $350 billion in funds over the next decade under a plan proposed by the White House that became part of the debt ceiling agreement. However, Salon contributor Winslow Wheeler and others have pointed out, those cuts are reductions in future spending increases -- not actual budget cuts in any normal sense. And this is where the Pentagon has drawn a line in the sand, likely with an eye toward a slightly larger figure which it will “grudgingly” accept.
As part of the Pentagon’s lobbying effort to cap the cuts, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently warned that anything more than a $400 billion reduction would have a “catastrophic effect” on national security. When Senator John McCain asked General Martin Dempsey, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about a possible $800 billion decrease over 10 years, Dempsey replied, “I haven’t been asked to look at that number. But I have looked and we are looking at $400 [billion]…Based on the difficulty in [achieving] the $400 billion cut, I believe achieving $800 billion would be extraordinarily difficult and very high risk.”
Not to be outdone, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called $400 billion in cuts reasonable, but said a decrease of $600 billion, his estimate of the Pentagon’s additional loss in the event of sequestration, would lead to “dangerous cuts across the board -- defense cuts that I believe would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our military’s ability to protect the nation.”
At the same time that the Pentagon has been waging this scare-offensive, top defense contractors have launched a lobbying campaign, dubbed “Second to None,” in an attempt to mobilize average Americans to pressure their representatives to reject cuts to defense spending. Using the twin specters of terrorism and the loss of manufacturing jobs, the campaign is far from subtle.
“American leadership in aerospace and defense is being threatened by forces in Congress and the administration," the group's Web site warns. "The security of our troops, our technological future and our economic stability are all at risk. We must preserve jobs across the nation that keep our nation strong. Join us and act now before it is too late."
These efforts may, however, be mere window dressing compared with the industry’s most effective (and least acknowledged) everyday lobbying efforts, which are much less transparent than either the current Pentagon and industry campaigns.