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By Jeff Cech – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ed. - Working America Canvass Organizer Jeff Chech was a founding member of Occupy Pittsburgh. On November 14th, the Pittsburgh City Council surprised many observers when it issued a resolution in solidarity with Occupy Pittsburgh.

However, BNY Mellon is lobbying the city government to evict the encampment. We urge readers to call Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at 412-255-2626 and ask him to stand with the City Council, the 99 Percent, and the First Amendment – not big corporations like BNY Mellon.

Occupy Pittsburgh got its start with a gathering of 400 in a local church on October 5, 2011.  After several more of these “General Assemblies” and hours of discussions and preparation, we marched to the location of our current encampment on October 15th.  That day we left from Freedom Corner, the place where African American demonstrators in Pittsburgh met and marched from during the Civil Rights Movement, and moved nearly 4,000 strong into downtown.

The turnout for our inaugural march and rally was evidence that the Occupy message resonates with the American people across a broad range of economic, political, social, and geographical demographics.  Many recognize that it’s time to throw off the chains of Wall Street and the big banks and demand economic fairness.

Anyone confused about Occupy’s primary, driving concern need to hear only one of its rally cries: “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”

Occupy Pittsburgh is the only encampment in the country that sits on bank property.  Taking land from the bank sends a loud and clear message about the movement, both to its supporters and its opponents.

The BNY Mellon Green is a piece of privately owned green space within Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.  A city ordinance states that privately owned parks in that area must be “free and open to the public without restriction.”  While allowing camp-outs may not be the original intent of that law, it provided a stronger, more legally defensible way of staging an occupation than camping in a city park, and it saved us from immediate confrontation with police.

The first night of camping was trying.  When we got on site, the ground was swampy.  A rumor spread that BNY Mellon Employees had been seen hosing down the grass the night before to make the space unusable.  I didn’t bring a tent with me, so I laid down a tarp and my sleeping bag and fell asleep - not beneath any visible stars, but looking up at skyscrapers crowned with glowing monikers Mellon, UPMC, Citizens Bank, ALCOA.  I lay down at the feet of giants, and woke up about an hour later with the feet of a rat on my head.  I jumped out of my sleeping bag and paced for most of the remaining night. The next day I got a tent.

Occupy Pittsburgh has been on the BNY Mellon green for two months now.  We have a food tent, a library, a medical tent, and much more in our community.  On Sunday, December 11th we have planned a day for camp reorganization, cleaning and winterization.  It will be an all-day event getting the site ready for the harsh winter months ahead.  This event seems to have upset BNY Mellon.

The bank, we’re told, assumed that we would go home once it got cold.  Now that we’ve proven our staying power, the giant is grumbling.  Word has gotten to us that BNY Mellon has been contacting city government officials and pressing for our forced removal.  The last several days have been filled with emergency Occupy Pittsburgh meetings.  We’re trying to learn exactly when the raid is planned.  Pittsburgh’s mayor says that he wouldn’t allow for our eviction without a court order, but there’s some speculation around how long it would take BNY Mellon’s team of high-priced lawyers to have one issued.  A day?  Five minutes?

No matter when it comes, or what happens to the tents, you can’t tell a People’s Movement to get off of your lawn and expect it to disappear.  Occupy is building strength.  Its age is still measured in months and weeks, but we know that making real progress often takes years.  The Civil Rights Movement lasted more than a decade, and got stronger with every step forward.  Occupy will follow the same course.  It may take time, but we’re ready to keep pushing ahead.

Originally Posted on Working America's Main Street Blog.

Photo by ragesoss on Flickr, via Creative Commons.


Florida Governor Rick Scott has achieved a historically low approval rating of 26 percent. How did he do it? Here'€™s our guide to being an incredibly unpopular state executive:

1.) While campaigning, make sure to promise to take action on the most pressing issue on the minds of Americans: jobs. Declare unequivocally and repeatedly that you will create 700,000 jobs in 7 years, and make "Let'€™s get to work"€ your campaign slogan. That way, voters can feel a sense of betrayal and disappointment when you do nothing to follow through.

2.) Start breaking promises right off the bat -€“ voters love initiative! Despite a historic high level of unemployment in construction, reject federal money for a high speed rail project that would employ thousands of construction workers and engineers. Don't give a good reason for your actions. That way, voters can assume you’re killing jobs for political reasons.

3.) Has your state experienced a huge economic hit because of a man-made, preventable disaster recently, perhaps an oil spill? By all means, do not make any effort to hold the corporations behind that disaster accountable. Even if other governors of your own party are making such an effort, continue to have more sympathy for those corporations then your constituents.

4.) One of the keys to being an unpopular governor is to demonize huge segments of your state'€™s population, and then watch it backfire. Here'€™s a good list to start from:

  • Firefighters and police officers
  • Students
  • College professors
  • Welfare recipients
  • People who want to vote
  • Teachers
  • People who enjoy parks
  • People with preexisting medical conditions
  • "€œGovernment"€

5. Related: Fire lots of teachers. Voters love crowded classrooms.

6.) Display your callous disregard for working families by raising the salaries of your personal staff while slashing wages for state employees.

7.)Continue to tout your business background while doing everything you can to seed doubt about your understanding of economics. Bonus:Fail at basic math and attack public workers simultaneously.

8.) While you're ignoring the jobs crisis, try addressing some imaginary problems. Let your imagination run wild! Don'€™t stop at fighting imaginary voter fraud, that’s just Bad Governor 101. Search for oil in the Everglades! Fight imaginary drug use among welfare recipients! Spend as much taxpayer money as possible.

9.) Establish a "€œjobs agency"€ that can'€™t keep track of its own spending. Voters love irony!

10.) Make lots of statements that are demonstrably false. These statements should concern topics a governor should be familiar with: regulations, budgets, spending, transportation, health care, and the geography of your state. (Bonus: Racial insensitivity.)

11.) Don'™t forget your role: serving the needs of corporations and the super-wealthy. For instance, pass $2 billion in tax breaks targeting the wealthiest and lift regulations on property insurers. Announce plans to privatize as many things as you can. Make sure your campaign donors coincidentally benefit from your policies. (Bonus: Wink at the taxpayers for footing the bill -€“ they'€™re in on the joke!)

12.) At all times, lack compassion and understanding about the basic needs and priorities of your state. The majority of your constituents just want to find a decent job, put food on the table, afford health care when they get sick, pay bills on time, vote on Election Day, and make sure their children get an adequate education. Your job is to wake up every morning in your mansion, drive to work, and make sure all those things are as difficult as possible.

Got more to add to Rick Scott's Guide to Popularity? Leave your suggestions in the comments, or tweet at us with the hashtag #RickScottFail.

Originally posted on Working America's Main Street Blog.


Fri Dec 02, 2011 at 10:37 AM PST

What Will Walker Run On?

by Doug Foote

It’s a fair question.

Few times in history has the governor of a state been so polarizing, so extreme, and taken a radical departure from his campaign promises.

The defenders of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker can continue to claim that the opposition against him is made up of out-of-state special interests, but the facts don’t bear that out.

What else could explain traditional conservatives in rural Wisconsin passing around recall petitions at deer cleaning stations? What else could explain 10,033 Columbia County voters – 45 percent of the 2010 gubernatorial vote – signing off on the recall, when Walker originally won that county with 52 percent?

Walker is already blanketing Wisconsin with ads because he and his backers know that this isn’t going to be a normal election. The anger directed at him isn’t just coming from traditional Democratic-leaning bastions like Madison, and it isn’t just coming from the teachers and other public workers who he has consistently blamed for the state’s fiscal woes. In reality, the coalition against Walker is unexpectedly broad, just like the one that brought down Senate Bill 5 in Ohio.

So once Walker and his allies exhaust the line of attack that this recall election is about “special interests” and “sour grapes” and a “distraction” from an agenda that he claims is about jobs, what will he actually run on?

The biggest problem for Scott Walker, and the reason that this long shot recall might end up succeeding, is that he can’t run on the one thing people care about: jobs.

In 2010, Walker ran on a promise of creating 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin by the end of his first term. As Jesse Russell points out, he would need to put 450,000 people back to work in the next three years to keep that promise. The Center of Wisconsin Strategy reports that the state has a jobs deficit of 205,200, which combines the 140,700 jobs lost since December 2007 and the 64,500 jobs needed to keep up with population growth. As we know at Working America, there are real people behind those numbers, struggling to scrape by.

The unfortunate irony for Walker is that the state was on the path to recovery before controversial bill stripping collective bargaining rights for public workers went into effect: a gain of 38,800 jobs in the first half of 2011, and a loss of 27,600 jobs the second half when the bill was enforced.

Throughout the protests, the occupation of the Capitol, and the state senate recalls, Walker continued the mantra that his controversial policies were all in the name of the state’s economy, about jobs. This is what he said when he cut $1.6 billion from public education, when he ended the state Earned Income Tax Credit, when he refused federal funding for high speed rail; and when he signed bills into law restricting voting rights, reining in gun control, and deregulating telecommunications.

While the Governor keeps saying the same thing over and over in an effort to make it true, the conditions for working families in Wisconsin have only gotten worse. Taxes are higher, government is bigger, and thanks to public sector layoffs the number of people out of work has barely changed.

Walker has the backing of the national Republican establishment, corporate interests like the Koch Brothers, and a host of shadowy, wealthy third-party organizations. The effort to remove him will be expensive, drawn-out, and dirty. But when you get down to brass tacks, Walker can’t run on his own record, and he can’t honestly say he has kept the promises he made in 2010. He can only demean his opponent, deceive voters, and pit Wisconsinites against each other in order to keep his job – and that’s what the Badger State should expect.

Originally posted on Working America's Main Street Blog.


Yesterday, we invited our members to submit their reactions via text message to the eviction of the 99 Percent protesters from Zuccotti Park.

Our more than 3 million members certainly don’t agree on every single issue, but no matter what, we are unified by the belief that freedom of speech is sacred and universal.

Here are some of the messages we received back from all over the country. To sign up for text updates, simply text “99percent” to the number 30644.

I was on the fence about occupy until this weekend. Thanks Michael Bloomberg and Michael Hancock for showing me who the good guys are. I am the 99%.
Anonymous, North Carolina

Sounds like we are hypocrites. We invade other countries for not allowing their citizens to protest.
Megan, Ohio

The more you tighten your grasp, the more parks will slip through your fingers.
Anonymous, Massachusetts destroying? Not obeying a court order to allow protesters back in, riot gear, tear gas, assault weapons...this is not my country.
Christine, Minnesota

Insanely WRONG! Whatever happened to freedom of speech. Did we lose that along with the jobs??
Crystal, Arizona

Zuccotti Park isn't the movement. The people are. You can fight from wherever you are, just don't give up the idea the peace can change the world.
Sarah, Pennsylvania

I thought this was America and we were free to voice our opinions in a non violent way?
Jesse, Florida

Where's the right to a redress of grievances against the government?
Kenneth, Florida

I think this is sad. This is the new civil rights movement and the government is trying to stop it.
Amularessa, Florida

They will never be able to keep the 99% away from the situation, or stop us from being heard.
Aaron, Wisconsin

I was there. Ileagal and reprehensible. Police committed many acts of violence and suppression against media and protestors. I have bruises from batons and NYPD broke my camera equipment.
Zachary, New York

Where do they want us to protest if not on our own soil?
Richard, Ohio

That is un-American.
Dyveonne, Texas

Reactionary force will only reinforce the truth of the gap between the people and the power.
Margaret, New Mexico

They NYPD don't realize they are part of the 99%
Daniel, New Mexico

Anonymous, Minneapolis

That is BS. Let the people have a voice.
Dave, Ohio

How convenient it is to have hired muscle make your problems go away.
Dan, Pennsylvania

What happened to protect and serve?
Kendal, Nevada

Outrage!! Sounds like the 1% are paying off the police to keep us quiet!!
Shivaugn, Colorado

I am outraged. Their violence will not stop the protests. Never before has violence stopped protesters, and it won't today.
Tasha, Ohio

This is despicable. It's a blatant violation of our constitutional rights. The entire 99% needs to band together.
Salvatore, Pennsylvania

Unacceptable! This is America and we have the right to lawfully assemble.
Daniel, Pennsylvania

For political newcomers, here’s what you need to know: the good guys won.

Not only did we win. We won big. We won in friendly territory and difficult terrain. And the credit for our victories belongs firmly to the working men and women - union and non-union alike - who were fighting for their rights, their jobs, their values, and their future.

When John Kasich was sworn in as Ohio’s Governor at the beginning of this year, he didn’t immediately focus on job creation, as he had promised during the 2010 campaign. Instead, he launched a full scale attack on the rights of Ohio’s teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public workers. Senate Bill 5 was signed into law, restricting the collective bargaining rights of over 350,000 workers in Ohio.

What happened next was incredible. Working Ohioans joined petition drives all across the state to get a repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the November ballot. Among them were Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, and moderates who were outraged over Kasich’s overreach and callousness toward the working people of the Buckeye State; the idea that public workers should serve as an ATM while corporations saw tax reductions offended them. Many police officers and firefighters who traditionally voted for Republicans joined the effort against SB 5; they knew that public safety workers, not politicians, know best about the staff and equipment they need to protect Ohio’s communities.

In June, 1.3 million signatures to repeal SB 5 were delivered to the Secretary of State in Columbus. It became Issue 2 on the ballot.

John Kasich’s allies, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, and a host of other shadowy out-of-state groups, poured millions into Ohio to protect Senate Bill 5. They tried every dirty trick in the book. But in the end, Issue 2 was defeated by a massive 21 point margin. In fact, more people voted to repeal Senate Bill 5 than to elect Governor Kasich. We’ll have more on what this Ohio victory means later today.

In June, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed LD 1376, which banned the practice of registering to vote on Election Day. Same-day registration had been in place in Maine for 38 years without any problems, but backers claimed it would “cut down on election day mistakes,” and “cuts down on voter fraud.” Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster was less subtle, saying same-day registration allowed Democrats to “intentionally steal elections.” Did Webster fail to notice Maine’s two Republican U.S. Senators and Republican Governor? This was just another attack in the nationwide war on voting rights, which has spread to Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and many other states.

Luckily a collection of organizations including the Maine People’s Alliance and Working America formed Protect Maine Votes, and gathered 70,000 signatures to restore same-day registration. Question 1 on yesterday’s ballot passed by a wide margin, with nearly 60 percent of the vote. With last nights victory, the people of Maine have started the fight back against the war on voting.

In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, Democrat Rich Fitzgerald defeated Republican D. Raja to become the next County Executive. The election was not close – Fitz was up 25 percentage points when they called it.

Why does this matter? County Executives often become candidates for statewide office. The Democratic candidate for governor in 2010, Dan Onorato, was Allegheny County Executive. In Wisconsin, a certain Mr. Scott Walker held the seat of Milwaukee County Executive from which he launched his gubernatorial campaign.

It’s what Chris Savage calls “the little recall that could.” Of all the races last night, it was the recall of anti-teacher Michigan Rep. Paul Scott that faced the steepest climb.

Paul Scott is the kind of politician we all wish we could remove from office: Ambitious, ideological, and a outspoken opponent of his state’s teachers and teachers’ union. His attacks on education as the Chair the House Education Committee lead to a grassroots campaign to unseat him. Of the 47 attempts to recall Michigan legislators this year, only Paul Scott’s succeeded.

The story then has a lot of legal twists and turns. But for us, the most amazing part of this story happened last night, when the recall passed by 197 votes out of 24,371 cast. Talk about "every vote matters!"

Iowa has a Republican Governor and a rabidly conservative House. The lower chamber in Iowa has passed measures attacking the state healthcare system, making huge cuts in education, and restrictions in collective bargaining rights.

The only reason Iowa hasn’t become the next Wisconsin or Ohio is because of the Democratic-controlled State Senate, where they have a margin of one. Last night, that majority was preserved when Democrat Liz Mathis won a special election for the decisive Senate seat with 56 percent of the vote, despite some really gross tactics on the part of her opponents.

State Senate President Russell Pearce was known as a key mover and shaker behind Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070. He was also an opponent of workers’ rights, once “joking” that he wanted to throw union protestors in desert tent prisons. We didn’t find that joke very funny, and neither did the people of Arizona. By a seven point margin, voters removed Pearce from office and replaced him with moderate Republican Jerry Lewis.

Did we miss any races? What were you watching last night? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WorkingAmerica.

Image courtesy of Progress Ohio.

Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog

If you’re angry at the financial industry, corporate-controlled media, and the enormous control they have over our elected officials and our national policies, consider the story of Ohio Governor John Kasich – a product and wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street and Fox News – and Issue 2. A vote for No on Issue 2 is a vote against Wall Street, Kasich, and the war on working families they continue to wage.

John Kasich served as a Republican Congressman from Ohio for 18 years.  Once out, he used his political connections to get a job with the now-infamous Lehman Brothers’ investment banking firm, where he remained until the firm imploded in September 2008. Even though Lehman Brothers’ collapsed and thousands of Americans lost their investments, Kasich received a salary of $182,692 and a performance bonus of $432,000 - almost ten times Ohio’s median household income.

Also during his post-Congress years, Kasich used his political and financial connections to get his own program on Fox News, and filled in regularly for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Kasich continued to appear as a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel during his 2010 run for governor, and Fox personalities "lauded, defended, and fundraised for his campaign." (Said Glenn Beck to Kasich on his radio show: “I think I love you.”)

Given this background, it’s no surprise that in less than a year Governor Kasich has shown himself to be one of the most anti-worker, pro-corporate executives in Ohio’s history. His signature legislative achievement, Senate Bill 5 (on the ballot as Issue 2), strips collective bargaining rights from over 300,000 of public workers, including police officers, firefighters, nurses, and teachers. In addition to Issue 2, Kasich has moved to privatize state services and property, including the Ohio Turnpike, while at the same time cutting taxes for already profitable large businesses.

What was harder to predict is the blatant callousness and open disrespect Kasich has shown to Ohio’s public servants. He said of those who opposed his agenda “If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus.” He called a police officer who gave him a ticket an “idiot” – not privately, but in front of a large crowd. In an odd delusion of grandeur, he demanded teachers unions take out a full page ad apologizing for not supporting his campaign. According to one source, he even openly referred to Senate Bill 5 as a “war” on public employees.

It appears that Kasich believes that no matter what he says, the friends he has made along the way – the Koch Brothers, the Wall Street hedge-funders, his friends at Fox News – will be there to defend him, fund him, and aid his continuing assault on the very people who make Ohio function.

Tomorrow, Ohioans will take to the polls to vote on Issue 2. A “Yes on 2” keeps the corporate-backed, politically-motivated attack on over 300,000 Ohio workers. “No on 2” repeals the measure.

We admire and support those who have taken to the streets in New York City and elsewhere as part of #OccupyWallStreet and the 99 Percent Movement. But if John Kasich succeeds and Senate Bill 5 is kept, it will be a victory for the Wall Street investors and Fox News spin-artists that have pushed Kasich for his whole career – and it will be a another defeat for American workers.

Remember the saying: “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” If you want to lay down a marker for the 99 Percent, show Governor Kasich and his corporate backers that the War on Workers doesn’t pay. Occupy a field office. Occupy a voting booth. Defeat John Kasich, defeat Wall Street and the 1 percent; help us turn the tide.

Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog.

Photo courtesy of ProgressOhio on Flickr, via Creative Commons


It’s called a financial speculation tax.

You may have already heard of it. It’s also called the financial transaction tax (FTT), a Robin Hood Tax, or a Tobin tax, after the Nobel Prize-winning economist who suggested it.

The proposal goes like this: for every transaction of stocks, bonds, foreign currency bets, or the famed Wall Street “derivatives,” the trader pays 0.25 percent of the amount in question in tax. Sort of like a sales tax for Wall Street, a quarter of a penny on every dollar. While this will translate as a small ripple to the market, the fee would generate billions of dollars needed for infrastructure, education, health care, and our social safety net.

How much, you may ask? With the zillions of financial transactions zipping around every day, the fee could take $150 billion off of the deficit every year. Given that Democrats – Democrats, not Republicans –just put $400 billion in Medicare on the chopping block, it’s far past time for a speculation tax to get some serious attention.

In addition to the revenue, the financial speculation tax provides a disincentive to the very activities that lead to the current economic mess – the short term, high yield, risky investments. If Wall Street recognizes gets more value out of longer-term financial products, they’ll get back to their intended function – serving the rest of the economy instead of pilfering it. Paul Krugman describes the thinking of fellow economist James Tobin, the brains behind the idea:

Tobin argued that currency speculation — money moving internationally to bet on fluctuations in exchange rates — was having a disruptive effect on the world economy. To reduce these disruptions, he called for a small tax on every exchange of currencies.

Such a tax would be a trivial expense for people engaged in foreign trade or long-term investment; but it would be a major disincentive for people trying to make a fast buck (or euro, or yen) by outguessing the markets over the course of a few days or weeks. It would, as Tobin said, “throw some sand in the well-greased wheels” of speculation.

Opponents of the FTT, including our current Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, argue that it would have an adverse effect on the economy. A letter from a group of business organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the NFIB stated that an FTT would “impede the efficiency of markets” and “distort capital flow.” Many of these groups are also working against clean energy reform, earned paid sick days, worker protections, and, conveniently, Wall Street reform, so we take their warning cries with a grain of salt. Besides, letting Wall Street run wild and sell lies to Americans tax free did much more to “distort capital flow” than a quarter of a penny fee ever could.

Not convinced? Here is an absurdly long list (PDF) of economists, businessmen and women, world leaders, and other luminaries who support a financial speculation tax, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to super wealthy Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

On November 3, 2011, the AFL-CIO will join National Nurses United and Occupy Wall Street participants in a nationwide day of action calling for a financial speculation tax.

Sign our petition calling for Congress to take up the FTT, and use the hashtag #TaxWallStreet to follow @WorkingAmerica as we participate in the call to lay the foundation for a better economy.

Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog


Mitt Romney has made a career of trying to have it both ways. In Ohio this week, he remained consistent to being inconsistent. Classic Romney!

The Republican presidential candidate, visited a phone bank in Terrace Park, Ohio, where the state GOP is pushing Issue 2 and 3. Issue 2 would reduce collective bargaining to “collective begging” for over 300,000 Ohio workers, and Issue 3 is a Tea Party-backed nonsensical attack on the Affordable Care Act.

The candidate visited and shook hands with the folks helping the attack on Ohio public safety, workers’ rights, and health care access, but get this – Romney has “no opinion” on Issue 2 and 3.

“I’m not saying anything one way or the other about the two ballot issues,” Romney reportedly told Ohio GOP chairman Kevin Dewine.

This floppiness is extra ridiculous:

•    As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney instituted a health care plan with an individual mandate, similar to the Affordable Care Act. Supporters of Issue 3 are attacking the Affordable Care Act.

•    Issue 2 is the question of whether or not public workers have the right to bargain collectively and have a voice at the table, and for a presidential candidate not to have an opinion on that is irresponsible.

Romney’s reticence on Issue 2 is similar to his floppiness on “right to work.” He’s pushed for right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire in an effort to rally the support among conservatives in that primary state, but won’t say that he supports a federal version. “If there were a federal right-to-work law that reached my desk, I’d support it,” he said in August. Classic Romney!

On the other hand, can you really blame Romney for tip-toeing around Issue 2?  He’s seeking the votes of Ohio Republican primary voters, and polling shows that only 59 percent of Ohio Republicans support Issue 2. Independent voters are even more repulsed by the attack on collective bargaining – a scant 32 percent want Issue 2 kept.

So as he has done for decades, Mitt Romney is doing something that makes no sense logically, but is probably best thing for his political career. As I’ve mentioned, it’s classic Romney.

But the fact that a Republican presidential candidate is afraid to embrace Governor Kasich’s anti-worker, corporate-backed agenda does not bode well for the 1%’s efforts in the Buckeye State.

Things are getting increasingly lonely for politicians and 1 Percenters who use public servants as scapegoats and punching bags. It’s working, folks. We’re getting to them.

UPDATE: Romney’s floppiness on Issue 2 is highlighting divisions between his campaign and the Koch Brothers’ front group Freedom Works.

From Slate:

This isn't what Tea Partiers want to hear. FreedomWorks, Dick Armey's grassroots group, has been working Ohio hard. They've put up a campaign site (, opened nine distribution centers for volunteers, and pushed out more than 120,000 door hangers and 18,000 yard signs, all "yes" on 2 and 3.

"I’m not happy with Romney about his silence on Issues 2 and 3," said Brendan Steinhauser, FreedomWorks's director of state campaigns, in an e-mail, "but then again, I’m not surprised. He doesn’t believe in what we believe in –- nor is he willing to fight for these ideas. We are working VERY hard in Ohio for these campaigns and he is only interested in his own ambition to be president. Kasich = Courage and Romney = Empty Suit."

UPDATE 2: Plunderbund reports that Mitt Romney endorsed Issue 2 in June.

(Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog)

The Republican leader in the Senate forgot the old saying, “all politics is local,” when he went on national television and basically said that layoffs in your community are not his problem.

On CNN’s “State of the Nation,” Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to defend his vote against even debating a bill that would provide $35 billion for states to rehire or retain approximately 400,000 teachers, police officers, and firefighters, a measure supported by 75 percent of Americans in a recent poll.

"I'm sure Americans do -- I certainly do -- approve of firefighters and police," the Kentucky senator told Crowley -- leaving out teachers. "The question is whether the federal government ought to be raising taxes on 300,000 small businesses in order to send money down to bail out states for whom firefighters and police work -- they are local and state employees."

That’s the question, he says! Senator, I think I have an answer to your question.

Let’s clarify that with some facts, shall we? That tax increase McConnell talks about is a 0.5 percent surcharge on annual adjusted income after the first million dollars you make – which according to Citizens for Tax Justice would affect 0.2 percent of Americans. If you make $999,999, you pay $0 extra. If you make $1,100,000, you pay $500 extra.

If we’re taking McConnell at his word, he’s worried that a 0.5 percent charge on a millionaire’s second million dollars will confuse him or her, and make them not want to invest, spend, or hire. Forget the total lack of demand, that extra $500 charge will make that millionaire completely flummoxed!

McConnell isn’t just out of touch with the Americans whose cash-starved communities have had to cut core employees, raising 911 response times and increasing class sizes. He’s out of touch with the business community. A survey found that businesspeople blamed the state of the economy on “poor demand” over regulation by a 25-1 margin. What they understand better than the Senator is that when you fire someone from a job, public or private, it means they are less able to buy products – any products – and that hurts every aspect of the economy, from top to bottom.

So the question is: should the federal government help your communities rehire and retain people who are critical to educating your children and protecting your families, and should they pay for it with a charge on the super-wealthy so small it hardly cuts into their pool-cleaning budget? The answer is: Yes, definitely, and absolutely.

A majority of businesspeople say “Yes.” A filibuster-busting majority of Americans say “Yes.” Working families who want decent schools and safe communities say “Yes.” Yet those 47 Republicans Senators continue to say, “No.”

“No” is not an answer.

Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog.

Yesterday, every single Republican U.S. Senator voted against debating the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, which would provide funds to create or retain about 400,000 jobs for teachers and public safety workers.

That includes Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said "€œthe single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

That includes new Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who said "€œWe cannot afford to be bailing out local governments."

That includes Senators Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe, who are frequently deemed "€œmoderate"€ by the press.

To the American public, this is not a controversial bill. A CNN poll found that 75 percent are in favor of the policy that helps prevent layoffs in police departments and firehouses by charging a small surcharge on adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million.

The surtax would affect a small sliver, just 0.2 percent of Americans. The benefits would have affected many, many more of us. As the Vice President pointed out on Tuesday, crime rates are up all around the country, directly correlated with the layoffs of police officers. Again, this is not controversial, it’s both common knowledge and scientifically established fact that crime rates dropped in the 1990’s as the number of police officers increased.

But instead of explaining their actions of voting against an overwhelmingly popular bill that would have incredible public benefit, Republicans and their allies had a little sideshow about the Vice President saying crime rates are up, specifically that rates of rape are up. Senator John Barasso (R-WY) said these comments reflected White House "€œfear tactics"€ and "€œdesperation,"€ and right wing reporter Jason Mattera accosted the Vice President after a press conference to ask him if he thought the comments were "€œappropriate."

We'€™re going to join with the National Organization of Women (NOW) and stand squarely with the Vice President on this one. Here'€™s what NOW President Terry O'€™Neill told the Daily Caller:

"€œI think he is concretely worried that with fewer police on the beat crime will go up,"€ O'€™Neill told The Daily Caller. "I think he is imagining the lives of real people. That is not a device -€” that is an actual ability to know what everyday people go through."€

I don'€™t think anyone, let alone Biden, should have to apologize for pointing out the consequences of the Republicans political games. They push 30 year old economic theories, they talk about how this will hurt President Obama politically, but then to turn around and react with faux outrage when someone talks about how their irresponsible votes will affect actual Americans?

As the VP said, "€œThis is about priorities. Watch your senator. Watch him or her choose."€ Well, they'€™ve chosen. And we saw. Republicans voted for the ability of about 700 millionaires to breathe a little easier, and ignored the fact that crime rates, including murder, rape, and burglary, are ticking upwards. Those are their priorities.

(Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog)


The so-called "centrist" think tank Third Way just published a report recommending that Democratic lawmakers shouldn’t embrace the 99% Movement, the thousands of Americans of all stripes who are calling for economic justice in dozens of cities.

Third Way said it polled 800 Obama 2008 voters, 400 "droppers" of whom didn’t show up to the polls in 2010, and 400 "switchers" who voted for the Republicans. The report says the "droppers" are already back with the Democrats because they’re disgusted with the 2011 GOP’s anti-jobs, pro-nonsense agenda, but that the "switchers" will become permanent Republican voters if Democratic lawmakers embrace the 99% Movement that’s sweeping the country.

It’s déjà vu all over again – just days ago Karl Rove wrote in the very "serious" Wall Street Journal that working class Americans have nothing in common with Occupy Wall Street.

Earlier today, in that same paper, Fox News analyst Doug Schoen wrote about poll he had done analyzing a "systematic random sample" of the Occupy protestors. His column said the poll showed the protestors are sharply out of step with most of America, and “bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies.” Within hours, a New York journalist got ahold of Schoen’s actual poll results, which show what Working America already knew: that the Occupy protestors hold fairly similar beliefs as many of the 20,000 working class Americans we talk to every week.

Even though Doug Schoen is being ruthlessly criticized and embarrassed by many fellow pollsters for misrepresenting his own poll results, I swear there’s going to be another piece in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow about how the Occupy protestors are crazy, weird, radical, and above all, different from you. And another corporate-backed think tank will show very "serious" research that Democrats should stay away from them. And CNN will do yet another segment on their clothes, or piercings, or take quotes out of context to make them seem strange.

It’s classic "divide and conquer." Despite where we live and what we look like, we all understand that our country is on the wrong economic and political path. If we focus on our common values, this movement will be unstoppable; Karl Rove and his friends know that all too well.

Don’t be fooled, folks. The One Percent and their allies are spooked at what you - the 99 Percent - are saying in city parks, in the streets, and online as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

They don’t want you to think of yourselves as the 99 Percent, a great majority with strength in numbers calling for change. They would rather you think of yourselves the way Karl Rove sees you: pawns of various sizes, colors, and beliefs, just waiting to be pitted against each other over meaningless rabble while the Wall Street bailouts and unjust inequality fade from your memory.


Labor unions, progressive organizations, and hundreds of citizens are taking to Twitter this morning to express their frustration and anger at U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

In 2010, Boehner consistently asked “where are the jobs?”  while leading his caucus to block, obstruct, and delay legislation that would spur the clean energy industry, extend desperately needed unemployment insurance, cut taxes for working families, preserve the jobs of teachers, strengthen workers’ rights, and much, much more.

In 2011, now with the Speaker’s gavel, John Boehner has led his caucus to conduct ideological attacks on Planned Parenthood and NPR, further cut taxes for the super wealthy, obstruct workers’ rights by attacking the NLRB, attempt to shut down the government multiple times, and instigate an immature, embarrassing, manufactured crisis out of raising the debt ceiling.

Please join us. Sign this petition, and use the hashtag #BoehnerFail on your tweets.

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