The word on the street here in Washington is that the right is killing us with phone calls to Congress on the Obama economic recovery plan. One congressperson said the calls are running 100 to 1 against it.
The legislation is now on the Senate floor. If senators perceive that Americans side with Obama in this fight—which several polls say they are—that will strengthen the power of progressives in the debate and we’ll get a good bill. If, on the other hand, senators are only feeling the heat from conservatives, then our advocates will be weakened and we’ll get a lousy bill. That’s just the way things go on Capitol Hill.
Those who worked for the election of Barack Obama and are currently sitting on the sidelines waiting to see how his economic recovery bill turns out—it’s time to stop waiting. Stand up and fight!
That means pick up the telephone and call 202-224-3121 (or use the toll-free service at 866-544-7573). Ask the Capitol operator to transfer you to one of your state’s U.S. senators. When you’re connected, say you’re calling to urge your senator to "support the Obama economic recovery plan and oppose all conservative amendments." Call back and repeat for your other senator. Then contact everyone you know and urge them to do the same.
Here’s what’s at stake. If enacted, President Obama’s economic recovery plan will be the biggest and boldest progressive legislation in the past 40 years. These are just some of the highlights:
- $142 billion for a middle-class tax cut
- $47 billion to extend unemployment benefits
- $16 billion to expand food stamps
- $17 billion in one-time payments to low-income Americans
- $26 billion to expand access to health care
- $87 billion to help states pay for Medicaid
- $24 billion to modernized health information technology
- $46 billion to fix bridges and roads
- $80 billion to improve public education
- $19 billion for school construction
- $14 billion to make college more affordable
- $32 billion for clean energy
There's much more. All together, the Obama plan will create or save 3 to 4 million jobs and keep our nation’s economy from sliding into a lengthy and severe recession.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell claims he’s not trying to kill the Obama plan. But he and an army of right-wingers are working furiously to cut the most progressive parts of the bill and substituting them with huge tax breaks for the rich.
Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has laid out the ultra-conservative wish list: Make the Bush tax cuts permanent, lower capital gains taxes, and enrich large corporations in a variety of new ways. According to the Center for American Progress, DeMint’s largess to the wealthy would cost taxpayers—hold onto your hats—$3.1 trillion!
Obviously, all that is not going to happen. But some of it will happen unless progressives commit themselves to winning this fight. That means pick up the telephone, call 202-224-3121 or 866-544-7573, and urge your senators to stand with President Obama.
The writer is a Senior Fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and author of the recent book, Framing the Future: How Progressive Values Can Win Elections and Influence People.