The informational blog for Michael Meserve, Vice President, Western Region, Council of Prison Locals
Saturday, November 10, 2012
AFGE Week in Review - Nov. 10, 2012
Nov. 10, 2012
AFGE Plays Vital Role in Elections: President Barack Obama’s reelection on Tuesday night was another historic victory for working families, and AFGE is proud to have played an important role in getting the president re-elected. AFGE had 845 volunteers nationwide to help get out the votes. We made 122,000 phone calls to AFGE members in battleground states, sent out 440,000 pieces of mail and 2.7 million emails with specific information on how AFGE members in those battleground states could get involved on a weekly basis. “Karl Rove,Grover Norquistand the corporate Super PACs thought they could buy this election,” said AFGE Political Action DirectorBob Nicklas. “Working families across the country, including AFGE members, proved them wrong –voting 65% in favor of President Obama and 70% in favor of our endorsed Senate candidates. We mobilized, we voted and we won. Now it’s on to the fight to ensure tax fairness and guarantee that Americans will continue to receive the critical services they count on every day.” AFGE Statement on Presidential Election:AFGE National PresidentJ. David Cox Sr.this week issued the following statement in response to the presidential election results: “President Obama’s reelection is a victory for the nation and for all working class people,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Under President Obama’s leadership, our country rebounded from the brink of economic collapse. Job growth is up, unemployment is down, the housing market has finally turned a corner, and America’s prestige in the rest of the world has been restored. We campaigned vigorously for President Obama’s reelection, so obviously we are very pleased that voters gave the president another four years to continue what he’s started. Now that the election is over, we look forward to working with the president and our elected representatives in Congress to pursue a legislative agenda that protects and preserves our vital government services and programs and recognizes the substantial sacrifices that federal employees and agencies already have made toward reducing the deficit.” Elections by the Numbers:The labor movement made a huge impact on the elections. We knocked on doors, made phone calls and urged people to come out and exercise their voting rights. Here are some of the numbers worth noting:
400,000:Number of union volunteers 14 million: Number of doors knocked 80 million:Number of phone calls made 75 million:Number of pieces of mail sent 450,000:Number of newly registered union voters 65%:Number of union members who voted for Obama 70%:Number of union members who voted for Obama in swing state Ohio, where union membership is 83 percent white, 40 percent Evangelical and 53 percent gun owners. 56%: Number of California voters who rejected Prop. 32, which would have prohibited payroll deductions to support candidates or ballot measures, a direct attack on unions which mostly rely on member contributions to fund campaigns.
AFGE, Union Allies Work to Protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid:Two days after the elections, AFGE activists and brothers and sisters from the labor movement participated in the AFL-CIO’snational day of actionto call on Congress to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. At dozens of events across the country, activists made it clear that Congress must not cut our social safety net benefits to fund tax cuts for the rich as Congress returns to Washington to discuss a so-called grand bargain of deficit reduction during the lame duck session. “Social Security is not an entitlement; we pay into it,”Wahed Hossainiof the AARP told Virginia Sen. Mark Warner’s Legislative DirectorDavid Hallockand Legislative AssistantNicholas Devereux. “What we pay for should not be taken away from us.” “It’s a contract from one generation to the next,” saidDonna Smithof the National Nurses United. She added that Wall Street got us into this mess, so they – not the middle class – should pay for it. Workers and retirees also highlighted a Hart Research Associates election nightsurvey, which shows that 64 percent of the general public (as opposed to 17 percent) say we should maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits and fix the deficit by raising taxes on the rich.Exit pollsreleased Tuesday night show similar results. Six in 10 voters favor tax hikes and almost half of voters think taxes should be raised for those making more than $250,000. “Voters strongly believe that we should make sure the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes,” AFL-CIO PresidentRichard Trumkasaid at a press conference Nov. 8. “They believe that we should protect Medicare and Social Security benefits from cuts. And voters reject the idea that bringing down the federal budget deficit is the over-riding priority: Voters say we should maintain public investments that create jobs, and bring down the deficit more gradually.” Trumka wrote in an October op-ed that lawmakers appear to believe that seniors are sitting around wondering how they should spend their lavish retirement benefits, which average around $14,500 per year. He said raising the retirement age is a benefit cut, especially for Americans with no high school diploma whose life expectancy is actually declining. But Senate Minority LeaderMitch McConnelldid not care what voters think. This week hesaidthey are not budging on giving the rich tax breaks. Voters Say No to Fed Bashers, Anti-Government Budget:The American people have spoken, and they sided with the candidate who doesn’t believe in arbitrary cuts to vital government services and doesn’t blame government employees for all the problems this country has. As we move forward, AFGE will remind Congress that voters on Tuesday nights rejected the Paul Ryan budget and its misguided cuts that would destroy the middle class. Federal employees have contributed $75 billion to deficit reduction and it’s time to get the wealthy to pay their fair share. “We will certainly call to the attention of President Obama and our friends in Congress the fact that federal employees are good employees and that they have taken their share of the hits,” AFGE NationalJ. David Coxtold reporters. “Federal employees have given and given and given. . . . We're going to fight every attempt to cut employee pensions or benefits.” House Budget Committee Ranking MemberChris Van Hollensaid lawmakers have to get the message voters delivered: Ask the wealthy to pay more to help cut the deficit. "It's also important to realize that it was a decisive election," Van Hollen told CNN Wednesday. "And one of the big issues in this election was whether or not we should take the balanced approach to reducing the deficit the president has talked about; a combination of cuts but also revenue (increases). It's very clear from the exit polling that a majority of Americans recognize that we need to share responsibility for reducing the deficit. That means asking higher income earners to contribute more to reducing the deficit." Good News for the Uninsured: Obamacare Survives:Thirty million uninsured Americans who will be covered under the new health care law breathed a huge sigh of relief Tuesday night after President Obama won a re-election. But there are concerns that most people may not even know they are eligible and won’t sign up. “I think it’s really clear from all the research we’ve seen so far that the vast majority of people who will need to enroll in coverage don’t even know it’s available or coming,” Enroll America Executive Director Rachel Kleintoldthe Washington Post. Enroll America, a group founded to educate the public about the new benefits under the new health care law, has been working with 55 organizations including hospitals, insurers and drug stores, to make sure people take advantage of the subsidized insurance. States to Move Ahead with Insurance Exchanges Following Obama’s Re-election:According to new analysisby Avalere Health, 20 states will operate their own insurance exchanges in 2014, 13 states will likely partner with the federal government and a third will leave the task to the federal government. Incumbents, Candidates Who Signed Norquist’s Pledge Not to Raise Taxes Were Defeated:At least 55 House incumbents or hopefuls and 24 senators or candidates who had signed the Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstancesloston Election Day. The Rich Prepare for Expiration of Bush Tax Cuts:The rich are racing to save on taxes in preparation for the possible expiration of the Bush tax cuts at year end. As the federal top income tax rate could go up from 35 percent to 39.6 percent and the long-term capital gains rate from 15 percent to 23.8 percent, wealth advisors aretellingtheir clients to move their wealth and pay bonuses or dividends before the end of the year. The rich right now can transfer to their heirs up to $10.24 million without estate and gift taxes. The threshold could drop to $3.5 million for the estate tax exemption and $1 million for the gift-tax exemption, as it was in 2009. “If you have to put a movie title on what’s going to happen from now until the end of the year it would be: ‘The Fast and the Furious,’”Jeff Saccacio, a personal financial services partner at New York-based Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, told Bloomberg. “The wise, smart people are preparing themselves for a sunset of the Bush tax cuts.” This Week’s Blog:EconomistPaul Krugmanwritesthat Tuesday night was a huge night for truth, justice and the real American way: “For a long time, right-wingers — and some pundits — have peddled the notion that the “real America”, all that really counted, was the land of non-urban white people, to which both parties must abase themselves. Meanwhile, the actual electorate was getting racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly tolerant too. The 2008 Obama coalition wasn’t a fluke; it was the country we are becoming.” Hot on WWW:Hank the Cat, who challenged former Virginia governorsGeorge AllenandTim Kainefor a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia,appears to come in third behind Kaine and Allen. The cat received more than 6,000 votes. This Week’s Tweet:“Nerds 1 Pundits 0 - stats man who predicted #Obama's winhttp://bbc.in/TPPoBh“ ~@BBCNewsUS Hot on YouTube:In a surprise visit to the campaign office in Chicago on Thursday, PresidentObamagave an emotional thank youto campaign staff and volunteers, tearing up as he expressed his gratitude for their support and dedication. This Week in Labor History:Nov. 8, 1933 - PresidentFranklin D. Rooseveltannounces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create four million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America). Inside Government:Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for analysis of Election Day results and the impact on federal employees. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Nov. 9, is now available on demand. AFGE National PresidentJ. David Coxdiscussed labor’s role in the outcome of the elections and the union’s top priorities going forward. AFGE Legislative and Political DirectorBeth Motenalso analyzed results of key House and Senate races and the impact on federal employee legislation. AFGE Legislative RepresentativeMarilyn Parkthen joined Cox to preview Veterans Day and address critical issues facing the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lastly, AFGE Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Local 4060 PresidentRobert Autreydiscussed FEMA’s response in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com. For more information, please visit InsideGovernmentRadio.com. Quote of the Week Massachusetts U.S. Sen.-electElizabeth Warrenon her election victory: “You took on powerful Wall Street banks and you let them know you wanted a Senator to fight for the middle class all of the time.” Warren has consistently spoken out against exploitation and dishonesty on Wall Street.