May 18, 2018

A little good news...for now

A little crowing might be in order.

The (very nasty) House version of the Farm Bill failed by a vote of 198-213, no thanks to WV's congressional delegation. It's not over yet, though since House mis-leaders will keep trying to push something through.

Here's a statement about the latest developments by Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about the need for a bipartisan bill that doesn't take away food from millions of Americans.

Thanks to everyone who worked to derail this train. By way of follow-through, a call to your representatives offices either to thank or (metaphorically) spank might be in order. Here are the numbers for the DC offices of the WV guys:

McKinley 202.225.4172

Jenkins 202.225.3452

Mooney 202.225.2711

For those outside of WV, and who probably have a better delegation, you can put in your zip here to find out the contact information.

May 17, 2018

And still everybody's gotta eat

The U.S. House has been debating the monstrosity of a Farm Bill today and it might be worth two or three minutes of your time giving your representatives a call to ask him to vote no.  As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports, H.R. 2 would effectively remove nearly 2 million people from SNAP by imposing harsher work requirements.  Never mind that a lot of these people are already working.  And far be it from me to point out the evidence supporting any claim that work requirements boost employment remains at zilch, zero, nada. 

What we do know about policies like this is that they increase food insecurity, especially among women, people with disabilities, and seniors. 

We might be wise to look at programs that actually boost employment, like Montana's HELP-Link program which was started when the state expanded Medicaid.  The program provides Medicaid enrollees with employment services through their Department of Labor and Industry, including employment training and education.  When it comes to the proof in the pudding, 82 percent of the people who participated are now employed, and 80 percent have obtained higher wage jobs.

The Daily Mail editorial today slams the farm bill for other reasons, saying that it entails huge giveaways to "big ag" at the expense of small farmers. I reckon they're right. 

In short, there is not much to like about this thing.  Let's light up those phones! 

Here are the D.C. #'s

McKinley 202.225.4172

Jenkins 202.225.3452

Mooney 202.225.2711

May 16, 2018


It all started here in WV.

It's been great to see the huge masses of teachers and their allies filling the streets in Raleigh, North Carolina today. I hope the ball that started rolling in West Virginia keeps moving on. And that the victories keep coming.

Like the WV strike, the protests in North Carolina highlight the damage done by passing irresponsible and unproductive tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy at the expense of things like education, health and infrastructure.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that tax cuts enacted in NC since 2013, which haven't even gone into full effect yet, have included:
*Across-the-board cuts to personal income tax rates that disproportionately benefit the wealthy by replacing the state’s graduated system (with rates of 6, 7, and 7.75 percent) with a flat rate, currently 5.499 percent.
*A cut of more than half to the corporate income tax rate, which has fallen from 6.9 percent in 2013 to 3 percent today.
*An end to the state’s estate tax, which will only benefit heirs of estates worth over $5.25 million — under 1 percent of estates.
I guess you could say you get what you don't pay for.

In case you were thinking this is just a coincidence, which anyone reading this probably isn't, check out this piece on how billionaires and corporations have been pushing this kind of agenda for years.
It gets pretty specific.

Then there's this Bloomberg story on how tax cuts pushed the the Kochs and their ilk have driven teachers to the streets. I particularly like this line:

"The wave of strikes in the past three months is just the latest sign that Tea Party-style austerity is losing favor."

May it be so.

May 15, 2018

Better luck this time

Fifty years after the original effort, a new Poor People's Campaign kicked off yesterday around the country. Somewhere between 100 and 200 people attended a rally outside the capitol in Charleston WV yesterday (luckily in the shade). Things were pretty laid back here, but in several state capitols and in DC there were arrests for civil disobedience.

The American Friends Service Committee, i.e. my long-suffering employer, was heavily involved in the original campaign and is all on board this time. Two national leaders of the organization were arrested in DC yesterday. Not sure about the total around the country.

The plan is 40 days of nonviolent action and education which will be "a call to moral revival." You can read more about the campaign and how to get involved here.