The Tucson Festival of Books brings hundreds of authors to Tucson each year. For politicos, one of the hottest tickets at the Book Festival is author and historian John Nichols of The Nation.
If you want to hear Nichols speak in an informal setting– away from the Book Festival crowds, come to the IBEW Hall on Saturday night, March 10. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson) and the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) are hosting their annual An Evening with John Nichols. I am proud to be the warm-up act for Nichols again this year. Doors open at 6 p.m.
If you are a Progressive and you have never heard Nichols speak, you should make time for this evening talk. I had the pleasure of meeting Nichols years ago at a PDA retreat in Winslow, Arizona. Since then, I have heard him speak and videotaped him many times.
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called herself a “Mama Grizzly” because she said she would fight like a Mama Grizzly to protect her children.
Although “Mama Grizzly” was a catchy marketing slogan for the folksy rural mayor from Alaska, the Republican Party has never embraced the idea of protecting children after birth or helping families. Unfortunately, this week Congressional Republicans took their disregard for middle class families one step further by voting for billions of dollars in tax cuts for big corporations and for the richest Americans– while saddling our children and grandchildren with massive debt to pay the bills in the future.
Hmmm… let’s see… what to do… pass legislation that would actually help millions of Americans– like equitably funding public education across the country or fixing the Affordable Care Act (to make it affordable) — OR cut taxes for your rich donors? Cut taxes, of course! With party-line votes to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congressional Republicans have shown that they are far more interested in enriching the billionaire class than in improving the lives of everyday Americans. Universal healthcare? Food Security? World-class public education? Safe roads and bridges? Financial stability for the middle class? Meh. Congressional Republicans don’t care about pursuing the People’s To-Do List.
Although the majority of Americans see the tax cut bill as unfair, Republicans are on course to deliver the biggest Christmas present… ever… to the 0.01%.
In my opinion, the passage of this massive wealth transfer bill underscores the need for a few new progressive action items…
On December 4, 2017, I gave a talk on economic inequality at the Democrats of Greater Tucson Luncheon. This is the text of that speech.
Economist Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, recently gave a talk which focused on solving economic inequality. He pointed to five key areas of the economy that keep the rich rich and keep the rest of us in our places:
Intellectual property rights;
Practice protection by highly paid professionals;
Financial regulation; and
Given this list, can a state legislator like me make a dent in economic inequality? I think so.
I ran on a platform that focused on economic reform and public banking; equality and paycheck fairness; and attacking the opioid crisis.
How does my platform dovetail with Dean Baker’s list? There is quite a bit of overlap—particularly in macroeconomics, intellectual property rights, and practice protection.
The much-anticipated FY2018 Arizona state budget was dropped this week. On Tuesday, just before 5 p.m. both the Republican and Democratic Appropriations Committees heard the JLBC review of the Republican budget. Thus begins the mysterious whirlwind of the Arizona budget finalization process, which is scheduled to end in the wee hours of Friday morning.
As a citizen, I always scratched my head as to why the Arizona budget is always passed in the middle of the night. Obviously, the suspicion is that there is something the majority party wants to pass, and it doesn’t want you to know or to be there when it happens. There’s an element of that, for sure, because we have seen some scary stuff passed in the middle of the night by Republicans– like the voter suppression omnibus bill and blowing the doors off of campaign finance by dramatically boosting campaign limits. The majority party schedules the third day of the budget process just after midnight because they don’t want their members to go home between the debates in the Committee of the Whole (COW) and the 3rd Reading vote. If members go home, someone could say, “What are you thinking?” and change votes.
Check out the budgetary known knowns, known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns below.
Reps. Randy Friese, Kirsten Engel, Isela Blanc and I will be participating in a public town hall, organized by the Arizona House Democratic Caucus, to discuss the Arizona budget proposals. The event will be held today, April 8, at the University of Arizona Modern Languages Building, Room 350. Doors open at 12:30.
We have seen Governor Doug Ducey’s budget, majority party’s budget, and the Democrats’ “Minority Report.” Come to the town hall and learn the details. The governor and the Legislative Republicans agree on some principles, but there are many decisions in play right now. Rep. Friese will be making the formal presentation, and the rest of us will be there to answer questions.
Funding for education at all levels — but particularly for k-12 public education — has been a HOT button issue in Arizona since Governor Jan Brewer and her henchman, ousted Senate President Russell “SB1070” Pierce, started mercilessly slashing education in 2010, at the dawn of the Tea Party Revolution in Arizona.
After six years of Tea Party cuts to public ed and six years of legislative gifts to private schools, charter schools, and big corporations, in general, Arizona’s education system is on the ropes– demoralized and penniless.
Frustrated parents are angry. Demoralized teachers are leaving Arizona in droves. Aging school buildings are crumbling and dangerous. Contentious schools boards are arguing over how to spend the scraps.
Although some come to school hungry, our children soldier on everyday. Are they learning in this financially and emotionally stressed environment?
No one can pretend that this scenario is anywhere near optimum. Why has this situation been allowed to develop? Our current education system was created by budget cuts based upon right-wing, anti-government ideology and not on what is best for the families and children of Arizona– or what is best for our state as a whole.
At the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) candidate forum on October 2, I asked the audience, “What is our goal for public education?” and rattled off a short list of facts that show we are short-changing students and families. Here is an expanded version of what I said…
About 50 LD9 residents and Democratic Party regulars attended the Clean Elections primary debate on June 28 with candidates Dr. Randy Friese, Matt Kopec, and me. (The hour-long event was taped by the Clean Elections Commission.)
The debate had an interesting format– much better, in my opinion, that some of those free-ranging presidential debates where each candidate was asked a different question, making it difficult to compare candidates. The format was: one-minute intros, a set of questions that everyone answered (two minutes each), a set of questions written by audience members and addressed to specific candidates or to anyone (one minute each), and one-minute wrap-ups. (Our audience was very involved and submitted many good questions.)
The debate gave me an opportunity to explain my sustainable economic development ideas and talk about my background and other ideas. Here is the excerpt about economic development (29:33 mark):
Economic reform is a big part of my platform. Everything in my platform either raises money or saves money to pay for the things we want like quality education, a solid infrastructure, and good-paying jobs. Public banking is a big part of it, but it’s not the whole part. I really believe that we have suffered under the failed economic policies of trickle down economics and austerity. So, we have largesse for the 1% and austerity for the 99%.
With the idea of public banking, we could bring all or part of our tax dollars back from Wall Street and invest it on Main Street.
During this political season, we have heard a lot about too-big-to-fail banks, corporate greed, politicians on the take, bad trade deals, inequality and … starting a revolution to save the middle class.
Just over 100 years ago, at the dawn of the first American Progressive Era, the same conditions sparked a revolution which spread from North Dakota throughout the prairie states.
In the early 1900s, family farms were under attack. Railroad robber barons charged farmers exorbitant prices to ship their grain, and if the farmers fell behind on loan payments, Wall Street banks stepped in—not to save the farmers but to foreclose on them.
As one farm family after another lost its land, politicians, who were in the pocket of big money interests, accepted the lobbyists’ cash and stood idly by.
Discontent grew among the farmers. In 1915, failed flax farmer A.C. Townley and his friend Fred Wood sat down at Fred’s kitchen table and drew up a progressive agenda to help the people of North Dakota. This blueprint for reform included regulating railroads and controlling fees, organizing farming cooperatives, and creating a state bank, which would make investments for the common good, instead of foreclosing on family farms. This was the birth of the Nonpartisan League (NPL).
Townley attached a Nonpartisan League sign to his Model T and began traveling around North Dakota to recruit citizens to join the Nonpartisan League and fight for change. Charging $6 for dues, Townley organized farmers, intellectuals, writers and women to stand up against the banks and the railroads. Knowing that they were the underdogs in this fight against the power brokers of the Gilded Age, the members of the Nonpartisan League called themselves the “six buck suckers.” Their slogan was, “We’re too dumb to quit.” The NPL published regular newspaper and used poignant political cartoons to educate North Dakotans. They knew they were in a David and Goliath match. Farm families were losing their land, their homes, and their livelihoods. What more did they have to lose?
One weapon that the Nonpartisan League had on their side was the right to vote, which North Dakota extended to women before the rest of the country did. The League sponsored meetings, not just for the farmers but also for the farm wives. Farm wives led lives of drudgery and isolation. Ladies luncheons—with political discussion—were a welcome change from everyday farm life for these women. Regardless of party, the NPL backed candidates who pledged to work toward these common goals. Their pitch—particularly to the farm wives—was “vote for the family, not for the party.” The NPL encouraged people to vote for politicians who shared their values and who would work for the people, instead of working for corporations.
In 1916, the NPL ran a slate of candidates as Republicans. (This is when progressive reformers like Teddy Roosevelt were Republicans.) The NPL took the governorship and seats in the Legislature. After the 1918 election, the Nonpartisan League controlled the entire Legislature, one Congressional seat, and the Governorship. With organization, true grit, and the right to vote, the Nonpartisan League staged a revolution in North Dakota. As a result, the NPL-led Legislature passed multiple progressive reforms to help the people of North Dakota. Most notably, these progressives created the Bank of North Dakota, which got North Dakota out from under Wall Street’s thumb and built a robust economy that is a model today.
Shortly after Governor Doug Ducey took office in 2015, he infamously said that just because Arizona doesn’t have enough money doesn’t mean we need to raise revenue. In early January, he released a budget that failed to pay back the millions of dollars the Arizona Legislature stole from the education fund when it broke the law, but it did include a transfer of funds from the rainy fund, additional unaffordable tax cuts for out-of-state businesses, money for private prisons, and millions of dollars in cuts — most notably to K-12 education, the university system, and the community college system. More austerity is not the road to prosperity.
With 60% of the vote, left-wing outsider Jeremy Corbyn has become the leader of the Labour Party in Great Britain.
Reminiscent of the rise of America’s unlikely, left-wing outsider candidate for president, Senator Bernie Sanders, Corbyn campaigned against economic inequality and crushing austerity that has hurt British families, while benefiting big business and the rich.
Corbyn won with nearly 59.5% of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who trailed on 19%, and Yvette Cooper who received 17%. The “Blairite” candidate Liz Kendall came last on 4.5%. Minutes after his victory, Corbyn said the message is that people are “fed up with the injustice and the inequality” of Britain.
This is exciting news. The world is waking up to the lie of austerity. Read the Guardian’s comprehensive reporting here…