Whereas, the Harris County Democratic Party recognizes that diversity is at the heart of the American story and understands that, as one of the largest counties in the nation, immigration is a crucial issue faced by local government officials.
Whereas, the Harris County Democratic Party understands that the fair and equitable enforcement of Immigration Laws is a responsibility of the Federal Government. As such, the Harris County Democratic Party supports:
· Co-operation with all Federal enforcement efforts but does not support the passage of any law, regulation, ordinance or program, that requires overtaxed local law enforcement officers to inquire into a person’s immigration status;
· Utilizing the limited resources and manpower of local law enforcement agencies to protect the local community and prevent crimes against person and property, but does not support the diversion of resources from this primary duty to enforce any law, regulation, ordinance or program intended to duplicate federal enforcement of immigration laws;
· Law enforcement which is tough but fair , free of discrimination, intimidation or victimization of members of the community based on their race, ethnicity or appearance;
Therefore, be it RESOLVED that Harris County Democratic Party, supports comprehensive Federal immigration reform. The HCDP also understands that the enactment of such reform and the enforcement of immigration law is the specific and proper duty of the properly equipped and trained Federal officials, not state or local governments. Thus, the Harris County Democratic Party supports the proper administration of immigration law by the proper authorities and specifically rejects any involvement of untrained and overextended local government entities and law enforcement agencies.
Harris County Democratic Party: MAKING BETTER LIVES FOR ALL. Not Just the Privileged Few.
DAVE McNEELY COLUMN FOR 12/29/11
Just when Texas Democrats were collectively scratching their heads, wondering if they’d go into 2012 without a viable candidate for the U. S. Senate, Paul Sadler stepped up.
The well-regarded former state representative filed two days after retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez announced he was quitting the race. Sanchez had been running for months, but his home burned down, he was having trouble raising money, and his candidacy didn’t seem to be gaining much traction.
Although four other candidates have filed for the Democratic nomination for the Senate vacancy due to Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison not seeking re-election in 2012, Sadler alone among them is known in state capitol circles for his yeoman work as chairman of the House Public Education Committee for several terms in the 1990s.
"I decided to run because Texas needs an advocate who can put the good of the state ahead of all else," said Sadler, who since 2008 has been executive director of The Wind Coalition, a group advocating the use of wind energy.
Sadler said the principal focus of his campaign will be education.
"Like all Texans I am disgusted by the gridlock in Washington. I have a solid record of working with members of both parties to accomplish legislation that improves the lives and education of our children and all Texans," Sadler said in his announcement statement.
"It has been very difficult for me, after working so hard in office to increase funding for public schools, to see the devastating cuts being made to the most important pillar of our democracy," Sadler said. "The problems facing our country and our state are just too important to trust in the hands of people who don’t believe education should be a priority."
As a young and very capable plaintiff’s attorney, Sadler was already a multi-millionaire when he ran for the House in 1990.
In 1992, still a 36-year-old freshman, Sadler mounted a campaign for House speaker, aimed at opening up the legislative process and trimming some of the speaker’s powers. But his campaign never took off.
Democrat Pete Laney won the speakership, and Sadler settled into his work on the House Public Education Committee. Then the father of five announced in 1994 that he wouldn’t seek re-election, to spend more time with his kids.
But after the oldest four and his wife came to him and said he should run again, he changed his mind – especially when it became evident he might chair the education committee.
Chair Libby Linebarger had also said she was retiring, and Laney indeed named Sadler to replace her. He became Laney’s go-to guy on education matters.
Sadler also proved effective at working across party lines – at least, with former Gov. George W. Bush during his tenure.
In 1997, when Bush was trying to get a tax cut passed to help burnish his credentials for the Republican presidential nomination, Laney upped the ante by naming Sadler to chair an 11-member special committee on taxation.
The special committee included seven chairmen of other committees. Laney’s choice of Sadler to chair it was read as Laney’s effort to have a strong advocate for teachers and schools dealing with tax policy, rather than the sometimes stingy Ways and Means Committee headed by then-Chairman Tom Craddick, R-Midland.
To his credit, Bush swallowed hard and still backed the legislation the House passed that would have had pay raises for teachers and mandatory kindergarten. The bill died in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Bush thought enough of Sadler’s efforts for education that he planted a pecan tree in Sadler’s yard in Henderson.
Sadler did not seek re-election to the House in 2002, but later ran in a 2004 special election to replace Sen. Bill Ratliff, R-Mt. Pleasant. Sadler led into a runoff with former Tyler Mayor Kevin Eltife, a Repubblican.
But even though Sadler carried 11 of the district’s 16 counties, he couldn’t overcome the 10,000-vote margin Eltife racked up in the Tyler and Longview area. Eltife won with 51.9 percent.
Whoever wins the Democratic U.S. Senate primary will still have some tough going in the fall. There are 10 candidates for the Republican nomination.
The most notable four are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has plenty of his own money and has been raising more; former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert; former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz; and most recently, ESPN football analyst and former SMU running back Craig James.
# # #
And So On. . . The filing deadline was Dec. 19, but is expected to be re-opened in advance of the primary elections. They are now tentatively scheduled for April 3, but could change in an ongoing court battle over legislative and congressional redistricting.
United States Senator for Vermont
A Petition to Support the Saving American Democracy Amendment
Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court decision in a case called Citizens United vs. FEC.
The Saving American Democracy Amendment states that:
- Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people.
- Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.
- Corporations may not make campaign contributions.
- Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.
Join the list of co-signers. Sign here if you support a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United decision.
Thank you for signing. Please forward this to your friends.
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Party That Won’t Tax Millionaires Proposes Slashing Unemployment Benefits in Deal for Middle Class Tax Cut
By Travis Waldron on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:55 am
Republicans, while claiming to support a payroll tax cut extension that will primarily benefit the middle class, have cycled through a list of reasons to oppose proposals from Senate Democrats. The GOP refuses to pay for the cut with a surtax on millionaires, even as the wealthiest Americans’ tax rates have fallen to historic lows. Other GOP members have claimed the extension — which would put an extra $1,000 a year in the average American’s pocket — would undermine Social Security (it wouldn’t).
Now, with some members of the party worried that opposing the extension would cause it to lose its reputation for anti-tax zealotry, House Republicans are attempting to make it look as if they support the extension by proposing an alternative plan full of demands they know Democrats won’t accept. One of those demands, the Hill reports, is a drastic reduction in unemployment insurance that lowers a person’s maximum time on benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks:
The Republican proposal is expected to reduce the total number of weeks unemployed workers are eligible for aid by as much as 40 weeks and tighten rules for eligibility.
Such a reduction would significantly reduce the cost of extending federal unemployment benefits, making it easier to secure GOP support for a measure that will also include an extension of a payroll tax cut many conservative Republicans dislike.
Unemployment insurance remains one of the GOP’s favorite targets. Republicans have decried the program as a “lifestyle” that creates laziness among its recipients, ignoring the fact that nationally, there are four job applicants for each open job. The idea that unemployment insurance keeps people from seeking jobs is also betrayed by fact: a San Francisco Fed study found that those who qualify for unemployment insurance remain unemployed, on average, just 1.6 weeks longer than those who don’t.
Meanwhile, unemployment insurance remains one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus, since the money is put directly back into the economy. Failure to extend benefits would cost the U.S. economy $57 billion in the first three months of 2012, a 0.38 percent loss in GDP growth over that period. That’s roughly the same rate at which the American economy grew in 2011.
Democrats like Rep. Sander Levin (MI) dismissed the Republican proposal, saying the GOP was more interested in “confrontation” than “common ground.” “They are following a path of blaming victims of the economic downturn,” Levin told the Hill. “I can only hope that when Republicans go home this weekend they will talk with unemployed Americans and begin to understand the exceptionally challenging circumstances they face.”
The GOP plan would cut roughly 20 weeks of benefits out of the unemployment insurance program, according to a copy of the bill obtained by ThinkProgress. A second step in the process would cut another 20 weeks of benefits, ultimately reducing the program from 99 weeks to just 59. In addition, the bill requires those without a high school degree to be enrolled in a GED program to be eligible for benefits, and allows states to do drug screenings or tests as a condition of eligibility if they choose.
Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 07:46 AM PST
What follows is just a quick diary to share a “positive” story about Obamacare.
We have heard more false rhetoric on this policy than just about any law I can remember in a long time. USAToday.com reviewed hard empirical data to determine the success of certain aspects of the plan thus far.
I’ve cut up their article to give you the straight dope to hopefully help you find something useful when you’re battle another misinformed con:
1. More than 2.65 million Medicare doughnut hole seniors have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions this year.
2. Their premiums have NOT gone up!!
3. Seniors have saved and average of $569-per-person since the policy went into effect.
4. The savings came from Obama’s 50% discount for drugs bought during the doughnut hole period.
5. The current premium for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan is $30.76. It will go down to $30.00 in August 2012.
6. Seniors are becoming more engaged in their health plans because of thousands of forums by Medicare.
7. As of this past November, 24 million Americans have gone in for free screenings and preventative check-ups.
8. Even Robert Moffitt, Sr. Fellow at Heritage believes all of these early interventions “could” bring down the cost of healthcare.
So folks, it’s pretty obvious from this report that the much maligned Obamacare really is working. I’m sure that of the 24 million people who have already taken advantage of the free check-ups and screenings, it probably has already saved countless lives.
And, the fact that the average doughnut-hole senior saved nearly $600.00 dollars last year, while getting the prescription drugs they needed is really a big deal. I’m sure you’ll never see this story on cable news so I thought I’d share.
Have a spectacular day!!
Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes. He is also Common Cause’s board chairman.
What kind of society, exactly, do modern Republicans want? I’ve been listening to Republican candidates in an effort to discern an overall philosophy, a broadly-shared vision, an ideal picture of America.
They say they want a smaller government but that can’t be it. Most seek a larger national defense and more muscular homeland security. Almost all want to widen the government’s powers of search and surveillance inside the United States – eradicating possible terrorists, expunging undocumented immigrants, “securing” the nation’s borders. They want stiffer criminal sentences, including broader application of the death penalty. Many also want government to intrude on the most intimate aspects of private life.
They call themselves conservatives but that’s not it, either. They don’t want to conserve what we now have. They’d rather take the country backwards – before the 1960s and 1970s, and the Environmental Protection Act, Medicare, and Medicaid; before the New Deal, and its provision for Social Security, unemployment insurance, the forty-hour workweek, and official recognition of trade unions; even before the Progressive Era, and the first national income tax, antitrust laws, and Federal Reserve.
They’re not conservatives. They’re regressives. And the America they seek is the one we had in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century.
It was an era when the nation was mesmerized by the doctrine of free enterprise, but few Americans actually enjoyed much freedom. Robber barons like the financier Jay Gould, the railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, controlled much of American industry; the gap between rich and poor had turned into a chasm; urban slums festered; women couldn’t vote and black Americans were subject to Jim Crow; and the lackeys of rich literally deposited sacks of money on desks of pliant legislators.
Most tellingly, it was a time when the ideas of William Graham Sumner, a professor of political and social science at Yale, dominated American social thought. Sumner brought Charles Darwin to America and twisted him into a theory to fit the times.
Few Americans living today have read any of Sumner’s writings but they had an electrifying effect on America during the last three decades of the 19th century.
To Sumner and his followers, life was a competitive struggle in which only the fittest could survive – and through this struggle societies became stronger over time. A correlate of this principle was that government should do little or nothing to help those in need because that would interfere with natural selection.
Listen to today’s Republican debates and you hear a continuous regurgitation of Sumner. “Civilization has a simple choice,” Sumner wrote in the 1880s. It’s either “liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest,” or “not-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members.”
Newt Gingrich not only echoes Sumner’s thoughts but mimics Sumner’s reputed arrogance. Gingrich says we must reward “entrepreneurs” (by which he means anyone who has made a pile of money) and warns us not to “coddle” people in need. He opposes extending unemployment insurance because, he says, ”I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing.”
Sumner, likewise, warned against handouts to people he termed “negligent, shiftless, inefficient, silly, and imprudent.”
Mitt Romney doesn’t want the government to do much of anything about unemployment. And he’s dead set against raising taxes on millionaires, relying on the standard Republican rationale millionaires create jobs.
Here’s Sumner, more than a century ago: “Millionaires are the product of natural selection, acting on the whole body of men to pick out those who can meet the requirement of certain work to be done… It is because they are thus selected that wealth aggregates under their hands – both their own and that intrusted to them … They may fairly be regarded as the naturally selected agents of society.” Although they live in luxury, “the bargain is a good one for society.”
Other Republican hopefuls also fit Sumner’s mold. Ron Paul, who favors repeal of Obama’s healthcare plan, was asked at a Republican debate in September what medical response he’d recommend if a young man who had decided not to buy health insurance were to go into a coma. Paul’s response: “That’s what freedom is all about: taking your own risks.” The Republican crowd cheered.
In other words, if the young man died for lack of health insurance, he was responsible. Survival of the fittest.
Social Darwinism offered a moral justification for the wild inequities and social cruelties of the late nineteenth century. It allowed John D. Rockefeller, for example, to claim the fortune he accumulated through his giant Standard Oil Trust was “merely a survival of the fittest.” It was, he insisted “the working out of a law of nature and of God.”
Social Darwinism also undermined all efforts at the time to build a nation of broadly-based prosperity and rescue our democracy from the tight grip of a very few at the top. It was used by the privileged and powerful to convince everyone else that government shouldn’t do much of anything.
Not until the twentieth century did America reject Social Darwinism. We created the large middle class that became the core of our economy and democracy. We built safety nets to catch Americans who fell downward through no fault of their own. We designed regulations to protect against the inevitable excesses of free-market greed. We taxed the rich and invested in public goods – public schools, public universities, public transportation, public parks, public health – that made us all better off.
In short, we rejected the notion that each of us is on his or her own in a competitive contest for survival.
But make no mistake: If one of the current crop of Republican hopefuls becomes president, and if regressive Republicans take over the House or Senate, or both, Social Darwinism is back.
The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Says his proposed payroll tax cut "will mean an extra $1,500 in your pocket compared to if we do nothing."
Barack Obama on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 in a speech.
Obama says his payroll tax cut would mean "$1,500 in your pocket"
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President Barack Obama barnstormed Virginia this week, hoping to galvanize support for his proposals to create jobs and further cut payroll taxes.
"What we are proposing," he told an estimated crowd of 1,300 at a high school in Emporia, "is that the payroll tax we passed in December gets extended, gets expanded, and that will mean an extra $1,500 in your pockets compared to if we do nothing."
An extra $1,500 could come in handy. So we decided check out the president’s statement.
First, a little background. The payroll tax is a federal levy taken directly from the paychecks of employed Americans. It’s mainly used to fund Social Security and Medicare.
For two decades, the payroll tax meant a 6.2 percent deduction on annual earnings for most workers. There were limits to the total amount individuals could be required to pay. In 2009 and 2010, the levy applied to the first $106,800 of salary, meaning no one would pay more than $6,621. Employers paid a matching share.
Last December, the levy was cut to 4.2 percent for workers as part of an agreement Obama worked out with Congress to extend income tax reductions passed during President George W. Bush’s administration that critics say favors high earners. The payroll tax reduction is in effect for the duration of 2011.
Last month, Obama proposed slicing the payroll to 3.1 percent for workers next year as part of a $447 billion bill to spur to spur the economy called the American Jobs Act. To help employers, the president also proposed a 50 percent tax cut in the first $5 million of payroll costs for most small businesses.
Obama is accusing congressional Republicans of blocking his package, which would be paid for by increasing taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year. He has vowed to pull out proposals in the Jobs Act — including the payroll tax reduction — and send them to Congress as individual bills.
Now, let’s look into Obama’s statement that his payroll tax cut "would put an extra $1,500 in your pocket."
We can do a rough assessment with some basic math. Our calculations will be based on median income — the income level that’s exactly in the middle when all incomes are ranked from smallest to largest — because, unlike the mean (or average), it’s not significantly influenced by a small number of very high earners.
The median U.S. household income in 2010 — the most recent year available — was $49,445. Reducing payroll tax rate to 3.1 percent would mean a $1,533 savings next year compared to the levy they paid in 2010, when there was a 6.2 percent rate. That’s a little bit higher than the president’s estimate.
The savings would be greater in Virginia, where the median household income in 2010 was $60,363. Such a family would pay $1,871 less next year than they did in 2010.
If Congress doesn’t act on the payroll tax, then, as Obama noted, the rate will return to 6.2 next year.
Now that we’ve made our computations, we’ll note two reasons why they’re imperfect.
First, not all income is subject to the payroll tax, including interest income, dividends, capital gains, inheritances and Social Security benefits.
Second, not all households include people who are working, and therefore, not all qualify for a payroll tax cut. This includes individuals and couples who are unemployed or retired.
To gauge the impact of these factors, we turned to estimates by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. It concluded that the average national benefit for households that qualify for this year’s payroll tax cut, with rates set at 4.2 percent, is $934. The center did not do computations for Virginia.
Robertson Williams, an economist with the center, told us the average national savings would increase to $1,446 per qualified household if the rate is dropped to 3.1 percent next year.
According to the center, just under 78 percent of households — are subject to payroll taxes and eligible for relief. The remaining 22 percent would see no benefit at all.
"I think the president’s figures are reasonable," Williams said.
Obama said this proposed payroll tax cut "will mean an extra $1,500 in your pocket."
Since early September, he’s been using that number to describe average national savings for households that pay the levy. An economist at the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center computes the actual savings would be $1,446.
Of course, Obama was speaking to a crowd in Virginia, where incomes are higher than the national average and the savings from a payroll tax cut would be greater. The president’s statement is certainly in the ballpark and we rate it True.