Progressive Populist Good News from Jim Cullens!
PROGRESSIVE POPULIST WIN IN OREGON
Progressives scored a populist win over corporate interests (1/26) as Oregon voters by a 54%-46% margin approved measures to balance the state’s budget by increasing taxes for households with income over $250,000 and setting higher taxes on large corporations to generate $733 mln.
The Portland Oregonian reported (1/27), “The double-barreled victory is the first voter-approved statewide income tax increase since the 1930s. Other states, facing similar budget woes, are watching the outcome closely because Oregon, after all, is a state that capped property taxes and locked a surplus tax rebate program into the constitution.”
But progressives argued that the tax reforms protected nearly $1 bln in vital services, like education, health care and public safety. They preserve class sizes, save jobs for teachers, provide seniors with in-home care and provide health care for thousands of Oregonians through the Oregon Health Plan.
Oregon’s progressive community rallied with strong backing from labor, the state’s Democratic officeholders and a huge range of activist groups, including The Bus Project (busproject.org), which mobilized young voters, Joan McCarter noted at DailyKos (1/27). Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain praised the coalition, “I’ve never seen a field effort like the one the campaign is running.” The progressive campaign beat anti-tax activists calling themselves “Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes,” led by Nike CEO Phil Knight.
As Bus Project booster Matt Singer of Montana tweeted on election night: “Bus Project engaged youth. Progressives campaigned as populists. This is how we win.”
Sarah Burris noted at OpenLeft.com (2/6) that Massachusetts only got a turnout of 15% of young voters (age 18-29), who voted 58% for Martha Coakley (D), compared with 57% for older citizens. Oregon saw a 24% turnout of youth voters, Burris said, while the turnout for all voters was 62.3%.
Jonathan Singer noted at MyDD.com (1/26): “After the Beltway elite read the results of the special Senate election in Massachusetts last week as an indication of conservatism on the rise, Oregon voters clarified the message: It’s not conservatism, but rather populism that is on the rise. … Voters are in a populist mood right now — not an anti-government one, necessarily, but a populist one nevertheless. The progressive brand of populism that resonated with Oregonians this month is slightly different than the one that rang true in Massachusetts. Yet the message is just as clear.”
Unfortunately, the corporate news media buried news of this progressive populist victory in Oregon, which is why you need independent media such as TPP and the aforementioned Internet sources to get the word out.
BIPARTISAN DRIVE FOR PUBLIC FUNDING OF ELECTIONS. Former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), in a column written for the Washington Post (2/5), noted that the Republican Party has a tradition of campaign finance reform that goes back to the Tillman Act of 1907 and the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1910, advocated by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first laws limiting corporate money in federal elections and requiring strict disclosure of campaign funds, as well as the Taft-Hartley Act that banned union contributions to political campaigns.
“Those laws were dealt a serious blow by last month’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That such a rash and immoderate ruling could come from a chief justice once committed to respecting precedent, and win praise from leaders of my party, is beyond my comprehension.” Rudman has joined with former Sens. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) and Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) to support public funding of all federal elections. “It’s time [for Republicans] to return to our roots and take up Teddy Roosevelt’s challenge from over a century ago by enacting the only real and lasting solution I know: citizen-funded elections,” Rudman wrote. “Under the proposed Fair Elections Now Act, sponsored by more than 130 members of Congress, money from special interests would be replaced by small donations from constituents and matching federal funds. Matching funds, raised through a fee on large-scale government contracts, would go to serious, hardworking candidates who demonstrate a broad base of public support and who say no to large donations.
“Republicans and Democrats in Congress must work together to expand political speech for all citizens by replacing special-interest money in politics with small donations and public matching funds. Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”
Three states — Arizona, Connecticut and Maine — already have public funding for state offices, while North Carolina has public funding for judicial elections and Albuquerque, N.M., New York City and Portland, Ore., have public funding for city elections. See Americans for Campaign Reform at youstreet.org.
‘FREE SPEECH FOR PEOPLE’ AMENDMENT UNVEILED. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, have proposed a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision that gives corporations the right to get involved in political campaigns.
The proposed 28th Amendment reads: “Section 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, the First Amendment shall not be construed to limit the authority of Congress and the States to define, regulate, and restrict the spending and other activity of any corporation, limited liability entity, or other corporate entity created by state or federal law or the law of another nation.
“Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.”
A coalition of public interest organizations and independent business advocates praised Rep. Edwards’ action. The groups, Voter Action, Public Citizen, the Center for Corporate Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance, say the Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC poses a serious and direct threat to democracy. The coalition launched http://www.freespeechforpeople.org to correct the judiciary’s creation of corporate rights under the First Amendment over the past three decades.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) joined the call today for a constitutional amendment. In testimony before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, Kerry said a constitutional amendment is needed “to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals.”
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