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FWD: Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus

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  • Jon Williams
    Sad but true. When will we start electing candidates who actually vote their consciences, and withhold their votes when necessary? The two parties have a lock
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 1, 2012
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    Sad but true. When will we start electing candidates who actually vote their consciences, and withhold their votes when necessary? The two parties have a lock on our democracy and aren't, when you get down to brass tacks, all that different. Both represent corporations and the well-to-do. Both support war where diplomacy would do. Neither really wants to step on those third rails of abortion rights, gun control or Social Security. We need to see the Progressive Caucus become the Progressive Party and wield the kind of clout its membership numbers actually could if freed from control of the Democratic Party…
    -- 
    Jon Williams
    (805) 451-7608

    From: David Swanson <david@...>
    Reply-To: David Swanson <david@...>
    Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 08:05:09 -0800
    To: UFPJ Listserv <ufpj-legislative@...>
    Subject: [Ufpj-legislative] Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus

    Progressive Statement Caucus issues statement—"Fannie and Freddie, ignore the banks, writedown mortgages"

    I get a lot of mail. Some of the mail I get comes from our "inside game" — self-described "progressives" in government.

    Did you know there's an actual "ProgressiveCaucus" in Congress? It has House members and Senate members (well, one Senate member). It's led by Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. They actually carry the name "progressive" and they actually espouseprogressive policies:

    According to its website, the CPC advocates "universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare," fair trade agreements, livingwage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collectivebargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change related Kyoto Accords, strict campaignfinance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporatewelfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on upper-middle and upper class households, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.
    That's a lot of progressive values. I love progressive values, so I'm really glad we have our own progressive caucus.

    Our own progressive caucus does things.

    One thing our caucus does is issues statements, calling on people to do things. Here'sone, from just this week (my emphases everywhere):
    Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), today joined advocates in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southern California in calling on Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to write down mortgage principal amounts for struggling homeowners.

    “Twelve million Americans owe more money than their home is worth,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “The American people have been duped, lied to, and kicked out of their homes, and now it’s time for Mr. DeMarco to stand up and do right by them.”

    Combined, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own or guarantee more than half of all mortgages in the country. DeMarco has faced calls for his resignation for refusing principal reduction, sometimes called “debt forgiveness,” for Freddie and Fannie mortgage holders.
    I hope it works. I would be a happy man if it works. I would also be a very surprised man if this progressive "action" — if "calling on" Obama's mortgage chief to reducethe net worth of every mortgage-holding bank in the nation, in an election year no less — actually works.

    On the odds-of-effectiveness meter, I eyeball "calling on" at about Zero. But hey, you never know until you ask.

    So that's one thing our own Congressional Progressive Caucus does — they make statements calling on other people to do things.

    Our Progressive Caucus also issues statements about what they will do.

    For example:
    July 31, 2009
    Dear Madame Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

    We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

    We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. ... Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable. ... In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies. We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.

    Sincerely,

    Raul Grijalva, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
    Lynn Woolsey, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus

    [and 58 others listedhere]
    Oh good. A threat that attempted to achieve an outcome. My effectiveness meter reading just went positive.

    So I took that list of 60threateners, then I brought up this great interactivechart on the HCR House vote, sorted the names alphabetically, then went down the list of courageous progressive letter writers, looking for their vote on the non-public-option HCR bill.

    I stopped at Number 16 on the letter list. I couldn't find one No vote in the first 16 names (out of 60). The names I checked included such luminaries as:

            Lynn Woolsey
            Raul Grijalva
            Jerry Nadler
            Keith Ellison
            Earl Blumenauer
            Donna Edwards
            Dennis Kucinich
            Maxine Waters
            John Conyers

    Pelosi needed 216 votes, and got 219. That means just four people could have stopped the bill that they swore needed a public option to secure their vote. With this kind of muscle, this much leverage, getting a "public option" should have been a piece of cake. Heck, if they swung it right, they might even have gotten "Medicare+5%", an even-more-popular single-payer option (but only among the people).

    Instead, we failed. And by "we" I mean "they," our statement-making "progressive caucus."

    It not that I think this caucus, as a caucus, is insincere. It's that they're almost entirely ineffective. It's that when they have the power, they refuse to use it. (DavidSwanson has a similar letter from 2007 about Iraq war funding. Lots of the same names. Wonder how that one went...)

    Our caucus is not totally ineffective, however. They do statement-making very well — just like I showed you at the start of this post. I'm proud of their statements, and I'm very glad they make them. But I think they have a name problem.

    So I'm going to rename them — The Progressive Statement Caucus.

    There. And I entirely support their ... statements.

    (I told you I'd be writing about effective progressive coalitions. This is just a start. Do you think the phrase "party loyalist" is going to turn up? And not in a good way?)

    GP
  • Janet Benner
    Of course our own representative doesn’t belong to the P(S)C so doesn’t even pretend to hold progressive ideals. Oh well. Janet B From:
    Message 2 of 4 , Mar 1, 2012
    • 0 Attachment

      Of course our own representative doesn’t belong to the P(S)C so doesn’t even pretend to hold progressive ideals. Oh well.

      Janet B

       

      From: SBProgCoalition@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SBProgCoalition@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Williams
      Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 8:24 AM
      To: SBPC
      Subject: [SBProgCoalition] FWD: Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus [1 Attachment]

       

       

      [Attachment(s) from Jon Williams included below]

      Sad but true. When will we start electing candidates who actually vote their consciences, and withhold their votes when necessary? The two parties have a lock on our democracy and aren't, when you get down to brass tacks, all that different. Both represent corporations and the well-to-do. Both support war where diplomacy would do. Neither really wants to step on those third rails of abortion rights, gun control or Social Security. We need to see the Progressive Caucus become the Progressive Party and wield the kind of clout its membership numbers actually could if freed from control of the Democratic Party…

      -- 

      Jon Williams

      (805) 451-7608

       

      From: David Swanson <david@...>
      Reply-To: David Swanson <david@...>
      Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 08:05:09 -0800
      To: UFPJ Listserv <ufpj-legislative@...>
      Subject: [Ufpj-legislative] Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus

       

      Progressive Statement Caucus issues statement—"Fannie and Freddie, ignore the banks, writedown mortgages"

      I get a lot of mail. Some of the mail I get comes from our "inside game" — self-described "progressives" in government.

      Did you know there's an actual "Progressive Caucus" in Congress? It has House members and Senate members (well, one Senate member). It's led by Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. They actually carry the name "progressive" and they actually espouse progressive policies:

      According to its website, the CPC advocates "universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare," fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change related Kyoto Accords, strict campaign finance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on upper-middle and upper class households, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.

      That's a lot of progressive values. I love progressive values, so I'm really glad we have our own progressive caucus.

      Our own progressive caucus does things.

      One thing our caucus does is issues statements, calling on people to do things. Here's one, from just this week (my emphases everywhere):

      Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), today joined advocates in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southern California in calling on Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to write down mortgage principal amounts for struggling homeowners.

      “Twelve million Americans owe more money than their home is worth,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “The American people have been duped, lied to, and kicked out of their homes, and now it’s time for Mr. DeMarco to stand up and do right by them.”

      Combined, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own or guarantee more than half of all mortgages in the country. DeMarco has faced calls for his resignation for refusing principal reduction, sometimes called “debt forgiveness,” for Freddie and Fannie mortgage holders.

      I hope it works. I would be a happy man if it works. I would also be a very surprised man if this progressive "action" — if "calling on" Obama's mortgage chief to reduce the net worth of every mortgage-holding bank in the nation, in an election year no less — actually works.

      On the odds-of-effectiveness meter, I eyeball "calling on" at about Zero. But hey, you never know until you ask.

      So that's one thing our own Congressional Progressive Caucus does — they make statements calling on other people to do things.

      Our Progressive Caucus also issues statements about what they will do.

      For example:

      July 31, 2009
      Dear Madame Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

      We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

      We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. ... Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable. ... In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies. We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.

      Sincerely,

      Raul Grijalva, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
      Lynn Woolsey, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus

      [and 58 others listed here]

      Oh good. A threat that attempted to achieve an outcome. My effectiveness meter reading just went positive.

      So I took that list of 60 threateners, then I brought up this great interactive chart on the HCR House vote, sorted the names alphabetically, then went down the list of courageous progressive letter writers, looking for their vote on the non-public-option HCR bill.

      I stopped at Number 16 on the letter list. I couldn't find one No vote in the first 16 names (out of 60). The names I checked included such luminaries as:

              Lynn Woolsey
              Raul Grijalva
              Jerry Nadler
              Keith Ellison
              Earl Blumenauer
              Donna Edwards
              Dennis Kucinich
              Maxine Waters
              John Conyers

      Pelosi needed 216 votes, and got 219. That means just four people could have stopped the bill that they swore needed a public option to secure their vote. With this kind of muscle, this much leverage, getting a "public option" should have been a piece of cake. Heck, if they swung it right, they might even have gotten "Medicare+5%", an even-more-popular single-payer option (but only among the people).

      Instead, we failed. And by "we" I mean "they," our statement-making "progressive caucus."

      It not that I think this caucus, as a caucus, is insincere. It's that they're almost entirely ineffective. It's that when they have the power, they refuse to use it. (David Swanson has a similar letter from 2007 about Iraq war funding. Lots of the same names. Wonder how that one went...)

      Our caucus is not totally ineffective, however. They do statement-making very well — just like I showed you at the start of this post. I'm proud of their statements, and I'm very glad they make them. But I think they have a name problem.

      So I'm going to rename them — The Progressive Statement Caucus.

      There. And I entirely support their ... statements.

      (I told you I'd be writing about effective progressive coalitions. This is just a start. Do you think the phrase "party loyalist" is going to turn up? And not in a good way?)

      GP

    • translate@dakotacom.net
      I agree completely, Jon. The United States voter needs *choices*. As it is, most candidates are as you say, representing the 1%. One strategy is to vote for
      Message 3 of 4 , Mar 1, 2012
      • 0 Attachment

        I agree completely, Jon. The United States voter needs *choices*. As it is, most candidates are as you say, representing the 1%. One strategy is to vote for someone you believe in, with the idea of a long term strategy, that if enough people vote their consciences over time this will pick up momentum and we will eventually have other viable parties as they do in other nations. Voting for the least bad candidate perpetuates the current system, and the 1% bank on that (literally).

        One party and candidate for president that have emerged to stand up for progressive values are the Justice Party and Rocky Anderson, former Salt Lake City progressive mayor. He gave an excellent, inspiring talk here in SB in 2007 on the office of the presidency and the moral values associated with it that were (and are) being abrogated. He really impressed me.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/12/rocky-anderson-radical-third-way

        http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/rocky_anderson

        The recent passage of the NDAA bill that purports to make it legal to imprison Americans on suspicion, without trial, is in direct contravention of the United States Constitution, shows how much we need a president who is willing to act in accordance with his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, the foundation of our country.

        Also, have you heard that we recently lost the ability to vote a write-in candidate in California? I haven't read it in the news, but a friend who was checking out the regulations on parties and voting found it on the state web site. He said almost all people in the California legislature voted for it - further taking away our choices. I tried searching for info, but didn't find any mainstream news on it. Here's something I did find (don't know anything about the politics of this site):

        California Governor Signs Bill that Eliminates Write-in Space on General Election Ballots for Congress and State Office

        February 10th, 2012

        On February 10, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1413, which removes write-in space from general election ballots for Congress and state partisan office. California is the only state that has ever had write-ins, but which doesn’t have them any longer, except for Louisiana. States that formerly did not have write-in space on general election ballots, but added such space during the last 45 years, are Florida, Indiana, Delaware, and Ohio.

        California is now one of only six states that have no write-in space on the November ballot for Congress.

        http://www.ballot-access.org/2012/02/10/california-governor-signs-bill-that-eliminates-write-in-space-on-general-election-ballots-for-congress-and-state-office/

        taking away our freedoms. Food for thought --

        Best,

        Lauren

        On Thu, 1 Mar 2012 08:23:53 -0800, Jon Williams

        wrote:

        [Attachment(s) from Jon Williams included below]

        Sad but true. When will we start electing candidates who actually vote their consciences, and withhold their votes when necessary? The two parties have a lock on our democracy and aren't, when you get down to brass tacks, all that different. Both represent corporations and the well-to-do. Both support war where diplomacy would do. Neither really wants to step on those third rails of abortion rights, gun control or Social Security. We need to see the Progressive Caucus become the Progressive Party and wield the kind of clout its membership numbers actually could if freed from control of the Democratic Party…
        -- 
        Jon Williams
        (805) 451-7608
        From: David Swanson <david@...>
        Reply-To: David Swanson <david@...>
        Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 08:05:09 -0800
        To: UFPJ Listserv <ufpj-legislative@...>
        Subject: [Ufpj-legislative] Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus

        Progressive Statement Caucus issues statement—"Fannie and Freddie, ignore the banks, writedown mortgages"

        I get a lot of mail. Some of the mail I get comes from our "inside game" — self-described "progressives" in government.

        Did you know there's an actual "Progressive Caucus" in Congress? It has House members and Senate members (well, one Senate member). It's led by Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. They actually carry the name "progressive" and they actually espouse progressive policies:

        According to its website, the CPC advocates "universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare," fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change related Kyoto Accords, strict campaign finance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on upper-middle and upper class households, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.
        That's a lot of progressive values. I love progressive values, so I'm really glad we have our own progressive caucus.

        Our own progressive caucus does things.

        One thing our caucus does is issues statements, calling on people to do things. Here's one, from just this week (my emphases everywhere):
        Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), today joined advocates in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southern California in calling on Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to write down mortgage principal amounts for struggling homeowners.

        “Twelve million Americans owe more money than their home is worth,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “The American people have been duped, lied to, and kicked out of their homes, and now it’s time for Mr. DeMarco to stand up and do right by them.”

        Combined, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own or guarantee more than half of all mortgages in the country. DeMarco has faced calls for his resignation for refusing principal reduction, sometimes called “debt forgiveness,” for Freddie and Fannie mortgage holders.
        I hope it works. I would be a happy man if it works. I would also be a very surprised man if this progressive "action" — if "calling on" Obama's mortgage chief to reduce the net worth of every mortgage-holding bank in the nation, in an election year no less — actually works.

        On the odds-of-effectiveness meter, I eyeball "calling on" at about Zero. But hey, you never know until you ask.

        So that's one thing our own Congressional Progressive Caucus does — they make statements calling on other people to do things.

        Our Progressive Caucus also issues statements about what they will do.

        For example:
        July 31, 2009
        Dear Madame Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

        We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

        We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. ... Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable. ... In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies. We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.

        Sincerely,

        Raul Grijalva, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
        Lynn Woolsey, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus

        [and 58 others listed here]
        Oh good. A threat that attempted to achieve an outcome. My effectiveness meter reading just went positive.

        So I took that list of 60 threateners, then I brought up this great interactive chart on the HCR House vote, sorted the names alphabetically, then went down the list of courageous progressive letter writers, looking for their vote on the non-public-option HCR bill.

        I stopped at Number 16 on the letter list. I couldn't find one No vote in the first 16 names (out of 60). The names I checked included such luminaries as:

                Lynn Woolsey
                Raul Grijalva
                Jerry Nadler
                Keith Ellison
                Earl Blumenauer
                Donna Edwards
                Dennis Kucinich
                Maxine Waters
                John Conyers

        Pelosi needed 216 votes, and got 219. That means just four people could have stopped the bill that they swore needed a public option to secure their vote. With this kind of muscle, this much leverage, getting a "public option" should have been a piece of cake. Heck, if they swung it right, they might even have gotten "Medicare+5%", an even-more-popular single-payer option (but only among the people).

        Instead, we failed. And by "we" I mean "they," our statement-making "progressive caucus."

        It not that I think this caucus, as a caucus, is insincere. It's that they're almost entirely ineffective. It's that when they have the power, they refuse to use it. (David Swanson has a similar letter from 2007 about Iraq war funding. Lots of the same names. Wonder how that one went...)

        Our caucus is not totally ineffective, however. They do statement-making very well — just like I showed you at the start of this post. I'm proud of their statements, and I'm very glad they make them. But I think they have a name problem.

        So I'm going to rename them — The Progressive Statement Caucus.

        There. And I entirely support their ... statements.

        (I told you I'd be writing about effective progressive coalitions. This is just a start. Do you think the phrase "party loyalist" is going to turn up? And not in a good way?)

        GP

        Attachment(s) from Jon Williams

        1 of 1 File(s)


         

      • Paul Berenson
        We actually do have a choice in this election. Julia Brownley is running for Gallegley s seat and has a great chance against Tony Strickland in that
        Message 4 of 4 , Mar 1, 2012
        • 0 Attachment
          We actually do have a choice in this election. Julia Brownley is running for Gallegley's seat and has a great chance against Tony Strickland in that redistricted seat. Brownley is the termed out Assemblymember from Malibu, supports Single Payer, strong supporter of education, the Disclose Act (below), opposes the Wars, is a card carrying member of PDSMM, and won the Teddi Winograd Award a couple years ago. If she wins we Progressives win big, even if we lose the Capps seat, which is corporate Dem anyway.
          Paul
           
           
          Go Julia! Let's be sure to send Julia to Congress! She can support the Disclose Act efforts there too!

          Dorothy Reik
          PDSMM
          310-291-1300



          Problems viewing this E-Alert, click here.
          Assemblymember Julia Brownley
          LEGISLATION | BIOGRAPHY | VISIT MY WEBSITE | PHOTO GALLERY

          February 2012 Newsletter
          In this edition of my newsletter, I will inform you of my newly reintroduced California Disclose Act, which requires disclosure of the three major funders behind political advertising. You will also read about how we can raise money for the arts in California and how the Santa Monica Mountains have been allocated $2.4 million in federal dollars for land acquisitions.
          I recently had the opportunity to tour an innovative charter school in the inner city of Los Angeles, and hear from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation on the importance of high-speed rail, as it will create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil in California's future. These two experiences are also outlined in this edition of the newsletter.
          IN THIS ISSUE:
          • Campaign Funding Disclosure Bill Reintroduced
          • California Arts Council Says "Drive the Arts"
          • President's Budget includes Santa Monica Mountains
          • Reports from Santa Monica/Malibu School Districts
          • Tour at Animo Pat Brown Charter High School
          • Visitor to the State Capitol
          • Proposition 8 Fails to Pass Constitutional Muster
          • Committee and Legislative Appointments
          Read All Stories Online

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          Assemblywoman, 41st District

          California Assembly Democratic Caucus
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          805-455-9100
           
          "To thine own self be true"
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 8:37 AM
          Subject: RE: [SBProgCoalition] FWD: Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus

           

          Of course our own representative doesn’t belong to the P(S)C so doesn’t even pretend to hold progressive ideals. Oh well.

          Janet B

          From: SBProgCoalition@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SBProgCoalition@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Williams
          Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 8:24 AM
          To: SBPC
          Subject: [SBProgCoalition] FWD: Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus [1 Attachment]

           

          [Attachment(s) from Jon Williams included below]

          Sad but true. When will we start electing candidates who actually vote their consciences, and withhold their votes when necessary? The two parties have a lock on our democracy and aren't, when you get down to brass tacks, all that different. Both represent corporations and the well-to-do. Both support war where diplomacy would do. Neither really wants to step on those third rails of abortion rights, gun control or Social Security. We need to see the Progressive Caucus become the Progressive Party and wield the kind of clout its membership numbers actually could if freed from control of the Democratic Party…

          -- 

          Jon Williams

          (805) 451-7608

          From: David Swanson <david@...>
          Reply-To: David Swanson <david@...>
          Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 08:05:09 -0800
          To: UFPJ Listserv <ufpj-legislative@...>
          Subject: [Ufpj-legislative] Renaming the Progressive Caucus the Progressive Statement Caucus

          Progressive Statement Caucus issues statement—"Fannie and Freddie, ignore the banks, writedown mortgages"

          I get a lot of mail. Some of the mail I get comes from our "inside game" — self-described "progressives" in government.

          Did you know there's an actual "Progressive Caucus" in Congress? It has House members and Senate members (well, one Senate member). It's led by Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. They actually carry the name "progressive" and they actually espouse progressive policies:

          According to its website, the CPC advocates "universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare," fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change related Kyoto Accords, strict campaign finance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on upper-middle and upper class households, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.

          That's a lot of progressive values. I love progressive values, so I'm really glad we have our own progressive caucus.

          Our own progressive caucus does things.

          One thing our caucus does is issues statements, calling on people to do things. Here's one, from just this week (my emphases everywhere):

          Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), today joined advocates in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southern California in calling on Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to write down mortgage principal amounts for struggling homeowners.

          “Twelve million Americans owe more money than their home is worth,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “The American people have been duped, lied to, and kicked out of their homes, and now it’s time for Mr. DeMarco to stand up and do right by them.”

          Combined, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own or guarantee more than half of all mortgages in the country. DeMarco has faced calls for his resignation for refusing principal reduction, sometimes called “debt forgiveness,” for Freddie and Fannie mortgage holders.

          I hope it works. I would be a happy man if it works. I would also be a very surprised man if this progressive "action" — if "calling on" Obama's mortgage chief to reduce the net worth of every mortgage-holding bank in the nation, in an election year no less — actually works.

          On the odds-of-effectiveness meter, I eyeball "calling on" at about Zero. But hey, you never know until you ask.

          So that's one thing our own Congressional Progressive Caucus does — they make statements calling on other people to do things.

          Our Progressive Caucus also issues statements about what they will do.

          For example:

          July 31, 2009
          Dear Madame Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

          We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

          We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. ... Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable. ... In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies. We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.

          Sincerely,

          Raul Grijalva, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
          Lynn Woolsey, Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus

          [and 58 others listed here]

          Oh good. A threat that attempted to achieve an outcome. My effectiveness meter reading just went positive.

          So I took that list of 60 threateners, then I brought up this great interactive chart on the HCR House vote, sorted the names alphabetically, then went down the list of courageous progressive letter writers, looking for their vote on the non-public-option HCR bill.

          I stopped at Number 16 on the letter list. I couldn't find one No vote in the first 16 names (out of 60). The names I checked included such luminaries as:

                  Lynn Woolsey
                  Raul Grijalva
                  Jerry Nadler
                  Keith Ellison
                  Earl Blumenauer
                  Donna Edwards
                  Dennis Kucinich
                  Maxine Waters
                  John Conyers

          Pelosi needed 216 votes, and got 219. That means just four people could have stopped the bill that they swore needed a public option to secure their vote. With this kind of muscle, this much leverage, getting a "public option" should have been a piece of cake. Heck, if they swung it right, they might even have gotten "Medicare+5%", an even-more-popular single-payer option (but only among the people).

          Instead, we failed. And by "we" I mean "they," our statement-making "progressive caucus."

          It not that I think this caucus, as a caucus, is insincere. It's that they're almost entirely ineffective. It's that when they have the power, they refuse to use it. (David Swanson has a similar letter from 2007 about Iraq war funding. Lots of the same names. Wonder how that one went...)

          Our caucus is not totally ineffective, however. They do statement-making very well — just like I showed you at the start of this post. I'm proud of their statements, and I'm very glad they make them. But I think they have a name problem.

          So I'm going to rename them — The Progressive Statement Caucus.

          There. And I entirely support their ... statements.

          (I told you I'd be writing about effective progressive coalitions. This is just a start. Do you think the phrase "party loyalist" is going to turn up? And not in a good way?)

          GP

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