Friday, August 29, 2014

#UniteBlue Pressing On

#UniteBlue is a web site and a Twitter colony of likeminded users but more importantly it is a political and social revolution. Collectively, through multiple generations, we have changed the social landscape of the U.S. and greater progress is on the horizon. Today, there are seven main issues that galvanize us into a powerful force of progress:

1) Affordable health care for all

2) Raising the minimum wage

3) Ecological sustainability

4) Marriage Equality

5) Equal pay for women

6) Immigration Reform

7) Protecting the social safety net of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps and Unemployment Insurance

Of course there are many other issues that we have in common but for the sake of a coherent message that we can all rally around let us focus on these seven.

The Affordable Care Act more widely known as “ObamaCare” is the most progressive piece of legislation since Medicare rescued Seniors from poverty in the 1960’s. Before the passage of the ACA a Harvard study showed that over 45,000 Americans died every year because of a lack of health insurance. Today over 12 million Americans have coverage because of this law. Children 26 and younger can stay on their parent’s policies and insurers can no longer deny coverage because of a preexisting condition or because a clerical error was made on an application. A sliding scale has been instituted making health insurance to many previously uncovered. The law is not perfect but it is a wonderful first step in opening access to health care to everyone regardless of income.

Boosting the minimum wage would increase the pay of 16 million Americans and lift 900,000 of them above the poverty line. This doesn't just aid teens in designing a new tat as the rightwing is fond of proclaiming. Working single mothers would be helped the most by raising the wage. The 1968 minimum wage is worth about $9.40 in today’s dollars. That means that minimum wage workers are today making 23% less than they did 46 years ago. If we want to build an America that offers opportunity to all guaranteeing a living wage for everyone must be a priority.

Many Republican presidential candidates love to call for the elimination of the EPA while loudly proclaiming that Climate Change is a hoax. Quoting the Bible to refute the findings of 97% of the world’s scientists would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire. A recent  bi-partisan report, entitled "Risky Business" was co-chaired by Henry Paulson, GW Bush’s Treasury Secretary. It declares that, “extensive property damage, severe flooding and serious disruptions to American agriculture” will all occur because of Global Warming during this century. There is still time to act but only if we make it a national priority.

Of all of the natural rights we possess none is more personal or fundamental to the pursuit of happiness than is the right to marry whom we choose. The farce that “small government conservatives” feel that they have the authority to pick our mates for us is the most ludicrous contortion of the word “values”. If you feel that your religious beliefs don’t allow you to marry someone of the same sex by all means pursue someone of the opposite sex but you have no right to bar others from that same freedom. Hopefully, prohibiting the marriage of same sex pairs will soon appear as silly as former prohibitions of mixed race marriages.

Twenty five countries in the world guarantee equal pay for equal work but the United States is not one of them. Many countries such as Hungary and Slovakia incorporate protections for women into their Constitutions. The President has done his part by signing an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay men and women equally but women still earn 23% less for their labor than men. In many states a woman can actually be fired for asking their male counterparts how much money they make. Of course, this discrimination is especially hard on single mothers and effects the retirement income for retired women. This past year Republicans in the Senate once again blocked the chamber from even taking a vote on the measure. Equal pay for equal work is another common sense guarantee for fairness, supported by the majority of Americans but it is consistently blocked by the minority Party.

More than a year ago the Senate by a 2/3 majority passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill and sent it to the House. Even though the bill would have added 20,000 new border guards and saved the country $900 billion dollars over the next 20 years the Republican House has refused to allow a vote on the bill. A tough 13 year path to citizenship was included in the provision and it was supported by such pro-business organizations as the Chamber of Commerce. Special visas were allowed for much needed high tech and low tech agricultural workers. The fact is that immigrants help the economy by providing labor, purchasing goods and paying taxes. We are a nation built on generations of immigrants coming to our shores seeking a better life for their families. Providing a pathway to citizenship for these millions is not only in our best interest, it is the right thing to do.

Programs like Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance and Food Stamps are vital programs that have been safeguarding the most vulnerable among us for decades. They were all championed and put into law by Democrat administrations. Ronald Reagan campaigned across the country to stop Medicare but LBJ signed it into law in 1965. The other programs were instituted by FDR over Republican objections. As enmeshed as these programs have become in our personal financial planning (Do any of you really want to buy private health insurance for your octogenarian parents? ) they are constantly under attack by Right Wing Republicans. Paul Ryan’s infamous budgets offer cuts to all these programs. We must stay organized to resist the forces that would destroy these societal safeguards that took so many generations to achieve.

Millions of individuals have spent countless hours developing these laws and programs, fostering an American sense of fairness and equality. It has been a long and arduous struggle on so many fronts. We have won many victories and many more are within our grasp. Let’s keep pressing on--- #UniteBlue

Link: Unite Blue