April 15, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Representative Don Beyer, member of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement on the JEC's new report that African Americans continue to face economic challenges and are nearly three times as likely as white Americans to live in poverty.
"This report documents persistent economic barriers African Americans face, even as the rest of the country recovers from the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression,” said Rep.Beyer “If we are to meet the challenge of the promise of equality in America we need to address these inequities in employment, income, wealth, housing and education through policies designed for inclusive prosperity. In our commitment to a new American economy, to inclusive prosperity that lifts up all Americans, let us be ever mindful of the decisions we make that can change the economic condition of black Americans for generations to come."
Beyer joined Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the JEC, and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at a press conference to discuss the report, which reveals that African Americans continue to face disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment and long-term unemployment as well as significantly lower incomes and slower wealth accumulation than white households. When examining various measures to determine economic well-being, the report finds black Americans lag far behind the white population.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, including a number of provisions Kaine helped negotiate, was unanimously passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 19-0. The bipartisan legislation would set up a constructive and deliberate process for Congressional review of a final nuclear agreement with Iran that touches upon statutory sanctions enacted by Congress. Under the compromise approved today, after a final deal is reached between Iran and P5+1 negotiators and submitted to Congress, Congress would have 30 days to hold hearings and either approve, disapprove, or take no action on giving Iran relief from Congressionally-imposed sanctions.
“I’m pro-diplomacy, and I see positives in the framework [agreement]. But I have also been strongly pro the need for congressional approval,” Kaine said in his opening comments. “There’s been some suggestion that, if you think Congress needs to approve this, you’re anti-diplomacy. That’s ridiculous. There’s even been some suggestion that, if you think Congress needs to approve this, you’re pro-war. That’s offensive. … I actually think that congressional approval, in this instance under the framework that is now before us, is necessary, helpful and what the American public demands and deserves.”
“It’s necessary,” Kaine continued, “because, at the core, this is a negotiation about what must Iran do to get out from under a congressional sanctions regime, so Congress will be involved. It’s helpful because, since Congress will be involved, the only question is, will that involvement be helpful and orderly, or will it be under free-for-all rules? Much better for us, much better for the Administration, much better for the P5+1, much better for Iran – we’re asking to make concessions, big concessions – for them to see a process that is orderly and constructive.”
In closing, Kaine noted the fact that Americans, in Virginia and across the country, overwhelmingly support Congress having a role in this process.
“Why do my constituents and yours want a deal to have to be approved by Congress? It’s not out of disrespect for the President, and it’s not because they love Congress. … They are so concerned about the magnitude of this deal that they’ll feel more comfortable if both the executive and the legislature take a look and say this is in the best interests of the nation. This is why people get a second opinion if they hear from a doctor something that they don’t like. The American public knows this is big. They feel more comfortable if it’s both the executive and the legislature reviewing it.”
As an original cosponsor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Kaine worked closely with Senators Corker, Menendez, Graham and others for months to produce the most constructive process possible for Congress to engage on a nuclear deal with Iran. Today, Corker thanked Kaine for his efforts and said he is “someone who understands truly the role of the United States Congress and issues of this significance, and has been a stalwart to articulate more clearly than anyone else why it’s important for us to take the role.”
Kaine, a strong supporter of diplomatic negotiations with Iran, recently praised the framework agreementannounced by Secretary of State John Kerry on April 2, calling it a “positive step for diplomacy and efforts to peacefully limit Iran’s nuclear program.”
~ Amicus brief argues that recently announced immigration enforcement reforms would create substantial economic and public safety benefits for Virginia while helping to keep families intact ~
RICHMOND(April 6, 2015)--Attorney General Mark R. Herring is joining 14 other states and the District of Columbia today in filing an amicus brief advocating for recently announced federal immigration reforms that "will increase State tax revenue, enhance public safety, and help avoid tragic situations in which parents are deported away from their U.S. citizen children, who are left to rely on state services or extended family." The package of executive immigration reforms announced by President Obama in November, and currently subject to an injunction preventing its implementation, would improve our nation's broken immigration system by improving border security, making it easier for highly-skilled workers to remain here, demanding accountability from undocumented immigrants who are already here, and prioritizing the deportation of dangerous criminals instead of breaking up families in Virginia and across the nation. It is estimated that the reforms could extend revocable protection from deportation to up to 92,000 undocumented immigrants in Virginia, producing more than $106 million in increased tax revenues over five years.
"Immigration has been a source of economic, cultural, and social benefit for the Commonwealth for more than 400 years," said Attorney General Herring. "While we're waiting on Congress to enact long overdue comprehensive immigration reform, the President has offered lawful, reasonable steps that will boost our economy, keep families intact, and promote public safety by removing criminals and increasing trust between law enforcement and communities. In Virginia, deferred action for young people has enabled us to offer an affordable college education to the children of immigrants who, in many cases, know no home but Virginia. These reforms would offer additional benefits to our Commonwealth, and they should be allowed to move forward."
This piece appeared as an op/ed in newspapers in Virginia's 6th congressional district.
In a previous column, I declared that historians will judge that the most important political battle of our times was not over the issues that most people focus on - immigration, abortion, guns, etc. - but on something far more fundamental. The vital battle now is over whether the American people will be able to preserve the gift our founders gave us, or whether a new kind of Big Money will fully succeed in transforming our nation into a society in which the powerful few dominate the many.
To understand how revolutionary our founders' vision was, we need to remember the old order in the European civilization from which they came. In Europe, for centuries, the ruling one percent of the population controlled nearly all wealth. Power ran only from the top down. Feudal fiefdoms established by the sword dominated those who worked the land; and eventually all became the "subjects" of kings who claimed "divine right" and were answerable to no one.
The founding of the United States was a cure for this injustice.
No longer, in Jefferson's words, would it be supposed that the mass of mankind be "born with saddles on their backs" while a "favored few" were "booted and spurred, ready to ride." America's fundamental principle would be that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
No longer would the few dominate and exploit the many for, in America, the government would derive its powers from "the consent of the governed."
This great achievement is being dismantled right before our eyes.
I've written about this many times before, and will continue to do so as long as I see the media drawing an absurd, demonstrably false "equivalence" between Republicans and/or the Tea Party on the one hand, and Democrats and/or Progressives on the other hand. In fact, polling shows overwhelming that On Issue After Issue, Americans Support the Democratic/Progressive Position. Just name the topic, from guns to global warming, from the minimum wage to immigration policy, from LGBT equality to a woman's right choose, and you'll find the same result: Democrats and mainstream progressives are in the majority, often the overwhelming majority, while Republicans and right wingers of all stripes are in the minority, often the small minority.
This is an incomplete list, but Hillary Clinton will support international engagement and government action to combat climate change; an immigration reform compromise that exchanges more border security for some kind of path to legalization for the 11 million; a deal with Iran curbing its nuclear program (if one is reached); and a continuation of the movement towards universal health care set in motion by the Affordable Care Act (whatever its fate at the Supreme Court).
By contrast, by the time the eventual GOP nominee is chosen, he will probably have come out against any global climate treaty and at best hedged on domestic climate action; he will have cast serious doubt on whether he can support a real plan for legalization; he will have promised to undo any Iran nuke deal; and he will have vowed to continue the crusade for Obamacare repeal until he draws his very last breath.
The poll finds that on all of those issues, Republican and conservative voters are on one side, while majorities or pluralities of Americans - including independents and moderates - are on the other...
I'm definitely with Representatives Connolly, Beyer and Scott on this one. In stark contrast, I am not a fan of this letter, praised by right-wing hack/blogger Jennifer Rubin, and signed by...yep, Sen. Mark Warner. Ugh.
J Street Welcomes Congressional Letter Reaffirming Support of Two-State Solution
MARCH 31ST, 2015
J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams released the following statement today regarding the letter sent by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 78 of his colleagues to President Obama concerning the US-Israel special relationship:
J Street welcomes Members of Congress standing alongside President Obama as he seeks to right the US-Israel special relationship after deeply troubling statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The letter correctly urges the President to "to persevere in reaffirming" the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a commitment to shared democratic values as fundamental to U.S. policy.
It speaks volumes that dozens of Members support the President's constructive reaffirmation of the basis of our relationship with Israel. We hope Prime Minister Netanyahu takes this as a signal that he should join President Obama in seeking to resolve policy disagreements in a civil matter befitting the closest of allies.
Among the 79 signers of the letter are ten Ranking Members of House committees, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn and seven Members who identify as Jewish. More than 700 J Street supporters met with Congressional offices in support of the letter on J Street's March 24 Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, the culminating day of its Fifth National Conference attended by more than 3000 people.
This piece has run as an op/ed in newspapers in my very red congressional district.
Here's what I bet that historians will say was the No. 1 political battle in the America of our times.
Not the national debt, or abortion, or Obamacare, or immigration, or gun rights.
Instead, historians will say the most important fight was over whether the government of the United States would be the democracy our founders gave us, or whether Big Money would succeed in changing us into a different kind of society altogether.
Most of us are aware that our politics are awash in money like never before. The cost of our campaigns - from state legislatures to the presidency - has vastly increased. This avalanche of money - especially since the Citizens United decision - comes mostly not from ordinary citizens but from billionaires and giant corporations.
As a result, more and more of the decisions made - in Congress, in the White House, at the Supreme Court - favor the rich and powerful at the expense of average Americans.
Right before our eyes, our government - which is supposed to be by and for the people - is being stolen from us.
We need to look at this battle in strategic terms, asking: How is Big Money going about its effort to take over?
It is clear, for example, that it serves the interests of the plutocrats to divide the people against each other.
Mr. Chairman, this year's Republican Budget Resolution is incredulously titled "A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America." But by every measure, the draconian cuts proposed in this budget would severely WEAKEN America's innovative advantage and competitiveness. It might as well be called "Let's Disinvest in America".
Consider the cuts to basic research, once a bedrock federal priority that has spurred new discoveries that are now vital in our daily lives and the economy. R&D is critical for my Northern Virginian district, where the technology community is driving innovation. But this Republican budget would slash R&D funding by 15% to its lowest levels since 2002. That is a retreat from America's role as the global innovation leader, and essentially cedes the playing field to our international competition.
Similarly, the Republican budget would disinvest in our classrooms. To achieve their ruse of balancing the budget over 10 years, Republicans would cut non-defense spending 24% below the already-reduced sequester levels. For K-12 education, that translates into an $89 billion cut over the next decade and would surely leave every child behind their international peers. It also would put higher education further out of reach for low- and middle-class families.
America did not ascend to its role as the world's leading economy by quashing the potential of future innovators and leaders.
Mr. Speaker, our Republican colleagues are once again showing they know the cost of everything and the value of very little. I often hear my colleagues lament that we should run government more like a business. Well, if that's the case, perhaps we should start by listening to the business community, which is advocating for us to invest more, not less, in R&D, in education, and in infrastructure for the future workforce and the building blocks of a competitive economy.
These are investments that yield tremendous returns for our families, for our children, for our future, and the Republican budget would eviscerate these pillars of America's exceptionalism.
This piece has been appearing this week in the newspapers of my very conservative congressional district (VA-06). It embodies the strategy I think we in Liberal America should be pursuing: See the evil. Call it out. Press the Battle.
A story from the Bible comes to mind: King David has taken for himself Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite. The prophet Nathan comes to him and tells a story of similar wrong-doing. Not recognizing himself in the story, King David becomes righteously outraged. At this point, Nathan springs the trap and declares: "Thou art the man!"
David accepts his own behavior, because it serves his own interests. When he sees it from the outside, he is so indignant that he says the sinner should die.
In the spirit of that biblical story, I would like to ask the conservatives reading this column what you would have thought, not long ago, if you had heard about political conduct like this:
1) An American president is elected after promising to solve a long-standing problem that costs thousands of American lives and a trillion dollars every year. His proposal is so moderate that its roots are actually in the other party. But that party does everything it can to prevent passage. Then it tries to overturn the law. When that fails, it tries sabotage.
All this - including voting more than 50 times to repeal a law, knowing it won't be repealed - is a spectacle unprecedented in American history.
2) This is part of a pattern in which this opposition party has made it a priority to prevent that president from accomplishing anything. It opposes even ideas that were once its own, even measures that are clearly supported by an overwhelming majority of the people.
Although the president proposes nothing outside the American mainstream - he is more moderate than a great many in his own party's base - the opposition paints him as an extremist.
No party in American history has ever before made the president's failure its top priority.
Wow, this looks like a fun time, huh? That is, if you like hanging out with crazy, right-wing extremists (Ken Cuccinelli, Ted Cruz, Pete Snyder) on St. Patrick's Day. In liberal Arlington, no less - irony alert? Oh yeah, almost forget, right wingnuts have no concept of "irony."
If there is any lingering doubt about whether Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is really a political hack in robes, and in no way a real judge, it looks likely such doubt will be dispelled in the coming months.
I say that because of what seems to be true about him and this case just argued before the Court to try once again to demolish Obamacare.
These two things are reported to be true:
1) Scalia is the author of a whole book on how statutes should be read. In it, he argues (according to several accounts I've read -- I haven't read the book itself) that a statute should be read in terms of the statute as a whole.
2) Apparently the signs are reasonably clear that Scalia is going to completely ignore the principles that he propounded in that book in order to strike against Obamacare. That means, he's ready to allow four ill-chosen words trump the clear intent of the other many hundreds of pages in the statute. Why let principles stand in the way of getting the political victory he desires for his side?
(Almost his whole record suggests that "his side" is the corporatist plutocracy that's already gone a long way toward seizing power from the people.)
Scalia, of course, has tortured the law before in order to serve the interests of the plutocracy.
He perverted the law in Bush v Gore. He did it in Citizens United and the McCutcheon case. And in a host of other cases: Scalia finds consistently in favor of the corporatist system, and against the power of government to be used to protect the less powerful.
With Obamacare, there are several reasons for a political hack of the right to want to destroy it.
One of President Obama's most powerful speeches? Listen for yourself and decide. Also, listen to John Lewis, not just President Obama's hero, but a hero for all of America!
It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.
Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning fifty years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation, and fear. They comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:
No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.
Then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, a book on government - all you need for a night behind bars - John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.
President Bush and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Members of Congress, Mayor Evans, Reverend Strong, friends and fellow Americans:
There are places, and moments in America where this nation's destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war - Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America's character - Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.
Gotta love these "One Percent News" guys (Will Rice and Eric Byler), great satire. Of course, the people at CPAC they're interviewing don't understand it's satire, which makes it even funnier. I love the old guy talking about Ted Cruz being the "next Ronald Reagan," and also about how "we won't stand for" "the bastards" shoving Jeb Bush "down our throats."
So, Bob Goodlatte and his right-wingnut ilk hatehatehate (!!!!) "activist judges" when they enforce environmental laws, or let LGBT people have equal rights, or anyone else have equal rights, or interfere with their voter suppression schemes, or if they believe the lawsuit is for whatever reason "frivolous" or against THEIR (bizarre, warped) reading of the Constitution, or whatever. But Bob Goodlatte and his right-wingnut ilk lovelovelove (!!!!) it when judges strike down or weaken duly passed laws (e.g., the Affordable Care Act) or prevent the President from exercising his Executive Branch authorities as granted under the Constitution and the law. A bit of hypocrisy here? Nah, because they are right wingnuts, they just make up their own version of "truth" and "reality" as they go long.
First, let me just make it clear that I've been pro-Israel my entire life, in the sense that I support a strong, secure Jewish state, living in peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing a place for Jews to live in safety. I'd add that I studied in Israel for a semester and have traveled all over the country, which is an amazing place, and one which I strongly encourage everyone to visit at some point in their lives! It's also an essential country, as the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps soberly, horribly reminds us.
If you are offended by Benjamin Netanyahu accepting John Boehner's invitation to address Congress, you are not anti-Israel and certainly not an anti-Semite. Many leaders in the Jewish community, including Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti Defamation League, and the Jewish Labor Committee are also opposed to it.
So are many Israelis who do not want partisan politics to drive a wedge between Israel's and America's historical friendship. Even those in Netanyahu's own party, who support his policies, think this is a mistake.
Indeed, it is a cynical ploy by both Boehner and Netanyahu and it is all about driving a political wedge to win an election.
By the way: It's not good for the Jews.
I totally agree. I also could go on about this subject for hours, but I'll spare you. :) But wait, you ask, why are you bringing this up on Blue Virginia, a blog focused on the State of Virginia, not the State of Israel? See the "flip" of this post for more on that.
From a bit earlier this evening at the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) meeting, Rep. Don Beyer explains what it's been like to be in the minority in the House of Representatives his first four weeks in office. Beyer also discusses his priorities, including making progress on dealing with climate change, and on helping to recruit strong candidates for 2016 so Democrats can take back the House!
Over on the website www.opednews.com, I posted the piece I had here late last week-- about how the 2014 elections were disgraceful, and how part of the disgrace was the failure of the Democrats to make the central issue of the campaign the way the Republicans in the last Congress betrayed the nation.
To that piece, among the comments were a number that sang a song that I've become familiar with in my decade of dealing with that readership, which is a good deal further to the left than I and, it seems, less accepting of the shades-of-gray reality of America, and for that matter the reality of just about any other country.
The lyrics to that song they sang is that the Democrats and the Republicans are not different in any important way, and that the Democrats and Republicans are colluding to take the nation along its present path.
Today I answered them in this way:
There's a point I'd like to make, even though it is one that I've made here in conversation with the opednews readership probably a half dozen times over the last six years especially.
It is addressed to the "not a dime's worth of difference" and "their in cahoots" crowd.
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