March 31, 2013

Palmer, Alaska: Experiment in "socialism"?

     Line up of farmers during the drawing of their 40 acres. Matanuska Valley. Palmer. A[laska] R[ural] R[ehabilitation].
Not really.  But an interesting history of the US Federal government assisting families by building a town using the labor of unemployed men in the mid 1930s.

Read the article here.

March 30, 2013

Which Oregonians should have a say in state wildlife policy?

From Oregon Wild: 

For Wildlife, Don't Give Up Your Voice

Native wildlife is among Oregon’s greatest treasures. Elk, eagles, songbirds, salmon, and wolves help make our state special. Unfortunately the agency charged with managing wildlife is struggling. That’s why it’s so perplexing that the state legislature is considering doubling down on the problem.

HB3437 is a divisive bill that excludes the vast majority of Oregonians from participating on the state Fish & Wildlife Commission. It requires members to have held a hunting, fishing, or shellfish license for at least 10 consecutive years prior to their appointment. Those excluded would include biologists, business owners, wildlife-watchers, and even hunters and anglers currently serving on the commission.

Hunters and anglers have a right to a seat at the table. But no single user group has a right to all the seats at the table. We all have a stake in seeing native wildlife properly managed.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife faces serious challenges. Its financial fortunes are directly tied to license sales.

Outdoor recreation is a booming multibillion dollar economic engine in Oregon. But according to the Outdoor Industry Association, over 90% of that revenue is generated from non-consumptive uses. That money – and the voice that goes with it – doesn’t make its way to the agency. That’s why so many Oregonians are already left out.

With less Oregonians buying hunting and fishing licenses, the agency is struggling. Rather than expand the base of support for the often controversial agency, HB3437 would exclude all but the most diehard hunters and anglers.

Even more troubling, the exclusionary bill is being championed by a new organization with ties to extractive industries and an open disdain for our broad conservation values.

Oregon needs to have a serious discussion on how to better manage wildlife for all Oregonians. Tell your state legislator that locking out over 90% of the public is a step in the wrong direction.

For Wildlife,
Rob Klavins
Wildlife Advocate
Oregon Wild

PS – Oregonians, you can click here to make sure you’re not locked out of wildlife management decisions. If you live out of state, please pass this message on to your Oregon friends.

Melissa Harris-Perry: Marriage Equality: What Difference Will It Really Make?

Marriage equality will extend a basic civil right and allow a broader swath of Americans to opt into the bundle of economic protections and cultural privileges associated with matrimony. But this year, which has seen such tremendous movement toward marriage equality, also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Surely progressives have not forgotten her key insight: that marriage is wholly inadequate to ensure public equality or personal fulfillment. If we are to move beyond mere jubilation at the message in the stars—MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS—and provide a deeper answer to the question of what difference it will make, advocates may have to shift their tactics fairly radically.  
The successful, pragmatic strategy of gay activists has been to assert that same-sex marriage will not change the institution itself. Their argument is that there is no need to defend marriage against loving same-sex couples, because these couples don’t want to alter it; they just want to participate in it. But as we race to a victorious finish, it is time to begin forcefully articulating that, in fact, maybe we do want to change marriage—because while marriage should be a choice, it should not be an imperative. For decades, LGBTQ communities have generated new forms of family built on foundations of shared commitments, collective responsibilities, nonconjugal love and parental devotion not predicated on shared genetics. Shut out of social-normative options for making families, they queered the very idea of family. It would be tragic to allow marriage equality to destroy or marginalize the pioneering work of queer families who have taught us that family is more complicated and more fulfilling than traditional models of marriage can ever capture.

It is astonishing to be alive in this moment when marriage equality is written in the stars, but I hope we will be like the child who asks what difference it really makes. Because I suspect the goal of achieving this right is less about the ceremonies, the flowers, the love or even the economic benefits. I suspect the real goal is to achieve a more inclusive recognition of the authentic and enduring ways that we connect ourselves to one another, without needing the words “husband,” “wife” or even “spouse.” The difference we want this movement to make is bigger than that.

March 28, 2013

Oregon PERS Bill 2nd hearing - SB 822

Senate Bill 822 will have a second hearing Thursday morning at 8:30 am in the Senate Rules Committee.
The next PERS hearings will be Monday and Tuesday, April 1 and 2, 2013from 8 am to 10 am in Room H-174 in the capitol. 

Those hearings will focus on the Treasurer’s budget, and his efforts to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in PERS losses from Wall Street fraud. The Treasurer has done good work in this area, but it is pretty clear that more can be done.  The Governor has shown absolutely no leadership on this issue.

The state should go the extra mile to recover the stolen money before it goes after retirees and current workers to balance the budget. We need you to attend the hearing to send the message that recouping the stolen money should be a high priority for all elected officials.

March 27, 2013

¡Muros Abajo! Walls Down!

“Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.”
- Angela Davis

WALLS DOWN is a community art exhibit brought to you by the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee that calls for the re-imagining of our communities from divided by an ever-multiplying number of barriers to a society where the physical and symbolic structures that divide us are toppled. It is a demand and a call for action that points to a system that is NOT broken but is designed to oppress, marginalize, and divide. In a time of unprecedented detentions, record numbers of deportations, and increasing gaps between the have-and-the-have-nots, WALLS DOWN points to the fissures in structures of power and invites us to reflect on our organization, resistance, and collective social emancipation. The exhibit invites artist of all walks of life to participate in a collective reflection of current times while at the same time propelling us towards a society free of ‘walls’.

In the spirit of tearing down barriers and building societies made up of communities we make the following call:
  • To those that call for the construction of concrete and militarized border walls that separate people, families, and communities… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those write, lobby for, and pass laws that criminalize innocent people in order to fill prison and detention beds as a means of making profit… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those that refuse to educate and instead use fear and paranoia to create psychological, emotional and mental obstacles aimed at dividing people and communities… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those that continue to bombard our daily lives with physical and virtual walls of corporate advertisement while criminalizing the art we create on our own streets… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those that perpetuate a police state, continue to use the industrial prison complex to resolve social ills, and in turn have built the “new Jim Crow” … we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those that displace hundreds of thousands of people from their land and water sources by building dams, cutting trees, or creating multi-national agreements that only benefit corporate interests… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those who violently rip the poor from their own communities under the veil of “development”… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those who plot behind locked doors resisting transparency… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those who believe in the power of the “free market”, who believe in the invisible hand and who pray to false gods on Wall Street… we say WALLS DOWN.
  • To those who lock up our comrades for refusing to cooperate with the state, or because their work is powerful and effective and threatens all that you stand for… we say WALLS DOWN.
CALLING ALL ARTISTS: At a time when we are bombarded by media misinformation that plays on our fears, it is important to create space to tell our stories. We invite you to submit work that breaks WALLS DOWN, surpasses political boundaries, reflects on our diversity and our power to resist, highlights autonomous resistance movements, and introduces a vision of a world we struggle for.

 For more details, please see the Submission Form.

March 26, 2013

17 April 2013 Action - Save our Post Office!

Save Salem’s Mail !
Stop the Closure of Our Post Office Distribution Plant!Save Jobs! Save Service!
Rally, March, and Sit-in*
Wednesday, April 17th**, Noon—1 pm
Salem Main Post Office
1050 25th St. SE (n. of Mission) 
 Download flier here.

On July 1st the Postmaster General began a massive wave of distribution plant and community post office closures and cuts. These attacks on our beloved postal service are not necessary. The postal service is not broke. Congress created the financial crisis. The PMG should back off and let Congress or the President fix the finances.

Salem’s Main Post Office Distribution Plant is scheduled for closure by June, 2013.

These closures are causing huge disruptions to mail service, eliminating the overnight first class delivery standard, delaying delivery two or three days, and forcing hundreds of thousands of postal patrons to travel many miles to the nearest post office.

Think about the disabled who depend on timely delivery of prescription drugs, the farmer who depends on delivery of perishable products, the elderly who depend on a Social Security check, the homeowner who depends on timely delivery of a mortgage payment, the consumer who depends on delivery of a credit card payment, the business that depends on timely delivery of advertising, the medical facility that depends on lab samples through the mail, the community newspaper that depends on timely delivery of the news.

The Postal Service is our national treasure, enshrined in the Constitution. The operations of the USPS are funded solely by postage and no tax dollars. The Postal Service serves over 150 million households and businesses six days a week and provides equal universal mail services for all the people at reason-able uniform rates. Good postal jobs help build strong communities.

Current plans to close half the distribution plants and thousands of post offices, eliminate six-day and door-to-door delivery, and abolish 200,000 jobs will send the public postal service into a death spiral.

Not the internet, not labor costs, not private competition, not the recession, Congress is killing the postal service.

To justify these cutbacks, Congress has created a phony financial crisis. Since 2006 the USPS has been forced to spend nearly 10% of its budget pre-funding retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. No other U.S. agency or private business faces such a crushing financial burden. Not only would the postal service have been profitable without the man-date, the USPS has also over paid tens of billions into two pension funds.

The postal service is not broke, but the agenda of the 1% and their friends in Congress is to cripple the USPS, to soften it up for union busting and privatization. The USPS is a $63 billion annual business with over $100 billion surplus in its pension and retiree health benefit funds, over 30,000 post offices and 200,000 vehicles. We’re facing a huge transfer of public wealth to Wall Street investors.
for more info:

Communities and Postal Workers United, 503-752-5112,

* for those willing to risk arrest, a separate “sit-in” action will demonstrate our determination to stop this unnecessary, unfair and unwise post office closure.

** April 17th is the anniversary of the death of Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General, who would be rolling in this grave if he knew what the current Postmaster General is doing to dismantle the Postal Service.

Support Central America Solidarity


This Spring, PCASC is working to increase our monthly sustainership dues by $150/month.We're reaching out to our community to make this happen.

Support this effort today by becoming a PCASC sustainer!

Monthly memberships starts as low as $5/month, our average membership is $20/month.
We automatically withdraw money from your bank account or credit/debit card. It’s an easy and secure process.

By supporting PCASC on a sustaining level, you allow us to better project our budget going forward. You also create more flexibility in our programmatic work.  When we’re able to focus less on fundraising, we have more time to educate and mobilize our community around social justice issues throughout the Americas!

Every dollar goes amazingly far in PCASC.  We operate on a tight budget and do incredible work as a primarily volunteer-led organization. We currently receive 60% of our annual income from grassroots membership and donations. We’re working towards 70% and this sustainership drive brings us one step closer to that goal.

For those who are currently monthly sustainers, please think about increasing your sustainership by a few dollars!  You’ve seen our work and have been essential in contributing towards our fiscal strength. Thank you!  We couldn’t do what we do without your support.

This year we have a lot of work to do and your sustaining support will provide PCASC with the resources we need to make things happen.

Some upcoming highlights of our work include:

    Monthly Movie Nights at the Red and Black Café!
    Wells Fargo Divestment Campaign Media Blitz & Summer of Action!
    A Stories Project by our Immigrant Rights’ Committee!
    Labor Delegation to El Salvador over May Day!
    Ongoing Pressure on General Motors to Negotiate with Injured Colombian Workers!
    2 Workshops at the Law and Disorder Conference at PSU
    Fighting the Hideous Trans Pacific Partnership this Summer!
    Check out our recent newsletter for up to date communications from PCASC!
Become a sustaining member today and support the struggle for social justice throughout the Americas!

In Solidarity,
Craig Hennecke and the PCASC Community

April 19 - Lane Peace Symposium - Rise to End Gender Violence!


morning session: 10AM - 12:30PM
evening session: 6:30 - 9:15 PM

Jean Kilborne, creator of the renowned Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women series & the author of the award winning book Canʼt Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel.

Jensine Larsen, founder of World Pulse, an action media network & interactive global womenʼs newswire where women worldwide can speak for themselves & solve global problems.


afternoon sessions: 1:30 - 4:15 PM

Gender & Media workshop · Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team Workshop · Anti Oppression workshop · Trauma Healing Project presentation

For more information:

To request disability-related accommodations that will facilitate your full participation in this event (such as SignLanguage interpreting, Braille, electronic text, visual describer), please contact Disability Resources at least one week in advance: (541) 463-5150 (voice); 711 (relay); Building 1, 218; or

March 25, 2013

Salem: Families Coming Out of the Shadows Event

Families Coming Out of the Shadows Event

When: Tuesday March 26th, 2013 at 12:00 noon
Where: in front of the Capitol in Salem, OR
What: Testimonies, music, legislative visits, and more

Oregon DreamActivist - ODA, an organization integrated by undocumented students who came to this country at very young ages and realizing that they don’t belong to the country they grew up and call home, started Coming Out of the Shadows with a loud voice saying they are undocumented, unafraid and unashamed! Which pressured Obama to grant the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA.

Now, ODA is organizing with undocumented parents and families who have also decided they need to do the same and Come Out of the Shadows to educate the community at large and to empower the undocumented community to be able to advocate for their rights.  Migration is a consequence of unjust US foreign policy and the global economy which exploit human and natural resources maintaining high levels of poverty, violence and political instability in other countries.

Families will “Come out of the Shadows” demanding to reinstate driver license for all in a non-discriminatory fashion. Licenses that reveal a driver’s status places them at risk of racial profiling tactics by police arresting immigrants and handling them later over to ICE. Many are deported and separated from their families.
Come and support our immigrant members of our community!!!

Sixto and the Queen of Versailles

Seventy-five years ago, Christopher Caudwell’s Studies in a Dying Culture was published posthumously. Caudwell, a brilliant young British Communist writer and poet volunteered to fight for the Spanish Republic and was killed in 1937. If Caudwell’s assessment of capitalist culture was appropriate to the mid-twentieth century, that culture has reached a terminal phase in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

The artistic and personal liberties unleashed by the escape from the repressive, conformist 1950s and the energy and optimism accompanying the civil rights and anti-war movements were methodically and overwhelmingly suffocated by corporate cooption. Any and every new spring of creative originality—whether it be a new popular musical form or an original film director—has been damned and channeled by the monopoly entertainment industry. As a result, cultural products with any claim to broad popularity are reduced to either formulaic, safe entertainments or vapid, lifeless expressions of “high” culture.

This is not to demean the tens of thousands of talented cultural workers who struggle at minimum wage jobs while studying and exercising their craft for the few willing to step away from the corporately constructed temples of culture. They labor even more heroically than their predecessors who were occasionally able to hew some measure of independence from the grasp of cultural moguls and business accountants. That is less possible today when only unrestrained vulgarity and violence or unchallenging distraction and fantasy offer the keys to entering the cultural big stage.
In an age where the promise of hip hop has been reduced to a grinding pulse of swagger, violence, and selfishness and the freedom of independent commercial film predictably delivers time-released, regular spasms of ultra-violence, nudity, and sex, relief from the tedium is especially delicious. More and more that relief is coming from documentary film.
I have in mind two documentaries that expose the worst and best of the US. 
The Queen of Versailles
The best documentaries often rise to great heights on sheer dumb luck; the Irish film makers who, by happenstance, captured close-up the coup against Hugo Chavez and its aftermath were extraordinary examples of the film gods in action (The Revolution Will Not Be Televised). Similarly, Lauren Greenfield's 2012 documentary, The Queen of Versailles draws its drama from the impact of the economic crisis upon one of the richest families in the US. What begins as the capture of the excesses and embarrassing vulgarity of the nouveau riche devolves to a tale of blame, self-pity, and neglect, thanks to the impact of the unforeseen crisis.

On the way up, a fortune built around the hustle and shrewd entrapment of the time-share industry allows an orgy of self-indulgence, senseless consumerism, and smugness. David Siegel, the ruler of the empire, brags about his clandestine role in getting Bush elected President; he creates a glitzy tower in Las Vegas to signal his success, and he aspires to build the largest private home in the US to flaunt that success. Siegel embodies Marx’s infamous iconic capitalist: “… The less you eat, drink, and buy books; the less you go to the theater, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc, the more you save—the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour—your capital.” But as Marx acknowledges, your abstinence and single-minded greed is rewarded, for your accumulated wealth can “appropriate art, learning, the treasures of the past, political power…” And Siegel does all of this.
But the 2008 economic collapse brings the Siegel family to its knees. Dead, unattended pets; dog feces on carpets; fast food; cranky, spoiled children; and sullenness and self-pity replace the former swagger. “It’s the banks, the rotten, greedy banks,” the Siegels exclaim. They angrily protest that “ordinary” people like themselves are victimized by selfish bankers.
As the empire totters, the Siegels scramble to adjust. On a visit to her childhood friends, wife Jackie must subject her children to their first flight on a commercial airline. “Why are these other people on our plane?” they wonder. Jackie asks the rental car agent for the name of the driver; he responds with a puzzled look. The rich are not like the rest of us.
Through their “ordeal,” David Siegel sulks, whines, and wallows in self-pity. While Jackie’s untamed consumerism remains pathological, she shows more character and resilience, serving as both the family’s anchor and morale-booster. This snap shot of the very wealthy in full bloom and under duress shows the shallowness of that life choice and the ugliness of conspicuous self-aggrandizement. It is hard to feel sympathy for the Siegels.
Searching for Sugarman
If the Siegels conjure contempt, even disgust, Sixto Rodriguez—the focus of the documentary, Searching for Sugarman—counts as a glorious expression of the best of us. Rodriguez, a discarded cultural worker, exudes nobility, humility, warmth, and intelligence, whether working in small, marginal clubs, laboring on excavation or demolition sites, raising his children, or enjoying a belated celebrity.
Others have written of his strange, magical journey from a quickly emerging and falling talent forty years ago to the re-discovered celebrity of today. In between, Rodriguez worked and raised his children like millions of others, but with uncommon dignity and strength. The film, Sugarman, attests to the man’s resilience, but also celebrates his incredible impact upon others.
Unmistakably, Rodriguez, himself a former autoworker and the son of an immigrant Mexican autoworker, is a legacy of the US multi-national working class—a living example of the best of working class values. He, like his co-workers interviewed in the film, has an unassuming intellect and unqualified respect for others.
And he and his music are consummately “political.” Not in any clumsy or preachy sense, but in a way that speaks to and for the disadvantaged, that resonates with those who seek change. Early in his career he associated in Detroit with John Sinclair, the political commissar of the proto-proletarian-punk group, the MC5. Later, when his music arrived in Australia, he opened in live performances for Australia’s most widely known politically outspoken rock group, Midnight Oil.
But the greatest testament to his strong politics is the curious and bizarre impact on South African youth. After Angolan independence at the end of 1975, South Africa intensified its military interventions in that country and Namibia. Over the next decade, conscription of white South Africans into the military met further and further resistance. For reasons that remain obscure, the music of Rodriguez, commercially a flop in the US, found a following in South Africa. Rodriguez became the voice of resistance and change for many young, white South Africans. His music created the sound track for the anti-conscription movement. And by the mid-eighties he inspired other musical groups to propel the End Conscription Campaign. The Kalahari Surfers, Cherry Faced Lurchers, and other alternative musical groups gave expression to disenchanted white youth (see Forces Favourites, Rounder Records, 1986). The resounding defeat of the South African military by the Angolan military and its Cuban internationalist ally, the growing militancy of the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party, and the disenchantment of white South Africans brought apartheid to its knees and paved the way to South African liberation.
In a real way, this modest worker in Detroit helped rock the foundations of the racist, repressive apartheid system in South Africa-- quite an accomplishment for an artist without recognition in his homeland. Quite an achievement for a talent initially crushed by the gears of an industry driven by immediacy and profit.
Where The Queen of Versailles drains the spirit with its celebration of accumulation and ostentation, Searching for Sugarman brings joy and inspiration. Both are revealing. Watch them both, one after the other. Hang your head in embarrassment with the decadence that the unbridled capitalist system has wrought. Raise your head with hope for the nobility that people like Rodriguez bring to us.
Zoltan Zigedy  

Freedom Fighters Declare Ceasefire In Turkey

From Bianet:

The Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Chair Murat Karayılan declared an official ceasefire with Turkey, adding that they were ready to withdraw from Turkey depending on Turkish administration's response to the ongoing peace efforts.

KCK Executive Council Chair Murat Karayılan sent a video message to the Newroz celebration groups in Bonn, Germany, declaring an official ceasefire with Turkey.
"Since March 21 and departing from there, we; KCK, PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and HPG (People's Defense Forces), officially and clearly declare a ceasefire," he said.
According to Firat News Agency, Karayılan said that they have accepted and agreed Öcalan's call for ceasefire, pledging not to involve in any attacks unless the Turkish side did so.
"However," Karayilan continued, "we keep our right to retaliate to [Turkish Army's] attacks. We are now expecting the Turkish government and parliament to form commissions and create a suitable environment for a withdrawal."
Karayilan also added that Öcalan's perspective launched a new era in their struggle - a struggle on democracy and freedom.

Turn Out On Wednesday To Blocks PERS "Reform"

Senator Richard Devlin and Representative Peter Buckley today introduced SB 822. This bill reduces the cost-of-living adjustment for retirees and current workers. The impact of this attack is cumulative over time, hitting many older retirees with double digit annual cuts, and costing thousands over the course of retirement. Further, since the "brackets" do not change over time, the number of retirees impacted in the future will be greater.
The amount of the reduction is on a sliding scale:
2% COLA on the amount below $20,000/yr
1.5% COLA on the amount $20,000 to $40,000
1% on the amount $40,000 to $60,000
0.25% on the amount above $60,000
A 1.5% COLA for all retirees this year only.
Current law allows a 2% COLA.
This is an unfair way to balance the budget. It is illegal to reduce promised benefits for people who are already retired or working. Even Representative Buckley has called it "immoral."
But the legislature does not have the guts to raise taxes on the wealthy or big corporations, so this is the path they are taking instead.
This Wednesday, March 27th at 3 pm in the capitol Room F, there will be a  hearing on this bill in the Senate Rules Committee. We must have a good turnout. Public testimony will be allowed. Come tell your story. Tell legislators that they should not join in the attack on public employees.
Below, please find a statement from SEIU Local 503 President Rob Sisk and Executive Director Heather Conroy:
“The co-chairs' PERS proposal remains illegal and unfair to seniors and workers. The budget hole is the product the second lowest corporate tax burden in America, tax loopholes for wealthy individuals, and rising PERS contribution rates for employers directly attributable to the illegal actions of Wall Street bankers at a time of record demand for services. Instead of focusing on recouping the money from those who stole it and asking those who can afford it to pay their fair share, the co-chairs focus on attacking seniors. They propose to close the budget gap by using one illegal act — abrogating contracts — to respond to another.

“The illegal cap on COLAs amounts to taking out a $400 million payday loan to balance the budget. Taking the money from people who are already retired and from current workers while refusing to specify a sacrifice from those getting ahead in this economy is, to use Representative Buckley's word, ‘Immoral.’ "

Rob Sisk, President
Heather Conroy, Executive Director,
SEIU Local 503

March 22, 2013

Feministing: Call For Submissions: The Feminist Utopia Project

The feminist movement has long centered on certain basic needs: the vote, equal pay, legal autonomy over own bodies. It can feel hard to demand more when we’re stuck within the boundaries of what the mainstream media and electoral politicians tell us is “realistic”–basically, what could get through a fractured House of Representatives. But our goals have to be more radical and inclusive than the Democratic party’s platform. So it’s time to get creative.
For the past many months, my awesome friend Rachel Kauder Nalebuff and I have been working on an anthology bringing together visions of feminist utopias expressed in essays and printable art. To create a better future, concrete action is required, but the first step is envisioning the feminist world in which we want to live, and for which we’re ready to fight. We’d love to invite everyone to submit their visions of what a feminist world would look like to bring us one step closer to realizing justice. Please find the call for contributions below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Call for submissions – The Feminist Utopia Project
Co-Editor: Alexandra Brodsky, Feministing writer and Harvard Law School research assistant
Co-Editor: Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, editor of the New York Times bestseller My Little Red Book and playwright
Today’s popular feminist discourse is so constrained by discussions of what we can’t have that it’s easy to lose sight of what we should have. We seek written and other printable artistic work that addresses the question of what a feminist world would look like. No single person has the answer, but we believe that together we can come close, and that to get there we must spread the word. We hope that this book, in offering a diverse collection of utopias, will inspire American feminists (as well as potential feminists) to imagine their own visions, redefine the “possible,” and reach for unprecedented justice. 
We invite submissions of essays (400-2000 words) and printable art that describe the writer’s feminist utopia. In light of the length, we are suggesting that contributors focus on a particular aspect of a wider vision: one committed writer, for example, is writing on a world without rape, and another is exploring a vision of a post-prison America. Our hope is that these essays, while of interest to academics, will also be accessible to a wide readership without extensive theoretical background. All proceeds will be donated to feminist non-profits.
We are very excited about the group of activists, academics, and writers who have already committed to the project, including Ai-jen Poo, Irin Carmon, Courtney Martin, Jennifer Baumgardner, Ileana Jiménez, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Jill Filipovic, Katie Orenstein, Susan Bordo, Crystal Feimster, Miss Major, Marianne Schnall, Diane Shipley, Mary Annette Pember, Cynthia Chandler, Dani McClain, s.e. smith, Judith Resnik, Melanie Cervantes, Dana Bolger, Virginia Rutter, Erin Matson, Ellen Bravo, Harilyn Rousso, Annie Clark, Jennifer MillerVictoria Law, Martha Ackelsberg, Dena Simmons, Nikki Silver (link NSWF), Kate Cronin-Furman, Amanda Taub, Paula Mariedaughter, Jeanne Neath, Courtney Baxter, Diane Rosenfeld, Laura Paskus, and Sara Marcus. However, professional organizing or publication experience is not required. We are especially committed to including voices from historically marginalized groups.
Please submit essays as attachments to with the subject “Submission (LAST NAME).” In the body of the email and the attachment, please include a two or three sentence biography.

March 21, 2013

Öcalan Calls For Ceasefire, Promotes Politics (complete speech)

Calling PKK to lay down arms and withdraw from Turkey, Öcalan pledged for a new era in Turkey. "The struggle has yet to end though. Let the arms silence, opinions and politics speak," Öcalan said.

Peace and Democracy Party deputies Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Pervin Buldan read PKK leader Öcalan's message to Kurdish people both in Turkish and Kurdish.

Calling off arms and appealing PKK's military wing to leave Turkey, Öcalan pledged for a new era in Turkey. "The struggle has yet to end though. Let the arms silence, opinions and politics speak," Öcalan said.

Here is the full version of Öcalan's Newroz statement (translated by bianet):

Let all the oppressed have a free and happy Newroz!

Greetings to all peoples of Middle East and Central Asia who celebrate newroz, the day of revival and rejoice, with the greatest participation in the world...

Greetings to all other peoples of the world who celebrate newroz, the landmark of a new era and sunshine, with enthusiasm and a democratic tolerance.

Greetings to all who take democratic right, freedom and equality as their guides...

Greetings to all Kurdish people, a folk that mothered one of the most  ancient rural and urban civilizations at the lands of Mesopotamia and Anatolia from Zagros and Taurus Mountains to Tigris and Euphrates Rivers...

For Kurdish people, who coexisted peacefully and co-created this civilization with other peoples from different racial, religious, ethnic backgrounds; Tigris and Euphrates are siblings with Sakarya and Maritsa rivers. Mount Ararat and Cudi Mountain are friends of Kachkar and Erciyes Mountains. Haley and Delido dances are relatives with Horon and Zeybek dances.

This great civilization, these sister entities have been separated from each other by political oppressions, external interventions and group dynamics; they have been compelled to build entities ignoring justice, equality and freedom. 

For the past 200 years, conquest wars, western imperialists interventions and oppressive mentalities have urged Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Kurdish entities to form artificial states, borderlines, problems.

The era of exploiting, oppressive ignoring mentalities is over. The peoples of Middle East and Central Asia are waking up. They are returning to their own. They are saying 'no' to the clashes that aim to provoke and harm each other. 

Millions of people who are enthusiastically crowding for Newroz today speak of peace and fraternity, and demand a resolution.

The struggle I initiated against our collective desperation, ignorance and slavery was aiming to form a consciousness, mentality and spirit albeit all challenges. 

Today, I see that this scream came to a certain point.

Our fight was never against a particular race, religion, sect or group, and it can never be.

Our fight was always against oppression, ignorance, injustice, lack of development and all sorts of pressures.

Today though, we are waking up to a new Turkey, Middle East and future. 

To all youngsters who bless my call, to all women who add my message to their hearts, to all friends who consider my sayings, to all people who pay attention to what I am saying;

We have a new era starting upon us.

A door is opening from a process of armed resistance to a process of democratic politics.

A new process emphasizing on political, social and economic aspect is starting, a new mentality on democratic rights, freedoms and equality is developing. 

We have sacrificed decades for this people, we have suffered great consequences. But all the sacrifice and struggle did not go unwasted. Kurdish people regained their true self-identity.

We have come to a point where we say "let the arms silence, opinions and politics speak". The ignorant modernist paradigm has been deconstructed. The blood is dripping from this geography, regardless of Turkish, Kurdish, Laz, Circassian origin. 

I, myself, am declaring in the witnessing of millions of people that a new era is beginning, arms are silencing, politics are gaining momentum. It is time for our [PKK] armed entities to withdraw from the [Turkish] border.

I strongly believe that whoever opens their heart to me, whoever believes in our struggle, will certainly consider the sensitivity of the ongoing process. 

This is not an end, this is a beginning. It is not the end of our struggle, it is the start of a new sort of struggle.

Forming geographies based on a single ethnicity and nation is an inhuman invention that the modernity created to alienate us from our true selves

Everybody is responsible for the creation of a free, democratic and egalitarian country that suits well with the history of Kurdistan and Anatolia. On the occasion of this newroz, I am calling all people with Armenian, Turkic, Assyrian, Arabic and other backgrounds to see the light of freedom and equality as much as Kurdish people do.

To people of Turkey;

Turkish people who know ancient Anatolia as Turkey should know that their coexistence with Kurdish people dates back to a historical agreement of fraternity and solidarity under the flag of Islam.

In the real sense, this spirit of solidarity does not and must not contain conquest, denial, forced assimilation and annihilation.

The politics of oppression, annihilation and assimilation represent the effort of an isolated elitist government that deny the existing history and fraternity agreement.

I am inviting everyone to build the democratic modernity together, as two prominent strategic powers of Middle East, departing from our culture and civilization to emancipate ourselves from the vicious cycle of cruelty which looks obvious to contradict our history and fraternity agreement.

It is time not for opposition, conflict or contempt towards each other, it is time for cooperation, unity, embracing and mutual blessing.

During World War I, Turkish and Kurdish soldiers have fallen martyrs together in Çananakkale [Dardanelles], they have fought together in Turkey's Independence War, and opened together the 1920 National Assembly.

What our mutual past points out is our mutual necessity of forming our future together. The spirit of 1920 National Assembly era also enlightens the upcoming era of now.

I am inviting all representatives from oppressed peoples, classes and cultures; women who have been the most exploited class of all times, oppressed religious groups, cults and other cultural entities, worker class representatives, and other individuals who are excluded by the [capitalist] system to take part, understand and acquire the democratic modernity system.

Middle East and Central Asia is currently seeking a contemporary modernity and democratic order that would address its historical context. The search for a new model where everyone could live freely and in fraternity has become one of basic human needs - like bread and water. It is inevitable that Anatolian and Mesopotamian geography, and the cultural momentum in there will build this model.

We are currently experiencing a much more complex, contemporary and profound moment than Turkish and Kurdish people experienced almost hundred years ago during the foundation of modern Turkey with the National Pact (Misak-i Milli).

This time, we are building a model on the lesson of what we learned from the mistakes of our predecessors - embracing all devastated peoples, classes and cultures. I am calling all these people to realize an organization through a more egalitarian, independent and democratic method.

I am also calling all the Kurdish, Turkmen, Assyrian and Arabic people in today's Syria and Iraq who have been left wrongly out from the borders of the National Pact to discuss, become aware and decide on their realities on the platform of a "National Solidarity and Peace Conference".

The broadness and inclusivity of saying "we", an important pillar in the historical context of this geography, has been narrowed to a "singularity" under the arms of elitist administrations. It is time to give "us" its old sense spirit and practicality.

We will unite against whom are trying to divide and conquer us. We will unite against who are trying to tear us apart.

The ones who are unable to read the spirit of time will inevitable end up at the junk of history.

The peoples of the region are witnessing a new dawn. War-tired peoples of the Middle East want to be reborn and get up on their feet. This Newroz is a precursor to all of us.

The prophecies uttered by Moses, Jesus and Mohammed are becoming true now, the humanity is regaining its dignity again.

We are not in a position to reject all the values of Western civilization. We are taking the values of enlightenment, freedom, equality and democracy, and synthesizing them with our own norms.

The basis of our new struggle is ideas, ideology and democratic politics, and to launch a democratic movement.

Greetings to all who give life to this process and support democratic peace!

Greetings to all who take responsibility for the fraternity, equality and democratic freedom of people!

Long live Newroz, long live the fraternity of peoples!

* Abdullah Öcalan, İmralı Prison, March 21, 2013

* Follow bianet news in English on facebook and twitter

March 19, 2013

Portland rally to save the postal service

First Lesbian Oregon House Speaker Attacks PERS Recipients: SEIU 503 Lavender Caucus Responds

Tina can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard 503-986-1200 and at her District Office 503-286-0558

Open Letter to Rep.Tina Kotek, House Speaker
From SEIU 503 Lavender Caucus

The Lavender Caucus of SEIU 503 and the SEIU National Lavender Caucus have been advocating for LGBTQ members for three decades.  Many of us have worked to elect candidates that we thought understood the effect of this discrimination in all areas of our lives.  And some of us are now retirees.

Discrimination against the LGBTQ community has had an economic effect  throughout our lifetime.  Tax inequities, health insurance inequality, discrimination in the Social Security System and the tax system compound themselves. When we are trying to live on a fixed income the effect is multiplied without the safety net that is there for our heterosexual members.

We are shocked to find that the Democratic Leadership is moving forward and attacking PERS recipients by taking the unconstitutional position that they will break contractual guarantees made to retirees who are struggling to live on fixed incomes. 

As workers we have been used by many people as scapegoats.  But we will fight back against the Democratic leadership which continues to expand tax breaks for the wealthy and ignore revenue proposals that can bring in millions of dollars. You have chosen the path of attacking PERS recipients as if our meager income is your cash cow.

At the same time there are a number of freshman legislators who ran for election based on their pledge that the people who caused this financial crisis should be the ones to pay.  They are now being pressured  to violate the trust of their constituents for some “Democratic Unity”.  This is indeed outrageous! While the Democratic leadership in the State Legislature is pressuring members to attack the livelihood of PERS recipients, the President and Democrats in Washington, D.C. are pushing the “chained CPI” which is an attack on Social Security. The combined possible state and federal actions present an unacceptable hardship to all members but particularly for LGBTQ retirees.

March 18, 2013

A Newroz of Peace!

As in other cities, Newroz was celebrated early in Istanbul, and like in other places, people supported the peace process and asked others to do so, too.

(Click here for photo gallery.)

On Sunday, 17 March, the early celebration of the Newroz festival, long a symbol for Kurdish resistance and protest, drew tens of thousands of people to the Kazlıçeşme square in Istanbul.

Despite the cold weather, people started to fill the square from 9 am onwards. On the stage, there was a picture of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as the slogan, “Freedom of Öcalan, Recognition for Kurds”.

Many people in the crowd carried BDP banners and pictures of Öcalan, but there were also flags of other political parties and organisations. There were scarves, bracelets and hats on sale in the colours red, green and yellow, the colours of the Kurdish flag.

People of all ages had come to the gathering, and there was halay dancing (a long chain of people dancing shoulder to shoulder) throughout the event.

Last year, there was much tension when official permission to celebrate on the weekend before 21 March was not given, and there were many clashes with the police. At previous Newroz events, images of Öcalan were smuggled past the security checks, but this year, his picture was already on stage.

People at the celebration were optimistic about peace.

Sırrı Süreyya Önder, BDP MP for Istanbul and member of the Peoples’ Democratic Congress, addressed the crowd. He had been part of the recent delegation that visited Öcalan on the İmralı prison island:

“I bring you Öcalan’s greetings,” he said, and added that he hoped that this Newroz would bring peace.

 He added that this was not the end of the struggle, but only the end of the bloodiest, most painful era. He said that the struggle for freedom for all oppressed peoples would continue.

He quoted Öcalan, who had said, “We will not live like before, and we will not fight like before.”

Sebahat Tuncel, also a BDP MP for Istanbul, remembered those who had died for the Kurdish struggle and said that the peace process had to be supported from within and not only watched from outside if it was to be successful.

The final speaker was Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the BDP. He emphasised that the current process was the result of the sacrifices of the Kurdish people.  He warned that any peace that was not based on rights and freedoms would not last: “Peace does not mean surrender, peace means the return of rights that were taken away.”

Various musicians supported the day with their performances.

March 17, 2013

Retirement “Reform” in France

From L'Humanite:

The French government set up its commission on the future of retirement on Feb. 27.

“Identifying the different courses of action for a reform that makes it possible to ensure the financial balance of the retirement schemes in the short, medium and long term, and to reinforce justice, fairness and understandability for those benefitting from retirement insurance.”

Such is the objective of the commission “for the future of retirement,” set up on Deb. 27 by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The commission is charged with proposing “scenarios” for reform by June, in preparation for the labor-management talks that will follow. “Different scenarios for rebalancing (the retirement schemes) have to be proposed, and changes if they are desirable” rather than “a grand reform,” pointed out the state councilor Yannick Moreau, who will preside over the commission.

Whereas up to now Jean-Marc Ayrault kept up a fog as to the calendar for the up-coming reform, he now seems to want to accelerate the process, pointing to pressure from the financial markets.

Be that as it may, labor-management negotiations already promise to be complicated as their points of view are so divergent. Some trade union confederations, such as FO, have not given up on a return to retirement at age 60, whereas the main bosses association, the MEDEF, is arguing for pushing the legal retirement age up to 63 or even 64. The CFDT trade union confederation, for its part, still defends the idea of beginning from scratch. The CGT trade union confederation favors a reform of the financing of retirement pensions, notably by drawing on finance income.

Questioned on the hypothesis of pushing up the retirement age or lengthening the dues-paying period, Minister Marisol Touraine refused to answer. The government, however, has hinted that it might draw inspiration from the on-going talks on the complementary retirement benefit schemes (AGIRC and ARRCO), which are co-managed by labor and management. To refill the chests of these schemes, which are in the red, the MEDEF is demanding a partial freeze on retirement pensions, which would then fail to keep pace with inflation.

Newest From Hutch At GeneralStrikeComics: Kimani Gray

Save our Post Office!

March 16, 2013

Avenues of Fightback

An excellent recap from the Communist Party USA of progressive political steps being taken and a way forward:

There are so many big battles being fought out at every level that it is impossible to be everywhere and remain effective. Conditions and circumstances in a particular community determine what issue and organization is key to moving everything forward. In the last two weeks four strong bills have been introduced in Congress that need a groundswell of grassroots support and can be integrated into organizing around local issues with local coalitions and candidates.
  • Rep. John Conyers introduced the Cancel the Sequester Act (HR 900) a week and a half ago. Rep. Alan Grayson sent out an appeal for a quarter million individual signers, and I believe they are almost there.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill this week to strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that everyone else already pays. It is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep Peter DeFazio. This is very important to intervene in discussions between Republicans and the White House where cuts in cost of living increases, called the chained CPI are under consideration and must be rejected.
  • Sens. Tom Harkin and Bernie introduced a bill this week to strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that everyone else already pays. It is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep Peter DeFazio. This is very important to intervene in discussions between Republicans and the White House where cuts in cost of living increases, called the chained CPI are under consideration and must be rejected.
  • Sens. Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill on March 2 to tax Wall Street speculators (S 410). A companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (HR 880). "Both the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street," said Sanders. "This bill will reduce gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the job-creating productive economy, and significantly reduce the deficit," with an estimated $352 billion over 10 years.
  • The Congressional Progressive Caucus is filing "The Back to Work Budget" this week as an alternative to Paul Ryan's austerity budget. It repeals the sequester, creates infrastructure, education and public works jobs, closes tax loopholes and moves military spending back to 2006 levels.Organizational endorsers are welcome.
These measures, even taken together, are not a complete solution, but they are core demands around which it should be possible to organize and take the struggle to the next level.

Read the entire report here.


                  Tuesday, March 19, 2013
      3:30-5:30 PM: Visibility Action: "US Out of Iraq" at SW Broadway & Morrison
     7 PM: Cathy Breen, Voices for Creative Nonviolence,
     "Eyewitness 10 Years Later: What Iraqis Are Saying"
      First Unitarian Church-Eliot Chapel 1011 SW 12th

Tuesday, March 19 marks exactly 10 years since the US invasion of Iraq, an ignoble anniversary to be marked by two events for peace in Portland. The first is a visibility action, "US Out of Iraq!" to be held at the corner of SW Broadway and Morrison from 3:30 to 5:30 PM. The second will feature Cathy Breen of Voices for Creative Nonviolence who spent six weeks in Iraq in October and November 2012, speaking on "Eyewitness 10 Years Later: What Iraqis Are Saying." Ms. Breen will speak at 7 PM on the 19th in the Eliot Chapel at First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th in downtown Portland.

Cathy Breen lives and works at one of the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality in NY City. Her solo visit to Iraq was her first in nine years and brought stories of the conditions of the country after being invaded, occupied and wracked with violence. She will present photos and stories to bring the humanity of ordinary Iraqis to the audience.

Breen went to Iraq in Fall of 2002 with Voices in the Wilderness as part of the Iraq Peace Team, staying for over five months including through the "Shock and Awe" bombing campaign led by the U.S. She returned to Iraq in late 2003 for another three month visit. Since 2006, she has spent time in Jordan and Syria witnessing and advocating for Iraqi refugees of the aftermath of the US invasion. (Some of her writings can be found at <>.)

Breen will be present for the visibility action, along with Pastor Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church, who engaged in a civil disobedience action at the Portland Federal Building on the very afternoon the Iraq invasion occurred in 2003.

Portlanders spoke out strongly when at least 30,000(*1) marched downtown just days before the war started. Since that time, the country's economic downturn, in no small part caused by the US' $1.4 trillion military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan,(*2) more and more people are struggling to stay afloat financially, diverting attention away from US foreign policy.

Information being assessed at this important 10 year marker includes the continued U.S. presence in Iraq (including the world's largest embassy[*3]), the ambivalence of the Iraqi people after a decade of carnage(*4), and the legacy of warfare in the form of Depleted Uranium.(*5)

Both events are free and open to the public, and coordinated by Peace and Justice Works (PJW) Iraq Affinity Group. The Visibility Action is cosponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom-Portland. Ms. Breen's visit is funded in part by PJW's Ruth Holt Memorial Peace Journey Fund, and is cosponsored by the First Unitarian Church Peace Action Group, American Friends Service Committee and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom-Portland. Ms. Breen will also be
speaking in Eugene, OR on Wednesday, March 20, and at various sites in Seattle from Thursday, March 21 through Saturday, March 23. For other events around the10 year anniversary of the 2003 US invasion visit the PJW website at For more information or to get involved contact PJW at 503-236-3065 or iraq @

NOTE: The Iraq Affinity Group will also be cosponsoring the weekly Portland Peaceful Response Friday Rally on March 15 at 5 PM at Pioneer Courthouse Square (SW Yamhill and Broadway). The Friday Rally has been an institution in Portland since November, 2001.

Ryan v. the Congressional Progressive Caucus

From AlterNet:

Budgets are pure EGO -- eyes glaze over. But this week revealed two budgets -- Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican "Path to Prosperity" 2014 budget and the Congressional Progressive Caucus "Back to Work Budget" -- that in stark terms lay out two visions and two futures for America. Next week the Congress will vote on each one of them. Neither will become law, but Ryan's budget is expected to pass with the support of virtually the entire Republican majority. The CPC budget will struggle to win a majority of the Democratic caucus. For those who take a look, the contrast will open your eyes.

Both parties agree that we suffer from mass unemployment, declining wages, and growing inequality. Both agree that rising future deficits should be addressed. But they offer completely different responses to these realities.

Ryan's Rerun
Ryan's budget is a retread of his previous offerings, the same ideas that were rejected by voters in the 2012 election. Like the old Bourbon kings, he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Once more he doubles down on the failed ideas of the past, and once more he brazenly seeks credit for making hard choices while refusing to tell us what those choices are. The cowardice and lack of candor reflect just how unpopular these ideas are.

The basic strategy is the same; the only new packaging is the pretense of balancing the budget in 10 years. Ryan does that by adopting the $600 billion in "fiscal cliff" taxes that Republicans voted against, the Medicare tax hikes that were part of the Obamacare that Ryan proposes to repeal, and, most brazenly, the infamous $716 billion in "Medicare cuts" that Ryan and Romney and legions of Republicans have railed against over the last two election cycles.

Ryan's basic strategy is unchanged. He would lower rates on income and corporate taxes. He does this despite studies showing that lowering rates over the last decades have produced more inequality, but not more growth. With the top 1 percent capturing a staggering 121 percent of the income growth coming out of the Great Recession, and corporate profits at record highs as a percentage of the economy, Ryan still argues that if they just had more money, they would start investing here at home.

The lower tax rates, Ryan claims, will be paid for by closing loopholes and eliminating "tax expenditures" -- only he reveals none of those that he would close. Studies show millionaires could give up all their tax deductions and still pocket a big tax break from the Ryan plan. By definition, middle class families will end up paying more -- and will face the loss of tax deductions for mortgages, for employer-based health care, for state and local taxes and more. No wonder Ryan doesn't want to reveal what's behind the curtain.

Ryan then calls for cutting $4.6 trillion in spending over 10 years from projected levels. $2.5 trillion of that comes from repealing Obamacare and gutting Medicaid. That will leave, according to estimates of the Urban League and the Congressional Budget Office, 40 to 50 million more poor and middle-income Americans uninsured, even as the wealthy and multinationals pocket their tax breaks. In addition, Ryan promises to dismember Medicare 10 years from now, turning it into a voucher that will push more and more costs on seniors over time.

Ryan would cancel the "sequestration cuts" for the military over the next decade while cutting even more from domestic services. All domestic services -- education, border patrol, workplace safety, food and drug monitoring, research and development, Head Start, infant nutrition, etc. -- would be cut to levels not seen in modern times. Naturally, Ryan does not identify what would be cut.

His budget calls for savaging spending in other mandatory programs -- targeting Pell Grants, food stamps, school lunches, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and supplementary support for the aged and the disabled poor. The bulk of his cuts will come from the most vulnerable among us.

The combination of tax cuts that add little to growth and deep spending cuts will be a jobs killer, with the Economic Policy Institute estimating the loss of about 2 million jobs in the first year of the Ryan plan. This would likely drive the economy back into a recession,

Republicans have voted for this budget plan in the past, and are expected to pass it again next week. It reflects who they are and what they believe in. Republicans are truly the champions of the 1 percent. They truly do believe that the rich bear too great a burden and the "47 percent" too little.

Read more here.

The Congressional Progressive Caucas & The Back To Work Budget

From the Economic Policy Institute:

Executive summary

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has unveiled its fiscal year 2014 (FY2014) budget, titled Back to Work. It builds on recent CPC budget alternatives in prioritizing near-term job creation, financing public investments, strengthening the middle class, raising adequate revenue to meet budgetary needs while restoring fairness to the tax code, protecting social insurance programs, and ensuring fiscal sustainability.
Refer to the PDF of this paper for Figures A-E, visualizing The Back to Work budget’s impacts on deficits, debt, and nondefense discretionary funding; Tables 1 and 2 detailing the policy changes within the budget; and summary tables 1 through 6 depicting budget totals as well as comparisons with current law and current policy baselines.
The Back to Work budget is focused on ending the ongoing jobs crisis, and it provides substantial upfront economic stimulus for that purpose. This paper details the budget baseline assumptions, policy changes, and budgetary modeling used in developing and scoring the Back to Work budget, and it analyzes the budget’s cumulative fiscal and economic impacts, notably its near-term impacts on economic recovery and employment.1
We find that the Back to Work budget would have significant, positive impacts in the following areas:
  • Promoting job creation and economic recovery. The Back to Work budget would sharply accelerate economic and employment growth; it would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 5.7 percent and employment by 6.9 million jobs at its peak level of effectiveness (within one year of implementation), while ensuring that fiscal support lasts long enough to avoid future fiscal cliffs that could throw recovery into reverse.2
  • Targeting a full-employment economy. The budget would rapidly restore the unemployment rate near to pre-recession levels of 5 percent. The unemployment rate would be expected to range between 5.0 and 5.6 percent by 2014, in line with what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regards as full employment.
  • Restoring full economic health. U.S. economic output is currently $985 billion (5.9 percent) below potential, and the economy is projected to remain 6 percent below potential in 2013 under current law. The budget would effectively use fiscal stimulus to restore actual GDP to potential GDP—the key barometer for restoring full employment in the economy.
  • Financing job creation and public investments. The budget finances roughly $700 billion in job creation and public investment measures in 2013 alone and $2.1 trillion over 2013–2015.3 This fiscal expansion is consistent with Economic Policy Institute estimates of the fiscal support needed to rapidly restore the economy to full health (Bivens, Fieldhouse, and Shierholz 2013).
  • Strengthening social insurance. The Back to Work budget strengthens the social safety net and proposes no benefit reductions to social insurance programs—in other words, it does not rely on simple cost-shifting to reduce the budgetary strain of health programs. Instead, it uses government purchasing power to lower health care costs (health care costs are the largest threat to long-term fiscal sustainability) and builds upon efficiency savings from the Affordable Care Act. The budget also expands and extends emergency unemployment benefits and increases funding for education, training, employment, and social services as well as income security programs in the discretionary budget.4
  • Making targeted spending cuts. The budget focuses on modern security needs by returning Defense Department spending to 2006 levels. It ends emergency overseas contingency operation spending in FY2015 and beyond, and cuts non-emergency Defense Department spending by $897 billion over 10 years.
  • Raising revenue progressively. The budget restores adequate revenue and pushes back against income inequality by adding higher marginal tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, equalizing the tax treatment of capital income and labor income, restoring a more progressive estate tax, eliminating inefficient corporate tax loopholes, and enacting a financial transactions tax, among other tax policies. 
  • Reducing the deficit in the medium term. The budget increases near-term deficits to boost job creation, but reduces the deficit in FY2015 and beyond relative to CBO’s alternative fiscal scenario (AFS) current policy baseline. The budget would achieve primary budget balance (excluding net interest) and sustainable budget deficits below 2 percent of GDP in FY2016 and beyond. The deficit would gradually fall to 1.2 percent of GDP by FY2023.
  • Targeting a sustainable debt level. After increasing near-term borrowing to restore full employment, the budget gradually reduces the debt ratio to a fully sustainable 68.7 percent of GDP by FY2023. Relative to CBO’s AFS, the budget would reduce public debt by $4.4 trillion (equal to 16.9 percent of GDP). Relative to current law, the budget would reduce public debt by $2.1 trillion (8.3 percent of GDP).5 
Read the entire piece here.