Sunday, February 27, 2011
Unity With Wisconsin! Big Turnout for American Dream Rally in Santa Fe (with Photos, Videos)
Yesterday, a record-breaking crowd of more than 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to support collective bargaining, union members and the 14 brave Democratic lawmakers who are making a stand against Gov. Scott Walker's assault on working people. Meanwhile, MoveOn and dozens of other progressive organizations and unions helped citizens organize solidarity rallies in state capitols and major cities in all 50 states.
AFL-CIO's Danny Rivera says it's about power, leads crowd in singing famous union song, "What Side Are You On?
Here in New Mexico, about a thousand energized people gathered at the Roundhouse to urge state and federal lawmakers to Save the American Dream by supporting unions, working families and the middle class. Participants pushed for making the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes, realigning spending priorities from wars and rocketing "defense" spending to education and health care and stopping right-wing politicos from blaming workers for the national and international economic mess created by scams perpetrated by Wall Street, banking and corporate elites.
Compilation video by Jen Stephenson
Bottom line: Unless we tax the rich and corporations at rates that make sense, nothing will change. Unless we stop the hundreds of billions going for "wars" and "security," nothing will change. Unless we stop importing slave labor goods and making more damaging "free" trade deals, nothing will change. Unless we stop cutting education, health care and other government services, nothing will change. The rest is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The rest is all sound and fury signifying nothing.
The chant rises: Tax the Rich!
As MoveOn Executive Director Justin Ruben said, "I think a lot of progressives have been watching with growing horror. Republicans so dominate the debate over the economy that it's become a discussion of whether we should have massive cuts to vital services and massive layoffs or not so massive cuts and layoffs. And people are saying, 'where is the common sense?' This isn't the time to cut the services that people depend on and that create jobs. We need more of that. We're seeing huge tax breaks go to top 2% of Americans, and then the resulting worsening fiscal situation being used to justify draconian cuts. It's just too much."
Taoseno: Bring our war money home!
Here in New Mexico, lawmakers have refused for three straight sessions to rescind the tax breaks for our top-tier earners that were put into place in 2003, when the economy was booming. This would mean raising the rate at the top from the current 4.9% to 8.2%, which had stood for years. Even if lawmakers made the richest New Mexicans pay 1-2% more, it would go a long way towards plugging our budget gap Instead, they've raised gross receipts taxes on everyone, unsuccessfully pushed what became known as the "tortilla tax" on foods, applied an increased "sin tax" on smokers and made more than $900 million in cuts to education and other government operations. Who is this serving?
Our legislators have lowered the pay of teachers and other state workers by necessitating furlough days and demanding higher employee payments into retirement funds that were doing just fine until the crooked investment and mortgage scams devised by big players on Wall Street and in banking drained pension funds across the nation. They cut off money for needed projects all over the state, putting construction workers, architects and others out of work. They even cut unemployment benefits at a time when they're needed most.
We have no jobs!
New Mexico's legislators have also left in place a 50% cut to the capital gains tax implemented in 2003, again favoring the wealthy over ordinary workers. Our budget problems would pretty much be over if our top tax rates and capital gains tax were returned to pre-2003 levels. As it stands, folks who make $16,000 a year are paying the same tax rate as those making millions. Is that fair?
And how about the fact that a list of hugely profitable out-of-state corporations that operate in New Mexico pay no taxes on their profits here? This, while our small businesses, which every politico claims to support, do pay those taxes. What a competitive advantage for the big corporations! I guess that's what happens when these corporations constantly pony up campaign "contributions" and employ an army of lobbyists to wine and dine our decision-makers.
Jason Marks, PRC: It's class warfare from above!
Remember, for two of the last three years Democrats were in the majority in both the NM House and Senate, and a Democratic governor was at the helm. This year, we've still got a House and Senate run by alleged Democrats, even though we have a right-wing Republican governor. And yet, the Legislative Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee came up with a budget that depends entirely on more cuts and doesn't have a single proposal for raising more funds from those who have benefited most from lopsided economic conditions that have almost unbelievably benefited the top tier. Think about it -- from the time the tax cuts were enacted through 2009, about $1 billion in revenues that could have been used to avoid cuts were instead removed from our tax coffers.
Demonstrator: What's gone wrong with economy, government
We've all heard the lame excuses from Dem lawmakers -- oh we can't raise additional revenues because Big Bad Susana says she'll veto any budget that has them. So let her! Instead of standing up to the misguided right-wingers in the legislature (some in our own party) and the right-wing ideologue at the top of the food chain, we get a mindset of compromise, compromise, compromise.
We need our Dem leaders and officeholders to get up in the faces of those who work against the people's interests -- and to speak out strongly and repeatedly on TV, radio and in the newspapers to fight for a truly Democratic solution to our budget problems. At this incredibly potent moment in history, we need fighters not appeasers, courage not caving, leaders and public officials with gumption -- ready, willing and able to make the bold moves necessary to preserve our way of life.
Almost nobody's out there engaging the public, offering persuasive arguments for stopping the cuts and backing it all up with the facts. Isn't it about time we all asked loudly, why the hell not?
See all the video clips from Saturday's rally.
All photos and videos by M.E. Broderick except "Chile Con Queso! video by Jen Stephenson.
Right on! Hopefully, we've reached that long-overdue tipping point.
Thanks for all the work you do.
Posted by: Syd | Feb 27, 2011 6:07:16 PM
Love the coverage. Hello from Wisconsin!
Posted by: Elizabeth | Mar 1, 2011 4:42:07 PM