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Seniors at Risk in Wall Street-financed Attacks on Retirement Security

View this email online at http://www.progressivestates.org/pubs/stateside-dispatch/2011-10-07

Seniors at Risk in Wall Street Financed Attacks on Retirement Security

Pension Protection & Asset Accumulation   *   Tim Judson

As protests on Wall Street spread across the country, the dire need for progressive solutions to financial corruption and savage inequality is capturing national attention. One aspect of Wall Street’s agenda that has not been sharply criticized enough is emerging as a defining issue in the presidential campaigns of challengers to President Obama: dismantling Social Security and public pension systems. Texas Governor Rick Perry has grabbed the most headlines by absurdly characterizing Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” and calling it a “crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.” Other presidential candidates are also trying to stake out positions to privatize retirement funds, and state policymakers who are leading ideological attacks on workers have targeted pension funds in an effort to pit union and non-union workers against each other.

Voices of “The 99%” Heard in Protests Across Nation

Consumer Protection & Corporate Accountability   *   Charles Monaco

This week, a 3 week-long protest against economic injustice and inequality in the Financial District in New York City gathered momentum  as approximately 20,000 people joined a march in solidarity, and similar protests against the excesses of Wall Street spread to almost every other state fueled by a rising sense of urgency on the economy. The “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York was bolstered by a huge rally on Wednesday organized by labor unions and community groups loudly proclaiming their support  for the core group of protesters who have been occupying a plaza a few blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange. As progressive leaders and many elected officials -- including state legislators — begin to lend their support to the still-fledgling protest movement, many are repeating one core message emerging out of the diffuse and leaderless movement, underscoring the increasingly deep economic divide in this country separating the super-wealthy from the 99% of Americans who have borne nearly the entire brunt of the Great Recession and its aftermath.

Jobs Sessions Called in States Around Nation, With Differing Aims

Accountable Government   *   Charles Monaco

As protests on Wall Street spread across the country, the dire need for progressive solutions to financial corruption and savage inequality is capturing national attention. One aspect of Wall Street’s agenda that has not been sharply criticized enough is emerging as a defining issue in the presidential campaigns of challengers to President Obama: dismantling Social Security and public pension systems. Texas Governor Rick Perry has grabbed the most headlines by absurdly characterizing Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” and calling it a “crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.” Other presidential candidates  are also trying to stake out positions to privatize retirement funds, and state policymakers who are leading ideological attacks on workers have targeted pension funds in an effort to pit union and non-union workers against each other.

Quote Of The Week

If we can't put our kids in school, nobody's coming here [for jobs]”

— Missouri State Rep. Chris Kelly on new corporate tax cuts passed by the Missouri House that may result in further drastic cuts to education.

Steps Forward

FL: Massive Prison Privatization Voided by Judge in Florida

US: Obama administration widens challenges to state immigration laws

CA: California Pulls Out of 50-State Foreclosure Settlement Talks


Steps Back

ME: Premiums Skyrocketing Where Health Insurers Have Their Way With State Legislators, As In Maine

US: States passing budget pain, job losses on to counties and cities

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Research Roundup: Voting Restrictions, Millionaires Tax by State, AL's Immigration Law and More

In this week’s Research Roundup: Reports from the Brennan Center on the 5 million voters who could be affected by this year’s wave of new state voting restrictions, the Center for American Progress on what Alabamians are saying about their state’s draconian and economically disastrous anti-immigrant law, the Keystone Research Center on the impact of each of proposed weakening of Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage law, and Citizens for Tax Justice on the state-by-state effect of the “millionaires tax” surcharge currently being debated in Congress.

Voting Law Changes in 2012 — This new report from the Brennan Center examines in detail the wave of legislation imposing new restrictions on voting that has swept statehouses across the nation this year and the impact it will have on turnout in the 2012 elections. It concludes that more than five million Americans could be affected by the new state laws restricting voting that were put in place this year -- a number, the authors point out, that is larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

Not-So Sweet Home Alabama — This Center for American Progress highlights the effects of Alabama’s draconian and economically disastrous anti-immigrant law (H.B. 56), and what prominent and how different Alabamians are reacting to the decision by a federal judge to uphold major pats of it. It includes quotes from prominent Alabama educators, leaders of faith, civil rights, and business leaders explaining how the law will harm communities, endanger families, cause taxpayers to flee, and damage entire sectors of the state economy.

Benefits of State Prevailing Wage Laws — As the Pennsylvania House’s Labor and Industry Committee votes on proposals to weaken the state’s construction sector prevailing wage law, the Keystone Research Center released this policy brief examining the impact of each of the proposed laws. The report concludes that the existing prevailing wage laws “do not raise construction costs on public projects but do increase investment in skills, improve health and safety, and lower dependence of construction workers on safety net programs,” and that repeal would result in less workforce training, a less educated and less experienced workforce, higher injury rates, lower wages and lower health and pension coverage.

State-by-State Figures on Proposed Millionaire SurchargeCitizens for Tax Justice released this fact sheet detailing the state-by-state effect of the “millionaires tax” surcharge currently being debated in Congress as a potential method of paying for President Obama’s American Jobs Act. It concludes that a mere one-fifth of one percent of American taxpayers would pay the surcharge (as it is currently being proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate). In a majority of states, only one-tenth of a percent of taxpayers would pay the surcharge if enacted in 2013, and in only in one state, Connecticut, would the share of taxpayers paying the surcharge exceed one percent.

Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

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The Stateside Dispatch is edited by:

Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist

Contributors to the Dispatch include:

Devin Boerm, Health Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Ben Secord, Outreach Specialist

Please send us an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms,or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

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