Cancel the Sequester; Create Jobs!

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supports the bill advanced by John Conyers (D-MI), HR 900, to simply cancel the $85 billion in “sequestration” cuts. These cuts will harm millions of low-income Americans, while weakening an already anemic, jobless recovery.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the cuts are fully carried out, they will cause a 0.6% drop in GDP and a loss of over 700,000 jobs. The layoffs of 700,000 public employees since 2008 have already contributed to unconscionable levels of unemployment.

We do not have a deficit crisis in this country; we have a jobs crisis. Sequestering will increase the deficit--not decrease it--by slowing the economic recovery and by keeping more people out of work and not paying taxes. We need a 21st-century full employment program to make public investments that help the long-term unemployed and returning veterans find decent jobs that contribute to the economy and to society. The sequester adds to the jobs crisis by reducing extended unemployment benefits and slashing job training programs for returning veterans.

The domestic sequestration cuts will have particularly harsh effects on our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. For the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, they mandate 12% cuts in Title I aid to low-income schools and child nutrition programs (WIC). Seventy thousand children will lose Head Start; 14,000 K-12 school teachers will be laid off; and 600,000 women and infants will be denied nutrition assistance. In addition, 125,000 families will risk homelessness because of cuts in federal rental assistance, and 375,000 mentally ill and disabled citizens will lose desperately needed social services.

The sequester will also cripple the vital work of federal regulatory agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration will have to furlough 4,000 employees each day, leading to massive flight delays and a decrease in flight safety. Over the next seven months, 2,100 fewer food safety inspections will be conducted at food processing plants. In addition, hundreds of thousands of government employees will experience a 12% drop in pay.

Although we should cut massive amounts of Pentagon pork, the automatic cuts in defense instead disproportionately target civilian employees of the Pentagon for layoffs rather than slashing wasteful and unneeded new weapons programs.

Contrary to the corporate-led drumbeat to “Fix the Debt,” we do not have a spending problem in Washington. We have a revenue shortage caused by massive tax giveaways to the rich and corporations. We could achieve fiscal balance by restoring taxes on corporations and the rich to the pre-Reagan rates and by instituting a modest financial transactions tax. In addition, we could create jobs through cutting unnecessary weapons programs and using these funds for public investments in infrastructure, mass transit and alternative energy. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “Balancing Act” would carry out these measures.

DSA also rejects President Obama’s flirtation with a cut in the cost-of-living adjustment formula that protects seniors on Social Security from inflation. Instead, DSA backs the call of Alan Grayson (D-FL), Mark Takano (D-CA) and 25 other progressive Democratic members of the House to reject any cuts in the real value of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits.

Rather than cut programs that benefit the vast majority and the vulnerable, we must take steps to secure their future. Future Social Security benefits can be readily guaranteed by removing the $113,700 cap on income subjected to the Social Security payroll tax. And we can rein in runaway health care costs by having the federal government use its huge  purchasing power to lower the costs of drugs and by moving towards a Medicare for All system that would eliminate the waste of a for-profit private insurance system.

A brief glance at the disastrous effects of austerity politics in Europe demonstrates that you can’t cut your way out of a Great Recession. The sequester serves only to deepen the economic crisis. It must be reversed.

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 57 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 95 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 27 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.