Cancel the Sequester; Create Jobs!

Statement of the DSA National Political Committee.

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.

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 26 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am 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 Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 29 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 52 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-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 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 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 Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 13 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 6 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 9 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.