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: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 51 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 18 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 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.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 12 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.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 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.