Agenda for meeting 2/3/12

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Political Action & Impact Working Group Meeting 2/3/12

Mission Statement:

The Political Action and Impact working group will focus on making an impact on the political system and government by vigorously taking the message of OWS to the people, media, and government. This will be accomplished through mailings, the internet and related applications, as well as other creative means. We will attempt to coordinate our actions with other working groups, as well as show support for and participate in their actions. Importantly, while we may express opinions and aims regarding certain issues (such as campaign finance reform), we will not endorse or support specific candidates or parties. We will maintain our independence and honor the spirit of OWS. Our main goals are ‘action now’ and getting the word out to the 99%.


–          Introductions

  • Who are we, and why are we here?
    • Go-around and self-introductions
  • What is Political Action & Impact?
    • A brief recap

–          Events/Actions

  • What’s cooking?
    • Occupy Town Square (bi-weekly – NYC)
    • Super Tuesday (March 6 – Mass?)
    • National Occupation of Washington, DC (March 30 – DC)
    • May Day (May 1 – NYC)
    • NATO/G8 (May – Chicago)
    • RNC (August 27-30 – Tampa Bay, FL)
    • DNC (Sept 3-6 – Charlotte, FL)
    • Election Day (November – All over)

–          Strategy

  • What’s our role?
    • Vision & goals
  • How can we achieve it?
    • Tactics
  • Who can we work with?
    • Outreach
    • Movement-building

–          Announcements

4 Responses to “Agenda for meeting 2/3/12”

  1. David Gilbert

    OWS Needs Direction! 10 Core Ideas All OWS Members Can Rally Around

    1. A constitutional amendment reversing the Supreme Court’s bizarre rulings that under the First Amendment money is speech and corporations are people.

    2. Real campaign finance reform with public financing of federal elections.

    3. End gerrymandering by politicians and turn over redistricting to citizen committees.

    4. Reduce financial risks to society by breaking up the biggest banks. Reenact Glass-Steagall. Abolish credit default swaps. Derivatives must be traded on transparent exchanges. Ban “flash” trading.

    5. A ten-year federal program that creates over 30 million jobs rebuilding America that includes new infrastructure, a new national power grid and clean energy initiatives. Pay for it by taxing all Wall St. financial transactions at 1% raises $400 billion a year.

    6. To create a living wage will require generous tax credits for low earners, a higher minimum wage, and guaranteed health care so that wages are not consumed by medical costs. Pay for it by ending the war in Afghanistan and reducing military spending.

    7. Create a progressive federal tax code where the marginal tax rate is raised to 50 percent on income between $500,000 and $5 million, 60 percent on income between $5 million and $15 million, and 70 percent on income over $15 million. There should be a 2 percent annual surtax on all fortunes over $7 million. The estate tax should be 55 percent and kicks in after $5 million. Capital gains should be taxed at 35 percent. End the home mortgage deduction on first homes over $1 million. End the home mortgage deduction on all second homes. Corporations should be taxed by a variable amount based on the percentage of their payroll going to US workers. Eliminate corporate loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and deductions, subsidies, end offshore tax haven abuse.

    8. Create better schools by properly compensating effective teachers. We should draw teachers from the top 10 percent of college graduates. Teachers should study education at government expense and receive strong professional support throughout their careers. Advocate universal prekindergarten, full-day kindergarten and extending the school day and school year.

    9. Protect the environment by STRICTLY enforcing the Clean Air Act.

    10. Enhance personal freedoms by repealing the Patriot Act.

    • Stuart Leonard


      Thanks for your input. We are currently working on a document similar to yours that would present our concerns and/or focus while also defining our purpose and goals as a group. We will look at your submission for ideas. The initial document will be general and will act as a portal to more specific commentary. It is a work in progress, although we intend to have it ready in a week or so. I’m sharing it with you here. We will put a draft on the site soon. Let me know if you’d like me to send you a copy.


    • Michael Blum

      I totally agree. We should limit the items we want to change immediately, or our efforts will be too scattered. Here is my view and comments on the 10 listed items:

      1. REPEAL CITIZENS. This should be our primary concern. With Citizens repealed we have a much better chance of affecting the institutions of our country to change. We must begin nationwide efforts to achieve this goal, through petitions, letterwriting to congress and demonstrations at the Capitol and local Congressional offices. The more people who turn out, the more likely we are to succeed.
      Lets all committ to taking action in late March and put pressure on Congress and the President.

      2. Campaign finance reform-this issue may be tied in with the demonstrations against Citizens in March, because basically they are one issue, the reform of the electoral process. With Citizens gone there is a much better chance of achieving campaign finance reform.

      3. End gerrymandering- citizens committees won’t solve this problem, any re-districting plan ends up in Court 9 times out of 10. From my political experience, some group always challenges re-districting plans. Happening in Texas now, and the case will be filed soon in Florida once the legislature finishes passing the plan. Many times after state challenges, challenges are also filed in Federal Court.

      4. Don’t break up private banks, abolish for profit banks, only allow credit unions and savings and loans. No usurious interest on loans to consumers. There is no reason for banks to exist solely to make a profit. Banks should help society grow, not enrich the few at the expense of the many. Credit unions and savings and loans currently provide all the consumer services necessary. There should be a separate bank to encourage industry, just as savings and loans were created to assist in home ownership and building of local communities.

      5. Great idea, there are currently several bills pending in Congress that call for rebuilding infrastructure, hiring police and fire, teachers, health workers. This bill is called Emergency Job Creation to Restore the American Dream (H.Res. 2914) filed by Rep. Janice Schakowsky of Illinois. There is no concurrent bill in the Senate that I am aware of. We should begin lobbying to support that bill.

      6. Living wages may be achieved by creating a national one payer health system, creating a livable national minimum wage. This can be paid for by ending the war in Afghanistan and reforming the tax system.

      7. Good ideas for tax reform. Once Citizens is repealed and there is effective campaign finance reform there will be a much better chance of passing effective tax reform.

      8. Agree totally. An educated electorate should be a major goal, and the only way our country will keep up in the new world economy is by having well educated workers. Great plans.

      9. Give EPA more power, enforce Clean Air and Water Act, stop Dept of Interior from issuing mining and exploration leases, stop Dept of Interior from opening roads for off road vehicles in Federal Wilderness Areas, stronger protections for endangered species and stronger enforcement to keep non native species of plants and animals out of our country. Non native species are a big problem in many areas of the country. Outlaw private ownership of “wild animals” (lions, tigers, etc)

      10. Enhance personal freedoms by repealing the Patriot Act, preventing cross ownership of media outlets to prevent one company from owning several outlets in one media market, and better funding of NPR and other public media outlets.

      Citizens United is the key, once we overturn Citizens, the rest will be made easier. Without the influence of money in elections, the peoples’ voices will be heard loud and clear.

      Please pledge to participate in National Repeal Citizens Week

    • Michael Blum

      David and Stuart,

      As to private/for profit banks, here is my rationale why they should be abolished

      ABOLISH FOR PROFIT BANKS- by Michael Blum

      “Funds and banks I never approved, or was satisfied with our funding system; it was founded in no consistent principle; it was contrived to enrich particular individuals at the public expense. Our whole banking system I ever abhorred, I continue to abhor, and shall die abhorring.
      But I am not an enemy to funding systems. They are absolutely and indispensably necessary in the present state of the world. An attempt to annihilate or prevent them would be as romantic an adventure as any in Don Quixote or in Oberon. A national bank of deposit I believe to be wise, just, prudent, economical, and necessary. But every bank of discount, every bank by which interest is to be paid or profit of any kind made by the deponent, is downright corruption. It is taxing the public for the benefit and profit of individuals; it is worse than old tenor, continental currency, or any other paper money.
      Now, Sir, if I should talk in this strain, after I am dead, you know the people of America would pronounce that I had died mad.
      My opinion is, that a circulating medium of gold and silver only ought to be introduced and established; that a national bank of deposit only, with a branch in each State, should be allowed; that every bank in the Union ought to be annihilated, and every bank of discount prohibited to all eternity. Not one farthing of profit should ever be allowed on any money deposited in the bank.”
      That quote is taken from a letter written by John Adams to Dr. Benjamin Rush in 1811. Ron Paul and many other shortsighted people call for an end to the Federal Reserve. It is baffling that people aren’t calling for the abolition of all private, for profit banks and agreeing with John Adams that the government should run the money system. Money in and of itself has no intrinsic value. One cannot eat gold, it is merely a rock. People give gold, money etc. value in order to stimulate and facilitate trade and commerce. Currently, our financial system is being managed by large corporations, interested only in profit. Their policies have created several economic bubbles over the past few decades, and these bubbles could have been prevented through stricter controls on the private banks. Failure to properly monitor and manage the private banks has resulted in the current global recession, whether conventional economists are willing to call it that or not.
      The Federal Reserve cannot be blamed for the failure to monitor and control the private banks. The Federal Reserve is a Congressional creation, and has the functions and powers that the Congress has given it. The Federal Reserve has supervisory and regulatory control over a wide range of financial institutions. It works with Federal and State agencies with supervisory authority to ensure the safety and soundness of financial institutions, stability in financial markets, and fair and equitable treatment of consumers in their financial transactions. As the United States Central Bank the Federal Reserve also has extensive and well established relationships with Central Banks and financial supervisors of other countries which enables it to coordinate its actions with those of other countries when managing international financial crises and to supervise institutions with a substantial international economic presence. The laws enabling the Fed’s supervisory and regulatory powers have not gone far enough in granting power to enable the Fed to do an effective job.
      The private banks were able to stay one step ahead of the Fed and the regulators. There are many regulations controlling the sales and marketing of “securities”. The private banks were able to create the “derivatives” that were not regulated. These financial “Frankenstein” artifacts were used by the bankers to create money for themselves using nothing but other people’s money. Nothing concrete was ever produced or used by any people. Some call this “monetary or financial capitalism”. Production capitalism results in the production of concrete goods or services that are actually used by people.

      Rather than abolish the Federal Reserve, I would rather abolish all private banks. Banks only purposes should be to lend money to encourage industry and to lend money to encourage purchases of residential homes. If there are to be credit cards, let them be issued by the Fed, with strict limits on interest that may be charged. “Reasonable Interest” for both the buyer and lender should be defined as “that amount that will cover the reasonable administrative costs for the loan plus 1% as a reasonable return on the Feds money. The Fed gave money to the Banks at miniscule or no interest, but under the current system the banks are charging Citizens much more than necessary to cover administrative costs and reasonable return. Banks need more for excessive salaries for CEO, President, Vice-President, etc. not for reasonable items. Even shareholders of bank stocks are dissatisfied with the management. There are shareholder lawsuits proceeding against the major Banks, lawsuits by State Attorney Generals that so far have not been settled, and a new Federal initiative by the Justice Department to look into fraud. The system is finally getting around to the Big Banks.
      My big question is why so many of Occupy, 99% and Tea Party want to abolish the Fed. Someone please give me a rational response, not that they are the tools of the 1%. That can be remedied by Congress passing effective regulation of the financial industry re-tooling the Fed and abolishing for profit banks. The only banking institutions that should be allowed are the Fed, Credit Unions, and Savings and Loans. These institutions currently provide most of the same financial services as for profit banks.
      Hedge funds must pay their fair share. Hedge fund profits taxed at capital gains 15% is unreasonable. The capital gains tax rate should be the same rate as that for ordinary income. There is no hard evidence that I have seen to prove that “trickle down” has worked in the US economy. The “Buffet Rule” is an essential part of reform of the financial system.

      With Citizens repealed it will be much easier to reform the Financial system.