NAACP JAILED FOR PRAYING…Gitmo Prisoners Starving for Justice…EMILY’s List Seeks ‘Madam President…’ Exclusive TBTF Scoop from Top Wonk Simon Johnson: Davis Polk “Completely Wrong,” Brown-Vitter is “Perfect Timing”

SCARLET LETTER  Americans for Financial Reform, Campaign Legal Center, CREW, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, and Public Citizen sent the President a powerful letter, calling on him to step up and reform the “scandalous campaign finance system,” including the “dysfunctional” FEC. The letter urges the President to exercise his executive authority to nominate individuals who are committed to properly enforcing the laws to the FEC and other agencies dealing with campaign activities.

STARVING FOR JUSTICE – Reacting to a mass hunger strike led by 100+ starving detainees, the President renewed his promise to shut down Guantánamo Bay’s prison – a promise he has failed to keep due to legislative flack piling up from his first term. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero advises:“There are two things the president should do. One is to appoint a senior point person so that the administration’s Guantánamo closure policy is directed by the White House and not by Pentagon bureaucrats. The president can also order the secretary of defense to start certifying for transfer detainees who have been cleared, which is more than half the Guantánamo population” (ACLU cited by NYT ed-board).

Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar also tells PP: “It’s disappointing that it has taken the president so long to finally acknowledge the crisis that’s been going on at Gitmo and that reflects the increasing desperation of the detainees there. But it’s wonderful that he’s finally talking about it, reaffirming that the prison needs to be shut down, and promising to do everything in his power to make that happen. Now we just have to hold him to those promises.”

FACTS: Gitmo has 166 detained prisoners. 86 prisoners have been approved by the administration to return home. So far, none of them have returned home. (HRF)

READ: Gitmo is Killing Me by detained prisoner Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel (NYT) & Obama can close Guantanamo by Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar (Reuters)

A HUFFPO EXPOSÉ – Why Are Senate Republicans Blocking Judicial Nominations? “It’s Disingenious…” Jen Bendery Finds Process “Gummed Up” Using Alliance for Justice’s Data.

JAILED FOR PRAYING – North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber was handcuffed and led to jail with 16 civil rights leaders, ministers, and students on Monday night for singing and praying in the state capital in protest of recent Republican legislation. The state has rejected funding to expand Medicaid to half a million North Carolinians without health insurance, cut the payroll tax credit for 900,000 poor and working people, and is on the brink of passing a package of extreme voter suppression laws. These voting laws include a $2,500 tax penalty on parents of college students to be levied if students vote in a precinct that is not in their home residence and a strict photo-ID law at the polls, which cleared in the state House last week.

“They are pursuing a cruel, unusual and unconstitutional agenda reminiscent of the Old South policy agenda of the white Southern strategy,” said Rev. Barber. The protestors were charged with second degree trespassing for singing and praying too much in the state capital, failure to disperse, and carrying placards in the General Assembly. See video footage; click here and here for pictures.

The prayer protest was organized and led by NC NAACP, and supported by a coalition of state groups and national organizations like Advancement Project.                      

READAdvancement Project’s one-pager on states trying to pass voter-suppression laws in 2013.

ECONOMIC FOOTNOTES  new fact-sheet from Citizens For Tax Justice shows the President’s proposal to cap itemized deductions for the wealthy at 28 cents to the dollar would lead to tax increases next year for only 3.6% of Americans at roughly less than 1% of their incomes (or $5,950). Percentage of Americans whose taxes would increase under this proposal state-by-state: DC 8.9%, NY 5.1%, CA 5.1%, MA 5.7%, TX 3.6%.

TAKING ON THE NRA NEVER LOOKED THIS GOOD  Have You Seen The Gun Show Gallery?

MADAM PRESIDENT – EMILY’s List, the 2M member PAC dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women candidates, will mobilize its energy and resources in battleground states to build a new voter base committed to electing the first female President in 2016. EMILY’s List announced today it will begin targeting efforts in IA, NV, and NH. A new poll commissioned by EMILY’s List found that 72% of battleground voters believe a woman will win the next presidential election. Watch: Madam President.

EXCLUSIVE…ON OUR AGENDA…MEGA-BANKS, MEGA-DEAL – Today, former Chief Economist of the IMF and Top Wonk Simon Johnson slays the Davis Polk critique of Brown-Vitter. On substance, David Polk is “completely wrong.”

Simon Johnson Tells PP Why Brown-Vitter Matters: ”Brown-Vitter has changed the terms of the debate on financial reform. We are finally discussing the importance of much higher levels of equity financing for banks. Naturally, bank executives like the current arrangement – in which they get the upside when things go well and the downside is someone else’s problem (i.e., yours). They are generating high levels of systemic risk pollution because they are allowed to operate with such high debt levels. The Federal Reserve must act to rein in this irresponsible excess. Brown-Vitter pushed the Fed in exactly the right direction – and with perfect timing.”

The Progressive Movement celebrates the President’s recent decision to dump acting Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Ed DeMarco and nominate Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) as his official replacement.

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VOTEVETS.ORG KNOCKS MARK SANFORD FOR ABANDONING POST…Buffalo Board of Ed. Eliminates Cruel Discipline Policies…Media Matters Pulls Trigger on NYT…Why is Slick Hill’ STILL Quiet about Arkansas Oil Spill…?

RED STATE DEMOCRAT SITS ON WAD OF CASH – Sunlight Foundation’s Reporting Group criticized Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (M) for not seeking re-election next year when he has close to $ 5 million stored in his campaign bank account ($1.6 million of it raised from January-March). Note from Sunlight: “While it is illegal for senators to use campaign funds for their own personal expenses, there are many avenues available to Baucus for spending the funds, such as contributing to other politicians or charities – even charities set up by the candidates themselves as former Rep. Allen West has done.” More on Baucus: Citizens for Tax Justice published a Politix op-ed criticizing the Red State Democrat for sidelining revenue in his tax overhaul. Baucus was one of the four Democrats to oppose the gun control measure to expand background checks last week.

ABOUT THEM GUNS – Why did Sen. Heidi Heitkamp  (D-ND) back out of serving her constituents? Occupy the NRA’s Silent No More march to hold gun lobbyists accountable is happening today at noon.

WOULD YOU ABANDON YOUR POST? VoteVets.org launched a new TV ad attacking Republican Mark Sanford for his leave of absence in 2009 to carry out an illicit affair abroad during his term as Governor of South Carolina. “If I had abandoned my post, I could be court-martialed,” says retired National Guard Colonel Barry Wingrad, featured in the ad. See ad coverage in CBSThe HillNational Journal, and Politico.

VotesVets.org Co-Founder and Chairman Jon Soltz tells PP: “It’s pretty simple – Mark Sanford went AWOL, as Commander-in-Chief of the South Carolina Guard. Republicans in the state charged that long before we did. In the military, that could get you a Court Martial. It’s not just a violation of the rules, it’s violation of trust put in you. And Mark Sanford broke that trust.”

Sanford is running against Democratic contender Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the South Carolina special election on May 7th. Following press attention around a trespassing violation, the Republican National Congressional Committee withdrew financial support from Sanford’s campaign last week. Sanford and Colbert Busch are slotted for a radio debate on April 29th – their only scheduled joint appearance (See Sanford’s newly emerged full-page ad defending himself to SC voters – h/t NBC’s Ali Weinberg).

STAT OF THE WEEK Two-thirds of small business owners support increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 and tying it to inflation (Business Majority).

EDUCATION VICTORY– On Tuesday night, the Buffalo Board of Education passed a new code of conduct aimed at eliminating harsh discipline policies bearing a disproportionately negative impact on students of color. The code was developed by Citizen Action of New York and Alliance for Quality Education, in partnership with Buffalo Public Schools.

“The new discipline code eliminates suspensions for minor misbehaviors and instead focuses on the use of intervention and prevention strategies known to work, such as referrals to support staff, conflict resolution, and restorative justice,” said Advancement Project’s Jason Sinocruz, who helped to draft the code.

FACTS: In the 2009-10 school year, 20% of all Buffalo students were suspended. Black students were 56% of the total Buffalo student body population, but made up 72% of total students suspended (NYSED). In 2010, Jawaan Daniels was sent home on an out-of-school suspension for wandering around school halls. Later that day, he was a victim of a drive by shooting at his local bus stop in Buffalo.

BY THE WAY –The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $10.1 million on lobbying so far this year. (The Hill)

DID NYT ‘MISFIRE?’ — Media Matters Challenges NYT for Characterizing Failed Gun Vote As ‘White House Loss.’

HOT OFF THE PRESS – Americans for Financial Reform reacted to Republican attacks of CFPB Director Richard Cordray during his semiannual report before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, arguing that Republican reforms would “subject the bureau to partisan gridlock and endless political domination.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) slammed Republicans for blocking Cordray’s renomination: “This is about a minority that doesn’t want a watchdog that will keep an eye on the big banks to make sure they don’t cheat their customers.” See: CFPB’s new white paper illustrating that payday and deposit-advance loans often serve as debt traps

Center for Effective Government’s new analysis shows that the President’s proposed 28% limit on itemized deductions would reduce charitable giving by $4.7 – $9.1 billion a year, whereas the House Republican budget plan would reduce it even more – by $6-11 billion - hurting nonprofits. The analysis concludes that charitable deductions are under threat from both plans and should be turned into a tax credit that would apply equally to everyone, regardless of income or whether they itemize their deductions. See this infographic showing that the top 1% now receive a much higher tax subsidy than the total amount they give to charity. “A tax credit would address that inequity and also protect charities,” said the report’s author, Patrick Lester, CEG Director of Fiscal Policy. 

ON OUR AGENDA… A message from The Patriotic Millionaires on the long lines at the airportHillary Clinton…still hasn’t said a THING…about the Arkansas Oil Spill…Former Chief Economist of the IMF and Top Wonk Simon Johnson hits deeply flawed Oxford Economics report on the relationship between higher capital requirements and economic growth.

The progressive community is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Common Cause President Bob Edgar this week.

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GANG OF 8 IMMIGRATION BILL PRODUCES MIXED REACTIONS…2.3M Activists Demand White House Unchain CPI…Fiscal Austerity Under Fire as Top Wonks Uncover Reinhart & Rogoff Miscalculations, Unusual Errors….

IMMIGRATION BILL EXAMINED – Progressive groups evaluated the bipartisan Gang of Eight’s copious, 844-page immigration bill filed yesterday morning:

PROS: Center for American Progress published ten strengths of the bill including an expedited five-year path to citizenship and permanent residency for DREAMers and farmworkers. Economic Policy Institute praised the bill for granting Registered Provisional Immigration status (RPI), which will legally enable many undocumented immigrants to work (see: RPI explained). Human Rights First said  the bill could protect thousands of persecuted refugees by improving the asylum system. Progressive leaders from the AFL-CIO, Center for American Progress, SEIU, and National Council of La Raza have agreed to endorse the bill

CONS: Human Rights Watch reproached the bill for increasing funds to expand criminal prosecutions of migrant border-crossers when current laws already call for deportation. ACLU also questioned expansive border control spending and described the new e-verify system as “job-killing, costly and privacy-invasive.” Human Rights Campaign criticized the bill for failing to protect LGBT immigrant couples and denying family visas to 40,000 same-sex foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens.  Sign HRC’s petition to get the uniting american families act into the bill. 

WHAT TO FIX: Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund proposed four revisions including visa sponsorship for siblings and a shorter waiting period for applied citizenship (<13 years). The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights stressed  the bill must equally promote wage protection and economic advancement for US born workers including “low-income African-American workers whose high unemployment is often exploited by restrictionist groups.”

NEW MUSIC VIDEO – ”El Hielo“ by La Santa Cecilia & produced by National Day Laborer Organizing Network, as part of the NotOneMoreDeportation project. On Twitter, use hashtag: #NOT1More.

CLASH OF THE WONKS – On Tuesday, Top Wonk Michael Konczal wrote about a new UMass Amherst study that  found an Excel coding error in Reinhart-Rogoff’s highly influential austerity report, leading to a contentious re-evaluation of the Austerity report’s results. FYI: The Austerity report informed the Ryan budget and has served as the key pillar for fiscal austerity in the developed world. Note: Konczal’s post about the coding error draws directly from the research of  a UMass Amherst study conducted by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin. Their study documents further fatal methodological problems in the Reinhart-Rogoff report. Read Pollin’s latest FT article, “Austerity after Reinhart and Rogoff” (*subscription needed).

For expert reactions to Reinhart-Rogoff’s flawed report, click on these links from: CEPR’s Dean Baker, NYT’s Paul Krugman, Slate’s Matt Yglesias, and Top Wonk Arindrajit Dube.

CPI UNCHAINED —  Progressive organizations continue to attack the inclusion of a chained consumer price index in the President’s new budget, which will cut social security benefits for senior citizens. Activists from AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org, Campaign for America’s Future, and Rebuild the Dream have delivered a petition with 2.3+ million signatures to the White House rejecting the President’s adoption of chained CPI. Center for Economic Policy and Research has reported that for an average worker retiring at 65, chained CPI would amount to a cut of $650 by age 75 and another $1,130 by age 85.

FLASHBACK – In 2008, Sen. Obama clearly stated he would not cut Social Security cost of living adjustments.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: AFL-CIO released the latest edition of Executive Pay Watch, an online database comparing real CEO salaries at S&P 500 companies to the pay of US workers.  Last year, CEOs took home $12.3 million, or 354 x more than the average rank-and-file worker. That is the largest pay gap in the world. Sunlight Foundation also published an organized Google spreadsheet reflecting all of the reported donors for Organizing for Action, the President’s new nonprofit.

ON OUR AGENDA….A small note about the Boston Marathon Bombings… “The Good Outnumber You, and We Always Will…” (Daily Agenda)…

What Does Gabby Giffords Want You to Do at the Grocery Store? 

FACT: Over 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers (Reuters). Shame on Congress.

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IMMIGRATION HITS CRESCENDO…SUNLIGHT CATCHES COLBERT-BUSCH DELETING TWEETS…CEPR Launching ‘Director Watch’…More Bobby Rubins Head to Wall Street…

IMMIGRATION CRESCENDO — Progressive groups intensified their calls for broad immigration reform in the wake of competing House and Senate legislation likely to surface next week.  Last Friday, the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight, AFL-CIO, and the Chamber of Commerce struck a rare deal to implement a new temporary foreign worker visa program which is modeled after a proposal from the Economic Policy Institute, as Slate’s Matt Yglesias has pointed out. On Tuesday, EPI endorsed the visa program deal and elucidated some of its key components, including U.S.worker protection. Top Wonk Robert Reich also supported the visa program deal, citing disagreement over foreign workers as one of the reasons immigration reform came to a halt in 2007.

More on Immigration: Center for American Progress launched a new website focused on the country’s 267,000+ LGBT undocumented immigrants (read CAP’s related report: Living in Dual Shadows). Color of Change issued an email demanding reform that protects all immigrants, including the 3+ million black immigrants who comprise 9% of the US foreign-born population and are often absent from immigration debates.  Sojourners President Jim Wallis appeared on ABC’s ‘This Week’ with George Stephanopoulos to advocate for a path to citizenship. PICO Network published a five point platform for immigration reform including a seven-year path to citizenship with no permanent underclass. Message Matters sent out a one-pager with language on how to respond to conservative attacks on immigration (see conservative attack: “Illegal immigrants are taking our jobs”).

PROGRESS –  Associated Press announced it was dropping the term ‘illegal immigrant’ and the use of ‘illegal’ to describe a person. The New York Times is considering whether to follow suit. Sign Presente.org’s petition to get NYT to stop using the epithet ‘illegal.’ Credit the Applied Research Center for their Drop the I-Word campaign, which began advocating for the removal of ‘illegals’ from public discourse on immigration three years ago.

APRIL 10TH: Ten thousand progressive activists plan to swarm the West Lawn of the Capitol Building to Rally for Citizenship. On Twitter, use the hashtags #A10 and #TimeIsNow. Sign up here.

AD FEVER – 2013 is a non-election year, but political ads continue to hit major airwaves. Sunlight Foundation reported that at least 55 outside groups have bought airtime in 32 media markets for ads on 27 topics ranging from gun control to taxation. These outside groups spent $200,000 alone on TV ads derailing former Sen. Hagel’s Defense Secretary nomination. Click on this Google Map to see where the ads are running. In the last election cycle, outside groups spent more than $300 million on political campaigns. Twitter Purge: On Monday, Congressional candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch deleted more than 500 tweets from her official campaign Twitter account but Sunlight Foundation archived them. Read more of Sunlight’s deleted tweets from politicians.

HOT OFF THE PRESS – Americans for Financial Reform criticized a new measure which will exempt JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs from Dodd-Frank Act swap market rules when trading between their own affiliates (Bloomberg Businessweek).Center for Economic Policy and Research plans to launch a new website called Director Watch in partnership with The Huffington Post. From CEPR: “Director Watch will highlight directors who get large paychecks even as the companies they ostensibly oversee are going down the tubes.” Help CEPR raise $17,000 to build their website. Sequestration could strip 140,000 low-income families of housing assistance, according to an estimate from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

ON OUR AGENDA…Top Wonk Robert Reich explains why raising the minimum wage to $9 is a no brainer.  Who Just Pulled a Bobby Rubin Through Wall Street’s Revolving Door? Nobody Knows More About Minorities Than This Guy.

 

 

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GROUND SHAKES FOR PROP 8 AND DOMA….AFL-CIO TO REINVENT, EXPAND LABOR…AFR Leads Naked Cap. on Insidious Dodd-Frank Bills Deregulating Derivatives…Trouble Brews for JPMorgan After Shady Bernie Madoff Dealings…

MARRIAGE EQUALITY EARTHQUAKE – Progressive groups, activists, and same-sex couples flocked to DC this week as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California’s Prop 8 and DOMA:

PROGRESS ON PROP 8 – Alliance for Justice released expert audio analyses for each of the Supreme Court’s Prop 8 oral arguments. American Constitution Society’s Jeremy Learning argued that the Supreme Court might dismiss Prop 8 on a technicality. Responding to Justice Scalia’s thoughtless question on when it became unconstitutional to exclude gay couples from marriage, Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) clarified it was the 14th Amendment ratified in 1868. Read CAC’s report on why Scalia is wrong and Olson is right to apply the 14thAmendment’s equal protection clause. 

PROGRESS ON DOMA – ACLU client Edie Windsor appeared before the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of DOMA, which has led her to owing more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes after the death of her spouse in 2009 (please watch this video about Edie’s story). Section 3 of DOMA strips same-sex couples legally married under state law of 1,138 federal rights, benefits, and protections (HRC factsheet). Lawyers from the Brennan Center published a primer pointing out that adopting a deferential rational basis standard for Prop 8 and DOMA “seems highly inappropriate” for cases involving insular minorities. Top Wonk Geoffrey Stone laid out clear constitutional predictions for both cases. ThinkProgress slammed Justice Roberts for his incendiary comment that “politicians are “falling over themselves” to support gay marriage. Equality on Trial’s Jacob Combs published an in-depth look at the constitutional merits of DOMA predicting at least 5 votes on the Court to invalidate it (see also Combs’ HuffPo post on Prop 8).

Human Rights Campaign coordinated a momentous United for Marriage Rally on Tuesday and Wednesday. SEE THE 5 BEST PROTEST SIGNS hereherehere,here, and here.  Human Rights Campaign also launched a red equality symbol which has created 10 million + media impressions on social media in all 50 states. 

It’s catching on like two sticks of butter, ya’ll.

HOT OFF THE PRESS – Naked Capitalism published a passage from a letter written by Americans for Financial Reform opposing a bill that would almost completely eliminate Section 715 of the Dodd-Frank act.The Atlantic highlighted The New Leaders Council and Truman National Security Project as effective leadership development groups to which progressives need to direct more money. The Washington Post reported AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s new plan to reinvent the U.S. labor movement by expanding union membership to civil rights organizations and women’s rights groups.

FACT —  Income for Bottom 90% of Americans has grown by only $59 in the last 40 years (Tax Analysts).

ON OUR AGENDA…Trouble on the Horizon…JPMorgan Under Investigation for Shady Bernie Madoff dealings

BE LIKE ICE-CUBE – Read LAST WEEK’S Practical Progress Newsletter and the Newsletter BEFORE THAT.

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NEW BOTTOM LINE DERAILS DEMARCO’S FINANCIAL HEARING….RNC Looks to American Bridge for Inspiration…Elizabeth Warren Echoes Top Wonk Arindrajit Dube On Appalling Stagnancy of Minimum Wage…

DUMP DEMARCO – Progressive activists from The New Bottom Line swarmed a House Financial Committee Services hearing Tuesday, intensifying pressure on the White House to fire F.H.F.A Acting Director Ed DeMarco. Watch activists disrupting DeMarco’s testimony.

Tracy Van Slyke, Director of The New Bottom Line tells PP:  “We need to be focused on rebuilding an economy that works for everyone.  DeMarco has been called the biggest roadblock to economic recovery. He has rejected principle reduction, refused to pay into the National Housing Trust Fund, and will not allow people to buy back their homes. If we are serious about rebuilding the economy and implementing better policies for homeowners and taxpayers, Ed DeMarco has got to go.” Read more by Van Slyke.

The New Bottom Line’s Dump DeMarco campaign was echoed on Monday by nine Attorney Generals including Eric Schneiderman (NY) who are pushing the President to fire DeMarco.

ON THE HORIZON – Practical Progress groups geared up for the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on Prop 8 and DOMA taking place next week. Human Rights Campaign released a video of Hillary Clinton endorsing same-sex marriage. American Constitution Society launched a Prop 8 and DOMA blog symposium. Center for American Progress created a legal toolkit outlining the nuts and bolts of Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8 and U.S. v. Windsor (DOMA).  Equality on Trial (a Courage Campaign project) did a close-analysis of the final brief filed by Prop 8 proponents. Alliance for Justice published a comprehensive issue brief on the stakes ahead for marriage equality. Human Rights Campaign is coordinating a United for Marriage Rally outside the Supreme Court next Tuesday and Wednesday March 26-27 (sign up here).

PROGRESS –  58% of Americans believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married (WaPo/ABC).

PP HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – Organizing New York, a meta-playground of progressive organizers sharing strategy and digital ninja tactics kicks off this weekend (see How to Scare Companies and Influence People Online). It’s not too late to register and you can select day(s) to attend. Practical Progress partners include: New Organizing Institute and Wellstone Action.

IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY – RNC Calls for Molding Conservative Group After American Bridge

HOT OFF THE PRESS – Democracy’s spring issue includes a series of essays on winning the voting wars. MUST READS: Playing Offense by The Brennan Center’s Michael Waldman, A Temporary Victory by AFL-CIO’s Jeff Hauser, The Missing Right by Roosevelt Institute’s Jonathan Soros & Mark Schmitt, and Expanding Citizenship by Demos’ Tova Andrea Wang.

ON OUR AGENDA….Top Wonk Arindrajit Dube breaks down the stagnancy of minimum wage for Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the Senate’s HELP Committee hearing. READ: Sen.Warren cites Dube’s report on minimum wage effects.

On the subject of Stuebenville, if The Glove Fits

 

 

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FOX BANS AGENDA PROJECT’S NEW GRANNY VIDEO…CREW CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF MAKING POLITICIANS NERVOUS….Mrs. Governor Christie to Sandy Victims: ‘No Money for You, But Atleast We Got a Re-Tweet…’

WHO HAS GRANNY ISSUES? Progressive groups attacked Paul Ryan’s budget  on Tuesday for slashing $4.5 trillion from projected spending, stripping the country’s vital and enduring social programs, and giving larger tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the sick, old, and poor. Center for American Progress criticized Ryan’s budget for cutting close to $1.2 trillion from public investments vital to supporting the economy (see CAP’s instant reports on Ryan’s budget here, including this one on the $7 trillion tax hole). The Agenda Project Action Fund released a new Granny off the Cliff video  which highlights that Ryan’s budget would eliminate Medicare (Stuart Varney banned their video and Ryan reacted to their video on Sean Hannity). Economic Policy Institute found that the Ryan budget would destroy two million jobs by 2014. Citizens for Tax Justice reported that the budget would give millionaires a tax cut of $200,000 or more.The Nation accosted the Ryan budget for its catastrophic impact on women. 

FREUDIAN SLIP OF THE WEEK —  “We are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system for the American people” – Paul Ryan (watch here).

A LITTLE BIT OF SUNSHINE – In honor of Sunshine Week, Sunlight Foundation built a Report Card assessing the availability of open data on all 50 state legislative websites (HIGHLIGHT: 6 states including MA received ‘Fs’). CREW hosted two panels challenging the DOJ’s right to write up secret laws, including a now publicly notorious memo justifying the killing of US citizens abroad. Tonight, Brennan Center will host a discussion addressing security and secrecy in Obama’s latest move towards classification reform.

The Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) published a new investigative analysis on whether or not federal agencies effectively processed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests last year. WHAT THEY FOUND: the Department of Homeland Security increased its FOIA processing rates by 30%, however FOIA requests in which some information was withheld increased by 54% for all processed requests (due to redacted lines). See CEG’s March report for more. On government transparency, CEG’s Director of Open Government Policy Sean Moulton says: “While the Obama administration deserves praise for the important work it has done to build a platform for open government in its first term, the job is unfinished.” 

HOT READ – How the Iraq War Hurt Republicans, by Phillip Carter, Iraq Veteran and Principal of Truman National Security Project.

ON MILLION CALLING CONGRESS – Alliance for Citizenship (A4C) is hosting a week-long national call-in to Congress this week to quickly move on a bill that offers a direct path to citizenship for 11 million American immigrants (Call Congress: 866- 563-5608). Their goal is to hit 1 million calls, so pick up your phone. Alliance for Citizenship (A4C) is a newly-formed national campaign focused on expediting immigration reform. Partners include: ACLU, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Center for Community Change, Center for American Progress, Southern Poverty Law Center, and USAction.

PROGRESS – Last week, CREW celebrated 10 years of making politicians very nervous. Took a look at the top scandals and scoundrels they’ve uncovered here

ON OUR AGENDA…Mrs. Governor Christie to Hurricane Sandy Victims: ‘No Money For You But At Least We Got a Re-Tweet...’

 

 

 

 

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CBO CRUNCHES REVENUE NUMBERS, FOX MANGLES THEM…DEMOS FINDS UNEMPLOYED DISCREDITED FROM JOBS…

SCALIA SLAMMED – Progressive groups slammed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for referring to the Voting Rights Act as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement” last week, sounding the drumbeat for the Supreme Court to preserve Section 5 of the law. For recent reactions and analyses to Scalia and the Supreme Court’s oral arguments, read these pieces from: Alliance for JusticeAmerican Constitution SocietyBrennan Center for JusticeConstitutional Accountability CenterDemos, and NAACP

Last week, members from the Alliance for Justice, Advancement Project, Asian American Legal and Education Defense Fund, Common Cause, Planned Parenthood, Lawyers’ Committee, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and NAACP defended the Voting Rights Act on the steps of the Supreme Court.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights published a report on Monday showing that the majority of newspaper ed-boards in states explicitly covered by Section 5, including Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi agree that the Supreme Court should uphold the law.

THE MORE WE LEARN, THE WORSE IT LOOKS – Progressive environmental groups criticized a new report from the State Department Friday, alleging that the Keystone XL Project would have no significant impact on the environment. The National Resources Defense Council blasted the report for minimizing the climate impact of 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands, warning that “building this pipeline would be the same as putting 6 million new cars on the road” (read NRDC’s analysis of Tar Sands here). The Sierra Club expressed outrage over the State Department’s report, calling it a “deeply-flawed analysis” and “nothing short of malpractice.” Rebuild the Dream’s Van Jones warned that approving the Keystone XL Project could lead to “the worst oil disaster in American farmland history.”

CBO CRUNCHES REVENUE NUMBERS, FOX MANGLES THEM – According to a new Media Matters analysis, Fox & Friends misrepresented CBO numbers on air to push against calls for tax increases. Fox & Friends falsely claimed that federal revenue this year will be “historically high,” when in fact it will be lower than it has been since World War II.

IF YOU HATE FOX, BUT LOVE AMERICAWATCH Patriotic Millionaire Eric Schoenberg tell Fox pundit Melissa Francis to tax him MORE.

FACT OF THE WEEK – Since 1968, more Americans have been killed by gunfire than have died in all of the wars in American history (h/t Center for American Progress).

PEOPLE PROGRESSCarmel Martin, former Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department of Education joined the Center for American Progress as Executive Vice President for Policy. Legal journalist Andrew Cohen joined the Brennan Center as a new Fellow. Cohen is the first-ever legal analyst for 60 minutes, chief analyst and legal editor for CBS Radio News, and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. Read his first column on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act here. WHO’S THAT GIRL? Progressive organizer and Sikh-American filmmaker Valarie Kaur was profiled in Vogue India this month for her advocacy work following the massacre at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin last August. Kaur is the Founding Director of Groundswell, an Auburn Seminary initiative, and is one of the Center for American Progress’s 13 Progressive Faith Leaders to Watch.

HOT OFF THE PRESS – ACLU launched an online platform called ACLU Action on Wednesday aimed at helping progressives engage directly with their elected representatives. ACLU Action’s first campaign calls on President Obama to issue a veto threat on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would give companies the power to share people’s private online information with the government without a warrant (find out more here). DISCREDITED: Demos released a study showing how credit checks keep unemployed, capable workers from getting a job. INSIDE THE NUMBERS: 1/7 qualified job applicants with ‘blemished credit histories’ have been told they were not hired by a prospective employer due to their credit.

SEQUESTER GOT YOU CONFUSED? Our graphic has got you covered.

 

 

 

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FACEBOOK’S $0 TAX BILL….FOX’S 99 LATINO PROBLEMS…Driver’s Licenses Granted to Michigan DREAMers…American Bridge and Planned Parenthood Agree Ken Cuccinelli is ‘a Breath of Fresh Air…’

Back by popular demand, today we bring you the inaugural issue of our re-imagined Practical Progress newsletter which offers influential progressives a now-weekly, smart, insightful, actually ‘brief’ briefing on the most important News From The Movement.

ALL YOU NEED IS A GUN LICENSE TO VOTE  Center for American Progress published a five-point primer on why protecting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act during the Supreme Court’s hearing of Shelby County v. Holder on Feb 27th is critical for preventing voter-suppression laws from rising in 16 states. Section 5 requires states with  discriminatory voting practices to seek ‘pre-clearance’ with the DOJ or a three-judge court in DC before making any legal changes to their voting laws. NOTE FROM CAP: without Section 5, Texas would have considered concealed handgun licenses a valid form of voter ID, but not college or state employee IDs. (For more progressive substance on Section 5 this month, see these pieces from: Brennan Center for JusticeAmerican Constitution SocietyLawyer’s Committee on Civil RightsColor of Change,Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, America Votes, and NAACP).In defense of Section 5, Alliance for Justice will host a Twitter Town Hall on Feb 26th, a rally in front of the Supreme Court in D.C. on Feb 27th, and provide analysis on their blog Justice Watch after the hearing.

FACEBOOK PROFITS: $1.1 BILLION, FACEBOOK TAX BILL: $0 – A new Citizens for Tax Justice report shows that while Facebook will not be paying any federal or state taxes this year in spite of turning over $ 1.1 billion in profits, it is expecting to get $429 million back in net tax refunds. In a footnote on Facebook’s January financial statements, CTJ found that the company’s half a billion dollar refunds result from taking advantage of a single (and legal) corporate tax break: the tax deductibility of executive stock options. CTJ’s Rebecca Wilkins, Senior Counsel on Federal Tax Policy tells PP:  Why does the company get to take a deduction for stock option compensation, when it didn’t cost them a dime? If Mark Zuckerberg won the lottery tomorrow, would we expect Facebook to get a tax deduction for his winnings? Stock options have pretty much the same impact on a company’s income as do lottery winnings.” In a similar report last year, CTJ identified the stock option tax break as one of the reasons why Fortune 500 companies pay so little taxes. (See CTJ’s Facebook report in BusinessWeekGawker, and The Atlantic).

…And on a much lighter economic note today: Sorry Boehner, You Can’t Rewrite Sequester History!

99 PROBLEMS – Fox News prime-time hosts and their guests have used the terms ‘Illegals,” “Illegal Aliens,” and “Anchor Babies” 99 times since the election, even though these terms are banned on Fox News’ website for Latinos, according to a new Media Matters research analysis released on Tuesday. In an interview with The New Republic a few days ago, Fox President Roger Ailes admitted that Fox News really needs to find a new message on immigration.

Presente’s Movement Building Director Ana Perez tells PP:  “Fox can’t have it both ways, loving Latinos on Fox Latino and hating Latinos on Fox in English. If Fox really wants to enter the Latino media market in a serious way, Roger Ailes needs to steer the network away from racial profiling and immigrant scapegoating. The Latino community knows this about Fox and we don’t appreciate it. As the Univision-ABC Latino venture and other new Latino media initiatives indicate, you either lose the bigotry or lose the Latino market.”

In other immigration news, kudos to Progress Michigan for working hand-in-hand with Alliance for Immigrant Rights on getting Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) to finally begin granting driver’s licenses to DREAMers this month.

KEN CUCCINELLI IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR – American Bridge launched a website outlining passages that are “extreme by any standards” from VA Attorney General and aspiring Governor Ken Cuccinelli’s new book, The Last Line of Defense. According to the most overtly partisan Attorney General in Virginia history: “Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane were pollutants dangerous to public health because they allegedly caused global warming. Yet carbon dioxide is what we exhale every second of the day. It keeps the trees alive and allows them to make the oxygen that keeps us alive. It’s a wonderful symbiotic system that sustains life on earth. But to environmentalists, carbon dioxide is a slow killer” (p10). *See also: American Bridge’s Part-Time Cuccinelli video and Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Keep Ken Out, which MIGHT explain this from WaPo: Democrats urge sales of Cuccinelli Book 

HOT OFF THE PRESS – League of Conservation Voters launched a new Environmental Scorecard revealing whether members of Congress stood with the people or polluters last year. According to LCV President Gene Karpinski: “This was hands down, the most anti-environmental House of Representatives ever.” Advancement Project launched a new website to end the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track. Must-read: The Top 12 Reasons to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline. (If you haven’t already, see these pictures of Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne-Dianis with Michelle Obama’s special SOTU guest, 102-year old Desiline Victor and Practical Progress’ 2012MDV (‘Most Determined Voter’).

AWAKE THE STATE – On March 5th, Floridians will rally across the state in a growing grassroots chorus of discontent with Governor Rick Scott. They will demand lawmakers to undo the damage of the 2011 voting law that notoriously caused Floridians to wait in line for up to 8 hours to vote last year (Find out more here). Central Organizers of ‘Awake The State’are: Progress Florida, Florida Watch Action, and America Votes.

JUMP ON THE WARREN BANDWAGON – Americans for Financial Reform issued a letter last week criticizing 43 Senate Republicans for attempting to filibuster Richard Cordray’s appointment to Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lending full support to Cordray’s nomination, the letter accosts Republicans for exercising “extreme political brinkmanship of refusing to consider a well qualified nominee in order to extract changes in the law,” adding that their effort to block Cordray in order to “relitigate policies would hold hostage not just the CFPB director, but the future well-being of consumers, financial markets, and the economy.”

 

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