Katrina Illustrates Failure Of Right-wing Policies

WASHINGTON—Members of Congress received tens of thousands of letters from constituents this week demanding that the federal government adopt a bold, progressive plan to rebuild the Gulf Coast and rebuild America. The letters are based on a 6-point plan published online by the Campaign for America’s Future, a progressive group fighting for an economy that works for working people.

With nearly half of New Orleans still underwater and more than a million people left homeless, a movement is forming to focus national attention and action on overlooked investment priorities like the need for energy conservation and solutions to rising levels of poverty. Recent polls shows Americans are willing to pay to rebuild New Orleans and help with Hurricane Katrina recovery, job training and housing for survivors.

Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey said that the Bush administration’s failure to plan for the unprecedented destruction of a major U.S. city and communities across the Gulf Coast demonstrates the failure of the radical, conservative attack on government.

“The president is claiming responsibility for the failure, but this wasn’t just a failure to handle one natural disaster,” said Hickey. “This debacle shows the failure of three decades of conservative, anti-government philosophy.”

President Bush plans to address the nation Thursday night from Louisiana, delivering his first formal speech weeks after the hurricane destroyed the Gulf Coast. The speech is aimed at mending his image.

The Campaign for America’s Future’s “Rebuild the Gulf Coast, Rebuild America” agenda is getting support from labor, civil rights, women’s groups and community organizing networks and demands decisive action to address the immediate problems of rebuilding the devastated region. Republicans are using Hurricane Katrina to back more conservative, anti-government ideas, including the suspension of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws, waiver of Affirmative Action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf Region and exemptions from the Estate Tax.

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**NOTE: To schedule an interview with Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey, please contact Jessica Mantooth at 202-955-5665 x117.**

CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE AGENDA TO REBUILD THE GULF COAST, REBUILD AMERICA

The Campaign for America’s Future Rebuild the Gulf Coast, Rebuild America agenda is being embraced by labor, civil rights, women’s groups and community organizing networks. It demands decisive action to address the immediate problems of rebuilding the devastated region and the need to do more.

We pledge ourselves to work together to advance a larger progressive agenda to address our country’s real problems. We pledge to work together to build support for an ambitious plan we call Rebuild the Gulf Coast and Rebuild America.

  1. We want Congress and the Bush administration to take immediate steps, as proposed by Senate Minority Leader Reid, to meet the urgent health care, housing, education and economic needs of the millions of Americans affected by Katrina.
  2. We call for a long-term effort to rebuild the Gulf Coast region—to reestablish commerce, construct energy-efficient housing, and reduce the impact of future natural disasters by rebuilding in a way that works with, not against, natural wetlands and river systems.
    • This reconstruction effort should include jobs and training for unemployed residents of the Gulf—similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps—as proposed by NAACP Chair Julian Bond. This would put money in the pockets of the 400,000 newly unemployed people—in places where few jobs are available, especially for the unskilled.
    • Note: CAF is joining with other groups to protest President Bush’s over-riding of federal rules mandating “prevailing wages”—and now his actions to over-ride affirmative action and environmental rules—on federal reconstruction projects in the Gulf states. “We should be creating good construction and service jobs for displaced residents of the Gulf—and those jobs should pay wages that support a family,” said Hickey. “And we should be rebuilding with a representative workforce and in a way that improves the environment, not ignoring environmental rules, he declared.”

  3. We call for strengthening, not weakening, the social safety net—for those affected by the hurricane and for all Americans. We call on Congress not to proceed with the Bush Administration’s planned budget cuts in Medicaid, housing, food stamps and education.
    • Congress should repeal the recently-passed Bankruptcy Bill to help families struggling with disasters and soaring gas prices
    • Congress should stop Bush’s Social Security Privatization because we need guaranteed family security.
    • We pledge to work for economic change to build an America where no one is stuck in poverty, and where all our people have jobs, health care, education, and healthy communities.
  4. We call on President Bush and Republicans in Congress to renounce all efforts to repeal the Estate Tax—not just postpone a vote as Senator Frist has now done. And they should also give up their continuing campaign to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Instead of rewarding the rich with favors, we need to restore tax fairness while raising the revenues for the investment we need to rebuild America.
  5. We demand a plan to start bringing our troops home from Iraq and rebuild the stretched National Guard to deal with future emergencies.
  6. We pledge to work to pass the Apollo Alliance plan for energy independence—starting with immediate efforts to reduce US demand for foreign oil. America should declare a goal of reducing our dependence on foreign energy and of dramatically cutting pollution that alters the earth’s climate. This will require retooling our homes, communities and transportation systems and challenging vested energy interests to change. And we urge Congress to move quickly on Sen. Byron Dorgan’s plan for an excess profits tax on energy companies, with revenue devoted to reconstruction and investment in energy independence.

CAF and allies pledge to work toward this Rebuild the Gulf Coast and Rebuild America agenda by sending this message to your elected officials—and to let them know that supporters won’t stop until they have transformed our government from one that tells us: “You are on your own,” to a democratic instrument that helps us declare, “We can solve any problem together.”

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