fresh voices from the front lines of change







“The way to create jobs is by paying a living wage to workers, That creates demand. Republicans say jobs from tax cuts for rich people.” These were some of the remarks by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at a Speakout For Good Jobs Tour I attended last night. See the rest of Pelosi’s very, very strong remarks below.

Last night I attended a Speakout for Good Jobs Tour event at the Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ in Oakland, CA, hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). Also at the event were Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), and Congressman Michael Honda, CPC Budget Task Force Chair. There was about About 1000-1200 people attending and it was a lively crowd.

Here are some photos I took:

These town-hall-style events have been going on in different cities throughout the summer. People come to the events to tell their own stories about the need for jobs. Progressive Caucus members will take these stories back to Washington in September and use them to ask Congress to stop playing games and work on a real plan to create jobs. The events were organized by and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Lee

Beginning the event, Rep. Barbara Lee talked about the 9.1% national unemployment rate, with 1 in 5 children and 45 million people in poverty. This is worse in communities of color. But the Republican-controlled congress has yet to bring any legislation to floor that would address the nation’s unemployment.

Leader Pelosi

Rep. Lee introduced Leader Nancy Pelosi who pointed out that this is day 224 of the Republican majority in the House. In that time they haven’t passed one bill for jobs.

They want to reduce taxes for the very wealthy. They did that during the Bush administration, and it did not create jobs. In fact, more private sector jobs were created under Obama last year than in 8 years of Bush administration.

She said she told the “Super Committee” of 12 that the best way to reduce the deficit is to create jobs. The progressive members of the House that she named to the committee were told to take this to a higher ground, take it to a place that really does create good paying jobs, and we want the committee to think about how to do this.

If you are paying wages commensurate with productivity, workers will be paid more, and the more you pay workers, the more they inject demand into the economy, the more jobs they create.

In addition we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Cuts to medicare makes seniors pay more to get less, while we are giving subsidies to big oil. Cutting off Medicaid throws seniors out of nursing homes, while giving tax cuts to companies for sending jobs overseas.

So the Republican priorities are way off balance. This is not good for communities, not a good way to cut deficits. It turns things upside down. We have to do it in reverse, stop these tax breaks at high end.

We have to have jobs moving forward now, need something on the table on day 1 when Congress comes back. She is glad Obama hit the road with plan for job creation so people can see the difference between what Republicans propose and what he would propose.

The FAA bill, this is almost an obscenity. By not passing it r Congress has held up about 4000 FAA jobs and about 8,0000 construction jobs. it is another labor issue, trying to put into bill something to gut the unions.

“This is all just an all out assault on American workers.”

We need more jobs, good paying jobs, we need to understand where we are in history. This is a very important time, it could be a turning point where workers rights are asserted. It is appropriate that we are here because everything in the Bible tells us we are here to help each other, this is not the law of the jungle.

“The President doesn’t like to look back and assign blame, well I will.” President Clinton had to sweep up after Reagan and the first Bush. We know how to get rid of the deficit, we did it before. Bush II immediately turned it around with tax cuts that did not generate jobs. Then giveaways to pharma and insurance. Then 2 wars. Then deep recession that their policies caused. And here we are.

Now Obama has to clean up after Republicans again.

They are hijacking the issue of deficit reduction in order to destroy the public space. They do not believe in the government role, they want to destroy the government role. They are using this as an excuse.

Know your power and know your role in history, this is a very important time. This really is the most crucial time, as to whether we respect work, value it, pay a living wage, reduce private debt. Look at how they got people hooked on private borrowing, private credit, they won’t raise the minimum wage, if you keep the wages down people have to use credit, home equity loan borrow against their savings, take 2 jobs, not a pretty sight.

We must build an economy that has economic justice, environmental justice, social justice, honor what our country was intended to be. Honor the people who got us here. Build a future worthy of their sacrifices to us.

Rep. Grijalva

Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva spoke next.

When I was a kid, my mom would say, “tell me who you are running with and I’ll tell you who you are.” I’m glad to be running with these three (Pelosi, Lee and Honda.)

This is a contrived fiscal crisis. It is an absolute fact that for the economy to raise itself again we need jobs.

We are here to listen to you. We are here to talk about a real jobs agenda. Not wait for trickle down theory. Our job is literally saving our democracy.

Rep. Honda

Congressman Michael Honda spoke last. We are in the house of God, for that I’m grateful, because it will temper me.

Love your enemies as you love yourself — what a test.

Be angry but sin not. Every night I go to bed at peace but the next morning I pick up that rod a ==nd I look for somebody to whip

Here is what you have to do:
1 You have to vote
2 You have to get our information straight, have to listen to the people.

This is what we do, we are here to hear the petitions of the people, and to match that against what we have planned.

From The Audience

Among the audience members who told their stories was a woman who was a janitor from a country club. “It costs 20000 to be a member there and 600 a month.” She has been locked out from her job because they asked for health care, and the country club don’t want to give benefits. SO they did a “lock out.” They tried to organize, were told go look for another job if you want benefits. Some have been working over 20 years, thrown out in the street for asking for health care. “They take advantage of the national economic crisis and we are fighting against that.”

Another woman said her son can’t support himself with a 40 hour job so worked two other jobs, 60 hours a week. “Taking those jobs meant others can’t have even those jobs.” No insurance, can’t afford to go to doctor, even when ill, so he got very sick because couldn’t see the doctor. So now MediCal is paying, he is only working one job now, his kids are on state health care, the rich corporations are making money we are suffering.

Another man, “when I need health care I go to Tijuana.”

Click to see a number of videos of people telling their own stories at other Speakout For Good Jobs Tour events.


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