Robert Kuttner, who was recently in Eugene (see our Oct. 4 issue), is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospectmagazine and author of “A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control Our Economic Future.”
In a recent piece in the Huffington Post titled “Let’s Not Make a Deal,” Kuttner writes: “We need more public spending both because the private economy is weak and because Hurricane Sandy just revealed the need for hundreds of billions of more outlay to protect our coastal communities from ocean waters that will continue rising. We will need hundreds of billions beyond that invested in renewable energy to keep global climate change from worsening. ...
"The president's own proposed budget cuts of $4 trillion over 10 years average out to $400 billion a year. In other words, the Obama Cliff is almost as large as the fiscal cliff that everyone dreads. Whatever the precise mix of tax increases and spending cuts, $4 trillion is too big a cliff. …
“In that aborted [budget] deal [of 2011], Obama was prepared to cut Social Security and increase the Medicare eligibility age. White House leaks have suggested that both items will be on the table this time. That's bad policy, and worse politics. The clearest principled differences that distinguish Democrats from Republicans is that Democrats are staunch defenders of Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans are eager to cut, privatize, and voucherize.
“So the good news is that the Democrats won the election and President Obama's spine has been stiffened on the subject of taxes. The bad news is that the skids are greased for a budget deal that cuts more than necessary, risks putting the economy back into recession, and blurs differences between the parties on critical issues like Social Security and Medicare.
“If Obama will just realize it, he holds most of the cards. He prevailed in the election. Most voters agree that the rich should pay higher taxes. Most don't want cuts in Medicare and Social Security. …
“But by all appearances, the eager-beaver bipartisan Obama that we saw in early 2009, (until he got his clock cleaned) is back. Despite his recent victory, if he is too eager to make a deal, he —and we — will get rolled.”
See the full story at www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuttner/fiscal-cliff_b_2115237.html
Leading Oregon activists for marijuana legalization met in Lincoln City last weekend following the defeat of Measure 80. They discussed the future of marijuana politics in the state of Oregon and the impact that election victories legalizing marijuana for adults in Washington and Colorado would have on their next move.
Here is an edited version of their press release, sent to EWby Jim Greig of Eugene:
Attendees included John Sajo, executive director of Voter Power; Jim Greig, board member of Voter Power; Portland attorney Leland Berger; and lobbyist Anthony Taylor. Also in attendance were Todd Dalotto, chair of the Oregon Health Authority’s Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana (ACMM) and president of CAN! Research; Lori Duckworth, executive director of Southern Oregon NORML at the S.O. Cannabis Community Center.
“The legalization of marijuana is inevitable,” said Sajo. “Oregon’s Ballot Measure 80 to implement a regulated approach to marijuana use by adults nearly passed,” said Sajo, “Measure 80’s strong showing of 47 percent of the vote with virtually no money spent on the campaign, indicates Oregon voter’s support to end prohibition.”
Activists also welcomed the call by The Oregonianeditorial board for the Legislature to refer a marijuana legalization proposal to the voters.
“We agree with The Oregonianthat the Legislature is better equipped to flesh out the details of legalization than activists,” said Anthony Taylor, Director of Oregonians for Safe Access. “And after decades of opposing our efforts, it is a welcome change.”
The group discussed its several proposals being drafted by legislative counsel for pre-session filing and other proposals being considered for introduction during the general session including the addition of PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions.
“I am very impressed by the resolve of Oregon activists in the wake of our movement’s success on election day,” said Michael Krawitz, plaintiff in ASA’s (American’s for Safe Access) lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration’s refusal to re-schedule marijuana. “It is my sincere hope that these meetings will lead to much needed reform of Oregon’s marijuana law to protect the state’s disabled military veterans who have, in statistically high numbers, suffered from under-treated PTSD, resulting in a corresponding increase in homelessness, joblessness and despair in large part due to marijuana’s illegality, “ Krawitz added.
What's happening with the Courthouse Garden property? Just added today to the Eugene City Council work session agenda for noon Wednesday, Oct. 31, is a an "Urban Renewal Agency Work Session: Disposition of Real Property," and we hear from a city planner that's it's about the Courthouse Garden site. We have not been able to confirm whether or not Northwest Community Credit Union will be asking for a waiver of system development charges on what could be a $10 million project. NCCU wants to buy the 1.8 acres for a new headquarters building and bank. The council meets at the Eugene Public Library downtown.
The Seattle jazz group Hardcoretet will be performing at 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Jazz Station, 124 W. Broadway. $7 cover, all ages.
Regarding last night’s presidential candidates debate, Daphne Wysham, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, said today: "The Arctic is melting to record lows, extreme weather is increasing, grain reserves are at record lows threatening millions with hunger should there be another bad grain harvest next year, but there was NO mention of climate change in the presidential debates. It was just who could shout 'drill, baby, drill!' the loudest, with President Obama throwing in a token reference to solar and wind.
"On the surface, the candidates appear to hold different positions on climate change: Obama has insisted that 'climate change is not a hoax,' while Romney has mocked the president’s promises 'to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.' Yet both candidates have made clear — either in coded language or in outright support — that they will allow the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada to the U.S. to proceed with little impediment, ignoring warnings from NASA’s top climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, that if the Canadian tar sands are fully exploited, 'it is game over for Earth’s climate.'"
See "Six Global Issues The Foreign Policy Debates Won't Touch,” at http://wkly.ws/1de
This evening after the presidential debates, Ramon Ramirez of PCUN, Oregon's Farmworker Union, will speak on the topic of “Worker Justice and Wage Theft in Oregon.”
Ramirez will speak at a free bilingual event from 7:30 to 9 pm Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Temple Beth Israel, corner of University Street and East 29th Avenue in Eugene.
Event sponsors are Temple Beth Israel, Beyond Toxics, ESSN, Lane County Immigration Integration Network, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics and the UO Labor Education Research Center.
Ramirez is the president of PCUN and “struggled alongside Cesar Chavez in the California grape strikes of the 1960s and 1970s,” say organizers. “He has a deep history in the workers justice movement in the Pacific Northwest.”
The event notice email goes on to say:
“The ethics of social justice, cooperation and human dignity form the framework for learning about the widespread and illegal practice of not paying workers for their work. Oregonians are coming together to call for fair and sustainable agriculture policies.
“Wage theft is the widespread and illegal practice of refusing to pay workers for all or part of their work. Wage theft happens with employers pay less than the minimum wage, don't pay overtime, steal tips, require employees to work ‘off the clock,’ or fail to pay at all.
“In a recent five-year period, over 8,000 wage claims were filed with Oregon's state labor bureau, totaling $24.5 million. This represents only a fraction of the actual incidents of wage theft —thousands more go unreported. In a national study, two-thirds of low-wage workers reported having been victims of wage theft in the last week!
“This widespread problem often flies under the radar — but has a huge impact on the workers who don't get paid, as well as on other workers whose standards are undermined, honest employers who have to compete with scofflaws, communities robbed of local spending, and taxpayers who have to make up for the taxes that can't be collected on unpaid wages.”