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Monday, 21 April 2014 19:30

PDA History 2013 - PDA Organizing in Overdrive

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From the People’s Inaugural to Progressive Round Tables

Progressive Democrats of America kept up our intensity in 2013. When other organizations celebrated during inaugural weekend in D.C., PDA convened another Progressive Central. This conference and work session, dubbed “The Peoples’ Inaugural,” brought together leading progressives and PDA organizers at the University of D.C. Law School.



PDA welcomed several co-sponsors to help us energize the larger progressive movement with discussion topics that featured the wide spectrum of left and liberal objectives including: "Building the Peace & Justice Movement inside & outside the Democratic Party," "Building the Progressive Democratic / Labor Alliance," and "Organizing for Main Street not Wall Street" in an expansive, inclusive and forward-thinking approach. PDA worked to meld traditional and new left-liberal causes into a powerful, effective coalition.

By fostering cooperation among grassroots groups, DC Beltway NGOs and elected officials seeking opportunities for success during the second Obama term.

Speakers and participants included activists and leadership from the NAACP, unions, faith groups, as well as environmental / climate groups, peace and justice organizations and Congress members John Conyers (D-MI.), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ.), Keith Ellison (by video), James McGovern (D-MA.), Mark Pocan (D-WI.), and Alan Grayson (D-FL.) John Nichols (The Nation Magazine, MSNBC) and Steve Cobble (PDA Board, Institute for Policy Studies) served as moderators. 

We welcomed progressive leaders including: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Karen Higgins, Michael Lighty, Lori Wallach, Lindsay McLaughlin, Medea Benjamin, Phyllis Bennis, Donna Smith, Becky Bond, George Kohl, Bill Fletcher, Steve Cobble, Jacqui Patterson, Valerie Serrels, Miriam Pemberton, Andrea Miller, Jose Aguto, and Robert Score—as well as progressive media stalwarts John Nichols and Thom Hartmann.

After a long day of panels, PDA celebrated at Busboys and Poets, hosted by Board Member Andy Shallal, and honored Rep. McGovern at an event emceed by Mimi Kennedy, and featuring comedian Rick Overton.

PDA continued building our impact in districts and on the Hill, as the national debate focused on looming austerity measures.

We worked with members of Congress and Credo Action on a petition drive to draw a line in the sand against any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The battle-lines were eerily similar to the Super Committee debates as a government shut down crisis pushing the White House and Democrats in Congress to accept “sequester” austerity budget cuts. This bad deal and broken down process made PDA’s and our Robin Hood Tax campaign allies all the more determined to tax Wall Street, not punish Main Street.

The People’s Inaugural, Roundtable meetings, letter drops, and organizing to defend the social safety net, began to attract more attention for PDA. In These Times (ITT) magazine ran an article by Tim Carpenter and Communications Coordinator Mike Hersh calling upon Congress to reject any budget deal that included “Chained CPI,” changes to the cost of living formula that threatened to hurt Social Security beneficiaries.

ITT began covering PDA activities on a regular basis as journalist Cole Stangler wrote several articles. 

PDA’s bold efforts brought us closer ties with the House of Labor, including long-standing partners from the National Nurses United (NNU), United State Labor Against War (USLAW) and the Labor for Single Payer Healthcare campaign, as well as new allies from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local-1.



In February, PDA expanded and redesigned the Brown Bag Lunch Vigil (BBLV) campaign into the streamlined Educate Congress Campaign, focusing on “letter drops” at district offices and on Capitol Hill . We also continued our Round Table meetings on the Hill. WeAct Radio joined the effort, video recording and live-streaming the meetings. National Director Tim Carpenter began making regular appearances on Advisory Board Member Thom Hartmann’s radio and TV shows.



We closed out February gathering once again in Winslow, Arizona at our national leadership summit. There, we discussed ways to increase our effectiveness, bringing in Kurt Bateman to help our with our growing labor alliances, and Jeanne Marie Dauray to bring our Issue Team work up to a higher level. For the third consecutive year, Allan Affeldt and his partner, artist Tina Mion, welcomed the PDA grassroots leadership team to a retreat at their beautiful La Posada resort. 

PDA staff, issue teams, state and local leadership heard from PDA Board Members Michael Lighty (National Nurses United) and PDA's Political Director Steve Cobble as well as Eric Griego (PDA-endorsed Candidate for Congress from New Mexico in 2012) and Mark Dudzic (Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare) about ways to build the PDA/Labor Alliance, how better to mobilize support for progressive candidates, and other priorities.

We reviewed our successes and disappointments and made plans for PDA moving forward. We also met as Issue Teams to discuss exciting new developments in our inside/outside work: specifically how to effectively focus our "Educate Congress" campaign efforts supporting landmark progressive legislation on peace, conversion of Pentagon spending to create green jobs, voting rights, jobs creation, Medicare for All, opposing bad trade deals, preventing climate change and more.



In March, we rallied support for the “Back To Work Budget”—a progressive alternative to the Republic House and the Democratic Senate budgets—that would: help create 7 million new jobs in one year, enact fair tax policies (including a Robin Hood Tax), cut weapons spending, improve healthcare, and help stop climate change and otherwise protect the environment (Carbon Tax, Ending Subsidies to fossil fuel corporations)--all while preventing cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. We hand-delivered Educate Congress letters, made calls, and used social media to back this legislation.



In April, we continued and expanded our demands for progressive solutions to budget concerns—not cuts to needed programs. While the President and many in Congress put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block, PDA mobilized in Washington, D.C. and at district offices across the nation with our Educate Congress campaign at more than 100 congressional offices, dropping letters telling members of Congress to: Block any and all cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by signing the Grayson / Takano “line in the sand” letter; and to co-sponsor both Rep. Conyers’ H.R. 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, and Rep. Ellison’s newly-reintroduced Inclusive Prosperity Act (aka the Robin Hood Tax).

PDA also hosted a Prosperity Not Austerity reception with special guests Rep. Conyers and Rep. Ellison as well as Rev. Lennox Yearwood in D.C., and invited members of Congress, staffers, union leaders, and movement organizers to another Progressive Roundtable on Capitol Hill, and rallied with the Robin Hood Tax Campaign supporting Rep. Ellison’s Financial Transaction Tax. We closed out April celebrating a special election victory with our endorsed Senate candidate Ed Markey.



In May, PDA launched our End Mass Criminalization effort led by Andrea Miller and Rev. Terence Dicks. The duo had been hosting and expanding PDA’s Blog Talk Radio programming and initiated PDA’s “Southern Strategy.” Their efforts gained several new allies and chapters for PDA, developed a large audience for the radio shows, and helped bring our attention to the many talented and eager progressives in the South.



LD Review2 from conor boylan on Vimeo.

 

By June, PDA’s Educate Congress letter drop effort had grown to 230 office visits per month. To reinforce and add emphas is to the messages, PDA organized demonstrations at district offices, and then followed up with nationwide phone banking after each letter drop. Mike “Phone Guy” Fox organizes these calls into congressional offices.

In July, PDA helped lead the fight against billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP aka food stamps) We rallied activists in emergency Street Heat actions at the district offices of top Congressional Democratic leaders including: House Leader Pelosi, House Whip Hoyer, DNC Chair Wasserman-Schultz, as well as Senate Whip Durbin. 

PDA Board member Rep. Jim McGovern said that PDA “helped Democrats be Democrats” when we encouraged them to vote against food stamp cuts. “People here [in DC] knew there was a movement out there that was absolutely against gutting the SNAP program,” McGovern said.



In August, Mike Hersh spoke at a massive stop Fracking rally across from the White House and joined the delivery of 100,000s of petition signatures to the Bureau of Land Management. Later in the month, when President Obama and many others called for an attack against Syria, PDA reached out to our partners and helped lead the peace effort by phone-banking and social media outreach, and by once again bringing street heat. Our great friends Lily Tomlin, John Nichols and Bob McChesney joined Board Members Jim Hightower, Tom Hayden and our Chair Mimi Kennedy at a wonderful fundraiser in Los Angeles.



In September, we pushed for “aggressive diplomacy” with a special letter drop—hand-delivering Educate Congress letters to 151 Representatives and Senators urging them to vote against military action by cosponsoring Board Member Rep. Barbara Lee’s resolution. We also raised funds for a full-page ad in Roll Call, the de facto official newspaper of Congress, featuring a well-reasoned case for diplomacy written by PDA Board Member Tom Hayden.

A second September letter drop called for continued diplomatic efforts rather than warfare agai nst Syria, and provided explained how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would hurt Main Street. PDA’s coalition work organizing against the TPP—which began in January with Lori Wallach of Global Trade Watch sounding the alarm at PDA’s Progressive Central in January—continued into 2014.



In October, PDA hosted several events with John Nichols and Robert McChesney—the authors of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America—in Massachusetts and California. This excellent book explains how American democracy is declining as the range of debate is increasingly controlled by big-money campaign contributions, wall-to-wall lobbying, and media more inclined to repeat spin than to dig for the truth. 

This is a theme championed by our End Corporate Rule working group, coordinated by Stephen Spitz and Jann Campbell. They’re helping to advance the We The People, Not We The Corporations PDA platform on the following issues: Overturning Citizens United, Protecting the Postal Service, Negotiating Prescription Drug Prices Under Medicare Part D, and Ending the Congress Member to Lobbyist Revolving Door.



In November, PDA hosted another successful Progressive Roundtable, this time featuring Representatives Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, and Alan Grayson with many of our progressive allies. After the Round Table, many of us delivered 700,000 signatures to Rep. Paul Ryan's office to say, "No cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits". Then our Political Director, Steve Cobble, appeared on the Thom Hartmann show.



In December, PDA kept working our “Inside/Outside strategy.” Rep. John Conyers, read glowing testimony about PDA into the official Congressional Record. We worked with IATSE Local One’s Robert Score and the New York Central Labor Council to secure their endorsement of his signature legislation, H.R. 676, and helped mobilize support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ and Rep. Jim McDermott’s American Health Security Act as well. 

Also in December, PDA organized Hill visits supporting constitutional amendments to guarantee voting rights for all U.S. citizens, to remove the ratification deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment, to end corporate personhood, and to reverse the Supreme Court decision defining money as political speech. We visited selected Senate offices on behalf of these amendments, and for a budget that reflects the values of the American people, versus the multinational corporations.

Later that month, we held one of our best letter drops and round tables yet. PDA Executive Director Tim Carpenter explained, “The Educate Congress letter drops represent some of the best organizing PDA has done.” He added, “Delivering monthly letters to an increasing number of Congressional offices has not only helped us influence policy decisions—from stopping war with Syria to saving food stamps—it has helped us grow PDA and the new progressive movement nationwide.”



After our December Roundtable, PDA held a benefit at Busboys and Poets in D.C. hosted by PDA Board Member—and current D.C. Mayoral candidate—Andy Shallal, where we hosted Board Member Rep. John Conyers, and welcomed Rep. Keith Ellison onto our board. The Nation’s John Nichols emceed, as we celebrated the end of the year with several of our closest allies and friends. John honored our Educate Congress campaign in his end-of-the-year progressive honor roll.

Looking back on our 2013 accomplishments, PDA had a lot to be proud of. Our letter drops, street heat demonstrations, phone-banking, social media outreach, and DC Round Tables persuaded six Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1000: The Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act; five signed onto H.R. 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act; and three agreed to cosponsor H.R. 1579: The Inclusive Prosperity Act (aka the Robin Hood Tax). “We had drops in all of the districts where we gained co-sponsors for progressive bills [showing] our hard work is beginning to pay off!”

Read 1658 times Last modified on Monday, 21 April 2014 19:58

Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track - Where Does Your Legislator Stand

Click your state to see your Senators and Representatives

Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = Unknown
DeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letter
Pocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast Track
W/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPP
Gibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP
SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against
Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter)
Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)

TPP and Trade Articles

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  • Trade talks open in Utah, but secrecy spurs protests
    Trade talks open in Utah, but secrecy spurs protests

    Outside Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel on Tuesday, the rains fell, the speakers rose, the marchers chanted.

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    Written on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:31 Read more...
  • TPP Disclosure Shows It Will Kill People and Internet; House Opposition Is Widespread
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    We wrote yesterday that this deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, already looked to be in trouble given both Congressional and foreign opposition. The Administration has conducted the talks with an unheard-of degree of secrecy, with Congressional staffers in most cases denied access to the text and even Congressmen themselves facing unheard-of obstacles (Alan Grayson reported that the US Trade Representative created an absurd six weeks of dubious delays in his case).

    Written on Saturday, 16 November 2013 02:02 Read more...
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    New Trans Pacific trade partnership stirs worries

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    Written on Friday, 15 November 2013 16:16 Read more...
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    Written on Friday, 15 November 2013 01:26 Read more...
  • Some 194 Members of Congress Publicly Express Trans Pacific Partnership Concerns to the President
    Some 194 Members of Congress Publicly Express Trans Pacific Partnership Concerns to the President

    Today, 151 Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama laying out their concerns about the lack of consultation during the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and their opposition to “fast tracking” the deal without any meaningful congressional input. House Democrats joined the growing chorus of some 194 members of Congress who have publicly expressed their frustrations with this massive trade agreement.

    Written on Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Letters: More scrutiny of the TPP trade pact
    Letters: More scrutiny of the TPP trade pact The TPP also would extend trade preferences to such countries as Vietnam instead of holding them accountable for their deplorable human rights and worker records.  And the TPP would enable polluting corporations to challenge clean air and water policies if they interfered with expected profits.

    Written on Friday, 01 November 2013 15:15 Read more...
  • Trade Issues Remain Low-Profile in Congress
    Trade Issues Remain Low-Profile in Congress

    To hear lawmakers tell it, efforts to move trade legislation through the House Ways and Means Committee, while earnest and ongoing, have hit snags in the 113th Congress.

    Several big pieces of legislation are slowly winding their way through the committee, including bills dealing with trade-promotion authority and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Written on Thursday, 24 October 2013 15:45 Read more...
  • Trading You In
    Trading You In

    Ten score and thirteen years ago corporate forefathers began conquering wilderness, steam, gas, oil, electricity, transcontinental rails and airways communication, prospering by quenching America’s thirst for more, better, faster.  Now we who built it, want more, faster, so thinking locally, we trade globally.  Thus unlike you, we will always have money to eat.

    Written on Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Will Obama Fast-Track the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
    Will Obama Fast-Track the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

    President Barack Obama has demanding a ‘trade promotion authority’ from the United States Congress to fast-track the Pacific Rim treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[1]

    The fast-track authority plays a pivotal role in determining the extent to which the United States Congress can engage in a critical review of trade agreements.[2]

    Written on Thursday, 17 October 2013 20:25 Read more...
  • There's an International Plan to Censor the Internet in the Works -- Let's Stop It in Its Tracks
    There's an International Plan to Censor the Internet in the Works -- Let's Stop It in Its Tracks

    How the Trans Pacific Partnership making its way through Washington seriously undermines citizens’ rights to participate in a free and open Internet. One month. That’s the time left before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could become a finalized agreement.

    Written on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 00:05 Read more...
  • A Corporate Coup in Disguise
    A Corporate Coup in Disguise

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership would create a virtually permanent corporate rule over the people. What if our national leaders told us that communities across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc. to allow foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars?

    Written on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:17 Read more...
  • 'Flush the TPP!': Protesters Scale Trade Building in Protest of Secretive Deal
    'Flush the TPP!': Protesters Scale Trade Building in Protest of Secretive Deal

    Protesters scaled the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday and dropped banners calling for greater transparency and an end to "corporatocracy" over the ongoing and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently in the works between the United States and several Pacific nations.

    Written on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 03:31 Read more...
  • Secretive Free Trade Agreement Puts Climate, Public Health at Risk
    Secretive Free Trade Agreement Puts Climate, Public Health at Risk

    New warnings on TPP, free trade 'regime' fostering 'global emergency situation'

    As secretive talks over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the pending free trade agreement slammed as "NAFTA on steroids" and "a quiet coup for the investor class"—continue, new warnings highlight the corporate winners and global losers at stake.

    Written on Monday, 16 September 2013 02:45 Read more...
  • Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track
    Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track

    President Obama has asked Congress to provide “Fast Track” authorization for consideration of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) a new “free trade” deal.

    The negotiations for this new “free trade” agreement have been conducted in secret. Members of Congress as well as the public have no factual information about the contents of this deal.

    Written on Sunday, 15 September 2013 17:36 Read more...
  • TPP Talking Points

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed agreement between the U.S. and 12 nations that do business throughout the Pacific Rim. TPP and its European cousin the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (aka TAFTA), are "free trade" agreements that do much more than the term implies.

    Written on Monday, 02 September 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Obama's secret trade deal threatens prescription drug prices on global scale
    Obama's secret trade deal threatens prescription drug prices on global scale

    The US pharmaceutical industry has been shaping elements of the Obama administration’s secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to favor their own profits. But the deal could also could cause the price of prescription drugs and some medical devices to soar on a global scale.

    Written on Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Pocan Calls for Increased Transparency on Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to Protect American Jobs
    Pocan Calls for Increased Transparency on Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to Protect American Jobs

    Pocan urges Congress not to give up its constitutional authority to oversee foreign trade agreements

    Written on Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Hides 'Assault On Democratic Government'
    Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Hides 'Assault On Democratic Government'

    Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration's transparency record and its treatment of classified information.

    Written on Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00 Read more...

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

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Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Join our Twitter Storm

If you have a Twitter account you can help stop Fast Track on the TPP. Sign-in to your Twitter account and copy and paste the Tweets from our Twitter storm. Or you can copy your favorite Tweet and then click on the map and Tweet your legislator.

Twitter Storm Tweets for Tuesday, January 28th @ 9pm Eastern

Tweets for the special State of the Union Twitter Storm will be posted on January 28th at 8pm EST. Check back for the new Tweets.

Find Your Member of Congress

Click here to quickly find your member of Congress by putting in your home address. This site also features a one-click link to the same information in Spanish

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Then call and ask them to oppose Fast Track on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Sample script is below.

Script

“I'm a constituent, and I am strongly opposed to my representative giving away Congress’ constitutional authority to control our trade policy. We send people to Congress to stand up for us, not give away their power to stop more American job offshoring and protect us from dangerous imported food that doesn’t meet our safety standards. This latest so-called trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would not only do that - but also ban Buy American and increase our medicine prices. That’s why it’s crucial that Congress not give away its authority to make sure every provision of TPP is in our interest before this massive deal can be signed. Good trade deals don’t need to be railroaded through Congress using Fast Track. I hope my representative will commit to opposing this outrageous legislation.”

Email Your Senators and Rep - Say No On Fast Track and TPP

Send an email directly to your Senators and Representatives courtesy of our partners at CWA. Enter your zip code and your members are automatically selected.

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Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

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Report on your TPP Contact

Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Global Domination

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

Lori Wallach Leaked TPP Documents (Democracy NOW)

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Lori Wallach on Thom Hartmann (Great Minds) - The TPP

Flush the TPP

Congress only has one more week in session this year, the week of December 9. So far our pressure to stop the TPP has been working. Visit Flush the TPP for calling scripts and links to Members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Flush the TPP

TPP Downloads

The following documents are available from the Oppose TPP Downloads Folder

June 29th TPP Powerpoint

CWA TPP Jobs Report