The next day, PDA joined activists at federal courthouses around the nation to “Occupy the Courts” marking the two year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision. PDA Advisory Board member Thom Hartmann addressed the gathering in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. Communications Coordinator Mike Hersh, Virginia Co-coordinator Stephen Spitz, and other PDA DC-area activists joined national leaders of the Move To Amend effort across the street in the United Methodist Building—a meeting place for the historic 1963 March on Washington.
In February, PDA national, state, and issue team leadership gathered in Winslow for our annual retreat where we developed plans to expand our issue work, and formulated elections strategies. We’d already begun endorsing progressives for Congress including: Norman Solomon (CA-2), Eric Griego (NM-1), Ilya Sheyman (IL-10), and Elizabeth Warren (MA Senate) as well as Advisory Board members Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-9) and Dennis Kucinich (OH-9).
As budget season began in March, PDA worked to support the “Budget for All” which would quickly and safely bring our troops home, create jobs, close wasteful loopholes, unleash creativity, as well as invest in our people and infrastructure. By bringing our troops home and realigning national security strategy, this budget would save taxpayers $1.1 trillion over 10 years.
The Budget would also reflect our values by investing $2.9 trillion in jobs, manufacturing, alternative energy, entrepreneurs and small business. It would let Bush-era tax cuts expire for the highest incomes, enact a high net-worth surcharge, treat capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, close loopholes, end corporate welfare, and establish accountability. Unfortunately this budget failed to pass the GOP dominated House, but that was no surprise. We remain committed to achieving the goals outlined in the “Budget for All.”
In April, PDA joined the national movement called the 99% Spring. Groups from every corner of our movement—inspired by the everyday heroes of Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin—gathered to call for bold nonviolent direct actions to make the voices of the 99% impossible to ignore. During the week of April 9-15, in small towns and big cities all across America, 100,000s came together to challenge corporate power, end tax giveaways to the 1%, fight the influence of money in politics, and demand an economy that works for all of us.
That month we also stepped up our non-stop organizing for single-payer, Medicare for all healthcare on the national and state levels. We called upon members of Congress to support the full Healthcare Not Warfare platform for prosperity including HR1200 and HR 676 (advancing single payer) and HR780 (providing a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan and bringing our war dollars home). We also reaffirmed our demand that Medicare and Social Security must not be privatized, “voucher-ized” or weakened in any other way. Instead of cuts, we called for Medicare to be improved, expanded, and extended to all for life.
PDA recognized that Congressional efforts for single-payer bills like The American Health Security Act S915/HR1200, or HR676 had bottomed out after passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare,” and election-year politics. Still, we continued pushing to advance these bills, gaining more co-sponsors and educating people about the need for sanity in our health system.
As the weather and the Presidential contest heated up in May, so did PDA. PDA and National Nurses United (NNU) teamed up to help lead a march and rally in Chicago billed as “Main Street Challenges Wall Street.” We’re proud of our role helping with a massive demonstration focusing on the G-8 meeting where heads of state met and gambled with our future. The G-8 hosts tried to run from Chicago and hide at Camp David, but on May 18th, NNU, PDA and allies from around the world marched and rallied demanding a tax hike on the 1% to build a sustainable economy for the 99%. The Chicago actions featured Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, and was led by activists from the U.S., Europe and around the World.
Also in May, to honor Mother’s Day, Mother's Day, PDA and our ERA Coalition partners called upon Congress to support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment through the “three-state strategy.” Currently, federal and state laws cannot fully protect equal rights for women and girls—and, in some cases—for men and boys. Antonin Scalia, Betty Ford, Patricia Ireland, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter have all asserted that the ERA is necessary for Constitutional equality. Both the Senate and House have Joint Resolutions promoting the "three-state strategy," which could pass by simple majority vote in each.
In June, PDA efforts came up short at the ballot box. We worked hard for wins in Wisconsin, New Mexico and California, but—because of massive money overwhelming popular will—we lost the recall Walker effort in Wisconsin. We also came up short with Eric Griego in New Mexico, and in California, our friend Norman Solomon lost by few hundred votes. Despite these stinging, narrow defeats, we brushed ourselves off and went back to work.
With federal-level single-payer efforts stalling, PDA worked to protect progress toward single-payer in Vermont and other states. We also welcomed healthcare hero Dr. Quentin Young to our National Board in June. When the One Payer States group held its third annual summit in Philadelphia at the end of June-early July, PDA once again attended to support single payer work in the many states assembled.
Throughout the Summer, PDA made progress by preventing bad things from happening. We helped lead the national effort to stop the “Super Committee” proposals to slash our social safety net. We supported our Advisory Board Member Rep. Raul Grijalva and his Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chair Rep. Keith Ellison drawing a line in the sand against any agreement that would cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. It was a hard-fought victory, but we did it. Along the way, we forged strong alliances with organizations like Social Security Works. In the end, we halted efforts to slash the safety net.
In September, PDA hosted another stellar Progressive Central, the People’s Convention—parallel to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. John Nichols (Nation Magazine, MSNBC) served as moderator as we welcomed speakers including: Governor Mike Dukakis, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congress members John Conyers, Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee and Alan Grayson. We recognized Dr. Quentin Young (by long distance), Rep. Conyers, National Nurses United (NNU), and Communications Workers of America (CWA) with awards for service to the progressive cause.
At this one-day conference, we planned a more progressive future, and discussed ways to build the “inside/outside” movement for: Medicare for All, protecting Social Security, ending U.S. wars and occupations, preventing war with Iran, enacting a “Robin Hood Tax” on Wall Street speculation, fighting back against out-of-control corporate power, rolling back Citizens United, reversing global warming, and more. We also organized to elect and re-elect progressive members to Congress in 2012 and beyond. We also enjoyed music by the talented duo, emma’s revolution.
Issue Teams continued to provide excellent leadership, thanks to our coordinators. We had two national petition drives: in July, we delivered more than 25,000 signatures to the Senate demanding a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan. We also delivered 12,500 signatures to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) in support of ending the Big Pharma corporate giveaway by negotiating the price of prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. Rep. Schakowsky is the sponsor of the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act (H.R. 999).
After enduring serious disappointment in the 2010 elections, PDA geared up for success in November. We again endorsed a slate of top progressives—including helping to re-elect all of our Board Members running for Congress. We were active in primaries, taking on the Party Machines and their Blue Dog candidates. Mike “Phone Guy” Fox led our PDA Phone Team to new heights, connecting with actual voters on 10,000s of calls and making a huge difference.
In the general elections, we stretched to the limit backing candidates from coast to coast, helping several to victory including: Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-09), Dr. Ami Bera (CA-07), Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-09), Rep. Donna Edwards (MD-04), Elizabeth Warren (MA Senate), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-03), Rep. John Conyers (MI-13), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05), Tammy Baldwin (WI Senate), Mark Pocan (WI-02). Unfortunately, we fell short with some other strong progressive candidates: Lesli Messinger (GA-01), Dr. David Gill (IL-13), Dr. Syed Taj (MI-11), Wayne Powell (VA-07), and Rob Zerban (WI-01). We’re hoping many of them will run again.
PDA ended 2012 with a bang in December as we launched the first in a series of monthly, “Progressive Roundtable” meetings with Congress members, staff, leading progressive activists, union leaders, and more. The Roundtables and letter drops provided a strong foundation for PDA to expand our reach and bring in long-standing and new partners for progress as we moved into 2013.