With 314 Bills, Local Dems Aim High

Thomas Breen photoRaise the minimum wage. Legalize recreational marijuana. Create a paid family medical leave program. And build affordable housing in the suburbs.

Oh, and don’t forget property tax reform. Or school district regionalization. Or criminal justice reform.

New Haven and Hamden’s Democratic state legislators have prioritized those goals in some of the hundreds of bills they’ve introduced during the legislative session so far.

Since the start of the Connecticut General Assembly’s regular 2019 session on Jan. 9, local legislators have introduced or co-sponsored 314 bills and resolutions.

In all, with a newly emboldened Democratic majority in Hartford, the proposals represent the local delegation’s first steps towards enacting a promised progressive agenda, one that aims to redistribute power, wealth, and influence towards the state’s historically marginalized and underserved populations.

As the regular legislative session kicks into full gear, the 12 state House and Senate legislators who represent New Haven and Hamden are uniquely positioned to convert these proposals into law, especially since last November saw Democrats retain control of the governor’s mansion and win back control of both chambers of the state assembly, in large part due to New Haven voter turnout.

Every New Haven legislator in office holds some position of authority up at the Capitol.

Martin Looney is the president pro tem of the state Senate. Rep. Toni Walker is the House chair of the Appropriations Committee. Sen. Gary Winfield co-chairs the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Robyn Porter co-chairs the Labor & Public Employees Committee. Rep. Roland Lemar is the House Chair of the Transportation Committee. Rep. Al Paolillo is the vice chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee. Rep. Juan Candelaria is the deputy speaker of the House. And Rep. Pat Dillon is the House Democrats’ assistant majority whip.

The same is true for Hamden’s delegation. Rep. Mike D’Agostino is the co-chair of the General Law Committee. Rep. Josh Elliott is the assistant majority leader in the House and the vice chair of the Commerce Committee. And Sen. George Logan, the lone Republican from the area, is the co-chair of the Planning and Development Committee, the vice chair of the Public Health Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Senate Republican majority whip.

Some of the proposed laws reflect years of legislative effort. Some are new and specific to the current political moment. Thanks to New Haven and Hamden legislators’ positions of prominence in Hartford, at least some have a chance of actually becoming law before the regular legislative session ends in June.

Following are some of the ones to watch.

Tax Reform

In New Haven, taxable property can be hard to come by. Roughly 55 percent of properties in the city are off the tax rolls. That property, much of it belonging to educational and medical institutions and other tax-exempt nonprofits, is some of the most valuable land in the city.

Mayor Toni Harp and her budget team have spent a good part of the past year arguing that the city’s recent 11 percent tax increase, credit rating downgrade, and negative $11.09 million overall fund balance are due primarily to flat and/or falling state aid, which makes up roughly 48 percent of the city’s general fund budget.

A handful of bills proposed by the New Haven delegation, and in particular by its head, Martin Looney, take aim at that very property tax revenue conundrum.

The first, which the State Senate president discussed at length at a recent League of Women Voters-hosted breakfast in Hamden, is Senate Bill (S.B.) 431, or “An Act Concerning Property Tax Reform.”

The proposed bill, which has been referred to the Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding, would establish a $50,000 homestead exemption to the assessed value of one-to-four family, owner-occupied homes. Since properties in Connecticut are assessed at 70 percent of market value, property taxes would then be applied at the assessed value minus $50,000, which would provide the greatest relief for families with lower value properties.

 

As for raising revenue, the proposed bill would establish a 1 mill state-wide tax on real property, with a mill equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value. It would also replace all municipal car taxes with a single state-wide car tax set at between 15 and 19 mills. New Haven’s car tax is currently at around 42 mills, while Greenwich’s is 12 mills.

The proceeds raised from the state-wide property tax and the state-wide car tax would then go towards funding the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, which reimburses cities like New Haven for revenue lost out on through tax-exempt. The bill also would direct new revenue towards special education grants and other education and alliance district grants.

But S.B. 431 isn’t the only proposed bill from Looney that seeks to beef up the city’s tax coffers.

S.B. 788, or “An Act Allowing Municipalities To Impose A Property Tax On Certain Facilities,” would allow municipalities to impose a property tax on outpatient hospital facilities that generate income for hospitals. Which would include Yale New Haven Health (YNHH), the nonprofit health system that includes Yale New Haven Hospital, Bridgeport Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, and several others. In Fiscal Year 2017, YNHH had over two million outpatient encounters and generated a total of $4.3 billion in revenue.

That proposed bill, which was also introduced by fellow local House representatives Walker, Porter, Candelaria, Lemar, Paolillo, and DiMassa, has been referred to the Joint Committee on Planning and Development.

And Looney’s S.B. 475, or “An Act Increasing the Sales Tax Rate And Dedicating The Additional Revenue To Municipalities,” seeks to redistribute state dollars to New Haven via another avenue: the sales tax.

That proposed bill, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding, would increase the sales tax rate by one-half percent, from the current rate of 6.35 percent to 6.85 percent. That new revenue would then be sent right back to the municipalities where the sale took place.

Regionalized Education And Affordable Housing

Lucy Gellman file photoAlso at last week’s legislative agenda forum in Hamden, Looney singled out a proposed bill that would consolidate small Connecticut school districts, thereby working towards a goal of regionalizing government services, which Gov. Ned Lamont promised to prioritize when he won the Democratic Party primary in August 2018.

That bill, S.B. 454, or “An Act Concerning The Creation Of Regional School Districts,” would create a commission responsible for putting together a plan for the regional consolidation of smaller school districts.

The bill, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Education, calls for school districts with total student populations of fewer than 40,000 students each to join regional school districts. It calls on this regionalization plan to become effective statewide starting July 1, 2021 at the latest if such a plan is not approved by the General Assembly and signed into law on or before July 1, 2020.

New Haven State Rep. Lemar has taken the regionalization of services goal beyond education with a handful of bills that encourage the development of affordable housing not just in urban centers like New Haven, but in surrounding suburbs as well.

Just last week, the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force released a final report and list of 44 recommendations for how to make New Haven a more affordable place to live for low-income residents. One of the recommendations has already been introduced by Lemar in his proposed House Bill (H.B.) 6073, or “An Act Expanding Housing Authority Jurisdiction.”

That bill, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Housing, would allow a housing authority to expand its area of operation to include “high and very high opportunity census tracts” within a thirty-mile radius of the municipality where the authority was created. That would allow Elm City Communities, New Haven’s housing authority, to build government-subsidized, low-income housing developments in wealthier surrounding towns like Bethany, Branford, and Guilford, which combined contain less than 10 percent of the region’s affordable housing units, in comparison to New Haven’s 31 percent and Meriden’s 16 percent.

Thomas Breen photoIn that same vein of encouraging affordable housing development outside of New Haven, Lemar has introduced H.B. 5273, or “An Act Concerning As Of Right Multifamily Housing Zones.” That bill, which the Joint Committee on Planning Development has reserved for a subject matter public hearing, would allow multifamily housing developments to be built as of right within one-half mile of all fixed-route transit stops throughout the state.

That would mean that developers could build denser housing closer to bus and train stops statewide, including up and down the recently launched Hartford Line commuter rail, which former Gov. Dannel Malloy hailed as a harbinger of greater transit-oriented development throughout Connecticut.

Lemar has also put forward H.B. 5421, or “An Act Concerning The Recommendations Of The Fair Housing Working Group.” That bill, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Housing, would amend state law to include recommendations made by the bipartisan, legislative Fair Housing Working Group regarding the expansion of housing authority jurisdiction, statewide affordable housing requirements such as inclusionary zoning mandates, and the establishment of a transit-oriented development planning task force.

Health Care And Workers Rights

Of the over 300 bills the New Haven delegation has introduced over the past three weeks, roughly a quarter are geared towards reducing the cost of health care and protecting patients from insufficient insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

One such law, S.B. 48, or “An Act Reducing Prescription Drug Prices Under The Medicaid Program,” would require the state Commissioner of Social Services to establish a price cap for prescription drugs, and then conduct additional negotiations for rebates whenever that cap is exceeded.

Looney has also introduced bills that would prohibit copayment accumulator programs, ban short-term health insurance plans that don’t cover essential benefits, and require manufacturers of brand name prescription drugs to provide samples to manufacturers of generics.

Two bills proposed by local representatives call for the creation of a public health insurance option, though neither bill details how that option would be structured or how it would compete with private insurers. In the Senate, the bill,S.B. 32, has been introduced by Looney, and in the House, the bill, H.B. 5722, has been introduced by Dillon, Lemar, Elliot, and 20 of their House colleagues.

Similarly lacking in details for now but frequently introduced by local legislators are three House Bills and one Senate bill calling for the establishment of a paid family medical leave program whereby workers can take paid time off to care for sick family members. A bevy of local legislators are also behind one Senate bill and two House bills that would raise the the state minimum wage to $15 per hour, as well as one House bill and two Senate bills that would prohibit “captive audience” meetings in which an employer requires a worker to attend a meeting to discus political or religious views.

Marijuana Legalization And Criminal Justice Reform

 

And just as they helped spur former Gov. Dannel Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” initiatives that sought to reduce mass incarceration and ease reentry for recently released prisoners, Sen. Gary Winfield and Rep. Robyn Porter have introduced roughly two dozen criminal justice reform bills.

In the Senate, Winfield and Looney have signed onto S.B. 496, which would legalize and regulate the retail sale and recreational use of cannabis. And in the House, local Reps. Candelaria, Lemar, Walker, Porter, Dillon, and Elliott have helped introduce H.B. 5595, or “An Act Authorizing And Regulating The Retail Sale Of Marijuana.”

That proposed bill, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding, would permit the sale of marijuana to adults 21-year-old and up, and direct revenue from marijuana sales towards drug education and substance abuse treatment programs, as well as towards studying the impact of marijuana legalization and creating a public outreach campaign to prevent driving while high.

With H.B. 6705, backed by Winfield in the Senate and Porter, Candelaria, Walker, Lemar, and Elliott in the House, local legislators have proposed prohibiting the state Department of Correction from subject prisoners to solitary confinement.

With H.B. 6715, Porter and Elliott have proposed eliminating cash bail with the hope of reducing the number of people who have been arrested but not convicted of any crimes from languishing in jail simply because they cannot afford to buy their way out.

And with S.B. 25, Looney has proposed restoring the right to vote to convicted felons on parole.

The 2019 Agenda

Bill #StatusSummarySponsors
SB 431In CommitteeTo reform the property tax system.Martin Looney
SB 788In CommitteeTo create more revenue options for municipalities with a large percentage of properties that are exempt from property tax.Martin Looney, Juan Candelaria, Roland Lemar, Toni Walker, Robyn Porter, Al Paolillo, Michael DiMassa
SB 475In CommitteeTo increase municipal revenue by raising the sales tax.Martin Looney
SB 454In CommitteeTo create a more efficient educational system by consolidating small school districts.Martin Looney
SB 27In CommitteeTo reduce prescription drug prices under the Medicaid program.Martin Looney
SB 30In CommitteeTo prohibit copayment accumulator programs.Martin Looney
SB 34In CommitteeTo prohibit the delivery, issuance for delivery or renewal of short-term health insurance policies in this state that do not provide coverage for essential health benefits.Martin Looney
SB 48In CommitteeTo require manufacturers of brand name prescription drugs to provide samples of such drugs to manufacturers of generic prescription drugs.Martin Looney
SB 32In CommitteeTo establish a public health insurance option.Martin Looney
SB 1In CommitteeTo create a paid family and medical leave program.Martin Looney, Gary Winfield
SB 2In CommitteeTo establish a minimum wage of fifteen dollars per hour in the state.Martin Looney, Gary Winfield
SB 64In CommitteeTo prohibit an employer from coercing employees into attending or participating in meetings sponsored by the employer concerning the employer's views on political or religious mattersMartin Looney
SB 496In CommitteeTo provide for the legalization, taxation and regulation of the retail sale, personal growth and recreational use of cannabis by individuals twenty-one years of age or older.Martin Looney, Gary Winfield
SB 25In CommitteeTo restore the electoral privileges of convicted felons who are on parole.Martin Looney
HB 6073In CommitteeTo allow a housing authority to expand its area of operation to include high and very high opportunity census tracts within a thirty-mile radius.Roland Lemar
HB 5273In CommitteeTo establish as of right multifamily housing zones within one-half mile of all fixed route transit stops.Roland Lemar
HB 5722In CommitteeTo establish a public health insurance option.Roland Lemar, Pat Dillon, Josh Elliott
HB 5595In CommitteeTo authorize and regulate the sale and adult use of marijuana in this state.Juan Candelaria, Roland Lemar, Toni Walker, Robyn Porter, Pat Dillon, Josh Elliott
HB 6705In CommitteeTo prohibit the Department of Correction from using solitary confinement in its facilities.Gary Winfield, Juan Candelaria, Roland Lemar, Toni Walker, Robyn Porter, Josh Elliott
HB 6715In CommitteeTo eliminate cash bail.Robyn Porter, Josh Elliott

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Comments

posted by: narcan on February 1, 2019  12:56pm

I’m on board with MJ reform, but the proposed bail changes would be a disaster.

Bail is not a punishment. It is an incentive to show up for court. Our bail commissioners have already administratively implemented most of the changes this proposed law calls for anyway.

Have you looked at the Connecticut Judicial website lately? There you will find a mammoth list of court issued Failure to Appear warrants, including the recently infamous murderer who had a pending case for drug sales but was free on a Promise to Appear. (It’s a non-violent crime, you see.) The mighty Failure to Appear warrant hanging over his head did nothing to prevent the havoc he wrought on society.

We are already far too generous and paying the price for it.

posted by: ElmCityLover on February 1, 2019  1:51pm

Elimination of cash bail is an awesome reform that everyone should be on board with. The point is equity, not to let criminals out on the street. I’m financially in an okay place. If I get a DUI, for example, I can get myself out on $1000 or whatever it is. If someone is poor and living paycheck to paycheck they might not be able to get that together (or have to go through predatory payday lender and a bondsman). Now that person is locked up being fed, guarded, etc on the tax payers dollar indefinitely or at least for an extended time. Now say they lose their job bc they were locked up and missed work. Now they will be further on the taxpayers dole for unemployment, food assistance, housing assistance, etc.

On the flip side: if Jeff Bezos’ divorce starts getting ugly and he kills his wife, why should he get to walk free in society just because he was able to put together $2million or whatever his bail was.

Sidenote: the delinquent in me is disappointed in the lack of a sports gambling proposal, however the responsible person in me is glad that it isn’t lol.

posted by: HewNaven on February 1, 2019  3:52pm

Not a bill yet… But Looney et al. should get serious about creating a PUBLIC BANK in Connecticut: https://ctmirror.org/2018/12/21/connecticut-should-create-a-public-bank/

posted by: wesunidad on February 1, 2019  4:00pm

Raising the minimum wage?  Great.  If it’s going to be $15/hr., that would probably make it UP to poverty level.  How insulting to working people.

How about raising the minimum wage to a living wage?  In 2014, the cost of living in the Greater New Haven area was in the vicinity of $27.00/hr.  Even that’s hardly enough to live on in the New Haven area today.

How many Legislators live on the minimum wage?  Let’s take a poll.

To pay for raising wages to a Living Wage for all, let’s cap the incomes on the millionaires in CT to ONE MILLION and the rest being illegal.

No, they all aren’t going to flee the state.  That’s a myth.

Capitalism.  Gotta love it!

posted by: wendy1 on February 1, 2019  7:29pm

They can aim, but can they shoot????  I’m for all the good stuff but what about the Gov. threatening to raise taxes on food and meds?????

posted by: Noteworthy on February 1, 2019  10:41pm

Newly Emboldened Notes:

1. Translated means democrats are going to ram crap down our throats and at great expense across the state in order to advance power and control; and unfairly steal money from the suburbs to pay for the failure that is New Haven.

2. The state did not give New Haven less money and the city’s financial problems are not related to non-taxable property or PILOT. That is a popular myth.

3. But under these plans, healthcare at medical clinics will cost more; driving the highways will cost more; sales taxes will go up and while our car taxes will go down, the car taxes for just about everybody else who doesn’t living in a failing community will see their tax take rise.

4. As for increasing the rights of local housing authorities - to expand for 30 miles - this will cover the vast majority of the entire state. So, New Haven which thinks $450K apartments are affordable housing can build these apartments in Bethany and Woodbridge - irrespective of zoning and local control or the neighbors.

5. If New Haven is given millions of dollars more - the mayor and BOA will spend it all, waste it, jet around the country more and pay for more of Harp’s meals and more debt.

6. And of course, taxes will continue to rise.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 2, 2019  8:22am

Hats off to Sen. Looney and the New Haven delegation for some creative thinking on a range of issues.
  Now add some new income from an increase on the wealthy, including the non-profits with bloated executive pay and hoarding cash in their endowments.
  Working people cannot carry the rich any more.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on February 2, 2019  8:31am

Open your wallets.

posted by: OhHum on February 2, 2019  6:56pm

Here’s the plan: (As we head for Delaware)
1.Everyone is guaranteed to receive $150,000 a year if they have a job, are retired, or disabled. If you want more, become an actor or pro athlete.
2. College in State is free for the couple of thousand that will bother to attend.
3. No one will work for more than 35 hrs. per week. Stiff penalties will be enforced for working over.
4.Legal Marijuana will be free. There will, however, be a $5,000 dollar state tax on every ounce.
5. Homes will be sold on the basis of number of bedrooms regardless of where they’re located. ex. One bedroom 100k, Two bedroom 150K, Three 200k, etc.
6.All crimes that are misdemeanors will be eliminated. All felons will be deported to another state. Jails will be eliminated.
7. As most people will be taking what they want from stores, sales tax will be suspended until individuals start paying again. Then it will raise to 50%.
8. There will be an annual property tax on ALL property an individual owns. Kind of like corporations.
9. All public services will be paid for ala carte. You use it you pay for it. ex. You call the Police or Fire Dept. that’s $500, thank you. Sanitation $250, you get the idea. Education $150 per day.
10. By law the party that wins the Governors race rules the State by fiat. (or do we already do this?)

posted by: robn on February 2, 2019  11:01pm

This delegation is ridiculous and should be tossed. They focus on bits and pieces of pork barrel spending for pet projects (as former Senator Harp did during her state career and continues to do during her mayoral career.) They’re missing the point that NHV deserves to be self governing like all other towns and that tax exemptions for non profits are an anachronism that the state should pay for. NHV should have the ability to tax all property and if not they should be reimbursed by the state. Equal Protection.

posted by: jim1 on February 3, 2019  9:34am

PASS BILL S.B. No. 496…........  This will then fix the state budget.

posted by: 1644 on February 3, 2019  11:05am

Jim1: Hardly.  Colorado, a much larger state, has gross revenue from marijuana sales of less than $300 million. 
https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/revenue/colorado-marijuana-tax-data
No doubt, the net after regulatory costs is substantially lower. Note, also, initial revenue was less than $100 million per annum.  Colorado, also, benefits from being the only state in its neighborhood with legal recreational pot.
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s current deficit is over $2 billion, and growing due to escalating employee benefit costs, including health care and pension, pensions the state promised but failed to fund for teachers, and growing debt service costs due to our collective desire to have things we cannot afford.

posted by: jim1 on February 3, 2019  11:13am

It would be a big move in the right direction.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 3, 2019  11:20am

@1644: Medical plans and pension benefits were put in place when “income inequality” was not on the front page. Working people are entitled to share in the wealth or societal benefits their labor has produced, so let ‘s not make them the fall guys for an out of whack political and economic system that has produced instant billionaires and huge tax relief simultaneously.
  You never mention taxing the wealthy or the wealthy non-profits.
  If you’re not one of the 1/2 of 1%, then why aren’t you focused on a return to the economic parity we once had in the US?
  Why aren’t you wailing about the good jobs that went to sweat shops in Asia or the forced labor in US prisons for major corporations?
  Stop beating up on working people and start looking at how the oligarchy has scammed a nation by cheating them on wages and benefits and them blaming immigrants.
  We should be better than to repeat economic propaganda.
  Legalizing and taxing recreational drugs (how different are they from your scotch or whiskey?) would be a rational step.

posted by: wesunidad on February 3, 2019  11:32am

Dear Patricia Kane:  Keep saying what you’re saying.

Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others like her, you are BOLD.

And that’s what we need.  Now.

White Nationalism is, in my estimation the other threat to everything that we have to be really BOLD about.

And, the Governor of Virginia needs to go away asap.

Thank you.

posted by: ShadowBoxer on February 3, 2019  1:32pm

Really sad to see Ned is reluctant to endorse “clean slate” legislation like others states, which would AUTOMATICALLY erase the non-violent misdemeanor convictions of offenders after X years if the person has remained crime free.  This is the single biggest thing he could support that would help people of all kinds who made dumb mistakes which then make them unemployable when a background check reveals a misdemeanor.  Do you think an employee will hire you if you have a larceny conviction for shoplifting at the dollar store, or a DUI?  Never.  This makes the ex-convict unemployable and then they drop out of the labor market and claim disability, costing me the taxpayer $$$.  If we are serious about a second-chance society, this should be the way forward.

posted by: robn on February 3, 2019  3:02pm

PK

Our adjacent neighbors NY and MA have comparable income tax rates and they’re doing just fine. CT has a spending problem.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 3, 2019  5:06pm

@robn: How can CT compare with Mass or any where else when we are #1 in income inequality?

posted by: wesunidad on February 4, 2019  8:31am

Patricia Kane…wow!  Your vision is incredible and I think soooo correct!

I agree with almost everything you said in your missive yesterday…and to that point, whenever I hear people bitch about those “welfare cheats” (white people’s code word for Black person), I ask them
why they don’t have a problem with the rich, white people scamming the system by using their wealth and power to make sure the laws favor them?

Yes, there are some welfare cheats but, they are the little thieves. The big thieves are the 1% who created the little thieves. The 1% can get protection for their wealth by buying themselves a lobbyist who can get tax saving laws through for them. They were once called “tax dodgers”. But, folks don’t worry about that trillion dollar debt. It was the biggest transfer ever of wealth from the working class to the white rich people.

The guy in the empty suit - 45, did what he was paid to do for his class - to make sure the corporations (watch out for those thousands of jobs coming our way) and the rich white people do not pay their fair share of taxes.  Why?

The way I see it is that the kind of capitalism the United States has is the worst kind because we don’t even have universal health care to mitigate some of it’s pain.  And, we can’t stop fossil fuel emissions
even though we know they will make us (including the rich) extinct.  And, yes I understand that we are
not the only nation contributing to this problem…but then again, its the poor nations that suffer.

The system makes sure that people do not have a clue about the nature of capitalism works.  Do they teach Capitalism 101 in poor community high schools?  Maybe somewhere.

In my opinion the bigger problem that capitalism presents us with now is white nationalism in the United States and their movements now blossoming in Austria, England (Steve Bannon is helping out there), Italy, Brazil, etc.  And, 45 is more than happy to lead the way by inspiring budding nationalists here and abroad.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 4, 2019  9:15am

@wesunidad: You are right that a living wage of $27 is currently what is needed. Wages have been flat for 50 years, so going from $10 to $15 seems generous, but it isn’t. As economist Richard Wolff explains, people used their credit cards to make up for the disparity in income and expenses. They also refinanced and spent the equity in their homes for college.
  Any tax reform that doesn’t return to taxing high incomes and wealth at death is a betrayal of working people. The data proves that the wealthy are getting richer, while everyone else scrambles to survive.
  It’s not enough to complain. write/call/ picket your New Haven delegation to oppose tolls and taxes on necessities like food and medicine.
  The people with the wealth have access to our lawmakers, but we have the vote.
  As Eugene Debs pointed out about the ability of the rich to call the shots - there are more of us than there are of them!
  Today Dennis Serf published some numbers on the cost of police retirement and medical over a lifetime and he is right that the numbers are not sustainable.
  We can’t afford to continue our subsidies to the rich, whether developers here to make a fast buck, or those pushing for further subsidies of Tweed Airport or those enjoying a 2nd or 3rd home because they can.
  The Legislature has the solutions available to them. Now they need the will to carry them out.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 4, 2019  9:54am

@wesunidad: If we had media that were not controlled by 6 corporations, someone might let the American people know that most of the people on welfare are a) white and b) children.
  The accused rapist and serial sexual harasser Democrat Bill Clinton joined in demonizing this vulnerable group and instituted welfare “reform” that met the GOP party line of blaming people for the failures of society and capitalism. I’ve never seen a comparable demonizing of people who inherit trust funds and never do meaningful work or contribute to society other than in a high society kind of way.
  The US is alone in Western countries in not having a national policy on the Family.
  In Europe mothers are guaranteed pre-natal care, housing, jobs, post delivery care, etc.
  We abandon mothers and their children and treat them like cottage industries to raise their children with minimal support and maximum disapproval. No mention of the fathers who abandon their responsibilities or are themselves victims of a society that failed to support them or their parents. And don’t forget the Nixon drug laws that targeted blacks to get them off the voter rolls. It worked.
    Nixon threatened to veto a federal law in the 1970s to pay for national child care centers. The topic hasn’t been heard of since.
    Reagan demonized people on welfare and created the hateful “Cadillac queens”, soon to be followed by George H.W. Bush’s infamous Willie Horton smear.
    Now that so many jobs have been sent to impoverished countries where they can’t advocate for unions or environmental protections, our abandoned workers have been offered new targets: immigrants. A classic ploy to pit 2 groups against each other so no one notices you’re picking their pocket and sharing it with friends in high places.
    Even as horrors are perpetuated daily by this administration, here at the grassroots, people are awake. And organizing.

posted by: wesunidad on February 5, 2019  9:56am

Dear Patricia Kane,

How is it YOU know all of these things (that I understand too) and so many Americans do not know?

I think the answer is that because we want to know. 

I only watch corporate media to get their version of the truth. I consider it mostly distortions.

I prefer (on my computer) to watch DemocracyNow.org and also on the internet - “The Intercept” that I think has some of the best journalists ever - Glen Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Naomi Klein and others - for the best truth AND analysis.  Naomi Klein wrote “This Changes Everything” a book about how capitalism caused global warming (we all know this).  These are folks who view events portrayed in a vacuum on corporate media as events occurring as a result of out-of-control capitalism. 

Having lived in western Europe for over 10 years, I have to say that it is difficult to have a political discussion with Americans because they don’t have a clue.  Europeans talk politics 24/7, but that is happening here now too. Unfortunately, my experience is that you can’t change people who don’t understand even in the slightest as to how and why things happen.  What are the forces and political systems that shape current events?

Another great perspective on the news is Richard Wolffe who has a website and who also connects current events through the lens of someone who knows and understands capitalism.  And, he speaks in laypersons lingo even though he is a professor…he tends not to lecture.

I’ve found that without understanding capitalism it’s impossible in today’s world to understand most of the news on corporate media.

Working class people (those who work for a living) who want to know, have to find it outside the corporate whirlwind and on the websites I mentioned above.

Thank you for sharing your understanding of reality in the good old U.S.A.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 5, 2019  11:01am

@wesunidad: we share the same news sources, plus there is great reporting on YouTube on Brexit. Add Greg Palast and Glenn Greenwald, along with Chris Hedges to the true investigative reporters. The NYT is about 20 years behind the curve at all times, but the Washington Post is catching up.
  Cable news is a contradiction in terms. Infotainment is the word.