Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Rose Ann DeMoro

Rose Ann DeMoro is executive director of the 150,000-member National Nurses United

March 1st, 2011 12:27 AM

Nurses Offer to Buy President's Shoes to March With Workers

The past two weeks have been a "Where's Waldo" moment for President Obama.

He's been largely a bystander while tens of thousands of American workers, joined by students, and community allies, marched in Madison's snow and freezing temperatures, and slept on the floors of the capitol to defend their most fundamental right to freedom of assembly and a collective voice.

On Monday, the President told U.S. governors, "I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon."

But the President never addresses the heart of the problem, a clear statement of who is responsible for the crisis -- the corporate class and the right, aided by those like President Obama, who enable them. That's the giant elephant in the room that remains missing in the 'blame the workers' paradigm so often repeated by politicians and mainstream media alike.

Many of us recall the pledge made by candidate Barack Obama in Spartanburg, S.C. on November 3, 2007 when he declared:

"Understand this. If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I'll walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States because Americans deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner."

We're waiting. Nurses, who have been on the ground every day in Madison and at support rallies across the country, will buy his shoes.

Standing with the embattled workers would be an important symbol (and might even get more of the media to show up). But we need far more from this administration -- and for that matter from the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill.

We need a clear message that public workers and union members in general did not cause the economic crisis or unbalanced budgets. Public pensions did not spark a meltdown on Wall Street. It wasn't workers exploiting tax loopholes or off shoring their bank accounts that depleted public treasuries.

Over the past three decades there has been a massive shift of federal revenues. Individuals now account for nearly five times the federal tax receipts as do corporations, numbers that were roughly equal when Ronald Reagan took office.

The states are no better. Overall, taxes on individuals produce about four times the revenues for states that corporations do. In Wisconsin, the ratio is about five to one -- and that was before Gov. Walker gave corporations $117 million in tax cuts in January to create his current "I need to break the unions" $137 million deficit.

It's well and right for the President to criticize "an assault on unions," as he did in an initial statement two weeks ago.

But he undercuts that message by conceding the Republican and tea party rhetoric about the "tough fiscal situation we are in" while calling for even lower corporate taxes, and making deals to extend tax cuts for the wealthy, and expressing sympathy for governors, like Walker, who want to put their entire burden on workers and the poor.

Every time you hear the President or any other politician call for "shared sacrifice," think about this:

• Corporate taxes as a percent of the gross domestic product are at historical lows.
• Corporate profits per employee are the highest on record. At $1.6 trillion, third quarter corporate profits were the highest figure ever recorded since record keeping began 60 years ago.
• The top 1% of the population had 17.1% of total after tax income in 2009, the highest figure for at least 30 years.
• A one-time 14% surcharge on the super-rich would more than pay for the $1.6 trillion budget deficit projected for 2011 (according to the National Nurses United's research arm, the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy).
• And, finally, workers' wages have been stagnant or falling for at least 30 years.

What more and more people are saying in Madison and elsewhere is that this is not about public workers. It's about politicians funded by far right zealots like the Koch brothers who want to privatize all publicly owned institutions in the U.S. and shift even more resources to Wall Street.

Let's recall it was the finance sector, especially the big banks, not workers, who created the economic crisis in the states and nationally through wild economic speculation concentrated in the mortgage industry.

The 'Deficit Hawks' on the far right are exploiting that crisis to push severe cuts in federal and state spending to 'balance the budget' on the backs of those that can least afford it -- people of color, women, the long term unemployed and the millions caught in the mortgage debacle -- when their real goal is to engage in a private sector hostile takeover of federal and state government. At the same time, they are pushing more tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy which adds to the debt.

The real issue is a responsibility crisis. Those responsible for the economic crisis are being rewarded and workers are being asked to sacrifice.

Here's what we'd like to hear the President say:

Bringing the deficit into balance requires a just rebalancing of the responsibility of the corporate elite and the rich. As a start, corporate profits need to be fairly taxed. Taxes on the rich need to be increased not decreased, and wages should be raised to a living wage, which would raise tax revenues and workers' ability to purchase goods and services in the long term.

Until then, we'll continue to say this President is missing in action.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles