Friday, December 12, 2014

Will Senate stand with workers or Wall St. and powerful interests in CRomnibus vote?

The U.S. Senate is poised to pass a spending bill that will make life harder for working people, empowers the wealthy and lets Wall Street gamble with taxpayer-insured money.

It's called the #CRomnibus, and it's horrible.

The House of Representatives passed the bill last night. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa called out the political cowardice of the members of Congress who voted for it.
I am sure that arms were twisted and promises and threats were made in equal measure to pass a spending bill that is rife with provisions that will only prove damaging to the constituents these officials pledged to represent... 
In one sweep of the pen, pension policies that have protected millions of workers for decades could be irrevocably changed resulting in an untold number of retirees losing a substantial percentage of their fixed income should reductions be required. And who benefits? UPS - a $100 billion, Fortune 50 company that is trying to squirm out of an obligation it agreed to when it withdrew from the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. 
How did so many pension funds reach this critical stage? The government allowed banks to make risky investments with money from pension funds –the same type of financial gambles that a provision in this spending bill will allow to be made again. 
And while our pension funds are being put at risk by these provisions, trucking companies are pulling the strings of their puppets in Congress to roll back hours of service rules so they can force drivers to work 80 hours a week with insufficient rest.
David Dayen at The Fiscal Times calls it a disaster and lists the many, many ways it harms working people:
...the CRomnibus boosts special interests at the expense of ordinary people in a host of other ways... 
It cuts $60 million from the EPA and a whopping $346 million, about 3 percent, from the IRS, at a time when the agency’s workload will increase with Obamacare. The IRS cuts signal to wealthy earners that they can freely engage in tax avoidance, with little expectation of an audit... 
Under the bill, trustees would be enabled to cut pension benefits to current retirees, reversing a 40-year bond with workers who earned their retirement packages. Voters in the District of Columbia who approved legalized marijuana will see their initiative vaporized, with local government prohibited from taxing or regulating the drug’s sale. Trucking companies can make roads less safe by giving their employees 82-hour work weeks without sufficient rest breaks. Pell grants for college students will be cut, with the money diverted to private student loan contractors who have actively harmed borrowers. Government financiers of overseas projects will be prevented from stopping funding for coal-fired power plants. Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be allowed to count “quality improvement” measures toward their mandatory health spending under Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” provision, a windfall saving them millions of dollars. 
I’m not done. The bill eliminates a bipartisan measure to end “backdoor” searches by the NSA of Americans’ private communications. It blocks the EPA from regulating certain water sources for farmers. It adds an exception to allow the U.S. to continue to fund Egypt’s military leadership. In a giveaway to potato growers, it reduces nutrition standards in school lunches and the Women, Infant and Children food aid program. It halts the listing of new endangered species. It stops the regulation of lead in hunting ammunition or fishing equipment. It limits contributions to the Green Climate Fund to compensate poor countries ravaged by climate change.
You can help try to stop the disaster from happening. Call your senators at 1-888-979-9806 or follow this link: Call NOW!