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We welcome your ideas, opinions, plans of actions, or even just your grievances.
An Open Letter to the New Jersey State Democratic Party and the Bergen County Democratic Party.
Dear Chairman Jones and Bergen Chairman Juliano,
Our organization, JOLT (Join Organize Lead and Teach) is composed of Do-Ers. Do-Ers who dedicate their time energy and money to protect Democracy and work for a better America.
We VOTE. We Get out the Vote.
We SUPPORT Democratic candidates diligently.
And we are dismayed and disappointed.
We want to know how the Democratic Party can support a congressman who seems intent on undermining President Biden’s agenda and supporting the libertarian agenda of a private hedge fund PAC, No Labels. A PAC which is on record of having the intention of challenging President Biden in 2024 with a fusion ticket of one Democratic (at this point they are considering Joe Manchin) and one Republican (at this point they are looking at Lisa Murkowski). It is political suicide.
As I'm sure you are aware, there is a potential lawsuit on fusion voting in NJ. If this ticket ends up on the ballot in 2024 it promises to compromise a Democratic stronghold. NJ voters can easily go for the middle lane. It will siphon off Democratic votes, and even if it were only to siphon Republican votes, which it won't, there is no upside to the Democrats.
Congressman Gottheimer has been declared the “archvillain” of the dismemberment of the Budget Reconciliation bill. (https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/07/gottheimer-is-on-a-mission-to-destroy-bidens-presidency.html). He organized opposition to the bill on the basis of including tax breaks for wealthy homeowners, breaks which he knew would tank the deal with Senator Manchin. But Josh got a lot of heat for this and suddenly Manchin was back in front, backing out of the deal. It should be as apparent to the Democratic Party as it is to us that Manchin and Gottheimer are working in concert to make sure President Biden doesn’t succeed in reviving the American economy. Instead of supporting the President, they are working in furtherance of their own, and their donor’s, political aspirations for 2024. Moreover, Congressman Gottheimer is thwarting measures addressing climate change and economic disparity, two pillars of the Democratic Party.
This ticket will appeal to some who will see it on its face as breaking the party gridlock, but it is really a Republican ticket which will have disastrous consequences for America. Climate change and economic disparity will be dismissed.
Congressman Gottheimer needs to pick a side. He needs to support the President and the Democratic platform or lose our support in 2022.
But even more importantly, he should lose yours.
We are disappointed that you chose to shore up his district, given his actions, at the expense of Democratic seats that are in more jeopardy.
We deserve an explanation.
We deserve to be supported in our support of President Biden.
We deserve More.
We want to have confidence in and support the positions of the Democratic Party of New Jersey, because we believe that we are stronger when we pull together. But Congressman Gottheimer is not demonstrating unity and we deserve a public response to this by the Party.
As such, we call upon you to make a public outreach to Josh Gottheimer to support the policies of the Democratic Party and President Biden. We have a rogue court, and we don't truly have a Democratic Senate. We cannot afford a rogue Congressman.
Cathy Brienza, President
1965 The Supreme Court (in Griswold v. Connecticut) gave married couples the right to use birth control, ruling that it was protected in the Constitution as a right to privacy. However, millions of unmarried women in 26 states were still denied birth control.
1970 Title X established – program provides affordable birth control and reproductive health care to people with low incomes, including those who couldn’t otherwise afford health care services on their own. The program has received bipartisan support from Congress since its inception and has been expanded to cover - wellness exams, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, and birth control as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV testing
1972 The Supreme Court (in Baird v. Eisenstadt) legalized birth control for all citizens of this country, irrespective of marital status.
In 1970, New York became the first state to legalize abortion on demand through the 24th week of pregnancy. Hawaii had earlier legalized abortion through 20 weeks, but only for residents of that state, while Washington DC also allowed abortions.
Two other states, Alaska and Washington, followed, and women who could afford it began flocking to the few places where abortions were legal. Feminist networks offered support, loans, and referrals and fought to keep prices down. But for every woman who managed to get to New York or the few other places, many others with limited financial resources or mobility still sought illegal abortions.
On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all existing criminal abortion laws in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The court found that a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester was protected under the “right of privacy … founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty.”
The court allowed states to place restrictions in the second trimester to protect a woman’s health and in the third trimester to protect a viable fetus. However, the Court held that if a pregnant woman’s life or health were endangered, she would not be forced to continue the pregnancy at any stage.
1976 Hyde amendment prohibits Medicaid funding for abortions
1992 Supreme Court decision PP vs Casey allows state laws to restrict abortion
2009 Dr Tiller an abortion provider in Kansas is assassinated
2010 ACA passes which unleashes increased anti activity
2013 After protracted regulatory and legal battles, one brand of emergency contraceptive pill (Plan B One-Step) becomes available without a prescription on drug store shelves. Also known as the morning after pill, it prevents pregnancy from taking place.
Today more research is needed on woman-controlled methods that protect against STIs and birth control for men. Barriers to accessing reliable contraception remain for women worldwide.
2019 The Gag rule is introduced which affects health care providers in the Title X health care program by making it illegal for them to tell their patients how and where they can access abortion safely and legally, reduces access to high-quality contraceptive care by reshaping the network of providers and generally advances the Trump administration’s overarching ideological agenda
Since Roe, there have been over 1,000 laws passed to chip away at abortion access, one fourth all done in the last 5 years.
Il, NV, RI, ME, VT NY have enacted protection for Roe via state legislation
Medication abortion – combination of mifepristone and misoprostol has been available in US since 2000 for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy
34 states including New Jersey, require physicians to dispense the medication. 18 of those require physician to be physically present when doing so.
OR, MT, VT, NH, CA allow a nurse practitioner to perform surgical abortions and some of these states, including NY permit non physicians to provide medical abortions.
PP of the Heartland based in Iowa has implemented telemedicine for medication abortions in an effort to reach rural women.
January 2019 New York passed the Reproductive Health Act which accomplishes the following:
Treats abortion as health care, not a criminal act, just like every other medical procedure. Qualified health care providers can provide safe abortion care without fear of punishment. And providers can now provide abortion after the 24th week of pregnancy if a woman’s health or life is in danger, or if the fetus is not viable.
Trump has cut abortion providers out of Medicaid and Title X from family planning program, banned fetal tissue research, claw backed employers required to cover contraceptives policy and created religious freedom office to handle cases of health providers pressured to provide services they’re morally opposed to and as appointed many .conservative judges
Today 38 states and the federal government have so-called fetal homicide laws, which treat the fetus as a potential crime victim separate and apart from the woman who carries it.
Several hundred women in the US have been prosecuted for their pregnancy outcomes. State laws having passed that recognize fetuses, even fertilized eggs as persons separate from the mother – in some cases overriding the mother’s rights entirely.
There is the story of a woman 14 weeks pregnant kept on life support - even though she had a DNR signed - because of the Texas definition of a human being updated to include an unborn child at every state of gestation.
The woman in NY who got into a car accident and miscarried, and the woman who had a stillbirth in Indiana, both charged with manslaughter. The NY case was overturned 7 years later.
If Roe was overturned today, abortion would be illegal in 4 states – LA, SD, ND and MS
8 states have only 1 provider – AK, WV, KY, MS, ND, SD, WY and MO
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC’S) number close to 4,000 versus 780 abortion providers. These fake women's health centers—AKA fake clinics—are anti-abortion counseling centers with an agenda. Their goal is to deceive and pressure people to carry a pregnancy to term. Some have some kind of medical license, but the vast majority do not—even if they might appear to from the outside.
Fake clinics started popping up in the late 60s and really took off in the 80s and 90s after a federal law prohibited blocking abortion clinic entrances. Anti-abortion groups wanted a "friendlier" way to deter people from having an abortion. The Christian Action Council, later renamed CareNet, now has more than 1,100 affiliated fake clinics in its network.
From the beginning, fake clinics were designed to be deceptive — to open as close as possible to real abortion providers, to use names that sound like real women's health centers, and to deflect on the telephone when asked if an abortion is provided.
Who funds them? We do. In many states, taxpayers fund fake clinics. Fracking Billionaire Farris Wilks, anti-choice foundations, and some church communities contribute millions to the cause as well.
Isn't it medical malpractice to lie to patients? Most fake "clinics" are unlicensed, so they don't fall under medical board requirements. Licensed clinics still lie to patients and patients have the right to file a complaint with their state Medical Board.
So... why are they legal? Fake clinics are considered "religious outreach," programs and are protected by the First Amendment But thanks to dedicated activists, fake clinics are starting to be held accountable for their deceptive practices. CA now has state-wide regulations, and New York City and San Francisco have passed ordinances requiring truth in advertising.
What is relationship between fake clinics and anti-abortion protesters? Fake women's health centers often have strong ties to the anti-abortion extremist community, including clinic picketers. Protesters outside of real providers hand out fake clinic literature and encourage pregnant people to go to their local fake clinic.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND JUSTICE:
1. Escorting on Saturday mornings in Englewood at the clinic that performs abortions. Contact Carol at email@example.com or Regina at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. There is a training scheduled in March and June.
2. NJ Abortion Access Fund, the only free standing fund in NJ to support safe and legal abortions in NJ is often looking for volunteers and board members. Check out their website at njaaf.weebly.com .Contact Carol at email@example.com for further information.
3. The Unitarian Society of Ridgewood has a Reproductive Justice committee. The committee takes a holistic, social justice approach to dealing with issues that affect women’s reproductive health and lives. Approaching topics through the lens of justice, the committee examines how societal institutions and interlocking systems of oppression affect women’s ability to have knowledge about and control over their bodies and lives It is currently focusing on abortion access and reproductive health. It meets monthly at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays. For information contact Regina firstname.lastname@example.org or Carol email@example.com
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has admitted that Republicans are “gunning” for Social Security and Medicare. They view these programs as “entitlements,” a term that has come to have pejorative connotations at time, even though the basis for the entitlement is that the payments have been earned. This is nothing new in conservative circles. What is new now is that the GOP is now trying to shift the blame for the current federal budget deficit to these programs. This tactic demands an examination of the relationship between Social Security/Medicare and the federal budget deficit. This is a complicated problem for which there are no easy solutions. It demands bi-partisan attention, not bombast and rhetoric from both sides.
A counter-argument has been circulating in media that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit because it is self-funded through a payroll tax and Medicare is funded through a combination of payroll tax and premiums paid by recipients. Social Security in particular has been described as “off-budget,” in that the Social Security Trust Fund is not considered to be part of the federal budget, to protect trust fund surpluses from being diverted into other programs.
This is an attractive argument, but when researched really does not withstand scrutiny. Other commentators have noted that labeling Social Security as “off-budget” is just a matter of accounting reporting and does not reflect economic reality. For example, the 2018 Social Security OASDI Board of Trustees Report states that Social Security and Medicare together accounted for 42% of federal program expenditures in fiscal 2017 and the “unified budget” reflects trust fund operations. Thus, the report states, even when there are positive trust fund balances, any drawdown of those balances and interest payments to the trust funds that are used to pay benefits increases pressure on the unified budget.
A deeper understanding of how this system works is necessary. The only disbursements permitted from the trust fund are benefit payments and administrative expenses. Federal law requires that all excess funds be invested in interest bearing securities backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. The Treasury Department currently invests all program revenues in special non-marketable securities of the U.S. Government which earn interest equal to rates on marketable securities. When Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes are collected in excess of immediate program costs, funds are converted to Treasury bonds and held in reserve for future periods. Thus, accumulation of assets in the trust funds improves the unified federal budget position. When trust funds are drawn down to pay scheduled benefits, bonds are redeemed and interest payments are made, creating a current year cost to the unified federal budget without any new income coming in. Thus, when the unified budget is not in surplus, these payments are made through some combination of increased taxation, reductions in other government spending, or additional borrowing from the public in the form of issuing more bonds.
The investing of trust fund assets in U.S. government securities has been called intergovernmental debt. This is important because national debt has been defined as total national debt, excluding intergovernmental debt. Each dollar of FICA surplus, when it exists, decreases the degree that the federal government needs to borrow from the outside and each dollar of trust fund bond redeemed (to make social security payments) is another dollar that requires the issuing of more bonds to borrow that money. Congress would not default on these bonds, but to keep the trust fund bonds unspent, the government must reduce social security spending, either by boosting the retirement age, a benefit phase out based on income, or some other mechanism.
Thus, social security benefits are part of the overall governmental spending picture. Between now and 2034, when the Social Security Trustees predict the trust fund surplus will run out, Congress must pass some kind of legislation or general revenue funds will need to supplement FICA revenues.
Now it is necessary to examine the current federal deficit. The Treasury Department puts the current budget deficit for the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year at $779 billion. The Congressional Budget Office projects it at $973 billion for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and the CBO predicts it will rise to over a trillion dollars in the next decade. It is generally agreed that this huge increase in the deficit since 2017 is due to the tax cuts enacted that year. This legislation temporarily reduced individual income tax rates, nearly doubled the standard deduction, modified or eliminated certain deductions or exemptions, and temporarily allowed firms to deduct the cost of capital investments immediately.Hence, the calls to reduce Social Security and Medicaid “entitlements” to relieve this deficit. But will cuts in entitlement programs have any effect on closing the deficit?
Medicare as a form of health insurance is less generous than most insurance plans for the non-elderly. Expanding coverage and requiring well to do elderly to pay more is one solution, but the number of well to do wealthy is too small to have an impact on this. As to social security, the age at which benefits can be claimed has risen, but does simply raising the age without changing the amounts paid save any money? Those who claim benefits at a later age automatically receive larger benefits that just offset the shorter period in which they can expect to receive benefits. Full or partial privatization has been floated as a solution, but it is projected that will add administrative costs and will not achieve any real saving.
Another proposed solution is cutting benefits. Until Mitch McConnell, no politician in his right mind has seriously proposed such a thing. In declaring that Republicans are “gunning” for Social Security and Medicare, he is suggesting that it is acceptable to renege on the commitment of assuring that the elderly and disabled will have basic income and health coverage in exchange for extracting a payroll tax and premiums.
The 2017 tax cuts were touted as reducing taxes for most Americans, with a corresponding increase in their pay checks. The jury is still out on this, with reports varying. In June 2018, one survey reported an average monthly increase of $130.56 in workers’ paychecks. In August, Business Insider found that workers’ wages have been flat to lower since the tax cuts. But proportionately speaking, the real beneficiaries of the tax cuts are the very wealthy.
It is clear that between now and 2034, when the trust fund surplus evaporates, Congress will have to pass some sort of social security legislation. This involves a real bi-partisan re-think of the best way to structure our retirement system, not knee-jerk proposals that would abandon the already inadequate social safety net the United States has crafted over the past 80 years in order to reduce a deficit hugely increased by legislation that puts more money in pockets of the already wealthy.
26 U.S.C.A. 3101(a)
Ghilarducci, Teresa, Social Security Does Not Add To The Federal Deficit,https://www.forbes.com/sites/teresaghilarducci/2018/10/19/social-security-does-not-add-to-the-federal-deficit/#30b7c8e32081
Bauer, Elizabeth, Yes, Social Security Does Indeed Add To The Federal Deficit, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ebauer/2018/10/22/yes-social-security-does-indeed-add-to-the-federal-deficit/#4238fe0d28c4
Aaron, Henry J., Budget Deficit and Entitlements: The Grand Delusion,https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/budget-deficit-and-entitlements-the-grand-delusion/
Social Security 2018 OASDI Trustees Report: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/TRSUM/
Kurtzleben, Danielle, National Public Radio, See How Much GOP Tax Cuts Will Go To The Middle Class, https://www.npr.org/2017/12/19/571754894/charts-see-how-much-of-gop-tax-cuts-will-go-to-the-middle-class
Hiltzik, Michael, Mitch McCconnell Says It Out Loud: Republicans Are Gunning For Social Security, Medicare And Obamacare Next,www.latimes.com/business/…/la-fi-hiltzik-mcconnell-social-security-20181019-story.html
daCosta, Pedro Nicolaci, Trump’s Tax Cuts Have So Far Failed To Deliver On One Key Promise,https://www.businessinsider.com/workers-wages-have-been-flat-to-lower-since-the-trump-tax-cuts-2018-8
Matherson, Nate, Monthly Paychecks Rise $130.76 After Tax Plan Changes | Survey & Report,https://lendedu.com/blog/tax-plan-changes-take-home-paychecks
Congress of the United States, Congressional Budget Office, The 2018 Long-term Budget Outlook, at 47, 50.
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