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Why I Voted Against the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Plan

 While I cannot support the Simpson-Bowles plan, I thank the co-chairmen for their dedication to our difficult task over the last eight months, and I agree with them that the work was constructive despite our inability to get fourteen votes.
 
I offered my own plan to achieve the goal outlined by the President to achieve primary budget balance by 2015 with one very different assumption. I believe that we can do it without further eroding the middle class in America.
 
It pays to remember that just 10 years ago we had a budget surplus and the debt was rapidly decreasing. During the Bush years, those surpluses disappeared and huge debt accumulated due to two unfunded wars, two unfunded tax cuts that mainly enriched the already wealthy, and a blind eye to the recklessness of Wall Street which caused 8 million Americans to lose their jobs and millions more to lose their savings, the value of their homes and the homes themselves.
 
Now we are on an "unsustainable fiscal path," to quote the report, which threatens our future economic viability. But there is another grave threat to both our economy and our democracy, and that is the alarming redistribution of wealth that is shrinking the middle class. The top 1% of Americans now owns 34% of our nation's wealth - more than the combined wealth of 90% of Americans. Even during this great recession, the top 5% of households have seen their income rise. Just this week, two million Americans lost their unemployment insurance benefits. If we fail to extend them, not only will that be another slap to the middle class, but it will hurt the economy by depriving our businesses - large and small - of money these struggling Americans will rush out and spend.
 

And now we have a commission report that glibly talks about "shared sacrifice" and making "painful" decisions. I ask, "Painful for whom?" These recommendations ask those who have already been and are sacrificing, to sacrifice further. Those who have not enjoyed the prosperity party over the last many years are being asked to pick up the tab.
 
We do not need to do this. There is another way.
 
* My plan recognizes the need to create jobs - a deficit-reducing strategy - that some, incorrectly, view as just more spending. Their plan does not include up front investments to lower the unemployment rate. It is important to note that if America's unemployment rate were still at its pre-recession level of 4.5%, we would only be facing a modest deficit.
 
* Their plan addresses rising health care costs by asking elderly Medicare beneficiaries to pay more out of their own pockets, even though they already pay about 30% of their mostly meager incomes (the median income for seniors is $18,000 per year) on their own. Their plan cuts Medicare by $110 billion by imposing higher cost-sharing requirements on seniors and people with disabilities. Mine requires Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices like the Veteran's Administration does, bringing down the cost to seniors and the government by billions of dollars. It also would implement a public option, which we already know would save $10 billion by 2015.
 
* Their plan cuts the bloated military budget, which is a very good thing. Mine does as well, but not by freezing noncombat military pay for three years or by cutting military health care benefits. These military families are not getting rich serving our country and should not be the target of deficit reduction.
 
* Responding to Republican calls to slash spending, the Bowles-Simpson plan calls for deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending. Using the Bowles-Simpson formula, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calculates a 22% cut in current funding levels in 2020, jeopardizing everything from nutrition and education to medical research and job training.
 
* Amazingly, their plan opens a new huge loophole to incentivize companies to outsource jobs. By adopting a territorial tax system, U.S. based multi-national corporations will never have to pay taxes on profits earned from subsidiaries in foreign countries.
 
* Finally, the Bowles-Simpson plan would require cuts in Social Security benefits. The good news is that they acknowledge that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, and their plan is to make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years and not to use it for debt reduction. The bad news is that average benefits for middle-income workers (average lifetime earnings of between $43,000 and $69,000 per year) could be cut up to 35% depending on when they retire. There is no need to cut Social Security in order to save it as my plan proves.
 
I have highlighted just a few of the ways that the Bowles-Simpson plan further erodes the middle class and threatens low-income Americans. There are many things in their plan that are also in mine, however. I appreciate that there has been consensus that the defense budget must be subjected to scrutiny and trimming in ways never seriously suggested before. It is very significant that tax expenditures, or as they call "tax earmarks," all those deductions that are largely skewed to the wealthy, are finally being recognized for what they are - spending, but through the tax code.
 
Some will criticize my approach to deficit reduction as politically impossible. But I gladly subject my ideas to the public, knowing that protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, investing in jobs, and asking the richest Americans to contribute more, represents a majority view despite the inside-the-beltway conventional wisdom of what is possible. No wonder people are angry. They watch Wall Street tycoons getting bonuses and government bailouts, shopping for holiday gifts at Tiffany's, while they are trying to scrape together enough money for the rent.
 
Bottom line, this Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has proven that fixing our nation's fiscal challenges is not mission impossible. I look forward to the constructive debate that has been started and I will continue to stand up for low-income and middle class Americans so that we can uphold the truly American notion of leaving each generation better off than the one that came before it.
 

My Plan for Reducing the Deficit


As a member of the President’s Fiscal Commission, my task is to put forward a responsible plan to reduce the deficit and balance the primary budget by 2015 while ensuring that the economic needs of my constituents and the American people are met.  Because of that responsibility, I cannot endorse the plan laid out last week by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.  Their plan asks those who are suffering the most from the current economic downturn to sacrifice even further. 

We must remember that the goal of fixing the deficit is not an end in itself.  Economic policy does not exist in a vacuum, the federal budget represents our shared priorities as a nation, those things we all believe we need to do together.  We also need to remember that the deficit was caused by two wars that weren’t paid for, and a massive tax cut that benefitted mainly the wealthiest Americans.  

That is why I’ve released my own plan (Click Here for the details),  because we can achieve sound fiscal policy without doing it on the backs of poor and middle class Americans.   Long-term economic growth requires that we put a stop to the troubling trend of concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and less in the hands of a middle class.

Here is what my colleague in the House, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, had to say :““From large elements to small, this plan is a vast improvement over the Bowles-Simpson proposal and represents a more thoughtful approach to debt reduction.  Our middle and lower class families did not cause our current budget shortfalls – they were largely caused by the avoidable housing crisis, by irresponsible Bush-era wars paid for with borrowed money, and by unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthiest earners. Rep. Schakowsky’s plan reflects the fact that, as she has said so often, the sacrifices of the past several years have all been made by the middle class. It’s time we stopped telling these hard-working families to tighten their belts again for the sake of another millionaire tax cut. We need to bring our taxing and spending in line with reality, and her proposal is a big step in the right direction.”

Think Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, also weighed in: "Rep. Schakowsky's Deficit Reduction Plan should be given as much consideration as the Bowles-Simpson proposal...  She's shown that there is a way to balance the budget while simultaneously protecting the middle class and making important investments, and she should be commended." 

My proposals aim to bring the federal deficit under control using policies that will put people to work and strengthen the middle class. 

Stand with me, help me send a message to Congress and the media, sign on to my plan.

Pollak Contributors Make Bad Investment

 In 2006 the Republican candidate for Congress was Michael Shannon.  He did not report spending any money on his campaign that year to the Federal Election Commission.  However, he received 39, 916 votes – apparently the ambient Republican vote in the District.  

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky received 116,967 votes.
 
In 2010 Tea Party Republican Joel Pollak spent at least $604,700.  He received 54,254 votes.  
 
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky received 114,969 votes.
 
Even though Pollak spent much of his money attacking Schakowsky, she received only 1,998 fewer votes in 2010 than she did in 2006.  And in strong Democratic areas like Evanston, and in the 49th and 48th wards of Chicago, Jan Schakowsky actually received more votes in 2010 than in previous mid-term election in 2006. 
 
 And in spite of running in a year that was very favorable for Republicans and spending $604,700 more than Michael Shannon, who reporting spending nothing, Pollack received only 14,338 more votes in 2010 than Shannon did in a Democratic year, 2006.  Each of those votes cost Pollack $42.17.
 
Pollak also had a hard time communicating his message closer to home, he still wasn’t able to convince his neighbors in the Devonshire neighborhood in Skokie to support him, those precincts went for Schakowsky 63%-33%.
 
 Overall, Schakowsky still beat him better than two to one (66.2% to 31.3% -- third Party got 2.5%).
 

Thank You!

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support during this election season. The signs you posted in your yards; the smiles and thumbs up you gave me when I saw you out-and-about; the volunteer hours you spent knocking on doors and making phone calls to get out the vote -- this is the stuff of a true grassroots effort and I’m humbled by your commitment and your enthusiasm.

With our 2 to 1 victory, we sent the clearest of messages to Tea Party-endorsed candidates and their right-wing agenda:  “The soil of the 9th Congressional District of Illinois is no place to put down roots.  Don’t even think about it!”

I wholeheartedly thank you for your vote. Casting a ballot is one of the single most powerful things that a person can do to exercise his or her voice. I am so grateful and honored by the fact that you’ve chosen to put your support behind me. And I promise to continue fighting for you, for our district, and to keep this country moving in the right direction.  

While we had many disappointing returns in the races for the House of Representatives and in the Illinois Senate race, we cannot hang our heads and throw in the towel.  We’ve been dealt a setback, but I can tell you it won’t be a setback for long.  We already know how quickly the political winds can change direction.  In the face of our losses, I pledge to stand up even taller and to fight even harder.  But I need you to promise me that you will not give up!  We have to roll up our sleeves and come back fighting as we head toward 2012 when we re-elect President Barack Obama and take back the House.  Yes we can!

"The Corporations Have Their Lobbyists, We Have Jan Schakowsky"

 Al Sindelar, an electrician from Niles, has been a Jan fan since before she was elected to Congress.


He told us that, “The big banks and corporations have their lobbyists, but we have Jan Schakowsky to fight for us in Congress.”  Watch "Al’s story," the TV advertisement we’re running to get the vote out!
We've got just seven days to boost our turnout operation and help Jan and every Democrat up and down the ballot.

Help us put this ad on the air and keep it there through election day. For every $50 we can air this ad once on Cable TV in the 9th district. Help us expand our buy this week!

Don't forget to spread Al’s message by posting the video link on your Facebook page or sending it to your friends.

Another Dirty Trick From Pollak's Misinformation Campaign

It's come to this: Joel Pollak is holding a campaign rally next week and falsely billing it as a "debate" between he and Jan. The thing is, Jan never agreed to participate in an event with Pollak on Wednesday.

This guy obviously has a hard time not misrepresenting the facts -- this fake debate is just the latest in a slew of moves that have made up a campaign based on misinformation.

Somehow he's forgotten the two formal debates this month and numerous other joint appearances that he and Jan have already made. Just because he's advertising the event as a "debate" doesn't make it true. This is yet another stunt aimed at misleading the voters.

Help us trounce this guy on November 2nd -- we need your help. Send a contribution or volunteer a few hours to get the vote out. Let's show him how we do it in the 9th!

Early Voting Starts Today, GO VOTE!

Early Voting Starts Today, GO VOTE!
Go show your support for Jan and great Democrats by early voting TODAY! You can conveniently vote at these locations:

Press Release: 9th District Debate Shows Stark Differences Between Candidates

 

9th District Debate Shows Stark Differences Between Candidates

Schakowsky Highlights Opponent's Right Wing Views

 

EVANSTON, IL (October 10th, 2010)
At the League of Women Voters sponsored candidate debate Sunday afternoon, stark differences became apparent in the positions of the two candidates with respect to critical economic and political issues.

 

Schakowsky's Campaign Manager, Alex Armour, said that Republican candidate Joel Pollak's statements in the debate showed clearly that his right wing views are inconsistent with the progressive values of the 9th District.

 

Pollak was greeted with loud boos from the audience when, in his closing statement, he made personal attacks on Schakowsky and her husband.

 

Armour noted that the Chicago Tribune criticized Pollak's tendency to resort to character attacks in its editorial endorsing Schakowsky.  The Tribune Editorial called on Pollak to "dial down the disdain for people who disagree with him."

 

Schakowsky's opening statement is below:


Your Yard Sign Is Here

I'm James Pappachen, Field Director for Schakowsky for Congress. Right now, that means I have the best job on the campaign. I work with people out in the field all day to make sure they get what they want: a new Jan sign!
We've just a got our shipment of brand new Schakowsky for Congress Yard Signs.  Will you show your support for Jan by displaying a Yard Sign?

James Pappachen
Field Director - Schakowsky for Congress

What Have We Bought for $1 Trillion Dollars

As of 10:06 on Sunday, May 30th, we will have spent $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A trillion dollars is a baffling amount of money. If you write it out, use twelve zeros. Even after serving in Congress for over a decade, I, like most Americans, still have a hard time wrapping my head around sums like this.

This month, we mark the seventh anniversary of President Bush's declaration of "mission accomplished" in Iraq, yet five American soldiers have been killed there in May alone. Iraqis went to the polls nearly three months ago, but the political system remains so fractured that no party has been able to piece together a coalition. There are some indications that sectarian violence is again on the rise.