Merry Christmas — Have Yourself Some Anti-Refugee Hysteria

Chris ToensingThis holiday season, politicians are taking aim at some of the most helpless people on earth.

— by Chris Toensing

As holiday shoppers empty their wallets to buy presents for family and friends, there’s been an outbreak of miserliness among our politicians — directed at some of the world’s most helpless people.  At least 30 Republican governors, and one Democrat, are vowing to bar Syrian refugees from their states. One family was actually turned away at the Indiana state line when the local resettlement agency got a nasty phone call from the authorities.

In Washington, 47 House Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to pass a bill requiring each and every Syrian applying to enter the United States to be personally approved by the heads of three intelligence agencies. That would include “widows and orphans,” says President Barack Obama, who rightly opposes the measure.

It’s not just an American affliction. In late November the European Union signed a deal with Turkey offering that country nearly $3.2 billion to clamp down on refugees trying to exit across its borders. The EU has such pacts with Libya and Morocco, too.

What’s with the mean spirits? It’s supposed to be the season of generosity.

Global Panorama/Flickr
Global Panorama/Flickr

The immediate trigger is fear, prompted in part by false reports that one of the terrorists who attacked Paris on November 13 was a recent Syrian migrant. In fact, almost all of the assailants identified so far were Belgian or French citizens. But it’s only too easy for demagogues like the Republican presidential candidates to dream up nightmare scenarios about a jihadi militant or two sneaking into America disguised as an asylum seeker.

Sure enough, after the terrible mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Rand Paul put forward a measure in Congress that would have imposed an “immediate moratorium” on visas for refugees from “high-risk” countries. Neither of the killers was a refugee — one was born in America and the other grew up in U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia. And they obtained every piece of their enormous arsenal right here in the US of A, legally.

Paul’s opportunism taps into deep currents of anti-Muslim prejudice that politicians have been stirring up for years.

When Donald Trump says that mosques should be under permanent surveillance and that Muslims should be barred from entering the country, or when Jeb Bush says that Syrian Christians can move here but not Muslims, they send a clear message: They believe all Muslims are potential terrorists.

This dark hint isn’t just the opposite of charity. It’s racist — and downright perverse.

Syrian refugees are fleeing from terrorism, whether by the regime of Bashar al-Assad or his radical Islamist opponents, among them the Islamic State. Over half of Syria’s 22 million people have been displaced from their homes over the course of the dreadful civil war — now a proxy war — that has raged there since 2011.

The pace of flight has increased with the Russian airstrikes on the side of the regime. In October alone, the UN reported, 120,000 people were forced to leave areas that had previously been spared the worst of the fighting.

Syrians run first to relatives in other provinces, then to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. But those front-line nations lack the resources to absorb the refugees indefinitely. So, more and more, Syrians are spending their savings to head westward via dangerous smuggling routes. Far too many are dying along the way.

Ben Carson, another GOP White House hopeful, visited a refugee camp in Jordan and claimed that most of the residents want to return home rather than come to America. He’s not wrong, exactly — anyone would rather live in familiar surroundings than in a strange country across the ocean.

But Carson left out the important part: Syrians only want to go home when it’s safe. That day, sadly, is a long way off.

In the meantime, the United States and Europe can save lives by easing the restrictions on formal, legal refugee resettlement. We should welcome as many escapees from the Syrian catastrophe as possible.

‘Tis the season of giving, not barring the door.


Chris Toensing is editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project in Washington, DC. MERIP.org.  Distributed by OtherWords.org

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Hair Force of One

The Mis-Education Of The Republican Party
— by CAP Action War Room

The GOP presidential field needs an education, but for the moment their only teacher is Donald TDebaterump. With President Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One casting a shadow over them, eleven GOP candidates spent three hours debating largely about Donald Trump and failing to address the many key issues facing working families. On education, raising wages, and health care, the GOP candidates said close to nothing, instead doubling down on attacks on immigrants, women’s health, working families, and the Iran nuclear deal. Over three grueling hours of television, the Republican candidates mentioned “middle class” just three times, “health care” twice, and “students” just once.

What the GOP Candidates Failed to Mention:

Ensuring Access to an Affordable, Quality Education. Families are finding it harder and harder to access an affordable, quality education. Between 2000 and 2011, the cost of higher education grew three times faster than overall inflation and students are being saddled with debt. However, the Republican candidates were silent on whether they would support measures such as allowing Americans to refinance their student loans and restoring public investment in education. Not only did Republicans ignore the plight of students seeking a higher education, they also ignored the needs of our youngest learners. High-quality public preschool programs range from $6,500 to $11,000 across the country—putting them out of reach for many families. But on solutions like providing universal pre-school, the Republicans were mum.
Raising Wages for Working Families. Higher wages are what working families need most. Instead of seeing their incomes improve, middle class households saw their incomes fall 2 percent between 2000 and 2011. However, the Republican presidential contenders overwhelmingly failed to offer, or support, real solutions that would improve incomes for families, such as raising the minimum wage or reforming overtime rules.

A Plan to Improve Access to Health Care. On a day when new data became available showing that the number of Americans lacking health insurance dropped by more than eight million people in 2014, Republicans once again attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but offered no alternatives. Before the implementation of the ACA, health care costs were skyrocketing. From 2002 to 2012, health care costs paid by a family of four with an average employer-sponsored PPO plan rose by 85 percent. The ACA, however, has helped control rising health care costs. At the same time, the ACA has improved access to health care. Overall, 15.8 million people have gained coverage since the ACA’s marketplaces opened. Republicans, however, have offered no ideas on how to keep improving upon the successes of the ACA, instead continuing to call for repealing the ACA.

What the GOP Candidates Did Say:

Follow Trump’s Lead on Immigration. Trump’s extreme rhetoric on immigration is often credited with putting immigration right at the center of the GOP presidential primary. But at the debate on Wednesday night, several Republican candidates went out of their way to show that they stand with Trump on his extreme positions.

  • Trump doubled down on his claim that birthright citizenship isn’t settled in the Constitution, saying, “Well, first of all, the — the 14th Amendment says very, very clearly to a lot of great legal scholars — not television scholars, but legal scholars — that it is wrong.” Trump wasn’t alone–Rand Paul, the author of a constitutional amendment to repeal birthright citizenship, restated his support for ending it.
  • Trump again raised his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to deter illegal immigration, even though the border is more secure than ever. The other GOP candidates, however, raced to outdo Trump: Chris Christie jumped at the opportunity to say that he would push to establish “more than just a wall,” pledging “electronics” and “drones,” while Ben Carson said he would turn off the “spigot that dispenses all the goodies so we don’t have people coming in here.”

Defund Planned Parenthood. During the debate, the GOP candidates spent much of their air time attacking women’s health. In rushing to declare that they support defunding Planned Parenthood, they ignored the fact that Planned Parenthood provides critical health care services for millions of women.

  • Jeb Bush believes “that Planned Parenthood should[n’t] get a penny from the federal government.” This is not a surprising statement from a man who previously said he was “not sure we need a half billion for women’s health issues.” However, Planned Parenthood helps millions of women—in 2013 alone it served more than 2.7 million patients and provided 10.6 million services, including the treatment of chronic diseases and authorization for hospital care.
  • Ted Cruz called Planned Parenthood a “criminal enterprise” and says he’s “proud to stand for life.” But 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activity is preventive care. Defunding Planned Parenthood would limit women’s access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and more.

Give Tax Breaks to the Wealthy Few. Several GOP candidates talked about their tax plans and records on taxes at the debate, but their rhetoric was the same rehash of tired Republican talking points: cut taxes on the wealthy to boost the economy. That didn’t work before, and it won’t work again.

  • Bush promoted the $19 billion in tax cuts he pushed as Governor of Florida, but analysis of his time in Florida show that he catered his tax cuts to the wealthy. What’s more, Bush’s tax plan, just released last week, would be a massive giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, would blow a hole in the deficit, and give Bush a personal tax savings of $774,000.
  • Walker claimed that under his watch, Wisconsin passed $4.7 billion in tax cuts “to help working families, family farmers, small business owners and senior citizens,” but the richest 20 percent reaped a full half of the benefits of his income tax package — all while Wisconsin ranked 44th in the country in middle class income growth under Walker.
  • John Kasich boasted about having the “largest amount tax cuts of any sitting governor,” but he neglected to mention that his so-called “tax cuts” benefited wealthy Ohioans. Under Kasich’s tax proposals, the average tax bill went up for the bottom 60 percent of taxpayers, while the top one percent of taxpayers saw an average tax cut of nearly $12k.

Tear Up the Iran Deal. Last night, many of the GOP candidates offered much of the same, similar-sounding bluster we have heard on the campaign trail: tear up the Iran deal on “day one.” Their empty rhetoric presented no real leadership, just more partisan attacks on a tough-minded deal.

  • Cruz claimed that the Iran deal “will only accelerate Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons.” He continued to say that if elected, he would “rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.” Far from being a bad deal, the agreement cuts off all pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon and is verifiable through rigorous international inspections of Iran’s nuclear supply chain and facilities. This accord proves that American diplomacy — and not war — can bring meaningful change to make our homeland and the world safer and more secure.
  • Walker casually remarked, “I’d love to play cards with this guy because Barack Obama folds on everything with Iran.” That is simply not true. The Iran deal is the result of years of tough-minded American diplomacy and a comprehensive strategy. The deal is backed by our partners and allies across the world, but conservative GOP candidates are putting politics over patriotism.

BOTTOM LINE: The eleven GOP candidates had an opportunity last night to offer real solutions to the key issues they face. But on education, working families, and health care, the GOP candidates came up empty. Instead, they spent their stage time fighting with each other and catering to the most extreme wing of the Republican Party. What we need are real leaders ready to tackle the problems facing working families, not panderers who are alienating entire communities of Americans.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.


Related Posts:

Jeb’s New Tax Plan: Another Bush Family Favor To The Wealthy Few

Well, now we know what Jeb means by “Right to Rise” … might it refer to deficits and debt?

— by CAP Action War Room

New Analysis Of Jeb’s Tax Plan Details Massive Tax Giveaways To Wealthiest Americans

Yesterday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush released a tax plan that he pledged would “unleash 4% growth.” Bush took pains to emphasize that his plan would benefit working families, much like many of his opponents for the Republican nomination. But a new Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis has crunched the numbers, and despite Bush’s rhetoric, the reality is that his new tax plan is a huge giveaway to the country’s wealthiest at the expense of everyone else.

The facts are that Bush’s tax plan:

  1. Cuts the Top Tax Rates for the Wealthy Few: Under the Bush plan, the top tax rate would be capped at 28 percent, or a nearly one-third drop from the 39.6 percent top rate in the law now. Cutting top tax rates would mean a huge tax windfall for the wealthiest taxpayers—and could exacerbate rising economic inequality while doing nothing to spur economic growth. The analysis supporting Bush’s plan obscures this massive giveaway for high incomes by only looking at the tax plan’s impact on people earning up to $250,000.
  2. Slashes the Corporate Tax Rate and Other Corporate Taxes: The Bush tax plan also proposes dropping the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from the current rate of 35 percent. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the top 20 percent of income earners effectively pay almost four-fifths of the country’s corporate taxes, while the bottom 80 percent of households pays just 21.4 percent. Nearly half of the corporate tax burden—48.7 percent—falls on the top 1 of households alone. No surprise here: corporate ownership is concentrated among high-income households, so cutting taxes on corporations would be a very large giveaway to the wealthy.
  3. Lowers Tax Rates on Capital Gains and Dividends: Bush is also pitching to lower the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends, from 23.8 percent to 20 percent. Income from capital gains and dividends goes overwhelmingly to the wealthy. CAP has previously shown that a lower tax rate on dividends and capital gains is one of the ways the U.S. tax code helps those who are wealthy enough to own capital accumulate even more wealth, worsening income inequality. Jeb’s tax plan would go even farther.

The problems with the tax plan don’t end there. All these tax cuts for the rich will be costly. Even the four conservative economists who wrote a white paper defending the Bush plan say so. They say the plan will add $1.2 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years, using a vague model that presupposes significant economic growth resulting from the plan. When using a more traditional way of evaluating the plan, these same conservative economists say it would cost an astounding $3.4 trillion— that is about $45,946 per child under 18 in the United States.

Additionally, the tax plan’s supporters have vastly inflated claims of the economic growth it would create. We know from Jeb’s brother George W. that substantial tax cuts, combined with slashed regulations as Jeb has also promised but not specified yet, do not result in the booming economy we are promised. This tired rationale for selling tax cuts should not be used again after it has been consistently debunked. But it’s what we are getting from Jeb’s economic advisors, two of which were also advisors to his brother.

We aren’t alone in exposing Jeb’s tax plan for what it is. The New York Times calls the plan a “large tax cut for the wealthiest” and estimates that taxpayers who earned over $10 million dollars in 2013 would have saved an average of $1.5 million with this tax plan in place.

BOTTOM LINE: Though Jeb Bush and his Super PAC have boasted the theme of a “right to rise” as a central campaign message, his tax plan proves that his policy priorities are squarely focused on improving the fortunes of the country’s wealthiest—even though everyone else will be left with the bill. We’ve seen how much that fails most Americans, and how it fails our economy overall. We need policies that help working families by growing the economy from the middle-out, not the top down.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

First GOP Debate Offers A Preview Of The Same Throwback Policies

Press Release: Hillary for America

Hillary4NVDuring the first debate last night, we heard the second-tier GOP candidates lay out an agenda both out of date and out of touch with the needs of everyday Americans. Here are some of the examples of what Republicans running for President view as their most important job:

  • Break up families and put them at risk of deportation
  • Allow discrimination against LGBT Americans
  • Limit access to women’s health care
  • Let Wall Street write its own rules again

Unfortunately, the lower-tier candidates are not the exception; they are the rule.  Here’s where the Republicans in the main event stand on those very same issues:


Immigration

Trump: Do we really need to get into this? Okay, here’s one you might not have heard: “We got to move ’em out, we’re going to move ’em back in if they’re really good people.”

Jeb Bush: Opposes a path to citizenship and would repeal President Obama’s executive orders on DAPA and DACA.

Scott Walker: Opposes a path to citizenship.

Mike Huckabee: Said he would repeal President Obama’s executive action on immigration and opposes a path to citizenship.

Ben Carson: Proposes giving undocumented immigrants a path to 2nd class status, denying them access to all but the least wanted jobs.

Ted Cruz: Said “I think a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally is profoundly unfair…”

Marco Rubio: Voted three times to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Rand Paul: Introduced legislation that could lead to the deportation of 4 million undocumented immigrants including DREAMers.

Chris Christie: Thinks a path to citizenship is “pandering” and has said he would immediately reverse President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

John Kasich: His administration is suing to stop President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.


Marriage Equality

Donald Trump: Opposes marriage equality.

Jeb Bush: Said he does not believe in a constitutional right to marriage equality, calling traditional marriage a ‘sacrament.’

Scott Walker: Said the Supreme Court’s decision was a” grave mistake” and called for a Constitutional amendment to transfer power over marriage laws to the states.

Mike Huckabee: Called the Supreme Court an “imperial court” for ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2010, he went as far as comparing same-sex marriage to incest, polygamy and drug use.

Ben Carson: Disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision and promised he would support “creative” legislation to “negate” the ruling if he were elected President.  

Ted Cruz:  Stated the Supreme Court’s decision was “among the darkest hours our nation,” called for a constitutional amendment that would subject Supreme Court justices to periodic judicial elections and said that Texas County Clerks should be able to op-out of issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Marco Rubio: Disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling and reaffirmed his belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Rand Paul: Argued after the Supreme Court decision that the time has come to get government out of recognizing marriage altogether.

Chris Christie: He disagreed with the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2012, Christie vetoed legislation to legalize same sex marriage in New Jersey in 2012.

John Kasich: Said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision and reiterated his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.


Women’s Health

Donald Trump: Supports shutting down the government to defund Planned Parenthood.

Jeb Bush: Said he would sign an extreme abortion ban bill without exceptions for rape and incest.

Scott Walker: Just signed a 20-week abortion ban with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Infamously said rape victims are “most concerned” about pregnancy “in the initial months.”

Mike Huckabee: Wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade and has even compared giving women control of their own medical decisions to slavery.

Ben Carson: Compared legal abortion to the practice of ‘heathen’ human sacrifices by ancient civilizations

Ted Cruz: Opposes abortion without exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother and says he would shut down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood.

Marco Rubio: Wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Rand Paul: Has stated quite simply that he “will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortion.” Paul introduced personhood legislation that could outlaw commonly used forms of birth control and opposes exceptions for rape and incest.

Chris Christie: Has described himself as “unapologetically” pro life.

John Kasich: Signed a 20-week abortion ban without an exception for life or health of the mother. He also mandated medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion that have led to the closing of women’s health clinics.


Wall Street Reform (Dodd-Frank)

Donald Trump: Criticized Dodd-Frank. [Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/19/13]

Jeb Bush: Said, “We should repeal” Dodd-Frank.

Scott Walker: Said “It’s time to repeal #DoddFrank.”

Mike Huckabee: called Dodd-Frank a “pot of burned beans” and a “piece of insanity.”

Ben Carson: called Dodd-Frank and the CFPB “one of the latest massive expansions” of government and said the CFPB was “the ultimate example of regulatory overreach, a nanny state mechanism asserting its control over everyday Americans.” Carson pointed to the CFPB as “exactly the sort of agency I plan to rein in.”

Ted Cruz: Said “We need to repeal Dodd-Frank.”

Marco Rubio: Said “We need to repeal Dodd-Frank.” He also cosponsored legislation to do it.

Rand Paul: cosponsored legislation to repeal Dodd-Frank.

Chris Christie: Criticized Dodd-Frank.

John Kasich: said Dodd-Frank “went overboard,” and when asked about why no bankers went to jail after the financial crisis, he said: “It’s not like the system was rigged.”


 For more on the GOP’s out of touch and out of date agenda for Americans, check the Hillary for America rapid response activity on The Briefing here.

Off the Cliff and Then Some

Yesterday, I took the time to watch both the Fox Debates, both minor and major.  It’s the first time I’ve watched FoxNews ever, I think.

The first debate was at 2PM.  I was amazed and dismayed at the overall tone presented by Fox and it’s hosts toward their party’s candidates.  Why was it necessary to stage it in such a way to maximize their ability to show they were playing to an empty arena?  Why did they continually pan in on the hosts in such a way that they could show what few audience member there were either talking amongst themselves or texting to others?  But most importantly, why prey (I use that misspelling purposefully) tell, did they ask such rude questions of “their” candidates as though they had no right to be there and they were imposing on the hosts.

In the second debate, that of their “major” candidates at 6 PM, the verbal assaults continued.  Though different hosts for both debate sessions, the tone each team used in asking their questions was one of denigration of the participants on the stage.  Why did they position the camera to ensure it showed Sen. Lindsey Graham standing on a box so he appeared taller? Why did the pan to Gov. Scott Walker everytime he did his boobble-head routine as Dr. Ben Carson was speaking?  Grant you, I don’t believe that any of the Republican candidates are worthy of holding the office they’re seeking, but still, a modicum of civility should have been maintained.

Additionally, I thought most interesting was that no instructions were given to the audience to display no emotion, no yelling, no clapping and candidates were left trying to talk over the audience to make their points during the one minute allowed for their responses.

The 2nd debate started with a question immediately aimed at their number one candidate.  Would he pledge to support whoever won the Republican nomination and not wage an independent run for the Presidency?  Mr. Trump would not make that pledge.  Other stabs at Mr. Trump included jabs about his four bankruptcies, his transition from pro-choice to pro-life, and his donations to the Clinton Foundation.  The answer to the donation issues absolutely made the case for needing to do something about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and getting the money out of politics.

What I learned is that there are relatively NO policy differences between the 17 Republican candidates.  It was like watching “group think” in practice.  Each and every one of them want to “repeal and replace” anything and everything that has been enacted to pull our nation out of the ditch their Republican predecessors  so abruptly put us in by the end of 2008.  They want to repeal and replace the Dodd/Frank financial regulation, but not one indicated ‘what’ they intended to replace it with.  They want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but again, not one indicated ‘what’ they intended to replace it with.  Then, they all resoundingly declared they would roll back any and all environmental regulations aimed at mitigating ‘climate change’ and though no one used the phrase, it was clear their means to assure ‘energy independence’ really meant more ‘drill baby, drill’ anywhere and everywhere around the globe.

Every one of the debaters except former CEO Carly Fiorina loudly declared they’d quelch the Iran Deal and re-impose sanctions.  Fiorina instead declared she would make two calls on day one, one to Israel’s Prime Minister BiBi Netanhayu and the second to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to let them know exactly where we stood as a nation.  The rest were pretty much in favor of literally ripping it the agreement in front of TV cameras in the oval office on Day One. Not one of those ripper-uppers could explain how they’d get China, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and any other foreign governments that it would be prudent to scrap all joint diplomatic efforts made over the last two years negotiating with Iran only to go back.  Additionally, none of them offered an any explanation as to how that might make the global community at large any safer from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Gov. Christy declared that we should raise the retirement age.  Senator Lindsey Graham somehow managed to work into any question he was asked, that we should increase the number of troops in the ground in darn near every country in the middle east. So if you think America should dominate the world militarily, he’s definitely your guy.  Former Senator Rick Santorum wants to send pink slips to >100,000 employees at the IRS and impose a flat 20% tax.  He didn’t expand on that to indicate whether that would be assessed on those families who earn wages and whether it would also apply to those who merely earn dividends/interest from stock and other financial instruments. Former Gov. Huckabee also wanted a flat tax and declared he would go after prostitutes, pimps and drug pushers to make sure they paid their fair share (but interestingly, for a preacher, didn’t say he would prosecute them for such crimes).

As expected, and whenever possible, when stretched for an answer to the question, there was clearly some Hillary Clinton bashing.  One of them went so far as to declare “at least Bernie Sanders has the decency to call himself a socialist.”

But the most disturbing declarations of the night were the number of candidates who not only want to totally defund planned parenthood, but who espouse ‘personhood’ … that once conceived, the rights of the fetus are paramount to those of the woman who’s carrying that fetus. Sen. Ted Cruz declared solemnly that on Day One, he would dispatch DOJ, IRS and any other governmental dept/agency he could to investigate and “persecute” (his word) Planned Parenthood.  Sen. Marco Rubio went so far as to proudly declare that he would even outlaw abortion not just for incest, but when the life of the mother was in peril as well. That certainly puts women in their place across the nation doesn’t it.  Apparently, we’ve been demoted to mere incubators for men’s seed.  I hope women across this nation paid close attention during this debate and will pay even closer attention as further debates ensue.  In the interim, here’s some information about where the candidates from both sides stand on women’s issues.  Make sure you share it with your Republican lady friends:


The Democrats:

257
256
251
244
248


Now the other side—The Major Candidates Republicans:

238
239
243
245
255
259
254
253
258
242


The Minor Candidate Republicans:

249
247
241
240
250

A work-up for former Jim Gilmore is not yet available as he just recently joined the race, because, well you know, it looked like a good opportunity?

Clinton at the National Urban League Conference

— July 31, 2015

I’m very pleased that many presidential candidates will be here today to address you. It is a signal that the work you’ve been doing – laboring in the vineyards for decades – is getting the political attention it deserves. But the real test of a candidate’s commitment is not whether we come to speak at your national conference, as important as that is. It’s whether we’re still around after the cameras are gone and the votes are counted. It’s whether our positions live up to our rhetoric.

And too often we see a mismatch between what some candidates say in venues like this, and what they actually do when they’re elected. I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a “right to rise” and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare. People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care. They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you cannot seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote.

A License To Kill

— by CAP Action War Room

As Florida Governor, Jeb Bush Pioneered The Nation’s First “Stand Your Ground” Law

This Friday, Jeb Bush is scheduled to address the National Urban League, one of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organizations. He is going to be on the hot seat – and deservedly so. As Governor of Florida, Jeb worked hand in hand with the NRA to pioneer the nation’s first Stand Your Ground law, brought to national attention when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. The results, detailed in a new CAP Action report, have been devastating. Here are a few of the findings outlined in the report:

  1. Since the passage of the law, Florida’s gun homicide rate jumped above the national average – and has stayed there. In the 6 years prior to the law‘s passage, the rate of gun homicides in Florida was 3.7 per 100,000 residents, below the national average rate of 4 murders per 100,000 residents. After Stand Your Ground was passed in the state, the average gun homicide rate jumped to more than 4.5 murders per 100,000 residents in Florida while going down nationwide. In the two years following the enactment of the Stand Your Ground law, the number of gun-related homicides in Florida increased by more than 200 cases.

    License2Kill

  2. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law appears to have a disparate impact on black communities. A study by the Tampa Bay Times of nearly 200 Stand Your Ground cases in Florida found that defendants seeking to avoid criminal liability for a homicide by mounting a Stand Your Ground defense were significantly more likely to be successful if they killed a black victim than a white victim. In fact, from 2005 to 2012, defendants who raised a Stand Your Ground defense in Florida were 24 percent more likely to avoid criminal liability for a homicide if they killed a black victim.
  3. The impacts of Stand Your Ground have translated to an additional 600 homicides per year across the country. Within one year of Gov. Bush’s signing, 21 other states had introduced the legislation and 13 had enacted expanded self-defense laws. A 2012 study by researchers at Texas A&M University found that Stand Your Ground laws led to more homicides: States that enacted such laws saw an 8 percent increase in homicides, which translated to an additional 600 homicides per year across all states with these laws. National Urban League’s own 2013 study found that in states that enacted Stand Your Ground laws between 2005 and 2007, the rate of justifiable homicides increased by 53 percent.

A new op-ed drawn from CAP Action’s report and written by Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP, highlights how Florida’s Stand Your Ground law poses an even larger threat in Florida because the states gun laws are so weak. In fact Florida’s gun laws remain so lax that George Zimmerman, who in addition to shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, was arrested for assaulting a police officer, the subject of a domestic violence restraining order, arrested 3 times for domestic violence, and threatened to kill a man during a road rage incident, is still permitted carry a gun in Florida.

BOTTOM LINE: America has Jeb Bush to thank for Stand Your Ground. And as research continues to suggest, America has this NRA-backed law to thank for hundreds more gun homicides every year and a disproportionate impact on communities of color.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center forAmerican Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

2M Undocumented Immigrants Have Been Deported Since 2009

— by CAP Action War Room

Last month, President Obama called for a review of deportation policy. To get a sense of how enormous the number of deportations have been under this administration, check out this infographic from our colleagues at the Center for American Progress:

CIR

Check out a few other resources on deportations as well:

BOTTOM LINE: With each passing day, failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship costs more and more in economic benefits for the country and in families torn apart.