Tuesday, June 23, 2009

LIMITED FREE SPACES for D.C. Health Care Rally

Limited FREE Buses to Washington, DC —

The Time is NOW to Mobilize Nationally for Health Care for ALL

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health Care Rally & Town Hall in Washington, DC

Join thousands of Americans at the
largest health care rally in history!

Limited FREE buses

Meet at 5:30 AM at Union Square; leave at 6 AM
Back at 9:30 PM

Check out below for more information:

Our voice, strength and support on behalf of real health care reform is urgently needed. On Thursday, June 25th, there will be a big rally and lobbying day for health care reform in Washington, D.C.

Transportation and lunch will be FREE on this trip. Please spread the word to your friends and family!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Health Care Reform Events and Update

Washington, DC
Thursday, June 25th

Join thousands of Americans from all across the country at the largest health reform rally in history! Come for the rally, town halls, and visits with key policy makers. Congress is voting on health care reform legislation in July. They need to hear our voices now!

Free Bus Reservation: Naomi Rothwell | Facebook (Union Square at 5:30 am)


Irish Rogue (map)
356 W 44 St
New York, NY
Thursday, June 25th at 7pm

Can't make it to DC? Amplify your colleagues’ voices. Join us to write letters to our representatives urging health reform and supporting the public health insurance option. Bring your personal stories and letterhead from your office.

Echo Event

Hunter College School of Social Work (map)
New York, NY
Tuesday, June 23rd at 2pm

Come hear Dr. Dean, former chair of the DNC, former governor of Vermont, and founder of Democracy for America, talk about the fight for the choice of a public health insurance option.

New York, NY
Saturday, June 27th

Still not sure how to get involved? Find a service event in your own neighborhood on Saturday, June 27th.

Organizing for America


New York, NY
Week of June 27

Some of our elected officials are starting to back down on supporting the public health insurance option. Help keep up the pressure. Join or organize a phone bank. Speak to your elected officials or reach out to doctors in other key states to mobilize them.

Nina Agrawal


NPA Success in Washington Last Week!

Last Wednesday, members of the New York NPA hand-delivered a box of 1000 post cards to Senator Schumer's office in DC and met with 6 Congress members on Capitol Hill. We received a very warm welcome from all, and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez even personally sent us a thank-you letter afterward. Staffers and Congress members alike were very impressed to see physicians stand side by side with patients to fight for something other than their own financial interests.

Health care providers, sign our petition to support the public health insurance option

Tell a Friend about the NPA

Watch our Introductory Film

Become a Member of the National Physicians Alliance

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Misleading Uses of Statistics, Chapter 57,942

A conservative interlocutor on a facebook thread challenged me the other day:
...Let's just use numbers without liberal or conservative pundit spin, okay? Here's how things stood at the end of 2006, no commentary:

Economic expansion was in its 74th month. The country had a rolling average of 103,000 job increases for the last three months of 2006. Unemployment stood at 4.7 percent. The household job count, which picks up small businesses, posted a 303,000 average gain.

Worker wages rose 3.8 percent in 2006, a full percentage point ahead of inflation. U.S. productivity surged 6.3 percent in the third quarter, its best pace in four years. Business inflation fell from 3.5 percent a year ago to 1.5 percent.

U.S. household net worth hit a record high of $58.6 trillion, and household wealth increased 43 percent from 2001-2005.

Now give me numbers showing me how "delusional" I am. No spin, just facts.
No problem...

First, I have to say I find your periodization of data bizarre. Aside from anything else, no government spending makes its presence felt in the economy for about a year, regardless whose it is. It just takes a while to get the ball rolling. This was noted in the Obama team's projections when they introduced the stimulus plan, by the way. It is absurd to draw any conclusions about the efficacy of the stimulus plan (or any of the others, for that matter) 5 months into a new administration.

Secondly, your reliance on 2006 data (I'd like to know your sources, by the way--I'm relying on the Bureau of Labor Statistics and several economists, as noted in the links below) is a bit odd, given that Bush was in office for 8 years. I think it's much more objective to compare apples to apples, so I'm comparing 8 years of Clinton to 8 years of Bush. Surely with 8 years of data for each, there can be no question as to the onset of the economic policies of each president or responsibility for same. Sound fair to you? I knew it would...

One last point: I also think it's unreasonable to compare the economic performance of any president in the midst of a major economic crisis (this one's generally considered the worst since the end of the Great Depression) with that of a president not facing a similar situation. Compare Obama in a few years to FDR if you like. Or if you really want to stretch way back and account for lots of data problems, try the panic of 1873 or, even worse, the economic crisis of the early 1820s. But again, apples to apples seems a reasonable approach.

1. Employment Rates:

Type of data: Percent
Age: 16 years and over

1993 199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008

The graph and data above show remarkable growth in the employment-population ratio from 1993 (61.4%) through 2000 (64.4%), followed by a sharp drop in employment from 2001 (64.4%) through 2004 (62.4%). This was followed by a modest increase in employment from 2004 (62.4%) through 2007 (62.7), followed by a dive off a cliff from 2007 (62.7%) to present (59.7%) coinciding, of course, with the economic crash.

Incidentally, the reason I use the employment-population ratio instead of raw employment numbers is that, unlike the latter, the former illustrates the extent to which employment rate changes reflect, by lagging, equalling or exceeding population growth rates, actual increases or decreases in the availability of jobs. The economy gained somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 million new jobs under Clinton. I forget offhand how many jobs we lost under Bush, but it was a lot.

2. Wages:

From 1993 to 2001, wages were flat for the first 2 years, followed by net changes in percentage points of .4%, .3%, 2.6%, 2.1%, .9%, .7% and 2.0%. From 2001 to 2007, net changes in wages in percentage points were .6%, 0.0%, -1.0%, -0.4%, 1.8% and -0.7%. By any measure, net increases in wages were greater from 1993-2001, than from 2001-2007.

3. Productivity:

Percentage changes in productivity from 1993 to 2008 were as follows:

1993 199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008

In other words, productivity increased almost continually from 1993-2002, then declined consistently until 2008.

4. Business inflation:

Business inflation rose slowly from 1993-2001, increasing faster from 2001-2007, then experiencing a levelling out.

1993 199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008

5. Household Net Worth:

As far as household net worth is concerned, let’s disaggregate your statistics. The wealthiest 1% of the population experienced a 40% increase in wealth during the Bush years; everyone else either had level net worth or lost ground. Adjusted for inflation, the real wages of the average American worker has actually decreased slightly since the 1970s. Use of an aggregate household net worth number obscures these differences.

To understand why consider a hypothetical case in which you have 5 income levels: $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 and $1,000,000. Assume the number of households at each level is, respectively, 10, 30, 50, 40, 10--a very rough bell curve. Multiplying the number of households at each income level by its income, then adding up the subtotals (140 households, $13,800,000) and dividing the total income by the number of households yields the average income of the whole group: $98,571.43. Now consider another group with the same number of households, but with these 5 income levels: $10,000, $18,000, $29,500, $39,000, $1,500,000. For the sake of simplicity, lets keep the distribution of incomes at each level the same as before. We still have 140 households, but the total income is now $18,675,000--solely because of the increase in income in the highest quintile. The average income per household is now $133,392.90, simply because the highest quintile value is so much higher than it was in the previous example. Did most households experience an increase in income from the first example to the second? Of course not--only those at the highest quintile did, but their increase was so great it pulled up the average for the whole group. The numbers I used were obviously not taken from the U.S. Census, but the phenomenon I've explained in simplistic terms is roughly what has happened to American households since the 1970s--those in the highest income brackets experienced a dramatic increase in income, especially over the past 8 years, while the average working household (I'm referring here to the median, or midpoint value in an index of U.S. incomes) either experienced no change or a slight decline in income during that period.

(Additional source data available at U.S. Department of Commerce website—fee required for access.)


By the way, the contrast turns out to be even more stark than the numbers above indicate. It turns out that, no matter how you slice it, the economy always has done better under Democratic than Republican administrations—with the exception of every 4th year of a GOP president’s term in office (the exception to the exception being, of course, 2008 under Bush).

It’s interesting, by the way, to see how heavily my conservative challenger relies on 2006. Bush was in office for 8 years—why not data for his whole term in office? His economic record was anemic compared to Clinton’s (see charts above), and it was topped off with a global economic collapse, which, contrary to claims from the right, was not caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but by wildly irresponsible behavior by mortgage brokers, ill-informed consumers, many of this country’s biggest investment banks, and the insurance company they relied on to hedge their bets via credit default swaps, AIG. (The latter, incidentally, didn’t think it necessary to back those financial instruments with their own money. And of course, they were unregulated (thanks largely to GOP Sen. Phil Gramm), so who was going to notice?) And yes, it’s true, Bush didn’t cause the collapse all by his lonesome, and some Democrats were complicit in the mess, but any honest measure of the economic history of the US from 1980 to present will unavoidably conclude that the GOP was the prime mover in the rush to deregulate, reflexive hostility to government, and the near-religious devotion to the idea that unfettered “free” markets would naturally police themselves. We’ll all be living with the results of that folly for a long time to come.

And people who try to blame Obama for the mess are being disingenuous. Sorry—5 months just isn’t enough time for any president to have a significant effect on the economy. It just takes time for programs to start & for money to flow through the pipeline. I realize my conservative challenger is a libertarian and particularly aggressive in his belief in the sanctity of the marketplace. But fair is fair—and if anyone attacked a conservative or libertarian politician with the intensity, obsessiveness and peculiar one-sidedness he exhibits toward Obama, he’d have no trouble recognizing how unreasonable that sort of behavior really is.

Incidentally, while I can't speak for your sources, not knowing what they are, I don't look to pundits when forming my opinions. Nor do I have one iota of patience for spin, regardless who does the spinning.

Harlem Health Care Reform Canvassing Event

In recognition of NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY, we are hosting a FREE health clinic that will include HIV, STD, TB, and Hepatitis Testing Services. We also will be canvassing, making phone calls and initiating several advocacy initiatives in support of President Obama's three health care principles:

1. Reduce costs
2. Guarantee choice
3. Ensure all Americans have quality, affordable health care.

Nowhere else in our country do people in communities like Harlem know better that Health Care Reform is urgently needed. It is essential that our voices are heard.

Saturday, June 27 from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Staging Location: African Services Committee (New York, NY)
429 West 127th Street (between Amsterdam & Morningside Aves.)
Hosts: Oscar Carter and Gregg Ross
Contact: ross.gregg@gmail.com

MyBarackObama.com: http://tinyurl.com/kqjpkc
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/mr4ead

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dangerous Simplicity

Lisa McGirr & Kim Philips-Fein are two historians who've studied the new right. McGirr focuses on the grassroots movement (Orange County, CA, specifically) while Philips-Fein explores the big business-led development of the infrastructure enabling the right to gain power. Together, they provide a useful framework for interpreting the ongoing meltdown of the new right.

If one starts from a traditional, often fundamentalist Christian point of view, and accepts the premise that the US is perfect, any problems we face must be due to a sinister external force. The government is an easy target, especially since it embraced in the late 20th century a bureaucratic-technical approach to modernity, rather than emphasizing traditional church-based values.

Add to that the traditional conservative position that government is an inherent threat to individual liberty, and the western mythology of the rugged individual (contra the reality that the prosperity enjoyed by most Orange County conservatives was dependent on massive government spending in the form of defense manufacturing and the infrastructure required to support it) & it was easy for conservatives to feel that government programs aimed at amelioration of poverty represented confiscation of the fruits of their hard work and potentially a threat to their freedom (freedom largely being defined economically; the more fundamentalist among them were less concerned about freedom when moral concerns were involved). This is not to say, by the way, that there were/are no reasonable bases for concern about government threats to individual liberties; rather, the point here is that the threats perceived by modern conservatives have been generally imaginary (fluoridated water,gun rights, the Soviet Union as an imminent threat to the U.S. at the very moment the former was unraveling, etc.).

The inherent contraditions in these positions, as noted above, are pretty easy to see. Conservatives were generally hostile to the civil rights movement and many, including William F. Buckley Jr., infamously argued that efforts to expand rights to African Americans constituted government intrusion into individual rights of free association. Nor have many conservatives, despite their traditional zealotry about government encroachments on liberty, been similarly concerned about the potential for similar threats to individual rights by corporate power. The obviously selective choices of objects for conservative outrage lead many outside the movement to conclude that the stated motives for opposition are but smokescreens for racism, defense of socioeconomic privilege, and various other bigotries and fears.

It's kind of striking that movement conservatives depend on a manufactured sense of grievance and paranoia, and increasingly, a rejection of evidence & logic to maintain group cohesion & a sense of identity. Even after they got Reagan & then Dubya elected, the right continued to peddle conspiracy theories and nurture a sense of grievance. Now, after undeniable political dominance for 6 of the last 8 years (and really, considering the haplessness and complicity of many Democrats, it’s been more like 40 years), virtually every aspect of every policy enacted by conservatives stands revealed (to those willing to look honestly) as a total failure of massive proportions. Yet lacking a more sophisticated intellectual framework for interpreting the results, many on the right continue to resort to a belligerent form of denial. Hence the hysterical screeching, wild accusations and even occasional shootings we observe on cable TV and elsewhere. A simplistic template is inadequate for efforts to understand the complexities of the world we live in.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Health Care Rally & Town Hall Meeting!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Join thousands of Americans at the
largest health care rally in history!

Limited FREE buses

Meet at 5:30 AM at Union Square; leave at 6 AM
Back at 9:30 PM

mybarackobama.com link: http://tinyurl.com/lwappy

Public Option Teach-IN: Fact over Fear

The fight for health care reform is on. The public option is in jeopardy.

This Tuesday, June 16th, learn about the public option, why it's critical to health care reform, the debate on Capitol Hill, and what you can do to support President Obama's historic health care reform initiative. Health care policy blogger Tim Foley (Change.org) will present a balanced overview as well as key messaging points.

The Irish Rogue Pub
356 West 44th St. (Southeast corner of 9th Ave.), 2nd Floor
Pub food, drink specials, comfortable couches, and great company!
Tuesday, June 16th, 7:30 to 9:30PM

RSVP: here. This is your opportunity to be part of the legislation of a lifetime. Please spread the word to your family, friends, co-workers. Health care affects everyone!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. Obama

I just got this message from moveon.org. Given its implications, I thought it best to post it on my blog & give it whatever publicity I can:

Less than 48 hours ago, the biggest corporations in the country declared war on President Obama's agenda. The scale of the attack is mind-boggling.

The right-wing lobbyists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will spend $100 million to defeat Obama's plans for health care and a clean energy economy. They call it their "most important project" in nearly 100 years.1

Congress is voting on a crucial energy bill in less than two weeks, and you can count on a barrage of misleading TV ads and arm-twisting in Congress aimed at weakening the bill. We're countering with an emergency organizing drive to strengthen the energy bill—but we urgently need to raise the funds to power our organizing drive.

Can you chip in $35 to help fight back against the Chamber's campaign?


Your local Chamber of Commerce represents small businesses, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is different—it represents the interests of mega-corporations, especially Big Oil and Coal.

In the next ten days, we'll pull out all the stops to block the Chamber and strengthen the energy bill. And after the big vote, we'll keep going just as strong—demanding a public health insurance option in the health care bill, fighting for tough new rules to rein in the financial industry, and making sure Obama's progressive agenda gets enough grassroots support to succeed.

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, so we're pulling together our best online, grassroots, and legislative strategies to:

  • Flood Capitol Hill with thousands of phone calls.
  • Buy online ads targeted to get the attention of opinion-makers in key House districts.
  • Bring together progressive members of Congress to speak out about the problems in the bill.
  • Hand-deliver petitions to dozens of local congressional offices—and hold media events outside to highlight the voices of unemployed people calling for clean energy jobs.
  • Hold face-to-face meetings with congressional staff in Washington and in communities across the country.
  • Launch a new website, StrengthenIt.org, where we'll rally local environmental groups to the cause.

We're deciding this weekend on our final plan for pushing Congress before the vote—so we need to know what resources we have available. Can you chip in $35?


Thanks for all you do.

–Anna, Wes, Noah, Nita and the rest of the team

P.S. If you're a member of your local Chamber of Commerce or run a small business, please sign our petition asking the U.S. Chamber to stop lobbying against Obama's clean energy jobs plan:


1. "Chamber defends free-market system," Politico, June 10, 2009

Portrait of Political Irresponsibility

Starting in the 1970s, the GOP in Congress (with help from some Dems) removed the Depression-era oversight of the banking industry & prevented regulation of complex financial instruments such as credit-default swaps.

Congress (still under Dem control but totally craven in the face of GOP attacks) passed the Reagan tax cuts in 1981, resulting in federal deficits bigger than those of all previous presidents combined. (Reagan did a U-turn a year later, increasing taxes to refill the coffers, but that never made it into conservative mythology.)

In 1995, the Gingrich-era GOP Congress shut down the government in an effort to force President Clinton to slash social spending and cut taxes. Millions of people around the country, dependent on the federal government for social security payments, paychecks, various services, etc., were hurt by this stunt & the GOP had to back down.

The GOP-led Congress under President Katrina passed enormous tax cuts, turning the biggest budget surplus in U.S. history into the biggest deficit in a year. This in spite of our involvement in 2 wars simultaneously.

The GOP-led Congress voted in lockstep with President Katrina’s administration from 2001 through 2006, authorizing spending on the Iraq War, etc. It exercised no oversight during that time.

The GOP has argued, contra historical evidence, that tax cuts are the answer to the current economic crisis. Economists—including conservatives, agree that tax cuts would turn the current crisis into outright catastrophe.

In mid-September, 2008, Lehman Brothers collapsed and there were large withdrawals from the Reserve fund. Against that backdrop, the bank bailouts (which I certainly agree are due for criticism on a number of grounds) began. Obama’s economic plan was crafted in response to the situation he inherited—one caused by the combination of factors mentioned above (not primarily due to activities of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, as the GOP & its wingnut chorus would have us believe). Obama’s economic plan only passed in the Senate due to a compromise with 3 GOP “moderates” & some blue dog Dems. The so-called compromise eliminated federal funding for state unemployment programs in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1940s—this despite the CBO’s study showing that one of the most effective mechanisms for reviving the economy in a recession is unemployment insurance (the people who get it need to spend it; therefore it cycles through the economy, boosting economic activity via the multiplier effect). So if the recession lasts longer & gets deeper, we all know who to thank for it.

The CBO, the Commonwealth Fund and others analyzing the numbers project that without the public option, health care costs are projected to increase to 60% of the federal budget by 2030, crowding out other federal programs. The GOP in Congress is universally opposed to Obama’s health care reform plans, especially the public option.

The GOP-led Congress refused persistently to do anything in response to global warming, making our ability to do anything about it now much more difficult—and expensive.

Despite all the above, die-hard wingnuts continue to argue that Obama is a socialist, he’s throwing money around recklessly, and we need a return to GOP govenance. Try to imagine what shape we’d be in now if the party whose only principle is tax cuts (for the richest 1% of the population, at that) were in power now. God protect us from such a fate.

Some still claim, despite all the above, that there’s no real difference between the two major parties—that “everyone does it.” The record is clear that, despite definite cravenness on the part of some Dems, overwhelming responsibility for the mess we face lies with the GOP.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Immigration Reform--Action Alert!

This is an exciting week for the campaign to WIN just and humane immigration reform in 2009. Today, over 700 advocates (including over 60 reps from NY, many of whom are CIR Working Group members!) are coming together in Washington DC to attend the Reform Immigration FOR America Field Summit. The 3-day summit coincides with the official launch of the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign in DC and cities across the country – from New York to Los Angeles, Miami to Seattle!

Tomorrow, the 700 advocates in DC will descend on Capitol Hill to tell Congress: "We cannot wait any longer. America needs to reform immigration NOW." We need to show strong support from our communities as well as we make this call to Congress.

Please take 30 seconds to send a (free) fax to your Senators, Representatives, and Congressional leadership right now to call for immigration reform NOW.


Please forward this to your co-workers, friends and family. Our goal is to back up those 700 advocates on the Hill with 2,500 phone calls and 20,000 faxes.

Thanks everyone. See you soon,


Frances Liu
Immigration Advocacy Field Coordinator
The New York Immigration Coalition
137-139 W. 25th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212-627-2227 x246
Fax: 212-627-9314
Email: FLiu@thenyic.org