The Choice is Clear: Mobilize or Risk Deep Cuts in Safety Net Programs
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
This is a dire emergency — make no mistake about it!
The clock is ticking toward a showdown vote on cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and hundreds of other federal and state human services programs. At a time when Congress’s priority ought to be spending trillions to create millions of good paying jobs, it is increasingly fixated on going in the opposite direction: undermining social programs by cutting billions of dollars.
Can the drive to cut deeply into these safety net protections, which tens of millions have taken for granted and depended upon for many decades, be stopped? Or will those hell-bent on imposing the cuts be successful?
Given the overwhelming popular sentiment in support of maintaining the benefits, the Emergency Labor Network is supremely confident that these federal and state programs now on the chopping block can be saved. However, it will depend upon two factors.
The first is whether the leaders of the U.S. labor movement will rise to the occasion and mobilize the millions of people who stand ready to join the fight against the cuts, if only the leadership will lead it. The potential is gigantic. The hundred million recipients of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need to be rallied from coast to coast to demonstrate just how powerful the opposition to the cuts is. What is needed most of all is an emergency March on Washington! The organized labor movement has the capacity and resources to galvanize an outpouring of unprecedented numbers in the streets in the weeks ahead, so long as it involves its community partners in the planning and implementation.
The second is the degree of assertiveness by activists around the country, whether or not part of the labor movement, who hopefully will do everything in their power to move their organizations into action at this critical juncture.
Union people are urged to submit resolutions to their labor organizations, which will call for setting times and places for demonstrations demanding “No Cuts!” and with top union officials and national leaders of the labor movement copied and urged to provide leadership.
At the same time, if you believe that — come what may — massive mobilizations must be organized demanding “No Cuts!” we ask that you let us know if you will join in getting the ball rolling by helping to make plans for coordinated actions in communities across the country from Saturday, December 3 through Saturday, December 10. These would proceed unless and until major forces, especially labor, issued a Call for such actions in support of the same demand. In such case, we would urge putting to the side all other plans and joining together to support such a Call, with the goal being to make the unified actions as massive as possible.
A form is provided below for Endorsers of December 3–10 Actions, on the basis of the Statement which immediately follows this letter. Please direct questions to 216-736-4715, or email email@example.com or write ELN, P.O. Box 21004, Cleveland, OH 44121.
President, South Carolina AFL-CIO
On behalf of the Emergency Labor Network Coordinating Committee
Statement Endorsing December 3–10 Actions Across the Country Demanding “No Cuts!” in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Other Federal and State Safety Net Programs
We urge the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, National Education Association and other independent unions to join together to call an emergency mass mobilization in the weeks ahead — preferably in Washington D.C. — to demand no cuts in benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid recipients, including for future generations. To the contrary, these programs need to be strengthened and expanded, not undermined.
We also oppose cuts in other safety net programs, including food stamps, home heating assistance, nutrition programs and help for the disabled and the homeless. As Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out, if those in Congress who wish to decimate the existing safety net, which provides a modicum of security for the elderly, the sick, the children and lower income people, are successful, “there is no question in my mind that many more thousands of men, women, and children will die.”
We believe it will take the united effort of the entire labor movement and its allies to turn back the drive by right wing forces, who are hell-bent on ramming through cuts in these programs, using the so-called Super Committee of 12 and compliant members of Congress to impose their will.
The overwhelming majority of Americans, according to all the polls, oppose such cuts. There is no justification for them, given the fact that there is plenty of money available to fund these programs from other sources, including ending the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing the war dollars home now, making the corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, closing tax loopholes, rescinding the Bush tax cuts on the millionaires and billionaires, eliminating the cap on social security, and through other means that do not harm lower and middle income earners.
Our organization supports the call for nationally coordinated actions on a local level from Saturday, December 3, 2011 to Saturday, December 10, 2011, demanding “No Cuts!” in Social Security Medicare and Medicaid. If the labor movement and its allies were later to issue a call advancing the same demand—as we strongly urge—we would energetically throw all of our efforts into building that as the alternative, whatever the dates or scenario projected.