Residents of the Mid-Hudson Valley took to the bridges this past Saturday to urge lawmakers not to go over the impending “fiscal cliff”. The group of twenty activists had a clear message for outgoing Representative Nan Hayworth: come to a deal on jobs, taxes and vital programs like Medicare that works for the middle class and workers of New York.
More than 20 activists dropped a banner off of 1-84 in Beacon urging Hayworth to vote for tax cuts for the middle class, but not the wealthiest 2%. If the Hayworth and the rest of House fail to extend tax cuts for the middle class, the average middle class family of four in New York will face a tax increase of $2,200.
Extending the package of middle class tax cuts, on the other hand, would benefit 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses making less than $250,000 per year.
The members of the Mid-Hudson Valley 99% and their allies who participated in the protest are amping up pressure on Hayworth as the lame duck Congress heads towards a deal on the “fiscal cliff.” They are circulating a “jobs not cuts” petition that will be delivered to Hayworth on December 10. In it, they make clear that they want a deal that protects Medicare, Medicaid and vital education programs like HeadStart, while also extending middle class tax cuts.
Hayworth who had previously indicated she would not vote for any increase in taxes on the top 2%, but under pressure from local activists, she recently indicated that her position may be evolving. The Mid-Hudson Valley 99% will keep working to represent the interests of the vast majority of working and tax-paying New Yorkers, hoping that Hayworth will do the same.
The Bain Bus pulled into Hempstead in advance of the presidential debate yesterday, and the workers who have struggled under the Romney Economy found they weren’t alone. Women, immigrant rights groups, and others joined with the Bain workers to let the country know that a Romney presidency would hurt almost anyone outside of the top 1% of earners.
The political debate inside Hofstra University got complicated last night, but the message offered by the Bain workers outside was clear: we can’t survive in low wage jobs that force us to choose between paying for basic necessities and paying for insurance. We can’t survive if our jobs are outsourced while programs like Medicare and Medicaid are cut. We can’t survive in a Romney’s Economy.
The bus tour is in Boston for the next couple of days, taking their message right to Romney, at Bain Headquarters and the Romney campaign headquarters.
A spirited crowd of Mid-Hudson valley residents turned out in Newburgh last night to protest Romney’s economic vision. To chants of “One, we are the people, two, we are united, three, we don’t need a Romney economy!” the group rallied outside a fundraiser of Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, a Romney supporter.
Calling their gathering a counter convention to the RNC in Tampa, the crowd was united in their belief that Romney’s policies would mean more struggles for the majority of New Yorkers. “This plan will shrink the middle class and increase the economic inequality that’s in the country,” said Sparrow Tobin, a resident of Middletown “Basically Mitt Romney’s economic policy is a retread of trickle-down economics, which didn’t work the first time.”
Joan Hillegas, New Windsor agreed. “It’s becoming more and more difficult every day to make ends meet,” she said. “I don’t know if I could survive all his cuts. I’m struggling now.” Hillegas joined with residents of New Windsor, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie in urging Rep. Hayworth to support raising the minimum wage and stop voting for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
“Nan Hayworth can you live on $7.25 an hour? Can you live on $10 an hour?” Hillegas asked. “And if you can, I want you to show me how that’s done.”
The night concluded with an impassioned speech by an activist from Newburgh named Beatrice, who read from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Romney and Hayworth weren’t living up to its principles, she said. “These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. Are we getting any of that?” she shouted to the crowd.
“The massive investment bank’s stock took a tumble on Monday after JP Morgan Chase’s $2 billion loss rocked markets, but its CEO was still offering investors a rosy picture Tuesday morning, as what was to have been an extremely perfunctory meeting turned into a question-and-answer session with New York City activists questioning why a bank that got $10 billion from the federal government and $34 million in subsidies from New York City alone is still spending millions on lobbying to deregulate the financial industry, shedding jobs, and dodging taxes.” [...]
“[CEO and Chairman of the Board James] Gorman, whose own pay package (he got over $10 million in 2011) was up for a nonbinding vote as part of the meeting, appeared to be ready to rush to the vote to reelect the board without actually taking proposals from the audience, but shareholder activist Ben Master stood up and asked if they were going to allow discussion before voting. He then led off a rousing round of questions from the audience, asking if shareholders could really trust a board that approved $3 million in lobbying to weaken the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. ‘It’s pretty obvious why the board members support such policy,’ he noted. ‘They get rich off of it.” [...]
“As the shareholders asked questions, Gorman provided skillful non-answers or said that they should save their questions for after the vote, and a burly man with an earpiece circled the room, telling shareholders to put away their cell phones. Gorman did at one point acknowledge that the firm would not exist without bailouts from governments around the world, but seemed to take no responsibility for the bank’s role in precipitating the economic crash.
“He took offense when Cecelia Adams, a CUNY student to whom I spoke recently at Brooklyn College’s protest, called the company’s practices ‘unethical,’ but a quick perusal of their own SEC filing, available at the meeting, shows the company’s been sued repeatedly for ‘common law fraud’, and Greg Fries questioned Gorman about one specific settlement that Morgan Stanley had paid, $102 million to end a Massachusetts investigation into its involvement with subprime lending. Gorman deflected, saying that settlements were part of ‘the normal course of business practices.’” [...]
“When the mic check was over, 94.8% of shareholders were announced to have voted for the executive compensation package, and all the questions in the world weren’t going to change that.” [...]
“The entire meeting, with all the questions and defensive non-answers, took only a little more than an hour. A CNBC reporter interviewed Ben Master outside about the event, and then everyone departed–some of the activists back to New York City to rally outside Morgan Stanley’s Times Square offices in the rain.” [...]
“It’d be nice to think that any of the questions asked of Gorman and the board would have given them pause or a change of heart, but even Adams’ impassioned plea to them to remember their children and young people like her seemed not to move them.”
“Still, her parting words to the executives left me with some hope. ‘One day you’re going to be gone and the world will be mine.’”
Tomorrow morning, a group of New Yorkers will board buses bound for Purchase, New York. There, in a town aptly named to hold such an event, these citizens will attempt in to pose questions to the executives of global financial firm Morgan Stanley during their annual shareholders meeting.
Headquartered in Times Square, Morgan Stanley received nearly $200 million in public subsidies through 2011, including $34 million from New York City alone. But instead of creating jobs, the company has decided instead to shed over 1,900 full-time equivalent jobs in New York City directly related to those New York City subsidies. Morgan Stanley should not be getting subsidies from the government to create jobs if it repeatedly fails to create jobs.
The company also has a terrible way of showing appreciation for the employees that had helped net the company $4.1 billion in 2011: announcing three series of layoffs that will cut up to 5,000 jobs between last December and this June.
Morgan Stanley is one of the financial firms that played a large role in creating the economic crisis. It fought for deregulation and then used the lack of oversight to defraud investors and reap billions in profits. The company has spent over $13 million on lobbying and political donations in an effort to minimize the effects of laws and regulatory reforms meant to prevent another financial crisis.
Tomorrow, we are going to Morgan Stanley to draw attention to the real culprits of our current crisis. Our actions will show that Americans are actively mobilizing to order strip large, reckless, and irresponsible corporations of their outsized influence in our society.
“In honor of Tax Day and the beginning of the MLB season, videographer and Occupy supporter Accuist shared this baseball-themed skit shot last month in front of General Electric’s headquarters in New York City. The ‘Tax Dodgers’ represent what his organization, taxdodgers.net, alleges to be tax-dodging on the part of major U.S. corporations through loopholes and offshore savings accounts.”