Welcome to our political action page. For more information about our activities, or to join our group and add your name to our mailing list, call Janet at 932-5091 or Jean at 718-352-1572.
We have had several very productive NOSH meetings, hearing scheduled reports on DACA, Education, Reproductive Justice, The Environment, Healthcare and Net Neutrality. With so many areas to focus on, we have adopted a “divide and conquer” strategy. Individuals will take the lead with each issue and follow up with actions like phone calls, letter writing, letters to the editor and emails. When necessary an email to all NOSH members asking for an immediate action on a issue coming to a vote in NYS or in Washington DC will be sent out. We can make a difference. It takes information, discussion and action. We encourage more of our AAUW members to join us.
Several meetings with our representatives took place recently at their respective offices on Long Island and in Queens. Summaries of those visits can be found in our AAUW newsletter.
Fourteen members of our Nosh Action group met with Representative Tom Suozzi at his Huntington headquarters. The focus was on five items from our political issues list that we developed prior to the meeting.
His membership on House Foreign Affairs Committee and proposed cuts to Armed Services
“Ed Royce, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs and the Republicans will not support the president’s cuts to the State Dept. The cuts will never happen. I am impressed by the sense of responsibility of the military servicemen and their commanders. General Mattis our Secretary of Defense, will speak out loudly and fight any attempts to cut his military budget.”
a. Women’s Right to Choose
“I have been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Abortion must remain safe and legal. Important to support not judge. We must provide access to adoption services, contraception and education. Prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place.”
b. Pay Equity
” I would most certainly vote for pay equity but it won’t happen in this environment. Discrimination exists but we are not making skills education available to the one half of the population who does not choose to go to college. We need to create 5 million middle wage jobs at the $80,000 range. A female welder trained today could earn in excess of $80,000. I am supporting STEM and skills education.”
The Federal Budget and Social Programs to be decimated by cuts
“Work in local elections and for local candidates for the midterms. WIN MIDTERMS!”
“Accept the frustration of the left behind and talk together in a calm and reasonable manner to persuade them of the merit of our ideas. Direct your focus on moderate and independent republicans. Persuade on merit. Write letters to the editor on each specific item. Next week I am proposing a bill that the State Dept. monitor corrupt behavior by Russia in Europe and Eastern Europe in funding campaigns there illegally.”
His Membership on the Bipartisan Caucus
“Difficult to make time to speak to fellow members. Focus on tax reform and infrastructure. A public/private partnership. Not necessarily bad. Focus on corporate tax reform not income tax reform. Challenge is to bring up our trade partners with economic advantages not lower our wages and health benefit packages. We need a higher skilled workforce to beat out other countries and more attractive tax rates so factories stay in the U.S. Tax loss is made up by productivity and more high wage positions generating a greater tax base. Corporate taxes currently bring in $300 million. Private industry must provide job training and job retraining. There are $7 billion in NY defense contracts. Promote a HIGH TECH ISLAND here in Nassau County. Create ‘downtowns’ near train stations throughout the county with apartment housing and lifestyle like Manhattan to encourage younger ’20 and 30 somethings’ to work on Long Island.”
We are all encouraged to stay in touch with Representative Suozzi:
* On Facebook: REP.Tom Suozzi
* At his monthly Town Halls
* And to track “Heard in the 3rd” (16 neighborhoods, each with its own committee) which work on District 3 issues.
Nosh Political Action Group Issues
IMMIGRATION D. Spuntelis
ENVIRONMENT G. Schaedler, P. Newill, S. Jayagopal, J. Glasner, M. Hirsch, S. Harkness, A. Leaf
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS D. Chichura, P. Cahill, S. Keblish, D. Spuntelis, M. Hirsch, S. Harkness, A. Leaf
HEALTH CARE J. Glasner, H. Abramson
SOCIAL SECURITY K. Motihar
NET NEUTRALITY A. Ostling, J. Stern
RUSSIANS-OUR ELECTIONS E. Popper, J. Loven, A. Leaf
VOTING RIGHTS P. Schutzman. C. Lippmann, A. Kelvin
HATE CRIMES L. Kiperman. H. Abramson. J. Adler
EDUCATION D. Haney, K .Hefter, P. Cahill, S. Keblish
PRISON REFORM J. Loven, A. Ostling
GUN CONTROL C. Lippmann, A. Kelvin
ECONOMICS J. Loven
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN G. Schaedler
CHURCH-STATE L. Kiperman, E. Popper
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS P. Newill, C. Lippmann, E. Popper, K. Hefter
TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS G. Schaedler, D. Chichura
SUPREME COURT E. Popper
RUSSIANS — OUR ELECTIONS
With no proof, Trump claims, through a tweet, that Obama tapped phones in Trump Tower.
Trump and his aides have repeatedly and falsely denied ties to Russia.
There were contacts by at least 1/2 dozen people in the campaign and senior Russian officials.
There are no obvious reason for contacts.
British and Dutch intelligence monitored meetings between Trump campaign and Russians in Europe.
British former spy, Christopher Steele, compiled dossier alleging compromising videos of Trump that are held by Russians, and that members of Trump team colluded with Kremlin.
Trump has expressed a benign attitude toward Putin throughout the campaign and after election.
In 2008 Donald Trump, Jr. said, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia”. We need to see Trump’s tax returns to ascertain whether he is tied to Russian businesses, oligarchs and laundered money.
We need an independent inquiry modeled on the 9/11 Commission.
In the last days of the Obama Administration, officials raced to preserve information on Russian hacking.
17 intelligence agencies agree that there was Russian influence in 2016 election through cyberhacking.
Attorney General Sessions hid from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the fact that he had met twice with Ambassador Kislyak of Russia, once during the Republican Convention and once in his Senate chamber.
Concerns that classification by FBI is being used for political security not national security
There was Russian manipulation of “fake news” during the 2016 campaign.
Why didn’t Putin retaliate when Obama Administration expelled Russian diplomats and closed diplomatic compounds? In addition, Obama added economic sanctions.
The Obama Administration learned of the Russian hacking nine months after the FBI contacted the DNC about the intrusion
Background on Neil Gorsuch:
College , Columbia, law school, Harvard, attended Oxford University received a doctorate in legal philosophy.
49 years old.
Clerked for Justices White and Kennedy.
Appointed to U.S. Court of Appeals for 10th Circuit by George W. Bush.
He is an originalist : he tries to interpret the Constitution consistently with the understanding of those who drafted and adopted it.
He has sided with employers who had religious objections to providing contraception coverage (Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor.)
Republicans refused to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland because it was made during the president’s last year in office. (With 10 months to go) Many feel that Gorsuch doesn’t deserve confirmation because the process that led to his nomination was illegitimate.
Gorsuch has called for limiting the power of federal regulators.
Wrote “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” which argues that laws banning those practices should be retained.
Gorsuch has a web of ties to a billionaire, Philip F. Anschutz who owns companies involved in telecommunications, railroads, real estate, sports teams, conservative publications.
In response to the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers
there was national level reform intended to reduce the chance of bank collapse.
Dodd- Frank went into law in July of 2010. This legislation consolidated bank
regulatory agencies, formed a new oversight committee and sought greater derivative
The Volcker Rule prevented proprietary trading (i.e. in-house speculation) by U.S.
Some poor banks failed in the last decade and funding of banks shifted from debt
But now Trump considers the deregulation of banks a top priority. He feels that this
will give banks the incentive to “lend again”.
Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, is now the head of Trump’s
Economic Council. Cohn wants lessening of restrictions on debt vs. equity requirements.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is also a former Goldman employee. He was very involved
in the real estate speculation that caused the 2007 crisis.
The upshot of the above is that banks will probably get larger, capital level requirements
will fall and more speculation is likely
Trump proposes to slash the Environmental Protection Agency staff by 20% and operating costs by 32%. This would cripple the enforcement of pollution laws and other protections of our national environment. New York State budget should make up for any federal rollbacks.
Fifteen members of Congress, part of the “public lands enemies “group, support plans to industrialize public lands for profit.
Illegal export of endangered species for the pet trade threatens to wipe out entire species. There is also an 80% decline in the forest elephant population as a result of poaching. The Endangered Species Act is in danger of being dismantled.
We must stop the dog meat festival in Yulin, China. They torture dogs before consuming them to make the meat more tender. The annual festival lasts 10 days.
The Trump State Department approved a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. This line poses a threat to every community it passes through.
PRISON REFORM — Private Prisons
In August of 2016 a Justice Department announcement said that private prisons “are less safe and less secure than government run prisons” and made plans to phase them out on the Federal level. BUT, with Trump’s law and order philosophy he has openly called for a massive increase in immigrant detention centers. Last year private prisons held three quarters of these detainees. In the past private prisons have been shown to have typically younger, less experienced guards, have higher guard to inmate ratios, serve inadequate meals and offer less resources for corrective services and training. Worse, they have an inherent incentive to keep inmates in jail as long as possible. Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants is estimated to cost $400 to $600 billion, much of that money going to private prisons in border areas. Their stocks have gone up 50-75% in the last few months.
Prison Reform — Female Incarceration
92% of all girls sent to prison are exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Of juveniles arrested 59% are runaways and 69% were for juvenile prostitution. Of the women arrested for homicides against a domestic abuser, 80% are convicted of murder and sent to very significant prison terms.
JUSTICE SYSTEM REFORMS
By James S. Lawrence, Attorney
I would like to suggest that there are some things we can do to make our criminal justice system more fair, its actions less oppressive, its results more reliable. If you ever found yourself or a loved-one in the hands of the government, you might very well wish that reforms like this were in place.
So, here are twelve suggestions for criminal justice system reforms:
Videotape police interrogations of suspects and child witnesses. In no other way can juries reliably judge the proper weight to give such evidence when ultimately presented in court.
Enforce the right to jury trial, unanimous 12 person jury, and standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in all criminal prosecutions.
End the modern role of grand juries as the government’s tool of inquisition, and return them to their historic role of judging the government’s case. Allow the witnesses to have counsel and a genuine right against self-incrimination that the government cannot get around as easily as they can now. End the long grand jury terms that keep many classes of people off grand juries.
Establish a parent-child privilege, similar to the husband-wife privilege, that encourages children to confide in their parents without fear that their secrets will be revealed, and avoids the brutal practice of forcing children against their will to act against their parents and destroy their own families. The parent-child relationship is just as important and worthy of protection as the husband-wife privilege.
Require that prosecutors turn over to the defense all information they and the police have about the case and the witnesses, and that they do so as soon as reasonably possible, well before trial. Require that prosecutors follow the same ethical rules as other attorneys.
Abandon the practice of consistently using excuses to exclude defense evidence at trial. This would include such things as finding a defense theory “speculative” or “irrelevant.” Let the defense present its theory and evidence whether the judge agrees with it or not. Allow the jury to resume its historic role of judging the justness of a possible conviction under the facts and circumstances of the case, so as to act as a check on runaway government power.
Allow a defendant the right and opportunity to complain about his attorney, fire his attorney, and be permitted to get a new attorney, more than once if he feels it is necessary. Some limits on substitutions may be proper, but present practice in many jurisdictions requires the defendant to be stuck with his first lawyer no matter what, even if the lawyer doesn’t take the time to investigate, or is deliberately malicious, or insists his client plead guilty when the client insists he or she is innocent.
Reinstate the rule that on appeal, an error is not “harmless error” unless harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Many unfair trial practices are upheld because of dubious guesswork that the error probably didn’t make any difference. See, for example, the 2000 Sixth Circuit ruling in Maurino v. Johnson. By that standard, you may as well not have a trial at all, because the defendant would probably be convicted anyway.
On appeal and habeas corpus, eliminate the whole pack of legal technicalities such as finality, time limits, deferential standards of review, etc. that require courts to refuse to hear legal claims presented by people who have been convicted. The parade of arbitrary technicalities, beginning with the U.S. Supreme Court case of Stone v. Powell (1976), prevent many prisoners from having their legal issues fairly considered and having justice done.
End drug prohibition, which has never worked anyway, and redirect precious resources to protecting citizens against actual crime. More info … This will also end the practice of informantism, where any crime can be excused or reduced as long as the criminal is willing to accuse someone else of involvement with drugs, which often leads to injustice. Society will not be harmed by ending prohibition as many high ranking government leaders are former drug users, and if they could be permitted to live their lives without arrest and imprisonment without serious damage to society, so can the people unlucky enough to have gotten caught. Society will gain real benefits because drug prohibition causes significant increases in crime and violence, much as alcohol prohibition did, and because violent police raids will slow to a trickle, directed only against real crime. More info … Without the oppression of drug prohibition, youth and minorities will not be so much a constant focus for police harassment, and a violent angry youth culture will have less place to take root.
Discard the legal fiction that forfeiture is not punishment, and allow forfeitures only in connection with conviction for a crime. Require the government to prove the facts, instead of requiring the citizen to prove he is innocent. Stop practice of making forfeiture victim pay large sum of money and follow complicated procedures in order to challenge forfeiture. End laws that say that innocent owners can be forced to forfeit property. By ending drug forfeitures, we will remove the major excuse and financial incentive for police to spend their evenings stopping large numbers of cars (as is routinely done in some areas), seizing money from helpless motorists (especially out-of-state motorists) for forfeitures that fund their police departments, until they find a motorist with drugs to arrest.
Reverse the practice of making so many things new federal crimes. Reduce federal criminal jurisdiction to its proper constitutional scope, punishing such things as treason, counterfeiting, and piracy on the high seas, and have the states exercise general police powers. Enforce Ninth Amendment limits on government power. More info …. Maintain a federal presence that will ensure that states and localities treat people fairly and constitutionally.
You will notice that not one of these suggestions deals with sentencing practices. This list is not a plea for leniency. It is a plea for fair treatment by the government, an engine that is so powerful that if not restrained by rules of fairness it could run over us all.
Budget — Trump’s first attempt to put together a “discretionary” budget section is certainly draconian. In an effort to significantly enhance military spending and seemingly anti-terrorism measures he has proposed drastic cuts in the EPA, the State Dept. and numerous social programs from arts funding to “meals on wheels”. Many in the Senate on both sides of the aisle have declared this first effort as “dead on arrival” but we’ll see how much compromise will actually be done.
Tax Relief — If nothing is done this year (including nothing on Healthcare), the current spending will result in an additional deficit of approximately a trillion dollars. With that as background Trump plans to soon present a tax cut package. It is unknown at this time what kind of percentages he will propose and who will be the beneficiaries. The middle class individual? Small business? Or will the largest percentage go to the highest tax bracket, wealthy individuals? The theory is that people and small businesses will have more available capital so they will expand their businesses or spend more individually. This will result in more hiring to produce the additional goods and services. BUT Trump’s projected GDP growth figures of 5 or 6% are not believed by almost all economists. So then will we just end up more in debt? Also remember that tax relief means nothing to those who are at or below the poverty line.
Job Issues stressed by AAUW such as equal pay, child care tax credit, paid family leave.
Potential changes in Medicare such as roll backs in the allowable age or benefit reductions.
The Medicaid expansion as the result of Obamacare. If the Federal government cuts back on Medicaid allowances to the states (as they tried to do in the recently proposed healthcare bill) the states will have to make up the differences or cut back/eliminate certain state funded programs.
HOUSE PASSES NEW HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION