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Greens challenge Dems in Congress on wages, health care, ethics

Click here to see more Green Party shirts, buttons & stickersGreens challenge Democrats in Congress to support economic security for Americans
• Living wages; national health insurance; repeal of bankruptcy bills that hurt Americans in debt; more citizen oversight over ethics in Congress; renegotiation of ‘free trade’ pacts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the wake of their takeover of Congress on Election Day 2006, Green Party leaders urged Democrats to reverse their party’s current pro-corporate direction and to address the financial security of working Americans.

Green candidates ran for office in the 2006 on a platform based on economic justice, support for working people, reduction of the economic gap between America’s rich and America’s poor, and restrictions on corporate power.

“The current Democratic agenda in Congress offer working Americans a Robber Baron Era that’s just a shade kinder and gentler than the Republicans’ Robber Baron Era,” said Liz Arnone, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.  “Democrats have no right to call themselves the ‘party of the people’ until they repudiate the influence of the Democratic Leadership Council, leaders like Rahm Emmanuel, and the party’s corporate
benefactors, and restore economic stability for working people.”

• Greens challenged Democrats to push for a guaranteed living wage and the universal basic income, not just a modest hike in the current minimum wage.

“Any American who works 40 hours a week deserves enough to live on, along with benefits — to be able to pay for housing and the basic necessities for one’s self and up to three dependents,” said Jim Coplen, also a co-chair of the national Green Party.  “The Democrats’ proposed 75 cent increase is just a minimal improvement over the Republicans.  Working Americans need a living wage, and all Americans deserve the basic income guarantee.”

More: http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/economics.html#241660 

• Greens challenged Democrats to repeal recent ‘bankruptcy bills’ that gave banks, credit card companies, debt collectors, and other financial instutions increased power over Americans who face financial difficulties

“In April, 2005, 72 Democrats handed President Bush, the Republicans, and corporate America a victory over middle- and low-income Americans,” said Rebecca Rotzler, co-chair of the Green Party and Deputy Mayor of New Paltz, New York.  “The bill allowed creditors to demand higher payments before and after bankruptcy, drove up bankruptcy filling fees and minimum payments in repayment plans, and let millionaires escape their debts by hiding their money in exemptions and trusts. It was passed without amendments that would have blocked abuses of bankruptcy laws by corporations like Enron.  We demand that Democrats in Congress replace this bill with protections for Americans who owe money.”

More: http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2005_04_21.html

• Green challenged Democrats to support a plan for national health insurance. 

[Previous unsuccessful legislation has been introduced] which would cover every American regardless of age, income, residence, or prior medical condition; provide choice of health care provider; and cost working Americans far less than they currently pay for coverage.

Greens noted that, although the Democrats’ “100 hours” agenda include reform of the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill and repeal of the clause prohibiting Medicare’s ability to negotiate with drug companies, Democrats will not allow Medicare to offer its own prescription drug plan. 

“Without an alternative plan, Medicare will have no teeth when it negotiates for lower prices for drugs,” said Steve Kramer, co-chair of the Green Party, who noted that many Green candidates for state office in 2006 had placed guaranteed health plans among the top of their campaign themes.

“Leading Democrats like Hillary Clinton are among the top recipients of campaign contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers and corporate health insurers, which explains why Americans won’t get either adequate prescription drug coverage or
national health insurance as long as Democrats and Republicans hold exclusive power.”

More: http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2006_08_24.shtml
http://www.pnhp.org (Physicians for a National Health Program)

• Greens challenged Democrats to restore the right of citizens to investigate and file suit against Congress.

In 1997, the U.S. House voted to prohibit outside groups from directly filing complaints with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

“Since 1997, watchdog organizations like Congressional Accountability Project, Judicial
Watch, and Common Cause have been barred from holding Congress members accountable for ethics violations, and have been frustrated with the refusal of Congress members to investigate possible violations by their peers,” said George DeCarlo, Chair of the Green Party of New Jersey. “The result has been Enron economics — more
corporate corruption, more corporate control over Congress, and less economic security for Americans.”

More: http://www.gp.org/press/pr_04_01_04.html

• Greens also challenged Democrats to repeal Taft-Hartley restrictions on workplace
organizing; to renegotiate international trade agreements (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.) that have placed power in unelected economic authorities, to the detriment of labor and human rights as well as the environment; and to prohibit federal contracts and subsidies for corporations like Halliburton that avoid paying U.S. taxes through offshore accounts.

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