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Hawkins Calls for a State Single Payer Medicare for All Health System

The only way that the Green Party can regain ballot status in NY is to get 50,000 votes for their Governor candidate in 2010. This opportunity comes only once every four years, and it only applies to the Governor’s race. Gaining ballot status will enable the Green Party to run more peace candidates, more single-payer candidates, more anti-fracking candidates, and more sustainable energy candidates. The last time that the Green Party of New York State had ballot status it set the record for running the most Green candidates of any state.

Howie Hawkins for GPNYS Guv by Shawna Cole

Calls for a Green New Deal to Provide Jobs for All, Hike State Minimum Wage to $10 an hour

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for Governor, spoke in Ithaca in favor a state single payer health care system; guaranteeing living wage jobs for all New Yorkers through a Green New Deal; and resolving the state budget crisis by making Wall Street bail out Main Street.

Hawkins also advocated raising the state minimum wage to at least $10 an hour in order to enable workers to provide their families with basic necessities. Under NYS Labor Law, the Governor has the power to administratively raise the minimum wage without legislative approval.

Hawkins also said it was long past time for NYS Democrats to pass the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which would eliminate the labor law exclusions that deny farmworkers such basic rights and protections as collective bargaining, the option of a weekly day of rest, overtime pay, an equal minimum wage, disability insurance, and more. He did commend lawmakers for finally granting Domestic Workers the same rights provided other working Americans half a century ago.

Hawkins said:

The Democrats always tell labor, peace, anti-poverty, and environmental advocates that the solution to all problems is to elect Democrats. The Democrats control the White House and the Governor’s Mansion, both Houses of Congress and the State Legislature, and yet we are stuck in the midst of the greatest recession since the Great Depression, mired in two wars with no end, spending more money on the military the ever before, and bailing out Wall Street shysters while unemployment rates for low-income Americans top 30 percent. Instead of universal health care through a cost-efficient single payer system we got taxpayer subsidies for private insurance with no cost control and millions left uninsured. The health care crisis continues. Instead of labor law reform, such as the Employee Free Choice Act, we get Democrats like Cuomo echoing and reinforcing Republican efforts to blame public workers for the fiscal crisis. Real change won’t happen until the public admits that the Democrats are in bed with corporate American just as much as the Republicans.

“As Governor, I will enact progressive tax reform to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes in order to erase the deficit and fund schools, public jobs programs, and a Green New Deal of public investment in a sustainable green economic recovery. Cuomo is championing traditional Republican economic policies of corporate welfare and tax breaks for the rich. Cuomo’s big bankers’ economic agenda includes a government spending cap and freezing pay for state workers while protecting big Wall Street financial institutions and wealthy campaign contributors from any tax hikes. Cuomo’s fiscal cuts and corporate welfare proposals will reinforce a vicious circle of debt and depression. Reduced public spending when private sector business and household demand is depressed will further depress the economy, reduce tax revenues, and lead to more public spending cuts to balance the budget,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins is a long time supporter of a single payer, expanded and improved Medicare for All program at both the federal and state level., Hawkins was arrested last November in a protest at the Syracuse offices of WellPoint, the largest health insurance conglomerate in the US. A recent study funded by the NYS Legislature concluded that a state single payer system would cut costs by $20 billion a year by 2019 compared to the present system – and $28 billion a year compared to the individual mandate to buy private insurance that Democrats passed in Congress last March.

“The biggest problem with the American health care system is the enormous waste and profits of insurance companies, which make more money when they deny health care services to their customers. Instead of enacting universal health care, Congress instead made the situation worse, giving a massive tax subsidy to insurance companies, increasing their stranglehold on the American health care system by mandating the every American purchase private health insurance if they aren’t otherwise covered,” Hawkins noted.. “A single payer system like Medicare would save Americans $400 billion a year by eliminating the enormous waste and red tape involved with our present system of private health insurance.”

A key part of Hawkins platform is to institute a Green New Deal, building upon the call of FDR to recognized basic economic rights. Hawkins cited the successes of local alternative economic models in Ithaca such as
Alternatives Federal Credit Union, GreenStar Co-op, and Ithaca Hours, started by Green activist Paul Glover when he lived in Ithaca.

“A Green New Deal will not only provide New Deal-type social programs for jobs and health care, but also take the next needed step toward economic democracy and empowerment through cooperatives and public enterprises in key areas, including health care, finance, and power utilities. We need to democratically direct investment to meet pressing social and environmental needs,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins wants NY to initiate a WPA-style direct public jobs in public works and services. Jobs in child care, elder care, and parks and recreation programs can put people to work immediately with little training. New York should invest in improving our housing and infrastructure, including energy efficiency retrofits, mass transit, inter-urban rails, and water and sewer lines, Hawkins said. Hawkins wants New York to follow the example of North Dakota in establishing a state bank to invest in renewable energy, mass transit, organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing.

“We need to transform the state unemployment offices into employment offices, places where people go to get a government funded job to meet vital local needs when the private sector is unable to put everyone to work,” added Hawkins.

Hawkins noted that progressive tax reform is needed to address the growing income inequality in the US; NY has the greatest gap in income not only between the rich and the poor but between the rich and the middle class. New York’s present system of state and local taxes is quite regressive, forcing the poorest New Yorkers to pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in state and local income, sales and property taxes than the wealthy. State Democrats made this worse this year, blocking proposals to increase taxes on millionaires and Wall Street bonuses, while also refusing to halt the $16 billion annual rebate of the stock transfer tax to Wall Street speculators. Instead ,the Democrats ended the sales tax exemption on clothing and shoes under $110.

Robert Reich, Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, recently pointed out how the reduced purchasing power due to massive income inequality was a direct cause of both the current great recession and the Great Depression. In 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation’s total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined, starting with the New Deal reforms, leading to increased economic prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America’s total annual income. But since then, inequality widened again.. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928 with 23.5 percent of the total.

Each of America’s two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following the twin peaks on economic inequality in 1929 and 2008. When most of the gains from economic growth go to the small number of Americans at the top, the rest don’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy afloat.

Compounding the problem is that wealthy Americans are involved in a massive hoarding of funds at the moment; in contrast, low income and working families spend their income to obtain basic necessities, helping to stimulate the economy. Private U.S. accounts today contain approximately $10 trillion in cash and liquid assets. On the corporate side, non-financial U.S. corporations are holding more than $1.8 trillion, constituting a 26 percent increase as of March from one year earlier which is “the largest increase on record going back to 1952”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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