Tag Archives: Fiscal Cliff

Protesters Deliver Over 21K Signatures To Demanding Mayor Villaraigosa Resign From Fix the Debt

by Marta Evry

In a sign that progressive push-back against Los Angeles Mayor Villariagosa’s membership in the right-wing “Fix The Debt” lobbying group isn’t abating, activists from MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee delivered over 21,000 signatures to LA City Hall this afternoon demanding Villariagosa resign from the group’s steering committee.

“They call themselves bipartisan because they’re able to buy members of both parties,” said Richard Eskow, a blogger for the Campaign for America’s Future.

“The primary agenda for these folks is to lower taxes for millionaires, billionaires and corporations,” he said.

In a scathing Huffington Post article about the Campaign To Fix the Debt’s agenda, Eskow was even more blunt, “Let’s be clear: This crowd doesn’t really care about deficits. It never has. It’s an anti-tax group which pursues its goals by fighting to downsize government programs and “reform” the Internal Revenue code. Its natural allies are the Republican Party, the nation’s mega-corporations, and billionaires.”

Besides MoveOn.org and the PCCC, the Calfornia-based Courage Campaign has also called on Villaraigosa to resign from the group.

“The so-called ‘Campaign to Fix the Debt’ is nothing more than a front group to protect tax cuts for the wealthy while balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and elderly,” said founder Rick Jacobs.  “The fact that Mayor Villaragosa, or any other Democrat that claims to want to protect Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, would join this effort is nothing short of shameful….Mayor Villaragosa should resign immediately.”

Last week, Villaraigosa defended his decision to join fix the debt. “I am a Democrat and a progressive, but you know what? The country is evenly divided.  They won too,” Villaraigosa told CNN, referring to Republican lawmakers.

Angela Garcia Combs, a native Angeleno and former volunteer for the Mayor who started the petition, said she decided to deliver the signatures today after staff from Villaraigosa’s office told her it would take at least three months to schedule an appointment.

She promised today’s action wouldn’t be the end of it. “Any Politician that calls themselves a Democrat, Progressive, Centrist,Bipartisan, we are putting you on notice too. We are coming after you if you join this group,” said Combs.

“Joining the Steering committee of Fix the Debt is like saying I’m joining the steering committee of the Titanic to help all those poor people in the water.”

On Facebook, Villaraigosa again defended his membership in Fix the Debt, attempting to clarify his position on so-called ‘entitlement reform’.

“Let me be very clear: I oppose the privatization of Social Security. I oppose turning Medicare into voucher care,” said Villaraigosa. “I oppose dismantling Medicaid. I support letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2%.”

However, a spokesman for the Mayor’s office told KPCC Villaraigosa was open to raising the retirement age for Social Security and other  federal benefits.

Villariagosa Partners With Wall Street To Throw Californians Off The “Fiscal Cliff”

The last time Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made national headlines he looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi as the Democratic National Convention he chaired descended into chaos.

This time he’s making national headlines for joining the steering committee of “Fix the Debt”, a high-profile lobbying group whose “core principles” include keeping tax rates low for the wealthy while slashing Social Security and Medicare. Founded by deficit hawks Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson (co-chairs of Erksine/Bowles 2010 deficit-reduction commission) the Campaign to Fix the Debt claims to be a “bipartisan” interest group, and is trying to influence ongoing fiscal cliff budget negotiations taking place in Washington D.C.right now.

“If we’re serious about long-term economic growth, we need a balanced approach for reducing the federal debt,” said Villaraigosa in a press release. “That approach should include spending cuts, raising revenue and reforms that put our entitlement programs on a sustainable footing. The Campaign to Fix the Debt is dedicated to reminding all Americans that we can’t reduce the debt and create the conditions for long-term job creation without working across party lines to find practical solutions.”

If you want to know what some of those “practical solutions” Villaraigosa will be lobbying for might look like, follow the money. Fix The Debt’s $42 million war-chest is funded almost exclusively by Big Business CEO’s notorious for underfunding their employee’s pension plans, Wall Street executives who support privatizing Social Security, and virulent anti-tax lobbyists.

“These CEOs paint a stark picture of hypocrisy,” said Scott Klinger of the Institute for Policy Studies, who co-authored a report which called Fix the Debt a ‘Trojan Horse for massive corporate tax breaks’.

“They’re simply taking advantage of the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ to push the same old agenda of more corporate tax breaks while shifting costs onto the poor and elderly.”

Klinger’s report paints a stark picture of what Villaraigosa has signed up to defend:

  • Make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%.
  • Cut corporate tax rates and shifting to a “territorial tax system” that would permanently exempt from U.S. taxes all offshore income earned by U.S. corporations.
  • “Reforming” earned-benefit programs by raising the retirement age and means-testing Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits.

The politically ambitious Villaraigosa is termed out of office in 2013, and is no doubt fishing around for his next gig.  With limited options in California, perhaps he thinks The Campaign to Fix the Debt will burnish his national profile and launch him into a cabinet position with the Obama administration.

Perhaps. But by signing on as a progressive “beard” for corporate interests, he’ll be on the wrong side of this fight in the eyes of the coalition of working Angelenos, public sector unions, and progressive organizations fighting for economic justice who’ve traditionally backed Villaraigosa.

“Fix the Debt is a creature of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the Wall Street Engineers of the the economic crisis we elected Barack Obama to get us out of, ” said Rick Jacobs,  founder of the California Courage Campaign. “I hope the President will pay attention to the voters and not those who put us into this mess.”