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Budget for All Update, January 14, 2013

Budget show-down looms: Washington is headed towards three budget deadlines in the next weeks. The debt ceiling must be raised by approximately February 15; the “sequester”, or automatic budget cuts in both military and domestic spending, will take effect March 1, unless changed by Congress; and spending for the current fiscal year must be approved by the time the current continuing resolution expires March 29.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Keith Ellison proposed 'Progressive Budget Principles for the Next Deal', which are consistent with the Budget for All. The Pentagon budget is on the table as never before. We need to avoid cuts to programs the 99% depend on, and instead raise taxes on the 1% and cut Pentagon spending.

Our focus over the next six weeks is to make as much noise as possible to ensure that Pentagon cuts and the Budget for All principles remain in the center of Congress’ negotiations.

Budget Briefing and Action Planning: Sunday, January 27, 1pm, downtown Boston (location TBA). The Budget for All Coalition will present a briefing on the budget battle in Congress, our moment of opportunity, and the national strategy to save social programs, create jobs, and make Pentagon cuts. We’ll also plan actions to pressure our elected officials to honor the will of the people.

Some progressive groups agree with us on services, taxes and jobs, but are reluctant to push for military cuts, partly because some labor unions represent workers at defense industries. Yet this silence will be more difficult to maintain in the coming weeks. Military cuts are currently before Congress, and without military cuts Congress would have to rely exclusively on tax increases to prevent cuts to services and benefits. In any case, labor and economic justice organizations intend to hold nationally coordinated days of action on January 30 and February 20. Budget for All will support those actions and bring the issue of military cuts into them.

Have a Heart: February 14. The Budget for All Coalition wants to hold local anti-austerity events February 14 in as many parts of the state as possible. Have a Heart: No More Cuts! Have a Heart: Invest in Jobs! Have a Heart: Tax the 1%! Have a Heart: Bring the Troops Home! The National Alliance of HUD Tenants has made a nationwide call for actions on that date.

Can your town or region organize something for the 14th (or possibly the 13th)? It could be a rally at a Congressional rep’s office, an indoor event with speakers (for example, state legislators who support the B4A), or it could be at a school or housing project that symbolizes service cuts. Contact Michael Kane to work on the Boston “Have a Heart” event, or Paul or Cole for other parts of the state.

Resources: The New Priorities Network has released a toolkit to help activists push for Pentagon spending cuts. Check it out and use it often! It has facts and figures, sample letters to the editor, and a sign-on letter for elected officials. Tension is building in Washington, so now is the time to write letters to the editor or op-eds in your local community paper.

State Legislature: The State Legislators’ letter calling on Congress to support the Budget for All has been re-opened for signatures. Tell your legislator to contact Jim Gay,, in State House room 22, to sign on to the letter. We also plan to file a bill backing the Budget for All in the State House this week. Contact Paul Shannon to help work on these projects.

Public Letter: We also plan to open a similar letter for mayors, city councilors, selectmen, political organizers, and faith, labor and community leaders to sign, as well as the general public. Stand by for details on this new letter.

Democratic State Committee: The DSC is set to vote on endorsement of the Budget for All resolution at their next meeting, Jan. 31. The endorsement was recommended by the DSC’s Public Policy subcommittee, headed by Sen. James Eldridge and Mara Dolan.

Mass. Peace Action Annual Meeting: The Feb. 9 meeting in Newton will feature a workshop on the Budget for All. North Shore Rep. John Tierney will be one of the keynote speakers.

Budget for All Coalition planning meetings are held every Friday, 3:30 p.m., alternating between Jamaica Plain and Cambridge, with phone-in access possible. Contact Cole or Paul for details.