December 10, 2014
IN REMEMBRANCE OF NEWTOWN TWO YEARS LATER
There are certain events in history that are so profound in their depth of tragedy that we all remember where we were when we heard the news. On the morning of December 14, 2012, a deranged man with easy access to weapons from his home gunned down twenty innocent children and six adult educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The horrific events surrounding this carnage abruptly terminated the promising futures of these young victims and upended the lives of their families and community forever.
In remembrance of this solemn anniversary, the Woman’s National Democratic Club has again partnered with the Yellow Tape Project, a grassroots awareness campaign advocating for responsible gun laws in the United States. The goal is to mount a strong visual message through yellow tape displays to demonstrate our collective power and support of the effort to reduce gun violence through the passage of common-sense gun laws.
President Obama had these words to say soon after the unforgettable terror on the morning of December 14th two years ago: “We have endured too many tragedies…we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.” Sadly, and almost as tragic as the lives lost, the power of entrenched gun rights groups have ensured the failure of any meaningful legislation – at least at the federal level. As a consequence, over 60,000 lives have been lost to gun violence since the Newtown tragedy. This statistic is unacceptable in a civilized society.
We at the WNDC, through its Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Gun Violence, continue to strive for sensible and effective change in our nation’s gun laws and advocate strongly for background checks as the single-most important strategy to save lives. In spite of the many legislative disappointments, we implore our advocates to continue to pursue legislative remedies and to support and vote for those candidates willing to take a stand for responsible gun policies at both the federal and state levels so that we might all live in a country which values public safety over political expediency.
(During the week of December 14th, look for a sign “In Remembrance of Newtown” and yellow and black tape featuring the message: “Stop Gun Violence: Act Now” around the neck of our beloved donkey, Darla. Read the sign and demand a promise of action from all legislators!)
Adopted by WNDC Board of Governors on December 10, 2014
September 15, 2014
IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE WASHINGTON NAVY YARD SHOOTING ON
SEPTEMBER 16, 2013
One year ago, on September 16, 2013, a 34-year old civilian contractor fatally shot twelve people and injured three others in a mass shooting at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, inside the Washington Navy Yard in the nation’s capital.
In commemoration of this solemn anniversary, the Woman’s National Democratic Club has partnered with the Yellow Tape Project, a grassroots awareness campaign advocating for responsible gun laws in the United States. The goal is to mount a strong visual message through yellow tape displays to demonstrate our collective power and support of the effort to reduce gun violence through the passage of common-sense gun laws.
We at the WNDC, through its Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Gun Violence, continue to strive for sensible and effective change in our nation’s gun laws and advocate strongly for background checks as the single-most important strategy to save lives. In light of the many legislative disappointments of recent memory due to the power of entrenched gun groups, we urge voters on November 4th to support and vote for those candidates willing to take a stand for responsible gun policies so that we might all live in a country which values public safety over political expediency.
(During the week of September 15th, look for a sign and yellow and black tape featuring the message: “Stop Gun Violence: Act Now” around the neck of our beloved donkey, Darla. Read the sign and demand a promise of action from candidates before you vote on November 4th!)
July 7, 2014
WNDC Denounces Supreme Court’s Burrwell v. Hobby Lobby Ruling
Bosses’ Beliefs Overrule Best Medical Care for Women
The Woman’s National Democratic Club strongly denounces the recent decision by the Supreme Court (June 30, 2014) wherein five male Supreme Court justices decided that it is legal for companies to withhold particular types of prescription therapies from their female employees if the therapies are deemed against the company’s “religious principles.“
The truth is: Under this decision, female employees’ “religious principles” do not matter. The Court has given corporate bosses veto power over particular therapies for certain employees who constitute over half of American workers.
The stated” religious beliefs” behind this decision do not match the medical facts. Prescription contraceptives are NOT abortifacients. The pills, patch, ring, injection, implant and Mirena IUD stop ovulation. Without the egg for the sperm to join, there is no fertilization. The Paraguard IUD works by being toxic to sperm.
More importantly, the decision denies women the best available treatments for many gynecologic illnesses. For example:
As of July 1, 2014, however, women’s bosses can inflict their own “beliefs” on their women employees, robbing them of the best treatments for their medical conditions.
This decision also leads our country into “slippery slope” territory. We have to ask, what‘s next? If my employer believes being gay is a sin, can the company refuse prescriptive coverage for HIV care? If my employer “believes” that premarital sex is a sin, can the company withhold prescriptive coverage for Viagra, Cialis and other ED drugs from unmarried men? If my employer “believes” only prayer should be used to treat illnesses, can the company deny all prescriptive coverage?
In America, in this 21st century, medical care must be driven by factual information and research. We cannot allow a boss or anyone else to interfere with the doctor- patient relationship. No one should have the right to deny best medical practices to any person, whatever strong feelings they may have.
–Karen J. Pataky, NPC
Public Policy Committee
May 31, 2014
Resolution Supporting a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn the
“Citizens United” and “McCutcheon” Supreme Court Decisions
WHEREAS: The Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling (January, 2010) allowed unlimited contributions to independent expenditure committees or “super PACs, and the recent McCutcheon v. FECruling (April, 2014) struck down the aggregate limits on individual contributions to candidates and parties; and
WHEREAS: These two rulings have allowed secret big-moneyed interests to dominate and corrupt Americans politics, in effect, upholding “corporate personhood” and making it unconstitutional for government to regulate the money spent in elections; and
WHEREAS: During the 2012 cycle, in which non-party outside spending tripled 2008′s total and topped $1 billion for the first time, super PACs accounted for more than $600 million of that spending. So far in the 2014 midterm election cycle, three times more dark money spending has already been reported to the Federal Election Commission than at this point during the 2012 presidential campaign. (source: OpenSecrets.org);
WHEREAS: In the 113th Congress, Senator Udall of New Mexico et al introduced S.J. Res. 19, a joint resolution “proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” This amendment would authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures, allow states to regulate such spending at their level, and allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that withstands constitutional challenges; and
WHEREAS: A constitutional amendment has the support of more than two million people who have signed petitions, more than 120 national organizations which have endorsed, and sixteen states and the District of Columbia as well as over 550 local municipalities which have passed resolutions (source:www.United4ThePeople.org)
WHEREAS: Government works best when a majority of citizens participate in the political process – not when the “one percent” drowns out the voices of the “ninety-nine percent; and
WHEREAS: Although amending the Constitution is an enormously ambitious and quixotic path to take, it is ultimately the only way to ensure that Americans are able to live in a country where the phrase “free and fair elections” and “representative government” mean something;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the National Federation of Democratic Women hereby formally expresses its disapproval of the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions and urges Congress to pass S.J. Res. 19 and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment overturning these decisions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the Secretary of the National Federation of Democratic Women forward a copy of this resolution to all chartered National Federation of Democratic Clubs throughout the country.
–Resolution submitted by the Woman’s National Democratic Club to the National Federation of Democratic Women May 2014
Adopted by NFDW at its convention, June 15, 2014
May 26, 2014
WOMAN’S NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CLUB CALLS FOR RENEWED DEBATE AND ACTION IN CONGRESS ON GUN VIOLENCE AFTER CARNAGE IN SANTA BARBARA OVER THE WEEKEND
Members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club are once again outraged and heartbroken after another mentally disturbed gunman stole the lives of six innocent victims and injured 13 more. Politicians and the public swore after Sandy Hook that things would be different. Tragically, common-sense legislation to expand gun background checks failed in the Senate only 4 months after the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 first graders and 6 adults.
Like in the situations of Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, and Tucson, in Santa Barbara the clearly mentally unstable perpetrator was able to purchase guns and ammo legally. These weapon purchases were made in spite of the fact that California’s laws are seen as much more restrictive than the federal standard when it comes to limiting gun rights of people with mental illness. While the investigation is still ongoing as to whether proper procedures were followed by authorities, this much seems clear: we do know that a visit or two was indeed made to the shooter’s apartment upon tips from family or therapists, but that the apartment was not searched for the arsenal of weapons which had amassed there because the future assailant, Elliot Rodger, was able to mask his instability. The sheriff deputies “determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told CNN Sunday.
We are pleased to hear encouragement from Sen. Richard Blumenthal on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday when he referred to the failed legislation post-Sandy Hook: “I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them to center on mental health, which is a point where we can agree that we need more resources to make this country healthier and to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped – and the Congress will be complicit if we fail to act.”
Families and public safety authorities need more tools such as a gun violence restraining order to remove firearms from unstable home situations caused by mental illness, history of violent crime, domestic violence, or alcohol or drug use. Further, “Individuals at high risk of committing gun violence should be disqualified from purchasing and possessing firearms,” concludes a recent study conducted by the CSGV’s Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. WNDC has been a proud member of the Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence since 2011. Late last year, a consortium of mental health and public health professionals convened by the organization’s partner organization, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, issued reports to state and federal policy makers making the case for strengthening gun purchase and possession laws to restrict potentially dangerous individuals from having guns. We think it wise that before any new legislation is crafted at the national level that this study be consulted.
The angry words of Richard Martinez, the father of a young man slain by the Santa Barbara mass murderer have gone viral by now: “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live?” “Stop this Madness! We don’t have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more!’”
The WNDC stands with this father, and we stand with Senator Blumenthal and any other legislators in Congress who will finally choose public safety over political expediency so that these senseless acts of violence ravaging our communities are finally halted once and for all. Perhaps then we will be able to hold our heads up high in the world.
May 21, 2014
WNDC SUPPORTS AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROPOSAL
Endorsement of the United for Homes Campaign
In November 2013, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released a worrisome report on the rental housing squeeze. It found that there has been a decrease in renters’ incomes and an increase in the rents demanded. The report, “America’s Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs,” shows that a significant erosion in renter incomes over the past decade has pushed the number of households paying high rents to record levels: One in two households pay more than 30% of their income on rent and one in four households pay more than 50% of their income on rent.
We must invest in building new affordable rental housing to provide homes for all of our residents. The sequester and budget cuts have devastated funds for new housing production at the Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Agriculture. We need a new approach to raise needed revenue. Congressman Keith Ellison’s bill, the Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2013 (H.R.1213) would invest $200 billion over ten years to expand the supply of affordable rental housing for extremely low-income families, veterans, people with disabilities and the elderly.
The bill raises these funds by replacing the current mortgage interest deduction with a 15% tax credit on up to $500,000 of a mortgage. At a cost of $70 billion a year, the mortgage interest deduction is much larger than the total HUD budget. Nearly 80% of the mortgage interest deduction benefits families in the top-income quintile. About half of households with a mortgage do not benefit from the mortgage interest deduction as they take the standard deduction. A flat- rate credit provides a greater benefit for current and future homeowners.
Changes to the mortgage interest deduction are being considered as part of tax reform. The Ellison bill retains those funds in housing and targets them to those most in need of a safe and affordable option by investing in public housing, the National Housing Trust Fund and an expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
Please approve attached resolution that authorizes the WNDC to sign on to the support of the Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2013 and the United for Housing Campaign to better target our nation’s housing investments. The Ellison Bill and the United for Housing Campaign follows the recommendation of the Bipartisan Housing Commission, which recommends that revenue raised for housing meets the needs of homeless families, veterans and low-income elderly while preserving a benefit for homeownership and expanding that benefit to more current and future homeowners.
May 19, 2014
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF EXPANDED HOUSING OPTIONS
AND GREATER TAX FAIRNESS
WHEREAS, “Stable housing is the foundation upon which people build their lives – absent a safe, decent and affordable place to live, it is next to impossible to achieve good health, positive educational outcomes, or reach one’s economic potential.” (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. 2010); and
WHEREAS, there are 10,100,000 extremely low income renter households in the United States whose income is $19,810 or less for a family of four; and
WHEREAS, there are 51,052 extremely low income renter households in Washington, D.C. whose income is $32,190 or less for a family of four; and
WHEREAS, 76% of extremely low income renter households in the United States pay more than half of their incomes for rent; and
WHEREAS, 70% of extremely low income renter households in Washington, D.C. pay more than half of their incomes for rent; and
WHEREAS, there is a shortage of 7,100,000 homes that are affordable and available for extremely low income renter households in the United States; and
WHEREAS, there is a shortage of 29,389 homes that are affordable and available for extremely low income renter households in Washington, D.C.; and
WHEREAS, the shortage of homes that are affordable and available for extremely low income renter households is the cause of homelessness in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Congress established the National Housing Trust Fund in 2008 as a dedicated source of funding for the production, preservation, rehabilitation, and operation of housing for people with the lowest incomes, including people who are homeless; and
WHEREAS, the National Housing Trust Fund has not received any dollars since it was created, despite the growing need for rental housing that extremely low income households can afford; and
WHEREAS, investing in the National Housing Trust Fund will create jobs in the construction trades and in property management; and
WHEREAS, for every $5 billion appropriated to the National Housing Trust Fund, approximately $18,200,000 would be allocated to Washington, D.C.; and
WHEREAS, the mortgage interest deduction is under consideration for change by the U.S. Congress; and
WHEREAS, over three-quarters of the benefit for the mortgage interest deduction goes to households with income in the top fifth of all taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, only slightly more than half of homeowners who pay interest on their mortgages benefit from the mortgage interest deduction; and
WHEREAS, by converting the mortgage interest tax deduction to a 15% non-refundable credit and lowering the cap of eligible mortgage value from $1 million to $500,000, the number of taxpayers with mortgages who get a tax break would increase by 16 million, 99% of whom have incomes under $100,000 a year; and
WHEREAS, these modest modifications would reduce the cost of the mortgage interest tax expenditure, thereby freeing up an estimated $197 billion in federal resources over 10 years for housing assistance to low income households.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Woman’s National Democratic Club endorses the United for Homes Campaign, and supports expanding mortgage interest tax benefits to more middle class and lower income homeowners by modifying the mortgage interest deduction by converting the tax deduction to a tax credit and by reducing the maximum size of a mortgage for which interest can be deducted; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Woman’s National Democratic Club urges Congressional representatives of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to co-sponsor H.R. 1213, The Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2013; and
BE IT STILL FURTHER RESOLVED that the Woman’s National Democratic Club urges all members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 1213 and members of the Senate to direct sums resulting from mortgage interest deduction modifications to the National Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve, rehabilitate, and operate rental housing that is affordable for extremely low income households.
Please include the Woman’s National Democratic Club in the list of organizations that endorse this campaign.
Approved May 19, 2014