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Sondra Youdelman

Sondra Youdelman is Executive Director of Community Voices Heard

March 5th, 2011 3:38 AM

Reclaiming Our Democracy…from the States to the Capitol

What’s happening across our country is both tragic and inspiring. On the tragic side are the blatant attacks against public sector workers and low-income families. On the inspiring side are the mobilizations happening in Wisconsin and beyond as people stand up and fight to take the country back.

Things got serious this week at New York's State Capitol as 150 of us shut down the capitol for an hour - the longest such demonstration in recent history – while 17 of us got arrested in an act of civil disobedience. Though we are taking a strong stand in New York, we know that fighting the battle alone in our states is not enough. That’s why we’re heading to Washington, DC this weekend to join hundreds of others as part of National People’s Action to tell Wall Street and the Big Banks they must do their fair share to fix their mess, and our elected officials must side with us to ensure that they do. We are asking you to stand with us.

As our states and country are facing a REVENUE crisis, and the gap between the rich and the poor is at an all time high, all we're hearing about is a "budget crisis." And this "budget crisis" is adding up to attacks against the poor and the working class. But we know better. Wall Street crashed the economy, and we’re being asked to pick up the tab. The nation’s six largest banks have avoided billions in federal taxes and state taxes since 2000. The big banks bankrupted our country and the big banks must pay their fair share.

New York State is the most polarized in this regard and New York City is even worse - the top 1% of the population controls 44% of the income. The division between Wall Street and Main Street is easy to see. Despite this, New York’s Democratic Governor would rather cut programs for the poor and slash the public sector workforce than implement any new taxes. In line with so many of his political counterparts across the country, it appears that he is concerned more about his connections with the powerful few than about representing the struggling many.

While real estate and big business lobbyists pooled $10 million to fund their special-interest group The Committee to Save New York in order to advocate for service cuts and tax cuts, grassroots groups have been making cupcakes, banners, and chants and calling on the state to maintain services and create jobs by extending the state’s Millionaire’s Tax. A slight surcharge on those who can afford it (especially now that the Bush Tax Cuts have been extended!) would provide $1 billion to help offset the cuts that would dramatically hurt those with less. Low-income New Yorkers from two grassroots groups, Community Voices Heard and VOCAL, have come together in a powerful alliance to expose the Committee for who and what they really are.

Join us in taking action on Monday, March 7th online to send banks the bill and make sure our elected officials collect on the bill at Make Wall Street Pay or in person at the National Association of Attorneys General's Convention on Monday, March 7th at 11:30 am at the Fairmont Hotel at 2401 M Street NW in Washington, DC where we will be calling for a strong settlement in the foreclosuregate investigation to provide relief for millions of families.

Read our lips…we know what’s going on, and we’re going to fight back!

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