Congress narrowly avoided a crisis by passing last minute legislation on New Years to avoid the implementation of the so-called fiscal cliff. The agreement secured key goals: taxes were raised on the wealthy and Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security went untouched.
Immediately after the election, Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work and our network of local coalitions swiftly moved to ensure working people were heard in the budget debate. We worked in coordination and alignment with the Caring Across Generations campaign, and a host of labor partners, and community groups to be nimble and impactful. Here are some of the ways we organized and broke through on this critical economic fight:
We mobilized: Jobs with Justice coalitions and our allies held post-election events across the country to remind the President and Congress that the election was a clear indicator that the majority of Americans care about jobs and a healthy economy. Then again on December 10th, Jobs with Justice activists joined with labor and community groups to mobilize and support at least 18 events in 11 states to send a unified message to Congress – Protect our Safety Net, Make the Wealthy Pay! We also mobilized our community of online activists who collectively placed tens of thousands of calls and emails to press for jobs, and not cuts in the budget debate.
We reached policymakers: At the start of the lame duck session, our local coalition leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., to communicate with key Senate staff in the deliberations. Our Executive Director Sarita Gupta emceed a press conference to urge Congress to stand up for Medicaid sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and organized by SEIU, Families USA, HCAN, AFSCME, NEA and Caring Across Generations.
We informed the debate: We amplified our work in the media to ensure our message was heard by opinion leaders. Local coalitions secured news coverage in outlets like Newsday, the Chicago Sun Times, and the Boston Globe. Our editorials imploring policymakers to not balance the deficit on the backs of working people ran in newspapers across the country including the Kansas City Star, the Anchorage Daily News, and the Youngstown Vindicator.
There is another fight around the corner to stop sequestration and senseless cuts in the ‘debt ceiling’ debate, but we should be proud of what we accomplished in round one of the budget battle.