We are writing you today as organizations with a wide variety of priorities to express our shared disappointment at the continued use of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account as a way to circumvent the very spending limitations Congress itself imposed on Pentagon spending.
Since 2002, the Pentagon has separated funding relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and counterterrorism activities from other military programs not associated with U.S. contingency operations. With the United States drawing down its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time to end use of the OCO account.
According to the Pentagon, from FY 2013 to FY 2014, approximately 39 percent fewer personnel will be deployed to Afghanistan (with none in Iraq). Yet, in the FY 2014 omnibus spending bill, Defense Subcommittee funding in the OCO account will actually increase from FY 2013 to FY 2014. This only highlights the reality that the OCO is being used as a kind of slush fund to get around Congressionally approved caps on Department of Defense spending. We believe that the sum of the OCO account should be folded into Defense appropriations, with the total reduced to reflect post-war needs. That will mean that the current Defense cap will have to be increased. We believe that is a more realistic, transparent approach, just as we believe that the current cap for domestic expenditures is too low to respond to the nation’s needs.
Just last year, the House of Representatives voted to cut the OCO account—reversing House appropriators’ decision to include billions of dollars above the Pentagon’s request in the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014. Similarly, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its Fiscal Year 2014 defense appropriations bill with significantly less appropriated in the OCO account than the omnibus ultimately provided.
Although the Ryan-Murray deal kept parity between defense and non-defense spending caps, one of the ways that Congress met the new cap was by shifting spending from the Pentagon’s base accounts into the OCO account. Domestic spending priorities cannot make such an end-run around the new spending caps Congress implemented just last month.
Since 2010, regular (non-OCO) Pentagon spending will decline less than the 17.8 percent cut to domestic and international appropriations. But the presence of non-war spending in the OCO account means that the Pentagon has had to cut less than it appears. On the other hand, preschool programs for young children, scientific research, affordable housing and other community rebuilding, home energy assistance, aid for college students, job training, and nutrition programs for seniors are just some of the programs that are not keeping pace with need.
Continuing to budget through the OCO account not only ignores Congress’ prior actions to rein in the Pentagon budget but also the desire of the American public to see our war spending come down as our troops come home. It is time to shift the nation’s budget priorities to encourage investment in jobs, education and infrastructure here at home.
As you begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2015, you have an opportunity to end the use of budget gimmicks and realize genuine savings at the Pentagon. We urge you to end the use of the OCO, and instead methodically address wasteful, ineffective, or low-priority expenditures.
Alliance for a Just Society
American Friends Service Committee
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor (A.D.R.O.P.)
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for International Policy
Center for Popular Democracy
Coalition on Human Needs
Community Action Partnership
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Council for a Livable World
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Foreign Policy in Focus
Franciscan Action Network
Friends of the Earth
Global Justice Institute
God’s Will In Action
Historians Against War
Institute for Peace and Justice
Just Foreign Policy
Labor Fightback Network
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
National Employment Law Project
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Priorities Project
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
On Earth Peace
our developing world
Peace Action West
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Progressive Democrats of America
Promise the Children
Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator
Rebuild The Dream
Salaam Legal Network & Citizen’s Council for Human Rights
Share The Wealth Productions
Sisters of Charity Federation
Sisters of the Most Precious Blood
Sisters of the Presentation
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice
The Center on Conscience & War The Young Democrats of America
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
USAction Education Fund
Veterans For Peace
Win Without War
Women Legislators’ Lobby
Women’s Action for New Directions
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
STATE AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
A. Thompson & Co.
Advocacy for Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
American Friends Service Committee Northeast Regional Office
Arlington United for Justice with Peace
Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
Center for Latino Progress – CPRF
Chicago Area Peace Action
Citizen Action of New York
Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Cleveland Nonviolence Network
Cleveland Peace Action
Coalition for Peace Action
Coalition of Peace Action of Monroe Township
Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
Community Action Development Commission (CADCOM)
Community Action Marin
Community of St. Francis
Dorchester People for Peace
East Bay Citizens for Peace
Education Equals Making Community Connections
Fairmont, MN Peace Group
Family Therapy Institute of Suffolk
Florida Consumer Action Network
Fund Our Communities
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace
Georgia Rural Urban Summit
Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND)
Granite State Priorities
Greensboro Housing Coalition
Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb
Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center (IJPC)
Iowa Citizen Action Network
Justice Committee of the albany Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
Kickapoo Peace Circle
Lawrence Pax Christi
Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO Peace Center)
Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives
Loretto Committee for Peace
Maine People’s Alliance
Mansfield Housing Authority
Maryland United for Peace and Justice
MASS Senior Action Council, North Shore Chapter
Massachusetts Peace Action
Michigan Citizen Action
Minnesota Arms Spending Alternative Project
Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition
National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter
Neighbors for Peace & Justice
New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Peace Action
New Jersey Tenants Organization
Newman United Methodist Women
NH Housing Finance Authority NHHFA
NJ State Industrial Union Council
NY State Council of Churches
Oakland County Welfare Rights
Occupy Ft Lauderdale Labor Outreach
Patriots for Change
Pax Christi Northwest Minnesota
Peace Action Montgomery County
Peace Action New York State
Peace Action of Michigan
Peace Committee First Unitarian Denver
Peace Economy Project
Peace Seekers of East Shore UU Church
Peaceworks Kansas City
Pennsylvania Coalition for Peace Action
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City
Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm’s CEO
Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition
Public Justice Center
Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone
Schenectady Inner City Ministry
Sisters of I.H.M.
Sisters of Mercy WMW Cedar Rapids, IA
Sisters of Social Service
Somerville Homeless Coalition
SS Peter & Paul Church
Teens, Training and Taxes
Tennessee Citizen Action
United Action for Idaho
Upper Hudson Peace Action
Veterans For Peace, #92
Veterans For Peace, local chapter 39 NEOH
Virginia United Methodist Women
WAND of Northern Indiana
War vs Human Needs South Florida
Washington Community Action Network
Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
wilson dist co
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially unveiled its proposed “open Internet” rules. Few are shocked because the Commission has spent the last few weeks in a public relations battle to manage public anger at their undermining of Internet access.
Two months the ago, the Young Democrats of America sent out one of its most popular emails in the past year on this topic.
Politicians and bureaucrats may think they’re safe behind that seemingly dull and uninspiring name, or the obscure nomenklatura of the FCC, but they are not. Net Neutrality is a youth issue, it is a voting issue and we are taking action.
On Thursday morning, we joined other activists, organizations and companies rallying outside FCC headquarters to ensure that the open Internet does not die off without a fight. There’s still more to do.
Young people in this country have watched as Twitter has helped topple autocrats, and social networks have helped boost voter turnout. We’ve seen tyrants shut off the Internet and countries manipulate it to censor and spy on personal conversations.
To young people, the Internet is a rapidly evolving, ever-changing place. The proliferation of apps and tools, like Facebook, Google docs, Instagram and Kickstarter are a product of an Internet that is free of discrimination. A place of true capitalism. The best ideas rise to the top because people use them. The FCC’s action, or inaction, stands to undermine this marketplace.
Re-classifying the Internet as a telecommunications service is the only reasonable option and the legal course a federal judge directed the FCC to take. As the Internet comes under increasing threat from the entrenched interests of phone and cable companies, the FCC is the bulwark against stagnation.
President Atima Omara takes on Republican strategist, Jack Burkman, on Capital Insider‘s The Week That Was (WJLA-DC.) The topics include Republican fundraising on Benghazi tragedy, Republicans attacking each other, Keystone XL pipeline and the Lewinsky’s tell-all essay.
This afternoon, the Young Democrats of America joined the national and bipartisan lobbying effort to create a Presidential Youth Council.
To do our part, we emailed the following letter to the legislative directors and/or chiefs of staff for the Democratic Members of the House of Representatives. Feel free to copy the letter, add your name and email it directly to your Member of Congress.
Honorable Representative –
We am writing to you today seeking your co-sponsorship of House Joint Resolution 68, a resolution asking President Obama to create, by executive order, a Presidential Youth Council. This Council would not cost taxpayers as it would be funded by private contributions.
Seventy-one percent of Americans aged 18-29 do not believe they have a say in the actions of their government.
Engaging young people is critical to the future strength of our Party. If we win young voters today, we will win elections for generations. This is our logic and why we, the Young Democrats of America, work tirelessly to communication our Party’s message to young people.
If we want to keep young voters engaged in our government, we need to show them that they have a voice. The creation of a Presidential Youth Council will achieve this and provide greater policy guidance enabling more efficient resource utilization by young people.
This model has been proven successful in the DNC with the Youth Council. It has also been successful in more than 400 cities, counties and states. These councils have provided real value to these governments and have been credited with saving resources by offering a better understanding of young people and how they interact with government.
Private sector businesses, labor unions, and non-profits have also adopted similar councils with great success including State Farm Insurance Company, the Red Cross, and the International Union of the Painters and Allied Trades.
We hope you will support Joint Resolution 68 with your co-sponsorship and vote on the House floor. To co-sponsor this resolution, please contact Tim Brown in the office of Representative John B. Larson.
Atima Omara, President, Young Democrats of America
James Lewis, Issue Advocacy Director, Young Democrats of America
Every May, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, a time to commemorate the achievements and contributions of AAPIs in the United States.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been an integral part in fighting for justice, civil rights, and equal opportunity – values which we as Young Democrats hold dear. A few examples include:
Senator Daniel Akaka, who fought for fair treatment for native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and all of America’s indigenous peoples;
Sen. Daniel Inouye, a World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient who left behind a legacy of monumental achievements over his lifetime of public service;
Larry Itilion and Philip Vera Cruz, Filipino American labor activists who were leaders in the campaign for farm workers’ rights;
Rep. Patsy Mink, the first woman of color to serve in Congress, who championed Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions; and
Rep. Dalip Sigh Saund, an Indian American who worked to ensure that all Asian immigrants could become naturalized U.S. citizens.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are an integral part of American history, the Democratic Party and the Young Democrats of America,” said Atima Omara, president of the Young Democrats of America. “As we work to ensure a strong Democratic turn out in November, our Asian American and Pacific Islander members will be instrumental.”
From all of us here at YDA and YDA’s AAPI Working Group, we’d like to wish you a happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Dos Santos-Tam is the chairman of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Working Group of the Young Democrats of America
Today, young Democrats across the country join millions of other Americans, both Democrat and Republican, in support of the environmental protection and reform necessary to preserve our planet for future generations.
Earth Day began almost 45 years ago when Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, organized a teach-in on college campuses nationwide – a day of education aimed at inspiring action. Science teaches us more every day about the impact we have had on our environment and, in the spirit of Sen. Nelson, we work to learn more about what we can do to protect it and how we can take action to change our behaviors.
“Every Earth Day, we recognize the importance of protecting our planet, but year after year, climate change becomes a greater threat,” said Ben Cohen (KS), vice president of Young Democrats of America. “As Democrats, we have taken the lead on protecting our planet before – the founding of Earth Day, the creation of Superfund, today’s fight for clean energy. We can and must continue. Let’s step up our efforts to protect the planet. Whatever commitments we make on Earth Day need to be our guide year-round.”
Earth Day is a call to action. Ride a bike or walk to work. Get your office to start recycling. Wait an extra week to turn on that air conditioning. Buy a filter for your tap water and eliminate the bottled water.
Remind your elected officials that we depend on a clean and safe environment. This shouldn’t be a partisan political issue – it’s time to step up to the plate on climate change. Young people – and generations to come – are banking on it.
YDA will host it’s 5th Annual High School Leadership Academy and inaugural College Leadership Academy this summer in Washington DC, and your chance to apply to be a part of these exciting events ends one week from today. Please click here to apply for the HSLA or click here to apply for the CLA before it’s too late!
Today, President Obama took a big step by signing two Executive Orders to help make fair pay for women a fact.
However, the GOP in Congress is hellbent on maintaining the status quo – which is a woman making 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes for doing the same job. The pay gap is even greater for women of color.
Pay inequality doesn’t just affect women alone; it affects families. It’s kitchen table economics; Women are primary or sole breadwinners in 4 in 10 American households with children under the age of 18. $0.77 cents or less for every dollar that a man makes equals $430,000 or more in lost compensation for a woman, her family, and our economy!
However, on an issue like this one – we simply can’t just email our elected leaders and ask them to act. We need to act now and create a space where thoughtful leaders can start working together to develop real solutions.
Join our social campaign and share one (or all) of these tweets?
I’m standing with other @youngdems for #equalpay because when women earn more, families earn more. bit.ly/YDAPayEquality
A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work is an American value. Help me support #equalpay. bit.ly/YDAPayEquality
It’s time to stop making excuses and make #equalpay a reality. Join me and sign this petition: bit.ly/YDAPayEquality
I like the show #MadMen but women can’t afford pay like that in reality. I support #EqualPay – do you? bit.ly/YDAPayEquality
Having men in involved in this campaign is vital so here are a few sample tweets for the thoughtful gentlemen that think women deserve the same paycheck as them for the same job:
I’m a man and I support #equalpay because a fair work’s day should mean a fair day’s pay. bit.ly/YDAPayEquality
My female co-workers work as hard as I do & they deserve equal pay. Add your voice to mine & let’s make it a reality. bit.ly/YDAPayEquality
Together, we can make pay inequality a distant memory.
Atima Omara, President of the Young Democrats of America & Constantina Meis, Women’s Caucus Chair
PS – Together, we can collect thousands of signatures on this petition and use it to pressure elected leaders at all levels of government. Please sign it then tweet it. -Constantina
This morning, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a stunning breakthrough announced a new commitment to bipartisanship and were reportedly seen running through a field of flowers together that were planted on the National Mall.
A spokesman from the newly created Front Office Of Legislative Synergy (FOOLS) said, “With today’s step the gridlock that has been a Congressional hallmark since the 2010 GOP take over is a thing of the past. Inspired by President Obama’s Year-of-Act, Speaker Boehner has decided to jettison Tea Party insanity and embrace common sense solutions.”
Sources close to the new FOOLS office have said that the House will now consider and advance bipartisan legislation that has languished on the House docket since Senate passage including Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and several important jobs bills.
“It is great to see bipartisanship returning to the House after four years of the chamber serving as the universal ‘heck no’ caucus,” said Atima Omara, President of the Young Democrats of America. “Now, Congress can do the work of the people instead of spending every waking hour hunting for the next Politico headline.”
Administration sources have told reporters that all stores within a six block radius of the Executive Offices are currently out of champagne. Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, confirmed these reports saying, “we are all kind of celebrating and asking WTF.”
The Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) did not return our calls for comment. The voice mail at YRNF headquarters was replaced with a sobbing voice asking callers to “leave a message or whatever.”
Some Members of Congress have expressed annoyance with Speaker Boehner’s decision. “Speaker Boehner has abandoned the fundamental principle of the modern Republican Party – gridlock,” said Rep. Marcus Alexander (R-LA-07). “We can’t gerrymander our way out of the future now. What are these people trying to do – working together? That’s not the Republican version of America.”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) office could not be reached for comment, however, editorial assistants heard laughing in the background and swore that they could smell cigar smoke through the phone.
Frank Underwood (D-SC) was also unavailable for comment.