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  • YDA Signs Letter to Congress to End Pentagon Slush Fund

    May 20, 2014

    Dear Member of Congress -

    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.

    Sincerely,

    NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

    9to5
    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
    CODEPINK
    Community Action Partnership
    Conference of Major Superiors of Men
    Council for a Livable World
    Courage Campaign
    CREDO Action
    Fellowship of Reconciliation
    Foreign Policy in Focus
    Franciscan Action Network
    Friends of the Earth
    Global Exchange
    Global Justice Institute
    God’s Will In Action
    Gray Panthers
    Historians Against War
    Institute for Peace and Justice
    Just Foreign Policy
    Labor Fightback Network
    Lutheran Peace Fellowship
    MoveOn.org
    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
    Peace Action West
    Physicians for Social Responsibility
    Progressive Democrats of America
    ProgressNow
    Promise the Children
    Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator
    Rebuild The Dream
    RootsAction.org
    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
    USAction Education Fund
    Veterans For Peace
    WarIsACrime.org
    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
    ARISE Inc.
    Arlington United for Justice with Peace
    Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition
    CAPA
    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
    FALAM
    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
    Keystone Progress
    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
    Oregon Action
    Oregon WAND
    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
    PeterCares House
    Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City
    Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm’s CEO
    Progressive Maryland
    ProgressOhio
    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
    USCCC
    VES
    Veterans For Peace, #92
    Veterans For Peace, local chapter 39 NEOH
    Virginia Organizing
    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

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  • The Hill Publishes Net Neutrality OpEd by Benjamin Yee

    May 17, 2014

    Profits trump communication in FCC’s new rule

    By Benjamin Yee

    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.

    Read the full OpEd on The Hill.

  • Atima Omara Joins Capital Insider’s The Week That Was

    May 12, 2014

    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.

  • YDA Endorses House Joint Resolution (HJR) 68

    May 05, 2014

    PYC

    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.

    The letter:

    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.

    Democratically yours,

    Atima Omara,
    President, Young Democrats of America

    James Lewis,
    Issue Advocacy Director, Young Democrats of America

    Current Democratic Co-Sponsors:

    • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26)
    • Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
    • Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
    • Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05)
    • Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01)
    • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03)
    • Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02)
    • Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02)
    • Rep. John Conyers Jr. (MI-13)
    • Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)
    • Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13)
    • Rep. Steve Israel (NY-03)
    • Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04)
    • Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
    • Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01)
    • Rep. Michael Doyle (PA-14)
    • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
    • Rep. Andre Carson (IN-07)
    • Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-33)

    Republican Co-Sponsors:

    • Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01)
    • Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-05)
    • Rep. Todd Young (IN-09)
  • Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    May 01, 2014

    By: Tyler Dos Santos-Tam

    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

  • Women in Politics Interviews President Atima Omara

    April 28, 2014

    Women in Politics Radio host, Kimberly Mitchem-Rasmussen, interviews President Atima Omara on politics, leadership and why young women voters will help decide the 2014 election!

    New Politics Internet Radio with Women in Politics Radio on BlogTalkRadio

     

  • Happy Earth Day!

    April 22, 2014

    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.

  • One Week Left to Apply for HSLA/CLA

    April 14, 2014

    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!

  • 77

    April 08, 2014

    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.

    We know this is wrong and you know it too. Take action now!

    Pay inequality doesn’t just affect wIt’s kitchen table economics;omen 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!

    Will you join us in telling our elected leaders that you want fair pay and you want it now?

    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

  • April 1 Heralds New Age of Bipartisanship

    April 01, 2014
    This morning, Speaker of the House John112th Congress Convenes On Capitol Hill 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.

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