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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Statement at Hearing on National Debt

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “…The shameless GOP tax scam contains massive giveaways for the nation’s largest banks. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the country’s six largest Wall Street banks will collectively save an estimated $14 billion in 2018 alone.”

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WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “The Peril of an Ignored National Debt.

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, since this hearing is about attention to the national debt, I think it is important for the public to understand that the Republican tax scam, pushed through by Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump during this Congress, explodes deficits by an estimated $2.3 trillion from 2018 through 2028, leaving future generations to foot the bill.

The shameless GOP tax scam contains massive giveaways for the nation’s largest banks. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the country’s six largest Wall Street banks will collectively save an estimated $14 billion in 2018 alone.

And it’s not just banks – the tax scam includes a 20 percent deduction for pass-through businesses, which is a huge giveaway to hedge funds and other Wall Street firms.

To make matters worse, companies are overwhelmingly using the windfall from the tax scam not to hire more workers or raise wages, but to buy back shares from their investors.

This law has been very deliberately constructed by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to benefit huge corporations on Wall Street and millionaires and billionaires, at the expense of hardworking Americans.

The American public, and future generations will be forced to pay for these handouts to massive corporations because of the actions of the Republican-controlled Congress and this President.

And of course, Republican policies such as the Bush tax cuts – and the Iraq war – are also major contributors to the deficit.

So, when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle talk about fiscal responsibility and the perils of ignoring the national debt, it must be understood that their actions do not match their rhetoric, particularly when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy.

When we return next year in the new Congress, with Democrats in the Majority, this Committee will reject harmful and reckless policies like these, and work to ensure that our financial system is fair. We will prioritize protecting consumers and investors, making sure strong safeguards are in place to prevent another financial crisis, expanding and supporting affordable housing opportunities, encouraging responsible innovation in financial technology, promoting diversity and inclusion in the financial services sector and ensuring that hardworking Americans and small businesses have fair access to the financial system and opportunities to thrive.

So, Mr. Chairman, I thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Bay Area

Bay Area Activist Seeks Congressional Seat in Newly Formed District 8

Last year, the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub pushed the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw a new congressional district to create consolidate the voting power of these diverse communities based on the results of the 2020 U.S. Census. (The new district now spans the I-80 corridor across Contra Costa and Solano counties, including Richmond, El Cerrito, Pittsburg, Vallejo, Fairfield, and a portion of Antioch, is the most diverse in the region.)

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Cheryl Sudduth, a Bay Area community organizer and international negotiator, is seeking election as the first U.S. Representative for California’s new 8th Congressional district.
Cheryl Sudduth, a Bay Area community organizer and international negotiator, is seeking election as the first U.S. Representative for California’s new 8th Congressional district.

By Troy Finley

Cheryl Sudduth, a Bay Area community organizer and international negotiator, is seeking election as the first U.S. Representative for California’s new 8th Congressional district. She is challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman John Garamendi.

Last year, the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub pushed the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw a new congressional district to consolidate the voting power of these diverse communities based on the results of the 2020 U.S. Census.

(The new district now spans the I-80 corridor across Contra Costa and Solano counties, including Richmond, El Cerrito, Pittsburg, Vallejo, Fairfield, and a portion of Antioch, is the most diverse in the region.)

The commission agreed to the community concerns and ended up creating the only district in the entire state with at least 15% Latino, Black, white, and Asian populations. But it is also a district with areas of historically underserved and under-resourced communities and schools – where residents throughout struggle to find affordable housing, good paying jobs, public transit, and ongoing environmental hazards.

The five oil refineries located in the new district have large impacts on the local economy and public health of the local communities but can seem a world away from the Napa and Sonoma wine country. It is also a district that Garamendi believes he doesn’t have to reside in to represent it.

Once the new district was created, the next goal was to recruit a local person of color to represent it. Enter Cheryl Sudduth, a local community leader and government contracting officer… a candidate for the new seat.

As a multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual woman with disabilities, experienced in international contracting and environmental sciences, she fit the mold exactly.

“It was never in the plan to run,” said Sudduth. She was traveling back to the Bay Area from a water conference and got a call she never expected.

The campaign for Congress was a long shot from the start. “People were saying, she seems ‘fine’ but Congressman Garamendi is a veteran politician and someone who looks like me, who speaks like me, who moves like me could never get elected over him…maybe next time,” Sudduth recalls.

However, I believed then – as I do now – that the toughest fights are always worth taking on,” she said. “I’ve always been told that government only works when people, everyday people like you and me, raise our voices and demand change.

“Our communities have been so ignored,” she said, “I just feel like it’s our responsibility to show up and stand up for us against this continued effort to bring in people who do not live here yet always want to govern our communities.”

Her campaign has mostly been staffed with volunteers – Millennials, Gen Xers, lots of women. She has made a point to reject corporate donations and relies solely on small donors; nearly 70% of her campaign funds came from individual contributions under $200.

Despite Garamendi’s proclamation that it isn’t ‘legally required’ to live in the district, Sudduth believes that his perspective reflects the out-of-touch nature of the current Congress and the sort of nepotism that seems to thrive within the Democratic machine that believes it a perfectly suitable system that a community which is 70% people of color has never had a person of color represent them on the federal level.

“Our political differences are mainly on issues of economic and racial justice,” she said. “He wants to represent us but doesn’t want to live among us? That’s why he’s not effective for us. He doesn’t have a stake in the game.

“I do have the advantage of being able to connect with the people of the community,” she said. She lives in the district near industry, which gives her firsthand experience with income inequality, housing and homeless issues, educational inequities, and racial injustices. “Frankly, anyone who doesn’t live in the district, hasn’t sent his children to our schools, spent with our small businesses and pay taxes here regularly, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us.”

Suddoth believes she has a gift “resolving issues. So, every position I’ve held from Sony to Siebel/Oracle and Goodwill, AbilityOne, U.S. President’s Commission for People who are Blind or Disabled and Mattson Technology and now AC Transit, my elected office and appointed commissions, creating thousands of federal jobs, building housing, establishing healthcare programs – I have consistently delivered award winning solutions and community resources by focusing on the fix and not just the fight.

She also has direct experience in international contracting, having lived and worked in over a dozen countries managing and negotiating contracts in nine languages, in water and wastewater, in the environmental sciences, in creating jobs and overseeing fair housing projects, and equity advocacy.

Suddoth and members of her campaign are grateful for the many people who have endorsed her including ILWU Local 10, PEU 1, LAAAWPAC, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, former Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson, former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, and hundreds of elected, appointed officials and commissioners.

https://cherylsudduth.nationbuilder.com

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Activism

Reparations Task Force: What to Expect in the Committee’s First Report

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

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Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans will submit its first report to the California Legislature in June.

The 13-chapter document will detail the committee’s findings so far and include recommendations related to them.

Task force member Donald K. Tamaki said the “comprehensive report connects the dots between past racism and its current consequences.” He also inferred that the report presents a “landmark opportunity” to shape the national conversation around reparations.

“I think the report will not only attract California publicity but will also be looked upon nationally,” Tamaki said before the task force approved the report. “With the report, we can go out to the people to develop an allyship and (generate) support for it.”

As prescribed in Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, the report will establish how California laws and policies have disproportionately and negatively affected African Americans. The report will be available to the public.

The California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Enforcement Section formulated the document based on hearings, expert testimonies, and evidence accumulated since the panel first convened on June 1, 2021.

One of the DOJ’s duties is to facilitate task force consultation with various experts on California history and reparations. The department also provides administrative, technical, and legal assistance to the panel.

The preliminary report opens with an introduction that leads to chapters focused on enslavement, racial terror and political disenfranchisement, among others. It also covers a range of topics documenting historical injustices Black Americans have endured, including housing segregation, separate and unequal education, environmental racism, and others.

Titles such as “Pathologizing the Black Family;” “Control over Spiritual, Creative and Cultural life;” “Stolen Labor and Hindered Opportunity;” and “An Unjust Legal System,” among others, frame the testimonies and historical accounts recorded during the task force meetings.

Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore wrote the foreword. Her introduction is an overview of the task force’s activities over the last year.

“This interim report will catalog all those harms we’ve discussed throughout those two-day virtual meetings since June of last year,” Moore said in an online Blk TLK Platform discussion in April. “It will also have some preliminary recommendations for the legislation to adopt.”

The first report was supervised by Michael Newman, the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section (DOJCRE).

The task force voted to describe the first presentation, the “Interim Report.”

Tamaki said about 10 DOJCRE attorneys — including Deputy Attorney General Xiyun Yang, DOJCRE Legal Assistant Francisco Balderrama and additional DOJ staff members created the report.

In a collaborative effort, the diverse DOJCRE team, Newman added, consulted with the task force to determine edits, make clarifications in terminology, modify corrections, and implement recommendations.

“It was a labor of love for everyone who worked on it,” Newman said during the task force meeting held in San Francisco on April 14. “I also want to thank all of the (task force) members and the community’s input in producing an incredible record.”

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

The group is tasked with studying and developing reparation proposals for African Americans and recommending appropriate ways to educate Californians about the task force’s findings.

After the task force decided on March 30 that lineage will determine who will be eligible for compensation, the panel approved a framework for calculating how much should be paid — and for which offenses — to individuals who are Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States.

An expert team of economists identified 13 categories that would be the basis of the method used to calculate damages and determine what constitutes harms and atrocities. A second report is due by July 2023 when the task force two-year charge is expected to end.

Members of the task force include Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; vice-chair Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Rounding out the panel are Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley; and Donald Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the reopening of the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. the United States, which led to the conviction being overturned of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

For more information, visit https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121#

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Activism

Make Mental Wellness Part of Total Health for Black Communities

The pandemic has propelled health inequity and racism into news headlines and helped spark national conversations about the health disparities that face the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The impact of decisions about the treatment we receive or deserve are often driven by racism and the resulting implicit bias that individuals who have sworn to take care of their patients often harbor. And this affects our physical, mental, and emotional health and ultimately health outcomes.

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These conversations have provided a platform for discussion and opportunities to educate, dispel misinformation and break stigmas. Rhonda Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network.
These conversations have provided a platform for discussion and opportunities to educate, dispel misinformation and break stigmas. Rhonda Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network.

By Rhonda Smith

The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in California has arrived. As the state begins to implement its SMARTER Plan, protecting ourselves and our communities from COVID-19 and its fast-spreading variants through vaccination can ensure better outcomes for us all.

Despite mask mandates ending, we must continue to spotlight the importance of keeping Black and African Americans healthy and encourage our community to think about being more proactive about our overall health and well-being. We can start by focusing on our whole selves—our physical, mental, and emotional health.

The pandemic has propelled health inequity and racism into news headlines and helped spark national conversations about the health disparities that face the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The impact of decisions about the treatment we receive or deserve are often driven by racism and the resulting implicit bias that individuals who have sworn to take care of their patients often harbor. And this affects our physical, mental, and emotional health and ultimately health outcomes.

A reflection on our historical relationship with the medical community has certainly warranted the level of distrust of the healthcare system, and the many stories of outright racism and discrimination experienced in the past.

One example is Dr. James Marian Sims, who performed surgeries and experiments on Black women without their permission or anesthesia. Another example, which many of us are familiar with, is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which was administered by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972 to better understand syphilis.

During the four decades, hundreds of Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, were injected with the disease without giving their consent; and even once penicillin became a common syphilis treatment, they were left untreated.

Our distrust of the healthcare system has been further shaped by present-day experiences, with many Blacks and African Americans saying they have experienced racism during a medical visit or that their physical pain or discomfort is frequently ignored.

Unfortunately, our healthcare system has often disregarded BIPOC patient needs, and systemic racism has morphed into a true public health crisis. Despite this, as Blacks and African Americans, we have persisted. Our individual and cultural resilience equips us to persevere and survive in a system built on a foundation of discriminatory design.

As part of our culture and heritage, we have relied on an oral tradition that passes on stories about how we should care for ourselves and remedies that heal our ailments. I hear many of these stories through our network and I heard them in my own family. We have relied on our own learnings; and in some instances, we have relied on our faith. And through it all, we have found ways to maintain our health and wellness.

However, we are weathered, and enduring resiliency is hard. If we are not whole, we are not healthy. If we are not healthy, we cannot be resilient.

Resilience is an element of mental health, and our whole health comprises elements of physical, mental, and emotional wellness. This means our whole health needs to be a priority, not only one dimension or another. We must invest in our individual health and wellbeing and make it a priority so that our families, community, and all of us will be healthier and live longer.

We must look to the past to inspire a better future so that we can rewrite our heath history here in California. I appreciate the state’s COVID-19 awareness campaign which has sought to address mental health concerns and other issues that impact us by partnering with African American and Black medical experts and advocates for community conversations.

These conversations have provided a platform for discussion and opportunities to educate, dispel misinformation and break stigmas.

We are not strangers to race-based adversity, and its impact on our health and wellbeing. Racism, health inequities inequity, police brutality, and residential redlining each affect public health in its own unique way. Yet we continue to persevere.

Black History Month was a time to remember our past, honor our heroes, celebrate our great legacy of achievement. The theme for the month this year was “Black Health and Wellness”, and it was meant for us to prioritize total wellness and build a healthier history for us now and for generations to come.

For more about COVID-19, including guidance on masking and testing, visit covid19.ca.gov. You should also visit covid19.ca.gov or the CDC.gov more timely, accurate information about the pandemic. To schedule an appointment for a vaccination or a booster, visit MyTurn.ca.gov, or call 1-833-422-4255.

Rhonda Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network

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