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Real Jobs At Stake

I attended a blogger meeting with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to talk about Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition that has formed to help win the coming fight over the expiring Bush tax cuts. As you remember, two years ago the Republicans held unemployment benefits hostage, demanding they be extended for 2 years. Obama went along, the Republicans since then cut unemployment anyway, and now are campaigning that Obama increased the debt. I will write about the coming tax-cut-expiration fight in depth later, but the Senator said something important on a different issue that I want to bring to your attention. He said the Transportation Bill is important, it is now, and "real jobs are at stake."

The transportation bill is also called the highway bil. Senator Whitehouse said that the transportation bill is being held up for no reason. The Senate has approved it. The House won't pass it. "Why are they jamming the highway bill?" The Senate has passed a bipartisan bill that both sides agree on, there is no partisan argument for not doing this. There is no defense for Republicans stalling it. They do not have a counter-story they are just stalling it to stall it.

We are losing projects and jobs day by day. This isn't just about hiring one person, it is about big projects that hire a lot of people. It's about a bridge, not just one job.

I want to add, once again Republicans are blocking an important bill that would help the country and create jobs. Are they sabotaging the economy to turn people against government and the President as an election strategy?

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Eric Schneiderman: "Thank You for Pushing Me"

There were rumblings that Thursday's Netroots Nation keynote address by Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general and the head of an Obama administration task force on Wall Street fraud, was going to be disrupted by protestors. And indeed, as Schneiderman began to speak, several people stood up with signs, with slogans like "Prosecute the big banks," and two or three people yelled something toward the podium.

Schneiderman responded with a "Thank you." It turned out that the demonstrators were helping Schneiderman make one of the central point of his speech about movement-building. "Public leaders and officials do not create movements," he said. "Movements create leaders."

"Speaking candidly, our civic and political officials are inherently inclined towards caution. They move when movements push them," he said. "Frankly, we get from public officials what we make them give us, and that is as true of our friends as it is our opponents."

This has been a continuing theme of Schneiderman, reassuring progressives working on financial reform that he is their ally when it comes to holding Wall Street accountable for its role in the financial crisis and giving activists permission to be impatient with him and the political system in which he is working, with the rationale that as he is pushed from the outside, he will be able to accomplish more on the inside.

The fact that the disruption was mild and quickly fizzled masks the level of impatience and frustration that some activists feel toward Schneiderman, which reflected itself in an earlier Netroots Nation panel on efforts to fight the big banks on such issues as foreclosures and mortgage right-downs. One of the milder comments came from Max Berger, an Occupy movement organizer, who called Schneiderman "a good dude that doesn't want to admit that he's getting rolled."

Schneiderman is likely to be asked to more directly address concerns like those at the Take Back the American Dream conference June 19, when he will be on a panel moderated by MSNBC host Alex Wagner that includes Heather McGhee of Demos and's Richard Eskow.

Schneiderman, meanwhile, has been working to beef up the prosecutorial firepower at his disposal. Earlier this week George Zornick of The Nation reportedthat Schneiderman added former assistant U.S. attorney Virginia Chavez Romano to his team. She is employed in the state attorney general's office but is being detailed to assist Schneiderman's task force work. "Romano participated in the criminal indictments of Credit Suisse employees earlier this year for falsifying prices tied to collateralized debt obligations," Zornick reported.

During his keynote address, Schneiderman sad that progressives need to focus not just on the "transactional politics" of winning short-term political deals but also on the "transformational politics" that can change the national narrative that drives transactional politics. It is the latter that "requires us to reshape the assumptions about politics and economics and most essentially about human nature that prevent people from embracing policies that will make their lives better.

"Let us never lose sight of the fact that the greatest damage done by the contemporary conservative movement was not any law they passed. It was the transformation of the consciousness of millions of Americans that led them to embrace policies that hurt them."

He added that the stage is set for a transformation in a different direction, paralleling the change in the country's political direction after the 1929 financial crash. He credited the Occupy movement for helping to push the nation closer to that transformation by focusing national attention on income inequality and the conservative policies that led to the financial meltdown. And he credited the agitation from the progressive movement for empowering him and a small number of dissident attorneys general to object to a settlement with the nation's largest banks that would have left the banks immune from any prosecution for criminal wrongdoing.

When President Obama struck a more populist tone on economic fairness and holding bankers accountable during the State of the Union address in January, that "didn't happen because he got a new speechwriter. It happened because the agenda was changed," Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman said that progressives have too often elected a leader and then gone home. "Conservatives never go home," he said; they instead keep holding the people they elect to the fire. "Let's learn from our mistakes," he urged. "Keep pushing, keep fighting."

"Thank you for pushing me. Thank you for pushing the president," he said in closing.

The speech tapped into a recurring theme in other Netroots sessions—the need for progressives to become an independent force that must be reckoned with, one that commands respect because of its ability to both reward and punish. The Take Back the American Dream conference will pick up that theme, with strategy sessions that look beyond the November elections to building a movement that can continue a progressive transformation of our politics, elect candidates and move those candidates to govern from a progressive framework.

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Politics for the 99%

This year will feature the most ideologically polarized election since the Reagan-Carter face-off of 1980. A radical-right Republican Party, backed by big-money interests, has made itself the tribune of privilege and will do significant damage if it takes control in Washington. Staving off that outcome depends on mobilizing the Democratic base. Yet President Obama’s agenda is far removed from what is needed to meet the challenges this country faces. Because of this, we believe progressives must expand the limits of the current debate, even as they rally against the threat posed by a Republican victory.

No one should discount the potential destructiveness of a victory for Mitt Romney. The widespread media assumption that he’s really a “Massachusetts moderate” who adopted extreme positions to placate the Republican electorate before resetting his Etch A Sketch would be irrelevant even if it were true. A Romney victory could be accompanied by GOP control of all branches of government, with the party’s right-wing majority in the House driving the agenda. As Grover Norquist argues, “We are not auditioning for fearless leader…. We just need a president to sign this stuff.”

The “stuff” they would pass—already endorsed by Romney—includes repeal of the modest reforms enacted to police corporations after the Enron scandal and banks after the financial collapse; repeal of healthcare reform, stripping some 30 million people of coverage; budget cuts that would gut almost all domestic functions of the government, from education to child nutrition to safeguarding clean air and water; and an end to Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. These draconian measures would be used to pay for increases in military spending and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Under the Romney plan, those making over $1 million a year would receive an average tax break of $250,000. A Romney victory would buoy a Republican right eager to roll back social progress, constrict voting rights and exacerbate racial divides in an era of middle-class decline. The offensive against labor and workers’ rights would escalate. And Romney’s bellicose foreign policy would make George W. Bush look dovish. If Romney wins, we will spend four years fighting to limit the damage he will inflict on the nation.

Obama has indicted the right’s extremes, arguing eloquently for public initiatives to save the middle class and revive the American dream. He’s made inequality a central theme of his campaign, and he will defend tax hikes on the wealthy and investments in areas vital to our future, from education to new energy. In attacking the vulture capitalism of Romney’s Bain Capital, defending the auto industry rescue and promoting investment in new energy, he makes an implicit case for industrial policy. Obama’s defense of human rights—for women, gays and minorities—stands in stark contrast to his opponent’s views. His re-election would help consolidate the emerging reform-coalition majority based on minorities, the young, single women, professionals and union households. Obama is winding down two wars, but his embrace of a modified “war on terror”—drones, renditions, expanded surveillance and other trappings of the imperial presidency—poses deep perils for the country. Even so, at least if Obama wins—and particularly if the Democrats manage to take back the House—our chances of reversing these policies, and winning the broader battle for reform, are vastly greater.

The System Isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed

Yet on the central issue of the campaign—the economy—the limits of the Obama agenda are apparent. In his “economic Sermon on the Mount,” delivered three months after he took office, Obama argued that we could not return to an economy built on debt and bubbles; we had to build “a new foundation” that would work for working people. He proposed moderate measures in critical areas: an economic stimulus, plus reforms in the healthcare, energy and financial sectors. But despite the economic crisis, an election mandate and Democratic majorities in both houses, Republicans combined with entrenched interests to delay, dilute and in some cases defeat reform.

Now the old economy has recovered, even if Americans have not. The big banks are more concentrated than ever and back to making big bets, certain that they are too big to fail. The trade deficit is growing, back up to an average of more than $1.5 billion a day. Wages continue to fall, with more and more Americans struggling to afford healthcare and retirement. Student debt exceeds credit card debt, and the piecemeal privatization of public education continues. Inequality continues to grow, with the top 1 percent capturing a staggering 93 percent of the income growth in 2010.

Beneath Washington’s polarized politics, an establishment consensus has congealed around austerity. After this fall’s election, the United States will face a fiscal train wreck: the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of the year, as will the payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits. The debt ceiling must be raised again, and Republicans are threatening to hold the country hostage once more. The legacy of the last negotiation is an automatic sequester that requires cutting about 10 percent of the discretionary budget—both domestic and military programs. If all the cuts are made, the still-weak economy will plunge back toward recession. That specter is used to justify the call—made by both parties—for a grand bargain based on “shared sacrifice,” in which “everything is on the table.” In this construct, deficits pose the biggest threat, with austerity the needed remedy. Since we have all lived beyond our means, the argument goes, we should all share in the necessary sacrifices.

In fact, mass unemployment, not the deficit, poses the biggest threat to the economy. A turn to austerity would essentially be a declaration that chronic, widespread joblessness—with the declining wages and rising insecurity that accompany it—is the new normal, to which Americans must adjust. The mantra of shared sacrifice ignores the reality that most Americans already have sacrificed—in reduced wages, lost savings, collapsed home values. The question now should be: Who pays the tab for the mess created by Wall Street excesses, costly wars and thirty years of failed conservative policies? The “shared” sacrifice of austerity saddles the most vulnerable and the middle class with the tab. Wall Street gets bailed out and the rich get lower tax rates, while the 99 percent get unemployment and cuts in education, government services, retirement security and affordable healthcare.

The situational populism of presidential campaign rhetoric cannot mask the limits of the Obama mandate. He will offer no transformational agenda, no new foundation for an economy that works for working people, no plan for reviving the middle class. And no matter who wins, only sustained popular pressure will forestall a debilitating “grand bargain” that will further undermine the middle class and the poor.

The Progressive Response

Not surprisingly, the high stakes of 2012 have fueled the perennial debate over the importance of electoral politics versus movement politics. In the face of the threat posed by the right, Democrats urge activists to swallow their disappointment with the president and pull together to get out the vote. In contrast, many movement activists scorn electoral politics, arguing that both parties are so corrupted and compromised that energy should be focused on building independent movements and protests.

Frances Fox Piven terms this a false dichotomy. “Elections and movements do not proceed on separate tracks. To the contrary, electoral politics creates the environment in which movements arise.” And movements can challenge the limits of the electoral debate, forcing politicians to address issues and adopt positions they might otherwise shun. The dedication and imagination of Occupy Wall Street forced inequality, mass unemployment and declining wages onto the national agenda, issues that Romney argued should be talked about only “in quiet rooms.” Popular movements in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere have won dramatic victories in repelling the right’s offensive against unions and working people—even as they have also compelled Democratic politicians to talk once more about workers’ rights. Successful movements build their own narrative, mobilizing activists around a cause and forcing politicians seeking a majority to change their calculations.

In 2012 progressives have little choice but to do both: to take the election seriously while continuing to organize independent movements and challenge the limits of the debate. Committing to electoral politics need not mean—cannotmean—simply folding into an existing campaign and trumpeting a politician’s exaggerated promises. Progressives should see elections as an opportunity to identify champions, drive issues into the debate and hold politicians in both parties accountable. This requires building an infrastructure independent of the Democratic Party, and a movement willing to challenge compromised incumbents. A prime example was Ned Lamont’s 2006 campaign against Joe Lieberman in Connecticut over the Democratic senator’s support for the Iraq War. After Lamont’s stunning upset victory in the primary, Democrats who had begun the campaign arguing about the supply of bulletproof vests finished it calling for an end to the war, which helped them win a majority in the House.

In this election, there are several high-profile races that could send Washington a message—notably the Senate campaigns of Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom have argued forcefully for taming Wall Street, and both of whom are prime targets for the right. In the House, there are more than a dozen progressive challengers who, if elected, would strengthen the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

At the state and local levels, the stunning mobilization against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, followed by recall challenges of Republican senators, helped inspire progressives (and sober conservatives) across the country, who will push their own campaigns no matter what the outcome of the recall. Progressive Majority will field hundreds of local and state candidates while targeting key races that could flip state legislatures.

Even without primary challenges, movements can raise the public’s awareness of progressive issues and force politicians to adopt positions they might otherwise avoid. Activists are moving to put the housing crisis and corrupt banking practices at the center of the national debate. While Occupy Our Homes mobilizes in communities to defend citizens against foreclosure and the Campaign for a Fair Settlement demands that we hold Wall Street accountable for the pervasive fraud that inflated the housing bubble, the Home Defenders League is organizing underwater homeowners in targeted states to demand that banks pay for resetting mortgages, which would bring dramatic benefits in jobs and growth to the overall economy. If these movements gain traction in Florida, Ohio and Nevada, the presidential and Congressional candidates will have to respond.

With student debt greater than credit card debt, students and Occupy activists have started to challenge university tuition hikes, demanding relief from Washington and Wall Street. The president has pushed for extending lower interest rates on student loans, in part to appeal to young voters.

This fall the biggest challenge for progressives will be finding a way to use the election to break the establishment consensus on post-election austerity. This requires mobilization around the demand of Good Jobs First and condemning a premature turn to austerity that would force working families to pay for the mess that Wall Street created. In addition, a broad-based coalition could join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Senator Bernie Sanders and prominent economists to lay out a common-sense approach to growth and deficits. The most effective deficit-reduction measure is putting people to work—as soon as the unemployed start collecting paychecks, they spend and stimulate the economy, putting even more people to work and expanding tax revenue. Fair tax reform that shuts down corporate loopholes and tax havens and hikes taxes on the wealthy can help pay for the investments we need to build a new foundation for growth. Borrowing money at current interest rates, which are cheaper than free, and investing it in renovating our decrepit infrastructure—roads, sewers, energy systems—will put people to work and have a positive economic return. After we do this, we can focus on getting our books in order over the long term—not by cutting Medicare or Social Security but by fixing our broken healthcare system.

With Romney and the Republicans championing a return to the policies that have devastated the middle class, the election also offers an opportunity to overcome what has been the most baffling of Obama’s failures: his unwillingness to “re-litigate the past,” to educate Americans about the bankrupt ideas and policies that served the 1 percent as they failed the country. It is a measure of that stunning default that after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the right could be revived electorally without being forced to rethink its assumptions or agenda, and without having to change even a comma of its creed.

Occupy Wall Street has helped to expose how a rigged system threatens our democracy and our economy. Progressives should use the election to hone our narrative on how we got into this mess and how we can get out of it. The conversation shouldn’t simply be about an agenda, though. It should be about values—about the standards we hold in common, now offended by a system that tramples the basic beliefs most Americans hold about their country. In this post–Citizens Unitedworld, big money and both parties are flooding the airwaves with billions of dollars in negative ads, but this election can serve as a perfect teachable moment—if progressives counter with teach-ins, house parties, demonstrations, nonviolent protests and marches.

An Honest Politics

Americans understand that the system is broken—and rigged against them. They increasingly see both parties as compromised, and they have little sense of an alternative and even less of a sense that anyone is prepared to fight for them. Progressives must therefore be willing to expose the corruption and compromises of both parties. This requires not only detailing the threat posed by the right but honesty about the limits of the current choice.

We also must go from opposition to proposition. Broad coalitions and campaigns are needed to lay out alternatives and fight for them. Occupy Wall Street challenged the heart of darkness, and the commitment and sacrifice of the thousands who took part in that movement have inspired hope. That’s why sustained efforts to mobilize and drive issues into the debate, while using nonviolence and direct action to defend people in peril, are vital. At the same time, progressives can champion candidates who will fight to transform the Democratic Party into an instrument of the 99 percent.

Defeating Romney and the right’s ruinous agenda is necessary but not sufficient. We need to worry less about co-optation and more about collaboration and expansion. A new course will require electing progressive champions and holding them accountable. It will require bold mobilizations around neglected issues to break the establishment’s stranglehold on our politics. It will require new ideas, new ways of organizing, new strategies of reconstruction.

We are still struggling to free ourselves from the ideas and institutions of the conservative era. We see more clearly than ever the flaws of a system rigged to benefit the few. The money politics that supports market fundamentalism has been exposed. The perils of the politics of division—enforced by a beleaguered, aging white minority against an emerging, more diverse America—are clear. Now we must reach out, teach, engage and mobilize millions of Americans. We must provide them with a sense of hope, a story of possibility, and enlist them to create change. It won’t be easy. But it never is.

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Netroots Nation and ALEC

I'm at the Netroots Nation 2012 conference in Providence. The weather has been pretty good, a brief rainshower but otherwise sunny and pleasant day. There are panels all day, breakout sessions on various topics, state caucuses, parties, lunches, dinners, parties, receptions, parties, conversations in the hotel bar, late to bed, up early, jet lag, and another day of the same...

The conference center is just about perfect for this event, just the right size, comfortable, distances between sessions are not too great for human compatibility (unlike in some other cities), with a hotel attached and others right nearby. The restaurants,etc, within walking distance make for nice evenings. It seems like a nice town.

ALEC Exposed

I have been in private meetings so I cannot report on any of the sessions except the "Whose Law Is It Anyway? ALEC's Influence on State Legislatures and What We Can Do About It," led by: Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange with panelists: Aniello Alioto of ProgressNow and ProgressNow Education, Kim Anderson of the National Education Association, Marge Baker of People For, John Carey of the National Public Pension Coalition and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of Description:

The American Legislative Exchange Council has been behind virtually every major right-wing state law in the past two years, including union-busting, teacher-bashing, voter suppression, attacks on immigrants, privatizing basic public services and gutting environmental and health regulations. Learn more about ALEC, who backs them and what you can do to stand in their way.

Lisa Graves thanked Daily Kos for fighting to expose ALEC even before ALEC Exposed came on line. She gave some background on ALEC, going back to the Powell Memo. She talked about how ALEC claims it does no lobbying, and showed a video, Dump You And Dump ALEC, Too:

Rashad then described Color of Change's multi-year to get corporations to stop funding ALEC. The have very successful in geting corporations to drop funding. Alec was successful for years, because they were able to work under the radar, without the public understanding the ways ALEC was influencing state legislatures.

Along with the efforts of others, such as Expose ALEC, the public has been learning about ALEC and the things they have been doing behind the scenes. As ALEC's shadowy work is exposed, corporations fear hurting their brands from the association. As I wrote in April, in Corporations Supporting ALEC Are Risking Damage To Their Brands,

Some companies are learning that supporting hyper-partisan groups can backfire when their customers find out about it. In recent weeks a number of companies are trying to distance themselves from the partisan, right-wing group ALEC before their brands become as damaged as Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council, is a shady, hyper-partisan, state-based lobbying group that was able to wield power by staying under the radar. Recently the Trayvon Martin shooting case exposed how ALEC helped push through a dangerous "shoot first" law in Florida. Now people are learning that ALEC is also getting state laws passed that limit the voting rights of minorities, limit the power of working people to negotiate for better wages and limit the power of citizens to fight for cleaner environment. So now the big corporations supporting ALEC risk being seen as fighting people's efforts to have a better life, and their brands are at risk.


Marge Baker described the associations between ALEC and right-wing think tanks and in voter suppression efforts. ALEC has an affirmative agenda to influence democracy by keeping people out, keeping them from voting. The organization has been captured by strong pro-corporate right-wing interests.

Kim Anderson talked about what is at stake in ALEC's efforts to privatize schools: a $500 billion sector of the economy that they want to turn over to corporations. ALEC has written "model legislation" to sell off portions of our public education system to private corporate interests. Education that was designed to be free and open to everybody is being sold off to private interests. This is happening not just with education, but many things that are currently provided by democracy are being sold off to private interests to sell for their own profit.

John Carey talked about ALEC's role in the public employee pension battles. This "pension reform" war is having a terrible impact on the lives of millions. ALEC provides misleading information to undermine the retirement security of public employees.

Aniello Alioto said legislators and corporations are getting around the transparency of democracy by saying they are "letting their membership lapse" and said people should call their own legislators and ask them if they are ALEC and ask them why, and ask them to drop out. But we are seeing pushback, with ALEC and others hiring public communications firms, but people are not coming to their defense.


Isaiah Poole is also at this conference, and has posted, How Activists Score Wins Taking On The Banks,

There is some good news in the fight for homeowners and against the big banks. Homeowners who are facing foreclosures because of unfair and often illegal practices by the major financial Goliaths are learning how to organize, how to shame bank executives and how to get local media attention.

But a panel of activists at Netroots Nation also expressed disappointment that there has not yet been any prosecutions of banking industry executives for any of the wrongdoing that led to the financial crisis and the millions of home foreclosures that followed.

Take Back the American Dream June 18-20

Coming up is the Take Back the American Dream conference in DC, June 18-20 where Van Jones, Paul Krugman, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ai-jen Poo, Sandra Fluke, Gov. Howard Dean, Melissa Harris-Perry, Chris Hayes, Katrina vanden Heuvel and many more will share ideas and forge the strategy to make sure that the 99% is heard.

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Hope for Homeowners Campaign Begins in 13 States

Today, Rebuild the Dream is launching a new national campaign to help millions of struggling families keep their homes. Throughout June, "Hope for Homeowners" will spearhead a coalition of underwater homeowners and partner organizations in on the ground actions and petition deliveries to senators in 13 key states -- NV, FL, ME, MA, OH, AZ, GA, MO, NC, PA, TN, VA, and WI -- in support of 3 bills currently before the U.S. Senate.

Coalition members include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, U.S. PIRG, the Center for Responsible Lending, Americans United for Change, and many more.

"While the bankers who put us in this mess roam free, American families are drowning," said Van Jones, co-founder of Rebuild the Dream and former special adviser to President Obama. "This is just one step toward ending the mortgage crisis, but for millions of Americans it could mean the difference between losing and keeping their homes."

A staggering 15.7 million American mortgages are currently underwater- one in three mortgages nationwide. Millions more are unable to refinance at historically low rates, leaving them paying thousands in additional interest each month.

"We're going to mobilize Americans to demand bold action to help struggling homeowners through the November elections and beyond, and this nationwide on-the-ground effort is just the first step," said Natalie Foster, CEO of Rebuild the Dream. "Congress has a chance to pass home mortgage relief that would save a homeowner thousands each year, spark the economy, and provide hope to millions of Americans."

The three bills supported by the campaign are: "The Responsible Homeowners Act," which helps families refinance with historically low interest rates and is sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ); "The Rebuild Equity Act," which helps homeowners get above water faster with shorter mortgages, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and the "Expanding Refinancing Opportunities Act," which expands refinancing options for homeowners with non-federally guaranteed loans, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). This mortgage relief plan would save 4.2 million homeowners an average of $2,500 each year, a total of $10 billion annually, according to Moody's Analytics.

This is the first phase in a larger campaign by Rebuild the Dream and Van Jones to stem the foreclosure crisis by enacting a large-scale principal reduction program so that Americans do not owe more than their home is worth, and also to advocate for a swift and thorough investigation into mortgage fraud by banks and lenders responsible for the crisis.

The Rebuild the Dream campaign promotes an economic agenda to protect and expand America's middle class. The campaign harnesses the power of culture and technology to mobilize, organize and broaden the base of people committed to economic solutions that will work for the middle class, and all who aspire to belong to it. Find out more at

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Netroots Nation

The Netroots Nation Conference amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate. Through our annual convention and other events, we strengthen the community, inspire action and serve as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.

Netroots Nation 2012

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Netroots Nation amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate. Through our annual convention and a series of regional salons held throughout the year, we strengthen our community, inspire action and serve as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.

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