Jan's blog

2012 Ultimate Women's Power Lunch with Lilly Ledbetter and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

I'm thrilled to announce the 11th Annual Ultimate Women's Power Lunch will be held at the Hilton Chicago on May 4th 2012. We will be featuring keynote speaker US Senator Amy Klobuchar and special guest Lilly Ledbetter. Lilly's work for equal pay led to The Obama Administration's first accomplishment in office, signing the act that bears her name, the Lilly Ledbetter act, into law. Amy Klobuchar, the first woman Senator from Minnesota, is one of brightest (and funniest) of all.  We are excited to have them both for our luncheon.
The GOP Presidential race has brought a profoundly disturbing return of anti-woman rhetoric, and now more than ever we need to stand up and remind the GOP what a room full of powerful women can do. Join Amy, Lilly, myself, and several hundred powerful women (and some very secure men) at this year's Ultimate Women's Power Lunch.

Friday, May 4, 2012
Hilton Chicago
International Ballroom

720 S. Michigan Avenue 
Chicago, IL

Power Lunch Guest: $150
Featured Guest Speakers: 
Lilly Ledbetter 
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
11:30 AM - registration opens
12PM - 2PM - Lunch and Program (International Ballroom)
2PM - Book signing with Lilly Ledbetter, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond

(Click here to purchase tickets.)

2012 Primary Endorsements


Every election cycle I endorse candidates that share my vision of Progressive Democratic politics, I hope you consider joining me in supporting these wonderful candidates.

Endorsements in Primary Elections

President of the United States: Barack Obama

U.S. Congress, 9th District: Janice D. Schakowsky

State Senator, 15th District: Donna Miller
State Senator, 29th District: Julie Morrison

State Representative, 14th District: Kelly Cassidy

Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) vote for three
Stella B. Black
Debra Shore
Kari K. Steele

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Ricardo Munoz

Supreme Court: Mary Jane Theis

9th Subcircuit (Bender vacancy): Lionel Jean-Baptise
9th Subcircuit (Epstein vacancy): Abbey Fishman Romanek

Appellate (Cahill vacancy): Mat Delort
Appellate (Coleman vacancy): Nathaniel Howse
Appellate (Gallagher vacancy): Marguerite Anne Quinn
Appellate (O'Brien vacancy): Jesse Reyes

Circuit (Kinnaird vacancy): Erica Reddick
Circuit (Frossard vacancy): Diann Marsalek
Circuit (Pucinski vacancy): Lorna Propes
Circuit (Stewart vacancy): Pamela Leeming
Circuit (Ward vacancy): Al Swanson

8th Subcircuit (Chiola vacancy): Celia Gamrath
8th Subcircuit (Cole vacancy): Lainie Berger
8th Subcircuit (Roy vacancy): Deborah Gubin
8th Subcircuit (A Vacancy vacancy): Laura Liu

12th Subcircuit (Rochford): Andrea Schleifer

Committeeman, 49th Ward: David Fagus

Evanston Referenda:
YES on Electricity Referendum
YES on District 65 - Issue Bonds Referendum


Republicans: Beware of Angry Women

This is a warning to Republicans politicians:  Women are watching you!   Whether you are running for President, Congress or for the state legislature, you may be feeling very self righteous and comfortable, kind of like the old days when men were men and free to say things out loud about women that for years now have been relegated to locker rooms.   Like that funny Rush Limbaugh who said, “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something.  We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”   Ha!

 And even though the dispensing of contraceptives has been legal since 1966, you may think the time is just right to make it controversial once again.  But I have news for you.  The women are paying attention, and we are not laughing.

 We don’t appreciate that 48 of you, including every single Republican except for Olympia Snowe, (who is fed up enough with you to quit the Senate), voted for Senator Roy Blunt’s ridiculous amendment that would allow any employer and any insurance company to refuse to cover any health care service for his employees for “moral” reasons – his moral reasons.   The boss could refuse to cover not only birth control, but care for AIDS or the health of a child born out of wedlock, or whatever violated his religious or moral beliefs. 

Support the Jobs Agenda

 I will be introducing a bill, The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, to put over 2 million people to work. Economists estimate a 1.3 percent reduction in unemployment. It costs $227 billion dollars for 2 years and can be paid for by requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share as in my Fairness in Taxation Act.  

Every penny of this plan must go to a job -- not to a tax incentive in the hopes that somebody creates a job.  This two-year jobs program will help get the economy up and running again while investing in critical areas of our nation’s infrastructure.  The New York Times said in an Editorial this week that this plan is an idea worth fighting for.

The Debt Ceiling Vote

Although I’ve voted in the past to raise the debt ceiling, I could not vote for this deal that asks for #1 trillion dollars worth of sacrifice from students, seniors and the poor while millionaires and billionaires are asked to sacrifice nothing.
The Republicans in Congress and the radical Tea Party members held hostage the full faith and credit of the United States.  They wanted to create a crisis to claim their ransom, cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to the clean Water and Clean Air Acts.  
Even the bi-partisan deficit reduction committee, whose final recommendations I did not agree with warned against deep cuts during a lagging economy. This bill could increase unemployment, slow economic growth and deepen already historic income inequality. 
We need to stop wasting time on ideological crusades and address the real crises in America: the jobs crisis, the foreclosure crisis, an income inequality crisis, and the disappearing middle class.  
I’m going to keep fighting in Washington, to make sure were doing what we can in Congress to make job creation a top priority, to protect our seniors from cuts, and to make sure that all Americans pay their fair share.

The Fairness in Taxation Act

We have a growing crisis of income inequality in this country.  We are at levels of income disparity that we have not seen since right before the Great Depression, in 1928.  Over the last 30 years, the failed GOP policies of Reaganomics and weakening regulation has led to a situation where the middle class has shrunk and the richest 1% own 34% of our nation’s wealth - - that’s more than the bottom 90% of American who own 29 percent.
Now the Republicans -- the same ones who squandered the surplus by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and engineered the policies that allowed Wall Street to drive our economy off the cliff, -- are demanding sacrifice from the middle and low-income earners.
The Republicans want to slash the bedrock safety net programs by promoting deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare and, Medicaid, and other vital domestic spending programs.  Not only would these cuts punish those who have suffered the worst under the failed GOP policies, they would put an additional 600,000 to 800,000 people out of work.  Despite GOP cries for austerity and fiscal restraint, they continue to defend corporate subsidies like tax breaks for oil companies and more tax breaks for the wealthiest.

A Frightening "Roadmap" for America in the Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union

If part of you clings to that vision of an America where opportunity for all is possible or if you believe that it's time to take the somewhat tarnished American Dream out of cold storage, then be prepared to be deeply disappointed -- frightened even -- by Republican Representative Paul Ryan's response to President Obama's State of the Union Address. Ryan is the newly crowned Chairman of the House Budget Committee who was given control over how the House of Representatives allocates funding. His Republican colleagues voted in January to give him unilateral, unprecedented authority to set spending limits for everything from defense to education.

Stop The Repeal!

I hope you join me in signing this petition to stop GOP efforts to repeal President Obama's landmark Health Care Reform law that was passed last year.

This online petition was started by John Atkinson and his wife, who live in the Chicago area, whose lives were greatly impacted by the high cost of health care.  John has set a goal of delivering 20,000 signatures to John Boehner's office next week, I'm sure we can help him reach his goal.

Sign this petition and share it with your friends, we need to send a strong message to the GOP leadership that we don't want to move backward!

Why I Voted Against the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Plan

 While I cannot support the Simpson-Bowles plan, I thank the co-chairmen for their dedication to our difficult task over the last eight months, and I agree with them that the work was constructive despite our inability to get fourteen votes.
I offered my own plan to achieve the goal outlined by the President to achieve primary budget balance by 2015 with one very different assumption. I believe that we can do it without further eroding the middle class in America.
It pays to remember that just 10 years ago we had a budget surplus and the debt was rapidly decreasing. During the Bush years, those surpluses disappeared and huge debt accumulated due to two unfunded wars, two unfunded tax cuts that mainly enriched the already wealthy, and a blind eye to the recklessness of Wall Street which caused 8 million Americans to lose their jobs and millions more to lose their savings, the value of their homes and the homes themselves.
Now we are on an "unsustainable fiscal path," to quote the report, which threatens our future economic viability. But there is another grave threat to both our economy and our democracy, and that is the alarming redistribution of wealth that is shrinking the middle class. The top 1% of Americans now owns 34% of our nation's wealth - more than the combined wealth of 90% of Americans. Even during this great recession, the top 5% of households have seen their income rise. Just this week, two million Americans lost their unemployment insurance benefits. If we fail to extend them, not only will that be another slap to the middle class, but it will hurt the economy by depriving our businesses - large and small - of money these struggling Americans will rush out and spend.

And now we have a commission report that glibly talks about "shared sacrifice" and making "painful" decisions. I ask, "Painful for whom?" These recommendations ask those who have already been and are sacrificing, to sacrifice further. Those who have not enjoyed the prosperity party over the last many years are being asked to pick up the tab.
We do not need to do this. There is another way.
* My plan recognizes the need to create jobs - a deficit-reducing strategy - that some, incorrectly, view as just more spending. Their plan does not include up front investments to lower the unemployment rate. It is important to note that if America's unemployment rate were still at its pre-recession level of 4.5%, we would only be facing a modest deficit.
* Their plan addresses rising health care costs by asking elderly Medicare beneficiaries to pay more out of their own pockets, even though they already pay about 30% of their mostly meager incomes (the median income for seniors is $18,000 per year) on their own. Their plan cuts Medicare by $110 billion by imposing higher cost-sharing requirements on seniors and people with disabilities. Mine requires Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices like the Veteran's Administration does, bringing down the cost to seniors and the government by billions of dollars. It also would implement a public option, which we already know would save $10 billion by 2015.
* Their plan cuts the bloated military budget, which is a very good thing. Mine does as well, but not by freezing noncombat military pay for three years or by cutting military health care benefits. These military families are not getting rich serving our country and should not be the target of deficit reduction.
* Responding to Republican calls to slash spending, the Bowles-Simpson plan calls for deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending. Using the Bowles-Simpson formula, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calculates a 22% cut in current funding levels in 2020, jeopardizing everything from nutrition and education to medical research and job training.
* Amazingly, their plan opens a new huge loophole to incentivize companies to outsource jobs. By adopting a territorial tax system, U.S. based multi-national corporations will never have to pay taxes on profits earned from subsidiaries in foreign countries.
* Finally, the Bowles-Simpson plan would require cuts in Social Security benefits. The good news is that they acknowledge that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, and their plan is to make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years and not to use it for debt reduction. The bad news is that average benefits for middle-income workers (average lifetime earnings of between $43,000 and $69,000 per year) could be cut up to 35% depending on when they retire. There is no need to cut Social Security in order to save it as my plan proves.
I have highlighted just a few of the ways that the Bowles-Simpson plan further erodes the middle class and threatens low-income Americans. There are many things in their plan that are also in mine, however. I appreciate that there has been consensus that the defense budget must be subjected to scrutiny and trimming in ways never seriously suggested before. It is very significant that tax expenditures, or as they call "tax earmarks," all those deductions that are largely skewed to the wealthy, are finally being recognized for what they are - spending, but through the tax code.
Some will criticize my approach to deficit reduction as politically impossible. But I gladly subject my ideas to the public, knowing that protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, investing in jobs, and asking the richest Americans to contribute more, represents a majority view despite the inside-the-beltway conventional wisdom of what is possible. No wonder people are angry. They watch Wall Street tycoons getting bonuses and government bailouts, shopping for holiday gifts at Tiffany's, while they are trying to scrape together enough money for the rent.
Bottom line, this Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has proven that fixing our nation's fiscal challenges is not mission impossible. I look forward to the constructive debate that has been started and I will continue to stand up for low-income and middle class Americans so that we can uphold the truly American notion of leaving each generation better off than the one that came before it.

My Plan for Reducing the Deficit

As a member of the President’s Fiscal Commission, my task is to put forward a responsible plan to reduce the deficit and balance the primary budget by 2015 while ensuring that the economic needs of my constituents and the American people are met.  Because of that responsibility, I cannot endorse the plan laid out last week by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.  Their plan asks those who are suffering the most from the current economic downturn to sacrifice even further. 

We must remember that the goal of fixing the deficit is not an end in itself.  Economic policy does not exist in a vacuum, the federal budget represents our shared priorities as a nation, those things we all believe we need to do together.  We also need to remember that the deficit was caused by two wars that weren’t paid for, and a massive tax cut that benefitted mainly the wealthiest Americans.  

That is why I’ve released my own plan (Click Here for the details),  because we can achieve sound fiscal policy without doing it on the backs of poor and middle class Americans.   Long-term economic growth requires that we put a stop to the troubling trend of concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and less in the hands of a middle class.

Here is what my colleague in the House, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, had to say :““From large elements to small, this plan is a vast improvement over the Bowles-Simpson proposal and represents a more thoughtful approach to debt reduction.  Our middle and lower class families did not cause our current budget shortfalls – they were largely caused by the avoidable housing crisis, by irresponsible Bush-era wars paid for with borrowed money, and by unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthiest earners. Rep. Schakowsky’s plan reflects the fact that, as she has said so often, the sacrifices of the past several years have all been made by the middle class. It’s time we stopped telling these hard-working families to tighten their belts again for the sake of another millionaire tax cut. We need to bring our taxing and spending in line with reality, and her proposal is a big step in the right direction.”

Think Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, also weighed in: "Rep. Schakowsky's Deficit Reduction Plan should be given as much consideration as the Bowles-Simpson proposal...  She's shown that there is a way to balance the budget while simultaneously protecting the middle class and making important investments, and she should be commended." 

My proposals aim to bring the federal deficit under control using policies that will put people to work and strengthen the middle class. 

Stand with me, help me send a message to Congress and the media, sign on to my plan.