I’m sick and tired of a tax system that favors the wealthy at everyone else’s expense, so I put together a special Tax Day video that explains the problem—and what we can do about it.
The first step toward solving a problem is understanding it. If, after you watch this video, you agree that it’s time to change things, please share the video with your friends.
Together, we can build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%.
Thanks for lifting up your voice in our democracy.
More Good News On The Minimum Wage
It has been several months since we shared the map below, showing the momentum throughout the country for increasing the minimum wage.
There’s been even more good news recently, as states continue to take action without waiting for Congress. Just since late March, four states have passed bills increasing the minimum wage:
March 27: Connecticut Becomes The First State In The Nation To Raise Its Minimum Wage To $10.10. As Democrats in Congress and President Obama push for national legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, Connecticut became the first state to do so on it’s own. The law is expected to raise pay for 227,000 workers in the state, or about 15 percent of its workforce.
April 2: West Virginia Raises Its Minimum Wage, Proving Bipartisan Grassroots Support. West Virginia didn’t vote for Barack Obama for President. But the state agrees with him on the need to raise the minimum wage. Lawmakers voted to raise its wage from the federal level of $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016, which will lift wages for 22,000 minimum wage workers and tens of thousands more who earn above $7.25 per hour but below $8.
April 7: Maryland Joins Connecticut In Raising Its Minimum Wage To $10.10. Maryland’s minimum wage law phases in over the next four years, a little more slowly than Connecticut’s, but still to the $10.10 threshold being pushed at the federal level. The bill was a top priority for Gov. Martin O’Malley.
April 10: Minnesota Lawmakers OK Raising State’s Minimum Wage To $9.50. Minnesota’s current minimum wage is just $6.15 per hour, one of the lowest in the nation and more than a dollar below the federal minimum. The increase is expected to help boost the wages of about 350,000 workers in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
In states that haven’t passed legislation to raise the wage, lawmakers have been taking action and drawing attention to the issue in other ways. State legislators in Colorado, Florida, and Michigan took part last week in the “minimum wage challenge,” organized by the Progressive States Network as part of their National Week of Action for Real Prosperity Across America. The challenge is to spend just $42 for a week’s worth of food (a figure based on Department of Agriculture estimates for a nutritious diet on the most bare bones budget).
One participant, Michigan state representative Rashida Tlaib, recounts part of her experience: “I got to the counter and I thought I did well by calculating it. But I actually had to put three items away.” The minimum wage used to go further, she reflected. Now “a gallon of milk is six dollars. It’s an hour’s work for a gallon of milk.”
BOTTOM LINE: It’s a no brainer for Congress to take an important step in creating an economy that works for everyone by raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. But even without Congressional action, hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers around the country are getting raises. Five states so far this year have passed minimum wage laws, including four in just the last three weeks.
BONUS: While Congress is on recess for the next two weeks, make your own voice heard on this important issue! Check out an updating list of congressional town halls and events by going to www.accountablecongress.com.
My brother Robert was sentenced to die in prison for a non-violent drug charge — his first drug offense ever. Please sign my petition asking President Obama to grant clemency to my brother.
My brother Robert was an honors student, until our brother Ronzerra was murdered at the age of 19. Our brother’s death devastated Robert and he began acting out — eventually making the mistake of selling drugs. He was arrested for a nonviolent drug offense, and because of federal mandatory minimum laws, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
To put Robert’s life sentence in perspective: our brother’s murderer was only sentenced to 20 years and was released after 10.
Robert was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base and cocaine. At his sentencing hearing, Robert’s judge objected to the life sentence that he was forced to give. He also noted that the cocaine suppliers in Robert’s case received 12 and 14 years for supplying the cocaine in this conspiracy.
Robert should have been punished for his involvement in the conspiracy but a life sentence is excessive. Even after 20 years in prison, my brother has not given up on life. He spends his time reading, mentoring, speaking and securing all possible vocational certifications so he can get a job right away if he ever gets out of prison.
Each day Robert remains behind bars is devastating to our family. My children have never seen their uncle outside of the visitation room and they look forward to spending time with him. Our father’s unexpected death last year was difficult for all of us, especially because it was his dream to see Robert’s freedom.
My brother can be free if President Obama grants him clemency. His clemency petition is on file with the U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney. With your support, I believe that he will — just four months ago President Obama granted clemency to 8 non-violent crack-cocaine offenders.
If Robert is released, our family and loved ones will provide him with emotional and financial support to ensure that he is given a fair chance at becoming a productive citizen. Robert has much to offer society, if given the opportunity.