You have to see this …


Yesterday 1/29/2010

the President stood in front of a gathering of House Republicans and took questions for more than an hour, urging them to put aside partisanship and work together for the good of the country. MSNBC described it as going straight into “the lion’s den.”

He was inspiring.

We’ve highlighted some of the key moments and trust me, it’s worth checking out.

Watch the video

Once you do, please pass this along to everyone you know.

This is the sort of honest dialogue and political courage that we all need to move our country forward.

Let’s do it together,

Mitch

Mitch Stewart
Director
Organizing for America

P.S. — There’s our own Q&A session for OFA supporters with President Obama coming up on Thursday, February 4th. Click here to submit a question now:

http://my.barackobama.com/HouseVideo

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Lilly ledbetter … getting paid less still stinks


It’s our anniversary!

Urge Your Senators to Support the Paycheck Fairness Act!

Take Action!

Tell your Senators to do the right thing and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Take Action Now

It’s been one year since the signing of the Act that bears my name — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Because of you and the thousands of supporters like you, workers can bring acts of pay discrimination to court.

But my job isn’t over and neither is yours. Today, women still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s why for the last year I’ve been traveling the country, fighting for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, the essential companion legislation to the Ledbetter Act. It’s passed the House, but remains stalled in the Senate.

We need your voice now! Urge your Senators to quickly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Why is the Paycheck Fairness Act so important?

It would empower women to negotiate for equal pay, create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. It would also strengthen penalties for equal pay violations — provisions that would have helped me.

In other words, this bill gives teeth to the protections against pay discrimination. And women, who are still shortchanged in the workplace, deserve just that.

Please take action today and urge your Senators to quickly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Thanks again for all your support. And thanks for celebrating our anniversary with me!

Lilly LedbetterBest Wishes,


Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his commitment to passing “a comprehensive energy and climate bill… because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”

With the President’s support, we can win the fight for comprehensive legislation in 2010and the first step is making sure that the word gets out about his commitment. That’s why we’ve put together a short video sharing what President Obama said about clean energy and climate in last night’s State of the Union.

President Obama calls for comprehensive clean energy and climate  legislation -- Watch Now!

We’re already closer to winning this fight than many thought possible. The vast majority of Americans are on our side. The U.S. House already passed a comprehensive bill last summer. Our movement is strong and growing — with over 250,000 handwritten letters to the Senate last year, 55,000 posts on the Repower America Wall, and much more.

And as our video shows, we have a President who understands that a clean energy revolution can create millions of American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help keep our planet healthy for future generations.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Opposition from the fossil fuel industry is fierce, but we have a campaign plan to win. Together, we can make 2010 the year we begin to Repower America — and the first step is to help spread the word about Obama’s commitment to comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation:

Watch the State of the Union clean energy clips — and make sure everyone you know sees the video too.

We’ll need you with us every step of the way over the coming months. We are so close to making history — so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Thanks,

Maggie L. Fox
Chief Executive Officer
Climate Protection Action Fund

Update…Call/tell your House member to sign the Polis/Pingree letter …


To: Boldprogressives … PLEASE CLICK on link at bottom of page to find your member of Congress.

Something amazing happened yesterday. 43 House members stood up and showed real leadership on health care, while the Senate and White House did nothing.

This was thanks to the leadership of freshman Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who announced a letter calling for passing the public option through “reconciliation,” which only needs 51 votes in the Senate.

Then, thousands of us called our local House Democrats asking them to co-sign it.

One senior House staffer told us: “Thanks for the calls. I wasn’t aware of the letter until the calls started arriving.”

We’re making a real difference — working together with progressive champions in Congress.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has also been a hero on this issue. In addition to signing the letter, he joined PCCC, Democracy for America, and Credo Action activists yesterday to deliver 225,000 petition signatures to top senators.
Getting new co-signers will show top congressional leaders and the White House that this wasn’t a one-day burst of energy, but real ongoing momentum. In the words of Rep. Polis, we’re showing that “the public option is not dead.”

a sample of the letter is below

The Honorable Harry Reid
Office of the Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

As the Senate continues to work on health reform legislation, we strongly urge you to consider including a public option.

Here are the reasons for this request:

1) The public option is overwhelmingly popular.

A December New York Times poll shows that, despite the attacks of recent months, the American public supports the public option 59% to 29%. And a recent Research 2000 poll found 82% of people who supported President Obama in 2008 and Scott Brown for Senate last week also support the public option. Only 32% of this key constituency is in favor of the current Senate bill – with more saying it “doesn’t go far enough” rather than it “goes too far.”

Support for health care legislation started to fall as popular provisions like the public option were stripped out and affordability standards were watered down. The American people want us to fight for them and against special interests like the insurance industry, and it is our responsibility to show them that their voices are being heard.

2) The public option will save billions for taxpayers, speaking to the fiscally-responsible sensibilities of our constituents.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the public option will save taxpayers anywhere from $25 billion to $110 billion and will save billions more when private insurers compete to bring down premium costs. The stronger the public option, the more money it saves.

By including the public option, we can simultaneously reduce tax increases and the deficit. This is a common-sense way to temper the frustration of Americans who question whether Congress is spending their money wisely and fighting for the middle class.

3) There is strong support in the Senate for a popular public option.

It is very likely that the public option could have passed the Senate, if brought up under majority-vote “budget reconciliation” rules. While there were valid reasons stated for not using reconciliation before, especially given that some important provisions of health care reform wouldn’t qualify under the reconciliation rules, those reasons no longer exist. The public option would clearly qualify as budget-related under reconciliation, and with the majority support it has garnered in the Senate, it should be included in any healthcare reform legislation that moves under reconciliation.

As Democrats forge “the path forward” on health care, we believe that passing the public option through reconciliation should be part of that path. We urge you to favorably consider our request to include a public option in the reconciliation process.

Sincerely,

Jared Polis, Member of Congress
Chellie Pingree, Member of Congress
Keith Ellison, Member of Congress
Carolyn Maloney, Member of Congress
Sam Farr, Member of Congress
Earl Blumenauer, Member of Congress
Paul Tonko, Member of Congress
Jan Schakowsky, Member of Congress
Donna Christensen, Member of Congress
Yvette Clarke, Member of Congress
John Hall, Member of Congress
Michael Doyle, Member of Congress
David Wu, Member of Congress
Anthony Weiner, Member of Congress
Alcee Hastings, Member of Congress
Bob Filner, Member of Congress
Peter DeFazio, Member of Congress
Peter Welch, Member of Congress

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

click on link —->And dozens of other representatives

Washington State news … WA wins $590mil for high-speed Rail


LES BLUMENTHAL:  Staff writer 1/28/2010

WASHINGTON – Plans for a high-speed rail corridor between Portland and Seattle will receive a boost today when the Transportation Department announces $590 million in funding for the project.

Both Washington and Oregon have bought trains capable of traveling at 125 mph. But because of safety and freight traffic concerns, the trains are limited to 79 mph maximum and are plagued by slowdowns and erratic schedules

The higher speeds may still be years off, but the funding will be used to eliminate bottlenecks in the corridor and improve on-time arrivals.

“Anybody who travels the I-5 corridor in our state knows that we need to find new, efficient options to get commuters and commerce moving,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “This funding is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to help make these improvements a reality.”

Murray, chairwoman of the Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee, learned of the funding in a phone call Wednesday from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Even though they had sought $1.3 billion, state officials said they were more than pleased with the amount and are already working on an application for the next round of funding.

“If that’s the number, that’s a big chunk,” said Scott Witt, director of the Washington Department of Transportation’s rail and marine program.

Congress provided $8 billion for high-speed rail corridors in the $787 billion stimulus and economic recovery bill it approved almost a year ago. President Barack Obama will travel today to Florida, where he is expected to announce funding for 13 high-speed rail corridors in 31 states.

Since 1994, Washington and Oregon have invested nearly $1.1 billion in the Cascades high-speed rail corridor. State officials said earlier that the federal funding would help pay for needed improvements in an effort to get train speeds to 110 mph.

But Witt said even with the federal funding the trains won’t reach 110 mph. Instead, the money will help the trains better keep to their schedule. About 64 percent of trains on the Portland to Seattle route arrive on time. Witt said that will increase to about 90 percent.

“They will run on time,” he said. “It’s about consistency of service.”

The $590 million is a good start, Witt said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “As the president said, this is a down payment.”

Built in Spain, the Talgo trains are equipped with a suspension system that allows them to lean into curves.

The passenger trains currently share track with freight trains on the BNSF mainline and sometimes face backups. The Amtrak Cascades route between Eugene, Ore., and Seattle had a 64 percent average on-time performance in 2008. The Portland-Seattle line carried 750,000 passengers in 2008, an 82 percent increase over 10 years ago.

Corridor improvements could reduce travel time from Portland to Seattle by almost an hour, from three hours and 25 minutes to two hours and 30 minutes.

The state wants to alleviate the congestion with a 19.2-mile inland “bypass” that runs through South Tacoma, Lakewood, past Fort Lewis and DuPont before rejoining the tracks in the Nisqually area. It’s expected to reduce the Seattle-Portland run by six minutes.

But Lakewood officials have voiced concern over the plan since it was unveiled in 2006. The route will run through neighborhoods and intersect streets where there’s currently no train traffic, except slow-moving freight trains that use it a couple of times a week. Lakewood also won’t get a stop on the Amtrak route.

On Jan. 19, the Lakewood City Council passed a resolution asking the state and federal governments to withhold funding until its concerns are addressed.

“Lakewood has taken issue with the state’s decision to avoid an environmental review for this project in light of serious traffic and safety concerns,” according to the city’s Web site. Lakewood officials say the local fire and school districts plan to issue similar resolutions.

Washington state and California officials have had preliminary discussions about a high-speed rail line between San Diego and Vancouver, B.C., using trains that could travel 200 mph. By some estimates, the corridor could cost between $10 million and $45 million per mile.

Les Blumenthal: 202-383-0008

lblumenthal@mcclatchydc.com

Staff writer Brent Champaco contributed to this report.