Your house on the 12th?

On Tuesday, October 12th, OFA volunteers nationwide are organizing house parties with a special guest: President Obama, who’ll be joining via live webcast.

This year, getting commitments to vote has been a cornerstone of our plan, because our organizing experience — and a whole lot of data — has shown that it’s an incredibly effective way of boosting turnout on Election Day.

And you’ve played an instrumental role — getting folks to pledge to vote on doorsteps, on the phone, and online — all year.

But we need to significantly increase the commitments in the closing stretch of this Vote 2010 campaign, so we’re calling on the two most effective messengers we’ve got — you, and President Obama.

That’s why folks like you are holding Commit to Vote House Parties. We’ll gather with friends and neighbors to get folks involved in the elections and committed to vote — and we’ll tune in to a special message from the President about committing to vote, delivered live from a conversation with OFA supporters.

But we need volunteers like you to step up and hold events — can you host one of these house parties?

Host a Commit to Vote House Party

Even if you’ve never hosted something before, we’ve got materials to guide you along, and there’ll be a call for hosts where OFA staff can answer your questions.

All you need is a desire to make sure folks in your community turn out in November, and a place where folks can gather with internet access and a computer. That place could be your living room, but it could also be a local community center or library, as long as you’re following local rules and regulations.

President Obama needs all of us fired up during these final weeks, so we can keep moving America forward after this November.

I hope you can help out and host an event on the 12th — please get started here:

Thanks for all you do,


Jeremy Bird
Deputy Director
Organizing for America


Medicaid enrollment spikes to 48M in weak economy…states are now cutting Medicaid to curb costs!

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 49 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A record number of Americans signed up for Medicaid last year, as the recession wiped out jobs and workplace health coverage.

A report released Thursday by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that enrollment in the safety-net medical insurance program jumped to more than 48 million — a record 15.7 percent share of the U.S. population. With the economy barely improving, states are forecasting a 6 percent increase in the rolls next year, meaning another strain on their cash-depleted budgets.

The Medicaid numbers are the latest piece to emerge in a grim statistical picture of the recession’s toll. The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s last year, according to a recent Census report. Nearly 12 million households received food stamps, a record.

Rising Medicaid enrollment also underscores the growing role of the government in health care, a polarizing issue in this year’s midterm congressional elections after President Barack Obama and Democrats pushed through a massive overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, nearly 6 million people have signed up for Medicaid, according to Kaiser. That period includes the biggest 12-month increase since the program’s early days: 3.7 million new enrollees from December 2008 to December 2009.

“There seems to be no end in sight to the fiscal pressure on the Medicaid program,” said Vernon Smith, who co-authored the Kaiser report.

Starting in the fall of 2008, the federal government provided more than $100 billion in additional Medicaid funding to help states cover growing numbers of people in need.

The last of that money will run out in June of next year, and states will face a jump of 25 percent or more in their share of costs, although they are still likely to be financially strapped. If Republicans win control of Congress, they may find it difficult to turn down requests for more aid from the states.

With or without Obama’s overhaul, government is becoming the dominant player in health care. Federal, state and local government spending will overtake private sources in 2011, three years before the new law’s major coverage expansion, Medicare economists said in a recent report.

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership created with Medicare in 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson. It covers low-income families and many elderly in nursing homes, with Washington paying about 60 percent of the cost on average. Medicaid has also been assigned a major role under the new health care law, which expands the program to cover an estimated 18 million additional low-income adults starting in 2014.

For now, states are cutting Medicaid to try to curb costs.

Nearly every state — 48 in all — took some action to limit Medicaid spending this year, and most plan more cuts next year. Although they didn’t reduce eligibility, Kaiser found that states took steps to restrict the scope of coverage:

• A record 20 states placed restrictions on benefits, and 14 plan new restrictions next year. Arizona, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts eliminated some or all dental coverage. Other states limited medical imaging, therapies, supplies and personal care.

• Thirty-nine states cut or froze payments to hospitals, doctors and other service providers, and most plan another round next year. Medicaid payment rates are already so low that in many states it’s hard to find doctors who will accept the coverage. Yet 20 states lowered payments to doctors this year, and 12 plan to do so next year.

• Eighteen states placed limits on long-term care services, and 10 plan additional limits next year.

The recession officially ended in mid-2009, but the Kaiser study indicates its ill effects will take a while longer to wear off. Meanwhile, states will have to gear up for the major Medicaid expansion under the health care law.

“We’re on a teeter board,” said Carol Steckel, president of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, and head of Alabama’s program. “Every now and then that teeter board balances. But it’s going to be rare. There’s always something else.”



Kaiser Family Foundation:


Breaking News: A Big Step for Paycheck Fairness

Stop Discounting Women

A Big Step for Paycheck Fairness

Take Action

We need the Senate to pass Paycheck Fairness quickly once they return. Tell your Senators: Women Are Not WorthLess!

Take Action

We’ve reached an important moment in the Stop Discounting Women campaign — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a cloture petition on the Paycheck Fairness Act — which is Washington-DC-speak for preparing a bill for a vote.

This is a huge opportunity for us. We started the campaign with the rallying cry “Women Are Not WorthLess” to bring attention to the 23% wage gap women face compared to their male counterparts. Our first goal was to help pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. And now, thanks to your support, the bill is not only set up for a vote, but it could be one of the first votes the Senate takes when it returns in November!

We need your help to make sure your Senators know that this bill is ripe for a vote when they come back and we need them to pass Paycheck Fairness quickly upon their return. Take action today by sending a quick e-mail message to your Senators.

In this tough economy, more and more families are counting on women’s earnings. Unfair pay practices make things even harder. The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages to coworkers.

Tell your Senators loud and clear that Women Are Not WorthLess.

Even if you have taken action before, we need you to do it again and again. November is just around the corner, and we need to keep the pressure on.

Thank you so much for all of your work.

Fatima Goss GravesSincerely,

Fatima Goss Graves
Vice President for Education and Employment
National Women’s Law Center

P.S. Your generous donation allows us to continue to stand up for women and their families. Support our work today.

September 2010 – News from the Other Washington

Health care reform benefits: Truth vs. pure politics

Six months ago today, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, one of the most important pieces of health care legislation in more than a generation. Six months later and the sky is still there, grandma hasn’t been euthanized, and the dreaded death panels have ceased to materialize.

Six months later and insurance companies have begun to be held accountable, small businesses have begun to receive important tax breaks to provide health benefits, and premiums for seniors on Medicare Advantage plans are lower and enrollment is higher. And today, just six months after becoming law, even more benefits of reform take effect. To read the rest of this article at the Huffington Post, click here.

White House Endorses McDermott Legislation To Close Tax Loophole That Hurts Workers And Businesses

The White House has endorsed my legislation to protect workers from losing benefits and protections as the result of a tax loophole.

The Fair Playing Field Act of 2010 will close a tax loophole currently allowing businesses to misclassify workers as “independent contractors,” thereby creating an unfair competitive field for businesses that play by the rules and unfair employment conditions for workers.

For too long, misclassification of employees has put unnecessary financial strain on American businesses and workers. Distinction between independent contractors and full-time employees is a good thing, but the current law is leading to significant abuse. Companies that misclassify workers have an unfair advantage over companies that correctly classify their employees because they use misclassification to deny appropriate benefits to workers. Misclassification also leaves hard-working American families vulnerable to an uncertain economic future. This new bill makes important changes to the original by providing a clear transition to proper classification categories, and it gives the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the tools it needs to even-handedly enforce those rules.

The Fair Playing Field Act of 2010 will:

  • end the moratorium on Internal Revenue Service guidance addressing worker classification;
  • require the Secretary of the Treasury to issue prospective guidance clarifying the employment status of individuals for Federal employment tax purposes;
  • amend the provisions of the Tax Code that allow reduced penalties for failure to deduct and withhold income taxes and the employee’s share of FICA taxes;
  • require persons who contract independent contractors on a regular and ongoing basis to provide a written statement to each independent contractor of the Federal tax obligations of independent contractors, the labor and employment law protections that do not apply to independent contractors, and the right of the independent contractor to seek a status determination from the IRS; and
  • require the Secretary of the Treasury to issue annual reports on worker misclassification.

Identical legislation was introduced by John Kerry in the Senate.

Not waiting for Superman

The Whole Story:
Invaluable Influence

Watch and share this video about Chicago teacher Juan Romero, an everyday hero.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’” by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. It tells the very moving stories of five children and their families as they seek better schools. Their stories demonstrate in a real and emotional way that the opportunity for a great public education should come not by chance or by choice, but by right.

Unfortunately, the movie is not just moving, but very misleading. The central themes of the movie—that all charter schools are good and all other public schools are bad, and that teachers and their unions are to blame for failing schools—are incomplete and inaccurate.

Our kids, parents and communities deserve the whole story. And so do our teachers.

We’re not waiting for Superman and neither should anyone else. Visit the AFT’s Not Waiting for Superman webpage at to join the conversation on how we can help all children—not just some—get a great public education.

It’s clear we can’t rely on Hollywood to tell the whole story. Get the facts and help fill in the blanks.

And while you’re at it, remember to tell your friends and family the real story about today’s unions—working people working together for a better future.


AFL-CIO Working Families e-Activist Network