Marc Stier's blog

Today at 2:15 pm 30th street station: Tell Senator Specter to Get Health Care Done!

Join Health Care For America Now and SEIU as we thank Senator Arlen Specter for his support of health care reform and the public health insurance plan and encourage him to get health care reform done as he heads back to Washington on Tuesday September 8

We will be joined by Senator Specter as he leaves for Washington on the 29th street side of 30th Street Station on Tuesday afternoon at 2:15 pm.


Vote no on the Senate version of 1828

Sometimes there are no good choices.

No one wants Plan C. And there is a risk that if the State House votes down the Senate version of 1828 we will wind up with it.

But that is far from certain.

There is time for further negotiation between the House and the Senate. Labor has some influence over some Republican state senators. And now that organized labor has recognized how bad 1828 it could put its whole force behind a clean bill that allows Philadelphia to raise the sales tax and reduce pension spending.

And there is a long way to go before we can rule out City Council passing other, possibly better, taxes that replace sales tax revenues if 1828 is never passed.

What is certain, however, is that 1828 violates a principle that we should take very seriously: the right of working people to organize and bargain collectively over their wages and benefits.

Let's Get It Done: Health Care Events This Week

Congress returns to work next week. So this is our last chance to tell them:

Let's Get It Done! Enact Health Insurance Reform in 2009!

We've beaten back right wing opposition in the last few weeks and emerged with more support for real reform. Now it is time for the final push. Take part in one of the 13 Let's Get It Done events all over Pennsylvania. Tell your Representatives and Senators that it is time for action. They must go back to Washington and move health care reform forward. And tell your friends about the Health Insurance Reform campaign and these events by clicking here.

In the Delaware Valley you can join us at one of two events:

Thursday, September 3, 12:00 noon / 1900 Market Street/ Philadelphia, PA

50,000 Congressional Contacts on Health Care Today!

That's our goal, nationwide. And we are hoping for 3-4000 from Pennsylvania.

Can you help?

You can use our on-line tool to send and email to your own member of the House

Or you can call at 1.877.264.4226

And if you really want to help, you can do phone banking into the districts of PA Blue Dogs. I'll send you a script and a list of people to call if you contact me at


Help Rush, Fox, & the Right-Wing Defeat Health Care Reform!

Help Rush, Fox, & the Right-Wing Defeat Health Care Reform!

Do you want to help Rush, Fox & the right-wing defeat health care reform? Then …

Do nothing. Definitely don’t click this link:

Just do nothing.

Can you help move health care reform forward this week?

We are expecting a critical vote on historic health care reform legislation next week in the House of Representatives. And we need your help right now.

Protest Racism at The Valley Swim Club

You may have read or heard or yesterday that a Huntingdon Valley swim club decided to cancel an agreement with a Northeast Philadelphia day camp to allow campers to swim at the club two time a week because, the black campers would “change the complexion…and atmosphere of the club.” Kids who came to swim were summarily asked to leave the pool and told not to come back?

What is there to say to decent people about the existence of blatant racism in this day and age? It’s grossly immoral. It’s enormously ignorant. It’s a throwback to days most of us hoped were long gone.

And it can’t be allowed to stand without legal action and protest. Not to stand up and say that this sort of behavior is beyond the pale, is to allow it, and the attitudes behind it, to survive one more day.

So, an initial protest against the club will take place today at 5:30 pm. Come to the club, 22 Tomlinson Road, Huntingdon Valley 19006-4219.

Passion and Commitment at the HCAN PA Town Hall in Washington

I’ve been to a lot of political rallies and events. And, if truth be told, a lot of them are pretty dreary. Speeches go on for too long. And pretty much every rally is subject to the funny observation I first hear from Mo Udall about political conventions, after the first fifteen minutes “everything has been said but not everyone has said it.”

I think the Pennsylvania town hall on Thursday was a little different, especially at the beginning and the end.

Our buses are full but you can still virtually join us at the PA Town Hall in Washington

Pennsylvania Health Care activists have been on the move for months, holding four to five events every week all over the state. And tomorrow, about 2,000 of us are heading to Washington DC for a national rally followed by a Pennsylvania Town Hall.

I know that many of you wish you could join us. We do have a few seats left in Pittsburgh but otherwise the 20 HCAN buses and the 16 buses being run by our labor partners are pretty much full. If we had enough buses, we could have taken 5,000 people from PA to Washington.

But you can watch our Pennsylvania Town Hall tomorrow, Thursday June 25th at 1:30 pm, on a webcast at

Senator Specter and PA Representatives Dahlkemper, Doyle, Sestak and Schwartz will be speaking at the Town Hall along with many of the leaders of HCAN and our coalition partners in the state.

Tell Patrick Murphy to stand up for the public health insurance plan

It was two steps forward and one step back on health care reform yesterday.

That's why we need you to make a critical phone call to Congressman Patrick Murphy this morning to ask him to reaffirm his support for a public health insurance option in the health care reform legislation being drafted in Congress? You can call toll free at 1-888-436-8427.

Yes We HCAN--Rally and Lobby Day For Health Care On June 25th

Health Care For American Now (HCAN) is holding a national Rally and Lobby Day—we’re calling it called Health Care ’09: We Can’t Wait—on June 25th on the mall in Washington.

We hope to bring 1000-1500 Pennsylvanians to Washington for the rally. Free buses will be leaving from locations around the state. (I’ll be announcing those locations in a day or so.)

The rally will be at 11:00. Then we will gather in one very large room for a Town Hall meeting at which we expect to see a number of our members of Congress. We will head by to Pennsylvania at about 6:00 pm.

You can pre-register for the event at

Let me tell you why you should join us:

Huge IBC rate increases show need for public health insurance plan

Independence Blue Cross (IBC) has filed for a rate increase of up to 52% for the three insurance programs it offers to individuals in what the industry calls the “non-group market.”

These shocking increases point to the urgency of creating a public health insurance plan to compete with private insurance. Senator Specter is inching toward support of such a plan. Click here to call him in support of a public health insurance plan.

Lance Haver and I did a press conference about these rate increases yesterday. You can see an excerpt at

IBC is seeking rate increases for three “non-group” insurance programs that are purchased by individuals not by businesses or other groups for their employees and members.

It's Time To Rotate Ballot Position

After every judicial election someone makes this obvious point: it's time to rotate ballot position from ward to ward. Picking a number out of a can should not determine who sits on the bench or who is elected to City Council or the General Assembly.

The only unendorsed candidates who managed to win yesterday had the first or second ballot position. Some of them were also very well qualifed candidates who had other sources of support, such as Diane Thompson, and they might have won anyway. But some will be on the bench primarily because of ballot positon.

One endorsed candidate who deserves to be on the bench, Joyce Eubanks, had the worst conceivable ballot position. A few voters came out of the polls yesterday and told me that they "could not find her."

Mark Alan Hughes is gone. Does his policy live on?

Hughes has left the administration. I've not heard why although I've heard indirectly that he is being blamed for Nutter's political misteps, including the proposal to close libraries and the call for massive increases in the property tax.

Closing libraries and raising the property tax to such an extent--and ruling out any increases in wage or business taxes or elimination of the tax abatement--certainly looks to be part of the Hughes strategy I criticized here a few months ago, that is, to focus city services and tax cuts on the happy half million middle class people in the city rather than on the miserable million working class and poor.

Unfortunately, raising the sales tax instead of the property tax is just another way of doing the same thing as it is even more regressive than a property tax increase, especially one with a homestead exemption or circuit breaker.

How To Think About Tax Systems

YPP may not be the right place to post this essay. But the issue raised in the debate about the LVT have gone to the cutting edge of contemporary thought about distributive justice. So maybe it will be helpful.

There is no tax system that, from every point of view and in every particular case, will always look just. That’s true for two reasons. First, our intuitions about justice are quite varied and what looks just from one point of view might not look just from another. Second, what looks just in the micro case might be impossible to create in an large, complex market based economy. Thus we can’t define rules of justice for a political economy as a whole that looks only at the individual case and does not take into account the broad consequences of one or another set of political and social arrangements.

The Income Tax: Some Cases

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