Council DEMOCRATS poised to kill tax break for low-wage workers.

Isn’t it nice that we have a Democratic City Council by a margin of 15-2? That must mean that, like the federal and state governments, the City does something to make its income-based tax progressive. And, indeed, in 2004, City Council enacted such a break, enabling workers classified as working poor by the State to knock their wage tax down to 1.5%, a meaningful cut.

But Council really didn’t like it. To get this little piece of tax justice passed, its sponsor, the late, great, Councilman David Cohen, had to agree to phase it in over a six year period. Soon after Cohen’s death, multiple efforts were launched to repeal it outright. Although these were unsuccessful, the tax break was postponed three additional times, and the benefit itself was sharply reduced, to no more than 1% under the general rate of the tax.

As restructured, the wage tax credit is now scheduled to begin taking effect in 2016. But the restructuring and the delay did not reduce Mayor Nutter’s zeal for doing away with it altogether. With little fanfare he introduced a bill to repeal it altogether along with his budget for next year. Now it has been voted out of Committee to the floor of Council by a 9-8 vote.

Remember, the wage tax is about as regressive a tax as you can have based on income. It excludes all sources of income but wages. It is flat, levied currently at a rate of 3.93%, on a worker’s first and every other dollar of wages. No deductions, exemptions, credits or reductions of any kind apply for low wage workers. Upper income workers who deduct taxes from their federal taxes, however, may pay as much as a third less than the nominal rate.

This is not a City in which there is a general reluctance to cut taxes, at least not those that benefit the 1%. Just recently Council defined wages to exclude those paid to hedge fund managers. Since 1996, the rate of the wage tax has been cut 16 times to bring it down from 4.96% to its current rate. All of those cuts benefited the rich far more than the poor. That’s simple to see. A cut of 1% is worth $1,000 to someone earning $100,000, but only $100 to someone earning $10,000.

Why would Democrats fight the idea of giving low wage workers some additional bit of relief from this heavy tax burden in a town with a poverty rate exceeding 25%? Good question. Please call and ask them before a final vote is taken next Thursday. All we need is one of them to come to their senses and reject this war on the poor. When you talk to them, ask them what they think it means to be a Democrat in Philadelphia.

Here are the Democrats who voted to repeal this little piece of tax justice and decency:

Green (At Large)
Greenlee (At Large)
Henon (6th District)
Jones (4th District)
Reynolds Brown (At Large)
Tasco (9th District)
Clarke (5th District)

Also, two Republicans voted to repeal:

O'Neill (10th District)
Oh (At Large)

Ask them why any Democrat should vote for them. They got plenty of Democratic votes in the last election. (You can get contact info for Council members here.) You can find out who your District Councilperson is here.

And here are the 8 members who voted to keep the tax cut:

Bass (8th District)
Blackwell (3rd District)
Goode (At Large)
Johnson (2nd District)
Kenney (At Large)
O'Brien (At Large)
Squilla (1st District)

Call and thank them. Note O’Brien: a Republican who did the right thing. How often can you say that?

Philadelphia Young Democrats Holiday Mixer 12/23

Fellow young progressives,

Come celebrate the season with your political family at the Philadelphia Young Democrats Annual Holiday Mixer this Thursday, December 23 at Zesty's Restaurant in Manayunk!

Mixer will last from 6-10 p.m.
Zesty's Restaurant is located at 4382 Main Street in Manayunk.

Mixer will feature:
Councilman Bill Green, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., and Tom Knox

The mixer will feature great music, great people, delicious food and special guests. Entrance is free. Discounted drinks and food will be available.

We expect event to reach capacity. To ensure admission please email with:
-Number of guests
-Mobile phone number

Follow us on Twitter (@phlyd) and Facebook (Philadelphia Young Democrats) for more information!

See you Thursday,

Enough Is Enough: Joe Sestak for U.S. Senate

The backslide to the right stops here, if you want it.

Every election has results, so every election counts, but this year’s Senate election in Pennsylvania counts more than most.

Joe Sestak’s campaign for U.S. Senate has taken on national resonance because the Democrats who swept into office in 2008, capturing the White House and both houses of Congress, have stopped acting like Democrats and have certainly lost the mojo that should go along with such a historic victory.

As MoveOn rightly states in their endorsement of Sestak Friday:

Joe Sestak has a strong record in Congress, supporting health care reform, clean energy, and a woman's right to choose. If he wins the primary on Tuesday, it'll send a powerful message that voters want Democrats in Congress who'll proudly lead the fight for progressive legislation.

A letter from Mary Hoeffel

Mary Hoeffel, Joe's daughter, wrote a great letter that we emailed to supporters this morning, and I wanted to share it with you.

Not much I can add to what she said, but I hope you will read Mary's letter, sign up for emails at, and donate on Act Blue.

Disclaimer: I work on Joe Hoeffel's campaign.

Claimer: I'd passionately support him in any case, as he's a true progressive with 30+ years of fighting for the causes I believe in.

Whose Party is It? Make it Yours

The Democratic Party. One day it lifts us so high . . . remember November, 2008? Of course you do. But then it wins and it tries to govern. And suddenly it gets completely torn between the interests of its grass roots supporters, and those of its corporate, big money sponsors. It tries to walk that narrow line and it falls on its face. And then we get Scott Brown. And then we do the bleeding.

I’m not going to detail here any further what’s wrong with the Party. If, dear reader, you don’t think anything is wrong, I would suggest that you save your time and your eyes, and read no further. But if you are fed up with the right wing drift, lack of coherence, and/or governing incapacity of the donkeys, then here’s what you can do about it this very Spring: BECOME THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

GOP- KKK, same thing, now!

In the middle of a very contentious political battle over civil rights legislation, President Lyndon Baines Johnson muttered prophetically about the ugly political schism that would shape America's future, for generations to come. He essentially stated that if the Democratic party were to fully embrace and push for civil rights legislation, offering equal protection for millions of Americans who had been dealt an ugly historical misfortune, the party would "lose the South for 50 years". He knew why he said what he said. After all, he had his roots in that great southern state of Texas -- not know for its warm hearted embrace of civil or equal rights. Sadly, which may be more evident today than it was in 1964 or 65, he was correct.


PYD MEETING AT TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: Decide the fate of Philadelphia's Justice System !


Learn how you can help elect the next democratic leaders of Philadelphia’s Justice System at the next Philadelphia Young Democrats meeting this Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Details at a Glance:


PYD General Body Meeting


Thursday, February 19, 2009




Temple University

Howard Gittis Student Center, Room 207

1755 N. 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA

Come check us out whether you want to get involved or just want to know about Philadelphia politics!

Check out our message board for more information at:

Please Note The Philadelphia Young Democrats meet on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:45pm.

For more information:

An Open Letter to Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, organized by the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

From the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

An Open Letter

April 10, 2008

Dear Senator Clinton and Senator Obama:

Healthcare has been central to each of your campaigns. As you work here in advance of the April 22nd primary, we wanted to alert you that healthcare is the number one opportunity we have to improve the lives of working Pennsylvanians right now. We, the undersigned, believe your campaigns could advance the cause of Pennsylvania’s reforms, should you choose to make them an issue.

Early last year, Governor Rendell unveiled an ambitious package of reforms known as The Prescription for Pennsylvania (Rx4PA, Rx4PA would expand access to health insurance with a high quality healthcare plan. With revisions from the House Democrats, that plan is now known as “Access to Basic Care,” and it passed the House this month in Senate Bill 1137.

Rx4PA would also rein in the forces that have driven up the price of insurance in the small group market, reward employers already providing coverage and insure that no one with a pre-existing condition is denied coverage.These also passed the House of Representatives in House Bill 2098 and House Bill 2005.

If these reforms succeed in the Commonwealth, it will make the arguments for either of your national plans much stronger. Rx4PA’s success should also galvanize your allies in Washington while chastening your opponents.

Turning the Suburbs Blue

The suburbs surrounding Philadelphia have long been regarded as a Republican stronghold. Moderate Republicanism, perhaps best personified by Sen. Arlen Specter, has ruled the day. This has begun to change as the Pennsylvania GOP has moved farther and farther to the right. Democrats have a good shot at winning the majority on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners as more suburbanites turn away from the Republican Party.

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