Tell your student debt story

The average student now graduates with over $25,000 in debt — while student loan debt nationally has surpassed all credit card debt, reaching a whopping $1 trillion this year. Even worse, many students fall victim to expensive private student loans before exhausting more affordable college financing options.

Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to know: what has your experience been with private student loans? Whether you want to write a sentence or a page, fill in your comments below and we'll deliver them to the CFPB on your behalf.

Video of Tracey Gordon's presentation at Phila Dem. Progressive Caucus fundraiser to support lawsuit against Phila Dem.Party

Mike Feagans just posted the video of Tracey Gordon's presentation at the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus fundraiser to support Tracey's lawsuit against the Philadelphia Democratic Party. Hear what Tracey has to say at:

http://philadpc.ning.com/video/tracey-gordon-takes-on-the-philadelphia-d...

Thanks Mike for filming this and editing the video.

And thanks to everyone who made the fundraiser a success!

Why might a Democratic Congressman support a redistricting redistricting plan that favors Republicans?

From Doron Taussing's blog post:

John Micek, Capitolwire reports on U.S.Rep. Bob Brady’s efforts to get the state’s current congressional redistricting plan passed. The report says Brady got State Sen. Tina Tartaglione to cast a key vote to get the new map out of committee, and that the congressman is now trying to drum up support for the plan among Philly’s state House delegation.

Brady is doing this, Capitolwire says, in spite of the fact that the congressional redistricting plan “masses the largest number of urban Democratic voters into the smallest number of districts.”

Why would Brady do such a thing? Isn’t he Mr. Democrat? Maybe, but the proposed map isn’t nearly as bad for Brady as it is for Democrats generally: “it let(s) him shoot up the Delaware River to capture more capture more white Democrats, giving him some protection against future black primary challengers.”

SAVE THE DATE! December 4, 4:00-6:00, at 1033 Christian, PDPC fundraiser to support lawsuit against the Phila. Dem. Party

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE!

On Sunday December 4, from 4:00-6:00, at 1033 Christian St, the home of Phila Democratic Progressive Caucus Chair Gloria Gilman, the PDPC will hold a fundraiser to support the lawsuit against the Philadelphia Democratic Party for failing to seat duly elected committeeperson, Tracey Gordon.

Irv Acklesberg is Tracey Gordon’s pro bono attorney and ACLU is joining the lawsuit representing Tracey and her constituents. You will soon receive more information from Gloria about this event.

Background information at
http://philadpc.ning.com/profiles/blogs/it-s-getting-harder-to-answer-fr...

http://www.youngphillypolitics.com/it’s_getting_harder_answer_friends_who_ask_me_“why_do_you_bother_working_within_democratic_party

You are the transtion, Progressive Philly: How Occupy Philadelphia and Wall St protesters can become a movement of consequence

Where is the Occupy Together movement going? Will it finally affect real politics and government? Can it?

These are relevant questions to ask as the day of Occupy Philadelphia dawns. Ezra Klein queried social movement historian Rich Yeselson and got some thoughtful, hopeful answers.

The protesters are angry. They have identified critical, critical problems but they don't always have realistic ideas for how to solve them.

The left has, in recent decades, largely floundered as a political force, with a few important exceptions.

The key, as Yeselson sees it, is for the existent left to help steer the new movement towards achievable goals. As Yeselson says:

The left does have something important however: a coterie of several thousand intellectuals, academics, writers, and engaged professionals who articulate liberal public policy, generate empirical and analytical expertise through the Internet, the media, and universities, and staff the offices of advocacy groups and progressive politicians on the local and national level

Yeselson says the left has always had good ideas and leadership, but it has never had enough troops on the ground.

Occupy Philadelphia and the other Wall Street protesters may help change that.

Check out the article and see if you find yourself enlisting in "Krugman's Army."

GOP scheme to rig PA presidential elections is worst attack on US democracy since the Civil War

Yes, it's as bad as all that.

Pennsylvania Republicans are attempting to steal in plain sight the 2012 presidential election, by rigging the way the state awards electoral votes. The proposed scheme could routinely award electoral vote victories to Republicans who lose the state's popular vote. In 2000, such a scheme could have awarded George W. Bush an electoral vote victory in Pa., despite his losing the statewide popular vote to Al Gore by 5%.

The scheme could award victory next year to another Texas governor, Rick Perry, whether he wins the popular vote or not, with no need to resort to Florida-style vote-counting shenanigans.

The state's current system of awarding electoral votes has been in place since 1836. It can be fairly called a foundation of the state's democracy.

This is not a far-flung conspiracy. It has the support of Governor Tom Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi.

Basically, the scheme has two steps:

1) GOP leaders mercilessly gerrymander the state's congressional districts. They can do this because they control the governor's mansion and the legislature, and because Democratic voters are concentrated in relatively few geographic areas, such as Philadelphia. The GOP's current partisan district-cutting plan carves 12 safe Republican seats out of 18, in a state with a clear Democratic registration advantage.

2) The state secedes from the American democratic process that has stood the test of 176 years of history, including the Civil War, and awards electoral votes piecemeal via the very oddly-shaped congressional districts the GOP just finished gerrymandering.

In a related article, Yale constitutional law professor Akhil Reed Amar says of the Pennsylvania GOP's vote-rigging scheme, "It's something that no previous legislature in America since the Civil War has ever had the audacity to impose."

That article quashes the Pa. GOP's weak argument for their unprecedented power grab, that Maine and Nebraska employ similar systems. Author Nick Baumann notes that those small states have in place mathematical assurances that guarantee the popular vote winner must be the electoral vote winner as well. Pa. obviously would have no such assurance.

I strongly suggest looking at State Senator Daylin Leach's principled dissection of the scheme in the Inquirer. As Leach notes, Pa. Democratic legislatures often, over the past century and three quarters, have been in a position to impose such a vote-stealing scheme on the public (indeed so have countless legislatures in all 50 states over the centuries), but all declined to do so, out of basic respect for American democracy.

Apparently Corbett, Pileggi and other Pennsylvania Republicans are bereft of such respect.

But rigging the system in public is not without risks. Area GOP legislators, some of whom slide by in districts that already lean Democratic, should remember that their scheme -- despite its power-grabbing recklessness -- provides scant protection from voters exacting electoral retribution on those who would snub history and steal their presidential vote.

Voters who catch you rigging their electoral system are apt to use that electoral system against you as best they can, so you can wreak no more havoc on the democracy Pennsylvanians have held sacred for so many years.

video of PDPC President Gloria Gilman recounting the history of the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus

For an entertaining take on the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus(PDPC), see the video of PDPC President Gloria Gilman recounting the history of the caucus at hhttp://philastories.ning.com/video/gloria-gilman-the-birth-of

SRC votes unanimously to impose June 30 deadline to negotiate or cancel union contracts.

via twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/newskag/status/75719243609546752

Kristen Graham:
SRC votes unanimously to impose june 30 deadline to negotiate or cancel union contracts.

If Chris Christie is so great, why is he working to doom the planet?

Does the Academy of the Overrated feature a sorrier exhibit nowadays than Garden State Governor Chris Christie?

Does anything represent how low GOP presidential prospects have fallen than the fact this dude with less gubernatorial experience than almost-one-termer Sarah Palin could be a frontrunner if he tossed in his hat?

Now Christie is pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a modest cap-and-trade program that cooler heads hoped would grow into something more substantial and far-reaching -- as it must if the US is going to finally get onboard with saving the planet from the ravages of unmitigated climate change.

Unfortunately, Christie joins Arizona's Jan Brewer and other GOP governors in making the US in 2011 a greater polluter than it was before...as the clock ticks to turn around climate change.

You have to ask: How can the GOP play (such bad) politics with the future of the planet? Do they really not care about the world their kids and future generations will live in?

I too have shared (author of the post) New Republic associate editor Brad Plumer's notion:

Over the past five years...my working assumption (or delusion, if you’d prefer) has always been that some big shift in U.S. energy policy was inevitable — and soon.

But it isn't happening. And Christie, like so many in today's GOP, is now on the side of the devils in what very well may prove the defining issue of our time.

Two questions arise:

For moderate Republicans, if you claim you exist, isn't this where you have to stand up and be counted? If Christie is gone, who do you have to represent you?

For Democrats, isn't the truth about climate change and the environment (see also: Pennsylvania, Marcellus Shale) the weapon we NEED to wield to defeat our opponents in upcoming elections?

Penn just got a gift of hundreds of millions; can't it pay a little for City Services?

Congratulations are due Penn for the wonderful gift they just received from the Perelman family, some 225 million to help it "to provide significantly more financial aid to medical school students, to recruit more of the world’s most talented physicians and scientists, and to support path-breaking research." We should take pride that an institution in our town could attract that kind of giving. But part of Penn's greatness has to do with the City that it's part of, one that provides a high quality of life for its students and faculty and administration alike. It needs to pay its fair share of maintaining its home and it doesn't. Nor do any of the other big and rich non-profits in town that occupy our prime real estate.

Boston is similar to us in having a tremendous concentration of "eds and meds" that negate its ability to tax its property. But it's doing something about it, trying to get voluntary contributions from these institutions equal to about 25% of what their taxes would normally be. Why aren't we doing the same when eveyone else's real estate taxes are slated to go up 20% in the next two years?

Uh, oh, if we tax the rich, they may flee to Uganda

They won't want to go to Ivory Coast, Pakistan or Ethiopia because they may get taxed too much there. They apparently would do just fine in Uganda. Still, it wouldn't be nice to chase them so far away, so l think we should just keep taxes on the rich low and let services for the poor and working people get cut to shreds.

It seems that Tony Payton supports vouchers

This is pretty disturbing. Normally we in Philly get to bask in the notion that, whatever problems we may have with our state reps, at least they get the big things right. Not apparently true on education. We have a problem right here in our house with people like Peyton, who I generally admire, pushing stuff that will bankrupt public education. It's pretty unnerving.

Philadelphia NOW will hold its annual fundraiser on Friday, April 15th, from 5:30-7:30 at the Philadelphia Ethical Society

PHILLY NOW FUNDRAISER THIS FRIDAY!!

Philadelphia NOW will hold its annual fundraiser on Friday, April 15th, from 5:30-7:30 at the Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. RSVP on Facebook.

This year we honor Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown for her exemplary leadership on issues important to women and children; environmental activist Iris Marie Bloom for her leadership opposing under-regulated hydrofracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania watersheds; and long-time Philadelphia NOW officers Kathy Black and Louise Francis for their many contributions to the feminist community. We'll also hold a raffle of exciting items, including handmade crafts from women around the world.

Your support has never been more crucial! This year, in what has been called a "war on women", the US House voted to slash funding of essential programs vital to women and children, including prenatal care, nutritional assistance, job training, and college tuition assistance. The House also voted to completely eliminate funding for Title X family planning clinics, which provide life-saving services like mammograms, pap test, HIV and STD screening, as well as birth control. Although the Senate managed to preserve this funding in the recently reached budget agreement, if the first four months of 2011 are any indication both nationally and in Pennsylvania, the attack on women, workers and the elderly will continue relentlessly. Please come out and show your support for Philadelphia NOW!

As a multi-issue organization, Philadelphia NOW stands at the forefront of these fights, opposing policies at any level of government that will impose additional burdens on working women and their families. Philadelphia NOW endorses pro-choice, feminist candidates at the local level and supports feminist issues of particular relevance to Philadelphians. Proceeds from our fundraiser sustain us in our grassroots effort. Tickets on April 15th are $35 (donation for students/hardship). RSVP on Facebook/Share our event with your friends, or help us get flyers out (attached) and spread the word. Go to PhillyNOW.org for more info.

Education chat: Helen Gym

Hey folks: Quick note to say that I'll be at philly.com at 1 p.m. today talking about the education budget cuts. Don't leave me alone with the philly.com crowd!

There's lots to discuss from Gov. Corbett to Supt. Ackerman to what's at stake for a generation of school children.

Paint me very upset: I thought tax cuts cured cancer

Isn't a jailable offense to write this sort of stuff? Here's what I say: cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes . . . Did I drown them out yet? No? Cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes . . .