Category Archives: News & Photo Features

Women’s Marches Are Opening Salvo to 2020 Election

Raring to Rise & Roar, Women’s March on New York City, Jan. 18, 2020 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.

And the Supreme Court and all the courts now dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration were manifest.

A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and his henchmen and his enablers.

And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.

(See also: Women’s March 2020: Turnout is Crucial to Rev Up Momentum for 2020 Election)

Here are highlights from the 2020 Women’s March on New York City:

“A Woman’s Place is in the White House.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“ERA Now!” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Together We Fight For All”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Stop the War on Womens Rights; Vote Them Out Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“These Boobs Are Made for Marching.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Vote Vote Vote Vote” “When women’s Bodies Are More Regulated Than Guns”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Made in ‘Gina” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“So Many Lies So Little Sign Space” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Not My Dictator.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gays Against Guns. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dump Trump. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women Build march for Pay Equity. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“It’s Time to Ovary Act”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Blue Wave. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“God Save America.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Don’t Do The Crime If You Can’t Do The Time.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Pregnant and ProChoice”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Shame.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WasherWomen Vote. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Vote. I’m Tired of Still Marching” during centennial year of Women’s Suffrage. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“2020 Vision.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Women’s March 2020: Turnout is Crucial to Rev Up Momentum for 2020 Election

Capitol Building still draped in flags for Donald Trump’s inauguration the day before, 750,000 crammed the National Mall to stand up for Women’s Rights and Human Rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Though it is unlikely that women will re-create the 750,000 who marched on Washington with millions more around the world who turned out in 2017 in the largest single day of protest in history, vastly outnumbering those who came out the day before on the National Mall to watch Trump swear to uphold the Constitution and protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic,  it is crucial that people turn out for the women’s marches in Washington, DC (Meet at Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. at 10 am, womensmarch.com), New York City (at Central Park West & 72nd Street, 11 am, womensmarchalliance.org) and many other cities in 2020, taking place on Saturday, January 18.

The massive turnout of women for the Womens March in New York City (200,00) and other cities in 2018 helped propel a record number of women to Congress in the 2018 midterms, and have Democrats take back control of House © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The disappointing reality after that first spectacular Women’s March is how little it accomplished. Lawmakers could care less, based on the policies they enacted, including moving so close to repealing Obamacare except for Senator McCain’s last-second vote, and tax policy that discriminated against women’s health, and shifted $1 trillion in resources from infrastructure and services for everyday Americans to the richest 1% and corporations.  They could care less for the hundreds of thousands who pleaded for sensible gun laws, or for climate action and environmental protection.

There isn’t even the same buzz as in the 2018 march in Washington and around the country (200,000 attended in New York City, alone) , so much more significant because the protest was less about “converting” lawmakers than  mobilizing voter registration, inspiring women to run for elected office, and driving turnout in the November mid-terms.  And they did in historic numbers, putting Democrats back in control of the House which put the brakes to the extent possible on the worst impulses of Trump and the Republicans. “I can do whatever I want as president,” Trump declared at a Turning Point event with young Republicans. (After the House Republican majority’s first success in repealing Obamacare in 2017, Trump said, ‘I’m president. Can you believe it?”)

In 2019, tens of thousands marched in New York City, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave, affordable child care and pre-K to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social, political, environmental and economic justice. And yes, reproductive freedom.

“I’m Not Ovary Acting.” Pussy hats come out again for Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During 2019, which opened with Trump declaring a “national emergency” to justify shutting down the federal government in order to extort billions to build his wall, migrants continued to be separated and die in custody, thousands were sent to horrific and dangerous conditions in Mexico; gun violence reached new heights; climate disasters have exploded around the globe; and reproductive freedom has been further constricted.

600,000 women lost birth control coverage last year because of the Trump Administration’s attacks on your healthcare; funding for women’s health clinics has been eliminated and artificial barriers to their operation have forced many to close. The Hyde Amendment which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, serves as a de facto ban for a quarter of low-income women.

Women’s March NYC, Jan. 20, 2018 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Even more is at stake in 2020, when Trump and Trumpism is on the ballot. Over this first term, he has been increasingly emboldened and unbridled, to the point where he believes he can unleash a war while schmoozing on the golf course.  

So far, the organizers of this Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, took out a permit for 10,000.

The women’s movement, inexplicably and yet probably not, has gotten wound up, bogged down and even subverted with other issues – racism, anti-Semitism. Leaders are bending over backwards to show how progressive, how inclusive they are, and moving away from the key issues that women are fighting for.

Women’s issues wind up being about all these other issues because all of them affect women’s ability to have equal opportunity, earn what they deserve in order to provide for their families: war and peace, climate change, living wage, public education, health care, affordable pharmaceuticals, clean air and water, voting rights, gun safety, DACA and immigration reform.

But at the heart of all of them is women’s reproductive rights, under threat as never before by a radical right-wingers in Congress and on the courts determined to disregard law and precedent and overturn Roe v Wade (along with Obamacare) with a Supreme Court that has been shifted radically right because of the illegitimate appointments secured by Trump and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (along with hundreds of judges throughout the federal court system that are long-lasting bombs to womens rights and civil rights.

The Roe v Wade decision in 1973 ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction – in other words, it was built upon some extrapolation of privacy and property rights, rather than equal protection.

Overturning Roe v Wade would mean that women, unlike men, are not entitled to the same right to self-determination, to make their own judgments and choices for their health, their body, their family or their lives. And like all those other cases that Ginsburg argued as the leading gender rights lawyer for the ACLU before becoming Supreme Court Justice, it would re-establish the systemic barriers to women (not men) to fulfill all their aspirations and abilities. It is as Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for president, said, when women are forced out of the career track, they never get back to where they were if they return at all. This I s the result of unaffordable, inaccessible quality child care and the lack of universal pre-K.

“Our Bodies Our Rights.” Women’s March on NYC, Jan. 19, 2019 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It would essentially make women a subject of the state, forced to give up professional aspirations to care for a child, or spend inordinate amounts of money and resources on child care, put women into poverty because all of these social services are also being tied to work while doing nothing to make childcare affordable, taking away food stamps and school lunch. It’s not one thing, it’s many different elements.

As Justice Ginsburg said, “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

“I Ask No Favor For My Sex,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes appearance at Women’s March on NYC , Jan. 19, 2019 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And the Supreme Court decision would not necessarily mean that the state you live in would determine if you might have access to abortion, which would set up a different category of unequal protection – their ruling could make abortion illegal nationwide by establishing “personhood” rights of a fetus, in which case the fetus would have more rights than its mother.

Women are marching for affordable child care, quality public education, affordable and accessible health care without higher cost for women or for pre-existing conditions (which before Obamacare rendered women of child-bearing age), or lifetime caps on coverage at a time when middle class families are spending 20% of income ($12,000/year) on health insurance, 35 million can’t afford life saving drugs they are prescribed, 30,000 die prematurely because of lack of access to health care, and 500,000 go bankrupt because of medical bills.

Women are marching for environmental justice at a time when the Trump Administration is making it easy for polluters to destroy the air and water producing creating public health issues such as  asthma affecting a child’s ability to succeed in school, and worker productivity. It means climate justice at a time when the Trump Administration is actually prosecuting those who would try to reduce carbon emissions (they are trying to prosecute the four auto manufacturers who said they would comply with California’s emissions standards for anti-trust violations), while families are losing their homes, their workplaces and communities have to spend fortune to rebuild after climate disasters.

Women are marching for gun safety so that parents and children don’t have the constant anxiety and school districts and communities don’t have to spend a fortune on security rather than programs that benefit people.

“Voting Is My Super Power!” Women’s March on NYC , Jan. 19, 2019 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This year’s march may be the most important one, just as the 2020 election is the most important one of our lifetimes (and yes, 2016, as we now know, was the most important election up until this one).

The march is an affirmation, brings like-minded people together, validates our case, and yes, motivates and provides a platform for people to run for office, as in 2018, and win their office.

The march is not about “them” it is about us.

Women’s March NYC, Jan. 20, 2018 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

That is why it is so very important to have a strong turnout for this year’s marches, the fourth year in a row, especially in 2020, the centennial of women winning the right to vote, especially in this election year when the nation faces an existential threat from its own government.  Women must turn out, and continue the momentum of 2018 into the 2020 election.

Virginia could be the 38th state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make the ERA the 28th amendment to the Constitution, though the opponents argue that the votes by the other 37 states have expired, and we’ll have to go through this entire 60-year process all over again. (Trump’s

The opponents argue there is no reason for an amendment that certifies the equal rights of all people. But based on the policies, laws and lawsuits at the federal and state level, an ERA is more necessary than ever, because as we have seen from the Supreme Court, precedents like Roe v Wade and one-person, one-vote, or equal protection for all are fungible.

This is a crucial year for women to turn out, not allow the momentum of 2018 to be lost, but rev up for the 2020 election.

So whip out those pink pussy hats and march for women’s rights on Saturday, January 18. March as if your ability to determine your own future is at stake.

Women’s March NYC, Jan. 20, 2018 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

2,500 Long Islanders March Together to Stand Against Anti-Semitism

Senator Schumer, County Executives Laura Curran and Steve Bellone, Congressmen Tom Suozzi, Kathleen Rice and Peter King, Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, State Senators Anna Kaplan and Todd Kaminsky, Assemblyman Charles Lavine, Dr. Isma Chaudhry of Islamic Center of Long Island among elected officials and faith leaders joining together with 2,500 Long Islanders marching to stand against anti-Semitism.

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

I thought it was impressive when a couple of dozen elected officials from state, county and local government came to a Shabbat service at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck to show support for the Jewish community after horrific attacks at a Rabbi’s home in Monsey and a massacre at Jersey City kosher grocery. I was moved by the outpouring of 25,000 mostly Jewish (surprisingly few Orthodox) who marched as a demonstration of Jewish pride and resolution over the Brooklyn Bridge, led by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and faith leaders. But what was truly awesome were the 2500 Long Islanders who marched in a show of solidarity to fight anti-Semitism and hate crimes at the county seat in Mineola, representing just about every aspect, community and culture across the length and breadth of Long Island. Marchers came from across the Island, representing more than 125 religious and community groups.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: “We organized this march to send a clear message in one voice: Long Islanders of all faiths and backgrounds stand united with our Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran organized the march and rally in solidarity with the Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism in response to horrific attacks in Brookyn, Monsey, and Jersey City, as well as incidents of Anti-Semitic graffiti at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove. In December, Nassau and Suffolk Counties formed a bi-county coalition that will identify and develop a plan of action to combat and report acts of hate and bias incidents on Long Island. In conjunction with a number of organizations, today’s march marked one of the task force’s inaugural initiatives.

“We organized this march to send a clear message in one voice: Long Islanders of all faiths and backgrounds stand united with our Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

As Assemblyman Charles Lavine read off the names of participating groups, closing out nearly two hours of speeches (notably very short speeches, that’s how many speakers there were) included on the list: Turkish, Chinese, Indian…

Former Congressman Lester Wolff, now 101 years old, joined thousands of Long Islanders in the March United Against Anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Many of the speakers spoke of bigotry and anti-Semitism as being anathema to American values. But of course, Americans have a Pollyannish notion of this country’s “tolerance,” “acceptance.” The strain of bigotry, hatred and particularly anti-Semitism has always been here, even during World War II. It was muted after the Holocaust, after the US soldiers penetrated the concentration camps and saw, for the first time, that it was not “propaganda” that millions and millions were caged for extermination, that the Final Solution was real. But it was anti-Semitism that kept America from accepting refugees before, during and after the Holocaust, and no coincidence that the Palmer raids of the 1920s targeted Jewish labor leaders and the McCarthy blacklist consisted mainly of Jewish writers and officials.

The “popular” view is that anti-Semitism is back on the rise because working people feel somehow disadvantaged, though the connection eludes me. But here’s what I don’t get: in Nazi Germany, Jews were a convenient scapegoat for the genuine suffering of Germans caught in a Great Depression. That is not the case here in the United States. In fact, we are constantly told that the economy is the strongest in history, unemployment is at a 50-year low.

The rise in anti-Semitism – not just vandalism and nasty remarks but physical violence like the massacres at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, a synagogue in Poway, California, in Jersey City and the attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey during a Chanukah celebration, has been quite astonishing. Over 2,000 hate crimes against Jews in 2019. In New York City, according to the New York Police Department, hate crimes against all other groups (Asian, Catholic, Hispanic, Black, Arab, Muslim, LBGTQ) totaled 206; the number directed against Jews, just in the five boroughs? 229.

The Islamic Center of Long Island joined thousands of Long Islanders in a March United Against Anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speakers referred to the fear that Jews now feel in their own neighborhood, community, college campus. Many Holocaust survivors are being wracked with renewed PTSD, their terrors re-awakened.

Indeed, a study by the American Jewish Committee in October found that 31% of Jews hide the fact they are Jewish; 25 percent avoid certain places, events, situations out of concern for their safety. In America?  “We must be proud and not shy away,” said Eric Post, AJC NY Associate Director. “Anti-Semitism is not solely a Jewish problem. It’s an American problem. If not eradicated, it will corrode our fabric.”

There is a difference in today’s anti-Semitism, in that individuals armed with social media or semi-automatic weapons can do horrific damage that before would have required some organization or government sanction. And even if the defense is some sort of mental illness, as in the Monsey case, the question is  why the voices compel them to strike out against Jews, what is it in the culture that directs hatred in that way?

But such hate turns out not even to be solely “organic” or a representation of “grassroots” disaffection. Foreign governments, particularly Russia, as well as domestic political factions that are using anti-Semitism, racism and fomenting hate in order to sow division, disrupt and destabilize our society to tilt elections and take power – after all, it worked so well during the 2016 campaign.

Congressman Peter King joins Long Islanders March United Against Anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, five of our region’s Congressional representatives – Suozzi, King, Rice, Meeks and Zeldin – are requesting FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper conduct an investigation into potential campaigns sponsored by foreign adversaries to cause civil unrest on domestic soil.

 “Whether anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, race based or some other form of hate, internal divisions provide an opportunity for our adversaries to exploit and further divide our nation,” the letter states. “We must work together to combat those that exploit ignorance to sow division for their strategic interest.”

The letter also cites a recent FBI study that found the rate of hate crimes increased by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017 but the rate of anti-Semitic crimes increased by 37 percent in 2017 and attacks motivated by racial or ethnical prejudice doubled. The timing since Trump’s ascendancy is not coincidence; Trump has curried the support of racists and bigots and basically green-lighted their activities. No longer is racism and bigotry kept under wraps or in shadow; with Trump it is out in the open.

But to the extent America is a melting pot, that melting pot is the New York metropolitan region – the city and suburbs, especially Long Island. Which is why the dramatic escalation in anti-Semitic hate crimes our area is all the more shocking and terrifying.

Rabbi Meir Feldman, who gave the sermon at Temple Beth-el on that Friday night, had only 72 hours before been at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

State, county, town, and local elected officials stand against anti-Semitism at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Our question tonight is not why there is anti-Semitism. It is simpler: what is this crazy evil thing, this abnormal force of anti-Semitism?” He shows a cartoon that is displayed at the memorial, an image of a parasite, an insect meant to be walked on but sits on top of the world, in its right eye, a symbol of money, in its left eye a hammer and sickle, the symbols of Capitalist and the communist seemingly contradictory.  That is anti-Semitism – hated by both ends, a convenient scapegoat for anybody’s discontent and any politician’s demagoguery.

“Anti-Semitism is an impossible series of contradictions,” he says. “What’s our response? How do we confront and fight this scourge of contradictions?” He says with honesty, unity, solidarity and hope.

“We must call out Anti-Semitism wherever, whenever, reveal it for what it is: insane contradictions. Identify the ideological source – right, left, White Nationalist, Black Nationalist.”

But this is the most significant difference between Germany in the 1930s (where Jews had been living for 1000 years) and now: the vast majority of elected officials are standing up and calling out anti-Semitism, initiating new laws and calling for police enforcement, as they did on Friday night at Temple Beth-el, in the March Against Hate in New York last week, and in this weekend’s extraordinary march and rally on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt County Building.

Senator Charles Schumer, recalling that 30 members of his family, ages 3 months to 85 years old, were machine gunned down in Ukraine by Nazis when people failed to act, is calling for $360 million more in spending to secure houses of worship and federal assistance to localities to prosecute hate crimes. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And it isn’t just speeches and marches, but actions. Senator Charles Schumer is advocating $360 million more in spending to secure houses of worship and federal assistance to localities to prosecute hate crimes; 298 Representatives have signed on to sponsor the Never Again Education Act to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs about the Holocaust. (It was introduced in the House in January 2019.)

Congressman Tom Suozzi said social media makes it easy to spread and magnify hate, some of it promulgated by foreign adversaries to stir up civil unrest. It works because “there is too much ignorance.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressman Tom Suozzi attributed the rise in anti-Semitism to social media which makes it easy to spread and magnify hate, some of it promulgated by foreign adversaries trying to stir up civil unrest. It works because “there is too much ignorance. How many deny the Holocaust or don’t know about it? That is a recipe for disaster.” The US soldiers, he said, who were just two or three months away from liberating the concentration camps were still debating if the Holocaust was real or propaganda. “We must educate.”

The state and county are stepping up prosecution of hate crimes, as well. Governor Cuomo is proposing a domestic terrorism law that encompasses hate crimes, and is seeking resources and security funding for law enforcement and faith based institutions.

State Senator Anna Kaplan has introduced four bills aimed at combating the rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate in New York State, through education, awareness, and a stronger hate crimes statute to ensure prosecutors have the tools necessary to hold accountable those committing anti-Semitic and hate motivated crimes.

NY State Senator Anna Kaplan and State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins light Sabbath candles with Rabbis Meir Feldman and Elle Muhlbaum at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck during a service to show solidarity to combat hate crimes and anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As a Jewish refugee who came to this country fleeing anti-Semitic violence in my homeland, my heart aches over the out-of-control spree of anti-Semitic violence taking place here in New York. I’ve been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with New Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds as we have marched in the streets and loudly proclaimed that we will not allow anti-Semitism and hatred to take hold in New York, and today, I’m proud to announce that I am taking concrete steps to address this crisis from every direction.”

Kaplan, the first Persian-American elected State Senator: “We speak with one voice. We are never going to accept anti-Semitism in our community or anywhere. Anti-Semitism has been a plague on society for thousands of years. We have to be the generation that stands up and takes decisive action.”

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said, “We see thousands of you shoulder to shoulder, different colors, creeds, faiths, standing with neighbors, community to say ‘Enough.’ Hate is offensive to a nation born of tolerance, and it is criminal. We will work hard to arrest, prosecute, hold offenders accountable. “ She has created a hate crimes bureau. ‘We hope one day soon we won’t need it. We say no to anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry.”   

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who organized the massive display, said, “Hate has no place on our beautiful island. We have got your back,” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who organized the massive display, said, “Hate has no place on our beautiful island. We have got your back,” and introduced five Holocaust survivors.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone: “this is the one nation on earth where every form of humanity is a citizen… January 27 is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. That date is a reminder, we must stand up, any time we see bias or hate in words or actions.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone: We must stand up, any time we see bias or hate in words or actions.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Schumer, relating how his great grandmother,  along with 30 other relatives aged 3 months to 85 years old, were machine gunned by Nazis in Ukraine, said, “Unfortunately people there didn’t speak up.”

NYS Attorney General Letitia James: “Not just black blood but Jewish blood [was shed for civil rights]. Hate won’t be tolerated on Long Island or anywhere in the State.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Attorney General Letitia James said, “As an African American, I know hate, know discrimination. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us… During the civil rights movement, it was Jews who referred to blacks by their last name, not their first; who let Blacks enter the front door, not the back door, Jewish people who died for my people. Not just black blood but Jewish blood [was shed for civil rights]. Hate won’t be tolerated on Long Island or anywhere in the State.”

NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli: “You being here show that we will not accept this as the new normal. What we take from today, in our homes, workplaces, houses of worship, neighborhoods, that’s where we must fight hate.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said it is hard to believe how the numbers of anti-Semitic incidents, of hate, violence are going up in the New York metro area. “You being here show that we will not accept this as the new normal. What we take from today, in our homes, workplaces, houses of worship, neighborhoods, that’s where we must fight hate.” Everyone, he said, should see the “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago, Not Far Away” exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (extended until August 30, 2020). “Eli Wiesel warned of the great peril of indifference in the face of hate.”

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island: “As a Muslim, our moral obligation to stand by humanity suffering in pain, prosecution of hatred, discrimination. We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in solidarity… Nassau is making history by this strong statement of solidarity of diverse communities.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, which turned out in force for the march, said, ‘What I see today is a strong Long Island. As a Muslim, our moral obligation to stand by humanity suffering in pain, prosecution of hatred, discrimination. We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in solidarity… Nassau is making history by this strong statement of solidarity of diverse communities.”

Kevin Thomas, first Indian-American elected State Senator, with 13-month old daughter, says children must be taught tolerance at an early age. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kevin Thomas, the first Indian-American elected State Senator, holding his 13-month old daughter: “My community stands with the Jewish community” adding, we need to teach our children when they are young.

Assemblyman Tony D’Urso’s family is a model of the courage that it takes. When he was just a boy, Nazis took over his village in Italy. His father protected the only two Jewish families who lived in the village, hiding them in the mountains when others would have happily given them up for a little money or food.

Assemblyman Tony D’Urso’s family was honored by the Pope and Yad Va’Shem for courageously harboring two Jewish families in the Italian countryside from the Nazis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Probably most touching was Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son Scott was a teacher-coach when he was murdered in the massacre at Parkland school in 2018. She noted that the target of his killer was a history class teaching about the Holocaust.

“We held a celebration of his life at the temple where Scott was bar mitzvahed. The rabbi asked if I wanted any security. I said ‘Why?’ Six days later, a gunman massacred Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue, simply because they were Jewish.”

Schulman’s father was a Holocaust survivor and when she taught in Germany 1977-9, “I feared telling people I was a Jew. But living in Louisiana, a woman asked me, ‘where do you hide your horns.’ Her husband attended NYU; his roommate moved out when he discovered he was Jewish.

Linda Beigel Schulman: “I know why I am here today…We are the antidote to wipe out anti-Semitism once and for all. Our voices must be heard. Silence only brings acceptance and gives anti-Semitism the fuel it needs to spread.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I know why I am here today, why we all must be here, to have our voices heard. Over 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 – gestures, name-calling, painting swastikas, toppling headstones, physical attacks and murder, merely because a person is Jewish or believed to be. Anti-Semitism is like a virus infecting, sometimes killing its host. The body tries to fight it off, but it lies dormant, and rears up again. If we allow anti-Semtiism to take hold in the United States, it will destroy the fiber that holds us together. E Plubus Unum – out of many, one. Without that motto is tribalism and ‘me first’.

“We need to become the best society we can. We the people are the antidote.  It doesn’t matter if Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or no religion, Asian American, Hispanic, Italian, African American, whether citizen or immigrant, if you came by airplane, ship or on foot. We are the antidote to wipe out anti-Semitism once and for all. Our voices must be heard. Silence only brings acceptance and gives anti-Semitism the fuel it needs to spread.”

Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who served as the emcee for the event, said, “For generations, tragedy after tragedy, Jews have been saying “Am Yisrael Chai” – the people of Israel live. It is time for us all Americans to stand together, united to say, Am America Chai. These are the stakes.”

Teach the children, “Stop the Hate.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here is a list of the elected officials, community and faith leaders who participated in Long Island’s march against Anti-Semitism:

  • Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
  • Chuck Schumer, Senator
  • Letitia James, State Attorney General
  • Tom Suozzi, Congressman     
  • Peter King, Congressman       
  • Kathleen Rice, Congresswoman                    
  • Tom Di Napoli, State Comptroller     
  • Todd Kaminsky, State Senator           
  • Kevin Thomas, State Senator
  • Anna Kaplan, State Senator   
  • Jim Gaughran, State Senator
  • John Brooks, State Senator    
  • Chuck Lavine, Assemblyman
  • Judy Griffin, Assemblywoman           
  • Mike LiPetri, Assemblyman   
  • Michelle Solages, Assemblywoman   
  • Madeline Singas, NC Distirct Attorney          
  • Jack Schnirman, NC Comptroller       
  • Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead Supervisor
  • Anthony D’Esposito, TOH Councilman          
  • Charles Berman, Town of North Hempstead Tax Reciever   
  • Wayne Wink, ToNH Clerk      
  • Peter Zuckerman, ToNH Councilman
  • Veronica Lurvey, ToNH Councilwoman         
  • Viviana Russell, ToNH Councilwoman           
  • Debra Mule, County Legislator          
  • William Gaylor, County Legislator     
  • Thomas Mckevitt, County Legislator
  • Delia Deriggi-Whitton, County Legislator     
  • Ellen Birnbaum, County Legislator
  • Richard Nicolello, President Officer of County Legislature
  • Tim Tenke, Mayor Glen Cove
  • Marsha Silverman, Councilwoman – Glen Cove
  • Eve Lipenko-Ferrante, Councilwoman – Glen Cove
  • Danielle Fugazy-Scagliola, Councilwoman – Glen Cove
  • John Perron, Councilman – Glen Cove
  • Rocco Totino, Councilman – Glen Cove

Faith organizations and other groups

  • Chabad of Mineola
  • Chabad of Hewlett
  • Chabad of  Oceanside
  • Chabad of  Port Washington
  • Chabad of Manhasset
  • Chabad of Merrick
  • Chabad of West Hempstead
  • Chabad of Oyster Bay-East Norwich
  • Chabad of Brookville
  • Chabad of Great Neck
  • Chabad of Stony Brook
  • Chabad of 5 Towns
  • The Young Israel of Woodmere
  • Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst
  • Temple Israel of Lawrence
  • Sid Jacobson JCC
  • Barry and Florence Friedberg JCC
  • The Marion & Aaron Gural JCC
  • Suffolk Y JCC
  • 5 Towns Jewish Center
  • East Meadow Jewish Center and Temple Beth-El
  • Congregation Simchat HaLev
  • Interfaith Clergy Council of Syosset, Woodbury & Jericho
  • Temple Am Echad of Lynbrook
  • Islamic Center of Five Towns
  • Hillside Islamic Center
  • Temple B’nai Torah
  • Central Synagouge Beth Emeth
  • North Shore Synagouge
  • Plainview Jewish Center
  • Temple Beth Chai
  • Reconstructionist Synagouge of the North Shore
  • Shelter Rock Jewish Center
  • Cathedral of the Incarnation & the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island
  • The Muslim Center of Long Island
  • Oceanside Jewish Center
  • Temple Or Elohim
  • Temple Avodah
  • Old Westbury Hebrew Congregations
  • Synagouge Kehillas Bais Yehudah Tzvi
  • Congregational Church of South Hempstead
  • United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
  • Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church of Long Beach
  • Tiberian Baptist Church of Queens
  • New Hope Institutional Baptist Church of Amityville
  • Union Baptist Church of Hempstead
  • Kingdom Family Ministry of Uniondale
  • Zion Cathedral Church of God in Christ of Freeport
  • First Baptist Church of Glen Cove
  • Antioch Baptist Church of Hempstead
  • South Hempstead Baptist Church
  • Miracle Christian Center of Hempstead
  • Westbury AME Zion Church
  • Mount Calvary Baptist Church of Westbury
  • Bethany Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Westbury
  • First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury
  • Ahavat Shalom Synagogue
  • Temple Sinai of Roslyn
  • Dioceses of Rockville Centre
  • Shuvah Yisrael Messianic Synagogue
  • Temple Beth Torah or Melville
  • Achiezer
  • Muslim Community Center of Nassau County
  • Anti-Racism Project
  • African American Museum of Nassau County
  • Moms Demand Action
  • Chinese Center of Long Island
  • NAACP Westbury Branch
  • Selfhelp Community Services
  • Western Nassau Sisterhood of Salam Sholem
  • Islamic Circle of NA-Sisters Wing
  • Muslim Children of North America
  • Indian American Muslim Council
  • Federation of American Indian Relief
  • Muslim Community of Nassau County MCNC
  • Zionist Organization of America
  • Nassau Now
  • Erase Racism
  • East Meadow Public Library
  • Voices for Truth and Humanity
  • LI Chapter of Friends of Israel  – Scouts
  • Suffolk Jewish Advisory Board
  • Interfaith Allicance, Long Island Chapter
  • Long Island Board of Rabbis
  • Commonpoint Queens
  • Merrick-Bellmore Jewish Community Council
  • Hadassah Nassau
  • Yashar, the Attorney and Judges’ Chapter of Hadassah
  • Women’s Diversity Network
  • Turkish Cultural Center of LI
  • Muslim American Community of Syosset
  • Zionist Organization of America
  • Jewish Lawyers Associations of Nassau
  • Kiwanis International and Long Island Kiwanis Clubs
  • Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate
  • Nostrand Gardens Civic Association
  • The Lakeview Estates Civic Association
  • New York Board of Rabbis
  • Shomrim Society of Nassau
  • Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
  • Hewlett House
  • Nassau/Suffolk BBYO
  • Long Island Cares
  • Muslim American Community of Syosset
  • NY Metro Region of the Federtion of Jewish Men’s Clubs
  • the Long Island Latino Teachers Association
  • Long Island Torah Network
  • Raising Voices USA
  • 9/11 Calling of the Names Ceremony Organizers

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Warren, Campaigning with Castro in Brooklyn, Tells Democrats ‘We Need Big Ideas and Be Willing to Fight’

Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president with Julian Castro at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

When you watch Elizabeth Warren at her rallies, you don’t get the feeling she is doing this for her own ego, for her own advantage. Her own situation is so far passed the stress she had as a young person, when her father, a janitor, got sick and her mother had to go out and support the family on a minimum wage job at Sears, or when she attended the only community college she could afford, She’s well passed being a special education public school teacher, and even the prestigious job of a Harvard law professor and could easily sail through being a US Senator without the superhuman tension of being the Leader of the Free World. She would not personally benefit from any of the proposals she is fighting for, except that they would make the country stronger, healthier, happier, more prosperous, and restore its moral compass so badly misdirected by a president who regards the Constitution as having as much force as a suggestion, who separates families, puts children in cages, launches illegal assassination, pardons war criminals, and advances economic policies that exacerbate the inequality between rich and poor.

As one young woman said walking into the Kings Theater in Brooklyn where Warren was going to campaign with Julian Castro for the first time, “You feel hope. You feel she is speaking to you.”

Her smarts come through, even as she makes jokes and makes fun of herself (“When you have to number your husbands, not a good thing.” “Are you sensing a pattern here?” she says as she relates how her quest to get a college education or hold a job was interrupted by pregnancy and raising a baby. And you must hear her story about the toaster to appreciate how she got the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Board, which boils down to the idea that government regulation is needed to protect consumers and like with product safety, financial security should also have consumer protection, and level the playing field for enterprises that seek to implement socially responsible, environmentally sustainable practices.)

Proposals that come from the heart: Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigns in Brooklyn (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Not surprisingly, among the reams of specific plans she has come out with, from universal health care to public education to environmental justice, to immigration reform, Warren, who notes that she spent 45 minutes as a lawyer after getting her degree, but as a Harvard law professor, taught everything to do with finance, has come out with specific plan to re-write the bankruptcy law.

At her rally at the grand historic Kings Theater in Brooklyn, in front of an audience of over 3,000 (another 1500 outside who couldn’t be admitted),  Senator Warren went through her biography, her resume, and managed to digest down to three key points the sum-total of a bold progressive remaking of America – attack corruption; structural change in the economy; protect democracy – that comes down to “making government work for everyone,” and, as Julian Castro said, putting the American Dream back within reach of ordinary people.

Julian Castro campaigns for Senator Elizabeth Warren for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, as supporters hold up letters spelling out “People First”, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Julian Castro, the former HUD Secretary under Obama who had just abandoned his own presidential bid and immediately endorsed Warren, made this plain, describing her as someone who has overcome adversity, understands what ordinary people need and more significantly, understands the structural forces that contribute to inequality and the undoing of democracy:

“She’s a fighter because she has also struggled and lived that American dream. Elizabeth Warren grew up the daughter of a janitor. She grew up to become a public school teacher. And a law professor. And a United States Senator. And a champion for consumers everywhere in this country. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“She knows what sacrifice is like after her father had a heart attack, her mom had to take a minimum wage job at Sears to make ends meet. She understands because she’s listened to people for many years, throughout this country. She’s heard their calls for change. She’s heard about their dreams and their aspirations for themselves and for their families and communities and for our country. She’s a fighter because she knows that too often times today the deck is stacked against people who just want a shot at reaching their dreams. She knows that too often today in Washington, the power goes to special interests who can afford big lobbyists and lawyers to write in special provisions and legislation. She knows that we need to get big money out of politics.

Warren volunteer Ella Martone channels Rosie the Riveter. Senator Elizabeth Warren “is a fighter for people who need a voice.” Julian Castro said at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“She knows that we need to give the people the powerful — the power and not the powerful the biggest voice. And let me tell you something, I don’t have to guess what kind of President she’s going to be, because I’ve seen firsthand what kind of the senator she is…

“She was there to know what we were gonna do to invest in communities that were hurting. She is a fighter for people who need a voice.

“She’s a fighter for everyday Americans that simply want a shot. So I know that that’s the kind of president that she’s gonna be.”

In the video Castro made announcing his endorsement of Warren, he said, In the video announcing his endorsement, Secretary Castro said: “There’s one candidate I see who’s unafraid to fight like hell to make sure America’s promise will be there for everyone. Who will make sure that no matter where you live in America or where your family came from in the world, you have a path to opportunity too. That’s why I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for president.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Warren came to the stage, embraced Castro, and immediately opened with her concern about Trump orchestrating a war in Iran, and reaching out to the “brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico who need help” after devastating series of earthquakes, and should get the federal help the island was denied after Hurricane Maria.

She renewed her charge that government works great for Big Pharma but not for people needing to fill prescriptions; for giant oil companies, but not for the rest of us who realize the existential risk that climate change poses. (Just this week, the Trump Administration is seeking to eliminate environmental restrictions on building pipelines or drilling).

“If there is a decision to be made, it’s made by Big Money,” she declared. “The middle class is being hollowed out.”

“To fix this, we can’t just nibble at the edges. We need big structural change. And I have a plan for that.”

“I have a plan for that.” Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, she has already released a score of detailed plans, including how she would battle corruption in government. “I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate; I will end lobbying as we know it. Make the Supreme Court play by the basic rules of ethics. Make everyone who runs for federal office put their tax returns on line. Attack the corruption head on. Disrupt the inflow of money into politics. It is time for a president to enforce the anti-trust laws.”

She also is advocating for “an ultra-millionaire” wealth tax, prompting chants of “Two Cents. Two Cents” – the amount of tax she would impose after the first $50 million of net worth (6% on amounts over $1 billion) – that is the top one tenth of one percent of the country who would fall into this category. That money, she insists, would pay for scores of programs needed to restore equal opportunity, from universal child care, to universal pre-K, to erasing student debt (big cheers).

Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

So the first part of her vision is to attack corruption that disrupts the stranglehold on government that money in politics plays, so we can fight back against score of big issues that have languished: climate change, gun safety

The second element is structural change in the economy – and on this, she has proposed a score of changes including tax reform, a living wage, changing the rules for mortgages and rentals and bankruptcy, investing in a Green New Deal and affordable housing.

The third element is protecting democracy.

“I will seek a Constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote and to get every vote counted; a law banning political gerrymandering (applause); to roll back every racist voter suppression law (big cheers), to overturn Citizen United (cheers of “Warren, Warren, Warren.).

And that’s what brought her to toasters.

“I think about toasters,” she turns and with a sly smile, says, “You are surprised?”

“I think about toasters. You are surprised?” Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“When I was a young mother, toasters could burn down houses – they didn’t turn off. Ask me how I know,” (she again has that sly smile). Then along comes the Consumer Product Safety Board. Manufacturers were forced to put in safety switches.

“In the early 2000s, mortgages were so complex, dangerous that there was a one in five chance of a family losing their home through foreclosure. The federal government was not on the side of the people’s, but was deep in the pocket of banks, preying on the young, farmers, seniors, They crashed the economy.

“So I had the idea for an agency like the toaster agency, so that you can’t cheat people.

“People said, ‘You can’t make a difference. Don’t even try. You can’t get it done.

Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Big structural change is hard, but the right thing to do,” she said applying the lesson of having created the Consumer Financial Protection Board (chants of “CFPB”, “CFPB”) to take on Wall Street, which Obama signed into being in 2010. Since then, she said, more than $12 billion in ill-gotten gains from financial companies has been returned to consumers.

“We can make government work for people,” she said.

But, she said with an air of warning to those who would back a moderate candidate believing a moderate would have the best chance at defeating Trump in 2020, “We need big ideas to inspire people, to vote, to bring their friends out to vote, to tell the world who and what Democrats will fight for. To take back the Senate and put Mitch McConnell out of a job,” she declared, bringing the audience of 3000 to its feet with its loudest cheers.

Big cheers for Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We need big ideas and be willing to fight. But if we give up big ideas, if we only offer business as usual, Democrats will lose.

“I’m not running to appease big donors – I passed that stop sign a long time ago. This campaign is from the heart. 2020 is our moment. We will fight for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a 2 cent wealth tax.”

Posing for selfies. Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning for president at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, had surpassed 100,000 selfies before coming to Brooklyn, Jan 7 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Before coming to Brooklyn, Warren had held 199 town halls across the country and traveled to 29 states and Puerto Rico. She had taken over 100,000 selfies since the beginning of the campaign (20,000 of them in Washington Square Park, posing until midnight). She took her 100,000th selfie in Manchester, Iowa the Saturday before coming to Brooklyn. She had visited the boroughs of New York City and Queens and now Brooklyn. By the end of the Brooklyn event, with enthusiastic supporters lined up throughout the Kings Theater and down the street, Warren would have added some 3,000 more selfies to her total.

Outside the theater, a score of volunteers on every street corner were collecting signatures to meet the required 40,000 by January 21 deadline to be on New York’s ballot. The New York primary is April 28.

See also:

Warren Releases Plan to Fix Bankruptcy, Repeal Harmful Provisions of 2005 Bill She Fought Against

Warren’s Plans for Green New Deal Would Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs

Warren Releases Plan to Protect and Empower Renters

Warren Releases Plan to Reduce Health Care Costs and Transition to Medicare for All

Warren Details Plan to confront Crisis of Environmental Injustice

Warren Details Plan to Bolster Public Education

Warren Would Tax Excessive Lobbying as Part of Her Anti-Corruption Proposal

Warren Announces Her Plan for Immigration Reform

Warren Releases Plan to Protect Communities from Gun Violence

Warren Details Plan to Restore Trust in Federal Judiciary

Warren Tells Crowd of 20,000 in Washington Square Park: ‘We Can Root Out Corruption in Washington

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Warren Releases Plan to Fix Bankruptcy, Repeal Harmful Provisions of 2005 Bill She Fought Against

Just before taking the stage at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, NY, in her campaign for president, Senator Elizabeth Warren detailed how her administration will fix the bankruptcy system to protect working families and give people a second chance © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Just before taking the stage at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, NY, with Julian Castro, in her campaign for president, Senator Elizabeth Warren detailed how her administration will fix the bankruptcy system to protect working families and give people a second chance. It is part of her plan to restructure the systemic impediments to financial and economic opportunity for ordinary Americans. The plan to reform bankruptcy laws is a particular jab at Vice President Joe Biden, who as Senator representing the State of Delaware, helped push the George W Bush re-write of the bankruptcy laws that shielded financial institutions but put consumers on the hook. This is from the Warren campaign:


As one of the nation’s leading experts on the financial pressures facing middle class families, Elizabeth conducted groundbreaking research on why families go broke. Elizabeth spent ten years battling the banking industry over the bad 2005 bankruptcy bill — which spent $100 million on lobbying efforts. The bill became law with  overwhelming support from Republicans and support from some Democrats in Congress.

The credit card companies raked in giant profits after the bill passed — and families in need paid the price. After the bill passed, bankruptcy filings went down permanently by 50%, and the number of insolvent people went up permanently by 25%. By making it harder for people to discharge their debts and keep current on their house payments, the 2005 bill made the 2008 financial crisis significantly worse: experts found that the bill “caused about 800,000 additional mortgage defaults and 250,000 additional foreclosures.” And despite the claims from the industry and their allies in Congress that the 2005 bill would reduce credit card costs across the board for consumers, the cost of credit card debt went up too.  

Elizabeth has a plan to repeal the harmful provisions in the 2005 bankruptcy bill and overhaul consumer bankruptcy rules to level the playing field for consumers.
 
Elizabeth’s plan will:

Make it easier for people being crushed by debt to obtain relief through bankruptcy.

Expand people’s rights to take care of themselves and their children while they are in the bankruptcy process.

End the absurd rules that make it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Let more people protect their homes and cars in bankruptcy so they can start from a firm foundation when they start to pick up the pieces and rebuild their financial lives.

Help address shameful racial and gender disparities that plague our bankruptcy system.

Close loopholes that allow the wealthy and corporate creditors to abuse the bankruptcy system at the expense of everyone else.

Read more here and below:

I spent most of my career studying one simple question: why do American families go broke?

When I started my career as a young law professor, I thought — like a lot of people at the time — that most families went broke because they were irresponsible or wasteful. They lived beyond their means. And when their irresponsibility finally caught up with them, they took advantage of our bankruptcy system to get out from under their debts.But when I started to teach bankruptcy, I found that no one — not even the supposed “experts” — had actually dug into the data to figure out what drove families into bankruptcy.

So I found two incredible partners and set out to gather the data about why families go broke. That was back when you had to collect information by hand, and courts charged a lot to make copies for you. To save money, I flew around to courthouses all over the country with my own photocopier — nicknamed R2D2 — strapped into the airplane seat next to me, copying thousands of bankruptcy filings to begin understanding why American families turned to bankruptcy.

I’ll never forget sitting in a wood-paneled courtroom in San Antonio on one of my first trips, watching the families filing for bankruptcy move in and out of the courtroom to appear in front of the judge. They looked just like the family I grew up in — hanging on to the ragged edge of the middle class. Now they were standing in front of a judge, ready to give up nearly everything they owned just to get some relief from the bill collectors.Our research ended up showing that most of these families weren’t reckless or irresponsible — they were just getting squeezed by an economy that forced them to take on more debt and more risk to cling to their place in America’s middle class.

And that meant one bad break could send them tumbling over the edge. The data showed that nearly 90% of these families were declaring bankruptcy for one of three reasons: a job loss, a medical problem, or a family breakup.

In the early 1990s, Congress launched a blue-ribbon commission to review the bankruptcy laws and suggest improvements. I was asked to help. Initially, I said no. Then I thought about the stories I had come across in our research. I thought about the family that finally got a shot at their lifelong dream to launch a new restaurant — and it went belly-up. The young and very tired woman who described how she finally managed to leave her abusive ex-husband, but now was alone with her small children and a pile of bills. The elderly couple who had cashed out everything they owned and then went into debt to bail out their son who was fighting addiction and put him through rehab again and again. And then I called back and said yes.

That’s what started my ten-year fight against the banking industry’s effort to change our bankruptcy laws to squeeze everything they could out of working families. Just as the commission’s report was due, the banking industry wrote its own version of a bankruptcy bill and got its allies in Congress to introduce it. In the industry’s version of the world, Congress could support either “honest people who pay their bills” or “people who skip out on their debts.” There wasn’t any room to talk about rising health care costs or lost jobs that pushed working families to the brink. I knew that those hundreds of changes in the industry-backed bill would make it harder for struggling families to get relief.

And I knew I needed help. I was lucky to pick up some terrific allies in the Senate. Senator Ted Kennedy, who led the fight for years. Senators Paul Wellstone, Russ Feingold, and Dick Durbin all enthusiastically jumped in. For the next three years, we fought off the industry as best we could. Ultimately, however, the Senate and House passed the industry-backed bill by wide margins. But President Clinton, in the last days of his presidency, upended the industry plan and vetoed its bill.

The financial industry lost that round — but it didn’t quit. Eventually, it rallied its allies in Congress again and managed to push through another version of its bill in 2005 with overwhelming Republican support and some Democratic support.

The banking industry spent more than $100 million to turn that bill into a law because they knew it would be worth much more than that to their bottom lines. And they were right — by squeezing families harder, they managed to rake in giant profits.

But it was terrible for families in need. After the bill passed, bankruptcy filings went down permanently by 50%, and the number of insolvent people went up permanently by 25%. By making it harder for people to discharge their debts and keep current on their house payments, the 2005 bill made the 2008 financial crisis significantly worse: experts found that the bill “caused about 800,000 additional mortgage defaults and 250,000 additional foreclosures.” And despite the claims from the industry and their allies in Congress that the 2005 bill would reduce credit card costs across the board for consumers, the cost of credit card debt went up too.

I lost that fight in 2005, and working families paid the price. But I didn’t stop fighting to hold the financial industry accountable and to help American families. I started laying the groundwork for new protections for credit card users and in 2007 proposed the idea of a new federal agency to protect American families from tricks in mortgages, student loans, and other financial products. The rules helping credit card users ended up in the Credit CARD Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009. And in 2010, President Obama signed that new consumer agency — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — into law too. That agency has now returned $12 billion to people who were cheated by big banks and other financial firms.

But there are still serious problems with our bankruptcy laws today, thanks in large part to that bad 2005 bill. That’s why I’m announcing my plan to repeal the harmful provisions in the 2005 bankruptcy bill and overhaul consumer bankruptcy rules in this country to give Americans a better chance of getting back on their feet. 

Making it Easier to Obtain Relief Through Bankruptcy

Thanks in part to the 2005 bankruptcy bill, our current system makes it far too hard for people in need to start the bankruptcy process so they can get back on their feet. My plan streamlines the process, reduces costs, and gives people more flexibility in bankruptcy to find solutions that match their financial problems.

Streamlining the bankruptcy filing process. Currently, there are two main types of bankruptcy proceedings for individuals — the traditional Chapter 7 proceeding and the longer and less generous Chapter 13 proceeding. In Chapter 7, bankruptcy filers pay off their debts by surrendering all of their property other than that protected by “exemption” laws, but keep their future income. In Chapter 13, filers keep their property, but undertake a multi-year repayment plan. 

The core of the 2005 bankruptcy bill was an onerous and complicated means test that forces many people with income above their state’s median income to file for Chapter 13 and make payments from their wages for an extended period. That is a big additional burden. In Chapter 13, debtors remain in bankruptcy longer and must pay more to creditors. Many are unable to complete their repayment plans and do not obtain a discharge of their unpaid debts at all. 

My plan does away with means testing and the two chapters for consumer debtors. Instead, it offers a single system available to all consumers. Here’s how it would work.

When people file for bankruptcy, they would disclose all of their debts, assets, and income, just as they do now. And just as under the current system, creditors must stop all collection actions against the debtor outside of bankruptcy court.

Filers would then choose from a menu of options for addressing their debts. The menu of options available would include a Chapter 7-type option of surrendering all non-exempt property in exchange for having their unpaid debts “discharged,” as well as options that allow people to deal with specific financial problems without involving all of their obligations. For example, someone might use bankruptcy to cure a home mortgage delinquency while continuing to pay other debts outside of bankruptcy. Or if someone has long-term debt she needs to restructure, non-exempt property such as a car that she needs to get to work, a family home she wants to protect, or if the debtor simply wants to try to pay her creditors, the debtor can also choose to file a payment plan and request that the court limit the stay of collection actions to the extent necessary to execute that plan. 

As with the current system, certain types of debts would be non-dischargeable. Additionally, creditors could seek to dismiss a case or object to an individual’s discharge on grounds of abuse, and they would have an easier time proving abuse for higher-income debtors. These provisions would protect against misuse of the bankruptcy system. 

My plan would make the bankruptcy system simple, cheap, fast, and flexible. It would eliminate the burdensome paperwork that drives up costs for filers and deters them from seeking bankruptcy protection in the first place. The 2005 bill imposed the same onerous paperwork requirements on a middle-class American filing bankruptcy that it did on a wealthy real-estate developer. Both must file the same documentation — including months of pay stubs and old tax returns — much of which is useless to creditors looking to get debts repaid.

These requirements are costly and ineffective. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office estimates that these requirements increased what a Chapter 7 filer had to pay for a lawyer by over 50%. My plan scraps this unnecessary paperwork and simply requires that bankruptcy filers disclose their assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. If necessary, the court can always direct people to provide more information.

Further, my plan reverses the provisions in the 2005 bill that required people to seek pre-filing credit counseling. This is a costly and time-consuming requirement, with little, if any, evidence that it’s effective.

Congress also added to the cost of bankruptcy relief in the 2005 bill by putting onerous requirements on consumer bankruptcy attorneys. Congress required attorneys to certify the accuracy of debtor’s financial disclosures, to certify the debtor’s ability to make certain payments, to advertise their services in certain ways, and to provide certain financial advice to clients. These rules, opposed by the American Bar Association, increase costs to lawyers that get passed on to consumers, while failing to adequately protect consumers against unscrupulous lawyers. My plan gets rid of these requirements and authorizes local bankruptcy courts to develop disciplinary panels to strengthen enforcement of the existing rules that discipline ineffective or dishonest lawyers.

Reducing the costs of filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case today costs the person filing for bankruptcy $1,200 in attorneys’ fees on average. Academic studies document how families and individuals, ironically, have to save up for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy filings spike every spring as tax refunds go to pay a bankruptcy lawyer, and on days when people often receive paychecks.

Worse, many bankruptcy filers are shuffled into a more onerous Chapter 13 bankruptcy because it is the only way they can afford to pay their bankruptcy lawyer. These people often do not need the more complicated and more expensive Chapter 13 procedure, which at $3,200 on average costs more than twice a Chapter 7 filing. Chapter 7, however, requires the filer to have the cash to pay the lawyer up front, and most people filing bankruptcy are by definition short on cash, while Chapter 13 allows the person filing to pay the lawyer over time. Forcing people into Chapter 13 because they cannot afford to pay their lawyer up front is a ridiculous way to run a consumer debt relief system.

My plan makes it easier for people to pay for the bankruptcy relief they need. It automatically waives filing fees for anyone below the federal poverty level and slowly phases in the fees above that line. And it allows the bankruptcy filer to pay off reasonable lawyers’ fees at any time during or after the bankruptcy, not just up front.

These proposals will make it cheaper and quicker for people to obtain debt relief. And speed is important. Research has shown that the “sweatbox” period when consumers wrestle with the decision to file for bankruptcy is particularly damaging to families and their financial health. The 2005 law benefited credit card companies by extending the sweatbox period. Bankruptcy is not the right solution for every family facing financial difficulties, but for those who need bankruptcy relief, it should be available without unnecessary obstacles or costs. My plan will shrink the sweatbox and make sure that consumers who need bankruptcy are able to promptly obtain help.

Expanding People’s Rights to Take Care of Themselves and Their Families During the Bankruptcy Process

Bankruptcy law places certain spending limitations on people while they are in the bankruptcy process. My plan pares back some of the limitations that place a particular burden on people — particularly parents with children — and limit their ability to recover after the bankruptcy process.

For example, during the debate on the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Democrats proposed modifying the bill so that renters in bankruptcy could continue paying their rent if it allowed them to avoid eviction. While that change was voted down in Congress, my plan adopts it as a fair way to let people avoid the incredible disruption of an eviction during the bankruptcy process.

Similarly, my plan allows people in the bankruptcy process who select a repayment plan option to set aside more money to cover the basics for themselves and their children. In 2005, Congress rejected an amendment to the bankruptcy bill that would have allowed parents to spend a reasonable amount of money on toys and books and basic recreation activities for their kids during the bankruptcy process. That’s just wrong — and my plan will provide those protections.

In that same vote, Congress rejected a change that would have allowed union members to continue paying their union dues during the bankruptcy process — a critical protection so that people can maintain their employment and get back on their feet after the bankruptcy process is over. My plan adopts that protection too for those people who choose a repayment plan.  

Ending the Prohibition on Discharging Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy

We have a student loan debt crisis in America. And one reason is that our bankruptcy system makes it nearly impossible to get rid of that debt, even when you have nothing left.

Over the past forty years, Congress and the courts have made it progressively more difficult to gain relief from student loan debt in bankruptcy. Congress initially passed a law saying that publicly backed student loans could be discharged only with a showing of “undue hardship” by the borrower. The courts eventually interpreted that language to impose a very high standard for discharge — a standard that generally doesn’t apply to other forms of consumer debt. Then, as part of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Congress explicitly protected private student loans with the same undue hardship standard.

These requirements have harmed borrowers. Today, 45 millions Americans are being crushed by $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, including more than a hundred billion dollars in private student loan debt. And the 2005 bill closed off almost any path to relief.  

As President, I’ll attack the student debt crisis head on. My student loan debt cancellation plan cancels up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of people who have it, relieving a massive burden on families and boosting our economy. But for people who may still have debt, my bankruptcy reform plan ends the absurd special treatment of student loans in bankruptcy and makes them dischargeable just like other consumer debts.

Letting People Protect Their Homes and Cars in Bankruptcy

My plan also makes it easier for people to protect their homes and cars in bankruptcy so they can start from a better foundation as they try to rebuild their financial lives.

The current system allows bankruptcy filers to protect a certain amount of home equity value (called a “homestead exemption”) in bankruptcy. But these values vary widely from state to state. Some states have limited exemptions that make it hard for anyone in those states to save their homes. Meanwhile, certain states exempt the full value of the filer’s home from bankruptcy, regardless of how much it’s worth. This is ripe for abuse, and disgraced corporate executives (such as Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld and WorldCom’s Scott Sullivan) and celebrities (such as O.J. Simpson and Fox News’ Roger Ailes) facing financial distress frequently move to these states as part of their asset-protection planning. And while Congress acted aggressively in the 2005 bill to clamp down on mythical “bankruptcy abuse” by working families, it did little to address this obvious opportunity for abuse by the rich and powerful.

My plan creates a uniform federal homestead exemption. The exemption would be set at half of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s conforming loan limit for the bankruptcy filer’s county of residence. Because the conforming loan limit varies by county to reflect variations in housing markets, my plan would avoid a cap that is too generous for people in low-cost housing markets and too stingy for those in high-cost markets. Additionally, the use of the conforming loan limit as a benchmark would be more generous than the current federal $170,350 homestead exemption limit. For most communities, it would be $255,200 in 2020. Because home equity makes up a larger share of personal wealth for communities of color, a larger homestead exemption improves racial equity in the consumer credit system.

My plans also permits people to modify their mortgages in bankruptcy — something that is generally prohibited by law. The restriction on mortgage modifications in bankruptcy — even though other types of debts can be renegotiated in bankruptcy — can hurt both bankruptcy filers and mortgage lenders. Studies have found that the existing restriction on modifications has not led to a lasting reduction in mortgage rates. My plan ends this harmful limitation. 

My plan further encourages win-win mortgage modifications by creating a streamlined, standardized mortgage modification option in bankruptcy.

The 2008 financial crisis resulted in an unprecedented wave of mortgage foreclosures, with nearly 8 million foreclosures completed in the decade starting in 2007. While not all of these foreclosures could have been prevented, there were many foreclosures that made no sense. In these cases, the lender and borrower should have been able to agree to a win-win modification. Yet these common sense deals weren’t happening.

A key reason was that most mortgages were securitized. The servicers had little incentive to restructure loans because it was easier and cheaper (and sometimes actually profitable to the servicer) just to foreclose. These foreclosures, however, harmed both the borrowers and the lenders, as well as the owners of neighboring properties.

Bankruptcy does not currently provide a solution for this problem. My plan does. As part of the menu of options available to a bankruptcy filer, it offers a special streamlined pre-packaged mortgage bankruptcy procedure that will allow struggling homeowners to get a statutorily defined mortgage modification. Under this procedure, if a foreclosure has started, and the homeowner certifies that she has attempted to negotiate a modification in good faith, she could seek an automatic modification of the mortgage debt to the market value of the property, with interest rates reduced to achieve a sustainable debt-to-income ratio.

The homeowner benefits by receiving a sustainable mortgage. The lender benefits from a modification that produces significantly better recovery than foreclosure. The neighborhood also benefits by avoiding a nearby foreclosure. This commonsense proposal should not only be win-win, but the possibility of a mortgage modification in bankruptcy should encourage more negotiated modifications outside of bankruptcy.

Finally, my plan will help address so-called “zombie” mortgages. Mortgage lenders sometimes start, but do not complete, foreclosures to avoid assuming liability for property taxes and code violations on the mortgaged property. When the homeowner has vacated the property, the result is a “zombie” title situation, in which the homeowner remains liable for taxes and code violations but does not have use of the property. My plan uses bankruptcy law to “slay” these zombie mortgages by enabling a homeowner who is no longer in residence to force the lender to complete the foreclosure or otherwise take title to the property and pay its ongoing costs. This will enable families to move on with their lives and get a fresh start without the overhang of liability for a former property they no longer live in. It will also help communities by reducing the number of abandoned and derelict properties.

My plan goes beyond protecting homes to offering more fair protection for people’s cars too. For over one-third of bankruptcy filers, cars represent their most important asset. For these struggling Americans, the family car is the principal resource that bankruptcy’s safety net is protecting. And access to a car is often a requirement for commuting to a job, getting children to child care, and starting to rebuild finances.

As part of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Congress made it more difficult for Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers to keep their cars. Under prior law, a debtor could keep their car by paying the lender the fair market value of the car over a reasonable time. But the 2005 bill changed the law so that families who want to keep their cars often repay more than the fair market value of the car; they must pay the full amount of their original car loan, regardless of the true worth of the vehicle. 

Families should not have to pay more than the car is actually worth to keep it. That’s why my plan repeals the 2005 bankruptcy bill requirement, makes it easier for bankruptcy filers to keep their cars, and ensures that their fresh start includes the ability to get to work, to school, and to the doctor.

Addressing Racial and Gender Disparities in the Bankruptcy System

Bankruptcy doesn’t affect all people equally — it mirrors the systemic inequalities in our economy. Women and people of color are more likely to file for bankruptcy, which is in part a reflection of wealth and income disparities. The situation is especially dire for middle-class families: my research found that Black middle class families are three times more likely to file for bankruptcy, and Latinx families are twice as likely, than white families. The persistent wealth gap in America means that families of color have far less wealth than white families on average — and at the same time, families of color are far more likely to be abused by predatory lending practices. The outcomes in our current bankruptcy system aren’t equal, either. Black Americans appear to be much more likely to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13, a costlier and more burdensome form of bankruptcy that requires people to make several years of payments before getting their debts wiped out — and leaves many in an even worse position as they struggle to make these payments. The data suggests Black filers are more likely to have their cases dismissed, too: people who live in majority Black zip codes are more than twice as likely to have their cases thrown out as those living in majority white areas.I raised the alarm on the disparate effects of bankruptcy during the years-long debate over bankruptcy reform. I called out racial disparities in the economic security of middle-class families filing for bankruptcy. I published articles showing that bankruptcy reform is a women’s issue, and that women — in fact, more women than would graduate from four-year colleges or file for divorce — would be most affected by the changes Congress was considering.The changes I’ve outlined above — like the new single entry point system that eliminates the steering of Black bankruptcy filers into Chapter 13, the new homestead exemption, and the elimination of the means test — will help address some of these shameful racial and gender inequities in the bankruptcy system.

But my plan takes additional steps as well: Local fines. Under current law, people who file for bankruptcy are generally not able to discharge local government fines. Although some of these fines may have an important governmental function, many operate as a regressive form of revenue targeting lower-income Black communities in particular for truly minor offenses. My plan eliminates the special privilege for local fines, with an exception for fines related to death, personal bodily injury, or other egregious behavior that threatened public safety.Civil Rights Debts. While current law prevents people from discharging local fines, it permits discharging debts resulting from civil rights violations. That is unacceptable, especially as police brutality and the shooting of unarmed Black children and adults in particular remain serious problems in our country. My plan changes the law so it’s clear that individuals cannot get relief from debts arising from the commission of civil rights violations such as police brutality.Improved data collection and audits. When individuals file bankruptcy petitions, they are obliged to make a long list of disclosures — but not their race, gender, or age. Although extensive data collection efforts by academics helped bring to light the differential experiences of filers of color, women, and older Americans, we can continue to improve upon our bankruptcy system if we collect this information systematically. That’s why my plan invites bankruptcy filers to provide their racial identification, gender, and age if they choose to.

My plan also addresses serious gender disparities in our current bankruptcy system. Because of systemic discrimination, women generally earn less than men, even for the same job, and it often takes women longer to pay off loans than men, resulting in them paying more interest. Tackling underlying problems of gender inequality may reduce some of the need for bankruptcy in the first place. But there will always need to be a bankruptcy system.

A simpler single portal into the personal bankruptcy system and replacing many line-item categories with a lump-sum personal property exemption, separate from the homestead exemption, will help align those values. The lump-sum personal property exemption would be provided by household, adjusted by the number of dependents, rather than by number of bankruptcy filers in the household, to prevent under-protecting a single parent with children.

In addition, my plan adds extra protections for alimony, child support income, the child tax credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), ensuring that people (especially single mothers) will be able to provide for their families and get back on the path to financial security.   These sources of income and assets traceable to them would be exempt property.

Closing Loopholes that Benefit the Wealthy and Cracking Down on Big Corporations

While the current bankruptcy system imposes all sorts of obstacles for working families, it includes loopholes that benefit wealthy individuals filing for bankruptcy and failed to hold big companies accountable when they break the law. My plan closes these loopholes and imposes more accountability so that our system is more fair.

Loopholes benefiting wealthy individuals. In certain states like Delaware, wealthy individuals can file for bankruptcy and get debt relief while shielding their assets by placing them in trusts for their own benefit. This is known as the “Millionaire’s Loophole.” As part of the 2005 bankruptcy legislation, Congress pretended to close the Millionaire’s Loophole, while rejecting legislation that actually would have shut it down. My plan stitches up the Millionaire’s Loophole once and for all by ensuring that assets in self-settled trusts and revocable trusts are not exempt from creditors’ claims in bankruptcy. My plan also closes off the related “spendthrift clause” loophole that allows the beneficiaries of “dynasty trusts” to avoid paying their creditors (while maintaining such protection for bona fide qualified disability trusts).

I am also committed to giving bankruptcy courts more tools to address fraud. For example, under current law, a bankruptcy filer who lied and submitted fraudulent documents regarding one of his assets is entitled to an exemption even when it was shown that he lied. My plan closes this enormous loophole so that courts can deny an exemption in an asset that the filer has concealed or lied about.

My plan also strengthens the so-called “fraudulent transfer” law. Fraudulent transfer law allows creditors to claw back certain transfers the bankruptcy filer made with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors. For example, fraudulent transfer law would apply to a deadbeat ex-spouse who has transferred money into a trust to avoid paying alimony. The federal statute of limitations for actual fraudulent transfers is shorter than that of some states, so my plan extends the federal statute of limitations to match the longest state statute of limitations. Additionally, to discourage third parties from receiving these fraudulent transfers, my plan updates federal criminal law to add penalties for knowingly engaging in, aiding and abetting, or receiving an actual fraudulent transfer.

Accountability for creditors. My plan also cracks down on big companies that break the law or otherwise unfairly squeeze families in the bankruptcy process. For example, some companies will use the bankruptcy process to collect debts even as they have a track record of violating consumer financial protection laws. By disallowing debts of creditors that harm debtors by violating consumer financial laws, my plan strengthens the deterrent effect of our consumer protection laws and helps ensure better compliance of creditors and their agents, such as mortgage servicers and debt collectors. 

My plan also stops companies from collecting on debts that are no longer valid. In bankruptcy, many debt collectors attempt to collect on expired debts, whose statute of limitations has run, by filing claims to be paid and hoping that no one will notice that they no longer have the right to collect the debt. This practice is harmful to everyone involved, including other creditors with legally enforceable claims. The Supreme Court wrongly ruled that seeking to get paid on expired debts does not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, so it’s up to Congress to fix the law now. That’s what my plan does, by making clear that collection of an expired debt is a violation of the law.

And my plan allows individuals to file to sue to deter creditors from seeking to collect on debts that were already discharged in an earlier bankruptcy. Too often, creditors, particularly companies that buy debts for pennies on the dollar, attempt to collect debts that have been discharged in an earlier bankruptcy. For decades this has been illegal, but the practice has persisted because the courts have limited remedies available to address this misconduct. As recommended by the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy, my plan gives bankruptcy filers the right to file a lawsuit and have the court order compensation for the harms caused by creditors who violate this law. My plan also gives courts the power to impose effective sanctions when they catch this abuse on their own.

Finally, consumer loans often contain provisions requiring the borrower to resolve any disputes outside of court, through arbitration. My plan ensures that creditors cannot continue their efforts to go after consumers during the bankruptcy process through mandatory arbitration as part of my larger fight against unfair forced arbitration clauses. Disputes between bankruptcy filers and creditors should be resolved openly and transparently as part of the bankruptcy process in court, not in forced arbitration proceedings behind closed doors.

Read Senator Warren’s bankruptcy plan here

Biden: ‘Trump’s Impulsive Decision May Do More to Strengthen Iran’s Position Than Any of Soleimani’s Plots Could

Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning for president: “We need checks and balances that actually serve to check and balance the worst impulses of our leaders — in any branch.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

While most Americans give little consideration to foreign policy credentials of their candidates for president, over the “kitchen table” issues such as health care, education, taxes, foreign policy should loom largely over the 2020 election as Americans are waking up to the fact that while a president is for the most part constrained by the legislative branch (Congress) on what can be accomplished domestically (recall how Republicans obstructed Obama on health care, immigration reform, gun safety, climate action and infrastructure and why Medicare for All, a wealth tax may still be a pipe dream), a president is virtually unrestrained in making foreign policy at a time when the world is smaller and more globally interdependent, such as addressing climate change.

And while the Constitution theoretically gives Congress the power to declare war, presidents have found loopholes in addressing “imminent threats.” Trump has gone so much further in pulling out of treaties (the Iran nuclear deal), trade agreements and mutual assistance pacts like the Paris Climate Accord, while taking actions to weaken NATO alliance. The way he has dealt with North Korea has only made the world less safe and the list goes on: Iraq, Syria and ISIS, Turkey and the Kurds, Yemen, Venezuela, Australia.

Of the Democratic candidates for president, Vice President Joe Biden is hoping that voters will appreciate his vast experience (which Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg try to diminish because of his vote, along with just about every other Senator, to give George Bush power to address what they were told (lied) was an imminent threat of Saddam Hussein’s use of Weapons of Mass Destruction).

Now there are a few Democrats, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who are introducing legislation to rescind the 2002 AUMF and require the President to get Congress’ authorization for use of military force, make it specific and require reauthorization after a period of time. But that is already in the Constitution and they are faced with a president who has demonstrated over and over he does not respect the bounds or oversight on him by the Constitution, with Congress apparently unwilling to do anything about it.

Vice President returned to New York to speak again on foreign policy and the unfolding situation in Iran, drawing a contrast to how Trump has mishandled the situation. These are his prepared remarks:

Six months ago, here in New York City, I made the case that Donald Trump was “dangerously incompetent and incapable … of world leadership.”
 
In the past few days, in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Soleimani, Donald Trump has proven it beyond dispute.
 
The haphazard decision-making process that led up to it, the failure to consult our allies or Congress, and the reckless disregard for the consequences that would surely follow — was dangerously incompetent.

In the wake of such an enormous escalation that has exploded geo-politics in the region and put the United States and Iran on a collision course, what would we expect of an American President – and what have we heard from President Trump?
 
We have not heard a sober-minded explanation to reassure the American people about his decision and its consequences.
 
Not level-headed words meant to dial down tensions and take us off the path of conflict.

No press conference or consultation with Congress.
 
No — all we have heard from this president is tweets. Threats. Tantrums.
 
And all we have heard from his administration are shifting explanations, evasive answers, and repeated assertions of an imminent threat, without the necessary evidence to support that conclusion.
 
And since this is a president with a history of lying about everything — who has destroyed his own credibility, and that of the United States on the global stage — neither the American people, nor our allies, are inclined to take his word for it.
 
If there was an imminent threat that required extraordinary action, then we are owed that explanation — and the facts to back it up.
 
These are matters of deadly import, so let me be unmistakably clear: Donald Trump does not have the authority to go to war with Iran without Congressional authorization.
 
Working with Congress is not an optional part of the job. Presidential notification to Congress about the need to exercise war powers cannot be satisfied in 280 characters or less. 
 
And no president should ever take the United States to war without securing the informed consent of the American people.
 
So — because he refuses to level with the American people about the danger in which he has placed American troops and our diplomatic personnel and civilians, as well as our partners and allies, or to demonstrate even a modicum of presidential gravitas — I will.
                                                                                           
That starts with an honest accounting of how we got here.
 
Make no mistake: this outcome of strategic setbacks, heightened threats, chants of “death to America” once more echoing across the Middle East, Iran and its allies vowing revenge. This was avoidable. 

The seeds of these dangers were planted by Donald Trump himself on May 8, 2018 — the day he tore up the Iran nuclear deal, against the advice of his own top national security advisors. The day he turned his back on our closest European allies, and decided it was more important to him to destroy any progress made by the Obama-Biden Administration than build on it to create a better, safer world.
 
When we had the Iran Deal, we had verifiably cut off every one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. International inspectors repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance, as did our intelligence agencies. One of the greatest threats to stability in the region and global security was off the table.
 
And when the Iran Deal was in force, we did not have this dangerous cycle of tit-for-tat provocation and response.
 
There was a united front of allies and partners to address Iran’s other destabilizing actions throughout the region.
 
The Iran Deal was not only accomplishing the critical mission it was designed for,  
it created an environment where diplomacy was possible.
 
But Trump walked away — not Iran.
 
Trump made the United States the international outlier.
 
Trump re-imposed significant sanctions designed to exert “maximum pressure” on the regime,  with claims that it would deter Iranian aggression and return Iran to the negotiating table to secure a much-promised “better deal.” And on both fronts, as many anticipated at the time, Trump’s promises were empty, baseless, and naïve.
 
And since then, all that has materialized is an utterly predictable cycle of escalating conflict with Iran.
 
Of course Iran would seek to demonstrate that the pressure we were exerting was not cost free – that it could take actions to make life more difficult for us, as well.
 
So Iran began again to enrich uranium beyond the limits allowed under the Iran deal. Iran attacked oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone. 

Yet the administration had no plan to prevent, mitigate, or appropriately respond to these provocations. Instead, Trump acted erratically and impulsively. He ordered a retaliatory strike, then called it off at the last minute — feeding Iran’s sense of impunity. 

Then, the administration imposed more sanctions, shot down an Iranian drone, issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker. 

Before long, Iran attacked Saudi oil facilities and Iranian-backed militia in Iraq restarted rocket attacks against our bases. Until one of those attacks, against our base in Kirkuk, killed a U.S. citizen and wounded others. It was a tragic loss of life, and an act condemned by all Americans.

In response, Trump bombed five sites in Iraq and Syria tied to the militia group, killing at least 25.
 
Iraqi protestors, organized by Iranian-backed militia, assaulted our Embassy in Baghdad and breached the outer wall. No injuries were reported, but Trump was embarrassed by the images of a burnt-out reception area.
 
He ordered a drone strike to kill Soleimani — perhaps the second most important official in Iran — near the Baghdad airport. And rushed thousands more troops to the region to deal with the fallout. 

Action and reaction. Provocation and response. All predictable — and, indeed, all predicted.
 
A president who says he wants to end endless war in the Middle East is bringing us dangerously close to starting a new one.
 
A president who says he wants out of the region sends more than 18,000 additional troops to deal with a crisis of his own making.
 
And an administration that claims its actions have made Americans safer in the same breath urges our citizens to leave Iraq and puts Americans throughout the region on notice because of the increased danger.
 
I have no illusions about Iran. The regime has long sponsored terrorism and threatened our interests. It continues to detain American citizens. They’ve ruthlessly killed hundreds of protesters, and they should be held accountable for their actions.
 
But there is a smart way to counter them  —  and a self-defeating way. Trump’s approach is demonstrably the latter.
 
Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops and thousands of innocent lives throughout the region. He was the mastermind, but he was not the whole of the regime or its capacity to strike back.
 
So the question is: was the reward of removing a bad actor worth the risk of what comes next?

We don’t have any evidence to suggest that Trump or anyone around him thought seriously about that calculus. It’s been reported that the Pentagon — which has long warned against taking a shot like this — was shocked that Trump would take such a risk.
 
This is not just a question of whether Iran will retaliate — it almost certainly will — but what it will mean for our troops and our personnel throughout the region. What it will mean for our allies and partners who also have troops in harm’s way that are impacted by this decision. What it will mean for our long-term mission to counter Iran and prevent ISIS from bouncing back, and our ability to pursue our broader strategic aims in the region.
 
Already, we are seeing the fall out.
 
Iran has declared it will no longer abide by any of the constraints set up under the nuclear deal — putting it back on track to obtaining material for a nuclear weapon, and pushing the region closer to a nuclear crisis.
 
Our forces in Iraq and Syria are now focused on protecting themselves and preparing to leave — putting the counter-ISIS mission on hold, and allowing a deadly terrorist organization the room to regroup and reactivate.
 
The Iraqi parliament has voted to eject all American and coalition forces from the country. And however you may feel about an American military presence in the Middle East,  there is a right way and a wrong way to draw down our troop presence. Getting unceremoniously kicked out is unequivocally the wrong way. And if we do end up having to leave, that would be another boon to Iran — tipping the balance of power in the region.
 
Where, just weeks ago, there were spontaneous protests across Iran against the regime, the killing of Soleimani has taken that pressure off the regime.
 
Trump’s impulsive decision may well do more to strengthen Iran’s position in the region, than any of Soleimani’s plots could have ever accomplished.
 
Whether or not we see more loss of life, more threats against American interests and assets — this is already a debacle.
 
And at what is possibly the most dangerous time in recent American history — at precisely the moment when we should be rallying our allies to stand beside us and hold the line against threats — Donald Trump’s short-sighted “America First” dogmatism has come home to roost.
 
Our closest allies are calling for restraint and de-escalation — on both sides. Making a moral equivalence between us and Iran.
 
Russia and China are quietly reveling in the prospect that the United States may once more be bogged down in another major conflict in the Middle East. They would love nothing more than to be able to pursue their own interests,  and carve out their own spheres of influence, without the United States challenging them on human rights, on abusive trade practices, or on meddling in other nations’ democracies — because we are too busy fighting Iran.
 
We are alone. And we alone will have to bear the costs of Donald Trump’s folly.
 
This is also the moment when we most feel  the lack of a functioning national security process or any investment in diplomacy. 

After three years of hollowing out the State Department; disrespecting and dismissing our intelligence community; destroying the relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill; throwing out the deliberate policy making process that has served Republican and Democratic administrations for decades; corroding the value of the word of the United States; abusing our allies; embracing dictators; creating, not solving, foreign policy crises on the international stage — we are in a much worse position to meet the demands of this crisis than we were when President Obama and I left office.
 
President Trump has no strategy here. No endgame. And here’s the hardest truth of all: His constant mistakes and poor decision making have left us with a severely limited slate of options for how to move forward — and most of the options are bad. 
 
But there are some key steps that any responsible commander in chief would take. And, while I don’t expect Donald Trump will listen to me, I hope he listens to those around him who understand the gravity of the threats we now face.
 
He should take all necessary steps to protect our forces and ensure the security of our diplomats, civilians, and overseas facilities — not just in the Middle East, but anywhere that Iran might strike back.
 
He should ensure that federal authorities are working with states, local governments, and private institutions to guard against the heightened risk of cyber attacks.
 
He should stop tweeting so he doesn’t box us in with his threats, such that the only options left to us or Iran are increasingly damaging strikes and counterstrikes.
 
And he should immediately reach out to our European partners and others to send private signals of deterrence and de-escalation to Iran and find a way to avoid the onrush of war.
 
The best way to do that, of course, would be for President Trump, to rejoin the Iran Deal and build on it — if Iran also moves back into compliance with its obligations — and re-establish international consensus about how to confront the threats from Iran.
 
The only way out of this crisis is through diplomacy — clear-eyed, hard-nosed diplomacy grounded in strategy, that’s not about one-off decisions or one-upsmanship. Diplomacy that is designed to de-escalate the crisis, protect our people, and secure our regional interests — including our counter-ISIS campaign.
 
No one wants war. But it’s going to take hard work to make sure we don’t end up there by accident.
 
Finally, and this one’s not optional, Mr. President, you have to explain your decisions and your strategy to the American people.
 
That is your job as President — Not Dear Leader, not Supreme Leader.
 
Democracy runs on accountability. And nowhere is that more important than in the power to make war and bring peace. You are required to work with Congress. You are required to abide by the War Powers Resolution. You cannot pursue a war with Iran absent Congressional authority. The existing AUMFs — the Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force — do not apply.
 
The American people do not want, and our Constitution will not abide, a president who rules by fiat and demands obedience.
 
I served in the executive branch of our government for eight years, but I served in the legislative branch for 36 prior to that, and I understand better than anyone that the system will not hold unless we find ways to work together to advance our national interests — not the political interests of one person or one party.
 
We need to restore the balance of powers between the branches of government. 
 
We need checks and balances that actually serve to check and balance the worst impulses of our leaders — in any branch.
 
We need to use our system to bring us together as a nation — not abuse it to rip us apart.
 
That’s not a naïve or outdated way of thinking. That’s the genius and timelessness of our democratic system, which has, for more than 240 years, allowed us to remake ourselves, reckon with our shortcomings, and move ever forward.
 
That’s what we owe to those brave men and women who step forward to wear the uniform of these United States; who dedicate their lives to diplomatic service; who choose to join the Peace Corps or to work in development; who represent the best of our country all around the world — and who are, today, doing so at greater risk because of the actions of our president. 
 
Thank you — and in these dangerous times — may God protect our troops.

At a fundraiser before his speech, he told the gathering:

“Did you ever think you’d see the time when we would be engaged in potential conflict and our NATO allies would be applying a moral equivalence between what we do and what the Iranians do? I never thought I see that day I spent my entire professional career dealing with NATO and dealing with foreign policy…Now the president says he did this to make us safer. Make Americans safer. Yet, we’re surging another roughly 18,000 forces in the region. And we find ourselves in position where there’s no evidence that they thought through how to protect our diplomats and our military personnel.”

Mr. Biden used the Iran situation to argue “the next president better be able to on day one, know how to begin to bring things together.”

Later in the day, at another fundraising event, news of an Iranian air strike on a US military base in Iraq started breaking. Without more details about the event, Biden said he would only speak briefly and generally about what happened:

“What’s happening in Iraq and Iran today was predictable – not exactly what’s happening but the chaos that’s ensuing,” he said, faulting Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and the recent order of a missile strike killing a high ranking Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, according to the pool report by Julia Terruso of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Some of the things he’s done and said in the meantime have been close to ludicrous, including threatening to bomb holy sites…And I just pray to God as he goes through what’s happening, as we speak, that he’s listening to his military commanders for the first time because so far that has not been the case.”





25,000 Turn Out for ‘No Hate, No Fear’ Solidarity March Against Anti-Semitism in NYC; Cuomo, Schumer Announce Actions to Combat Hate Crimes

Governor Cuomo, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, NYS Attorney General Latitia James, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Eric Goldstein, CEO of  UJA Federation of NY and faith leaders march across Brooklyn Bridge in a show of “No Fear, No Hate” solidarity against anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

It took more than 2 ½ hours before all the marchers standing against Anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry got across the Brooklyn Bridge from Foley Square – an estimated 25,000 marching behind Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and a slew of state and local leaders, marching in solidarity with Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Eric Goldstein, CEO of  UJA Federation of NY, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, NY Board of Rabbis, and faith leaders across Brooklyn Bridge, with a singular message: “No Fear, No Hate”.

The political leaders did not just come to give speeches and march, but to take action.

US Senator Chuck Schumer announces funding to enable religious centers to be better protected against hate crimes, at ‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Schumer said Congress would quadruple federal funding to $360 million to help places of worship increase security – video cameras, doors, hired guards, and $100 million to coordinate with local police to act more effectively to prosecute hate crimes.

“America has a culture of diversity and tolerance. Anti-Semitism and bigotry is a national crisis…We will not stand for bigotry of any type,” Schumer said. “We will not only speak and march, but act.”

Governor Cuomo at ‘No Fear, No Hate’ solidarity March against anti-Semitism, announces $45 million in funding to protect New York’s religious-based institutions, including parochial and private schools and cultural centers, and said he would seek to elevate hate crimes to the level of domestic terrorism, and prosecuted as such. US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and State Senator Anna Kaplan, were among the leaders supporting the effort to combat anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo also announced $45 million in additional funding to protect New York’s religious-based institutions, including parochial and private schools and cultural centers. He said that there would be increased state police patrols in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state, and has created a new state police tip line for people to report incidents (1-877-NO-HATE-NY). Also, Cuomo said he would introduce legislation to elevate hate crimes to the level of domestic terrorism, and prosecuted as such.

Funding is being made available through Requests for Applications under New York’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. Created by Governor Cuomo in 2017, the program provides funding to strengthen security measures and prevent hate crimes against non-profit day care centers, community centers, cultural museums, day camps andnon-public schools,which may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Since the program’s inception, more than 500 such projects have been supported by $25 million in state funding. The Governor also announced the creation of a new tip line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced that State Police will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state.

Governor Cuomo, with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and Eric Goldstein, CEO of  UJA Federation of NY, says he will seek legislation to prosecute hate crimes as domestic terrorism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The recent rash of anti-Semitic and other hate-fueled attacks in New York and across the nation are understandably causing anxiety, but we will not be intimidated,” Governor Cuomo said.”In New York we stand up to those who try to sow division and fear, and this new funding will provide religious and cultural institutions the support they need to help protect themselves and keep people safe. We will not let the cancer of hate and intolerance weaken us – we will continue to stand up and denounce it every time it rears its ugly head.”

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hate crime statistics indicate a surge of anti-Semitism and hate crimes against the Jewish community, nationally and in New York. Nearly half of all hate crimes in New York over the last several years have been against the Jewish community. Last year, more than half the hate crimes recorded in New York City, 229 (a modern city record, up from 185 in 2018) were recorded against Jews – and these statistics do not include hate crimes directed at Jews outside the five-boroughs, such as the the slashing of five people attending a Chanukah service in a rabbi’s home in Monsey, NY. The October 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the recent terror attack at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, in which a local Yeshiva and Catholic school faced gunfire, underscore the need to protect Jewish institutions from violent extremism and anti-Semitism.

The grants, which will be directed by the New York State Division of the Budget, provide up to $50,000 in funding for additional security training, cameras, door-hardening, improved lighting, state-of-the-art technology and other related security upgrades at each eligible facility. Organizations that operate more than one facility have the opportunity to submit up to five applications.

The program provides funding to strengthen security measures and prevent hate crimes against non-profit day care centers, community centers, cultural museums, day camps andnon-public schools,which may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Since the program’s inception, in 2017, more than 500 such projects have been supported by $25 million in state funding. 

The Hate Crimes Task Force was created last year to mitigate recent incidents of bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence in New York. As part of the Task Force, New York State Police, the Division of Human Rights and the Division of Criminal Justice Services engage local stakeholders and law enforcement agencies, and work to identify and investigate hate-motivated crimes and bias-related trends, community vulnerabilities and discriminatory practices.

The Governor also announced the creation of a new tip line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced that State Police will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state.

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I’m heartened to see this amazing show of support and solidarity,” the Governor said at a press conference before the march. “Literally over 10,000 people have shown up to show support and love for the Jewish community. And that’s New York at her best. And it’s fitting. Because what has happened in Brooklyn, what has happened in Monsey, New York was an attack on every New Yorker. And every New Yorker has felt the pain. Discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism is repugnant to every value that every New Yorker’s holds dear. And it’s repugnant to every value that this country represents. Racism and anti-Semitism is anti-American and we have to remember that.

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“It is ignorant of our history because to know the history of the Jewish community is to love and appreciate the Jewish community because New York would not be New Yorker without the Jewish community. It is intolerant of who we are as a people. It’s intolerant of our diversity and our humanity and it is also illegal. And while we’re here today in the spirit of solidarity and love, government must do more than just offer thoughts and prayers, government must act. This is illegal and it is government’s responsibility to protect the people of the State of New York and the State government will be doing just that. As soon as the Legislature comes back I’m going to propose a new law for the State of New York that calls this hate what it is – it is domestic terrorism. These are terrorists and they should be punished as such. We’re going to increase the State Police force and the Hate Crimes Task Force so we have more State Police in vulnerable communities.

“We are going to work with schools all across the state to make sure our young people are educated on our history and our diversity and the strength of that diversity. We’ll be working with faith leaders, because from every pulpit, every podium to every congregation in this state, we have to be condemning these acts.

“And today the state is going to make an additional $45 million available to non-public schools and religious institutions for security. We also ask every New Yorker to be involved in this crusade today. And if any New Yorker has any information about a possible attack or an attack that has happened, we ask them to be active and to help us thwart these attacks. We have a 1-800 number – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. If you have any information, we have that tip line open, let’s all stand together and united.

“These acts of hate may not have started in New York – we’ve seen them across the nation – but these acts of hate must stop and end in the State of New York, and that’s New York at her best. Everyone today says the same thing: No hate in our state, period. We won’t tolerate it, we condemn it, we stand united against it and we are going to act against it. Let’s march.”

Here are more photo highlights from the Solidarity March:

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Madeline Yousefzadeh, Rebecca Sassouni and Rebecca Harounian, part of a contingent of 30 members of the Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc (Shai) from Great Neck, join the “no Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan. 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to Protect and Empower Renters

Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a detailed plan to protect and empower renters as part of the fight to end the affordable housing crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a detailed plan to protect and empower renters as part of the fight to end the affordable housing crisis. This is from the Warren campaign:
 
A full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are exploiting their power over tenants.
 
Elizabeth’s Housing Plan for America will invest $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million housing units that will be affordable to working families. Her plan will lower rents by 10% nationwide, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
 
Today, she released an additional plan to expand on those efforts to protect and empower renters. Her plan will:

Protect and uphold the rights of tenants
 

Tackle the growing cost of rent
 

Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing
 

Fight exploitation by corporate landlords

Read more about her plan here and below:
 
Protecting and Empowering Renters
 
Everyone in America should have a decent, affordable, and safe place to live. But today, stagnant wagessky-rocketing rents, and a stark shortage of affordable options are putting the squeeze on America’s 43 million renting households. 
 
In 2015, 38% of renters were “rent burdened” — spending over 30% of their income in rent. In 2017, 23 million low-income renters paid more than half of their total household income on housing. Many renters also face high energy bills, with low-income renters paying as much as 21% of their income because of energy inefficient housing. A full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are exploiting their power over tenants.
 
But for decades, the federal government has turned a blind eye to our growing affordable housing crisis. When the government has made investments, it’s focused largely on homeownership. From Nixon’s moratorium on new public housing construction to Reagan’s severe cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rental assistance program to today’s corporate capture of the right to shelter, Washington has failed America’s renters. To make matters worse, every single Trump administration budget has slashed funding for HUD’s budget.
 
And shamelessly, some of the same Wall Street firms that tanked the dream of homeownership for millions of American families are now the country’s biggest landlords — profiting off the destruction they caused. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, private equity firms like Blackstone went on a shopping spree, snatching up apartment complexes and single-family homes that had been foreclosed. Even the United Nations Special Rapporteurs have reported on their aggressive eviction tactics, the discriminatory impact of their policies on communities of color, and their lobbying efforts against legislation that would protect renters — and accused them of contributing to the global housing crisis.
 
My Housing Plan for America invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
 
Today, I’m expanding on those efforts with my plan to protect and empower renters. It has four goals:

Protect and uphold the rights of tenants
 

Tackle the growing cost of rent
 

Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing
 

Fight exploitation by corporate landlords

Protect and uphold the rights of tenants

We’ll start by strengthening the rights of tenants. Over 805,000 renter households were threatened with eviction in 2017. When landlords evict tenants, families lose their homes, parents may lose their jobs, kids suffer in schools, and whole communities, especially communities of color, can be displaced by gentrification and skyrocketing rents. In many communities, landlords dramatically hike rents after evicting tenants, driving housing costs up for everyone.
 
Most cities and towns in America allow “no fault” or “no cause” evictions, in which landlords can evict renters for no reason at all, even if they haven’t fallen behind on rent or violated a single lease provision. In other jurisdictions, landlords can refuse to renew leases for any reason at all, including to retaliate against tenants who organize or to flip homes families have lived in for decades into luxury housing, or they can add passthrough fees on top of rent. And in other cases, landlords will make homes so unlivable — for example, by shutting off heat in the winter or neglecting repair requests  — that tenants are “constructively evicted” and have no choice but to leave. In Reno, where there are only 21 affordable housing units per 100 extremely low-income residents, the unjust eviction rate climbed by 300% from 2002 to 2017.
 
Tenants that organize to take on bad landlords are up against a massive power imbalance. I’ll fight to put power back where it belongs: with tenants, not big corporate landlords.
 
Landlords shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily push families out of their communities to make an extra buck or because of thinly-veiled racism and discrimination. I’ll work to secure tenants’ rights nationwide — including by creating a federal just cause eviction standard, a right to lease renewal, protections against constructive eviction, and tenants’ right to organize. To enforce these rights, I’ll condition the $500 billion in new affordable housing funding to states from my housing plan on states affirmatively adopting these key tenant protections. Judges in eviction proceedings would also be required to consider how an eviction might harm a tenant’s health conditions or a child’s ability to stay enrolled in local public schools, and to temporarily stay evictions if tenants can’t find another home in the same neighborhood.
 
As President, I’ll also fight for a nationwide right-to-counsel for low-income tenants.

In 2010, 90% of tenants in eviction proceedings weren’t represented by lawyers, but 90% of landlords were. That legal help matters. Legal representation can significantly increase success in for tenants in their cases, keep eviction filings off their records, and prevent them from having to enter homeless shelters. That’s why I’ll fight to create a national housing right-to-counsel fund  which would provide grants to cities to guarantee access to counsel for low- and middle-income tenants who are facing eviction or taking their landlord to court for violations like breaching their lease, shutting off their heat and water, or violating the housing code. And I’ll fight to create a new tenants’ cause of action that allows tenants to sue landlords who threaten or begin an illegal eviction.
 
I’ll also push to create a new Tenant Protection Bureau within the Department of Housing and Urban Development — modeled after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — to enforce tenants’ rights, take on bad actors, and make sure landlords keep affordable housing affordable for working families. Before the financial crash, I came up with the idea for a consumer financial protection agency— a new federal agency dedicated to protecting American consumers. I fought for that agency, helped build it from scratch, and now the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion directly to consumers scammed by financial institutions.
 
Tenants deserve a cop on the beat too. My new Tenant Protection Bureau, housed within HUD, would enforce these federal tenant protections, like just-cause eviction, for tenants in all federally-funded affordable housing developments, ensure safe and decent living conditions, and guarantee that landlords don’t illegally raise rents or fees in federally-subsidized housing. The Tenant Protection Bureau will also empower community organizers with grants to state and local groups who will sue for violations of tenant protections.
 
Tenants face similar dynamics to borrowers facing unscrupulous banks or servicers. I’ll create a tenant hotline modeled after the CFPB consumer complaint database that will route complaints from tenants to their landlords through HUD, which could review the data for enforcement opportunities and share the data with local officials and organizations to help them enforce local protections.
 
I’ll strengthen fair housing law and enforcement, giving HUD the tools to take on modern-day redlining. A 2017 study in Virginia found that Black tenants were more likely to be evicted, even accounting for different income levels. Research has also shown that low-income women in Black and Latinx neighborhoods face a heightened risk of eviction. Fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), housing segregation enduresgentrification is pushing communities of color out of the neighborhoods they built, people with disabilities face pervasive discrimination, and nearly a quarter of transgender people report experiencing housing discrimination.
 
We need to renew our fight against housing discrimination, and I’ll start on day one. I’ll restore the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which the Trump Administration put on ice. The AFFH rule would fulfill the FHA’s promise to end housing segregation by requiring local governments to identify housing policies and practices with racist effects and undo them. I’ll also roll back the Trump administration’s effort to add work requirements to housing assistance. And I’ll withdraw Trump’s racist proposed “mixed status” rule which, according to HUD’s own analysis, would effectively evict tens of thousands of families and 55,000 children based on the immigration status of household family members.
 
The Trump Administration is also trying to weaken HUD’s Disparate Impact Rule, immunizing landlords who use discriminatory algorithms to screen out tenants and making it far harder to hold bad actors accountable. I’ll protect the disparate impact rule so that tenants have the tools to challenge zoning regulations that discriminate against people with disabilities, predatory lending practices that target communities of color, and algorithmic redlining.
 
But reversing the Trump Administration’s attacks on civil rights isn’t enough. The FHA protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. To start, I’ll make sure that HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, which has been gutted and undercut by the Trump administration, is fully funded, staffed, and equipped to robustly enforce the FHA — which is particularly critical for renters with disabilities who make up the majority of discrimination complaints.
 
My affordable housing bill would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, and source of income, like a housing voucher. Under a Warren Administration, HUD will issue regulations to the greatest extent it can under the Fair Housing Act to end housing discrimination against domestic violence survivors, LGBTQ+ people, and based on tenants’ immigration status or criminal records. I’ll fight for the Equality Act, which would explicitly ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations. I’ll also direct HUD to take on chronic nuisance ordinances — local laws that push domestic violence survivors, especially Black women, and people with disabilities, out of their homes. And I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our values, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — which would make them eligible for public housing benefits.
 
I’ll also create a national small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of financial emergencies. I spent my career studying why families go broke — so I know that it’s all too easy for a family to fall behind on rent after a surprise trip to the emergency room or car repair. Massachusetts pioneered several programs that provide small grants to help families facing a one-time budget crunch, like the Homestart program, which provides grants of on average $700 and some wraparound services to help families avoid eviction. It’s been reported that 95% of their eviction prevention program recipients remain in their homes four years later. I’ll fight to scale this program up nationwide, likely saving federal, state, and local governments money by helping families stay out of emergency homeless shelters.
 
While nobody should be homeless in America, we need to stop treating our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness as criminals. All across the country, cities and states make it illegal to live on the street, even when there are fewer emergency shelter beds than people who need them — 34% of cities have city-wide bans on camping in public, 43% of cities prohibit sleeping in vehicles, and 9% of cities even prohibit sharing food with homeless people. Even as the affordable housing crisis deepens, pushing more people out of affordable housing, these laws are spreading — just this month the Las Vegas City Council voted to criminalize camping on downtown streets. Enough is enough — it’s time to stop criminalizing poverty. My Department of Justice will not fund efforts to criminalize homelessness and will deny grant money to police departments who are arresting residents for living outside.
 
I’ve also already committed to preventing and combating the epidemic of LGBTQ+ youth, transgender, and veterans homelessness. My LGBTQ+ rights plan commits to reauthorizing and fully funding the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and to creating a LGBTQ+ youth homelessness prevention program within the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. And I will restore and strengthen the HUD Equal Access Rule, reversing Ben Carson’s horrific proposal to allow shelters to discriminate against transgender women – so if a trans women of color loses her home, she doesn’t face widespread discrimination from homeless shelters. My plan to support our veterans calls to fully fund rapid re-housing and permanent supporting housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) and HUD-VASH programs and to create a new competitive grant program to provide wrap-around services for veterans and their families. As we fight to end homelessness and expand affordable housing, we won’t leave any groups behind.
 
Tackling the growing cost of rent.
 
My Housing Plan for America tackles the growing cost of rent at its root: a severe lack of affordable housing supply and state and local land-use rules that needlessly drive up housing costs. My plan would add more than 3 million new affordable housing units, and I’ll commit to prioritizing a portion of these units to particularly vulnerable groups like the chronically homeless, people living with HIV, people with disabilities, seniors who want to age in place, and people who have been incarcerated and are returning to the community. My plan will bring down the rents by 10% nationwide and make targeted investments in rural housing programs and in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund to support the construction of new housing for middle-class renters in communities with severe housing supply shortages. My plan also invests $2.5 billion in the Indian Housing Block Grant and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal land.
 
We’ll also incentivize the elimination of costly zoning rules — like minimum lot sizes or parking requirements — with a $10 billion new competitive grant program that state and local government can use to build infrastructure, parks, roads, or schools on the condition that they reform land-use rules to allow for the construction of additional well-located affordable housing units and to protect tenants from rent spikes and eviction. And in doing all of this, my plan would create 1.5 million new jobs.
 
But we must do more. More than 30 states have laws on the books that explicitly prohibit cities from adopting rent control — and when tenants and communities fight to repeal those laws, they’re met with fierce opposition from real estate and private equity giants that have shelled out massive amounts of money to block them. States shouldn’t be able to suppress local innovation or stop towns and cities from adopting the housing policies that best protect their residents. That’s why my administration will work to stop states from preempting local tenant protection laws, including rent control. A Warren Administration will side with people over private equity. I’ll condition the new affordable housing money from my Housing plan that goes to states on repealing state laws that prohibit local rent control laws and other tenant protections.
 
States and local governments across the country have adopted a number of different strategies to tackle rising rent costs. This year, Oregon and California became the first states to pass statewide rental control measures. From Maryland to Colorado, communities across the country have been testing out the community land trust model, to try to break the link between the cost of the land and the private, speculative market. As President, I’ll create an Innovation Lab in HUD to study strategies that keep rents affordable such as rent control, multi-year leases, zoning reform, and community land trusts, and share data on what works and best practices. I’ll also bring together a commission of federal, state, and local government officials, public housing administrators, housing justice organizations, homelessness advocates, and tenants’ unions to discuss affordability and strategies to address it.
 
I’ll direct HUD to recognize strategies that prevent gentrification and displacement of long time communities as ways for meeting jurisdictions’ obligations under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. I’ll also restore and improve the Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) rule, which the Trump administration has tried to block. SAFMR sets the housing voucher amounts at the zip code level rather than the metro level and promotes integration by allowing vouchers to cover more in neighborhoods with higher rental costs. I’ll also direct HUD to ensure that the shift does not reduce the number of total housing units available to voucher holders, invest additional resources and technical assistance to increase understanding of this rule among public housing authorities (PHAs) and tenants, issue additional guidance on setting payment standards, and make the administrative plans by PHAs of the implementation of this rule publicly available.
 
Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing.
 
Today, about 2 million people nationwide live in 1.1 million public housing units — and too many are living in homes with lead, rats and roaches, and black mold that jeopardize their health. Tenants who receive HUD rental assistance are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions or go to an emergency room than other similarly situated renters. Children in these households are more likely to have asthma and face an acute risk of lead poisoning.
 
Public housing is also failing in meeting the needs of Section 8 eligible renters who have disabilities. About 41% of all public housing units are home to a disabled person, but only about 3% of those units actually have accessibility features.
 
The federal government’s decision to scale back or not match inflation when funding public housing has resulted in a national public housing capital repair backlog of $70 billion, leading to inaccessible housing for people with disabilities and substandard living conditions. Because units have been demolished or removed due to uninhabitable conditions, the total number of public housing units has fallen by more than 250,000 since the mid-1990s. And with a median public housing waiting list of 9 months, and in some cases, as long as 8 years, we can’t afford to lose a single unit.
 
As climate change makes summer heat waves and winter cold snaps more severe and disasters more frequent, the number of habitable units could fall even further, and public housing across the country is at risk. Last winter, nearly 90% of New York City Housing Authority units lost heat because of boiler system breakdowns. Some of those same residents dealt with extreme heat in the summer, which can be particularly dangerous to the elderly and residents with disabilities. In Charleston, South Carolina, which is facing rising sea levels, 7 of the PHA’s properties are only a few feet above the high tide level, and across the country, nearly half a million HUD-assisted housing units are in flood zones.
 
We must invest in safe, healthy, and green homes. I’ll start by repealing the Faircloth Amendmentwhich has prohibited the use of federal funds for the construction or operation of new public housing units with Capital or Operating Funds, effectively capping the number of public housing units available at 1999 levels. I’ll fight to completely close the national public housing capital repair backlog, expand disability accessibility, and for 1:1 replacement of any units that have to be removed or demolished. And I’ll fight for investments in new public housing construction. 
 
I’ll also update the rules of major federal housing funding programs, like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Housing Trust Fund, Capital Magnet Fund, and Home Grant program, to allow PHAs or other public institutions to use these funds to develop properties and Section 811 PRA housing themselves and maintain public ownership. Under current rules, states are required to contract with private developers. With this change, PHAs and other public institutions will also be able to benefit from the massive investment of my Housing plan. Like existing developments under these programs, these projects would be subsidized to allow low-income tenants to live alongside market rate tenants. And I’ll encourage PHAs to develop a participatory budgeting process with residents on how capital dollars are spent. 
 
I believe that every renter has the right to a healthy home. I have called for retrofitting 4% of our existing building stock each year in my 100% Clean Energy for America plan. I will ensure that public housing units and public schools are prioritized for retrofitting because more efficient homes mean lower energy bills, and the cost of energy should not hold any family back. And I will work across federal agencies to eliminate toxic substances like mold and lead from all housing and drinking water sources by investing in toxic mold removal, establishing a lead abatement grant program to remediate lead in all federal buildings, and providing a Lead Safety Tax Credit to incentivize landlords to invest in remediation for their tenants. I’ll fully fund CDC’s environmental health programs like the Childhood Lead Prevention program, and fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to ensure that nobody’s drinking water is poisoned because of crumbling infrastructure. And I will immediately roll back the amended timeline of the EPA draft rule on lead pipe replacement, which the Trump administration has tried to relax from 13 to 33 years.
 
For all new affordable rental units, I will ensure that the project undergoes an environmental equity screen during both the siting and construction phases so that we do not continue to subject low-income communities to environmental racism through our housing policies. I will direct the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to utilities to better support and incentivize on-bill financing to further adoption of clean energy, no matter the income, credit, or renter status of each customer.
 
And as we modernize our public housing units, we will build livable communities starting with a new Green Public Housing program that will create millions of jobs and provide climate smart housing. Because of the massive maintenance backlog in America’s public housing, and because the federal government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades, many public housing buildings aren’t equipped to withstand the increasingly harsh realities of climate change. I am a proud supporter of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which will create grant programs for public housing authorities to conduct deep energy retrofits, prioritize workforce development, upgrade the facilities’ energy efficiency and water quality, allow for community renewable energy generation, and encourage recycling, community resiliency, and climate adaptation. My 100% Clean Energy for America plan calls for all new commercial and residential buildings to have zero carbon pollution by 2028, and this applies to any new public housing development as well. Nobody should have to face substandard living conditions, and through the Green Public Housing program, we will ensure that we raise the standard of living for all renters. 
 
And I will make sure we’re supporting those who have been displaced by disaster. Renters are particularly vulnerable in the wake of natural disasters. But for too long, renters have been overlooked in government post-disaster response and recovery. That’s why I introduced the Housing Survivors of Major Disaster Actwhich will require FEMA to work with HUD to immediately set up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) for temporary rental assistance and wraparound services to disaster survivors. This will also support those who might not have residence documentation, to ensure renters without leasing documents and people who are homeless have access to these critical services.
 
Fight the exploitation of renters by corporate landlords. 
 
Since the mortgage crisis, large private equity firms have become some of the country’s biggest landlords — a big win for Wall Street, but a huge loss for America’s renters. Take Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. Since 2016, more than 600 complaints have been filed against Blackstone subsidiary Invitation Homes with the Better Business Bureau, and Invitation Homes is currently facing a class action lawsuit in California for subjecting tenants to excessive and illegal late fees.
 
The problems extend to other private equity landlords too. Colony Capital, the third-largest single family landlord in the country, evicted more than 30% of tenants living in its Atlanta rentals. In Memphis, Firstkey Homes, a property management company owned by Cerberus Capital Management, files for eviction at twice the rate of other property managers.
 
We can’t keep letting these firms loot the economy to pad their own pockets while working families suffer. My plan to Rein in Wall Street will hold private equity firms accountable and prevent private equity funds from snatching up properties and dramatically raising rents, allowing more people to stay in their homes.. My Excessive Lobbying Tax will make it more costly for these firms to lobby against policies that protect renters.
 
But we can do more. I’ll stop federal dollars from going to predatory landlords and lenders with a long history of harassing tenants, forcing tenants to live in dangerous or indecent conditions, or redlining our communities. I’ve already committed to strict new requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, limiting the situations in which the agencies can sell mortgages and imposing new requirements on Wall Street buyers to protect homeowners.
 
I’ll also direct the Federal Housing Administration to deny federal support to landlords that violate tenants’ rights. My FHA will develop rules that prohibit federal agencies from insuring, guaranteeing, or lending to landlords with a history of harassing tenants, violating housing codes, unjust evictions, violating fair housing law, or engaging in unconscionable rent increases. That means no federal support for landlords that violate tenants’ rights — like Jared Kushner’s family firm, which is under investigation for harassing tenants out of rent-stabilized homes.
 
I’ll go further and allow all suits for violations of the Fair Housing Act and Federal, state or local housing protections to reach to the private equity firm and its general partners. After the housing crisis, private equity firms gobbled up hundreds of thousands of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties and troubled mortgages from FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. In the years since, private equity firms have expanded their portfolios in housing and have taken a particularly aggressive position in the market for manufactured home parksIn the midst of the financial crisis, private equity firms exploited legal loopholes and used shell companies to ensure tenants were unable to get justice when they’re wronged and removing all disincentive for abuse.
 
My housing plan would end the pipeline of foreclosed homes from Federal agencies to private equity firms, and My Wall Street plan allowed extended liability for actions at a private equity portfolio company to the private equity firm and its general partners in the case of a government enforcement action.
 
I’ll rein in payday lenders who take advantage of renters. Payday lenders cluster in low-income areas, like around government-subsidized housing, and target communities of color. I’ve called out the unscrupulous, exploitative practices for more than a decade. As President, I’ll direct the CFPB to issue a comprehensive package of regulations on payday lenders, including limiting the proximity of payday lenders near public housing. I’ll call for Congress to repeal the Dodd-Frank provision that prohibits the CFPB from capping interest rates, empowering the CFPB to effectively regulate these bad actors.
 
And I’ll take on “land contracts” agreements, predatory loans that are frequently targeted at communities of color. Land contracts are high-interest loans that are often marketed as a path to homeownership. Tenant-buyers make payments towards a lender over a long period of time, and the lenders that own the homes are only required to turn over legal title to the home after the renter has completely paid it off. But homes — often houses lost in the foreclosure crisis — can be in such bad condition they’re basically uninhabitable, and the contracts shift the costs of fixing them up away from banks and onto unsuspecting families.
 
Worse still, these contracts are built to fail: If tenants fall behind on these unregulated, high-interest loans, predatory lenders can seize the property — and keep would-be buyers’ money — so they make it hard for families to keep up with payments by inflating the prices, disguising debts, and hiding unfair terms in the fine print of their land contracts. Predatory lenders target communities of color for land contracts, including the same families displaced by rising rents. I’ll choose a CFPB Director committed to reigning in land contracts.
 
Next, I’ll require large corporate landlords to publicly disclose data. I’ll create a national public database of information about large corporate landlords, by requiring them to report key data to HUD. The database will include information like corporate landlords’ median rent, the number and percentage of tenants they evicted, building code violations, the most recent standard lease agreement used, and the identity of any individuals with an ownership interest of 25% or more, either directly or indirectly, in large landlords’ corporations, LLCs, or similar legal entities. And I’ll direct HUD to study the impact that these kinds of landlords have on local rental markets.

Read the plan here

Thousands Turn Out on #ImpeachmentEve in NYC to Protest for Trump’s Impeachment and Removal

Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Several thousand people turned out to Times Square in New York City on Tuesday, December 17, despite a cold rain to protest for the impeachment of Donald Trump. It was one of about 600 such protests and rallies organized by a coalition of more than 100 organizations  including Rise and Resist, Moveon.org, and Indivisible, held across the country, in all 50 states, on the eve of the House debate and vote to make Trump only the third president in history to be impeached.  Over 160,000 had responded their intention to participate in the historic mobilization.

This is what the #ImpeachmentEve #ImpeachandRemove protest and march looked like in New York City (for a national overview, see New York Times, Rallies Spread on Eve of House Impeachment Votes).

Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Impeach Trump protest, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Announce The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act

Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, here at a rally in Queens, New York, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings.© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings. Here is the plan from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in an event outside the Capitol Building, announced the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change activists. The sweeping legislation they will unveil aims to retrofit, rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act invests up to $180 billion over ten years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved health, safety and comfort, and eliminate carbon emissions in our federal public housing. The legislation also provides funding to electrify all buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public housing energy needs. The bill dramatically improves living conditions for nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1 million public homes.
 
“Faced with the global crisis of climate change, the United States must lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez understands, the Green New Deal is not just about climate change. It is an economic plan to create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and invest in our country’s frontline and vulnerable communities. This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability and resiliency. Importantly, the working people who have been most impacted by decades of disinvestment in public housing will be empowered to lead this effort and share in the economic prosperity that it generates for our country.”
 
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the quality of life for all residents. I am proud to begin the hard work of codifying the Green New Deal into law with my friend and colleague, Senator Bernie Sanders.”
 
About 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption is attributable to residential and commercial buildings. With its focus on transforming 1 million units of federally owned housing, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will spur economies of scale for weatherization, retrofitting, and renewable energy, making them more cost effective and attractive throughout the country. The legislation is expected to create nearly 250,000 good-paying, union jobs per year across the country while reducing carbon emissions on the scale of taking 1.2 million cars off the road over the next ten years. Public housing costs would also be reduced by $97 million per year, or 30 percent, and energy costs would be slashed by $613 million, or 70 percent.
 
The legislation envisions a federal-state partnership, creating new grant programs to swiftly and efficiently transition public housing, tribal housing, and Native Hawaiian housing to zero-carbon, energy efficient housing. The bill creates sustainable communities for families by building new childcare and senior centers, expanding access to clean transit, and creating community gardens and other community amenities. Under the legislation, public housing will receive deep energy retrofits, build community-generated renewable electricity, and upgrade unsafe and unsanitary infrastructure, including buildings’ water and electrical systems.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires that the hundreds of thousands of jobs created by this investment be high-road, family-sustaining jobs by requiring strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and “Buy America” requirements. Public housing residents will lead the decision-making process for these investments and receive jobs training for the newly created jobs from this legislation.
 
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and endorsed by more than 50 organizations.

Read the bill summary here.

Read the legislative text here.

Read a section-by-section overview here.

Read organizational statements of support here.