UFE's E-News December 2009

In this Issue:

 

Article One

You Make It Happen!

As the year draws to a close, we're hard at work on our year-end fundraising campaign. The rest of our work isn't slowing down either. Far from it, in fact. We're doing incredible work to build and support the movement for greater economic equality. This issue of E-News highlights some of what we've been up to in just the last month.

All of this work is made possible by generous donations from thousands of individuals. And we're asking you to join us by taking a moment to make a tax-deductible gift to UFE today. Whether you're a long time donor or have never given before, please consider making a contribution now. It will only take a minute, and any amount you can give will mean a great deal to us.

You are essential to our work. Whether you're calling Congress to support the estate tax, attending a popular economics training, or just keeping up-to-date on issues like our state-level grassroots tax fairness work or the racial wealth divide, you are playing a critical role in the movement for greater economic equality. Thank you for the part you play, and as you read about some of our recent work below, please consider making a donation to further support our work before the end of the year.

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Article Two

UFE Makes National Splash on the Estate Tax

Here's some big news we've been itching to tell you about:

Last week, we held a national estate tax press teleconference featuring Bill Gates, Sr., John C. Bogle (founder of Vanguard), Richard Rockefeller, and SEIU's Anna Burger. Our speakers offered unique perspectives on why the US needs a strong estate tax, and joined UFE in support of Rep. Jim McDermott's Sensible Estate Tax Act (PDF).

Journalists from the Associated Press, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and many others joined us on the call, and the media coverage has been phenomenal – see below and visit our Estate Tax Teleconference page for highlights.

Although the Senate "scrooged" us, failing to act in time to prevent the January 1st estate tax disappearing act, they are vowing to take action early in 2010 for retroactive reinstatement. This sets us up for a very interesting bout in the new year.

Here's how you can help:

  1. Stay informed. Visit our website for news updates on the estate tax, and be ready to call your Senators. We'll be sending action alerts when just the right doors open.

  2. Send this E-News to friends, family and colleagues who might be interested in our work, and ask them to join our email list.

  3. Because this fight has been extended, we need your support to keep up the momentum in the new year (see Article One above!).

Media Highlights:

Robert Frank, author of "Richistan", writes about our event in the Wall Street Journal Blog.

Great op-ed by Bill Gates, Sr. in Huffington Post.

Lee Farris, UFE's Estate Tax Policy Coordinator, appears on Fox News Special Report with Bret Baier.

Article on the estate tax's impact on charitable giving in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Marketplace story that ran on NPR stations nationwide.

Bloomberg News article that ran in business journals across the country.

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Article Three

TFOC Wraps 2009 With A Big Picture Plan

This month, 20 members of our Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC) came together in Washington, DC for the semi-annual conference. In addition to sharing opportunities and challenges ahead in their 2010 tax fairness campaigns, members strategized with experts from Demos, Topos Partnership, and Robert Brandon & Associates to develop frames and messages (PDF) to shift public perception about taxation and the role of government.

Together, members sought ways to expand and strengthen the movement for economic justice by reinforcing the TFOC's existing partnerships with the National Education Association and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and exploring new partnerships with Progressive States Network (PSN) and State Voices.

Several TFOC members signed on to work with PSN on corporate transparency in state budgets, part of PSN's shared multi-state agenda. In today's harsh economic climate, states – and taxpayers – cannot afford corporate tax giveaways that don't produce results promised – quality jobs, economic development, and increased revenue.

An exciting outcome of the conference was the start of an effort to develop a model for an ideal progressive state tax system. This was no exercise in progressive fantasizing. With cool heads collaborating, diversity of experience, and solid research and wisdom from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, TFOC members are on to something of significance to each and every state.

Members agreed that this model would set clear policy goals to aim for, and would help, tactically, to move the debate away from right-wing solutions that have dominated state tax policy discussions. The model would also serve as a statement of members' values and reinforce and improve upon the education and organizing work they are doing. This project could have an electrifying impact on tax fairness efforts across the country. We look forward to reporting more to you as the TFOC moves forward.

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Article Four

Training West Coast Trainers – UFE Visits Los Angeles

On December 3-5, 2009, United for a Fair Economy held a bilingual Training of Trainers (ToT) in Los Angeles. We were invited to co-host this event when two participants in our 2008 ToT in Seattle, Washington – Roberto Bustillo, a tenant organizer with from Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), and Blanca Rivera, an outreach organizer with Figueroa Corridor Community Land Trust – found that UFE's approach and content could fill a key need for their organizations and constituencies in Los Angeles.

UFE's Jeannette Huezo co-facilitated the two and a half day training alongside Roberto and Blanca. Participants engaged in lively discussions about the rules that create economic inequality in the U.S., the push and pull factors that cause workers to migrate across borders, the rules that make it difficult for families and communities of color to accumulate wealth, and the trends that led to our current economic crisis. Participants also learned and practiced popular education methodology.

This event also provided two groups with a strong stake in the Figueroa Corridor neighborhood of L.A. to build relationships with one another that will serve their work in the years ahead. We intend to continue our collaboration, not only to provide ongoing mentorship for their community education and organizing work, but also to learn from our new partners at each turn of their grassroots efforts.

Upcoming UFE Trainings of Trainers are now being planned in Philadelphia and at the Highlander Center in Tennessee. Contact info@faireconomy.org for more information!

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Article Five

Coming Soon: UFE's State of the Dream 2010

We've been hammering away at our soon-to-be-released State of the Dream report all month. This year's edition, due out on MLK day in January, will focus on how policy responses to the economic crisis have (or have failed to) address the disproportionate impact of the downturn in communities of color.

The statistics are staggering – unemployment rates alone reveal the depth of the divide and unfortunately it doesn't end there. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) took leadership in pressing Congress to actually face up to these issues stating, "The time is right – and the time is now – for the Federal government to expand access to education, job training and economic opportunities to provide a pathway out of poverty and ensure that people of color can compete for jobs on a level playing field."

The White House Jobs and Economic Growth Forum began to address some of these issues, and the House recently approved the "Jobs for Main Street Act". These steps are important but need to be the beginning, not the end to policies aimed at addressing the staggering racial wealth divide.

The CBC has spoken out in support of the act, calling it a "crucial first step," but recognizes that there is still more to be done. The most important thing to keep in mind is that job creation should target the communities and individuals that need it most, and that the jobs created should be 'good jobs.'

UFE's upcoming State of the Dream report will address these issues in depth, and is timely for the discussions at hand. This report will be the third in a series addressing the causes and solutions to the economic crisis in communities of color. It follows up on last year's report, The Silent Depression, and the 2008 edition, Foreclosed, which highlighted the foreclosure epidemic before the mainstream media began to pick up on the story. Visit our website to read reports from past years.

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Download and listen to our Dec. 15th Estate Tax Teleconference (M4V 72.7MB)



TFOC members brainstorm opportunities for collaboration with new partners at their semi-annual conference this month.



ToT participants in L.A. create collages illustrating economic inequality.



UFE's Income Quintiles human graph demonstrated by L.A. ToT participants.



Group discussion on popular education methodology at L.A. ToT.


See more photos from our
Los Angeles Training of Trainers
on Flickr.