Say, shout, scream


Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen

Here’s just a sampling of what Public Citizen will do in the next 12 months.

We’re doing an awful lot, so this is one of those particularly long notes I send you sometimes. Please read it all the way through.

Our society stands at a crossroads.

If we — you and I — don’t do this work, we could see the American people, our democracy and our planet itself rendered irrevocably into mere grease for the churning machinery of greed.

Billionaire tycoons and corporate empires, whose already awesome fortunes have only left them desperate for ever greater power, think this is their moment. They’re wrong.

This is OUR moment.

To the forces of plutocracy, we must stand together and say, shout, scream: “Enough!”

Their time is over.

Our time is now.

This is the work we will do to win:

Fight Money in Politics and Overturn Citizens United

Building on the unprecedented momentum for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United — including winning majority support when the full United States Senate held its first vote on the amendment earlier this month — we will escalate our campaign for an amendment and other remedies to a whole new level.

Between now and Election Day, we will expose what the likes of the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other dark money outlets are spending to back reactionary, regressive candidates in the critical midterm elections.

This January, we will use the five-year anniversary of Citizens United to bring even more attention to the damage that U.S. Supreme Court ruling is doing to our democracy and even more nationwide, popular demand for overturning it (and its also-disastrous follow-up, McCutcheon).

We will add to the 16 states that have previously called for an amendment, including more moderate and conservative states. Our demonstrated grassroots energy is what has taken this movement as far as it has come already, and what will ultimately lead to victory.

We will build up more support for an amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives, so that we have at least 175 sponsors.

We will push for another Senate vote, so that we can focus on Republicans who favor an amendment but were afraid to support it in an election year.

As a leader of the Corporate Reform Coalition, we will build on the utterly unprecedented 1 million comments submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission urging the agency to issue a rule requiring corporations to disclose their political spending. We will apply enough pressure to get the rule adopted quickly.

Following what is certain to be a record amount of spending for a midterm election, ours will continue to be a leading voice for public financing of elections so that the candidates with the best ideas can compete against the candidates with the richest funders.

We will remain a vigilant monitor of corruption by corporate lobbyists and ethics transgressions by government officials.

And we will continue leading the charge for crystal clear IRS rules about political activity by nonprofit organizations, as well as calling out — and, if necessary, taking legal action against — groups that violate the rules.

Protect Health and Safety

Public Citizen will never stop fighting until we win single-payer, Medicare-for-All health care. The for-profit, private health insurance regime is a failure — of policy, of economics, of morality — that has wasted untold billions of dollars and sacrificed millions of lives.

We will call out elected officials who propose cutting, privatizing or voucherizing Medicare or Social Security. And we will fight any legislation that would weaken these critical and successful programs, which are cornerstones of the progress we’ve built as a society.

As we’ve done for 43 years and counting, Public Citizen will lead the way in preventing unsafe drugs and medical devices from being approved by the FDA and in petitioning the agency to remove dangerous products already on the market.

We will continue our work to improve labeling so that American consumers know any and all risks of medications they may be taking.

We will carry on our work to lower the price of life-saving medications in developing countries, by overcoming patent and other barriers to competition.

We will complete a one-year project mapping state occupational safety and health standards.

Following our initial success, we will expand our campaign against for-profit corporations that market unnecessary cardiovascular disease screening services directly to consumers.

We will complete a multi-year research project assessing the use of placebos or substandard treatments in FDA-regulated clinical trials.

We will continue advocating in target states for improved health and safety standards for construction workers employed by companies with government contracts.

In response to the public health threat of antibiotic resistance, we will work to introduce and build support for a strong replacement for a flawed bill in Congress.

We will continue working to close loopholes in regulations of pharmaceutical manufacturers that have resulted in contaminated medications injuring and killing patients.

And we will continue exposing failures related to the core principle of informed consent in government-funded studies, including those involving premature babies.

Promote Clean, Safe, Affordable Energy and Avert Climate Disruption

We will push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen a proposed rule to at last limit carbon emissions — the leading contributor to global warming — from our nation’s coal plants.

We will demonstrate that, contrary to false and alarmist claims by the dirty energy industry, limiting carbon pollution will benefit consumers and the economy.

We will combat manipulation of electricity markets — by utility companies and Wall Street firms using Enron-style tricks — that drives up consumer prices.

When the Texas Legislature convenes in January, we will push forward our agenda for new solar and energy efficiency laws and policies.

Our work in Texas will also include advocacy and organizing around nuclear plants and radioactive waste disposal as well as new coal plants, coal export terminals, port cleanup and retirement of six old, polluting coal plants.

We will fight to block schemes by utilities to foist the costs of antiquated nuclear and coal plants onto consumers. They chose to build these expensive plants, but they didn’t intend to share the anticipated profits, so now they should absorb any costs of retiring the dirty, outdated facilities.

We will work to stop anti-competitive utility mergers.

And we will highlight how dirty energy interests leverage their economic power to gain undue political influence through campaign contributions, lobbying, investments in think tanks and more.

Defeat Race-to-the-Bottom “Free Trade Agreement” Schemes

We will organize nationwide to maintain the broad congressional coalition that is refusing to pass “fast track” legislation that would give away Congress’ constitutional authority over trade and that would pave the way for more NAFTA-style, corporate-friendly “trade” deals. And we will work with congressional allies to create a new process for trade pact negotiations and consideration that provides the public and Congress a fulsome role.

We will expand our work to encourage countries to reject “investor-state” enforced agreements that give corporations superpowers to challenge consumer, health, environmental and other public interest laws and regulations. And we will help countries exit this damaging regime.

And our campaign with civil society partners around the world — to prevent the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement from spreading damaging NAFTA-on-steroids rules that undermine basic public interest protections and drag down living standards around the world — will remain a key component of our work.

Rein in Wall Street’s Irresponsibility and Counteract Corporate Corruption

We will continue fighting for strong implementation of the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

After working so hard to help bring the much-needed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into existence, we will stand in the way of attempts to undercut or weaken the vital agency.

With some of the Big Banks bigger now than they were before their blind greed set off the Great Recession, we will turn commonsense sentiment against the notion of “too big to jail” into movement toward bipartisan support for breaking up some of these unruly behemoths.

We will continue working for a financial transaction tax as a check on some of Wall Street’s risky, rapid-fire trading schemes.

We will promote legislation in Congress to limit corporate tax deductions that incentivize runaway executive compensation.

We will confront nonprofit institutions, including universities and cultural centers, funded by the Koch Brothers.

And as high-profile American companies consider essentially renouncing their citizenship to dodge their tax obligations — even as many enjoy record profits and billions in taxpayer subsidies — we will work even harder to see tax loopholes closed and corporate “inversions” exposed.

Uphold and Strengthen Consumer Protections

We will expand our work to ban fine print in the terms of service for everyday products and services — from cell phones and credit cards to mortgages and nursing homes — that deprive consumers of their access to the courts or their right to join together in seeking justice.

We will file briefs and take other action to dispel corporations’ attempts at using the First Amendment as a shield to avoid regulation or liability.

In the face of delays of many years in some instances, we will ramp up our pressure on federal agencies to issue overdue and critical regulations.

Our legal team will take on cases that present opportunities to defend individuals’ access to justice and to bolster consumers’ legal rights.

We will be on the lookout for business-backed proposals to block victims of corporate wrongdoing from seeking redress in court.

When puppets of Big Business in Congress propose legislation that attacks agencies and weakens regulations, we will defend the watchdogs and make sure commonsense safeguards are not watered down.

And we will generate support for the Hide No Harm Act, which would make it a crime — punishable by jail time for executives — for corporations to conceal information about serious hazards from consumers or employees.

Again, that’s only a sampling of what we will take on and achieve.

But it’s a remarkable work plan — for a remarkable organization.

Powerful though they may be, the billionaire and Big Business forces that elevate profits above progress simply cannot match the power We the People have when we work together.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on September 27, 2014

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