UAW- Marching in Unity
for Civil Rights
By Bob King-President United Auto Workers
For the first time in modern history, African-American and Latino civil rights leaders, labor, women's rights groups and other supporters of democracy are uniting to fight today's civil rights struggles against voter suppression and anti-immigrant laws.
The re-enactment of the historic march of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists began March 4 in Selma, Ala., and ends at the state Capitol in Montgomery to honor civil rights trailblazers of the last century, and to call on people of faith and conscience to speak out on today's civil rights issues.
Thousands will demand the repeal of voter suppression laws recently enacted in numerous states and repeal of Alabama's anti-immigrant law H.B. 56 as they echo the footsteps of the "Bloody Sunday" marches that began March 7, 1965, when those seeking civil rights for African Americans were assaulted by police after crossing Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge.
We are marching for justice and calling on Alabama businesses and major foreign investors — such as Daimler, Hyundai and Honda — to support repeal of H.B. 56. All businesses have a corporate and moral obligation to speak out against laws that discriminate against their customers and harm communities where they have thrived.
The UAW's unwavering demand for rights is steeped in its history. Our union has fought for civil rights laws since the 1950s, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and legislation to prohibit discrimination against women, the elderly and the disabled.
In Alabama — the cradle of the civil rights movement — H.B. 56 has resurrected the dark days of racism and hate to target Latinos and immigrant populations for harassment and arrest. Under this law, anyone who "looks foreign" is caught in the cross-hairs of a law that is enforced by racial profiling and hatred.
The resulting climate impacts workers, families, schools and communities. Alabama stands to lose up to $11 billion annually because H.B. 56 poses a major threat to businesses and hurts workers well beyond the state's borders.
When Daimler considered opening its Mercedes-Benz plant in the state, Alabama vowed to retreat from its racist past. The Confederate flag, a symbol of that racism, was removed from atop the state Capitol. Hyundai and Honda followed Daimler to Alabama as did dozens of foreign auto suppliers. But Alabama reneged on its pledge by enacting H.B. 56.
Daimler, Hyundai, Honda and all businesses must now support repeal of H.B. 56.
They and most global corporations have corporate policies that endorse civil rights as human rights, and they are ethically obligated to ensure that policies they embrace inside their plants are consistent with the policies they embrace beyond their plant gates. Failure to speak out against H.B. 56 is a failure of leadership and silent endorsement of racist policies that resulted in this legislation becoming law in the first place.
In the midst of our economic challenges, labor, business and government came together to find pragmatic solutions. Similarly, our struggle for civil rights and sound immigration policies will be resolved when we work together on practical, humane solutions. Let's unite and repeal H.B. 56.
Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Affordable Care Act Constitutionality
A ruling on health care law is expected by June 2012
The next red-letter days in the fight over health care reform
are March 26-28, when the U.S. Supreme Court will hear attorneys argue the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act
, President Obama's signature health initiative. A ruling is expected by June. The high court could uphold the entire law, strike down its central requirement that most Americans buy health insurance
by 2014 or pay a penalty, let stand or quash a major expansion of Medicaid, — or punt a final decision on all these issues into 2015.
The court will consider four matters.
1. Is the mandate penalty a tax? On March 26, the court will consider whether the penalty imposed on people who don't buy insurance is a tax. A 19th-century law prohibits legal challenges to a tax before it takes effect. If the justices decide the penalty is a tax, they could throw out challenges to the health law until a taxpayer actually pays a penalty for failing to buy insurance, which could be at least three years.
2. Does the U.S. Constitution empower Congress to enact the mandate? On March 27, the court will turn to the central issue of whether Congress overstepped its authority in requiring people to buy insurance, — as 26 states have asserted. AARP filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the constitutional power of Congress to enact the requirement.
3. Does the fate of the entire law hang in the balance? On the 28th, the court will consider whether other sections of the law fall if any part of it is invalidated. The Obama administration argues that if the court strikes down one provision of the law, it should let most of the law stand.
4. Can the federal government force the states to expand access to Medicaid? Also on the 28th, the justices will take up a feature of the law intended to expand access to Medicaid, the health care program for low-income people that pays for most nursing home care. Opponents contend that the expansion is "coercive" to the states, which share costs with the federal government. But Jane Perkins, the legal director of the National Health Law Program in Carrboro, N.C., argues that the expansion “fits neatly within the Medicaid framework that Congress established back in 1965.”
Don’t Let Your Tax Refund Get Ripped Off by Identity Thieves
How they use your name and Social Security number
The tip-off can come when you try to e-file your tax return
but it won’t go through. Or when an expected refund doesn’t arrive. Or when the IRS sends you a letter saying that multiple returns were submitted in your name.
Before assuming it’s a technical glitch or red-tape snag, consider a growing possibility: You’ve been hit by tax ID theft
That’s when a fraudulent return is filed electronically under your identity so crooks can collect your refund. All they need is your name, Social Security number and birth date — and a computer. No W-2s or other tax documents required. They just make all that information up.
Ninety percent of IRS refunds are issued within 21 days of the IRS receiving them, says an IRS spokeswoman. Some go out in as little as 10 days.
But, she adds, it can take several months longer — sometimes not until summertime — for the IRS to receive tax-related paperwork issued by employers and confirm the income numbers with claims made on tax returns.
So by the time the ID theft is discovered, your refund has gone to a scammer. It may be direct-deposited into a bank account temporarily used by the scammer under the false identity, mailed out as a Treasury check (often to a vacant home) or preloaded on a debit card, from which the money can be withdrawn from an ATM.
Crooks may get thousands of dollars per fake return; real taxpayers are left with a hassle-filled ordeal of having to prove their own identity to get the money they’re owed. Or worse — if a taxpayer is receiving disability benefits, the Social Security Administration could take the return as evidence that the person is working, and cut off the benefits. One consolation: You as the taxpayers aren’t liable for the missing refund — the IRS will eventually send you the money you’re due.
How to protect yourself? Filing early may do the trick — but scammers file early, too. Other than that, you should do all you can to safeguard the personal data that, in the wrong hands, make this crime possible.
The IRS cracks down
The spokeswoman says that the IRS deals with returns from 140 million households a year: “We try to get people’s tax refunds to them as quickly as possible while making sure the integrity of the system is whole and sound.” Combating ID theft crime is a “top priority,” she says.
Last year, the IRS reports, it stopped more than $1.4 billion in ID theft refunds from reaching suspected criminals and identified more than 260,000 fraudulent returns involving identity theft. That’s a huge jump from 2010, when the agency reported stopping $247 million in bogus refunds and 49,000 fraudulent returns.
Myths and Truths About Social Security
Exploding 5 misconceptions that threaten the system
It happened during the stock boom of the 1990s, and it is happening again. Social Security
is coming under attack. The first challenge arose from hope — that savers would get more retirement income for their money if they bought stocks. But the idea of privatization was not popular with the public.
Now, the attack comes from fear — that Social Security has serious financial problems and can only fail. Younger people lean more toward change than older people do. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted a year ago found that 60 percent of adults who aren't retired expect to get nothing — zero — from Social Security in their older age.
They're mistaken. As misinformation and mistrust grow, however, it becomes important to explore — and explode — several Social Security myths
that endanger the system's public support.
Myth No. 1:
Social Security is going bankrupt.
No, it's not. Even in the unlikely event that nothing changes and the program's entire surplus runs out in 2036, as projected, checks would keep coming. Payroll taxes at current rates would cover 77 percent of all the future benefits promised. That's true for young and old alike, and includes inflation adjustments.
Myth No. 2:
I'd be better off, if I'd kept my Social Security taxes in my own investment
Hmmm — you're saying that you'd faithfully put that money aside, every year of your working life, in a mix of stocks and bonds, without ever skipping a year, drawing on your nest egg or selling when the market dropped? Few such paragons exist. You'd need to invest far more than you probably realize to match the benefits Social Security pays. As an example, take a 65-year-old couple with a single breadwinner who earned the average wage. At retirement, they'd currently get about $2,170 a month, plus inflation adjustments, for life, the Urban Institute reports. To equal that sum in private savings, they'd need to have about $580,000, says Michael Kitces, director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, and the money might last only 30 years. How many average earners are likely to save that much?
Test Your Social Security Smarts
Who was the first person to get a regular monthly Social Security check?
1. Ida Mae Fuller
3. Al Capone
4. Sidney A. Bookmeister
1. Ida Mae Fuller- Legal secretary Fuller paid a total of $24.75 into the system before retiring in 1939 at age 65. Her first check was for $22.54. She lived to be 100, and collected $22,888.92 in benefits.
Which of the following people cannot collect retirement benefits?
1. Waiters and others who rely on tips for 90 percent or more of their income
2. Convicted prisoners who are serving more than 30 continuous days in jail
3. Ordained members of religious organizations
4. Retired U.S. presidents and members of Congress
2. Convicted prisoners who are serving more than 30 continuous days in jail
What happens when the Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted, likely in 2036, if no changes are made?
1. Benefits drop to zero
2. Benefits drop by 25 percent
3. Benefits are eliminated for people earning more than $40,000 a year
4. Benefits drop by 75 percent
2. Benefits drop by 25 percent- Social Security estimates that with the fund emptied, payroll tax revenues could fund benefits at about 75 percent of promised levels.
Do Social Security numbers get reassigned once a person dies?
No. The Social Security
Administration does not reuse numbers. Since the program started in 1935, more than 450 million numbers have been assigned. That's about 5.5 million per year.