Are you working on Thanksgiving?

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Do you have to work on Thanksgiving?

For some retail, restaurant, and fast food workers, the answer to that question could still be: “I don’t know.”

Half of low-wage workers say they have little or no say over the hours they are scheduled to work. 20-30% are in jobs where they can be called into work at the last minute. Others might think they’ll be working four hours – and getting paid for four hours – then are sent home after one or two because there aren’t enough customers.

Think about how much of a challenge it is to plan for anything – childcare, doctors’ visits, parent-teacher conferences, classes – without knowing when you’ll be working next week.

That’s why I’ve introduced the Schedules That Work Act to cut back some of the most rigid, unstable, and unpredictable scheduling practices. Please join me this Thanksgiving week to tell Congress that America’s workers need Schedules that Work.

Look, I get it. Sometimes employers need flexibility – and the bill allows for that. But routinely placing workers on-call with no guarantee of work, sending workers home early without pay, and punishing workers who request schedule changes all hurt working families.

There’s lots of talk about personal responsibility. But how does someone who depends on every paycheck plan a budget when her work hours can fluctuate 40-70% from week to week? How does a mother arrange for childcare if she doesn’t know if she’s working Thursday or Saturday or Monday? And how does anyone get ahead – going back to school to qualify for a better job or getting a second job to close the gap – if they don’t know when they will be available?

The Schedules that Work Act is about basic fairness:

  • A single mom should know if her hours are being canceled before she arranges for daycare and drives halfway across town to show up to work.
  • Someone who wants to go to school to get an education should be able to ask for a more predictable schedule without getting fired just for asking.
  • A worker who is told to wait around on-call for hours with no guarantee of work hours should get something for his time.

Workers have always had to fight for a level playing field every step of the way. A minimum wage. Basic workplace safety. A 40-hour workweek. Now it’s time to fight again for some basic fairness in scheduling.

I’m ready to fight for America’s workers, but I need you alongside me. Sign up right now to show your support for the Schedules that Work Act.

I can't believe what I'm watching right now

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OK, I’ve watched some crazy political stuff – but this one is a stunner.

The American Action Network – a right-wing group that has raised more than $100 million for nasty attack ads since 2011 – has a new commercial airing during tonight’s FOX Republican debate smearing the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau we fought so hard to build.

And I’ve got a lead role in the ad: Playing the part of a Commie dictator (check out the banner).

Our team checked in with the TV network, and the right-wing group is spending $30,000 to run this crazy attack ad during the debate tonight. Please help us raise $30,000 right now to send a message to Wall Street and its Republican friends that we’re ready to fight back.

I’m not surprised that the big banks and Republicans are attacking me or the CFPB. After all, in just four years, the brand-new consumer agency has already forced the biggest financial companies to return more than $11 billion directly to the people they cheated. And even on Wall Street, $11 billion is real money.

But I am surprised by just how bold and shameless these new attacks are.  

Wall Street has a problem: they know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working and that it’s incredibly popular with the families it helps. So the big banks are smart: $30,000 for a TV ad is nothing compared to the money they can save if their Republican buddies will go after the agency. And if they can soften up support for the CFPB, the Republicans will feel a little bit safer when they try to undercut the agency and rollback financial oversight during closed-door deals.

I’m a big girl, and I can take the personal attacks. But working families who need the CFPB can’t – not when they’ve been crushed, squeezed and hammered by the big banks and their friends in Washington for years. It’s up to us to fight back.

Help us draw a line in the sand: You’re with the big banks who broke our economy, or you’re with working families. Let’s match the $30,000 that is going into tonight’s ad and send them a message.

The CFPB will keep on doing its job, but we’re here to make sure that it CAN keep doing its job. We fought to build the CFPB because we believe that no one should get cheated on a mortgage, credit card, car loan or any other credit product – and we’re ready to say loud and clear that we will keep on fighting to protect this agency.

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CEOs got a raise. Seniors and veterans deserve one too.

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Three weeks ago, the Social Security Administration made a quiet announcement.

Next year, for just the third time since 1975, seniors who receive Social Security won’t be getting an annual cost of living increase. Neither will millions of other Americans whose veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, and other monthly payments are pegged to Social Security.

Two-thirds of retirees depend on Social Security to pay for the basics, to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads – but seniors who usually get a small boost on January 1st won’t see an extra dime next year. That’s why today, I’m introducing the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act – a one-time payment equivalent to a Social Security benefits increase of 3.9%.

Help us show Congress that America’s seniors and veterans need a boost on January 1st. Sign up right now to show your support for the SAVE Benefits Act.

Why give seniors and veterans a 3.9% Social Security boost? Well, times are tough for America’s seniors – but they aren't tough for everyone. According to recent data, CEOs at the top 350 American companies received, on average, a 3.9% pay increase last year.

But here’s the kicker: taxpayers like you subsidize huge pay packages for CEOs through billions of dollars in giveaways, including a crazy loophole that allows corporations to write off obscene executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay.”

Our new SAVE Benefits Act would give seniors and veterans a benefits boost without adding a single penny to the deficit simply by closing that performance pay loophole. In fact, closing that tax loophole would create enough revenue to give seniors and vets this 3.9% emergency boost and still have money left over for the Social Security Trust Fund to help extend the life of Social Security.

Think about what this change would mean. A one-time 3.9% Social Security payment is worth about $581 a person next year – a little less than $50 a month. For someone barely scraping by on a $1,250 Social Security check each month, $581 would cover almost three months of groceries, or a year’s worth of out-of-pocket costs for a Medicare beneficiary’s prescription drugs. According to an analysis, that little boost could lift more than 1 million Americans out of poverty. That’s a big deal.

This is about choices. We have the money to do this – only right now that money goes to fund a loophole that benefits corporate CEOs. We could use exactly that same money to help out seniors and vets – and make the Social Security system more stable. For me, it’s pretty straightforward: Our spending should reflect our values.

So let’s just do it. Let’s close the loophole and let’s use the money to give seniors and vets the support they need on January 1st. Sign up now to show Congress that America supports the SAVE Benefits Act.

Expand Social Security. Don't cut it.

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80 years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law – and it was in large part thanks to a remarkable woman from Massachusetts: Frances Perkins.

Frances Perkins was FDR’s Secretary of Labor – the first woman in US history to hold a cabinet position. Coming out of the Great Depression, she was a chief architect of the New Deal, and we can thank her for the 40-hour workweek, the minimum wage, and unemployment insurance. She was also the head of the Committee on Economic Security, which created the blueprint for Social Security. God bless Frances Perkins.

FDR and Frances Perkins established Social Security because, as FDR said, “It [would] take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.” In other words, Social Security would be a win-win: good for our nation’s economy and good for the citizens of our nation.
They knew that Social Security was about economics, but it was also about our values. It’s about who we are as a people, and what kind of country we are determined to build.

Today Social Security is under attack. The Republicans are doing everything they can to privatize and cut benefits for millions of seniors who rely on Social Security to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

Join me today – on the 80th birthday of Social Security – to take a stand: We believe in protecting and expanding Social Security so our seniors can retire with dignity.

80 years later, we need Social Security more than ever. People are hitting their retirement years with less savings and more debt. Pensions are disappearing, being replaced by 401(k) plans that leave retirees at the mercy of the stock market. The squeeze on America’s middle class is now a squeeze on America’s retirees.

Social Security benefits are modest – just $1300 a month, on average – but two-thirds of America’s seniors rely on those checks for the majority of their income. For 15 million seniors, Social Security is all that stands between them and poverty.

Social Security is about independence and dignity. It’s no surprise that 79% of likely voters in last year’s election – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – support increasing Social Security benefits. Every person who represents you in Washington, and every person running for President in 2016, should be talking about protecting and expanding Social Security – not cutting it.  

FDR and Frances Perkins knew that you don’t get what you don’t fight for. So today, I’m fighting hard to make sure we don’t cut a dime of Social Security benefits. I’m fighting to protect and expand Social Security and I hope you’ll fight alongside me.

Let’s take a stand for America’s seniors: Sign our petition to protect and expand Social Security so that, when the time comes, every person can retire with dignity.

Decades after Social Security was established, Frances Perkins told the Social Security Administration:

Social Security is so firmly embedded in the American psychology today that no politician, no political party, no political group could possibly destroy this Act and still maintain our democratic system. It is safe. It is safe forever, and for the everlasting benefit of the people of the United States.

Let’s fight to make good on Frances Perkins’ promise by protecting and expanding Social Security.

Thank you for being a part of this, and a special thanks to Frances Perkins a tough woman with a vision. Happy birthday, Social Security!

I'm sick and tired of this

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We stand with Planned ParenthoodThe Republicans have a plan. Just look at the facts:

  • In 2013, Republicans threatened to shut down the government unless they could change the law to let employers deny women access to birth control.
  • In 2015, Republicans held hostage an easy-to-pass bipartisan bill to stop human trafficking, demanding an unprecedented expansion of anti-abortion restrictions to cover new funds for providing assistance to trafficking victims.
  • Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act dozens of times, including the portions that require insurers to cover contraception – and stop them from charging women more.  
  • In state legislatures, Republicans have passed nearly 300 new restrictions on abortion access in the past five years – more than 50 this year alone.

So let’s be really clear about something: The Republicans’ scheme to defund Planned Parenthood isn’t some sort of surprised response to highly edited videos.   

Let’s call out the Republican vote to defund Planned Parenthood on Monday for exactly what it is: Another piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated right-wing attack on women’s rights. And I’m sick and tired of it.

Join me in telling the Republicans: Shame on you for playing games with women’s health.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is a big deal. Whatever your age, wherever you live, I guarantee that you know someone who has used a Planned Parenthood health center.

No one may mention it at Thanksgiving dinner or post it on Facebook, but look at the facts: One in five women in America is a Planned Parenthood patient at least once in her life. Every single year, nearly 2.7 million people show up for help at Planned Parenthood.

Why do so many people use Planned Parenthood? Because they are nonprofit doctors’ offices – more than half are in rural or medically underserved areas.

Young people go to Planned Parenthood for birth control. Women who can’t get appointments anywhere else go to Planned Parenthood for affordable Pap tests and cancer screenings. Couples go to Planned Parenthood for STD treatments or pregnancy tests. And yes, 3% of patients visit Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion with a doctor who will show compassion and care for a woman who is making one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz may think it’s fun to play politics with these people to score points with presidential primary voters, but this isn’t a game. This is about cancer. This is about HIV. This is about birth control. This is about access to basic medical care.

The Republican plan to defund Planned Parenthood is a Republican plan to defund women’s health care. Join me now to say enough is enough.

I stand with Planned Parenthood. I fight for my daughter, for my granddaughters, and for people all across Massachusetts and all across this country. We cannot let the Senate Republicans defund Planned Parenthood.

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Five years ago today

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Five years ago today, I ran as fast as I could out of a Senate hearing, through the halls, down a stairway, and out onto the plaza behind the Senate. I looked around wildly, then Senator Dick Durbin waved me over to his car. I jumped in the back, and he yelled, “Hit it!” to his driver, and we shot off.

I had been testifying on behalf of the Congressional Oversight Panel about the TARP Wall Street bailout – a hearing that happened to be scheduled for the same time the President was signing the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill into law. The timing looked impossible (they lock the doors on Presidential events, so you can’t just slide into your seat a few minutes late). Senator Durbin said he’d get me there, but we needed to RUN! So the minute I finished testifying, that’s exactly what I did.

With seconds to spare, I was tucked into my assigned seat next to legendary former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke next to him. I’d never seen a President sign anything into law, but the ceremony wasn’t what I’d expected. Don’t get me wrong – the President gave a good speech, and both Chris Dodd and Barney Frank showed up, along with Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid and lots of other folks, so it was plenty grand. But for me, it was all about the moment. One minute, there was no consumer agency, but when the President finished his signature – a new agency was born. And I’d seen it happen.

The new consumer agency was about leveling the playing field, about making sure that families didn’t get cheated in the fine print on mortgages and credit cards and checking accounts and all other kinds of financial dealings.  

The financial industry had fought us every inch of the way, spending more than a million dollars a day for over a year. Many times, they declared the agency dead. We didn’t have that kind of money to spend on lobbyists and PR firms – heck, we had hardly any money in comparison – but we didn’t give up. We built an organization from the ground up, and we pulled in allies and grassroots activists from all over the country. It was David-versus-Goliath all the way, and in the fight for the consumer agency, David pulled it off.

And the fight was worth it. The agency went operational four years ago today, and it has handled 650,000 complaints since it opened its doors – some with money back and some with an apology. Mortgages have gotten clearer and easier to read. Work on credit cards, student loans, checking accounts, small-dollar loans, and other products is headed in the right direction. And in that four years, the consumer agency has forced the biggest banks in this country to return more than $10 billion directly to people they cheated.

The CFPB has helped level the playing field, and it has given consumers a tough watchdog who is on their side.

Right now, the Republicans are trying to hamstring the CFPB by slashing its funding, reducing its jurisdiction, and restricting its enforcement authority – steps that would undermine the market by taking financial cops off the beat. Republican presidential candidates have said they would repeal it outright. With no cops, big banks could make more money not by offering better products, but by cheating their customers.  

Sure, the big banks and their Republican friends hate it. But the consumer agency is government that works – and it is government worth fighting for.

We got here with your help, and we’ll protect this agency with your help – because together we can build a better future. In fact, we’ve already started.

Anyone running for President should say loud and clear:

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In Washington, money flows like a river. It rushes everywhere, sweeping along as much as it can and threatening to drown anything – or anyone – that gets in its way.

Money for campaigns and PACs. Money to hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. Money for PR firms and trade associations. Money for think tanks to give the cover of respectability for genuinely ugly ideas.

And there’s another pot of money – the money that keeps the revolving door spinning. It’s about big bonuses that Wall Street banks pay their executives to spend a little time running our government and about the big payoffs that these banks offer when people leave government and head to Wall Street.  

Sure, laws matter. But it also matters who interprets those laws. Who enforces those laws. Who monitors what’s going on and exercises judgment – judgment to indict a bunch of bankers who break the law or to cut a more civilized deal that lets the bank pay a fine and all the executives take home bonuses?  

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Personnel is policy.

Wall Street insiders have enough influence in Washington already without locking up one powerful job after another in the Executive Branch of our government. Sure, private sector experience can be valuable – no one ever said otherwise – but there is a point at which the revolving door compromises public interest. And we are way beyond that point.  

We need a government that doesn’t work just for the rich and powerful – we need a government that works for the people.

And this is why I’m writing to you. We have a presidential election coming up. I think anyone running for that job – anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government – should say loud and clear that they agree: we don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people.  

No one is disqualified just because they have Wall Street experience, but public service is about more than serving one industry. Anyone who wants to be President should appoint people to key economic positions who have already demonstrated that they can hold giant banks accountable, who have already demonstrated that they embrace the kind of ambitious economic policies that we need to rebuild opportunity and a strong middle class in this country.  

I need your help, Lauren – the country needs your help. The only way that candidates for President – or for any office – will slow down the revolving door and say “enough is enough” is if YOU demand that they say it.

Sign up now to tell the 2016 Presidential candidates: Pledge to stop the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street.

We’re running out of time. The middle class in this country has been hacked at, squeezed, and hammered until it’s nearly at the breaking point. We can’t afford to nibble around the edges any more.

We need leadership that is willing to fight for this country, leadership that is willing to make working people a first priority, leadership that recognizes the importance of major, structural change – on everything from Wall Street regulation to tax policy to education to trade. We need leaders to show they understand the urgency of the moment, leaders to show some backbone and ambition.

We get what we fight for – so let’s get out there and fight.

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Let's get real

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Seven years ago, Wall Street’s high-risk bets brought our economy to its knees.

We’ve made progress since then. The Dodd-Frank Act was the strongest financial reform law in three generations, and it gave regulators a number of common-sense tools to prevent future crises.

But let’s get real: Dodd-Frank did not end the “too big to fail” problem – the problem posed by financial institutions that are so large that their failure would threaten the whole economy. Last summer, both the Fed and FDIC reported publicly that eleven of the big banks were still so risky that if any one of them started to fail, they would need a government bailout or they would risk taking down the American economy – again.

That’s not a statistic that should make anyone sleep well tonight.

That’s why I’ve partnered with Senators John McCain, Maria Cantwell, and Angus King to reintroduce the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a bill to reduce taxpayers’ risk in the financial system and decrease the likelihood of future financial crises. Sign up now to show your support.

Four years after the 1929 Wall Street crash, Congress passed the original Glass-Steagall Act to build a wall between boring, commercial banking – savings and checking accounts – and riskier investment banking.

The idea was simple: If banks want access to government-provided deposit insurance, they should be limited to boring banking. If the banks want to engage in high-risk trading, they can go for it – but they can’t get access to insured deposits and put the taxpayer on the hook for some of the risk.

The Glass-Steagall Act laid the groundwork for a half century of financial stability that helped create a robust and thriving middle class. But the commercial banks wanted higher profits and the investment banks wanted access to all that cash in checking accounts, so they starting lobbying Washington to end Glass-Steagall. Finally, in the 1980s, regulators began buckling under pressure from the banks and began poking holes in the wall between investment and commercial banking. In 1999, after 12 separate attempts, Congress repealed most of Glass-Steagall. And in 2008, "too big to fail" was born.

The bill we’re reintroducing this week will rebuild the wall between commercial banks and investment banks – with new protections to fill some of the holes punched in the original bill and to cover products that didn’t exist in 1933. It won’t end “too big to fail” all by itself, but it will reduce risk in the system and make financial institutions smaller and safer.

Sign up now to show your support for the bipartisan 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. Let’s make banks choose: Take big risks using investors’ money or be very careful using depositors’ money – but no more mixing the two.

The big banks and their executives have recovered handsomely from the crisis they helped create, while too many other Americans are still scraping to get by.

We weren’t sent to Washington to work for the big banks. It’s time for a banking system that serves the best interests of the American people.


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What a week, everyone!

The Supreme Court affirmed this week what we’ve known all along:

  • The Affordable Care Act gives all Americans access to more affordable, comprehensive health insurance.
  • Everyone should have the right to marry the person they love.

Just for today, let’s start with a little bragging: Massachusetts was the first state in the country to issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples, and we passed comprehensive health care reform nearly a decade ago. Anyone who wants to see the future should take a look around Massachusetts.

Today’s a day for celebration, but don’t forget: The Republican leadership isn’t giving up. Listen to their presidential candidates: They will never stop fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and many make it clear they won’t accept today’s marriage ruling as final.

We celebrate, but we keep fighting for a world where all people have a chance to get ahead, where all families matter, and where all people feel safe and welcomed and can thrive.

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I need you to make a phone call

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We have one last chance to stop Fast Track on trade – right now! The House has scheduled a vote for Friday, and dozens of members of Congress are still undecided (or undeclared) about which way they will vote.

Will you take a minute right now to call your representative’s office and tell him or her to vote NO on Fast Track?

Click here look up your representative’s phone number.

As a quick recap: Right now, the President is finishing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal covering 40% of the world’s economy. It was negotiated with the help of 28 working groups, but here’s the scary part: 85% of the people in those groups are corporate executives or corporate lobbyists. I’m not against trade – but a tilted process produces a tilted product, and I’m really worried about a trade deal that works for big, multinational corporations and leaves everyone else in the dirt.

We saw what has happened to American jobs under trade deals like NAFTA: a million lost jobs and stagnant wages for decades. President Obama says this time it’s different – but you can’t see the deal. It’s classified. The Administration will release the text to the public onlyafter Congress passes Fast Track.

What does that mean? Before you are allowed to see the giant Asia trade deal, Congress must voluntarily give up its power to offer amendments and sharply reduce its ability to block a bad deal. So, for example, if this TPP deal includes a dangerous ISDS provisions that would let multinational corporations effectively challenge American laws outside of American courts, our hands would be tied.

Also, Fast Track wouldn’t apply to just this one TPP deal. It would apply to ANY trade deal cut by ANY President for the next six years. So if one of the anti-worker, climate-change-denying, Wall-Street accountability-hating Republicans gets elected President, they would have the same Fast Track power to ram bad trade deals that undermine our laws through Congress just 18 months from now.

It’s just plain irresponsible to sign a six-year Fast Track agreement – and to sign away our right to fix the TPP before the public has seen the deal.

It only takes a minute or two to look up your member of Congress, call his or her office, and tell the person who answers the phone: “Hello, I’m (name) from (city), and I’m calling to urge him/her to vote NO on trade Fast Track. Do you know how he/she is planning on voting?”

Can we count on you to make one final call to your representative before Friday’s vote? Click here to look up the phone number now.

P.S. Even though labor unions, environmental groups, human rights groups, legal experts, and many others oppose Fast Track, trade doesn’t fall neatly in a Republican category or Democratic category. Some Democrats will vote for Fast Track – and some Republicans will vote against it. No matter where you live, no matter who represents you, please make your voice heard. Please call your representative now and tell him or her to vote NO on Fast Track.

P.P.S. Think about family, friends, and neighbors who may not get these emails. Think about the folks you know in other states. Ask if they would call. Forward any part of this email – we need the help. This is how online grassroots democracy really works.

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