November 30, 2010

Dear Member of Congress,

Two months ago we wrote to you and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, noting that “in your district, and nationwide, the progressive base will be watching with intense concern and vigilance as you respond to the growing threat to bedrocks of the social compact in our country.”

On behalf of PDA, our letter said: “We expect you to completely follow through with pledges to defend Social Security and Medicare.” And the letter added: “While we will be working to hold the line on these profoundly successful and essential social programs, we will work just as hard to demand the end of the occupation of Afghanistan and the return of war dollars home.”

Since then, the twin crises of economic austerity and war have become more acute. The Bowles-Simpson commission is continuing to advance a pernicious agenda. And the White House has backed away from its nebulous timeframe of July 2011 for halting the momentum of U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan.

Never has principled and unwavering leadership been more needed on Capitol Hill.

We’re heartened by recent statements from CPC leaders expressing unequivocal opposition to any cuts or diminishment of Social Security. At the same time, prior experience tells us that such statements cannot be taken as the last word; they must be continually supported and reinforced.

As many CPC members declared in early autumn, our vital agenda includes “protecting and strengthening Social Security rather than letting it fall victim to a misguided attempt to reduce budget deficits on the backs of working families.”

Meanwhile, a tremendous amount of work remains to be done to end the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. One important measure is HR 6045, the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, barring further escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ending U.S. combat operations in that country and limiting military funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan.

We want to express appreciation and support for the members of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus, and we urge all CPC members who have not yet joined that Caucus to do so.

The recent election results underscore the hazards of appreciable gaps between the progressive base and progressive members of Congress. While the next two years are sure to present difficult challenges, we have great opportunities to work together — inspiring and mobilizing voters at the grassroots.

Inspiring and mobilizing the base requires shared commitment to fulfilling our progressive values in policies and actions. Protecting and enhancing our social safety net and promoting peace have never been more critical to the health and prosperity of our nation.

As progressives, we challenge each of you to own that mission as fully as we all inevitably own the consequences of not doing so. We will not waver, and we look forward to supporting your work on our behalf with equal vigilance.

With best wishes,

Donna Smith and Norman Solomon
Co-Chairs, Healthcare NOT Warfare
Progressive Democrats of America