Oct. 05, 2011: ESCR-Net Members Demand that US Congress Respect Human Rights in Budget Decisions
As Congressional leaders returned to session Monday, they were met with a letter signed by 50 organizations requesting officials act to adopt a more equitable and redistributive tax system, adjust tax rates in proportion to income and wealth, tax financial transactions and eliminate loopholes. These organizations demand that any laws or policies Congress enacts, including those addressing the budget deficit, uphold basic human rights and dignity.
The letter comes as the so-called "Super-Committee" deliberates on how to reduce the deficit. In response to the rancor surrounding adoption of the debt deal, along with other policy debates that affect the lives of everyday people, this letter attempts to reason with a dysfunctional government that has ground to a standstill along ideological lines.
"A government must respect the human rights of all persons if it is to serve its people," says Kali Akuno, co-director of the US Human Rights Network, which coordinated the letter. "While the administration speaks of rights but does not act, Congress actively works against initiatives designed to protect those in need."
Radhika Balakrishnan, an economist who serves as Executive Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University, elaborates, "How the government prioritizes its distribution of resources determines the wellbeing of those in a country. When the rich have tax breaks and loopholes while funding is cut for essential social programs, a society in crisis emerges. This perilous disconnect between current macroeconomic policies and the measures necessary to fulfill economic and social rights of all people living in the United States must be rectified immediately."
"The drastic spending cuts promoted in Washington fly in the face of our government's obligation to serve the people, protect our rights and meet our fundamental needs," says Anja Rudiger of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. "We call on Congress to raise the necessary revenue to ensure that everyone in our country has access to good jobs, housing, health care, education and other essential public goods."
The letter highlights that the human rights record of the United States, and its reputation as a democracy that promises an adequate standard of living for all, is increasingly eroded by growing poverty, record joblessness, a severe housing crisis, and unprecedented levels of inequality. The signatories demand that Congress stop this erosion and raise much needed revenue to ensure people's basic human rights.
See attached letter as sent to Congress.
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, New Orleans, LA
Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, Forkland,AL
American Arab Anti--‐Discrimination Committee (ADC) Michigan, Dearborn, MI
Amigos Multicultural Services Center, Eugene, OR
Best Practices Policy Project, Washington, DC
Center for Economic and Social Rights, Washinton, DC
Center for Women's Global Leadership, New Brunswick, NJ
Center of Concern, Washington, DC
Chicago Anti--‐Eviction Campagin, Chicago, IL
Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of IL (CAAAELII), Chicago, IL
Coalition of Immokale Workers, Immokalee, FL
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Berkeley, CA
Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Rural Training and Research Center, Epes, AL
First Peoples Human Rights Coalition, Brooklyn, NY
Four Freedoms Forum, Washington, DC
Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition, Atlanta, GA
Harrison County Federation of Democratic Women, Gulfport, MS
Hawaii Institute for Human Rights, Honolulu, HI
Immaculate Heart Community Development Corporation, Benndale, MS
Institute of Race,Health Care & the Law, Dayton, OH
International Workers Justice Campaign, Raleigh, NC
James Heintz, Associate Director of Political Economy Research Institute, Amherst, MA
Main Street Project, Minneapolis, MN
Malcolm X Center for Self--‐Determination, Greenville, SC
Marianists International, New York, NY
Mayday New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, Berkeley,CA
Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Atlanta, GA
Montana Human Rights Network, Helena, MT
National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, New York, NY
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, Washington, DC
National Lawyers Guild International Committee, New York, NY
PCN International, Charolttesville, VA
People's Health Movement USA, Berkeley, CA
PLBA Housing Development and Management Corporation, Gainesville, AL
SisterSong, Atlanta, GA
Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP USA), Santa Cruz, CA
Survivors Village, New Orleans, LA
The Advocates for Human Rights, Minneapolis, MN
The Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY
The Greene County Democrat, Eutaw, AL
U.S. Women Connect, Kansas City, MO
United Nations Association--‐USA, East Bay Chapter, Berkeley, CA
Urban Justice Center, New York, NY
US Human Rights Network, Atlanta, GA
Vermont Workers'Center, Burlington, VT
Wellspring, Brooklyn, NY
Women Watch Afrika,Inc., Decatur, GA
Women's Intercultural Network (WIN), San Francisco, CA
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, Boston, MA