DownsizeDC.org
February 12, 2009
The DownsizeDC.org Victory List
By Jim Babka

Pressure Works! 17+ Examples...

2006

1) We bombarded Congress with over 15,000 messages to defeat provisions in the “Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act.” These provisions would have regulated groups likes DownsizeDC.org. This victory was aided by working with groups as diverse as Focus on the Family and the ACLU. 

2) In September the President signed a law we backed: The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. This law created a website disclosing all recipients of federal dollars. This new tool promotes transparency with the aim of controlling pork barrel spending.

3) Also in September, it seemed certain that Congress would give the President and several major telecom companies legal cover for previous warrantless spying on American citizens. Intense public pressure from a coalition of more than 20 organizations, of which DownsizeDC.org was a key member, resulted in several setbacks for this legislation.

4) Congress returned to the warrantless spying issue in December. Intense public pressure once again thwarted Congressional action. 

5) As the 109th Congress adjourned at the end of 2006 we were able to celebrate the fact that several things we opposed that never came to a vote. Dead issues included: 1) Legislation to end citizen-funding of political campaigns. 2) Legislation to make you an accomplice for failing to report someone else's use of marijuana. Bad political ideas have an annoying habit of rising from the grave, but these remain buried.

2007

6) In January we once again defeated an attempt, in the House, to regulate groups like DownsizeDC.org. 

7) Yet another victory followed quickly when the Senate voted 55 to 43 to remove legislative provisions that would have regulated groups like DownsizeDC.org.

8) The "Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007" passed the House in March by a veto-proof majority of 331-94. Several poison pill amendments designed to undermine the the bill failed, and the final House version of the legislation was largely what the whistleblower coalition, of which we were a member, wanted.

9) In May new regulations for grassroots groups like DownsizeDC.org were once again defeated in House. This was the final battle on this issue. The fight ended in total victory for our position.  

10) In June, massive public pressure, including from DC Downsizers, defeated a terrible Immigration bill in the Senate. The bill was stuffed with bad provisions, including reinforcement of Real ID, a new biometric Social Security card, and new gun control provisions. Our “read the bills” concept became a major part of the debate. FoxNews reported that the Capitol Hill switchboard was overwhelmed. A nearly weeping Senator told his colleagues he needed to change his vote because he felt “intimidated” by his constituents. This example is a major "proof of concept" for the Downsize DC Vision.
 
11) In July public pressure caused Congress to strip NAIS provisions from an agriculture bill. NAIS creates a REAL ID system for farm animals(!) as part of a complicated public health scheme that would destroy small farms, benefit major corporate farms, and make the public food supply no safer than it already is. This victory was unexpected, and happened entirely because of public pressure, of which we were a part.

2008

12) In February Congress allowed the so-called “Protect America Act” to sunset out of existence. This victory was entirely due to public pressure, of which we were a major leader, contributing over 47,000 messages to Congress and countless phone calls.  

13) In July the Senate killed S. 3297, the "Advancing America's Priorities Act. This massive bill contained 36 completely unrelated, pork-barrel earmarks. It had something in it for virtually every Senator. Sixty votes were needed to close debate and bring the bill to a final vote. After intense public pressure the bill received only 52 votes for, and 40 against.

14) On September 29, both Wall Street, and even our own supporters, were shocked when a $700 billion bailout bill failed. We had reports of 300 to 2 opposition ratios in one House office (Sherman), 50 to 1 in another Senator’s office (Baucus). Some Representatives “throttled down” their Internet systems to block messages because they couldn’t take the overwhelming public outcry. Pressure worked! But alas, the full Downsize DC strategy was not in effect. Operation Everywhere, where we get the message out everywhere, every day, with powerful repetition, was still in our future. The mainstream media was in virtual infomercial mode for the bailout. We were unable to counter them. In addition, both our "Read the Bills" and "One Subject at a Time" principles were violated, meaning that the vote was rushed and lots of so-called “sweeteners” were added to buy votes to pass the bailout. Would a larger Downsize DC Army have stopped this bill again on the second attempt? We think so!

15) H.Con.Res. 362 would have urged President Bush to impose a naval blockade on Iran, bringing the U.S. to a state of undeclared war with that nation. Early on it seemed certain this resolution would pass, but intense public pressure from DownsizeDC.org and our coalition partners caused several Congressional supporters to reverse or moderate their support. In the end the resolution never came to a vote.

16) A bailout of the Detroit automakers seemed certain in November and December, but intense pressure by DownsizeDC.org and the general public killed the plan, at least temporarily. 

17) We were able to avoid a military attack on Iran during the Bush administration. We believe this happened in part because of the intense pressure that we and our coalition partners applied on this issue. As a supporter wrote to us in an email: "Although there is no way to tell what influence our community had on this issue, it seems clear that Cheney and other neo cons (desperately) wanted military intervention, and numerous times it seemed on the verge of happening. Mainstream media reports would anticipate an attack, and military hardware would be moved into position. There was much work done for over two years inside and outside the beltway (to prevent the attack from happening)."  

IN ADDITION: We would be remiss if we didn't mention the progress we've seen for repealing the Real ID Act. We were among the first to call for its repeal. It was passed using surreptitious means, and we began calling for its repeal just one month later. We’ve never stopped. Today, there's a huge grassroots movement promoting repeal, and 20 state governments have refused to comply with the act. Legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress to cut off funding for the program. Best of all, in May, 2008, we watched the original implementation date go by without a single state in compliance!

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