Support the Paris Agreement, the Earth, and American Leadership.

Donald Trump has withdrawn from the 2016 Paris Agreement that were designed to reduce and/or mitigate pollutants in the atmosphere. 195 other countries, including China, signed onto this pact. The exit of the US could be detrimental to that pact and cause China, one of the chief polluters in the world, to also bow out of the historic concessions they made in 2015. This was a multilateral agreement made for the good of all the earth and its inhabitants. Trump is now poised to withdraw for the benefit of a few thousand.

Trump is making good on a promise to the dying coal industry at the expense of the world and American credibility abroad. In a supposed effort to save coal jobs that is being praised by the Attorneys General of nine coal producing states, Trump does nothing but prolong the inevitable. With sources such as fossil fuels and natural gas as well as new mining technology, the coal industry simply cannot compete. Were Republicans not dependent on constituents in coal country, they would talk about letting it die in the name of capitalism. Instead, they need to maintain their base at the expense of the world.

The whole point of the agreement was to keep the global temperature down. It was self-regulated, that is every individual state would be responsible of meeting their own agreed targets of emissions. The effects of rising global temperatures cannot be disputed; we are experiencing more than simply a bad year for weather. The constant fluctuations in global temperature, specifically the rising temperature to three degrees Celsius, affects weather patterns the world over causing droughts, floods, massive storms, and other natural disasters. The $100 billion a year pledged to efforts reducing global temperature levels is a pittance when you consider that the US spent about $60 billion in the immediate aftermath of Katrina and about another $60 billion after Sandy and a total of $110 billion for all of 2012. If the US is going to spend about as much on clean up as it would on prevention, then the most cost effective measure is to put more money into prevention.

The Trump plan seems to be akin to solving the problem of inadequate body armor with increased recruitment; sure it costs the same and loses more lives, but at least you can keep the coal industry’s 76,000–that is fewer employees than Arby’s–jobs afloat. This is even more an egregious fidelity to partisan pandering when you consider that jobs in the renewable energy sector not only continue to grow beyond the approximately 3 million it is now, but are predicted to shrink if the US leaves the agreement.

In Virginia, the solar power industry has gained significant traction. Major power companies are adding more and more jobs to economy, as much as 50,000 over the next 10 years. Additionally, the rise of solar energy could save customers of just one Virginia power company approximately $1.5 billion and lead to less reliance on oil and natural gas extraction to meet our energy needs.

So to save a dying industry, Trump is willing to sacrifice even more American jobs in a fast growing and profitable area of the energy sector, and hurt our image and interests abroad.

When China becomes a world leader in pollution to environmental conservation in one move, then the leadership of the US has been sorely affected. While in the agreement, we have the ability to influence it from within and work for our interests. Outside of the agreement, we join Syrian and Nicaragua–the former could not due to Civil War and the latter would not because the agreement had no punitive measures for non-compliance–and allow China, the world’s largest polluter and second largest economy, to dominate the conversation. This will also affect US trade as the accords would dictate the economic activity of literally every country we trade with, except Nicaragua. Add the fact that China would be dominating the conversations concerning the agreement in the future, and the US opens yet another way that China can undermine US economic interests. If China’s influence is not worrying, then Russia’s should be. Even if you want to argue that China has no interest in undermining the US economy, Russia certainly does. With the Russians party to the accord and the US absent, they can pressure our European allies into situations that could even undermine the strength of NATO. The US cannot abandon her allies, militarily or economically. Instead, the US needs to provide quality leadership in environmental protection that only the largest economy and second largest polluter can provide. Such leadership can undermine Chinese and Russian efforts to strong arm our allies in Europe and the Pacific, ensuring that the US stands by her word and stands by her friends.

President Trump has deliberated on this issue and failed miserably. There are people in his cabinet who support the agreement. There are people in Congress, Democrat and Republican, who support the agreement. Make your voices heard, for American workers, for American leadership, and for the Earth!

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College Tuition Kills! Reduce the Cost Now!

Skyrocketing rates of college tuition constitute a major problem which threaten to damage the American economy as well as impose an onerous financial burden on the majority of American citizens. Urgent public action is necessary to reverse this trend and to mitigate the extent of the damage it will cause.

 

Trends in Tuition Rates

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rise in college tuition costs greatly outstripped inflation in the economy as a whole over the past 10 years. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the general cost of living in the United States, based on the price of commonly purchased goods such as housing and groceries, and thus a rough benchmark for the income needed to support oneself. From January 2006 until July 2016, the CPI as a whole rose by 21%. In the same time period, the CPI for college tuition rose by 63%, meaning that college costs have been increasing at three times the rate as other goods within the economy.

 

Why It Matters

These trends are negative, and potentially ruinous, for several reasons. We will address three of these reasons below: personal finances, educational achievement, and the health of the overall economy.

 

Personal Finances

According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the U.S. rose from $46,326 in 2005 to $56,516 in 2015. In roughly the same time period as college tuition costs rose by 63%, nominal household income only increased by 22%, closely tracking the CPI as a whole. Put simply, the cost of college is growing three times as quickly as the median American household’s ability to pay for it. If this trend continues, a great number of American citizens who could have afforded an education in the past will find it to be prohibitively expensive and drop out of the system.

 

Educational Achievement

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, undergraduate enrollment increased by 37 percent between 2000 and 2010, funding the considerable and costly expansion under way at many universities. However, between 2010 and 2014, enrollment decreased by 4 percent. Many observers fear that we have a higher education “bubble” which will burst soon because of the ever increasing costs and decreasing benefits for students entering into an oversaturated higher education market. The dropping enrollment numbers could be one of the first signs for the impending collapse. The health of the nation depends on having slow, steady increases in college enrollment over time as population increases rather than a perpetual boom-bust cycle which leaves some generations well off and others jobless, skill-less, and uneducated. Preventing bubbles of rapidly increasing education costs is the primary means to achieve this goal.

 

Health of the Economy

Widely respected, non-partisan sources such as the Brookings Institute and U.S. Treasury Department assert that having a highly educated workforce is vital to the well-being of an economy. Not only does quality education spur economic growth as a whole but it leads to lower unemployment and greater wealth for a nation’s hard-working citizens. Out-of-control costs in the form of rapidly rising tuition and fees threaten to damage our economy by making a higher education inaccessible to a large part of the populace. An unskilled, uneducated workforce makes for a dreary economy and hard times for businesses and workers alike.

 

The Next Step

In order to keep our economy strong, our businesses thriving, our higher education system respected world-wide, our future workforce skilled and unencumbered by onerous levels of debt, and our citizens free to pursue any profession or occupation which suits their interests and personal strengths regardless of socioeconomic class, it is necessary to curb the soaring costs which characterize today’s higher education market. The American Solidarity Party is committed to enacting common-sense policies which will assist those already encumbered by debt to thrive in our economy as well as to keep college costs down in the future. By doing so, we can ensure a better and brighter future for all Americans.

Statement Concerning Gov. McAuliffe’s Veto of HB 2264

Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a key piece of legislation: a bill that would prevent the Virginia Department of Health from providing funds to clinics that provide abortion services to women who are not covered by Medicaid and redirecting those funds to community health clinics. The governor’s rationale was the women should be given quality health care. In an event comprised mainly of his pro-abortion donors from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Progress Virginia, Gov. McAuliffe makes to major assumptions.

The first is that abortion is health care. The American Solidarity Party of Virginia is committed to providing quality health care, but we fundamentally disagree that abortion is contributes to health. The very act of abortion is to destroy human life and often has negative, long term affects on the mother who undergoes the procedure. To call this destruction of life health care is a clever deception to mask what is truly being accomplished. What this is truly is Gov. McAuliffe defending his donors’s bottom lines.

The second assumption is that Planned Parenthood contributes meaningfully to the overall health of Virginians. It is absurd to say that women’s health is in jeopardy when Planned Parenthood has only five clinics in Virginia and then only in highly populated areas. They do not extend to impoverished rural areas and focus almost exclusively on city centers. In contrast, there are over 60 free clinics offering the STD testing and other screenings often touted to justify state fund going to the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. If Virginians are concerned with how their tax money is invested, the various free clinics and hospitals in the Commonwealth provide more services over a greater area to more people than Planned Parenthood. Indeed, that was the part of the bill that the governor does not discuss: the reallocation of those funds to clinics that serve more than those who want an abortion.

Therefore, it is clear that this is veto is intended to protect abortion and the governor’s donors, not the health of women. We call upon Gov. McAuliffe to reconsider his decision and the Virginia General Assembly to override the governor’s veto in order to provide quality health care to Virginians all across the Commonwealth and reducing the human rights travesty of abortion.