Hawkins Challenges Cuomo to Embrace Democracy and Agree to Open Debates

Calls for Halt to Reaper Drones at Hancock, Return of National Guard

height="150">Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, challenged Andy Cuomo to stop hiding from NY voters and agree to debate his opponents for Governor.

"After the primary, Andy Cuomo told the media that he has the same Tea Party agenda as Paladino but he would be more effective than 'Crazy Carl' by cutting public spending without offensive remarks. How is it that in one of the most liberal states in the country the media wants to pretend that only two economic conservatives are running for office, ignoring the rest of the Gubernatorial candidates on the ballot. Cuomo and Paladino are so conservative that Lazio as the Conservative Party nominee didn't see any point in running," Hawkins pointed out.

Hawkins also said the Green Party was mobilizing with other grassroots activists for the One Nation Working Together Rally in DC to challenge both the Tea Party Republicans and the Wall Street Democrats on their corporate agenda, starting with the need for a WPA-style job programs for all unemployed Americans.

Hawkins joined local peace activists outside the Hancock National Guard Airbase in opposing it as a site to remotely control reaper killer drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The NY Times today reported that the CIA has greatly increased the use of the drones in Pakistan in recent weeks.The unmanned drones fly at 50,000ft, are virtually invisible and carry a deadly payload of missiles and bombs. Costing about $13 million each, and up to $100,000 for each of its four Hellfire missiles, drones are an extraordinary amount of cash that is routinely being spent to try to kill a single individual.

Hawkins condemned the FBI raids on antiwar groups conducted in six states last Friday. “The FBI is criminalizing antiwar activism while failing to address the corporate crime wave at the root of the banking crisis that has caused the worst crisis of unemployment and home foreclosures since the Great Depression,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said that as Governor he push to bring all National Guards troops home to New York. Hawkins also called for ending the wars, bringing all American troops home, and cutting the federal military budget 50 to 75% to create a peace dividend to rebuild America, pay for a WPA style jobs programs for the unemployed, and finance a rapid transition to a carbon free economy.

"The two major parties are always so willing to send our young men and women to die in foreign lands to protect the oil and gas companies under the guise of creating democracy, but they fight as hard at the can to prevent a real multi-party democracy here in America," asked Hawkins, a former Marine who organized opposition to the Vietnam War.

Hawkins said that as Governor he will rally other states to demand large cuts in the military budget to provide fiscal relief to state and local governments, support the conversion to a green energy system, and to create jobs through increased investments in housing, child care, anti-hunger programs, mass transit, schools and environmental initiatives. Hawkins supports direct government employment in public works and services on the model of the 1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Hawkins urged NYS congressional members to sign on to a letter by Cong. Frank and Paul to the Deficit Reduction Commission urging them to include cuts in military spending in their recommendations. So far the only Congressmember from NY that has joined with 30 plus members is Maloney. Congress will vote on the Commission's recommendations in a lame-duck session after the November elections. The Commission is expected to propose cuts in the Social Security program, which Hawkins opposes.

Cong. Frank and Paul, who have called for a 25% cut in the military budget, wrote: " Much of these potential savings can be realized if we are willing to make an honest examination of the cost, benefit, and rationale of the extensive U.S. military commitment overseas, which in large part remains a legacy of policy decisions made in the immediate aftermath of World War II and during the Cold War. Years after the Soviet threat has disappeared, we continue to provide European and Asian nations with military protection through our nuclear umbrella and the troops stationed in our overseas military bases. Given the relative wealth of these countries, we should examine the extent of this burden that we continue to shoulder on our own dime. We also think that significant savings can be found if we subject to similar scrutiny strategic choices that have led to the retention and continued development of Cold War-era weapons systems and initiatives such as missile defense. "

Frank and Paul point out that "Department of Defense currently takes up almost 56% of all discretionary federal spending, and it accounts for nearly 65% of the increase in annual discretionary spending levels since 2001." New York taxpayers have spent $93.9 billion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan since 2001. New York taxpayers will have to shell $67 billion for Total Defense Spending just for FY2011 - more than 7 times the size of the state's projected budget deficit.

"Candidates for Governor usually argue they have no role in foreign policy. But the war in Afghanistan / Pakistan is being fought right from Sy racuse. Statewide, our local National Guard was ordered into wars abroad. These soldiers signed up to help with domestic emergencies, not to fight foreign wars for oil, gas, and global military empire of over 800 foreign bases. The massive amount of tax dollars we spend on the military and its corporate contractors hurts our economy, promotes global warming and undercuts job creation here in America," said Hawkins. US spending on the military has increased by two-thirds since 9/11 and now exceeds the rest of the world combined.

"The mission of the US military should be defending our republic, not policing an empire on behalf of global corporations, the Pentagon bureaucracy, and the private contractors that feed off of it," stated Hawkins. Hawkins added that "Just as President Dwight Eisenhower warned the country a half century ago, the two major parties are now completely controlled by a military industrial complex that demands an ever growing share of our nation's wealth while subverting the critical civil liberties upon which our country was founded."

Hawkins pointed out that the US set an official record in FY 2011 with a $700 billion plus dollar Department of Defense budget with actual spending for the military, including military spending in other departments besides Defense, increasing to over $1 trillion dollars. The United States spends far more than any other country in the world on the military, which is a major cause of the US budget and trade deficits, which are also the highest on earth. This huge expansion of debt, made worse by the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and declining tax revenues during current Great Recession, is one of the underlying causes of persistent economic stagnation in the US economy.

Greens from all over the US will gather with many other organizations and movements at the Oct. 2 DC rally to promote a WPA-style jobs creation program, an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, action on climate change, and single payer health care.

"We realize that the organizers of the rally intend it to show support for Obama but the reality is that most of the attendees are fed up with the lack of action on the changes that the Democrats promised. The grassroots will deliver their own message. The Greens are joining with other peace and justice groups around the country to demand that the Obama administration shift the trillions of dollars being wasted on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to spending for human needs in the US, especially green jobs, clean energy, education, universal health care, and aid for people hit hard by the economic meltdown," said Hawkins.

"The Greens will be there to challenge the idea that our choice in November is limited to candidates and parties who support more war and corporate power," added Hawkins.

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