Dave Johnson

Airline Workers Win Big In Union Vote — In The South!

Airlines have been notoriously following the typical American capitalist business model of (literally) squeezing the customer into smaller and more uncomfortable seats, literally starving their customers, extorting cash for a bit more comfort on long trips, charging more for less – and then, to top things off, adding hidden fees. They notoriously have also been squeezing their employees, downgrading working conditions, demanding givebacks and fighting unionization. The squeeze on employees is finally turning around. Passenger service agents at American Airlines on Tuesday voted to be represented by a union. The vote was described as “overwhelming,” with 86 percent voting in favor.

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Richard Eskow

Want to Save the Planet? Flood Wall Street.

This is a critical week for the planet. A United Nations conference on the climate will be followed on Saturday by the People’s Climate March, which is expected to be the largest environmental march in history. But it would be a grave mistake, for the planet and for ourselves, to overlook another event that is to take place on Sunday. That’s when the Flood Wall Street rally will target the role of global capitalism in our environmental crisis. The profit economy is a root cause – make that the root cause – of climate change. Wall Street is, in a very real sense, the epicenter of our environmental crisis. To ignore that fact is to risk dooming our other climate efforts to failure, or to use them merely as palliatives for troubled consciences. There’s no other way to say this: Capitalism, as practiced on Wall Street today, is an existential threat to humanity.

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Dean Baker

The Myth that Sold the Financial Bailout

Monday marked the sixth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The investment bank’s bankruptcy accelerated the financial meltdown that began with the near collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns in March 2008 (saved by the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan) and picked up steam with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac going under the week before Lehman’s demise. The day after Lehman failed, the giant insurer AIG was set to collapse, only to be rescued by the Fed. With the other Wall Street behemoths also on shaky ground, then–Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ran to Capitol Hill, accompanied by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner. Their message was clear: The apocalypse was nigh. They demanded Congress make an open-ended commitment to bail out the banks.

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Emily Schwartz Greco

A Simpler Solution to Climate Change

Even if climate science is complicated, author Naomi Klein wants you to know that finding a solution to global warming is easy. In her powerful new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, the Canadian globalization expert drills through the noisy climate debate and finds that humanity has no choice but to ditch its fossil fuel-driven global economy for a local model powered by renewable energy. Out with oil, gas, and coal. In with wind, sun, small-scale hydro, and other things that don’t make the climate problem worse. Period. A Change in the Weather, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib Throughout the book, Klein sticks to her promise to stay out of the scientific weeds.

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Dave Johnson

Surprise! House Passes Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation

Monday the House of Representatives passed the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (H.R. 2996) (RAMI). The RAMI bill, part of House Democrats’ Make It In America jobs plan,  was sponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) in August 2013. The bill had 50 Democrat and (remarkably) 50 Republican co-sponsors. The Senate version of RAMI, (S. 1468) was introduced at the same time by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). If the RAMI bill is not filibustered by Senate Republicans it will be signed by President Obama. RAMI will create a network of regional institutes across the country, along the lines of the “manufacturing hub” idea that the Obama administration has advocated. According to Rep.

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Dave Johnson

Senate Republicans Filibuster Equal Pay For Women (Again)

Republicans in the Senate on Monday unanimously filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. Did you see this on the news? Did you hear about it on the radio? Did you read about it in your local paper? There is an election coming and accurate, objective information is essential for democracy to function. The Paycheck Fairness Act “amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages.” It “revises the exception to the prohibition for a wage rate differential based on any other factor other than sex. Limits such factors to bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience.” To sum up, it would put in place measures to ensure that women will be paid the same as men if they do the same work.

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Bill Scher

Capping Carbon Costs Nothing

The big climate news in advance of next week’s U.N. climate summit is a new global commission report that finds the investments needed to avert a climate crisis would likely not result in any net cost. According to the New York Times, “an ambitious series of measures to limit emissions would cost $4 trillion or so over the next 15 years” but that’s only “an increase of roughly 5 percent over the amount that would likely be spent anyway on new power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure.” More importantly: “When the secondary benefits of greener policies — like lower fuel costs, fewer premature deaths from air pollution and reduced medical bills — are taken into account, the changes might wind up saving money…” Shocking? Well, only if you haven’t been paying attention.

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Terrance Heath

Young, Black, And Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The New York Times informed us that Michael Brown was “no angel.” When being young and black is to be guilty until proven innocent, black children must be “angelic” just to be worthy of living. The Times initially defended its “no angel” assessment of Michael Brown’s young life, which ran on the day of Brown’s funeral. National Editor Allison Mitchell said the description connected to the lead paragraph about a moment when Brown thought he saw an angel, and that the article would have been written the same way if it had been about a young white man in the same situation. The Times eventually apologized, but the article is typical of a media pattern of treating white suspects and killers better than black victims.

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Leo Gerard

Senate Republicans Vote to Silence Working Americans

Senate Republicans voted unanimously last week for elections that are competitions of cash, with candidates who amass the most money empowered to shout down opponents. The GOP rejected elections that are contests of ideas won by candidates offering the best concepts. Forty-two Republican Senators on Thursday opposed advancing a proposed constitutional amendment called Democracy for All. It would have ended the one percent’s control over elections and politicians. It would have reversed the democracy-destroying Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions by permitting Congress and state legislatures to once again limit campaign spending. Republicans said no because they favor the system that indentures politicians to wealthy benefactors. As it stands now, corporations and billionaires may spend unbounded and unreported billions to buy elections.

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Richard Eskow

The Middle Class and Working Poor’s Lifelong Losing Game, in 10 Slides

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. If that’s true, the following ten images could provide the lyrics for a thousand blues songs. The graphs are taken from series of recent reports which, when considered together, create a paint-by-numbers picture of the lifelong losing game faced by working Americans. The chorus to our blues song goes like this: The middle the class and working poor are increasingly trapped in a cycle of economic decline, a downward slope which stretches from their golden youth to their sunset years. And there’s no way out, unless we find one for ourselves. Born Indebted It begins with the ever-growing mountain of debt which students must acquire in this society in order to receive a college education.

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Dave Johnson

Corporate Courts — A Big Red Flag On “Trade” Agreements

Think about everything you understood about our system of government here in the United States. We’re  governed under a document that starts with the words, “We the People.” Right? When We the People agree that something should done to make our lives better, it’s supposed to get done. Right? You didn’t know it, but that whole system thing changed several years ago. Our government, in our name, signed a document that placed corporate profits above our own democracy. The “investor-state dispute settlements” chapter in NAFTA (and similar agreements) places corporate rights on above the rights of people and their governments.

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Dean Baker

Obamacare and Family Values: Parents Get to Stay Home With Children

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was pushed primarily as a way to extend health insurance coverage. This was and is an important goal. However another important aspect of the ACA is its impact on the labor market. The vast majority of people who are below Medicare age get their insurance through their job. This meant that tens of millions of people felt tied to a job because this was the only way they could get insurance for themselves and their families. A key feature of Obamacare is that by allowing people to get insurance through the exchanges, workers would no longer feel tied to their jobs in the same way. Workers that wanted to look for jobs that may be a better fit, or wanted to try to start their own business, or just hated their boss, could now take this step without worrying about losing insurance for themselves and their families.

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Robert Borosage

Republicans for What?

This November’s bi-election has all the makings for a Republican wave. The president’s popularity is down. Most Americans think the country is on the wrong track; nearly half think we are still in a recession. Wages are stagnant; good jobs are scarce. The sixth year election in any presidency tends to favor the opposition party.  The Democratic base is less likely to get out and vote. But the polls show the key races for the Senate remain virtually neck and neck. Even the cheerleaders at the Wall Street Journal editorial page find little to applaud. The president is unpopular but Republicans in the Congress are setting new disapproval records. The Journal suggests the problem is that Republicans are known only for their obstruction. Voters know what they are against: almost anything the President proposes. But that’s not enough.

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Roger Hickey

Economist Jeffrey Sachs Says NO to the TPP and the TAFTA Trade Treaties

The subject was the two major trade agreements that elites in both U.S. political parties are negotiating with the corporate elites in other countries: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) (also known as TTIP). The event was a September 10 Capitol Hill forum organized by Representatives Rosa DeLauro and George Miller, two congressional leaders concerned that corporate trade deals can undermine economic opportunity here and around the globe. They heard from of a number of experts and economists, including former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Jared Bernstein, and AFL-CIO trade economist (and deputy chief of staff) Thea Lee. But the big draw was economist Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist and Professor of Sustainable Development who also directs the Earth Institute.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Love TKO

In the biggest elevator video since Beyonce and Jay Z, the world saw Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knock his fiancé out cold. While the NFL dragged its feet on a response, right-wingers lost no time blaming the victim. In July, video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging the unconscious body of his then fiancé — Janay Palmer — out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. This week, the world found out what happened in that elevator, as further video surfaced of an altercation between the couple, that ended with Rice knocking Palmer unconscious. Cue wing-nuts defending the abuser and blaming the victim. First Fox News host Andrea Tantaros asked why the White House and Democratic leadership weren’t taking the lead in condemning the violence depicted in the tape. Then the rest of the conservative movement went to work defending it.

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Dave Johnson

Politico’s Whopper: Corporate Tax Evasion Issue A ‘Flop’ For Democrats

With polls showing most Americans just hate companies that renounce their U.S. citizenship to dodge paying their taxes, the D.C./corporate-centric outlet Politico says Democrats are making a mistake by pushing this issue. Politico’s article, “Democrats’ whopper of a strategy flop,” claims that Democrats trying to do something about this problem is a “strategy failure” because Democrats aren’t predicted to keep control of the Senate. “The issue does not seem to have come up in any of the most hotly contested Senate races and most forecasters say GOP odds of taking the six seats they need to gain control have consistently risen in the months since inversions because a significant political topic.” The article makes the case that the better approach would be for Democrats to give corporations a huge tax cut (a.k.a.

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Bill Scher

On 9/21, The World Will See How Much America Wants To Save The Climate

One week from Sunday, as thousands of leaders from around the world come to New York for the UN Climate Summit, tens of thousands of concerned American citizens will be marching in the streets demanding international action to end the climate crisis. The People’s Climate March, led by Avaaz and 350.org but now involving more than 1,000 organizations, will be sending a clear message to the UN: it’s time to act. Click here to find out how to join the People’s Climate March. Organizers are expressing hope that this will be the largest climate march ever. If there ever was a time when the climate needed people to show up in the streets, it is now. The UN Climate Summit, starting Sept. 23, is working towards an international agreement less formal, and less binding, than a treaty, but averts the need to win over two-thirds of the U.S. Senate for ratification.

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Jeff Bryant

Recognizing Real Leadership For Education Progress: Mayor Bill de Blasio

What’s wrong with this picture? During the nation’s back-to-school season, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been touring states in a bus to “highlight the champions of reform.” At one stop, where he spoke to an audience of parents at a Nashville, Tenn., middle school, he challenged the National PTA, according to reporters for Education Week, to “make education a presidential campaign issue.” Good idea. But when the secretary offered to the audience an example of an ideal candidate, he pointed to a Republican. “Duncan pointed out that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, is one of the few politicians who has followed through on promises of being ‘the education candidate,'” reported Lauren Camera. Sadly, there are too few leaders in the Democratic Party who would qualify as education champions.

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Dave Johnson

Hundreds Of Organizations Ask For Change In Trade Policies

Approximately 600 organizations have sent a formal, public letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) opposing “fast-track” trade promotion authority and calling for a new system for negotiating and implementing trade agreements. The letter asks for trade pacts that “deliver benefits for most Americans, promote broadly shared prosperity, and safeguard the environment and public health.” Read the letter here. Campaign for America’s Future is one of the organizations that signed this letter. The letter was led by the Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, the Citizens Trade Campaign, and Public Citizen. The letter was written because new fast-track trade promotion authority is being drafted by Wyden’s committee. An earlier bill introduced by then-Senator Max Baucus and Rep.

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Roger Smith

Walk In Their Shoes

I’m a CEO with a GED, and I have walked in the shoes of a minimum wage worker. I know from experience that it’s a tougher road today. The minimum wage buys fewer necessities now than it did when I needed it to survive. And as a successful capitalist, it pains me to see that the American Dream, which so inspired me, is increasingly out of reach. As a young boy, I knew all too well the despair of empty pockets. I learned to be resourceful, making money by selling my most precious possessions. The sound of change in my pocket gave me hope. From ages 15 to 18, I was homeless. I did what I had to do to survive and put money in my pocket. I worked under the table as a day laborer, toiled in pool halls, bussed tables and worked a variety of minimum-wage jobs. I saw the minimum wage as a temporary entry wage.

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