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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Martha Burk

This Election Puts Women in the Driver’s Seat

Let’s be clear. As the majority of the population, the majority of registered voters, and the majority of those who actually show up at the polls, women can determine the outcome of any election. In a year when abortion restrictions were piled on at the state level, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can deny employees birth control coverage, and equal pay legislation was stymied in the Senate by a Republican filibuster, this demographic reality could boost female Democratic candidates and spell trouble for Republicans up and down the tickets. Photo via League of Women Voters @ Flickr. Female voters could tip the balance for Democrats in several high-profile Senate races that Republicans are counting on to take back the majority.

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Kitty Lan

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Shares Lessons on Raising the Minimum Wage

Amidst the lack of action on raising the minimum wage at the federal level, a vibrant city on the West coast has taken lead: Seattle. Just this June, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to increase the city’s minimum wage to reach $15 an hour by 2017. On Wednesday, the Center for American Progress held “How American Cities Can Lead the Fight to Raise the Wage”, with keynote speaker Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Known as “a laboratory of democracy”, under Mayor Murray’s leadership Seattle has taken the lead on the fight to provide a living wage for the nation’s minimum wage workers. “Cities who can seize these issues can determine their destiny, leading the nation towards how we can create an equitable country,” Murray said at the start of his speech. Mayor Murray’s faced an uphill battle, and no one thought he would succeed.

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Richard Eskow

5 Reasons The SEC’s Executive-Pay Rules Matter – And 5 Ways to Use Them

Two little-known rules on corporate reporting of executive pay are currently being reviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. While they have received almost no press coverage, these rules could have far-reaching consequences for our nation’s economy and the future of the middle class. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law requires corporations to disclose the difference between the pay received by their CEO and the median income of all other employees, and the SEC is currently finalizing the regulations that will determine how this reporting is to be done. It has also announced that it will release rules by the end of the year requiring corporations to report on the relationship between senior executive compensation and corporate performance.

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Digby

The Start Of Something Big?

The political world is abuzz with the news that the upstart Zephyr Teachout campaign made a much more serious run at Andrew Cuomo last night than anyone anticipated. For a campaign with no money in the most expensive market in the nation, it’s quite an achievement. Matt Stoller has a good piece up this morning with five reasons why Cuomo won anyway and it tells you a lot about American politics. (For instance, he points out that the entire “liberal” establishment went for Cuomo and Hochul.) But he also made some important points about why this campaign has stimulated such interest among liberals. This one strikes me as particularly salient: This was a real debate of ideas. This was the most interesting election I’ve seen since 2006, when Ned Lamont challenged Joe Lieberman for the Senate seat. Lamont defeated Lieberman in the primary, but lost in the general election.

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Terrance Heath

“Put A Ring On It” Is Not An Anti-Poverty Program

Conservatives say marriage is the “ultimate anti-poverty program,” and claim that most of our economic woes would vanish if more people got hitched. A new study suggests marriage barely makes a dent in poverty. On the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, Sen. Marco Rubio (R, Florida) said: “The truth is, the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82%. But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.” In March, Rep. Paul Ryan (R. Wisconsin) cited the “breakdown of the family” as the key cause of poverty, and blamed a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities” — particularly “culture” of black men “not working … or learning the value of the culture of work.” Photo via Abhishek Jacob @ Flickr. Rubio and Ryan are two sides of the same counterfeit coin on poverty.

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Dave Johnson

Schumer Bill Attacks Inversions, Earnings Stripping

New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has introduced a bill aimed at fighting the corporate tax-dodging practices of “inversion” and “earnings stripping,” which involve use of non-US affiliate companies. The bill would also apply to companies that have already inverted. Inversion is the technical name for what happens when a company buys a non-US company, and then pretends the resulting company is no longer US-based. Earnings stripping is the practice of using a non-US affiliate (after the inversion) to loan money to a US affiliate, thereby loading them up with debt. This “strips” taxable income from the US company, which deducts the interest paid on those loans from US taxes.

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Kitty Lan

Debunking the Heritage Foundation’s New Minimum Wage Myths One by One

The Heritage Foundation released a new Issue Brief this week: “Higher Fast-Food Wages: Higher Fast Food Prices”. Author James Sherk claims that if the minimum wage in the fast-food industry were to increase to $15 an hour, “the average fast-food restaurant would have to raise prices by nearly two-fifths … caus[ing] sales to drop by more than one-third, and profits to fall by more than three-quarters.” While the Heritage Foundation attempts to present a mathematically and logically correct depiction of the aftermath of a minimum-wage increase, they fail to acknowledge one fundamentally important fact: the increase will be gradual, occurring over a period of years. Even without considering the report’s many other flaws, the Heritage Foundation’s assumption of a sudden jump in the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $15 is unrealistic.

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Richard Eskow

Democrats Can Win on Social Security – by Fighting to Increase It

A new poll confirms that voters don’t just want their Social Security benefits protected, they want them expanded – in overwhelming numbers, across geographical distances, and crossing all party lines. It’s not just “liberals” who feel that way. Three out of four Republican voters support it. What’s more, voters say they’re far more likely to vote for candidates who vote to increase Social Security benefits. This is a winning issue for Democrats who are willing to take a firm stand as defenders – and expanders – of Social Security.

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Dean Baker

The Inflation Fighters Want to Increase the Debt Burden on Our Children

Are you worried about the government running deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars and a debt in the TRILLIONS? If so, then you should be really angry at people calling for the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates. If the rate hikers get their way, they will add trillions of dollars to the debt burden borne by our children and grandchildren. Okay, I’ll stop with the deficit hawk garbage, but there is a simple point here. If the Fed slows the economy and keeps people from getting jobs, we will face larger budget deficits. This is about as straightforward as it gets. When the unemployment rate falls, more people have jobs and are paying taxes to the government. Also when people are working, they are less likely to be getting benefits like unemployment insurance and food stamps. Therefore as we get to lower levels of unemployment, the deficit gets smaller.

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Dave Johnson

Why Is SEC Sitting On Corporate Transparency Rules?

Are We the People the boss of the corporations, or are the corporations the boss of We the People? The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) needs to be reminded which way that question is supposed to be answered. The SEC is the agency set up by We the People to “protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.” The SEC states that “all investors, whether large institutions or private individuals, should have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so long as they hold it. … Only through the steady flow of timely, comprehensive, and accurate information can people make sound investment decisions.” One would think those basic corporate facts and timely, comprehensive, and accurate information needed by investors would include access to a company’s tax returns.

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Robert Borosage

The Importance of Zephyr Teachout

New York gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout speaks at a press conference accompanied by Rob Astorino outside Tweed Courthouse, July 22. Creative Commons Photo by Michael Gareth Johnson/Flickr Zephyr Teachout is slated today to lose the New York Democratic primary for governor to incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Many voters will be seeing her memorable name for the first time when they cast their vote. She has run a shoestring campaign against a powerful, lavishly funded governor who refused to debate her. But whatever the outcome, her campaign has already had dramatic significance for progressives across the country. Teachout is a law professor at Fordham and a national expert on the deeply corrosive influence of big money in our politics. Her new book, “Corruption in America,” provides a probing analysis of the history and concept of corruption in American politics and law.

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Dave Johnson

Tell The Senate: Support The Amendment To Undo Citizens United

The Senate is scheduled to consider later today the Democracy For All Amendment to undo the damage the Republicans on the Supreme Court did with their Citizens United and other rulings that allow corporations and billionaires to purchase our elections. We the People should have the right to protect our government from being captured by the billionaires and their giant corporations.

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Sam Pizzigati

The Fed Finds an America Deeply Divided

Every three years, America’s Federal Reserve Board surveys just how well the nation’s families are doing economically. The Fed takes this surveying seriously. We’re not talking quickie public opinion polling here, several hundred dinner-time phone calls that last a few minutes each. The over 6,000 interviews the Fed conducts for its Survey of Consumer Finances usually run for an hour and a half, and most get conducted in person. These interviews delve into every aspect of our modern economic existence, from monthly car payments to mutual funds. The latest Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances report, released last Thursday, covers the entire period from 1989 through 2013. The report’s new numbers essentially offer up the most detailed economic portrait yet of American family finances over the last quarter-century.

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Richard Eskow

Democrats in D.C. Must Fight For More Jobs – Or Risk Losing Their Own

Investors got some great news last Friday, even as the report for job seekers was far worse than expected. August job figures came in far below economists’ expectations (which, even if reached, would have been insufficient to bring a swift end to our employment crisis.) “The remarkably weak GDP growth in this recovery is consistent with the extraordinarily weak job growth,” writes economist Dean Baker, who notes that “employment is performing far worse than in prior recoveries.” But the misery that has gripped the nation was not being shared on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 reached a record high for the second week in a row. No wonder 71 percent of millennials believe that our economic system is rigged in favor of the rich. They’re paying attention. Democrats should be telling the nation how they would create more and better jobs.

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