Dave Johnson

In Tax Battles, “Competitiveness” Means Coercion

Watch out for this one. With fast track trade authority done, the big corporations are now pushing for massive tax giveaways. This is another exercise of raw corporate power by the few to take what they want from the many. The corporations use complexity to get people to tune out, and their schemes are masked by smooth words like “reform” and “competitiveness,” but it is all just another grab for (even more) money and power. There are two areas where the corporations are coming at us. The first is a blatant grab to keep somewhere up to $700 billion in tax money they already owe on “offshore” profits. The second is a push to permanently cut corporate tax rates – even more. Taxes Owed On Offshore Profits Multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes using a “deferral” loophole.

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Robert Reich

Why We Must Fight Economic Apartheid in America

Almost lost by the wave of responses to the Supreme Court’s decisions last week upholding the Affordable Care Act and allowing gays and lesbians to marry was the significance of the Court’s third decision – on housing discrimination. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court found that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 requires plaintiffs to show only that the effect of a policy is discriminatory, not that defendants intended to discriminate. The decision is important in the fight against economic apartheid in America – racial segregation on a much larger geographic scale than ever before. The decision is likely to affect everything from bank lending practices whose effect is to harm low-income non-white borrowers, to zoning laws that favor higher-income white homebuyers. First, some background. Americans are segregating ever more by income in terms of where we live.

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Joshua Ferrer

GOP Budget Cuts Limit Choices for People Needing Food Aid

Beth Hughes of Tippecanoe County, Ind., is raising three kids with a fourth on the way. She works part time, and her husband is attending graduate school at Purdue while working as a research assistant. Their total annual income clocks in at $19,200 and they depend on funding from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to adequately feed their young. “The WIC program has helped us be able to stay on budget and not go into debt,” Hughes said. Hughes is one of tens of millions of people across America who depend on federally funded programs like WIC to help provide basic necessities for their children. WIC provides both food assistance and access to dietitians and health professionals who consult participants. It is also one of the many domestic programs that has faced budget cuts over the last five years.

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Terrance Heath

The Worst Wingnut Reactions to Marriage Equality

There was much rejoicing among proponents of equality and fairness on Friday, when the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in all 50 states. Among fans of discrimination and inequality, there was despair. After more than a century of defending marriage as a fundamental right, and protecting access for women, the poor, prisoners, and interracial couples, the Court protected this fundamental right for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples now have the same rights and protections as everyone else, and nobody lost any rights and protections they already had. It was a ruling in which everybody won. Not everyone saw it that way. There was so much joy in the air on Friday that it was difficult to focus much on wingnut insanity, beyond the hilariously bitter (Scalia) and bizarrely delusional (Thomas) dissents from members of the Court.

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Dave Johnson

Now We Build A Fair Trade Movement

Fast track trade authority passed last week. So many of us fought so hard but The Money won again – this time. What do we do now? We take this awareness and energy into the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And then, win or lose, we build a fair trade movement that will eventually rewrite all of our trade agreements and policies so that they work for We the People instead of just a few people. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats On the one hand, Wall Street and the big corporations again pushed through a rigged process called “fast track” that keeps us and our Congress from “meddling” with corporate-written agreements setting down the “rules for trade in the 21st century.” And those rules are, of course, going to be very good for the plutocrats who write them and very bad for the rest of us.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Health and Happiness

It’s been a rough week for right wingers. First, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. The next day, it legalized gay marriage across the country. Nothing enrages wingnuts like the “wrong” people enjoying health and happiness. Everyone knew it was coming. Everyone knew the Supreme Court was due to issue a bunch of rulings this week, and that two of them would be huge. The biggest cases on the Court’s docket involved two things that are vital to human life: health and happiness. Specifically, the Court’s decisions regarding Obamacare (health) and marriage equality (happiness) would have significant impact. It was inevitable that wingnut heads would explode. The Court had already upheld Obamacare once, and conservatives went back to the well with a laughable case.

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Richard Long

Wedge Issue No More: Opposing Marriage Equality Is a Political Loser

It took a while, but law finally caught up to public opinion. In this morning’s historic ruling on same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court came around to an idea that the public had been supportive of for years. Marriage equality is now the law of the land, and despite the warnings from some candidates (or candidates-to-be) about the brave new world this ruling will create, it is actually a winner at the polling stations, according to new data released this afternoon by Democracy Corps and the Human Rights Campaign. Support for same-sex marriage has been on the upswing since 1996, according to Gallup.

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Jacob Woocher

Stop Blocking Voting Rights Bills, Activists Tell House Judiciary Chair

On the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that effectively nullified a major part of the Voting Rights Act, hundreds of local and national activists attended a rally in the Roanoke, Va. district of Rep. Bob Goodlatte to demand he take action. The activists called on Goodlatte, who serves as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold a hearing on least one of the two bills – the Voting Rights Amendment Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act – that would restore the parts of the Voting Rights Act that were gutted by the Court’s ruling in 2013. Goodlatte has refused to do so despite the growing body of evidence that millions of minority and low-income voters, populations that tend to vote for Democrats, are being denied equal access to the polls in many areas across the country. As the Rev.

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Dave Johnson

Highway Bill Caught In “Pay For It” Trap

Washington is caught in a going-round-in-circles argument about how to “pay for” a surface transportation bill. Various proposals are in the air. Cutting other things to “pay for” this. Raising the gas tax. Telling corporations to bring back the profits they have stashed offshore as a way to avoid taxes (with the sweetener of rewarding the companies for dodging taxes by letting them pay a lower tax rate than companies that didn’t do this). And more. Isaiah J. Poole explained Wednesday in “Leaders Should Be Leading To Get The Transportation Investments We Need“: The last time Congress was able to pass a surface transportation authorization for more than two years was in 2005, when it sent to President George W. Bush a bill that authorized $286.4 billion over five years.

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Isaiah J. Poole

On Marriage Equality, Another Bend Toward Justice

The Washington Post Members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, wearing blue T-shirts emblazoned with the name of a popular gay sports bar in Washington, were on a strategic street corner singing “The Impossible Dream,” the Supreme Court to their front and the Capitol to their rear. Following that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. If there ever were an impossible dream, marriage equality was it just a few short years ago. Even some of the most ardent crusaders for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality believed that demanding recognition for same-sex marriage was a fool’s errand. But people in love can be the most audacious of rebels.

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Terrance Heath

With Obamacare Ruling, It’s Time For GOP Governors to Expand Medicaid

Now that the Supreme Court has one again upheld the Affordable Care Act, it’s time for Republican governors to stop denying coverage to millions and expand their Medicaid programs. The Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision upholding federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t change anything. It just means that 6.4 million people who depend on federal and state health insurance exchanges for coverage won’t lose their benefits. All of the other provisions of the ACA remain in effect. The ruling represents an unqualified victory for health care reform, and peace of mind for nearly two-thirds of the more than 10 million beneficiaries of health care reform. What has changed is that, as President Obama said in his reaction to the ruling, “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. … This is not an abstract thing anymore.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Minnesota Loses the Race to the Bottom – And Wins

CNBC, the business porn channel for one-percenters, released the results of its latest ratings of “top states for business” and, to its barely disguised surprise, it was not Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida, or any of the other states where Republican governors and conservative legislatures have cut government spending, lowered taxes on the wealthy and moved to weaken unions. Instead, it was union-friendly, tax-and-spend Minnesota. “Minnesota scores 1,584 out of a possible 2,500 points, ranking in the top half for all but two of our 10 categories of competitiveness,” CNBC reported. The report hastened to add that “what may be most instructive are the categories where Minnesota does not do well.

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Sarah Anderson

Six Ways TPP Opponents Have Won—Even as Fast Track Advances

I tried to stay emotionally distanced from this one. It didn’t work. When the White House and Republican leaders got the votes they needed in the Senate to advance “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority on Tuesday, June 23, it was crushing. All observers agree that fast track will soon become law, making it easier for President Barack Obama to pass the controversial trade pacts in the works with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union. That will be a serious setback to the movements for the environment, labor rights, and affordable pharmaceuticals, among others. But after observing painful trade votes for more than 20 years, this one left me feeling that opponents should be holding their heads higher than ever before as they regroup for the next phase of the fight. Here are a few reasons why: 1.

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Jeff Bryant

Lessons To Be Learned From New Orleans-Style Education Reform

As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, you can count on seeing a lot of glowing stories about the great education progress made in New Orleans since a natural disaster killed nearly 2,000 people, emptied a beloved city, and gave public school reformers what they always wanted: a “clean slate” to have their way unencumbered by the messiness of school boards, local politics, and the voices of teachers and parents. It really was the “best thing that could have happened,” to use Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s now infamous quote, if you were a fan of creating something that would have little to no consequence for your family. You’ll also hear many more politicians and pundits touting the NOLA model of education reform for school districts everywhere else. You should be very suspicious of this marketing campaign.

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Bill Scher

Republicans Ignore The Pope At Their Peril

Republicans, who have complained for years that the Left wants to drum religious voices out of the “public square,” suddenly want the Pope to stick to Sunday mass. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm,” said the Catholic Jeb Bush, who spend considerable effort as governor trying to impose his religious views – rooted in a 1995 papal encyclical – on Terri and Michael Schiavo. “When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” said the Catholic Rick Santorum, previously heard warning America about “the dangers of contraception in this country.” Blunter brushbacks have been tossed at the Pope by Republicans not running for president, like Rep.

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Terrance Heath

4 Reasons Bobby Jindal Has No Chance of Being President

Image via Donkey Hotey @ Flickr. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is finally running for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination. Jindal was a rising star in the Republican party, when he passed on the chance to run in 2012. Now, he’s entering the 2016 race at the bottom of the ever-growing pile of GOP hopefuls. Days before announcing his candidacy, Jindal landed near the bottom of a nationwide poll of Republican primary voters. He fares no better at home. Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is just 32 percent, compared to 42 percent for President Obama, who lost the state by 17 percent in 2012. What happened? Here are 4 things you need to know about Bobby Jindal to answer that question. Jindal will always be known for giving one of the worse State of the Union responses ever.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Leaders Should Be Leading To Get The Transportation Investments We Need

Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee congratulated themselves today on their ability to send to the Senate floor a six-year surface transportation bill, but the rest of us should hold our applause. It is indeed noteworthy that a bipartisan bill is on its way to the full Senate given the sclerotic character of today’s Congress on even such no-brainer issues as repairing and improving our decrepit infrastructure. But, placed in context, the committee has crossed a bar that has fallen far too low. Consider this: The last time Congress was able to pass a surface transportation authorization for more than two years was in 2005, when it sent to President George W. Bush a bill that authorized $286.4 billion over five years. The bill that was sent to the Senate floor today would authorize $11 billion less than the bill Bush signed.

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Joshua Ferrer

How Bernie Sanders Cleared The Air On His Immigration Reform Stand

Sen. Bernie Sanders has taken some heat as a presidential candidate for seeming to not be a strong progressive ally on immigration reform. Last week, Sanders moved to clear the air. Sanders (I-Vt.) pledged his support for comprehensive immigration reform this past Friday at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference in Las Vegas. His remarks put his views in line with fellow presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley. Sanders sparked concerns among some activists when immigration reform went missing from his stump speech. This absence led Rep.

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Dave Johnson

Wall Street And Big Corporations Got What They Wanted – This Time

Fast track passes. Our Congress – the supposed representatives of We the People – voted to cut themselves and us out of the process of deciding what “the rules” for doing business “in the 21st Century” will be. How do the plutocrats and oligarchs and their giant multinational corporations get what they want when a pesky democracy is in their way? They push that pesky democracy out of their way. Because of fast track, when the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and any other secretly negotiated “trade” agreements are completed Congress must vote in a hurry with only limited debate, cannot make any amendments no matter what is in the agreement, and they can’t be filibustered.

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Terrance Heath

The Right-Wing Fingerprints on The Charleston Massacre

Days after 21-year-old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people during a Bible study at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the discovery of his online manifesto shed more light on his motives. It also reveals the right-wing fingerprints on the Charleston shooting. The rhetoric that formed the gunman’s ideology and informed his actions is so embedded in the conservative mainstream that politicians and candidates have a hard time condemning it. The website’s contents began circulating around the Internet this weekend. It features 60 photographs of Roof brandishing weapons, desecrating an American flag, displaying a confederate flag, and visiting various civil war battlefields. A 2,444-word statement written by Roof reveals the roots of his racist ideology, and his reasons for choosing Charleston Emanuel AME Church.

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