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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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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