Bill Scher

Why The UK Election Should Matter To US Liberals (and Conservatives)

Thursday election in Great Britain will be a fascinating case study on multiple levels. Can an incumbent party survive a record of austerity? How can a party recover from past failures on the economy? Can the left side of the ideological spectrum come to agreement on how to best spark change? How can a party contain anti-immigrant backlash? Is a centrist party needed to hold a polarized country together? And is a multi-party system better for democracy than a two-party system? This is another way of saying: if you’re not following the British elections, you should. So if you’re tuning in late, let’s get caught up. The short story is: the ruling Conservatives are in a dead heat with the Labour Party. Neither is expected to win an outright majority of parliamentary seats, requiring some sort of agreement with smaller parties in order to rule.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Study Finds Right-Wing Tax Voodoo Doesn’t Work

“The effects of state tax policy on economic growth, entrepreneurship, and employment remain controversial,” begins the abstract of a study of state tax policy just released by the Brookings/Urban Institute Tax Policy Center. But that’s only in the same sense that the statement “human activity is responsible for global warming” is kept “controversial” by people who want to keep us buying and burning fossil fuels. But the report, “The Relationship Between Taxes And Growth at the State Level: New Evidence,” quickly goes on to declare false a central tenet of conservative dogma and policy: that cutting taxes, especially for the wealthy and businesses, invariably leads to economic growth. That’s not true in the real world, the report said.

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Dave Johnson

Enormous, Humongous March Trade Deficit Creating Jobs Elsewhere

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the March goods and services trade deficit was $51.4 billion. This was an increase of $15.5 billion, or 43.1 percent, from the revised figure of $35.9 billion in February. March exports were $187.8 billion, up $1.6 billion from February. March imports were $239.2 billion, up $17.1 billion from February. The monthly U.S. goods deficit with China increased in March to $37.8 billion, up from $27.3 billion in February. This is the highest monthly deficit with China on record. The U.S. goods deficit with Japan increased in March to $6.3 billion, up from $4.3 billion in February. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea has more than doubled in the full first three years since the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (FTA) went into effect. In those three years U.S.

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Terrance Heath

Four Things You Should Know About Carly Fiorina

For a brief, shining moment, Carly Fiorina was all over the media after announcing her candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. That’s probably because she made a point of turning her presidential bid into “this weird girl fight” with Clinton, as CNN’s Carol Costello put it. Then Ben Carson’s campaign launch sucked up all the oxygen left in the day’s media bubble, and Fiorina disappeared from the headlines in much the same way she’s destined to disappear from the presidential race. In the meantime, here are a few things you should know about Carly Fiorina while she’s still relevant. Carly Fiorina Is No Match For Hillary Clinton (Or Anyone Else) Hillary Clinton isn’t running against Carly Fiorina, but Fiorina is definitely running against Clinton.

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Terrance Heath

Five Things Ben Carson Doesn’t Get

Two more candidates joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Of the two, retired brain surgeon Ben Carson is the one likely to have the most impact. That makes it frightening how much Carson just doesn’t get. Carson went back to his roots to announce his candidacy for the nomination. On an auditorium stage in Detroit — his estranged hometown — he recounted his troubled, poverty-stricken childhood and then launched into a speech that revealed just how much he doesn’t get, for a guy who wants to be president. What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About The Safety Net Carson’s humble upbringing is an important part of his narrative.

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Hugh Espey

Who Will Hillary Clinton Stand With?

A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton did a well-staged, two-day swing through Iowa, meeting with small groups of people and some media along the way. Afterwards she said we have some great ideas for a better future. She’s right about that, and she’s right that this campaign — and every piece of our political system, from the courthouse to the White House — should be about everyday people. But this campaign is also about Clinton and whether she’ll stand with us or cozy up to the corporate class. She’s said “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top” — but she neglects to mention that many of her friends and big-money donors were the ones who stacked it.

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Dave Johnson

Fast Track Bill Vote In Senate: Winter Is Coming

The trade promotion authority bill – fast track – is expected to come to the floor of the Senate soon for debate and then a vote, possibly even this week. It could also reach the House floor sometime this month. This is the big one. Fast track essentially pre-approves the Trans-Pacific Partnership before the public gets a chance to even know what is in the massive, still-secret trade agreement. If fast track passes, the Congress will have a limited time to vote after the deal is signed and revealed to the public for the first time. They will be allowed only limited debate and will not be allowed to make any amendments, no matter what might turn up that could hurt our working people and our economy. This will be a close vote in the Senate.

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Robert Borosage

The Trade Deal and U.S. Security: Don’t Believe the Hype

“Patriotism,” as Samuel Johnson warned, “is the last refuge for a scoundrel.” As the administration has ratcheted up the pressure to pass fast track authority that will grease the skids for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)accords, it increasingly invokes national security as the central rationale for the treaty, with the president warning that “we must write the rules” or China will. Even the administration’s own figures suggest there will be little economic benefit from the accords – and those estimates have always slighted the cost in jobs and wages at home. The hype now exceeds all limits. We keep hearing about the 95 percent of consumers that live outside the U.S., as if this treaty were about them. But the treaty excludes the major population centers of Asia – China, India, Indonesia.

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Richard Eskow

After Baltimore: Soul Searching in Another America

When asked about Baltimore last week, President Obama said this: “… if we think that we’re just gonna send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise (in our inner cities), without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities … then we’re not gonna solve this problem.” He added: “We can’t just leave this to the police. I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.” Soul Searching The president is right. But how, exactly, does a nation go about searching its soul in times like these? Perhaps it begins by reflecting on his own brilliant words from the 2004 Democratic Convention – the words that set him on the path to the White House.

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Roger Hickey

Sen. Warren Receives 240,000 Cancel All Student Debt Signatures

Last week Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Senate’s foremost advocate for lowering student debt and lowering the cost of college, received a petition signed by more than 240,000 people. The petition called on Congress and President Obama to cancel all student debt – all $1.2 trillion. It was delivered by representatives of 12 organizations that had collected the signatures across the U.S.: Roger Hickey, Campaign for America’s Future; Rachel Colyer, Daily Kos; Amanda Johnson, Working Families; Natalia Abrams, Student Debt Crisis; and John Hlinko, Left Action. They represented some of the 12 organizations that helped gather the 240,000 signatures.

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Isaiah J. Poole

One More Time: Marriage Doesn’t Alleviate Poverty

We’ve written time and time again about the research debunking the conservative canard that declining marriage rates contribute to high rates of poverty. Still, this argument is a hardy perennial, and with two of its leading proponents, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) now running for president, it’s time to highlight one key number: 9.3 million. That, according to TalkPoverty.org, is the number of people in married-parent families who live below the official poverty line. Add to that number the 6 million additional people in married households who are above the poverty line but still qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamp”) benefits, and that adds up to more than 15 million people. In some states, including Paul’s state of Kentucky, there are more married couples living in poverty than there are unmarried couples.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: From Baltimore To Wedding Bells

This week, conservatives were confronted with two of their worst fears: gay people getting married and black people getting angry. Then, as if things weren’t bad enough, the federal government began preparations to invade Texas. Baltimore Freddie Gray, 25, was walking through his West Baltimore neighborhood at 8:30am on April 12. Along the way, Gray made eye contact with a police officer. The officer pursued, Gray ran, and two more officers on bicycles joined the pursuit. Gray suffered a broken leg as a result. Officers handcuffed Gray, put him in leg irons, and placed him in a police van — but didn’t put him in a seatbelt. That’s interesting, because Baltimore police have a long history of “rough rides,” in which a handcuffed detainee is placed in a police van without a seat-belt, as the van is driven recklessly through the city streets.

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Dave Johnson

Trade Deficit = Slower Economy = Fewer Jobs = Baltimore

Khalil Bendib/OtherWords If you make things and sell them, you do better over time than if you borrow to buy things. If you send jobs and factories out of the country, you end up with devastated cities like Baltimore. Sure, a few people get rich from that, but 99 percent of us get poorer. How hard is it to see that? You may have heard that gross domestic product growth was dismal in the last quarter. You may have heard that there were riots in Baltimore. You may not have heard that these are both at least partly caused by our enormous, humongous and continuing trade deficit. Trade Deficit A trade deficit is when we import more than we export. It means that there is a certain level of demand in our economy, but some of that demand is leaking out to other countries. When this deficit is significant and goes on for a while it means that jobs are lost, factories close and we get poorer.

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Robert Borosage

The Sanders Challenge

Tweeting that “America needs a political revolution,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders threw himself Thursday into the race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Sanders is in many ways the mirror image of Hillary Clinton, the favored candidate in the race. She has universal name recognition, unlimited funds, and a campaign operation rife with experienced political pros. He is not widely known, has little money, and has never run a national campaign. But in a populist moment, he is the real deal – a full-throated, unabashed, independent, uncorrupted, straight-talking populist. And that is a big deal. Sanders will focus his campaign on the great challenges facing the country: a politics corrupted by big money, and an economy where the rules have been rigged by the few to benefit the few.

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Isaiah J. Poole

‘Raise The Wage’ Bill Gets Support, While The Fight for $15 Continues

Several progressive organizations are lining up today in support of the Raise the Wage bill introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.). That bill would raise the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, to $12 an hour by 2020. That is far less audacious than the demands of the Fight for $15 movement that has organized strikes in Washington and other major cities around the country. Nonetheless, a number of key organizations have embraced the Murray-Scott bill. “With the economy still tilting toward low-paying jobs, the nation needs bolder action to improve jobs across the bottom of the economy,” said National Employment Law Project director Christine Owens.

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Robert Borosage

Sanders Gets In

The race for the Democratic nomination for president was transformed today as populist stalwart Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy. The mainstream media immediately focused on the horse race – assessing Sanders’ standing in the polls (low), money prowess (small), and name recognition (little). Sanders is not young, not a pretty face, not easy. But in a populist moment, Sanders is the real deal. He has fought on the side of working people for decades. He has been one of the few consistent champions that working people have had as the rules were rigged against them. He was against the corporate trade deals from the beginning. He fought against the tax breaks for the rich and the corporate tax havens. He stood up to save Social Security and Medicare from privatization and grand bargains.

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Isaiah J. Poole

When Pushing A Jobs Agenda, It’s OK To Use This F-Word

At a time when polls often show a high level of skepticism and even antipathy toward government, progressive pollster Celinda Lake offered some contrarian advice Wednesday to the “Families First: Good Jobs for All” meeting sponsored by the Center for Community Change: Not only is it all right to use the “g-word” while advancing a jobs-for-all agenda, it’s even OK to use the “f-word” that is often paired with it: “federal.” “Voters strongly value community, family, fairness and freedom. And they support a role for government in ensuring that every person who wants to work has a job and a good standard of living,” Lake wrote in a report that was issued at the conference.

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Dave Johnson

Writing The New Rules For The 21st Century – In Secret?

The great Thomas “Mustache” Friedman is perhaps best known for encouraging the invasion of Iraq (and subsequent resistance insurgency, civil war, thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, eventually leading to the formation of ISIS – plus the trillions in costs) by saying, “What they [Muslims] needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad and basically saying ‘Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?’ … Well, Suck. On. This.” He is also known among the blogger set for what Duncan Black coined as the six-month “Friedman Unit,” because he claimed for years that the Iraq war would be “turning a corner” in another six months’ time.

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Bill Scher

The Kochs Can’t Buy The Pope

Pope Francis is preparing to deliver a major “encyclical,” or address to clergy, that declares preventing a climate crisis to be a moral imperative. This will be a landmark moment: the marriage of faith and science by one of the world’s most influential religious leaders, bolstering international talks to forge a global agreement by the end of the year. Obviously, the man must be stopped. At least that’s what the climate science deniers at the Koch Brothers-funded Heartland Institute think. Failing to recognize that the jig is up, Heartland representatives flew to the Vatican this week, and infiltrated a press conference tied to the church’s climate summit that is a precursor to the encyclical. The Heartland boys were sad when their disruptive and disingenuous questioning was ignored.

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Richard Long

Black Students Feeling Especially Crushed By Student Debt

Tyrone Hankerson, a graduating senior at Howard University, is in a particularly good position to see the impact of today’s student loan debt crisis firsthand – even though he has managed to head into graduation without student debt overhanging him personally. That is because Hankerson has a work-study position in Howard’s Office of Financial Aid. There, he deals directly with students trying to pay for their college education, and prepare for the debt that they are taking on. What he hears is heartbreaking. “For many of my classmates, their families simply do not have the financial resources to pay for college,” he said at a forum on student debt Monday convened by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Middle Class Prosperity Project.

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