Robert Borosage

Jobs Report: Flat Wages, Shrinking Workforce

The June Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report shows continued growth — 223,000 new jobs added with the official unemployment rate declining to 5.3%. Jobs growth remains steady — rising for 57 straight months, now setting a new record each month – but slow, lagging previous recoveries.   The decline in the unemployment rate was largely due to 432,000 people leaving the labor force, reversing the increase that took place in May.   The headline unemployment figure is always misleading. Nearly 17 million people are still in need of full-time work. Long-term unemployment has declined, but remains higher than before the great recession. The employment-population ratio has also not recovered, remaining at 59.3%, marginally lower than a year ago.

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Larry Cohen

I’m Endorsing and Volunteering for Bernie!

Three weeks ago, when I ended my third term as president of CWA, I pledged to volunteer to help build what we call the “movement of 50 million for economic justice and democracy.” Today I am announcing that I have endorsed Bernie Sanders for president of the United States and will volunteer to help in his campaign in any way that is useful. I will be with Bernie in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday night to formally endorse and commit. Bernie has been there with us every time, fighting for fairness, for environmental justice, for voting rights and getting big money out of politics. Bernie is there for criminal justice reform and a path to citizenship for 20 million immigrants. Bernie was there walking with our members at Fairpoint Communications when they struck for four months through the last New England winter. Bernie realizes that workers’ rights in the U.S.

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Losing Their Grip

Rainbows illuminated the White House, the Empire State Building, and other landmarks after the Supreme Court affirmed the right to marry from sea to shining sea. As most Americans basked in this milestone’s afterglow, conservative leaders stomped their feet, disparaged the nation’s most influential court, and howled. “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch,” thundered Mike Huckabee. “We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” The former Arkansas governor wasn’t the only Republican running for president who responded to recent rulings like a tantrum-prone toddler. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal suggested that it might be time to “get rid” of the Supreme Court rather than accept its rulings in favor of same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.

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Robert Borosage

Greece’s Agonies, Europe’s Shame

Greece is now on the brink. It cannot pay its creditors, starting with the missed payment to the International Monetary Fund. Its banks are closed, unable to deal with a panicked dash for cash. The European Bank has refused to offer more cash to sustain their liquidity. The Troika – the European Commission, the European Bank, and the IMF – that holds the purse strings has demanded that the Greek government accept its conditions or be cut off. The Greek government has accepted more austerity, but asked for more humane cuts in pensions, less exacting assaults on the vulnerable. Their offer has been scorned.

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Dave Johnson

Was Greece Lured Into “Strategic Deficits”?

The job of a lender is to evaluate risk and price a loan accordingly. If there is risk you charge a higher interest rate. That way you still make money on a broad portfolio of loans even when there are a few defaults. That’s the job of a banker, supposedly. It’s what they are supposed to be good at. If they are bad at their job, give loans to deadbeats (or countries that can’t pay you back) you lose money, and probably shouldn’t in the business of being a lender. The lender is supposed to evaluate the risk and say no if the borrower is irresponsible, not complain later about the borrower being irresponsible. Unless their job is to get the borrower in over their head so you can get stuff.

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Terrance Heath

Five Things To Know About Chris Christie

It’s official. Chris Christie is running for president. The only reason for Christie’s run appears to be either his outsized ego or deep delusion about his chances of winning. Yesterday, the two most common reactions to news that New Jersey governor Chris Christie would announce his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination today were “Really?” and “Why?” It wasn’t always this way. Not so long ago, Christie was considered the Republican to beat in the race for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination. He was the Republican “id” unleashed, with a bullying, blustering, in-your-face manner that was tailor-made for the tea party. (However, Christie can dish it out, but he sure can’t take it.) Christie’s “bully” image was actually carefully cultivated by his own office.

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Emily Foster

Stop Wage Theft and Time Theft – Time To Fix the Overtime Rule

There are an estimated 5 million Americans who are literally overworked and underpaid – they are working more than 40 hours a week but not getting the time-and-a-half overtime pay that they are due. For them, and for all workers, it is time for the Department of Labor to officially update the overtime threshold and stop businesses from depriving working Americans of the wages they have honestly earned. President Obama announced a proposed rule late Monday to increase the overtime salary threshold from $23,660 ($455 a week) to $50,440 a year ($970 a week), starting in 2016. This would update the extremely outdated Fair Labor Standards Act. That law dictates that employees who earn less than $23,660 get paid a time and a half if they work more than 40 hours per week. However, supporters of raising the overtime threshold argue that it is now way too low.

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Leo Gerard

Obamacare Reconciliation

The Supreme Court last week ensured that millions of Americans retained their health insurance. Those who kept their coverage sighed with relief. Democrats cheered. Republicans reacted with vitriol and recrimination. Even the GOP dissenters on the Supreme Court couldn’t stop themselves from responding with bitter sarcasm. Weirdly too, with language like “jiggery-pokery.” For the entire five years since Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republicans have relentlessly attempted to kill it – along with some of its most vulnerable beneficiaries who’d lack life-saving health care if the GOP succeeded. Some Republican legislatures and governors have jubilantly exploited a provision in a previous Supreme Court decision to deny the working poor in their states access to the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid.

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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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