Dave Johnson

Federal Contract Workers Strike For A ‘Good Jobs’ Executive Order

More than 200 low-wage federal contract employees in Washington D.C. went on strike on Tuesday morning and attended a Union Station rally to demand President Obama sign a “good jobs executive order.” Participating were employees working at the Ronald Reagan Building, the Pentagon, the Air and Space Museum, and the National Zoo who are employed under federal contracts. Joining them was an interfaith group of clergy members and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. These workers are representative of almost 2 million low-wage private sector workers whose jobs are funded by the federal government. Chanting that “$10.10 is not enough,” these workers were asking Obama to issue an order that built upon his earlier order that increases the minimum wage on new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour.

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Jim Hightower

Astoundingly Legal Corporate Tax Thievery

Did you scramble to get your taxes done this year at the last minute? Yeah, me too. I really didn’t mind paying what I owe — but I hate having to pay the taxes owed by the likes of JPMorgan Chase, ExxonMobil, and Amazon. They’re just a few of the astonishingly profitable corporations adept at minimizing their tax tabs. That shifts more of the cost of everything from the military to national parks onto our shoulders. citizens4taxjustice/Flickr   We constantly hear CEOs and their congressional hirelings wail about the “punishing” official tax rate of 35 percent assessed on corporate profits. But they’re grinning as they’re crying, for they know they actually pay nowhere near that. In fact, the latest assessment by the Government Accountability Office found that U.S.

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Digby

‘No Labels’ Gets A Label – And It’s Not Pretty

Who could have ever predicted that No Labels was just another wingnut welfare operation? Elias Isquith writes in Salon: The No Labels dream is coming up on its fourth birthday, and in that time the group has made exactly zero progress towards its goal of untangling gridlock in D.C. It’s actually worse now than it was in 2010, in spite of No Labels’ frequent calls for bipartisan seating for legislators at the State of the Union address. What is has succeeded in doing, however, is becoming exactly the sort of scummy, insider-D.C. institution that pretty much everyone expected it would be. Yahoo! News’ Meredith Shiner has all the ugly details on how No Labels doesn’t really do anything except raise money for No Labels: Much of the group’s budget goes toward sustaining or promoting itself.

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Richard Eskow

Don’t Panic! We Can Expand Social Security and Medicare

Actuarial science is the art of prediction. And speaking of predictions, here’s one that hasn’t been wrong yet: No matter what new data emerges about Social Security and Medicare, the well-funded opponents of those two worthy programs will always insist that we’re on the brink of catastrophe – unless something is done right now to slash their benefits. Consider the Trustees’ Report for the Social Security trust fund, which was released Monday. The report indicated that Social Security’s retirement program is fully funded for the next 20 years, until 2034, after which it will be able to pay three-quarters of benefits. Social Security’s disability insurance fund is projected to run out of savings in 2016, but its growth rate is the lowest it’s been in 25 years.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Tastes Like Tax Avoidance: U.S. Company’s Blend With Dannon Parent

The corporation that is best known for blending yogurt is about to be known as the base for a not-so-delicious corporate tax-avoidance scheme. The New York Times is among the outlets reporting today that an Illinois drug maker that you likely haven’t heard of, Hospira, is in talks to purchase a division of a company that might be more familiar to you – Danone, the French corporation that is the home of Dannon Yogurt. It is the latest example of a corporation rushing to execute an “inversion,” in which an American corporation merges with a company in a low-tax country, but retains up to 80 percent ownership and control. That enables the corporation to adopt the home country of the company it merged with for tax purposes, but remain American in every other respect.

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Dave Johnson

This Sneak Proposal On Trade Numbers Would Mask Reality

Should an iPhone made in China and sold in England be counted as a U.S.-made manufacturing export? If a sneaky new proposal to change the way our trade deficit is measured is allowed to sneak through, this is exactly what will happen. At Least We Know It’s Enormous, Humongous We have an enormous, humongous trade deficit. This means we buy more from there than they buy from us, which means that the dollars we spend send jobs, factories and entire industries there instead of bringing them here. Unfortunately for 99 percent of us this works to the benefit of an already-wealthy few – especially the Wall Street sector of the economy – so the problem continues. The thing is, at least we know we have this enormous, humongous trade deficit. So we know how many jobs and factories this costs us, and how much of our standard of living it is draining. (Note: This is a real problem.

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Eileen Appelbaum

Private Equity, It’s Not Your Image That’s The Problem

The theme of this year’s European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) symposium held in Vienna in June was “Private Equity as a Transformational Force.” Speakers emphasized the industry’s need to develop partnerships with the companies it acquires and deliver value for all stakeholders. EVCA is concerned that the private equity industry has an image problem: Tt is seen as focusing on investor returns with a callous disregard for the jobs of workers and the interests of the company and its other stakeholders. EVCA wants to tell the public that PE delivers economic growth and jobs. It wants to “encourag[e] the private equity industry to look beyond returns and recognize its role as a global influencer and agent for progress …”. The audience for this industry image do-over is regulators and policy makers.

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Richard Eskow

Keith Ellison and the Worker-Led Wage Wave [Video]

Rep. Keith Ellison, activist Joseph Geevarghese, and Eskow on The Zero Hour. There were no formalities when we interviewed Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and activist Joseph Geevarghese on the crowded and clamorous floor of this month’s Netroots Nation conference. Ellison made his position clear as soon as we began rolling tape, saying, “The real story today, in my humble view, is not income inequality.” “The real story is what we’re doing about income inequality.” “There are green shoots popping up all over this country,” he added, citing worker-driven organizations like Good Jobs Nation. Throughout the course of the conversation, Ellison and Geevarghese listed progressive movement successes, past and present. Added Ellison: “We’re not in confusion about who is leading the drive for a fair economy.

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Dave Johnson

Corporations Leaving U.S. and “Economic Patriotism”

There is more and more interest in the stories about corporations “renouncing” their U.S. citizenship in order to evade paying taxes for the courts, roads, military, schools, and other public services that have made them prosperous. They are using something called “inversions” to do this, meaning they merge with or just buy a foreign company and pretend they are a subsidiary of that company. Their headquarters, executives, operations, employees, customers and everything else stay where they are. They still use our public services. Their employees still go to our schools. The only thing that changes is the lower taxes they pay. This is happening because of mistakes and “loopholes” in our tax laws. These could be easily remedied but Republicans are obstructing all efforts to fix the problem. President Obama on Thursday spoke about the need to fix this.

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Harvey J Kaye

A Dangerous Idea: The Progressive Vision Of American Exceptionalism

The Wisconsin Public Radio/National Public Radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge regularly asks writers if they have a “Dangerous Idea” that they would like to talk about (unscripted). My Dangerous Idea was American exceptionalism. I did not speak on the dangers of the right-wing rendition of American exceptionalism, but rather on the original idea of American exceptionalism, which is dangerous because it demands progressive action and struggle to realize. I spoke for several minutes. The producers then edited it down to three minutes. You can listen to my argument here. The following text is a slightly edited version of what I had to say: American exceptionalism sounds like a very conservative idea, right? But you know what? For more than 200 years, American exceptionalism was a radical idea. It was an idea of liberals and progressives.

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Nick Jacobs

A Step Forward in the Battle Against Corporate Inversions

A Senate hearing this week revealed a broad consensus on the need for short-term action against “inversions,” an increasingly used corporate tax-dodging tactic. The Senate Finance Committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) indicated at its hearing on Tuesday that he is firmly committed to some kind of action on inversions in the short term. Indeed, all of the panelists (the roster and their full testimony can be found here) were asked if they thought immediate action was required as opposed to waiting to change inversion rules as a part of a comprehensive corporate tax reform package. The panel was nearly unanimous in its answer: Yes. The inversion frenzy began several months ago in April when pharmaceutical firm Pfizer attempted to merge with the smaller, UK-based, AstraZeneca and then present itself as a foreign corporation for tax purposes.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Hey, You Got Your Plane Crash In My Benghazi!

Right-wing reaction to issues in the news this week brought to mind a classic 1980s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial, but with a wingnut spin on the famous line: “Hey, you got your Malaysian airliner in my Benghazi!” Across the wingnut-o-sphere, right-wingers tried desperately to link the Malaysian airliner shot down over the Ukraine to… Well, you name it: Fox News Host Megyn Kelly falsely claimed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not limited flights over the Ukraine, in an attempt to bash President Obama for the FAA’s temporary ban on flights to and from Israel. The FAA decision to prohibit U.S. airlines from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport also inspired an epic Glenn Beck rant. Rush Limbaugh linked President Obama’s response to the Malaysian Airlines crash to the administration’s response to the Benghazi attack.

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Jeff Bryant

Education ‘Reform’ Loses The Netroots

Every year Netroots Nation is arguably the most important annual event in the progressive community and a telling barometer of what is on the minds of, as Howard Dean put it, “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Last week’s meeting was no exception. Mainstream coverage of that event has been focused exclusively on the reception Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren got, and it was ecstatic for sure. The “clarity” of her message, as Esquire’s Charles Pierce put it, that the economic trajectory of most Americans “is rigged” – and not in our favor – rang true with the attendees and they shouted their approvals. When she urged the crowd, “We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back,” it was clear those in attendance preferred door number three.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Achilles’ Heel Of Paul Ryan’s Latest Antipoverty Program

There is at least one fatal flaw in Rep. Paul Ryan’s kinder, gentler version of how conservatives would change federal antipoverty programs: The proposal at the center of his vision, as are the conservatives in whose hands Ryan would entrust it, would be neither kind nor gentle. The core of Ryan’s latest proposal to remake the nation’s safety net programs in a conservative mold, “Expanding Opportunity in America,” would be to combine 11 major federal programs into a single block grant to the states. Those programs would include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (best known as “food stamps”), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (“welfare”), several housing subsidy programs, child care assistance, low-income heating and weatherization assistance, aid to dislocated workers and the Community Development Block Grant.

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Thom Hartmann

The Rise of the Bankster Landlord

It’s time to put an end to the financialization insanity that’s hurting average people, destroying the American dream, and turning our economy into one big giant casino. One of the most startling trends to come out of the wreckage of the 2007-2008 financial crisis is the explosion of Wall Street firms buying up and renting out property all across the country. The housing glut and foreclosure crisis that was, for most Americans, the symbol of the devastation caused by the worst economic downturn of our lifetimes, was, for Wall Street a wonderful business opportunity. A study from the Center for American Progress estimates that in the five plus years since the crash, “institutional investors [i.e.

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Sam Pizzigati

Narcissists Gone Wild! Excessive Compensation Can Ruin A CEO’s Judgment.

Narcissists don’t happen to be particularly nice people. They preen. They grab. And they never ever really feel our pain. Extremely self-centered people, some fascinating new business school research shows, also don’t make for particularly effective corporate CEOs. This new research — conducted by business school analysts at the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona — examines the impact of CEO narcissism on corporate tax policies. That impact turns out to be fairly robust. The corporations that America’s most narcissistic CEOs run seem to be prone to engaging in highly risky corporate tax-avoidance maneuvers.

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Dave Johnson

House Republicans Blocked Critical ‘Make It In America’ Bill

This week one more example of Republican obstruction occurred – blockage of an important “Make It In America” bill – and one more time not a single corporate media outlet reported it. The House Republican leadership on Tuesday blocked a bill to secure for American companies critical minerals used in the production of energy-efficient products, renewable energy systems, electronics and other technologies. The result is companies – and the Defense Department – continue to be forced to turn to China to make or obtain critical electronics components. The China Problem Put simply, China undermined most of the world’s other sources of these strategic minerals by such practices as underpricing, putting them out of business. Once an industry leaves a country it becomes enormously difficult to start it up again. The supply chain is gone. The expertise is gone.

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Richard Eskow

Chiding CEOs at Walgreens and Other Corporate Defectors

Walgreens is the pharmacy that, at least according to its website, can be found “at the corner of Happy & Healthy.” If its executives have their way, however, it may soon be found near the intersection of Ziegelackerstrasse and Untermattweg in Bern, Switzerland. By acquiring the much smaller Swiss company that is located near that corner, the American company can dodge millions in American taxes. What would that mean for the 4,200 employees who work at Walgreens headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois? Probably nothing, as Deerfield’s local newspaper (a branch of the Chicago Sun-Times) explains. “Inversion,” as these maneuvers are called, doesn’t actually mean a company moves anything. Like the Panamanian flag fluttering on a second-class freighter, all it tells you is that a vessel for hire has found a new and more compliant registry.

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Kitty Lan

Latinos Want A Progressive Economic Agenda, New Poll Says

Latinos remain pessimistic about the economy, but they continue to believe in the possibility of the American Dream and support greater government intervention to achieve economic stability, according to a poll released this week by the National Council of La Raza and Latino Decisions. This poll highlights the economic agenda that candidates would need to advance this fall in order to win the support of this crucial portion of the “rising American electorate” – people of color, women and young people who were the base for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election victories. The poll reveals that, even though we’re five years into recovery from the 2007-2008 recession, many Latino registered voters still feel the effects of the recession and remain worried about their futures.

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Thom Hartmann

Rich Rats Hijacked Our Democracy

Rich brat billionaires and giant transnational corporations have hijacked our political system. CNN is reporting that Shelly Adelson, the same man who dropped a cool $150 million during the 2012 election cycle to defeat President Obama, is now talking about spending tens of millions more in the 2014 midterm elections. According to CNN, sources inside the Republican Party have said that Adelson is prepared to make as much as a $100 million “investment” in the 2014 midterms, trying to help Republicans win back control of the Senate. And make no mistake about it; when rich people or corporations put money into politics or politicians, it’s an investment, and they’re expecting a financial return, whether it be in lower taxes or fewer regulations.

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