Terrance Heath

Preparing For Injustice vs. Preparing for Justice in Ferguson

In Ferguson, Missouri, citizens and activists prepare for injustice, while government and law enforcement prepare for outraged reaction to injustice. But what about preparing for the justice Ferguson, and America, really needs? As it waits to hear whether the grand jury will indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, Ferguson is preparing for the worst: that the grand jury will decide not to indict Wilson, leading to more outrage and unrest in the streets of Ferguson. Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency, and activated the state’s National Guard in advance of the decision. St. Louis County Police have ordered $170,000 in new equipment, including riot helmets, shields, teargas, grenades, batons, pepper balls, and CS sting grenades. St.

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Jeff Bryant

Why People Are ‘Walking In’ For Public Schools

Every school day in the Lincoln Park community on the North Side of Chicago greets students with well-appointed institutions that include some of the best facilities that American public schools have to offer. Click over to the Yelp ratings for the elementary schools and you’ll read parent reviews that talk about their elementary school’s band programs, afterschool programs, and recent innovative practices being implemented. The high school website features the school’s richly stocked library and well-outfitted sports teams (the swim team has its own Olympic-sized pool, and there’s a golf team, no less). There’s a performing arts faculty, a world language department offering French, German, Spanish, and Arabic; extensive performing arts opportunities; and an International Baccalaureate program.

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Richard Eskow

Guess Who Doesn’t Want Social Security’s Offices Closed – and Who Does

Some surprising new polling results underscore the unpopularity – and long-term destructiveness – of Congress’ ongoing attacks on the Social Security system. The new Republican Congress is expected to force additional office closures and impose additional cuts on the Social Security Administration’s budget, even as a poll released this week by Social Security Works shows that the public overwhelmingly opposes the flimsy rationale for those cuts. We’re told that automation can pick up the slack as more offices are shuttered and more workers are laid off. But the polling shows that Americans overwhelmingly prefer human assistance to the Internet or email, which means they won’t be happy with the change. There are good reasons for their unhappiness.

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Bill Scher

Obama Forces Republicans To Choose: Latinos Or Haters

On one hand, tonight’s presidential announcement, removing the threat of deportation for up to 5 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, will be a historic moment cherished especially by immigrant families that no longer will live in fear of being torn apart. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy. On the other hand, watching Republicans go apoplectic is just going to be fun to watch. Make sure you have a tub of buttered popcorn handy. As I wrote in “Trolling The GOP” for Politico Magazine yesterday, the White House rollout of the immigration executive action has been designed to maximize outrage on right, ruining the Republican leadership’s strategy of appearing sober and pragmatic as they are forced to grapple with renewed calls for government shutdown and other childish retaliatory measures.

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Roger Hickey

As in 2010, Dems Lost Without an Economic Message Worth Fighting For

Election 2014 was a sad replay of 2010. And it didn’t have to be that way. In early summer 2010, three progressive economic activists – myself, Dean Baker, and Robert Kuttner – met with Obama political adviser David Axelrod in his tiny office in the White House, steps away from the Oval Office. We told him what he already knew from polling: Despite the success of President Obama’s stimulus plan in preventing economic disaster, Americans were still not feeling any improvement in jobs and wages. We understood White House economic advisers were arguing for more action to create jobs and spur the still-weak economy, but the political operation was resisting.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Walmart Rolls Back Its Tax Bill – And Passes The Consequences On To You

Walmart avoids paying on average $1 billion a year in federal taxes through aggressively exploiting tax loopholes – and it has an army of lobbyists working on cutting its tax bill by at least another $720 million, according to a report released today by Americans for Tax Fairness. The report notes that Walmart pays an effective tax rate of 29 percent on the profits from its domestic retail operations, significantly below the statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent. Further, Walmart has $21.4 billion in profits parked offshore on which it is paying no U.S. taxes at all. Walmart cuts its tax bill through using a variety of means, the report said, including a provision in the tax code that allows for “accelerated depreciation” of capital expenses.

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Joshua Holland

Obama Is Pushing Two Giant Trade Deals — Here’s What You Need to Know

Last summer, Barack Obama and leaders of the European Union announced that negotiations would commence on another trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a treaty that’s  gotten significantly less attention than the TPP. Also known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA), it would harmonize trade rules between the US and the EU, which constitutes the world’s largest economy. While negotiations on the deal started last July, proposals for creating a giant transatlantic trading bloc date back to the early 1990s. Wondering what all of these deals are about? Here’s a primer on the Obama administration’s vision for global trade.

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Dave Johnson

Give Americans A $2,000 Check From “Deferred” Corporate Taxes

U.S. multinational corporations are hoarding an estimated $2 trillion “offshore” to take advantage of a loophole in our tax laws. At our 35 percent top federal corporate tax rate, that represents up to $700 billion in taxes owed but “deferred” because they are “offshore.” This is not imaginary or future money; it is taxes owed on $2 trillion of profits these companies have already made. Who should get this money? A loophole in the corporate tax code allows companies to “defer” paying taxes on profits made outside of the U.S. until they “repatriate” it – bring the money back to the U.S..

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Isaiah J. Poole

Private Equity Predators Killed Jobs; Now They’re After Your Retirement

Little-noticed articles in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in the past month disclosed that private equity firms – notorious for taking over companies and stripping them of jobs and investment to maximize profit for the private equity partners – are looking for a new source of cash: your retirement account. “Carlyle, the Washington-based giant that Mr. [David M.] Rubenstein co-founded in 1987, is at the forefront of an effort to open the cloistered and risky world of private equity to doctors, lawyers, well-heeled entrepreneurs and others with a brokerage account or, one day, a robust 401(k),” the Times wrote.

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Dave Johnson

Immigration And Shutdowns – Right Things vs. Wrong Things

Shutdown talk? Already? Republicans don’t even take over the Senate until January, but already they’re talking about shutting down the government. This time it’s over the President’s effort to provide some relief for the millions of families and thousands of communities being harmed by a broken immigration system. Last time it was in an effort to stop Obamacare from helping millions of families. Their shutdowns are about obstruction and political strategy, not about what is good for the country and the people in it. Right Things vs. Wrong Things Helping millions of families is the right thing to do. Millions of families are being hurt by our broken immigration system. Republicans as a party now refuse to participate at all in fixing that system. In 2013 the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that was full of compromises.

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Terrance Heath

Forward From Ferguson

The goals of the post-Ferguson movement for justice must reach beyond whether the grand jury indicts officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Too much depends upon its success. Over 100 days ago Wilson shot and killed Brown. In the aftermath, the streets of Ferguson resembled a war zone. Today, Ferguson is preparing for war again. As the city awaits the grand jury’s decision, citizens and law enforcement are arming and preparing for the worst. In the days, weeks, and months to come, anger over the absence of justice must not overshadow the changes we must continue to fight for after the Ferguson grand jury makes its decision. Policing Following Michael Brown’s death, social justice leaders, members of Congress, faith leaders, artists and activists signed an open letter to President Obama laying out seven areas of action.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Corporations Paying More To Their CEOs Than They Do In Federal Taxes

This week leaders in Congress are trying to decide what action to take on a set of “tax extenders” – a hodge-podge of tax breaks that range from the arguably meritorious to the patently absurd that could cost the government as much as $590 billion if Congress adopted a package favored by House Republicans. While that fight brews, it pays to remember the work Congress is not doing to ensure corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Some of the consequences are laid out in a report released today by The Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies. That report finds that 29 of America’s 100 largest corporations paid more to their CEO than they did to the federal government in taxes in 2013. In fact, the report states, “The 29 firms reported $24 billion in U.S.

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Leo Gerard

Question Before the Court: Can Corporations Betray Retirees?

M&G Polymers is Point Pleasant’s new Mothman. At a chemical plant called Point Pleasant in a town named Apple Grove in a state John Denver labeled almost heaven, a man known as Freel Tackett helped negotiate three collective bargaining agreements that provided raises and decent benefits for workers and retirees. Heaven ended in 2007 for Tackett and other retired Point Pleasant workers. That’s when the corporation that now owns the plant betrayed them by refusing to continue paying the full cost of retiree health benefits. These days, it’s almost hell for retirees. For seven years they’ve lived under a dark shadow, as if Point Pleasant’s most infamous denizen, the monster Mothman, immortalized in the book and movie “The Mothman Prophesies,” had returned. The United Steelworkers (USW) union told the U.S.

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Richard Eskow

Dean Baker on Jobs, Postal Banking, and the Gruber Controversy

We interviewed economist Dean Baker on the latest set of jobs numbers. The conclusion? Good news, but not nearly good enough. We still need a bold plan to reduce unemployment and underemployment, strengthen wages, and promote growth. We also discussed the postal banking concept, and had some closing thoughts about the recent controversy over remarks made by economist Jonathan Gruber about Obamacare and the voters.

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Bill Scher

Yes, Mitch McConnell Is Killing Coal

In Alison Lundergan Grimes’ losing campaign, she ran an ad that made one of the most insightful points of any ad in the 2014 midterm elections. Standing in front of a coal-fired power plant Grimes said, “They are shutting down half the plant and laying off their workers because [Senate Republican leader] Mitch McConnell didn’t fight to get the scrubbers it needs to reduce coal emissions.” The ad didn’t get attention for that line. It got attention for a trumped-up, and contradictory, charge that followed, that “Mitch and his wife pocketed $600,000 from enemies of coal.” Most of the money came from McConnell’s wife serving on the board of a bank that made a decision five years prior to her arrival to cut back on its financing of mountaintop removals.

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Ady Barkan

The People Confront The Fed – And Have An Impact

The Center for Popular Democracy’s Federal Reserve campaign had an incredible week. Last Monday evening, we publicly launched our national coalition of 20 community-based organizations, labor unions, and policy shops; by Friday afternoon, we had met with Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, been featured in the country’s most influential papers, and – amazingly – seen that the Federal Reserve is already changing its policies in response to our campaign.

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Sam Pizzigati

Some ‘Old’ News for a Newly Elected Congress

How much income do America’s households take in? How much do they have left after taxes? Do federal taxes leave the nation less or more unequal? Questions don’t get much more basic than these. Or more complicated either. How, for instance, do we define income? Everyone agrees, of course, that anything anyone collects from a paycheck should count as income. As should any interest collected from a bank account or any profits from the sale of an asset. But what about the money an employer shells out to cover an employee’s health insurance premiums? Or contributes into an employee’s 401(k)? Should these dollars be counted as income for the employee? Calculating how much taxes people pay can pose similar puzzlers. How do we treat the taxes corporations pay on their income? Who in the end bears that burden? Shareholders? Consumers? These sorts of questions can carry a political edge.

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Dave Johnson

The Republican Paid-For Agenda

The Republicans intend to deliver for their constituents. What is their agenda, and who are the constituents who they will delivering for? Here are a few examples. (Leave more examples in the comments.) Oil and coal. First and foremost on any list of items on the Republican agenda is to do whatever the oil and coal lobby wants: Keystone pipeline: Moves Canadian tar-sands oil to a U.S. port so it can be sold to China. More drilling on public land and offshore. Keep the oil company subsidies going. Continue to allow dumping fossil fuel pollution into our air at no cost. Kill efforts to help build a U.S. green energy industry by killing solar and wind tax credits. Kill efforts to move from oil-based automobiles by killing credits for electric cars and infrastructure. Gut public transportation and prevent high-speed rail. Block efforts to do something about the climate crisis.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Zephyr Teachout Argues For More Progressive Primary Challenges

Zephyr Teachout, who challenged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left earlier this year, encouraged other progressives to follow her lead at a recent forum in Washington – including fielding a primary challenge against Hillary Clinton. “The absence of a primary would be a complete democratic tragedy,” she said at a talk sponsored by New America. She is on a tour promoting her new book, “Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United.” There is a demand in the electorate for candidates who are advancing populist themes, Teachout said, including the theme that is the focus of her book, the corrupting power of money in politics and how the country has fought against it from its earliest days.

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Bill Scher

How Republicans Co-Opted Populism

As debate reignites between populist progressives and self-described “centrists” over why Democrats lost the midterms and how they should recalibrate, it’s worth recalling that Republicans won in part by co-opting populist positions and themes. Sure, there were plenty of traditional Republican calls to cut spending and regulations. But those calls nearly always lacked specifics, knowing that firm positions to cut specific programs and roll back particular regulations would open Republicans up to charges of hurting the middle class and protecting corporate special interests. Republicans got more specific, if not necessarily factual, in their populist swipes at Democrats. A common attack was a 2010 throwback: Obamacare cut your Medicare. As Politifact explained, “quite a bit of context is missing” from that charge.

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