Terrance Heath

Populism2015 Conference: Progressives Have “To Be Aggressive Again”

The Populism2015 conference started with a bang Saturday night, as more than 750 activists and member of four national progressive organizations came together to announce a new populist alliance around the Populism2015 agenda. National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, Alliance for a Just Society, and USAction, together with other allied organizations are unveiling the Populism2015 Agenda that has the potential to energize millions of people in the coming year who are looking for — and not finding yet in the public debate — real solutions to the triple crisis of growing inequality, a broken democracy and a planet in peril. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable, as national radio commentator, writer and public speaker Jim Hightower greeted the roomful of activists at the opening plenary.

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Dave Johnson

Why CAF Is Opposing And Marching Against Fast-Track Trade Legislation

The “fast track” trade promotion authority bill that in essence pre-approves the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has been introduced in the Senate. Roger Hickey and Robert Borosage, co-directors of the Campaign for America’s Future, issued this statement Thursday in response to the introduction of the legislation. The Campaign for America’s Future opposes the “fast track” trade promotion authority (TPA) introduced Thursday by Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Paul Ryan. Why? Because Fast Track is part of a process that rigs our democracy and the global economy, resulting in trade deals that are written to benefit billionaires and giant multinational corporations at the expense of 99 percent of us.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Clinton Derangement Syndrome

Unless you slept through the 1990s or were born afterwards, you know that no one but no one drives wingnuts more insane than Hillary Clinton (with the possible exception of Barack Obama). Clinton launched her presidential candidacy this week. Almost immediately, an epidemic of Clinton Derangement Syndrome broke out on the right. No one exhibited a worse case of it than Bill O’Reilly. But the rest was the usual anti-Clinton madness. GOP strategist Ann Navaro complained that Clinton “lacks subtlety” on the subject of possibly being the first woman president. “I don’t need her to drown me in estrogen every time she opens her mouth.” Conservative pundit S.E.

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Terrance Heath

House Republicans “Make Sure The People At The Top Stay There”

In 2011, when he was still House Minority leader, former Rep. Eric Cantor gave a speech about what the GOP could to about inequality, which focused on “how we make sure the people at the top stay there.” Cantor has since gone to his reward, making a lot of money working for “the people at the top.” This week, Cantor’s fellow Republicans did their part to “make sure the people at the top stay there.” House Republicans voted 239 to 179 to give a $269 billion handout to the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans, by repealing the inheritance tax. All but three Republicans, and no Democrats voted for the bill, which also repeals capital gains taxes for people with large estates, allowing investments to be handed down with no taxes on their growth over the years.

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Robert Borosage

The Popularity of the New Populism

Hillary Clinton indicates she favors a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to corporate money in politics. She joins President Obama in calling for an end to the hedge fund billionaire tax break, and expresses dismay at the gulf between CEO salaries and those of everyday workers. Republican candidates from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz decry the growing inequality in America. Democrats in the House and Senate line up overwhelmingly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and our failed trade policies. These actions reflect what pollsters have discovered: Americans are looking for change, and in area after area, bold populist reform policies enjoy majority support. Politicians embracing populist reforms aren’t moving to the left or the right; they are moving to the center of American opinion.

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Miya Pontes

Workers Tell Congress: No Wage That “Keeps Us … Working As Slaves”

In addition to being the day hundreds of thousands of workers participated in “Fight for $15″ strikes around the nation and the world to call for better pay for low-wage workers, Wednesday was also lobby day for the National Restaurant Association, which had its representatives on Capitol Hill to oppose legislation that would meet the demands of the strikers. Robin Law was also on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and she had a question for both the lawmakers and the lobbyists. Law is a single mother who works for a fast-food chain. “Our company makes lots of money,” she said into a microphone in a congressional hearing room. “However, I only make 8.50 an hour, no benefits after eight years… As a single mom, it’s tough to give your son everything he wants.

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Jim Hightower

Odd Bedfellows, Lying Together

Come one, come all. Step right up and buy your ticket for a ride on the splendiferous, phantasmagoric, and miraculous Trans-Pacific Partnership! The TPP isn’t some sort of futuristic flying machine. It’s just another global trade scam coming at us like a volcanic eruption straight out of hell. This thing is a “partnership” of, by, and for global corporations — similar to NAFTA, only much, much bigger and far more destructive both to the middle class and to our people’s sovereignty. After hammering out backroom deals in strict secrecy over the past seven years, a cabal of White House negotiators and corporate lobbyists are now ready to spring it on us. And its backers intend to ram it into law before We the People can get a whiff of its anti-democratic stench.

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Elizabeth Warren

The Unfinished Business of Financial Reform

https://youtu.be/HSpfGodTrtk Remarks at the Levy Institute’s 24th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference As Prepared for Delivery Thank you all for being here today. We’re here to ask a critical question at a critical time: what are we to make of Dodd-Frank five years later? To answer that question, I think we should start by looking at how the government responded to the last major financial crisis – the Wall Street Crash of 1929. After the 1929 crash, policymakers diagnosed what had gone wrong and changed the laws to make sure that excessive speculation and risk-taking on Wall Street couldn’t push the economy over a cliff. The new rules were creative and unprecedented: First, a new agency – the SEC – charged with enforcing basic marketplace rules.

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Bill Scher

How To Win The Race For Hillary’s Platform

Over at Politico Magazine, I argued that the real Democratic race is “not about whether Hillary will win. Rather, it’s who will win Hillary.” In other words, who will exert the most influence over her platform: Establishment wonks like Larry Summers, who led the “Commission on Inclusive Prosperity” (see Robert Borosage’s analysis of that here) or populist progressives, who will be convening in Washington this weekend for the Populism2015 conference. Fortunately, the two camps are not diametrically opposed. There are plenty of proposals for activist government coming out of the Summers commissions: infrastructure spending, “virtually-free” public college and rules for easier union organizing, just to name of a few. But there are areas where populists would go farther, such as more money for infrastructure and student debt forgiveness.

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Isaiah J. Poole

‘Raise Wages, Empower Workers’ At the Top of the Populism2015 Agenda

The wave of “Fight for $15″ demonstrations that swept the country Wednesday were in themselves a big deal – actions in more than 230 cities in the United States and in several foreign cities in which hundreds of thousands of workers walked off their jobs to protest low wages and their lack of bargaining power. But these actions fit into what has become a much larger effort to repair and reshape an American economy that for workers is fundamentally broken. It puts on notice politicians who offer workers patches and palliatives to soften the blows of actions that have served to shrink the middle class and concentrate wealth at the top. This is not about remediation. The demand is for restructuring.

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Terrance Heath

On Tax Day, The Fight for $15 Is Everyone’s Fight.

On a day when millions of Americans render a portion of their earnings to the federal government, thousands of low-wage workers, adjunct professors, some elected officials, and at least one CEO are standing up for an $15 dollar minimum wage — a livable wage for Americans who don’t earn enough to afford essentials like food, shelter, and medical care. The Fight for $15 movement launched marches and actions in 200 American cities today. The movement has grown exponentially since it began in 2013, and its cause has spread. State and local governments, and some corporations have stepped out ahead of the federal government to raise minimum wages. Yesterday, activists in Oregon announced plans to file a ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019.

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Diane Archer

How a Proposed Medicare Premium Hike Would Weaken Medicare

In late March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with bipartisan support that would again raise Medicare premiums for people with Medicare with higher incomes. The Senate has also passed the legislation, and President Obama has said he will sign it. Through this bill, H.R. 2, Congress does some good. It fixes the payment formula for doctors who treat Medicare patients, ensuring they are paid adequately. It also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But hiking Medicare premiums, even a small amount for wealthier individuals, as a way to cover these costs weakens Medicare for everyone and could pave the way for the privatization of Medicare. Driving up insurance costs for people with Medicare with higher incomes is bad policy. Insurers don’t charge wealthier people higher premiums for the same product and neither should Medicare.

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Dave Johnson

Tuna Case Shows Everything You Need To Know About “Trade” Agreements

The World Trade Organization ruled this week that the United States is not being fair to Mexican seafood companies by denying “dolphin safe” labels on their tuna, meaning that American citizens won’t know whether they are buying tuna that is caught in a way that we deem would protect dolphins. Let that sink in. A foreign trade court has prohibited the United States from letting citizens know what is or is not in a product. This non-U.S. “court” is nullifying our federal Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act. The Hill explains, in “WTO sides with Mexico in ‘dolphin-safe’ tuna dispute“: On Tuesday, WTO said stricter rules for companies that want to sell their tuna as “dolphin safe” discriminate against Mexican tuna products and fail to bring the U.S. into compliance with its obligations under the WTO agreement. The U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Here’s Proof Republicans Are Absolutely Certain Voters Are Tuned Out

Republicans depend on people believing what they say but not paying attention to the things they do. Just how certain are they that no one pays attention to the things they do? Read on. Today is Tax Day, and Republicans are voting to repeal the estate tax. This is a huge, huge tax cut for only the top 0.2 percent – people worth more than $5.4 million ($10.9 million if married). These people will get $269 billion over 10 years. The same Republicans have passed a budget outline that cuts infrastructure spending and guts our government by $5 trillion, mostly from services and benefits that help working families. It guts Medicare and Medicaid by more than $400 billion each; cuts Pell Grants by $89 billion and food stamps by $125 billion. That budget increases taxes on some working families by an average of $1,000.

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Bill Scher

Warren Explains How We Solve Inequality and CO2 Pollution

At Monday’s Good Jobs Green Jobs conference, Sen. Elizabeth Warren deftly melded her case for building a stronger middle class with her call to avert a climate crisis, saying “both problems grow from the same roots and they both share a similar solution”: tougher regulations, fairer taxation and robust investment in job-creating infrastructure. Warren’s keynote was just the latest example at how the false choice between jobs and the environment is no longer causing serious divisions. The next step forward will be taken at the Populism2015 conference beginning Saturday in Washington. The conference is subtitled, “Building a Movement for People and the Planet,” precisely because you cannot save the middle class without saving the environment at the same time.

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Terrance Heath

Bill O’Reilly Declares “Open Season” On Reality

In Fox host Bill O’Reilly’s alternate right-wing universe, Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy means, “If you are a Christian or a white man in the USA, it’s open season on you.” Here on earth, two more unarmed black men were killed by law enforcement officers. Rep.

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Richard Eskow

The “Fight for $15″ and the Return of the Vanishing Worker

On April 15, perhaps as you’re reading these words, working people in 200 American cities will rally for a $15 base wage and the right to form a union. Solidarity demonstrations are planned in more than 30 cities on six continents, and have already taken place in Switzerland, the Philippines, South Korea, New Zealand, and Japan. The “fight for $15” matters – because the lives of working people matter, and because the success of this effort will help strengthen the American economy for everyone. But the significance of April 15’s action runs even deeper than that.

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Robin Claremont

Four Charts Reveal the Hidden Facts of Tax Day

Today is Tax Day, and millions of Americans are scrambling to file their taxes before the deadline. As you send in that check to the IRS or eagerly await your refund, have you stopped to think about what the federal government is doing with that money? Most Americans don’t, and for good reason. It’s not easy to find out how your tax dollars were spent, or to understand how your tax dollars fit into the overall picture of federal revenue that funds the essential programs, infrastructure, and services we rely on. Here are four charts that illustrate facts about Tax Day that all Americans should know: 1. The government spent a significant amount of your federal income tax dollars on the Pentagon and war. Out of every tax dollar you paid in 2014, 27 cents went to fund the Pentagon, nuclear weapons, and war.

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Dave Johnson

Fast Track: Ohio Gets It. But Will Clinton?

One state that gets it about “NAFTA-style” trade deals is Ohio. Factory after factory has closed, shipping jobs offshore, and leaving communities devastated. Now Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are coming for the rest of the jobs, and Ohio is fighting back. Will Hillary Clinton join the fight? You have to click through and read this whole op-ed by Joe Logan, president of the Ohio Farmers Union, writing at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, No hurry on ‘fast track’ — walking blindly into complex trade deals never a good idea, Imagine you and your spouse going into your bank to settle on the purchase of a home.

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Leo Gerard

The High Cost of Fighting for $15

This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages. Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years.  Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them. Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency. They know the risk they’re taking by participating in strikes for pay hikes. They’ve seen bosses punish co-workers for demonstrating for raises.

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