Isaiah J. Poole

Postal Banking Idea Wins Support From Postal Service Inspector General

If you think allowing post offices to morph into neighborhood banking centers is at best a utopian fantasy, or a just plain crazy idea, the Postal Service Inspector General wants you to think again. The inspector general’s office released a report today concluding that expanding the financial services post offices already provide could lessen or even close the post office’s annual deficit, making reductions in mail service unnecessary, while providing essential services to the estimated 68 million Americans who don’t have a bank account or have to use expensive check-cashing and payday lending outfits. “For millions of underserved families, the Postal Service is already a part of their financial lives,” the report said, noting that post offices sold $21 billion worth of money orders in 2014.

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Jim Hightower

GOP Climate Denial Syndrome Sweeps Wisconsin

It’s well-known that harsh climate conditions can mess with your mind — from cabin fever to heat delirium. But America is now experiencing an even more dangerous disease: Climaticus Non-Vocalism Extremism. This syndrome almost exclusively afflicts a narrow segment of our population: Republican political officials and candidates. It might stem from a genetic defect, but scientists say more study is needed. Symptoms include an obsessive impulse to deny that human-caused climate change is happening, often accompanied by a feverish insistence that government employees be banned from discussing it. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is suffering from this affliction. Image via Gateway Technical College @ Flickr. The Koch-funded governor and Republican presidential wannabe is an ardent climate-change denier. And his state’s public lands board has taken climate denial to Orwellian levels.

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Dave Johnson

These 13 Democrats Are Helping Rush Fast Track Through The Senate

Fast track is being super-fast tracked in the Senate. Wall Street and the big corporations really, really want this one and the Senate is responding, including 13 “Democrats.” When the fix is in and you are rigging the game anyway, why bother with the pretense of meaningful and open public debate? Sometimes a vote is a clear either/or, where you are either voting with Wall Street and the giant, multinational corporations or you are voting with 99 percent of Americans who actually (try to) work for a living. These trade votes are one of those clear choices. Thirteen Democrats joined today with Republicans, Wall Street and the giant, multinational corporations to rush fast track through the Senate with little public debate and few votes on amendments.

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Jeff Bryant

Charter Schools Won’t Solve Racial Injustice In Baltimore

The disturbing death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore while in police custody, and the ensuing riots after news of his death spread, have continued to prompt countless analyses of the chronic problems in our nation’s urban centers. My colleague Terrance Heath correctly assigns blame to a direct source: chronic abuse committed by police against people, especially black and brown people, taken into custody. A recent report from progressive news outlet Alternet reveals “nearly 2,600 detainees” from Baltimore police were turned away from the city’s detention center in the past three years because they were too injured to be accepted.

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Emily Foster

How Los Angeles Is Showing the Nation How to Reduce Poverty

This week the nation’s second-largest city made immense strides in combating poverty and wealth inequality. The Los Angeles City Council approved by 14 to 1 legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would provide a necessary income increase to more than 723,000 Angeleno workers, almost 50 percent of the city’s workforce. The law will raise the current $9 minimum wage to $15 through a five-year period, while giving small employers an extra year. The legislation’s ripple effects include $1.25 in economic stimulus for every dollar in increased wages, adding $414 million to tax revenue and creating 46,400 new jobs throughout the city. Los Angeles is an example for what a living wage could do for the entire nation. At the Economic Policy Institute in Washington on Wednesday, advocates for raising the minimum wage met to discuss why national action is necessary.

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Terrance Heath

Not Lovin’ It: Thousands Storm McDonald’s HQ To Protest Low Wages

In the largest protest of its kind, thousands of McDonald’s employees stormed the company’s headquarters today to demand that it stop spending millions manipulating stock prices, and start paying workers a living wage. McDonald’s cashiers and cooks came to the company’s shareholders meeting, at its corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. More than 100 were arrested for refusing to leave the property. Marching with them were Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry; Moral Mondays movement leader Rev. William Barber; Rev. Marilyn Pagán Banks of North Side Power/A Just Harvest in Chicago, Illinois; and Rev. Rodney E. Williams of the Swope Parkway United Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri. McDonald’s worker Santa Rubio on stage with Mary Kay Henry during the shareholders action.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Unprecedented Coalition Leads To Progressive Wins In Philadelphia

Get ready to add the name Jim Kenney to a growing list of progressive populist mayors who seek to put their cities in the vanguard of economic change for working people. Kenney won the mayoral nomination Tuesday night in Philadelphia’s Democratic primary. He won in what Philadelphia magazine called a “historic landslide” and a “shellacking of the first order” against a well-financed and politically powerful challenger, state senator Anthony Williams.

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Dave Johnson

URGENT – Senate Debating Fast Track Now: Call Your Senators

On a Wednesday press call Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown complained that the Senate leadership is “rushing” through a vote on “fast track” trade promotion authority – a procedure that in essence preapproves trade deals before the public can know what is in them. He said they are limiting the time for discussion and debate of the bill, limiting the number of amendments that can be offered and engaging in the kind of secrecy similar to what the Obama administration is imposing. If you are following the trade debate over fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), then you know that the votes are being rushed through the Senate with very little debate. Call your senators today and tell them to support critical amendments and to vote against fast track.

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Robert Borosage

Los Angeles Goes to $15 Minimum Wage

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to raise the minimum wage of workers in America’s second largest city to $15 an hour. The minimum will rise in increments, reaching $15 in 2020. In a city where 46 percent of workers now earn less than $15 an hour, the effects will be profound. And similar hikes are likely to sweep across cities in California and elsewhere. There is a lesson here that we should never forget. This dramatic change comes only because workers organized to demand it. This is a dramatic victory for the Fight for $15 movement, the courageous low-wage workers who put their jobs on the line to demand simple justice. A $15 minimum wage had little support from political leaders (Sen. Bernie Sanders a rare exception).

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Richard Eskow

The Left Matters – Now, More Than Ever

Some leading Democrats seem to have a love-hate relationship with the left. Sure, progressives seem to have more influence than ever in the party this year, at least rhetorically. But it doesn’t look like the friction will be going away any time soon. President Obama has been escalating his war of words with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her allies, reigniting a burning resentment he last let slip in 2010. Hillary Clinton has adopted more progressive rhetoric, but her unwillingness to fight for specific policies has left activists frustrated. Clearly, the left matters. Why, then, is it so difficult for progressives to get a seat at the table? The Obama White House and the Left While Obama seems to have targeted Warren for especially intense criticism, some of his barbs were aimed at broader targets.

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Emily Foster

A Robin Hood Tax To Pay for College for All

In Norway, students go to college tuition-free. In Denmark, students are even paid to go to higher education. In the U.S., college students currently face more than $1.2 trillion of education debt. If the United States wants to boost its middle class and rebuild its economy, this is something that needs to change. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) understands this dilemma. Sanders met with supporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill today and introduced two bills to address it: his College for All Act and a Robin Hood Tax. “It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not get to go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it,” said Sanders. “This is absolutely counterproductive to our efforts to create a strong, competitive, economy and a vibrant middle class.

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Dave Johnson

McDonald’s’ Workers Protest Share Buyback Scheme

In April we saw the largest-ever strike against the fast-food industry. There were walkouts in 236 cities, including strikes and protests in 40 countries. Now on Wednesday we will see the largest-ever workers’ protests at the McDonald’s shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois. Workers will be protesting the stock manipulation scheme that McDonald’s’ executives are using to loot the company at the expense of its employees. Profits That Go To Shareholder Buybacks “Loot The Future” It used to be illegal for a company to manipulate its stock price. Now it’s common. Instead of using profits to invest in the future, companies are paying ridiculously low wages, downsizing, outsourcing, offshoring, cutting R&D, deferring maintenance and improvements, and borrowing money and using the proceeds to purchase their own stock.

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Bill Scher

How To Solve The RNC’s Debate Problem: Money

Over at Real Clear Politics, I offered the Republican Party advice it will not take: Cull the number of presidential candidates you put on the debate stage by how much money they raised. Republican National Committee leaders are struggling with how to limit the size of the debate stage because if they only use polls, they risk disqualifying most of their non-white male candidates. Beyond their sudden interest in affirmative action, polling at this early stage is a flawed measure because it gauges little but name recognition among voters who aren’t yet paying close attention. But before the votes are cast, money is what every candidate is chasing and what every candidate’s staff is touting as proof of their campaign’s success. Reporters, and voters, watch the money tallies to see which candidate is proving to be viable.

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Larry Cohen

Message from Iowa To Presidential Candidates: Which Side Are You On?

More than 500 active leaders from 56 organizations spent Saturday at Iowa State University in general sessions and workshops uniting around issues and strategies at the Working Families Summit. I had been to Iowa in previous presidential election years as presidential campaigns warmed up, but Saturday’s conference was not about a candidate or even a platform. It was broader than that. Recognizing that the leading candidates who are eventually the party nominees will raise and spend in excess of $2 billion, on Saturday, Iowans were energized by the longer road through the nominating process, the 2016 election and beyond. Big money in politics has changed our democracy, but on Saturday populism was alive and well, despite the hard path ahead.

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Leo Gerard

New Rules: If The Economy’s Not Working For Us, It’s Not Working

Some of the biggest banks in the world are expected to plead guilty to felonies this week. Felonies! They are scandalous crimes, too: fraud and antitrust violations. Finally, America will see members of the class that crashed the economy dressed in black and white suits that are hardly the Brooks Brothers pinstripes to which they’ve grown accustomed. Oh, wait, no. The New York Times says these felons will just pay some fines and go about their business of playing roulette with the world economy. Of course they won’t face prison like normal criminals. They’re bankers! Members of the exclusive Too Big to Jail Club. They’re protected. Just like millionaires and CEOs are. A CEO can, for example, be fired for failing to produce but still get $21 million in severance, then lose a well-financed race for U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Let The Public Read The Completed Parts Of The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Basic facts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are under public dispute. Fast track must not be approved until this is cleared up. We the People deserve to know what is being voted on with fast track. The Dispute There is a big public dispute between President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren over certain facts about the TPP. This dispute is hardly only between the president and Warren, it is about the effect TPP could have on all of our lives. This dispute is mainly over (but not limited to): Whether the agreement gives corporations certain powers that could let them overrule the laws and regulations of the US and other governments. Whether the agreement could undermine our Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms. Whether the agreement has clearly enforceable “progressive” labor and environmental provisions.

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Emily Foster

Iowa Working Families Summit Advances Push For Progressive Agenda

While well-heeled conservatives watched Republican presidential candidates make their pitches for support in an Iowa convention hall at the GOP’s Lincoln Dinner on Saturday, grassroots progressives gathered in a much less lavish college auditorium to discuss pressing issues for America’s struggling middle class. The Iowa State Campus University in Ames, Iowa, was where people from more than 50 organizations (including co-sponsors of groups endorsing CAF’s Populism 2015 Platform) gathered for the Iowa Working Families Summit. The summit had a huge turnout of more than 600 people from all over the state. Their focus was on showing that progressive policies, such as investing in infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and strengthening labor unions, are the key path to American prosperity.

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Terrance Heath

President Obama Moves To Stem Police Militarization

Nine months after police in Ferguson, Missouri donned riot gear, and met protestors with paramilitary weapons and equipment, the Obama administration has taken its first real steps towards halting police militarization. As the president prepared for a visit to Camden, New Jersey — one of the nation’s poorest, most violent cities — the White House announced a series of recommendations to regulate the flow of paramilitary weapons and equipment to local police departments.

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Diane Archer

Trans-Pacific Partnership-Related Bill Contains A Medicare Poison Pill

New disturbing information has surfaced that the House Republicans’ trade adjustment assistance bill, which supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, contains a Medicare poison pill. The bill includes $700 million in Medicare cuts at the end of a 10-year budget period to cover the cost of trade adjustment assistance for displaced workers, Americans who will lose their jobs because of lower cost imports. Please let members of Congress know that they should not support the bill in its current form. Covering the cost of assistance for displaced workers is important.

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Dean Baker

The Trans-Pacific Partnership And The Costs of Drug Patent Monopolies

The debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has taken center stage in policy circles in recent weeks. Its proponents promise a major economic bonanza from expanded trade. It’s not clear that the economics supports this claim. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) did an analysis of the gains from the reductions in tariffs and quotas that are expected to be included in the agreement and concluded that they would be too small to measure, rounding to zero. A study by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer, using a somewhat different methodology, concluded that when the TPP is fully implemented, roughly ten years after the agreement is put in effect, the gains to the United States would be 0.38 percent. This is roughly two months of normal growth.

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