Terrance Heath

Bernie Sanders: Strong Words on Structural Racism and Inequality

The stakes were high for the speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the national gathering of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday night. Sanders’ speech to the civil rights organization, whose first president was Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., came just one week after Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a Netroots Nation event in Phoenix, Arizona, featuring Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, to demand that candidates address police brutality against African American communities, and put racial justice at the center of their campaigns. If Sanders responded badly to demands of the Black Lives Matter activists, almost immediately afterward he showed an understanding of and willingness to address their concerns with the same forcefulness he brings to populist economic issues.

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Dave Johnson

Even If Sandra Bland Did Commit Suicide…

We don’t know what the evidence will show happened to Sandra Bland in that jail cell. It shouldn’t matter. Does it really matter if Sandra Bland committed suicide while in police custody or was murdered? Does a suicide under police watch in any way absolve the police of responsibility? Why was she in a jail cell in the first place, and why was she able to commit suicide in that cell? Look how she got there in the first place. A person is pulled over for changing lanes without first signaling – apparently thinking she was getting out of the way as a police car came speeding up behind her. The driver is threatened with a Taser, pushed to the ground, taken to jail. Would she have been pulled over if she was driving a Mercedes? Would she have been pulled over if her skin was a difference color? Most of us can safely bet the answer is no.

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Alan Jenkins

Two Major Victories for Fair Housing

It’s a rare moment when two branches of our federal government take major steps to expand opportunity for all Americans. But, with relatively little fanfare, that’s what’s happened over the last few weeks in the critical area of housing. First, on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court held that if a housing policy seriously disadvantages one gender, racial, religious or ethnic group, families with children, or people with disabilities, that policy is illegal unless there is an important justification for the policy. That principle, known as “disparate impact,” has been integral to the Fair Housing Act’s protections for over four decades, but this was the High Court’s first time considering it. Just a week later, the U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Jeb! Bush Vows To Cripple Government

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush gave a speech last Monday at an event organized by a corporate lobbying group in which he vowed to cripple our government. So who gets to be in charge if he succeeds? Who decides how to allocate our country’s resources, determine and enforce our country’s economic policies, who pays to build roads and schools and our other public assets? If you look at who organized the speech, you might find a clue about who Bush thinks should do these things. Bush’s speech was at Florida State University, ostensibly on the subject of “government reform” and the cozy relationship between lobbyists and government officials. His solutions, however, included proposals to get the government out of the way of corporations by essentially crippling it if elected.

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Robert Borosage

Hillary on Quarterly Capitalism: Big Challenge, Timid Reform

Last week, Hillary Clinton opened an important “conversation” about what she calls “quarterly capitalism” or excessive “short-termism.” She noted how the rules have been rigged to pressure executives to focus on the next quarter’s stock return rather than the long-term health of the company. The result, reaching new extremes in recent years, is that large public corporations are using “eight or nine of every 10 dollars they earn” to pay out dividends or purchase stock buybacks. CEOs suggest that they would hold off making significant long-term investments if that meant missing the next quarter’s targeted return.

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Joshua Ferrer

Sanders Speaks Out On Sentencing Reforms

After over two months as an announced presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) has for the first time come out for substantive sentencing reforms. In an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, Sanders said “We need to take a look at mandatory minimum sentences, we have to take a whole new look, I think, at our drug policy.” Sanders has spoken frequently about the need for policing reforms, including more community policing programs, demilitarizing local police forces, holding law-breaking cops accountable, and providing more police training. But until now, Sanders has remained silent on reforming our inane sentencing policies, which have played an equally important role in ballooning the incarcerated population and criminalizing blackness.

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Joshua Ferrer

Republican Candidates On Raising The Minimum Wage

It’s been a big week for American workers. On Wednesday, progressives introduced bills in the House and Senate to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 and, in a letter, called on Obama to issue an executive order raising the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $15. New York is set to approve a fast food minimum wage increase to $15 within the next few days. And the University of California system has set wages for its employees at a $15 minimum. Sixty-three percent of Americans support a minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020, and 75 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12.50. Yet the federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, when it was increased to its current level of $7.25 per hour. We rounded up of the opinions of the Republican presidential candidates on the minimum wage.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Bully For The GOP

The barely-a-billionaire bully has taken over the GOP’s presidential primary playground. The Republican presidential debate will now take place after school, by the flagpole. Outside of a Republican presidential primary, there’s no place that Trump’s “juvenile name-calling, dubious boasts, short attention span, constant need for attention, and temper tantrums when things don’t go his way,” is considered acceptable or excusable behavior. Not even a kindergarten teacher would put up with it for long. Trump would find himself spending recess sitting inside, thinking about what he’s done. This week, Trump’s behavior escalated to the point where Republicans finally started speaking out and condemning it.

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Bill Scher

Obama Hatred Made Governors Refuse Healthcare. Higher Energy Bills Next?

Since the federal government picks up nearly all the cost of Obamacare’s voluntary expansion of state Medicaid programs, you might think all the governors would have accepted the sweetheart deal. While Republicans in some states have come around, there are still 19 states where Obama-hating Republicans have illogically refused to accept federal money to help their constituents. Next up, President Obama and his EPA are working on a program to cap carbon emissions from power plants. As with Obamacare, states will have latitude how it is implemented. As with Obamacare, conservative states are threatening to refuse cooperation. And as with Obamacare, those recalcitrant Obama-hating states will only be hurting themselves.

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Jeff Bryant

Get Ready For The Next Wave Of Education “Reform”

Education activists are rejoicing that the latest versions of No Child Left Behind reauthorization coursing through Congress may give struggling schools a way to have more control over their own governance and destiny. NCLB originally mandated such unreal expectations on schools the vast majority of them would be branded “failed.” New legislation, as currently written, would change that. Prominent education groups representing teachers and administrators like this turn of events and want bills from the House and the Senate to quickly proceed to conference. Should the onerous provisions imposed on schools by NCLB indeed be lifted, lots of struggling schools will breathe easier without the “failed” brand looming over their buildings.

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Nancy Altman

Expanding Social Security Is Completely Affordable

Every year, the Social Security Board of Trustees releases an annual report to Congress, assessing the health of the Social Security trust fund. In spite of what is often repeated by the media, every year the Trustees Report shows the Social Security trust fund growing—and this year’s report was no exception. Social Security is projected to run a surplus again this year. And next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. Once again, it’s clear that there is no crisis in Social Security’s financing. The fact is that, as the richest nation in the world at the richest point in our history, not only can we afford the current levels of Social Security protections, we can afford to greatly expand Social Security.

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Terrance Heath

What Will America Lose If Scott Walker Wins?

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker says that he, out of all the GOP candidates, will be “a president who will fight and win for America.” His record as governor shows how much America stands to lose if Walker wins. What would President Scott Walker’s America look like? What would Walker do for America? Take a look at what he did for Wisconsin. War on Public Workers Walker made a name for himself by attacking public sector workers. One of his first acts as governor was to deal with a budget shortfall of $137 million by proposing a “budget repair bill” that slashed away at salaries for social workers, prison guards, nurses, teachers, and snow-plow operators (an important job in Wisconsin). In addition, workers lost collective bargaining rights, and were stuck with extra health insurance and retirement costs.

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Cormac Close

The CFPB Is An “Unaccountable” Success of Dodd-Frank Reform

In this video, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reviews the state of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill after five years and the record of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans have done their best to prevent the Dodd-Frank financial reform law from being effective – from loading up the Securities and Exchange Commission with Wall Street tools to eviscerating the Commodity Future Trading Commission’s budget. Yet it is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that actually attracts more Republican ire than any other component of the law. And their main criticism? “The CFPB is unaccountable.” Yes, it’s true that the CFPB is safely out of reach of Wall Street lobbyists and the members of Congress who serve them. As a result, it actually does its job.

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Robert Borosage

Federal Workers Demand $15 and a Union

Chanting “$15.00 and a union,” thousands federal contract workers walked off their jobs yesterday, led by the Capitol’s cafeteria workers who serve senators their food. They were joined by Senator Bernie Sanders, now running for president, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) They announced they were introducing legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Sanders reiterated his call – joined in a letter signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 18 other senators – for President Obama to give preferential treatment to good jobs employers in government contracting – employers who pay their workers a living wage, offer decent benefits like paid sick leave, and recognize their ability to bargain collectively. Action is long overdue.

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Emily Foster

Fight for $15 Advances With Bill Introduction In Congress

Sontia Bailey, a full-time federally contracted cashier at the U.S. Capitol, gets paid a mere $10.10 an hour. She works a second job at KFC, which actually pays more than her government contract job. She clocks in 70 hours each week to make ends meet, which leaves her time for only five hours of sleep each night. Bailey’s exhausting work schedule has taken a toll on her health; she had a miscarriage two weeks ago due to complications from sleep exhaustion and stress. “I had a miscarriage at 3 a.m., alone,” she said. Bailey was rushed to a hospital less than three hours before she usually wakes up for her regular grueling work week. Sontia Bailey shouldn’t have to work two jobs just two get by. If Bailey was paid a living wage, she just might have a living child.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Norquist Roadblock Leads To a Social Security Raid

If Congress is unable to move forward on a long-term funding bill for federal surface transportation programs this month, you can lay a huge share of the blame on Grover Norquist. Mr. Shrink-Government-and-Drown-It-In-A-Bathtub is at it again, having members of the Senate twisting itself into knots to come up with funding for highway and public transit improvements without doing something that Norquist would call a tax increase. “The thing to avoid is to raise taxes to pay for the overspending driven by Davis-Bacon,” Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, was quoted as saying in The Hill newspaper this week.

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Dave Johnson

Reps Ask DOJ To Investigate Planned Parenthood Smear

Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler, and Yvette Clarke sent a letter asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking them to investigate whether laws were broken by the Center for Medical Progress. This is the organization that released a selectively-edited video of a Planned Parenthood physician. The Representatives issued a press release about the letter that begins, According to press reports, the Center for Medical Progress created a fake limited liability corporation in advance of the meeting it recorded with a Planned Parenthood doctor. The video was captured by actors using fake identification to pose as buyers from that fake human biologics company.

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Joshua Ferrer

The Harm We Face Because of the GOP’s ‘Broken’ Budget Process

In less than two months, Republicans will starve the middle class and increase poverty levels again if their budget is passed. They will slash billions of dollars from necessary programs that stabilize our middle class, leaving more people jobless, hungry, and homeless. It does not have to be this way. This will mark the third year of the self-imposed “sequester,” a series of caps on agency funding designed to be so severe as to require a bigger budget deal. Back in 2013, that deal ultimately failed, leaving us with deep cuts that have hurt the economy and cut essential programs to a bare minimum. Sequestration has slashed hundreds of billions of dollars from federal agencies, squeezing them to the point of failure. Veterans Affairs cuts have led to longer benefit delays, less health care spending, and delayed construction on cemeteries.

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Digby

“I’ll Light You Up”

As I have written several thousand times, Americans, especially black Americans, cannot assume they have rights or live in a free country when they are dealing with the police. It is no longer up to police to be professional and calm, it is the citizens’ job to maintain their cool, de-escalate the situation and deploy psychological understanding of confrontations when dealing with out of control police officers who demand total obeisance. My advice is this: imagine how you would act if you were confronted by a gang banger with a gun and conduct yourself in exactly the same way when you are in the presence of the police. Your “rights” do you just a much good in that moment. It shouldn’t be that way. Dealing with the cops is an inherently stressful situation for any cop. People react badly to perceived injustice. They are afraid and not themselves.

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Dave Johnson

Oak Flat: The Latest Land Grab From Native Americans

A “sneak law” attachment to a “must-pass” bill gives sacred Native American land to a foreign mining company. How did this happen? Do you remember that “Citibank budget,” where a budget bill to avert an imminent government shutdown suddenly had in it a Citibank-written provision deregulating certain risky financial trades? If Congress voted against the budget, the government would shut down, so Citibank got its way? This is how “sneak laws” get through. Usually We the People don’t get a chance to learn about them in time to do something about it, and this was one example. Another example of this happened in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.

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