Jeff Bryant

The Truth About The New Orleans School Reform Model

Anyone who saw the remarkable HBO series “The Wire” remembers the scene in the fourth season, focused on Baltimore public schools, where the term “juking the stats” defined how corporate-driven re-engineering of the public sphere has distorted institutions so they no longer serve ordinary people. An anniversary post for The Atlantic described that memorable moment thus: Historical pressures push teachers in season 4 as President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind education plan casts a real-life shadow. When a new city teacher, formerly of the Baltimore police, hears how his school will teach test questions, the young man immediately recognizes the dilemma: “Juking the stats … Making robberies into larcenies. Making rapes disappear. You juke the stats, and majors become colonels.

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Dave Johnson

The NLRB’s McDonald’s Ruling Is A Big Win For Low-Wage Workers

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Tuesday that employees who work at McDonald’s are employees who work for McDonald’s. This is actually a big deal because it means that McDonald’s’ low-wage employees can start going after the larger company for issues like wage theft and ultimately could organize themselves into a union. For decades the giant fast-food company McDonald’s has been using a gimmick, pretending that its local outlets are independent “small businesses” and that the larger McDonald’s company and brand has nothing to do with personnel and other policies of these outlets. This has allowed the company to remain above liability when the outlets steal the wages of employees, as well as making it much more difficult to form a union that negotiates with the larger chain.

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Dave Johnson

Republicans Again Filibuster Bring Jobs Home Act

Did you know that companies are subsidized by our government when they move jobs and production facilities out of the country? A Senate bill to stop this tax break was filibustered Wednesday by Senate Republicans. Will we ever know which companies — and countries — paid Republicans to kill this bill? Senate Republicans again filibustered the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 2569), “a bill to provide an incentive for businesses to bring jobs back to America.” This bill would: Give companies a 20 percent tax credit for relocating business units from outside the US back to the U.S. End the current ability of a company to take deductions for the costs of moving jobs and production out of the country. Wednesday’s filibuster follows their 2012 filibuster of essentially the same bill. (Note, Republicans filibustered the DISCLOSE Act that same week in 2012.

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Emily DiVito

A Campaign That Helps Women ‘Make It Work’ In This Economy

As women and their families continue to struggle with the demanding, and sometimes impossible, balance of work and family life, the Make it Work Campaign, launched earlier this summer, hopes to act as an outlet for their frustrations and an ally in their fight. Vivien Labaton, co-founder of Make it Work, spoke with me Tuesday morning to discuss the issues working women and families are struggling with, and the ways the Make it Work Campaign is trying to help. The campaign is primarily concerned with issues surrounding equal pay, caregiving, and work and family life. They are dedicated to achieving an increased minimum wage, affordable child care options, and paid family leave for workers, in an effort to “advance economic security for women, men and families across the country.” Its inception could not be more timely.

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Sam Pizzigati

Who Really Rates as a ‘True Egalitarian’?

One of America’s top apologists for our billionaire status quo has a rather daring new approach to defending inequality. He’s claiming to be an egalitarian. And not just any egalitarian. Tyler Cowen, the director of a Koch brother-backed academic center, is claiming that folks like him — who regularly oppose efforts to tax, regulate, or otherwise discomfort our global super rich — rate as the world’s “true egalitarians.” Cowen is making these claims, amazingly, without getting laughed out of the room. In fact, just over a week ago, The New York Times gave him a prominent platform to make his case. At the heart of that case, a single fact: The world is getting more equal. You read that right. More equal.

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Isaiah J. Poole

“Share the Bread, Mr. President”: Sign A ‘Good Jobs’ Executive Order

When a recent study by the Russell Sage Foundation revealed that the median American household had lost a third of its net worth in the decade between 2003 and 2013, while those at the very top saw significant gains, it was the latest evidence that the economy has gotten so out of balance that only a dramatic intervention can right it. That is why commuters heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning saw dozens of low-wage workers, mostly women, outside Union Station in a protest to demand that President Obama sign a “good jobs” executive order. Such an executive order would use the power of the federal purse – its $1.3 trillion a year in purchases – to increase wages and to improve working conditions for millions of working-class employees.

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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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