Dean Baker

Democrats Run Away from Success of ‘Obamacare’

Stealing a page from the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl playbook from last year, the Democrats have spent the fall campaign hiding from the most successful federal government program since Medicare. In spite of all the obstacles thrown up by Republicans in Congress, state governments and the courts, the program has insured far more people than expected, and health care cost growth has slowed much more sharply than anticipated. Yet rather than boast about having the foresight and courage to support a program that passed without a single Republican vote (one Republican member of the House voted yes after the bill already had a majority), the Democrats have mostly hidden from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, they have done their best to convince voters that they have nothing to do with this program; interestingly, so have many Republicans.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: The Nuttiest Candidates of 2014

Every election year, the GOP comes up with a new crop of wingnut candidates for office. This one is no exception. Todd Akin. Christine O’Donnell. Joe Miller. Sharron Angle. Back in 2010, they soared to new heights of wingnuttery. Will any of this election’s nuttiest wingnuts become the next Todd Akin or Christine O’Donnell? It’s hard to say, because the GOP has tried to avoid minting more extreme right-wing candidates like those who flamed out in 2010. But if this list is any indication, Republicans haven’t entirely succeeded in that effort. In fact, conservatives have a lot invested in some of the most extreme right-wing candidates. The Koch brothers pledged to pour $500,000,000 — half a billion dollars — into this election. With four days to go, they’ve spent over $488,000,000 through their network of organizations.

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Dave Johnson

Here’s How One Campaign Is Using The Trade Issue To Win

Democratic North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan is running for reelection with ads that talk about trade. “Kay’s going to bat for us against China.” http://youtu.be/Uu5WrnsXeUA Trade is a huge issue for many blue-collar voters and in “rust-belt” regions that have been wiped out by the offshoring of our jobs and factories. People understand that “NAFTA-style” trade deals enabled companies to cross the borders of democracy with its good wages and environmental protections, and then bring the same goods back here to sell to the same customers. This has wiped out the middle class, shifting the income and wealth to the top few who own the companies. President Obama understood this when he campaigned for president. http://youtu.be/PF9gpvI2UfU However, right after taking office Obama reversed himself, and has promoted NAFTA-style trade agreements since.

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Dave Johnson

Tax-Dodging Deal Fails Thanks To Obama’s Inversion Rules – And Us

Politicians often don’t know about a problem – never mind fix it – unless people organize and make their feelings known. When you sign an online petition, send an email and especially donate to a cause, it can make a real difference. In the case of companies “renouncing their citizenship” in order to dodge their taxes, it really did work. You probably heard that companies like Burger King and others were “renouncing their citizenship” as a scheme to get out of paying taxes they owe us. They were using a complicated transaction called an “inversion” to make it seem like these U.S. companies were not U.S. companies. To make it simple, they would buy a non-U.S. company, then claim that the non-U.S. company was the “parent” company. Then they would claim they no longer had to pay certain U.S.

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Jeff Bryant

Big Money Taking Over Education Politics

Most folks in the Democratic Party have a problem with the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that permitted goo-gobs of corporate and private interest cash to be dumped onto our elections. The party’s platform supports amending the Constitution to reverse the decision. President Obama has also called for such an amendment, and Hillary Clinton has said she would consider supporting it. Most Democrats are also alarmed by the enormous amounts of cash funneled into the electoral process by folks like Karl Rove and the Koch brothers who use corporate and private interest money to overwhelm citizen voice in elections and usurp democracy.

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Bill Scher

Dead Heat: Why Are Republicans Struggling To Win On This Red Map?

The fundamentals of the 2014 Senate map are tilted toward the Republicans, with Democrats defending seven seats in states that Mitt Romney won. And yet, with only four days until Election Day (and many already taking advantage of early voting), the polls are all tied up. In The Huffington Post poll averages, the margin in six Senate races is three points or less, well within the margin of error: Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire and North Carolina. Half are Obama states, half are Romney states. Republicans hold the slight edge in all but blue New Hampshire and red North Carolina. In four others, the spread is only 4 or 5 points in favor of the Republican: Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

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Kitty Lan

Harvard Poll Gets It Wrong: Millennials Aren’t Massively Shifting Right

The “Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service released this week by the Harvard Institute of Politics seems to send a simple, direct image: Democrats, you have lost the support of millennials. But the tragedy of this poll is that it fails to tackle a fundamental question: Why? For that reason, it fails to paint an accurate picture of the challenges millennials face that underlie their political beliefs. The biggest highlight of the Harvard survey is the reversal of Democrat’s strong lead in the last election cycle. “In 2010…according to exit polls, Americans age 18 to 29 favored Democrats by 58 percent to 42 percent, a 16-point margin.

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Joshua Holland

How Racist Policies Made Ferguson a Pocket of Concentrated Despair

Ferguson, Missouri, was a powder-keg waiting for a match long before August 9 and Michael Brown’s fateful encounter with Police Officer Darren Wilson. It is one of many predominantly black communities across the United States plagued by highly concentrated poverty, and all of the social problems that accompany it. Photo Credit: pasa47 via Compfight cc White America has come up with a number of rationales for these enduring pockets of despair. An elaborate mythology has developed that blames it on a “culture of poverty” — holding the poor culpable for their poverty and letting our political and economic systems off the hook.

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Richard Eskow

Corporations Act To Make Congress A Wholly Owned Subsidiary

As Election Day approaches, two reports show us exactly how corrupted our political system has become. Unless voters come out in force, it looks like corporate money is about to buy itself another house of Congress. The Wall Street Journal analyzed filings from the Federal Election Commission and concluded that In a significant shift, business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against sitting senators. The Journal found that corporate PACs gave most of their donations to Democrats in the early part of the campaign. That fits with a longstanding pattern: big-business interests shower incumbents with money to encourage special treatment, both during the election year and in the upcoming term. But giving has shifted dramatically since June.

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Isaiah J. Poole

New Insight Into A Democratic Populist Path To Victory

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is not all doom and gloom about the Democratic Party’s chances of keeping control of the Senate. The polls may suggest otherwise, but Greenberg still sees a way for Democrats to have a good outcome Tuesday – and it’s through the Democratic Party’s base in the “rising American electorate” of single women, millennials and people of color. But to get to that path of victory, Democrats will have to pivot much more strongly and convincingly toward a populist economic message that identifies the villains responsible for economic inequality and middle-class decline as well as the policies needed to address those problems.

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Terrance Heath

Rioting in Black and White: From Pumpkin Fest To Ferguson, And Back

A riot in New Hampshire, and a likely acquittal in Ferguson, Missouri, underscore that blacks and whites still live in very different Americas, under very different rules. The comparison was inevitable, as the images of unrest in Ferguson were still fresh in the minds of Americans, when a riot of a different color broke out in Keene, New Hampshire last week. Predominantly white Keene State University students and non-students destroyed street signs, threw liquor bottles and billiard balls, set fires, pushed barricades, shouted curses at police officers, and flipped at least one car. Students weren’t the only ones getting, “rowdy.” Pumpkin Festival coordinator Ruth Sterling even fought with local reporter Jared Goodell, wresting away his microphone in an attempt to keep him from covering the riots. More than 30 people were injured, most by thrown items.

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Richard Eskow

7 Signs That the American Dream is Dying

Originally published in Alternet A recent poll showed that more than half of all people in this country don’t believe that the American dream is real. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in June agreed that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.” More and more Americans believe there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead. The public has reached this conclusion for a very simple reason: It’s true. The key elements of the American dream—a living wage, retirement security, the opportunity for one’s children to get ahead in life—are increasingly unreachable for all but the wealthiest among us. And it’s getting worse. As inequality increases, the fundamental elements of the American dream are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the majority. Here are seven ways the American dream is dying. Most people can’t get ahead financially.

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Robert Reich

Empathy Deficit Disorder

Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality. “When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said. Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.” Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in America – almost twice the national average, and a leading cause of death in Alaska for young people ages 15 to 24 — but I doubt it’s because Alaskans lead excessively easy lives. Every time I visit Alaska I’m struck by how hard people there have to work to make ends meet.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Failures of Conservatism Weighing Down Seven Republican Governors

Seven Republican governors who rode 2010s tea-party political wave into office, promising that their budget-slashing, tax-cutting and bowing to corporate interests would unleash economic prosperity, are now being judged harshly by voters now that their right-wing policies have failed to deliver. Their attacks on all things Obama, on unions and on government programs designed to help the unemployed and other financially struggling people gave them varying degrees of national prominence – Rick Scott in Florida, Nathan Deal in Georgia, Sam Brownback in Kansas, Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. But all but one of them now are in tight races in their re-election bids going into Tuesday’s balloting. The one who isn’t, Pennsylvania’s Corbett, is widely expected to lose by a significant margin.

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Dave Johnson

Polling Irony: People Think Economy Is Rigged; Trust The GOP To Fix It

“It’s the economy, stupid” is from a sign that hung in the Clinton “war room” during the 1992 election. The point was that the economy was the only thing that really mattered in the election. This election is a statement that the economy is not working for people. However else you analyze what happens next week, this is the core of all of it. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows why the Republicans are doing so well in the polls right now. “Recovery” Or Not, The Economy Sucks For Most People Q: Would you describe the state of the nation’s economy these days as excellent, good, not so good or poor? Positive 27% Negative 72% Excellent 1% Good 26% Not so good 44% Poor 28% People Think The Economy Is Rigged To Favor The Wealthy Q: Do you think the U.S.

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Richard Eskow

Secret Amazon: The Hidden Costs of Big Tech

An Amazon River legend says that its famous pink river dolphins sometimes become shapeshifters and assume human form to seduce unwary travelers and lure them to a magical city called Encante. The catch is that this city is underwater. Once you’ve been there you can never go back home. That’s the thing about myths: There’s always a catch. Our society runs on a digital myth, a myth which says that the technology-based economy is different, special and somehow not subject to the principles of mathematics and human nature that govern the rest of our lives.  This myth tells us there is something called a “sharing economy,” a wealth-creating phenomenon with no downsides and no human costs.

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Dave Johnson

Week Of Action Nov. 8-14 To Stop Fast Track

A broad coalition of organizations has announced a national week of action November 8-14 to drive public awareness of and opposition to fast-track trade promotion legislation. Visit the “No Fast Track” website at NoFastTrack.com for information. Visit FlushTheTPP.org to find events in your area. Write or call your member of Congress to say “no” to fast track. Bad Trade Deals Hurt Us Our country keeps entering into trade agreements that hurt us. These “NAFTA-style” trade agreements are sold with a promise of more jobs and expanding our economy, but every single time the result is lost jobs and an increase in the trade deficit instead. Every single time. But these agreements enable to wealthiest few and their giant corporations to make more and more profits and pass the income and wealth ever upward.

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Sam Pizzigati

Democracy Lite: All Form and No Substance

The most revealing moment of our ongoing 2014 election season? That may have come last week in a Florida gubernatorial debate when former governor Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, and current governor Rick Scott, a Republican, went mano a mano over who “has led a more privileged life.” Crist — net worth, $1.2 million — pronounced that Scott’s lavish “oceanfront mansion” lifestyle had him out of touch with average Floridians. Scott — net worth, over $132 million — countered that he had grown up in a much more hardscrabble home than Crist. “You grew up with money,” Scott fumed. “You can’t tell my story,” Crist retorted. Great theater, observers agreed. In fact, the exchange amounted to much more than theater. Crist and Scott had stumbled into what should be the central issue of this year’s elections: America’s great divide. The U.S.

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Richard Eskow

GOP Betrays Social Security-Cutting Dems: Who Could’ve Seen It Coming?

Who could’ve seen it coming? Progressives could be forgiven for developing something of a Cassandra complex when it comes to the Democratic Party’s economic stances. Here’s the latest case in point: The Washington Post and Politico have warned us that Republicans, led by Karl Rove’s dark-money outfit, are attacking Democratic candidates for supporting the “bipartisan” cuts to Social Security that were all the rage in Washington for a few years. Amid what the Post’s Lori Montgomery calls “charges of hypocrisy,” Democrats like Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina are being slammed for supporting increases in the retirement age and cuts to future benefits.

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Leo Gerard

Chinese, GOP Agree Non-Rich Shouldn’t Vote

Photo by Stephen Melkisethian on Flickr, taken Feb. 8 at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. during a Moral Monday Movement rally. Speaking just like an American Republican, the Communist Chinese-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said last week that if the state granted democratic rights to its poor and working class, they could dominate elections and choose leaders who would meet their needs. If Hong Kong’s 99 percenters picked their leaders, Mr. Leung said, “Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”  To ensure politics and policies favoring Hong Kong’s one percent, Mr. Leung insists that a committee appointed in Beijing approve all candidates to succeed him. Mr. Leung fears rule by the majority – just as U.S. Republicans do. It’s the reason the GOP has launched a massive voter suppression campaign across the country.

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