Isaiah J. Poole

Do Voters Back White House Plan For Highway Funding? Don’t Be So Sure

An outfit called Morning Consult created a minor ripple this week with a news story headlined “Voters Back White House Plan for Highway Funding.” But, like all stories based on polls, it pays to know how the pollster asked the question. And in this case, if the goal was to determine if voters back “the White House plan” for highway funding, the pollsters didn’t ask the right question. That issue takes on major importance starting today as Congress returns from recess and wrestles with an end-of-the-month deadline for authorizing the continuation of the federal surface transportation program. The program has been funded primarily by a federal tax on gasoline, but in recent years that tax has had to be supplemented with general fund appropriations.

Continue Reading...
Leo Gerard

There’s Always Money for the Boss

Businesses always find big bucks for the boss. He wants a raise; he gets it. No problem. For workers whose sweat of the brow produces profits, well, somehow there’s never a cent for them. In fact, last week when President Obama proposed making more workers eligible for overtime pay, fat cats and CEO sycophants expressed abject horror that companies may have to pay employees more when they work more. No way could they pay, they protested! The proposed rule would bankrupt America, they raged. It’s not humanly possible, they fumed, for corporations that pad CEO paychecks with millions in bonuses to also manage to pay time and a half when workers labor more than 40 hours a week. Can’t be done, they cried! Well, except that it has been done since 1938. That’s when the Fair Labor Standards Act passed. It created the 40-hour work week and overtime rules.

Continue Reading...
Robert Borosage

Greeks Seek Hope; European Central Bank and Berlin Say No Basis for Deal

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will present a new Greek proposal to the Europeans today, but there are few reasons for hope. The European Central Bank announced yesterday that it would not provide increased liquidity to Greek banks, insuring that they will remain closed and soon run out of euros. Germany’s functionaries announced there was no basis for a new deal. While Paris and Rome seem more willing to show flexibility, the Germans seem intent on driving Greece out of the euro. There is more talk about humanitarian aid to relieve the coming starvation than about debt relief or a program that might work. The economic quarantine of Greece will tighten rapidly, as its economy collapses. This folly is by design. The euro was designed to remove monetary policy from the hands of elected officials.

Continue Reading...
Joshua Ferrer

O’Malley’s Welcome Words on Mass Incarceration Don’t Rewrite the Record

Amid a bipartisan chorus urging prison reform and an end to mass incarceration, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley’s words are ringing awfully flat. Like many others, O’Malley urges an end to mass incarceration and more police restraint. His record as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, however, sings a different tune. During O’Malley’s two terms as mayor of Baltimore, between 1999 and 2007, he instituted a “zero-tolerance” policing policy. The police arrested hundreds of people a day for infractions as minor as loitering or littering. Many of these arrests happened en masse, where the police at times would round up more than a hundred people and frisk all of them without probable cause.

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

Tell Obama and Congress to Stop the Squeeze on Greece

Now that the Greek populace has spoken with a firm voice against the austerity policies being imposed on the country by Europe’s financial leaders, it’s time for President Obama and Congress to stand firm with the Greek people. A petition calling on our political leadership to do just that was launched today by the progressive group Just Foreign Policy. “President Obama and Members of Congress should call on the European Central Bank to support the Greek banking system while negotiations continue between the Greek government and its official creditors to achieve a fair agreement,” the petition reads.

Continue Reading...
Robert Reich

The Choice Ahead: A Private Health-Insurance Monopoly or a Single Payer

The Supreme Court’s recent blessing of Obamacare has precipitated a rush among the nation’s biggest health insurers to consolidate into two or three behemoths. The result will be good for their shareholders and executives, but bad for the rest of us – who will pay through the nose for the health insurance we need. We have another choice, but before I get to it let me give you some background. Last week, Aetna announced it would spend $35 billion to buy rival Humana in a deal that will create the second-largest health insurer in the nation, with 33 million members. The combination will claim a large share of the insurance market in many states – 88 percent in Kansas and 58 percent in Iowa, for example. A week before Aetna’s announcement, Anthem disclosed its $47 billion offer for giant insurer Cigna.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Reading 150 Years Of “The Nation:” An Interview with D.D. Guttenplan

  One hundred and fifty years ago today, 12 weeks after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, The Nation magazine was born and immediately called for President Andrew Johnson to exercise his power and enshrine “the right of the negroes to the franchise.” I know this thanks to the wonderful book published today, “The Nation: A Biography (The First 150 Years)” in honor of the magazine’s 150th birthday. The book is available in e-book and paperback for $9.95 at TheNation.com/ebooks. The book, written by the magazine’s London bureau chief D. D. Guttenplan, is a journey through the history of post-Civil War America seen through the lens of the American left. And it’s a reminder how commentary, criticism and dissent have constantly shaped our nation’s history. I had the chance to interview D.D.

Continue Reading...
Robert Borosage

The Greeks Say No

The Greek people have stood up. By an overwhelming margin, they rejected the harsh, unending, austerity that the “Troika” – the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank – dictated for them. They stood with the leaders they had elected to demand an arrangement that would offer some hope. The barely disguised effort of Europe’s powers to topple the Syriza government has failed. Events will move rapidly now. Here are four things to remember in the swirl of meetings, pronouncements and smash-ups. 1. Syriza does not want to leave the Euro or the European Community. Syriza is an oddity in Europe: an independent insurgent party that is committed to Europe and the Euro. Syriza was elected to alleviate the disaster created by Greece’s major parties and utterly misguided European leadership.

Continue Reading...
Jeff Bryant

The Disturbing Forces Behind A School “Reform” Fight In Colorado

It’s Tuesday evening, and people have come to church — but not for religion. What’s bringing people to Green Mountain United Methodist Church in the heart of Lakewood, Colorado, is a meeting modestly titled “Church and society: Stand up for students.” In a cramped, wood-paneled room on the second floor, two dozen attendees rise, one after another, to introduce themselves and say why they are here. “I’m concerned,” say a few. “Scary,” “outrageous,” say others. A neatly dressed elderly man speaks up: “When you’ve been given a lot for the education of your own children, it’s important that the children after yours get that same level of education, or better. I don’t believe we’re doing that.” “I have two children in school,” a younger woman says.

Continue Reading...
Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Forever Hold Their Peace, Again

It’s been almost a week since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Was that enough time for wingnuts to calm down and realize the Court gave them an escape hatch from the “culture war”? Of course not. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodge, some perceptive political analysts noted that LGBT Americans weren’t the only one’s with a “win” to celebrate. The Court handed conservatives a “win,” too, if only they could calm down enough to see it. Obergefell was compared to Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned laws segregating public schools, because each had a similar impact on American society. However, in Brown the Court was getting out far ahead of public opinion, in the name of justice.

Continue Reading...
Jacob Woocher

Rand Paul’s Failed Ideas Can’t Beat Clinton’s Criminal Justice Reforms

Last Thursday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) criticized Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, claiming she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are “proud” to have incarcerated a “whole generation of young black men.” He then took aim at the former Secretary of State’s recent call to reform the criminal justice system, deriding it as a calculated political move in response to his own advocacy for sentencing reform. Ultimately, Sen. Paul turned a legitimate criticism of Clinton’s past policy positions into a blatantly political soundbite, prioritizing politics over moving an important conversation forward. To be fair, Sen. Paul’s continuing advocacy for criminal justice reform is commendable. It’s especially refreshing to see a Republican candidate identify inner-city poverty as a major underlying issue.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Federal Contractors Should Disclose Campaign Spending

We the People do not know how much money federal contractors are spending to bribe influence our Congress. What does that say about the transparency and integrity of our pay-to-play political system? For Independence Day President Obama should help Congress become independent of bribes campaign contributions from federal contractors. Thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions, federal contractors can give unlimited amounts to “dark money” groups that influence elections with smear ads, etc. In March, more than 50 organizations sent a letter asking President Obama to require federal contractors to disclose their spending on bribes political campaigns. Obviously, the public should know if and how much federal contractors are influencing those who decide what to spend on federal contracts.

Continue Reading...
Elaine Weiss

Can the 2016 Election be About Making it Work for American Families?

As election season heats up, it’s encouraging to see not only education policy in general, but early childhood education, in particular, getting serious attention. With New York City leading the way, and cities from Boston to Seattle and San Antonio working toward universal pre-k, it’s becoming clear that it is, indeed, possible to scale up quality prekindergarten programs fairly quickly. We must anticipate bumps in the road, and pay close attention to ensure sustained quality. But the bottom line is that these public investments are both wise and workable. Given the rapid changes in our country’s demographics in recent years, however, and shockingly high rates of child and community poverty, conversations about early childhood investments need to be ratcheted up a few notches.

Continue Reading...
Robert Borosage

Jobs Report: Flat Wages, Shrinking Workforce

The June Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report shows continued growth — 223,000 new jobs added with the official unemployment rate declining to 5.3%. Jobs growth remains steady — rising for 57 straight months, now setting a new record each month – but slow, lagging previous recoveries.   The decline in the unemployment rate was largely due to 432,000 people leaving the labor force, reversing the increase that took place in May.   The headline unemployment figure is always misleading. Nearly 17 million people are still in need of full-time work. Long-term unemployment has declined, but remains higher than before the great recession. The employment-population ratio has also not recovered, remaining at 59.3%, marginally lower than a year ago.

Continue Reading...
Larry Cohen

I’m Endorsing and Volunteering for Bernie!

Three weeks ago, when I ended my third term as president of CWA, I pledged to volunteer to help build what we call the “movement of 50 million for economic justice and democracy.” Today I am announcing that I have endorsed Bernie Sanders for president of the United States and will volunteer to help in his campaign in any way that is useful. I will be with Bernie in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday night to formally endorse and commit. Bernie has been there with us every time, fighting for fairness, for environmental justice, for voting rights and getting big money out of politics. Bernie is there for criminal justice reform and a path to citizenship for 20 million immigrants. Bernie was there walking with our members at Fairpoint Communications when they struck for four months through the last New England winter. Bernie realizes that workers’ rights in the U.S.

Continue Reading...
Emily Schwartz Greco

Losing Their Grip

Rainbows illuminated the White House, the Empire State Building, and other landmarks after the Supreme Court affirmed the right to marry from sea to shining sea. As most Americans basked in this milestone’s afterglow, conservative leaders stomped their feet, disparaged the nation’s most influential court, and howled. “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch,” thundered Mike Huckabee. “We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” The former Arkansas governor wasn’t the only Republican running for president who responded to recent rulings like a tantrum-prone toddler. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal suggested that it might be time to “get rid” of the Supreme Court rather than accept its rulings in favor of same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.

Continue Reading...
Robert Borosage

Greece’s Agonies, Europe’s Shame

Greece is now on the brink. It cannot pay its creditors, starting with the missed payment to the International Monetary Fund. Its banks are closed, unable to deal with a panicked dash for cash. The European Bank has refused to offer more cash to sustain their liquidity. The Troika – the European Commission, the European Bank, and the IMF – that holds the purse strings has demanded that the Greek government accept its conditions or be cut off. The Greek government has accepted more austerity, but asked for more humane cuts in pensions, less exacting assaults on the vulnerable. Their offer has been scorned.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Was Greece Lured Into “Strategic Deficits”?

The job of a lender is to evaluate risk and price a loan accordingly. If there is risk you charge a higher interest rate. That way you still make money on a broad portfolio of loans even when there are a few defaults. That’s the job of a banker, supposedly. It’s what they are supposed to be good at. If they are bad at their job, give loans to deadbeats (or countries that can’t pay you back) you lose money, and probably shouldn’t in the business of being a lender. The lender is supposed to evaluate the risk and say no if the borrower is irresponsible, not complain later about the borrower being irresponsible. Unless their job is to get the borrower in over their head so you can get stuff.

Continue Reading...
Terrance Heath

Five Things To Know About Chris Christie

It’s official. Chris Christie is running for president. The only reason for Christie’s run appears to be either his outsized ego or deep delusion about his chances of winning. Yesterday, the two most common reactions to news that New Jersey governor Chris Christie would announce his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination today were “Really?” and “Why?” It wasn’t always this way. Not so long ago, Christie was considered the Republican to beat in the race for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination. He was the Republican “id” unleashed, with a bullying, blustering, in-your-face manner that was tailor-made for the tea party. (However, Christie can dish it out, but he sure can’t take it.) Christie’s “bully” image was actually carefully cultivated by his own office.

Continue Reading...
Emily Foster

Stop Wage Theft and Time Theft – Time To Fix the Overtime Rule

There are an estimated 5 million Americans who are literally overworked and underpaid – they are working more than 40 hours a week but not getting the time-and-a-half overtime pay that they are due. For them, and for all workers, it is time for the Department of Labor to officially update the overtime threshold and stop businesses from depriving working Americans of the wages they have honestly earned. President Obama announced a proposed rule late Monday to increase the overtime salary threshold from $23,660 ($455 a week) to $50,440 a year ($970 a week), starting in 2016. This would update the extremely outdated Fair Labor Standards Act. That law dictates that employees who earn less than $23,660 get paid a time and a half if they work more than 40 hours per week. However, supporters of raising the overtime threshold argue that it is now way too low.

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 466