Richard Eskow

Anti-Koch: The Fight For Green Energy is a Fight for the 99 Percent

The fact that this even needs to be said demonstrates that there’s been a breakdown in the democratic process, but we’ll say it anyway: Our number one priority should be protecting the planet for future generations. That said, green energy makes sense even if we base our thinking on economic considerations alone. Energy policies can roughly be divided into two kinds: those that benefit society as a whole, and those that only benefit the very few – the Koch brothers and their ilk. Guess which kind the GOP supports? Republicans are blocking pro-growth, job-creating green energy investments while pushing a pipeline that would enrich the few at the expense of the many – with potentially disastrous environmental consequences. If you want to know why, follow the money.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Grassroots Push Needed For Sanders’ Infrastructure Bill

In a small room inside the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Bernie Sanders today was trying to marshal support for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment bill he formally introduced today, discussing the consequences of not spending money on our roads, public transportation, water systems and other public assets. Just outside the nation’s capital, those consequences were becoming all too vivid for residents of a working-class neighborhood. A 90-year-old water main, well beyond its expected life span, broke in the town of Bladensburg, Md. early this morning. According to WRC-TV, a family whose home was being flooded by the broken water main sought to escape in their car, only to have the car swallowed up by a sinkhole just as they were about to leave. Miraculously, the family managed to escape without injury.

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Terrance Heath

Greece Proves Populist Movements Can Fight And Win

After five years of protests, demonstrations and strikes, Greek citizens voted to throw off five years of crushing austerity. Their victory has emboldened populist parties across Europe, and should inspire Americans to resist austerity here at home. The victory of Greece’s leftist anti-austerity Syriza party, and Alexis Tsipiras’ ascension to prime minister ushers in a government that will push back against the austerity measures devised by the troika of Greece’s international creditors and the International Monetary Fund, and accepted by the country’s economic elite, after the crash of Greece’s economy in 2009. Greece’s new leaders left little doubt about their intentions as they celebrated victory.

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Dave Johnson

Protesters Disrupt Senate Fast Track Hearing

US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman testified before the Senate Tuesday. He was there to push Congress to pass Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), so new trade agreements can get pushed through. Protesters disrupted the hearing. The people are trying to make their voices heard over the corporate push for Fast Track. Heating Up Things are heating up as big new corporate “trade” agreements get closer to coming before Congress. These trade agreements have a terrible track record for American workers, because they have driven inequality, devastated entire regions of the country, and hollowed out the middle class.

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Leo Gerard

Voodoo Trickle-Down Be Damned

Reaganomics, the plot to appease the rich and condemn the rest, got its comeuppance last week in President Obama’s State of the Union speech. The President asked: “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?” That’s the trickle-down economy he’s talking about. And when he said, “spectacularly well,” that understated the great fortune of the very few. Oxfam, the international federation working to end poverty, reported just before the speech that if nothing changes over the next two years, the top 1 percent will hoard more wealth than that held by the entire remaining 99 percent of humans on earth. President Obama made it clear he has no intention of accepting such economic damnation for the vast majority of Americans. He proposed an alternative to Ronnie’s scheme. President Obama called it middle-class economics.

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Mary Green Swig | Steven L. Swig | Richard Eskow

Liberate 41 Million Americans From Student Loan Debt

MaryGreenSwig Steven L.Swig RichardEskow President Obama’s proposal for tuition-free community college education, and the broader discussion that it has inspired, confirms our belief that it is time for a comprehensive solution to a $1.3 trillion problem: student debt in the United States. We strongly support the concept of tuition-free public higher education, and are encouraged by renewed arguments in its favor. But we must also confront what has been done to the last several generations of students. They have been forced to take on debt that is crippling to them, to our economy and our society. A student debt “jubilee” would reflect both the values upon which this nation was founded and the economic principles that have sustained it through its greatest periods of growth and prosperity.

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Bill Scher

You Think Sarah Palin Is Incoherent? Listen To Jeb Bush.

Many people are having a good laugh watching Sarah Palin’s unintentionally hilarious speech to a conservative gathering in Iowa over the weekend. But Palin is never going to get anywhere near the White House. Meanwhile, in San Francisco Friday, someone else gave a painfully incoherent speech. And since the speaker really could end up in the White House, it’s actually worth your attention. Jeb Bush’s address to the National Automobile Dealers Association attracted much positive press. He was willing to challenge conservative orthodoxy on immigration and education. He sounded like an adult, eschewing sophomoric right-wing zingers. He maturely identified problems facing average Americans and offered ideas to solve them. Sounds refreshing. There’s just one problem. When you pay attention to what he is saying, the speech doesn’t make any sense.

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Dave Johnson

Protests As Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks Resume In New York Today

Negotiators working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) convened today in New York City. Even the location was kept secret until the last possible minute, but hundreds of trade, labor, environmental, health, communities of color, anti-GMO and food justice, anti-fracking, animal and other activists still showed up in the big blizzard to protest the secret trade agreement and “fast track” trade promotion authority (TPA). TPP is a huge “trade” agreement, which will set the rules for 40 percent of the world’s economy. It is being negotiated in secret. Corporate representatives are part of the process, stakeholders like environmental, consumer, labor, democracy, health and other groups are excluded from the negotiations. Needless to say the agreement (some of it has leaked) reflects corporate interests at the expense of the rest of us and our governments.

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Bernie Horn

Progressive Wedge Issues for Cities and States

For years, conservatives used “wedge issues” to split moderates from progressives—measures like criminalizing flag burning, cutting “welfare,” and (until recently) banning same-sex marriage. They still do that, of course, but the Tea Party has forced conservatives to put greater emphasis on policies with little popular appeal. It’s time for progressives to promote some wedge issues of our own. To be clear, a progressive wedge issue: (1) pulls Americans to our side, (2) forces conservatives to defend an unpopular position, and (3) is both simple and substantial enough to become a voting issue in the next election. With conservatives in control of the U.S. House and Senate, progressives can introduce bills but can’t really generate the publicity for them that would be necessary to impact the public. These bills won’t even get a hearing in Washington.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Corporate Tax Break Scheme Is Gaining A Momentum We Must Stop

There is no real argument over whether the nation needs to do more to improve its infrastructure – its transportation, water, power and information networks. But there is an argument over how best to pay for it all – and that argument is increasingly turning in a dangerous direction. Financially stressed working-class households who are at best treading water, if not actually sinking, in today’s economy aren’t eager to dig deeper into their own pockets to foot the bill. That’s even more true of the plutocrat class, which has an army of lobbyists at the ready to shut down any suggestion that those who arguably would benefit the most from such things as better roads and public transportation should shoulder the larger share of the load.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: “No Go Zone” On The Brain

From anti-choice bills in the House, to threats of lawsuits over Muslim “no go zones,” this week showed that the wingnut brain is biggest “no go zone” of them all. But first, let’s relive the “burn” heard around the world. When President Obama delivered the State of the Union address. Republicans in Congress might have expected a humbled Obama to admit to another “shellacking,” hand the keys to the new Republican majority, and shuffle away to ride out the rest of his term as the lamest of “lame ducks.” They certainly didn’t expect to hear from a Barack Obama who “doesn’t give a f**k,” to quote late night host Larry Wilmore. Nor did they expect him to tell them so. Obama’s “mic drop” moment, launched a thousand Twitter memes, and left no oxygen for Sen. Joni Ernst’s Republican response.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Schakowsky’s Call To Progressives: “Draw A Bright Line” (Audio)

House Progressive Caucus member Rep. Jan Schakowsky has an upbeat view of what progressives can accomplish this year, even with a Republican majority in control of both houses of Congress – as long as progressives in Congress and on the streets stand firm together. Referring to the positive economic policies that President Obama outlined in his State of the Union address this week, “despite what the Republicans may claim, these policies are not dead on arrival,” Schakowsky said in “Voicing Our Values: A Progressive Response to the State of the Union,” a webcast sponsored earlier this week by Progressive Majority and the Campaign for America’s Future. Some proposals, such as infrastructure investment, an increase in the minimum wage, equal pay legislation and education support could be pushed through this session of Congress, she said.

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Dave Johnson

GOP Votes Against Requiring U.S.-Made Steel In Keystone Pipeline

In the last few days Senate Republicans have voted against everything they have promised in public to sell the Keystone pipeline. They said the pipeline is about U.S. jobs, yet they voted against U.S. steel and supplier jobs in the pipeline supply chain. They said the oil is for use inside the U.S., yet they voted against using the oil inside the U.S.. Significantly, they also voted against disclosing any money they are getting from oil and other companies involved in the Keystone project. And you might (not) have noticed that most of the U.S. corporate media are largely ignoring these votes. So the Republicans can keep telling the public they are for U.S. jobs and for U.S. energy independence. The public will be none the wiser. Votes On Amendments After going on for years that the Keystone pipeline is about U.S.

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Jeff Bryant

Democrats Should Listen To What Sen. Whitehouse Said About Education

A curious thing happened this week on Capital Hill: A politician said something about education that made sense. The “something” didn’t come from President Obama. In the president’s annual State of the Union address, “K-12 policy largely took a back seat,” Education Week’s Alyson Klein observed. Indeed, the issue was barely in the car. Although the president took credit for “the highest math and reading scores on record” and a high school graduation rate at “an all-time high,” there were no strong claims about the success of his programs, no bold, new initiatives, and no combative stances against the oppositional positions on K-12 policy. As Klein noted, he ignored “the hottest K-12 policy debate” about the role of federally mandated standardized testing in No Child Left Behind.

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Miya Pontes

Effort To Make The ‘Right to Vote’ A True Constitutional Right

Pocan and Ellison to Introduce Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment In an effort to undo the work being done in numerous states and counties to disenfranchise groups of voters, two progressive House members are aiming to make a promise that is implicit in the Constitution explicit – by calling on Congress to pass a “right to vote” constitutional amendment. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) unveiled their amendment at a press conference today. “We need to have an affirmative right to vote… a minimum voting standard,” Pocan said, and that’s what this amendment is offering. “The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment would amend the Constitution to provide all Americans the affirmative right to vote and empower Congress to protect this right,” according to a statement on Pocan’s website.

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Dave Johnson

Environmental Groups Denounce Fast Track Trade Process

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters and 41 other environmental groups sent a letter to Congress this week, asking them to oppose “fast track” trade promotion authority for upcoming trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). They asked Congress to instead set up an open, transparent trade negotiating system that gives stakeholders, other than just corporate representatives, input in the process. The letter begins, “As leading U.S.

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Bill Scher

Republicans Feeling The Climate Squeeze

Over the course of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses, he has become rhetorically bolder and more expansive on the subject of climate. In his first couple of speeches, climate was mentioned as part of the laundry list of bills he was trying to get through Congress. Once Republicans took the House, and prospects for legislation died, climate took a backseat in the SOTU. In 2011, the word was not used at all (though Obama continued to promote “clean energy”). In 2012, “climate” was only mentioned as an example of legislation Obama knew could not pass Congress. But in the second term, Obama is not thinking about legislation, but regulation.

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Richard Eskow

Yes, Obama “Won Twice” – as a Progressive. Deal With It, Everybody.

Today’s American right is burdened with a highly specialized and hyper-amplified sense of outrage. That outrage was triggered during this week’s State of the Union speech, especially by the president’s off-the-cuff response to a group of Republicans who sarcastically applauded the line, “I have no more campaigns to run.” “I know,” the President replied, “because I won both of them.” Cue the indignation. A conservative named Ben Shapiro, whose tweet was reproduced in Heritage’s Daily Signal, offered a typically huffy reaction. “What a classy guy,” snipped Shapiro (who presumably feels that interrupting the President of the United States with sarcastic applause is “classy”). President Obama gave a stirring speech, although at times he still seems like a reluctant populist warrior.

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Bernie Sanders

Roads and Bridges Need $1 Trillion. It Is Time to Rebuild America.

Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it. The Interstate 75 bridge collapse in Cincinnati on Monday is only the latest example. Every day, motorists across the United States drive over bridges that are in disrepair and on roads with unforgiving potholes. They take railroad and subway trains that arrive late and are overcrowded. They see airports bursting at the seams. They worry that a local levee could fail in a storm. For many years we have underfunded the maintenance of our nation’s physical infrastructure. That has to change. It is time to rebuild America. I will soon be introducing legislation for a $1 trillion investment, over five years, to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. This bill will not just rebuild our country but it will create and maintain 13 million good-paying jobs that our economy desperately needs.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnuts And The State of the Union

President Obama’s State of the Union Address, complete with a “mic drop” moment,” couldn’t have annoyed Republicans more if he’d entered to the theme from Rocky, and exited to “How Ya Like Me Now.” Obama’s “Mic Drop” Moment If Republicans in Congress expected to see and hear a chastened and contrite President Obama, they got a big shock on Tuesday night. Maybe getting a hug from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg — one of his “favorite people” — emboldened the president as he made his way to the podium. Perhaps Obama’s bounce in the polls put a bounce in his step. After the midterm elections, The Grio’s Luvvie Ajayi had this advice for the president: I think the President just needs to get real petty. He has nothing to lose as a lame duck President, so who gon check him? He better use that to his advantage to make things happen.

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