Robert Reich

How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then. Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it. Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum. Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of  information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before. This way, employers don’t need to pay anyone to be at work unless they’re really needed. Companies can avoid paying wages to workers who’d otherwise just sit around.

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Jeff Bryant

How California Flipped The Education-Reform Script

Politicians from across the political spectrum have made public schools and schoolteachers the favored whipping post of the day. In blue state New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to “bust up” public education “monopolies” and has bullied through new laws that unfairly evaluate teachers based on wildly unreliable measures. These actions recently drove thousands of New Yorkers into the streets to protest the new mandates. In red state Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback has made massive budget cuts to that state’s public schools, spurring parents and school children to openly protest his plan. Another conservative leader, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has taken a meat cleaver to higher education budgets, igniting a strong backlash from voters. In virtually every state, there’s a massive resistance to standardized testing that now dominates education practices.

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Leo Gerard

Fast Tracking Democracy to Hell

Free traders in Congress formally proposed last week that lawmakers relax, put their feet up and neglect the rigor of legislative review for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade scheme. The TPP is a secret deal among 12 Pacific Rim nations that was covertly negotiated by unelected officials and corporate bosses. It’s so clandestine that lawmakers elected to represent the American people were refused access to the deliberations. It would expand secret trade tribunals that corporations use to sue governments over democratically established laws and win compensation from taxpayers. The Congressional free traders want to Fast Track authorization of the TPP. Fast Track enables Congress to abdicate its constitutionally mandated duty to regulate international trade.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Populism2015’s Upshot – Hillary Clinton Has Her Challenger: It Is Us

There is one respect in which politics is like investing: You don’t put your eggs in one basket. The lesson we learned from the Barack Obama presidency is that while it is good to invest some of our hopes in a presidential candidate, no single candidate warrants the investment of all of our hopes. Some of our investment wisely goes to a movement that encourages that candidate to be true to our hopes and discourages that candidate from actions that would betray us. It’s a lesson worth remembering in the wake of the Populism2015 conference, which brought around 800 activists together under an alliance of National People’s Action, Alliance for a Just Society, USAction and Campaign for America’s Future.

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Dave Johnson

1,000 Protestors At Big D.C. Anti-Fast Track/TPP Demonstration

As many as 1,000 demonstrators participated in a “Don’t Trade Our Future” rally in Washington on Monday to denounce Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal that “fast track” will push through Congress. The protest was organized by Campaign for America’s Future, National People’s Action, Alliance for a Just Society, and USAction. The protesters pulled a 15-foot Trojan horse through the streets, as they marched from Lafayette Square in front of the White House to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

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Jeff Bryant

Is A Worthy Revision Of NCLB Really Possible?

Confirming what a recent reporter for Reuters claimed, “the ‘do-nothing’ US Congress may actually be starting to do things.” The report hails passage of “bipartisan initiatives” such as the fix to physician reimbursement in Medicare and the demand that Congress have a say in any Iran nuclear deal reached by the Obama administration as signs “that gridlock may not be a permanent condition, after all.” Senators are now also advancing a bipartisan bill that could revise federal policy governing K-12 public education. The Senate committee assigned with addressing federal education policy just took a huge step forward by unanimously passing a bipartisan revision to the law known as No Child Left Behind. According to a report from Education Week, “Members of the U.S.

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Terrance Heath

Progressives Ratify The Populism2015 Platform

Hundreds of activists gathered at the Populism2015 conference Sunday to ratify a 12-point platform that puts people and the planet first. Rev. Sam Johnson of Michigan United open the plenary session with a prayer. “Heavenly Creator,” Johnson said, “We give you thanks for another opportunity to gather with like-minded people. People who are standing for causes that mean something to you. … I believe, Lord God, that today you see people of different faiths and people who ascribe to no faith.

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Richard Eskow

Social Security Trust – or, Never Lend Money to a Conservative

Never lend money to a conservative. That’s one conclusion to be drawn from recent attacks on Social Security by Bloomberg View columnists Megan McArdle and Ramesh Ponnuru. Apparently promises, even legally executed ones, don’t mean much to their crowd. McArdle recently expended 1249 words attempting to evade the government’s debt to the Social Security Trust Fund, never really getting much beyond the five-word assertion that “the trust fund isn’t real.” Ponnuru tried to argue that a cut isn’t really a cut. It’s an odd spectacle to watch right-wingers, with their avowed hostility toward “big government,” arguing that the federal government should break its commitments and stiff middle-class retirees. Luckily, they’re not very good at it.

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Dave Johnson

A Look At The Fast Track Bill Shows It’s The Wrong Thing To Do

The “fast track” trade promotion authority bill has been introduced in the Senate. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says, “The Congress shall have power to … regulate commerce with foreign nations.” But under fast track, Congress relinquishes that power and agrees to pass trade bills brought to them by the executive branch in a very short time frame with little debate and without making any changes should any problems present themselves. Though it was announced that this year’s fast track bill was the result of a “deal” between Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) the 2015 bill is nearly identical to the 2014 bill that died in Congress without support for a vote. See this side-by-side comparison from Rep. Sander Levin of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Bernie Horn

A Golden Opportunity to Strengthen the “Progressive” Brand

While we wish that voters considered their electoral choices with a spirit of idealism and a dedication to the common good, that’s just not realistic. Partisan politics requires some elements of marketing. We need swing voters to have a positive general impression about the progressive brand because they will never adequately understand the details behind progressive policy. We start the branding process with a distinct advantage, described in two polls. The first one, conducted by the Pew Research Center, asked whether Americans had a positive or negative view of common political terms.

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Terrance Heath

Populism2015 Conference: Progressives Have “To Be Aggressive Again”

The Populism2015 conference started with a bang Saturday night, as more than 750 activists and member of four national progressive organizations came together to announce a new populist alliance around the Populism2015 agenda. National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, Alliance for a Just Society, and USAction, together with other allied organizations are unveiling the Populism2015 Agenda that has the potential to energize millions of people in the coming year who are looking for — and not finding yet in the public debate — real solutions to the triple crisis of growing inequality, a broken democracy and a planet in peril. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable, as national radio commentator, writer and public speaker Jim Hightower greeted the roomful of activists at the opening plenary.

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Dave Johnson

Why CAF Is Opposing And Marching Against Fast-Track Trade Legislation

The “fast track” trade promotion authority bill that in essence pre-approves the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has been introduced in the Senate. Roger Hickey and Robert Borosage, co-directors of the Campaign for America’s Future, issued this statement Thursday in response to the introduction of the legislation. The Campaign for America’s Future opposes the “fast track” trade promotion authority (TPA) introduced Thursday by Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Paul Ryan. Why? Because Fast Track is part of a process that rigs our democracy and the global economy, resulting in trade deals that are written to benefit billionaires and giant multinational corporations at the expense of 99 percent of us.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Clinton Derangement Syndrome

Unless you slept through the 1990s or were born afterwards, you know that no one but no one drives wingnuts more insane than Hillary Clinton (with the possible exception of Barack Obama). Clinton launched her presidential candidacy this week. Almost immediately, an epidemic of Clinton Derangement Syndrome broke out on the right. No one exhibited a worse case of it than Bill O’Reilly. But the rest was the usual anti-Clinton madness. GOP strategist Ann Navaro complained that Clinton “lacks subtlety” on the subject of possibly being the first woman president. “I don’t need her to drown me in estrogen every time she opens her mouth.” Conservative pundit S.E.

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Terrance Heath

House Republicans “Make Sure The People At The Top Stay There”

In 2011, when he was still House Minority leader, former Rep. Eric Cantor gave a speech about what the GOP could to about inequality, which focused on “how we make sure the people at the top stay there.” Cantor has since gone to his reward, making a lot of money working for “the people at the top.” This week, Cantor’s fellow Republicans did their part to “make sure the people at the top stay there.” House Republicans voted 239 to 179 to give a $269 billion handout to the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans, by repealing the inheritance tax. All but three Republicans, and no Democrats voted for the bill, which also repeals capital gains taxes for people with large estates, allowing investments to be handed down with no taxes on their growth over the years.

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Robert Borosage

The Popularity of the New Populism

Hillary Clinton indicates she favors a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to corporate money in politics. She joins President Obama in calling for an end to the hedge fund billionaire tax break, and expresses dismay at the gulf between CEO salaries and those of everyday workers. Republican candidates from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz decry the growing inequality in America. Democrats in the House and Senate line up overwhelmingly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and our failed trade policies. These actions reflect what pollsters have discovered: Americans are looking for change, and in area after area, bold populist reform policies enjoy majority support. Politicians embracing populist reforms aren’t moving to the left or the right; they are moving to the center of American opinion.

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Miya Pontes

Workers Tell Congress: No Wage That “Keeps Us … Working As Slaves”

In addition to being the day hundreds of thousands of workers participated in “Fight for $15″ strikes around the nation and the world to call for better pay for low-wage workers, Wednesday was also lobby day for the National Restaurant Association, which had its representatives on Capitol Hill to oppose legislation that would meet the demands of the strikers. Robin Law was also on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and she had a question for both the lawmakers and the lobbyists. Law is a single mother who works for a fast-food chain. “Our company makes lots of money,” she said into a microphone in a congressional hearing room. “However, I only make 8.50 an hour, no benefits after eight years… As a single mom, it’s tough to give your son everything he wants.

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Jim Hightower

Odd Bedfellows, Lying Together

Come one, come all. Step right up and buy your ticket for a ride on the splendiferous, phantasmagoric, and miraculous Trans-Pacific Partnership! The TPP isn’t some sort of futuristic flying machine. It’s just another global trade scam coming at us like a volcanic eruption straight out of hell. This thing is a “partnership” of, by, and for global corporations — similar to NAFTA, only much, much bigger and far more destructive both to the middle class and to our people’s sovereignty. After hammering out backroom deals in strict secrecy over the past seven years, a cabal of White House negotiators and corporate lobbyists are now ready to spring it on us. And its backers intend to ram it into law before We the People can get a whiff of its anti-democratic stench.

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Elizabeth Warren

The Unfinished Business of Financial Reform

https://youtu.be/HSpfGodTrtk Remarks at the Levy Institute’s 24th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference As Prepared for Delivery Thank you all for being here today. We’re here to ask a critical question at a critical time: what are we to make of Dodd-Frank five years later? To answer that question, I think we should start by looking at how the government responded to the last major financial crisis – the Wall Street Crash of 1929. After the 1929 crash, policymakers diagnosed what had gone wrong and changed the laws to make sure that excessive speculation and risk-taking on Wall Street couldn’t push the economy over a cliff. The new rules were creative and unprecedented: First, a new agency – the SEC – charged with enforcing basic marketplace rules.

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Bill Scher

How To Win The Race For Hillary’s Platform

Over at Politico Magazine, I argued that the real Democratic race is “not about whether Hillary will win. Rather, it’s who will win Hillary.” In other words, who will exert the most influence over her platform: Establishment wonks like Larry Summers, who led the “Commission on Inclusive Prosperity” (see Robert Borosage’s analysis of that here) or populist progressives, who will be convening in Washington this weekend for the Populism2015 conference. Fortunately, the two camps are not diametrically opposed. There are plenty of proposals for activist government coming out of the Summers commissions: infrastructure spending, “virtually-free” public college and rules for easier union organizing, just to name of a few. But there are areas where populists would go farther, such as more money for infrastructure and student debt forgiveness.

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Isaiah J. Poole

‘Raise Wages, Empower Workers’ At the Top of the Populism2015 Agenda

The wave of “Fight for $15″ demonstrations that swept the country Wednesday were in themselves a big deal – actions in more than 230 cities in the United States and in several foreign cities in which hundreds of thousands of workers walked off their jobs to protest low wages and their lack of bargaining power. But these actions fit into what has become a much larger effort to repair and reshape an American economy that for workers is fundamentally broken. It puts on notice politicians who offer workers patches and palliatives to soften the blows of actions that have served to shrink the middle class and concentrate wealth at the top. This is not about remediation. The demand is for restructuring.

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