Dave Johnson

Highway Bill Caught In “Pay For It” Trap

Washington is caught in a going-round-in-circles argument about how to “pay for” a surface transportation bill. Various proposals are in the air. Cutting other things to “pay for” this. Raising the gas tax. Telling corporations to bring back the profits they have stashed offshore as a way to avoid taxes (with the sweetener of rewarding the companies for dodging taxes by letting them pay a lower tax rate than companies that didn’t do this). And more. Isaiah J. Poole explained Wednesday in “Leaders Should Be Leading To Get The Transportation Investments We Need“: The last time Congress was able to pass a surface transportation authorization for more than two years was in 2005, when it sent to President George W. Bush a bill that authorized $286.4 billion over five years.

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Isaiah J. Poole

On Marriage Equality, Another Bend Toward Justice

The Washington Post Members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, wearing blue T-shirts emblazoned with the name of a popular gay sports bar in Washington, were on a strategic street corner singing “The Impossible Dream,” the Supreme Court to their front and the Capitol to their rear. Following that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. If there ever were an impossible dream, marriage equality was it just a few short years ago. Even some of the most ardent crusaders for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality believed that demanding recognition for same-sex marriage was a fool’s errand. But people in love can be the most audacious of rebels.

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Terrance Heath

With Obamacare Ruling, It’s Time For GOP Governors to Expand Medicaid

Now that the Supreme Court has one again upheld the Affordable Care Act, it’s time for Republican governors to stop denying coverage to millions and expand their Medicaid programs. The Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision upholding federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t change anything. It just means that 6.4 million people who depend on federal and state health insurance exchanges for coverage won’t lose their benefits. All of the other provisions of the ACA remain in effect. The ruling represents an unqualified victory for health care reform, and peace of mind for nearly two-thirds of the more than 10 million beneficiaries of health care reform. What has changed is that, as President Obama said in his reaction to the ruling, “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. … This is not an abstract thing anymore.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Minnesota Loses the Race to the Bottom – And Wins

CNBC, the business porn channel for one-percenters, released the results of its latest ratings of “top states for business” and, to its barely disguised surprise, it was not Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida, or any of the other states where Republican governors and conservative legislatures have cut government spending, lowered taxes on the wealthy and moved to weaken unions. Instead, it was union-friendly, tax-and-spend Minnesota. “Minnesota scores 1,584 out of a possible 2,500 points, ranking in the top half for all but two of our 10 categories of competitiveness,” CNBC reported. The report hastened to add that “what may be most instructive are the categories where Minnesota does not do well.

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Sarah Anderson

Six Ways TPP Opponents Have Won—Even as Fast Track Advances

I tried to stay emotionally distanced from this one. It didn’t work. When the White House and Republican leaders got the votes they needed in the Senate to advance “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority on Tuesday, June 23, it was crushing. All observers agree that fast track will soon become law, making it easier for President Barack Obama to pass the controversial trade pacts in the works with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union. That will be a serious setback to the movements for the environment, labor rights, and affordable pharmaceuticals, among others. But after observing painful trade votes for more than 20 years, this one left me feeling that opponents should be holding their heads higher than ever before as they regroup for the next phase of the fight. Here are a few reasons why: 1.

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Jeff Bryant

Lessons To Be Learned From New Orleans-Style Education Reform

As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, you can count on seeing a lot of glowing stories about the great education progress made in New Orleans since a natural disaster killed nearly 2,000 people, emptied a beloved city, and gave public school reformers what they always wanted: a “clean slate” to have their way unencumbered by the messiness of school boards, local politics, and the voices of teachers and parents. It really was the “best thing that could have happened,” to use Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s now infamous quote, if you were a fan of creating something that would have little to no consequence for your family. You’ll also hear many more politicians and pundits touting the NOLA model of education reform for school districts everywhere else. You should be very suspicious of this marketing campaign.

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Bill Scher

Republicans Ignore The Pope At Their Peril

Republicans, who have complained for years that the Left wants to drum religious voices out of the “public square,” suddenly want the Pope to stick to Sunday mass. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm,” said the Catholic Jeb Bush, who spend considerable effort as governor trying to impose his religious views – rooted in a 1995 papal encyclical – on Terri and Michael Schiavo. “When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” said the Catholic Rick Santorum, previously heard warning America about “the dangers of contraception in this country.” Blunter brushbacks have been tossed at the Pope by Republicans not running for president, like Rep.

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Terrance Heath

4 Reasons Bobby Jindal Has No Chance of Being President

Image via Donkey Hotey @ Flickr. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is finally running for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination. Jindal was a rising star in the Republican party, when he passed on the chance to run in 2012. Now, he’s entering the 2016 race at the bottom of the ever-growing pile of GOP hopefuls. Days before announcing his candidacy, Jindal landed near the bottom of a nationwide poll of Republican primary voters. He fares no better at home. Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is just 32 percent, compared to 42 percent for President Obama, who lost the state by 17 percent in 2012. What happened? Here are 4 things you need to know about Bobby Jindal to answer that question. Jindal will always be known for giving one of the worse State of the Union responses ever.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Leaders Should Be Leading To Get The Transportation Investments We Need

Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee congratulated themselves today on their ability to send to the Senate floor a six-year surface transportation bill, but the rest of us should hold our applause. It is indeed noteworthy that a bipartisan bill is on its way to the full Senate given the sclerotic character of today’s Congress on even such no-brainer issues as repairing and improving our decrepit infrastructure. But, placed in context, the committee has crossed a bar that has fallen far too low. Consider this: The last time Congress was able to pass a surface transportation authorization for more than two years was in 2005, when it sent to President George W. Bush a bill that authorized $286.4 billion over five years. The bill that was sent to the Senate floor today would authorize $11 billion less than the bill Bush signed.

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Joshua Ferrer

How Bernie Sanders Cleared The Air On His Immigration Reform Stand

Sen. Bernie Sanders has taken some heat as a presidential candidate for seeming to not be a strong progressive ally on immigration reform. Last week, Sanders moved to clear the air. Sanders (I-Vt.) pledged his support for comprehensive immigration reform this past Friday at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference in Las Vegas. His remarks put his views in line with fellow presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley. Sanders sparked concerns among some activists when immigration reform went missing from his stump speech. This absence led Rep.

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Dave Johnson

Wall Street And Big Corporations Got What They Wanted – This Time

Fast track passes. Our Congress – the supposed representatives of We the People – voted to cut themselves and us out of the process of deciding what “the rules” for doing business “in the 21st Century” will be. How do the plutocrats and oligarchs and their giant multinational corporations get what they want when a pesky democracy is in their way? They push that pesky democracy out of their way. Because of fast track, when the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and any other secretly negotiated “trade” agreements are completed Congress must vote in a hurry with only limited debate, cannot make any amendments no matter what is in the agreement, and they can’t be filibustered.

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Terrance Heath

The Right-Wing Fingerprints on The Charleston Massacre

Days after 21-year-old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people during a Bible study at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the discovery of his online manifesto shed more light on his motives. It also reveals the right-wing fingerprints on the Charleston shooting. The rhetoric that formed the gunman’s ideology and informed his actions is so embedded in the conservative mainstream that politicians and candidates have a hard time condemning it. The website’s contents began circulating around the Internet this weekend. It features 60 photographs of Roof brandishing weapons, desecrating an American flag, displaying a confederate flag, and visiting various civil war battlefields. A 2,444-word statement written by Roof reveals the roots of his racist ideology, and his reasons for choosing Charleston Emanuel AME Church.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Senate Votes To Fast-Track Jobs Out, More Corporate Power In

A majority in the Senate today took sides against working families and with Wall Street and the multinationals, voting 60-37 to grant the executive branch fast-track trade promotion authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and future trade deals. “This is a day of celebration in the corporate suites to be sure,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on the floor immediately after the vote, “because they have another corporate-sponsored trade agreement that will mean more money in some investors’ pockets, that will mean more plant closings in Ohio and Arizona and Delaware and Rhode Island and West Virginia and Maine and all over this country.” Sen.

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Joshua Ferrer

March in Virginia and North Carolina Against Voter Suppression

The state of North Carolina is finally about to face a federal judge over its passage of what has been deemed the harshest voter suppression law in the nation – one of nearly 30 voter suppression laws passed since the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act in 2013. As that legal fight unfolds, starting this week people are being mobilized for demonstrations to demand change. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on Thursday is hosting a Rally For Voting Rights and Our Democracy in Roanoke, Va., to urge congressional action to restore the provision of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down. (RSVP to attend and sign the petition for Congress to take action.) Roanoke is the home of Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

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Leo Gerard

Sorely Needed: New Trade Vision

Kori Sherwood, pictured here with her daughter, recently lost her job as a millwright at a U.S. Steel plant in Minnesota when it closed, citing an international glut of steel. In a close vote last week, a majority in the U.S. House chose to continue glomming onto the same tired old broken-down trade tactics that have closed American factories, cost American jobs and caused massive trade deficits. The majority voted to sustain for the next six years trade policies that failed American workers for the past 20. The majority abdicated Congress’ constitutional responsibility to supervise international trade. Instead, they agreed to allow presidential administrations to once again negotiate trade deals in secret, then whip those corporate-appeasing, clandestine schemes through the congressional approval process with absolutely no amendments, no changes, no improvements.

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Bill Scher

The Political Center Is Moving Left

Eight years ago, when Campaign for America’s Future and Media Matters for America issued the report “Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America Is a Myth,” George W. Bush was still president, Barack Obama was trailing by 15 points in the Democratic primary and gays could only legally marry in Massachusetts. Back then, the report had to explain if the nation was more liberal than perceived by pundits and politicians, then why didn’t more Americans choose to label themselves “liberal.” The word was a “victim of a relentless conservative marketing campaign” and yet “many people who hold liberal issue positions call themselves moderates.” This may have seemed like a stretch to some at the time. But now the ideological landscape is even clearer, as overt liberal pride is on the rise.

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Bernie Horn

The Flag That Offends 100 Million Americans

We’ve had this discussion before. Over recent years, state and local governments have gradually recognized that flying the Confederate battle flag is offensive and inappropriate. For example, Florida took down that flag in 2001, and even South Carolina took a partial step, removing it from the top of the state capitol building. But because of the horrific massacre at the Emanuel AME Church, perpetrated by a Confederate flag-waving racist, the issue is back—as well it should be. Even Mitt Romney has now joined the debate, tweeting “Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #CharlestonVictims.” The issue is simple, really. Symbols can express political values. The Statue of Liberty stands for freedom and a welcome to immigrants. A balance scale stands for equal justice under law.

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Robert Borosage

The “Mother Emanuel Nine”

The doors of “Mother Emanuel” – the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. that was savaged by the act of racial terrorism that killed nine of its members, including the head pastor – opened for regular services on Sunday. Blacks and whites, members and visitors joined in defiant worship. “Some wanted to divide the race – black and white and brown,” declaimed Rev. Norvel Goff, “but no weapon formed against us shall prosper.” The congregation joined to sing “Amazing Grace,” tears streaming down faces. Faith once more overcame hate, as it did on Thursday in the extraordinary grace of relatives of those gunned down for their race offering the murderer forgiveness. But faith and grace are not enough. “The problem of the twentieth century,” W.E.B.

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Dave Johnson

This Is It – Call Your Senators To Stop Fast Track

Wait, back up: the Senate is voting Tuesday to agree to limit debate and not to amend a “trade” deal that we haven’t even seen yet – no matter what is in it? What? It’s called “fast track” and the vote will in essence preapprove the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a corporate-negotiated megadeal that is being kept secret from the pubic. So the vote is Tuesday in the Senate. This is it. Now is the time to use our clock-to-call-Congress tool to call both of your senators and make your voice heard, or show up at a rally, or just show up at the closest office of one of your senator. Bring a sign. Bring a megaphone. Bring leaflets.

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Jacob Woocher

A Small Pushback Against The Uber-ization Of Work

The minor blow that Uber was dealt earlier this week by the California Labor Commission could ultimately be a very big deal for those working in the modern “sharing economy.” At issue is whether Barbara Ann Berwick, a former Uber driver, should be classified as an employee of the company, entitling her to various benefits and protections, or merely an independent contractor. The commission ultimately ruled in Berwick’s favor, awarding her roughly $4,000 in unpaid expenses for the costs of operating a vehicle for the hours she worked. Although Uber claims to be merely a technological platform that facilitates connections between drivers and passengers, the Commission disagreed.

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