Larry Cohen

Message from Iowa To Presidential Candidates: Which Side Are You On?

More than 500 active leaders from 56 organizations spent Saturday at Iowa State University in general sessions and workshops uniting around issues and strategies at the Working Families Summit. I had been to Iowa in previous presidential election years as presidential campaigns warmed up, but Saturday’s conference was not about a candidate or even a platform. It was broader than that. Recognizing that the leading candidates who are eventually the party nominees will raise and spend in excess of $2 billion, on Saturday, Iowans were energized by the longer road through the nominating process, the 2016 election and beyond. Big money in politics has changed our democracy, but on Saturday populism was alive and well, despite the hard path ahead.

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Leo Gerard

New Rules: If The Economy’s Not Working For Us, It’s Not Working

Some of the biggest banks in the world are expected to plead guilty to felonies this week. Felonies! They are scandalous crimes, too: fraud and antitrust violations. Finally, America will see members of the class that crashed the economy dressed in black and white suits that are hardly the Brooks Brothers pinstripes to which they’ve grown accustomed. Oh, wait, no. The New York Times says these felons will just pay some fines and go about their business of playing roulette with the world economy. Of course they won’t face prison like normal criminals. They’re bankers! Members of the exclusive Too Big to Jail Club. They’re protected. Just like millionaires and CEOs are. A CEO can, for example, be fired for failing to produce but still get $21 million in severance, then lose a well-financed race for U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Let The Public Read The Completed Parts Of The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Basic facts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are under public dispute. Fast track must not be approved until this is cleared up. We the People deserve to know what is being voted on with fast track. The Dispute There is a big public dispute between President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren over certain facts about the TPP. This dispute is hardly only between the president and Warren, it is about the effect TPP could have on all of our lives. This dispute is mainly over (but not limited to): Whether the agreement gives corporations certain powers that could let them overrule the laws and regulations of the US and other governments. Whether the agreement could undermine our Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms. Whether the agreement has clearly enforceable “progressive” labor and environmental provisions.

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Emily Foster

Iowa Working Families Summit Advances Push For Progressive Agenda

While well-heeled conservatives watched Republican presidential candidates make their pitches for support in an Iowa convention hall at the GOP’s Lincoln Dinner on Saturday, grassroots progressives gathered in a much less lavish college auditorium to discuss pressing issues for America’s struggling middle class. The Iowa State Campus University in Ames, Iowa, was where people from more than 50 organizations (including co-sponsors of groups endorsing CAF’s Populism 2015 Platform) gathered for the Iowa Working Families Summit. The summit had a huge turnout of more than 600 people from all over the state. Their focus was on showing that progressive policies, such as investing in infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and strengthening labor unions, are the key path to American prosperity.

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Terrance Heath

President Obama Moves To Stem Police Militarization

Nine months after police in Ferguson, Missouri donned riot gear, and met protestors with paramilitary weapons and equipment, the Obama administration has taken its first real steps towards halting police militarization. As the president prepared for a visit to Camden, New Jersey — one of the nation’s poorest, most violent cities — the White House announced a series of recommendations to regulate the flow of paramilitary weapons and equipment to local police departments.

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Diane Archer

Trans-Pacific Partnership-Related Bill Contains A Medicare Poison Pill

New disturbing information has surfaced that the House Republicans’ trade adjustment assistance bill, which supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, contains a Medicare poison pill. The bill includes $700 million in Medicare cuts at the end of a 10-year budget period to cover the cost of trade adjustment assistance for displaced workers, Americans who will lose their jobs because of lower cost imports. Please let members of Congress know that they should not support the bill in its current form. Covering the cost of assistance for displaced workers is important.

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Dean Baker

The Trans-Pacific Partnership And The Costs of Drug Patent Monopolies

The debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has taken center stage in policy circles in recent weeks. Its proponents promise a major economic bonanza from expanded trade. It’s not clear that the economics supports this claim. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) did an analysis of the gains from the reductions in tariffs and quotas that are expected to be included in the agreement and concluded that they would be too small to measure, rounding to zero. A study by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer, using a somewhat different methodology, concluded that when the TPP is fully implemented, roughly ten years after the agreement is put in effect, the gains to the United States would be 0.38 percent. This is roughly two months of normal growth.

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Richard Eskow

Obama’s Trade War Against Warren Wounds His Party – and His Legacy

Well, this is awkward. A few days ago President Obama literally laughed off Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s concern that his so-called “fast track” provision, which would limit Congressional power regarding trade deals for the next six years, endangers 2010’s Dodd/Frank financial reforms. “I’d have to be pretty stupid” to sign an agreement that did that, the President said. He was reportedly laughing as he said it. Just four days later Canada’s finance minister used a similar trade deal to challenge the “Volcker rule,” a key provision of Dodd/Frank. “I believe—with strong legal basis—that this rule violates the terms of the NAFTA agreement,” Joe Oliver told a banking conference. As we were saying: awkward. Informed Sources Many well-informed observers have echoed Warren’s concerns, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

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Dave Johnson

I’m Not Making This Up: Corporations Use Trade Deals To Attack U.S. Law

President Obama says progressives who warn that trade laws let corporations overrule U.S. law are “making this stuff up.” Two attacks on U.S. laws and regulations are underway right now, illustrating how the “corporate courts” provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would open our country up to attacks from foreign corporations. “They’re making this stuff up.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, legal scholars and others have been sounding the alarm about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that have leaked to the public from the secret TPP negotiations.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Shame, Shame, Shame

This week, wingnut heads exploded when President Obama took right-wingers to task for shaming low-income Americans and Michelle Obama spoke about her experience as the first African-American first lady. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much to get wingnuts going. It takes even less for President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to get wingnuts frothing at the mouth. The first couple can send wingnuts into fits without doing much more than going about their day-to-day business. Right-wingers have been outraged at President Obama pretty much non-stop since he failed to resign from office and give Mitt Romney the keys to the White House after the 2014 midterm elections. But the president no longer appears to care much what his detractors on the right have to say about him, if he ever did.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Infrastructure Spending-‘Good Jobs’ Connection Is Under Attack

A legislative committee this week sent to the Michigan Senate a law that would eliminate prevailing wage laws on state construction contracts. The law is designed to push down wages paid to workers on the projects. The fact that the law does not have the support of the state’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, is not deterring the leaders of the GOP majority in the state legislature. “I don’t think taxpayers should have to pay more for their buildings than private industry does,” said state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, quoted in The Detroit News. Similar legislative efforts have been launched in more than a dozen states, according to The New York Times, including Wisconsin (whose governor, Scott Walker, is considering running for president), Missouri and Illinois.

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Emily Foster

National Day of Action to Save the Postal Service

A 2014 Gallup poll ranked the United States Postal Service first out of 13 government agencies nationwide with the most positive public image. It is the nation’s second largest employer, with 486,822 career employees as of 2014. The USPS receives no tax dollars and is solely funded by the sale of postage, products and services. However, the security of workers in the USPS is being threatened. That’s why today members of the American Postal Workers Union called upon supporters to join their “National Day of Action” by participating in planned protests in 85 cities across 42 states. Their aim is to demand improved postal services and protect jobs, as reports emerge of delays in mail delivery due to cuts in staffing and facilities. These protests come one week before the APWU collective bargaining agreement with the USPS is set to expire on May 20.

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Dave Johnson

The Senate Fast Track Deal – What’s Next

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and between 10 and 14 “corporate Democrats” in the Senate on Wednesday reached a deal to push “fast track” trade promotion authority through the Senate, essentially preapproving the Trans-Pacific Alliance (TPP). That deal attracted enough votes today (65, with 33 opposed) to break a filibuster that had prevented the fast-track measure from moving forward. Fast track legislation will soon move to the House, where the real fight will take place. The deal was that “trade adjustment assistance” (basically job training and other help for some of the people who will lose jobs as a result of TPP) will be folded into fast track, and the Senate will bypass normal procedures and rush a vote today on a “customs bill” (H.R.

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Emily Foster

It Takes More Than ‘Leaning In’ To Lift Wages for All Women

According to a fall 2014 poll by Pew Research center, 77 percent of women and 63 percent of men agree that “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace.” Although women hold 49.3 percent of jobs, they only earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. It’s even less for women of color – Hispanic women earn 54 cents for every dollar white men earn, and African-American women earn 64 cents for every dollar white men earn. The gender wage gap exists because of policies that fail to benefit American workers, and instead benefit their bosses. On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. held a panel to explore the necessity of giving women meaningful equality in the workplace.

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Isaiah J. Poole

No, Boehner, Amtrak Funding-Derailment Link Is Not A Stupid Question

As I wrote on Wednesday, conservatives don’t want anyone to draw connections between this week’s fatal Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia and their years’-long opposition to adequate funding for the passenger service. So it was not surprising to hear House Speaker John Boehner respond with derision to a reporter’s question about Amtrak funding in the wake of the derailment. “Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” he said, according to the Associated Press. But it’s not a stupid question at all – even with the National Traffic Safety Board confirmation that the train was going around a curve at more than twice the recommended speed when it went off the tracks. Boehner’s protestation – “Obviously it’s not about funding.

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Terrance Heath

Clown Car Follies: GOP Candidates Stumble Into The 2016 Race

The GOP’s “clown car” primary season has begun, and already the downside of having such a long primary campaign is starting to show. The candidates have plenty of time to contradict and embarrass themselves. And are they ever. Here’s a look at how their campaigns are fairing. Jeb Bush Former Florida governor Jeb Bush stumbled into the 2016 presidential race, when he inadvertently announced his candidacy while speaking with reporters in Reno, Nevada. It wasn’t his first stumble of the week. Back in February, Bush launched his unofficial candidacy with a foreign policy speech, in which he took pains to distance himself from his younger brother former president George W. Bush, and his father former president George H. W. Bush — both of whom led the country into ill-advised, costly wars with Iraq.

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Richard Eskow

Opportunity or Inequality? That’s No Choice At All.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll recently asked the following question: “Which concerns you more: the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country, or middle and working class Americans not being able to get ahead financially?” If you understand how the economy works, that isn’t just the wrong question. It’s probably a meaningless one. Fear and Survival When asked this question, 68 percent of those surveyed said they were most concerned about the middle and working class not being able to get ahead financially. Only 28 percent were more concerned about the income gap – a major feature of what has come to be known as “wealth inequality.” As economist Jared Bernstein notes, this isn’t surprising.

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Bill Scher

Sorry, David Brooks. This Is No “Center-Right Moment.”

Earlier this week, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that the re-election of British Prime Minister David Cameron, following the reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and the Republican midterm election victory, proves that “the world has not turned left” and instead we are experiencing a “Center-Right Moment.” “[T]he cutting-edge, progressive economic arguments do not seem to be swaying voters,” he declares.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Price We Pay For Conservative Scorn Of Amtrak

On Tuesday night, an Amtrak train spectacularly derailed on its way through Philadelphia, killing at least seven people. On Wednesday morning, a House appropriations subcommittee voted to cut federal funding for Amtrak by about 20 percent. Those are two dots Republicans don’t want you to connect. “Don’t use this tragedy in that way,” Rep. Mike Simpson is quoted in a Politico article as saying, after Democrats on the appropriations subcommittee for transportation and housing criticized Republicans for proposing and eventually approving the cuts. The vote took place before news reports that the train may have been going around a curve at speeds of about 100 miles per hour when the derailment occurred. If those reports had surfaced earlier, the Republican objections to linking budget cuts to the derailment would likely have been much louder.

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