Dave Johnson

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Tells Netroots: “Push Back And Fight Hard”

Senator Elizabeth Warren took her fight against a rigged system to the Netroots Nation gathering in Detroit Friday morning, saying that she is fighting back, and if We the People “push back and fight hard, we can win.” Outside the hall, people were passing out “Ready for Warren” hats and signs. Inside the hall, the hats and signs were everywhere. Fighting back against a rigged system was the theme of Warren’s rousing speech to Netroots. She began by briefly telling the story of how the about Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) came to be. She had the idea for the agency, started talking about it, people told her it was a great idea and badly needed, but said to her, “Don’t do it because the biggest banks in the country will hate it and you will lose.” She said they had that half right.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Plane Paranoid

Thank heaven for American wingnuts’ short attention span. The apparent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the Ukraine gave us a respite from the usual sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic rantings. A brief one, but a respite nonetheless. Fox News pundits Geraldo Rivera and Todd Starnes seized the opportunity to blame Russian president Vladimir Putin — and of course President Obama — only to get spanked by fellow Fox Newser Greta van Susteren. Fox News contributor Charlie Gasparino and Wall Street Journal reporter Simon Constable got into an argument when Gasparino blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for what was thought to be a crash. “You’re so goddamn dumb,” Gasparino said when Constable suggested waiting for confirmation before assigning blame.

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Kitty Lan

Equal Pay For Women Would Mean A More Secure Retirement For All

The link is simple and clear: Women earn less than men in the workplace – almost $450 billion less in total each year nationwide – resulting in lower Social Security payments after retirement. The pay discrimination against women not only hurts their current well-being and future security, but also means tens of billions less in revenues to fund Social Security. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Social Security Works co-hosted a telephone press conference call today, releasing SSW’s research on how closing the gender pay gap can improve women’s Social Security benefits and strengthen the program’s finances. The conversation was also joined by Ben Veghte, Research Director at Social Security Works, and Stephanie Connolly, legislative and policy associate at Social Security Works. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed 51 years ago.

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Terrance Heath

Arrested for Being Too Poor To Afford Child Care

Debra Harrell was trying to do the best she could. Harrell lives in North Augusta, South Carolina, and has a nine-year-old daughter. She works at McDonald’s. During that the school year, Harrell’s daughter has some place to go during the day. Harrell can go to work, assured that her daughter in a safe place. Harrell can’t afford to put her daughter in daycare during the summer. So she started taking her daughter to work with her. It wasn’t an ideal solution for either of them. For a 9-year-old, sitting in McDonald’s for hours is mind-numbingly boring. Harrell couldn’t leave her daughter home alone without  constantly worrying about the child’s safety. Besides, it’s illegal Bringing her daughter to work at least assured the child’s safety.

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Bill Scher

The Republican Immigration Position Just Got More Ridiculous

Today Speaker Boehner warned that Congress may not be able to pass legislation to help address the influx of Central American child migrants, because too many Democrats are unwilling to alter the 2008 human trafficking law, and give President Obama’s Border Patrol agents expanded power to return unaccompanied minors home without judicial reviews. I’ve previously explained here and at The Week that Boehner’s position is startlingly hypocritical. For months he said he could not pass comprehensive immigration reform because President Obama could not be trusted to enforce any border security provisions. Then last week he effectively declared he wanted to pass legislation that trusted Obama to enforce border security provisions.

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Jeff Bryant

Waking Up To Our Broken Education Policies

Who could ever forget comedian Jon Stewart’s commentary in early 2009 on how financial reporters totally botched reporting of the Great Recession. Stewart mocked journalists at CNBC for missing all the warning signs of the overvalued housing market and their failure to question wild speculation on sub-prime mortgage debt. In one famous clip, Stewart said financial reporters’ astonished reaction to the economic calamity was like a journalist from The Weather Channel reporting at the scene of a tropical storm and wondering why he was getting rained on. Stewart’s commentary about financial reporting back then would ring true today in describing how journalists are responding to recent fights over American education policy.

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Robert Borosage

The Democrats’ Middle Class Jump-Start

House Democrats released their 2014 election year platform Wednesday, entitled “Middle Class Jump Start: 100 Day Action Plan to Put the Middle Class First.” Naturally, the release of a major party’s election year agenda received virtually no press coverage, far less than Hillary getting asked if she’s running in 2016 by John Stewart. That’s too bad because, despite its irritating title (leading one to wonder how many Americans still consider themselves part of the middle class), the agenda draws a clear contrast with Republicans, and offers a guide to how far Democrats have come – and how far they have yet to go – in reaction to an economic “recovery” that has yet to reach most Americans. Democrats remain a big-tent party, but they are remarkably united around a core economic agenda, presented here in three parts.

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Isaiah J. Poole

House Republicans Say No To A Fair Wage For Government Workers

House Republicans today unanimously rejected an agency funding amendment by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) that would have required the federal government to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour to its employees. The vote – 193 to 230 – came a day after a bizarre exchange on the House floor in which the Republican opponent of the measure, ignoring Grayson’s explanation, claimed that the amendment would mean federal workers would not be paid at all. “This amendment would end the federal government’s practice of paying poverty wages to its workers and hopefully set an example for the private sector to stop paying poverty wages to its workers,” Grayson said Tuesday when he introduced the amendment to an appropriations bill funding financial services and general government operations.

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Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde

The Latest Crack in Our Broken Immigration System

In a bustling room at the Third Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico a group of white and Latino parishioners gathered for a workshop on immigration. They wanted to learn more about the issue. Julio Alvarez, a Mexican immigrant, was there to answer their questions. “Why can’t immigrants just wait in line and move here legally? Isn’t there a process to do that?” one parishioner asked. “The truth is,” Alvarez replied, “standing in line is a myth for the majority of us.” Stone Cold Immigrants, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib Alvarez’s personal experience with our nation’s immigration system illustrates this harsh reality. Mexico’s weak economy pushed Alvarez out of his country in 1996. “When I decided to immigrate to Albuquerque, New Mexico I had 5 pesos — or less than a dollar — in my pocket and a family to feed,” he recounts.

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Emily DiVito

Congressional Staff Find 40 Minutes Of Being Poor In America Exhausting

Working in Congress might be hard – but being poor is so much harder. That’s the lesson several members of Congress and congressional staff members were able to learn in a poverty simulation held on Capitol Hill Tuesday, put together by Catholic Charities USA with the support of the Entergy Corporation. Catholic Charities has done these simulations elsewhere to give people insight into the total stress, confusion, and backbreaking toughness of being poor in America. With Congress responsible for dictating the legislation that can help, or hurt, poor and working families, this experience could not come at a better time. At the start of the event, about 50 participants took on different identities and were told of their financial and familial circumstances before being thrust into the difficulties of life below the poverty line.

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Richard Eskow

Disabled Americans: Pawns in a Larger Social Security Game?

Sen. Sherrod Brown discusses Social Security expansion with Richard (RJ) Eskow on The Zero Hour William Galston writes in the Wall Street Journal about a Republican senator’s plans to force a confrontation on government disability benefits. Though Mr. Galston doesn’t seem to see it this way, it sounds as if Sen. Orrin Hatch plans to hold benefits for disabled Americans hostage in order to force Social Security cuts on everyone. Sen. Hatch, like many other Republicans, is raising alarms about the decreasing size of Social Security’s disability trust fund. But, in a rare moment of candor, a “Senate staff member” indicated to Galston that “Sen.

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Dave Johnson

China Says It Won’t Stop Manipulating Currency

Going into last week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) a key issue was China’s ongoing currency manipulation. This matters. A February study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) showed that China’s currency manipulation costs between 2.3 and 5.8 million U.S. jobs, increases the trade deficit by as much as $500 billion, and cuts U.S. GDP by up to $720 billion per year. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said going into the S&ED the Chinese currency remains “undervalued,” and that he would “press” China to do something about it. (An April 2014 Treasury Department report said the Chinese yuan “remains significantly undervalued.”) Sen.

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Jim Hightower

North Carolina’s Moral Freedom Summer

The Moral Monday movement is mobilizing again. This feisty coalition, based in North Carolina, is an inspiring model of workaday people coming together to reclaim their rights from far-right-wing politicians and plutocrats running amok. Led by the NAACP, tens of thousands of North Carolinians have joined the Moral Monday civil disobedience protests at the state capitol for more than a year. They’ve outed the extremist governor and legislators who have cut taxes for corporations and the rich, while raising taxes on low-income people. They’ve brought attention to how the state’s leaders are cutting funds for public education and jobless benefits while gutting environmental protections and women’s health funding. Now, the coalition is going after political kleptocrats in their districts.

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Richard Eskow

7 Reasons Consumers Won’t Love the $7 Billion Citigroup Deal

The Justice Department’s settlement with Citigroup was finally announced Monday. A $7 billion settlement against a too-big-to-fail bank? What’s not to love? We’ll answer that with another question: If the settlement that the Justice Department just negotiated with Citigroup is as punitive, why did Citigroup’s stock go up when the deal was announced? Reasons for the rise include the report of a good second quarter – a report that just happened to be released on the same day this deal was announced. Not bad for a bank that just settled fraud charges, recently failed a Federal Reserve stress test, and wouldn’t even exist if the American people hadn’t bailed it out. Apparently the fraud settlement was anything but a mortal blow for the bank, an entity created by the actions of both Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

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Alan Jenkins

Julian Castro Must Now Uphold Fair Housing

The U.S. Senate last week overwhelmingly confirmed San Antonio Mayor Juliàn Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. One of Castro’s first official acts as HUD Secretary should be to make concrete the Department’s duty to promote fair housing throughout its programs and activities. Protecting equal housing opportunity is at the core of HUD’s mission. For almost 50 years, the Department has been required by statute affirmatively to further fair housing. That duty includes ensuring that states and local governments that receive HUD funds for housing and community development efforts take proactive steps to address discrimination, foster residential integration, and promote equal access. Upholding fair housing where taxpayer dollars are deployed is the smart thing to do, as well as the legal thing to do.

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Dave Johnson

A Simplified Way To Tax Multinational Corporations

You’ve been hearing a lot about corporations “renouncing their U.S. citizenship” through “tax inversions.” This is when a company buys or merges with a non-U.S. company and claims to no longer be based in the U.S. to get out of paying certain taxes. The company does, however, keep the same employees, executives, buildings, sales channels and customers it had inside the U.S. before the switch. The epidemic of tax inversions represents just one of many ways corporations are dodging their taxes by taking advantage of our outdated and rigged corporate tax system.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Progressive Demand: “Robust, Long-Term” Transportation Funding

The House is scheduled to begin debate Tuesday on a short-term patch to get past an election-season crisis on federal transportation funding, but the Campaign for America’s Future sent a letter to members of Congress today calling on them to “quickly renew robust, long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund.” This comes as the White House released a new report making the case for precisely that kind of approach to the nation’s transportation needs. “At a time when unemployment is still too high, Americans strongly support needed public investments in the roads, bridges, public transportation, ports and airports that are essential to American prosperity,” CAF’s letter to Congress says.

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Thom Hartmann

Banksters Get Help But Not Homeowners?! Are We Crazy?

It’s time to start helping the people, and stop helping Wall Street. According to an agreement announced earlier today, big bank Citigroup will pay $7 billion to settle a Department of Justice investigation into that bank’s involvement with risky subprime mortgages. The agreement stems from Citigroup’s role in the trading of subprime mortgage securities, which helped to cause the 2007 financial collapse and Great Recession. Of the $7 billion total settlement, $4 billion will be in the form of a civil monetary payment to the Department of Justice, $500 million will go to state attorney’s general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and an additional $2.5 billion will go towards “consumer relief.” But make no mistake about it. This agreement is another win for the big banks. Under the agreement, Citigroup will most likely get a $500 million tax write-off.

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Dave Johnson

It’s Not Your Boss’ Business!

There is a new “Not My Boss’ Business” bill being introduced in the Senate to undo the damage done by the (older, Catholic males on the) Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby decision. According to the National Women’s Law Center, the Not My Boss’ Business bill would prohibit employers from refusing to cover any health care item — including birth control — guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law. It would: Prevent companies from singling out and discriminating against women’s health care. Block businesses from imposing the religious beliefs of their owners on their employees. Prevent companies from being emboldened to refuse other kinds of health coverage.

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