Dave Johnson

Why Is SEC Sitting On Corporate Transparency Rules?

Are We the People the boss of the corporations, or are the corporations the boss of We the People? The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) needs to be reminded which way that question is supposed to be answered. The SEC is the agency set up by We the People to “protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.” The SEC states that “all investors, whether large institutions or private individuals, should have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so long as they hold it. … Only through the steady flow of timely, comprehensive, and accurate information can people make sound investment decisions.” One would think those basic corporate facts and timely, comprehensive, and accurate information needed by investors would include access to a company’s tax returns.

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Robert Borosage

The Importance of Zephyr Teachout

New York gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout speaks at a press conference accompanied by Rob Astorino outside Tweed Courthouse, July 22. Creative Commons Photo by Michael Gareth Johnson/Flickr Zephyr Teachout is slated today to lose the New York Democratic primary for governor to incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Many voters will be seeing her memorable name for the first time when they cast their vote. She has run a shoestring campaign against a powerful, lavishly funded governor who refused to debate her. But whatever the outcome, her campaign has already had dramatic significance for progressives across the country. Teachout is a law professor at Fordham and a national expert on the deeply corrosive influence of big money in our politics. Her new book, “Corruption in America,” provides a probing analysis of the history and concept of corruption in American politics and law.

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Dave Johnson

Tell The Senate: Support The Amendment To Undo Citizens United

The Senate is scheduled to consider later today the Democracy For All Amendment to undo the damage the Republicans on the Supreme Court did with their Citizens United and other rulings that allow corporations and billionaires to purchase our elections. We the People should have the right to protect our government from being captured by the billionaires and their giant corporations.

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Sam Pizzigati

The Fed Finds an America Deeply Divided

Every three years, America’s Federal Reserve Board surveys just how well the nation’s families are doing economically. The Fed takes this surveying seriously. We’re not talking quickie public opinion polling here, several hundred dinner-time phone calls that last a few minutes each. The over 6,000 interviews the Fed conducts for its Survey of Consumer Finances usually run for an hour and a half, and most get conducted in person. These interviews delve into every aspect of our modern economic existence, from monthly car payments to mutual funds. The latest Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances report, released last Thursday, covers the entire period from 1989 through 2013. The report’s new numbers essentially offer up the most detailed economic portrait yet of American family finances over the last quarter-century.

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Richard Eskow

Democrats in D.C. Must Fight For More Jobs – Or Risk Losing Their Own

Investors got some great news last Friday, even as the report for job seekers was far worse than expected. August job figures came in far below economists’ expectations (which, even if reached, would have been insufficient to bring a swift end to our employment crisis.) “The remarkably weak GDP growth in this recovery is consistent with the extraordinarily weak job growth,” writes economist Dean Baker, who notes that “employment is performing far worse than in prior recoveries.” But the misery that has gripped the nation was not being shared on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 reached a record high for the second week in a row. No wonder 71 percent of millennials believe that our economic system is rigged in favor of the rich. They’re paying attention. Democrats should be telling the nation how they would create more and better jobs.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Orange the GOP’s New Black

With so many convictions, indictments, and investigations concerning corruption, it’s beginning to look like orange may be the new black for the GOP. It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Bob McDonnell was one of the leading lights of the Republican Party. Being governor of Virginia was supposed to put him on the short list for VP in 2012, and make him a serious contender for the White House someday. That all came to an end yesterday, when both Bob and Maureen McDonnell were convicted of 11 counts of corruption, fraud, and bribery. The cover of the Washington Post Express pretty much said it all. Just like that, McDonnell went from contender to outcast. The man who would be king became the political crook of our time, and all for $165,000. That’s what all the cash, golf trips, vacations, gifts and various loans modern day snake oil salesman. Just $165,000. That’s it.

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Terrance Heath

Beyond Ferguson: Sanders To Propose Youth Jobs Bill

At Michael Brown’s funeral, Rev. Al Sharpton lamented that America has “money to give military equipment to police forces,” but not to train and employ young people. Sen. Bernie Sanders is making good on a promise to remedy that. While eulogizing Brown, Sharpton issued a warning: “America is going to have to come to terms when there’s something wrong, that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, when we don’t have money for training, and money for public education and … our children.” Sharpton was referring to police use of paramilitary force in response to protests and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following Brown’s death.

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Dave Johnson

Two Bad Economic Reports Share A Link To One Bad Trade Policy

On Thursday the Department of Commerce’s July trade figures were released. Our enormous, humongous trade deficit continued another month and we even had an all-time record trade deficit with China. Today the jobs report came out and America’s manufacturing sector did not add any jobs in August. The Department of Labor reported, “Manufacturing employment was unchanged in August.” Thursday, bad trade numbers. Friday. bad manufacturing job numbers. Is it possible there is a connection? This economic failure is happening because of our terrible, one-sided “free trade” deals and tax policies that reward companies for shipping jobs, factories, call centers and profit centers out of the country and everyone knows it. Our country lost more than 50,000 factories and 5 million jobs to China in the decade of the 2000s and people know it.

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Robert Borosage

August Jobs Report: The Folly Continues

The Labor Department’s August jobs report – headlined by a disappointing creation of 142,000 new jobs with the unemployment rate “little changed” at 6.1 percent – reflects our reality: a sustained but far too slow economic recovery. The August jobs figure is below the monthly average for the year, and is barely enough to cover new entrants into the workforce. The U.S. has enjoyed 54 consecutive months of economic growth, longest stretch of consistent job growth on record. But if the economy is in recovery, most Americans aren’t sharing in it. The growth is too slow to produce full-time work for those who need it, too slow to bring discouraged workers back into the economy, and too slow to lift wages. There are still 19 million Americans in need of full-time work.

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Richard Eskow

To Win This November, Democrats Need the Minimum-Wage Movement

“We’re a movement now,” fast-food worker Latoya Caldwell said Wednesday of the effort by employees in her industry to raise their minimum wage to $15 per hour. That movement’s latest action was a one-day strike which took place in 150 cities across the country on Thursday. It included acts of civil disobedience that activists said led to more than 500 arrests (including that of Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore). New York. Detroit. Kansas City. Chicago. Los Angeles. Little Rock. Atlanta. Boston. Charleston. Hartford. Miami. Philadelphia … All day long there was a sense of electricity in the air as reports came in from one city after another. The fast-food workers’ issue, a higher minimum wage, is one most Americans understand. It is a cause, and a source of political energy, that Democrats would be wise to embrace.

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Terrance Heath

Helicopters Over The Hamptons: It’s The Rich vs. the Super Rich [VIDEO]

There’s a war going on. While low-wage workers are take to the streets today to fight for livable wages, a battle is brewing in The Hamptons, where the wealthy and the super wealthy square off against one another over traffic. Helicopter traffic, that is. Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage joins New York Times Columnist Ginia Bellafante to discuss why the rich are mad at the super rich, and how helicopter rides to The Hamptons could fuel progressive change.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Fed’s Main Job Is Jobs, And A Coalition Plans To Keep It On Task

A lot of eyes will be on the Federal Reserve Friday when the Labor Department releases its August unemployment statistics. But where will the Fed’s eyes be focused? A group of activists are planning the next steps of their effort to keep the Fed focused on the continuing unemployment crisis, and keep the Fed from taking actions that will make things worse for millions still seeking work. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” said Shawn Sebastian of the Center for Popular Democracy, who was part of a group of activists and unemployed people who confronted members of the Fed at last month’s economic summit in Jackson Hole, Wyo. That includes following up on a promise by Fed chair Janet Yellen to meet with the group in Washington and pressing a more detailed plan for how the Fed should proceed to help the Main Street economy grow.

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Terrance Heath

What’s In A Name? Joe Can Get A Job, But José Can’t.

That old nursery rhyme we learned as children isn’t quite true anymore. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but your name can hurt your chances of getting a job. If you want to know why African Americans and Latinos have higher unemployment rates than whites, just ask Joe Zamora and Yolanda Spivey. The black unemployment rate is consistently twice that of whites, and the Latino unemployment rate is about half again as high as whites. Unemployed African Americans are likely to go without work longer, There’s no consensus as to why, but discrimination has a lot to do with it. Meet Joe. He used to be José. No matter how many resumes José sent out, he never got a job interview. When José became Joe, potential employers started calling. Joe’s story is shocking, but it’s happened before. Meet Yolanda Spivey. Yolanda had 10 years of experience in the insurance industry.

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Dave Johnson

Enormous, Humongous July Trade Deficit Drained $40.5B From Economy

The U.S. Department of Commerce released the July U.S. trade figures this morning. We reached a new job-sucking record with China. If you are a Wall Street or Chinese billionaire it’s an occasion to break out the champagne. However, if you are not a Wall Street or Chinese billionaire this is an occasion to get in line to beg for a job serving champagne. Because trade deficits like this means that at some point that is just about the only job that will be left in our economy. The overall U.S. international goods and services trade deficit declined slightly from (revised) $40.8 billion in June to $40.5 billion in July. So the trade deficit “only” sucked $40.5 billion of jobs, factories and wealth out this month. However the monthly U.S. goods deficit with China reached a record level $30.9 billion, up from $30.1 billion in June.

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Jeff Bryant

The Education Talk ‘Reformers’ Want Versus The One They Get

What will $12 million get you? How about a “conversation about education?” That’s what a new organization ,Education Post, aims to get for its “initial grants,” courtesy of, according to education reporter Lindsay Layton of The Washington Post, ” the Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.” In a debut post, the organization’s leader Peter Cunningham – a former “communications guru” for U.S.

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Sam Pizzigati

Finally Revealed: Obamacare’s Hidden Gem

The Institute for Policy Studies has been releasing annual reports on CEO pay for 20 years now, and these “Executive Excess” studies have built up quite a following. One reason: The studies offer what few other CEO pay reports do: context. Anyone with the patience to plow through annual corporate filings can, after all, show that CEO paychecks are keeping America’s top execs on the fast track to fortune. The “Executive Excess” series shows just how. America’s most lavish corporate rewards, past editions have detailed, are going to CEOs who downsize jobs, pocket bailouts, profiteer off defense contracts, cook their corporate books, contribute big to pols, and stiff Uncle Sam at tax time. All this context can make for engaging — and enraging — reading.

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Terrance Heath

Fast Food Strikes Are Back, Bigger Than Ever

The fast-food strikes are back, and bigger than ever. Today, workers in 150 cities will take to the streets to demand livable wages for themselves and their families, the right to organize, and a better economy for all of us. Last year, low-wage workers in over 60 cities went on strike for livable wages. What’s different about this year’s fast-food strikes is that they’re more than twice as big, and spreading beyond fast-food and retail workers. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is calling on home health care workers to join the movement for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, a week after 27,000 home health aides in Minnesota said yes to joining the union, which represents about 600,000 home health workers in 20 states.

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Richard Eskow

Robert Borosage on Unions and the Middle Class [Audio]

Labor Day was last weekend. For the occasion we interviewed our own Robert Borosage on The Zero Hour radio program regarding his piece entitled “Inequality: A Broad Middle Class Requires Empowering Workers.” That piece begins as follows:  “On Labor Day, families gather, politicians pay tribute to values of hard work, and some workers even get an extra day off. But this Labor Day arrives with working families struggling to stay afloat. Working family incomes haven’t gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. Corporate profits are reaping a record portion of the nation’s income, while worker wages wallow at record lows. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have.

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Bill Scher

There’s No Republican Wave Because Nobody Likes Republicans

In late July, the head of the Republican House campaign committee predicted a “wave” election. And pundits have generally assumed it will be strong Republican year, arguing the Democrats are being weighed down by President Obama’s low approval ratings. Republicans can still take full control of Congress in November, but only because the 2014 map is heavily tilted to the right, with several Democratically-held Senate seats up for re-election in states Mitt Romney won. If it was a real wave, we’d see blue states becoming redder. We’d see big Republican gains in the House as well as the Senate. We’d see Republicans hold a clear advantage in the polls. None of that is on the horizon. Republican strategists tell Politico they don’t expect to win more than a few additional House seats.

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Dave Johnson

Anti-Union, Low-Wage States Spend More On “Safety-Net” Help

A study from Labor and Employment Relations professor Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois-Urbana and policy director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute Frank Manzo IV showed that states with anti-union “right-to-work” laws have lower tax revenue, and have to spend more on government assistance to the poor as a result. The study, titled, “Free-Rider States,” found that legislation supporting workers’ right to organize increases wages and reduces income inequality. As a result, collective bargaining states have higher incomes and less inequality. States with “right-to-work” laws have lower wages. These lower wages mean lower state income tax revenue, a slower economy in those states, and higher demand for government “safety-net” services.

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