Terrance Heath

What Will America Lose If Scott Walker Wins?

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker says that he, out of all the GOP candidates, will be “a president who will fight and win for America.” His record as governor shows how much America stands to lose if Walker wins. What would President Scott Walker’s America look like? What would Walker do for America? Take a look at what he did for Wisconsin. War on Public Workers Walker made a name for himself by attacking public sector workers. One of his first acts as governor was to deal with a budget shortfall of $137 million by proposing a “budget repair bill” that slashed away at salaries for social workers, prison guards, nurses, teachers, and snow-plow operators (an important job in Wisconsin). In addition, workers lost collective bargaining rights, and were stuck with extra health insurance and retirement costs.

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Cormac Close

The CFPB Is An “Unaccountable” Success of Dodd-Frank Reform

In this video, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reviews the state of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill after five years and the record of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans have done their best to prevent the Dodd-Frank financial reform law from being effective – from loading up the Securities and Exchange Commission with Wall Street tools to eviscerating the Commodity Future Trading Commission’s budget. Yet it is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that actually attracts more Republican ire than any other component of the law. And their main criticism? “The CFPB is unaccountable.” Yes, it’s true that the CFPB is safely out of reach of Wall Street lobbyists and the members of Congress who serve them. As a result, it actually does its job.

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Robert Borosage

Federal Workers Demand $15 and a Union

Chanting “$15.00 and a union,” thousands federal contract workers walked off their jobs yesterday, led by the Capitol’s cafeteria workers who serve senators their food. They were joined by Senator Bernie Sanders, now running for president, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) They announced they were introducing legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Sanders reiterated his call – joined in a letter signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 18 other senators – for President Obama to give preferential treatment to good jobs employers in government contracting – employers who pay their workers a living wage, offer decent benefits like paid sick leave, and recognize their ability to bargain collectively. Action is long overdue.

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Emily Foster

Fight for $15 Advances With Bill Introduction In Congress

Sontia Bailey, a full-time federally contracted cashier at the U.S. Capitol, gets paid a mere $10.10 an hour. She works a second job at KFC, which actually pays more than her government contract job. She clocks in 70 hours each week to make ends meet, which leaves her time for only five hours of sleep each night. Bailey’s exhausting work schedule has taken a toll on her health; she had a miscarriage two weeks ago due to complications from sleep exhaustion and stress. “I had a miscarriage at 3 a.m., alone,” she said. Bailey was rushed to a hospital less than three hours before she usually wakes up for her regular grueling work week. Sontia Bailey shouldn’t have to work two jobs just two get by. If Bailey was paid a living wage, she just might have a living child.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Norquist Roadblock Leads To a Social Security Raid

If Congress is unable to move forward on a long-term funding bill for federal surface transportation programs this month, you can lay a huge share of the blame on Grover Norquist. Mr. Shrink-Government-and-Drown-It-In-A-Bathtub is at it again, having members of the Senate twisting itself into knots to come up with funding for highway and public transit improvements without doing something that Norquist would call a tax increase. “The thing to avoid is to raise taxes to pay for the overspending driven by Davis-Bacon,” Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, was quoted as saying in The Hill newspaper this week.

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Dave Johnson

Reps Ask DOJ To Investigate Planned Parenthood Smear

Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler, and Yvette Clarke sent a letter asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking them to investigate whether laws were broken by the Center for Medical Progress. This is the organization that released a selectively-edited video of a Planned Parenthood physician. The Representatives issued a press release about the letter that begins, According to press reports, the Center for Medical Progress created a fake limited liability corporation in advance of the meeting it recorded with a Planned Parenthood doctor. The video was captured by actors using fake identification to pose as buyers from that fake human biologics company.

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Joshua Ferrer

The Harm We Face Because of the GOP’s ‘Broken’ Budget Process

In less than two months, Republicans will starve the middle class and increase poverty levels again if their budget is passed. They will slash billions of dollars from necessary programs that stabilize our middle class, leaving more people jobless, hungry, and homeless. It does not have to be this way. This will mark the third year of the self-imposed “sequester,” a series of caps on agency funding designed to be so severe as to require a bigger budget deal. Back in 2013, that deal ultimately failed, leaving us with deep cuts that have hurt the economy and cut essential programs to a bare minimum. Sequestration has slashed hundreds of billions of dollars from federal agencies, squeezing them to the point of failure. Veterans Affairs cuts have led to longer benefit delays, less health care spending, and delayed construction on cemeteries.

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Digby

“I’ll Light You Up”

As I have written several thousand times, Americans, especially black Americans, cannot assume they have rights or live in a free country when they are dealing with the police. It is no longer up to police to be professional and calm, it is the citizens’ job to maintain their cool, de-escalate the situation and deploy psychological understanding of confrontations when dealing with out of control police officers who demand total obeisance. My advice is this: imagine how you would act if you were confronted by a gang banger with a gun and conduct yourself in exactly the same way when you are in the presence of the police. Your “rights” do you just a much good in that moment. It shouldn’t be that way. Dealing with the cops is an inherently stressful situation for any cop. People react badly to perceived injustice. They are afraid and not themselves.

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Dave Johnson

Oak Flat: The Latest Land Grab From Native Americans

A “sneak law” attachment to a “must-pass” bill gives sacred Native American land to a foreign mining company. How did this happen? Do you remember that “Citibank budget,” where a budget bill to avert an imminent government shutdown suddenly had in it a Citibank-written provision deregulating certain risky financial trades? If Congress voted against the budget, the government would shut down, so Citibank got its way? This is how “sneak laws” get through. Usually We the People don’t get a chance to learn about them in time to do something about it, and this was one example. Another example of this happened in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.

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Robert Reich

Why Progressives Must Stay United

A new report finds more U.S. children living in poverty than before the Great Recession. According to the report, released Tuesday from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 22 percent of American children are living in poverty (as of 2013, the latest data available) compared with 18 percent in 2008. Poverty rates are nearly double among African-Americans and American Indians. Problems are most severe in South and Southwest. Particularly troubling is a large increase in the share of children living in poor communities marked by poor schools and a lack of a safe place to play. Which brings me to politics, power, and the progressive movement.

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Cormac Close

SEC Still Drags Its Feet 5 Years Later on Dodd-Frank Pay Ratio Rule

The actual provision of the law is 108 words. The gist: The Securities and Exchange Commission requires corporations and banks that it supervises to disclose in their annual reports the “annual total compensation of the chief executive officer,” the “mean of the annual total compensation of all [other] employees” and the ratio between the two. Yet five years after those words became law as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, the SEC is still making excuses for not issuing regulations to enforce them. It took until two years ago for the SEC to issue its first proposed rules to enforce this provision. Yet deadline after deadline continues to pass without final rules. The SEC says it can’t decide whether to include foreign workers or how to count part-time employees, but the truth is much simpler: People at the SEC think the rule is a distraction.

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Jacob Woocher

It’s Still Tough To Curb CEO Pay After Five Years Of Dodd-Frank

Designed to address the problem of soaring executive compensation, ‘say-on-pay’ is a core provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. But on the legislation’s fifth anniversary say-on-pay is not having the impact its advocates had hoped for. After briefly dipping at the height of the recession, executive pay packages are the highest they have ever been, and will likely continue to increase. In 2014, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made 373 times the salary of the average employee. In 1983 that ratio was 46 to 1. Dodd-Frank sought to address this concern with say-on-pay, which mandates that shareholders of public companies hold a nonbinding vote on executive compensation packages at least once every three years. Regulations were implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2011.

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Terrance Heath

What You Need To Know About John Kasich

Ohio governor John Kasich, the 16th candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, is neither the moderate Republican nor the “compassionate conservative” he pretends to be, but he still won’t get the Republican nomination. Image via Donkey Hotey @ Flickr. This isn’t Kasich’s first time at the rodeo. He served nine terms in the House of Representatives, rising to prominence as chair of the House Budget Committee in 1997. He made a bid for the White House in 2000, after brokering a deal that balanced the federal budget for the first time since 1969, but dropped out. In 2001, Kasich left Washington for New York City, where he spent a decade working as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers. In 2010, he staged a political comeback, by defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland.

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Bill Scher

Who Said This About Conservative Warmongers? Obama, or Reagan?

Quiz time: Which president said this? I think that some of the people who are objecting the most and just refusing even to accede to the idea of ever getting any understanding, whether they realize it or not, those people, basically, down in their deepest thoughts, have accepted that war is inevitable … Well, I think as long as you’ve got a chance to strive for peace, you strive for peace. President Barack Obama about the Iran deal? Nope. Ronald Reagan, throwing shade to the right wing after he forged the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Mikhail Gorbachev, the first treaty to reduce nuclear arms. Though don’t blame yourself for being confused.

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Cormac Close

Cheaters Never Win … Unless the SEC Lets Them

Most corporate executive pay comes in the form of bonuses tied to the performance of their company. While this rewards CEOs who make their company prosper, it also gives them a perpetual temptation: Why not lie about the performance of your company so you can make even more money? It’s a temptation some CEOs can’t resist, especially if their corporations are in dire financial straits. After the Enron and Worldcom scandals 15 years ago, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) which, among other things, created a “clawback” provision. Clawbacks force CEOs to surrender any pay they received as a result of accounting fraud.

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Robert Borosage

Bank Reform Five Years Later: Still Incomplete

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Dodd-Frank, the complicated legislation designed to reform Wall Street after the financial crisis. Five years later, the debate still rages. Republicans denounce the reforms as a failure: “the big banks are bigger, the small banks are fewer and the economy remains moribund,” says Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, a leader in the unrelenting effort of Republicans to weaken or repeal the act. The administration hails the reform as a grand success. The Treasury Department report card concludes “our financial system is stronger, safer, more resilient, and more supportive of sustainable economic growth.” Americans, for the most part, are divorced from this debate.

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Thom Hartmann

How the Billionaires Bought Justice For Scott Walker

Scott Walker is the perfect example of how billionaires can purchase justice a la carte to protect their pet politicians. Now that’s not to say that Scott Walker himself is a billionaire. But he has a well-known relationship with billionaires like the Koch Brothers – and their assorted front groups. And in short, that’s why the Wisconsin Supreme Court dropped its John Doe probe into whether Scott Walker criminally violated campaign finance laws to win his recall election in 2012. The Koch brothers and their front groups, particularly the Wisconsin Club for Growth, along with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group (also known as the WMC) have been setting up this ruling for almost a decade. This story starts in 2007 with an election for an open seat on the state Supreme Court.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Workers In The Sharing Economy Need Shared Security

Nick Hanauer discusses his worker “shared security” proposal in an interview with OurFuture.org. I have a love-hate relationship with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. I love the convenience and level of service that traditional taxis don’t offer. But I hate what they portend for the future of work with their rapidly expanding business model that pretends regular workers are franchisees. For one thing, casting employees as entrepreneurs offloads risks, along with the security and benefits that a traditional job used to offer. Workers toiling in the so-called sharing or “gig” economy get no paid vacation or sick leave, no company match for a 401(k) retirement plan, and no employer-paid health insurance.

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Robert Reich

How Goldman Sachs Profited from the Greek Debt Crisis

The Greek debt crisis offers another illustration of Wall Street’s powers of persuasion and predation, although the Street is missing from most accounts. The crisis was exacerbated years ago by a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman’s current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein. Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt, and in the process almost doubled it. And just as with the American subprime crisis, and the current plight of many American cities, Wall Street’s predatory lending played an important although little-recognized role. In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction.

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Bill Scher

Republicans Can’t Win Without Solving Their ‘Secular Problem’

Last week I wrote that the GOP is on track to lose the Latino vote yet again. On the day Republicans face up to this problem, they at least know what they have to do: suck it up on immigration reform. But Republicans have a bigger demographic challenge looming over them, one of which they are less cognizant, of which they will have harder time accepting, and of which the solutions are less obvious: the Republican “secular problem.” In the Bush Era, pundits were fond of lording over Democrats that they suffered from a “God problem.” But ever since Democrats won the 2006 midterms, I have been writing that the opposite was true.

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