Leo Gerard

China Protects its Workers; America Doesn’t Bother

Confronted with a dire situation, a world power last week took strong action to secure its domestic jobs and manufacturing. That was China. Not the United States. China diminished the value of its currency.  This gave its exporting industries a boost while simultaneously blocking imports. The move protected the Asian giant’s manufacturers and its workers’ jobs. Currency manipulation violates free market principles, but for China, doing it makes sense. The nation’s economy is cooling. Its stock market just crashed, and its economic powerhouse – exports – declined a substantial 8.3 percent in July ­– down to $195 billion from $213 billion the previous July. This potent action by a major economic competitor raises the question of when the United States government is going to stop pretending currency manipulation doesn’t exist.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Bernie Sanders Proposes To Boost Worker-Ownership Of Companies

Businesses are run for a profit that goes into the pockets of the business’ “investors.” To be an investor requires that you have money. This is a rigged system that by definition channels the returns and gains of our economy to the people who have money in the first place. That system forces a terrible business model: investors try to squeeze money out of businesses as fast as they can. Then they move on. People who put the money in have even more money, but leave behind them a trail of squeezed-out ruin. This squeezing of the business involves squeezing the workers, squeezing the product, squeezing the customers and squeezing the government out of any taxes that might be owed. This is bad for America’s long-term economy, people, environment and — since it brings about intense concentration of wealth — bad for our democracy, too.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Why Republicans Won’t Nominate Their Governors To Be President

Republicans used to brag about their “deep bench” of governors, diligently solving problems in contrast to the dysfunction happening in Washington. No more. All four sitting governors running for president — Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and John Kasich are struggling in the polls, eclipsed by those so outside the Beltway that they lack any governmental experience: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Why are Republican voters falling under the spell of these neophytes? Because under the rules of modern conservatism, holding the responsibility of the governor’s mansion is a lose-lose proposition.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Sen. Brown Blocking Trade Nominee Over TPP Secrecy

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has put a “hold” on the nomination of Marisa Lago to be deputy U.S. trade representative. Brown says that his trade advisor is not allowed to see text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) unless he is present. The secrecy surrounding TPP is intense. Senator Brown says that the secrecy surrounding this corporate-dominated “trade” deal is even greater than the government’s controls for Iran work and CIA briefings. One of the secrecy rules is that his staffers cannot see the text without him present, even though they have the required security clearances. Here’s the thing. Legislators are very busy people. Requiring them to be present while staffers who are versed in the international and trade legalese examine the text of TPP is a way of keeping legislators and their staff from knowing what is in the agreement.

Continue Reading...
Robert Reich

The Fraud of the New “Family-Friendly” Work

Netflix just announced it’s offering paid leave to new mothers and fathers for the first year after the birth of adoption of a child. Other high-tech firms are close behind. Some big law firms are also getting into the act. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is offering 22 paid weeks off for both male and female attorneys. Even Wall Street is taking baby steps in the direction of family-friendly work. Goldman Sachs just doubled paid parental leave to four weeks. All this should be welcome news. Millennials now constitute the largest segment of the American work force. Many are just forming families, so the new family-friendly policies seem ideally timed. But before we celebrate the dawn of a new era, keep two basic truths in mind. First, these new policies apply only to a tiny group considered “talent” – highly educated and in high demand.

Continue Reading...
Cormac Close

This Symphony Sounds Like a Wall Street Scheme

Symphony, a planned chat system being developed on behalf of Wall Street’s biggest institutions, has a ton of fancy new features. You can personalize filters, share trading algorithms, prevent “government spying,” and much, much more! Wait, about that last one…. Are they talking about Chinese or Russian hackers? Our own intelligence agencies? Or, as Massachusetts Sen.

Continue Reading...
Robert Borosage

In Praise of Julian Bond

America lost a giant this weekend when Julian Bond left us at 75. And CAF lost a friend, a founder, a mentor and a guide. Julian lived a large life, devoted to making America better. And we all are beneficiaries of his work and his wisdom. He came to his calling naturally, part of what he loved to say were “six generations” of college educated leaders. His grandfather was born a slave in 1863; freedom came only when the Civil War was won and the 13th Amendment was ratified in 1865. As Julian told the story to a spellbound audience: At age 15, barely able to read and write, (his grandfather) hitched his tuition, a steer, to a rope, and walked across Kentucky to Berea College… Sixteen years later he graduated, and the college asked him to deliver the commencement address.

Continue Reading...
Roger Hickey

Julian Bond: Race Man, Poet, Movement-Builder — and Friend

America has lost a great leader, and many of us lost a good friend. By the time Julian Bond was 20 years old, he had helped lead the sit-in movement that began dismantling official segregation in Atlanta and he had left the academic life of Morehouse College to help found the legendary Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  As the communications director of SNCC, he worked to call attention of the rest of the world to the struggle by some of the poorest, most disenfranchised Americans to wrest political power from the white establishment in some of the most dangerous parts of the Jim Crow South.  SNCC was the #BlackLivesMatter movement before there were hastags.   By the time he was 30 years old, Julian Bond had been elected to the Georgia Legislature, whose all white members refused to seat him because of his opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Continue Reading...
Harvey J Kaye

When Artists Cultivated FDR’s Four Freedoms

The Second World War ended 70 years ago this past weekend. Americans had fought for the Four Freedoms – Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear – the vision or promise of a postwar world that President Franklin Roosevelt had articulated in his State of the Union of the Message of January 1941.  Sixteen million Americans served in uniform. Millions more served in the war industries and in volunteer efforts. Artists of all sorts served as well, not only in military units, factories, and local communities, but also by promoting the vision of the Four Freedoms. I originally wrote these paragraphs on the ways in which artists and musicians had mobilized for my book The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great. They did not survive the final edit.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

How Can We Fight Currency Manipulation To Regain Jobs?

China had been setting a too-low exchange rate for their currency, thereby exporting unemployment. Then early this week their bank made a move and the currency plunged. The next day another plunge, then another. China declared this was because they are allowing their currency to move toward market rates. Others said this was evidence of manipulation because a “weak” currency makes goods from China cost less in world markets. China then raised the “reference rate,” stopping the plunge (for now).

Continue Reading...
Cormac Close

The Smoke and Mirrors Behind Balanced-Budget Rhetoric

Governors are proud of their balanced budgets. If you drank a shot every time one was mentioned in that August 6 Fox News GOP debate, you would have been in for a painful Friday. Of course, every state’s constitution (save Vermont’s) requires a balanced budget. The surprises are in the methods they used. There are few things more creative than a state government in dire financial straits, which is to say most of them. States are well versed in all manner of financial chicanery, from simple accounting gimmicks to pushing off payments. These methods range from silly, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie booking extra revenue after selling larger bonds than necessary, to the downright dangerous as states let infrastructure collapse. Yet all these measures have one thing in common: they make the problem worse.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Are Unions An ‘Us’ Or A ‘Them’?

Divide and conquer works. When you face a strong enemy it’s always a good strategy to find ways to break them apart into smaller units that can be fought separately. A state initiative to gut California’s public-employee pension and healthcare benefits is trying to do just that. A well-funded campaign is underway (again) to take advantage of the state’s constitutional amendment initiative process, this time to place a proposition called the “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016” on the 2016 ballot. The initiative would require that voters approve any pension and health benefits in contracts for new teachers, nurses, police and other government employees as well as any pension enhancements for existing employees. This initiative follows a pattern well-known to California public-interest advocates.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

80 Years Later, Republicans Are Still Fighting Social Security

Some things never change. “The lash of the dictator will be felt,” a Republican House member said in 1935 when Social Security was first proposed. “Social Security is the delinquent child of the left,” a Fox News commentator said this week, “that grew up to be an evil dictator.” “Dictator”? A program created by popularly elected politicians, and which enjoys widespread support among voters? Polls have consistently shown that Americans are extremely pleased with Social Security, which provides benefits are costs far below those in the private sector.

Continue Reading...
Jeff Bryant

Don’t Let John Kasich Anywhere Near The U.S. Department Of Education

Some Very Serious People have decided Governor John Kasich of Ohio is the latest personality to emerge from the field of presidential candidates in the Republican Party to warrant genuine, bona fide consideration. According to a roundup of political pundits and campaign strategists compiled by Politico, Kasich – along with Hewlett-Packard ex-CEO Carly Fiorina – put in a superior performance in the recent televised Republican presidential debate on Fox News. Folks at The Hill have christened Kasich a “sleeper candidate” who is “getting buzz because his message resonates more with the beltway crowd.” And analysts at Real Clear Politics, as of this writing, have Kasich edging ever so close to Jeb Bush who trails only Donald Trump in polling for the New Hampshire Republican primary.

Continue Reading...
Van Jones

Five Lessons for Democrats From the Black Lives Matter Protests

Many observers are perplexed by the decision of some Black Lives Matter activists to twice disrupt attempted addresses by presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. Well, I am not perplexed. The new generation of civil rights activists never accepted “trickle-down economics” from conservatives. Today they are rejecting “trickle-down justice” from the liberals. I love and admire Sanders. But until the Black Lives Matters activists started snatching away their microphones, economic populists like him rarely spotlighted the specific pain that has been building in the African-American community. Instead, they focused mainly on so-called “class issues” – including the need to defend Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, rein in Wall Street and the Koch Brothers, and tax corporations and rich people. Many African-American leaders support those policies.

Continue Reading...
Joshua Holland

Talking Less and Listening More To Black Lives Matter Activists

This commentary originally appeared in Raw Story. A lot of white progressives have been flummoxed by ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter activists disrupting Sen. Bernie Sanders’ events. They point out that Sanders is the most liberal candidate in this race, and wonder why Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump aren’t getting the same treatment. But if one pauses to appreciate some context, this strategy makes a lot of sense. There are two things that white liberals need to understand about these actions. First, they aren’t really about Bernie Sanders. They may have begun that way, and they clearly have something to do with a certain strain of white liberalism, and with some of Sanders’ supporters tone-deaf response to the protests. But they’re not about Sanders himself, and that renders arguments about his Congressional record, or the fact that he marched on Washington with Dr.

Continue Reading...
Cormac Close

Why Corporations Would Love a ‘Territorial’ Tax – And You Shouldn’t

At 35 percent, the U.S. corporate income tax is technically among the highest in the world. In practice, corporations pay a small fraction of that, and some pay no taxes at all. Corporations will do everything under the law to reduce their tax bill, and often this involves going abroad. There is near-unanimous understanding that the U.S. tax system is broken, yet there is very little agreement about how to fix it. One of the proposals gaining traction in Congress is a territorial tax system. Here’s what you need to know about how it works, and why progressives are mobilizing in opposition. How Our Current System Works On paper, the U.S. currently has a “worldwide tax system” where corporations are taxed the full 35 percent no matter where their profits come from, minus taxes paid to foreign governments.

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

Those Republican Spending Caps Are Costing Us Jobs

The case for ending the federal budget spending caps known as the “sequester” has just gotten a whole lot stronger. It’s all about jobs. At the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is currently running as a Democratic presidential candidate, the Congressional Budget Office this week released a letter that said that if these spending caps were eliminated, the economy would be able to add as many as 1.4 million additional jobs in 2016 and 2017. The budget caps, you will recall, were imposed as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The law imposes strict limits on the spending Congress can authorize through 2021.

Continue Reading...
Scott Klinger

Five Laws That Made America a Better Place

Our country has no shortage of big problems. While big challenges are nothing new for Americans, how we deal with them has changed. Fifty years ago, rising social unrest forced Congress to deal with big things — like voting rights, immigration, and access to health care and education. Over a seven-month period in 1965, Congress passed five significant laws that dealt with these pressing issues of the day. These laws forever changed life in America. On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. It guaranteed the right to vote for black people in the South after decades of protests and boycotts by civil rights activists. The Voting Rights Act established federal oversight of elections in states with long-standing records of racial exclusion.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Republicans’ Have A New Plan To Kill Government Employee Unions

Republicans have tried various tactics to weaken or just get rid of unions, and that includes public employee unions. Here is the latest scheme: GOP senators are setting out to ban public employee unions, claiming they are partisan political organizations and that therefore union members are violating rules against political activity on the job just by being a part of a union. They are specifically starting with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) because they represent Internal Revenue Service employees. Senate Finance Committee Republicans would prohibit unions at the IRS. Obviously this ban would then become a model for prohibiting unions in government agencies across the board. Their justification is the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political campaign activity while on the job.

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 4 5 475