Dave Johnson

Fast Track Train Off Rails — For Now

Democrats in the U.S. Senate were able to successfully block the trade promotion authority “fast track” bill using a filibuster today. This is a very big setback for the pro-Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) forces, but is not a final defeat. The final vote was 52-45, with 60 votes needed to break the filibuster and move the bill forward to debate and an up-or-down vote. No Republican voted against the filibuster, and every Democrat voted to support the filibuster except Thomas Carper (D-Del.). Following are statements from a few of the organizations that are working to bring about fair trade that lists people and the environment on all sides of trade borders.

Continue Reading...
Emily Foster

How Banks Did More Damage To Baltimore Than Rioters

The death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore is not just a story of police brutality or the lack of socioeconomic mobility for the urban poor. It’s also a story of how deregulation allowed corporate banks to strip middle-class families of their financial stability and walk away, leaving behind payday lenders and check-cashing stores to plunder low-income and minority communities. To better understand and communicate that story, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Policy, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took their Middle Class Prosperity Project to Baltimore on Monday.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

Social Security 10 Years From Now: A Choice of Two Futures

For The Huffington Post’s 10th anniversary I was asked to predict what Social Security might look like 10 years from now. That future is filled with both possibility and shadowed by danger. To understand exactly how rich those possibilities are, let’s begin by looking back 10 years. Dark Days In 2005 President George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans were hard at work trying to privatize Social Security. Their proposal would have replaced much of this guaranteed-benefit program with a plan that would have invested its funds in privately managed accounts instead. That would have been a massive payday for Wall Street, but would have been catastrophic for the American people. The Democrats successfully defeated the plan, and voters rewarded them with their trust. Polls showed that voters trusted Democrats with this popular program by a margin of more than 20 points in 2005.

Continue Reading...
Terrance Heath

Ben Carson’s 13 Craziest Beliefs

In an increasingly crowded field, Republican presidential candidates and hopefuls are struggling to stand out, but Ben Carson stands out for all the wrong reasons. If he keeps it up, the famed neurosurgeon may need his foot surgically removed from his mouth. Every time he talks about his positions and beliefs, he embarrasses himself and his party. Here are Carson’s most recent — and most famous — gaffes revealing what he believes. 1. Not Taxing Poor People is “Condescending” Carson isn’t the first Republican to advocate taxing those “lucky duckies” — as a Wall Street Journal op-ed dubbed them — who don’t earn enough to have to pay income taxes.

Continue Reading...
Leo Gerard

Trade Abuse

America is in an abusive relationship with trade-obsessed politicians and corporations. Despite their long history of battering the U.S. middle class with bad trade deal after bad trade deal, these lawmakers and CEOs contend workers should believe that their new proposal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), will be different. President Obama and the CEO of Nike, a company that doesn’t manufacture one shoe in the United States, got together in Oregon on Friday to urge Americans to fall once again for a trade deal. The trade fanatics say everything will be different under the TPP – even though it is based on deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that lured American factories across the border, destroyed good-paying jobs and devastated communities.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Obama vs. Warren On Trade: Behind the Charge She’s Just ‘a Politician’

As the Senate begins consideration today of the “fast track” trade promotion authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama says that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is expressing concerns because she is “a politician.” The president’s statement demeaning what Warren (D-Mass.) is saying as just what politicians say makes it seem that he thinks that listening to constituents and doing that they want (a.k.a. “representative democracy”) is a bad thing. But Warren and almost every other Democrat have come to understand that trade agreements that send American jobs out of the country – and the fast track process that is used to push them through – have become core issues that could trigger severe public reaction. This Fast Track vote is politically the third-rail equivalent of the 2002 vote to authorize Bush to invade Iraq.

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

You Don’t Have To Sell Your Soul To Pay For Infrastructure

With Washington in paralysis over how to pay for billions of dollars in needed improvements to our transportation network, the conversation has increasingly turned to what are best called “deals with the Devil.” Sometimes the deals involve turning over traditionally public roads (and other public assets) private enterprises. Other times, the deal falls short of privatization, but it involves a private financing scheme often engineered by Wall Streeters to look like taxpayers will save money while distracting taxpayers from the private profits that will be milked from the deal. Then there is the devilishly tempting deal we’ve repeatedly called out that offers more funding for infrastructure – if only we allow corporations that have shunted profits overseas to avoid taxation to bring that money back into the states to be taxed at a deeply discounted rate.

Continue Reading...
Digby

Social Conservatism Isn’t Dead, Part XXIV

This story about a presidential visit to South Dakota: The motorcade wouldn’t pass for at least another hour, but already a small crowd was forming on the sidewalk. They huddled under blankets, carried signs and set up lawn chairs. “Am I wasting my time standing here?” a woman asked the police officer. “I know, but I can’t say,” said the lone policeman, a smile slipping across his face. Most in the crowd, which was now three or four people deep, were die-hard Republicans and had little love for this president. “I wonder if he’s a Christian sometimes,” said Kristi Maas, 47, who owns a small hair salon in town. Just the thought was “scary” to her, she said. “He wants to take prayer out of everything. . . . Isn’t this country supposed to be based on religion?” Heads nodded around her.

Continue Reading...
Robert Reich

Nike, Obama, and the Fiasco of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

On Friday, President Obama chose Nike headquarters in Oregon to deliver a defense of his proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was an odd choice of venue. Nike isn’t the solution to the problem of stagnant wages in America. Nike is the problem. It’s true that over the past two years Nike has added 2,000 good-paying professional jobs at its Oregon headquarters, fulfilling the requirements of a controversial tax break it wrangled from the state legislature. That’s good for Nike’s new design, research and marketing employees. Just before the President spoke, Nike announced that if the Trans Pacific Partnership is enacted, Nike would “accelerate development of new advanced manufacturing methods and a domestic supply chain to support U.S. based manufacturing,” thereby creating as many as 10,000 more American jobs.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

The Warning For US Republicans In the UK Conservative Victory

In my pre-UK election explainer, I noted that projections showed Labour taking a net of about three dozen seats from the ruling Conservatives. That ended up being one. There are certainly reasons for UK Conservatives and US conservatives to cheer. The ruling party bet on austerity on won. They stuck by their controversial cuts, promised to cut deeper, and won more seats. How? The economy wasn’t going gangbusters, but it was better than it was when they came to power. In the Conservatives’ final ad, they laid out the statistical evidence of an economy on the “mend.” And Prime Minister David Cameron asked voters to “turn the clock back five years,” reminding them of the glib letter left by the outgoing Labour Treasury Secretary (“there is no money”) and describing their legacy of “spending and borrowing too much ..

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

For Infrastructure Week, A Progressive Call To Action

A broad combination of labor, business and transportation advocacy organizations have declared this week to be “Infrastructure Week.” And the week is not off to a good start. The coalition behind the declaration wants to make this a time to show the need for, and the breadth of support for, increased spending on our roads, bridges, public transportation and other public assets. But it got a cold slap in the face before the week began when both houses of the Republican-controlled Congress agreed to a budget resolution that, if followed, would cut federal funding on transportation projects by more than 20 percent. The resolution does not prevent Congress from passing legislation that could nullify those cuts.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Senate Fast Track Vote Tuesday – Where Is Clinton?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled the voting process for trade promotion authority, commonly known as “fast track,” to begin as early as Tuesday. If passed, fast track prohibits the Congress from amending trade agreements no matter what problems might show up, requires these agreements to be voted on within 90 days, limits the debate Congress is allowed and prohibits filibusters. Passing fast track will essentially pre-approve the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade” agreement before the public gets a chance to know what is in it, as well as future trade deals regardless of who is president or what the rigged, corporate-dominated negotiating process produces. With a vote coming as soon as Tuesday, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has not yet spoken out for or against fast track.

Continue Reading...
Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: What’s The Matter With Texas?

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and it looks like that applies to right-wing freak-outs, too. Things in the Lone Star State have gotten so loony that every former Texas governor Rick Perry can’t make sense of it. On Monday morning, Americans were shocked by news that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed credit for a shooting in Garland, Texas. Two gunmen opened fire outside of a “draw Muhammad” contest in the Dallas suburb. A security guard was injured, and the two gunmen were shot and killed by a traffic cop who happened to be on the scene. The gunmen were later identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, two roommates who shared an apartment in Phoenix, Arizona. Simpson was known to FBI agents, and was convicted five years ago of lying to federal agents about plans to join a terrorist group in Africa.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

The President’s Trade Speech At Nike Prompts A Simple Question

Speaking at Nike’s headquarters today, President Obama said this about the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “So when you look at a country like Vietnam, under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labor standards. It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions – for the very first time. That would make a difference.” Nike manufactures in Vietnam, and profits from Vietnamese workers being paid little and having few rights.

Continue Reading...
Dean Baker

Celebrating the Flash Crash with a Wall Street Sales Tax

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the flash crash. For those who don’t remember, the Flash Crash was when the stock market lost almost 9 percent of its value from its opening level, with most of this decline occurring in a 5-minute period. The market quickly recovered most of this loss. As long as you didn’t sell stock in the 30-minute crash interval, you weren’t affected by this plunge. But the crash did reveal the extraordinary instability in the stock market due to short-term trading. The issue of short-term trading is the key here. There was no event in the world that triggered the plunge. There was no outbreak of war, major terrorist incident, or natural disaster that sent stock prices plummeting. There wasn’t even a bad profit report from a major company.

Continue Reading...
Sam Pizzigati

A Trans-Pacific Partnership For the 1 Percent

Global economic inequality, the latest stats show, has reached astounding proportions. The world’s richest 1 percent last year held 48 percent of the world’s wealth, up from 44 percent in 2009. The world’s poorest 80 percent, for their part, hold a meager 5.5 percent of the world’s wealth share. “The gap between the richest and the rest,” as Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima puts it, “is widening fast.” This wasn’t supposed to happen. NAFTA and other global trade agreements negotiated over recent years, America’s top elected leaders assured us, would usher in a new win-win era of global prosperity. Thea Lee, the current deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO and the labor federation’s former policy director and chief international economist, has spent much of the last two decades challenging this and other claims from those who wave the “free trade” banner.

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

Jobs Report: We’re Still Feeling The Effects of Austerity

The April jobs report released today was good enough to prompt some in Wall Street and Washington to breathe a sigh of relief, but it is not nearly good enough to meet the standard of sustainable job and wage growth, and shared prosperity. As has been true for the past few months, you have to get below the sunny top lines to get the real story. Yes, the economy added 223,000 jobs in April, in line with consensus expectations from economists. Yes, the unemployment rate is down to 5.4 percent, a rate that has not been seen since May 2008. But a larger measure of unemployment that includes people who want to work but weren’t actively looking in the past month and people who are working part-time when they want full-time work is at 10.8 percent. Also telling is that wage growth in April was only at 0.1 percent, growing annually at 2.2 percent.

Continue Reading...
Mary Green Swig | Steven L. Swig | Richard Eskow

Bring Back Free College – And Cancel Debt for the “In-Betweeners”

MaryGreenSwig Steven L.Swig RichardEskow “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it.” – John Adams, 1785 Momentum is building for an exciting “new” idea, one which is in fact far older than many people realize: free higher education in the United States. The cost of educating oneself to participate fully in society is one which our revolutionary forebears understood should be borne by everyone. In John Adams’ day, that meant an elementary and high school education. Today, for many people, higher education is equally essential. The cost of that education is not an individual or charitable obligation. It is a social one.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

How The Republican Budget Cons Conservatives

In March I asked “Are Republicans Insane Enough To Propose a Balanced Budget?” because balancing the budget in 10 years without any tax increases would mean embracing politically suicidal cuts. The answer: Yes, they are! Republicans not only proposed it, they passed it, with the support of every vulnerable incumbent senator up for re-election next year. I’ve already discussed the risk this radical budget puts on those swing-state Republicans. But there’s another risk to the GOP. That the conservatives in the Republican base soon realize this budget is a con. There will be no dramatic cuts. There will be no drastic shrinkage of government. The Republican leadership knows it, and they won’t be straight with their own voters. The budget resolution that just passed is just that: a resolution, not a law. It is not signed by the president.

Continue Reading...
Mary Bottari

With Sanders in the Race, Clinton Can’t Dodge Trade

New data out today indicates that the U.S. trade deficit has swelled to the highest level in more than six years. This flood of imports robs American workers of jobs and saps the economic recovery. Yet President Obama is escalating pressure on Congress to approve “Fast Track” trade authority, which would limit Congressional debate on major trade agreements and speed their approval. In a field of White House hopefuls who are busy raising money from deep-pocketed special interests and expertly dodging the press, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders stands alone in his single-minded focus on the economy. His blunt talk on jobs, rising inequality, and the erosion of the middle class will force many White House hopefuls to address topics they would rather avoid, including the most important economic vote of our times on Fast Track trade.

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 4 5 459