Terrance Heath

The “Ferguson Story” Is America’s Story

Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly assured us that the “Ferguson story” would be over in a week. That was before a grand jury declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold in July, setting off a wave of worldwide protests. The Ferguson “story” isn’t “over,” because it happens every week, all over the country. According to FBI data, white police officers killed two black people per week during a seven-year period ending in 2012. Throw in extralegal killings, like the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and — according to one study — police, security guards and vigilantes killed one black man every 28 hours in 2012. An analysis by ProPublica showed that young black men are 21 times more likely than whites to be shot dead by police.

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Sam Pizzigati

The Flacks for Plutocrats Need a New Analogy

A rising tide lifts all boats. A growing economic pie means bigger slices for everybody. Wealth that flows to the top will always trickle down. Cheerleaders for wealth’s concentration have over the years invoked a variety of images to justify the ever larger fortunes of our society’s most fortunate. These images all rest on a single economic assumption: that letting wealth accumulate in the pockets of a few grows an economy’s capacity for investment and ultimately, as investments create jobs, leaves everybody better off. That assumption has dominated mainstream economics for generations. But that’s changing. Even mainline economic institutions are these days challenging the notion that good fortune for the few eventually and automatically translates into better fortune for the many.

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Dave Johnson

Trans-Pacific Trade Talks Resume With Almost No Media Coverage

Shouldn’t it be a trade violation to threaten to move someone’s job to another country? Shouldn’t we negotiate trade agreements that increase people’s wages on both sides of a trade border? These are the kinds of agreements we would make if We the People were negotiating trade agreements with representatives of the working people in other countries. Unfortunately that is not the kind of trade agreements that our current trade negotiation process produces. The secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations resumed this week, this time in Washington. TPP is a massive agreement that sets up new rules for over 40 percent of the global economy. It will have profound effects on our jobs, our standard of living now and in the future and our ability to make a living as a country.

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Robert Reich

Wall Street’s Democrats

In Washington’s coming budget battles, sacred cows like the tax deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable donations are likely to be on the table along with potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare. But no one on Capitol Hill believes Wall Street’s beloved carried-interest tax loophole will be touched. Don’t blame the newly elected Republican Congress. Democrats didn’t repeal the loophole when they ran both houses of Congress from January 2009 to January 2011. And the reason they didn’t has a direct bearing on the future of the party. First, let me explain why this loophole is the most flagrant of all giveaways to the super-rich.

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Dean Baker

We Don’t Need More Public Service From Wall Street Bankers

Sen. Elizabeth Warren kicked off a firestorm last month when she said that she would not support Antonio Weiss, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be undersecretary of the treasury. Her reason was that Weiss had made his career at Lazard, an asset management company that has taken the lead in structuring corporate inversions, the practice of relocating a corporation’s headquarters to escape U.S. taxes. In addition, Lazard planned to give Weiss $20 million in deferred compensation, that he was not actually owed, as a parting gift. This practice of promoting public service with large payments of deferred compensation to those taking on government positions is apparently common among Wall Street banks.

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Bill Scher

Bush vs. Obama on the Economy, In 3 Simple Charts [UPDATED]

Note: A version of this post was originally published on August 18th, 2014. The following is a rewritten version using updated data with a revamped introduction.  The back-to-back Bush and Obama administrations allow us to easily compare the effectiveness of liberal and conservative economic policies. President George W. Bush’s record is highlighted by tax cuts largely aimed at giving the wealthiest Americans more money with which to invest, and a looser regulatory regime on businesses. President Obama implemented the Keynesian Recovery Act (also known as “the stimulus”), repealed the heart of the Bush tax cuts, greatly expanded the federal government’s role in health care with the Affordable Care Act, and tightened regulations on several industry sectors including finance and energy.

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Robert Borosage

Bernie Sanders Lays Down the Gauntlet

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released an Economic Agenda for America last week, detailing 12 reforms to help make this economy work for working people once more. “The question of our time,” he said in a fiery speech, “is whether or not we are prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy.” Two days later, Sanders joined striking fast food workers and federal contract workers who were demanding a living wage and the right to bargain collectively. Sanders is openly considering whether to enter the presidential race in 2016. His “Economic Agenda for America” provides a building block for that challenge.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: How Low Can They Go?

Already reeling from the Ferguson grand jury ruling, America learned there would be no indictment in the death of Eric Garner. Right-wingers wasted no time proving how low they’re willing to go. Wingnuts blamed just about everything but police violence for Eric Garner’s death. Rep. Peter King (R, New York) said Eric Garner wouldn’t have died from the chokehold “If he had not had asthma, and a heart condition and was so obese.” King also said there are “no elements of racism” in Eric Garner’s death, because one of the officers on the scene was African-American. Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly was “deeply troubled,” but ultimately said Eric Garner just shouldn’t have resisted arrest. During an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Sen. Rand Paul (R, Kentucky) pinned the blame on New York City’s cigarette tax.

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Dave Johnson

Why Would Congress Approve A Trade Deal Before Reading It?

The Obama administration is negotiating a huge trade deal. The President promises CEOs he will go against his own party to push its passage. To get this done the corporations are pushing Congress to pass something called Fast Track — a process that essentially pre-approves trade agreements before Congress even reads the agreements for the first time. President Obama visited the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable Wednesday and told the business leaders he will push Congress to pass the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The path to passage for TPP is Congress approving the Fast Track process ahead of time, and the President is working to get Fast Track approved over Democratic objections. Fast Track Pre-Approves Unread Trade Agreements “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority is essentially pre-approval of trade agreements before they are completed.

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Robert Borosage

November Jobs Report: Good News Coming

The November Bureau of Labor Services jobs report was relatively good news – a healthy 321,000 new jobs, leaving unemployment unchanged at 5.8%. The BLS also added 44,000 jobs in an adjustment for the prior two months. The Commerce Department reports that the economy grew at over 4 % over the last six months. The BLS and other reports provide the first signs that the rewards of growth have finally begun to reach workers. The November rise in hourly wages exceeded expectations – 0.4% and recent report shows workers are more willing to quit jobs, a sign of growing confidence in the job market. Falling gas prices will leave a little more money in family pocketbook  – an estimated $600 for the typical family in the course of a year if they stay low. The early returns will surely be spent over the holidays giving an additional boost to the economy.

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Robert Borosage

Low Wage Workers: “We Can’t Breathe”

The following was co-authored by Richard Long As powerful protests of the New York Eric Garner grand jury decision – We can’t breathe – swept across the country, low wage fast food and retail workers walked off their jobs in some 180 cities, demanding a living wage and the right to organize. (Dave Johnson has pictures from various cities) People are stirring, no longer willing to put up with an economic and political order that gives them no way to breathe. The Garner demonstrators are not looking for a technical fix – putting cameras on police, retraining them, de-militarizing them. They are demanding justice. The police who killed Eric Garner were on camera. New York already outlaws police choke holds. To let the police walk without charges, the grand jurors had to ignore their own eyes and the law.

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Richard Eskow

The Unseen Heart of the Violence: Eric Garner at the Terminal Point

Death, like life, occurs within an interconnected web of forces. Eric Garner died at a specific place and time, but he was drawn there by those larger unseen forces. So was the officer who took his life. One of them never left. The neighborhood where Eric Garner died was near the terminal point for the Staten Island Ferry, which leaves lower Manhattan from a newly-built building on Whitehall Street. The Whitehall building is a few minutes’ walk from Wall Street, and it shows. Commuters leaving at the end of a downtown workday enter a gleaming and futuristic edifice of steel and glass, a 21st landmark which evokes the preceding century’s enduring faith in the future. They called it “the American Century” back then, and the metropolis of New York was its capital.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Let’s Rethink The Gas Tax

Our political inaction on properly maintaining our transportation network is criminal. But at least in some corners there is a healthy debate on how best to pay for what is a multi-trillion-dollar task. There is the traditional political argument, perhaps best captured Wednesday by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who called for an increase in the federal gasoline tax that is the main source of federal money for highway and public transportation projects. He is proposing that the tax, now 18.4 cents on each gallon of gasoline, increase to 33.4 cents over the next five years. Since the federal gas tax hasn’t increased since 1993, that increase would really only bring the tax back up to its 1993 buying power. But even Blumenauer, in his statement, acknowledged the need for “fairer and more sustainable funding methods” as we move deeper into the 21st century.

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Dave Johnson

Nationwide Fight for $15 Strikes Today In 190 Cities

There have been strikes today in 190 cities with fast-food and other low-wage workers demanding $15 an hour and the right to unionize. At the same time, low-wage federal contract workers are demanding presidential action to win $15 and a union. It’s not just fast-food workers striking today. Home care workers, convenience store cashiers, discount store clerks, airport cleaners and ramp workers and baggage handlers and skycaps and wheelchair attendants, Walmart associates, and federally contracted service workers are all calling for $15 an hour. Good Jobs Nation is leading the effort to get President Obama to require federal contractors to pay $15 and allow unions.

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Jeff Bryant

Award-Winning Story Questions The ‘Charter School Hype’

The following article authored by Education Opportunity Network Director Jeff Bryant has been awarded one of the “top 25 most censored or underreported news stories of 2014.” The award came from Project Censored, “a media research, literacy, and education organization established in 1976.” The article originally appeared in Salon.com. Imagine your 5-year-old boy went to a school where he was occasionally thrown in a padded cell and detained alone for stretches as long as 20 minutes. Or you sent your kid to an elementary school where the children are made to sit on a bare floor in the classroom for days before they can “earn” their desks. Or your kid went to a school where she spent hours parked in a cubicle in front of a computer with a poorly trained teacher who has to monitor more than 100 other students.

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Isaiah J. Poole

“We Can’t Breathe”

The New York Daily News front page and editorial cartoon reacting to the decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner. “I can’t breathe.” There is more to this chant – the haunting last words of Eric Garner before he died at the hands of New York City police that were echoed in demonstrations around the country Wednesday night – than a protest against the epidemic of police brutality against black men. African Americans still can’t fully breathe in America under the smog of racism, which permeates the lives of black and brown people from the streets of Ferguson, Mo., to the White House.

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Terrance Heath

President’s Too-Modest Proposals Won’t Prevent Another Ferguson

As a grand jury in New York decides not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner with an illegal choke-hold, the president’s too-modest proposals fall short of the change America needs. The problems highlighted by Ferguson require more than body cameras and “oversight” for militarized police departments. President Obama should look to history for the response America needs. Too-Modest Proposals   On Monday, President Obama met his with Cabinet, civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials and others, to discuss the problems uncovered by the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The meeting resulted in a set of far too modest proposals. Buy more body cameras for cops.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Fight For $15: Strikes Planned Thursday For Higher Wages

Workers in as many as 190 cities around the country are expected on Thursday to demonstrate for a $15-an-hour wage, according to organizers, in what would be a dramatic escalation of the nationwide push to boost the wages of low-wage workers. This builds on the foundation of the fast-food strikes of the past year, which helped elevate the issue of corporations trapping their workers in poverty to bolster their bottom lines, and supplied the political momentum for President Obama’s executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a $10.10 minimum wage. Thursday’s actions are slated to embrace the full spectrum of low-wage workers, with airport workers, home-care aides and maintenance workers joining fast-food industry workers. The #StrikeFastFood website has details as well as a petition that allows people to declare themselves in solidarity with the strikers.

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Dave Johnson

Ask President Obama To Fix Overtime Pay

Everyone knows the law requires rank-and-file workers to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. But do you know that millions of ordinary workers no longer get overtime pay for putting in 50-hour or 60-hour work weeks? President Obama can, and should, fix this with the simple stroke of a pen. Here’s what billionaire Nick Hanauer writes in Politico, in “Whatever Happened to Overtime? “: … You feel like you’re struggling harder than your parents did, working longer hours than ever before, and yet falling further and further behind. … Adjusted for inflation, average salaries have actually dropped since the early 1970s, while hours for full-time workers have steadily climbed. … So what’s changed since the 1960s and ’70s? Overtime pay, in part. Your parents got a lot of it, and you don’t.

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