Diane Archer

How a Proposed Medicare Premium Hike Would Weaken Medicare

In late March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with bipartisan support that would again raise Medicare premiums for people with Medicare with higher incomes. The Senate has also passed the legislation, and President Obama has said he will sign it. Through this bill, H.R. 2, Congress does some good. It fixes the payment formula for doctors who treat Medicare patients, ensuring they are paid adequately. It also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But hiking Medicare premiums, even a small amount for wealthier individuals, as a way to cover these costs weakens Medicare for everyone and could pave the way for the privatization of Medicare. Driving up insurance costs for people with Medicare with higher incomes is bad policy. Insurers don’t charge wealthier people higher premiums for the same product and neither should Medicare.

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Dave Johnson

Tuna Case Shows Everything You Need To Know About “Trade” Agreements

The World Trade Organization ruled this week that the United States is not being fair to Mexican seafood companies by denying “dolphin safe” labels on their tuna, meaning that American citizens won’t know whether they are buying tuna that is caught in a way that we deem would protect dolphins. Let that sink in. A foreign trade court has prohibited the United States from letting citizens know what is or is not in a product. This non-U.S. “court” is nullifying our federal Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act. The Hill explains, in “WTO sides with Mexico in ‘dolphin-safe’ tuna dispute“: On Tuesday, WTO said stricter rules for companies that want to sell their tuna as “dolphin safe” discriminate against Mexican tuna products and fail to bring the U.S. into compliance with its obligations under the WTO agreement. The U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Here’s Proof Republicans Are Absolutely Certain Voters Are Tuned Out

Republicans depend on people believing what they say but not paying attention to the things they do. Just how certain are they that no one pays attention to the things they do? Read on. Today is Tax Day, and Republicans are voting to repeal the estate tax. This is a huge, huge tax cut for only the top 0.2 percent – people worth more than $5.4 million ($10.9 million if married). These people will get $269 billion over 10 years. The same Republicans have passed a budget outline that cuts infrastructure spending and guts our government by $5 trillion, mostly from services and benefits that help working families. It guts Medicare and Medicaid by more than $400 billion each; cuts Pell Grants by $89 billion and food stamps by $125 billion. That budget increases taxes on some working families by an average of $1,000.

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Bill Scher

Warren Explains How We Solve Inequality and CO2 Pollution

At Monday’s Good Jobs Green Jobs conference, Sen. Elizabeth Warren deftly melded her case for building a stronger middle class with her call to avert a climate crisis, saying “both problems grow from the same roots and they both share a similar solution”: tougher regulations, fairer taxation and robust investment in job-creating infrastructure. Warren’s keynote was just the latest example at how the false choice between jobs and the environment is no longer causing serious divisions. The next step forward will be taken at the Populism2015 conference beginning Saturday in Washington. The conference is subtitled, “Building a Movement for People and the Planet,” precisely because you cannot save the middle class without saving the environment at the same time.

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Terrance Heath

Bill O’Reilly Declares “Open Season” On Reality

In Fox host Bill O’Reilly’s alternate right-wing universe, Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy means, “If you are a Christian or a white man in the USA, it’s open season on you.” Here on earth, two more unarmed black men were killed by law enforcement officers. Rep.

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Richard Eskow

The “Fight for $15″ and the Return of the Vanishing Worker

On April 15, perhaps as you’re reading these words, working people in 200 American cities will rally for a $15 base wage and the right to form a union. Solidarity demonstrations are planned in more than 30 cities on six continents, and have already taken place in Switzerland, the Philippines, South Korea, New Zealand, and Japan. The “fight for $15” matters – because the lives of working people matter, and because the success of this effort will help strengthen the American economy for everyone. But the significance of April 15’s action runs even deeper than that.

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Robin Claremont

Four Charts Reveal the Hidden Facts of Tax Day

Today is Tax Day, and millions of Americans are scrambling to file their taxes before the deadline. As you send in that check to the IRS or eagerly await your refund, have you stopped to think about what the federal government is doing with that money? Most Americans don’t, and for good reason. It’s not easy to find out how your tax dollars were spent, or to understand how your tax dollars fit into the overall picture of federal revenue that funds the essential programs, infrastructure, and services we rely on. Here are four charts that illustrate facts about Tax Day that all Americans should know: 1. The government spent a significant amount of your federal income tax dollars on the Pentagon and war. Out of every tax dollar you paid in 2014, 27 cents went to fund the Pentagon, nuclear weapons, and war.

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Dave Johnson

Fast Track: Ohio Gets It. But Will Clinton?

One state that gets it about “NAFTA-style” trade deals is Ohio. Factory after factory has closed, shipping jobs offshore, and leaving communities devastated. Now Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are coming for the rest of the jobs, and Ohio is fighting back. Will Hillary Clinton join the fight? You have to click through and read this whole op-ed by Joe Logan, president of the Ohio Farmers Union, writing at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, No hurry on ‘fast track’ — walking blindly into complex trade deals never a good idea, Imagine you and your spouse going into your bank to settle on the purchase of a home.

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Leo Gerard

The High Cost of Fighting for $15

This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages. Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years.  Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them. Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency. They know the risk they’re taking by participating in strikes for pay hikes. They’ve seen bosses punish co-workers for demonstrating for raises.

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Terrance Heath

Who Is Marco Rubio? Eight Things You Should Know

On Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) became the latest politician to declare what anyone who’s paying attention already knew: He’s running for president. Rubio is likely to trip over his past before the race is over. Rubio became a household name, and a Republican “rock star,” following his elevation to national politics in 2010. He was the darling of the tea party, and thought to be one of the best hopes for a Republican Party desperate to appeal to Latino voters. That is, until the tea party and Latinos soured on him, over the immigration issue. Here are a few things that may haunt Marco Rubio on the campaign trail. Rubio will be forever remembered for delivering one of the worst State of the Union responses ever. In 2013, Rubio delivered the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

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Dave Johnson

The Fast Track Fight Begins In The Senate

The final fight to stop fast track begins this week. The new trade promotion authority (“fast track”) bill could be released in the Senate at any moment. (It might be out by the time you read this.) Hatch and Wyden Poised to Introduce Bill With literally zero reporting from the national TV networks and a virtual news blackout at most newspapers around the country, at least Politico sets the stage for insiders in their report, “Trade fight looms as Congress returns“: Senate Finance Committee leaders Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden appear poised to introduce a “fast track” trade promotion authority bill along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. But months of closed-door negotiations were continuing on Friday, congressional aides said. The power, largely embraced by Republicans, pits many congressional Democrats, including Sen.

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Digby

Questions for Clinton

I wrote a piece for Salon today about, what else, Hillary Clinton. The headline is harsh (I didn’t write it) but I think the piece asks some fair questions: With the Big Announcement yesterday, Hillary Clinton officially entered the race that everyone assumes she’s already won. Can you feel the excitement? No? Well, this shouldn’t come as a shock, because despite all the hand wringing about a primary being necessary, it’s long been obvious that the Democratic party subconsciously saw 2008 as The Big Primary when decided it would use its current national electoral advantage to bring the U.S. into the modern world and break the white male presidential paradigm with two historic candidacies.

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Dean Baker

The End of the U.S. Boom

The Labor Department reported the U.S. economy created 126,000 jobs in March. This was a sharp slowdown from the 290,000 average over the prior three months. This relatively weak jobs report led many economic analysts to comment that the economy may not be as strong as they had believed. This reassessment is welcome, but it really raises the question of why so many professional economists and economic reporters could be so badly mistaken about the strength of the economy. There never was much basis for claiming a boom in the U.S. economy and the people claiming otherwise were relying on a very selective reading of the data. Just starting with the most basic measure, real GDP in the United States grew at just a 2.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2014. This is a pace roughly in line with most estimates of the economy’s potential rate of growth.

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Robert Borosage

Hillary’s In: Challenges for the New Populism

“I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president. Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. “ (emphasis added) — Hillary Clinton With an unstated rhetorical bow to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign yesterday with a terrific two-minute-and-18-second video, while heading to Iowa for a series of “intimate” meetings with voters. Then came the din. TV talk shows went Hillary 24/7, featuring heated exchanges of talking points between legions of Republican and Democratic “strategists.” Mainstream media reporters charted her potential course to the nomination, an early start to horse-race reporting.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Rand Paul’s Rough Start

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Rand Paul announced his candidacy for president in 2016, he probably didn’t envision his campaign launch becoming one of the worst in recent memory. But that’s exactly what it was. What was supposed to be a great week for Sen. Rand Paul (R, Kentucky) turned into the worst week in Washington: The problems started right out of the gate, when Paul’s announcement video was automatically yanked from YouTube almost as soon as his campaign posted it, thanks to a copyright claim from Warner Music Group — the official owner of “Shutting Down Detroit,” which Paul used without permission. Paul clashed with NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie, lecturing her about how to do her job after she had the temerity to confront him about his legendary flip-flopping on various issues.

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Dave Johnson

Week Of Action Against Fast Tracking (Rigging) Trade Deals

Very soon Congress is expected to begin consideration of a trade promotion authority (“fast track”) bill. In response the AFL-CIO has announced a “Week of Action Against Fast Tracking Trade Deals.” Fast track rigs the process that Congress will use to consider upcoming trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fast track requires Congress to vote within 90 days of the public first seeing the agreement. This doesn’t give the public time to read, understand and consider the ramifications of this complex agreement and then organize opposition if opposition is warranted. Also, Congress has to severely restrict debate and is not allowed to fix any problems that are discovered in that very limited amount of time.

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Chuck Collins

America’s Billionaires Owe You a Thank You Note

This tax season, America’s billionaires are toasting you, the ordinary taxpayer. That’s because you’re the one picking up the tab for our nation’s ailing infrastructure of roads, bridges, and rail transport. You’re also footing the bill for military forces, disaster relief, veterans’ health services, and national park protection. The share of taxes paid by the 1 percent is declining, even as wealth flows upward to them at dizzying pace. Maybe you’re not shocked to hear that the wealthy shift their tax obligations onto ordinary Americans. But perhaps you don’t know all their tricks. Here are five tax secrets billionaires deploy to keep you paying more than your fair share. 1. Tax Work More Than Wealth. The United States taxes income from investments more lightly than the money you earn by working.

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Richard Eskow

Social Security: The Anti-Populist Empire Strikes Back

The long knives have been coming out over Social Security lately. The latest wave of attacks was triggered by an amendment from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) which would have expanded Social Security benefits, and which won the support of most Democrats in the Senate. That signaled a potential shift in the political tide – toward Social Security in particular and economic populism in general. It also meant that it was time to suit up conservatism’s frayed old straw men and send them into dubious battle once again. The attackers this time around include a “libertarian” finance writer, an editor for the National Review, and – inevitably – the editorial board of the Washington Post. But the battle against economic populism isn’t just being waged by the right.

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Dave Johnson

Why We Need More Government, Not Less

Paul Krugman makes an important case for bigger government at his blog this week. I’ll try to translate his point from economist to English. Every time a conservative blames an individual for making bad choices, it makes the case for more government. When people are proven to make bad choices we need a “nanny state” to make good choices for them. Bad choices lead to bad outcomes, democracy demands we support good outcomes for the most people.

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Jeff Bryant

Why Populist Progressives Must Embrace The Education Spring

Is there really “a populist energy building in America, and beginning to drive the debate in the Democratic Party,” as my colleague Robert Borosage recently wrote? If your inclination is to answer that question, “Yes,” the evidence you’re most apt to cite is the popularity of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her crusade against Wall Street dominance of public policy. And you’re apt to point to, as Borosage does, activism like the “Fight for 15” campaign, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage and union representation in the workplace. Other issues that often make the checklist for progressive activism are debt-free higher education, Social Security expansion, clean-energy, and affordable healthcare.

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