Dave Johnson

Wage Theft Is Much More Common Than You Think

You might have been hearing about “wage theft.” The wage theft problem is about people showing up for work but not getting paid for the time they put in. It’s a common problem and it is one of the ways people are being ripped off by a rigged system. How common is this problem? A recent poll found that nine out of 10 fast-food workers report having wages stolen from them. Keep in mind that these are people already paid only at or near the way-too-low minimum wage, but on top of that they are getting badly needed pay stolen from them after they put in the hours. Think Progress explains in “Hamburgled: Nine Out Of Ten Fast Food Workers Have Experienced Wage Theft”: The most common violation, workers report, is off-the-clock work.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Budget Vote Outcome Doesn’t End The Debate Over Our Economic Priorities

As expected, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ “Better Off Budget” was defeated on the House floor Wednesday, picking up only 89 Democratic votes and none from Republicans. But that vote does not end the fight for the priorities and values that budget document embraces. The battle over the principles and policies in that budget, contrasted against those elements in the federal budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that will be voted on the House floor today, will continue all the way through the November elections. It must, for the millions upon millions of Americans who suffer the effects of a slow-growth economy.

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Behind the GOP’s Unhealthy Attack

To borrow a cute term William Safire penned for Spiro Agnew, the “nattering nabobs of negativism” carrying on about the evils of the Affordable Care Act aren’t going to roll back the health insurance overhaul they like to deride as “Obamacare.” Reality sure isn’t on their side. Since the ACA began to take effect, at least 9.5 million uninsured Americans have cut through the nonsense and gotten themselves some coverage. And while the Republican Party’s propaganda war is great at rankling the party faithful, it’s unlikely to win back the White House. Not one single GOP candidate is polling well nationwide. Americans are overwhelmingly favoring the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton whenever pollsters pit her against anyone expected to lead the Republican pack.

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Bill Scher

Republican Resistance To Jobless Aid Starts To Crack

On Monday, one Speaker John Boehner’s allies Rep. Tom Cole told Politico, “I don’t think there is a great sense of pressure on our members” to pass the Senate’s extended unemployment insurance bill, because “it’s time for this program to come to an end.” Yet 24 hours later, Republican leaders started floating compromises in order to pass the Senate bill. Yes Tom, you are feeling the pressure. Roll Call reports that House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions “said the five-month extension could serve as a partner for House-passed bills and other priorities, such as a permanent extension of so-called bonus depreciation for business investment.” And the House Majority Deputy Whip Pete Roskam “said no decision had been reached on add-ons, but that some lawmakers were floating ideas.

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Thom Hartmann

Let’s Repudiate Reaganomics

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…I want to tell you a tale of two countries, Country A and Country B. Country A has extraordinary wealth. In fact, according to the World Bank, national income per person in Country A is behind just Singapore, Norway, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Switzerland. In the past six years, total wealth in Country A is up over $34 trillion. That $34 trillion equals out to roughly $100,000 per person in Country A. And if you’re a business executive in Country A, you’re doing even better, because the ratio of CEO to average worker pay in Country A is a whopping 273-1. But things aren’t so great over in Country B. In Country B, 3.5 million people are working full-time jobs that only pay the minimum wage. As of 2012, 46.5 million people in Country B were living in poverty, while 49 million people were struggling with hunger and food insecurity.

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Richard Eskow

Invisible Social Security Cuts: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

The unseen hand of antigovernment ideology can be found everywhere nowadays – even in your mailbox. The proof is in what you won’t find there, like your annual statement of earned Social Security benefits. The government stopped mailing those out in 2011. It’s also getting a lot harder to find Social Security field offices, or to find someone to pick up the phone, as the Social Security Administration enters into yet more rounds of steep budget cuts. Social Security customer service: Now you see it, now you don’t. The Most Efficient Benefit Program in the Country? The question is, why? Social Security may be the single most efficient benefit program – public or private – in the country. Its annual operating expenses are less than one percent of overall costs, a figure that private sector programs should envy.

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Bill Scher

Time To Pressure Boehner On Unemployment Insurance. Here’s How.

Finally, a hard-fought compromise to temporarily reinstate unemployment insurance benefits to the long-term unemployed cleared the Senate, with six Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic caucus. With nearly 3 million jobless desperately needing the renewal of those benefits, the least Speaker John Boehner can do is allow the House to vote on the bill. Last month Boehner was willing to bend the House rules to help doctors facing Medicare reimbursement cuts — sneaking legislation through on an unannounced voice vote. If he’s willing to go that far for doctors, he should be willing to schedule a normal vote for a bipartisan Senate bill helping the jobless … unless he simply doesn’t care about the jobless. Though recent reports indicate Boehner does not care, and is not allowing any vote.

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Leo Gerard

Supreme Court Right-Wingers Poison Majority-Rule Democracy

The billionaire-hugging right-wingers on the Supreme Court, who began poisoning the American political process in 2010 with their Citizens United decision, dumped a truckload more Zyklon B into voting booths last week with their McCutcheon ruling. While in Citizens United they awarded corporations the right to secretly shower political groups with unlimited cash, in McCutcheon they enabled each billionaire to dump a total of $3.6 million on candidates and party organizations every two years instead of limiting themselves to the previous maximum of $123,000. Squelching political corruption was the purpose of the campaign spending finance laws that the right-wing justices gutted. The spending limits shrank billionaires’ ability buy politicians.  The right-wingers on the court asserted that billionaires have a First Amendment right to spend as much as they want on politics.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Meet Some ‘Smart Capitalists’ Who Have Already Raised Their Minimum Wage

So what if big-box retailer Costco already pays its workers well above the minimum wage, the rhetoric from the crowd opposing a minimum wage increase goes. Costco is a special case, they say, with a business model and sales volume that can sustain a high-wage retail workforce. What’s good for Costco won’t necessarily be good for, say, a small Tennessee business that markets store reward cards, a soul-food restaurant in Washington, D.C. or a small organic grocery chain, they argue. But a group of business owners who were on Capitol Hill last month lobbying for a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour say they know that argument is false – because they’re already putting into practice what the law would require. They are members of a group called Smart Capitalists for Economic Prosperity.

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Dave Johnson

Tell Your Member of Congress To Vote For The ‘Better Off Budget’

Tell your member of Congress (MOC) to vote for the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) “Better Off Budget’ (BOB). Click to call. This week the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the “Ryan”/Republican corporate/conservative budget and the CPC “Better Off Budget.” This is a chance to offer the country a real and visible contrast that clearly shows off the advantages of a progressive approach to our economy over a conservative/corporate approach to our economy. Please call and write your member of Congress and ask him or her to vote for the “Better Off Budget” from the Congressional Progressive Caucus. CLICK TO CALL The “Ryan” Republican Corporate/Conservative Budget Rep.

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Thom Hartmann

Time Is Running Out.

This week, government officials and climate scientists from all over the world are meeting in Berlin, Germany, to finalize a U.N. study on climate change and its solutions. While the study hasn’t been released yet, a draft of it has, and it’s pretty stunning. The draft report from the International Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, says that time is quickly running out for world powers to slash their use of fossil fuels and stay below the 2 degree Celsius limit on global warming that 200 nations agreed upon in 2010. More importantly, the draft suggests that we only have 15 years to take the proper actions needed to safely reach that global warming limit.  Not 100 years, not 50 years, but just 15 years.

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Sam Pizzigati

Fast Fortunes: On the Diamond and Beyond

Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera may or may not turn out to be, by the time he retires, the best hitter in baseball history. But Cabrera already holds a historic distinction. Last month, just before baseball’s 2014 opening day, the 31-year-old slugger became America’s highest-paid professional ballplayer ever. Cabrera’s newly signed contract runs 10 years. Over that span he’ll receive paychecks totaling a record $292 million, a tidy sum that comes to a near $30 million annual average. An even more compelling stat: Every time Cabrera steps up to the plate over the course of the next decade, he’ll pull in an average $43,195. For a five at-bat game, Cabrera will clear over $215,000. How much revulsion should these numbers make us feel? On the one hand, Cabrera can do what only a relative handful of humankind can ever dream of doing.

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Robert Borosage

Sense and Nonsense: The Budget Battle In The House

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on the Republican budget presented by the Republican Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, as well as on the Congressional Progressive Caucus “Better Off Budget.” Republicans are lined up to vote for the Ryan budget, with the exception of a handful who think it is not extreme enough. The CPC and outside allies will have to push hard to line up 100 Democrats to vote for the Better Off Budget. The Ryan budget has received extensive press coverage; the CPC budget is barely mentioned. The irony is clear. The Republican Ryan budget is an extremist, dishonest and nonsensical document, laying out a path that Republicans have no stomach to pursue. The CPC budget is both candid and sensible, laying out a prudent course that the country would be wise to follow.

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Terrance Heath

Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Would March For Medicaid Today

Forty-six years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated  in Memphis, Tenn. If he were alive today, Dr. King would be on the march again, demanding that governors stop standing in the way of justice and endangering the lives of the vulnerable by refusing to expand Medicaid in their states under the Affordable Care Act. King recognized health care as a human right. Two years before his death, he made it plain in a speech to the 1966 convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, which was organized in 1964 to support the Mississippi Freedom Summer. “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.” King understood, in a way that is rare and desperately needed, how racial inequality is inextricably tied up with economic inequality, health disparities, and a host of other man-made injustices.

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Bill Moyers

Saving Our Democracy From Plutocracy Got Harder – But There’s Hope

Fortunately for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman [co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has helped organize fast-food-worker protests for higher wages] and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster. And so we are, because the fight to save our democracy from the clutches of plutocrats just got harder. Here in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo, of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and legislators from both parties killed a commission investigating political corruption. They also killed a promising plan for a more level playing field in state elections.

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Richard Eskow

10 Reasons Millennials Should Be Wary of Rand Paul’s Libertarianism

Republican Senator Rand Paul has been making a big play for millennials lately, most notably by taking his civil liberties pitch to colleges around the country. Paul has got the right idea when he says his party must “evolve, adapt or die” (although I think the first two are virtually the same thing). Katie Glueck of Politico wrote that “The Kentucky senator drew a largely friendly reception at the University of California-Berkeley as he skewered the intelligence community.” Sen. Paul spoke of “dystopian nightmares” and added that “your rights, especially your right to privacy, are under assault.” Paul also said he perceives “fear of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant and uninclined to relinquish power.” Virtually all of the other politicians taking that stand come from the left side of the political spectrum.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: The Obamacare Truthers

This was a make or break week for Obamacare, with the enrollment deadline looming and a major goal hanging in the balance. Obamacare made good on the goal of 7 million sign-ups, and broke right-wingers tenuous grip with reality. There should be a new rule for political debate, along the lines of  Godwin’s Law and its corollaries. It should go something like this: The arrive of “truthers” effectively ends the debate, and the side that resorts to “trutherism” first loses. Like a puss-filled boil, “truthers” exploded onto the scene in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. United by their rejection of the official version of the attacks, and the belief that 9/11 was an “inside job” covered up by the U.S.

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Robert Borosage

The March Jobs Report: Nothing Moving

The March jobs report – 192,000 jobs with the unemployment rate remaining at 6.7 percent – is simply more of the same: an economy growing too slowly to make a major dent in continued mass unemployment. This is the 49th straight month of private jobs creation, as the White House will report. The unemployment rate has fallen from its 2009 height of 10 percent. But there are still fewer jobs now than there were in December 2007 before the Great Recession, even as the population has grown. The employment-to-population ratio remained unchanged this month at 58.9 percent, far below pre-recession levels. Long-term unemployment, at 3.7 million, changed little, and remains at historically elevated heights. Jobs growth continues to be concentrated in lower-wage jobs – temporary help services, service in restaurants and bars.

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Richard Eskow

Is Charles Koch “Un-American”? Let Thomas Jefferson Decide

In a surprisingly self-pitying Wall Street Journal editorial, billionaire Charles Koch has put forward the proposition that the nation’s “collectivists” have unfairly characterized him as “un-American.” What Koch calls “character assassination,” however, others would describe as a simple recounting of the facts. Koch and his brother David are known for injecting massive amounts of their (partially inherited) wealth into the political process, academia, and propaganda in order to promote their right-wing (and self-serving) point of view. But now that he’s brought it up: Is Charles Koch really un-American? I’m not comfortable answering that question myself. It promises to judge the person, rather than the deeds, and is all too reminiscent of the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee.

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