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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Dave Johnson

Why We Need A 10.4 Million Jobs Plan

It doesn’t matter what Friday’s report of the March job numbers shows. If you listed our national problems in order of priority and immediacy, jobs has to be at or near the top. While America’s political, media and business elites are all doing fine in their personal situations, much of the rest of the country is not. Here are some things that would add at least 10.8 million jobs to our economy right now. With more jobs available several things happen: Every job creates jobs, because people are again participating in the economy. Local stores, restaurants, and other businesses are hiring to keep up. People can buy houses, cars, and other goods. When more people are working, wages rise because employers are competing to find people to work for them. Government “safety net” costs go way down because people can afford food, and other necessities.

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Derek Pugh

House Democrats Attack “Fantasy Land” Ryan Budget

The House GOP has no qualms about letting the American people know they stand for the wealthy and big corporations over everyone else. Their latest budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is bold and unapologetic in its testimony to who the Republican Party serves. “This budget chooses to protect tax breaks and special interests at the expense of education, kids, the social safety net, and seniors,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking Budget Committee member, on Thursday during a briefing on Capitol Hill. Van Hollen was joined by Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) and grassroots activists to discuss the pernicious impact of the Ryan budget on jobs, economic and health security. The budget, misleadingly titled “The Path to Prosperity,” is a slap in the face to the American middle class.

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Bill Scher

Paul Ryan Can’t Line His Numbers Up, And Conservatives Should Worry

In his latest 10-year budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cuts $5 trillion in overall spending, erases Obama’s expansion of Medicaid then takes from it another $732 billion, partially privatizes Medicare and reduces social spending to less than half of its share of the economy under Ronald Reagan. And yet, in order to meet his goal of eliminating budget deficits by 2024, he still has to resort to budget gimmickry. He uses “dynamic scoring” to assume that his tax cuts will magically create more tax revenue to fill in the final budget gaps. If I were a conservative, that would shake me to my core. Even in a conservative fantasy world, where you can cut and cut and cut to your heart’s content, the budget still doesn’t balance unless you cheat. There are two ways to look at that mathematical reality.

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Dave Johnson

Enormous, Humongous Trade Deficit Went Up Again In February

Today’s February trade deficit report shows that exports fell, which costs jobs, and imports increased, which costs jobs. The U.S. international goods and services trade deficit in February was $42.3 billion, up 7.7 percent from a revised $39.3 billion in January. According to the AP, U.S. exports slipped 1.1 percent to $190.4 billion as sales of commercial aircraft, computers and farm goods fell. Imports edged up 0.4 percent to $232.7 billion, reflecting gains in imports of autos and clothing which offset a drop in crude oil that fell to the lowest level in more than three years. The trade deficit with China fell 25.1 percent in February to $20.9 billion, but the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) points out that the combined January and February U.S. goods deficit with China was $48.7 billion, only slightly lower than the $51.2 billion over the same period in 2013.

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Derek Pugh

Keith Ellison Explains Plan To Make Millennials “Better Off”

Enthusiasm among young voters is at an all-time low. They rallied behind change in 2008 but have since steadily dropped off. But who can blame them? After enduring five long years of an anemic economy and lackluster economy many have seen their lives change for the worse. A successful strategy to reinvigorate this crucial base would include policies that curb the cost of higher education, create a jobs program and dedicate more funding to programs that serve America’s youth. Such proposals are included in the Congressional Progressive Caucus Better Off Budget. Rep. Keith Ellison joined Campaign for America’s Future on Wednesday to discuss key elements of the CPC’s budget that will alleviate the economic woes of millennials.

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Jeff Bryant

A ‘Fair Shot’ Agenda For Education

“Democrats Scramble to Stave Off Midterm Disaster” was the headline in The New York Times article this week reporting on “the problem” the party has with turning out its base in the upcoming midterm election. As the reporter explained, “Young voters have abandoned the midterm electorate at more than twice the rate of seniors. Hispanics, who favored Mr. Obama by a margin of 44 percentage points, have voted at just two-thirds the rate of whites.

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Richard Eskow

McCutcheon, the Majority and the Challenge of Our Time

The Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling will be remembered as a decisive battle in a determined and wealthy minority’s war against the popular will. It is not the first such battle, nor will it be the last. And the people will continue to lose – unless and until the rules of engagement are changed. One compelling way to look at this ruling is by contrasting its immediate and long-term effects with the American people’s aspirations for their government. They are at cross purposes. Even before this ruling, 64 percent of those polled believed that our country’s economic rules unfairly favor the rich. This ruling will rig the game even further. (Unless otherwise noted, polling results were drawn from PopulistMajority.org.) People vs. Money The immediate effect of this ruling is to give the wealthy even more political power than they have today.

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Jasmine Tucker

Ryan vs. Progressive Caucus: Competing Visions on the Federal Budget

On Tuesday, we at the National Priorities Project released our fourth annual, one-of-a-kind Competing Visions analysis, which compares the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal to two significantly different visions – the House Republican budget resolution, introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, and an alternative introduced by the House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Our analysis highlights the top issues that matter most to Americans and, using opinion polls, shows how each proposal stacks up against what Americans want. It’s clear that some lawmakers’ visions are out of step with the priorities of the American public on key issues such as job creation, education, and tax loopholes.

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Richard Long

The Progressive Caucus Stacks Its Budget Against The Ryan Budget

A day after the release of Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus gathered to discuss their own “Better Off Budget,” outside a room in the Cannon House Building where the House Budget Committee was marking up the Ryan Budget. Co-chairs Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN) were joined by Representatives Mark Pocan (WI), Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX), Jan Schakowsky (IL), and Barbara Lee (CA) to describe their path to shared prosperity, released in March. “We believe in a fairer America, that’s why we introduced the Better Off Budget. The most important metric for any budget is ‘Who is creating good jobs?’ Well, we are creating 8.8 million good jobs by 2017 mostly by investing in our nation’s infrastructure,” Rep. Ellison said.

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Bill Scher

Let’s Not Forget Who Drove The Needlessly Alarmist Obamacare Coverage

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn has a satisfying article cataloging the litany of off-target Obamacare doomsday predictions. His fire largely torches conservative politicians and pundits, who deserve it. But he does not extend his ire to the driving force behind the alarmist coverage: former Washington Post WonkBlog editor Ezra Klein. Granted, Klein was smart enough to avoid the prediction game, thus saving him from Cohn’s pen. But as a liberal opinion journalist generally supportive of Obamacare, his negative coverage played an outsized role in stoking panic.

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Dave Johnson

11 Ways The Ryan Budget Goes Against What Public Wants

The new Ryan/Republican budget is out. It cuts $5.1 trillion from spending over 10 years on things that make our lives better, while reducing taxes on the wealthy and giant corporations, and increasing military spending by $483 billion over the same period. (Note that cutting things like health care actually just shifts the costs, because people still get sick.) How does this compare to the things that the American public want their government to do? (Does that even matter anymore?) The website “Populist Majority – Exposing the gulf between American opinion and conventional wisdom” looks at polls showing what the public actually wants, not at the “conventional wisdom” that the D.C. elite and the corporate media tell us is best for us.

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Terrance Heath

In The GOP’s “ConservaCare” Alternatives, The Bugs Are Actually Features

More than seven million Americans have enrolled in health insurance through Obamacare, meeting the goal set by the Congressional Budget Office. Meanwhile, support for Obamacare has surpassed opposition, with 49 percent supporting, and 48 percent opposing the law in a Washington Post/ABC News poll; 47 percent support Republican “repeal and replace” efforts, while 49 percent oppose them. All Republicans offered in response were excuse-making attempts to “debunk” Obamacare’s success, and “trutherist” claims that “the books were cooked.” Republicans might have a shot at relevance if they have alternative, that come close to accomplishing what the Affordable Care Act has. There are Republican alternatives to Obamacare. House Republicans can’t come to a consensus that they even need an alternative. But Rep.

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Richard Eskow

Chris Christie’s “Vindicator,” Like Other Cronies, Is Very Connected

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been getting a lot of press for the lane closing scandal, allegations that he misused Hurricane Sandy relief funds and, more recently, for the shockingly sexist tone of his taxpayer-funded “vindication.” The common thread to all these scandals is Christie’s set of mutually beneficial relationships with Big Money and corporate-connected firms. His recent so-called “vindication” has been heavily criticized for the sexism of its attacks on Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former chief of staff, but that shouldn’t have been a surprise. The lead lawyer in the Christie-friendly firm which handled that report has a reputation as a brutal cross examiner, not a thoughtful investigator. And his specialty isn’t compliance or internal audits.

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Maya Rockeymoore

The President and the Pope: What’s Missing From Their Inequality Talk

Perhaps years from now, when President Obama writes his autobiography about his time in office, we’ll learn all the details about his conversation with Pope Francis. We knew before the meeting that economic inequality would be a topic of discussion, and afterwards we were told it was part of the conversation. Yet, I’m pretty certain that the elephant in the room was not discussed. Despite overwhelming evidence that a racial wealth gap exists and persists in the U.S., it remains a taboo topic in the mainstream media and most politicians studiously avoid offering targeted solutions to help close this gap. But this issue is ignored at our nation’s peril given the anticipated growth of racial and ethnic groups over the next few decades. Like South Africa, the U.S.

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Robert Borosage

Ryan’s Budget Prescription: More of the Same

Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal 2015 budget will not become law. (Thank you, senators). It is a statement of values that is embraced this year, as it has been in the past, by virtually the entire Republican congressional caucus (the exceptions are a handful of dissenters who think it isn’t extreme enough). This is Ryan’s fourth budget. Like an aging vaudeville act, the show has gotten tired. The tricks are old. The patter is dated. The punch lines are retreads. The big lies no longer convince. The magic asterisks – details to come later – no longer seem clever. Once more Ryan parades out the Orwellian doublespeak, where slashing support for the vulnerable sets them free. Once more he reveals the top end and corporate taxes he would cut, but not the taxes he would raise to meet his promise to sustain revenue.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Time To Tell Paul Ryan To Stop His April Foolishness

Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, chose April 1 to release his latest Republican budget proposal. Once again, Americans are played the fools. The latest edition of “The Path to Prosperity,” which is the title Ryan likes to use for his budget documents, is much like the previous two – less April Fool’s joke and more cruel hoax. It is true that his evoking of the same old bogeymen doesn’t frighten as easily the third time around. Still, this budget – and more importantly, the values and priorities that it enshrines – must be challenged. That is why Social Security Works and Campaign for America’s Future have teamed up on this petition calling on the members of the House to “reject the Ryan budget.” In the first two hours after the petition was posted, more than 6,000 people signed it.

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Dave Johnson

Caterpillar Tax Dodging – Part Of A Much Larger Problem

The company Caterpillar is in the news today as another example of corporate tax dodging. A Senate report looks into how the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment avoided paying $2.4 billion in taxes. That $2.4 billion could pay teachers, fix bridges and help hungry people. The Senate Report On Caterpillar The Senate Permanent subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), issued a report titled, “Caterpillar’s Offshore Tax Strategy.” According to the report. Caterpillar set up a subsidiary company based in Geneva, Switzerland with the acronym CSARL to make it appear as if profits came from that subsidiary instead of operations in the U.S. The subsidiary company has only 400 employees and no manufacturing facilities. Basically, the report says the Swiss company “bought” parts and supplies from U.S.

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Leo Gerard

Administrators Tell College Athletes: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Big league universities want the athletes they recruit to see them as substitute moms and dads. Don’t worry, they say, be happy, ’cause we’ve got you covered. It’s all very appealing – until an athlete is seriously injured in practice or a game. Then the athlete may lose his scholarship. Then, all too often, after he leaves school, he can’t get medical care for the injury because the university didn’t continue to provide insurance. Then he’s out in the cold with no concern from the school that had been so solicitous before he was crippled on its field of glory. “Don’t worry, be happy” is the same paternalistic hogwash that employers across America tell workers. Don’t fuss about the safeguard missing from that hazardous paper rolling machine. Don’t concern yourselves with that deadly silica dust you’re inhaling.

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