fresh voices from the front lines of change








Tom Conway

Trump Gets An F From Workers

Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed “great negotiator” and author of “The Art of the Deal,” promised to use his bargaining skills to help the American worker. Trump vowed to rewrite trade deals, stanch the offshoring of U.S. jobs and reinvigorate American manufacturing. His behavior tells a different story. Both of the trade deals he produced so far—the original United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the “phase one” agreement with China—failed American workers. Bad trade cost millions of American jobs. Trump’s brand of deal-making won’t bring them back. Trump made fair trade—and standing up to cheaters—a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign. He railed against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which empowered corporations to shift more than one million manufacturing jobs to Mexico. Mexican workers make a few dollars an hour, much less than their U.S. counterparts, and they lack the protection of real labor unions. Workers have no voice, and U.S. corporations get rich gaming this system. The labor movement was prepared to work with Trump to achieve its long-sought goals. But as president, he let workers down. Trump’s failure to follow through on labor standards in the USMCA showed his murky strategy on trade. His use of tariffs does, too. America needs a comprehensive trade solution, but Trump’s policy lacks vision. More jobs will disappear unless Trump pursues a cohesive trade strategy that prioritizes the American worker. Now, he’s just helping to perpetuate the broken system he bitterly criticized.

Impeachment Trial Turns To Battle Over Witnesses

John Roberts can call witnesses to Trump’s trial. Will He? NYT: "An overwhelming number of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, believe the Senate should hear from relevant witnesses and obtain documents during President Trump’s impeachment trial. Striking new revelations about the president’s role in the Ukraine affair, as reported from an unpublished manuscript by John Bolton, underscore the need for his testimony and that of others. Yet Republican members of the Senate have signaled that they intend to uphold Mr. Trump’s unprecedented decision to block all of this material. But turns out they don’t get to make that choice — Chief Justice John Roberts does. This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four 'moderate' Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice. Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well."

Bolton Claim Scrambles GOP Strategy

Report revives Democrats' call for Bolton to testify in Senate trial. NPR: "Call it the October surprise of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. John Bolton, the former national security adviser who has been playing his own personal game of footsie with impeachment negotiators for months, has written in a draft book manuscript in which he alleges the President did, in fact, condition US security assistance to Ukraine on investigations into a political rival. He represents a first-hand witness. He represents direct knowledge. He represents everything the White House defense team said in their Saturday presentation on the Senate floor didn't exist. Twenty-four hours ago, the impeachment trial was on track to be wrapped up by Friday or Saturday of this week. A vote to move to consider witnesses was short on GOP senators, and how quickly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could move to the vote to acquit Trump had become the central question in GOP circles. For the moment, in the wake of the Bolton manuscript first reported by The New York Times, all of that is scrambled and extremely fluid. Could it still end up that way? Yes. But GOP senators have an awful lot more on their mind as the White House defense team continues its presentation Monday."

Sanders Surges In IA, NH Polls

Why is Bernie Sanders surging? CNN: "As promised, Senator Bernie Sanders is shocking the political establishment. The candidate who many thought had no chance of winning is polling extremely well in Iowa and New Hampshire and several other states. According to a new CNN/UNH poll, he has a nine-point lead in New Hampshire. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumed frontrunner, is waking up to the reality that he is running neck-and-neck with the senator from Vermont. The other top candidates, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, are struggling to keep up with him. They are likely experiencing the same sinking feeling many Republicans felt in 2016, when they awoke to the reality that Donald Trump was stronger than the party establishment seeking to contain him. The Sanders juggernaut does not appear to be a flash-in-the-pan candidacy. It is true that Sanders has had trouble expanding his base of support, but for several months now he has remained in the top tier in the polls, along with Biden, Warren and Buttigieg. It has become increasingly possible to imagine his winning the nomination. How did a candidate who is so risky--as his supporter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admitted during a rally--work his way to the very top? The most important element of Sanders' surge is that his candidacy is built on top of a movement. Sanders subscribes to a vision of electoral politics which stipulates that campaigns need to be built from the bottom up."

Climate Deniers Change Their Tune

Climate change’s surprise twist. Axios: "The economics, politics and science of climate change are converging and catapulting this problem from a joke among critics to a prominent concern. Shifts across Washington, D.C., among corporate leaders and within financial institutions are creating a foundation that could produce big movement on this problem for the first time since, well, forever. If the world’s political and business leaders are going to seriously move to cut heat-trapping emissions, they first need to pay attention to it. They are starting to now, fueled by unrest from the world’s youth, cheaper renewable energy, more bouts of extreme weather and other evidence of global warming itself. We’ve written about these shifts individually here and here and here over the past year or more. It’s worth examining them together as a whole because the amount of new attention on climate that’s occurred in a matter of weeks is staggering. In Washingtoncongressional Republicans and even President Trump are scrambling to acknowledge the problem after years of denying it — and in some cases mocking it outright.“The issue of climate and the environment is rising in priority for the American voter and you’re seeing the political dynamic shift where people are really demanding their elected officials to address this problem,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) told me last week.

Youth Turnout Can Tip NH Vote

Young people are set to make history With Bernie Sanders—if they show. Common Dreams: "Fifty-two years after young people changed history with the New Hampshire primary election, a new generation is ready to do it again—this time by mobilizing behind Bernie Sanders. The New Hampshire Youth Movement—which its leadership calls 'the largest youth power organization in the state'—endorsed Sanders last week. NHYM could provide the margin of victory in New Hampshire’s Feb. 11 primary. The strategy has been methodical. 'People involved with NHYM have been canvassing nonstop,' the state director of the organization’s field program, Dylan Carney, told me. “We’ve gathered over 9,500 pledge-to-vote cards from people aged 18 to 25 and will be working to get them voting for Bernie Sanders on Feb. 11th.” I asked Carney for his assessment of why polling nationwide shows young people prefer Sanders over every other Democratic contender by a lopsided margin. 'Sanders is a movement candidate—who will be accountable to our generation,' Carney replied. 'He has proven that he is aligned with the version of the world that we want to create. And since before our generation was born, he was fighting the injustices that we are fighting today.'"

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