Bill Scher

America Did Not Vote For This Cabinet

It’s a simple fact that most Americans did not vote for Donald Trump. But our republic is not designed to reward the top vote-getter. It’s designed to guard against tyranny-of-the-majority, and ensure that minority voices will help shape public policy. But the fluke of this election is that, despite Democrats winning the most votes for president and the Senate (Republicans won slightly more House votes), Democrats are nearly shut out of power. You can’t fault Trump for that. But he could have, perhaps more than any previous President-elect, shed ideological rigidity to build a Cabinet that reflected the vote, and the nation’s political diversity. And he certainly could have kept special interest influence out of his government, especially since he explicitly promised he would.

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Jeff Bryant

Principles To Guide The Vetting Of Betsy DeVos

President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos for US Secretary of Education in his administration set off a firestorm of commentary on what her impact might be on furthering “school choice” ventures like charter schools and vouchers that send taxpayer money to private enterprises. In a much-circulated op-ed for the New York Times, economic professor Douglas Harris warns, “The DeVos nomination … should worry anyone who wants to improve results for children.” Specifically, Harris points to Detroit – where DeVos has been hugely influential – as a worrisome example of how more choice does not necessarily always lead to more quality in a school system.

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Dave Johnson

Workers Challenge Trump To Follow Through On His Promises

President-elect Donald Trump promised during his campaign “more jobs and better wages.” So on Wednesday several hundred workers gathered near the White House and challenged Trump to be true to his words. Speaking at the New York Economic Club in September, Donald Trump promised that in his administration, “Every policy decision we make must pass a simple test: Does it create more jobs and better wages for Americans?” Meanwhile, the U.S. Government is America’s top creator of low-wage jobs. The federal government pays for more than 2 million private sector poverty jobs through its contracts, loans, and grants – more than the number of low-wage workers at Walmart and McDonald’s combined. And already-low-paid federal contract workers lose up to $2.5 billion in pay each year to wage theft. Trump has an opportunity to show he meant what he said.

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Sam Pizzigati

Ike’s Rich vs. Trump’s Rich: No Contest

In every society, some people hold more wealth than other people. Every society, in other words, has a rich. But not every society’s rich has enough wealth to really dominate. Not every society’s rich has enough wealth — and power — to rig the rules at the expense of average people. In the United States today, our rich certainly does have enough. Researchers from the IRS have just delivered the latest evidence. These researchers last week released the latest annual breakdown on America’s 400 highest reported incomes. In 2014, their new IRS report notes, our top 400 collected incomes that individually averaged an astounding $317.8 million.

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Richard Eskow

Sorry, Donald. Taxes in the United States Are Actually Very Low.

Here’s Donald Trump, speaking at a presidential debate in October of last year (emphasis mine): “We’re already [the] highest-tax nation in the world. Just about. They can maybe find—every once in a while they’ll say, they’ll fact-check me, ‘Well, there’s a nation that you never heard of where it’s slightly higher.’ We are just about, of the industrialized nations, we’re the highest taxpayers in the world.” Wrong again, Mr. Trump. Newly published data confirms that, conservative rhetoric notwithstanding, Americans pay very little in taxes compared to residents of other developed countries. That includes US corporations, which pay less than the average for industrialized nations. The data compares the total tax rate paid in OECD member countries, which are primarily developed nations, with each country’s total gross domestic product.

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Bill Scher

Trump’s EPA Pick Scott Pruitt Literally Built The Swamp Himself

Reuters is reporting that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will be Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Unsurprisingly, Pruitt is one of the conservative attorneys general who has sued to block President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of his greenhouse gas reduction efforts. But considering Trump said he wants to “drain the swamp,” you might be surprised he picked someone who literally built the swamp. Pruitt is a pioneer in turning government over to corporate special interests.

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Dave Johnson

DC Rally Wednesday With Bernie Sanders, Danny Glover, Keith Ellison

Our Revolution and Good Jobs Nation will hold a rally with low-wage federal contract workers Wednesday to launch “Good Jobs Defense” to call on President-elect Trump to stop all federal contractors from shipping jobs overseas and stealing the pay of workers who serve America. Federal contractor workers across the country do things like haul military cargo at America’s ports, aid victims of natural disasters, help senior citizens receive their pensions, promote equal justice in U.S. courts, and cook and clean for Senators.

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Richard Eskow

Will Trump Bring the Robot Apocalypse?

The future was supposed to bring prosperity and leisure to working people, not joblessness and misery. But that was before the money guys took over. This week Amazon announced that it’s planning to open a grocery store that has no cashiers or checkout lines. The corporation said that customers would be able to download an app, link their phones to electronic shopping carts that track the items they take from the shelves, then simply walk out with their items. It was also reported this week that President-elect Donald Trump is considering Andrew Puzder, CEO of the parent company to fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, for Secretary of Labor. Puzder, who is already an influential Trump advisor, once boasted about the advantages of replacing human employees with machines.

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Monique Morrissey

Public-Sector Compensation Should Be a Model for the Private Sector

  With a raised hand, my daughter’s teacher can magically line up 20 kindergarteners who are running circles around a loud gym. She’s at school when I drop my daughter off in the morning and still on the job—calling us and other parents from the subway—as my family sits down to dinner. She says she never wanted to do anything else in her life besides teach, and her enthusiasm is infectious: my daughter wants to be a teacher when she grows up. I encourage my daughter’s aspirations, even though teachers are underpaid and their jobs are challenging, especially in today’s high-stakes testing environment. But teachers have good insurance if they get sick or become disabled, and they are able to enjoy their hard-earned retirements.

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Dave Johnson

Enormous, Humongous $42.6 Billion October Trade Deficit Is Unbalanced

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday that the October trade deficit rose to $42.6 billion from a enormous and humongous 36.2 billion in September. That’s a 17.8 percent increase. October exports were down $3.4 billion and imports were up $3.0 billion. The goods deficit with China also increased, hitting $28.9 billion in October. Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), “The trade deficit is a drag on growth and jobs in the goods-producing sector. It is one signal of weakness that speaks to our challenges in global competition. “It will take more than a Carrier deal to save jobs here and bring some home.

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Bill Scher

The Carrier Con: You Are Paying To Replace American Workers With Robots

During a CNBC interview, Greg Hayes, the CEO of Carrier’s parent company United Technologies, reveals some of those 800 factory jobs allegedly saved in the deal engineered by Donald Trump will eventually be lost to automation: …we’re gonna make up $16 million investment in that factory in Indianapolis to automate, to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive. Now is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we’ll make the capital investments there … But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs. Not only are many of the Carrier jobs still going to Mexico, but many of the ones remaining in America are at risk of being replaced by robots. This is quite the bait-and-switch. So let’s recap what actually happened: 1.

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LeeAnn Hall

Families Have a Lot to Lose – and Protect – Long Before Inauguration Day

The right-wing assault on the advances our country has made in the more than 70 years since the presidency of FDR isn’t waiting for Donald Trump’s inauguration. The battle to take away our health care, retirement benefits, and even food aid has already begun, with the Republican right-wing in Congress conspiring to hand the federal budget over to big corporations and slip in devastating deregulatory measures before they adjourn this year, while few are paying attention. The Republican Congress has to pass legislation by December 9 to fund the government or cause a shutdown, and it wants to exploit the moment to get a head start on unraveling the programs that are a lifeline for ordinary people. Their plan is to pass a “continuing resolution” which “continues” the current budget for a few months until the next Congress passes a new one.

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Judith LeBlanc

How We Won the ‘No’ in #NoDAPL – And What We Must Take On Next

Sunday’s announcement that the federal government will not approve a permit for a segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Standing Rock territory in North Dakota was a landmark environmental justice and Native tribal sovereignty victory. That victory, though, also laid bare the workings of systemic racism and its impact in Indian Country, reflected in militarized policing, racist agitation and the systematic denial of civil rights. It clarifies the struggle ahead for Native peoples as they perform their historic role as protectors of Mother Earth. The Army Corps of Engineers’ denial of a permit for the pipeline is a victory for the recognition of tribal sovereignty generated by an unprecedented, Native-led grassroots movement.

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Bill Scher

Ben Carson’s Opposition To Obama’s Desegregation Plan Is Incoherent

The announcement that Ben Carson has been tapped to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development has come with reminders that Carson opposes President Barack Obama’s new rules intended to strengthen enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act and reduce the number of people that live in segregated communities. For example, the New York Times reported: “In an opinion article in 2015 for The Washington Times, Mr. Carson compared an Obama administration housing regulation to ‘the failure of school busing’ because it would place affordable housing ‘primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents.'” But just quoting snippets of the oped doesn’t fully capture the utter incoherence of Carson’s argument. I encourage you to read the whole thing, then let’s try to walk through it together. 1.

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Jeff Bryant

Tar Heel Heist: How the Charter School Industry is Hijacking Public Ed

The following was originally published in AlterNet If the American Dream is still alive – the one that includes a good job and a house with a yard, kids, and a two-car garage – you can see it taking shape in Wake County in the heart of the state of North Carolina. Signs of surging prosperity are everywhere this morning as I make my way to West Lake Middle School in Apex, NC, on the outskirts of Raleigh. What were once sleepy two-lane country roads are now teaming with impatient commuters, school busses, and mini-vans. New housing developments, shopping centers, and office buildings are transforming the rolling Piedmont landscape. Wake County is home to five of the fastest growing cities in the Tar Heel State, which is the state with the nation’s fastest growth in economic output in 2015 at 13.4 percent.

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Richard Eskow

How Trump’s Grift Gave Government to the 0.01 Percent

Our country’s privileged few used to exert their control through political surrogates. Now, thanks to Trump, they’re taking a more hands-on approach. If it weren’t for his appeals to hate, it would be easy to understand why so many voters were taken in by Trump. It’s not just that the middle class is dying, or that wages have flatlined and inequality has soared. It’s that there is real fear behind those numbers. Millions of Americans, of all races, genders, religions, and national origin, are living in economic fear and distress. Two-thirds of us would have trouble meeting a $1,000 emergency. That kind of economy is a breeding ground for grift. Studies like those conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research confirm what professional con artists have always known: people in financial distress are easier marks.

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Dave Johnson

The ‘Buy America’ Trump Test

Republicans in Congress are pushing to strip “Buy America” provisions from a bill to help fix the country’s water systems. Republican President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on government help for American manufacturing and jobs. So this is an early test: Will Trump step up and tell House Republicans to keep “Buy America” in the bill, or will he continue to follow the Wall Street/Big Corporate/billionaire agenda his transition has indicated is coming? Water Infrastructure The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) usually passes every two years. This one authorizes 25 critical Army Corps projects in 17 states.

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Bill Scher

Trump’s Protectionist Con Is Not New: Remembering The Bush Steel Tariff

President-elect Donald Trump is shaking up the Republican Party’s economic orthodoxy. He wielded the threat of government power to pressure United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier, to partially rescind plans for sending 800 jobs to Mexico (though 1300 jobs will go away, and the initial job-shift plan was to take three years to complete, so this new plan doesn’t necessarily alter the schedule.) He and his vice-president told the New York Times that “America’s been losing” with the “free market.” His aide Steve Bannon recently said “The conservatives are going to go crazy” with Trump’s plans for public works spending. But posturing as working class heroes who abandon free-market ideology and flirt with protectionism to battle globalist forces is not a new look for Republicans. Recall that in 2002, President George W.

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Kenzo Esquivel, Diane Fager and Rev. Tony Pierce

Clean Energy Victory In IL Shows We Can Still Win In The Age of Trump

With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency this November, many on the left are rightfully frightened about what the next four years portend for the fight against climate change, when even the most basic environmental protections are now under threat. The sense of dread deepens everyday, as we get news of a new climate denier or oil executive being considered for a cabinet post. Many are preparing for years of long, defensive fights to preserve what policies we have won, both on environmental protection and on every other front. This week in Illinois, we had a welcome break from this depressing trend.

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Isaiah J. Poole

AIDS Activists to Paul Ryan: “Your Budget Dreams Are Our Nightmare”

To mark World AIDS Day and to call attention to a looming threat to HIV treatment and prevention programs, 11 AIDS activists were arrested Thursday afternoon while staging a sit-in at the office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. They were protesting plans by Ryan and by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to head the Department of Human Services, to dismantle the U.S. health care system that the global HIV response depends upon. People living with HIV, students, nurses and others took over the hallway outside Ryan’s office, holding signs and banners reading “Ryan & Price’s Healthcare Dream is a Nightmare for People with HIV.” AIDS activists delivered a letter to the offices of both Ryan and Price.

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