Jeff Bryant

Election Results Show When Democrats Win, ‘Education Reform’ Often Loses

When Democrats win big like they did in last week’s elections, Republicans understandably get nervous. But there’s another political faction that has something to fret about: folks who’ve aligned themselves with what’s come to be called “education reform”: the embrace of school privatization, standardized testing and tough-on-teacher measures. Although the reform campaign has long been marketed as a bipartisan cause, it’s increasingly apparent that the better Democrats do at the polls, the worse the education reform agenda does. Mile High Warning Results from the Denver, Colorado school board contest could be especially worrying for Democrats who’ve drunk the corporate education reform Kool-Aid. In the Mile High City, the dominant power structure lost in a contest it’s used to winning.

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Richard Eskow

Trump’s HHS Pick Alex Azar Is the Worst Pharma Bro of All

Nominating Alexander Azar to run Health and Human Services is like pinning a sheriff’s badge on Billy the Kid. For all his polish and small-town charm, when it comes to pharmaceutical predation, the mild-mannered Azar puts blowhard “pharma bros” like Martin Shkreli to shame. Shkreli is the pharmaceutical exec people love to hate. That’s understandable. He sought out rights to drugs for rare diseases so he could extort outrageous prices from those whose lives depended on these treatments. Shkreli became wealthy through his shameful strategy for extortion, but was convicted of defrauding investors in August. His smug narcissism and openly corrupt bullying made him an easy target, and a poster boy for pharmaceutical industry greed.The guy’s face tells the whole story.

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Jeff Bryant

The GOP Tax Plan Is a Declaration of War on Learning

“Top-down class warfare” is what economist Paul Krugman calls the new Republican tax plans being drawn up in Congress, because both plans in the House and Senate propose “huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy” and eliminate scores of “credits and exemptions that mainly benefit the middle class.” The heaviest casualties are likely to be on the public education front. As Krugman explains, Republicans intend to knock off many current tax deductions for higher education expenses, but the extent of the carnage in the plans will extinguish learning opportunities at every age and stage of young people’s lives.

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Robert Borosage

Democrats Will Need More Than Resistance to Govern

Sweeping victories in last Tuesday’s elections provided a bracing tonic for Democrats. “In case there was any doubt,” tweeted former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, “the Resistance is real.” Tuesday’s victories should buoy Democrats but not mislead them. The reaction to Trump is fierce, but not sufficient to consolidate a new ruling coalition that can make the changes we need. Turnout in Virginia, which featured the marquee gubernatorial matchup on Election Day, was at presidential year levels. Democrats, people of color, and self-described liberals came out in large numbers. Women voted Democratic by large margins. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam—a charismatically challenged, eminently decent, experienced, establishment figure—didn’t light that fire.

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Sam Pizzigati

Phil Murphy’s Victory and the Goldmanization of Government

The voters of New Jersey just elected a former Wall Street banker as their new governor. Just what America needs, right? Many onlookers are undoubtedly thinking that the last thing our country needs at this troubled time another well-heeled Wall Streeter in a powerful political position. In the nation’s capital, the Trump administration is already — and famously — teeming with Wall Street alumni. At one point this past spring, Team Trump boasted six former top guns from just one Wall Street bank alone. The White House, quipped senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, had enough Goldman Sachs alums to open a branch office. Murphy’s Way Phil Murphy, New Jersey’s governor-elect, also happens to hail from Goldman Sachs. But Murphy bears no public policy likeness to his fellow Goldman alums in the Trump administration.

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Richard Eskow

7 Ways Democrats Misread the Election Results

The base is critical to victory — and it wants to move left. If you’re a Democrat, there’s a name for that unfamiliar emotion you were feeling last Tuesday night. It’s called happiness. But there is a serious risk that the party will draw the wrong lessons from last week’s results. Here are seven important lessons from the November 7 results that a lot of Democrats seem to have missed. VA Democrat Ralph Northam.  Photo Credit: Screenshot / YouTube 1. It’s too easy to fall for spin, or for easily digestible but misleading narratives What do a former Republican doctor, a Goldman Sachs executive turned Bernie-style economic populist, a transgender heavy metal singer, and a Virginia socialist have in common? They all won as Democrats. You’d think a diverse group like this would make it hard to pigeonhole the election’s results.

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Richard Eskow

Why We Need to Confront the Billionaires’ Paradise

The concentrated wealth of the global plutocracy is the dark matter of the world economy: it is rarely glimpsed and difficult to measure, yet it reshapes everything around it. Two recent reports – the UBS/PwC report on the “new Gilded Age” of the international billionaire class, and the “Paradise Papers”  released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reveal ways corporations and the ultra-wealthy avoid taxes. In doing so, they offer a glimpse into this darkness. Together, these releases tell us a lot about the wealthy few who run the world. We now know that the British royal family has been less than open with the people they rule, who preserve their dubious privilege to monarchy.

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Jeff Bryant

In North Carolina, Charter Schools Force ‘Zero-Sum’ Education

There are a lot of differences of opinion on charter schools, but one thing objective observers can agree on is they are divisive. As charter schools have grown more numerous, they’ve become increasingly unpopular, across political ideologies, and in community after community, their expansions now spark immediate opposition. North Carolina is no exception. At a recent forum in Raleigh, held by the News & Observer and the local ABC affiliate, a panel of three charter proponents and two charter skeptics found scant room for compromise. Moderator Ned Barnett, editorial page director of the News & Observer, asked the panel to address how best charters can provide a “sound and basic” system of education.

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Bernie Horn

Talking Truth About Guns & Gambling After Vegas

In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting, authorities and interest groups have put on a master class in how to bamboozle the media and whitewash unpleasant truths. It’s time to talk about what’s really happening with guns and gun violence in our country. As we all know, during the evening of October 1, a gunman named Stephen Paddock killed 58 and injured 546 people who were attending a country music concert. Paddock fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a casino hotel owned by MGM Resorts International. There is a standard public relations strategy that uses delay to obfuscate news stories. You find an excuse to withhold information, then let it out little by little, over a long period of time. Anyone who follows this playbook won’t hesitate to say information is being—or will be—released.

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Laurel Wales

2017 Elections Mark the Dawn of Change

What a difference a year makes! Waking up after Election Day in 2017 is incredibly different from last November, when we faced the prospect of a misogynist-in-chief in the White House, starring in a four-year reality show of his own creation at our expense. Trump and his cronies have worked hard to undermine every fundamental of our society: trust, solidarity, and equal opportunities for all. From the environment to health care, voting rights to immigration and education, they’ve relentlessly chipped away the bonds that hold us together. But we’ve worked harder, and smarter. We’ve come together, and dawn has finally come. We had to take to the streets and then to the polls to defend our nation’s beliefs, but we did it. A Path Emerges Now, just a year later, Democrats and Progressives have reasons to feel proud.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Trumpism Trounced In Tuesday’s Elections

Trumpism was trounced Tuesday night in Virginia, New Jersey and Maine. The rejection of President Trump’s agenda that grabbed the most headlines was the surprisingly sound defeat of longtime Republican operative Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor’s race by the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam. Gillespie, a longtime national party leader, ran a literally two-faced campaign, as a mild-mannered, establishment Republican on the stump, but as a virulently anti-immigrant, pro-Confederate extremist in campaign ads. In the end, a majority of Virginia voters saw through Gillespie’s first persona and rejected the second, electing Northam by a nine-percentage-point margin. In New Jersey, meanwhile, Democrat Phil Murphy won 55 percent of the vote to become the governor-elect, replacing the phenomenally unpopular incumbent Republican Chris Christie.

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Jeff Bryant

Did Education Save The Democrats’ Bacon in the Virginia Governor’s Race?

Ralph Northam’s big win for the Democratic party in the Virginia governor’s election is being hailed as a “rebuke of President Trump.” But it’s also a rebuke of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The race, which was called a “bellwether” and a “must win” for Democrats, is a teachable moment for Democratic party operatives heading into 2018. But the race appeared to stay close the whole time, with RealClear Politics rating it a “toss up” less than a week away from the vote. So what helped Northam pull it out? Most analysts in the media have focused on the campaign tactics employed in the race, especially when the campaign for Ed Gillespie, the Republican, took a Trumpist turn and decided to demonize immigrants, defend Confederate monuments, and portray Northam as soft on crime.

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Robert Borosage

The GOP Tax Bill Is an Attempt to Destroy Government

The House Republican tax bill has been introduced, packaged beautifully with lies. Now House Republicans will push to pass, in one week, a 500-page bill written in secret that transforms the tax code. Powerful special interests will spend millions for and against. Legions of lobbyists will fill congressional offices. Experts will duel over the effects. Trump is already boasting about “a great Christmas present” of the biggest tax cuts ever. Republicans hope that the fog of competing claims will cover their tracks. In the midst of the frenzy, remember one thing: this entire project is utterly wrong-headed. Few politicians dare say it, but the reality is Americans are not overtaxed. They are underserved by their government. American corporations and American citizens are not overtaxed, compared with other industrial nations.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Nine Reasons To Stop The GOP’s Giant Tax Gift Bucket

Americans for Tax Fairness has just published “Nine Terrible Things About the Republican Tax Plan.” All are good reasons for you should get on the phone with your member of Congress and tell them to vote against this travesty of a tax bill. The number to call is 877-795-7862. If a staff member of your senator or representative asks you why you oppose the Trump/Republican tax plan, here are some facts you can cite: 1. It prioritizes corporations over health care. The corporate tax rate is slashed from 35% to 20%, losing $1.5 trillion—equal to the cuts Republicans plan to make to Medicare and Medicaid. 2. It puts Wall Street over seniors. Hedge funds, law firms, and real estate companies like Trump’s get a $448 billion tax cut from the drop (from 39.6% to 25%) in the top tax rate for “pass-through” businesses. The Republican budget cuts Medicare by $473 billion. 3.

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Richard Eskow

Donna Brazile, the DNC, and Democratizing the Democrats

Democrats are fighting again. The trigger this time is former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile’s forthcoming book, which says that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was given significant control over the DNC long before she became the party’s nominee. It’s easy to be cynical about the tone Brazile adopts as she tells her story. She’s shocked, shocked, to learn that money and insider connections wield undue influence inside her party’s establishment. And she’s quick to pronounce the DNC innocent of actions, including her own, that are already widely known. Still, Brazile is right on the particulars. And it’s hard not to admire her courage, book promotion or not, given the intensity of the attacks she knew she would face.

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Miles Mogulescu

Carter’s Bold Bid to Make Peace Between Trump and North Korea

Donald Trump leaves this weekend for a 12-day trip to Asia, including stops in South Korea and China. Unless advisors keep a tight muzzle on him, there’s  reason to worry that aggressive rhetoric could increase the risks of escalating into a deadly war with a nuclear-armed North Korea. But former President Jimmy Carter  has stepped up to point a direction to potentially achieving a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. Carter  personally told National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster that Carter is prepared to go to North Korea to initiate peace talks, which could eventually lead to an agreement consummated by a trip by Trump to Pyongyang, similar to President Nixon’s world-changing peace trip to communist China in 1973. Trump should take Carter up on it.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Call Congress Now to Stop Trump’s Giant Tax Giveaway

House Republicans have released their long-awaited tax giveaway plan. It’s as bad as those of us who have been resisting the Trump administration and Republican efforts to hijack our economy and democracy have long feared it would be. People’s Action joins Americans for Tax Fairness and a broad range of organizations in the “Not One Penny” campaign to ask everyone to call this number – 877-795-7862 – and tell their Members of Congress to vote against this tax plan. At a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, several progressive members of Congress laid out the reasons why, in the words of Rep.

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Jeff Bryant

How The GOP Tax Scheme Will Screw Your Local Schools

There’s a lot that’s bad in the tax scheme Republicans are cooking up on Capitol Hill right now, but one particularly odious ingredient is a proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) which could end up undercutting funding for education, fire and police protection, and other public services in communities across the country. Some Republicans in the House are having a hard time swallowing the proposal, but Senate Republicans are dead set on making sure their final recipe for tax reform takes away the SALT tax expenditure. Eliminating the SALT deduction would be “an assault on local governance” and the “long-term economic stability in our communities,” says the National School Boards Association.

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Robert Borosage

The Great American Tax Heist

With passage of their budget framework, Republicans in Congress have embarked on a preposterous mission of passing—in three weeks—a tax bill that still hasn’t been released to the public as of this writing. They plan to pass the bill, which is likely to end up near 1,000 pages in length, with only Republican votes. This dynamic will set off a lobbyist scrum. This is when the rules get fixed to benefit the few, with lies and false promises floated to delude the many. One of the most egregious examples is the tax-repatriation and territoriality provisions, a “reform” that will reward tax avoidance by the big corporations. Today global corporations are able to avoid paying US taxes by a legal loophole known as deferral. Taxes are deferred on an estimated $2.6 trillion in profits that corporations book as having been earned offshore.

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Jeff Bryant

Dear Democrats: Screwing Public Schools Won’t Get You Elected

“Here we go again,” was what many left-leaning folks likely felt after seeing a recent announcement about a new effort by wealthy donors to rescue the Democratic Party from its electoral doldrums. Backed by $20 million, the “New Blue” campaign, coming from politically centrist think tank Third Way, promises to lead the  party out of the “wilderness” of its minority status to a pathway to “achieving progressive majorities up and down the ballot.” But Third Way’s offer sounds more like a continuation of the old losing ways. This is especially true on the issue of education where Third Way continues to bang the drum for a failed agenda that voters mostly reject.

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