Ben Ishibashi

A Green New Deal Must Be 100 Percent Just

Excitement is building among environmentalists as Washington prepares for the arrival of new lawmakers elected by the #PeoplesWave. Led by New York Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, these insurgents promise to infuse new energy into the movement for climate justice. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Photo credit: Sunrise Movement Ocasio-Cortez, through a series of high-profile public protests and statements, has focused the minds and hearts of activists, and laid down a gauntlet for the Democratic Party. Now is the time, she says, for a Green New Deal that confronts climate change head-on with bold solutions that can fundamentally alter our nation’s course on both the environment and rising income inequality through a real commitment to renewable energy.

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Sam Pizzigati

Can an Unequal Earth Beat Climate Change?

We either keep fossil fuels in the ground, or all of us are going to fry. So essentially posits still another new blockbuster study on climate change, this one just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Our fossil-fuel industrial economy, the study details, has made for the fastest climate changes our Earth has ever seen. “If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” notes the study lead author Kevin Burke from the University of Wisconsin. “In the roughly 20 to 25 years I have been working in the field,” adds another researcher on the effort, Wisconsin’s John Williams, “we have gone from expecting climate change to happen, to detecting the effects, and now, we are seeing that it’s causing harm,” as measured in property damage and deaths, in intensified flooding and fires.

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Frank Clemente

The GOP Tax Bill Is Creating Jobs – Just Not in the U.S.

We should have told them to be more specific. When President Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress called their massive tax overhaul last year the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” most of us assumed the jobs would be in the United States. Now we know better. Yes, unemployment in this country is low, but there’s no evidence it’s because of last year’s GOP tax cuts. More likely it’s simply a continuation of an eight-year trend of steady job growth that began under President Obama. On the other hand, we can reasonably connect specific losses in U.S. employment to the Trump-GOP tax law. For instance, last summer General Motors decided to build its Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico rather than the United States. Then this November, it announced plans to close five North American assembly plants and lay off nearly 15,000 workers in states like Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland.

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Sam Pizzigati

If Democrats Fracture, This Will Be the Fault Line

Back in the closing years of the 20th century, the British Labour Party leader Tony Blair thoroughly redefined his party’s essence. Labour, Blair believed, had to shake off the past and become a political force “on the side” of the upwardly mobile, not just workers and their unions. Blair’s chief strategist, Peter Mandelson, would capture the new Blairite sensibility with a quip that would go viral in the UK, even before the days of social media. “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich,” Mandelson opined, “as long as they pay their taxes.” And those taxes would stay modest in the years after Blair’s electoral triumph in 1997. Prime minister Blair would pay precious little attention to the increasing concentration of British income, wealth, and power in the hands of a filthy rich few.

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George Goehl

America Wants Health Care, Not Walls

In November’s midterm elections, no issue played a larger role in fueling the People’s Wave that elected a record number of progressives to Congress than health care. It was the Trump administration’s push last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that helped animate early resistance in Congressional districts from coast to coast, including many of those that flipped the House from Red to Blue. Republicans who proved tone-deaf to citizens’ complaints at Town Halls, and phones ringing off the hook from angry constituents, paid the price at the polls. And just as women led the successful charge to defend the ACA, it is women who will drive the new Democratic majority in Congress. We’ve seen firsthand how people across the country view health care as a priority issue. A year ago, People’s Action asked 2,000 people in rural communities which issues concerned them most.

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Leo Gerard

Eight Holiday Gifts American Workers Need

It’s that time of the year – the most wonderful time of the year, they say, the hap-happiest season of all. There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and utility repair workers out in the snow. It’s great, all right. You know what would make it better, though? Eight Hanukkah days of gifts for workers. Maybe a stocking stuffed with presents for those who labor 52 weeks a year, without a paid sick day, pension benefits or employer-sponsored health insurance. For those of you stumped by this proposition, I’ve made a list. I’ve checked it twice. On it are eight gifts that would convert workers’ blue, blue, blue, blue Christmases to white.

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Erica Johnson

Join Me to Stop Trump’s Phony “Public Charge” Screen Of Immigrants

Iowa needs immigrants. So does our country – that’s the plain and simple truth. But it’s one that too many of our lawmakers simply ignore. Why? Because the Hawkeye State, like the rest of our country, needs workers – and immigrants are some of our hardest-working residents. They have been for a long time. Every industry in Iowa – from agriculture to manufacturing – depends heavily on foreign-born workers, and they are net contributors to our state’s finances. They pay taxes and support our social services, and contribute way more to our way of life than they take. Iowa’s safe communities, good schools, and calm lifestyle attract these foreign-born workers, who have revitalized communities large and small all across the state.

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Sam Pizzigati

GM, Jobs, and Corporate America’s Incentive to Exploit

On Monday morning, November 26, the auto giant General Motors announced plans to shut down production at five plants in the United States and Canada and shear off 15 percent of the company’s salaried jobs. The moves will cost 14,700 GM workers their livelihood. The communities where those workers live will lose out, too. In Lordstown, the Ohio locale that hosts one of the plants set to be shuttered, officials estimate that every GM job cut will cost seven other workers outside GM their employment.

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Djuan Wash

How This Grinch Steals Democracy

Someone forgot to tell Republicans that Holidays are about giving to others, not to themselves. We saw this last year, when they queued up to give themselves a giant tax cut for Christmas. This year, the Grinch wants to steal democracy, too. Right now, the GOP is trying to take power away from Democratic Governors and legislatures during December’s lame duck sessions. They want to hold back the will of the people – because they know it’s their last chance, as the voters have already spoken. In Wisconsin, the GOP-controlled legislature just passed bills to limit the powers of Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor-elect Mandela Barnes before they take office in January.

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Jeff Bryant

What Teacher Walkouts Changed in Our Politics

Even before the votes from the recent midterm elections were completely counted  – a process that took nearly two weeks in many races – numerous prominent news outlets were quick to report on the supposed failure of the “education wave,” those school teachers and other educators who ran for office up and down ballots across the country. One report that received particularly widespread circulation, by Associated Press, carried the headline “Tough lessons: Teachers fall short in midterm races.” Another for U.S. News & World Report said, “Poor Marks for Teachers in Midterms.” Clever, huh.

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James Mumm

Leveling Up And Down

Massive, disruptive change is happening in the world economy. Up to half of all current workers, both white and blue collar, could be driven into unemployment by technology. Automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are fueling a new industrial revolution. Once again, as in the past when steam, fossil fuels and biotechnology upended lives and fortunes, workers are getting the short end of the stick—this time robots may come for our jobs. Unless, as science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson warns, we become the robots ourselves, first. Instead of tinkering around the edges, several recent authors make a forceful case for a bold solution to our society’s growing levels of inequality and economic insecurity: a universal basic income (UBI).

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Leo Gerard

Workers Petition Congress: Protect Our Pensions

The total number of workers at risk is 1.2 million. In my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), 100,000 are threatened. Daryl A. Bugbee of Olivet, Mich., is one of them. He wrote Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer Pensions on Aug. 8: “I am the father of a special needs child who will always need assistance. Without my pension, I will not be able to help meet his needs.” Workers like Daryl count on that money. Most didn’t earn enough to invest in stocks or a 401(k) for retirement. The pension was everything. Now, they’re vulnerable because 8 percent of multiemployer pensions are collapsing. This is not the workers’ fault. Often, it’s not even the employers’ fault. It’s because of economic forces that couldn’t be predicted and Congressional decisions to deregulate Wall Street and ignore trade violations.

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George Goehl

Heartland Holds the Key to Winning in 2020

While the country was captivated on election night by insurgent campaigns led by Southerners like Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Beto O’Rourke, people in the America’s Heartland and the Rustbelt were preparing a message of their own. Two years after they sent Donald Trump to the White House, voters in the Heartland broadly rejected his divisive agenda in a people-powered blue wave. Democratic gubernatorial wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Illinois were a rebuke of Trump’s racist rhetoric and of candidates who emulate him, and the victories didn’t stop there. In deep-red Iowa, where Republicans controlled three of four Congressional seats, Democrats now control three of four. Eight of the U.S. House seats that flipped from red to blue were in the Midwest.

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Jeff Bryant

How Betsy DeVos Does the Koch Brothers’ Bidding

While the serial outrages of the Trump administration continue to make headlines, the more mundane activities of his cabinet officials and their underlings often fly under the radar. Take U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, for instance, whose nomination drew a history-making opposition and set off an avalanche of ridicule in social media and late-night comedy, but who now operates largely out of public view, behind a security screen that is projected to cost the taxpayers nearly $8 million over the next year. What’s largely been overlooked behind all the lurid headlines and endless insults are all the ways in which officials like DeVos are quietly at work continuing to use our tax money to advance a deeply troubling agenda.

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Jason Walker

Amazon’s HQ2 Is a Punch in the Gut To New Yorkers

Amazon is a massively profitable company. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man, by far –  at least $50 billion richer than every other billionaire on the planet, and light years ahead of you and me. That’s why the $3 billion gift bag Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio just promised to Amazon is a punch in the gut to New Yorkers like Nathylin Flowers Adesegun, who like me is a member of VOCAL-NY, a grassroots group devoted to creating healthy and just communities. We’re the ones who make this city great, even as we find it harder and harder to live here.   Ms. Flowers, who confronted Mayor De Blasio about our homeless crisis last month, and I joined a hundred real New Yorkers at Amazon’s flagship store in Midtown Manhattan on Monday to raise our voices in protest.

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James Mumm

What Is a Trumpducken?

If you’re like me, you’re doing a lot of cooking and shopping over the holidays. But there is one item that you’re just not going to find anywhere, much less on sale. It’s a Trumpducken. What is a Trumpducken, you ask? A lie wrapped in a blunder wrapped in propaganda? Our democracy in a flaming trash can, sprayed with Trump-branded hair product? George Papadopoulos stuffed into Roger Stone stuffed into Paul Manafort? Paul Ryan stuffed into Mitch McConnell stuffed into Donald Trump? Mike Pence stuffing a Border Wall through a lame-duck Congress for our Gobbler In Chief? Let your imagination fly, even if this bird can’t: the possibilities are endless. But folks, no matter how you cut it, the truth is this turkey is already cooked. Let’s review the facts. Mueller’s probe is closing in on the Oval Office.

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Leo Gerard

Labor’s Challenge to the New Democrats in Congress

In his victory speech on election night, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb said he would always remember the union members who helped him defeat two Republican incumbents in one year. “Side by side with us at each step of the way were men and women of organized labor. . .  I will never forget that. I will never forget that. Thank you,” he told a cheering crowd overflowing a ballroom at the Hilton DoubleTree, 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. In his first contest last spring, in a district that went for President Donald Trump by nearly 20 points and that had elected a Republican to the House for 15 years, Lamb received massive support in the form of door-knocking and phone banking from members of the labor union I lead, the United Steelworkers, and from several others, including the Service Employees International Union. Lamb recalled that help when he listed his priorities on his website.

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Alex Reeder

Fight Like Hell for the Living on Trans Day Of Remembrance

What does Trans Day of Remembrance mean in a world that appears to be entering an age of heightened fascism? For me, today is a somber reminder that anti-trans violence is killing our people. And that every waking day, that violence could take another life. Today, we honor those we’ve lost and we carry their legacy forward. Today, we practice remembrance not only for our people but the history that is woven through each of their lives. While many people believe that we live in a time where LGBTQ progress has made the most headway, we must remember that many precolonial cultures around the world acknowledged people who one might call transgender or gender nonconforming today. The hijra of India, the muxe of the Zapotec people, the nádleehi of the Navajo people, the ashtime of the Maale people, and the waria of Indonesia.

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Tim Wilkins

Stacey Abrams Goes Deep For Democracy

Stacey Abrams is right not to concede. The Georgia Democrat, who hoped to become the state’s first Black governor, acknowledged that while she will no longer directly challenge Republican Brian Kemp for the office, she will fight as a private citizen to hold him accountable for his efforts to undermine voting rights in the state.   “Concession means an action is right, true, or proper,” Abrams told supporters in a speech on Friday. “As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.” Kemp, who until days ago was Georgia’s secretary of state, supervised his own election – an unprecedented affront to democracy, which prompted fellow Georgian and former President Jimmy Carter – who has helped certify transparency in hundreds of elections around the world – to demand that Kemp resign.

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Jeff Bryant

What School Funding Advocates Should Learn From Midterms

One of the big winners in the 2018 midterm elections you may not have heard about is education funding. This may come as news to you – because just as some observers incorrectly concluded last week’s “Blue Wave” was merely a ripple, quick takes on midterm results on important education-related ballot referendums have overlooked important lessons to learn about where and when increased funding for schools can win. First, high-profile ballot initiatives to boost school funding statewide have always had mixed success. This year’s referendums were no exception. The Winners Voters in Georgia overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that allows school district within the same county to put sales and use tax increases for funding public schools on local election ballots.

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