Hannah Gelder

Stopping Traffic To Stop Corporate Greed In Illinois

Shutting down intersections as a tactic for interrupting the status quo and bringing attention to an issue has been used in organizing since time immemorial. But a classic action in Chicago on Monday had a different twist. Over 200 people shut down a downtown intersection, dancing to their own rendition of the Electric Slide. The action was organized by Fair Economy Illinois, a collective of People’s Action affiliates and allies. A recent report by Institute for Policy Studies showed that utility companies have become expert tax dodgers. ComEd, an electric utility company in Illinois and subsidiary of Exelon, with pre-tax profits of more than $706 million in 2015, dodged $47.7 million in corporate income taxes to the State of Illinois.

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Dave Johnson

CEO Of Giant Corporation Tells US Government He’s The Boss Of Them

Are We the People the boss of giant multinational corporations, or are they the boss of us? Imagine, if you will, going to the IRS and saying, “I don’t think the tax rate is fair so I’m not going to pay it.” Regular Americans can’t do that. But Apple just did. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by The Washington Post early this month. He was asked about the vast sums of profits that Apple has shifted into overseas tax havens thanks to a loophole in US tax law that lets them “defer” paying taxes on those profits as long as the money technically stays outside the country. Cook said (emphasis added, for emphasis): And when we bring it back, we will pay 35 percent federal tax and then a weighted average across the states that we’re in, which is about 5 percent, so think of it as 40 percent.

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Terrance Heath

Donald Trump Isn’t Really Reaching Out To African-Americans

Contrary to recent headlines, Donald Trump isn’t reaching out to African-Americans. He isn’t even talking to us. He’s talking past us, and saying exactly what his alt-right base wants to hear him saying to black folks. Donald Trump is telling African-Americans that our biggest problems are simply the result of listening to the wrong white people. As Isaiah Poole wrote in, “Donald Trump’s Most Racist Speech Ever,” Trump stood in front of an all-white audience in the 95-percent-white suburb of West Bend, Wis., called for “law and order,” and denounced the “war on police,” even as the death of another black man in a police-involved shooting caused unrest in Milwaukee, just 25 miles away. Trump feigned concern for African-Americans, and repeated well-worn Republican rhetoric, that African-Americans have been taken advantage of by Democrats.

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Sarah Jaffe

Trickle Down Election Economics: How Big Money Can Affect Small Races

At a press event in Kingston, New York, a Hudson Valley community about 90 miles north of Manhattan, the local Democratic congressional candidate, Zephyr Teachout, earlier this month called for a debate. But not with her Republican opponent, John Faso. Instead she issued the challenge to two high-rolling hedge fund bosses who back him. “These two New York City billionaires, Paul Singer and Robert Mercer, have put $1 million together into the super PAC supporting my opponent,” she said. “The voters deserve to hear directly from the billionaires backing John Faso about what they expect to get from him in Congress.

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Dave Johnson

Rock Against TPP Drawing Large Crowds

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is revving up for a vote in the “lame duck” session of Congress that follows the election, and the Rock Against the TPP Concert Tour is drawing large crowds. Awareness of TPP drives opposition, and Rock Against the TPP is doing its part to drive awareness. Awareness Drives TPP Opposition A July survey by Democracy Corps shows that Americans are generally unaware of TPP, but when they learn about it, a majority is opposed to it. While people initially think of “trade” in a generally positive way, the more people learn about TPP and other “trade agreements” the more they shift to opposing them.

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Jacob Swenson-Lengyel

Talking Necessary Trouble with Sarah Jaffe

The first real conversation I had with Sarah Jaffe was on a school bus heading out for a series of direct actions — and a few brave arrests — in Washington, DC with 1,000 community leaders from National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. It was one of our biggest events of the year and leaders had come on planes, trains, and (mostly) automobiles to be there. For Sarah Jaffe, it was just another day of  doing what she does best. Jaffe has spent years traversing the country, covering protest movements in the wake of the financial crisis. In her new book, Necessary Trouble, Jaffe distills what’s she’s learned, taking her readers on a tour of today’s most powerful social movements and introducing us to the people on the frontlines leading them.

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Mark Weisbrot

Obama’s New Campaign for the TPP Could Drag Down Democrats

How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade” agreement? We may soon find out. On Tuesday, Politico broke the story that the White House will be “making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess.” The effort will be designed to put pressure not only on Democratic members of Congress, but also on swing Republican votes, by lobbying important business interests in their districts. This is pretty big news for the 2016 elections but it seems to have gotten little to no coverage in major media outlets.

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Dave Johnson

Postal Workers To Rally Against TPP Tuesday

The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is holding its biennial convention in Orlando this week. As part of that convention, there will be a rally to publicize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally will take place Tuesday, August 23 at 3:30 pm beginning in the Hemisphere Ballroom of Orlando’s Dolphin Hotel. APWU President Mark Dimondstein made the following statement when announcing the rally: “Postal workers are a proud part of a global grass-roots movement in opposing this devious, corporate-backed deal which would hurt workers and the environment in 12 different countries — if allowed to go forward. Like NAFTA and other hard-sold multinational deals, the TPP was negotiated in secret and has very little to do with trade between nations.

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Robert Borosage

The Populist Uprising Isn’t Over; It’s Only Just Begun

The summer ends with a growing lament among progressives. Tom Frank’s cutting voice sums it up: “And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything.  And now the last, ugliest, most fraudulent manifestation is failing so spectacularly that it may discredit populism itself for years to come.” Like many on the left, Frank has few hopes for Hillary Clinton.

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Rae Breaux

The New Normal: Organizing to Break the Cycle of Climate Disaster

With Amanda Devecka-Rinear, New Jersey Organizing Project, and Gary Zuckett, West Virginia Citizen Action Group. The record-breaking floods in Louisiana are the latest example of what many working people already know all too well: climate change has already begun, and it is wrecking our communities. So far, over 30,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, 10,000 people are in shelters, and those numbers are rising. The shelters themselves are experiencing flooding, and some families have already been relocated multiple times. At this point, almost 30 parishes have been declared major disaster areas. Our communities are literally underwater due to the extreme weather and sea level rise brought on by climate change.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Trump Takes “Alt” Out of “Alt-Right”

Donald Trump’s announcement of his new campaign team completes the process of bringing white supremacists and white nationalists from the extreme fringe into the mainstream of American conservatism and the GOP, which began when Donald Trump started his campaign. If establishment Republicans were hoping to finally make their candidate see reason, and halt his spiral into electoral oblivion, by finally executing a “pivot” away from his primaries persona, and towards less incendiary, more nuanced general election rhetoric, they were sorely disappointed. It turns out the mercurial, racist, xenophobic, wannabe fascist that enthralled GOP voters was not a facade, behind which waited the “real” Donald Trump, waiting to be revealed to the general electorate. What we saw in the primaries is what the Republicans got for the general election. Not that they didn’t try.

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Dave Johnson

Is Making Corporations Pay Wages “Burdensome Government Regulation?”

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republicans in general say “burdensome government regulations” are holding the economy back. Phrases like that sure sound ominous, as does another Republican favorite, “big government.” But what do the words actually mean? Trump: “We’re going to get rid of all these ridiculous – everything is so bad – we’re going to get rid of the regulations that are just destroying us.” In Trump’s Detroit “economic speech” he said, “The U.S. economy today is twenty-five percent smaller than it would have been without the surge of regulations since 1980.

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Richard Eskow

Trump’s Estate Tax: An Aristocrat’s Gift to His Friends and Family

“There is a myth out there that…at heart, he’s really on the side of the little guy,” Hillary Clinton said recently of Donald Trump. “Don’t believe it.” I agree. But I’ve never liked using the phrase “little guy” to describe America’s working men and women. A lot of people in this country are managing to survive against pretty long odds, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment in my book. I have nothing against anybody who was born rich. But if anybody is a “little guy” in this story, it’s Trump himself — and I’m not just talking about his hands. It takes a little heart to be born into such wealth and yet be filled with such self-regard and selfishness. It takes a little heart to want so much for himself and so little for others, to bring out the worst in our neighbors and be so cruel to the strangers at our door.

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Richard Eskow

Will The “Fix the Debt” Manipulators Ever Reform Themselves?

I’ll say this for them: The Wall Street billionaires and corporate CEOs behind the “Campaign to Fix the Debt” have a lot of nerve. Once again they’re using cheap scare tactics, along with some manipulative “nudging,” to drum up support for cutting Social Security benefits. The money behind the latest scare campaign – “How Old Will You Be When Social Security’s Funds Run Out?” – also funds a TV ad that shows jobs, teachers, and roads and bridges vanishing, supposedly because the national debt wasn’t brought under control. That’s pretty cynical, since their own ideas have led to lost jobs, teacher layoffs, and a lack of funds to repair roads and bridges.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Important Victory In The Fight Against Private Prisons

People fighting the private prison industry scored a huge victory Thursday when the Justice Department issued a memo announcing that it would begin the process of “reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons.” That memo was written by Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and was directed to the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Thomas R. Kane. It contains a direct takedown of some key right-wing justifications for privatizing what should be exclusively a public function. “…[T]ime has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities,” the memo said.

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Robert Reich

Aetna Shows Why We Need a Single Payer

The best argument for a single-payer health plan is the recent decision by giant health insurer Aetna to bail out next year from 11 of the 15 states where it sells Obamacare plans. Aetna’s decision follows similar moves by UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, and Humana, one of the other giants. All claim they’re not making enough money because too many people with serious health problems are using the Obamacare exchanges, and not enough healthy people are signing up. The problem isn’t Obamacare per se. It’s in the structure of private markets for health insurance – which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. Obamacare is just making the structural problem more obvious.

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Dave Johnson

These Are Your 28 TPP House Democrat Targets

President Obama is trying to get a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the “lame duck” session of Congress that will take place after the election. We can help stop this by getting enough Democrats on the record as opposing the TPP. In particular, we need to get the 28 Democrats who – in spite of opposition from most Democrats and hundreds of labor, consumer, LGBT, health, human rights, faith, democracy and other civil organizations – voted for the “fast-track” trade promotion authority (TPA) bill that “greased the skids” for the TPP by setting up rigged rules that will help TPP pass. Now, along with all of those voters and organizations, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the rest of us need to start working on getting those 28 Democrats to oppose a vote after the election.

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Miles Mogulescu

Sanders/Warren Wing Needs to Demand Seats on Clinton Transition Team

As Sen. Elizabeth Warren is fond of saying, “personnel is policy.” With a Hillary Clinton victory looking increasingly likely, the question of what types of personnel Clinton would appoint to top administration positions becomes increasingly crucial to defining what type of president Clinton would be. As Clinton herself wrote a year ago in an article co-authored with Sen. Tammy Baldwin in The Huffington Post, “Increasingly, American’s trust in government is eroding. And a big reason for that is the so-called revolving door between government and the private sectors.” But the proof is in the pudding. And looking at the people whom Clinton has appointed to her transition team, the progressive base of the Democratic party has good reason to worry that her administration would be stacked with Washington/Wall Street insiders who go back and forth through the revolving door.

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Jeff Bryant

What Your Back-To-School List Reveals About Our Underfunded Schools

“You can exhale now,” the headline in Salon reassures, because “kids have more money than ever to spend on school stuff this year.” The reason for Salon’s celebratory tone is that a national survey every year by the National Retail Federation finds that preteens preparing for a new school year have a record-breaking average of $80.31 in personal spending money. The author leaps from that nugget of information to conclude this is a sign of a stronger economy ahead. (Disclosure: I’ve written about education for Salon.) But even if Salon’s analysis makes you breathe easier about the economy, you should understand those school kids aren’t going to keep their cash for very long, because their schools are going to need it.

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Terrance Heath

Victory For Domestic Workers in Illinois

After years of campaigning and organizing, domestic workers in Illinois are celebrating victory. On Tuesday Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights into law, guaranteeing basic workplace protections. #DWDignityIL #Victory! Big TY to @AriseChicago @LatinoUnionChi @afirechicago & all who helped make this historic win pic.twitter.com/BPghs8GQ2n — Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) August 15, 2016 The law, which is the result of a five-year campaign by the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Coalition, guarantees nannies, housecleaners, homecare workers and other domestic workers a minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, and one day of rest for every seven days for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week. New York became the first state to pass such a bill in 2010.

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