Isaiah J. Poole

Burning Issues: Pentagon Spending Out of Control?

Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, highlights the reasons why our Pentagon budget is so bloated in this Burning Issues segment. One simple answer: It’s politics. The way the Pentagon procures weapons favors corporate contractors and incentivizes overspending, Brian says. So does the spreading of a single weapons project across a number of congressional districts in order to earn the support of particular members of Congress. Finally, the revolving door between Pentagon officials and the defense industry is a built-in disincentive for government officials to be tough on their potential future employers. Brian calls for changing this system, and points to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ call for an audit of the Pentagon as a place to start.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Indiana’s Carrier Factory Cuts Focused The “Trade” Election Issue

Sometimes an event comes along that crystallizes people’s awareness of an issue. It is just the right things at the right time. The layoffs at the Indianapolis Carrier air conditioner factory are an example of this kind of event. The layoffs have focused many people’s feelings about our disastrous “trade” agreements that enable, even encourage, companies to move jobs and factories out of the country so that executives and Wall Street can pocket the wage and environmental-cost differential for themselves. What Happened At Carrier? In February air-conditioner manufacturer Carrier, a wing of United Technologies, announced that beginning next year it will move its Indianapolis production to Mexico and lay off the company’s U.S. workers.

Continue Reading...
Robert Reich

Share-the-Gains Capitalism

Marissa Mayer tells us a lot about why Americans are so angry, and why anti-establishment fury has become the biggest single force in American politics today. Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Yahoo’s stock lost about a third of its value last year, as the company went from making $7.5 billion in 2014 to losing $4.4 billion in 2015. Yet Mayer raked in $36 million in compensation. Even if Yahoo’s board fires her, her contract stipulates she gets $54.9 million in severance. The severance package was disclosed in a regulatory filing last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In other words, Mayer can’t lose. It’s another example of no-lose socialism for the rich – winning big regardless of what you do. Why do Yahoo’s shareholders put up with it? Mostly because they don’t know about it.

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

Kansas Republicans Again Stab Workers, And Democracy, In The Back

Once again, that conservative maxim about the government that’s closest to the people serves the people best was thrown out the window by conservatives when it comes to protecting the interests of workers against the abuses of businesses. The latest example is Kansas, which just passed a law that said that local governments could not pass laws regulating just-in-time work scheduling, the practice of scheduling workers for shifts with as little as a few hours notice. The practice makes it impossible for workers on such schedules to plan to work second jobs or attend classes during their off hours. Employers who engage in this real-time scheduling expect workers to be on call, uncompensated, for when they might be called to work.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Hillary Clinton’s Balancing Act

In The New Republic today I explore how Hillary Clinton could campaign when there are two disparate camps of voters she will be compelled to pursue: Bernie Sanders voters on her left, and anti-Donald Trump Republicans on her right. Sanders voters are anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership and anti-interventionist. But the Republicans fleeing Trump are pro-free trade and hawkish. It’s possible Clinton can lean right, and still win over the Bernie vote because she’s preferable to Trump. It’s possible Clinton can double down on progressive populism, and still pick off Republicans because she’s preferable to Trump. So this is not necessarily a question of how she has to do to win, but how she wants to govern: Does she want to pursue a 55 percent-plus coalition? An enormous landslide is sorely tempting and could produce a big governing mandate.

Continue Reading...
Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Hidden Wealth and the Rigged Financial System

The Panama Papers, which opened a window into the world of secret bank accounts and money flows, help reveal the extent to which the global financial system is rigged to favor the wealthy and powerful, says Eryn Schornick, policy adviser at Global Witness, in this Burning Issues segment. While much of the attention has been focused on overseas tax havens, Schornick notes that “the U.S. is one of the easiest places in the world for a corrupt politician or a criminal to create a company and hide the fact that they own it.” These corporations can then outbid legitimate, transparently created companies for government contracts, take advantage of investors and customers and, of course, deprive governments of needed tax revenues. Legislation pending in Congress would require corporations registered in the U.S.

Continue Reading...
Larry Cohen

Three Next Steps in the Political Revolution

Bernie Sanders will campaign all the way up to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia to seek the nomination—and to continue building the “political revolution.” What is that political revolution, beyond his call to get the billionaires and corporations out and the people in? Electing candidates to public office like Sanders—both this year and in years to come—is one leg. The second leg is democratic, structural political reform. This means changes to our electoral system, such as instituting automatic voter registration and matching small donations with public funds. It also means transforming the Democratic Party to a populist-based party by reforming its inner workings. Sanders’ campaign offers the most comprehensive challenge to the wealthy Democratic establishment since Jesse Jackson’s historic 1988 campaign.

Continue Reading...
Richard Long

Two Keys For Winning The Youth Vote in November In This Harvard Poll

Part of the case that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been making for pressing his campaign through the convention can be found in a poll of young voters released last week by the Harvard Institute of Politics. That poll of over 3,000 respondents reveals two keys for candidates to win the youth vote in November. The first key: Be a Democrat. Nearly six out of 10 respondents who voted in 2012 said they voted for President Obama, 20 points higher than those who said they considered themselves affiliated with Democrats. The executive summary points out that net support for a Democrat capturing the White House among 18-to-29-year-olds nearly doubled, from a 15 percent margin to a 28 percent margin in the last year. President Obama’s job approval among the poll respondents was 55 percent, compared to 42 percent disapproval.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Icahn Joins Business Leaders Begging Congress: Start Spending

Billionaire investor (he’s always described that way) Carl Ichan is calling on Congress to start spending. You read that right: Ichan is saying there is a “day or reckoning” coming if the federal government doesn’t spend more to stimulate the economy. CNBC has the story, in “Icahn: Markets will have ‘a day of reckoning’“: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is “extremely cautious” on the U.S. market, he told CNBC’s “Power Lunch” on Thursday.

Continue Reading...
Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Making Lemons Out Of ‘Lemonade’

Nobody but nobody drops an album like Beyoncé. The lady single-handedly changed the game on how albums are released, and showed herself to be a savvy marketer. This week, after dropping multiple hints, Beyoncé finally dropped her latest, a 13-track collection called “Lemonade,” a deeply personal and boldly political meditation on infidelity, race and sexism that dares to embrace both anger and forgiveness. “Lemonade” is also a love letter to black women. In the hourlong HBO special and “video album,” the camera lingers on the faces of countless black women as Beyoncé gives voice to her own experience as a black woman, while honoring and validating those of others. That all proved more than enough for wingnuts to exhibit the kind of derangement only First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton previously inspired.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Food, LGBT Groups Ask Congress To Reject TPP

More than 160 food, farm, faith and rural organizations have sent a letter to Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The letter begins: The undersigned 161 farm, food, rural and faith groups urge you to reject the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. Independent family farmers and ranchers will see little benefit from the purported export gains from the TPP. At the same time, TPP imports will compete against U.S. farmers that are facing declining farmgate prices that are projected to stay low for years. The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition. Giant American agricultural conglomerates will benefit because TPP lets them go to other countries and dominate the small farmers and suppliers there.

Continue Reading...
Jeff Bryant

The Protest Generation Wants Its Education Back

Protests in North Carolina against HB2, the state’s infamous “bathroom law,” limiting protections for LGBT people, have made national headlines recently. But there’s another wave of protest actions going on in the Tarheel State you should know about. This movement is indicative of a national-level fight for education justice and civil rights throughout all of public education. In Chapel Hill some 100 people, mostly students, shut down a meeting of the state university system’s board of governors. The board chairman had to adjourn the meeting when about 20 protesters took over the agenda as soon as newly appointed systemwide President Margaret Spellings began to speak. “Hey, hey, ho ho, Margaret Spellings has got to go,” they chanted. Police had to clear the room.

Continue Reading...
Hedrick Smith

Where’s The Big Money Danger Now? Look Down-Ballot

David and Charles Koch. Illustration by DonkeyHotey (Creative Commons). Washington – If you’re tempted to think campaign megamillions no longer matter because maverick Republican Donald Trump is a self-financed near-nominee and Bernie Sanders has fomented a nationwide rebellion on a tide of two million small donors, take a look down-ballot. MegaMoney is flooding into a high stakes battle for control of Congress. Despite this quirky campaign 2016, super PAC war chests and the lava of dark money donations are on track to hit another record in this election. The $707 million in super PAC funding is already double the level at this stage in 2012. And huge hunks of that campaign hoard are being rerouted into state races for senator, governor and Congress.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Verizon Strike In Week Three, Affecting Company Operations

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) strike at Verizon is now in week three. Thirty-nine thousand workers are striking to preserve middle class wages in the U.S. The strike is affecting company operations and customers are feeling it, but the executives want their huge paychecks, so the strike continues. At Time, Martha White reports: Since nearly 40,000 union members walked off the job at Verizon two weeks ago, the telecom giant has been scrambling to keep its systems up and running, but it seems to be falling behind in one critical area: reputation. … consumer perception of the telecom giant has fallen to a three-year low, according to YouGov’s Brand Index. Fortune has also noticed, reporting that customers have lower opinions of Verizon as a result of the strike: The survey is the first indication that the strikers could have an impact on Verizon’s business.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Carly Fiorina: The Worst Possible VP Pick

We already knew Carly Fiorina was good at making people lose their jobs, having laid off 30,000 while leading Hewlett-Packard. We also knew she was good at losing campaigns, having lost a campaign for U.S. Senate and barely making a dent in the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s that stellar track record that Ted Cruz could salvage his flagging presidential campaign against Donald Trump. With this political logic, no wonder the Republican Party has flatlined. In fairness to Cruz, the available bench of Republican game-changers has diminished. Republican leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan appear to be afraid to challenge Trump directly, preferring to let him kill the party without their fingerprints on the body.

Continue Reading...
Jeff Bryant

How School Vouchers Promote Religious Schools And Hurt Education

The recent debate about Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of a $20 bill revealed broad disagreements in the country about the value of lifting up the contributions to the nation made by women and people of color. It also revealed the importance of being properly educated in American history. We’re used to seeing history curriculum being altered by religious fundamentalists and conservatives to impart false ideas to schoolchildren. In Texas, state school board members recently issued geography, history, and U.S. government textbooks that pushed conservative Christian fallacies about U.S. history, including warped views of Biblical influence on the nation’s founders and the importance of slavery as the chief cause of the Civil War.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

CWA Asks For Justice At T-Mobile

A Bloomberg story reports that the cellular phone company T-Mobile is being accused of creating a fake union as a way to fight off gains by the real union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The company is accused of pretending to have a system that represents workers to management as a way of making employees think they do not need a union. In fact the representation system is the company itself. According to the story, “T-Mobile Accused of Fighting a Real Union by Creating a Fake One“: For more than a decade, the Communications Workers of America has been trying to unionize T-Mobile, the U.S. subsidiary of German giant Deutsche Telekom, which is now the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier. The campaign has so far won only two union contracts, covering about 30 of T-Mobile’s roughly 45,000 employees.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Are Fair Trade Policies “Extreme?” Is Clinton Ready For Trump On Trade?

Is it really “extreme” to think we should have fair trade policies? The New York Times on Tuesday published a story by Nelson D. Schwartz and Quoctrung Bui, “Where Jobs Are Squeezed by Chinese Trade, Voters Seek Extremes,” reporting that, “research to be unveiled this week by four leading academic economists suggests that the damage to manufacturing jobs from a sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century has contributed heavily to the nation’s bitter political divide.” By “sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century” they mean millions and millions of manufacturing jobs, and more than 60,000 factories, all moved to China since 2000 to take advantage of China’s non-democracy that allows exploitation of workers and the environment.

Continue Reading...
Lindsay Koshgarian

Show The Price Tag: No Secrecy for Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Bomber

Senator John McCain has had enough of government secrecy and bloated Pentagon projects. The Arizona senator made headlines Wednesday by calling for more transparency around defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s winning contract to build the B-21 bomber. The Air Force has not made public the dollar amount of the figure. Senator McCain also called out an infamous, and ongoing, Pentagon blunder: the “scandal and tragedy” that is the F-35 jet fighter. The defense industry is a poster child for what’s wrong with our political system and misplaced priorities. Defense contractors have made off with more than half of the Pentagon budget in recent years, scoring billions in profits at taxpayer expense. In 2014, Northrop Grumman was the number five federal contractor, making off with more than $10 billion in government funds.

Continue Reading...
Martha Burk

A Two-Pronged Assault on Women

We heard a lot about the “war on women” during the 2012 election cycle — mostly over Republican attacks on abortion rights and birth control. While the phrase has faded in this election year go-round, the war on women has not. The only change is that now we’re fighting on two fronts — reproductive rights and economic survival. To a man, the three Republicans still in the nomination race oppose abortion rights. No surprise there. But Ted Cruz has upped the ante and come out against exceptions for rape and incest. John Kasich would allow the exceptions, but says there’s no point in talking to him about choice. The formerly pro-choice Trump is now not only against abortion, but blurted out recently what others undoubtedly believe but are too dishonest to say out loud — that the government should punish the women who have abortions. And probably the girls, too.

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 510