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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Dave Johnson

Tea Leaf Reading Forecasts A Coming Assault On Working People

This is the tea-leaf administration. So far President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t hold press conferences, because apparently it is too much a bother to explain the incoming government’s plans to We the People. Everyone understands that Trump “conned” voters and the things Trump said he would do during the campaign bear no relationship whatsoever to what his administration actually will do. And no one – even the Trump people — know what they actually will do. The press is left perching across the street from Trump Tower, spying on who is going in and out to try to figure out who might be in the incoming administration and what they might or might not do. Everyone is left reading tea leaves to try to discern what is coming. And the tea leaves tell us that working people are in for a hard time.

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Diane Archer

What Happens to Medicare if Trump Supports Speaker Ryan?

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump pledged not to touch Medicare. Now, it appears President-elect Trump is set to kill Medicare and, in the process, deny older adults and people with disabilities needed health care. House Speaker Paul Ryan plans for Congress to gut Medicare at the same time that Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. And, there’s no doubt that Congressman Tom Price, whom Trump has just been picked to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is totally aligned with Ryan’s agenda. To be clear, killing Medicare means destroying traditional Medicare. Of all the health care plans in America, traditional Medicare is most effective at ensuring people get needed care.

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Sam Pizzigati

A Cabinet for the Deep-Pocket Ages

People holding personal fortunes worth over $5 million this year make up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the world’s adult population. People worth over $5 million may also this year make up nearly 100 percent of the picks Donald Trump chooses for his cabinet and inner circle. President-elect Trump’s choices for top slots so far include at least two billionaires, two former Wall Street executives at Goldman Sachs, and assorted other mega-millionaire heirs and corporate honchos. Donald Trump, notes the Washington Post, “is assembling the richest administration in modern American history.” The latest Global Wealth Report from the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse has America’s wealthy sitting on top of the world. The Trump choice for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, holds all by himself ten times more personal wealth than the entire cabinet George W.

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Jeff Bryant

Betsy DeVos May Complete The Big Money Takeover Of Our Nation’s Schools

Reactions to President-Elect Donald Trump’s announcement of Michigan philanthropist Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education have ranged from high praise, to wary acceptance, to immediate condemnation. What few have noticed is how much her nomination represents business as usual in national education policy-making. This is not to normalize extremism in politics and government because DeVos certainly has extreme views on a range of issues, as explained below. But what DeVos represents in a very great sense is how rich people’s grip on the nation’s public education system has reached a choking point. No doubt, education policy led by Trump and DeVos will differ from the previous administration, but what’s staying the same is how wealthy private interests will strongly influence policies.

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Sarah Anderson

How A Payday Lender Fight Bridged A Red-Blue Divide

A couple of years ago, two South Dakota men on opposite ends of the political spectrum got into a nasty fight over marriage equality. But after one offered the other an olive branch, they wound up forming a bipartisan alliance that won big this election year. Their story offers important lessons for our divided country. It all began with a Twitter feud between Steve Hildebrand, a gay former Obama campaign adviser, and Steve Hickey, a conservative pastor and former Republican state legislator. To defuse the tension, Hickey decided to invite Hildebrand out for coffee. Eventually, the two men realized they had something in common: a deep concern about poverty and homelessness. They also agreed that the payday loan industry in their state was making these problems much worse.

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Dave Johnson

Today’s Broken Trump Promise: I Will Penalize Offshoring

The hits just keep on coming. It looks like the self-described “great negotiator” is giving away our tax dollars to a company he promised to “penalize” – even before taking office. Trump’s Promise: They’re “Going To Pay A Damn Tax” During the campaign air conditioning and furnace manufacturer Carrier, a subsidiary of giant United Technologies, announced it was laying off about 2000 Indiana employees and moving manufacturing to Mexico. President-elect Trump singled out Carrier, promising to penalize companies like Carrier that ship jobs out of the country by making them pay a tax for doing so: “There have to be consequences when they leave,” he said at a rally Wednesday.

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Mark Trahant

Pushing Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (While a Replacement Can Wait)

The following was originally published at Trahant Reports President-elect Donald Trump and Congress are moving quickly to reshape health care, including the Indian Health system. And so far the path looks to be chaotic. First, the who: The Trump administration will be led on health care issues by Tom Price, a Georgia physician, a persistant critic of the Affordable Care Act, and a member of Congress. Seema Verma will be the next Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a consultant Verma has helped conservative governors, including the Vice President-elect Mike Pence, implement Medicaid expansion. And let’s be clear about their task. As the president-elect said, “he is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American.

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Richard Eskow

This Trump Hire is Hazardous to Your Health (And Not Just Your Medicare)

Donald Trump’s latest cabinet pick endangers the health and well-being of millions of Americans. From tax cuts to surgeons’ income, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia – Trump’s choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services –has repeatedly fought for the wealthy and privileged at the expense of ordinary Americans. As a trained physician, Price is supposedly bound by the Hippocratic oath: “First, do no harm.” Unfortunately, he’ll soon be in a position to do a great deal of harm – and his widely publicized desire to gut Medicare is only part of the problem.

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Dave Johnson

Fight For $15 Fights With Nationwide Strike Today

When do we want a $15 minimum wage? We want it now. 43% of the workforce — 60 million workers — are paid less than $15/hour. People will continue to fight for decent wages, the election of Donald “Wages Are Too High” Trump notwithstanding. “83-year old McDoanld’s worker Jose Carillo on his 12th strike gets arrested” – photo by @Fightfor15 Fight for $15 is striking today, demanding a $15 minimum wage. Fight for $15’s November 29 “Day of Disruption” brought strikes to 340 cities across the country today, with tens of thousands participating.

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Sam Pizzigati

A Different Take on Unrigging Our Taxes

We don’t know exactly how much Donald Trump paid in taxes last year. He hasn’t released his 2015 federal income tax return yet. He most likely never will. But let’s keep in mind that we don’t actually know how much any individual American billionaire paid in taxes last year, with just one exception. Investor Warren Buffett last month released his own basic tax info as a protest of sorts against candidate Trump. No other billionaires followed Buffett’s lead, and, under U.S. law, none of these ultra rich have an obligation to share any personal tax data at all. So we have no clue how much tax avoiding our individual billionaires are doing. UK tax officials have a new approach to monitoring the tax affairs of the super rich that could pay big dividends in the United States.

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Richard Eskow

Who Will Lead the Anti-Trump Resistance?

The Donald Trump Administration hasn’t even started, and the President-elect is already unpopular. Only 42 percent of those polled in this “honeymoon” period approve of Trump. Voters were split (46-45 percent) on their approval or disapproval of his transition process. Contrast that with Barack Obama’s popularity before he took office, when 83 percent of those polled approved of his transition process. (Less than half of voters approve of Trump’s three key picks so far: Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus.) Trump’s diehard followers will undoubtedly seek out fake news from faux sources, including his own Twitter feed, to cling to the illusion that he’s fighting for them for as long as possible.

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Jeff Bryant

Education Advocacy in the Time of Trump

“At the count of three, SCREAM.” That’s what John Jackson suggested public education advocates do in response to the surprise election of Donald Trump. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education was one of the headliners at an event in Boston celebrating the organization’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The event included a panel discussion titled, “Addressing Racism— Strategies for Systemic Change: A Post-Election Analysis.” This was the nation’s first prominent event addressing the election outcome from an education justice perspective, and few, if any, of the panel participants had anticipated a discussion about the incoming Trump administration.

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Bill Scher

JC Watts In Trump Cabinet? What They Have in Common: Shady Infomercials

While Ben Carson was rumored to have been offered the post of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Buzzfeed is now reporting that former congressman J.C. Watts is now the favorite. Who leads HUD is incredibly important. The Obama administration is in the midst of implementing groundbreaking housing desegregation rules that would put real teeth behind the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Localities routinely escaped enforcement, and used subsidies to ghettoize minority populations, by using a lack of data as an excuse for weak policies. The new rules ensure HUD provides cities with data on segregations patterns and poverty concentration, robbing cities of any excuses and threatening delinquent cities with a loss of federal funds. But the rules are not fully in place. ThinkProgress notes: “…only part of the rule is final.

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