Isaiah J. Poole

Vouchers Subsidizing Education Failure

The false god of school vouchers has been unmasked once again, this time by a Brookings Institution study that says students in Louisiana and Indiana using vouchers to attend private and religious schools ended up doing worse on reading and math scores than their public school counterparts. “The magnitudes of the negative impacts were large,” said the study on “The Negative Effects of School Vouchers,” written by Mark Dynarski, a fellow with Brookings’ Center on Children and Families. They also could not be explained away by the nature of the tests the children were taken or by some notion that some of the voucher children had been pulled away from above-average public schools.

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Jeff Bryant

How Charter Schools Heighten The Politicization Of Education

Last year a breakthrough policy brief from the National Education Policy Center exposed some of the financial machinations charter schools engage in to further the interests of profit-seeking entrepreneurs. But what about the political machinations? The politics of charter schools are less quantifiable that their financials but are troubling nevertheless, and the expansion of these schools will no doubt lead to increased politicization of education in local communities. Consider the following anecdotes. Florida Fracas Recently a Florida news outlet reported about a charter school management company that “disappeared from the scene” after being told by the local school board to explain financial and operational problems. The company that operated four schools had racked up $1.8 million in debt after receiving $4.5 million in taxpayer money.

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Terrance Heath

House Passes LGBT Anti-discrimination Measure, Republicans Learn Nothing

In an apparent about-face, the House approved a measure barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees, but that doesn’t mean House Republicans have learned anything. House Republican leaders did on Wednesday what they should have done last week, when they let Republican members vote as the wished on a measure aimed at upholding an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. More than 40 Republicans joined Democrats in passing the measure 223 to 195. The measure, offered by openly gay lawmaker Rep.

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Bill Scher

Trump Can’t Spin His Greed

Last week, CNN uncovered Donald Trump’s 2006 remarks about how he wanted to profit off of a housing bubble: I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy. You know if you’re in a good cash position, which I’m in a good cash position today, then people like me would go in and buy like crazy. If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you could make a lot of money. If you think “I sort of hope that happens” is too equivocal to suggest Trump wanted the housing market to collapse, he removed all doubt in a 2007 interview: People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I’m excited if it is. I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: The U.S. Role In The Israel-Palestine Conflict

The Israel-Palestine conflict should not be viewed as a millennia-old intractable conflict, but a recent crisis in which the United States has been a key instigator through its “blank check” support of Israel, says Raed Jarrar, government relations manager at the American Friends Service Committee, in this Burning Issues video segment. The pathway to addressing the conflict is clear, Jarrar says: Any agreement that assures Palestinians equal rights and equal access to resources. Jarrar says that while he is “not very hopeful” that the leading presidential candidates will on their own change U.S. policy toward Israel, there is “populist pressure” that could hold the U.S. more accountable and lead to a more balanced policy.

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Robert Borosage

Does the Democratic Party Platform Matter?

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has vowed to drive his bold policies ideas – from a $15 minimum wage and reviving union rights to tuition-free college and Medicare for All – into the Democratic Party platform to write the “strongest progressive agenda that any political party has ever seen.” After initial skirmishing, the divisive chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, announced a compromise on the composition of the committee that will draft the Democratic Party platform. Sanders got five representatives, Clinton six. Wasserman Schultz named four, including progressive legislator Rep. Barbara Lee of California and the committee chair, Maryland Rep.

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Courtney Freudenthal

Underemployed College Graduates Still A National Crisis

As a Class of 2015 graduate from the University of Chicago, Brianna Tong considers herself fortunate. She has a job that she loves that makes her degree worth attaining – as a lead organizer with the IIRON Student Network. But her work puts her in contact with plenty of young people – many of them her friends and former classmates – for whom a college degree has not opened the doors to anything other than low-wage service jobs. “From a very young age we are told we need to go to school to get a good job, need to do well in school to get a good job,” Tong said in a telephone interview. But even in 2016, eight years after the end of the Great Recession, that “good job” remains out of reach for too many college graduates.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Elizabeth Warren Launches Take On Wall Street Campaign

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) helped kick off the “Take On Wall Street” campaign on Tuesday by detailing the work that remains undone by the Dodd-Frank financial reforms that were signed into law six years ago. “The rules that protect our economy boil down to just two basic principles,” she said. “The first one: Government institutions shouldn’t be allowed to cheat people. … Second, financial institutions should not be allowed to force taxpayers to bail them out.” Warren explained the need for a new level of financial reform by saying that while the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill did impose some discipline on the financial sector, “let’s get real: Dodd-Frank did not end too big to fail.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Our Failure in Afghanistan

Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who has done two tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan and who has since written articles critical of the way the United States has conducted the wars there, explains in this Burning Issues video his view of what the United States has gotten wrong in Afghanistan. While the U.S. military has had successful tactical actions in Afghanistan, “what never gets asked, and what is the most important question, is what are you accomplishing by this tactical activity?” Davis says. Davis’ stark conclusion: “It’s blatantly obvious that our mission is failing on every level,” and our intervention has actually made successfully achieving the goals of a stable government of a country that is not nurturing a terrorist threat much harder.

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Dave Johnson

Republicans Demand Flint-Like Solution To Puerto Rico Debt

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) explains how Wall Street financial interests contributed to the economic crisis in Puerto Rico at the “Take On Wall Street” campaign event Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol.   In 2008 Wall Street got in over its head, and the U.S. government and Federal Reserve stepped in with trillions of dollars to bail them out. Now Puerto Rico has debt that it cannot pay. Instead of helping, though, Republicans in Congress are demanding increased austerity and an unelected “oversight board” that sets aside democratic governance – the same way Republicans imposed unelected government on Michigan cities like Flint. (We know how that turned out.) Trouble Puerto Rico is in trouble.

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Terrance Heath

House Republicans Vote For Anti-LGBT Job Discrimination

Three years after the Senate passed ENDA, and president Obama signed executive orders protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination, House Republicans voted to write anti-LGBT discrimination in law. The floor of the House of Representatives erupted in chaos Thursday, when House Republican leadership arm-twisted several members into switching their votes to ensure the defeat of an amendment to protect LGBT workers from job discrimination in the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment, offered by Rep. Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) would have prohibited federal funds being used to implement contacts with any company that did not comply with President Obama’s 2013 executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.

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Frank Clemente

An Open Letter to Donald Trump: Make Your Tax Returns Public

It is critical that candidates for the highest office in the land release their income tax returns for multiple years, especially you Mr. Trump. After all, you are running for president based on your wealth and business ability. And every other presidential candidate has done so for the past 40 years. Instead, you’re hiding behind the phony excuse that you can’t release any returns until the IRS finishes auditing them, which might not be until after Election Day. The IRS has repeatedly stated that taxpayers can release whatever information they want about their own returns, whenever they want. (Of course, the very fact that, by your own complaint, you’re audited every year raises important questions about whether you are a tax dodger.) Nothing prevents you from releasing your tax returns prior to 2009, which have been cleared by previous IRS audits.

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Dave Johnson

More Than 1500 Groups Write Congress: No TPP

More than 1,500 environmental, labor, faith, consumer, LGBT, health, peace, business, social justice and other public interest organizations representing trade and democracy “stakeholders” sent a joint letter to Congress urging them to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The letter begins: Dear Representative/Senator: We urge you to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a binding pact that poses significant threats to American jobs and wages, the environment, food safety and public health, and that falls far short of establishing the high standards the United States should require in a 21st Century trade agreement.

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Bill Scher

Trump’s Trade Con

Donald Trump was riffing on trade, sounding very populists by shrugging off concerns about sparking a “trade war” with China, when he said: “My trade deal is very simple, I am going to make great deals for our country. It might be free, it might not be free.” Well, which is it? The difference is a big deal. A “free trade” deal would have little to no rules governing trade. Progressive populist critics of such deals argue free trade deals create a “race to the bottom” in which countries keep wages low and labor and environmental protections light to maximize competitiveness. A “fair trade” deal seeks to codify a level playing field, so America regulations on wages, worker rights and environment rules can’t easily but undercut by other nations looking to keep the cost of production low.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The New Agenda For Taking On Wall Street

More than 20 progressive organizations representing millions of voters are putting their weight behind a five-point agenda for the next stage of Wall Street reform. What these groups will formally announce Tuesday, in an event featuring Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, sets a high but practical standard for what a candidate would have to embrace to be considered a progressive on reining in the financial sector. The Take On Wall Street campaign says it intends to ensure that the voices of working people and consumers are heard above the power and influence of Wall Street.

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Robert Reich

Why Trump Might Win

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday finds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie, with Trump leading Clinton 46 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. That’s an 11 percent swing against Clinton since March. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, also released Sunday, shows Clinton at 46 percent to Trump’s 43 percent. Previously she led 50 percent to 39 percent. Polls this far before an election don’t tell us much. But in this case they do raise a serious question. Since he clinched the Republican nomination two weeks ago, Trump has been the object of even more unfavorable press than he was before – about his treatment of women, his propensity to lie, his bizarre policy proposals.

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Dave Johnson

Obama Visits Vietnam To Promote TPP. Wait, VIETNAM? Really?

President Obama is in Vietnam promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Vietnam? Really? A year ago the post “Obama To Visit Nike To Promote the TPP. Wait, NIKE? Really?,” noted how Nike pioneered moving jobs out of the country to take advantage of low wages and lack of environmental protections in places like Vietnam, which led to many of the problems in our economy today. It seemed that Nike was possibly the worst company to use to support claims that TPP would benefit the American economy. President Obama is scheduled to visit Nike’s Oregon headquarters on Friday to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yes, Nike – a company that grew to billions by outsourcing jobs to overseas sweatshops, a company that sets up P.O.-box subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes, a company that uses threats to extort tax breaks from its “home” state.

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Robert Borosage

What Does Bernie Want?

The Democratic establishment and liberal commentariat lathered itself into a fine hysteria last week. What began as a Hillary Clinton surrogate meme – (Bernie has done his job, but now he’s hurting Clinton and should get out of the race) – became a maddened chorus. The predictably angry reaction of Sanders delegates — and truly deplorable behavior by some — to peremptory rulings by a pro-Clinton Nevada party chair was blown into a mythical scene of chair-throwing violence, based largely on a report by a biased reporter who wasn’t even there. The divisive Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz did her best to escalate rather than defuse the situation. Zealous Clinton advocates like Barney Frank and Paul Krugman slurred Sanders’ character because he wouldn’t drop out of the race.

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Jeff Bryant

Why Oppressing Transgender Students Is An Attack On Public Education

It didn’t take long for conservatives to turn their attack on the rights of transgender students into an attack on another favorite target of theirs: public schools. In the pages of the conservative journal National Review, the latest screed declares, “The Obama administration just destroyed the traditional American public school.” First, it’s not hard to miss the dog whistle language in this piece, primarily, using “traditional” as a code word for white, straight and Christian and posing as a victim while arguing for “the right” to discriminate against a vulnerable minority. Nevertheless, the target of conservative ire is the recent joint announcement from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education that public schools must allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Masquerade

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any weirder, it turns out Donald Trump likely masqueraded as his own publicist, during phone calls with reporters — proving he probably belongs in a shrink’s office, instead of the Oval Office. It sounds like the kind of thing a not-very-bright high school student would attempt; impersonating someone else on the phone, in an attempt to stay out of, or get out of trouble. The only difference is that a high school student might be smart enough to do a better job of it, or at least come clean when they’re caught. But there’s smart and then there’s Donald Trump. This week transcripts and recordings surfaced of a 1991 phone call between People magazine Sue Carswell reporter and a man identified as Donald Trump’s publicist, John Miller.

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