Larry Cohen

Clinton Needs To Catch Up To Sanders On The TPP

After seven years of secretive negotiations, the presidential primary has finally dragged the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from the shadows. And just in time. The TPP is called a “trade” deal, but it’s really a deal to make trade more profitable for corporations and harder on workers. In one fell swoop, the TPP would make it easier for corporations to offshore more American jobs, bring down wages for the jobs that remain, increase medicine prices even more, limit our ability to fight climate chaos and flood our country with unsafe imported food. But this unprecedented threat can only become reality if the TPP is approved by Congress and then signed into law by the president. Participating countries signed the final text of the deal on November 3. Now we must demand that every candidate for president and everyone running for Congress state a clear position on it.

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Jeff Bryant

Why State Leaders Need To Back Away From School Takeover Agencies

What do Republicans have against school boards? That’s a question to take away from a recent article in The Washington Post, in which education writer Lyndsey Layton reports that Republican governors and legislators in at least 11 states are in various stages of seizing control of schools and school districts and overriding local governance of education. The state takeover agencies are branded with various names – Recovery School District, Achievement School District, Education Achievement Authority – but the goal is always the same: dismantle school boards or take their governance powers away. Layton notes how odd it is for Republican leaders who profess the preeminence of “local control” yet suddenly go full top-down authoritarian when it comes to schools.

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Bill Scher

How Badly Did The Supreme Court Damage Obama’s Climate Plan?

While most of the political world was watching the New Hampshire returns, the Supreme Court Tuesday raised the possibility it would kill President Obama’s ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants. On a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the Court issued a “stay,” without explanation, blocking implementation by the Environmental Protection Agency until legal challenges against the plan are fully adjudicated. The Court’s action was unprecedented, issuing the stay before the case had been decided on the merits by any lower court. Even if the White House wins at the lower court level, the stay is in place until the Supreme Court rules, likely in 2017 after Obama is out of office. Even more shocking is that Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 2007 opinion declaring that the EPA has a legal obligation to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Listen: Robert Borosage On The Bernie Sanders New Hampshire Win

Robert Borosage explores the meaning for progressives of Bernie Sanders’ resounding popular-vote win in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary and the political jockeying in the contests ahead. In this one-hour discussion sponsored by the Public Leadership Institute on Wednesday, Borosage said that the last two primaries not only reveal the potency of the issues Sanders is raising, but open up questions about Clinton’s electability in a general election that had been directed at Sanders.

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Terrance Heath

A Nation of Flints

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is just the tip of the iceberg. We are living in a nation of Flints, thanks to racial bias, economic inequality, austerity and conservative governance. We can’t afford to kid ourselves about what it will take to fix it. Clean water is vital to human life. Our bodies are 60 percent water. We may live for weeks without food; Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days of complete starvation. But without water, we’d most likely be dead within three to five days. That’s why the water crisis in Flint, Michigan has such a visceral impact. That we should be able to trust the water that comes out of our taps feels like as much of an inalienable right as being able to trust the air that we breathe. For a city of 100,000 to be poisoned by its own water for almost two years is unthinkable.

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Dave Johnson

When Government ‘Saves Money’ And Gets ‘Smaller,’ We All Lose

Many say we should “run government like a business” and “save money” by “cutting spending” and “making government smaller.” Does this work? Do We the People really save money by doing these things? Have you heard the phrase “penny-wise and pound-foolish”? How about “a stitch in time saves nine”? Maybe “eating the seed corn?” When government “saves money,” all of these snippets of time-honored wisdom, warning of what happens to those who try to “do it on the cheap,” should come to mind. Infrastructure You can “save money” by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined.

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Robert Borosage

Is Bernie Sanders the Ronald Reagan of 2016?

Is Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) electable? As Sanders has surged in the polls, supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are issuing increasingly dire warnings about his general election prospects. On websites like Vox, many political scientists agree: He can’t win. Millions of dollars in Republican ads, they insist, will paint him a socialist or a red. Americans aren’t about to elect a Jewish socialist who still hasn’t lost his Brooklyn accent. It will be a debacle, critics predict, like Democratic Senator George McGovern’s crushing 1972 loss, when the Democrats lost 48 states, or Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, buried by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s stunning landslide in 1964. It will set progressives back for decades. Ironically, as Sanders rises in the polls and does better than expected, the alarms grow in volume and intensity.

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Robert Borosage

New Hampshire: Populist Uprising

“We have sent a message that will resound from Wall Street to Washington,“ presidential candidate Bernie Sanders exulted last night, after drubbing Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. On the Republican side, Donald Trump won convincingly as predicted. The revolt against the establishment of both parties was inescapable. Endorsements of party officials meant nothing. Trotting out 90-year-old Barbara Bush or the Big Dog, Bill Clinton, didn’t matter. Voters were sensible. Empty suits like Marco Rubio were punished with a fifth place showing. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson were retired. And their message was clear: they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It is time for change. The Sanders Victory The scope of Sanders victory took virtually all observers by surprise. He trounced Clinton by more than 20 percentage points.

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Hedrick Smith

The Blowback Against ‘Gerrymandering On Steroids’

In a stunning defeat for what one judge called “gerrymandering on steroids,” a three-judge federal court has ruled that the Republican gerrymandering of North Carolina’s congressional districts in 2011 was unconstitutional on grounds that it was racially driven and illegally packed too many black voters into two districts. The court gave the legislature just two weeks to fix the problem. This decision is a striking echo of the rising call for political reforms from presidential candidates and popular movements across the country. It has already emboldened North Carolina reformers to push for more sweeping reforms. And if upheld, it could have a ripple effect in Virginia, Texas and Alabama, where similar lawsuits challenge so-called racial gerrymandering by Republican-led legislatures.

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Stephen Lerner

Clipping America’s Hedge Funds

The growing Hedge Clippers campaign is pioneering new strategies to prevent hedge funds from cashing in on corporate wage squeezes and benefit cuts. Hedge funds and their billionaire managers offer up a powerful symbol of the forces that are driving America’s political and economic inequality. Getting the names and faces of these hedge fund billionaires before the public can help us tell a vivid story of what’s gone wrong with our economy and our politics — and help us build a movement to slice away at that billionaire power. The “Hedge Clippers” campaign is doing plenty of that slicing. Begun in New York and now active in several other states, the effort is organizing at the state and federal levels around seemingly separate issues that range from school privatization and public sector cutbacks to environmental degradation and the ongoing assault on worker rights.

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Bill Scher

Jeb Bush Really Said This About Climate Change

Which presidential candidate said this? If we don’t adapt to the reality of a changing climate there could be serious repercussions … I think the climate is changing. It is inconceivable to me that 5 billion people living on this planet don’t have an impact on that — that man has some say in this. And that we should be planning over the long haul to deal with it. Bernie Sanders? Hillary Clinton? No, Jeb Bush! Notably, it was a response to a New Hampshire Republican who said, “I’m looking for a Republican to vote for … who is willing to take climate change in a serious manner and be forward-thinking on climate change.” Jeb Bush has said climate change is real before but often downplayed the urgency and offered no policy solutions.

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Leo Gerard

TPP Would Further Emasculate America

A century ago, Carl Sandburg dubbed Chicago the City of Big Shoulders: “hog butcher for the world, tool maker, stacker of wheat, player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler; stormy, husky brawling.” All of this was true of America itself as well: Nation of big shoulders. The United States was a brawny country that would intervene to help win World War I and later quickly retool factories to serve as munitions mills to win World War II.  Now, though, as America’s tool makers and freight car builders are furloughed, their factories shuttered and offshored, America is wasting. Ill-conceived free trade deals are reducing it to a nation of stooped shoulders. The newest proposed deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed in New Zealand last week by representatives of its 12 member states, would further enfeeble American manufacturing.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Why Hillary Clinton’s Five Words On Social Security Matter

As Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is being celebrated by progressive Social Security advocates for posting a statement on Twitter late Friday that “I won’t cut Social Security,” let’s not forget why it was important to get Clinton to go on the record with those five words – and why it is important to continue to press Clinton to underscore them as her campaign for the presidency continues. Her tweet was her most declarative statement to date on the issue of where she would stand on various proposals to “reform” Social Security and ensure its long-term solvency. It’s significant because in the minds of people concerned about what she would do as president when the future of Social Security is debated, she has some history to overcome – some of it very recent.

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Robert Reich

Why We Must Try

Instead of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election year: “We shouldn’t even try.” We shouldn’t try for single-payer system, they say. We’ll be lucky if we prevent Republicans from repealing Obamacare. We shouldn’t try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12 an hour. We shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. We’ll be lucky to stop Republicans from repealing Dodd-Frank. We shouldn’t try for free public higher education. As it is, Republicans are out to cut all federal education spending. We shouldn’t try to tax carbon or speculative trades on Wall Street, or raise taxes on the wealthy. We’ll be fortunate to just maintain the taxes already in place. Most of all, we shouldn’t even try to get big money out of politics.

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Jim Hightower

Political Poison

One big difference between the rich and the poor in our country is that the rich don’t tend to have their drinking water poisoned by their own governor. Not that Republican Governor Rick Snyder personally dumped poison into Flint, Michigan’s water. But by dumping his small-minded, ideological, budget-whacking policies on the people of this largely poor community, he did, in fact, poison them. Worse, when Flint’s families complained that their tap water was oddly colored, nasty tasting, stinky, and causing rashes on their children, Snyder and his top officials denied there was a problem, even when residents showed jugs of the brownish liquid to them. It’s a myth, claimed the authorities, accusing locals of “trying to turn (the issue) into a political football” and asserting that the complainers were just being finicky about the aesthetics of their water.

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Dave Johnson

Is Clinton Bought By Wall Street? There Is A Test For That

Secretary Hillary Clinton has accepted millions in “speaking fees” and campaign contributions from interest groups – most notably Wall Street firms – that she will be in a position to help or hurt as president. She promises that the money will not influence her if she takes office, but voters are understandably skeptical. Voters have been betrayed again and again by people who have become known as “corporate Democrats.” These politicians made promises to help regular working people, then turned on them after elections and enacted policies that boost the monied interests – especially Wall Street and giant corporations – at the expense of the rest of the country.

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Richard Eskow

Inequality Against Democracy: 10 Facts About the 1 Percent

Economic inequality inspired Occupy Wall Street, a movement that in a few short months transformed our political discourse with the concept of the “1 percent” and the “99 percent.” Today the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders is altering the political landscape with a call to reduce inequality. Why does this theme resonate with so many voters? How does it intersect with other issues like social justice, national security and the environment? Is inequality irreversible? We are living through the greatest “wealth grab” in history. But inequality is not produced by immutable forces. It’s the result of a legislative agenda promoted by the rich and executed by their political allies. The struggle to change this agenda and end inequality is inseparable from the other critical struggles of our time.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Everybody Hates Ted

Meet Ted Cruz, the Republican winner of the Iowa caucuses. He’s a liar, a jerk, and nobody who knows him remotely well — including his fellow Republicans and, quite possibly, his own family — appears to like him much. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) barely had time to bask in his come-from-behind in Iowa caucuses before that victory was called into question. The Sunday before the Iowa Caucuses, Cruz’s campaign came under fire from Iowa’s Secretary of State, for sending out fraudulent mailers aiming to drive voters to the polls by claiming they had committed “violations.” On Wednesday, Brietbart News broke the story that Cruz’s campaign encouraged precinct chairs in Iowa to tell Ben Carson’s supporters that he was leaving the race and urge them to vote for Cruz.

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Dave Johnson

Enormous, Humongous December, And Record Yearly, Trade Deficit

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday that the December goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $43.4 billion. Imports were up, exports were down. The cause was a “stronger” dollar, decreased demand around the world thanks to “austerity” policies that take money out of economies, and, of course, our job-killing “free trade” policies. The 2015 goods and services deficit added up to $531.5 billion. This was $23.2 billion (4.6 percent) more than 2014. The goods and services trade deficit with China was a record $365.7 billion in 2015. That represents a billion dollars worth of jobs shipped to China every single day for a year. The total, the yearly 2015 goods deficit was $758.9 billion. (Services ran a surplus.) The 2015 trade deficit in manufacturing was $831.4 billion, a 13.2 percent increase from 2014.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Jobs Report: Unfinished Business As Unemployment Falls Below 5 Percent

The headlines being generated by Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department – the unemployment rate falling below 5 percent for the first time since November 2007 – are a temptation to have policymakers and some politicians to pull their “Mission Accomplished” banners out of their closets. But this is still not the time to declare that the job market has healed from the damage done by the Great Recession and the anemic response that followed. There is a lot of talk that if the unemployment rate falls below 5 percent, we have reached “full employment,” and that economic policy needs to turn now to ensuring that the economy does not overheat and spark a surge of inflation.

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