Isaiah J. Poole

The Trump Infrastructure Plan Won’t Bridge the Nation’s Job Gap

President Trump on Tuesday night is expected to make what he told a meeting of governors on Monday would be “a big statement” on infrastructure spending. Democrats who have been fighting Trump fiercely on virtually every other issue have been eagerly awaiting an infrastructure plan from Trump they can sign on to, because they hear in Trump’s rhetoric their own calls to put people to work fixing the nation’s decaying roads, bridges and other public assets. But a report just released by the People’s Action Institute warns that if the goals are good jobs, boosting communities left behind by the anemic economic growth of the last seven years and slowing climate change, Democrats need to be wary of the fine print of any infrastructure plan coming out of the Trump administration.

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Xoai Pham

Trump’s Attack on Trans Kids Is an Attack on Everyone

I’m a 21-year-old trans woman. To some, I’m still a kid. To my mother, I’m still a baby. Almost all my life, going to the bathroom had been an easy thing, one of the most basic body functions. I didn’t realize that the bathroom would be such a place of contention until I began transitioning into a form of gender expression that was perceived to be transgressive. At 16, I would walk into the men’s bathroom without an ounce of hesitation. At 21, I take a breath to decide where I’ll be today: the men’s, the women’s, or a gender-neutral bathroom, if I’m lucky. No matter which public bathroom I walk into, I always walk in with some fear that I may be harassed, threatened, or even assaulted, as so many trans people have experienced. The idea that the simple act of using a toilet could entail danger speaks in part to the conditions that trans people live under.

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Sam Pizzigati

Policing America’s Plutocracy

Law enforcement officers should enforce the law. America’s hardliners on immigration really believe that, and so does President Trump. They want local police out looking for illegal immigrants and actively helping “the feds” deport them. Local police officials – in many communities – would much rather not. Kansas City chief of police Terry Zeigler, for one, doesn’t see deporting immigrants as part of his job description. “Everybody wants to live the American Dream, that’s why they come here,” Zeigler just observed, “and as long as they’re not committing crimes, we’re okay with that.” Zeigler’s perspective – which is shared by many big-city police chiefs – frustrates the officials that President Donald Trump now has running U.S. immigration policy. And new polling shows that hefty swatches of the public share that frustration.

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Richard Eskow

CPAC and the DNC: A Party Is Not a Movement

The meetings of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) were a study in contrasts. Both told stories to unite their faithful. At CPAC, activists fell in line, while at the DNC, the fight for leadership revealed battling narratives and deep divisions within the party. DNC: What Happened? Tom Perez, the DNC’s new chair, and his former rival, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, both cast the outcome of their battle in terms of unity. “We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided,” Ellison said after his loss to Perez in the second round of voting. He immediately threw his support to the former Labor Secretary and urged his supporters to do the same. Perez, in turn, swiftly named Ellison his second in command. But the race was ugly, and got that way fast.

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Jeff Bryant

Trump and DeVos Hatch a Deceptive Scheme to Push School Vouchers

  Since President Donald Trump picked Betsy DeVos to be his new Education secretary, there’s been lots of talk in the media that his administration, with his secretary out front, will push for vouchers so parents can withdraw their children from public schools and get money to pay for tuition at private schools, even religious ones. Others scoff at this notion, arguing it will prove too difficult to get a voucher program through Congress. But if new reports are credible, and they appear to be, a school voucher program is indeed on the president’s agenda — only it’s not being called that. There are reasons for the deception, and it’s important for progressives to get out front of this issue and understand how to frame Trump’s scheme before the public debate gets started.

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Mehrdad Azemun

Yes, We Can Fight Trump’s Deportation Force

On the same day the Trump administration detailed its cruel plan to target and deport undocumented immigrants, Chicago Public Schools sent some guidance to its principals: “ICE should not be permitted access to CPS facilities or personnel except in the rare instance in which we are provided with a criminal warrant.” “If a child is left stranded at your school…because [the] parent is detained, please exhaust the child’s emergency contact list.” Let both of these points sink in for a minute. A major city declaring that it won’t let immigration authorities enter its schools without a warrant is coming just at the beginning of Trump’s clampdown. It speaks volumes about the potential impact of the government’s plan to turn Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) into a militarized and sweeping deportation force.

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Libero Della Piana

Resistance Recess Puts Congress on Notice for Supporting Trump’s Agenda

Rep. Dave Trott’s constituents in the Northeastern suburbs of Detroit gathered at his office to ask him about his stance on health care, refugees and other urgent issues. Instead of scheduling a meeting, Trott’s staff called the police. The delegation was organized by Michigan People’s campaign, an affiliate of People’s Action, a national organization fighting for economic and social justice. Since last weekend dozens of other town hall meetings and constituent forums have been dominated by vocal and angry people wondering where their lawmakers stand on Trump’s agenda, in particular regarding plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Dave Johnson

Trump Tax Con: Tax Cuts Steal Democracy

The Trump administration, as have all Republican administrations, is promoting tax cuts for the rich, saying they will “create growth.” Never mind the destructive history of tax cuts, the destructive history of “trickle-down economics” (and the destructive history of Republican administrations generally) — they’re doing it again. Getting A Few Bamboozlements Out Of The Way Any time taxes come up, decades of Republican bamboozlement gets in the way of rational discussion. Republicans say things like “taxes take money out of the economy” and “tax cuts create growth” to trick people into supporting tax cuts for the rich and corporations (which are really just more tax cuts for the rich). So it is reasonable to look at what has actually happened when taxes on the rich have been cut.

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Richard Eskow

Ryan’s Fundraising Off Health Care and Trying to Kill It for Millions

Cross-posted from the Center for Media and Democracy’s PRWatch. House Speaker Paul Ryan has a reputation for policy wonkishness, which he doesn’t deserve. He also has a reputation for raising boatloads of cash, which he does deserve. Care to guess which one’s driving his health care priorities? For bonus points, name the two billionaire brothers who are glad to see him do it. Ryan did a fundraising “physicians and dentist industry” breakfast on February 1, (here’s the invitation obtained exclusively by the Center for Media and Democracy) and the suggested contributions were worth more than a cup of coffee and some scrambled eggs: $10,000 for a “sponsor,” $5,000 for a “host,” $2,500 for a political action committee, and $1,000 for an individual attendee.

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Richard Eskow

Principles for Progressives to Follow on Trump’s Ties to Russia

Putin’s an oligarch. So is Trump. Putin runs a kleptocracy. So does Trump. Both Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson have done business in Russia. So why is money the one aspect of the Russia scandal people seem to talk about the least? Perhaps because it’s the one area the U.S. intelligence community avoided when it accused Russia of helping Trump win the election. The Russia story we’ve been hearing raised the intelligence community’s popularity among Democrats and offered a convenient distraction from other national security stories.

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Jim Hightower

Wall Street Sodbusters

I love the names: Bobcat Farm, Golden Eagle Ranch, Long Prairie, Ten Mile Farm. They conjure up Americana, the old homestead, and our rich rural culture. Less bucolic, however, is the fact that all those farms are part of a massive Wall Street investment scheme called Farmland Partners Inc. It’s run by a couple of slicks trained in mergers and acquisitions as executives at the investment powerhouse Merrill Lynch. Rather than sodbusters, Farmland Partners are taxbusters. They’re using a legalistic plow called the Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, to get enormous tax breaks to subsidize their scheme. With this special subsidy, the partners have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors to buy up farms and ranches. They now own 295 farm properties covering 144,000 acres in 16 states.

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Richard Eskow

Tech, Trump and Uber [video]

From online harrassment to digital strikebreaking, tech is different in the age of Trump. More precisely, the public policy concerns raised by powerful tech companies are heightened by the administration’s actions in a number of areas, from the Muslim ban to his own relentless tweeting. I recently spoke with Lauren C. Williams, a ThinkProgress tech reporter, about some of those concerns. The video of that conversation is above.

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Julie Chinitz

The Republican Bid to Kill the Affordable Care Act Is a Trojan Horse

In his last five years, my grandfather used Medicaid to cover his nursing-home care. He spent those years in a wheelchair and needed professional help for his most basic needs. Thanks to Medicaid, he got that help. Now House Speaker Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans want to gut the program, as Ryan revealed in a set of talking points that received shockingly little press coverage. The changes that House GOP leaders are proposing for our health care are radical — far more radical than repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) standing alone. The House GOP plan uses ACA repeal as a Trojan horse for throwing health care for more than 74 million people into chaos. That’s the number covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including everyone from newborns to the very old. Will Medicaid Be There for Us? My grandfather was 89 when he underwent open-heart surgery.

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Dave Johnson

The ‘Lower the Tax Rate to Boost Businesses’ Competitiveness Scam

Now that Republicans are running Congress and the executive branch, they’re planning to “reform” (cut) corporate taxes (again). This time they using the subterfuge of “this will make companies more competitive.” What does that mean? Of course, under Republicans, it really means one and only one thing: cutting taxes on the rich — rich people. The top corporate tax rate used to be 52 percent. Under President Ronald Reagan it was 46 percent. Then Congress “reformed” corporate taxes and dropped the rate to just 35 percent. (Except for giant, multinational corporations. They were handed a “deferral” break that cut their taxes to zero.) Corporations used to shoulder 32 percent of the total tax burden. Now they shoulder only 10 percent of the burden — a drop of two-thirds.

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Robert Borosage

Keith Ellison’s Quest for DNC Chair

Rep. Keith Ellison offers a lifeline to a Democratic Party that is struggling to stay afloat. The question is whether party officials realize that they are sinking and accept it. When the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee select a new chairman in Atlanta on Saturday, they will decide whether they want the lift or would prefer to keep floundering. Clearly, Democrats are in dire shape. They are locked out of power in Washington, with Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress. During the Obama administration, they lost nearly 1,000 state legislative seats, and Republicans now control 67 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers nationwide. From Kansas to Wisconsin and North Carolina, the right is driving an agenda that will expose Americans to the pillage of a new robber baron era.

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Sam Pizzigati

A New Rationalization for Riches

Cheerleaders for concentrated wealth have a new reason to cheer. They have chanced upon a fresh rationalization for inequality. This new rationalization comes from an unlikely source, a sober and thoughtful just-published book from a distinguished historian and classicist, Stanford’s Walter Scheidel. In the 14th century, the horror of bubonic plague left over a quarter of Europe’s population dead — and the continent’s distribution of wealth markedly more equal. In The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Scheidel builds upon his considerable academic expertise on the ancient world and explores how and when societies have actually become less unequal. In the process, he has brought forth a book that could hardly be more profoundly depressing.

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Liz Ryan Murray

We Need a Sea Change to See Change

Watching the bumbling circus that is the Trump White House means watching a master class in malevolent ineptitude. But below the bumbling circus, real and really terrifying policy is getting made. In Congress right now, that malevolence is focused and calculatingly efficient where Republicans are salting the earth — almost literally. Congress has already stripped away rules that block polluters from dumping coal waste into drinking water. They’ve killed a provision that requires those same multinational energy corporations to disclose bribes to foreign governments. They’re torching regulations that restrict gun access to people with debilitating mental illnesses. Congress is doing this right now.  And they’re doing it all with little to no debate and with a simple majority vote in Congress. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Dave Johnson

This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are.

So far President Donald Trump has signed very few bills. One lets coal companies dump waste into streams. Another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. Now he is moving to block a Labor Department “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. Here’s the thing: this isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those two bills, and the Republicans have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail. It’s not just Trump, Republicans as a party are using Trump to engage in a general assault on protections from corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams. This is who they are. “We Just Need A President To Sign This Stuff” This is not just Trump.

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Julie Chinitz

Five GOP Health Care Buzz Phrases You Need to Inoculate Yourself Against

Bruised in heated town halls in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and elsewhere, the right wing in Congress now realizes it could pay a steep political price for throwing tens of millions of people off their health care, destabilizing our health care system, and putting people at risk of death. “I’m fighting Congress for my life,” Virginian Matt Skeens, a grassroots leader with Virginia Organizing, told local media and NBC Nightly News during a protest on February 9. Skeens has twice survived cancer and was able to have a brain tumor removed thanks to his coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Protesters like Skeens have thrown a wrench in Republican plans to quickly repeal the ACA.

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Libero Della Piana

The People Fired Puzder

Andy Puzder, President Trump’s pick to run the Labor Department, didn’t really bow out. He was fired. But even though Trump made the phrase “you’re fired” his motto, he didn’t force Puzder out. We did. Working people sent him the pink slip. When Trump was inaugurated less than one month ago, he figured he could dictate his policies and ram his appointments through the Republican-run Congress. Being the least popular president elected since polls began recording public sentiments apparently didn’t faze him. Trump loaded his proposed cabinet with billionaires, cronies and crooks, goading his opponents. One of the Worst Of all the unqualified and inappropriate crew of cabinet nominees, Puzder was one of the worst. As the CEO of the parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains, he has both personal and political beliefs that clash with public values.

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