Lois Gibbs

Hurricane Victims Don’t Have the ‘Complexion for Protection’

Millions of Puerto Ricans are still without water, food, electricity and shelter, four weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island. With waterborne illnesses on the rise, a full-blown humanitarian crisis is on the horizon. “Raw sewage continues to be released into waterways and is expected to continue until repairs can be made and power is restored,” the EPA warns in a memo. When the agency issued this statement, eighty-four percent of Puerto Rico was without electricity, and sixty percent of water treatment plants out of service. “Water contaminated with livestock waste, human sewage, chemicals, and other contaminants can lead to illness when used for drinking, bathing, and other hygiene activities,” the EPA says. To make matters worse, Puerto Rico is home to 21 Superfund sites – the nation’s most deadly depositories of toxic chemicals.

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Miles Mogulescu

Trump Drowns the ‘Forgotten Men and Women’ in Swamp Water

Trump’s true plan to “drain the swamp” has now become clear: Make the “forgotten men and women” of this nation drink swamp water until they die. Hurricane victims in Puerto Rico are getting sick and dying from drinking polluted water. And now, Trump’s lone-wolf attack on health insurance markets will now make health care unaffordable to millions of the working-class men and women he courted as a candidate. Puerto Rico’s Plight With a population of 3.5 million American citizens, 35 percent of the Puerto Rico is still without safe drinking water over three weeks after Hurricane Maria. In order not to die of dehydration, Puerto Ricans are literally drinking swamp water – that is, water from wild rivers and streams polluted with deadly bacteria – causing more Puerto Ricans to get sick every day.

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LeeAnn Hall

Tax Cuts for the Rich, Paid for with Your Health Care

When Republican leaders tried to repeal health care in the spring and summer, many Americans raised the alarm and made a ruckus. We asked hard questions, looked at the independent analyses, held town halls, told our health care stories, and took to the streets. Because of that overwhelming opposition, plans to slash health care to pay for corporate tax breaks failed. Republican leaders haven’t given up. In fact, they’ve already begun voting on a scheme to slash taxes for corporations and multi-millionaires — paid for by cuts to health care. Now the plan to raid our health care is buried in the GOP tax scheme and budget process. Here’s how they’re putting it into place. On October 5, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution that cuts $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and other health programs, capping and starving Medicaid.

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Richard Eskow

After The Storm, It’s Labor vs. Finance for the Future of Puerto Rico

Two opposing forces are fighting to reshape Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Wall Street, which has been plundering the island for years, is trying to tighten its grip on the island. Meanwhile, organized labor is working to rebuild the island  – and to rebuild its own ranks in the process. As our video reporting from Puerto Rico emphasizes, this confrontation reflects an ongoing battle for the future of the country. In one sense, Puerto Rico is the rest of the nation in extremis. Financial institutions have obtained a growing stranglehold over the island’s economy and manipulated politicians from both parties into prioritizing bank repayments over public need. The hungry have gone unfed, the sick have gone untreated, and needed infrastructure has gone unbuilt to meet the financial industry’s rapacious demands.

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Leo Gerard

NAFTA Negotiators Send Corporate Whiners Back to Swamp

Giant corporations, loyal to coin and faithless to country, staged a public display of blubbering in the run up to this week’s fourth round of negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Whaa, whaaa, whaaaa, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sniveled into the swamp from which they crawled to conduct their press conferences. President Trump isn’t doing what corporations want, they wailed. The President’s trade priorities, which he repeatedly stated on the campaign trail, do not include groveling to the whims and whining of corporations or their toady, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. President Trump said he would create good, American jobs. To do that, he wants more stuff made in America and less stuff made in factories off-shored by greed-motivated American corporations.

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Jeff Bryant

Betsy DeVos’s Attack On Public Education Is Just Beginning

With less than a year in office, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is already having the narrative of her impact on the nation’s public schools recast from someone with the power to “single-handedly decimate our public education system” to someone who is capable of only incremental change or who is completely ineffectual altogether. Don’t believe this shift in the storyline. First, consider how many times media reports trumpeting efforts by the President Trump administration to act more responsibly have quickly changed, within days or even hours, to news reports of the continued fecklessness of the White House. Similarly, news stories about Trump being completely ineffectual at accomplishing his agenda are constantly counterbalanced with stories of his continued success at radically altering the nation.

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Robert Borosage

The Republican Plan to Rob America

The Republican tax plan is a lie. It’s being sold with the promise that the tax cut will create jobs and growth. In fact, the Republican tax cuts, if passed, will become the major obstacle to the very investments vital to generating good jobs and future economic growth. Contrary to Donald Trump’s claims, the rich and big corporations will pocket the vast bulk of the tax cuts, not working people. The tax cuts won’t pay for themselves. They will increase the deficit. By 2027, one in four taxpayers will end up paying more. And for 80 percent of Americans, the tax cut they do get would be so small that it will go virtually unnoticed in most households. For example, the Tax Policy Center estimatesthat in 2027, the 27 million households with children and incomes under $75,000 will receive an average tax cut of all of $20 when the provisions are in full effect.

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Ben Ishibashi

How We Beat Trump’s Dirty Power Play

Donald Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency chief, Scott Pruitt, think undoing all that has gone before them is something to celebrate. With no real accomplishments of their own, they revel in their power to destroy, rather than defend. This is what Pruitt wants out of his bid to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s signature effort to cut carbon emissions from electric power generation by 32 percent by 2030. “The war on coal is over,” Pruitt crowed at a press conference on Monday in Hazard, Kentucky, beaming. as if easing restrictions on dirty generators will magically bring back jobs to the state’s ravaged coalfields. It will not. Allowing power companies to pump more carbon into the atmosphere won’t create jobs, nor will it revitalize the economy, even if Pruitt and Trump claim it as a big win.

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Jessica Juarez Scruggs

Help the CFPB Stop Predatory Loans From Ruining Lives

Can one emergency expense ruin your life?  It can if you get caught up in the traps set millions of times each year for ordinary working people by payday loan sharks. Stephany Morales was a single mom in college, studying to be a nurse, when her toddler got a chest infection. Her insurance wouldn’t cover the $400 cost of nebulizer treatments her pediatrician prescribed, so she turned to a payday loan, thinking this would be a one-time expense. But between food, rent and tuition, Stephany didn’t have enough to pay the loan back when it came due two weeks later. She had to re-borrow, and before long she was drowning in debt.  Stephany had to drop out of school just two quarters short of getting her degree and license to practice as a nurse, lost her car and almost lost her apartment. Now, nearly four years later, Stephany’s already paid over $13,000.

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Richard Eskow

Can Centrism Be a Movement? The Answer May Surprise You

Astronomers tell us the stars we see in the night sky died many millennia ago. Their light has spent eons crossing the emptiness of space. To us, they still seem to glitter and shine, but were extinguished long ago. Last week, the Washington Post ran an op-ed about the political framework known as “centrism.” The name is derived from the from the fact that its ideology draws equally from leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The Post’s headline in the Washington Post last week asked the question, “Can centrism be a movement?” The answer may surprise you. Whose Centrism? The kind of “centrism” described in the Post’s op-ed has been peddled to the American people for decades, by members of a political and media class – some undoubtedly well-intentioned, others less so – who believe that the center lies in their own midst.

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Jeff Bryant

New Federal Grant Feeds Charter School Gravy Train In New Mexico

When the U.S. Department of Education recently announced its list of recipients of over a quarter billion dollars in federally funded grants to charter schools, charter management organizations, and charter development agencies, charter skeptics cast a suspicious eye at some of the grantees, and for good reason. Previous targets for federal charter grants have resembled a “black hole” for taxpayer money with little tracking and accountability for how funds have been spent spent. In the past 26 years, the federal government has sent over $4 billion to charters, with the money often going to “ghost schools” that never opened or quickly failed. In 2015, charter skeptics denounced the stunning selection of Ohio for a $71 million federal chart grant, despite the state’s charter school program being one of the most reviled and ridiculed in the nation.

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Richard Eskow

The “Center-Left” Had Its Chance; It’s Time For Something New

The once-proud political project known as “centrism” is collapsing around the globe, despite increasingly desperate attempts by billionaire backers to revive it. The center-right’s implosion can be seen in the weakened state of Theresa May’s Conservatives in Great Britain, the recent setback for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and the withering of the GOP’s Mitt Romney wing. But what about the center-left, the “New Labour”/”New Democrat” phenomenon that once seemed to offer so much hope? Can it survive? More importantly, should it? The Decline of the Center-Left Political scientist Sheri Berman recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that made the case for Western Europe’s failing social democrats.

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LeeAnn Hall

Millions of Lives at Risk as GOP Lets CHIP Expire

Nine million children in this country are at the brink of losing health coverage. What do our lawmakers say about this? Not a damn word. Why? Because they care more about themselves than our children, and our country’s future. But if they won’t speak up, we will. On Saturday, Congress allowed CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to expire. CHIP is a partnership between states and the federal government that since 1997 has extended health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care. As an organizer in rural Idaho in the nineties, I saw with my own eyes the difference CHIP makes in the lives of ordinary people. Thousands of children and expectant mothers in our state got access, many for the first time, to everything from checkups and healthy care to treatments for chronic asthma and cancer.

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Julie Chinitz

Let’s Stop the GOP’s Biggest Grift of All

Republican leadership isn’t subtle with their looting of the public treasury these days. Last Friday, Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, resigned for sticking the public with a more than $1 million bill for his personal use of private charter and military planes. This bit of malfeasance surprised no one. Price’s brazen trading of drug corporation stocks while pushing legislation on their behalf as a congressman should have derailed his confirmation. It didn’t. Yet Price is far from alone. Plenty of other Trump administration officials, not least Trump himself, have been lining their pockets with perks – if not cash outright. It now seems that more government appointees have been riding high on the public dime: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke all face similar allegations.

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Robert Borosage

Bernie Sanders Opens a New Foreign-Policy Debate

Senator Bernie Sanders received rapturous applause from progressives for his recent foreign-policy speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. “One of the finest speeches of his career,” wrote The Nation’s John Nichols. “The progressive foreign policy speech we’ve been waiting for,” said Stephen Miles. Jacob Heilbrunn of the more conservative National Interest suggested Sanders was bringing “regime change” to the liberal interventionism of the Democratic establishment. The reaction was understandable: The speech was like a thunderclap breaking the silence of any serious foreign-policy challenge from the left. The Sanders speech indeed opened a new debate and offered the first steps towards a fundamentally different policy, but it also leaves many questions unanswered.

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Mark Trahant

Indians Don’t Pay Taxes? Or Why the Upcoming Tax Debate Matters So Much

The Senate has given up on destroying Medicaid and much of the health care system and is now focused on restructuring the federal tax system (and destroying entitlement programs in the process). House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate leaders announce their framework for Tax Reform. (Photo: Speaker.Gov) Here is what Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation:  “We’re going to double that standard deduction. We’re going to make it so he can fill out his taxes on a postcard. We’re going to lower his taxes. That’s really important. So he has more tax-home pay.

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Richard Eskow

How Do You Say “MAGA” in German?

The eastern German state of Saxony is a long way from Ohio, but the two places have a lot in common. Abandoned factories are falling into ruins in both places. There is fear, anger, and despair in the cities and countryside. People are dissatisfied with the status quo and the politicians who represent it. Germany’s recent election results are alarming to many, as they mark a strong return of the extreme right, which now enters Germany’s Bundestag, or federal parliament, as the country’s third-strongest political group. But a deeper global phenomenon is at work, and it has implications for the American future. The political phenomenon known as “centrism,” whose policies reflect the worldview of long-entrenched global and political elites, is collapsing.

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Jeff Bryant

Little Rock’s Struggle Lives On 60 Years Later In Jackson, Mississippi

This week’s 60th anniversary of the day nine African American students braved violent backlash and racist insults from whites in Little Rock, Arkansas to integrate Central High School, is prompting a wave of articles on the struggle for racial justice in American public education. But while news outlets recall valiant efforts to integrate schools in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, they frame those efforts as mostly futile given the resurgence of segregation today: black communities, and now brown ones too, still have little control of their education destinies for very specific reasons. Yet attempts to call out these reasons by name are all too rare.

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Libero Della Piana

Trump’s Axe Turns From Health to Taxes

Fresh off their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Republicans are aglow with the hope of passing sweeping tax cuts. It’s as if Trump has cast himself as the villain in a cheap horror film. In this B movie, he flails around with an axe, trying to hack unsuspecting victims in their sleep. First the GOP turned on Medicaid and Medicare, seeking to push millions of children and the poor off health coverage. Now, after being thwarted from that goal by massive public pressure, they hope to carve out rich rewards for their billionaire friends and benefactors. Their aim is poor, and thus far they’ve failed to land a blow. But don’t be fooled: an axe can be deadly. The True Cost of Tax Cuts On Wednesday in Indianapolis, Trump announced details – or really, broad outlines – of the GOP’s new tax plan.

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