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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Robert Borosage

At The New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Debate, Populism Wins

The face-off between Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton last night in New Hampshire highlighted the strengths and vulnerabilities of both. Both put in impressive, strong performances. Both got their message out. Voters are left to decide whom they choose to believe. Populism Wins The clear victor of the night was populism. Sanders, of course, drove that subject, with his core message of a rigged economy and a corrupted politics. Clinton chose once more to compete as a progressive populist, both rhetorically and with stronger rhetoric about breaking up banks, and taking on the drug and insurance companies. Populism sets the terms of the debate in the Democratic Party. Sanders champions it; Clinton has chosen to embrace it. It is amazing to watch a debate in which the two Democratic candidates argue about who is the real progressive.

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Terrance Heath

Ted Cruz Won The Iowa Caucuses. Here’s What He Wants To Do To America.

From the moment he launched his presidential bid, conventional wisdom said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wouldn’t even get close to becoming president. This week Cruz won the Iowa Caucuses, and got a little closer to the White House. Here’s why that should scare you. Image via Donkey Hotey @ Flickr. Cruz’s win surprised a lot of people, especially (former?) frontrunner Donald Trump. It’s tempting to breathe a sigh of relief, and count Cruz’s win as the beginning of the end of Trump’s candidacy. But let’s not kid ourselves. Cruz is every bit as bad as Trump — if not worse. Let’s take a moment to remember what Ted Cruz wants to do to America. Ted Cruz’s Agenda Health Care As a senator, Cruz has had a lot to say about the Affordable Care Act. He’s compared failing to fight the laws implementation to appeasing Adolf Hitler.

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Jeff Bryant

An Emerging New Narrative For Education

The big news about education policy in the presidential race is that there is no news. As Laura Moser writes for Slate, “None of the candidates are talking about education. Like, at all.” At Salon, parent and public school activist Bertis Downs argues that even the few times Democratic Party candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have mentioned education, their “words don’t seem to resonate with many of the largely untapped public education parents and teachers who are in search of a candidate.” (I’d submit the one candidate who has made education prominent in his campaign is Jeb Bush.

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Dave Johnson

Privatization Causes Poverty: Senate Cafeteria Workers’ Story Continues

Our government has been on a privatization binge for some time. Things that We the People used to just do federally or through state and local governments were closed down and private corporations were hired to do those things instead. This “saved money” because the well-paid public workers were laid off, losing their benefits and seniority, and new workers were hired at the lowest possible wages with few or no benefits. Of course, this “cost savings” meant that the tax base eroded, the old and replacement workers often had to go on public assistance, property values plunged as the homes of the old workers were foreclosed and the new workers couldn’t afford to buy, schools were strapped as more low-income kids came in, and all the other ways that the transition to a low-wage economy has ended up costing all of us. But who’s counting? U.S.

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Bill Scher

That Time Marco Rubio Tried To Accomplish Something

Today, Marco Rubio surrogate Rick Santorum was stumped when asked by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to name one Rubio accomplishment. Santorum pleaded that Rubio’s short time in the Senate was a period when “nothing got done” so of course he doesn’t have any accomplishments. He has a point. Rubio’s Senate career was solely when a Democrat was president, and Republicans were mostly trying to block his agenda. Similarly, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t have a lot of Senate accomplishments when George W. Bush was president. But for Rubio, pointing a finger at Obama doesn’t exonerate. Because there was one time when Rubio tried very hard to accomplishment something, even asserting a leadership role: immigration reform. Not only did he fail to accomplish enactment of the bill, his leadership was a colossal disaster.

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Dave Johnson

Sanders Vows To Kill TPP If Elected. Will Clinton?

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free-trade” agreement was signed in New Zealand by representatives of the 12 participating countries, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders strongly voiced his opposition and committed to doing what he can to kill the deal if he is elected president. Rival Hillary Clinton has also stated opposition to the TPP, but will she also vow to kill it if elected? Sanders Vows To Kill TPP Saying that TPP follows in the footsteps of failed trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China, Sanders promised to “fundamentally rewrite our trade policies to benefit working families, not just the CEOs of large, multinational corporations.” He said that supporters of these agreements have sold them as creating jobs, but over and over again, they have been proven dead wrong.

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Richard Long

Five Years After Financial Crisis Report, “Very Little Has Changed”

If the adage, “Those that do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” is true, what would happen if the lessons learned did not change your behavior? What if bad behavior was rewarded? Can we take steps to ensure that we have learned, and our history will not repeat itself? That was the topic of the discussion of the fifth anniversary of the release of the report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the commission’s chairman, Phil Angelides, and member Brooksley Born, and former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair. “Normally, you tend to learn from the consequences of your mistakes,” said Angelides, the former treasurer of California, “but there has been none of that on Wall Street.

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Sara Robinson

What We Know About The Progressive Future: Here Come The Millennials

In January 2011, I presented a futures research project to the Progressive Caucus in Congress, then the largest of all the caucuses in that body. The report, Progressives 2040 — which was sponsored by ProgressiveCongress.org and published by Demos — analyzed a large set of major trends that would shape the future of the progressive movement for the next three decades, and offered a set of scenarios that illustrated how these trends might work together to create a range of possible futures that the movement will need to be prepared for.

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Bill Scher

The Trump Show is Ending. Time To Look At What The Real Candidates Say.

Congratulations Iowa Republicans, you did it! You didn’t pick the biggest joke of the election season. As in past caucuses, you still picked an extreme conservative with no chance of becoming president. But you didn’t make your party into a complete laughingstock. Gold stars for everyone! It should be clear now that Donald Trump is not running a serious campaign, which would involve an actual operation to bring voters to the polls. Media attention can goose poll numbers, but polls don’t vote. Now we can spend less time on Trump’s demagogic proposals for building a wall and banning all Muslims from entering the country, and spend more time on what the rest of the field is proposing. To get you started, there’s plenty of analysis right here at OurFuture.org. Here’s my review of the major tax plans that have been offered so far.

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Dave Johnson

TPP Signing Brings Out Opposition

Representatives of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries will officially sign the free trade agreement in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday (which on this side of the date line means the signing occurs Wednesday). But the prospects for U.S. passage of the agreement continue to decline. David Dayen, writing at The American Prospect, in “For Trade Deal, Bad News Keeps Mounting,” explains some of the problems: [A]ll the highest-profile candidates for president—Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the right and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the left— have publicly opposed TPP. [. . .] The announcement by TransCanada that it would sue the U.S. over the administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, using the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), casts a pall over the debate.

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Mary Green Swig | Steven L. Swig | Roger Hickey

For the Student Debt Movement, JUBILEE is an Old Idea Made New

A growing movement is pressing for relief from this country’s oppressive and mounting burden of student debt. Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed a gathering of millennials in Washington, organized by a group called Young Invincibles during a national day of advocacy around this issue. Last November, college students and citizen organizations rallied at more than 115 campuses across the country to protest student debt at the “Million Student March.” Student debt has become a major political issue in this election year. Candidates are peppered by questions about what they will do about this growing crisis. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both put forward college tuition plans. Students are learning how far we have fallen since the 1960s, when most public universities were almost free.

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Terrance Heath

What Is “Economic Freedom,” And Who Is It For?

The Heritage Foundation has released its annual “Index of Economic Freedom.” As America enters an election season increasingly influenced by anger at an economy rigged in favor of the wealthy, maybe it’s time to ask: What is “economic freedom,” and who is it for? What does economic freedom mean to you, personally? Given that we only recently recovered from a serious national bout of “Powerball Fever,” it’s a safe bet that for most people it means not having to worry about having enough money. It means earning a livable wage; enough to meet basic needs, like food, shelter, transportation, and medical care. It means earning enough to support your family, and having leisure time to enjoy your family. It means being able to educate your children — or yourself — without putting yourself in hock with debt.

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Dave Johnson

Some Surprises and Warnings In The Iowa Numbers

When candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ended the Iowa caucuses Monday night in a near-tie, there were some surprises that went beyond the strength of Sanders’ showing, as well as some warnings for Democrats. Clinton received more state delegates (700.59 to 696.82), but the margin was due to her winning six coin tosses. Clinton will receive 23 delegates to the national convention and Sanders will receive 21 delegates. The New York Times writes, “There are 4,763 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, so it will require 2,382 delegates to win the nomination.” You will be hearing the number 2,382 more and more as the year goes on. Democrat Voter Turnout Down The first surprise is that Democratic turnout was down from 2008. Total turnout was down. First-time turnout was down. Young voter turnout was down. Only 171,109 Democratic voters turned out.

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Nancy Altman

Third Way Is Absurdly Wrong About Bernie Sanders’ Social Security Plan

Third Way is reaching the point of desperation in its quest to cut Social Security and protect its Wall Street, K Street lobbyist, and GOP donors from paying their fair share. As Third Way has become more and more marginalized, its public outpourings have become more and more extreme and, quite frankly, head-scratching. In a 2011 Politico column, “Progressives: Wise Up,” Third Way’s president and vice president for policy lectured advocates for Social Security to stop fighting a Grand Bargain that would have cut Social Security’s modest benefits – cuts that are opposed by 93.8 percent of Americans. In 2013, the duo took to the Wall Street Journal where they attacked Senator Elizabeth Warren for proposing to expand Social Security as a solution to the nation’s looming retirement income crisis.

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Bill Scher

Can The Democrats Survive This Primary?

Two years ago I wrote that the Democrats were a more united party than the Republicans, despite covering a broader ideological spectrum. But last night’s Iowa caucuses exposed a stark generational and ideological fault line in the Democratic party that may not be easy to bridge. Supporters of both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns complain about online vitriol from the rival camp. But that was also true with the Obama and Clinton camps in 2008. Campaigns can’t control supporters. And such behavior proved inconsequential to uniting the party for the general. It may be different in 2016. Obama and Clinton had their differences – the Iraq war and diplomatic strategy the most significant – but the ideological distance between them was not fundamental. They differed on the war vote, but Clinton supporters were not neoconservative warmongers.

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Leo Gerard

Donald Trump Misdirects Real Worker Anxieties

Donald Trump dares to say out loud what many people secretly think. It’s a dark secret some people never share because they know it’s so offensive. Sometimes they say it only when they feel safe, when they’re among like-minded family members or with friends trying to drown financial fear in mugs of beer. Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, talked to white workers in hardscrabble communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio over the past two months and found “huge,” as Donald Trump would put it, support for the Republican frontrunner, even among Democrats. Backers said they admired Trump for speaking his mind. What they really meant was that Trump spoke their minds. As one woman put it, “He says what most of us are thinking.” Americans are cash-strapped and fearful.

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