Richard Eskow

Health Care Is a Right, Not a Business

Financial columnist Megan McArdle recently wrote a column entitled “Healthcare Is a Business, Not a Right.” She was responding to a tweet from financial writer Helaine Olen: 25. The health of Americans should not be a profit center. Health care is a right. Full stop. — Helaine Olen (@helaineolen) August 17, 2016 Health care is a business, says McArdle, but most of us aren’t tough-minded enough to admit it. Even if you ask a conservative, she writes, “there is a good chance you’ll get a rant about greedy insurers nickel-and-diming hardworking consumers when they’re sick.” “Almost everybody feels that there is something fundamentally wrong about making money off someone else’s illness,” McArdle laments. It’s a straw-man argument.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Good News In The Reported Collapse of U.S.-Europe Trade Talks

News out of Germany that U.S. trade negotiations with Europe similar to the one that produced the Trans-Pacific Partnership have collapsed is another sign that an organized grassroots is successfully putting the multinational corporate trade agenda on its heels. Britain’s Independent, in an article published Monday, quotes Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel as saying free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States have failed, but that “nobody is really admitting it.” The trade deal is called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. It is being negotiated between the U.S. and the members of the European Union. Discussions have been going on at the same time the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal that includes several Asian countries as well as Western Hemisphere nations, was being forged.

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Robert Reich

After Trump

I recently got a call from a political analyst in Washington. “Trump is dropping like a stone,” he said, convincingly. “After Election Day, he’s history.” I think Trump will lose the election, but I doubt he’ll be “history.” Defeated presidential candidates typically disappear from public view. Think Mitt Romney or Michael Dukakis. But Donald Trump won’t disappear. Trump needs attention the way normal people need food. For starters, he’ll dispute the election results. He’s already warned followers “we better be careful because that election is going to be rigged and I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.“ His first campaign ad, released last week, features an image of a polling site with the word “rigged” flashing onscreen less than two seconds after the spot begins.

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Nancy Altman

Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Social Security

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has released a new ad that reveals that either he doesn’t understand Social Security or he wants to galvanize opposition to Social Security. Either way, his rhetoric undermines our collective security. In his ad, Trump wrongly attacks immigrants and refugees. Contrary to Trump’s claims, unauthorized workers do not receive Social Security. In fact, while they contribute to Social Security through their jobs, they cannot receive Social Security. Undocumented immigrants are not even eligible for means-tested welfare programs like Supplemental Security Income. There is no ambiguity or debate: They are not eligible for Social Security’s earned benefits. Unauthorized workers have billions of dollars in Social Security contributions deducted from their pay checks each year.

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Richard Eskow

The “People’s Fed” and the Oracles of Jackson Hole

When William Greider wrote his 1989 book about the Federal Reserve, it’s not hard to understand why he called it “Secrets of the Temple.” The Fed’s proclamations can make it seem as mysterious as the Oracle of Delphi. (To be fair, nobody has speculated that hallucinogens are involved, as seems to have been the case in Delphi.) The Fed’s oracular sages gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming last week for the central bank’s annual retreat. But this year’s meeting was different: For perhaps the first time in history, some of the Fed’s leaders met with activists who are fighting to change it. Actually, the Fed’s not as mysterious as it seems. Some of the its behavior can be explained by its hybrid nature as a publicly created, but partly private, entity.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: The GOP Won’t Defend Trump, Or Denounce Him

This week, in a scathing take-down of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton linked him to white supremacists and white nationalists in the alt-right movement, and laid bare his own history of racial discrimination. Republicans responded with deafening silence. When the history of the 2016 presidential race is written, it will go down as a defining moment. In a 31 minute speech, Americans became re-acquainted with the Hillary Clinton we got to know during the Democratic convention: a fierce advocate who sweats the details, because “the details matter.” She delivered a carefully crafted 12-point take-down of Donald Trump, detailing his own history of racial discrimination, and linking him to the white supremacist/white nationalists of the alt-right movement — with enough details to leave fact-checkers with little to do.

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Dave Johnson

You Used To Be Able To Take Them To Court

If a company does something bad to you, you can sue them, right? Actually, thinking that is so 1970s. These days, gimmicks called “arbitration clauses” in contracts you are forced to sign basically let companies do what they want and keep you from taking them to court. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed a new rule to protect us from forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts. Forced To Sign Arbitration Clauses These days, before you can use an electronic device or software, get a loan or credit card, or do so many other basic things of modern life, you are handed – or have to click on – what seems like a 300-page contract. You have to because if you don’t agree to the terms (written in incomprehensible language that no one has time to read) you can’t get the loan, download the software or use the product.

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Miles Mogulescu

Don’t Underestimate How Much Steve Bannon Can Damage Hillary Clinton

Working in the film business, I briefly met the Donald Trump Republican presidential campaign’s new CEO, Steve Bannon, during the 1990s when he was a Hollywood investment banker. As one producer whom Bannon helped raise capital for told me, even back then he was an angry, racist, egregiously aggressive, and inappropriately temperamental character. Bannon was also whip smart with a sophisticated understanding of how the media works. Inside the liberal bubble, Democrats may be taking Bannon’s appointment to help run Trump’s campaign as a something of a joke. But, at their peril, they underestimate Bannon’s ability to harm Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.

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Terrance Heath

Clinton Reminds Us That Silence Never Defeats Hatred

In a scorching takedown of Donald Trump and his alt-right allies, Hillary Clinton reminded Americans that silence never defeats hatred, but that it must be called out and exposed for what it is. With a record like his, Trump had it coming. After a week of hypocritical and offensive so-called “outreach” to African Americans delivered in front of all-white audiences, Trump stooped low enough to call Clinton a “bigot.” The Republican presidential candidate was more than due for the takedown that Clinton delivered on Thursday. Clinton could have simply ignored Trump’s baseless accusation. In recent weeks, the Clinton campaign’s strategy seemed to be to stay out of the way and give Trump plenty of room to crash and burn. It worked pretty well, too. Trump almost single-handedly widened Clinton’s lead in the polls into double digits.

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Digby

The Disturbing Dawn Of The Alt-Right

I wrote about the Alt-right for Salon today. It’s not exactly the same as European ethno-nationalism. It’s scarier: After months of squabbling about whether it’s acceptable to use the “F” word (fascism) it seems at long last that we have come to some kind of consensus about what to call Donald Trump’s “philosophy”: Alt-Right, also known as white nationalism. With the hiring of the former chief of Breitbart media, ground zero for the Alt-right movement, as Trump’ campaign chairman, the interest in it has now gone mainstream. Hillary Clinton made a speech about it later today. Alt-right white nationalism is an apt term for a campaign that has electrified white supremacists so it makes sense that most people would focus on the racial angle.

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Dave Johnson

Labor Department Issues Final ‘Fair Pay And Safe Workplaces’ Rules

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released the final rules for implementing President Obama’s two-year-old Fair Pay And Safe Workplaces executive order. The July 2014 post, Obama’s ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order’, explained the order: Saying that “taxpayer dollars should not reward corporations that break the law,” President Obama on Thursday issued another executive order designed to help low-wage workers. … President Obama’s executive order cracks down on federal contractors who break hiring, health and safety, and wage laws.

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Dave Johnson

Groups Ask Clinton For “Unequivocal Statement” On Lame-Duck TPP Vote

Many opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue to assume Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is only saying she opposes TPP to get their votes, while hoping it passes in the “lame duck” session of Congress after the election and before she takes office. Others worry that passage of TPP in the lame duck will reduce public trust of the incoming president, harming her ability to get things done once in office.

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Robert Borosage

The Trump Campaign Shakeup: Going To The Mattresses

Flagging in the polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has decided to shake up his campaign, bringing in Stephen Bannon, head of Breitbart News LLC, as CEO. Paul Manafort, the experienced Republican operative who has urged Trump to pivot toward the center for the general election, resigned Friday morning. Since the Republican convention in July, Trump’s poll numbers have plummeted, as he denigrated a Muslim Gold Star mother whose son died in Iraq; insisted that President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were the “founders of ISIS,” and suggested that “Second Amendment people” might take care of Clinton if she were elected president.

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Jamie Horwitz

“Return to Sender”: Postal Workers Rally Against TPP

Do you remember the old Elvis hit “Return to Sender,” and its lyrics “Return to sender, no such address, no such zone?” That’s the message that 2,000 postal workers from across the nation delivered at a rally against TPP Tuesday at Disney World’s Dolphin Hotel, outside Orlando. Postal workers and their union leaders went further, they made it clear that they want the Trans Pacific Partnership to be marked “canceled.” The American Postal Workers Union adjourned its biennial convention early so that union delegates, joined by family members, could participate in the spirited rally, complete with signs, marching and a labor chorus that sang songs with a “no TPP” refrain. The APWU-sponsored event was solely devoted to the trade deal and was well-attended by Florida political reporters who wanted to hear Senate candidate Rep. Alan Grayson’s address to the crowd.

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Richard Eskow

Creating Change: Lessons From a Private-Prison Victory

Sometimes you win. That can be an unfamiliar sensation for people on the left. When you fight for good causes, against powerful forces and overwhelming odds, you lose a lot of battles. But sometimes you win. Take last week’s announcement from the Justice Department that it’s planning to phase out the use of for-profit prisons. Like many such victories, it is only a qualified success. But qualified success is still success. This victory seemed politically impossible as recently as last year. What changed? Like many such victories, it began with consciousness. Attacks on the “prison industrial complex” were once considered the province of radical activists and crusading (but possibly lonely) left journalists. Some church groups got wind of the issue in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and divested themselves of for-profit prison stock.

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Dave Johnson

Should We Accept TPP’s Harm For National Security Reasons?

Calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a “trade” deal (it isn’t) the corporate community and the Obama administration are also trying to sell it as important for national security. Recent op-eds make a strong case that this is just wrong. First, Brigadier General (Retired) John Adams writes in The Hill, in “The national security case against TPP”: While I respect President Obama and the pact’s military backers, I believe these arguments miss a crucial point: By facilitating the further offshoring of America’s manufacturing base, the trade pact would actually undermine America’s military readiness and global economic standing. TPP would hurt our national security interests more than it would help.

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Hannah Gelder

Stopping Traffic To Stop Corporate Greed In Illinois

Shutting down intersections as a tactic for interrupting the status quo and bringing attention to an issue has been used in organizing since time immemorial. But a classic action in Chicago on Monday had a different twist. Over 200 people shut down a downtown intersection, dancing to their own rendition of the Electric Slide. The action was organized by Fair Economy Illinois, a collective of People’s Action affiliates and allies. A recent report by Institute for Policy Studies showed that utility companies have become expert tax dodgers. ComEd, an electric utility company in Illinois and subsidiary of Exelon, with pre-tax profits of more than $706 million in 2015, dodged $47.7 million in corporate income taxes to the State of Illinois.

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Dave Johnson

CEO Of Giant Corporation Tells US Government He’s The Boss Of Them

Are We the People the boss of giant multinational corporations, or are they the boss of us? Imagine, if you will, going to the IRS and saying, “I don’t think the tax rate is fair so I’m not going to pay it.” Regular Americans can’t do that. But Apple just did. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by The Washington Post early this month. He was asked about the vast sums of profits that Apple has shifted into overseas tax havens thanks to a loophole in US tax law that lets them “defer” paying taxes on those profits as long as the money technically stays outside the country. Cook said (emphasis added, for emphasis): And when we bring it back, we will pay 35 percent federal tax and then a weighted average across the states that we’re in, which is about 5 percent, so think of it as 40 percent.

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Terrance Heath

Donald Trump Isn’t Really Reaching Out To African-Americans

Contrary to recent headlines, Donald Trump isn’t reaching out to African-Americans. He isn’t even talking to us. He’s talking past us, and saying exactly what his alt-right base wants to hear him saying to black folks. Donald Trump is telling African-Americans that our biggest problems are simply the result of listening to the wrong white people. As Isaiah Poole wrote in, “Donald Trump’s Most Racist Speech Ever,” Trump stood in front of an all-white audience in the 95-percent-white suburb of West Bend, Wis., called for “law and order,” and denounced the “war on police,” even as the death of another black man in a police-involved shooting caused unrest in Milwaukee, just 25 miles away. Trump feigned concern for African-Americans, and repeated well-worn Republican rhetoric, that African-Americans have been taken advantage of by Democrats.

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