Isaiah J. Poole

Organizing and Persistence Pays Off in N.J. for Hurricane Sandy Victims

It took two years of agitation and protest, but finally this week homeowners in New Jersey still seeking relief in the wake of the devastation of superstorm Sandy could claim an important victory, as Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill giving homeowners still recovering from the disaster protection from foreclosure. Christie’s signing of a bill that he had vetoed a version of last year was the culmination of work done by the People’s Action affiliate New Jersey Organizing Project as well as other groups. “We’ve spent two long years trying to get Sandy families protection from foreclosures and so today is a good day for us,” said Joe Mangino, Superstorm Sandy survivor and New Jersey Organizing Project co-founder. “Even though the governor doesn’t seem happy about signing the bill, we are happy it got signed.

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Dave Johnson

Andy ‘Women Are Meat’ Puzder’s Troubles Grow — But Wait, There’s More

Donald Trump didn’t really appoint Walter White, the guy from Breaking Bad, to run the DEA, but his nomination of fast-food CEO Andrew “women are meat” Puzder to be Labor Secretary sure comes close. Update: Amid reports that as many as 12 Republicans were ready to vote against his confirmation, Puzder withdrew his nomination. Puzder “Fails Every Test of a Labor Secretary” In December, Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute wrote of Puzder’s nomination, Andrew Puzder fails every test for a Labor Secretary He’s opposed to the new overtime rule that gave the right to time and a half pay to millions of salaried employees earning less than $47,476 a year. Wal-Mart has already raised its managers’ pay, as did about half of all big retailers, even before the rule was supposed to take effect on December 1.

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Miles Mogulescu

What Did Trump Know About Flynn and When Did He Know It?

If Michael T. Flynn informed Donald Trump about his multiple conversations with the Russian ambassador about rolling back President Barack Obama’s sanctions to punish Russia for interfering in the U.S. presidential election, it’s an impeachable offense for President Trump. It would mean that while still a civilian, Trump violated the Logan Act, which makes it a crime for Americans “without authority of the United States” to engage in diplomatic negotiations with foreign governments in a dispute with the U.S. government. Either Flynn was freelancing, which seems unlikely for a matter of such gravity. Or he was representing his boss, The Donald, which makes Trump equally guilty. Congress must hold hearings on Russia’s dangerous interference in American elections and diplomacy.

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Leo Gerard

Off-Shorers Should Shut Up

Whirlpool, the big appliance manufacturer, stressed in recent years its preference to make it in America. In 2013, it actually moved dishwasher manufacturing jobs back to the United States from Mexico. The next year, it announced a $40 million investment in its Greenville, Ohio KitchenAid plant, adding 400 jobs. Last year, Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig said the company would spend another $40 million to expand its Findlay, Ohio dishwasher plant, adding 50 jobs and raising to $1 billion its investment in U.S. manufacturing since 2010. Last week, Intel announced it would spend $7 billion to upgrade an Arizona facility and employ 3,000 people to fabricate advanced computer wafers — meaning its CEO Brian Krzanich chose the United States over Ireland, Israel and China where Intel already produces silicon wafers.

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Dave Johnson

#ResistTrumpTuesdays: Protect Our Protections on Valentine’s Day

President Donald Trump and his Republican-controlled Congress are getting ready to kill off our public “Dodd-Frank” protections passed after the financial crash, including killing or maiming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Our lawmakers need to hear from us so they can know how we feel about that. So the #ResistTrumpTuesdays movement is urging them to “Make a Date” to hold town hall meetings with their constituents. The next congressional recess will run from February 18-26. Senators and representatives typically use that time away from Washington, D.C. to hold local “town hall” meetings with their constituents.

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Robert Reich

The Real Reason Republicans Want to Pull the Plug on Obamacare

Don’t be fooled by Trump’s and Republican promises to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. They could repeal it, but they can’t and won’t replace it. They’ve tried for years to come up with a replacement that keeps at least as many people covered. Their “replacement” never appears. So why do Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and leave millions without insurance?  Because it would mean a huge tax windfall for the wealthy. Repealing Obamacare will put an average of $33,000 of tax cuts in the hands of the richest 1 percent this year alone, and a whopping $197,000 of tax cuts into the hands of the top 0.1 percent. The 400 highest-income taxpayers (with incomes averaging more than $300 million each) will each receive an average annual tax cut of about $7 million.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Push to Get Disney CEO Bob Iger Off Trump’s Economic Council

Eighty-nine years after its creation, Mickey Mouse remains the beloved and instantly recognizable symbol of the now-sprawling Walt Disney empire. But lately, Disney CEO Bob Iger’s association with Donald Trump has a lot of America smelling a rat. Iger is serving on President Trump’s economic advisory council, formally knows as the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum. That’s the same panel from which Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from earlier this month, under pressure after People’s Action and other organizations attacked him for not forcefully condemning Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration executive order. But while Kalanick cut ties to Trump and his council, Iger won’t. In a statement last Tuesday, Iger said being on the council is a “great opportunity” that gives him a “pipeline” to speak with Trump.

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Richard Eskow

Steve Mnuchin Is No Joe Kennedy and He’s Unfit for His New Gig

There are plenty of signs that Steve Mnuchin is not a good guy, even by the lax standards of today’s banking industry. OneWest, a bank he established with partners and ran from 2009 to 2015, mounted a record of ruthless foreclosures (in one case over a 27-cent error). A memo from top prosecutors in California’s state attorney general’s office saw evidence of its “widespread misconduct” and repeated violations of law, according to The Intercept. Mnuchin misled the Senate (accidentally, he says) on his banking history, his personal finances and his role in running a Cayman Islands tax-haven account. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans will almost certainly succeed at their goal of confirming Mnuchin as the next Treasury Secretary as soon as possible. Update: The Senate voted 53-27 to confirm Mnuchin on Monday night.

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Sam Pizzigati

A Trump Appointee Standing Up for ‘Bullied’ CEOs

Michael Piwowar has been seething for some time. Now he’s getting to take his revenge — against the new federal regulation that’s driving America’s mega-millionaire CEOs crazy. This particular regulation spells out how corporations must go about complying with an innovative provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Wall Street reform legislation enacted in 2010. The provision requires corporations to annually disclose the ratio between what they pay their CEOs and what they pay their median — most typical — workers.

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Richard Eskow

What Do We Know about Neil Gorsuch?

Early news reports on Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, tended to emphasize his personal story and his conservative leanings. But they failed to provide much detail on Gorsuch’s background, his ideology, or his judicial philosophy. Ian Milhiser, the Think Progress justice editor, covered Gorsuch in greater detail in a recent profile. I spoke with Milhiser on The Zero Hour about Gorsuch’s history on and off the bench.

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Richard Eskow

We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight Tom Price

Just because the Senate voted to make Tom Price the nation’s top health care official doesn’t mean that the debates that flared over his nomination should end. This fight is just beginning. The Senate confirmed Price as secretary of Health and Human Services in the middle of the night in a straight 52-47 vote along party lines. He was a deeply flawed nominee. Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, who is an attorney, reviewed his ethics and the legality of his actions in an post headlined, “Should Tom Price Be in Jail for Insider Trading?” PBS noted, somewhat more delicately, that Price has “shown little restraint in his personal stock trading.” But Price is not just ethically challenged. He is also ideologically charged. His policy views place him on the extreme right of health care debates.

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Gloria Totten

Abortion Rights Advocates Working to Turn the Tide

Many of us have been fixed to our screens, watching in horror as President Trump and his colossally unqualified administration roll back progress at an unprecedented pace. But, let’s remember this political moment came, in part, because of relentless attacks by conservatives in the states on the full range of issues: encouraging discrimination against immigrants and LGBTQ individuals, limiting collective bargaining and the right to sue corporations for wrongdoing, encouraging the carrying and use of guns, tearing down environmental and health-care protections, and using voter ID and gerrymandering to tilt elections. This moment was built on a foundation of divisiveness that was sown in the states. The right wing’s broadest attacks, of course, have targeted reproductive rights. Over the past six years, state lawmakers have passed more than 300 restrictions on abortion.

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Brenda Patoine

How the Affordable Care Act Turned Me Into a Health Care Activist

If you had told me two weeks ago that I would be telling my “health care story” before a standing-room-only auditorium of 1,000-plus people and then again to the policy wonk at my U.S. congressman’s office, I’d have told you that you were nuts. As in, bonkers. Public speaking, you see, makes me sweat. And possibly vomit. Glossophobia, they call it. I just call it hell. TAKE ACTION: Call your senator today and tell him or her to vote against Tom Price as secretary of health and human services. Use our call Congress tool now. So you can imagine my response when a volunteer from Rights & Democracy in Vermont, Jessica Early, contacted me about speaking at the Burlington, Vt. rally in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ National Day of Action to Save Health Care on Jan. 15.

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Jeff Bryant

Progressives Lost The Vote On DeVos But Won Something Valuable

Betsy DeVos may have won her contest in the Senate to become the new U.S. Secretary of Education, but her opposition wasn’t the only thing that went down to defeat that day. For decades, federal education policies have been governed by a“Washington consensus” that public schools are effectively broken, especially in low-income communities of color, and the only way to fix them is to apply a dose of tough love, and a business philosophy of competition from charter schools and performance measurements based on standardized tests. Since the 1990s, this consensus among Democrats and Republicans has enforced all kinds of unproven “reform” mandates on schools. By 2012, as veteran education reporter Jay Mathews of The Washington Post noted that year, the two parties were “happily copying each other” on education.

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Dave Johnson

Senator Warren Persists, We Persist

Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Raw Power Republicans — President Donald Trump along with lawmakers in the Senate and the House — have discarded any pretense they might have had of civility and upholding norms, standards and even the rule of law. For them it’s all about gaining raw power and using power to benefit “their side” and to shut down their “enemies.” These enemies include the free press, the judicial branch, an entire religion, war refugees, an entire political party, the seasoned “establishment” of their own political party and anyone who might get in the way of their use and abuse of power. We are tumbling down the slippery slope to autocracy.

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Mark Trahant

Tribe Says Corps Lacks Authority to Stop DAPL Environmental Review

Cognitive scientist George Lakoff has described the process for Republican thinking as a set of assumptions built on the idea of a strict father. He wrote in his classic book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” The strict father model begins with a set of assumptions: The world is a dangerous place, and always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right. Therefore they have to be made good. President Donald J.

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Nancy Altman

A Vote for Tom Price Is a Vote to Destroy Medicare

No one voted to destroy Medicare. Yet, the first battle in the war over Medicare has arrived. Why would anyone want to destroy Medicare? It has stood the test of time. The smart policy is to expand it to everyone. Medicare shows government at its best. Government at its best! There’s the rub: Given Medicare’s proven success — its low administrative costs, its efficient coverage of those with the greatest medical needs and costs, and its enormous popularity — it is no wonder that anti-government zealots hate the program. Medicare demonstrates that there are some services that the federal government provides better than the private sector. The mere existence of Medicare (and Social Security) puts the lie to the claim that everything should be privatized.

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Richard Eskow

Americans Like the Resistance a Lot More Than They Like Trump

For Donald Trump, this has got to hurt: Less than two weeks after his inauguration, the people who took to the streets to protest his policies have outstripped him in popularity. And, given his rich history of “locker room banter” and other sexist comments, it must be especially humiliating for Trump to know that the biggest mobilizations of protesters who bested him were led by women. A Popular Front The numbers are irrefutable. Trump’s approval rating has sunk to a historically low 42 percent, according to Gallup, yet 60 percent of the public approved of the women’s marches, a Washington Post poll found. Only 29 percent of those polled disapproved of the anti-Trump marchers yet 54 percent disapproved of Trump’s performance as president.

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Dave Johnson

The Enormous, Humongous Trade Deficit Got Bigger in 2016, Action Needed

The United States ran the most enormous, humongous trade deficit last year since 2012. The gap between our exports and imports widened by 0.4 percent to $502.3 billion in 2016, the Census Bureau reported today. The government also found that the trade deficit amounted to $44.3 billion in December, down $1.5 billion from a revised $45.7 billion in November. The goods deficit with China alone hit $30.2 billion in December, up $1.8 billion from the previous month. The shocking trade deficit our country ran last year includes the services surplus. What happens if we separate services from goods? Exports of services decreased $1.3 billion to $749.6 billion in 2016. Imports of services increased $13.1 billion to $501.8 billion in 2016. Services ran a surplus of $247.8 billion. Exports of goods decreased $50.5 billion to $1,459.8 billion in 2016.

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Leo Gerard

Make American Jobs

President Donald Trump had Harley-Davidson executives and employees over to lunch at the White House last week and reiterated his promise to end wrong-headed trade policies that enable foreign countries to eat American workers’ lunch. Trump reassured the Harley workers from the United Steelworkers (USW) union and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) that he would renegotiate NAFTA and other trade deals. “A lot of people [have been] taking advantage of us, a lot of countries [have been] taking advantage of us, really terribly taking advantage of us,” he said as news cameras clicked. “We have to be treated fairly.” No promise could be more heartening to workers as corporations like Carrier and Rexnord continue to move jobs to Mexico.

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