Richard Eskow

Too Big to Fail, Too Dangerous to Ignore

Regulators recently rejected plans from five too-big-to-fail banks, saying they haven’t found a way to go bankrupt without relying on taxpayers to bail them out. If they can’t fix it, they’re supposed to be broken up. So why are we suddenly debating the very concept of “too big to fail” instead? If that debate sometimes seem complicated – well, maybe some people want it that way. But the problems these regulators identified are plain enough. ‘Til Death Do Us Part Five big banks – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Wells Fargo, and State Street – received failing grades from U.S. regulators in the design of their “living wills.” Those are the banks’ plans to dissolve themselves in an orderly fashion if they begin to collapse into bankruptcy.

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Terrance Heath

Black Lives Matter: “Yelling” Truth To Power

In his poem, “For My Own Protection,” the late black, gay poet Essex Hemphill wrote: I want to start an organization to save my life. If whales, snails, dogs, cats Chrysler and Nixon can be saved, the lives of Black men are priceless and can be saved. We should be able to save each other. Hemphill, who died in 1995, could have been writing about the Black Lives Matter movement. Born in 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, in just two short years, the nascent civil rights movement demanded Americans pay attention to police violence against African Americans. It employed the tactic of disruption and direct action to confront institutional racism, and to make household words of the names of black youth who were killed by or died in the custody of police.

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Dave Johnson

San Jose Puts ‘Opportunity To Work’ For Part-Timers On The Ballot

Silicon Valley is a region of sharp contrasts: ● The region’s top tech firms made a record $103 billion in profits in 2013. ● One in three Silicon Valley households do not make enough money to meet their most basic needs. ● There are well-compensated tech employees (although already-wealthy venture capitalists receive most of the gains). ● But a huge portion of the people who work at Silicon Valley tech firms are grossly underpaid “contractors” and part-timers. Part-Timer Poverty Many employers put a limit on the hours employees can work in a week. This keeps those employees from qualifying for any benefits that full-time employees get. They hire new part-time employees instead of moving employees they already have up to full-time. This is one of so many things that keeps people in poverty.

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Bill Scher

It’s Not That Trump Is Unstoppable. It’s That Republicans Are Incapable.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich had finally decided to join forces and work to prevent Donald Trump from reaching a majority of delegates before the convention. On Sunday evening, each campaign released a statement saying the two campaigns will strategically deploy resources to prevent splitting the anti-Trump vote. This is in large part to avoid Kasich dragging down Cruz in Indiana, letting Trump secure a plurality and reaping the 30 delegates which go to the overall winner, as well as many of the 27 delegates determined at the congressional district level. A big Indiana win for Trump would put an outright majority of delegates bound to Trump on the first ballot within his grasp. But within hours of the plan’s announcement, Kasich and his allies were undercutting it. “They ought to vote for me,” Kasich said of Indiana’s voters. One of his supporters in Congress, Rep.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Sanders Didn’t Start The Fire, So Don’t Ask Him To Put It Out

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign operation has been anything but subtle in suggesting that now that her win in the New York primary Tuesday has made her nomination at the Democratic convention pretty much inevitable, it’s time for the Bernie Sanders campaign to die with dignity. Let’s get on with the laudatory memorial service, the campaign seems to be saying, and then the estate sale, in which Sanders’ cadre of fervent and largely young supporters can be snapped up for pennies on the dollar. But Sanders, to the Clinton campaign’s frustration, is not bowing to this bit of conventional wisdom because the Sanders campaign is not a typical campaign. It is, to use Sanders’ oft-repeated word, a “revolution.” Getting a geriatric democratic socialist into the White House was never the goal; it was a means to an end.

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Robert Borosage

Clinton’s Defense of Big Money Won’t Cut It

Hillary Clinton’s heated defense of the money she has raised from Wall Street and other interests won’t cut it. Her protests contradict the basic case that virtually all Democrats and reformers have made for getting big money out of politics. It is vital that voters not be misled by them. Normally, liberal politicians defend setting up super PACs, and collecting large sums from big donors, because while they pledge to curb the influence of the rich and corporations in our politics if elected, they can’t “unilaterally disarm.” Clinton repeats this argument, but it has less force against Bernie Sanders who not only has made the corrosive effect of big money contributions central to his campaign, but has demonstrated that it is possible to be competitive without setting up super PACs and without asking billionaires and millionaires for money.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Protect Civilian Control of the Military

The principle of a civilian-run military – a military answerable to a democratically elected president and Congress – has proven vital to the health of American democracy. But retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, explains that this fundamental principle is under threat – one more issue to consider when choosing the next president. The alternative, Wilkerson says, is a military only answerable to its own needs for more military conquests and the money to fund those conquests – and willing to defy the civilian leadership to push their agenda.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Who’s In Your Wallet?

For eight years, wingnuts had to deal with the reality of a black man in the White House. Now, it looks like there will be a black woman in their wallets. They’re not taking it well. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that former slave Harriet Tubman, who led countless slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad would be the face of the newly redesigned $20 bill. It was the end of a year-long debate that began when Lew announced that a woman would grace the front of the newly redesigned $10 bill. The announcement set off a national discussion about whether such a change should be made, and just which woman from American history should be the new face on the $10 bill. (When the question came up at a Republican debate, the candidates performed miserably. One suggested British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

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Dave Johnson

As Verizon Strike Continues, What Are Candidates Saying?

(Photo by Communications Workers of America (CWA)) 40,000 workers at Verizon and Verizon Wireless are still on strike, fighting for their future and the future of middle class wages in our economy. Despite making $131.6 billion in annual revenue, Verizon refuses to sign a contract with its workers. The workers want job stability, acceptable working conditions and respect as human beings. The company wants the “flexibility” to be able to change workers days and hours at will, do even more outsourcing, make workers do more to make up for their desire to employ fewer people, and generally treat human beings as commodities. Verizon CEO Lowell C. McAdam will receive more than $18 million in compensation just this year. Verizon executives are paid up to $20,000 an hour. Yet they argue that base pay of $13.48 an hour is enough for Verizon’s workers to support a family.

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Isaiah J. Poole

An Economy Like It’s 1999

Remembering the artist Prince and one of his greatest hits, “1999,” got us thinking: 1999 was actually a pretty good year for the U.S. economy. Time spent browsing through the Economic Policy Institute’s “State of Working America” website is sobering, though, once you compare how working people were faring in 1999 to where they are now. In some cases, it’s stunning how far we’ve fallen. Let’s take a look back. During 1999, the economy was growing at a rate in excess of 5 percent. Unemployment by the end of the year had fallen below 4 percent – it was down to 3.5 percent among white people and 7.8 percent for African Americans. Median family income was $48,831, or $69,405 in 2014 dollars.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Avoiding The Failures of Militarism

The next president should heed the wisdom of an electorate that is “fed up” with the follies of military adventurism because of the fiascos in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, says Emira Woods, a foreign policy fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, in this Burning Issues video. Woods points to President Obama’s recent statements that how he handled the U.S. military intervention in Libya, particularly in not preparing for the aftermath of toppling its strongman Muammar Qaddafi, was the worst mistake of his presidency. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was at the State Department at the time, was a key architect of that policy, Woods says. We have to look closely at a presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders “who puts peace and development first,” Woods says.

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Bill Scher

What Will It Take To Surpass The Paris Climate Agreement?

I noted on Wednesday that while the Paris climate agreement, to be signed by 155 nations Friday in honor of Earth Day, may be too little, it is not too late. The agreement creates a critical global commitment to combating climate change, sets the stage for an initial round of carbon pollution cuts and establishes a framework for action that can be built upon over time.

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Jeff Bryant

We Won’t Improve Education By Making Teachers Hate Their Jobs

Does this sound like a place you’d like to work? The work environment is “depressing” … “morale is at an all-time low.” “It feels like a lot of busy work and hoop jumping and detracts from the work.” “Every move … needs to be documented and noted.” “We have to respond to feedback given by an administrator who did a one-minute walk through and thought they knew what was going on … but didn’t.” “There is no time for conversations” … “my salary has been frozen for six years” … “everyone feels like losers.” Probably not. But this is how classroom teachers and school principals describe what it’s like to work in public schools. The comments come from a new survey of K-12 educators nationwide that yielded responses from 2,964 teachers and principals from 48 states.

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Dave Johnson

Clinton Must Toughen Up On Trade To Be Ready To Face Trump

Yes, much of Donald Trump’s message has a white nationalist and anti-woman character to it. But here is a warning: If Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee she had better get tough on trade – and mean it. One of Donald Trump’ main elements of appeal to his voters – if not the main appeal – is his stance on trade and bringing jobs back to America. It is a winning message and Clinton is waaaayyyy behind the curve on this. Much Of Trump Appeal Based On Trade Much of Trump’s campaign message is about how our country’s trade deals have wiped out jobs. On Day 1 much of his speech announcing that he was running was about trade. From the transcript, here is some of the trade talk: “That’s right – a lot of people up there can’t get jobs.

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Justin Talbot-Zorn

Progressive Caucus Beats Republicans At Their Own Game

In recent years, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has spearheaded policy ideas, from debt-free college to the $15 minimum wage, that have gained incredible momentum from city halls to presidential debate stages. Predictably, Republicans’ responses to these ideas have ranged from nonchalance to sheer horror. Still, progressives shouldn’t give up on messaging these policy ideas to people on the other side of the ideological spectrum. On the issues that rank-and-file GOP voters purport to care about most—economic growth, debt reduction, national defense—the new Progressive Caucus federal budget proposal, the “People’s Budget,” actually contains the most serious and effective policy proposals available.

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Terrance Heath

Truth And Consequences in Flint, And Beyond

On Tuesday night, our neighborhood in Montgomery County, Md., had no water. It had been temporarily turned off between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, as workers worked to replace the decades-old water mains that run beneath the busy street at the end of our cul-de-sac. At some point each winter, the pipes rupture at the end of our street, spewing water that eventually freezes into a large, hazardous patch of ice on the street and sidewalk. Our Maryland suburb is home to some of the most troublesome water pipes in the country. Broken water mains are an almost weekly occurrence. A few years ago, an exploding water main around the corner from our home shot water 30 feet into the air, and opened up a 50-foot crater, leaving our area on water restrictions for a week to replenish the 60 million gallons of water lost.

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Robert Reich

Why Isn’t Everyone In Favor of Taxing Financial Speculation?

Why is there so little discussion about one of Bernie Sanders’s most important proposals – to tax financial speculation? Buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to beat others who are buying and selling stocks and bonds is a giant zero-sum game that wastes countless resources, uses up the talents of some of the nation’s best and brightest, and subjects financial market to unnecessary risk. High-speed traders who employ advanced technologies in order to get information a millisecond before other traders get it don’t make financial markets more efficient. They make them more vulnerable to debacles like the “Flash Crash” of May 2010. Wall Street Insiders who trade on confidential information unavailable to small investors don’t improve the productivity of financial markets. They just rig the game for themselves.

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Bill Scher

Is The Paris Climate Agreement Too Little Too Late?

The historic international Paris climate agreement will be formally signed by 155 nations on Earth Day this Friday, but scientific reports since the pact’s forging in December that indicate a more urgent climate crisis are renewing the question of whether the agreement will cut carbon deep enough and fast enough. Bloomberg reports: … ominous reports in the four months since have buttressed the doubters: Global warming may hit geological hyperspeed in decades.

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Dave Johnson

China Says No To Fixing Steel Problem

China is producing much more steel than the country and the world can use, and is “dumping” it onto international markets. But when China was confronted with the dumping charge at a conference in Brussels this week, the Chinese government refused to back down. The Chinese actions are causing steel operations around the world to shut down their own production and lay off workers. So far in the U.S., more than 13,500 steelworkers have been laid off or are facing layoffs. China has again and again promised to reduce its steel production and help bring stability to world markets. Instead, China has actually increased production.

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Robert Borosage

The Big Apple Goes With the Home Team

There’s no place like home. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won big last night in their home state of New York. Trump won 60.5 percent of the vote and 88 delegates, with John Kasich a distant second and New Yorkers giving Ted Cruz a good taste of their values – and a goose egg in delegates. Clinton beat Sanders 57.9 percent to 42.1 percent, adding a net of about 72 delegates to her total. Sanders came into New York on a roll, having won seven straight primaries. He had moved into a tie with her among Democrats nationally. But New York was set up for Clinton. She’s run and won statewide twice as U.S. senator. She beat Obama there handily in 2008. She had the endorsement of the entire Democratic Party apparatus from the governor on down. The New York primary is closed, so only registered Democrats could vote.

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